Bobby Singer didn't like kids and he liked teenagers even less. They were bratty, hormonal, surly, stupid, and a royal pain in the behind. Plus they were messy, inconsiderate, demanding. The list went on and on. And on and on.
The list only seemed to lengthen if the teenager had the last name Winchester because the boys had been operating for the last twelve years of their lives in a drifting, grifting bubble that contained only the three Winchesters and whatever townies presented themselves on a hunt. At 11 Sam was still sayin' the darndest things and Dean at the ripe old age of 15 had already developed a swagger and skirt chasing tendencies.
Which was why Bobby Singer was less than pleased when he got a call from John Winchester saying that he'd lost Dean somewhere in Sioux County after a personal scuffle and could Bobby please keep and eye out for the boy because they were on the tail of some demon or another and John wouldn't be able to double back for another week or so. Bobby was no head shrinker, but from the edge in John's voice, he assumed that it was more a matter of not really wanting to double back just yet. So Bobby agreed and then went back around to his normal business of reading and drinking and sometimes selling an auto part or two.
A couple days later, a gap-toothed customer mentioned something about hearing strange noises in the way back of the lot. Bobby thanked him and once the man left, grabbed his shotgun, a bag of rock salt and a few bullets in case it was just a raccoon 'cuz you really didn't want those vermin to set up a homestead in the upholstery of a car.
Bobby slunk towards the back of the lot, a place reserved for the most rusted out of clunkers and his own pet projects. The sounds got louder as he followed it to a mostly intact black Dodge. He loaded the gun with rock salt and yanked open the backdoor, pointing the gun in to the cab.
Out tumbled a teenaged looking girl in a pastel pink church dress. She took one look at the gun, squealed, and took off through a hole in the back fence. Dean Winchester slid out after her, laughing uncontrollably. After a while, his laughter petered out to a long sigh and a few badly stifled barks of laughter.
"You finished, son?" Dean snapped to attention.
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir." Dean frowned at his Chuck Taylors and ground his toe into the mud.
" I ain't your daddy, Dean."
"Sorry, Bobby." Dean couldn't squash down the grin any longer. Bobby sighed unloaded the shotgun.
"C'mon, I need a drink."
When they got back to Bobby's house, Bobby pulled a bottle of beer and a can of soda out of the fridge. Dean's hopeful face fell when Bobby set the can down in front of him.
"Man, I'm old enough to drink."
"Yeah, old enough to drink milk." Bobby took a long swig of beer. "You're dad's been looking for you."
"Doubt it," Dean scoffed sullenly into his soda.
"Well, you're right." Bobby couldn't understand folks who lied to their kids just to keep'em happy. " But he did call me to keep you here if I found you. And seems you were lookin' to be found or you wouldn't have taken that girl into the yard."
Dean frowned and leaned back in his chair, rolling the base of his soda can on the table.
"Now what kinda fight did you get into with your dad that you ran off. You never fight with your old man."
"Man, you know I can drive in 5 states?"
"No I didn't, but I can't imagine what this has anything to do with fighting with your pop."
"I can drive in almost all of them real soon, too." Now he was just talking teenaged babbly talk. Bobby regretted not putting a shot of holy water in his soda.
"Dean… what the hell is this about."
"Nothin'." Dean was silent and after a few moments, pushed away from the table and stomped outside, the screen door slamming behind him. Bobby sighed, finished his beer, and went to pick out a good book to bury himself in for a little while. Something with lots of violence if he could help it.
An hour later Bobby found Dean outside buried under the hood of an El Camino, his olive drab jacket hung over a fence post. Bobby let the screen door squeak and slam behind him as a greeting. Sometimes if you startled a riled dog they'd turn around and bite you faster than you could say 'Christo'.
Dean slammed the hood shut, rubbed his greasy hands on the back of his jeans, and dropped a wrench back into the toolbox sitting on the ground.
"I'm sixteen in two days."
"That's quite a number." Bobby vaguely recalled sixteen being a big deal.
"Dad didn't even remember."
"You don't know that, it was a week away last you saw him."
Dean sighed and leaned down to pet one of the yard dogs that had run up to the two. "When I was younger, dad promised to take me to the Grand Canyon before I turned sixteen. Said there wasn't any point in draggin' me around 'n Sammy cross country if we didn't get to see at least one thing along the way."
"You've seen plentya things, Dean."
"Dude. Not the Grand Canyon."
"Yeah, well…" Bobby shook his head and sat down on a step. "Guess it ain't the same."
"You ever been?"
"To the Grand Canyon?"
"What was it like?"
Bobby took of his hat and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"Smelled like horse poop."
Two days later, John and Sam peeled into the junkyard in the Impala, stopping short in front of the house.
"Hey Uncle Bobby!" Sammy called, bouncing out of the passenger seat. John stepped out of the car and followed the bundle of energy up the stairs. Bobby and Dean were watching Walker Texas Ranger in the living room, feet propped up on the low table in front of them. Dean had to scramble to hide the celebratory birthday beer that Bobby had let him drink (it was actually half a beer cut generously with tap water, but Dean wouldn't know this until he drank his first real beer a few months later).
"Bobby," John nodded at his friend and then fixed Dean with a stare. "Son. Stop bothering Bobby and get in the car."
"Yessir." Dean sat up and wove his way out of the room. "Thanks Bobby."
"Take your brother with you," John snapped as Dean passed him. Dean grabbed his little brother by the front of the shirt as he passed and half dragged him backwards out the door. The sounds of their bickering floated through the screen door.
"Hey! Quit draggin' me!"
"Quit whinin', pansy ass."
"I'll tell Dad!"
There was the sound of car doors slamming and Sam's protests as he was relegated to the backseat again.
"We can't stick around. Jim sent out for me." John dug his hands in his pockets and shook his head. "Can't thank you enough Bobby. Don't know what's gotten into Dean lately."
Bobby stood up and stretched. "Comes and goes. You remember what it was like at his age."
John laughed. "Not really, no."
"Yeah," Bobby grabbed a book off a stack in the corner of the room and handed it to John. "Neither do I."
John Winchester slid into the driver's seat and his sons' bickering immediately stopped. John fixed his hands on the steering wheel and revved the engine. He didn't say anything for a few miles, waiting until Sammy fell asleep in the backseat.
"You ever going to do some fool thing like that again?" John kept his eyes on the road, his gaze not matching the edge to his voice.
"You ever gonna call your little brother that word again?"
"Smartass." John smirked slightly. He dug into his coat pocket with one hand and produced the book Bobby had given him.
"Bobby gave me this for you."
"A book?" Dean scoffed incredulously. "For me? You sure he didn't say it was for Sammy?"
"Yeah, I'm sure."
Dean read the spine. Young Man's Practical Guide To Everything. Dean snorted under his breath and flipped through the book. On one of the blank front pages there was a short inscription in chunky, tilted letters.
To My Nephew Robert on His Sixteenth Birthday,
Good Fucking Luck.