Title: Turn It Up To Eleven
Fandom: SPN and MacGyver
Characters: MacGyver, Wee!Chesters, John Winchester
Disclaimer: The characters all belong to their respective creators.
Summary: Sam's birthday is coming and Dean wants to do something special. He receives some assistance from a stranger with a knack for building interesting inventions. Dean is 13 and Sam is turning 9
Turn it up to Eleven
They'd been living in these crappy garden apartments for almost four months and while Sam really liked it when they stayed in one place, Dean would have rather kept moving.
Jr. High had been a tough transition. There had been some confrontations with the snobby rich kids but since Dean had stayed off the principal's radar; he counted it as a successful year. Plus, since he'd turned thirteen, Dad trusted him to take care of things, and had been traveling for longer stretches. He looked forward to the day when he could go hunting with his dad but until then, Dean had to admit, sometimes he enjoyed being in charge.
Dad had been gone two days and Sam's 9th birthday was coming up in four. While Dean hoped he'd make it home in time, Dad might not have time to get a cake or a cool gift.
Which was why, when geek boy shut himself in the apartment to study, Dean headed outside to one of the rusty tables in the courtyard to work on repairing an old RC car. He'd retrieved it from the apartment's Lost and Found box. It really bugged Dean that he couldn't get his little brother something new. But he knew that no matter what it was that he got for his brother, Sam would love it because it came from him.
So there he sat, trying to make sense of the electronics in the Indy car replica. "Damn," he said aloud. He was sure if he had a soldering gun he could make it work. In fact he didn't really have any of the tools he needed to rebuild it and he was starting to get discouraged.
A shadow fell across the table. Dean looked up to see a guy, with a lame mullet but wearing a cool leather jacket standing in front of him. The stranger was studying the pieces and parts laid out on the table.
With a laugh, mullet guy picked up the two pieces that Dean was sure needed to be soldered together. "I don't think those are going to fit that way."
"You think you can do better?" he snapped; not liking it when other people made him feel stupid.
"Actually, yes I can," he paused but Dean was silent. "Are you asking for my help?"
He eyed the stranger warily. He'd seen the guy around the apartment complex recently. And while it seemed a little bit weird for a strange man to be taking an interest in him, Dean wasn't getting that creepy guy vibe. This guy was all smiles. In the end, the desire to get the toy working for Sam overcame any isolation tendencies that John Winchester had bred into his son. He nodded toward the empty chair.
The guy smiled even bigger and held out his hand, "I'm MacGyver but everyone calls me Mac. I've been told I have a way with machines."
Dean shook his hand and said simply, "Dean."
"Not much of a talker, are you?"
He sent Mac a half smile and shook his head.
"So, what is the goal of your project here?
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I can make it work," Mac offered. "But," he paused dramatically, tossing Dean a conspiratorial grin, "there so many ways to make it better than it was."
"Really?" Would it be possible to turn this discarded, broken toy into something that Sam would really love? Dean allowed himself to get swept up in the guy's enthusiasm.
"Yeah, really," Mac confirmed, excitement tingeing his voice too.
The guy seemed cocky enough about his abilities and Dean always respected that kind of confidence. He waited a beat and then told Mac the truth. "It's for my brother. His birthday is in a few days. It was broken when I found it but if we could really make it something special…" Dean trailed into silence. He wasn't about to beg.
"You found it? But it's a present." Mac said quizzically and then stopped.
Dean felt the guy really look at him for the first time. He shifted under the scrutiny, trying to pull the sleeves down on his too small shirt. He wasn't ashamed of the way they lived but sometimes he just wished they had more.
Mac held up a single finger indicating that Dean should wait and disappeared into one of the nearby first floor apartments. He returned minutes later with what at first glance appeared to be a box of junk and a small tool case.
Mac plopped the stuff down on the rusty table with a flourish. "Now let's see what we can do."
Dean stood and peered into the box. "What is this junk?"
"Not Junk. This is potential." Mac said reverently as he waved his hands across the box as if it were full of gold.
Dean eyed his new acquaintance with skepticism.
"I see you don't believe me but with the proper planning and imagination it can be just about anything we want." Mac reached into the box and pulled out a pad of graph paper.
"Paper? What do we need that for?"
"Every good project starts with some planning. If we're going to do this right, I need to know what you want the car to do." Mac explained. "Then we find the right parts from our 'Box 'o Potential' and go from there."
Wordlessly, the skeptic sat and waited for the crazy man to explain the plan.
"So, let's brainstorm. Give me your ideas." Mac said as he sat down across from Dean, pencil at the ready.
"Uh." Dean hesitated unsure of exactly what the guy was asking. He just threw out the craziest challenge he could think of. "Can it shoot flames?" Dean smirked Let's see if you can do that
After a few minutes of silent contemplation, Mac began to paw through the box and eventually pulled out a small can. "I don't know about flames. But how about sparks?" He suggested as he placed the newly discovered object in front of his student.
"Sparks would be good," Dean said trying to hide his enthusiasm. Maybe this guy was legit as his first gut instinct had suggested. He tossed out a few other ideas. With each request Mac made a few notes and then reached into the box. It was like watching a magician pull a rabbit out of his hat.
"Can we make it fly?" Dean asked.
"Nope." Mac shook his head without hesitation. "The dynamics aren't right for that."
The student sent the teacher a questioning look; had he finally stumped him. Mac went on to explain exactly why that request was physically at odds with the basic design of the car. He drew a few equations on the paper and showed Dean exactly what he meant.
Dean's eyes went wide as the physics of the situation became clear. "I get it." He said excitedly. "That makes perfect sense."
Mac smiled. "You must be a pretty good student. This is some complicated math."
Dean laughed but offered no explanation. School was mostly useless. When would he ever need to remember when the Battle of Waterloo occurred or who the main characters were in some of those horrid books they had to read. This wasn't like school at all. This was practical stuff.
Once they had a workable plan in place, they started to rebuild the RC car.
"Here you go." Mac said handing Dean the tools. "You build; I'll observe,"
Dean took the instruments and began to make the modifications as they'd discussed them. Mac was a patient teacher.
As they worked and Dean could see how their plan was shaping up, he became convinced that his new friend was a genius. In his mind, Dean could also see how many of the things they'd discussed could help Dad with hunting. He kept asking questions and Mac supplied a running narrative of the engineering concepts that went into the modifications they were making.
"Dean! 'm hungry!" Sam's voice rang across the courtyard from the balcony of their apartment just as they were about to test the reassembled car.
Dean stood quickly to block his brother's view of the car but Mac had already thrown his jacket over it.
"Go," Mac whispered. "I hide the car at my place."
"I'll be back to get it after Sam goes to sleep. And Mac," he paused. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Now get going. You don't want to spoil the surprise."
Dean took off shouting. "Geez Sam. Can't a guy have two minutes where I'm not wiping your snotty nose?"
"I don't have a cold. 'm just hungry." Sam insisted.
"Dork." Dean said as he rolled his eyes.
Mac hated these crappy garden apartments but he was trying to establish a plausible identity and unfortunately, sacrifices were required while he waited for his quarry to make a move.
Maybe he was bored, but when he'd seen the kid struggling to repair the RC car, he couldn't resist helping. It was one thing to save the world on a regular basis but sometimes it was the simple projects that Mac enjoyed the most. He'd had a blast playing mentor to Dean. The kid was obviously bright, and had a real knack for tinkering that – well - reminded Mac of himself at that age.
When he'd watched the two poorly dressed boys head into the shabby apartment, he'd wondered about the family situation. It seemed that there was no parent around and Dean was responsible for his little brother. It broke his heart to see kids abandoned this way.
He reluctantly decided that it was time to go back to his apartment and catch up on why he was really here.
But first, he rationalized, the car needs a proper test run.
Grinning, he cleared a space in the living room and ran through the modifications they'd made. Oh yeah, Sam is going love this. By the time he'd put the car up, he decided he was making one for himself when he got home.
Much later that evening, a knock on the door startled Mac out of his thoughts. Hastily, he shuffled papers into files, and stowed them out of sight. Then he opened the door to find the small boy from earlier standing there.
"'m brother's asleep," Dean said with a nonchalant shrug. "It's a good time to sneak the car in."
"I tested it out earlier," Mac grinned as he opened the door to the boy. He stepped back to retrieve the car from the coffee table and handed it to him. "Whatever it could do when it was new, it'll dance circles around that now."
"Cool!" Dean grinned.
"You should be proud of yourself," Mac said. "You did most of the work. I just explained a few things."
Dean ducked his head to hide a blush, and tucked his hands in his pockets. "'s nothin."
Mac frowned at that. Dean acted like he didn't receive praise very often. The idea left an unsettling feeling in his gut. Dean had a lot of potential and he saw it all going to waste if the boy was never given the opportunity to tap into it.
"Thanks, mister." Dean said quickly. "I gotta get back before Sammy wakes up." The boy snatched up the car and retreated out the door.
Mac closed the door with a sigh. He figured he'd seen the last of Dean and anyway, he really had to focus on his current assignment.
The next afternoon, Mac opened the door to find Dean standing there, "Sam's doing homework and I was wondering...," the question hung there as Dean suddenly found his shoes very interesting.
Mac laughed and clapping Dean on the shoulder ushered him into the apartment.
"I have an idea. Ever taken any appliances apart to see how they work."
"I fixed our toaster once." Dean admitted. "Is that what you mean?"
"Exactly but I thought we could go one better. Let's not just repair something; that's boring." Dean nodded as Mac continued his proposal. "Let's take things apart and make them better."
The boy smiled enthusiastically. "What things?"
Mac looked around the scantily furnished apartment. "How about this?" He suggested as he knelt in front of the TV to disconnect the VCR. "When I'm done you will never need a repair shop again."
They'd finished improving the quality of the VCR picture when Dean announced that he had to go.
"Sammy needs dinner and I shouldn't leave him alone for so long."
Mac nodded. "If you come back tomorrow we can start on the kitchen appliances and bring your brother. He can watch TV while we play."
Dean hesitated. "I'll see you later." He said as he rushed out the door.
Mac wondered if he'd scared the boy off and hoped both Winchesters would come tomorrow. Dean had mentioned that Sam was the smart one. Mac couldn't imagine how smart the little brother must be if the older brother was considered the dumb one.
Dean arrived promptly at 4 PM and they got immediately to work on the toaster oven. Mac didn't say anything about Sam's absence and figured that Dean wasn't ready for him to meet his brother.
"There's another box in the closet in the living room. Grab that for me will ya." Mac said as he placed the toaster oven back on the kitchen counter. They'd modified it so it could make the perfect piece of toast in thirty seconds.
Dean returned to the kitchen toting the heavy box. "What's next?" He asked. His enthusiasm for their next project oozing out of him.
Mac studied his new protégé. The boy was really coming out of his shell. The kid had taken to tinkering like a fish to water and Mac thought it was time to move up to the big leagues.
"Well," he whispered with a conspiratorial gleam in his eye. "How do you feel about explosions?"
"Who doesn't like a good explosion?" Dean laughed.
Mac took the box and placed a variety of objects on the kitchen table. "You didn't learn this from me."
"Of course not. Never saw you do this at all." Dean grinned wickedly.
The rest of the afternoon was spent teaching Dean how to make an incendiary device. Mac only had a small twinge of conscious about showing a teenager how to make a weapon but he justified if as an excuse to teach Dean some physical chemistry
Mac still hadn't seen any sign of a parent when Dean returned that third afternoon. His curiosity about the two boys living alone in these horrid apartments, was driving Mac crazy. Dean had been evasive about his living arrangements but Mac decided that they'd formed enough of a friendship that he was going to try to get some answers.
"So what does your dad to for a living again?" He'd asked casually.
"He's a mechanic." Dean grunted.
"He working out of town because I haven't seen him around." Mac pushed.
"He travels." Dean snapped.
Mac hadn't gotten much further the last time he'd asked about their dad. He was beginning to suspect that the man was either a drunk or a criminal. Either way it was damn unreliable and unforgivable that he'd left these two kids to fend for them selves. If the guy ever did show up, Mac might not be able to contain his contempt for the eldest Winchester.
"Hey how about you get Sammy and I'll make us some dinner." Mac offered. "I'd really like to meet your brother."
"Nah, 'sokay. We got leftovers from yesterday." Dean insisted.
Mac suspected Dean was lying about the food and it was obvious he no intention of bringing Sam over. He'd experienced the teenager's manic responsibility to protect his brother and Mac had yet to figure out what drove that dynamic.
"Well if you change your mind. I've got hamburger."
He watched as the desire for burgers warred with Dean's unspoken need to keep Sam away.
"Maybe next time," the kid finally replied.
Mac stopped pushing and decided to just enjoy the opportunity to bounce ideas off someone so like himself even if he was only thirteen.
They were right in the middle of creating a better ice maker for the fridge when a loud rumble caught the kid's attention. Dean ran to the open kitchen window which looked out on the parking lot.
He threw an apologetic look at Mac. "I gotta go," he said as he raced out the front door.
Mac followed at a discreet distance. He couldn't help it, he was curious to see the mysterious Daddy Winchester. Dean skidded to a halt in front of a big bear of a man. The kid was smiling like a loon as he greeted his father.
He was too far away to hear the exchange of information the two shared. Apparently satisfied with what Dean had to say, the man smiled. He threw one arm around Dean's shoulder and together they climbed the stairs to their apartment.
Mac withdrew into his apartment and reevaluated his perception of the elder Winchester. Maybe he really had been away on business. It was apparent from what he had witnessed that they were truly a loving family.
If the opportunity arose, Mac was definitely going to introduce himself. He had been looking for a way to help the kid reach his full potential The Phoenix Foundation had scholarships and given the opportunity, Mac was going to do his best to make sure Dean got one. First he had to figure out how to stay in touch for the next five years and get a very proud teenager to accept his help. Mac wasn't optimistic.
"Happy Birthday, Sammy" Dean announced as he placed his homemade chocolate cake on the table.
"Happy Birthday, son" John echoed as he lit the candles.
Sammy was grinning like his face was going to split. "It looks delicious. Sammy said. The youngest Winchester hadn't stopped smiling since Dad walked in the door. He'd been so surprised and happy that Dad had made it home in time for the celebration.
Dean had been incredibly relieved to hear the Impala pull up yesterday. After a disastrous Christmas, he hadn't wanted to see Sammy disappointed again.
"Make a wish Dorkface."
"Dean." John said.
Dean cast an apologetic look at his brother who just smiled in return. Sammy scrunched up his face as he thought of a wish and then taking a deep breath, blew out all the candle in one go.
"What you wish for squirt?" Dean asked but he already suspected he knew. Sam wanted to stop moving around. Too bad that would never happen.
"Can't tell ya. Won't come true." Sam said.
John laughed at Sam's serious face. "Well I have good news." He said. "I've gotten a job at the local car repair shop so we'll be staying here a little while longer. At least until the school year ends."
Sam bounced out of his chair and threw himself at his dad, hugging him tightly. Turning to Dean he said, "See it came true already," and returned to hugging his dad.
Dean was amazed that Dad did actually know what Sammy wanted for his birthday after all.
"Whoa Sammy." The big man huffed as he pried small fingers from around his neck. He reached across the table to hand him a present. "For you kiddo."
Sam tore into the newspaper that covered a small wooden box. He opened it up. It was a set of throwing knifes. Dean was sure only he saw the frown flit across Sam's face before he plastered on a big smile. "Thanks Dad. These are just like Dean's. They're great."
John ruffled the nine-year-old's shaggy mane. "Thought you were old enough to start practicing with your brother."
Dean chuckled to himself. Well Dad got Sam's present half right. He wondered if Dad would ever get the fact that weapons really weren't Sam's style.
Dean waited until they'd finished the cake to hand his brother his other present. "Happy Birthday, Sammy," Dean grinned.
Sammy ripped off the newspaper and carefully lifted the car out of the box. "Oh wow, Dean, I love it," he squealed. Later, Dean was going have to explain that girly squealing was not appropriate for Winchesters but for now, he was too caught up in Sam's excitement.
"I think we should take it outside for the full affect." Dean said as he got up to lead then out of the apartment
Dad hadn't said anything but Dean could tell he seemed concerned about the car. He slipped past Mac's door and knocked hoping his friend was home so he could enjoy Sam's reaction too.
Sam thrust the controls at Dean. "Show me please," he begged.
Dean placed the car in front of him and looked up too see that Mac was now standing in his doorway and the two acknowledged each other with a nod. Dad still hadn't said anything but he studied Mac who didn't seem to be aware of the scrutiny.
Dean turned the car on and the sound was deafening. He revved the engine and sparks flew out the back pipes that they'd added to the design. Dean showed Sam how to make the tires squeal. He even made it run on two wheels and right itself after it flipped over.
Sam was literally jumping up and down with excitement as he watched Dean take the car through its paces. "Dean this is amazing. I love it. Thank you." Sam flung himself at Dean and hugged the breath right out of him. Dean hugged him back just as fiercely.
"Glad you like it." Dean said and handed the controls over. "Let's see what you can do."
Dad's voice broke through the joy. "Dean, where did you get such an expensive toy?" The implication in John's statement was clear.
Dean faced his Dad. "I built it," he stated simply.
"Really," John responded. The incredulous tone in his dad's voice hurt but Dean would never admit it.
He wasn't about to explain. And then Mac was there holding out his hand and introducing himself. "Hello, Mr. Winchester, my name is MacGyver and I did give Dean a hand in rebuilding the toy."
John eyed the man in front of him while cautiously returning his greeting, "John Winchester," he said as he took Mac's hand. "So you built the car?"
"No sir, Dean built it. I just offered some suggestions," Mac insisted. "You should be very proud of Dean." Mac handed his card to John.
John read the card. "The Phoenix foundation?"
"My organization is a government think tank but we offer scholarships and aid for bright kids. It's never too early to begin thinking about college and when Dean's ready I'd like to help." The man eyed him suspiciously and Mac hoped he hadn't pushed too hard.
"I know Dean's a bright kid but college isn't really an option." John said with a tone that suggested that strangers should mind their own business.
Mac watched a funny look pass across Dean's face. Almost as if this was the first time he'd ever heard his dad admit he was a smart kid.
"I understand that College can seem like a big step. Dean has an amazing aptitude for engineering that is rare in a boy his age." Mac felt the need to open John's eyes up to the possibility that just because he hadn't gone to college that was no reason to deny his son the opportunity.
John looked at Dean. "I know he's good at fixing things and someday he'll make a hell of a mechanic."
"I'm already learning to work on the Impala." Dean admitted. "And I really like it."
Mac worked hard to stifle his frustration. Dean seemed mesmerized by his Dad's faint praise. And while he was glad to have precipitated the touching moment, Dean could be so much more.
"Sure a mechanic is a great profession," Mac began not wanting to insult the father, "But as an engineer he could design cars, planes; even work on space satellites. Put that mechanical aptitude to work to help the entire world."
John seemed to consider his words this time and did not immediately dismiss his argument. "Help the world; as an engineer?" He said giving his son a bit of a conspiratorial smile. "I do like that idea."
Cautiously, Dean returned his Dad's smile. For the first time it felt like his dad was seeing a different future for him; one that didn't have to include hunting.
"I only needed to spend one afternoon with Dean to know he's a bright kid." Mac continued delicately, "I am serious, please call me." He hoped John wouldn't be too stubborn to take his help. That air of stupid pride caused many men to make bad decisions in the name of what they thought was best for their family. Figuring he'd quit while he was marginally ahead, Mac didn't wait for a reply but instead headed back to his apartment.
Something told Dean he might not have another opportunity to express his gratitude. He followed Mac to his door. "Thanks for everything."
"College Dean. You belong there. Trust me. Don't let your father's prejudice against higher education stop you."
Dean knew it wasn't a dislike of college. It was the need for them to keep hunting; living this life that John Winchester had carved out for them. He knew he couldn't share any of that with Mac instead he promised, "I'll work on him."
"Good Boy," Mac said as he clapped the boy on the shoulder and entered his apartment.
When he turned back he saw his Dad smiling at him and Dean was sure that he also saw pride in his father's eyes. College was nothing compared to that.