Dean could still hear the girl's words echoing through his head. "little boy, scared". Truman High had been a learning experience for all involved. It served to make Sam more anxious than ever to be rebellious and get away from the hunting life, and it had served to make Dean more quiet, less inclined to stand out from the crowd, made him more of a shadow.

They settled into a school in the middle of Nebraska after Truman, and John told the boys that this is where they would finish out the year. Sam had been ecstatic, and Dean, felt the lump in his stomach grow larger and tighter. He contemplated quitting school, getting a job and just taking care of Sammy. Who needed a high school diploma when you were going to spend the rest of your life hunting? God knew that there wasn't anything else that he was good enough to do, nothing else he was prepared to do. So what was the point?

This school, Central High School, evaluated Dean and Sam straight off, and Sam scored so high, he was taking all AP classes, and Dean ended up in classes that were labeled Inclusion. Whatever that meant. All he knew was that the majority of his teachers treated him as if he were a moron. He didn't speak, didn't offer anything to anyone. He tired to blend in to the point that he disappeared. He didn't want the sort of attention he garnered at the last school.

This school marked more change than simply Dean becoming more introverted, it marked the time when Sam started wanting his own life, and didn't want his big brother on top of him. Didn't want Dean to take him and his friends to the movies, or to the mall, or to the observatory for the science project he had to do. He didn't ask Dean for help with homework or anything. Sam was growing up, changing, and Dean was staying the same, and they were growing apart.

The fights with their father were growing ever more intense. Every single time Dad came back, even for just a day or two, Sam would find something the matter and have a small fit, and both of them would start screaming at one another. Dean, as always, tried to get them to stop fighting, because it killed him to watch the two most important people in his life going at each other, and Dean could sense the break that was forming in what was left in his family, and it scared him that he would eventually have to chose between the two of them. That would be like asking him to choose between death by drowning or death by burial. Didn't matter, result was the same, and it left him just as dead.

He was sitting in English class, one of the few classes he didn't mind coming to. The teacher didn't make him feel like he was stupid or useless. Often he would come into her room first and she would be standing and starring at something on her wall, something in which the tape wasn't holding fast to the wall anymore. And, almost psychically she would turn to him and go "Dean. That stupid thing won't stay. Will you please help me?" She always gave him earnest happy eyes and he always did exactly what she asked and she thanked him. Sometimes, she would prattle on and on to him while they were waiting for other students and other teacher to come to the room. She laughed easily and truly seemed to enjoy her job. Well, this day she was passing out papers and she put them on everyone's desks, gave them all some form of encouragement or praise and then she came to him. She squatted down in front of his desk and looked him in the eye and said, "I read your essay."

Fear pooled inside his stomach. He had actually tried hard on that essay, tried to get his brother and father right, and he thought that it was at least B worthy. But here she was sitting in front of his desk, she was going to confirm that he was more of a moron than he originally thought.

"It made me cry." She followed. "If that is true, if all of that is true, then sweetie, you aren't the least important in your family. You are probably the most important. You are the glue that keeps everyone together. And, yougin' you are so smart. Don't let others make you feel stupid, especially your little brother. He's just growing up. You just keep loving your family and they will keep loving you the best they know how. I'm so proud of you Dean. You did such a good job. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Thank you." She said again before getting up and turning away and beginning the lesson for the day. He looked down at the essay that was sitting in front of him, and saw the A+ , and he saw little water marks on the second and third page, she hadn't been lying when she said that it had made her cry.

He stashed the essay into his book bag and left the class room, and later that day at lunch, while he sat outside in the courtyard, Sammy had gotten his lunch money he needed it more, he was growing so fast, and it was getting hard to keep him in food and clothes, and now he didn't want his old hand me downs. And since Dad was gone most of the time it was up to him to look after Sam and make sure he got all he needed, and he hadn't had the chance this week to hustle because he had to finish the essay for Miss Ion. He looked back over his essay again, and pride welled within him. Pride for something that wasn't hunting, for something that said he was smart.

A kid, a mean kid, from his English class was with his friends and they were talking louder than they needed to be heard amongst the little group. He heard the kid start saying some not so nice things about Miss Ion. He was going to let it go, when he heard her words go through him again. She was proud of him, she thought he was someone, who were these idiots to say these things about her.

He went right up to the kid and hit him so hard that blood flew from his nose and mouth upon impact. He grabbed the kid's collar and pulled him close. "Don't you ever say things about like that again about Miss Ion. She's nice." He dropped the kid and went back into the building, straight to Miss Ion's room. She was eating lunch at her desk and he knocked, and entered a little.

"Dean?! What's the matter sweetie?" she asked worry in her eyes.

"Nothing. I just wanted to tell you that I'll probably be suspended for a while."

"What? Why?"

"I hit a kid."

"Why? Dean….that's not you."

"He was making fun of someone close to me. You don't get away with things like that."

"Dean, sweetie…."

"Can I make up my work when I get back? I want to do well for you." She sort of shrugged down into her chair and nodded.

"Of course you can." He nodded and left the room, you simply didn't hurt those he loved.

"Dean you're suspended?" Sam asked as they walked home from school.

"Yeah."

"Dad will be pissed you aren't supposed to stick out."

"I know."

"I don't want to move schools again."

"I know Sammy."

"Dean. I'm doing well here. I'm in AP classes." Sam said getting more and more angry.

"I know you are Sammy."

"Do you know what that means Dean? Or are you too stupid?" Sam's mouth went dry when that came out. He didn't mean that. He really didn't mean that. He knew that Dean's intelligence bothered him. He knew that Dean wasn't the smartest and he also knew that Dean would give anything to be smart and not just a hunter.

"I know what it means Sammy." He said in the same flat tone he had had from the beginning of the conversation. "I know that you need to stay here to get your credit and so you can get the college credit. I know that these classes on your transcripts mean that the big schools will look at you and it will make it easier for you to get in them. I know what it means Sammy."

"Then why did you jeopardize this for me?"

"Selfish I guess." And with that they were at the steps of their apartment and Dean went immediately into their room and closed the door softly behind him. Sam sighed and thought, not for the first time, that he just didn't get his brother sometimes.