SOLDIER BOY

By: Karen B.

Summary: Tag for Everybody Loves A Clown…. Angst Sam and Dean. Busted up Impala…and frustrated Bobby.

Disclaimer: Me, just playing in the wonerful world of 'Kripke' I own nothing.

Thank you for reading.

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I'd been struggling for two hours thinking about what I could say to Dean. Dad was dead and all I wished for, all I wanted, was to make things okay again with the man. Nevertheless, Dean was absolutely right. I was too little, too late. I had to get my emotions under control. I had my issues, but I wasn't the only one. Dean needed to face his issues, too. I sucked in a breath, and boldly pushed threw the screen door going out to the yard. Dean was working hard on a rear tire, trapping his pain inside every twist of a lug nut.

"You were right." I fidgeted nervously, knowing I needed to spill my guts before my emotional vacuum sucked them back in.

"'Bout what?"

"'Bout me and dad."

That got Dean's attention, he dropped what he was doing and for a second I don't think either of us breathed.

I was the first to blow out a breath, like a breaching whale and said, "I'm sorry that the last time I was with him I tried to pick a fight. I'm sorry that I spent most my life angry at him." My heart was hemorrhaging, and I scratched nervously at my head as if that would stop the leak. "I mean for all I know he died thinking that I hate him." I swallowed the disgusting thing that invaded my throat. "So, you're right. What I'm doing right now is too little, too late." I just wanted the pain to go away. "I miss him man…" breathe "…And I feel guilty as hell." I struggled to keep from trembling. "And I'm not alright. Not at all." I was coming unglued. "But, neither are you. That much I know." Dean didn't even blink, his silence heaving daggers all its own. "I'll let you get back to work." I rushed back to the house before my heart could drain dry, hoping Dean would absorb what just gushed out of my mouth like a spoiled tuna wrap.

I wasn't inside but a minute when I heard Dean go back to work. I shook my head, slow to understand why Dean found it necessary to shatter glass, cringing when I realized the victim of Dean's bottled pain had become the car. I froze, counting seconds, counting each strike of metal against metal. Just when I thought I had to go out and save the Impala, metal hit cement. I sighed; grateful Dean's torrid storm didn't last long.

I'd give him forty minutes, maybe an hour, and go out with some excuse and a couple of beers. Maybe even try to help fix…

KABOOM!

I jolted from shock.

The crashing sound of metal obliterating metal started again, growing in intensity. My spine went rigid. I went to the window puling back the heavy curtain, and peering out the dirty glass. Bobby wasn't much of a housekeeper, and Dean wasn't much of a mechanic -- not anymore. It was like watching a movie. The hero and the beast. The beast: a large, black creature played by the Impala. The hero: a hurting, broken man, played by my 'anything but okay' brother. Rarely, if ever, had I seen Dean so worked up, spiraling so out of control.

"Dean." I pressed my palm worriedly against the glass.

Maybe I shouldn't have said what I said. My little practiced speech, about not being okay, had sent my brother charging forward into battle with wanton disregard for his beloved car. Repeatedly he struck, fearless, Dean's handy-dandy crowbar blazing. The Impala didn't stand a chance against the death strikes. Metal dented, more glass shattered, all Dean's hard work over the last few weeks -- shot down in a blaze of anger.

"What the hell are you doing, Dean?" This time I wouldn't just count the strikes. I turned to head outside nearly tripping over Bobby standing right behind me.

"He's leaning into the pain. 'Bout damn time he popped, too." Bobby translated Dean's actions. "Leave him to it."

"But, but, but." My feet did a nervous dance to get around Bobby. "I can't let him do this."

"Where do you think you're heading?" Bobby reached a hand to my chest stopping me like a traffic cop. "What are you going to do, Sam?" He gave me a withering stare. "What are you going to say that hasn't already been said?" Bobby raised his voice a decibel. "You both have to work this through on your own. Let the boy have his fit."

The sounds of another heart hemorrhaging mounted.

"Bobby." Dean's fury was scaring me. " I can't…"

"Sam." A steady hand plopped to my shoulder and gave a squeeze. "Just let your brother be," Bobby muttered, a worn out glaze filling his eyes.

"But…"

"No buts," Bobby said in that tone that suggested he knew the secrets of the universe, and I'd better not mess with him or he'd unleash them all on me. I opened my mouth. "Don't make me sit on you, boy! You hear me?"

I snapped my mouth shut and just nodded, accepting the deal, and knowing better than to argue with Bobby -- he was right of course. I directed my attention back out the window; Mr. Destructo continued to hammer away on the car, the crowbar gripped tight in both hands for added power. Man, Dean was going to regret this. But it was his car, and I also knew no one dare stand between my brother, his baby -- or how he managed his pain.

"I'm going to go have a smoke," Bobby grumbled.

""What?" I whirled around, shocked. "Bobby, I thought you quit years ago.

"I did. Just felt good saying the words is all," Bobby growled, waving a hand in an exaggerated gesture and disappearing into the kitchen.

I set my jaw, and dropped down in the nearest chair smiling a little envisioning Bobby puffin' a smoke. My smile quickly faded listening to Dean smashing his car -- the equivalent of a rock star smashing his prized guitar. I didn't know if I wanted to cry or scream, so I just sank deeper, trying to cozy up in the old blue chair. Resting my hands on the armrests, I squirmed to get comfortable against the coils in the seat and the disturbing grunts coming from outside. I picked at a button on the right armrest, a hole on the left, wishing that hole was a time porthole and I could go back. Back to before Dad died. Back, so I could tell him all the things I never told him. Back so I could stop him from dying. Let him know I didn't hate him. Instead, I went back to when I was a kid.

How many father's does a kid get in a lifetime -- one. One chance to be the son he wanted. I never wanted the life of a hunter, but the life of a hunter was what I got, and I'd screwed that up. Funny, something I hated so much, was so much of who I was. I couldn't think of a time in my life when I didn't hunt something.

When I was three, I chased down cockroaches with my matchbox cars in the filthy motel rooms we lived in.

When I was five, I cut my teeth on hunting squirrels with the slingshot Dean made for me.

When I was seven, I executed over a thousand beer cans with a 12-gauge. And by the magic age of nine had destroyed my first poltergeist, exercised three demons, and had helped track and kill a shape-shifter. When most my school friends were getting puppies, shiny new bikes, and Nintendo's as birthday presents -- I got crossbows, hex bags, and a military issue-hunting knife.

One huge requirement for being a good hunter was knife throwing. I remember Dean training me. We'd gone out behind the motel in a large dirt lot and held a knife-throwing contest with my shiny new toy. The goal, to see who could throw the knife closest to the other's foot -- without hitting. I lost. Hitting the target -- aka…Dean. The knife went right through big brother's boot and into his right little toe. Dad had called us both 'numbnuts' and taken the knife away for two weeks, and making sure the next pair of boots we bought were steel toed.

Dad always did have a short fuse. It was that short fuse that made me a quick learner.

Think first, and then shoot. You can't take the bullet back once you pull the trigger. Look behind your target -- know where that bullet is going to go if you send a round flying wild. Know where your hunting partner's are at-all-times. Always be prepared. Research the enemy thoroughly. Know what you're fucking trying to kill -- before running off to fucking kill it. Life is not colored black and white. Dean is always second in command. Stick together. Butcher anything that comes along that tries to pull you apart. Crawl low through the shadows so you can't be seen. Walk through the forest for hours and never make a sound. Don't do anything halfway. Always continue to develop your skills, there will always be something bigger and badder than you. Take no prisoners. Be ready to flee at a moments notice. Be quick to think, observe, build a plan. Never panic. Sometimes you will lose. Be strong. Be brave. Stand tall in the midst of chaos. Go down with the ship. Be a soldier. Burn the dead.

I shuddered at the last two, my fingers digging into the armrests -- today -- I was no soldier. Today I was his son. A son who missed the hell out of his dad.

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Ten minutes of silence, was Bobby's deal breaker. Without bothering to peer out the window I pushed up off the chair, retracing my steps, I moved through the screen door. Dean stood next to the car, the crowbar in his hand hanging loosely at his side. I expected the damage to be bad -- but was still shocked by what I saw.

"Oh, shit," I breathed.

I wanted Dean to deal with dad's death…but this. The Impala was a mess. The hood was buckled, the front grill hanging, a blown tire, busted windshields, gray primer scrapped down to sheet metal, oil and some green fluid dripping from underneath. The only thing not busted up was the roof. I couldn't feel any more guilty than I already did. I not only let dad down, I pushed my brother over the edge of sanity.

Letting the screen door whoosh softly behind me, I walked over to Dean. He was sweaty. Breathing hard and looking really pissed; like a junkyard dog straining against a heavy chain unable to reach the taunting alley cat only a few feet away.

"Dude," I whispered, stretching the word to be sure not to startle him. Dean flinched anyway, but his expression remained hard. "You been busy," I said, lightly.

"Very." Dean's shoulder's sagged.

I opened my mouth needing to say more, but Bobby was right -- a hundred thousand words would never take the pain, fear, or guilt away. Every muscle in my body was tight, a lump forming in my throat as if I'd swallowed my tongue.

Dean gave an exasperated sigh, "Here." He handed me the crowbar, poking a finger at the car. "Finish it."

How could I respond? I shook my head in refusal. Smashing pumpkins was Dean's way of dealing, not mine. I couldn't believe it when my hand went for the crowbar, my knuckles going white, an animalistic growl leaving my throat. The claws of guilt dug further into my already bleeding heart, black dots blurred my vision, and then it happened -- I swung. Over and over. Surprised at my own strength and afraid of my own fury. Time froze. I didn't know how long I beat on the Impala. Only knowing she didn't deserve the pain her riders were inflecting upon her.

"Sam." The voice was muffled. "Sam." Sweat poured down my back and my heart thundered in my ears. "Sam." Dean and I exchanged stares as I took one last blow. "Enough." He stepped in, extending a hand.

"You want…" I panted, "…Anther crack?"

"Negative." The corners of my brother's mouth curled into a half-smile. "It's all fucked up." Dean gave his fatal diagnosis.

"We'll fix it." I sluggishly handed over the crowbar, knowing we were both talking about more than just the car. "Together," I added, blinking at the damage we'd done.

Dad was gone -- never coming back. My heart dripped dry. An edge of regret followed by a freezing-cold lethargy engulfed me. My body quivered, and I could hardly contain the tears that wanted to flow in buckets.

"Hey." Dean let the crowbar fall to the ground, his grip on my arm gentle. "And you said, I wasn't okay." Dean's tone was rough with pain.

"I said neither of us was okay." I clutched at his tee shirt to keep from falling.

"Dude, you can hardly stand upright," Dean said, a different kind of pain in his voice, the kind of pain that said he was worried about me.

I pulled free and turned away. "Sam." Dean halted me with a firm grip to my shoulder. "Dad...he…you don't have to feel guilty." I couldn't move. Couldn't breathe. "Sam?" Dean gave my shoulder a squeeze

"I'm listening," I said, taking a couple steps away, unable to look at Dean.

"Sam, dad and I didn't have the perfect relationship either, and he knew you didn't hate him, man...he…he…" Dean stammered. "There's things I should have told him, too. Things I didn't do right. Dad wasn't textbook, Sam. There's things he did wrong. Important things. Things he kept to himself far too long…and…and I wish…aw, damn it, Sammy." Dean's tone turned hard as marble. I could feel him tracking me with his eyes. Could sense he was about to say something. Something I might not want to hear.

The screen door banged open, and Bobby flying out like he'd just come in on the redeye ended whatever it was Dean was trying to tell me. I got a dark and horrible feeling, like the Impala was giving payback -- the crowbar smashing my insides.

"Son of a crap!" Bobby yelled setting a six-pack of beer on the ground. "Look at you two. You're a mess." He shoved a broom in my hand, and dustpan in Dean's. "Shut up. Clean up. Drink up. Idgits!" Bobby stormed back in the house.

I gave a little laugh turning to Dean. He didn't seem to find Bobby's rant as amusing, my brother's eyes canvassing the damaged car. Something hard and heavy was weighing on him

"Dean?" I frowned. "What is it?"

Dean walked over, put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, "It's okay, Sam. Bobby's right. Shut up, clean up, drink up."

I knew everything was anything but okay, didn't expect a real answer anyway and was glad I didn't get one.

I gave a nod, not pushing any further. Dean hung back to drink a beer, while I followed Bobby's orders, in order. I shut up and began sweeping the glass. I couldn't run or hide. Smashing the car had been a quick release, but I knew the only way I could get past this pain that tore at my heart was to honor my father. Maybe, somehow, he'd see. Maybe, somehow, it wasn't too late. I would make things right -- become that soldier boy dad always wanted me to be.

The end.