Jeffrey Wilson had been teaching for twenty two years now, and he had discovered some very crucial things about himself. First and foremost was that he liked order. It had only taken a year or two for him to figure out that discipline was absolutely key to success in the classroom, and that troublemakers should be identified and taken care of. Swiftly. It also meant as much routine from day-to-day activity as possible, minimizing chances for outburst. Secondly, he liked things to be straight forward. He liked students to be shallow and obvious, giving him what he thought he would get just from their appearance. It made things exponentially easier.
So when he got the news that he would be getting a new student in second period AP Literature, he was not pleased. This late in the year meant most likely either a pissed-off kid who was forced to move, or a troublemaker. Although the fact that the kid was coming into an AP class and not one of his standard slacker classes meant probably the former.
When Monday rolled around and finally second period came, Wilson found himself in an even more glowering mood than usual. Dean Winchester's arrival did not help. The kid strolled in five minutes late, backpack slung over one leather-jacketed shoulder, confident walk and smirky grin anything but new kid standard.
"Mr. Winchester," Wilson intoned with a voice that made students fidget. Dean flashed a grin at him.
"Got lost. Won't happen again, sorry." As he slumped down into a chair in the back row, Wilson moodily deduced that the boy had neither been late nor sincere in his apology, and it irritated him. This kid was trouble.
He had the class pull out their copies of Hamlet, handed Dean a copy with strict instructions to fill out the index card in the back of the book and to read to Act III by the next class period in order to catch up. He was testing the waters, of course, trying to feel out how this would go down. Three acts was a preposterous amount of reading.
Dean took the book and pulled the index card out of the back without taking his eyes off of Wilson. He then wrote his name, again, staring at his teacher, then stood and slowly and deliberately walked it to the front of the room, placing it with a slight smack onto Wilson's desk, between his calendar and paperweight. For a second, they locked eyes, and Wilson felt a thrill of something strangely close to fear at the dangerous glint to the boy's eyes. It was clear that Dean fully understood what was happening.
Then, abruptly, Dean's face shifted from lethal to smirking again, and Wilson watched as he sauntered back to his desk, picking up his book and making an obvious show of reading it with enthusiasm. Wilson did not appreciate being mocked and ground his jaw as the boy not-so-subtly flirted with a girl, Caitlin, over his book.
The bell finally rang, and Wilson felt far more relieved by that fact than was normal. He supposed it had partially to do with it being Friday, but it was more because of Dean Winchester. He wasn't sure whether to be excited or cowed by the challenge that the boy had thrown down, but he knew one thing. It was going to be a rough ride.
Tuesday rolled around and so did Dean Winchester. He again strolled in five minutes late, earning a furrowed brow from Wilson and a fierce declaration that if he came late twice more, he would have detention. Dean Winchester smirked.
The class had a discussion over the first three acts; Wilson watched Dean closely to see if he was participating. He wasn't. Wilson didn't try to hold back his smile. The kid hadn't read.
"Winchester," Wilson said, a primitive snarl growing on his face as he went for the jugular. He'd dropped the 'mister' after their very first contact. "When Hamlet is struggling with his inner soul, debating whether or not to take his own life, what reasoning does he give for not doing so? Why, does he claim, do humans refrain from committing suicide?" Winchester looked up at him, bored.
"You expect me to know that?" He asked, the corners of his mouth turning up. "Do I look like a nerd to you?" There were snickers scattered throughout the classroom. Dean Winchester most definitely did not look like a nerd.
"I take it that you haven't read then, Dean," Wilson said, excited at the chance to humiliate this boy.
"Never said that," Dean contested. "Hamlet said that people are too afraid of what comes after life to kill themselves. We 'bear those ills we have,' rather than 'fly to others that we know not of.'" The whole class stopped talking. Winchester had just quoted Shakespeare. Winchester. Startled, Wilson refused to give up.
"And what do you think about that, Winchester? Do you agree?" Dean shrugged.
"I think there's enough shit down here that people shouldn't be worrying about the afterlife," he responded casually. Wilson gritted his teeth at the swear word and felt himself growing angry that this impudent boy seemed so on top of things.
"Like what, Dean?" He asked finally, in one last vain attempt to stump him.
"You tell me," Dean answered, eyes glittering with more than a hint of danger. Wilson felt a shiver run up his spine. This kid seemed like he knew things that no one else knew. Like he knew exactly to what shit he referred.
As the discussion continued and Dean went back to leaning his chair back and whispering to girls- Anya, his star student, pretty, popular, and smart, and yet somehow taken in by this miscreant- and Wilson realized that he might have met his match in this overconfident, swaggering teenager.
It was going to be a long semester.
An interesting relationship began to develop between Wilson and Dean. Dean showed up late nearly every day, always coming up with signed (likely forged) excuses to get out of detention. It seemed that he always did his homework, though the absolute bare minimum every time. His essays were short and concise, saying no more than what was strictly necessary, often extremely blunt. And yet, every point he made was on topic, sometimes bordering on brilliant, and he was well worded. It began to annoy Wilson to the point that his wife took notice.
"Jeffrey," she'd said one night, about three weeks into the war of wills. "What on earth are you brooding about?" Grumbling, Wilson had handed over one of Winchester's essays, freshly graded, marked with a reluctant 'A.' She skimmed through it quickly, raising her eyebrows or nodding in agreement every once in awhile, before looking up.
"This seems like a good paper, Jeffrey. Far more developed than most I've read. What's wrong with it?" He'd wanted to roll his eyes. His wife hadn't even seen the boy and she'd already fallen under the spell he cast on most women.
"Developed, maybe, but far too tactless, and not a word over the minimum requirement." He knew. He'd counted. His wife had laughed.
"It bothers you that a kid can write a brilliant paper and not do more than the minimum?" She'd asked, and he'd scowled. "You're growing decrepit, old man."
Wilson had gone to bed smoldering.
As time went on, Wilson found it harder and harder to be annoyed by the boy's attitude, and easier to become perplexed by it. Judging by his papers and his test scores, he was brilliant. Wilson had seen other students try to hide their intelligence out of self-consciousness, but Winchester didn't seem to be doing it for that reason. It was as if he didn't realize his own intellect, or simply didn't care. He spoke with terrible grammar and worse vocabulary, but Wilson was hard-pressed to find any errors in his writing. Dean acted like he didn't know what was going on in class, unless pressed, when he would reveal a deeper level of analysis than any of the other students, before settling back into his apathetic routine. It bothered Wilson. He liked things to be straight-forward, and Dean Winchester was anything but.
Another class period started, and, as expected, Dean was nowhere to be found when the bell rang. He was nowhere to be found five minutes later, or ten minutes later, or even fifteen. When he finally showed up twenty minutes after the beginning of class, it was with a black eye and a split lip and bloody knuckles and a smile.
"Winchester! What's the meaning of this?"
"Ran into a door," Dean replied offhandedly. Wilson frowned.
"Have you seen the nurse yet?" He knew the answer before asking. Winchester shrugged, refused to answer the question.
"Gather your things and go see her. I imagine you won't make it back before class is out, so be certain to finish the rough draft of your essay analyzing Mrs. Dalloway." Dean opened his mouth to protest, then shrugged again, settling his backpack on his shoulders and walking out. As the class broke into discussion groups, Wilson sighed and rubbed at his forehead.
"What did that boy do?" He wondered aloud. Probably went after someone's girlfriend. Or maybe baited someone.
"Someone beat up his little brother, sir," Dean's latest conquest, Lily, piped up. Wilson looked at her with a perplexed expression.
"No one touches Dean Winchester's little brother," another boy said, as if that explained everything. Wilson nodded his understanding, even as he frowned. That was certainly not what he was expecting.
Another week went by, and the semester was only two weeks away from being over. Winchester had continued in the same fashion as before, utterly brilliant and utterly frustrating, and Wilson finally decided that he'd had enough, and that action needed to be taken. The bell rang and everyone gathered their belongings.
"Winchester. I'd like to talk to you for a minute." Dean sighed dramatically and allowed his backpack to drop to the floor with a dull thud. Wilson rolled his eyes good naturedly, motioned for Dean to come towards him. Winchester sighed again and ambled forward, a look of boredom already firmly in place.
"Look, I've got a lunch to eat, so let's make this fast, "he grumbled, dropping onto the nearest desk, fiddling with a silver ring on one of his fingers.
"Dean," Wilson began, and Dean made a face that clearly said hurry the hell up. Wilson took a deep breath. "Dean, what are your plans for after high school?" Dean shrugged.
"Work with my dad, probably. Mechanic work." Wilson shook his head.
"You've got potential, Winchester. I think you should apply for college." The boy's head snapped up, and for the first time since he'd met him, Dean Winchester looked startled.
"W-What?" He mumbled, stumbling awkwardly over his words. Wilson smiled inwardly but didn't let it show on his face.
"I said I think you're smart enough go to college, Dean. If you apply yourself, and I mean really apply yourself, you could probably get into someplace big."
"Big?" Dean questioned, his voice a mere whisper, stunningly vulnerable.
"Big, Winchester. Duke, Georgetown, Northwestern." Dean's eyes widened and it suddenly struck Wilson that the boy had never been told that he was smart before, maybe had never even realized it himself. What kind of background did he come from?
"Th-thanks," Winchester finally stammered, and Wilson smiled.
"Think about it, Dean. There are people here to help you if you decide to pursue this, who can help you apply and take the tests you need."
"Okay. Thanks Mr. Wilson," Dean said, gathering his bag up and walking out more slowly and thoughtfully than before. Wilson couldn't help but smile as he realized that Dean had called him 'Mr. Wilson' for the first time.
Dean's attitude changed the slightest bit the over the next couple of days, coming to class on time for once, seeming to take more initiative in discussions. Wilson had never felt such excitement over a single student before, had never felt like he'd made such a difference before. So on Friday, when Dean once again was missing when the bell rang, he felt far more disappointment than he should have. He tried not to let it get to him, tried not to admit that he'd let his hopes rise.
"Okay class, your final is next week. Now you all should have been studying for-" He was interrupted by the door opening clumsily, Dean stumbling slightly as he came through the door. Gone was his swagger, his smirk, his color.
"Dean? You okay?" Dean nodded, sat heavily in his seat, slumping down as he always did. Wilson couldn't help but feel that something was wrong, but Winchester seemed to be holding his own, so he said nothing and continued lecturing. Ten minutes later, it was obvious that Dean had fallen asleep, chin nestled in his hand.
"Winchester," he said, anger rising to the surface and coloring his voice. He'd had hopes for this kid, thought he'd gotten through to him, and now he was back to his old ways, worse even than before.
"Winchester!" He barked, louder, but Dean didn't respond. The kid sitting next to him nudged him lightly, and Wilson watched in horror as Dean's elbow slipped and his head crashed into the desk, his whole body limp.
"Dean!" He cried, hurrying to the back of the classroom quicker than he ever had before. He reached the side of the pale kid, ignoring the worried chatter around him, the students crowding around the desk.
"Back up! Everybody just back up and stay calm, okay?" He ordered, easing Dean's muscular form to the floor. "Come on Winchester, what's going on?" He muttered, relieved when he could feel faint breaths on his fingers.
"Okay, I need you to call 911," he directed, pointing to a trembling girl, "and I need the first-aid kit from the cupboard. Someone get the nurse, and the rest of you head to room 212." The students scattered fearfully, as Wilson gingerly started feeling over Dean's body for obvious injury. He couldn't find any, but Winchester's skin was clammy and cool. The first-aid kit appeared suddenly, thrust in front of his face, and he took it gratefully.
"Alright Winchester, let's see what's going on, buddy," he murmured, easing Dean's shirt up. "Holy shit," he whispered as he got a good look at Dean's torso. Bruises littered it, deeper in some places than others, purples and blacks. There was a bump near his sternum that Wilson guessed was a busted rib, and he could hear the rattle that sounded with every breath. Blood was leaking from a cut that spread the length of his belly just below the navel. This was not good.
"Dean! Dean!" Suddenly a high-pitched voice sounded, and a boy came running into the room. "Dean, no! You didn't say anything! You've got to be okay!"
"Whoa, whoa, he's going to be fine," Wilson tried to reassure, not even sure who he was reassuring. "Listen kid, I need you to back up, okay? The nurse is coming and an ambulance is on the way."
"No, no, you don't understand. That's my brother, I'm his brother." Ah. So this was the younger Winchester that shouldn't be touched.
"Okay, I need you to stay calm, right? I need to-"
"You need to monitor his breathing. I'll put pressure on the cut," the boy said, and Wilson blinked. "Monitor his breathing!" Nodding, he moved to Dean's head, pressed himself to the ground to hear the rattling gasps. He could hear the boy murmuring soothing things to his brother, things Wilson didn't understand and probably didn't want to. The nurse arrived suddenly, taking over for the boy who sat to the side, held Dean's hand and wiped his hair from his forehead.
"Ambulance should be here any time," the nurse said in an effort to comfort everyone present, but it didn't do much. Especially when Dean's breathing hitched and faltered, and then he was coughing up blood and they were turning him to his side so he wouldn't choke, and the kid was nearly frantic, running one hand nervously through his hair and rubbing his brother's back with the other.
"Comeondean comeondean, staywithmedean, holyshitdean," and more and more ramblings, muttered prayers tumbling out of his mouth. Then the medics were there and taking stock of the situation quickly, running knuckles down Winchester's sternum and getting no response, settling an oxygen mask over his face and running IVs into his arm.
"Look, we have to get out of here, now," one paramedic said, and the boy declared boldly and loudly that he was going with them, and then they disappeared and Wilson was left with the nurse, kneeling next to a puddle of blood.
He felt a weird need to see the Winchester boy in the hospital, to make sure that he was, in fact, still alive. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt such a connection with a student before. Little had been said as to the cause of Dean's condition, but Wilson couldn't help but wonder if someone had threatened the kid, or if something Dean had alluded to before, some of the shit he thought people should be afraid of, was responsible.
"Dean Winchester," Wilson said at the ICU desk, and a nurse looked up at him.
"He's in room 401, but I don't know if he's allowed visitors yet," she said, and Wilson frowned.
"That bad?" He whispered, and she shook her head.
"I can tell you his condition, but that's it."
"That's fine. How is he?"
"He's in serious condition, but stable. He was still critical this morning, so he's doing better." Wilson nodded in understanding. "I'll need to go back and confirm with his family and doctor for you to see him. What's your name?"
"Jeffrey Wilson. I'm Dean's English teacher."
"It may take a few minutes," the nurse said expectantly.
"Okay. I can wait." His wife would have laughed and said 'I told you so' if Dean wasn't barely out of the dying zone. Instead she had pressed a bouquet of flowers into his hands and kissed him on the cheek and told him to go make sure that he was okay. Wilson adored his wife.
"Sir? Mr. Wilson? You can come with me," the nurse he'd talked to before said, and Wilson walked back with trepidation, not wanting to see the cocky kid he'd gotten so used to in a hospital bed. Flowers in hand, he stepped into the room the nurse indicated, immediately feeling overwhelmed a gruff looking man stood up, his stance nothing less than hostile. The kid that he'd seen before was sitting next to Dean, talking in low tones to his brother. Dean was lying in the bed, a cannula up his nose and IVs in his arms, bandages peeking from under the gown he was wearing. The man raised an eyebrow, silently demanding an answer.
"Mr. Winchester?" Wilson hazarded, remembering that last time he'd said that name.
"Yeah." There was an awkward pause.
"Your son's quite the young man," Wilson said finally, and Winchester Senior's stance loosened only slightly.
"Why are you here?" He asked roughly, and Wilson took a step back. The boy stood up suddenly.
"It's okay, Dad. This is the teacher I told you about. The one that helped Dean when…" His voice trailed off, and the man nodded.
"Okay Sammy. Thanks." He turned back to Wilson and offered a weary, hesitant smile. "Thanks for helping my boy. He, uh, thanks."
"Not a problem. I just hope he gets well soon," Wilson said, setting the flowers down on the lone table in the room.
"He will," Winchester Senior said, and Wilson could see the unspoken fondness, the relief and gratitude that his kid would be okay.
Not even a week later, he got the notice that Dean Winchester had transferred out of the school, and he felt a stronger sadness than he would have thought possible.
It would be weeks before he stopped looking for the swaggering figure to saunter through the door five minutes late.
For now, though, he re-read the essays that had caused him so much grief and remembered a certain Dean Winchester.