Disclaimer : Bobby, Sam and Dean are not mine, they belong to Supernatural, CW and Eric Kripke.
Written for the prompt "Teen Dean worries himself sick."
"'lo," Bobby greeted the caller gruffly. "It'd be better be fuckin' important to call me at this time o' the night!"
His words were met with silence and he grunted in disapproval. He waited a moment or two longer before adding, "Either speak up or hang up but if you think this is improving my mood, you're wrong!"
Bobby closed his eyes, regretting every word that had passed his lips since he'd picked up the phone. "Dean! Kid, you okay? You need something?" God he wished he hadn't been so fucking harsh when he answered the phone, because it would have been the last thing the kid needed to hear.
"Uncle Bobby . . . I – I think . . . I can't . . . I don't know what to do, Uncle Bobby."
Bobby tipped forward, head resting against the wall as he listened, gently prising more information from Dean as the kid quietly answered his questions. "Where are ya, Dean?"
"Ya Daddy with ya?"
"N – not right now, sir." The concern in those words was clear. Bobby let out a long breath quietly, determined to try and hold the rest of his anger and frustration in check rather than have Dean believing it was aimed at him. Hell, Bobby knew well enough the kid never called for a chat.
"'k, that's okay, son. I'll come down. Won't be with ya before day after tomorra – it'll take me a good thirty hours driving to get to ya, so might even be a little longer, dependin' on traffic an' all, ya know." Bobby knew he could probably get there quicker, but giving himself breathing space for any traffic delays and the like meant the kid wouldn't need to worry about him getting there on top of the rest. "Tell me what's happened to ya'all."
"Dad's on a hunt, left me here to look after Sammy. I've been tryin'." Trying! The kid would have been doing a darn sight more than trying, Bobby knew that without a shadow of doubt.
"'k, Dean. What's up then, kiddo? Sammy alright?"
"He's . . . he's asleep." Bobby knew what that meant; the kid was more than alright, he'd got absolutely no idea that Dean was worried about anything. "He's been going to school and he's up to date with his homework an' everything."
In other words the kid was completely oblivious to there being any problems at all. Sad fact that John not being there would have barely registered on the kid's radar any longer and Dean was too good at locking down tight any of his own problems for them to really impact on his brother. "'s good, Dean. You gonna tell me what the problem is then, or am I just gonna have to wait til I get there to find out."
"Dad's not back yet."
Four words were enough. Bobby's shoulders sagged. Hell! He needed to get his thinking straight to make sure he didn't say anything out of line. Or not out of line actually . . . downright accurate about the iijit father of those two boys. He took a slow breath before asking, "When was he due?"
He can picture the look on Dean's face before the kid answers, "last week." There's nothing to be said, nothing to be done beyond driving down there to the boys and trying to fix up as much as he can and waiting on John Winchester finally putting in an appearance. So he promised Dean he'd be there as quick as he could, told him to call Pastor Jim if his Dad turned up and they weren't going to be hanging around long enough for him to reach them and to try and get some sleep.
Long practise of responding to emergencies meant that Bobby was on the road within a half hour, dressed and fed enough to drive for a few hours without needing to stop for breakfast. He'd also thrown together something that he was going to pretend to call lunch so he wouldn't need to stop for longer than it took to refill with gas and make any necessary bathroom breaks. It was a solid day's drive from Sioux Falls if all went well and Bobby was going to do everything in his power to shave time off that, every minute that he could.
Sam woke late fortunately. Admittedly it made him foul tempered because he was late for school, but it also inadvertently solved the problem that Dean had of next to no food left as Sam pulled on clothes and dashed for the door to try and make it before the bell went at school without having time to even think about breakfast. Dean snatched the last packet of chips and an apple from the cupboard and stuffed them into his brother's bag before starting the walk to school, figuring Sam could maybe eat them during his break. At least at this school his brother would get a free school lunch, Dad had this time for once admitted that money was tight on the admission forms.
The walk took almost thirty minutes most days, but Sam was determined to try and beat the bell and so he'd run for a couple of blocks then slow to a walk again. Dean was struggling to keep up and Sam was irritated with him adding it to the growing list of things he was bitching about when he wasn't out of breath. Dean didn't say anything just kept his head down and took all the bitter words silently.
It was only as they reached the school gates with minutes to spare that Sam actually spared the time to take a proper look at his brother. "Dean? Are you okay?"
Dean nodded, fixed a wide false grin on his face and tried to reassure his brother. Sam frowned but as the bell began to ring he didn't push the matter, just with a final glance at his older brother said, "Take care of yourself, Dean . . . maybe . . . maybe you need to go home and rest, maybe you're sick or something?"
Dean waved away his brother's concern, telling him he was fine, relieved when Sam finally turned away and ran up the path to the door. He turned away and began to walk back towards the motel, eyes scanning the street just in case anyone had dropped a coin or . . . fuck if he knew what he was looking for, maybe just a crack in the sidewalk that could eat him up and spit him out.
Sam's suggestion that Dean not go to school was kind of amusing in a way. He hadn't been to school now in over a week and last time Dad had been home, there'd been trouble because he'd been skipping out so much then. Wasn't like they really wanted him there so he didn't know why they bothered phoning and complaining when he wasn't. Things had been a mess ever since they'd arrived in Tucson. Dad had been as good as broke, barely enough money to get them a room in a motel at all and god was the motel disgusting.
Dean had tried to get some odd jobs, tried to get some cash, but hell the area they were in wasn't exactly flush with money. He'd picked up a bit of babysitting for some thankfully not too awful brats and a few hours helping shift some stuff for some people who were moving. They'd even let him have his pick of the stuff they didn't want anymore. He'd managed to convince Dad to come pick it up and they'd taken it to a junk store and sold it for another fifty bucks. Not much, but right now, Dean would have been grateful for ten bucks let alone a whole fifty.
Dad had been away a lot on jobs and he'd left Dean with barely any money each time he'd gone. It had been a frigging nightmare trying to keep Sam fed, keep the motel manager off their backs every time they didn't have enough money to pay rent and buy food. Sam had had another growth spurt so nothing fit right and Dean . . . Dean had three dollars twenty cents left and Dad was four days' late coming back and . . .
His feet slowed and he leant back against the wall and closed his eyes. Fuck if he knew what to do. His first instinct had been to phone Pastor Jim, but . . . Dad had argued big time with the Pastor and Dean didn't want to make things worse by letting the Pastor know just how bad things were right now. He was left with three options, Bobby, Caleb or the job he'd been offered . . . Even now in the daylight he didn't know if he'd made the right choice by calling Bobby.
Hell, calling Bobby, calling Caleb wasn't really that much of a difference really, but Bobby tended to stick closer to his home in Sioux Falls, was more likely to be there to answer the phone. At three in the morning, everything had seemed insurmountable and Dean had just given in and finally made the call. After the initial temper on being woken, Dean had heard the older man's voice soften, heard how he was actually pleased that Dean had called him, had asked him for help and right now Dean just had to hang on and hope that he'd done the right thing.
They'd all told him for as long as he could remember to steer clear of drugs and so far the only offer of real money he'd had involved carrying drugs for some guy who hung out not far from Sammy's school. Dean had passed him often enough as he made the trip between Sam's school and his own. Dean's attention had been drawn on more than one occasion by the pretty girls that tended to hang around with him. The guy had seen him looking and laughed, like any of them would be interested in a scrawny looking fourteen year old. Then there'd been the fight, nothing to do with the guy, just some idiots who'd followed Dean from school pissed about something and tried to jump him. He'd held his own, almost got on top of it when the drug guy had sent a lackey to his rescue.
Between them they had easily seen the kids from school off and got Dean 'an audience with the man', which he had to admit to himself even he thought was pretentious crap. Apparently, 'the man' had been impressed with Dean's 'skillz'. It had been all Dean could do not to roll his eyes at the deliberately exaggerated speech patterns, the attempt to intimidate him. Hell, it had kind of worked anyway.
'The man' had gone on to offer Dean a job 'running some errands', apparently he thought Dean was 'a man in his prime and in his form' whatever that meant. Dean had managed to get away . . . once . . . and from then on he'd found another way to travel from his school to Sam's. He thought again of Pastor Jim and Bobby and what their faces would look like if he'd taken up the offer, wondered if Dad would even have noticed.
He was tired and dragging his feet by the time he made it back to the motel. He fished in his pocket for the key, felt the jingle of the last few coins in his pocket and contemplated spending it and getting himself something to eat.
He shook his head clearing the thought out . . . he was okay, he could manage a bit longer and Sam still needed dinner. He opened the door and heard a shout behind him. He wanted to just go in and close the door behind him, but knew that the motel manager would just come and hammer on the door anyway, so he turned.
He looked up and waited, holding the door closed behind him. The guy arrived rapidly, hands gesticulating wildly as he shouted a long stream of expletive-ridden complaints about late payment of rent for the room and what was Dean's Dad going to do about it. Dean stood silently waiting for the tirade to finish before saying quietly, "I'll tell Dad. He'll come and . . ."
The guy's face seemed to soften and he reached out a hand to Dean's arm. Dean jerked back with an angry glare, like hell was he going to . . . "Sorry kid, just you looked for minute like you were going to pass out there," the guy said, suddenly much calmer. "You okay?"
"I – I'm fine," Dean said, trying to brush off the guy's attention. "Like I said, I'll tell Dad. He'll come see you as soon as ."
The guy nodded, but didn't go anywhere. "Listen kid . . . You've got no reason to trust me, but if you're in trouble and you need some help . . ."
"I don't need anything," Dean snapped angrily. This time he took a step backward, pushing the door open and stepping through, slamming it closed behind him and slipping the chain on. He sagged against the door. He was so fucking tired.
He dragged himself into the kitchenette, grabbing a glass and turning on the tap, letting the water run clear and fresh before filling it and taking great gulping swallows. He watched as the water continued to run, mesmerized for a moment by the way the sunlight through the window made it glisten and sparkle. He blinked and shook his head trying to clear the foggy thoughts, before just leaning forward and putting his head under the water and letting it soak his face, head, hair, hoping that somehow it would clear his thoughts.
He felt more awake anyway as he pulled himself back up and turned the tap off, shaking his head and letting the water drip, splash and sprinkle around him. He pulled his jacket off and made his way across to the table where he'd left some of the free newspapers he'd picked up the day before. He'd started reading them then, but it was just too difficult to concentrate. He just wanted to sleep or maybe to eat. He'd barely had anything in days now, trying to manage on as little as possible so that Sam was okay.
He turned to the job ads, knowing already that he wouldn't find anything. People didn't advertise in papers for the kind of job he needed, it was luck of the draw, right place right time, knowing someone that was what counted. He couldn't go for anything during the time he was supposed to be in school and outside that time would mean Sam being 'home alone' and Dean didn't like that. Not here, not now. This area just wasn't really safe. Fuck!
Bobby was coming, he reminded himself. Bobby wouldn't let him down, leave him high and dry. Not like Dad. Dean slumped forward, arms on the table, head resting on them. Where the fuck was Dad anyway?
His eyes drifted closed, his body shivering intermittently as the cold water from his hair seeped down his neck. He fell into an uneasy slumber.
He woke later, groggy, dizzy and disoriented, stiff shoulders and neck, hair spiking randomly. Pulling himself up awkwardly, he headed for the bathroom, showering and trying to make himself look presentable. Nothing else to do he tidied round the motel room, picking up Sam's random shit and collecting it together before dropping it on his bed, packing his own stuff back in his duffle bag. He took a few moments to look through his bag and note the lack of clean clothes, pulling out a couple of t-shirts, socks and briefs and taking them into the bathroom to wash by hand, hanging them over the bath to drip before checking Sam's bag and pulling out a few things and repeating the process, adding Sam's to the dripping selection.
Finished with that, he looked round the room again tiredly. Nothing had really changed, there was still no money, no food, nothing. No hope, he thought wryly. Grabbing the door key, he left the room quickly, squinting in the bright light and heading out. He didn't have a plan, just walk and look, try to find something . . . anything that would tide them over until Bobby could get to them . . . or Dad came back.
Dean's feet trailed wearily, hour after hour round the streets. He'd been inordinately pleased to find three quarters in different places dropped on the sidewalk and the flutter of a lone dollar bill had nearly brought tears to his eyes with relief. He'd got almost five dollars now. Nobody should be this happy with five dollars in their pocket but he was. He could at least now put something on the table for Sammy to eat tonight, maybe even enough for him to have a bit too.
He felt his vision waver, his head spin. Fuck! He was too tired for this shit. He started back towards Sam's school.
He swayed, dizzier still now. Leaning against the wall, he took a few long slow breaths trying to steady himself. He looked across the road at the school, no sign of the kids coming out. He sighed, lifted his arm to look at his watch and took a few minutes to clear his vision long enough to make out the time. Too fucking early. He couldn't hang around here for an hour. He looked round before starting to walk further along the street, eventually finding a side road and making his way down it before finding somewhere to hide out of sight of passersby. He didn't have the energy left to keep just walking.
He barely made it back to school in time for Sam to come out, saw his brother's look of consternation and knew he wasn't looking good, worse even than he was trying to convince himself he felt. "So . . . Sammy . . . Tell me about your day," he said as they began to walk.
Sam just stared at him for a moment or two before saying, "How about you tell me about yours instead? Did you go back to the motel and rest? Cos you look like shit!"
"Sammy," he growled in response.
"Dean . . . when's Dad coming back? I . . . I think maybe you . . ."
"'s under control Sammy. You've got nothing to worry about. I've got everything under control." Sam looked at him, his expression a cross between wishful and concern. Dean saw Sam's hand reaching out for him, tried to bat it away ineffectually as Sam caught his arm, pulling him forward. It was only then that Dean realized he'd been swaying, almost losing his balance.
Sam didn't say a word, but didn't let go either, just led his brother back to the motel in silence. Dean pulled out the key and managed after a moment's fumbling to get it in the lock, stumbling through the door into the blessed dim light. Sam gave him a gentle push towards the bed and said, "Lie down, dude, before you fall down," relieved when Dean did just that.
Sam looked at his brother as he lay with his eyes closed, one arm flung up onto his forehead. Sam could see the dark rings around Dean's eyes, see the way he hadn't relaxed and didn't know what to do to help. He stood up and moved into the kitchenette area, pulling a glass from the cupboard and running himself a glass of water. School was the only thing about this place that made it okay. Seriously, the motel sucked, they'd got next to no money and Dean had been feeding them both crap for weeks now because Dad never left them with enough food or money.
He didn't blame his brother at all, knew Dean was doing everything he could and more. He'd been picking up bits of work when he could, he was the one doing the shopping and the cooking and Dad was just down on him all the time. Sam had heard the arguments or rather the put downs. Sam didn't know how Dean managed to keep going like he did, knew that lately it had been getting to be too much but didn't really know what to do to help. Dean was in trouble with Dad for skipping out of school, but the only way Dean could make it from his school to Sam's in time for the end of Sam's school day was to leave before his last period and Dad wasn't going to start letting Sam walk home alone not round this area anyway.
Sam started to poke through the cupboards, figuring maybe there'd be something he could make for dinner so that Dean could rest and not worry for once. There was nothing there, nothing beyond the motel provided plates and pans. He turned to look at his brother and saw sorrow-filled eyes staring back at him. "Sorry, Sammy," Dean muttered, before covering his eyes again. "There's nothing there, I'll go out and get something in a bit."
Sam sighed and moved across to his brother's bed. He reached out a hand to put it on Dean's forehead but his brother batted it away tiredly. "Dean, I just . . ."
"Sammy, I'm fine. It's just a headache and I'm a bit tired."
Sam sighed, eyes sadly watching his brother's denial. Sitting beside Dean he could feel the tension, see that Dean wasn't relaxed at all, despite the sprawled position. He lay down alongside and rested his head on his brother's shoulder quietly, grateful when Dean's free arm wrapped round him and held him close. He let himself relax and pretend that everything was going to be okay, that Dean really did have it all under control.
The two boys drifted half asleep for an hour or so, before Dean finally stirred and Sam sat up, reaching back to help Dean get up. The sight of Dean slightly shaky and disoriented, dark rings round his eyes and a deep frown on his forehead was enough for Sam to remember the argument about a month ago between his brother and his Dad. "Dean, what have you eaten today?" he asked suddenly panicked, trying to remember the last time he had seen Dean really eating a proper meal. He thought back to what he'd been eating himself, how the servings on his plate had been getting smaller and smaller. He rushed over to his school bag, throwing books on to the table haphazardly as he rummaged through and found the apple Dean had stuffed in there that morning, suddenly wishing that he hadn't eaten the chips. He brought the apple back to the bed, forcing it into Dean's hand saying , "Eat Dean, please eat it . . . you can't fix this if you can't think straight." He held his breath until Dean slowly bit into the apple. Dean ate slowly, eyes still unfocussed until he's about halfway through the apple.
As Dean seemed to be coming back to himself, Sam stood and walked across to the phone, picking it up and starting to dial. Dean's attention reached him and he said, "Stop, Sam. Don't!"
Reluctantly Sam hung up and moved back to his brother. "Give me a good reason why I shouldn't."
"I've done it already," Dean admitted quietly. "Help's coming . . . Uncle Bobby's on his way." Sam didn't make any attempt to hide his relief, instead sitting down and curling into his brother's side. "I'm sorry, Sammy," Dean muttered softly.
"Don't be sorry, Dean. It's not your fault."
It took about fifteen minutes for Dean to be able to get up without being overwhelmed by dizziness and Sam insisted on seeing money before they head to the store, not sure whether his brother really was intending buying anything. Dean was in no fit state to try stealing anything and making a run for it either. They walked slowly together down the block to the store where Dean handed over the four dollars and ninety five cents to his brother, leaving Sam to do the Math and work out what they can buy. Sam was familiar enough with the process to know what to look for. He found the shelf with stock that was almost out of date and rummaged through it coming up with a box of mac and cheese that had been reduced to seventy cents and several packets of chips and a couple of granola bars that together with the mac will only cost him two dollars. It still left him two dollars ninety so he headed over to the chiller cabinet getting a carton of milk and two apples. He looked back at his brother wavering again and decided it was close enough.
He slipped the final twenty cents into his pocket. If Uncle Bobby wasn't here by tomorrow lunch then he'd called Pastor Jim, whatever Dean tried to say.
The walk back to the motel had worn Dean out and no matter how hard he was trying to hide it, he was failing. Sam had just taken over, making all the decisions, shoving his brother into a chair at the table and making up the mac and cheese himself. He poured a glass of milk and placed it on the table in front of Dean. "When's Bobby gonna get here?" he asked quietly, worried that Dean had left it too late to call for help.
"Tomorrow," Dean answered. "Probably about lunch time from what he said. Depends on traffic and stuff though."
Sam nodded getting two plates out and splitting the mac and cheese between them, wishing there had been a second box in the reduced section. He put more on Dean's plate than his own and carried them over, ignoring Dean's attempts at making him eat the bigger portion, just reminding his brother that he'd eaten at school today and Bobby was coming tomorrow so it was okay for Dean to eat this now.
He fetched himself a glass and poured some milk, topping up Dean's glass quickly at the same time.
With the mac and cheese and a packet of chips each behind them along with the whole carton of milk, Dean seemed a little better. The two of them sat down on Dean's bed to watch TV. Sam relaxed back against his brother's chest, Dean's hair sifting through his hair. He felt safe, protected, wished Dean could have that feeling too. He let his eyes drift shut to the thought that Uncle Bobby was coming and he'd be able to look after Dean. He smirked slightly at the thought of what Bobby would say to Dad as well.
Dean shifted slightly, saying ,"Shouldn't you be doing your homework, kiddo?"
"Nah," Sam replied. "Not going back to that school so I don't need to worry. Uncle Bobby'll take us back to his, won't he?" Sam sure hoped he was right, because he was fed up of seeing his brother so weighed down.
They fell asleep side by side, the TV still playing in the background. It was Sam who woke to the sound of someone knocking at the door. It was late, real late and . . . he heard a voice through the door, "Deano, you gonna open up this door for me or am I gonna wake the neighbours, boy."
Sam dived for the door, without waking his brother. He kept the chain on but opened the door a crack, enough to see Bobby on the other side. "Wait!" he said, closing the door and undoing the chain before opening it again. "Dean's asleep, he's not well, he's not been eating enough," Sam let the words pour out.
Bobby nodded, looking around in disgust at the room. No way he was staying the night here. "Your bag packed, Sammy? Dean's?" Sam turned his attention to gathering their stuff up and jamming it haphazardly into the duffle bags before heading into the bathroom to pick up the few things in there and taking the still damp washing from over the bath. He pushed the damp things into the bag he'd got at the store and then gathered up his school stuff, checking round the room.
Bobby had spent the time waking Dean and talking to him quietly, convincing him of the need to move. Dean looked sick, worn down and weary and Sam could see the anger in Bobby's expression. The older man looked across, face easing into a smile as he said, "Got everything, kiddo?" At Sam's nod, he crossed the room to pick up some of the bags before heading out to the truck outside. Sam followed him with another bag and they left Dean to check the room. Bobby told Sam to climb in and get buckled in while he fetched Dean.
Back in the room, Dean looked up as Bobby entered and crossed the room. "Have we got everything, son?" Dean nodded, eyes still downcast, until Bobby's hand gripped his shoulder and pulled him closer. "You did the right thing, Deano. Shouldn't have left it so long though, cos you look like shit," and with that he gave the boy a short sharp hug, before pushing him towards the door.
They spent a couple of days at a better motel, not that far from where they were staying before. Bobby took them out to diners and made them both eat everything on their plate. Sam he let pick his own meals, but Dean he gave more direction, still giving him a choice but not letting money be a factor and making sure that everything Dean ate was energy giving. The time gave John a few more days' grace to turn up but when there was still no sign at lunch on the third day, Bobby checked them out of the motel, bundled them both into the truck, ignoring any objections and started to drive North.
They stop overnight just outside of Santa Fe, eating another decent meal before Bobby sent them to bed with the promise that they'd need to get up early. They finally rolled into Bobby's yard about six the following evening.
And that's exactly where they stayed until John finally turned up. Bobby kept in touch with Jim and Caleb to make sure that they knew where the boys were. Caleb headed down to Tucson to try and locate John, more than willing to give the man a piece of his mind about leaving his sons like that.
Finally located by Caleb, John seemed repentant enough in Tucson but by the time they get to Bobby's, both boys are fit and well, if still worried about their Dad but there's no real proof of just how much his boys suffered, how ill Dean had been becoming. The hunters all know that it's still too easy for John to ignore the reality, to not have to open his eyes to what he's doing to his eldest boy or how he's damaging his relationship with his youngest because while Dean may be ready to soldier on, by the day Sam is growing more aware of how wrong his father's actions are and how much his brother is suffering.
So with Dean's relief at his Dad's return and Sam's intention to protect his older brother from his Dad's neglectful treatment, it isn't long before the boys are back in the Impala and John is hitting the road again. The difference this time . . . Hidden in the bottom of both boys' bags is a secret stash of money. Neither of them have told their Dad about it. Dean has earnt his working on jobs for Bobby round the yard and he hasn't told his brother either, determined to keep it in case of emergencies.
Sam's is also hidden, also 'earnt' for jobs he's done for Bobby. He's not going to tell his Dad because John will just assume it's there to be spent, use it for ammo or something similar. He's not going to tell Dean either, but he's going to know it's there and when food is short and Dean won't eat, he'll call Bobby and tell him that they're in trouble and that all they have left is the money from his bag and Bobby will know and Bobby will come and next time it happens, Dean won't be so ill by the time Bobby or Jim or Caleb gets to them and Dean will be okay because Sam can look after Dean, just like Dean looks after him.