Hi all. I'm not from the US so please feel free to call me on any mistakes/spellings/phrases that don't make sense. This is my first piece of fanfic so please be gentle!

Unbeta'd, WIP

A/N: I don't own supernatural or any of its characters.

NOW:

He was pretty sure his father was crying.

It was getting harder to concentrate but the more he looked, the more sure he was that those were tears running down his fathers cheeks, and he wondered if the great John Winchester knew he was weeping openly in front of his son. It had been fourteen years since he'd last seen his father cry, tears shed for his wife and the life they had promised each other, however on this occasion he did not believe that his fathers tears were those of grief, and he would not mourn his son as he had mourned his wife.

His fathers hands gripped his shoulders tightly, holding him under the water, the pressure constant, no matter how he much he tried to twist and turn and jerk and claw, trying to pry his fathers hands free. The burning in his chest increased and he involuntarily took another gasp, another mouthful of water, another step closer to a private meeting with a reaper that was much too far ahead of schedule.

This was not how he wanted to go out, being drowned in a dirty motel bath, unable to fight off a man twenty years his senior. He always knew he would die young, a hunters life rarely correlating with old age, though he had pictured himself dying in the line of duty, going down in a blaze of glory, and hopefully taking some evil SOB with him. This was definitely not how he wanted things to end. He was broken, useless, an embarrassment that his father could not tolerate, as they were oh so keen to remind him. So pathetic that it fell to his father to find the courage that Dean did not have and to do what Dean would not do, and put him out of his miserable existence, like way to put another weight on Dad's shoulders, Dean.

He vaguely sensed that someone else had entered the room, but no one attempted to stop his father, and he prayed that it was not Sam. He hoped that his dad would be considerate enough to lie to Sam about his death, or at least tell him that Dean had put up a good fight, and had the warriors death he'd always envisioned. He could no longer kick his legs and his vision began to darken, and the finality began to dawn on him as his grip loosened on his fathers hands, and his dying thought was that he was glad that he was not alone at the end of all things.

THEN:

The last day of the school year always involved a modicum of chaos. Parents who suddenly found themselves accountable for the twenty-four hour entertainment of overactive children and underactive teenagers scrambled to arrange holidays, play-dates, ensure the kids were packed for camp, while the kids themselves tried to keep out of trouble for fear that one over-zealous teacher who did not remember being a child, would call their parents and they'd have another few days shaved off the holiday calendar.

Sam would never admit it as it would just confirm the geek-boy tag his brother had given him, but he usually didn't like this time of year. Firstly, he enjoyed school and studying. He liked that facts he didn't know or couldn't grasp last year were now second nature to him, and he felt a sense of accomplishment when he handed in an assignment. More importantly, it was the one thing he excelled at over his family. Dean would always be faster, stronger, and his father always had to be the best in, well, everything, but education and information was where Sam shone.

The second reason he disliked this time of year was that it reinforced just how sucky his own life was. While other kids went to camp, travelled the world, or just relaxed, the Winchesters spent the summer being dragged from town to town, chasing another lead of their dad's, and suffering through training regimes that would put Navy SEALS to shame. And after the past few months they'd already had, Sam was sure this summer was going to be particularly unpleasant.

His fears were confirmed when he walked into their apartment to find his brother still sprawled out on the couch in front of the television. They had been staying the Armview apartments for the past three months, and Dean had become a permanent fixture on that couch for the past two weeks. Dean had been injured in a hunt, a simple salt and burn where Dean had unfortunately had one of his "vacant episodes" as Sam had taken to calling them, and had failed to notice the spirit in front of him until it threw him head first into a gravestone. Their father had quickly taken care of the spirit, in which time Dean had sufficiently recovered his game face, so that their father could continue pretending that the only problem was Dean's current injury and not the odd behaviour that had caused it.

His face had been badly bruised, though nothing was broken, but their father had been forced to keep him from school, out of the way of nosy, but usually well-meaning teachers. Each morning and afternoon, Sam's last image of Dean was of him in this exact position - sprawled out on the couch, his feet resting on the small coffee table, staring with unfocused eyes at the television. The fact that he hadn't even looked up when Sam entered the room was a worrying sign.

"Dean?" Sam threw his school bag on the table and set about making himself a snack. "Hey, do you want a sandwich?"

He looked over at his brother who had still not looked up from the television. His lips were twitching slightly, with words that were not fully formed though he did not make a sound. Looks like it's going to be one of those days, Sam thought. He stood in front of his brother, keeping enough distance that he would hopefully be out of harms way should Dean wake from this episode confused and defensive, something he'd unfortunately had to learn the hard way. He switched off the television and clapped his hands near Dean's face, until his brother woke from his stupor, Dean's eyes fluttering briefly before resting on his brother.

"Hey, Sammy." He absentmindedly rubbed his brow and pulled himself up straighter on the couch. "Sorry, I must have dozed off. You been home long?"

"No. I just got in. It was the last day of term today and we all had to stay for some stupid assembly on changes to the curriculum next year. As if it matters, we'll probably be five states over by next term."

"Well Sammy, I for one am relishing the next school year - because after that, I'll be a free man. No more homework, no more detention."

"Dean, you never did your homework, and you liked getting detention. You said it made you look dangerous and that, and I quote, chicks dug it." Dean laughed, something that had been happening increasingly rarely the past few months.

"Yeah, chicks dig the bad boys, Sammy. Do you remember that one school when…" He trailed off, confusion etched on his face and began rubbing his brow again.

"Yeah?"

"Never mind. I'm just getting mixed up." Again.

Sam headed back to the table and finished making his sandwich. Dean again refused his offer of a snack, muttering something about having already eaten which Sam knew was a blatant lie but decided not to call him on it today.

"Hey, Dean? Do you want to take a shower? Or at least shave? Dad said he'd be home tonight," Sam hinted. Last week when their father had come home to find Dean unshaven and having not showered for four days, he almost manhandled him into the shower himself. At least he was starting to notice there was a problem.

"Dean? Are you so damn useless now that you can't even wash yourself?"

"What'd you say?" He looked up at Sam sharply, but saw only concern in his eyes.

"I just asked if you wanted to go for a shower," Sam replied quietly. Dean's expression softened and he finally began to shift from the couch.

"Sure thing, Sammy. And maybe I'll take that sandwich after all."