"Dad! Were you alive when the first man was put on the moon?" Dean asked, bright green eyes full of energy and innocent enthusiasm.
"Yeah, I was. I was a teenager."
"Wow." Dean said in a breathless gasp. Silence punctuated by little Sammy's sleeping noises filled the car. John looked over at his eldest, who was sitting next to him, on the floorboards of the car, flashlight in hand, knees pulled up to his little chest, reading a book on astronauts that he had found at a motel somewhere within the last couple of weeks.
"Did you know that it was Neil Armstrong who was the first man to walk on the moon?" Dean asked a few moments later.
"Yeah, son I did. Like every other American I sat and watched it on television. I was at my grandmother's house and she simply shook her head and mumbled that fiction shouldn't be on the news."
Dean looked up from the book and gave his father a perplexed look. "Why didn't great grandma think it was real?"
"Some people can't believe things that they don't experience."
"Like us. With the ghosts?"
"Yeah, Dean, like with the ghosts."
"People are nuts." Dean mumbled and went back to his book.
"Son, you need to get back up here, and get some sleep."
"I'm not sleepy."
"Dean." John said with the edge of authority that made Dean do exactly what he wanted. And true to form gangly pre-teen Dean climbed up on the seat, drug the blanket, flashlight, and book up with him. He put his head under the covers and was about to turn on the flashlight when John pulled the blanket from his head. "No. You need sleep."
"But if I want to be an astronaut, I need to read Dad."
Dean wanted to be an astronaut. That was new information. John suppressed a sigh. That wasn't Dean's life, he would never be an astronaut. "Dean, you don't like to fly."
"I don't have to fly."
"Then how do you think that astronauts get into space?"
"I don't have to be one of the ones that goes up into space. I can be the one on the ground and make the…the…" Dean pulled out the book and flipped a few pages, "shuttle." He said slowly and with concentration. "I can be the one who makes the shuttle, or fixes the shuttle. Like I help you fix the Impala. A car and a space ship can't be THAT much different." Dean said innocently. "So, I need to read up on this stuff. So when I get big I can build shuttles." He said happily and then mumbled. "And no one would have to call that guy Houston and that there is a problem, because there wouldn't be any damn problems with my shuttles."
"Now go to sleep. You can build shuttles later." Dean sighed and nodded, turned around, looked at his little brother, put the blanket back on his little brother's sleeping figure, and settled in the front seat and leaned against the passenger's side window and watched the stars, dreaming of building shuttles.
"Thanks again Bobby for keeping the boys." John said as Bobby handed him a beer, the two took up residence at the kitchen table.
"No problem John."
"I've got a lead on the demon. It's going to take a while."
"I'll enroll them in school. They'll be fine."
John grinned. "I have no doubt they will be fine, but well, you, old man, that's another story. Dean's on a new mission." Bobby sighed. When Dean got a new mission he was like a dog with a bone. That was all he would talk about and all he wanted to hear about.
Bobby grinned. "We're off the comic book heroes?" He asked sort of thankfully. The last time dean was here, Bobby had learned way more about Batman than he ever thought possible. And who knew the library actually had comic books or books about comic books? Bobby Singer did, and every librarian in the Sioux Falls public library, now knew more than they wanted. Because Dean, if nothing else, liked to communicate.
"I think so. He wants to be an astronaut." John took a swig of his beer. "Not the ones that fly. The ones who build shuttles."
"Boy has ambition, that's for damn sure."
"Ambition he's got. Brains he doesn't."
"He doesn't. Sammy is the brains of the family. That boy can read books I haven't even dreamed of, but Dean…" John took a drink. "He's all brawn. Have you seen how big he's gotten? He's going to be a strong man. He's not going to be the one who can build shuttles, but he'll be good at cutting the head off of a vampire."
"But you think Sammy…."
"Yeah, Sam will be the one to find the cure for cancer or something, not Dean. Dean will figure it out eventually. Dean will learn his place."
"Cutting the head off of vamps?"
Twelve year old Dean Winchester was standing just on the other side of the doorway, and heard all of it, heard every last word, and a tear rolled down his innocent face. His dad didn't think he was smart. His dad didn't think he could build space ships, his dad didn't think he could do anything other than hurt things. His dad didn't believe in him. He believed in ghosts, and monsters, and demons, and hell, but he didn't believe that Dean could build space ships. Dean bit the inside of his cheek and walked quietly up the stairs and back to the bedroom he was sharing with Sam.
"Dean?" Sam asked.
"You done reading that book?"
"Yeah. I'm done."
"Can I read it? You said I could when you were done." Dean lifted the book and handed it to his little brother.
"Sure. You can keep it."
Sam's eyes lit up. "Thanks Dean!"
"You're welcome." Sam hurried to his bed and threw himself on it and opened the book about space ships and astronauts and planets and black holes and started to read, and Dean watched for a moment sad, knowing that if Sam decided to build space ships he could, and Dad and Bobby would believe in him because Sam was smart.
Fourteen year old Sam hadn't been right since they left Truman, he had become more introverted and determined. He worked at school like a crack addict worked at getting his next fix. It was hard dealing with this new Sam, but Dean didn't mind, that was his job, that was what he was good at—figuring out Sam and keeping him safe.
So, Dean was a little surprised when Sam put down his pencil before dinner one night and announced, "I think I want to be a lawyer." Dean looked up from the eggs he was scrambling and looked at his little brother.
"A lawyer huh?"
"Yeah. I think that would be a good job."
"You are good at arguing little brother." Dean said with a smirk.
"But I really think I could help people, you know? I could help hunters who get in trouble with the law, because the law is too stupid to realize that you guys are helping the world." You guys. Sam didn't even consider himself one of the hunting community, but he did consider Dean to be one, a flash to his dad saying that he wasn't smart enough to build space shuttles came to mind, and it still had the force of a punch to the stomach all of these years later. Dean licked his lips, took the eggs out of the pan and put them on Sam's plate.
"Yeah Sammy. I think you would make a great lawyer. You could keep my ass out of jail." He said with a smirk.
"Dean. Really. That would be a full time job."
"Yeah, I guess it would be." Dean looked at his brother and tried to smile. "Eat. Your ginormous brain needs fed so it can think and become a great lawyer."
"Aren't you hungry?" Sam asked and gestured towards Dean's empty plate.
"No. I ate a big lunch." Dean lied effortlessly.
He sat with Sam while he ate, it was the only 'family' type thing that Dean insisted on, and he listed to Sam talk about what lawyers did, and what kind of lawyer he would be, and Dean nodded and joked and quipped, and encouraged. Sam would never know discouragement, not like he had. Sam could be whatever he wanted to be. Cutting the heads off of vampires wasn't the only option in this life for Sam. Sam was smart, and Dean believed in him.