Brace Yourself

Summary: Why is Dean acting like such a brat?

Disclaimer: Still don't own anything.

A/N: This has been sitting on my hard drive for awhile. It was supposed to be included in a flashback for another story I was writing, but the timeline in the other story really didn't work to include this one, plus there are a number of POV's in this, that I'm not really sure would work as a flashback, so I decided to post it as a standalone. It makes sense without reading any other stories.

I hope you enjoy it.

Nine year old Sam Winchester made his way down the hallway to the den at his Uncle Bobby's house. It was his favorite place in the whole world. He loved being surrounded by all the books his surrogate uncle owed.

He also loved words and he'd learned what the word surrogate meant a few days ago. He'd made it a plan this summer to learn a new word every day.

He looked at the shelves trying to find a new book. He'd finished the one on shapeshifters yesterday and he'd put it back in the spot he had taken it from. Even though there was no rhyme or reason to Bobby's filing system, he would know instantly if there was a book out of place. He put it back on the shelf below the books he was forbidden to touch. He was curious, but he behaved himself and didn't touch them because Bobby had threatened to ban him from the library if he was caught. It was something the youngest Winchester never wanted to risk.

He finally selected a book on ghouls and went over to the window, where Bobby kept a big bean bag chair. It was actually for his dog, but Sam fit into it just fine. The puppy usually came in and jumped up and shared it with him. Sure enough, as soon as Sam settled in, Rumsfeld wasn't far behind. No one in his family was the type to worry about a little bit of dog hair. Sam sighed contentedly as he lazily stoked the dog's fur, the warm sun beating in through the window.

He hadn't read more than a page and a half before he heard his father's voice booming throughout the house.


Sam sighed again. This time it wasn't from contentment, it was from frustration. What the hell had he done now? Sure, he'd given his dad grief a few times, but he hadn't done anything since they had gotten to Bobby's. He was reading books about the monsters they hunted, and he'd even worked on some ancient Greek with Uncle Bobby the night before.

"In here," Sam called warily.

"Where?" John called back sounding very irritated.

"The den. What's up?"

"Where the hell is your brother?" John growled as he walked into the den. He'd been looking for Dean for the last 5 minutes and right now, he was in a very bad mood, and he was taking it out on whoever had the bad luck to cross his path.

"He's in our room, isn't he?" Sam questioned. He thought that Dean had still been asleep when he had gotten up, but that had been about a half hour ago. Or he guessed it was since there was a mound under the blankets.

"He's not there," John said, as if that was Sam's fault.

"I don't know where he is then. Uncle Bobby is in the garage. Maybe he went out to help him," Sam offered. He wasn't Dean's keeper.

"He knows God damn well he wasn't supposed to leave the house." The 'why didn't you stop him?' part, even though it was unspoken, could be heard loud and clear.

"I've been here since I got up," Sam defended himself. "I didn't even see him."

"He has his appointment today. I'm already running behind and I don't want to be late."

Sam had forgotten that was today. "Try the salvage yard. Good luck," Sam replied. "You're gonna need it," he mumbled under his breath.

John stalked out to the garage, where his friend was hard at work on the engine of a Mustang. He was going to throttle his eldest when he got a hold of him.

"Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning," Bobby quipped after taking one look at John. You could practically see the steam coming out of his ears.

"Where is he?" John ground out through gritted teeth.

"Who?" Bobby asked.

"Dean. Come on, Bobby, we're going to be late, and if we're too late, they'll make us reschedule, and this appointment took 6 months to get to begin with. Is he hiding out here?"

"He's not here, Johnny. If he was, I would have marched him right back to the house," Bobby pointed out. "I made the appointment remember?"

"Fine, where does he hide when he's here?" John asked. He could feel a headache coming on, that was growing more intense by the minute. He made a vow that his son was going to be in as much pain as he was when he found him.

"If he's trying to avoid someone, he's usually here in the garage, but if he's in the salvage yard..." Bobby trailed off.

Singer Salvage sat on about 10 acres of land. Out back of the garage was miles and miles of old, hallowed out cars. If Dean was out there, it could take hours to find him. This was exactly what his eldest was counting on.

"Let's go look for him," Bobby said as he laid down his wrench. "I'll start by heading south, if you want to take north. Don't be too hard on him, okay Johnny. This isn't easy for anyone."

"I know that," John said. "He's just making it worse, though."

Bobby walked to the south field. He had a feeling that he knew where Dean was. Bobby had acquired a broken down '67 Impala like the one John drove, except that it was white, and Dean liked to go out there and tinker with its engine. If Dean was upset, it was likely to be the first place he'd head to, and Bobby wanted to find him before John got a hold of him.

13 year old Dean Winchester looked at his watch again. It seemed like the damn thing was going backwards. He just needed to hide for about another 45 minutes, and then it would be too late to make his appointment. He knew his dad was going to be mad, furious actually, especially since he could hear his father calling him, but he'd find a hunt in a day or two and it would be over, until he rescheduled the appointment, but he'd deal with that when they came to it. Dean just scrunched down further in the seat and checked his watch again. When his father moved further away, he would have to go find another place. The old impala had no doors and Dean felt too exposed. For once, he didn't care about pleasing his father. He was not going to that appointment.

"DEAN!" He heard his father again. He could feel his father's blood boiling from just the way he said his name. Oh well, if his father killed him, he couldn't reschedule the appointment and it solved his problem either way.

"If you want to hide, kid, I suggest picking a spot that's not obvious," Bobby said as he climbed into the Impala beside his wayward nephew.

Dean jumped so high he almost knocked his head off the roof. "Jeez, Bobby, give a guy a heart attack why don't you."

"It'll go with the stroke your father's about to have. Come on, kid. This is gonna happen whether you like it or not, so you may as well come clean before your daddy finds you. It'll go easier if you turn yourself in."

"NO!" Dean stated emphatically. "Don't tell him where I am," Dean pleaded.

Bobby didn't say anything, he just got out and walked over to the side where Dean was sitting and tugged on his arm. "Get out of the car, Dean," he said firmly. "JOHNNY, FOUND HIM," Bobby yelled across the yard.

Dean just shot the mechanic a look of pure betrayal. "I thought I could count..."

"Don't," Bobby cut him off. "Just be thankful I found you first. At least this way there'll be witnesses."

Reluctantly, Dean got out of the car and he immediately felt a big hand clamp down on his shoulder. "Boy, you even think about running, I'm handcuffing you myself."

"I don't need..."

"DEAN SCOTT WINCHESTER!" John called out. He was both relieved and furious, relieved because it was always scary for a parent when you couldn't find your child. Now that he had found him, though, all bets were off.

"Let's go, Dean. We're already late."

"No," Dean said stubbornly once more.

"That wasn't a suggestion, it was an order. Move your ass or sitting on it is going to be very uncomfortable."

"I would suggest keeping a hand on him," Bobby warned. "I feel an escape attempt might be brewing," Bobby said, trying to lighten the mood.

"You find this funny?" Dean asked incredulously. The world was coming to an end and Bobby was making jokes.

"No, I don't think it's funny, but it's gonna happen, kid, and the sooner you get used to it the better."

Bobby and John walked on either side of Dean as they led him back to the house, like he was being escorted to his execution. From the look on Dean's face, it was obvious that he thought he was. If looks could kill, both John and Bobby would be dead.

"Hey, dad?" Sam called to his father. He had been watching through the window and could see his father and brother approaching.

"What Sam?" John asked trying not to sound irritated at his youngest. Sam had done nothing wrong.

"Can I come?' He wanted to support his brother. This had been hanging over Dean's head for 6 months, and Sam knew how much his brother had been dreading it, so he wanted to support him.

"NO!" Both John and Dean said firmly.

"But..." Sam started to protest, but he was cut off when a big hand clamped down over his mouth. "Not now, Sammy," Bobby advised wisely.

John walked over to the passenger side of the Impala, opened the door and indicated for Dean to get in. It wasn't surprising when Dean didn't move.

"I will physically throw you in if I have to," John threatened. "It's your choice." John's tone left no room for doubt that he wouldn't carry out his threat.

Knowing he had no choice but to comply, Dean threw himself in the car. He crossed his arms over his chest and continued to glare at his family.

"Good luck, Johnny," Bobby said to his friend as John got into drivers side. "I'll call ahead and let them know you'll be a bit late."

"Thanks Bobby," John said gratefully as he stuck the key into the ignition, started the car and took off down the driveway.

Bobby glared at Sam. "You say one word to your brother when he gets back, so help me it will be your last," Bobby said issuing his own threat.

"I won't Bobby, promise."

"It won't be that bad, Dean," John said trying to comfort his eldest.

"It's going to be worse," Dean huffed. "Everybody's going to laugh at me."

That statement right there was almost enough to make John's anger dissipate. Almost. "Hey, buddy," he said gently. "I can guarantee you won't be the only kid with..."

"Don't say it, okay?" Dean requested. "Just don't."

"Tell you what, tomorrow we'll go to that abandoned road and I'll let you practice driving," John offered trying to make this easier on Dean.

"Bribery isn't going to work," Dean pouted.

John shrugged. "Have it your way."

"If I was having it my way, we wouldn't be here. It's just a waste of time, and totally unnecessary."

"I don't know. I don't see the doctor recommending them if you didn't need them."

"They just want to pad their bank account. How else do they pay for those Porsches and yachts? How can we afford this anyway?" Dean asked looking for any excuse to avoid this.

"Bobby offered to cover the expense. He said I can pay him back."

"I'll be sure and thank him for that," Dean mumbled under his breath. "With a shot gun full of buckshot."

"Pardon me?" John replied. "I get this is hard, but I won't tolerate you being rude. We clear on that? I mean it, Dean, I want you to say thank you to him. He cares about you boys."

"It's not you that has to get them, though, is it? Bet you'd have a different attitude if it was," Dean challenged.

God, give me strength. "How about we lose the attitude?" John suggested in a quiet, soft tone. To one who knew John Winchester, it was a lot scarier than when he yelled.

Dean just shot him a look that was a mixture of a scowl, glare, and pout all in one. He just crossed his arms tighter and turned out to stare out the window.

John didn't think a short, 20 minute drive could last so long. Dean had come to the conclusion that he wasn't speaking to his father again, so every time John attempted to make conversation, he was steadfastly ignored.

John pulled into the parking lot at Dr. Kenny McConnell's office and turned off the engine. "Let's go," John ordered. He got out of the car and started toward the building. He got a few feet away when he realized that he was still by himself. Counting to 10 very slowly, John marched back to the car and opened the passenger door. "You got two choices. One, you get out of this car and follow me, or two, I throw you over my shoulder. I'll leave it up to you."

Knowing that his father serious, Dean got out of the car and eyed the open road, mentally calculating the odds of making a break for it.

"Slim to none," John said reading Dean's thoughts, putting a hand on Dean's shoulder and literally guiding him into the building.

"Sit," John ordered and planted Dean on a seat. "I'm going to go let the doctor know we're here. I see any daylight between your butt and that chair, we are going to have some serious issues. Understand?" John wasn't surprised when Dean didn't answer.

He checked in, and was for once was glad the dentist's office ran behind schedule the same way doctors' offices did. He took a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure his little darling was still where he was supposed to be. He was.

John took a seat next to his son and picked up a Car and Driver magazine and flipped through it while he waited for Dean's name to be called. "Look," John said showing the magazine to his son. "It's a Rolls Royce. I still think our Impala kicks its ass." John resisted an urge to sigh when Dean ignored him. He really hated it when Dean went silent like this. To most it would just look like Dean was being defiant, but all John could think of was the time after Mary's death when it was months before he spoke again. He knew he was being ridiculous, Dean was just mad, that was all. Still, Dean's silences scared John no matter how irrational that fear was.

"I know you're thinking it's the end of the world, son, but I promise you it's not," John said, truly wanting to put his child at ease.


"You're not the first kid to ever need braces."


"I guarantee you won't be the only kid in you class with them."


"When I..."

"Dean Winchester," the receptionist called.

"Let's go." Somehow John wasn't surprised when Dean gave an emphatic shake of his head. "Or we go with the same options as before. Either way you're going in that office."

Dean slowly and reluctantly got up. When he did, he had a full view of the door and at that moment, a boy about Dean's age walked through, following a woman who was probably his mother. John watched as Dean's expression turned to horror and when he turned back to his dad, his expression was full of pure venom.

The other boy was wearing something that looked straight out of the medieval ages. He had braces, but attached to them was this big, metal wire that ran on either side of his face. The wires connected to this big, elastic band that went around the boy's neck and connected on the other side.

Dean froze on the spot as he watched the boy and his mother sit down. Were they going to make him wear that? There was no way. No way in Hell!

The senior hunter didn't need to be a psychic to know exactly what Dean was thinking. He reacted instantly and managed to grab Dean just as he made a break for the door. "Oh no you don't," John said as he struggled to hold a squirming Dean. Damn, the boy was strong!

"KNOCK IT OFF!" John growled.

"Let me go," Dean insisted.

John could feel the eyes of the whole office on him. He wanted to yell at them to mind their own business, but they were causing a scene and if there was anything he hated, it was not being in control.

"Enough, Dean!" John said as Dean attempted to pull away from him once more. "I'm going to count to three. If you don't grow up and start acting your age, I'm going to throw you over my knee right in the middle of this room, we clear? One, two, three."

When John got to three, he felt Dean finally grow still and he returned to shooting daggers at this father. "I hate you," Dean ground out before standing up and following the receptionist to the office. Those words should have served to increase John's temper, but they didn't. At least Dean was talking again.

Having literally faced what nightmares were made of, you would think that an orthodontist's office would be scary. It normally wouldn't be, Dean wasn't scared of dentists. After all, it had been him that told Bobby about his toothache, a big mistake, he realized now. Bobby had made an appointment. It turned out that he had a cavity. It was filled and that should have been the end of the story, but the stupid dentist had to realize that he had a slight overbite and that his teeth were crooked. He had referred him to Dr. Kenny McConnell who had recommended putting braces on his teeth. Dean didn't think too much of it at the time. After all, his dad would never agree and besides, they didn't have the money. Dean had heard that braces could cost over $6000. Then his father had told him that he had an appointment to get the stupid things put on his teeth. He wished he knew how Bobby had got him to agree. He tried to plead his case, but his reasoning fell on deaf ears. Even then Dean wasn't too worried, though. His dad would be on a hunt and would forget all about it in a few weeks.

Or so he wished. Three days before his appointment, they pulled into Bobby's drive and John reminded his eldest why they were there, which started his protests all over again. Dean was seriously beginning to think that his dad was enjoying torturing him.

"Dean," John said trying to get the attention of his son. He was starting to get a little worried. Dean looked awfully pale. "You okay?"

"Like you care," Dean huffed.

"Thin ice, buddy," John snapped back.

"Hi, I'm Debbie Taylor. I'm Dr. McConnell's assistant," A perky, red-haired girl in scrubs introduced herself as she entered the office. "The doctor will be in with you shortly. If you want to have a seat, Dean, I'm just going to take some x-rays."

"That wasn't a suggestion either," John reminded his little darling. "Sit." John gave Dean a gentle, but firm push toward the chair. John had never seen Dean move so slowly. You would have thought you were asking him to sit in an electric chair. He'd probably prefer it if it was, John thought and before he could stop himself, he felt himself grin over that thought.

"This isn't funny," Dean sulked as he watched the corners of his father's mouth turn up in an amused grin.

"Sorry, kiddo. I was thinking of something else."

"Mr. Winchester, if you want to wait outside. Sometimes it's easier for the kids if their parents aren't here."

Dean perked up a bit at that. "Not happening," John said to his son and he watched Dean deflate. "I think I'd better stay," John cautioned.

"No problem," Debbie said. "Just stay here, out of the way."

"Sure." John's plan was to stand directly in front of the door. He didn't trust his kid today at all.

"Alright Dean," Debbie said turning her attention back to her patient. "Open wide."

Yeah right! Dean had one last line of defense and he was taking it. They couldn't put braces on his teeth if he didn't open his mouth. He clamped it firmly shut and turned his gaze to the far wall.

Seriously at the end of his patience, John walked over to his wayward child and pinched his nose. It wasn't long before Dean had to open his mouth to take a breath. Debbie took advantage of the situation to put the bite plate in Dean's mouth. "We need to step out for a minute to take the x-ray," Debbie informed John.

"We're going to be gone exactly 30 seconds, John said firmly. "Under no circumstances are you to move a muscle. We clear on this?"

Not taking his eyes off his son, John walked behind the shield with the assistant. "He's not usually like this," John said feeling the need to defend Dean.

"It's all right," Debbie assured him. "He's not the first, and he won't be the last. Trust me, we've had much worse. Yesterday we had a kid we had to sedate."

That made John feel a little better. The x-rays were developed much too soon for Dean's liking and before long, Dr. McConnell showed up.

"Good afternoon, Dean, Mr. Winchester," he greeted in a friendly tone. "I'll just explain the procedure and then we can get started. Any questions just let me know."

After he was done, Dean asked what type of metal was in the braces. John had been surprised. He didn't think Dean would have any questions. Then he asked about the wires, then how long he would have to wear them, and was there any food he couldn't eat. John was amazed at just how many questions Dean was coming up with. When his son finally asked where Dr. McConnell had gotten his degree John realized what Dean was up to. He was stalling. "You get one more," John said impatiently interrupting whatever question Dean had been about to ask next. "Make it count."

"Will it hurt?" Dean asked, sounding younger than his 13 years.

Why the hell did that always happen? John was seriously ready to tear a strip out of his eldest child, yet one word had him backing down. He looked to the doctor. He hated the thought of either of his boys in pain.

"The actual procedure of applying the braces doesn't hurt. There may be some discomfort when we tighten the wires, but it shouldn't be too bad. If you do have any pain, just let me know."

"I want you to do everything the doctor tells you. Are we clear on that?" John ordered. "So help me if you even think about biting..." John trailed off, his threat clear.

"I still hate you," Dean snapped at his dad as he felt the chair begin to recline back.

It took a little over an hour before the doctor was finished. It was another hour before they could leave. The doctor had to show Dean how to clean his braces and go over what foods he should avoid, and they set up follow up visits.

"His teeth and gums may be a little sensitive for a few days. If he has any residual pain or discomfort, you can give him some Tylenol," Dr McConnell advised.

"Thanks Doc," John said.

"Dean, I prescribe ice cream for all my patients. So tell your old man he has to get you some. Doctor's orders," the orthodontist said with a wink.

"Ready to go, Dean?"

Dean nodded. He wasn't opening his mouth for the next two years.

"Are you in pain?"

Dean shook his head. It didn't hurt, exactly; it was much more of an uncomfortable feeling.

John decided to take what he could get. "Let's go home, son. Do you want ice cream?" Another head shake.

"We can get some later if you want," John offered. He was being really generous, especially given Dean's earlier behavior.

When they were about half way home, John pulled over onto a dirt road. "These roads will take us back to Bobby's, but there's hardly any traffic on them. Do you want to drive?" John looked over at his son to get his response. He was dismayed by what he saw. Dean looked totally miserable, and were those tears glistening in his eyes?

"Hey, buddy, are you alright?"

"Mmmm," came the mumbled response. It was hard to talk without opening your mouth. John could guess that Dean was insisting that he was fine. It was his standard response. "Did you know I had braces as a kid?" He was pleased to see that he had caught Dean's attention. It was a lie, but he would do anything to make Dean feel better. "Full set of upper and lower, just like you, plus the head gear. Seeing that sure brought back nightmares."


"Yeah. So, I know what you're going through."

"Did anyone... Did anyone... you know..."


"Make fun of you?' Dean blurted out quickly.

"Some." John had wanted to say no, but he knew that Dean would figure out he was lying. "You just have to ignore it. Don't start, I know it's not easy. If someone calls you a name, turn it into a joke. If they know it's not bugging you, then they won't do it anymore."

"But..." Dean hesitated unsure if he should bring up what he was thinking. His dad got mad at Sammy for asking it.

"What is it?" John asked. "You can tell me anything, Dean."

"You'll get mad."

"I promise I won't. I just can't promise to give the answer you want to hear."

"What about when we move?" Dean asked.

That wasn't what John was expecting. "What about it?"

"I mean, you're looking for hunt. You say to not let it bug me if someone laughs at me, but every time we move, I'll have to do it again. What about my appointments? They're every month. How are we going to keep them on the road?"

That was something John hadn't really thought about. "School starts in a couple of weeks. I'm sure Bobby wouldn't mind if you and Sammy stayed with him for awhile. It will give me a chance to work something out. "

Dean knew that his father was just trying to make him feel better, but if anything, John's words were making him feel worse. They meant his dad would be taking off, most likely for months, and he and he and Sammy wouldn't see much of him.

"We could just go back to the Doc's and get them taken off," Dean tried to joke, but his heart wasn't in it.

John said as he reached over to ruffle Dean's hair. "Nice try. Offer to drive still stands." He tried to keep his tone light as well.

"I don't feel like it," Dean said and turned to stare out the window.

"Things will work out, you'll see," John said as he put his key in the ignition and started the car.

They pulled up to Bobby's house and Dean quickly disappeared into this bedroom, refusing to come out or speak to anyone. Wanting to give him some space, John took Sam out to the garage with him, while Bobby went to fix dinner.

"Dean," Sam called to his brother tentatively about an hour later, when Bobby sent him to try and get Dean to come down for supper. "Can I come in?"

"What Sammy?" Dean asked his face was buried into his pillow.

"Can I see?"

"Go away!"

"Come on, Dean. I let you see when I got stitches in my arm."

"Go away!" Dean repeated.

"Supper's ready. Bobby made his chocolate chip pancakes. He said he wanted to give you something soft in case your teeth hurt. Do they hurt, Dean?"

"No," Dean lied. They were a bit sore, but he was used to much worse, so this pain didn't even register.

"Are you coming to dinner?"

"No, go away. Okay Sammy?"

Dean finally thought that something must have been going his way when he didn't hear Sammy say anything else. It was then that he felt a weight sit down next to him and he resisted an urge to sigh. "I won't make fun," Sam promised.

"There's nothing to see," Dean insisted.

"Bobby makes the best chocolate chip pancakes."

"I don't care. Go away, Sam."


"NO! Just go away!"

"Uncle Bobby," Sam said going into the kitchen.

"What's wrong, Sammy?" Bobby asked in concern. Sam seemed really upset.

"Dean yelled at me. Is he mad at me?"

"No, Sammy. He's just a little upset."

"He won't come down."

"I'll get him," John said.

"I think it's best if we leave him be for awhile," Bobby recommended. "I'll take a plate of food up."

"That's what we shouldn't do," John protested. "We can't let him isolate himself. "

"Just give him today, Johnny."

"Fine," John growled. He would go along with it, but he didn't like it.

Bobby was up with the birds the next day, and he dragged Dean out to the garage with him. Dean still wouldn't speak, but he took an active part in helping the elder mechanic, so Bobby was encouraged.

Afterwards, Dean tried to disappear into his room, but was prevented by John and told that if he wanted to eat, he had to eat with all of them.

"Fine," he huffed, and John was further encouraged.

"Hey, Dean," Bobby said as he set Dean's lunch in front of him. "I got moon mist ice cream; you can have some when you're done eating. There's apple pie as well, if you're up to it."

They were trying to bribe him. Well it wasn't going to work and he glared at the other three around the dinner table with him.

"Suit yourself," Bobby said with a shrug.

Dean's resolve to not to open his mouth for the next two years was fading fast. He loved cheeseburgers, and Bobby always made homemade French fries. He rarely used the frozen ones. He had eaten the pancakes that Bobby had left outside of his room last night, but he had refused breakfast that morning and he was starving. There was apple pie and ice cream too.

He reached for his burger. Bobby, Sam and John tried to appear as if they weren't watching him, but Dean could feel their eyes on him. "Stop staring at me," he said clearly frustrated, and his appetite vanished as fast as it had appeared.

"Sorry," Bobby piped up. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay?" Bobby said in concern.

"I just want to see Dean's braces," Sam said honestly. "Dad can you get me braces. Then we can match, Dean."

The elder brother couldn't help but smile at that. "They're not so bad," Sam replied.

"Easy for you to say," Dean mumbled under his breath.

"Dean, I'll make you a deal," John offered. "You finish eating, and we'll go out driving."

The young hunter was already regretting letting that chance go yesterday. It was rare that his dad offered and if he turned this down, he wasn't sure when he would get another chance. "Can I put the radio on?"

Hell no! "We'll see," John said not committing himself. He and Dean had the same taste in music, but he wanted his son's concentration on the road.

"What about me?" Sam asked again. "Can I have braces?"

"You may need them," Bobby said. "They can run in families."

"You may need them eventually, Sammy," John replied, really hoping he didn't. Sam would feel the exact same way Dean did when he turned 13, and he really didn't want to do this again.

"Dad had them," Dean added. "He had the head gear. I'm not getting that though. If they try, I'm yanking the things off with a pair of pliers."

"Cool," Sam said. "Dean, if anyone makes fun of you, you can tell me. I'll make sure they don't do it anymore. I can protect you for a change," Sam said proudly.

"Sure, Sammy, thanks," Dean said. It was his job to look after his brother, but Sammy looked so proud right then, that Dean didn't have the heart to remind Sam of that. He just reached over and ruffled his brother's hair and gave him one of his mega-watt smiles. Braces and all.

John wasn't stupid enough to think that Dean had totally accepted this yet. He still expected many battles ahead, but for now, he was just going to enjoy being with his boys. It was going to be a long two years.

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