AN: First off, in the author's note at the beginning of Absolute Minimum I said something about LJ finally letting post. Whoops. And of course by LJ, I meant this website and not LJ.
Forgive me, I have NO idea how to edit an already posted story and I figured that most of you would understand what I meant so I left it. Next, this is a conversation that I really needed to happen because I simply can't see this 'verse going forward without it happening. I thought about putting it in Absolute Minimum but there was so much going on as it was, so I decided that Wendigo would be close enough in the timeline to be plausible.
Thank you to Ridley C. James for not running me out of the Brotherhood just yet. I'm having a blast. You'll see mentions of Ridley's All Is Well and Tidia's Black Bras and Strappy High-Heeled Shoes, so if by some strange reason you haven't read those, run along and read them.
And thank you to lovinjackson for the beta'ing. All mistakes that you find are mine.
Official Disclaimer: I don't own anything (other than the aforementioned mistakes) in this story. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Sad, huh?
"Can I shoot it?" Dean asks again, completely undeterred by his earlier rejection. It's possible that his brother thinks that by asking the same question over and over again, he'll end up with a different response. It's also possible that his brother is just trying to annoy the ever living hell out of him. Scratch that, not only possible but entirely probable. Caleb better think twice if he thinks he's getting off the hook here with Sam.
"Sam," whines his little brother. He doesn't have any intention of giving in, although if he's honest with himself their current situation is completely his fault. He should have never let Dean get past the motel room door on this hunt as it was.
And now…a wendigo, seriously. Dean has no memories of the time Caleb was taken by a wendigo and those sorrow filled days that the entire farm had grieved. That also means that Dean doesn't know that Sam is a bright shining beacon for the thing, potentially broadcasting their movements every step of the way. Caleb's been able to work with him a bit on shielding and blocking, but it's coming slowly and he's not sure that it'll be enough to keep the monster away.
"You're staying within the symbols, Dean. I mean it. We're going just a bit further, drawing some symbols and then you and Hailey are staying inside. Ben and I will keep going. Understand?" He threatens. Not that his threats are ever particularly motivating to Dean. Unlike their dad's threats, which could get Dean moving in nanoseconds. It chafes a bit, since he's the big brother now and Dean should be following his orders.
"I'm the one who found the information in dad's journal."
"Which is why I let you draw the symbols."
"That's a real shitty consolation prize, like getting to pick from the free bucket at that garage sale when you really wanted the bike."
Sam catalogs back through the memories of their childhood, finds the right one and pulls it out. "I got that bike."
"Only because I bargained down the price. Dad would have never spent fifteen dollars on a toy."
"And you made me pout and look really sad."
"You still owe me."
"This is totally different." He interjects.
"Just like getting to draw symbols is totally different from getting to shoot the monster."
"This isn't a game, Dean. A wendigo eats people."
"It won't after I shoot it."
"You're not shooting it. You're not even getting close to it because…and say it with me, Dean…you're staying within the symbols." He says slowly.
"How do you expect me to re-learn how to hunt if you don't let me actually hunt?"
"You don't need to learn how to hunt a wendigo. There'll be plenty of time for that later. You should be…" And then it strikes him. No, more like the thought blindsides him. The sneaky little shit. "You should be in school."
Dean remains silent, but there's no escaping this particular conversation and from the uncomfortable shift Dean makes, it seems his brother knows it too. Sam, for his part, feels like an idiot. It's late November, what kind of break lasted for that many weeks? Even if there was 'death in the family' he would have gone back to school by now.
"School is kind of a waste at this point, Sam."
"Oh, well, when you put it like that, Dean, how could I not agree to such a well thought out explanation that will only affect the rest of your life." He says harshly.
"Says the guy who just dropped out of school." Dean shoots back.
"We're not talking about my education, we're talking about yours."
"I don't need one."
"Yes, you do."
"No, I don't. There a really obvious reason why I don't need to be in school. We already know the end to the story Sam. I don't go to college. I hunt. That's what I do. The family business."
"You weren't at the end of your story Dean and things can be different this time. We can find the thing that killed mom and Jess and you can go to school and then college instead of being dragged around by dad."
"But in the meantime, I'll just get dragged around by you until your need for revenge is satisfied or we find dad and then I can go off and do whatever I want. Great."
"No, I can do better than dad did. First thing after this hunt we're finding a school to enroll you in and getting you caught back up."
"To where you need to be."
"No Einstein, where am I going to school? What city? Are we staying in a motel or are you going to settle down and buy us a cozy little house with a white picket fence and drop me by school every day?"
Cozy little houses and nine to five jobs went out the window when Jess died. He knows it and Dean knows it and his brother's comment may ring true but it still hurts. Hurts because it was something that he wanted so very badly but true because he has no intention of settling down so his brother can have the stability he deserves. Maybe he can't do any better than his father in that sense.
"We can't stick around in one spot if we want to find dad, Dean. But the way I see it is that we only have a couple different options. One, you stick with me and we'll enroll you in schools as we go, just like the way we did it before. Or two, you can stay with someone else like Jim or Mac and then you can stick it out with one school and I'll call and update you on finding dad. Maybe during the summers you can come and do some hunting."
Sam can be mean too. He's always been a master at manipulating his brother. Now it's just a little easier. The thought of being left behind has always been a major fear in his brother's life. Dean hates being left behind. He'll do anything to stay with his family and keep his family together and there's no way he won't want to be out there looking for their dad.
"So, it's your way or the highway huh? Shape up or ship the hell out. You and dad are so unalike, Sam," comes Dean's sarcastic reply. "Except he didn't wrap up a couple of options that suited him the most and give it to me as a gift. He at least had the balls to just give me an order."
"First off, please don't ever use dad and balls in the same sentence again. Second, options are a bad thing then?"
"No, you're only choosing the options that work for you. You don't want to look like an ass for letting me drop out, so that's out the window, but you don't want to put aside you agenda to make sure that I have it better than last time."
"Fine. I'll give you an order then. You're going to school."
"Unbelievable. You just said…"
"You're not my legal guardian. You can't enroll me in school." Damn paperwork and damn Dean for being right and throwing it in his face. Oh well, it's not like he can't get around that.
"Then I get Caleb to do it. And don't even try to tell me that he won't be pissed off when he finds out that dad never enrolled you in school."
If Dean has another smart-assed answer for him Sam doesn't get a chance to hear what it is. Roy's body hits the dirt in front of them hard and the wendigo appears in front of them. He reaches out his arm trying to catch ahold of Dean's shirt but he finds nothing but air. His brother has already taken off in the woods after Hailey.
Sam spins on his heels and heads off in the same direction as fast as he can, hoping that Ben will follow but not really caring because he's got to catch up with his brother. There's a wendigo out there and they eat people.
Yelling Dean's name louder gets him nothing in return. He skids to a stop when out of the corner of his eye he catches something bright red and distinctly out of place. He picks up the candy and then looks a couple of feet away and finds a green one, and then a yellow.
"I'm coming, Dean."
"You should have seen it Damien, I friggin' lit it up like a Christmas tree!"
Caleb can actually see it, since it's been playing on repeat in Dean's head for the last hour since he'd arrived. He hadn't expected to be gone for so long and had finally just made it back to Colorado after being sidetracked by Tri-Corp business. There'd been no premonition, not that there always is, to alert him to the danger that Dean and Sam had both been in. The very nature of what they do puts them in constant danger, but Constance aside, Sam wasn't ready to have Dean involved so heavily in a hunt. But it had happened nonetheless, something mostly outside of Sam's control.
"So I've heard about a thousand times now, Deuce. I'm still having a hard time believing that your brother let you shoot the Wendigo."
"His brother didn't let him do anything. Dean was supposed to go the other way while I lured the Wendigo my way."
"Lucky I didn't otherwise you would have been monster chow by now, Sam."
"Eat your pizza kid and don't taunt your brother." He tells the teen. The pizza had been a peace offering to get back into Dean's good graces after ditching them mid-hunt. The peace offering itself turned out to be unnecessary since the kid was practically bouncing off the walls from the post-hunt adrenaline. That was one hundred percent Dean, no matter how young or how old.
"He was supposed to stay safe while I shot it." Sam explains to him.
"But you weren't expecting it to hit you." Interjects Dean.
"You have bad luck with wendigos, Runt." He says remembering the broken arm he'd gotten on his last run in.
"Yours is worse, Caleb." Sam retorts.
"Well, I have great luck with them because I lit this one up…"
"I heard…like a friggin' Christmas tree." Caleb finishes for him.
"What's with all the bags?" Dean tosses his crust onto the nightstand and flops down on his bed. Now that he's put away half the pizza, Dean's finally taken notice of the bags he's brought with him.
"Oh, those are for you, from your brother and me." Caleb answers.
"You know how I said you had two options for school, well I thought of another. I've got to keep moving to find dad, you want to find dad, but both Caleb and me agree that it's necessary for you to finish school." Sam explains.
"So?" Dean asks.
"So, I'm going to home school you." Sam says.
"You're going to home school me." Dean repeats.
"I think that's what I just said."
"You're kidding me right?"
"Nope. Starting Monday we're going to be working on getting you all caught up and back on track for graduation."
"I changed my mind. I'd rather go to real school. At least it's got girls."
"It's only temporary, until we find dad, and then you can go to a real school. Also, you're only thirteen, you don't need to talk to girls yet."
"I'm not doing it for me. How can you justify withholding all of this from girls across the country?" Dean's two months shy of turning fourteen, a year and some change away from being at the same age as he was when Caleb had taken him to the Red Caboose. Sammy is kidding himself if he thinks that girls aren't on Dean's mind.
"Yeah, I guess they'll just have to find some way to cope." Sam replies sarcastically.
"You'll stunt my social development."
"You're already socially stunted so I don't think that I'm going to be the one holding you back in that area." Sam says.
"You still can't enroll me."
"I can." Caleb interrupts. After the hunt was over and Caleb was assured that he and Dean were fine, Sam had gone into full lecture mode about Dean's lack of schooling. It was, of course, news to him. He always maintained a connection with Dean, and at times he does snoop, but building honesty in their relationship is important to Caleb. Dean needs to know that he still come to him and that Caleb will always do what's best for him, even if the kid won't end up liking the end result. He can't build that by being enmeshed in all of Dean's thoughts, nor does he want to be. The thought of listening into all the thoughts that go through a thirteen year olds mind is terrifying.
"Traitor. I'm hurt, Damien."
"You think that you're going to joke your way out of this kid, but you're not. Dropping out is not currently one of the options on the table." He replies. Dean can try the guilt route all he wants but it'll just be a dead end.
"You want to help me look for dad, fine, but you're going to be doing school work too." Sam says.
"And if you fall below a B average we're shipping you off to Jim's. If you fail anything we're shipping you off to Bobby's." Caleb adds.
"That's just mean." The kid whispers. All joking aside, and even if he does love the farm and Jim, the last thing that Dean is willing to do is let Sam ship him off anywhere and look for John on his own.
"It's all in your hands, Deuce. School is nonnegotiable. Where you go and who you stay with and whether or not you end up with fleas…will depend on you."
Sam stands next to Dean, looking a smidgen too smug about the entire thing. In their prior conversation Caleb could tell that Sam hated that he'd been essentially one-upped by a thirteen year old. But there're rivaling emotions present now that weren't there before. Excitement, fondness, eagerness, hope and determination. Sam doesn't just want this because letting a thirteen year old drop out is taboo, no, Sam wants this because it'll give him the chance to give to Dean, what Dean had given to him all those years ago. A chance at a future outside of hunting. But Dean, whether he is thirteen or sixteen or twenty-six was, is, and always will be a hunter through and through. No amount of schooling is going to wipe that slate clean.
"You're such a bitch, Sammy." Dean says bitterly but Caleb doesn't sense any real anger there, just a hint of resentment and the usual feelings of inadequacy. Maybe this will be a good opportunity for Dean to get a little boost in self-esteem, outside of hunting. Dean is so much smarter than he's ever given himself credit for and this could be a real chance for Dean and Sam to bond over something besides killing.
"I'm sorry," Dean says, a smirk widening on his face, "Monday morning I'll make sure that I'm addressing you as Mr. Bitch."
Or not, he thinks. But at the very least Sam's foray into home schooling should be nothing short of entertaining.
End Note: I've got a couple ideas for some additional episode tags. Hopefully, they won't take too long. Thanks for everyone who's read, whether you've commented or not. I always appreciate feedback. Till next time...