"School is Special Afterwards."

Mystic25

Rating: T for language, some violence, and sexual references.

Category: Angst and Humor. Wow, that's a new one for me…

Summary: At Sam's behest, the brothers are back at Truman High, at a celebration for Mr. Wyatt's 20th year as a teacher, what could possibly be difficult about that? Set in Season 6.

A/N: I've seen "After School Special" about fifteen times. It was an episode I really liked; showing a slice of Sam and Dean's life as kids, how even then, they fell into rolls they would carry on into adulthood. That being said, I haven't found a lot of fics about the episode that didn't revolve around a lot of high school drama revenge. I'm all for just desserts, but an entire fic focusing on that? To me, it's like a bread sandwich, lacking any real meat…and sorry, I'm a carnivore, I need meat.

A/N #2: Okay, I've seen the new episodes, including the season finalie of Supernatural…and gahh, my head hurts now. But, for the sake that I started writing this fic before those episodes aired, I'm going to keep things the way I originally had them. It's also is a way to keep me sane. Also this is not Wincest. I totally respect gay love. I just don't believe in something that tries to combine a real love with incest and act like it's totally cool.

A/N #3: Finally, before we begin, just to establish – this story has a lot of flashbacks, so anything hereafter that is italicized and in bold brackets [like this] is a flashback. Cool?

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"Before you can convince them, you must first yourself believe."

-Winston Churchill

"The people in life who make the most difference aren't the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care."

-Charles Schultz

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Truman High School

Sioux City, Indiana

"Tell me again why we're doing this?" Dean shot his brother the look that said he was seconds away from doing something he swore he would never do unless the situation was at an dire end. Swore on everything that cemented their relationship into something he could only live without if he were no longer living. And that something would be to punch Sam in the face.

Now, staring up at the brick and mortar that made up their old high school, or at least one of them, it didn't qualify as one of those times. But, Dean was trying to claim temporary insanity at the moment because he wasn't happy. Not happy because Sam had gotten an email on the latest Blackberry he had bought three weeks ago under the name Stee V. McQueen, one that said Truman High School's own Richard M. Wyatt, a Literature and Language Arts teacher would be celebrating his twentieth year at the school. And, there would be a plaque and a big ceremony in his honor at seven p.m. on the fifth of May, 2011.

At here it was the fifth of May, 2011 at 6:25 p.m.- they were early because Sam didn't like to just "roll in" And, Dean now found himself attending a shindig he didn't remember R.S. too. No, no, Sam had taken care of that himself. The actual email Sam had received hadn't come from the school, because the existence of Stee V. McQueen (Dean's name choice: "Get it Sam? Steve McQueen." "Dude, you're so stupid," was Sam's retort.) wasn't exactly a valid one. Bobby had actually sent the email after running across a notice in a local Indiana newspaper about Wyatt's celebration. He had then emailed the article link to Sam. Bobby had only recently gotten a blackberry at Sam's insistence so he could check case information and make phone calls without strangling himself with 20 feet of phone wire.

Sam had taken one look at the email, found a contact number for the school, and had made "reservations" for he and Dean to attend.

Of course, two weeks ago, when Dean had heard this, he swore a blue streak, questioning everything from their parentage, to Sam's testosterone levels, for deciding that he would attend this with him.

Sam glanced over his brother's shoulder to peer out his window, gazing up at the school. It wasn't with the same wide eyed, terrified, expectant look he had surveyed the place with when he was 14. Nor was it the nostalgic gaze he had given 2 years ago when he and Dean had worked that case involving the malevolent ghost that was killing students. Instead, it was with the look of someone who had a sense of duty, to honor someone who had made an impact on his life, even if his life had turned dramatically from those days Mr. Wyatt had first influenced him.

"Because you promised," Sam answered.

It was such a childish remark, and something that Dean would have called him out on, but the silhouetted image of something long resting beside Sam made Dean's voice silent, made him lose the pissy attitude he had moments before.

It was a cane, three and half feet of African black mahogany wood; hand carved with tribal protection markings, loaned by Bobby to Sam two weeks ago. Not out of curiosity on Sam's part, but out of necessity.

[One week and six days ago, the very day after Sam had contacted Truman High, he and Dean had flushed out a nest of Vampires holed up in an abandoned warehouse in Gunderson, North Dakota. These vampires had been made more rampant by the presence of Eve, who had stirred up "her Children" into a blood thirsty rage, causing them to forgo their usual M.O of killing only at night, and gut people in broad daylight in public.

One weeks and six days ago Sam and Dean had entered the warehouse, armed to the teeth with wickedly sharp machetes, climbing up to the second level of the warehouse, when ten of the Vampires had attacked them at once. Nine of them were dispatched by the machetes slicing their heads off. But one female had escaped their hand held guillotines. She pinned Dean against the wall, was about to feed on him. But, Sam had seen this, his mind screaming back to another incident that the Wall hadn't been able to repress completely, where he had PURPOSELY let Dean be turned by Vampires while he watched and did nothing. But, he wasn't going to let it happen this time. Sam crept up behind her and was only an inch away from having her neck meet the razor end of his 10 inch machete blade, when she turned, eyes bright red, fangs bared. She hurled her super charged strength at him, sending Sam against the wall, then falling down two flights of stairs.]

Dean's silence was broken only when he forced down the lump that had suddenly wanted to choke him. "Because you almost died Sam-again. I would have promised you anything."

[It was one week and six days ago that Dean had heard every moment of his brother hitting the rusty, grated metal stairs of the warehouse, until he hit the concrete bottom landing with a sickening heavy thud, and didn't move after that. One week, six days, and nine hours when he had slammed the Vampire bitch into the wall like she was human and not superhuman, sliced through her neck until her head flopped against the wall and tumbled down the stairs. Dean kicked it as he went by, running down the stairs three at a time, screaming Sam's name the entire way down.

Sam was unconscious, and bloody, and contorted when Dean finally reached him. His face was a mess of gashes, his left leg was bent at ninety degrees, half the femur sticking out of the skin like a hideous fallen tree, and he wasn't breathing. A rib had collapsed his lung, choking him with his own blood. It was one week six days, nine hours and 20 of the longest minutes of Dean's life as he breathed into his brother's bloody mouth, alternately at him not to die, and for Castiel to get his worthless angel ass down from heaven and help them.

Castiel had finally come, seen Sam bloody, heard Dean cursing at him, and knelt down without a word, palm to Sam's chest. But his healing lacked it's full on Heavenly power due to the after presence of Eve being there. He had gotten Sam breathing again, repaired his lung, mended his broken ribs, but the crack in the femur of his left leg, the angel had gotten only to the point where it would be if it had started healing three weeks ago, and the blow to his head, to the point where any brain damage wouldn't be permanent. Which meant that Sam was essentially still broken when Cas sent–what Dean called "Shazamed" – them to Bobby singer's house.

Sam remained unconscious for three days. Three days where, on the first day Bobby helped Dean splint Sam's lower leg, watching Dean's eyes flashing in pain at seeing his brother in this state. Three days Dean kept Sam warm, clean, and hydrated with an IV he had inserted himself from the field kit they kept in the trunk. Three days where Dean did not leave Sam's side, not even to shower or eat, only to use the facilities. Three days where Bobby would spell him only when Dean had fallen asleep from dead exhaustion draped over Sam's body on Bobby's couch, always careful even in fatigue to not fall on Sam's splinted left leg.

When Dean was awake, he would talk to Sam, tell him about Bobby's bad cooking, how the Saline going into his vein was much better than anything he had eaten. About the crappy day time TV that came through on Bobby's old black and white set. But, when he ran out of the everyday, he would talk to Sam about how he needed him to wake up. Because he had lived almost two years without him, and how the hell could he let a –literal – trip downstairs keep him away from him? He promised that he wouldn't leave him until he was better. He promised Sam EVERYTHING if he would just open his eyes.]

Sam fingered the cane against his leg, glancing at it and then the school, like they were connected, and in a way they were. Because, it was this he had heard from his unconsciousness, this that made him wake up and remember what living outside his head was like.

[All the crappy lines Dean had hurled at Sam right before the Vampire Hunt, all the swings he took at his brother for wanting to return to a school they had only spent two weeks at to honor a teacher Dean said would probably screw up his name when he saw him again. All of that was eating at Dean while he stared at Sam lying there, battered, and so still. The last thing he had said to his brother before they had switched into Hunter mode was: "C'mon Sammy, if you want to go all After School Special with this Wyatt character, at least lie and say you had a Heroin problem so you can be used in the documentary."

On the third day, Dean had become so desperate to remember that Sam was still alive in some capacity he had taken to lying his head on his brother's chest to just feel the rise and fall of it with his breathing, and to hear his heart beating. On the third day, where Dean promised: "I'll go to the goddamn ' Mr. Wyatt Party' Sammy, I fucking promise! But, you have to go with me like you said, you can't stand me up now, I'm not a ditchable prom date dude." When, after that half forced humoristic, angry line, Dean had felt hot tears fall from his face and into Sam's shirt, he finally heard something raspy, and choked, but awake talking back to him.]

Dean stared back up at the school again, seeing the lights lit up on all the floors, and a few people walking up the steps of the school. All of them, even the teenage students, dressed fancier then he in his casual jeans, black wool jacket and gray Henley. He turned back to Sam, who was gauging the look in his eyes, making sure there was no backing out. Even though he knew Dean wouldn't do that, not after a promise made over blood, broken bones, and the brother they had shattered and spilt out of.

"You know I only do this kind of crap for you Sammy."

Sam gave his "dry laugh/smile" combination that made an emotion whisper, but made it carry, made it become significant. "My Hero."

"Shut up." Dean returned, but it wasn't angry, it was banter.

[When Sam had finally awoken, there had been the usual half cocked banter about: "Did you swoon setting my bone Dean?" and the return of: "Shut up Sam, or I'll break your other leg." But it had ended after ten minutes, because Dean didn't even try to hide the fact that he had been terrified that he was about to lose his brother – his – whatever you called it when to live without someone was to not live at all. Castiel had volunteered "soul" when he had returned on Day Three to check on Sam. The exact conversation going:

"How's your soul feeling today Dean?" Castiel asked.

You'll have to ask him." Dean responded.

Sam held up on the sofa with his broken leg, splinted in the homemade splint of corrugated iron rods from Bobby's shed and fifty feet of ace bandages. Dean hovered by him so much that Bobby offered him thread and a needle so that he could LITERALLY be sewn at the hip with Sam. But, after a few remarks that all involved Bobby going to hell, and kissing various parts of him, Dean would return to helping Sam get around and keeping him entertained.

Even though there were those times, when Sam would have to pretend to enjoy it when Dean went into his shadow puppet routine of them catching a Wendeigo, and, as far as he could tell by Dean's gesticulating, ROLLING it around on the forest floor until it died from boredom; he genuinely appreciated having Dean around to watch out for him. Even though he was 28-years-old, even after taking on Satan to save the world, this was something he would never outgrow. Having his older brother there to make stupid puppet shows with the aid of an old sheet and a flashlight, read to him from the local newspaper with his ever present sarcastic sidebar comments. Make stupid airplane noises when he gave him Tomato and Rice soup that he dug up the recipe for from a scrap of paper their dad had given Bobby years ago. Make these noises, just so he would see Sam choke from laughing at them. Helping him to take those first steps when his leg was finally strong enough to bear his weight. Run a hand through Sam's hair when the pain became too much, and he had to sit back down panting; touching Sam not like a mother, but like the only one who was allowed to touch him during this kind of moment.

When Sam had finally healed enough to maneuver on his own –with the aid of Bobby's tribal cane –he had reminded Dean about what he had heard when he had woken up, about going to Mr. Wyatt's Celebration.

Dean hadn't forgotten; Sam limping, having to walk with the aid of a cane made the promise like a tattoo on his brain, Dean would deal with cutesy, high school nostalgia for one day because of what that request of Sam's had gone through to come to fruition.]

"Come on," Dean stared again at the school with the same look on his face he had when he read that vampire book and described a particular scene in it to Sam as: "rapey"-It was the Dean Winchester look of disgust over something people were suppose to like. "Let's get this party started."

He stepped out of the Impala into the chilly air of the oncoming evening that refused to believe that summer was almost on the horizon and warmer air was the now the norm. The passenger door opened. There was a heavy 'ping' when the wooden cane hit the ground first, then Sam's good leg taking most of his weight. The splint was hidden under his jeans. Thankfully they weren't his preripped pair, and thankfully the entire splint wasn't too bulky to fit under his jeans. Because iron rods and ace bandages weren't a fashion statement. Dean had found this clean pair, and he had been the one to help Sam into them an hour earlier, with a remark about Sam being a sad, sad man, because it would be him who had been the most recent person to get into his brother's pants. This earned him Sam telling him to bite him, which was then met with Dean's counter of a shirt being tossed at Sam's head.

Sam zipped up his camel colored canvas jacket against the chill. Dean was in no way a fashion stylist, he barely remembered to wash his clothes, let alone coordinate them. But the white button down shirt with the gray and blue pinstripes he had flung at Sam actually went with the dark denim jeans Sam had saved from his years at Stanford when he had time to buy clothes that didn't come from the Salvation Army.

Apparently Sam wasn't the only one who noticed his clothes. At the steps of the school, several of the teenage girls Dean had watched earlier were stopped at the entrance of red painted double doors. In the unspoken law of Teenage Girl, they were herded together, casting glances over their shoulders at the sight of him, and then of Dean's retreating back as he rounded the Impala to help Sam maneuver onto to the sidewalk. And the glances weren't innocent. They may have been 16-years-old, but their gazes were far older, borderline dirty, when the full sight of Dean's backside came into view.

"Dude, I got it," Sam insisted when Dean tried to Sheppard him off the road where they had parked alongside the curb at the school's entrance.

As if to mock him, the cane slipped just enough for Sam to stumble and be caught by Dean's outstretched arm.

"Oh yeah, you're ready to start taking off Sammy." Dean had an arm across Sam's shoulders to steady him.

"Shut up," Sam snapped, the defense mechanism taking over, even though he really did need Dean's support at that moment.

The girls were watching the two of them. Sam and Dean couldn't help but garnish attention because of their handsomeness. It's not like they tried to look insanely hot; it was genetic. But, in another minute, all these girls all did the same, leg out, hand cocked to hip, sculptured eyebrow raised up look, when they witnessed the moment Dean's arm encircled Sam's shoulder. It was a look that was part disappointment, part curiosity, part: I can change his mind.

Sam was four inches taller than Dean, and he was facing the school while Dean was working to keep him upright. So it was he who saw the shift in the eyes of the gaggle of teenage girls. Some of them actually looked murderous at what Dean was doing.

It gave Sam the first real smirk of the evening. "Don't look now, but I think your fan club just turned on you."

At Sam's words Dean turned and saw the evil eye being shot at him simultaneously under lids of perfectly applied jewel toned eye makeup. Dean examined those looks the same way he did when he would survey the ramshackle of old houses when monsters came, with scrutiny and assessment that had been honed by years of practice. But, while he knew that he was getting death threats via Teenage Girl Vision, he didn't know why.

"Why the hell is jail bait row looking at me like they want to sell off my family jewels piece by piece?" this question was directed at Sam when he glanced back over to his brother. But, all he got in response was a half amused look on Sam's face. This produced a response from Dean of: "What?"

"Dean, you've got your arm around me," Sam went for blunt and obvious.

"So?" Dean countered, not seeing this as something out of the ordinary. He had been touching Sam like this since Sam was four when he was hurt; it was how he cared for him. It was a right he had earned, becausehe cared about him.

"So, why would a bunch of 16-year-old girls get all rabid at the sight of one man with his arm around another?" Sam returned in question.

"Too many Quick Trims in their frappuchinos?" Dean suggested. "I don't know Sammy, I don't speak 16 year-old-girl like you do. You tell me why the hell-" the realization suddenly dawned on Dean like an overly bright light bulb coming on after days of a power failure. "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!"

"Fraid not," Sam informed.

"Oh come on!" Dean said, throwing a backwards glance at the girls, who were now whispering things into their hands that no doubt concerned something that gave him hives to think about. "What about us makes us look like a couple Sam? Because looks can be changed."

"Dude, you tell me," Sam remarked. "It's not like I fantasize about climbing into bed with you."

"Thank you for that mental image, Sam. Now I have to run my brain through the washing machine. And what's wrong with sleeping with me?" the last part of Dean's words were said almost offensively.

"Okaay-" Sam said this like the true 'where the hell did that come from?' response that it was. "Wow Dean, that didn't sound like incest at all."

"Bite me," Dean retorted. "You know damn well what I mean."

"I do?" Sam said in disbelief. "Because all I can hear is my last remark repeating itself."

"I recall you used to climb in bed with me every time you got a sniffle or a banged up knee."

"I was six Dean."

"Seven when you had that bout of flu," Dean cut in, with the tone of the big brother that knew more, and liked to annoy his younger sibling with that fact.

"Whatever, the point was that I was a kid, and you were my big brother. I felt safe when I was with you. You also weren't as much of an ass back then."

"What about last week Sam?" Dean countered again. "Apparently I was an ass, and apparently you were freakin' 28, but I seem to remember your Sasquatch girth sprawled out on my legs when you were about to sack out. Explain that?"

There was only a slight pause before Sam's words: "You're still my big brother." His voice lacked everything except honesty. "You still make me feel safe."

The joke died on Dean's face when he heard that. "Sam-"

[They had both slept on the sofa together; every night after Sam had woken up.

Sam would be badgered by Dean to move over so he could read. Sam would then heave his over weighted leg up on the arm of the sofa, then simply position his pillow on Dean and lie back down on his back, his head his brother's legs just to annoy him, but really because he knew that Dean wouldn't mind so long as he didn't interrupt his reading. And Dean, sitting up against one side of the sofa, reading, DIDN'T care that Sam was using him as a pillow. Because they were brothers, they loved each other, and after everything they had been through in the last 6 years, they had more than earned the right to be comfortable in each other's space without being off put about it. They would share insights –or really, really bad jokes – into whatever Dean had managed to pick up and read for the night. Or, if the story wasn't interesting enough, talk about pranks they pulled on each other when they were kids. Like how Dean had convinced Sam's entire fifth grade class that 'Sam' was actually short for 'Samantha'. And, after a week of every kid in the class calling him that, Sam had taken his revenge by melting all of Dean's old, cherished action figures into one large plastic ball that he played with in front of Dean on a daily basis.

And, they would keep going until Sam stopped talking first, his breathing becoming slower. Dean would place a hand on Sam's sleeping shoulder, just to make sure he was breathing to his liking. And Dean would read like this until his head tipped back onto the sofa when sleep couldn't be held back anymore and slammed into him. And Bobby never tried to talk Dean into the guest room when he found them like this each night. He just covered them both with blankets and let them be.]

"You asked me to explain," Sam said. "I did." His eyes were deep wells, not sad or puppy dog like, but grown, with the understanding that this was how he felt, and there was no deterrent for it.

"Yeah well next time dude, give me warning before I get enough waterworks built up so that I can join sceazy estrogen row over there." Dean told his brother.

"You're too high class for them Dean."

Sam's remark sent a goofy, genuine smile across his older brother's face. "You're right about that. They probably got a Varsity Letter between them for most rounds at the Free Clinic, and plus they lack my style." He flipped up the collar of his black wool jacket, shooting the girls a raised eyebrow look of his own.

"Dude remember, jailbait." Sam warned. "I'm sure there are PTA parents watching with wire taps linked directly to the local cops."

"Let's just get this going Sam," Dean eyed his brother for a moment, gauging to see if he could release his arm from him or not. "You good?"

"I'm good," Sam reassured.

Dean removed his arm, watching Sam take two steps assisted by only the cane, before deeming him okay enough to not need his help.

"You're totally rocking that cane Sammy, you should have had it while we were here; the girls would've been on you like flies." Dean said this once they finally were walking away from the car and down the sidewalk that led up to the entrance of their old school.

Since they had been there last two years ago, young oak trees had been planted on either side of it, their branches swaying gently in the breeze below an orange setting sun where hints of night blue and stars were beginning to peak out around the edges of the horizon.

Sam walked, good leg first, then cane, and bad leg, alongside Dean, the sounds of people talking becoming audible as they neared the school. "Unlike you Dean, my goal for the duration of high school wasn't to become a pimp. Plus, I was about five heads shorter than you then, and sounded like Denise the Menace's younger brother."

"I'm not Denise the Menace Sam," Dean said, offended that he was referred to as towheaded, cowl licked prepubescent with a slingshot in his overalls. "So drop that remark, understand? But that was then Sam, you're all filled out now, you'll have to fight off all the teen girls and MILF's in there with that thing."

"Please don't tell me you've been checking me out while I've been sleeping again," Sam said. "I told you before; I don't do show and tell when I'm unconscious."

"Shut up before I wipe that smile off that pretty face of yours Sammy."

Sam and Dean's remarks were said just as they neared the herd of teenage girls that that had spotted them when they got out of the car.

One of them laughed, actually it was more of half a laugh combined with half a choked sound that only some teenage girls seemed to have the ability to pull off.

"What's up ladies?" Dean said, using the term "ladies" with just enough of a hint of lose inflection that only Sam-who had been around Dean for all of his life-would pick up on.

"You here for Mr. Wyatt's thing?" asked one of the girls. She had loosely curled chestnut brown hair wearing a teal wrap dress and sky high heels that looked like they belonged on the runways of Milan rather than in Indiana. She didn't bother hiding the eye roam over both Sam and Dean, undressing them slowly in her mind.

"Yeah," Sam answered her. "We're here for the "Thing." " He laughed, small and dry, remembering a time when he had walked on this campus and a girl like this wouldn't give him a time of day. Now, one was practically throwing herself at him, and all he could think about was that she wasn't worth getting arrested over. "We're actually former students of the school. We just came to pay our respects to the man."

"He's not dead," another from the posse spoke up. This one with sweeping black dyed hair in a slinky black haler top, low, low rise Levi's and, what Dean would refer to as "stripper shoes" four inch stiletto platform heels in shiny gold lamiae.

"Yeah, see I sort of gathered that from the fact that there's a party for him inside," Sam told her, trying to hide the eye roll as he talked. Apparently he hadn't missed much with these kinds of girls back then, not if they all acted like being dumb was going out of style.

The girl popped a bubble, faded pink, then looked over at Sam, "You're so tall and pretty." They way she looked at him, she was undressing him in her mind, and doing things with him in Dominatrix fashion. "Too bad you're a fag, or we could have had some fun."

The word fag made a trigger release in Dean. He didn't have a problem with gay men, how you swung was your deal. No, he had a problem with people who used it as an insult. It didn't matter that this girl was 16, naive despite how she tried to deny it, and so little of a threat it was laughable. Nobody talked to his brother like that. "Neither one of us are wearing body condoms sweetheart; so stop with the VD looks alright? And I suggest you think before you say crap like that. Because I'd hate to ruin such a pretty face."

"Dean!" Sam actually had to push him back from the girl, because Dean had stepped closer to her. "Stop! She's just a kid!"

"I'm not a damn kid!" the girl threw back vehemently, crossing bare arms together, rows of bangles jangling at her wrists. "I have my license, I'll be a junior next year, and I turn 17 in three months, I'm an adult!"

"You still get carded to by cold medicine darlin'," Sam returned. "You're a kid. And you and your little clique need to get out of here, because me and my brother, we don't need this kind of trouble tonight." there was an edge of steel in Sam's voice that couldn't be hidden.

The girl shot him death glares, but Sam shot her ones right back, his being backed up with years of experience. All he needed was for this teenager to act like she was the queen of a world she didn't understand. Finally the girl relinquished her battle, and pushed open the double doors with an angry force. She was obviously the Queen Bee of her group, because the other girls soon followed in quick order.

The girl eyed Sam one last time over her shoulder; and it was a look that only said one thing: 'I'm leaving because I want to asshole, not because you told me to.'

"Don't look now Sammy," Dean said watching as all the sixteen-year-olds in high heels disappeared. "But, girl just gave you visual herpes."

"I've had Satan inside me Dean. STD's don't scare me," Sam said this as literal fact, but trying to make a joke of it.

It was meant to be funny, it was supposed to be funny. But it wasn't. Not when the look on Dean's face changed from sharing a "Winchester sarcastic banter" moment with his brother to a look that became something that was part sad, but more agonizing.

Sam knew Dean's looks better than any mother, girlfriend, lover, wife, anyone else ever would. So, he knew the look his brother was wearing –it was pain- and it was painful for Sam, because he had put it there.

"I'm sorry," Sam wasn't just apologizing as a little brother, but also as everything else he was to Dean. Everything that made people decide when they saw them : Whatever they mean to each other, it's huge. "Man, I'm sorry. That was a pretty stupid thing to joke about-"

"Stop it," Dean's voice was an order, but it wasn't cruel, it pleaded underneath the gruffness. "Don't you ever apologize for Hell Sammy. You understand me?" Nothing was added to that even though words were dancing around Dean's head like a freaking disco. But he had to make those words stand out, not others.

The only response Sam had for this was another: 'I'm sorry' But, the steps of Truman High was not a place to debrede such painful wounds. Not when Dean looked at him like that. Apparently, Sam didn't hold the monopoly on soulful, pleading looks.

So Sam had to detour from his norm, and change the subject. "So, how do you know so much about a 'visual herpes look'?"

It was a cheap way to change what they were just talking about. But, Dean could sense what Sam was trying to do, and he was grateful for Sam's understanding. "Let's just say that the janitors in this place don't know their supply closets as well as I do."

"Okay, I didn't need to visual," Sam said in disgust.

"Shut up tripod," Dean threw back. He looked through the glass that made up the mullioned windows of the front doors. He opened the right side of these double doors, holding it open for Sam: "My Lady."

"Fuck off," Sam returned, but even such a harsh remark wasn't so harsh when it was said by Sam to Dean. Because it was banter, because this is how Sam and Dean talked when they loved each other.

Sam stepped again with the aid of his cane, the bottom tip of it hitting the white linoleum tile. The tip lacked a proper rubber traction tip at the bottom. Because it was actually a Shaman relic, used for channeling ancient nature spirits, not for aiding those recovering from injury. Which mean that the cane slid two inches forward. And this caused Sam to slide two inches forward as well, making him curse painfully, because broken legs weren't meant to slide forward when they were still broken.

"Whoa, hey," Dean grabbed Sam's arm by the elbow before he could pitch forward. "Easy dude, I gotcha." He steadied Sam with one arm, and used the other to place the cane back in Sam's hand in the right therapeutic angle.

Sam's near spill made him pant from the pain that it caused. But, he still managed his next line between the pants: "Why Mr. Winchester; you are such a gentleman."

"I said shut up tripod!" Dean's retort was said with his hand still on Sam's shoulder and his eyes still harboring concern, so his words totally clashed with his real emotion. "Seriously Sam, you alright?"

"I'm okay Dean," Sam reassured, gripping his cane with his right hand and taking a step forward to give his brother a visual to what he said was true so that Dean would let go of his arm.

Dean released Sam's elbow with drawn out slowness, like he had just placed the last card atop a teetering card tower. "Good. Okay- are we done being weird?"

"We're not weird," Sam said. "Normal people are weird. You and me; we're freaks."

"You say that like it's a bad thing Sammy."

The entryway of the school was a sea of white linoleum tile, broken up by every fourth tile or so painted a crimson red. And dead center between the entryway and a partition wall with lockers lined up against it on the other side, was a huge "TH" painted in red and outlined in white, the two school colors. Overhead, suspended halogen lights bathed the whole room in overly bright light. The halls were mostly empty, only a handful of students were milling around, taking the opportunity to do whatever they wanted because class wasn't actually in session.

"Wow, this place looks just like I remember it," Dean surveyed the hallways he had roamed in when he was 18, complete with leather jacket, the one text book he would remember to bring tucked under his arm. Sam would be trailing after him, a mop of brown hair, backpack overflowing with books weighing him down.

"Dean, we were here two years ago," Sam reminded. But he knew what Dean meant.

It was like the last time didn't count, because they had been there to work a job. But, more because they had been falling then, tearing apart so fast with demon blood, Ruby, anger, lies and denial. They hadn't been brothers then; "hunting companions" was maybe a more accurate term. Sam had thought himself strong then the "better brother" because of his ability. But, he knew now that his ability was only spelt one way: a-d-d-i-c-t-i-o-n. He also knew now, standing here, two years, a stopped Apocalypse via a trip to Lucifer's Cage, a year soulless, a Wall, and a mess of a broken leg later, he was strong. Because he had what he hadn't back then. He had Dean, and Dean had him.

No, that last time didn't count. It was 1997 and now whey they had walked these halls as brothers. And Sam could practically see Dean's backside in their dad's old leather jacket as he followed him to his first class, because he had been so damn short compared to Dean back then that it was all he could see.

The smell of tile glue wafted up from a part of the floor that had been freshly laid out two weeks ago to replace the old crumbling ones. Along with this odor, were the smells of chalk, and what could only be described as "teenager." A combination of denim, iPod plastic, and hair products.

"You're right Dean," Sam gave the place a once over, a short laugh escaping him. "This place hasn't changed."

"Nope, just us," Dean said. "Because now, I'm the one who has to look up at you."

Sam laughed again. "Don't hate me for my superiority Dean."

"Wow, arrogant much Sasquatch?-"

"Hi!"

Dean's rib on Sam was cut off when a woman with long, platinum blond hair in a razored feather cut stepped over to them. "Welcome to our Honoring Ceremony!" A stack of white programs with the school's emblem on them, were tucked against her pink and gray stripped dress. "Please, take a couple of programs. They list all the speeches we have planned for tonight."

Her smile was perfect. Everything – from the way she held the programs, to the way she stood so poised on rose pink three inch sling back heels – was perfect.

"Thanks," Dean said, talking the papers the woman handed to him, passing one to Sam who began to read it one handed.

"Wow," Dean surveyed the program. There were a dozen speakers listed on the paper; and at least half of those were labeled as students. "This must be one popular man."

"Richard is a wonderful educator," the woman said with a genuine smile. "He's been at this school for so long that he should have gotten Tenure. But, small town schools don't seem to like anything permanent. So, instead they give him a two hour ceremony on a Saturday night, and a 20 dollar sheet cake." She shrugged a smile. "But, at least he's being recognized."

"You sound like you know him well," Sam said.

In response, the woman held out her left hand, revealing a one carat diamond wedding band, set in white gold. "Sorry, I should've started with this – I'm Amanda Wyatt; Richard's my husband."

"Wow," this time Sam used this exclamation instead of his brother. "I didn't even know he was married."

"We've only been married for a year," Amanda returned. "But we've been together for five years." She laughed again. "People tend to find this next part of our story gross- but I was a student here. A senior, when I had his class in Literary Philosophy. And, I fell in love with him then," Amanda Wyatt could see both Sam and Dean giving her raised eyebrow looks at this confession. "But, I, or rather, he, didn't let me act on anything. He was only 30 himself then, single. But, still, he wasn't going to let me "ruin myself" by dating a teacher. His words, not mine. I was a bit messed up then, had too many boys, too many encounters. But, Richard, he would just let me talk to him after class. And he really heard me out. He helped me to graduate, and I went on to Campbell College upstate. We still kept in touch with emails for homework help. And, once I got my Bachelor's in Education, I got a job at the local middle school. And Richard, he ran into me at an Education Seminar, and, well – we weren't student and teacher anymore, so-"

Her next laugh was so genuine that Sam couldn't help but smile at it. "Hey, that's great."

Amanda Wyatt returned his smile. "But, enough about my man. He's getting a ceremony to over inflate him plenty tonight." She surveyed Sam and Dean, not like the girls outside. But, rather, with the 'overview glance' of first encounters of adults. "You two don't look old enough to have a kid in high school. God child, or niece or nephew perhaps?"

"We're brothers," Dean returned to Amanda Wyatt's assumption that he was with Sam.

"We used to go to school here," Sam clarified. "And we heard about – your husband, apparently – being honored here. So, we decided to come and check it out."

"Really?" Amanda Wyatt asked with honest curiosity, dropping the 'gay couple' remark, by not saying anything more about it. It was one thing to assume that two strangers were a couple; it was another to assume that two brothers were. And, she didn't want to embarrass herself anymore then she already had. "What year did you graduate?"

"Actually, we were only here for about two weeks back in '97," Sam answered.

"See, our dad, he had a job that moved us around a lot," Dean added. He and Sam had a habit of finishing each other's sentences. They didn't do it on purpose. They had just become such a staple in each other's lives that they did it unconsciously.

"Two weeks?" Amanda Wyatt pondered this remark, concentrating on something locked back in her memory. Once she finally managed to unlock what it was, her eyes widened in surprise. "Dean? Oh. My God- Dean Winchester?" She glanced down at Dean's jacket, it was a black wool one, but the way it hung off of him, she could practically see an older brown leather one in its place. "Even without that leather jacket, it has to be you!"

While Amanda Wyatt was studying him, Dean was studying her, looking at her hazel-brown eyes, trying to place her features. Because, she obviously knew enough about him to remember what he had worn back in the twelfth grade. The hazel-brown eyes in front of him suddenly became younger, the face softer, just becoming adult-like. The body was still curvy though; he remembered the feel of it in the janitor's closet, pressed up against a circuit board.

"Amanda Herkerling?" Dean ventured. His guess was proven correct when Amanda Wyatt practically jumped up and down in excitement.

"Yes! Oh my-" She launched herself at Dean, hugging him with one arm, still holding onto the programs with the other. "It's so good to see you!"

"Yeah, you too," Dean gave her a small squeeze compared to her death grip. She was much more friendly now then compared to when he was 18 and she had called him out to every kind standing in the hallway in between classes.

Amanda pulled back, appraising Dean thoroughly. "And you're still as handsome as you were then! More so; you aged well Dean."

"Just don't tell your husband you said that," Dean said in a way to try and understand why someone who had gone out of her way to be a major bitch to him, would see him 14 years later and be nice.

"Richard's not a jealous man," Amanda said. "Besides, you and I are old friends." She turned from Dean, and over to Sam, her eyes widening even more. "Sam? That is not little Sammy Winchester standing there, not that tall, and not that good looking!"

"I know, it's like a miracle isn't it?" Dean said, watching Sam about to roll his eyes, or flip him off.

But, Amanda threw herself at Sam before he could do either.

"Whoa, hey!-Good to see you too Amanda," Sam had to back her up a little because she had bumped into his broken leg and it had made him see stars. "I'm sorry, but – leg, crutch, hurt-"

Amanda pulled back and finally noticed the cane, and how Sam was leaning on it. "Oh my god; no Sam, I'm sorry!" Her words came out in a rush as she held onto his arm to check for any damage she might have inflicted. "I'm such an idiot; I didn't even see it!-"

"It's fine," Sam reassured her, once the stars faded away.

"What happened?" Amanda asked.

Sam said: "Car accident" at the same time Dean said: "Mugging."

"We were driving back from dinner, and this guy tried to carjack us at a traffic light. Dean wrestled the gun out of his hand; and, he sped up to try and get away. But, we ended up crashing into a telephone poll, that ended up on my side of the car." Sam lied this expertly, and watched as Amanda's hands flew up to her mouth.

There was a moment that a twinge of guilt came over Sam for lying to her; but, he pushed it back down. Because, what was he supposed to tell her? Hey, woman who my brother used to feel up when he was 18. See, I was trying to slice off this bitch Vampire's head that was about to feed on Dean. But, the damn thing hurled me down two flights of stairs and I broke half of the bones in my body, but, my brother got our angel friend to heal me. But, this angel, he didn't have enough 'mojo' because Eve had just been there. She's the Mother of All evil, supernatural things, and her presence made him a little flaccid for a complete healing. So now, I have to limp around on a hoodoo cane that my foster father/hunter friend Bobby leant me. Dean does a wicked shadow puppet routine of it all.

"Oh my god!" This was apparently Amanda-Herkerling-Wyatt's catch phrase. "You're lucky you weren't killed! Are you both okay?"

"All I got were some scratches, son-of-a-bitch fought like a rabid cat." Dean lied, adding more to Sam's fake mugging story. "Sam here took the brunt of that pole. It was kind of hard to focus on driving, when I was trying to take down that dumb ass with a gun."

So Dean, in their story got off okay, but, obviously, Sam wasn't okay. But, it was a question Sam knew women tended to ask anyway without regard to the situation. Jessica had done it countless times when he had come to her, clearly sick, and asking for cold medicine.

"I'll be fine," Sam reassured Amanda. "Dean can do a nurse impression like you wouldn't believe."

This made Amanda laugh, and Dean shoot him a 'not cool man' look.

"The packaging may have aged, but you two are practically the same," Amanda said. "Dean Winchester, forever the protector of his little brother Sammy." She smiled like this was the highest form of compliment that she could give them. She just didn't know how true her statement really was. "It's so fantastic to see you both! We have so much to catch up on- ooh! You have to speak at the ceremony!"

"That's really not necessary," Dean interrupted quickly. He wasn't a big fan of public speaking. Especially not for a place that he had only been at for 14 days, at the behest of a woman who had told himshe felt 'sorry for him' in front of a crowd of gawking teenagers.

"Oh come on!" Amanda pleaded. "Richard would love it! He always said that Sam was one of his favorite students; it would really mean a lot to him!"

Amanda Hekerling-Wyatt was only four years older than Sam. They had gone to school together. So it was kind of – creepy – the way his name had been brought up in discussions about 'favorite students' between her and her husband, who had been both of their teachers.

"Please?" Amanda added, her eyes going doeful and pleading.

Sam took a breath, intent on telling her that he was flattered, but he wouldn't know what to say.

But, Amanda took that breath for an affirmation that he was about to say 'yes'. "Great!"

"What? – No-" Sam didn't know what had just happened to make her think that he was agreeing. "No Amanda, I am terrible at public speaking, believe me!"

"Don't be so modest Sammy," Dean piped in, slapping his hand down on Sam's shoulder, and flashing a smile over at Amanda. "He lives for moments like these."

"I'll tell Richard right now!" Amanda bobbed up and down again. She stood on tip toe and kissed Sam on the cheek. "You're a lifesaver!" Once she was done kissing Sam, she moved over to Dean, kissing his left cheek. "It's so good to see you both!" And don't worry Sam; you'll be great!"

Sam offered her a toned down version of her overzealous smile.

"I'll see you both in there!" Amanda said.

"Can't wait," Dean responded, watching her walk down the hallway, her heels 'clicking' on the floor with each step.

Once Amanda Hekerling-Wyatt's well proportioned, easily excitable body was out of sight, Sam shot Dean a 'what the hell?' look. "I live for moments like these? Dude, you've haven't seen the woman in over a decade, why are you trying to pimp me out to her?"

"See 'pimping' is such a harsh word Sam. I prefer the term 'service'." Sam's gaze was burning fiery holes through Dean's retinas'. "C'mon Sammy, you're great at this kind of thing. I remember that speech you gave about Zeppelin during the Spring Assembly-"

"It was Tennyson Dean, and I was 14-"

"Just imagine how much better you are now in your old age," Dean slapped Sam's shoulder again, at the same time Sam shot him another withering look. "Lose the bitch face Sam," Dean's voice was no longer joking. "I just thought that you might want to say a few words to the man. I mean, he was practically your mentor while you were here."

Sam could hear the genuine sincerity in Dean's voice. Dean had his rough edges, jokes, and nine-year-old humor side. But, there were those moments when the real side of Dean would come out. The side that went to Hell to save Sam; and was torn apart when Sam went to hell to save him.

"It's not like I don't appreciate the gesture Dean, I do. But, so much has happened since I last saw the man – and – I-" here Sam met words that didn't want to come out.

"You what?" Dean asked. His question was met with silence. "Sam? Dude, you have a Satan blocking wall, and a mother of a broken leg. You can't pause for this long, or my Panic Face is liable to come out."

"I just don't want him to be disappointed," Sam finally answered, his eyes lowering briefly to the floor. A gesture he had never outgrown using when he was ashamed of something.

"In what?" Dean questioned, watching Sam give him asad 'you know what' look. "In you? You think Wyatt will be disappointed in you? That's a load of crap-"

"Dean-"

"No-" Dean took a step closer to his brother, something he always did when he wanted Sam to really hear him. "You listen to me, Sam- After everything you did for him, and other six billion people on this planet, NO ONE has the right to be disappointed in you. Most of all, yourself. We clear?"

Sam laughed, a dry, shrugging, disbelief of a laugh. "You know, if you tell me that enough times – I might actually start believing it."

"Then I guess I'll just have to keep talking," Dean returned.

There was a pause where they both absorbed the meaningfulness of what was just said, of the total lack of a line when it concerned looking out for each other.

"Thanks man," Sam laid a hand on his brother's shoulder, squeezing it briefly. "Seriously, it means a lot that you have my back."

"I'm your brother Sam," Dean didn't go for a joke or banter, he went for the truth. Because, he could feel the weight of where this was going. "And, I'm not talking about all that blood crap. I'm talking about family. The stuff you have a say in, the bonds you earn. And, you earned that place a while ago."

It was deep; it was meaningful; it made tears sting the corner of Sam's eyes. But, in the true nature of reality, this deep, meaningful moment was broken into.

"Get a room!"

Dean turned around to see a tall, muscular teenager standing behind them, having just closed his mouth from his sneer. He was dressed in a red and white letterman's jacket and jeans, his light brown hair cropped close to his skull. His manner was all arrogant, young, and cocky.

If it weren't for the letterman jacket and the lighter hair color, Dean would've sworn he was looking at himself back in high school.

"Get a job!" Dean threw back.

The kid raised his arm in stunned sarcasm at the old line. "Whatever dude!" He continued walking down the hallway waving them away with a 'pfft!' hand wave.

"Get a job?" Sam repeated to Dean in disbelief, his eyebrows as high as that arrogant dick of a kid's.

"I think I delivered it," Dean said. "C'mon Sam; you're public awaits." He eyed the cane in Sam's hand. "That thing gonna hold you, or are we doing the 'carrying you over the threshold' maneuver?"

"Bite me," Sam retorted for another countless time since they had arrived at the school.

"Seriously Sam, enough with the dirty remarks," Dean shot back. "We're brothers remember?"

"Eww!"

A line that could only be delivered by a teenage girl, roughly 16 to 17 years of age; made them both turn around to find its source. And, they weren't met with disappointment when they spotted a brunette who was all legs and arms – and breasts, Dean couldn't help but notice the breasts too. They were way out of proportion for someone so skinny.

"Are you two, like, for real?" The girl's voice was that alluring combination of snarky and faked sweetness that made it unforgettable. Even if you wished you could forget it.

"Are you seriously talking like that?" Sam threw back at her. Maybe this girl was really sweet, and kind, and just having an off day; but right now, Sam didn't care. He was sick of being taunted at, by kids. And, where the hell were all these kids parents at anyway? Drinking margaritas?

The girl's left eyebrow rose, one perfectly shaped arch. "Excuse me?"

"Clueless died in 1995," Sam said. "And it was a comedy, not a way of life. Plus, it's a Saturday, so how about you give the 'bitch face' the weekend off?"

The girl's face was all horror, and 'put out' looking, and three seconds away from flipping Sam off. But, she buried all of her rage into the storming off and yelling leering remarks about Sam's lack of manhood over her shoulder.

"Wow," Dean turned to his brother with a bemused grin. "You referenced Clueless AND put a major smackdown on High School Barbie. You're like somebody's perfect girlfriend."

"Dude, don't look at me like that," Sam said.

"Like what?" Dean returned in feigned innocence.

"Like you want to jump my bones," Sam said this with a shudder. "It's making me picture, weird, unnatural, mutant children-"

Dean shot Sam a disgusted look. "Well, I just threw up in my mouth-"

"Tell me about it," Sam agreed, as grossed out at his brother. He was actually starting to see faces of said abominations of children, and it was making him want to dig his brains out. "Tell me something else that's disgusting-"

"Like what?" This time Dean's voice was all confusion.

"Anything," Sam returned. "Just make it fast, these images are starting to shift to long term memories."

Dean took a moment to ponder what his answer would be before responding: "Bobby in a yellow, polka dot bikini – making out with Balthazar." He shot Sam a look. "We good?"

Sam swallowed thickly. "Yeah – thanks man."

"You know I'm always here for you Sammy."

There was a pause where both brothers dealt with the repercussions of Dean's overly descriptive mind. Dean was starting to hear the lyrics to: "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" playing in his head. And, it was doing horrible things to his brain. "So who's ready for an after school assembly?"

"I know I am," Sam answered quickly, maneuvering himself on his cane to continue down the hallway where he remembered the auditorium being.

Dean followed behind him like a shadow, always on Sam's "good side," ready to stop any slipping should his cane start to slide out from under him again.

They walked this way down the hallway for another handful of yards before they found the door to the auditorium on the right side of the hall. It was a set of solid oak double doors, with brass colored push bars. Two rectangular windows were set into each door, allowing them to see inside the auditorium.

It was like going back in time, just the feel of the chipping push bar in Dean's hand was a memory. He had slammed his hip into this bar so many times, all arrogance and self-assurance, for his scheduled detentions. Which was the main reason Dean had found himself entering this room.

Except for that one time during the Spring Assembly.

[Sam was giving a reading on Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade". His little brother was LITTLE, compared to him. A mere 5'4" compared to Dean's towering 6 feet.

Sam and Dean had arrived at school late because their dad had come home from a hunt for a certain yellow eyed demon sloppy and drunk, leaving Dean to wake up bleary eyed 30 minutes past his alarm. He had to kick his brother awake so they could make a mad dash to school with the Impala keys that Dean lifted off the pocket of his hung over father.

Dean didn't really give a flying crap about school. But, Sam was so obsessive about this assembly that Dean knew his brother would blow an artery if he missed it.

"Dean-" Sam stared up at his big brother, one long arm moving up and down through his growing mop of brown hair in agitation. Sam had been a bit of a chubby kid; but, ever since he had hit 14, he had started to thin out because of pubescent, hormonal changes.

Dean stared right back at his brother. The kid was all gangly arms and legs, very little visible muscle. But, he was a fighter and had a mind like a steel trap. And right now, his little brother's steel trap mind was beyond agitated.

"Dean, we're LATE man, we missed it! Mr. Wyatt's going to be pissed; he's the one who asked me to do this in the first place. Dean!" Sam snapped because Dean's attention was drawn inside to the already full auditorium. From the long, rectangular window Dean could see the curvy form of Amanda Heckerling sitting in the last row, twirling a program with pink manicured nails, right below her perfectly shaped breasts-

"DEAN!" Sam said in a voice just under a shout so they wouldn't be overheard by any teachers. "Are you even listening to me?"]

"Dean?"

Sam's voice snapped Dean out of his thoughts. He realized that he had his hand poised on the push bar, halfway between opening and not opening the door.

Sam sized up his brother's expression, not liking that it was unreadable. Dean's expressions always expressed things – anger, pissiness, amusement, sorrow – it wasn't unreadable. "You okay?"

Seeing Sam in his mind at 14, barely fitting into his growing body, and seeing him now, at 28, muscle packed on all over his frame, towering over him – it gave Dean a moment of disorientation. Like he had just traveled on Angel Air back to the past for real, instead of just in his head.

"I'm good Sam," Dean brushed off the concern.

Sam wasn't convinced. "You sure?"

"What is this; Lifetime Movie? Yeah Sammy, I'm sure. I'm not the one with the broken leg."

Sam knew that Dean had went somewhere inside his head just then. And, because of where they were, Sam was pretty sure that it was a bad high school flashback. But, he also knew that Dean wouldn't want to be called out on it. He would talk –if at all – when he was damn well ready.

"Okay," Sam held up the one hand that wasn't grasping the cane, in surrender. "Next time you want to fondle a door handle man, I promise – complete privacy."

Dean gave Sam his best 'pissy older brother look'. But again, he was grateful that Sam knew him well enough to let the matter drop. "Shut up Sasquatch, and get your ass in there. You don't want to be late."

["Sorry Sammy," Dean drew his eyes away from Amanda's rack. He glanced down at Sam, seeing what he dubbed as Sam's "bitch face" already on his brother's features.

"Why'd dad have to come home wasted?" Sam complained, frantically looking at the folder where he had copied "The Charge of the Light Brigade" on lose leaf paper. Sam had copied the poem down by hand in order to help him memorize it. He looked it over now, trying to quell the tremors in his hands, hoping that they weren't showing. Especially with Dean standing right there.

"Relax kid," Dean said. "The assembly's at 8:30." He checked his black banded digital watch. "We've only missed 20 minutes of it."

That fact did not calm Sam at all. He stared through the window on the door, looking at the huge crowd of students. Then entire school populous that was present that day was in there.

Sam wanted to throw up. He HATED public speaking. Why did Mr. Wyatt tell him that his reading skills were "very impressive" and then convince the principal that he should present a poem in the Spring Assembly? And WHY did he agree to it?

The last time he had spoken in public was at a bar – and that was in a crowd of loud, wasted men, to drag Dean home after too many Dos Esqius. That didn't count.

"Dean, there's a LOT of people in there – including Amanda-"

"So?" Dean blew off this remark like dandelion fluff, like it was nothing. "Just more people to love your work Sammy. And, Amanda kinda has a thing for you-" a suggestive smile was on Dean's face. "I'd only let my little bro get those kind of looks from my girlfriend."

"She's not your girlfriend Dean," Sam told him.

"Yeah, she is, Sam," Dean argued, using his 'I'm-older-than-you' tone.

"You boff her in the janitor's closet," Sam said in clarification. "I'm 14 dude, I'm not stupid."

"Harsh Sammy," Dean returned. "Since when do you profess knowledge about chicks?"

"Since when do you know what 'profess' means?" Sam threw back. Bantering with Dean was a way to take the edge off his nervousness.

This got Dean to laugh the way he only did when he was really impressed with something. "Oh Sammy, the things I know-"

Dean started to open the right side of the auditorium door, when it opened on its own, pushed from the other side.

"Sam," Mr. Wyatt stood there, dressed in a blue dress shirt, red tie and black slacks. His face wasn't impatient or irritated with Sam for being late and holding up the whole assembly since he was supposed to speak first. Rather, the look the teacher wore was only one of concern. "I was wondering what happened to you. You're never late."

"Sorry Mr. Wyatt," Sam apologized. "I-" Shame blocked him from saying the truth. That his dad had come home drunk as a skunk, swearing, and then crying over their dead mother. And that he and Dean had to keep him quiet so that they wouldn't be kicked out of their hotel room. And, that they had only fallen asleep around 3 am when John had finally passed out in a chair.

"We had car problems Sir," Dean said politely, addressing Sam's teacher with his 'responsible-older-brother' voice. "Our dad had a hell of a time convincing the garage to give us a lift to class. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Sam couldn't believe that Dean was peddling this crap of a lie. And what's more, that Mr. Wyatt seemed to be BUYING it, because he was taking in every word Dean said as truth. He had, the best big brother, EVER.

Mr. Wyatt held up a hand. "It's fine boys; everyone has car problems at some point. I'm just glad that you both made it."

"So are we teach," Dean returned. "Couldn't miss Sammy here giving his big speech," He clamped a hand on Sam's shoulder, playfully roughing it under his grip.

Sam was so grateful to Dean for helping him save face in front of his favorite teacher that he forgave him for calling him "Sammy" in front of Mr. Wyatt.

Wyatt smiled at them. These boys had only been at Truman High for a little under two weeks, but he liked them both. There was just something about them, Sam was a very bright kid, excelled in all his classes, and he had this way about him that made you feel so at ease that you couldn't help but like him. And, Dean, even though many of the administration had already labeled him as 'lazy' and 'trouble', he was just as smart as his brother. Half the time he never handed in his homework; but, when he did, it was all above average work. And, the way Wyatt had seen him around Sam in the halls, part body guard, part big brother, part best friend. And Sam seemed to click only completely when his brother was around; he excelled MORE because he knew it would make Dean proud.

They were two pieces of the same thing.]

The auditorium doors opened with a creaking groan under Dean's hand.

The room was huge, off white, with banners of the school's sports team wins hanging on the walls. Scattered amongst these banners were motivational posters with pictures of mountain climbers, and kayakers, with words like: "Perseverance" and " Excellence" as their headers.

The floor was a thin black industrial grade carpet with 20 rows of stadium seating fold out chairs sitting atop it. And most all of these chairs were filled with parents, and students, their heads turning from their conversations, or reading of program to look up at the sound of the opening door.

Dean felt over fifty pairs of eyes on them as he and Sam walked into the room. Sam, going first, moving slower under the aid of his cane.

A woman, mid fifties by the looks of her, jumped up from her seat in a center row, and started down the carpeted aisle to them. She was dressed smartly in an Ann Taylor black- A line skirt suit, with a paisley silk scarf about her neck, her auburn hair up in a high ponytail. Her face had a few wrinkles, but she had a refined elegance about her that only made her beautiful to everyone who saw her.

"This way you two! we've saved you some seats." her voice was authoritative, but also kind, and compassionate. Someone who cared about people.

Dean had no idea who this woman was, or why she was going out her way to be so nice to them, but before he could question it, the stranger started talking again.

"Sam, honey, come on; you've simply got to get off that bad leg!" Her sea green eyes wore nothing but concern.

The nameless woman addressing Sam made him shoot a 'confused as hell' look at Dean, especially when said woman took the crook of his arm and began to guide him down the aisle.

The woman turned her head to look over at Dean. "Don't you worry either Dean; I've got him. I've been looking out for people for 30 years."

Dean was floored, his first thoughts going to demons, and ghost possession to explain how this woman knew them both. And how, all his weapons to fight off such were stowed away in the Impala, and out of reach.

He kept pace with the woman who had her arm on Sam, because if this was some she demon, or ghost, it would be over his dead body, and her exorcism that she was hurting his brother.

But, all of Dean's confusion and fears ended when they stopped three rows before the massive stage at the front of the room. Because, next to two empty seats sat Amanda Herkerling-Wyatt, immediately rising from her seat when she saw them approach.

"You made it!" she turned to the auburn woman. "Thanks for showing them down mom."

Both Sam and Dean had time give each other the same look: 'Mom?' before Amanda cut in.

"Sam and Dean Winchester, this is my mother, Elena Hekerling," Now that Amanda had said it, the resemblance in the faces of the two women was noticeable. "And this-" Amanda turned around to face a tall sandy blonde man who was standing beside his seat on his daughter's right. "Is my dad, David Heckerling the Third."

'David Heckerling the Third' was an inch shorter than Sam, salt and pepper hair, wearing a pristine charcoal gray Brooks Brother's suit with a burgundy silk tie. He was built beneath his expensive clothes. His hazel-brown eyes had an iron firmness in them. He looked like the kind of father who had sat with a loaded shot gun on his sofa for all his daughter's dates.

"Nice to meet you boys," David Heckerling's voice was just as deep as his presence suggested, almost like a pitbull's growl. But, despite that 'scare the hell out of you' stance about him, there was also a look about him that said he was a good man, and to gain his trust was a grand deal.

David shook hands with Sam first, and then Dean. "Amanda has told us a lot about you. We're happy you could both be here for this. It's not every day that we get a son-in-law with a reputation that doesn't exceed him-"

"David, you can gloat later," Elena Hekerling chided her husband. "We need to get Sam off of this leg before he falls down," She took Sam's arm again and pushed him down into an empty seat in the way that only a mother could, or in Sam's case, Dean, minus the smart ass remark.

"Is this okay honey?" Elena asked Sam once he was sitting.

"Fine," Sam told her, giving her a smile when she seemed to not believe him. "Really, this is great."

Elena examined at the cane in Sam's hand, and at the broken leg next to it, looking like she was three seconds away from singing him a lullaby while feeding him chicken soup. "Poor thing. Amanda told us what happened," now Elena Hekerling looked three seconds away from shooting their imaginary car jacker full of hot lead, and watching him bleed to death. She wasn't a dainty woman, this one.

Elena turned up to Dean. "Dean, sweetheart, you take the seat next to Sam." There was almost a look of pride on her face when she addressed Dean, no doubt put there by her daughter's story about how he had saved their lives from their "car jacking." It was starting to make Dean feel guilty, because it was Sam who had actually saved him. If it wasn't for his brother jumping that female Vampire, and taking a header down two flights of stairs because of it, then Dean would've died.

But Dean couldn't voice any of his guilt, not if he wanted their concocted story to hold. "Thanks Mrs. Hekerling." Dean said, lowering himself into the fold out seat on Sam's right.

"Call me Elena," she returned. "We're all adults, no need for all that 'Mrs. Hekerling' formality crap."

"Mom!" Amanda reprimanded, but not harshly, because she had learned a long time ago that her mother was her own woman, and would do as she damn well pleased.

"I would listen to her son," David Hekerling said to Dean from his seat on the other side of Sam. "She's bullheaded, and doesn't like the word 'no'. Not a good combination."

"Kiss off sweetheart!" Elena threw back to her husband, but with mirth in her eyes.

Damn, Dean thought. Everyone is right about me and Sam. We DO bicker like an old married couple. Never let Sam know this.

"Elena," Dean tested out Mrs. Hekerling's 'Christian name' "Thanks for the escort. Sam stopped being easy to maneuver when he hit puberty."

This made Elena laugh, and Sam roll his eyes at Dean. But, Dean ignored his brother's expression and gave Elena Hekerling his full 'prize winning' smile. He was grateful for once that someone with a smile so beautiful wasn't trying to kill him, or maim him; or seduce him so that she could kill and maim him.

Elena was the perfect older rendition of her daughter, mature, but, still a real head turner. And, she knew it; but, she didn't flounce it like a narcissistic younger woman. Rather, she let her beauty be heard without her help.

And, Dean couldn't help it; he was greatly appreciating that beauty.

"Dude-" Sam nudged him in the elbow. "Could you be a little less obvious?" He was speaking in a low whisper because Elena Hekerling was right there; and so was her husband. And, Dean as a lot of things, but he was no award winner in subtly.

"Shut up," Dean whispered under his breath.

Elena cocked her head because she had heard Sam speaking, but hadn't heard what he said. "I'm sorry?"

"This program," Dean held up the folded piece of paper and pretended to be interested in reading it. "It's really thorough," He slid his foot out and kicked Sam's shins. Now, Dean meant to kick Sam in his uninjured leg. But, he had miscalculated, and clipped his broken one instead. As soon as he heard the 'ping' when his foot hit corrugated iron, Dean swore to himself.

But, while Dean's swear was silent, Sam's was out loud. "Shit!" Tears burned his eyes.

Elena went from curiosity to full on concern when she saw Sam wince. "Sam – honey, are you alright?"

"He's good," Dean answered for his brother because Sam's eyes were currently screwed tightly, and his face was set somewhere between a grimace and a whimper. "It's the leg; sometimes it spasms, hurts like a bitch."

Sam gave a grunted, non syllabic reply.

Dean laid a hand on Sam's back, rubbing his shoulder blades with his thumb. He normally only touched Sam like this when it was just the two of them, and there was no one watching his comforting his brother. Or, in front of Bobby; someone who knew that his smart ass act, was just an act, and that he wasn't afraid to show concern, especially to Sam. Dean touching Sam like this now, in front of people they just met, was his way of publically apologizing for kicking Sam in his busted leg.

"Poor thing!" Elena repeated her exclamation from earlier, her expression in full on 'motherly concern'. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"El," David Hekerling said, calling his wife the nickname he had given her when they had first started dating. "Stop trying to adopt every stray kid you see." Sam was 28-years-old; he was in no way a kid. But, he had 28 years compared to the other man's 58. But, despite the taunt to his wife, he still glanced over at Sam. "You going to be okay there son?"

Sam finally raised his head after the pain in his leg had released its hold. "I'm okay." he said. Nobody around him seemed convinced that he was telling the truth. "Really, everyone, I'm fine. It let up."

David seemed satisfied by this, and he turned back to his program to let Sam regain his composure. Sam may have been a younger man, but he was still a man, and David gave him respect as such.

It was Elena and Dean who still had lingering gazes. Elena had been a mother for over 20 years, she couldn't let go of concern as easily as her husband. And Dean, he had been Sam's brother, his well – everything- for over 20 years; he couldn't let things go at all. Plus, with Dean, there was the guilt for having inflicted that pain on Sam in the first place.

Elena didn't look convinced, but she couldn't compete with the 'don't-worry-about-it' puppy dog gaze that Sam could command at will. It made her finally relent. And, it was just in time because the lights began to flicker, which was a signal from one of the students who was helping out at the ceremony that it was time to get started. Elena took the empty seat next to her husband.

"Mom means well Sam," Amanda said from across the row at her seat. "She's been at DCF for 14 years, she's a bit high on caretaker fumes."

"Shhh!" Elena waved her hands in her daughter's face. "Your husband's ceremony is starting baby."

"Sorry dude," Dean whispered this apology to Sam. "I missed." He moved the hand on Sam's back to his neck, a place he had often taken to rubbing when they were kids and Sam was hurt or sick.

"Stop touching me!" Sam snapped back in a whisper.

"Why? Am I turning you on?" Dean whispered again, his eyebrows wiggling.

"What would you do if I said 'yes'?" Sam countered.

"Dude!-" Dean's next whisper was a little too loud, interrupting the 15-year-old-girl on stage.

The girl was in the middle of an introductory speech that she had no doubt rehearsed for days on. She lowered her microphone away from her mouth- and seriously, Dean wondered who taught girls to raise their eyebrows like that?

People in the front row turned around to find the source of the interruption.

Dean felt a hell of a lot of stares on him and Sam. And, it was worse than facing ghosts and demons. Because, at least then there was the distraction of your disembowelment and imminent death; not just a sea of eyes, all watching you unblinkingly.

"Sorry," Dean apologized to all those looks. He gave a fake cough. "Something caught in my throat." He flashed a smile at the girl on stage. "Knock'em dead sweetheart."

The young redhead actually smiled back, a really big smile, that was followed by a throat clearing and a exclamation of "Marissa!" from her father somewhere in the audience.

"Marissa" shook herself out of the effects of Dean's smile, and regrouped with her speech. "Tonight is a reflection of a man who has reached each and every one of us in some capacity-"

"Your girlfriend's already out of your league Dean," Sam whispered. "She used the word 'capacity' in a sentence."

"Just admit that you're jealous Sam," Dean came back, keeping his whisper low this time, so that they would be spared the embarrassment of earlier.

"Oh yeah, this is my jealous face." Sam whispered.

Dean couldn't help it; sitting in this auditorium, Sam's whispered breathing in his face- it's like they were back in high school, shooting jokes to each other about the badly acted version of "Romeo and Juliet" that had been forced to sit through.

[Other siblings in different years chose to ignore each other and sit with their "grade level friends" But, Dean would always find Sam, blowing off the "cool kids" that tried to cajole him over, to sit with his brother, who was much cooler in Dean's mind. Even though Sam was a geek who could recite all acts of Romeo and Juliet verbatim. But, no one could deliver the line: "Juliet's gonna 'younder window break' if she doesn't lay off the Kleenex padding." like Sam could.]

Dean snorted a laugh at that memory, masking it as another cough when the couple in front of him turned to give his disruption a 'parental look.'

Sam pounded on Dean's back to add to the illusion of his coughing. "COPD," he told the couple eyeing them, biting his lip, until the man and his wife accepted his answer with another 'look' before turning back around in their seats. Once they were safely turned back around the snicker Sam had been holding back finally escaped.

Dean couldn't help his responding snicker either – Sam's laugh was catching. It had been a long time since either one of them had laughed, really laughed like this. Their lives hadn't exactly been a joy ride lately, laughter was few and far between. Which made it that much harder for them both to stop.

On stage Marissa continued her speech; doing her best to be oblivious to the two guys loosing it in the third row. It wasn't that she couldn't hold her own against distraction. She had been doing it in Debate Team for two years. It was seeing two hot looking men making that distraction that was undoing her.

God, they are so ripped – do they work out in their sleep? – FOCUS Marissa, speech! "Ladies and Gentleman-" she fell back into her words fluently. She rocked Debate Team. "We, as the Student Council have voted unanimously to allow our honoree to speak first, because, this is his big night after all." Several parents and students in the audience laughed at this."So , without anymore adieu – here is Truman High's own, Mr. Richard Wyatt!"

A round of applause erupted from the gathering.

Sam's laughter instantly died as he watched Richard Wyatt step out from the left wing of the stage.

Dressed in a navy blue suit with a red and white stripped clubbed tie, the man himself shook hands with Marissa and then took her spot behind the oak lectern. Richard Wyatt smiled at the crowd, watching as some of them rose to their fee to give him an ovation.

Beside her father, Amanda was whistling, and blew a kiss to her husband.

"Thank you!" Richard Wyatt was heard to say over the din. He made a 'settle down' motion with his hands, ingrained in his mind from twenty years of teaching.

The crowd resumed their seats with a thunder like sound made from pulling down the folding chairs. Richard waited for a moment to let everyone reclaim their seats before speaking again.

"Thank you again, everyone," he looked stage let, to where Marissa had taken a seat n the row of metal folding chairs set up along both sides of the stage for all the speakers. "And thank you Marissa, for that warm welcome. But, I'm sorry, this doesn't let you off the hook from your finals."

Laughter emulated from the crowd, and from Marissa who was sitting next to a bored looking over achieving student actually wearing a three piece suit. The rest of the chairs were filled with a mismatch of students and facility members that had prepared speeches for the ceremony.

"Wow, all it took was 20 years to get everyone to let me speak first at one of these things."

That line actually got Dean to laugh. "Guy's funnier than I remember."

Sam, for his part wasn't saying anything. He was watching Richard Wyatt – except for a few graying areas around his temples , the man had barely aged at all. He still looked the same as the teacher he had admired all those years ago. He had seen him 2-years-ago, but it hadn't been the same. Even with the threat of the Apocalypse, the severing link with Dean, there had been a confidence in Sam. Because, he had a 'cause' something to work towards. And, he wanted to walk into his old classroom and thank Mr. Wyatt for believing in him all those years ago. But, when he got there, the man had floored Sam with the one question his demon blood addled mind couldn't put a fake spin on: "Are you happy Sam?"

Two years later, Sam was still trying to answer this question. To give some proof to the man who had shown such a interest in him that his mentoring had helped. But, a lot had happened in the two years since teacher and former student had spoken. And, as much as Dean refused to let Sam believe otherwise; he couldn't help watching his old instructor on stage and feel like he let him down.

"Seriously, I've told the office time and time again that these ceremonies are over rated, and a waste of tax dollars. But, my wife has a mean arm torque, so I just went along with it."More laughter from the crowd, and an 'I love you too honey' from Amanda.

"I've been teaching at this school for 20 years; which doesn't seem possible because I remember the first day I came through those doors," A smile pulled at Richard Wyatt's face. "And I remember not knowing what the hell I was doing."

More laughter; from Dean as well.

"Gotta give your mentor credit," Dean said leaning towards Sam. "He's not a dooshbag."

"You had him too Dean," Sam reminded.

"He oversaw detention for me Sam," Dean returned over the noise of clapping at something Richard Wyatt had just said. "Not the same caliber."

The applause died down, removing Sam's chance for a side comment to Dean without risking: 'angry parental eyes'

"I see y our program that there are a lot of speakers who have nothing better to do than discuss my antics." Richard Wyatt had the kind of humor that was infectious because it wasn't fake or overdone. "But, just before we got started my wife told me about a little edition to the lineup." He looked out over the audience, searching the sea of faces until his eyes settled on the row he was originally looking at. The row where his wife Amanda sat with his in-laws, and two men. One, he didn't recognize, but the other – in his eyes he still saw the 14-year-old boy with hair half covering his eyes. But, that now merged with the face from two years ago, a confident adult, and the face from now. The same man, same adult features, but there was something haunted about his eyes, something searching.

Richard met those eyes, seeing their owner meet his like he was both awed and scared too. It made Richard have to blink to break contact with such a piercing gaze, otherwise he wouldn't be able to continue talking. "There are several students who I understand have prepared fantastic speeches. But, if they could just bear with us for a moment-" Several parents in the audience looked put out at the very suggestion of having to delay their children's speeches. "There is someone who I would very much like to go first."

There was a cacophony of murmurs from the audience and simultaneous glances from them across the auditorium to find this mystery person. Only the row where Amanda and the Herkerling's sat with Sam and Dean remained still.

"I met him back, well-" Richard broke into a reminiscing laugh. "-back when he was young enough to take my class. He was one of the smartest kids that I ever taught; he seemed to want to engulf learning like a storm swallowing a fleet of ships. I only had him for a short while, but I always hoped he never lost that drive, that passion. So, I was extremely surprised, and happy both, that he came here tonight. And, I think we should really bring him up here now-" Richard swept his arm out into the crowd in Sam's direction. "Ladies, and gentleman, one of my former, and favorite students – Mr. Sam Winchester."

The sound of clapping rang in Sam's ears.

["Sam?" Mr. Wyatt's look was a coaxing one to the boy sitting in the center of the first row.

Sam's grip on his folder was a vise-like hold, and he was three seconds away from throwing up all over his shoes.

"Knock'em dead kid!" Dean's hand was on Sam's shoulder, rough housing it affectionately.

Sam swallowed the rush of saliva that had suddenly clogged his throat. "Dean, I REALLY don't want to do this!"

There was a sporadic sound of clapping from the students, most of them from Sam's home room class. The upperclassmen looked bored, or had lips pulled back into sneers at the freshman about to humiliate himself in front of them.

"It's too late to back out now Sammy," Dean spoke in a low voice. He normally avoided the front row of the auditorium like the plague; but, he could tell Sam was on the verge of a massive 14-year-old boy panic attack, so he had sat here to reassure him.

When Sam still didn't show any signs of moving out of his seat, Dean grabbed him by the back of his brown canvas jacket and hauled him out of his seat.

"Dean-no!" Sam tried to pull himself out of his brother's grasp, but Dean held firm. "What are you doing!"

"Keeping you from stalling anymore." Dean smacked the folder against Sam's chest with his handwritten poem secured inside.

"Dean, everybody's watching!" Sam said, both embarrassed at being handled by his big brother like a wayward puppy, and nervous as hell to walk up on the stage where Mr. Wyatt was waiting for him.

"So, quit keepin'em waiting Sam," Dean said, giving Sam one last shove so that his younger brother was now out in the aisle beside their seats.

"FISH!" Someone taunted at Sam from the back aisle.

Dean whipped his head around to see who it was, spotting some random kid in a football letterman's jacket, slinking down low in his seat, sneer on his face.

"Shut up asswipe!" Dean snarled.

"Dean Winchester!" Mr. Raymond, the assistant principal barked from his seat on the stage. "That's enough out of you young man!"

"Your mother's lucky she didn't die from pushing out your fugly face!"

"Winchester! Seat. NOW!"

There was a round of amused laughter from the students; including Amanda Herkerling, who couldn't act like Dean hadn't said something amusing.

Dean ignored the assistant principal, and turned back to Sam who was still standing in the aisle, staring at Dean's outburst with anything but amusement on his face. The last thing Sam wanted was for Dean to get ANOTHER detention.

"Dean!" Sam snapped in a whisper through gritted teeth. "Shut. Up."

"Go!" Dean said above the still rolling laughter of the other kids. He waved his brother towards the stage. "You'll be okay Sammy!"]

"Sam?" Dean had turned to look at his brother, and saw how widely dilated his pupils were, like he wasn't seeing what was in front of him. "Sam!" Dean grabbed his shoulder.

Sam visibly shook himself at Dean's touch, feeling like he had woken up from a dream. His eyes contracted again, and he turned to look at his brother.

"Dude what the hell!" Dean said " You okay?"

"Yeah," Sam bent his head low and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had been deep in a high school memory. Really deep apparently, because, Dean's Panic Face had finally come out.

"You sure?" Dean didn't sound convinced. His grip on Sam's shoulder tightened, and he tried to turn his brother towards him more.

"I'm fine," Sam said. "Just help me up." The seats in the auditorium were soft, plush stadium seating which made them hard to get out of normally. But, with the added hindrance of a cane and a leg in traction, it was nine times harder for Sam. "I think I freakin' beached myself in this thing."

Dean stood up from his chair and held out his hand for Sam to grab; and felt Sam grab a hold of his bicep to get a firmer grip. "Let's go Tiny Tim." He hauled Sam to his feet.

They were only one seat away from the aisle, and Dean gave the man occupying the aisle seat a: "Sorry man," as he maneuvered Sam out into the aisle.

This time Dean ignored all the stares they were getting, because his attention was solely focused on Sam.

"You good?" Dean asked once Sam was clear of people and their purses, and all the other crap they had shoved under their seats.

"I'm good man, thanks." Sam reassured.

Dean gave Sam's shoulder a squeeze, before turning it into an affectionate slap. "Go kill it then."

Sam turned briefly, seeing all the rows upon rows of people's eyes watching him. Many of those gazes were curious, wondering what type of 'good student' this guy had been to warrant such special attention from one of their own. And, intermingled with these gazes were a lot of sympathy looks from women in the audience as Sam limped his way up the aisle.

Richard Wyatt stood at the lectern, watching Sam maneuver his way down to the stage. It was slow going due to the cane in his hand; but, Richard was a patient man. Sam Winchester had grown massively taller than his 14-year-old counterpart; grown broad shouldered, muscular – he had grown into a man. And, Richard couldn't help but be awed by the transformation. It was a feeling that he never outgrew when he met up with former students. To see them now, and remember what they were like in the 'then', when he had been their teacher.

But, with a handful of them it was different. Because, try as he might to bond equally with all the students; there were those that he couldn't' help but feel more of a closeness to. And, Sam Winchester was among those few.

So, it was with a sense of awe, but also with a sense of pride that Richard Wyatt watched Sam finally reach the top step of the stage and then finally, the stage itself.

Richard walked out from behind the lectern, and met Sam in the middle of the stage. The applause began again as Richard held out his hand to Sam. "Good to see you again Sam."

There was such a warm smile on Richard Wyatt's face, that it made Sam feel off balance, because the only other person who had smiled like that him lately was Dean; because he knew all of his mistakes, and had forgiven them.

This smile, this look from a man who had no idea of the person Sam had become since they last spoke – it was like a soggy puzzle piece that could no longer fit into Sam's psyche.

Sam was so thrown by this single moment of genuine affection that he reached out to shake the other man's hand before remembering to stabilize himself with the cane first, making him stumble heavily forward.

Richard reached out and braced Sam's shoulder before he slid to the floor. "Are you okay Sam?" Concern was in his voice.

There was a wave of low mummers in audience.

Sam regained his footing, pulling away from Richard Wyatt with embarrassment for having been caught by his former teacher.

"Yeah, I got it," Sam reassured. From the corner of his eyes he saw a rustled movement from the second row. Dean was out in the aisle, and then halfway up the first step of the stage; Sam turned and held a hand out in a signal for his brother to stop with whatever action he was in the middle of doing.

Dean continued to climb up the stairs to the stage, but he moved into the right wing, behind a set of black stage curtains. He and Sam had been hunting together long enough for Dean to understand Sam's 'I got this dude' gesture. But, it still wasn't easy, because, before they were ever hunting partners, they were brothers. And, it was against every fiber of that bond for Dean to see Sam stumble and just do nothing.

For one feared moment Sam was afraid that Dean was still going to help him off the stage. Sam knew Dean, he loved Dean; but, it would be freakin' embarrassing to have to lean on his brother for the two steps it took to walk to the lectern. Seeing Dean move into the wings of the stage made him exhale the tiniest of breaths. Because, he had to prove to himself that he could do this. Both the walking, and the improved speech.

Richard could sense the dismissal of his help, and backed away from Sam. He had also seen the way the other man had basically spring boarded out o his seat to reach the stage the second he saw Sam stumble. If Richard Wyatt saw nothing else; he would still know who that man was – Sam's brother, Dean. No one else could be so in tuned to Sam so well.

Sam tapped the end of his cane down twice, making a heavy echo on the veneered oak boards. "Let's get this show started."

From the stage wings Dean was watching Sam like a new mother observing her baby learning how to walk for the first time. He held his breath until Sam had made it behind the lectern without further incident.

Sam had learned how to walk in the first place under Dean's tutelage. Dean had been five, and Sam one, and Dean had made sure his little brother didn't fall over comic books, or dirty dishes; clearing a path for him with a: "C'mon Sammy, you can do it dude!" Sam's return to this was to squeal a loud: "Dee Dee!" as he made his way over to his brother on chubby legs, like a little drunken man running.

"Husband?"

Dean blinked and turned to face a middle aged woman with white blonde hair pulled up in a lose chiffon. She was wearing a black pants suit that almost made her blend into the curtains. She was eyeing Sam and then Dean when she asked her question.

Dean digested that one word, and tried not to vomit in her face. "Little brother."

"Oh," the woman said with a fair amount of embarrassment. "I just thought – the way you leapt up so fast to his aide, it was so caviler, like Humphrey Bogart." She turned to him with a smile. "You must love him very much."

"Yeah," Dean admitted, not trying to joke his way out of her words, safe in the knowledge that a stranger that he would never see again would know the ultimate truth. "Yeah I do."

"Sorry about the other remark honey," the nameless woman apologized. "I'm just saying – I wouldn't kick him out of bed."

Dean looked at the woman, who was really a Lynx in disguise; watching her scope out Sam's ass; eyebrows raising in appreciation.

Dean was officially uncomfortable.

He was saved from manually gouging his eyes out by the reverberating feedback of a microphone being tapped. Then came a loud squeaking as the volume was adjusted on the soundboard backstage by a member of the AV club.

"That's good, that's good!" Sam said over his shoulder, watching the kid with spiked blonde hair give him a chest thump, followed by an air fist salute.

Sam turned to face the large, congregated crowd, all watching him with expectant looks. He cleared his throat in his fist. It did nothing to all the watching eyes on him. If anything, it made the crowd pull forward in their seats more in anticipation.

A glass of water sat in the right corner of the lectern. Sam took a sip from it, wishing it were straight Vodka. instead. He set the glass back down; knowing that he had run out of stalling techniques.

"Thank you-I guess- for letting me cut to the front of the line." Sam said, his voice awkward sounding at first, making him physically have to concentrate to speak in his normal tone.

There were a few quiet chuckles from the audience.

"Right, um – My name is Sam Winchester—but, you already know that because Mr. Wyatt just told you that-" Sam had to clear his throat again. He hated public speaking as a kid, and he hated it now. Even after everything he had done in his life, this type of thing still left him tongue tied. "Guess I didn't earn my place at Stanford as well as I thought."

This time the laughter in the audience was louder.

Dean laughed quietly at this too. "That's my boy."

Sam caught Dean's eyes in his peripheral line of sight, and it made him relax. Dean shot him an over-the-top 'thumbs up' . It was so stupid, such a goofball gesture; but it made Sam feel better.

"I gotta tell you it feels really strange being back on this stage. I – uh-" Sam laughed. "I remember barely being able to see over the microphone the last time. Guess that's not a problem anymore."

Sam had to pause for the next round of laugher from the crowd. Apparently, he was clever.

"Last time I was here, it was something for Mr. Wyatt too- this poem I had to read. And, I barely made it through without throwing up my heart-" Shit, that was classy. 'Throwing up my heart?' Why don't I talk about vivisection next? "But, Mr. Wyatt – he convinced me I'd be great at it, and I couldn't help believing him."

["They that fought so well, Come through the jaws of Death, Back from the mouth of hell," Sam could feel his voice shaking. God, he sounded like a freakin' Muppet. He had to set the paper with his poem down on the lectern, otherwise, he would've dropped it on the stage. And, he would be known forever as 'that freshman who had to crawl around on the stage, with the label of his K-Mart jeans sticking out for all the world to see.'

Sam pushed the floppy hair out of his eyes, trying to breathe and not hurl. (almost done, almost done.)

"All that w-was l-left of them. L-Left of the s-six hundred." (Great, now I'm a stuttering Muppet.)

"Hey Winchester! H-How c-can you b-be so l-lame?" Kenny Peters, a member of Dirk Johnson's entourage had his thin lips pulled into a tight sneer. "Too many holes in your dime store underwear to?"

Loud laugher came from the students.

Mr. Wyatt stepped out from behind the side of the stage. "Guys, that's enough – Mr. Winchester!" Wyatt's remark was to Dean, who was out of his seat fist raised to Kenny Peters, about to finish his retort of "Go suck a-"

"Dean!" Richard did not believe that Dean Winchester was all trouble. He just had an innate sense when it came to Sam. To pummel in defense of his brother first; then deal with the repercussions later.

Dean slouched back in his seat, making a threatening 'fist pounding to palm' gestures when Mr. Wyatt had turned his attention back to Sam on stage.

Sam felt his face flush at having Mr. Wyatt having to reprimand Dean for wanting to face plant Kenny Peters into the carpet.

"Sam-"

Sam slowly raised his head, afraid that he would see disappointment in his teacher's eyes. But, instead, all he saw was a kindness and a focus on him. "You can do this."

This kind of gesture was, up until that moment, something that only Dean would give him. Sam cleared his throat, and began again, this time his voice level and strong:

"All the world wondered; Honor the charge they made; Honor the Light Brigade; Noble six hundred."

Sam swore he saw Mr. Wyatt's eyes close with a deep sigh when he finished. But, he was distracted by the sounds of clapping. Some dry, some real from his small group of friends.

"Yeah Sammy!"

Sam felt his ears go red at Dean jumping up from his seat to give him a standing ovation; using his nickname in front of the whole student body.

From the corner of the stage, Mr. Wyatt was clapping and beaming a smile at him. "You're brother's right – Very well done Sam."

The smile that pulled at Sam's face was hesitant, shy; but, once it broke it became real. Just as proud as the one his teacher wore.]

"When he would look at me," Sam glanced back to Richard Wyatt standing at the head of a row of chairs where the faculty chosen to speak sat. "It was like I was validated – that I existed."

The stage lights felt hot on Sam's neck. Or maybe it was the way that people had sat up straighter in their chairs because he had said something so profound, so resonating.

"I was only here for two weeks. Me and my brother, we moved around a lot. But, I never forgot what that felt like the first time. Made me feel like I could do anything." There was a pull of a smile on Sam's face, and it brought out several smiles from members of the audience.

From backstage, Dean was one of those people. But, his smile didn't last as long as the others. Because, he saw something twinge slightly in Sam's smile. And, Dean knew Sam like he knew the color of his own eyes – there was something, faltering, in that that smile.

"I wanted to come here tonight, and tell him-" Sam turned so that he was facing Mr. Wyatt. "Thank you."

Richard smiled warmly. "You're welcome Sam. You're more than welcome."

Sam tried to smile back, but the tiny fault line in is smile became more prominent. It made him turn away from Richard Wyatt before the other man could see it. "I wanted to make my life count as much as Mr. Wyatt believed it would –I -" Sam coughed into his hand again, trying to clear his throat. But, something heavy still settled there. "I owed him that much. But, I also owe him something else; the answer to a question."

Richard Wyatt's eyes became more focused as he watched Sam Winchester's eyes – watched as they looked like they were trapped, ashamed. He remembered seeing Sam hesitate on this question when he asked it two years ago in his classroom; but not as much as now. Before, it was a deep, abrupt pause. This pause, seemed to physically hurt Sam.

Sam's eyes turned back to Richard Wyatt's; seeing his old teacher studying him like he had done when he was 14; with kindness that never judged, only wanted to understand.

And Sam felt that look, the intensity of it dizzying, as he finally gave his answer to a question posed two years prior: "I don't know. I'm sorry – I know it's probably not the answer you want to hear. But, I owe you the truth – "

Dean felt Sam's next pause like an enveloping of humid air coming on him suddenly in a large field. He saw Sam white knuckling the lectern; his cane was gripped just as tightly in his other hand. At first, Dean feared the collapsing of the Wall. But, there was something else in Sam's face; something that didn't look like memories of Satanic torture. It was something instead, that looked lost. It made Dean hover to the curtained edge of the stage, because what he had felt from Sam was very, very heavy.

"You were this amazingly smart educator – you still are." Sam was rambling. It was something he did when he was nervous or scared. He wasn't either of those this time; he instead felt like he was choking. But, he didn't want to stop talking.

He could see Dean backstage, ready to act on a signal.

Dean, no, not yet.

Sam's look registered with Dean more prevalently then his previous hand gesture. They had spoken with nothing but their eyes for years, entire conversations with single looks.

It made Dean hang back; but not by much. The 'I don't like this' clearly etched on his face.

"No one understands how much of an impact you had on student's lives more than me." Sam dry laughed around the choking feeling. He felt his hand shaking on the water glass when he raised it to his lips. His eyes drew back out over the crowd. He could see people whispering into their hands; not with sneers, but with looks of curious concern. Because, Sam could feel just how much he was shaking.

"You've touched so many lives. But, mine's the only one I remember." Sam's shaking was becoming so pronounced that his death grips on the lectern and the cane tightened more still. The wood from both objects were digging into his hands, making them go tingly from lack of circulation.

But, he kept going, because he had made up his mind to. "But, I guess that's kind of the point. There's a quote from Gandhi that says: 'You must be the change you want to see in the world.' You changed us individually Mr. Wyatt. But, if each of us remembers that change, then it won't die – it will keep going from one of us, to another, to another. It may never be enough to change the world significantly. It won't take back all the terrible things that I-"

The slip in Sam's words was like someone stabbed him; because it hurt just the same.

Hurt Sam, and hurt Dean, because he felt that pain too. Ah Sammy – no.

Sam drew in a sharp breath. "That I'VE seen happen. That everyone has." Was his voice shaking too? He couldn't tell; he could only hope it wasn't. "But, it will give that change a place to start, to be born. To exist like you made us exist. Because you saw us."

It wasn't a flourished grand finale ending. Sam had simply just stopped talking, because he didn't know what else to say. He turned back to Richard Wyatt, seeing a warm, sincere smile spread across his face.

Then there was a slow start of clapping, followed by more, until it grew loud. Not 'standing ovation' loud. But, loud enough to overwhelm Sam's senses.

Richard walked over to the lectern; this time he both grasped Sam's shoulder and shook his hand. "I still see you Sam." The warmth from that phrase over powered the sounds of the applause.

Sam nodded his head, not trusting himself to speak. He felt like a forgotten tree deep inside some forest, suddenly brought out from the darkness and overwhelmed by the sunlight and the falling rain. He felt something at his elbow. He turned, and saw his brother standing there, so close to the curve of himself that it was like its own silhouette.

Dean's hand was on Sam's elbow, grasping it strongly. "You rocked it dude." His voice was like a whisper compared to the loudness of the applause, but Sam still heard it.

Everything became surreal to Sam; like dream walking. He vaguely felt Dean's arm go across his back, felt him guide him down the stage steps.

He heard Amanda Herkerling-Wyatt ask Dean: "Is he okay?"

He heard himself respond: "I'm fine." to her.

Heard Dean add: "You're always fine Sam, but let's get some air anyway."

He heard murmurs sweep through the crowd, a "what happened?" from Elena Herkerling. A responding: "I don't know," from her daughter.

Then, there was more walking. Sam heard the tip of his cane squish into the carpet, felt Dean's arm warm, and there, around him. Then the sounds of the metal doors opening .

They were back out in the red and white tiled hallways, the halogen lights blinding. The wall across from the auditorium doors bore a huge painting of a steel gray line of mortar shells, dropping from the belly of a B52 Bomber. The mascot of Truman High was the "Bombers" And, these bombs looked ready to fall on the heads of the students. At least that's what Dean thought when he had seen this painting the first time. And, he still thought that now. More so because, directly underneath the falling bombs sat a red plastic chain linked bench. It's placement under the image could have been merely coincidental. Or the faculty's less than subtle message: 'Behave, or we turn your bones to dust' Dean steered Sam over to that bench. His brother hadn't said a word after the "I'm fine." he had given Amanda. But, Dean had seen how pale Sam had looked. And, he had to get him out of that room first before worrying about anything else. He slid his arm out from across Sam's back and pushed him, carefully but firmly, onto the bench.

"Dean," the haze around Sam began to settle like dust; the images around him becoming sharper.

There was movement on his right as Dean slid beside him on the bench. Dean's hand was on Sam's, physically loosening his death grip on the cane.

"Slow breaths Sam," Dean coaxed. "I can't have you vomiting on my good jeans." The remark was all 'Dean Winchester' sarcasm, but his hand was still on Sam's wrist.

Sam took in a pull of air, expelling it slowly.

Dean's hand moved, from Sam's wrist to his shoulder. "You okay?"

Sam exhaled another breath. He turned to face his brother. "Guess I never got over my fear of public speaking."

"Hey, you didn't projectile vomit Sam, so call it a win."

"Why do you keep talking about herpes and vomit? Is there something I should know?"

"Shut up," Dean warned.

"Or what?" Sam threw back, his voice stronger. "You'll take away my cane?"

"It's a thought," Dean returned.

Sam finally managed somewhat of a laugh. "Dean, if you do, you will have to carry me over the threshold."

"Bitch." Dean retorted.

"Jerk," Sam came back.

It had been such a long time since they had used this exchange. It made them pause, just for an instant, to soak that reality in.

"So, I didn't make an ass of myself?" Sam asked.

"Unless you count the PTA mom who was checking you out backstage, your ass was never brought up." Dean responded.

Sam's eyebrows raised in surprised bewilderment. "Dude, that is so not funny!"

"I'm not joking Sam. Mama wanted to full on know you biblically. Once I got past the nausea, I was pretty impressed."

Sam shook away the shudder that came from knowing he had been mentally fondled against his will. "Aside from – that-" He huffed indignantly when Dean was still looking at him approvingly about 'that.' "What I said to Mr. Wyatt, was I?- I mean, it wasn't-"

"You did good Sam," Dean told him, letting the joking fall away to honesty. "You even squeezed in a line from your little, bald, diapered hero." Well, not completely.

"Dean, slam Gandhi once, I let it slide-"

"Dude, you've got one gimpy leg, bring it." Another pause, this time no jokes were imminent. "What was the question? The one you answered up there for Wyatt?"

Sam's eyes shifted into something that tried to lock down his emotions. But, he couldn't do it fast enough to hide it from his brother. "It was right after we wrapped up the thing with Dirk's ghost. Mr. Wyatt-he – ah-" there was the need to swallow. "He asked me if I was happy. Just flat out asked me." No swallow this time, just a dry shrugging laugh that tried so hard to be simply casual. "And, I couldn't given him an answer. Not even a lie Dean." Sam's eyes couldn't hold up against their own lockdown; as the buildup of two years contemplating this question came to the forefront of his expression. "And, after everything that's happened, everything I've done – I don't think I even have the right to it."

"Sam-" Dean couldn't help the anger in the way he said his brother's name. Because of Sam's constant need to inflict self hate. He thought they had settled this before they walked into the auditorium, apparently he was wrong.

"No Dean, it's the truth!" Sam cut him off, his voice rising. "I haven't been happy – not really, not for a long time – not since I was 14, reading that stupid Tennyson poem that made me decide to want to go to Stanford! I'm not that person anymore Dean! First, I was angry, all the time, then I was soulless! Now, I have a trail of blood and crap following me 10,000 miles long because of what I did for a year and a half-"

Sam, stop it-!" Dean's anger was creeping higher and higher. Because, what Sam said was starting to hurt him too, because he could feel his brother's raw pain, and he wasn't going to stand for it.

"I turned that 14-year-old kid, into ME!"

Sam's shouted retort pierced the air like a shot, echoing off the walls, leaving everything hushed and brutal in its wake. His chest was heaving rapidly on hot, billowing breaths ; and his eyes were glistening with wetness that he was forcing not to let fall. "I know what I deserve Dean, and what I don't." His voice fell quiet, a hush inside of a hurricane. "So don't try to get all 'big brother' on me and lie about it-"

"I SAID STOP IT!" Dean grabbed Sam's shoulders and shook him so violently that that Sam's cane was sent clattering to the floor, and sliding across the tile a good five inches from the bench.

This time the panting breaths were coming from Dean and Sam both. Neither one of them had restrained themselves from shouting. They were right outside the auditorium, but the doors remained closed. It was possible that no one had heard them. But, Dean doubted that; not unless the entire crowd in there had suddenly experienced deafness like a fast acting contagion.

Dean stood up, ignoring anything that would come from those doors. He retrieved the mahogany cane and held it out to Sam.

Sam's hand closed around it wordlessly, and Dean reclaimed his place on the bench.

"Dude, if you EVER say that kind of crap to me again, I'm gonna break your face in!" Dean was doing his best to reign in his anger. Because, he knew Sam. And, screaming at him at the top of his lungs was not the way to penetrate through his brother's thick cromagnem skull. "I'm tired man, I'm tired of you deciding what you don't deserve! Because, the last time I checked, Sam, you didn't deserve to go to Hell for the whole goddamn world! Or have your soul tortured down there for over a century!—and more recently, to almost die, AGAIN from trying to save my ass from some vamp bitch and ratcheting down two flights of stairs!"

Sam looked like he was going to throw in a counter, but Dean didn't let him.

"You're right Sam, you're not that kid anymore! You grew up – that kid turned into youfor a reason, you self sacrificing ASS!" Dean was reigning in his anger so hard, feeling like he wanted to break Sam's face in for real, because he was so angry at his brother for thinking that he was unworthy, for not loving himself as much as Dean loved him.

"I don't believe in 'singing fairies, white unicorns, and puppies that poop out rainbows' happiness. But, sure as hell believe in your RIGHT to be happy, Sam. You MORE than earned it."

Sam's eyes were blurring, the moistures locked away their betraying him by falling away down his face. "I'm trying – Dean, I'm trying – so damn hard-"

Dean cuffed Sam on the shoulder, but then the touch stayed there. "Then stop with the self deprecating bullshit Sam – alright?" He didn't have any tissues to give Sam, so instead, he wiped away the tear tracks from Sam's face with the back of his hand.

Sam laughed shakily at the gesture Dean hadn't used on him since that time when he was six, and had tried to 'fly' off the monkey bars; finding out halfway to the ground that he didn't have that super power. "How long have you known what 'self deprecate' means?"

"Hey, I picked up other things while we were here besides Amanda Herkerling." Dean returned, he scrubbed away one last tear track from Sam's face, another gesture turned embrace.

"Still glad I convinced you to come with me?" Sam asked.

"Technically, your unconscious self guilted me into it," Dean responded. "But, yeah, I could think of lamer ways to waste a Saturday night."

Sam laughed again, this time for real. "I love you too man."

"Dude, public setting," Dean returned with his old fashioned teasing tone.

The auditorium doors opened and Richard Wyatt emerged from them; with Amanda a few steps behind him.

Dean stood up when he saw them approach, offering his arm out to Sam. Sam didn't object to this, and allowed his brother to yank him to his feet.

Richard held the door open for his wife, who barreled her way through it like she was on her way to extinguish a fire.

"Sam! Dean!" Her heels clicked loudly on the tiled floor as she walked across the hallway to them. "Is everything okay?" She eyed Sam critically when she said this.

"We're fine," Sam reassured her in his best: 'trust me' voice, because Amanda Herkerling-Wyatt looked like she was expecting him to drop into a coma right there in front of her.

"I was worried," Amanda said. "I heard all this yelling-"

"That was me," Dean said. "I was just trying to convince Sam here that his speech didn't suck and burn," He's just so damn modest about these things. It kinda drives you crazy after a while." Dean shot Sam a 'look' and Sam countered it with his own.

"I told her everything was fine," Richard offered. "But, Amanda likes to see things play out for herself, touch it, make sure it's not just paper mache or something." Richard Wyatt was met with an elbow in his ribs from Amanda. He laughed at her scowl, because he knew she wasn't really angry.

"You're speech was awesome Sam! I told you you'd be great at it!" Amanda smiled at him with complete sincerity. She may have been overly excitable and ridiculously bubbly, but she had grown into a decent woman.

Richard shook his head at his wife's enthusiasm, but it ended with a real smile.

Amanda had been messed up in high school, any only child rebelling so hard against her family's high expectations of her because she feared their rejection if she failed. It had turned her to countless boys, vapid friends who didn't give a crap about her outside of her expensive clothes and Bentley. It had left her with nothing but a façade of snark until Dean Winchester had gotten to her, seeing how bad ass he was, but seeing how he really was when he was around his brother, that caring, that 'I'd die for you in a second' After she had snarled at Dean, and called him all sorts of disgusting names, she had stolen away behind the school with her small clique to smoke and talk crap about "Dean Winchester, who probably rose less times than the sun." This had led to one of her friends noting how 'large' Mr. Wyatt was beneath his Dockers, leading to a bet for Amanda to try and see how 'high' she could get him.

She had come on shamelessly to Mr. Wyatt, practically slinking herself on him. He sent her home, and told her to come back the next day for detention with him. And, that next day, she was surprised as hell when he wanted to talk. It took a few more times of talking like this, but she began to open up, to embrace the side of herself that she locked away because she was afraid of being hurt. She had fallen in love with him for real, that first time. But, he made her wait, and finally, when he knew she had grown up enough, both physically, and emotionally, into what he knew she was all along, he acted, because he had loved her to. And, all these years later, he still loved her, every bubbly, happiness-on-steroids inch of her.

"She's right Sam," Richard Wyatt said. "So is your brother- What you said in there-" the warm smile of Richard 'Mr. Wyatt' Wyatt came out. "Let's just say, I won't forget it anytime soon." He held out his hand to Sam.

Sam stared at it like before; a single gesture that left him staggering to complete it. His hand moved like it was fighting against a current. But, finally, it was grasping the other man's, falling into a firm, warm handshake.

"I meant what I said in there –I still see you. But you never needed me to see you to be validated, because you already existed. You validate yourself Sam." Richard Wyatt had stopped shaking, but his hand remained on Sam's. "I'm very proud of the man you've become."

Richard released Sam's hand and all Sam could do was let it fall dumbly to his side. Mr. Richard Wyatt had no idea of the things that Sam had done. All the things that still gave him nightmares. That sent him, in his weakest moments, to his brother, who would coax a shot of whiskey into him and send him back to bed, with Dean sitting beside him, until they were gone. Richard Wyatt never saw into those nightmares, all involving screaming, and weapons used against those screams wielded by his own hand, tearing into pleading, nameless people.

Richard Wyatt didn't know any of this. But, hearing him say those words. For that moment, it made all that horror lessen.

"Thank you," Sam didn't know if he was smiling or not. He only hoped that he wasn't crying. Because, the man may not be his teacher anymore ; but it would still be damn embarrassing to cry in front of him. Especially after his 'near breakdown' in front of him just moments ago. "Seriously, thank you Mr. Wyatt-"

"Richard, Sam," Richard Wyatt corrected.

"Richard, right," It was an awkward sensation to use this name, because Sam had only ever known him as 'Mr. Wyatt.' It was like calling Dean 'Mr. Winchester.'

The auditorium door opened again, and the auburn haired head of Marissa, the 10th grade class president, peaked through it.

"Mr. Wyatt?-" Marissa began. "Mr. Raymond says he can't wait anymore. All the parents are getting to antsy, they want to hear those speeches about you that their kids wrote."

"Mr. Raymond?" Dean repeated, dumbfounded. "That dude's still alive?"

With a name like Raymond Raymond, a permanent set of bleeding peptic ulcers that made him suck down antacids like candy, and an anal screeching voice that called out to the students that they were all too ignorant to even be in school –Dean didn't think the Vice Principal of Truman High was still be among the corporeal.

"Unfortunately," Marissa's retort was out of her mouth before she remembered that a teacher was standing a just a few feet in front of her. "I mean – Mr. Wyatt – I didn't meant too-"

"Tell him we'll be right there Marissa," Richard said, not showing the girl any ill anger about her outburst. Mr. Raymond was a colleague, but he was also, a character. He smiled at her, and she smiled back.

"Yes Sir," Marissa flicked her eyes over to Dean and Sam, and a less than subtle eye roam was made before her fiery head disappeared once more behind the doors.

"She seems like a nice girl," Sam said.

"She is," Richard agreed. "She's 10th grade class president."

"Awesome," Dean said. "Bit of a lazy eye problem though I see-" Dean was cut off, by Sam clearing his throat and shooting him a 'Dude, seriously?' look.

Richard Wyatt gave a dry, closed, lip laugh, but a real one, giving Dean's remark a real appraised response. It may have been sarcasm, but, he couldn't deny that Dean had a way of delivering such things. "It is good to see you again too Dean, it's been a long time."

Richard had barely spoken to Dean Winchester during his weeks at Truman High. Dean was so full of snark and hot headedness, that he threw out 'Anti Teacher Vibes' everywhere. But, those few times, when he managed to get him alone, with Sam, because alone for Dean was never a literal thing, because he and Sam were like right and left legs, joined, Richard saw the real side of Dean. There was still snark and sarcasm, but there was intelligence, that ran through him like a deep growl. Intelligence that said he knew he was smart, that he loved his brother like no one would ever love him. But, he KNEW these things, so he why should he have to prove it to anyone?

"Longer than you know," Dean said.

"You two ready to come back inside?" Amanda asked, gesturing with her wavy blonde head towards the auditorium doors behind her.

"Actually, Sam and I are gonna clear out." Dean told her. "We have a lot of miles to cover."

Amanda Herkerling-Wyatt looked like Dean had just kicked her newborn baby. "Ah no, really? You can't even stay for a little bit longer?"

With her pleading eyes that almost reminded him of Sam's, Dean was starting to forget that there had been a time when he wanted to light Amanda's platinum blonde hair on fire. That was a life time ago, for them both. And, Dean wasn't going to hold on to some ridiculous high school grudge when they both weren't those people, those kids anymore.

"Sorry Amanda, Dean's right," Sam agreed, already mentally kicking himself for the 'Dean's right' part of his words. Dean would give him so much hell for that later. "We really need to get going."

Amanda actually huffed a small pouty, sigh, but resigned herself to Sam and Dean's mutual decision. She stepped over to them, her shoes becoming audible on the floor again. She reached up and found as much purchase on Sam's shoulders as her height would allow, hugging him. "You take care of yourself Sam. Don't wait so long in between visits next time, alright?"

A smile loosened from Sam's face as he folded Amanda into his free arm to return her hug. "I won't." It was a lie, he had no idea about when, if ever, he and Dean would pass through Truman High and Sioux Falls again. But, he wasn't about to take Amanda Herkerling's moment from her.

Even with her heels Amanda had to stand on tiptoe to reach Sam's face for the kiss she delivered to his cheek. This made her giggle a light laugh. "Guess no one can call you Little Sammy Winchester anymore."

"Well except for-" Dean waved a hand in the air to indicate himself. His little coy smile was still there when Amanda approached him.

"Dean Winchester," Amanda said this like remembering a savored drink forgotten long ago. It wasn't lustful anymore, not really. I mean, Dean was still sexy as hell. But, Amanda was remembering all those other things about Dean, that made his looks like an accessory to heighten the person underneath.

Her arms drew around his neck, and it took a moment longer than Sam for Dean to return her embrace. He wasn't holding onto old grudges anymore, but, it still felt weird to be hugging Amanda Herkerling, after 14 years, in Truman High School.

Amanda removed her arms from Dean's neck. " I don't know if it helps to do this by proxy after 14 years-but, for what it's worth Dean, I'm sorry, about back then." Her eyes seemed to travel back in time, to then, to all those snide angry words she shouted at him, seeing Dean's shoulder's sag, for just a moment underneath old worn leather, even as he shouted back with a vengeance to all those laughing faces all laughing at him. "I shouldn't have said those things. I was a stupid kid-"

"We were all stupid kids once Amanda," Dean said. "But I'm over being mad about things that exist in the past tense-" his eyes flickered for a moment to Sam's when he said this. "Because it's done. And, we live now."

A smile, long and real, pulled at Amanda Herkerling-Wyatt's face. She leaned up and kissed Dean's slightly stubbled face. "Thank you." The kiss lingered a little longer than the one she had given Sam, just enough to make her remember why she had liked Dean in the first place. "Both of you, for coming."

Richard Wyatt again held out his hand . "What she said."

Both Dean and Sam shook hands with the man, and when Sam did, the handshake felt like an embrace.

"You're not the only one who won't forget this," Sam said.

Dean turned to his brother, hearing the slight tremble in Sam's voice, his cane tight in his hand. Ever since they had come here, Dean had noticed something, almost like a fissure line in Sam. His brother seemed a little bit weaker, a little more unsure of himself, like he needed something more to hold onto than the cane. And, it tore at Dean just a that little bit too, because he didn't know how much longer it would take for those cracks to break through completely.

But he also saw, that despite the tremor, Sam's voice was still deep; despite needing the cane for support, he was standing up straight, shoulders squared back. His brother was fighting, and there was never a question of when? that fighting would stop, because it wouldn't.

Richard Wyatt was not the only one who was proud of the man Sam had become.

"Be safe guys," Richard said, sweeping his eyes over his former students, now turned men. "You're always welcome here."

"Thanks teach," Dean said, his face lighting up with a smile that he hadn't used in 14 years.

Richard returned the smile. So did Amanda, before she turned back towards the auditorium, her husband's arm going across her shoulders.

[ "You really think I did good Dean?" Sam turned to Dean, the bench seat of the Impala seemed huge to him when he was sitting beside his brother because he was so damn short. "No jokes or nothing right?"

Dean shrugged a laugh from behind the wheel. "Sammy, would I EVER joke about this?"

"You want a real answer, or something that doesn't piss you off?" came his little brother's reply. School was done, that god awful speech was done. Now it was just him and Dean, riding back to the hotel in the Impala, knowing that their dad would be pissed as all the Seven Levels of Dante's hells because they had taken off in his car. But, they at least had the drive back before they had to hear about where John was going to 'knock them to.'

"You're becoming quite a smart ass SAMANTHA-" Dean threw back, turning to his brother with a joking smile. Sam looked right back at him with ruffled feathers. Dean let Sam's irritation at being called 'Samantha' amuse him for three seconds before he reached a free arm over to cuff Sam's smaller shoulder. "You were great little bro. You even made Tennyson sound cool."

Sam smiled at the compliment. "Thanks." He brushed back a clump of his hair to try and hide the blush rising to his cheeks. Dean would be all over him if he saw it. But, the compliment was real, and Sam felt every second of it.

"So how pissed is dad gonna be?" Sam asked hesitantly.

"He'll get over it Sam," Dean reassured.

"Dude, we 'Grand Theft Auto'ed' his car!" Sam argued. "He's gonna start making us sandbag something I know it."

"Not if I hit him up with how much you KILLED in that assembly Sammy," Dean said, turning to Sam with a smile. "He'll probably be so shocked we'll have to find some spell to bring him back."

"You're such a dumbass Dean," Sam threw back, but it was like a playful sparring jab at Dean, because he got the point of what he meant.

Dad would be pissed about the car heist they pulled, but he would get over it. And, once he heard about Sam's speech, he would even give him a prideful smile, and a 'that's my boy' look to his youngest son, and pretend to mask the reward of extra toppings on pizza for dinner as a worry about Dean's cooking not keeping meat on Sam's bones.

But, none of that would equal to the look Dean was giving him now, how much more appreciated Sam was to have such a look from his older brother. His dad was great, but, he wasn't Dean. It was different with them. DEAN was different. Sam didn't know if this kind of thing with Dean would last. He kinda hoped so, it would suck if it didn't.]

The night was filled with a low hum of birds calling out their evening songs. The sky had gone an inky black in their absence from it, and stars peaked out, flickering their small lights everywhere inside this blackness.

Sam was walking slowly beside Dean, who was right next to Sam's elbow, watching his every progressive step down the stairs to make sure he didn't fall.

"Dude, either carry me the rest of the way, or stop hovering," Sam said to Dean's close proximity. He was close to Dean, but sometimes he didn't want to be that close. " – you're driving me crazy with the leach impression." This in 'Sam Speak' meant: I can do this on my own, Dean, you've done enough for me for one night.

"Stairs haven't been your friends as of late Sam," Dean said. "So stop being a bitch." Which in 'Dean Language' meant I gotcha Sammy, I won't let you fall.

"Then stop being an asshole," Sam returned. Which in 'Sam Speak' meant: Stop being an asshole.

"Just for that you're sleeping on the couch," Dean returned, as they finally descended to the bottom few steps.

"Dean, I've been sleeping on the couch," Sam countered. "You need to hone your threats better, dude."

"I meant alone Sam," Dean said.

Sam tried to mask the flickered: 'No Dean, don't' look that came across his face at the thought of that suggestion. Sam hadn't been a kid in years. But, he still found himself unable to sleep when he was sick or hurt without Dean's presence right there next to him; listening to his brother breathing, feeling his warmth next to him. God, he was so freakin' codependent, but damnit, he didn't care. Because, this was Dean.

"Sammy, do I detect your Panic Face coming out?" Dean said. "Because, I was just joking man. I would never abandon you in your 'delicate condition', even if you're heavy as a MAC truck when you're lounging."

"Shut up!" Sam retorted. His cane twisted behind him for a moment in his retort, and half his body twisted in kind, in one direction, while the rest of him went forward in the other.

"Whoa, whoa, easy!" Dean grabbed Sam and the cane before they both tumbled. But, once he saw that gravity wasn't going to let him merely pull Sam up again, he gave the situation a: 'fuck it' and hefted Sam, cane and all, up into his hold.

"Dean, what the hell?" Sam snapped, as Dean grunted his way down the remaining stairs with his brother's massive weight in his arms. "Dude, if you drop me, I'll kill you!"

"Can it little brother!" Dean barked, finally reaching the sidewalk without injuring Sam, or himself. There were a few unpleasant grunting noises from Sam, but, there wasn't any screaming, so Dean considered it a win. He lowered Sam in an awkward heavy drop to the ground. The kid was way too heavy to try and do this maneuvar in any way smoothly.

But, thankfully, Sam had regained his footing and stood back up on his own power, keeping his broken leg balanced with the cane. Sam took a moment to be indignant, straightening out his jacket, flipping the collar of his shirt back down. But he finally huffed out a: "Thanks."

Dean was leaning over, hands on his knees, regaining his breath. "You've been bench pressing elephants behind my back Sam?"

"Yeah, Bobby keeps them in his basement, next to the Powder of Life he lifted of Princess Mombie from OZ." Sam said, laughing a bit under his breath at his brother's panting. "You alright?"

"Awesome," Dean returned pulling back up, his breathing returned to a normal rate. "How about you? You good?"

Sam patted his thigh "Leg's still the only thing broken." He patted too hard, which made him grimace.

"I can see that," Dean returned.

They made it back to the car slowly; Sam in the lead, Dean in the back, keeping track of his brother's progress. Dean pulled ahead and opened Sam's door, but without any side bar comments, because he could see that Sam was done with walking on it. He debated about lying him down in the backseat, but decided against it, because he'd rather Sam be right there next to him in case he needed something.

He fisted a hand in Sam's jacket, and placed the other on his shoulder. Neither action got any complaints from Sam, because he was as done as Dean could tell. Dean lowered Sam into the seat. Even as careful as Dean was being, Sam still hissed in pain.

"Sorry," Dean apologized, finally getting Sam into the seat, handling his bad leg like a Faberge egg in first, before swinging his good leg in beside it.

"Well," Sam said in a low voice, around panting breaths. "That hurt like hell." Pain crept around the edges of his words that he couldn't hide.

Dean slid out of his jacket. and bundled it up into a lumpy pillow shaped form."Here we go." He very carefully placed this bundle under Sam's foot to give the broken leg some elevation.

Sam hissed again, but the hiss had a whimper to it. "Dean-"

"You're okay Sam, I gotcha," Dean laid a reassuring hand on Sam's shoulder.

"Yeah," Sam's eyes were closed as he said this through a grimace. It seemed ridiculous thinking this as a grown man, but Sam still believed in some things just because Dean told him they were true. "I'm okay."

"State of mind my brother." Dean lowered his hand to Sam's chest and rubbed Sam's sternum with his thumb, letting it linger there, dropping into a crouch. "You cold? I actually remembered the camp out blankets and crap from Bobby's this time."

"It's fine," Sam didn't open his eyes. "I'm good."

Once Dean was satisfied that Sam was settled as comfortably inside the Impala as he was going to be, Dean gave his chest a soft, reassuring pat and closed the door.

He circled around the black sleek body of the '67 Impala, climbing into the driver's seat. Then engine turned on with a roar that evened out in to a soft, familiar purr as Dean pulled out from where he parked and took them out into the street, and back out to the main highway.

The engine was downgraded to background noise as Dean turned on the radio. Sam hadn't said a word since they left the school. Dean kept checking in on him, but his head was resting against the headrest, eyes were closed, breathing even, he looked like he was sleeping. So, Dean let the noise of Lynard Skinner's "Simple Man" be his company.

He turned up the heater, directing one of the vents towards his sleeping brother.

"Dean-"

At least, Dean thought he was sleeping. Dean turned his attention to Sam, who's green eyes were now open, blinking away the heaviness of keeping them closed for so long.

"You need something Sammy?"

The way Dean said that Sammy, it was so tender, it was the way Dean was, when all the joking, and sarcasm had disappeared, and he was left with what really made him. And only Sam knew this, because only Sam had seen it.

Sam paused, like he was considering it.

It made a: "Sam?" come from Dean's mouth.

Sam turned his head so that he was facing his brother completely. "No jokes this time, no dicking around-– was it worth it to come back here?"

Dean pondered this, but not for even a second. "Do you think it was?" He cocked his head in just that perfect 'big brother question' way.

Sam's next considering pause hung on for just a little bit longer. "Yeah," a small laugh dissolved that look. "I could've done without the femur fractures, but I think it was." He felt the handshake of Richard Wyatt in his hand linger, and the smile. And, it all still had meaning to him, even after all this time. That had to count for something.

"Then it was," Dean said, in a 'simple as that' way, swinging his head back around to Sam. "You know the guy's right, you don't have to have someone else tell you that you exist. The way I see it, existing is like riding a bicycle for the first time. People can tell you all day how to do it, but in the end, it's your feet that do the peddling. You're going to fall a hell of a lot, and wind up with your fair share of scrapes; but feeling all those, it proves that you were there in the first place."

This time when Dean swung his head towards Sam after checking his progress on the road, he was met with a part 'cocked puppy head' part 'raised eyebrow look'

"Did you just tweak the 'Sex is like riding a bicycle' analogy?" Sam asked him.

"Dude shut up," Dean snapped. "I rehearsed that speech in my head too."

"Yeah I could tell," Sam threw back.

"What happened to 'Dean's right?' Sam?"

"We drove away from Truman High School," Sam returned.

"Man, that's the last time I try a chick flick moment with you." Dean turned his eyes back to the road, clearly agitated with ruffled feathers.

"No it isn't," This time when Sam spoke, there was no joking in his voice. "And you wanna know why?" Sam didn't wait for Dean to answer him, before continuing on with his next remark, his green eyes piercing through the darkness of the car, over to his brother. "Because, I'm not like everyone else Dean, I needed you to exist, to validate myself, and I still do. Mr. Wyatt saw me Dean; but, you saw me first."

Profound silence was in the car, weighting it down like a tree heavy with ripe fruit. Sarcastic quips buzzed around Dean's brain like flies, begging him to use them, luring him in with enticing remarks.

But, in the end, Dean blinked, and they vanished. "No bullshitting, no dicking around this time Sam," Dean watched Sam nod his head, to show that he would listen, and lay all his jokes down as unloaded weapons to the ground. "Honestly, when I first saw you, you were just my kid brother. This rag tagged, snot nosed kid with scraped knees and elbows that I'd have to clean up and watch out for reoccurrences. But you changed, Sam," his head swung back, and the look was fierce, strong, what brought Dean back to Truman High in the first place . "I changed, because, I see you too –this," Dean waved his hands in the air to travel from him to Sam. "-whatever you call it, love, validation, whatever it is between us. That's why I couldn't let you knock at yourself Sam-"

Sam could see Dean's eyes, and they gleamed with just a hint of wetness. "Dean-"

"I couldn't let you do it Sammy," This swing of Dean's head let Sam see that his brother's eyes were wet, and not just a little sad. "Because it hurt me too, Sam – so promise-"Dean's eyes were pleading, a look that he would only let Sam see "No more of that crap alright?"

"I promise," Sam's voice was quiet for a moment, he had to cough away the choking feeling, and clear his throat once what was heavy there had broken down into pieces. He reached out and laid a hand on Dean's shoulder, squeezing it under his fingers.

Dean cleared his throat with a loud coughing sound of his own, masked as such. "We won't be near to be Bobby's for hours," he turned once more to his brother. "Why don't you get some sleep?"

Sam eyed Dean critically. "You good to drive that far?"

"I'm good Sam," Dean returned. "Not like you could drive with that busted leg anyway."

"Boy don't you worry, you'll find yourself

Follow your heart and nothing else.

And you can do this, oh baby, if you try

All that I want for you my son, is to be satisfied."

Sam settled back against the bench seat of the Impala, stretching out his broken leg as much as he could. Lying on his side was out, because it hurt too much to shift his weight over. So he let his head fall back against the headrest, and closed his eyes. "Guess it's true what they say."

"What's that?" Dean kept shifting cursory glances at the road, but his attention was mostly on Sam, making sure he didn't break anything further shifting his gargantuan weight around the car.

"School is only special after you leave it."

This time Dean's hand was on Sam's shoulder, rubbing it for a moment, before traveling up to the nape of his neck to rub there."Go to sleep Sam."

Sam let out a breath, slipping into dreams under Dean's hand.

Dean let his hand remain there, as he steered the Impala with the other, driving on into the night filled road.

"And be a simple kind of man

Be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh won't you do this, for me, son if you can?"


END.

Wow.

I can't believe where this story took me. It started off way differently when I started –it was originally supposed to be about Sam and Dean returning to this school, meeting up with people who didn't understand them then and still don't understand them now, maybe a hostage/ghost buster situation thrown in. But, writing it led me to such unexpected places – it became this huge character study on Sam, Dean, Sam and Dean, and Mr. Wyatt and crew. Honestly, I didn't plan on Amanda Herkerling marrying Mr. Wyatt, I wanted her there, but she wrote herself in the story this way. It just didn't work in any other format. And, I didn't know her enough to make her a raging bitchy monster, everyone has a back story, and I think she would be too complicated to pass off as a "teenage bimbo"

And, this was my first drabble into the "TeenChester" and small bit of "WeeChester" worlds, with the flashbacks, but I loved "After School Special" and all the interactions with young Sam and Dean. And, I love, love love any dialogue and banter between Sam and Dean, so I made sure to add it in heaps here.

This story has been my baby for a while. To give you a time line on how long it took me to write it, the date that Sam and Dean were at Truman High, May 5, 2011, was the day I started writing this fic. It was supposed to be shorter than this, but pfffft! I can't block where the story takes me, I just rode along.

Finally, the song at the end is "Simple Man" by Lynard Skinner. It was featured on "Free to Be You and Me" and ever since then I have been in love with it, and it fits Sam and Dean so well.

Please drop reviews.

Thanks for reading.

Peace,

Mystic.