Title: Life and Death
Pairings/Characters: Dwight/Ethan if you squint, Dwight Houston, Alan Houston, Ethan Brightman
Warnings: Angst and lots of it.
Summary: Dwight Houston through the years, coming to terms with the loss of his brother.
Author Note: I wanted to explore Dwight's past a little.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. The lovely CP Coulter graced us with these characters, I just like messing around with them a little

When Dwight was 6 years old he became a big brother. He had no idea what being a big brother was all about. He had to figure that out from TV shows and books. From what he could see, being a big brother meant that you had to fight with your little brother. You had to yell at him and make sure he knew his place. Dwight didn't like the sound of that. He wasn't the sort of kid to do something like that.

He kept looking and found a part of being a big brother that he rather liked. Big brothers were supposed to protect their little brothers from the bad in the world. They were supposed to be there for them when they cried and stand up for them. It sounded like a lot of pressure…but he was willing to do that because he had a job now and he had to take it seriously. He'd do anything to keep his little brother safe.

x X x

When Dwight was eleven he found out just what sort of an influence he had on Alan. You see, Dwight and Alan were brothers, and as brothers they fought. That was just natural. When you're stuck around someone that often it's just bound to happen. No matter how much they fought though, Dwight would still throw himself in front of a bullet for his little brother without hesitation.

As the big brother, he was allowed to boss Alan around. He knew this, it was common knowledge that that was the way it worked. As such, Dwight told Alan to get drinks for him. He trusted his brother to do this for him. It wasn't exactly a difficult task. Instead, Dwight just continued watching Buffy and waited. After a couple of minutes, Alan came back with a very full glass of juice.

"Thanks." Dwight murmured, not taking his eyes off the screen. He took a sip from the glass and immediately knew there was something wrong. Yes this was juice. Yes it was cold. No it didn't taste good. At all. Dwight spat the drink back out and groaned, "Urgh, what's wrong with this?"

Alan twiddled his fingers together nervously, "Nothing…"

Dwight glared at his little brother, "What did you do to it?"

"I…" Alan couldn't look Dwight in the eyes.

"Alan, what did you do?"

"I just put a little salt in there."

"Oh my God, Alan!" Dwight put the glass onto the table and stormed out of the room, "You're trying to kill me!"

Dwight sat in his room on his bed, glaring at everything around him. Was Alan insane? That tasted so wrong and he wasn't quite sure whether or not it would poison and kill him. Salt and juice didn't mixed, right? Oh God, he was going to die. He was too young to die!

"Dwight…?" Alan's voice was muffled by the door and he knocked gently against it, "I'm sorry."

"You could've killed me!"

"Can…can I come in?"

"No!" Dwight lied out on his bed, "You can't!"

A few moments of silence passed before the door opened just a crack, "B-But the door's open…"

Dwight sighed, staring up at the ceiling, "What do you want?"

"To say I'm sorry." Alan took a few tentative steps into the room.

"Well, you've said it. Now, get out."

"But…I was just trying to do what you always do for me." Alan tried to explain.

Dwight sat up, glaring at his little brother, "I do not try to kill you!"

"No! I wasn't trying to kill you!"

"Then what were you doing!" Dwight glared at his little brother. He had no idea what Alan was trying to do but all signs pointed towards murder and he was just not cool with that. You don't go around poisoning people unless you're some bad guy from a really bad, cliché superhero movie.

"I…just wanted to protect you, like you always protect me. You told me salt protects you…"

Dwight sighed, raking a hand through his hair. Of course this was his fault. He should really have taught Alan better than that, "Alan…not salt, okay? If you want to look after me like that, you use holy water. Okay?"

Tears welled in Alan's eyes, "You don't hate me, do you?"

Dwight looked down at his bed guiltily. Okay so maybe he overreacted but seriously, he thought his brother was trying to kill him and that's not cool. He smiled reassuringly at his brother, "No. I don't hate you. I could never hate you."

Alan rushed to Dwight and hugged him. That's when Dwight knew he'd do anything to keep his brother safe.

x X x

When Dwight was twelve years old there was a loud bang in the basement. Now, he knew that an unexplained noise was never a good thing. The Winchesters had taught him enough to know that by then. So he also knew that he had to investigate it. You can't just let something hang around, these things were dangerous. The problem was that Dwight was only twelve. He couldn't handle something this potentially dangerous on his own. Sam and Dean never went alone, they always helped each other. He needed a partner for this job.

Dwight went through the things In his room, finding his bag of salt and grabbing his water gun filled with holy water.

"Dwight? What are you doing?" Alan peaked into his room, his brows furrows in confusion.

Dwight looked over at Alan and smiled brightly. Of course! Alan would be the perfect partner for this job. Dean and Sam are brothers and so are they. Logically, they couldn't fail if they worked together.

"I'm playing a game. It's called…'Winchesters'."

Alan's face lit up with excitement, "A game? Can I play? How do you play?"

"Sure, you can play. It's real simple. See, I heard this noise in the basement and we're going to investigate it. Just like Sam and Dean."

"So I get to be Sam, right? And you're Dean?"

Dwight grinned. Yeah. That sounds right. Sam was the little brother and so was Alan. Dean was supposed to look after Sam, to protect him from anything and that's what Dwight was doing. He wouldn't let anything hurt Alan. His heart swelled at the thought that Alan wanted him to be Dean, wanted Dwight to look after him and Dwight wanted to follow through. The truth was that he didn't really have anything before Alan came along. He was just doing his own thing, no set goals. Now Alan was here, he would do anything to protect him.

"Yeah Alan…you can be Sam."

Alan jumped up and down excitedly, "Come on, come on, let's go!"

Dwight snickered, "Wait a minute." He grabbed another water gun and a bottle of water from his desk. He carefully poured some of the water into the gun, only spilling a little bit before handing the water gun to Alan, "Here. This will look after you. If anything happens, just point and fire."

Alan looked down at the gun and smiled, nodding quickly, "Hurry, before it gets away!"

Dwight and Alan rushed down to the basement. He knew he had to go in front of Alan. Alan was only little after all. He slowly opened the door and everything was quiet. Dwight moved reluctantly into the room. It was dark, dusty and dreary down there. That was one of the reasons he never went down there. His legs were shaky as he moved further and further into the room. He turned to look at Alan and he was grinning. Alan was so excited and Dwight couldn't stop himself from smiling right along with him. This wasn't so bad. Alan had his back. Sam and Dean did it every week, how hard could it be?

Taking a deep breath, Dwight turned a corner to find a box on the floor in the middle of the room. He chuckled, "I guess it was just a false alarm Alan. It was just this box that fell over."

He walked over to the box, pulling it back upright and that was when it happened. There was a thudding in the box and a loud screeching noise. Dwight ran back to Alan as fast as he could. They stared at the box, waiting for something, anything to happen. The box tipped over again and Dwight jumped, holding his water gun up in defence. A moment later a bat flew out of the box, screeching. Dwight and Alan screamed and ran out of the room, slamming the door shut behind them. Dwight knew he had to move fast. He pulled out his salt bag and tipped it out, spreading it along the doorway.

He sighed in relief, "Don't worry Alan. It can't escape now."

x X x

When Dwight was thirteen everything changed. He knew something was wrong. He just didn't know what. It wasn't until his parents told him that Alan was missing that the feelings clicked. He felt like part of him was gone. As long as Alan was missing, he wouldn't be completely whole. He felt like sitting around like everyone else was would be pointless. He was wasting time as long as he did that so instead, he did the only thing he knew how to do. He grabbed his book, a map and a crystal and he started searching for Alan.

He didn't know how long it would take. He didn't care. He wouldn't eat or sleep until he got it done. He would not move from that spot., not as long as Alan was missing. He was the big brother, that's what big brothers do. Dwight had to protect Alan, he just had to. He couldn't explain to anyone why , he just had to help.

He sat there in his room, searching for so long. He refused to give up. He would not quit until finally…it happened. It found him. He ran to his parents and he told them straight away. His parents didn't believe him. Of course they didn't but they were willing to try anything.

They sat him down after searching and Dwight knew something was wrong. He could tell by their faces.

"Dwight honey," His mother began tentatively, "It's Alan…"

"Did you find him? Was he where I said he was? He was, wasn't he?"

"Yes, he was exactly where you said he was."

Dwight grinned, proud of himself. He did it. He'd helped his brother. Everything would be okay now, "Well, where is he then?"

Dwight's mother let out a shaky breath, "He…he's gone Dwight."

"Wait…what?" Dwight stared wide eyed at his Mom because no. No, this wasn't happening.

"We were too late to save him. I'm sorry."

Dwight didn't say anything. He just stared at nothing in particular. He'd lost the one person in his life who made him feel special, made him feel like he could do anything. His stomach churned and his heart ached. What was he supposed to do now?

x X x

When Dwight was fourteen he was a wreck. He didn't talk to people. He barely ate. He never smiled and he never left the house. It was pointless. What was out there for him anyway? People who judged him? People who pitied him? People who didn't see how wonderful their lives were and how blessed they were to live passed the age of seven?

No one was worth talking to. He never had any friends and the only reason people bothered to talk to him now was because he was the one who'd lost his brother. None of it was sincere. If it was, they would've tried to get close to him years ago. It didn't stop people worrying about him though.

On Alan's would be eighth birthday, Dwight visited his grave. No one knew he was going there, but he didn't care. He didn't want anyone to come with him. He just wanted to be alone with his brother, like the good old days. Why couldn't it just be like the good old days?

He sat next to Alan's gravestone and looked down at his hands, wringing them together nervously. He had so many pent up emotions but didn't know quite how to share them. Dwight just stared at the gravestone. He didn't want to speak to anyone, anyone except Alan. Alan was the only one who ever understood.

"…Hi…" Dwight voice broke. He hadn't used it in so long. He cleared his throat and tried again, "Hi…Alan. I…" Dwight looked back down at his hands, "I wish I knew what to say. You're the only one I want to talk to…and I can't even figure out the words.

"There are so many things I never got to say to you. I never said them…because I thought I'd have time." Dwight looked at the small bunch of tulips sitting in front of Alan's gravestone and tears welled in his eyes, "I've always wanted to be so strong for you. I never wanted you to see me…broken. I-I was supposed to be…the strong brother, the big brother. I was supposed to protect you from the world. I screwed up. I know I did…and you trusted me. I'm sorry."

A tear slid down Dwight's cheek, "What am I supposed to do now? You're all I have. I don't even have any friends. You're it…and you're gone and…and I miss you so much."

Dwight shuffled closer to the tombstone, wiping the tear from his cheek, "Please just…come back? Come back and I promise it'll be better than before because I won't boss you around or yell at you and I'll let you boss me around. It's…it's too soon for you to be gone…and it's your birthday, you should be here, celebrating. We were going to get you a big cake in the shape of a pentagram." Dwight chuckled sadly, "Sure, Mum and Dad hated the idea…but I would've talked them into it because you're my brother…and I'd do anything for you."

He ran a hand idly up and down the tombstone, "Sam and Dean screw up all the time but they're together, through everything. How am I meant to be Dean without a Sam? Who…who am I going to tell ghost stories to? I have no one else but you. Now I'm all alone. I don't want to be alone Alan. I was alone before you came along and it wasn't fun. I don't want to go back to that. Please Alan…" Dwight couldn't stop the tears anymore, "Please don't leave me alone Alan. The world, it's…it's cruel and it doesn't like people like me. I'm different. People don't like different. At least with you around, I had someone else with me, but now…"

Dwight let out a shaky breath, wiping away the tears, "Now I'm alone and…Alan, I'm scared. I'm scared that no one will care. I'm scared of what will happen with no one here to protect me, because lets face it," He choked on a sob, wiping at his tears, "Y-You were a lot better at that than me."

Dwight bit his lip, trying to stop himself from crying. He was supposed to be stronger than this. Alan would've been stronger than this. Alan was better than he was. He didn't deserve to be the one to go, "I'm scared of losing someone else. What if I lose everyone Alan? What then?"

He sat by Alan's grave all day. He spoke of so many things, the little and the big. Every thing he spoke about made him hurt, brought out the raw emotions but it made things better too. It was like he'd been bitten by a snake and he had to suck the poison out. Every word he said was a bit more poison leaving his body. He didn't even notice the sun going down. He had to stay with Alan. He had to get it all out there. His eyes refused to stay open but he had to keep talking. His words began to slur together into a mess of incomprehensible nonsense but he had to push on. He had no sense of time, no sense of place. He didn't care, he just kept talking.

He swore he'd only closed his eyes for a moment but when he opened them again, he was in a car. He looked around, trying to figure out what was going on when he saw his mother in the front. She must've found him. He needed to go back though. He had so much more he wanted to say. He wanted to cry. He wanted to be there with his brother. Why wouldn't they just let him stay with his brother!

"No…take me back…" His voice was filled with sleep and he rubbed tiredly at his eyes.

"You have to come home Dwight." His mother's voice came out quiet and he could tell she was surprised to hear him talking again.

"No! Take me back! Take me back!" Dwight tugged furiously at his seat belt.

"Dwight…"

"Just take me back!"

The car stopped abruptly and a few moments later Dwight was being held by his mother. He couldn't hold back the tears from them anymore. It was all too much to take in. He could only be strong for so long. As he sobbed into his mother's neck he kept murmuring those three words, "Take me back…take me back…"

x X x

Now Dwight is seventeen. He's still healing, but he's on his way to feeling like maybe, just maybe things will be okay. It's his brother's would-be eleventh birthday. He's sitting in his dorm room in Windsor House, at Dalton Academy and he's checking that what he's wearing isn't stupid. Today was important. There was a soft knock at his door and he quickly looked in its direction, smiling as Ethan slowly walked into his room.

He smiled faintly and rested his hands on Dwight's shoulders, "Are you okay?"

Dwight nodded slowly, smiling reassuringly at the Tweedle because, yeah, he was okay. Things were getting easier to deal with. After all these years, he could handle it.

"You've got the rose, right?"

Dwight took a few steps over to his bed and picked up a single white rose. He smiled sadly as he held it up.

Ethan smiled, lacing his fingers with Dwight, "Come on. I'll drive."

As Ethan drove, Dwight rested his head against the window, watching everything pass by in a blur. His whole life was passing by in a blur. Nearly four years without Alan. How had it been so long? So much had happened. His life had gone in so many directions. He had people who cared now. He'd protect them with his life. They didn't pretend to understand him and he didn't pretend to understand them. It didn't change the fact that they were his lifeblood. They kept him stable.

The car ride was made in silence and even when they arrived at the cemetery, neither of them said anything. Dwight grabbed Ethan's hand the moment he stepped out of the car, dragging him through the cemetery to the all too familiar tombstone. Dwight put the white rose on the grave and smiled sadly, tears in his eyes. This part never got any easier.

"Hey Alan. Long time no see." He chuckled bitterly, kneeling next to the grave, "Happy Birthday."

Dwight spoke about life at Dalton, about all the things that had happened in the year since he last came. He told the little and the small. Ethan sat beside him, leaning his head on Dwight's shoulder and smiled as he listened to Dwight talk. He had so much to tell Alan and there never seemed to be enough time.

It had to have been an hour, maybe two when Ethan finally spoke, "Dwight? We've got to go…"

"B-But…I have so much more to tell him." Dwight murmured sadly, his voice cracking from unshed tears.

"I'm sorry. We've got to get back before curfew. Besides, I didn't think you liked graveyards at night." Ethan smirked, trying to release some of the tension.

Dwight chuckled, wiping away some of his tears, "You're right. Sorry."

Ethan stood up, holding out a hand for Dwight and pulling him to his feet, "You okay? I can give you more time if you really need it." He grinned mischievously, "I can unlock any door, remember? So it's okay if we miss curfew."

Dwight laughed, "No, it's okay. You're right. We need to get out of here."

Ethan cupped Dwight's face in his hands, wiping the tears from his face, "Does it hurt any less?"

"A little, but I don't expect it'll ever go away."

Ethan pulled Dwight into a tight hug. Dwight wrapped his arms firmly around him and let out a shaky breath, "I'm sorry…"

"Don't." Ethan replied sternly, "Don't be sorry."

"I should be stronger."

"You're the strongest person I know."

"Maybe that's not enough." Dwight's voice came out as a whisper.

"Believe me, it's enough."