Title: Game Changer
Rating: G
Characters: Sam and Dean Winchester, mentions of John Winchester and Bobby Singer
Notes: Just a quick little snippet that popped into my head.
Warnings: Underage drinking (OH NO!)
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Sadface. :(
Summary: Dean thinks back on a life-changing moment when Sam asks an innocent question.

The fire crackled happily as Dean jabbed at its centre with a long stick, spitting orange embers into the darkening sky. The wood was smooth against his callous fingers and cool to the touch. Each breath he took floated away in a white cloud.

Sam sat across from him on an overturned log, staring into the flames intensely. Dean wish he could pick apart exactly what the sixteen-year-old was thinking, what was going on in his little brothers head, but the kids eyes betrayed nothing and he wasn't going to do something stupid like ask. Instead he poked at the lower logs again and watched the spiralling ash float by him. Then end of his stick was becoming black and charred but he didn't really care.

"Dean?" Sam was looking at him now, his eyes soft but curious. Dean took a quick pull from the bottle he'd taken from the cooler next to him. It was cool against his lips.

"Yeah, Sammy?" They were interrupting the quiet sounds of night, the crickets in the tall grass and the soft rustling of the leaves that blew past. He kept his tone light, though he was sure Sam wasn't about to ask an easy question. His kid brother had never really asked about anything that had an easy answer.

Sam appeared to be considering, and for a moment it looked as if he wasn't going to bother. Dean felt a sharp pang of relief until, a few meters away, John Winchester grunted in his sleep and rolled over. Dean watched over the flames as Sam's face hardened, angry at their father even as he slept, and bit back a sigh.

"Have you ever thought of doing….Something else?"

The subject of this particular question didn't surprise him in the slightest. Lately this was all Sam talked about, collage and lawyers and having a 'Normal' life. What did surprise Dean was that Sam even cared. That Sam wanted to know if his older brother had ever pictured his life going in a different direction.

He thought of the college brochures he had stolen from the guidance office of his last high school. He thought about pouring over them that night, his brother sleeping in the next bed while his father was out doing recon. Searching with strained eyes in the darkness, using his lighter as a flashlight. Every job he came across, every opportunity offered was given a fair look. He tried to picture himself in each one but always found something the matter with it. Can't work at a damn desk all day, not sure how well I'd do with people's problems, I really hate cubicles… By the end of the night he's narrowed it down to three trades; Carpentry, electrical and Mechanic.

He remembered how he has lied to his father, saying he didn't feel well enough to go hustle pool. Remembered Sam volunteering with a sparkle in his eye because no matter how angry Sam was about the life their father had forced them into, it was still his father, and he still wanted to make him proud. John's gruff voice had agreed and they left, taking the impala and leaving Dean behind for the first time in a long while. Three illegal beers later he dialled bobby's number.

The conversation had been long and detailed. By the end of it he was completely smashed and Bobby sounded gruffer then usual, assuring him that if this was what he really wanted he could apprentice at the salvage yard and he'd have a roof over his head no matter what. Dean already knew he had decided not to bother, but he didn't tell Bobby that. His life would've been missing the two things that meant the most to the eldest son of John and Mary. The first was his family that needed to be protected no matter what the cost, be it a few scrapes and bruises or his life…His future. The second was that part of him, the piece of his soul that yelled his life was a waste if he wasn't saving people. Rescuing the innocent from the things the bumped in the night.

"No." Dean muttered. "I never did. School was always your thing, Sammy."

Forget that he had stuck the brochures (Including one from Sanford) in Sam's rucksack that night, scattered in with three English essays above ninety percent and one math test at ninety-seven percent. Forget the little spark of pride he had felt seeing his brothers terrible handwriting explaining how he got the answer.

He may not have answered quickly enough, because Sam was looking at him in a vaguely confused way, like he was reading something particularly difficult. Dean felt his shoulder tense as Sam's mouth opened.

"I'm going to bed." He stood on giant's legs and dusted off the seat of his jeans, then climbed into the back of the impala and shut the door with a bang. John sat up a little, blinking blurrily at the car before settling back down.

Dean sat under the stars awhile longer, watching the fire begin to dwindle down to softly glowing coals. He finished of his beer with a swig, took a deep breath of the crisp night air, and settled into his seat to take first watch.