I don't own Supernatural or Star Trek 2009. I'm just borrowing the characters.
This is short story number six, roughly following Bar Fights and the first foray into slightly heavier territory.
I'd just like to add that while I think that the Winchesters didn't have the ideal childhood, neither was it a long string of horrors and I tried to keep with that vein of thought in the story.
It wasn't exactly shore leave. Starfleet Command had called in all their outlying ships and was busy doing a huge promotion campaign, trying to boost their enlistment numbers so that when the Romulans or Klingons came knocking there would be a Starfleet to resist them (or so said a cynical Dean Winchester.)
They weren't exactly on shore leave. But they had spent the entire day under the thumb of a very excited promoter, her eyes wide and sparkly at the idea of being close to two such dashing, swash-buckling captains.
Dean Winchester and Jim Kirk hadn't been impressed. She was fawning, overly plastic and not kind to the people working under her. And she had a very shrill voice. So at the end of the day they had run away (if anyone asked, it was a strategic retreat) to a favoured bar down in the gritty area of San Francisco, where no one knew them, the beer was decent and the company kept to itself.
"So," Jim slurred, only marginally tipsy. "You don't seem like the regulation-type. How'd you keep your record clean enough to get into Starfleet?"
Dean tipped back his bottle of beer and drained it. "Simple. Sammy wanted to be a star scientist when he was four. No way in hell he was going out there alone."
Lawrence, Kansas. 18 years ago.
"Dean, Dean, Dean!"
A slightly roly-poly Sammy Winchester, aged four (and three months), bolted up to his big brother, thudding a rather large book down on the peeling wooden porch.
"Yeah Sammy?" the older boy asked with a patience beyond his years.
"Dean, I wanna be a star scientist!" Sammy flipped the book open and pointed triumphantly at a block of text describing the job of a science officer in Starfleet. Squinting at the words, Dean blinked.
"You sure, Sammy? Space is dangerous."
"But it's interesting, Dean. Earth is boring. And you're always gonna protect me, right?" Big, wide hazel eyes bored into Dean's face and he couldn't help but laugh at the passion already vibrating off his baby brother.
"Sure dude. Always."
Dean Winchester grew up quickly. He had to. His mother had died when Sammy was six months old. She had been the science officer on board the USS Kelvin when the monster ship had blasted it across the stars and she had given up her place on the shuttle to a small stowaway child who shouldn't have been aboard the Kelvin in the first place. His father, a security officer on one of the smaller Miranda-class ships, rarely came home. John Winchester was obsessed with finding the ship that had killed his wife and that meant leaving Dean and little Sammy to institutionalized Starfleet childcare ten months out of the year.
It could have been the perfect environment for Dean's dangerously active and independent mind to stray into less than desirable pursuits.
But once Sammy had declared he wanted to be a science officer, Dean put aside his initial dislike of Starfleet. Dean hadn't wanted anything to do with the organization that had cost him both parents. At the same time, he couldn't crush his baby brother's hope though because Sammy already knew he was different.
Sammy was smart. He chewed through books and PADDS like they were going out of style and he remembered everything he ever read. He could spit out numbers like a little computer and he loved the sciences. That made him a little odd in the eyes of the other children on top of having a dad who apparently didn't care and a dead hero mommy.
So Dean fed Sammy books and found along the way that he wasn't so stupid himself. Someone had to teach Sammy and the teachers didn't want to put in the effort. Sammy was smart enough already in their eyes. Dean called them very inappropriate names for a child of his stature and put his own brain to work. He wasn't awful at teaching judging from the way he never had to force his little brother awake for home-schooling.
Dean wasn't really passionate about space though until Sammy was eight, in school and two years younger than everyone in his class. Dean was twelve, cocky and crazy, scrappy and protective of his brother, distracted as anything in his schoolwork.
Sam dragged his complaining brother along on an extracurricular field trip to one of the official Starfleet piloting simulations. Somehow, Sam had wrangled an extra spot for Dean, mercilessly employing his very cute eyes, lawyer-sharp tongue and citing Dean's high marks.
Sam was noncommittal about flying.
Dean loved it.
Stars screaming by at warp speeds, the entire ship humming under his touch – even if it was just a simulator, the siren call was there and Dean heard it.
After that, Dean threw all of his brains into piloting and engineering, rationalizing that if he wanted to fly the ship, he had to understand how she ran. He was still mouthy, he still got into fights, but he was careful about it. Dean wasn't going to jeopardize their chances.
Sam didn't want to be left behind. He was determined to enter Starfleet as soon as his brother did. Sam knew his brother didn't have much of a childhood. When Sam had a small pile of presents for Christmas, Dean only got what Sam gave him. Sam played sports and studied and occasionally threw temper tantrums when he was small. Dean always seemed in control, always seemed like a short adult.
So at the age of eight (the simulator day), Sam decided to pull his own weight and badgered his teacher into letting him bring Dean along. Then Sam started paying real attention to his studies, focusing on science, computers and linguistics (because languages were interesting. Dean called him a nerd).
They entered the Academy when Sam was fourteen. Dean was eighteen. They were both fast-tracked for command. They both blurred through their classes, Sam juggling a course-load that would have made a Vulcan look lazy.
The Academy days were when Sam put his foot down and demanded to be treated like more of an equal. When Dean balked, Sam went out, got totally plastered and beat the crap out of some annoying cadets who had been bugging Dean. He then weaved back to the dorm room and triumphantly passed out on the floor.
Dean figured the kid had a point, considering they were almost the same height already and Sam was still smarter than him. Best to start picking his battles now.
Dean deliberately slowed his pace through the Academy and thus effectively forced Sam to go to school for six years, giving both of them more time to grow up. Space wasn't going anywhere and he didn't want a gangly, awkward, freakishly tall Sammy tripping and stumbling all over a starship. It also gave Sam time to write two theses and accumulate more letters after his name than Dean cared to think about.
At twenty four, Dean was given his first training assignment in space. It just about killed both of them to be apart but not in a gushing, pining, chick-flick manner. It was like having a limb missing. Off balance. Abnormal.
Sam disliked it but realized the distance was probably healthy, given they'd been living out of each other's pockets since they were shorter than grasshoppers.
Dean just ignored the rational side of his brain that said temporary distance was good (the voice sounded a lot like Sam and was really annoying) and decided he was going to be captain one day. Then Sam would be his first officer and this whole weirdness would be fixed.
At twenty-five, Dean was permanently assigned to the USS Impala as her pilot. Somehow, it was love at first touch. She was a Miranda-class ship, older but in mint condition, maintained by good people.
Captain Howard managed to snag Lieutenant Winchester because he wanted to mix up the crew. The Impala was full of seasoned members, most of whom were considering retirement. Howard wanted to pass the Impala on to a specially trained new generation, men and women who would understand the ship.
Dean was the first.
Then Lieutenant Ash joined – no first name, absolutely crazy (Dean thought Ash was stoned the first time they met) and a computer/navigational genius with a hard-core 1980's mullet. "Business in the front, party in the back," Ash said.
"Awesome," Dean replied reverently.
Next Howard came back from the academy with Ensign Luke Castiel in tow. A pilot possibly better than Dean, Castiel wasn't terribly popular, socially isolated and his instructors had despaired of ever getting Castiel to engage enough to function as part of life on a starship.
Dean and Ash took that as a personal challenge and Castiel found himself with two friends. When they realized Castiel, an orphan from birth, had never had friends before, they introduced him to everyone on the ship, including the reclusive Lieutenant Commander Bobby Singer, god of the Impala's engines.
Dean was the only newbie Bobby let touch the engines. Howard had to swallow a smirk when he caught Dean covered in metal shavings and grease, bright gold command shirt a filthy shade of black-yellow. Bobby had approved his choice as captain.
And finally Captain Howard tried to introduce several people as science officer.
Dean balked. He wouldn't work well with them and it wasn't a conscious, petty decision on his part. It was just that they didn't…fit. It wasn't working.
Ash caught the anti-science officer bug. Castiel followed.
Howard just couldn't find a science officer bright and quirky enough to keep up with his three protégés.
He was considering the young half-Vulcan Spock when a highly frustrated Dean irritably dragged his brother aboard the Impala one morning to solve a bioscience logarithm that had stumped one of the smarter candidates Howard had found.
"It's killing the hydroponics. Fix it," Dean ordered. Sam huffed a long-suffering sigh and plopped down at the console.
Howard had heard of Sam Winchester. The younger Winchester had floated from ship to ship, serving various short terms. Brilliant, everyone concluded, and friendly, but he never engaged with a crew enough for a captain to keep him.
The tall, shaggy-haired imposing young man hunched over the station, fingers tapping slowly and then picking up speed until they almost blurred, Sam's eyes locked on the screen.
The console warbled happily ten minutes later and spat out a chip. "There are your results, Dean. That should give you the matrix you need." Dean sighed in relief while Howard had to pick his jaw up off the floor. He had submitted a request for Starfleet to send over a specialist to remedy that particular problem and Lieutenant-Commander Sam Winchester had just solved it in less than ten minutes.
Dean vanished down the hallway, leaving his brother sitting in the science officer's chair at a loss.
"Winchester!" Howard called, striding out on a curious impulse.
The young man straightened and snapped to attention. Howard looked up. And up. "Good lord Lieutenant-Commander. How tall are you?"
"And serving on a starship. You sure you're not claustrophobic? More to the point, you've been holding back on your other assignments."
The lieutenant's face flushed slowly. "No sir. But I haven't been entrusted with the more difficult problems."
And he hadn't pushed for them like most young hot-shot geniuses. Interesting. A short conversation with Sam Winchester revealed that the young man was steady, logical, engaging and had his head screwed on straight - all traits currently lacking in Howard's gaggle of bright cadets. Although it was frowned upon to have siblings serving together it wasn't against regulation. And Dean Winchester would make the most of his younger brother, pull Sam forward and challenge the kid.
Howard placed the transfer request.
Dean bought the man a very expensive bottle of Howard's favourite whisky and left it anonymously in the captain's quarters.
So the crew was thrown together. Crusty Dr. Ellen Harvelle hid a heart of gold behind a no-nonsense exterior and looked after the boys (as she thought of them) like they were her own. Between her and the experienced older crew members, the cadets grew into themselves. Of course they tripped and messed up along the way – the day Castiel actually made a mistake was one the Impala marked down on the figurative calendar. Dean made him a cake to commemorate. Castiel nearly died of embarrassment and turned an impressive shade of ruby-red, but it was a good lesson, a necessary one.
Everyone screws up sooner or later, especially in space. You learn to live with it.
Sam was thrown straight off the deep end by the captain and told "You're science officer." Everyone else thought the captain crazy, older crew included. Howard just wanted to see how far he could push the young genius and had thought Lieutenant-Commander Winchester would cave after a week. Sam rose to the challenge and handled it with grace. Dean nearly burst from pride until he realized Howard had promoted him to second officer.
Dean promptly had a minor panic attack when he realized that almost everyone in the ship was under his care. Despite that, the job fit him like a glove. That was when Howard was certain that Dean would be the next captain.
Of course, none of the cadets knew this. They just thought the captain unusually sadistic and the crew insane.
The Winchester boys especially didn't know what to make of the captain. No other captain would have taken the gamble of two brothers serving together. When Dean asked him about it, Howard had smiled mysteriously and dodged the question.
It put a bee in Dean's bonnet.
Dean promptly needled his brother. To shut Dean up, Sam did a cursory background sweep, found out that Howard's brother had served on the same ship as Howard for a short time when they were young and had been a brilliant team until the brother had transferred due to peer pressure.
Well. That wasn't happening to the Winchesters.
The Impala was out on a medicine run when the Narada attacked. Even if the small ship broke warp 10, they wouldn't have made it in time to help out.
The captain listened to every dispatch and looked grave.
When the whole story broke, everyone thought Starfleet had lost their collective minds.
A twenty five year old flagship captain?
Captain James T. Kirk and the crazy young crew of the USS Enterprise saved planet Earth.
Dean was jealous. Just a little bit.
But then events spiralled out of control and no one aboard the Impala had time to think about the Enterprise.
The Impala had been on a routine but urgent mission to three planets suffering from Rigelian fever. They made the first planetary drop without issues. The second planet was not nearly as smooth.
Somehow, decontamination protocols aboard the Impala broke down. Rigelian fever began to spread through the ship like wildfire. The ship was small and only carried enough supplies for exactly three planets.
Captain Howard and several older crew members fell ill quickly. Dr. Harvelle speculated that age was a factor. Quick thinking brought the situation under control – dire still but under control.
Then the Klingons showed up in three birds of prey.
If the Impala ran to safety, everyone on the third planet would die but Captain Howard and the infected crew would likely survive.
If the Impala elected to try and make the third planet, they would have to shake or defeat three Klingon vessels with only half a ship's crew.
Commander Dean Winchester assumed command. His first act as captain was to promote his brother to first officer. He didn't give a damn about how it looked – Dean needed all of his brother's considerable talents, including Sam's ability to keep Dean on an even keel and pointed in the right direction.
Dean then decided to make a hair-raising, absolutely crazy run through a very wide, very deadly asteroid belt. The Klingons were too large and hopefully too fond of their own skins to follow.
"I trust you Cas," Dean said soberly when Castiel was handed the conn, his gray eyes wide and worried.
Ash tossed his barely-regulation mullet over his shoulder and claimed navigation, grumbling the whole while about how if the idiot captain wanted to do idiot things, the least a genius could do was make sure the Admiralty had the chance to chew Dean out instead of peeling a fine ship off the wrong side of an asteroid.
And Sam was deep in the realm of minerals, attempting to come up with a way to synthetically create ryetalyn, the only medicine capable of stopping Rigelian fever.
It wasn't going to be enough.
Dean went one step further.
He demanded that Bobby pull every shred of speed and precision out of the Impala. Strictly speaking, behind regulation panels and pipes, the Impala wasn't really a Miranda-class ship anymore. Bobby had been buried in her bowels for years, since he was a young cadet himself. Howard hadn't let Bobby enact some of his more radical ideas though.
Dean took the limits right off and told Bobby the Impala had damn well better be the fastest ship in the Fleet. Preferably the fastest ship in the galaxy.
The engineer rose to the occasion and the Impala screamed through the asteroid field at stupidly high speeds, smaller rocks bouncing off shields and even clanging off the hull as Castiel twisted the ship through space like she was built of fluid elastic.
It wasn't enough.
They made it to the planet in time but under Howard's orders, Dr. Harvelle and Dean had saved the medicine for the people of the planet.
Captain Howard, his first officer and fifty seven other members of the Impala's crew died. Sam figured out how to synthetically create the mineral thirty four minutes and fifteen seconds after the good captain passed away.
Sam managed to save the rest of the crew. He didn't count his work a success.
The Winchesters blamed themselves for about a week until Ash ratted them out to Bobby, who rose from the engine room to smack sense into their heads.
Starfleet didn't know what to do with the Impala. They definitely didn't want to turn the Impala and Enterprise into the normal route to captaincy. Heaven forbid. So they considered busting Winchester back down to second officer, breaking up the crew.
Admiral Pike spoke up. There were precious few senior officers left in the fleet and the Impala's upstart young crew had been trained by the previous captain, groomed for this role. Heck, they were better prepared than say, the Enterprise's senior officers. That and Starfleet had bigger things to worry about than one Miranda-class courier. Let them be, Pike said. See how things shake out – essentially the same deal they had given to the Enterprise.
The Impala worked hard after that. She travelled the distance between stars suspiciously fast although Starfleet inspectors could never quite discover the ship's secret. Her captain's exploits were rivalled only by the Enterprise's crew and Dean liked to think Kirk only beat him because the Enterprise was a bigger ship and Kirk had more to work with.
Dean shook himself free of memories and double-checked. Nope, he hadn't said any of that aloud. "Yep. Sammy wanted to be a star scientist. The rest just sort of fell into place."
Jim eyed him knowingly. "Sure, the same way I just happened to find myself on the Enterprise that day despite being on academic probation."
"Yeah! Hey, how did you manage that?"
"Anyway," Dean shot his unrepentant buddy an annoyed stare after Jim refused to divulge and the Impala's captain thumped down his beer bottle on the table. "After Pike said we weren't total nutcases, they let us keep the Impala. The rest is history. Of course, life got a helluva lot more interesting when Pike paired us up with you idiots."
Jim smirked, tipping his chair back. "Naturally."
"So. How'd you get into Starfleet?" Dean asked curiously.
"Pike literally picked me up off the table of a bar in Iowa. I wasn't interested until he dared me to surpass my father. Finally felt like someone believed that I could grow past this huge George Kirk-shaped shadow." Jim eyed his bottle with melancholy. "I guess that means I have a father complex."
Dean shrugged. "Don't think so. Just means you respect the man in your own way. Can't say the same for mine. My father was a revenge-obsessed drunk. Now the Narada's gone, he's just a drunk. Got himself kicked out of Starfleet two months before the Narada showed up for drunk and disorderly on duty."
Jim's chair clunked down onto the floor. "Sounds like a good man gone to seed."
Dean's bark of laughter wasn't charitable. "Whatever, man. He was a hero to me, different type of hero from your dad, but a hero nonetheless until the day he showed up to our farm on Sammy's birthday stinking drunk and told me he couldn't be around us 'cause Sammy and I looked like our Mom. Then he left us at Starfleet-funded family housing and never came back. His buddies all say he was a great security officer, saved lots of men until that drunk and disorderly. All I remember is the day he left, Sammy stood crying in the driveway, begging him to stay and help Dean make grilled cheese. Shit."
Dean chugged the rest of the beer.
"Guess we're both still screwed up," Jim offered and Dean grinned sloppily.
"Hell yeah! We have to be messed up somehow, otherwise the universe couldn't stand us! We're just that badass!"
They ordered another round of beers, hit on a few girls and took comfort in the fact that they understood each other, knew not to step on sensitive spots, didn't examine each other too closely. Sam would have prodded, Bones would have asked.
Jim and Dean, they were easy around each other.
Guess captains are just a special breed.