A/U. Set Pre-series. Dean Centered Story (though John and Sam get mixed in-especially later on). After Sam leaves for Stanford, and John takes off solo hunting, Dean Makes the decision to enlist in the USMC. It turns out to be a little more than he may have bargained for.

Supernatural Disclaimer: I own nothing. Never have... don't intend to, this is just to satisfy my incessant need to write... something...

Other Disclaimers: This is a complete departure to most of the other work I've posted here. I'm going down a much different road with this story. While its rooted in Supernatural fiction it is combined with bits and pieces of events that happened during military operations in Iraq. With that said, I felt out of respect to the infantry men who actually served during the OIF operations surrounding this story I had to be fairly general when writing, leaving out what might seem like important details every now and then. I was not there with the men who served in combat all I have are bits and pieces of stories that have been shared by friends that I've subsequently mashed together to make my own work of fiction. As a prior service member myself I have nothing but respect for those who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Military.

With all that said- please leave a comment when you're done reading, good or bad, I'll take it. :)



His vision was blurred, sweat, dirt, mud, and chunks of who the hell knew what else was smeared across his face, stuck in his eyebrows matted down under his helmet.

Fucking Breathe.

Someone was screaming in his ear, literally screaming, but the words were barely audible and his first thought was Samwhere the hell was Sam? He felt the pull of someone's hands grabbing the straps of his ruck sack; in an instant he's off balance and throws a hand out steady himself as he nearly falls forward into them. His left hand lands hard on the ground, smashes hard into hundreds of sharp pieces of hot metal, but holds him steady. Seconds later when he pulls it up to his face, he sees it's covered in fine sand, small cuts, splotches of blood and any thoughts of Sam dissipate immediately.

"WINCHESTER! Move out!" The voice was there again, this time loud and clear, Sergeant Krantz.

Right. No time to think, no time to process. Just get the fuck out. He's on his feet again, both hands securing his weapon. Together they made their way down a flight of concrete stairs and out of the door they'd broken down minutes earlier, ran about ten meters down the road, dust kicking up around them as a surface wind blew down the nearly abandoned thoroughfare. Dean watched as Sgt. Krantz pulled up, slowing to a stop just in front of him as they approached an intersection, his hand held out a warning to go no further. The sound of gunfire was closing in; bullets were pinging out a deadly rhythm, smashing into the side of a burned out and rusted pick-up truck parked less than fifteen meters away.

Dean looked around; his rifle pulled into a defensive position, and kept it trained on the doors and windows of the surrounding buildings. He'll be damned if anyone else caught him off guard tonight.

"It's clear." Krantz said, "Let's move."

Dean blinked at him, forced his feet to move— to carry his body around the corner. As he came around the corner, just behind Krantz, Dean caught a glimpse of Corporal Hanson just ahead. Twenty more meters and they'd be back with the rest of the squad. God, even if it had only been ten—fifteen minutes at most— it was good to see them, all still standing.

As they approached the remaining eleven other members of the squad Dean listened to the chatter amongst them, flipped the safety on his M249 and let it fall loosely around his chest. He exhaled, nerves raw and amped up, exhaustion consuming him. He leaned into the side panel the squads Stryker infantry vehicle—a heavily armored military vehicle he'd come to regard as the only 'safe' place parked in the middle of combat and stared out at the ruble and disarray around him.

"Jesus Christ Winchester." Corporal Hanson was looking at him funny, picking at the stuff covering his Kevlar. Dean watched him with a semi morbid fascination—human flesh and blood being peeled from his gear. "Up close and personal this time?" he asked.

Dean nodded. Kill or be killed. Keep yourself breathing.

In total, six houses had been cleared by the squad in the past thirty minutes. Small pickings, but good work considering… Only one house had had any occupants—had being the operative word. What was left of that occupant was still sticking to the walls of the house, the uniform Dean was wearing. Dean shook his head, tried to clear it as he poured water from his canteen into his hand and drug it over his face. He spit as the taste of iron rushed over his lips—he wasn't sure who's blood it was—his or the other guys. Dean looked at Hanson who gave him a quick grin and nodded.

He looked around the terrain, looked at the city walls crumbling around them riddled with bullet holes and even larger gaps from an occasional rocket propelled grenade, IED, or suicide bomber. This place was hell hole, a hot mess. Why anyone would ever come back to this place was beyond him. Why anyone had stayed behind in the first place was even more perplexing. In all honesty this small section of the city was literally a ghost town now. With that thought Dean felt an acrid laugh escape his throat, the irony of the situation slapping him in the face.

In the world of the Marine Corp he had just done his god-damn job. In the world he'd occupied for the majority of his life, he'd just created another pissed off spirit that was sure to haunt the hell out of some hunter somewhere in the world. Part of him felt guilty about that, felt like shit that he was bound to be creating a new generation of angry ghosts, the very monsters he'd been taught to take for as long as he could remember. But then again, he was tired of playing his father games, and he'd made his choice.


WHETHER HIS CHOICE had been made out of anger, spite or something else entirely Dean hadn't quite decided, but the decision to join the Marine Corp had been swift and poignant none the less.

In January 2003, the decision was made almost a year and a half after Sam had taken off for Stanford; about six months after John Winchester, Father of the Year, had ditched him and left to become a solo hunter. He'd been angry and confused and honestly he felt a little abandoned and hurt by the entire situation. Then he realized, if everyone else had a license to do what the hell they wanted, it was, Dean had decided, time for him to get in line.

So it was, one week before his twenty fourth birthday, Dean Winchester found himself staring at a glossy poster of a man in full battle dress holding an M16 Assault Rifle a single word written at the bottom: MARINE.

Recruiter, Gunnery Sergeant Erdman, was blunt and honest about the prospects of joining the Corp. "A GED is not a HS Diploma," he said and hell Dean doesn't argue—he's knows the difference, "and I can only accept two recruits each fiscal year that have a GED. However, lucky for you," he continues, "if you follow through and pass everything else, you'll be the second one."

By the time he's left the recruiter's office Dean has chosen to take the statement 'if you follow through' as a challenge and already has an appointment at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Sioux Falls, South Dakota set up for two days later. It's 0530 or 5:30 a.m. civilian time (thanks to his dad Dean's got military time down) when Sgt. Erdman arrives at Bobby Singers house to collect Dean and whisk him off to MEPS for a physical and his first shot at the ASVAB. Neither really pose a threat to him—the physical he can ace, and the ASVAB… well, it's not like it's that hard. His only real concern is the background check, but the worst it's going to turn up is the fact that his dad has had a few run-ins with the law—Dean's been damn lucky so far.

By 1400 hours that same day Dean is sitting in the Marine Corp Liaison's office discussing career options and opportunities, but there's really only one he's interested in… MOS (military occupational specialty) 0311; infantry rifleman, and that's what he gets. When he leaves MEPS that afternoon he's sitting in the passenger seat of Gunnery Sergeant Erdman's government vehicle staring down at a piece of paper that lists his in processing date as January 27th, 2003. He has seven days to get everything in order, enough time to take care of a few loose ends, but not enough time for his father or brother to get around to checking their voice messages and find out what Dean's plans actually entail—besides he won't be calling them until the 26th, at the earliest.

The day before Sergeant Erdman is set to pick him up for his final trip to MEPS Dean covers his Impala with a thick brown tarp and makes Bobby Singer swear on his life that nothing will happen to his precious baby until he gets through training—which according to his paperwork won't be finished until mid-June.

That night Dean pulls an all-nighter, hitting up all of the hole in the wall bars Sioux Falls has to offer, and the "I'm going away to war" line pays dividends twice that night. 0530 rolls around too damn fast and before he knows it Erdman is dragging him and his small luggage bag through the MEPS parking lot, screaming at Dean all the while. Dean throws up not once, but twice, before he hits the doors and Erdman looks pissed, but that gives way the second he plants Dean's butt in a chair inside MEPS a smile spreading across his face, "I hope you had yourself one hell of a last hoorah last night recruit 'cause tonight ain't gonna be near as much fun."

And Erdman was right; the night of January 27th, 2003 would never be one Dean remembers as being anything remotely fun.