If there was one thing Sam hated, it was being late to school. He was a straight-A student with a perfect attendance record and not a single detention to his name, and he prided himself on that.
Dean was the opposite. It wasn’t that he wasn’t smart – Sam was fairly sure his brother was actually a genius – but he didn’t care about school. He didn’t get the grades he was capable of, he didn’t turn up to half of his classes and he was constantly getting into trouble. Sam often wished he could find a way to get his brother excited about learning, but today he would settle for Dean hurrying up so they would get to school on time.
He remembered that Dean hadn’t felt well yesterday, though. If he wasn’t better he should probably stay home and get some rest.
Sam knocked softly on Dean’s door and opened the door a crack, peeking in to see if Dean was just lounging around or if he was genuinely still fast asleep.
He was not prepared for the sight of his brother sharing his bed with a guy.
Sam recoiled so fast he almost fell over backwards, and he scrambled to shut the door as if that could erase what he had seen.
Not that it had been graphic or anything. Sure, the other guy was topless, but Dean was still wearing the clothes he had worn to school yesterday. They were on top of the covers, curled slightly into each other.
Dean had looked peaceful. Content.
It was weird, so, so, so weird, like Sam’s world had been completely turned on its head, like red was actually blue and elephants were really just overgrown turtles and aliens abducted people to slow-dance with them – weird.
But when the initial shock faded, Sam was surprised to find that it didn’t bother him as much as he thought it would.
There had always been something about Dean that didn’t quite add up. Sam had long suspected that Dean was keeping a secret from them, and now that he knew what it was he could understand why Dean was afraid to tell them. Sam dreaded to think how Dad would react if he found out.
“Sam, is your brother up yet?” Dad asked, coming down the hallway. He reached for the doorhandle.
“Don’t!” Sam yelped. “Uh, he’s awake, he’s just getting changed.”
“Tell him to hurry up. We leave in 10 minutes.”
“Yeah, okay.” He waited until his dad had gone downstairs before he pounded loudly on Dean’s bedroom door.
“Dean. Dean! Time to get up! I’m not letting you make me late again.”
“Go ‘way,” came Dean’s mumbled response.
“Don’t make me come in there.” Don’t make Dad come in there.
There was the sound of startled movement. “Okay, okay, I’m up, I’m up! Don’t come in!”
“Dad’s driving us this morning, remember? Mom has an appointment.”
“Right, yeah, I’ll be right out. Get lost!”
Sam walked away, then snuck back on tip-toe to listen against the door.
“…sorry, Cas, I gotta go…promise you’ll still be here when I get back…?”
“…I’ll be here… be careful, Dean…”
Sam slipped away before Dean could bust him. It wasn’t the sappy romance he had hoped to overhear, but it was sweet and Sam found himself grinning stupidly. His brother had a secret boyfriend. Sam couldn’t wait to tease him about it.
“Sleep well?” Sam asked cheerfully when Dean entered the kitchen.
“Fine…” Sam beamed and Dean looked at him like he had grown an extra head. “What’s up with you, runt?”
“Right… well, I’m in the middle of spring-cleaning my bedroom and stuff is kinda all over the place right now, so no one go in there, okay?”
Sam glanced surreptitiously at his dad and was glad to see he had accepted Dean’s words at face value, muttering a simple “Good,” in acknowledgement.
Dad swallowed the last mouthful of his coffee and stood from the table. “Let’s go, boys.” He pulled out the keys to the Impala. “Dean, fancy taking the wheel this morning?”
Dean’s whole face lit up like it was Christmas. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah, son,” Dad said, tossing Dean the keys. Dean caught them, looking shocked and delighted all at once. “You’re sixteen in a week; time for you to get some driving practice in.”
“You’re the best!” Dean exclaimed.
“Just don’t hurt her.”
“I won’t! Thanks Dad.”
“Great. I’m gonna die,” Sam muttered, but he was only joking. Dean loved that car more than Dad did; there was no way he would risk putting so much as a scratch on her, so his passengers would probably be safe too.
Unsurprisingly, Dean took to driving like a duck takes to water. Dad gave him a few pointers to begin with but by the time they had reached the school Dean was driving like a pro, and he looked as cocky as hell about it. Sam felt a niggle of irritation in the back of his head that Dean was better than him at something, but he reassured himself with the thought that he would probably be even more of a natural when he got behind the wheel of a car for the first time.
Dean pulled smoothly into a parking space and turned off the engine with a dramatic flourish, grinning from ear to ear.
“Well, no one died,” Dad commented and Dean shoved his shoulder.
“Shut up! I was awesome.”
“Yeah, yeah. Go on, get,” Dad said, but his lips were twitching with the smile he was trying to hide.
Dean tossed the car key back to his Dad and swung his bag onto his shoulder. As he walked towards the school building there was a distinct swagger to his steps.
Sam rolled his eyes, but if he was honest it was nice to see Dean so happy.
It didn’t last long.
Sam entered through the school doors barely a minute after Dean did, but it was like walking into a moment frozen in time.
The entire corridor was hushed. Students had pulled off to the sides to leave a path for Dean like he was diseased and contagious, whispering in his wake.
Dean came to a stop in front of his locker and just stared, speechless.
Spray-painted in large, red letters across the door of his locker was a single word. FAG.
By unspoken cue, the spell was broken and suddenly slurs were being yelled at Dean from all sides.
The crowd surged inward, surrounding Dean. Sam tried to push through it, yelling for his brother. A teacher got there first, breaking up the mob and sending them all off to class as the bell rang shrilly. Sam ran after Dean, calling his name, but Dean wouldn’t look at him. He shoved his way into his classroom and sat down right at the back, arms folded and a death glare aimed at anyone who came near.
“Your class is down the hall, Sam Winchester,” the teacher told him. “Off you go.”
He went reluctantly.
“Hey Sam! Is it true? Is your brother gay?” Mindy asked as soon as he walked through the door, and soon all of his classmates were yelling over the top of each other, trying to get all the gossip.
“Why would anyone think that?” Sam snapped.
“Dean totally brushed off Ally Winehouse yesterday,” Jake said. “Dude, have you seen the tits on that chick? Dude’s crazy!”
“I heard he hooked up with some older dude.”
“Yeah, guy showed up at lunchtime and Dean left with him.”
“Ally saw everything. Apparently Dean was all over him… kissing, groping, pulling clothes off – the whole deal!”
Sam wanted to deny everything, and he would have except he had seen the ‘older dude’ with Dean back at their place. The evidence was pretty conclusive.
“Why is it any of your business?” Sam asked instead.
“Are you kidding? This is like the biggest news since Hayley Morrison’s nose job!” Mindy said. “Dean was Lawrence High’s most eligible bachelor and now he’s gay?”
“You need a life,” Sam said disdainfully. “Let Dean live his in peace.”
Mindy looked like she was going to say more but the teacher walked in and the students scattered to their desks. They kept whispering and shooting glances at him, though. Sam could care less; he was just worried about his brother.
Dean was nowhere to be seen at lunchtime, but the rumours were getting louder and more outrageous. People started claiming he was a twink for hire and came up with stories about seeing him with different men in all sorts of places. Sam was bombarded with questions and insults. The whole school had turned hostile overnight. Sam struggled to keep calm as he defended his brother and shut down the ignorant comments of bullies with sharp quips about their own lifestyle choices. It was exhausting and he itched to punch some sense into the idiots who thought they had the right to judge his brother for who he chose to love.
When he couldn’t find Dean at the end of the school day, though, Sam started to panic.
“Where’s your brother?” Dad asked.
“I don’t know. He’s supposed to meet us here.”
Dad sighed and got out of the car. They went looking for him, and when they circled around to the back of the school they came across a circle of students cheering on a fight.
Sam couldn’t see what was happening but Dad’s face darkened and he pushed his way to the front.
“Enough!” bellowed the ex-marine.
The six boys involved in the brawl froze. The onlookers scattered.
“Dad!” Dean backed off from the others, bloodied fists still held up in a defensive position as he glanced from his attackers to Dad and back again. Five against one, but it looked like Dean had given as good as he got. Considering the others were all big burly jocks from the football team, it was a wonder Dean hadn’t had the crap beaten out of him.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Nothing, it’s fine,” Dean muttered.
“You’re fighting again? How many times, Dean?”
“I didn’t start it. But I’ll damn well finish it if any of you Neanderthals are thick enough to try again.”
The quarterback sneered. “Bring it on, faggot.”
Dad took a menacing step forward. “What did you just call him?” It had been more than 20 years since Dad was in the army, but he practically radiated soldier vibes as he glared down at the football player who suddenly didn’t look so tough in comparison.
“Damn straight. Now get the hell out of here before I call your parents.”
The jocks beat a hasty retreat, leaving the Winchesters alone.
“What the hell was that all about?” Dad demanded.
“It’s not important,” Dean said, swiping ineffectually at the blood dripping from his busted nose. “Can we just go home?”
“If you think you are going to get out of explaining what went on here think again, son.”
“They’re just a bunch of dicks who don’t know what they’re talking about. I was handling it.”
“Violence is never an answer, Dean.”
“Some douchebags only understand a show of force – you of all people should know that.”
“You can’t compare a war in defence of this country to school-yard squabbles, Dean. If you keep getting into fights like this the school is going to expel you.”
“So? What do I care? I hate this stupid school anyway.”
“I’m going home. I’ll walk if I have to.” Dean strode away and Dad made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat but followed after him.
The drive passed in stony silence. When they got back to the house Dean stormed into his bedroom and slammed the door behind him.
“Do you know what this is about, Sam?” Dad asked.
Dad sighed. “Maybe his mother can get through to him. Mary?”
Sam slipped away while Dad was explaining to Mom what had happened at the school. He knocked quietly on Dean’s door.
“Dean,” he whispered. “Let me in.”
“Go away, Sam.”
“Dean, you have to get Cas out of here,” Sam hissed.
The door opened abruptly and Dean yanked him into the room. “How do you know about Cas?”
“I saw you, this morning… look, it doesn’t matter, alright? But Mom and Dad are going to come in here with some big speech and if they find him here you’re going to be outed.”
Dean glared. “This isn’t a gay thing, Sam!”
Sam glanced to the man in Dean’s bed. He had a rugged, handsome look and Sam couldn’t blame his brother for falling for him. “It doesn’t bother me, Dean. I’m glad you’ve found someone who makes you happy. But if you want Cas to stay secret, he needs to go right now.”
“He can’t just up and fly away,” Dean said. “He’s hurt.”
Sam noticed the bandages for the first time. “How-?”
“Doesn’t matter. Point is, he ain’t going nowhere fast.”
“Dean,” the man spoke up. His voice was deep and gravelly. “I do not want to cause you trouble with your family.”
“I know. I don’t want that either. But-”
“I am healing.”
“Not fast enough. I shouldn’t have forced you to bring us back here; it made you worse. If you try to leave that way while you’re still weak you could end up passed out in a ditch somewhere and I wouldn’t be able to find you. Something else could though, and I can’t let that happen.”
Sam wasn’t sure he understood what they were talking about. “Okay guys, we need an action plan here.”
“I can call Bobby, get him to come pick you up,” Dean suggested.
“Bobby Singer. Another h- uh, mechanic. A friend. He knows Cas, he can help.”
“How fast can he get here?”
“He lives in Sioux Falls so… a few hours, if he floors it.”
“Mom and Dad could be in here any second.”
“Not if I go out there first and stall them.”
“What are you going to say?”
“I don’t know. That I’m gay, I guess.” Dean’s laugh was high-pitched and bordering on hysterical.
The man’s brow furrowed. “Dean?”
“I don’t know man, alright? I’ve never really thought about it, but yeah, maybe…? Oh god, don’t tell me your father is gonna smite me for this.”
“He is a God of love, no matter its form,” Cas said.
“Well, that’s a relief. My dad might not be that cool about it, though…”
Sam struggled to keep up. They weren’t making any sense. “Dean, if you’re not ready to tell them-”
“There might not even be anything to tell!” He raked his fingers through his hair. “Shit, this whole thing is a mess.”
“I’m sorry, Dean-” Cas tried.
“No! Don’t you do that. After everything you’ve done for me, after everything we’ve been through together- I’m glad you came to me for help, Cas.”
“But what it could cost you…”
“I don’t care. You’re more important.”
The look that passed between them was filled with emotion and unspoken words; Sam had never seen his brother look at anyone that way.
“Wow,” Sam breathed. “You really do love him.”
Dean blinked and shot Sam a withering glare. “Shut up. Cas, we need to get you up and back in your clothes. Sam, give us a hand.”
They manoeuvred Cas upright and helped him slide gingerly off the bed. Standing was harder; he wobbled and Dean caught him.
“Dammit, Cas, he really did a number on you.”
It looked like it was all Cas could do to stay conscious.
Dean was exceedingly gentle as he helped Cas into a suit jacket and trench coat. “Sorry about your shirt, man. I think I damaged it beyond repair when I ripped it off-”
Dean and Sam spun around. They hadn’t noticed their father come in.
The expression on his face was thunderous.