Every Hero Has an Origin Story

Better This Way

MARCH 1992

Better This Way

Sam knew about the Supernatural, now.

Last Christmas, Dean had finally caved, and told Sam what their father really did for all those weeks. Why they really moved around from month to month. What had really happened to their mom.

He hadn't wanted to, and he still wished he didn't, but now it was out in the open. Sammy no longer had that ignorant innocence. He knew.

They were in the Impala, driving back to their motel after a hunt. They had taken a couple days off of school so they could accompany John in hunting a skinwalker in Two Lakes State Park. John left them near the beach so he could find it in the woods.

Unfortunately, the skinwalker had taken the form of a park ranger, and went looking for the boys. He pulled up in his car, lights flashing. He told the boys they couldn't be here, but he could take them somewhere safe until their dad returned.

They had almost gone with him, too.

If John hadn't been able to track it back to the beach...

John took care of the skinwalker, and threw them back in the car. He was completely silent, and hadn't said a word for almost two hours now.

Even Sam knew better than to say something. John was pissed, and scared for his boys. Sam had scooted closer and closer to Dean, until he could lay his head against his shoulder comfortably. Dean let him, and wrapped his arm around Sam.

Dean knew it had been stupid to listen to the park ranger, but he didn't know what else to do. He couldn't exactly say no to him! He had on the uniform and everything. He would have just arrested them, or something, and John still would have been mad.

When John pulled the Impala into the motel parking lot, Dean knew the grace period was over.

As soon as they were all inside, John started yelling. "You boys know better than that! I told you we were going after a skinwalker! You know they can change what they look like! They could be anyone! Have I not taught to well enough to not go off with strangers?"

Dean look down and stared at his shoes, not saying anything. Sam, on the other hand...

"But, Dad, he was a ranger! What else were we s'pposed to do?" He argued. Dean wondered sometimes if John was glad Sam knew about hunting. Sure, he could be helpful with researching, and eventually even hunting itself. But for now, all Sam really did was argue and complain about it. He questioned things that Dean never even thought of before.

"That don't matter, boy! He wasn't really a ranger! He was a monster! And he almost got to you two!" John's voice cracked during the last part, and he had to look away for a second to compose himself. Dean knew that he was scared. That's why he acted the way he did. He was just as scared as Dean was. When John spoke again, he was looking directly at Dean. "Dean, you especially should know better. You're supposed to protect him! You're supposed to watch out for him! You would think after last time you would have learned your lesson!"

Dean flinched at his fathers words. "I know, sir... I'm sorry, Dad. I just..." His voice was small and pathetic, and he knew it.

John leaned down, grabbing Dean by his shirt collar, and pulling him closer. "You just what? Just going to get you and your brother killed? Is that it?" John was in his face now, and Dean tried to pull away and put some distance between them, but he couldn't.

"No! Of course not, sir. I... I won't let it happen again!" Dean prayed that his father would let him go, and just drop it for now. Sam was standing just a foot away, and he could feel him staring at him.

"No, you won't." John glared at him for only a few more seconds and then dropped him. Dean realized he had been standing on his toes when he dropped the few inches back to the ground. He chanced a sideways glace at Sam, who was staring at him wide-eyed. Sammy, always with the staring. John took a few steps back, now addressing both boys, again. "I don't even know what your punishment will be, but I'll let you know when I get back." He said, grabbing his keys and wallet from the table. "Neither one of you leaves this room for anything, got it?"

John left, slamming the door behind him as he did. He didn't say where he was running off too, but Dean knew it was the bar. He had a rough day, and he had gone to drink it away.

That left Dean and Sam, standing in the middle of the room, silent.

Eventually, Sam spoke up. "Dean?"

"Yeah, Sammy?"

"Are you okay?"

"Of course I am, Sammy. Come on, let's get you something to eat." Dean turned to really look at Sam for the first time since they came home. He was standing still, his hands at his sides, looking up at Dean with big, sad eyes. Sam allowed him to lead him to the table, and for that Dean was grateful. "What do you want? Mac and cheese? I think we have some..." Dean shuffled through the cabinets until he found a box.

Mac and cheese was Sam's favorite at the moment. He was constantly changing what he liked and disliked, so it was hard to keep up. But hey, what kid doesn't like mac and cheese?

Sam sat patiently at the table while Dean cooked. He would have offered his help, but he knew he wasn't allowed to touch the stove, so he sat and waited instead. Dean worked silently, stirring the noodles in the pot. He knew Sam was waiting for something... waiting to say something. He knew that look. He was upset, and he wasn't afraid to say it. He was different from Dean like that. He didn't keep anything in. He said how he felt. Dean was glad about that.

"Hey, you want to mix in the cheese?" Dean offered as he drained the pot. Sam's face brightened at that, and he nodded, running over to help.

Dean watched as Sam squeezed the packet of cheese into the pot, and stirred it with the spoon. He was almost done when he stopped, suddenly, and turned to Dean. "Dean, I'm okay."

"What?"

"I'm okay. I'm not hurt or anything."

"Yeah, I know, kiddo."

"Yeah, but... what Dad said..."

Dean sighed, extending his arms to Sam, who graciously accepted his hug. "Don't worry about what Dad said, Sam. He was just worried about you, that's all. He just wants to make sure nothing bad happens to you, just like me."

"I know. But I'm worried about you... You go hunting just like Dad! What if you get hurt?" Sam's eyes were filled with tears now, and he reminded Dean of Sammy when he was just a baby, crying over everything. But back then, it was much easier to fix.

"Dad will be there, Sammy. Don't worry about me. Worry about you. Now, come on. Finish up this mac and cheese."

That night, Dean made sure Sam was in bed and asleep long before John got back. Sam had already heard him yell once, and it obviously upset him. Now John would be drunk, and much, much worse.

So he put Sam to bed, and tried to fall asleep on the couch. All the while he was thinking to himself, it was better this way.

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