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Seven Miles to the Ferris Wheel

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The rest of a week was considerably uneventful except for Alastair keeping his word and assigning Dean detention everyday until he agreed to join the team. And as Ash kept reminding him with a sick grin, Alastair’s reasons were more inane by the day.

Wednesday: “Bless you, Mr. Winchester. And do cover your mouth. Detention this afternoon for the spread of germs and risk of contaminating the whole school.”

Thursday: “Detention, Mr. Winchester. Don’t think I didn’t see you chewing gum before coming in. No gum policy, remember? You need to learn to be more respectful of our school and its rules.”

Friday: “Your shoelaces are untied, Mr. Winchester. Detention for endangering yourself and the people around you.”

Dean approached every detention with the same disdain. As they waited for Alastair, he would nod a greeting to Cas who changed from his classy outfits to his preppy little shorts and Under Armour. Castiel explained, “Anna grew angry when she found out I sweated in,” he furrowed his brows in confusion, “Hugo Boss.”

Dean just let out that soft chuckle. He’d come to realize that for a homeschooled rich kid (he always knew Anna’s family was on the higher end of the income scale, but he could just smell the rich coming from Cas’s clothing labels), Castiel truly, honestly, had no idea sometimes. It was quite amusing.

Sadly, after their initial run together, Alastair remarked, “I figure you enjoyed that run with Mr. Shurley so much, it ain’t really a punishment. So instead, go copy this dictionary for me. Try to reach Arkansas before Mr. Shurley is done with his laps, alright?”

Dean flipped through quickly. “That’s forty pages!”

Alastair grinned, “Write fast.”

Dean was on page three before his hand was aching. He threw the pencil down and groaned, “I haven’t written this much since freshman year.”

Alastair looked up from grading papers. “You mean you’re complaining that there is no Spark Notes for copying the dictionary? What a shame.”  

“My little brother is studying to be a lawyer. He’s going to find precedent detailing that this is some form of medieval torture and sue you.”

Dean’s idle threat didn’t faze Alastair. On the contrary, his eyes lit up. “Ah, Sam Winchester. I saw your little brother today in the hallway. He’s grown out a bit. More than a bit.” He curled his lips into a nasty smile. “Talk to your brother for me, will you? I want him.”

“Mr. Alastair, how inappropriate!” Dean raised his voice in horror, “Sam’s only fifteen!”

Both of them heard the slightest uncomfortable shifting from the door, and turned to see Cas, with his face flushed and hair soaked with sweat. “Mr. Alastair, I have completed my laps.” And after a pause, “Why does Dean’s little brother’s age matter if you want him?”

There was a momentary silence while Dean and Alastair traded looks of disbelief, and then Alastair informed Dean, “Mr. Shurley won’t be enrolled in Sex Ed until after winter break.”

Hello, everybody! You are listening to the Kripke High Radio and this is Becky Rosen with you all. Now I know you are bemoaning the end of summer, but fear not, because I am here to bring you all much needed gossip. This first week has been tough, but we can always rely on some school hotties to cheer us up! And my oh my, have you guys seen Sam Winchester yet? He has sure grown up over the summer. And from what I can see and hear, there’s a sharp-looking new junior in our midst. Don’t you all pretend you didn’t see him roll up in our beloved Anna Milton’s new Lexus LS Hybrid...

Dean didn’t want to say that his imminent entry to the basketball team was due to Alastair, instead it started with the school announcement informing all seniors of their scheduled meeting with Ms. Atropos, the school guidance counselor.

The first thing she said to Dean as he walked in was, “I know you don’t want to be here. And well, I’m not here to hold your hand and give you tissues as you cry. I am not a guidance counselor even if that’s what it says on my desk. Close the door while you’re at it.”

Dean just closed his mouth of the complaint he had already pre-planned. He also shelved away the whistle he was about to let out. With long blond hair and glasses, she looked quite like the sexy librarian. He never understood this school, for their guidance counselor looked like the librarian, and the librarian dressed like a pastor.

She continued, “I am your career adviser.” Her eyes seemed inflamed. “I am one of the three people in your life that matter at all if you want to control your fate. Do you know who the other two are?”

Dean had heard about her being a little intense, but now she was talking about destiny. “Uh, no? My boss?”

“Wrong! It is your teacher writing your recommendation letter and your SAT exam grader! Understood?”

Dean nodded numbly. He had no idea what she was talking about.

“Now, do you have a teacher in mind? English teachers are preferable but,” she looked up from where she was reading his file, “But I doubt colleges will want to read what your English teacher has to say about you. Or any teacher for that matter,” she finishes dryly.

Dean finally understood what she was getting at. Everyone always went in such a roundabout way to say this. He turned back to face her. “Ms. Atropos. I know I don’t have the best grades, and I know that without it, I can’t get any scholarships, and everybody knows college is expensive.” He leans back against the cushioned chair, which was oddly comforting. “If you want to tell me I’m not fit for college, just go ahead.”

Atropos kept her gaze on him, and her fierce look seemed to soften. “You do want to go to college,” she observed.

Dean shrugged. “Well, if I can afford it, yeah. But I don’t really want to leave Sammy, or this town. I’ve been living here my whole life. But it’s,” he swallowed. “It’s what my dad would want from me.”

Atropos smiled, “Dean, as long as you want to go to college, I will do everything in my favor to get you there.” She shook her head slightly, “There are so many kids that just give up, I was hoping you’d prove me wrong. Listen, your brother Sam? You might not know this, but Sam’s been in my office more than you have, and he’s only a sophomore. Sam knows what he wants, and he’s not going to wait. He’s not going to want to hold you back either. He can take care of himself, and I think he’s just waiting for you to let him grow up by himself.”

Dean froze in his seat. Sam had spoken to her before? About college?

“As for the others, your grades could be better, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You wrote that you’re employed at the Singer Salvage Yard on the questionnaire,” she paused when Dean’s face soured. “No, no! It’s a good thing. College’s like to know that you’re not wasting your time...” she trailed off, “What is it that you actually do there? It’s relevant.”

“It’s also an auto shop. I’m a mechanic, help fix up the cars.”

Atropos raised a fine eyebrow. “Well, Mr. Singer should change the name of his place because auto shop sounds better than junkyard. But really? Mechanic? Impressive,” she purred, with a look of glee on her face. “This we can work with.”

“What do you mean? Unless the Dean of the College needs a touch up on his car--”  

“Mechanic means you actually have skill, Dean.” She rolled her eyes. “Wait, don’t be insulted.”

Now Dean rolled his eyes. “Not at all,” he remarked sarcastically.

“Let’s see here. Wow, you actually have some high praise from your physics teacher, too bad you never handed in your final project, lack of effort see? But here we go,” Atropos leaned forward in her seat, “What do you think of mechanical engineering?”

Dean blinked. “Wow, that sounds rich. Where can I get started?”

Atropos grinned, “Advanced Placement Calculus. AB. You’re probably not ready for BC,” she ignored Dean’s hey!. “Luckily for you it’s only been a week since school started so we can probably squeeze you into the class. Pamela Barnes, she’s a great teacher. She’ll go easy on you. Probably.”

Dean’s face fell.

Atropos held up one finger. “No complaints. Mechanic job is great, but colleges will also want to see you have participation in school activities.” To give her credit, she kept a straight face as she let out her next few words, “How about you join a club? Say, the basketball team?”

Week 2 was too soon to start experimenting with cafeteria mysterious meat, and it was Dean’s turn to bring lunch, which meant no takeout from The Roadhouse because Sam had the ability to set fire to water. For all their practice with knives, Sam only has to approach anything edible with the intent to cook to render it completely inedible.

So yes, Sammy did look forward to Dean’s chicken salad croissants.

And then imagine his outrage when instead of the succulent sandwiches, Dean pulled out a slice of cherry pie. Sam had a double-take. “Dude.” And it was Sammy’s dude that held incredulous disbelief yet extreme disapproval at the same time. It was a look that could not be replicated by another.

Dean grinned, “Yeah, sorry Sammy. Finished the chicken last night. Got us the next best thing!”

Sammy groused, “Your best thing.” He eyed the rest of the lunch bag suspiciously and Dean chuckled.

“Alright you got me,” he confessed, and pulled out a sandwich. “Pie’s for me, PB&J for you.”

Sam peered down at the offending item before him. It was seriously mocking him with its white bread and grape jelly. “Wow Dean, really? You could have made me a peanut butter banana sandwich at least.”

Simultaneously Ash (their lunch guest for the day) and Dean pulled up faces of pure disgust. Dean scoffed, “Ew no. That’s sick.” But when Sam’s glare didn’t relent, “Alright, alright Sammy. Put away that pout.” He dug into the bag and pulled out a sandwich, this one distinctly without jelly. “PB&J’s for me. Here’s your banana. Finish it quick before we all throw up.”

Andy showed up as Sam was finishing his lunch. “Hey, Sam. What were you talking to the teacher about after class?” He turned to the others, “Hey Dean. Er, Ash right?”

“Hey Andy,” Dean greeted, just as Ash held up his Juicy Juice to toast the sophomore.

“Listen, Sam. Do you think that pop quiz will be a large part of our grade? Because I was totally not ready for it, and I know she really likes you. Did she mention anything about that?”

Sam put up an easing hand, “Calm down, Andy. Ms. Barnes was just asking me if I had time to help tutor a student for extra credit.” At Andy’s panicked face, he quickly said, “Not you! An upperclassman. She said he needed some help brushing up with the fundamentals.”

Andy looked so relieved, his shoulders sagged. Dean chuckled, “Speaking of Ms. Pamela Barnes, Sammy. Spoke with Ms. Atropos today. Look at me, newest addition in AP Calculus.” He turned to Ash, “How’d your meeting go with guidance?”

Ash sighed, “Wants me to stop cutting classes, stop hacking into the school computers--which is hard you know? It’s just so easy. And they should thank me! I’m helping them expose the system’s weaknesses. But yeah, same old same old.”

“You didn’t get the college spiel?” Dean watched Sam from the corner of his eye, but Sam had no reaction.

“Man, who doesn’t get the college talk? Pain in the ass, I tell you.”

Dean leaned in on the table like he was disclosing a secret. “So did you know there is this exam we have to take? The SAT? Ms. Atropos says I should aim for at least 1800 out of 2400. You taking that soon too?”

Ash leaned against the tree and shut his eyes. “Nah, took that back in freshman year just to see how I’d do. Got 2400, so the school said I didn’t have to take it again.” Since his eyes were closed, he failed to see the gobsmacked looks on the Winchester brothers’ faces. “You got any idea where you’re going?”

Dean shrugged, “Anywhere that’ll take me I guess. Not like Sammy here who's got his future all planned out.” He sent a playful nudge towards Sam. “You know where you want to go?”

Ash sighed. “MIT. They accepted me since I hacked into NASA back in sophomore year, but I told them I wanted to go to after-prom first, so they’re saving a spot for me this year. MIT sounds like a real hassle, but least I don’t have to worry about sending scores and shit. Heard it’s a real pain in the ass.”

And Sam, with all his law school goals and backup plans, was horrified by the air of nonchalance this table was emitting.

With Sam in the library tutoring and Ash promising he’ll drive Sam to The Roadhouse after his Dungeons and Dragons Club meeting (he was co-president with Charlie Bradbury), Dean drove off to Bobby’s, all the while contemplating how to break out the news to him.

He walked into the auto shop and whistled. “This is a Mercedes Benz SL65 AMG!” He touched it gleefully. “Bobby, who brought this in?”

Bobby, forever in his flannel and the blue and white cap Sam gave to him a few Christmases back, grunted from where he was bent over under the hood of another, less glamorous car. “My neighbor down the road brought it in. Came back this weekend and said he wanted some touch-ups.” Bobby pulled away and wiped his hands down the front of his pants. “Well, think you’re up for it?”

“You kidding me, Bobby?” Dean’s face was incredulous, but his hands were itching.

“Yes,” Bobby replied sarcastically and rolled his eyes. “Get to work!”

Dean rubbed his hands together, “Your neighbor? You mean the one who owns the giant-ass mansion down the street? The house that’s about two times bigger than all other the houses on this road?”

“Yeah, that one.”

Dean snorted, “They would own this car.”

They tinkered and tattered in silence for a bit with a song about cigarette butts and back rooms in bars playing from the radio until Bobby spoke up, “What do you have to say to me, Dean?”

Dean stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“Kid, I’ve practically raised you and Sam, you don’t think I can tell when something is up?” He heaved himself from the floor and walked over to Dean. “You gonna talk to me?”

Dean rubbed a hand over his face. “I had a talk with my guidance counselor today. She said that if I wanted colleges to take me seriously, I’ll need to participate in some school activities. And the coach of the basketball team has been hounding me--”

Bobby cut him off. “You’re telling me you might need to take a break from working here?” His face was nondescript.  

Dean felt his heart clench. Out of everybody in the world, there were few he cared about, and Bobby was one of them. He could never forgive himself if he disappointed Bobby. “I’m sorry Bobby,” he blurted. “I’ll forget about all this, and I’ll tell the coach no--”

“What?” Bobby thundered. “What are you babbling about, you idiot!”

Dean pulled out of his reverie. “What?”

“Of course I want you to join, you idjit!” Bobby huffed. “Look, I like you working for me and all, but I don’t expect you to work here forever! You really think I can’t take care of this place by myself?”

“I just--”

“Dean. Just shut up okay? I’ve taught you everything I could, so it’s time you move on. Remember when I finally took you on as my apprentice and you said you’d listen to everything I said?” Dean nodded. “Well now I’m saying you better get your ass on that team!”

Dean ducked his head and whispered, “Thanks Bobby.”

Bobby sighed, took two steps, and pulled Dean into a manly hug, “You idjit.” He knuckled him on the head and said gruffly, “I expect tickets for you first game.”

Dean walked into the school, spotted Alastair, and stopped him in his warpath to send Dean to detention hell. “Hold it, Mr. Alastair. The answer’s yes, so stop hounding me alright?”

Alastair looked surprised, but then grinned and rubbed his hands together. “Perfect, knew I’d break you soon enough.”

Dean was unimpressed. “You know if I record what you say and take it out of context, you are the very embodiment of sexual harassment?”

Alastair’s face twitched. “Watch it, Winchester or I’ll drag your ass up and down the courts till you're so sore you can’t sit down without wincing in pain.” Right before he left he called out, “First practice is tomorrow afternoon in the gym.”

Sam walked up to Dean from where he was hiding behind the fountain. “I think Mr. Alastair begins and ends with innuendoes. Think he saw me?”

“Let’s hope not,” Dean grumbled. “He better keep his hands to himself at any rate.”

Sam laughed until they reached their lockers. “So you talked to Bobby? He’s okay with you not working?”

“Yeah, encouraged me to join actually. Says I’ll finally be sweating around boys instead of metal, whatever that means.” Dean contemplated the pros and cons of bringing his notebook to class. On one hand, it’d look like he was taking notes, on the other, he would have to carry it.

“Hey Dean,” Sam stayed focused on arranging things in his locker, but that was how Dean knew it was serious. Sam only couldn’t look him in the eye when he was about to bring up something that was important. “Since you won’t be working at Bobby’s as often, are we going to have money troubles? Should we tell dad?”

“No!” Dean said a bit too quickly. “I mean, don’t worry. We have enough saved up, and if anything, I guess that just means giving my baby a few less waxes in the shop, you know?” He tried to play it off with a joke, but Sam knew him too well. And because of that, Sam knew not to push.

“If you say so,” Sam paused. “I was asking because the guy I was supposed to tutor? He has a conflict in his schedule so he can’t meet me after school. Asked if it was possible that I tutor him on the weekends and he was going to pay me for it. Do you think I should take it?”

Dean doubted the kid could pay much, but every little bit couldn’t hurt. “Yeah, sure why not? Didn’t you say you get extra credit out of this too?”

Sam nodded. “Alright, I’ll go tell him after school then.”

Right as they closed their lockers, Tessa walked up to him in a hurried manner. “Hey guys, do you know if Gordon’s been skulking around here?”

Dean’s face darkened. “Has Gordon been messing with you again?” Gordon Walker was the school bully who relied on his place on the basketball team and bigger stature to antagonize the younger students. Tessa had been one of his favorite targets until Dean stepped in. Although Gordon graduated last year to the relief of the students and several teachers, his lackluster grades couldn’t even land him in community college, and he was still seen around town doing odd jobs. Dean would never put it past Gordon to come back to his old haunt for another taste of power.

Tessa shook her head furiously and her brown hair whipped around her face. “No, no. I’ve just been hearing some rumors, that’s all. Some kid looked like he might’ve gotten roughed up.”

Dean narrowed his eyes, and Sam put a placating hand on his chest quickly. “Don’t worry about it Tessa, we’ll keep an eye out for Gordon.” He furrowed his brows. “Last time I saw Gordon, he was a cashier at the grocery store. But if we see him near here, we’ll knock him down another few pegs.” He smiled, and Tessa looked visibly more relaxed.

“Thanks guys! And congrats on joining the team, Dean!” She said as she walked off.

Dean sputtered, “That was like, five minutes ago! How’d you know?”

Tessa laughed, “Mr. Alastair was singing about it down the halls. I’m pretty sure the whole school knows by now.”

There was definitely less activity in the gym than Dean expected. The team was spread out across the bleachers, everyone on their phone or chatting with their friend. A sack of basketballs was on the floor, and Dean noted that not a single ball had been touched yet. Well, who knew, maybe he would fit in.

“Dean!” A deep voice called out and Dean turned to see Victor Hendrickson walking up towards him. He had been in Dean’s chemistry class sophomore year and was a total dick until the accident in lab, and there was nothing that truly brought two men together better than mutually seared eyebrows.

“Victor, I didn’t know you are on the team.” Dean accepted Victor’s one-armed embraced and thumped him on the back. He hadn’t really seen him since school broke out for the summer.

“Nobody does,” Victor said dryly. “Believe it or not, our team isn’t that well known.”

Dean snorted, “Tell me about it.”

“And that’s about to change,” A female voice spoke up. A shrill whistle was blown right by Dean’s ear, and Dean leapt up from the bleachers to whirl around and see the face of the ever youthful, playful, and blond Jo Harvelle.

“What the hell, Jo!” Dean yelled, pressing a hand to his ear that was still ringing.

She smiled sweetly, “That was for not tipping me last time at The Roadhouse.” She clapped her hands together, “Hey team! Gather round!” There were slighted groans but the team surprisingly listened and dragged their feet over to the young sophomore even though the team was predominantly juniors and seniors. “Hey guys, so you might know me but if you don’t, I’m Jo Harvelle and I’m your new team manager.”

A blond-haired junior wolf-whistled and leered at her. “So you’re gonna take care of us, Jo?”

Dean had watched over Jo for almost as long as he watched over Sammy because they practically lived in Harvelle’s Roadhouse after his mom died until Dean was tall enough to reach the stove without needing a stool. So he saw her as his own sister, and if he was going to let some dick harass her--Dean started to get up, but Victor grabbed his arm.

“Wait,” he said, gesturing towards Jo.

She just smiled sweetly. “Yes, of course. Coach Alastair was so kind to give me the authority to help you guys train. So,” she blew her whistle hard and most of the boys flinched. “All of you, up! I want five laps around this gym! And you, blondie,” She narrowed her eyes towards him. “Ten laps.”

None of them made the effort to move, but then Alastair’s voice boomed from the gym entrance. “Why aren’t you dumbasses moving? Didn’t you hear Jo tell you what to do?” He strode to them with cruelty and joy written on his face. “And Jeffrey, talk to the manager like that again, and let me tell you, it’ll be more than ten laps.” Alastair pressed his face close to the blond ‘Jeffrey’. “I’ll personally drag your ass to hell, and you’ll enjoy it!” Alastair pulled back to look at the stunned faces of the team. “Well? Get moving!”

The smarter students started sprinting away, but one of them complained, “But Coach, we haven’t stretched yet.”

Jo blew her whistle. “When I’m training you, you address me! And well, I guess you should have stretched before instead of playing on your phone. Two more laps!”

The others ran for their lives. They might have thought they were just dealing with one demon here, but it turns out Jo had been possessed too. Dean snorted, he knew better. If this was demonic possession, then Jo had been possessed for a long time.

He started his run, but Alastair grabbed his arm as he passed by. “Winchester, go help Shurley here with his stretches. I ain’t staying after more than I need to, so he’ll be joining us for his gym credit.”

Dean turned to the door, and was surprised that he hadn’t noticed Castiel standing there. Then he did a double-take when he saw what Cas was wearing. His dark jeans were torn at the knee, with mud near the bottom. His white button-up was crinkled beyond recognition, and his tie was hanging loosely from his neck. It looked like someone had grabbed him by the front and beat him around a few times. Besides his unmarked face, his messed up hair and clothes was the clear image of someone who had gotten kicked around in the back alley of the school.

Dean almost immediately presumed Alastair, but then he remembered what Tessa spoke to him about yesterday. “Cas!” He walked up to him and asked softly, “Has Gordon been messing with you?”

Castiel frowned. “Who is Gordon Walker, and why has everyone been asking if he has been harassing me?”

The look of confusion on his face matched the one on Dean’s, so Dean asked slowly, “You mean he hasn’t been hurting you?”

Cas shook his head. “I have no idea why you would presume that.”

Dean sputtered, “Well, your clothes for one thing!” Dean could not be considered an expert in clothing, but he knew there was something drastically different between today and last week.

“Oh.” Cas looked down at himself. “Anna picked out my clothes for the first week. What’s wrong with what I am wearing now?”

Dean just blinked slowly to take this all in. “Wait, so once again. You’re not getting bullied.”

Cas looked him in the eye--actually he’d been looking in his eyes the entirely time, which wasn’t weird at all--and said firmly, “No.”

Dean threw his hands up in the air. “Great,” he said with a sigh of relief.

“Great?” Cas looked confused once again.

“Now we won’t have to set Anna loose on anybody.” Dean looked at Cas again and noticed that he wasn’t carrying anything with him. “You gonna run around in that?”

Cas frowned again, “Why does it matter to everyone so much? It’s just clothes.”

Dean shook his head. He’s not going to try and understand how one sibling could walk down the street and be confused for a runway model whereas the other sibling had difficulty understanding the difference between pants and sweatpants. “Yeah, nevermind then. Let’s go stretch your hamstrings alright?”

Cas nodded and looked to Dean expectantly.

Dean realized Castiel has probably never done partner stretches before. “Okay, so first, lay down on your back with your feet straight. I’m going to pull your leg up and as far back as I can. Just tell me when it’s too much and I’ll hold it in place for about fifteen seconds. Understand?”

“Yes.” Cas lied down on the floor obediently, and Dean reached for Cas’s leg only to realize his hands had strangely become clammy. He wiped them once on his shorts and started to elevate Cas’s leg. When Cas had no reaction to the movement, despite his leg reaching remarkably far back, he paused.

“Uh, feel anything?”

“No,” Cas was staring straight up at Dean who stared back at the blue eyes before averting his gaze to push down further.

“Wow, you’re rather,” Dean swallowed. “Flexible. Even in jeans.”

All potential innuendoes flew out the window because Cas said plainly, “I do yoga with Anna on Sunday mornings.”

Dean swallowed again because suddenly it was too hot in the room. “Yeah?” He let go of Cas’s right leg, and Cas immediately lifted up the left one for him. “You any good?”

“Anna says I am.” Dean was suddenly glad that Cas was wearing jeans because if he wore shorts, he would feel Dean’s rather sweaty palms.

What Dean was about to say next was drowned out by Jo’s shouting from the other side of the gym. Somehow, she had developed the lungs of a microphone. “Hey Dean! When you’re done touching the new kid, want to start doing your laps?”

Dean pulled away almost like he was burned, and Cas got up once his leg was free. “Thanks. I should be able to do the other stretches by myself. Sorry for taking up your time.”

“No, no it’s fine.” At least it was only for today.

“Then,” Cas looked flustered. “Do you think you can help me with stretches tomorrow?”

Well damn. He needed to stop being a nice person.

Hey everybody! This is your beloved Becky again! I’m sure you’ve all heard Mr. Alastair singing it by now, but Dean Winchester has joined our positively dreadful basketball team. Now, he’s not as tall or impressive as younger brother Sam, but could this mean Kripke High has a chance at the championship? I’m leaning on no, but hey team, prove me wrong! On another note, remember the junior I spoke about last time? Ladies, and perhaps even gentlemen from what I can spy with my little eye, will be upset that although his sister will still be glamorously gracing our halls in Juicy Couture, this last week has shown that he has moved past Hugo Boss. I mean, I don’t mind the rumpled unbuttoned look, but damn! Remember that vest? Real glad you’re not getting beat up by Gordon, but hey, bring me more skin or bring me Boss!