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In Abeyance

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Dean heaved a sigh as he pulled into the driveway of their new house. He wasn’t sure exactly how to feel about his life changing so rapidly in the past few weeks, and he was sure things would continue to be rocky for awhile. Moving states to live with a younger brother you didn’t know you had kind of did that.

“Stop dawdling and get those boxes!” John yelled from the open front door.

“Yeah, dad,” Dean called back, circling around to the trunk. He popped it open and pulled the first box out, heading up to the house.

It was weird for him to be seeing the house for the first time on the day they were moving in, but his dad hadn’t really cared for his or Sam’s opinion on the matter. It wasn’t like they were having their comfortable lives in Kansas totally upended all of a sudden or anything. Or at least John hadn’t seen it that way. He had a habit of not noticing the effects his actions had on anyone else around him.

Really, Dean felt worse for Sam than he did for himself. For Dean, the move meant a new start that he was taking advantage of. In a few weeks he’d start as a freshman in college, something he never would have thought he’d be doing before. Sioux Falls was a big change, but it was also a big opportunity, so in the end it really evened out.

For Sam, though, starting anew wasn’t going to be so easy or so simple. He’d be starting his senior year of high school in a few weeks, and anyone who’d ever moved during high school knew that was pretty much the worst time to do it. All the friends and connections had to be reforged in an unfamiliar place during the most stressful year of schooling. Not exactly a fun thing for anyone, even someone as smart and friendly as Sam.

When he finally made it inside, the living room was a whirlwind of action. Frankly, it was a mess. There were boxes everywhere, most closed, but some were opened with their contents spilling out onto the floor and the furniture. Apparently no one had bothered to make sure the boxes were in the correct room, just stacked them in the closest available space on their way in.

“Hey, Sammy,” Dean called, looking around. His brother’s head popped out from where Dean assumed the kitchen was, grimacing a little at the nickname, and Dean gestured at the mess. “Can you start moving stuff into the right rooms? I’m gonna get the rest of the boxes from the car.”

“Sure,” Sam replied. “Did you pick a room yet?”

Dean shook his head. “You and Adam pick your rooms. Just put me wherever is left.”

“If you say so…” Sam said, already drifting toward the hallway that led to the bedrooms. “But don’t blame me when you get the room from hell or whatever.”

Privately, Dean wasn’t totally sure that wouldn’t describe any of the rooms since they hadn’t gotten to look at the house before moving in. John tended toward the painfully practical with no thought for anything else. Dean was actually pretty surprised John had managed to get a house that came with furniture; he’d thought they’d all end up sleeping on the floor until they could go shopping.

He brought the boxes in as quickly as he could, interested in seeing the rest of the house. John continued to gripe at him to work harder every time they crossed paths with the boxes, John from his beat up pickup truck and Dean from the Impala. Between the two vehicles, there were quite a lot of boxes, though beforehand Dean wouldn’t have said they had a lot of stuff. John tended to look down on collecting more than the bare necessities and living in motels for so many years made having much pretty difficult as well.

***

They ate dinner at the dining room table, and Dean thought it might have been the first time he’d done that at his own home. Motel rooms didn’t tend to having dining rooms, and at the last house John hadn’t thought it was necessary. It was kind of nice to feel like the house was a real home and that they were a real family. If he could only ignore the fighting.

Dinner was Chinese food from a nearby takeout joint and John had severely underestimated how much the four of them could eat. It might have been enough when it was just the three of them, but Adam was a growing teenager and Sam and Dean weren’t exactly lightweights either. It didn’t take long before they were fighting over who got to eat the last egg roll or why one of the cartons only had onions picked from all the other cartons.

John was drinking a beer with dinner, at least his third one since they’d finished moving the boxes in. He was starting to get grumpy, snapping at Sam for dropping rice on the table or at Adam for picking at the vegetables in the lo mein instead of eating them. That only made Adam, who hadn’t been exactly happy in the first place, even more sullen.

Honestly, Dean couldn’t blame Adam for being in a bad mood. He was having a hard enough time adjusting to having another brother and moving states, he couldn’t imagine what Adam was feeling with his mom dying, finding out he had two brothers, and moving houses. Dean figured he could give the kid some leeway, knowing all that.

“And Dean, you’ll pick your brothers up from school,” John said, taking another gulp of beer before burping and leaning back in his chair.

Dean’s head jerked up, eyes going wide. “What?” he asked, feeling suddenly on the spot. “No, I can’t, I have class then.”

“You think class is more important than your younger brothers?” John asked, eyes narrowing. “I thought I taught you better than that. Your brothers are your responsibility, you damn better pick them up from school if I say so.”

“Right,” Dean replied, gritting his teeth. He wanted so badly to argue, but he knew it wouldn’t do any good. Besides, he did want to do right by his brothers, and if that meant he had to drop down to part time at school so he could pick them up every day, then so be it.

“You can’t make Dean drop his class!” Sam said, glaring at John. Dean tried to motion for Sam to shut his mouth, but was of course ignored. “Why can’t you pick us up? Or we could take the bus. Dean’s starting college, he should be able to take the classes he signed up for even if you wanna be an ass about it.”

“Watch your mouth,” John snapped, hands slamming on the table hard enough for one of the empty cartons to tip over. Adam flinched at that, eyes darting around like he wasn’t really sure what was going on. He’d never seen the way Sam and John fought, so it was probably a little overwhelming. “He’ll drop his class so he can pick you up and that’s the end of it. I have work and I can’t be carting your ungrateful ass around.”

Sam snorted. “Work, right,” he said, the sarcasm almost palpable. “Is that what you call laying around and getting drunk?”

“I’m warning you…” John said, starting to rise from his seat.

Dean could see that the argument, fairly normal for back home, was becoming too much for Adam. He’d never been around this kind of thing with just his mom, and he obviously didn’t know how to deal with it. Which meant it was Dean’s responsibility to get Adam out of there before things really blew up. Thankfully, John was too drunk and angry to focus on anything but Sam, and he didn’t notice when Dean quietly stood up and moved over to Adam’s side of the table.

“Hey,” Dean said softly, keeping an eye on the still ongoing argument. “How about we go watch tv or play a game or something?”

For a moment, Dean thought Adam might argue just for the sake of arguing. He wasn’t used to having older brothers, and he’d made no secret of the fact that he didn’t like how his life had changed with their inclusion. But by some miracle he just nodded, standing just as quietly, and followed Dean into the living room.

Dean turned the tv on, glad John had at least got the cable hooked up before they moved in. The argument in the dining room started to rise in pitch, so he upped the volume just enough to drown it out. It wouldn’t make either of them forget that it was going on, but at least they wouldn’t be able to hear it. That was better than nothing.

“So,” Dean asked, settling onto the couch at the opposite end from Adam, who had curled in on himself, eyes glued to the tv, “what do you want to watch?”

***

It took several days for most of the boxes to get moved out of the living room and for the house actually start to look like a house instead of just a whirlwind. Of course being the living space of two teenage boys, a college guy, and a father who couldn’t care less, nothing could really be called clean or even really put away. Boxes sat in rooms half opened because they only bothered to get into them when they needed something specific.

Even more than moving into a new house, it was learning to live with another younger brother that was the major issue. Adam was not happy with their new living situation, something he made sure to make abundantly and loudly clear at every opportunity. Dean tried to be patient with him because he knew how difficult it was to lose a mom and have your world turned upside down, but it was hard.

Eventually Dean decided he just needed to leave the house for awhile. The excuse he used on John, who hadn’t done much other than sit on the couch and watch tv since they moved in, was that he was going to go look for a job. It wasn’t even a lie, he knew they couldn’t rely on a steady stream of income from John, so he needed to get a good job to pay for rent and food and all the things growing teenage boys needed, whatever those were. It wasn’t like he knew.

He headed out into town with only a vague idea of where he was going. He knew somewhere in town was a mechanic shop owned by an old family friend. Sort of. Dean had heard stories of the guy from his mother because he’d been friends with her father, but he’d gotten out of the bounty hunting game before Mary and John met, so Dean hadn’t ever actually met the guy. He could only hope the family connections, tenuous as they were, would be enough for the guy to consider giving him a job.

Thankfully, the shop turned out to not be too hard to find since the line between Ennis and Sioux Falls was pretty vague. It didn’t look too busy either, which Dean was happy about. He wasn’t totally sure what the reaction would be when he showed up and asked for a job, so not having an audience would be a good thing.

As soon as Dean drove up, before he’d even put the car in park, the door to the shop banged open and an old man walked out, shotgun in hand. Well shit.

“Get your ass off my property, John Winchester!” the man shouted, and Dean was pretty sure if he was closer he’d be able to see flames in the guy’s eyes. “I told you to stay the hell away from me!”

Dean stared for a moment, wondering what the hell that was about, before deciding not to just drive away. That was probably the better option with the looming threat of a shotgun blast the chest, but he wasn’t actually John, so he hoped the guy wouldn’t shoot him. If he was a praying man he would have sent up a prayer before turning off the car and stepping out.

“Uh, hey,” Dean said, smiling what he hoped was a charming smile. From the frown on the guy’s face it wasn’t working. “You Bobby Singer?”

“I am,” the guy, Bobby, said grudgingly. “You’re not John Winchester, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t his prissy ass car.”

“Yeah, I’m his son,” Dean said, taking a careful step forward. The shotgun didn’t waver from where it was pointing straight at his chest. “The Impala’s mine now and it’s not prissy, you sonuva bitch.”

For a second, Dean thought he’d gone too far and blew any chance he had of getting a job, but to his surprise Bobby lowered the shotgun and burst into laughter. All Dean could do was stand there, surprised he wasn’t going to be picking pellets out of his chest in the ER.

After that, things went much smoother. Apparently Bobby absolutely despised John, which really wasn’t much of a surprise to Dean, but he was actually a pretty nice, if grumpy, guy. It had been years since Bobby had been in contact with Dean’s family, he hadn’t even heard that Mary had died. Dean caught him up on the broad strokes, avoiding mentioning John as much as possible.

Luck was on Dean’s side because Bobby was in the market for someone to help around the shop and he seemed to like Dean well enough, despite John. Bobby took him on a quick tour of the shop, showing him all the important spaces and telling him what his responsibilities would be. Dean was a little nervous about asking for odd hours and a lot of flexibility since he had school and his brothers to take care of, but Bobby was more than understanding.

“School is important, you hear me, boy?” Bobby said, staring intently at Dean. “And so is family. You always take care of those things first, no matter what. There’ll always be work around here when you have time, but I better not hear ‘bout you cutting class or nothin’.”

Dean nodded, relieved. There was a warm feeling in his chest at hearing Bobby’s words, so much different than what John had said. “Thanks, Bobby,” Dean said, straightening up. He was determined to do his best to keep up with it all, but it was nice to have a new boss that was so accommodating.

“Just work hard,” Bobby said gruffly. “I know you’ve got it in you.”