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Lady Macbeth

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Out, damned spot!” Mr. Lennox recites sharply and slaps his palm down on Dean’s desk. If he’s hoping to make Dean jump, he can suck it. Friggin’ amateur. “What is Lady Macbeth trying to tell us here, Dean?”

Dean barely refrains from rolling his eyes. It’s kinda stupid, how Mr. Lennox insists characters in a centuries-old book wanna tell him anything. If they did, he’d have salted and burned the damn thing before Mr. Lennox could say Christo.

“Umm,” he says, feeling weirdly self-conscious. He’s done his homework for once. It’s easier when he can just shrug and say, No clue, and mean it.

Ever since they left Bobby’s, Dad’s been on their asses ‘bout stupid stuff like table manners and doing well in school. Remember, boys, he likes to say over dinner with a hearty grimace, this is just temporary.

Yeah, right, Sam scoffs in answer every time and scowls at his plate. He’s recently discovered sarcasm and he’s being a little bitch about it.

Dean always responds by kicking Sam’s shin under the table and pretends part of him doesn’t hope they never find the thing that killed Mom. Thinking about regular life, constantly having to deal with the Mr. Lennoxes of this world gives him the jeebies.

His seatmate Dylan nudges their ankles together with an encouraging smile. It’s nothing like Dad’s hearty grimaces, nothing like the warning kicks Dean gives Sam under the table.

“Umm,” Dean repeats. Blinks. The book ain’t so bad, really. There’s skeevy witches and talk of revenge. Lots of gibberish. Kinda like Bobby’s dusty old lorebooks. “There’s blood on her hands…”

“Really?” Mr. Lennox sneers at him, like he can see the dirt of back alley scuffles clinging to Dean, and proceeds to lecture him about madness and metaphors. Like just ‘cause the doctor and the chick watching Lady Macbeth can’t see the blood, it really ain’t there. Probably he’d call Dean’s mom burning on the ceiling a metaphor too.

“Don’t mind him, he’s a dick,” Dylan whispers to him when Mr. Lennox turns away. He bumps their ankles together again, twists his foot around Dean’s. It feels different from sparring sessions with Sam, from the chaos of limbs in the backseat of the impala whenever Dean hooks up with one of the waitresses at the diner across from their motel. Strong hard muscle, like you’d expect from the school’s leading quarterback. Summer hot skin. A tickle of hair. It feels…nice-ish.

“You wanna hang out a bit?” Dylan asks him after their classes. His cheeks are flushed and he’s smiling, slow and hopeful.

No one’s ever looked at Dean like that. Not since Sammy decided he was old enough to cross the street without holding Dean’s hand. Dean has no idea what Dylan sees when he looks at him. Whatever it is, Dean’s pretty sure it ain’t actually there. Probably the one thing he and Mr. Douchebag Lennox would agree on.

“I gotta take my brother back home,” he says, ‘cause what else is there to say.

“I could give you a ride?” Dylan offers, undeterred, and Dean is too surprised to protest.

Sam scowls at Dylan when they meet up with him, and answers Dean’s questions about his day in scathing monosyllables. It’s like he found a book about sullen emo teenagers at the library and learnt it by heart. And of course, like everything Sam sets his Einstein mind on, it’s a straight A performance.

The ride back to their motel is awkward as fuck, Sam’s disapproving silence breathing into his neck. It’s a relief when they arrive at the motel.

Without a backward glance, Sam heads to their room.

Dean shuffles from one foot to the other and bites his lip. If he’s honest, he’s a bit hurt.

“Sorry.” He shrugs helplessly at Dylan.

The bright afternoon sun illuminates Dylan’s fresh, clean face. He’s smiling again. Dean’s not used to people around him smiling so much.

They chat about movies, laugh, and he struggles for something real to say. He’s not good with words. He knows how to interview witnesses, how to flirt with waitresses or how to talk Dad down when he’s had too much to drink, but that’s it.

He used to be able to talk to Sammy, before Flagstaff. But he’s not thinking about that now.

Dylan’s smile fades like a ghost dissolving into fire and nothingness. He keeps glancing at the door Sam vanished into. Expecting Dean to ask him inside. But Dean can’t do that. Won’t do that. Doesn’t want to share this with Sam and Dad, like he already has everything else.

Sure, they could go back to Dylan’s place. Drive around. Have ice cream. But he’s not gonna leave Sammy alone with Dad.

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then?” Dylan says with only a tight shadow of his previous smile.

Damn, can’t he just clock Dean one and be done with it?

“Wait!” Dean calls out before he can stop himself and grabs the other boy’s wrist. “Listen, I…”

He swallows, mouth dry. He can feel Dylan’s pulse race under his fingers. His own pulse picks up, and for once it’s not ‘cause he’s waiting for something to go bump in the night.

Dylan smells of soap.

“Dean!” Dad’s voice bellows across the parking lot. “You’re not getting out of cleaning your room. Stop dawdling, or it’s ten extra laps tonight.”

Dean pulls away at once.

“What—?” Dylan asks, but Dean just shakes his head. “Never mind.”

He doesn’t look back.

Over dinner Dad announces that they’re leaving in the morning. He’s in a great mood, humming under his breath and teasing Dean about the girls at the diner. Dean’s expecting Sam to throw a hissy fit, but his little brother seems positively gleeful at the news.

“Told you Uncle Bobby’s lecture would wear off soon,” he tells Dean as he’s packing his dufflebag. He sounds triumphant, like being right in his anger at Dad is more important than anything else, even his own wishes and desires.

Dean feels tears prickle behind his eyes. He wants to hit Sam or maybe hug him, until all the fucked-up trickery of their lives falls away and his genuine dimpled smiles surface again.

He rolls up one of his shirts and says nothing.

Sam cocks his head to the side and regards him thoughtfully. It’s the first time in weeks he’s looked properly at Dean.

“What’s up with you?” he asks. “Moping that you have to say bye to your friend?” Sam’s voice is lathered with scorn. Even a deaf man would hear the air quotes.

“Course not, squirt,” Dean replies automatically and rolls up another shirt.

“Good, ‘cause he’s just a lame-ass jock with a peanut-sized brain.”

Dean wants to protest, but there’s no way he’s gonna tell his snotty little brother, I like how he looks at me.

“And you smile too much when you’re around him,” Sam adds, “it’s downright creepy.”

Later that night, long after he’d thought Sam had fallen asleep, his little brother’s voice travels across the dark void between their beds. “Dean, you don’t actually want any friends. You said so, right?”

He sounds so young, then. Like any other scared thirteen-year-old.

“I don’t,” Dean says. Dylan’s not a friend, not really. They barely know each other. He’s just someone Dean kinda wants to say goodbye to. He’s never had the urge before. Not that it matters. Knowing Dad, there won’t be any time for goodbyes come morning.

Sam doesn’t say anything else. But his breaths even out soon after.

Dean stares up at the somber ceiling and thinks of bloody hands and things he can’t have. Maybe he should burn the damn book after all. Just in case.