Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. Go figure.
Sam age 14
Dean age 18
My older brother Dean has more health problems than anyone I know. He's had pretty much every infection you can think of from pneumonia to tonsillitis, some of them twice over. He was born premature, which I'm told predisposes him to having a weak immune system. That's what I read in my book for health class anyway. Dad says his lungs were underdeveloped which is why he has asthma. Dean's asthma was why Dad was dropping us off at Uncle Bobby's in the first place. Dad was busy hunting, and Dean was busy having one asthma attack after another. He didn't complain much, but I did enough for the both of us. It actually lead to a major drag out fight, causing Dean to literally step in between the two of us, succeeding in only another asthma attack. Truthfully, I think Dad was just tired of shelling out money for my brother's inhaler refills, but regardless, my goal was reached. And that goal was getting my brother out of the dirty, dusty, moldy apartment that were wreaking havoc on his lungs.
I was kind of grateful to know first hand that Bobby's house was nice one. Especially that it was one that came with cleaning products with an identifiable expiration date, and fresh air that pours into the windows. Even though I preferred life a lot better when it was just Dean and me, I was relieved that Bobby would be around to look after us in case my brother needed extra medical attention. My father certainly wasn't going to take care of him. Dean took better care of us, of me, than our father ever did. He made me dinner, took me to school, took care of me when I was sick. He picked on me sure, but he also listened to me. He respected me. Something I could never say for my father. That man just picked on me. He picked on me because I was nothing like him. He picked on Dean too…more so than he did me, but unlike Dean, I didn't bow my head and allow the verbal insults to knock me down. I fought back. Constantly and always. But anyway, Dean took great care of me, but I know it was stressful for him. I loved him more than anyone. However, that didn't stop me from being the typical annoying little brother, who pinned his typical annoying big brother to the ground when he called dibs on the top bunk.
"Ha!" I yelled in victory, "Pinned you!" I was close to passing my brother up in height and far surpassed him in weight since I hit puberty. Okay, weight since I was around ten. Embarrassingly I was a rather chubby kid. But anyway, the first time Dean realized that I could actually pin him, and keep him down he was pissed. He literally mumbled and grumbled around the motel we were staying in for days about how unfair it was. I don't think he spoke more than three words to me for over two weeks.
"Get off of me!" Dean's was was hoarse as from the strain of struggling to get out from underneath me.
"Two things first." I said, grinning down at him, "Say I get the top bunk."
"I don't even care about the stupid top bunk." Dean grumbled, his face twisting into a stubborn scowl, "It's for babies. It's all yours man."
"And two," I said grinning, knowing he'd have a harder time caving over my next demand, "Admit I'm the bigger brother."
"What?" Dean spat, his eyes glowing with anger, and maybe a little embarrassment. "No."
"Then I'm not budging." I said, laughing, feeling a sense of pride that I could pin my older brother by four years down, and hold him down, with ease.
"I'm the big brother." Dean said stubbornly, trying to use his legs to kick me off of him, but it was no use. Finally after several failed attempts Dean let out a frustrated scream, which sent Bobby running into the room. The minute he saw us, he flew at me, grabbing me off of my brother, practically throwing me against the wall.
"What the hell's wrong with you?" He asked, as Dean rolled into a standing position.
"Nothing, Bobby." Dean quickly stepped in between the two of us. "Just fooling around. Listen, can I go into town? No offense, but I was checking out your food supply….it's great and all…but nothing that we actual humans like to eat. You know, like chips and stuff."
"Okay wise ass." Bobby said, reaching in his pocket and tossing Dean the keys, "Go check out the girls. But be back in an hour. I don't want to have to explain to your old man I lost you the first night."
Dean cracked a smirk, winked at me and sauntered out the door. I immediately felt a prang of jealousy. I may be on my way to being bigger and already stronger, but I had to admit, my brother was a one handsome dude. He had that whole bad-boy James Dean thing going for him. I was his brother and I thought he was handsome. I couldn't imagine what people unrelated to him thought.
"So Sam, what was really going on?" Bobby asked motioning for me to follow him out into the kitchen.
"Dean was just trying to act all big and tough." I shrugged, "We were just messing around. I wanted him to admit I was the bigger brother."
"You had to go there, didn't you?" Bobby frowned at me. I frowned back. I was used to butting heads with Dad, but Bobby always seemed pretty cool. He didn't nag Dean or I about training the way Dad did. He didn't make us wake up early and run laps. Especially not in the cold. As much as running in the heat sucked, I hated the cold more. Especially the cold damp weather. This was mainly because I hated watching my brother fight with his lungs and their stubborn refusal to take in air. Running in the damp cold always made Dean wheeze and cough, which in turn made me angry and scared. But this was something I didn't have to worry about at Bobby's, which was a relief because the weather had begun to turn and the mornings were cold. Bobby also didn't get on my case about reading too much, or roll his glare at me when I talked about wanting to go to college. Plus, Dean seemed less tense at Bobby's. He actually acted like his age when we are at Bobby's.
"Sam!" Bobby's voice snapped me out of my thoughts, "What's wrong with you? Did you really have to pick on Dean about his size?"
"What do you mean?" I asked, "I was just messing around. I was joking."
"Joking around with something that's been your brother's sacrifice is kinda messed up."
"My brother's sacrifice?" I asked, feeling completely out of the dark.
"Why do you think Dean's so much smaller than you, Sam?" Bobby asked, frowning slightly. "I mean, he isn't yet, but it's obvious by the way you're growing, he's going to be."
"I just figured I hit the jack-pot on our family genes." I said shrugging, "That and I know he favored mom's side of the family. Plus, wasn't he born premature or something? I know from health class those babies normally are generally smaller the rest of their lives."
"Those all may be true," Bobby leaned forward shaking his head, "But your brother…your brother…he never really got a chance to be a kid. When your momma died, your daddy, well, as you know he went kind of crazy."
"That's an understatement." I interrupted.
"He became obsessed with hunting that demon…" Bobby continued, clearly ignoring me, "Sometimes….well most times to the detriment of you boys. Especially your brother's. He'd leave you for days to weeks on end with little food or money. Eventually, Dean would have to steal or break down and call me depending on your location. He wanted you fed and happy."
"Little food?" I shook my head, "I don't remember that. I mean, I remember not having a lot of money, we still don't… but food…we always ate. I think you're mistaken."
"You always ate. Your brother…He'd never admit it, even at ten…I'm pretty sure that's when things started to get bad with the money…but I'm sure there are more times than not that boy went to bed hungry."
I fell silent, letting Bobby's words soak into my teenage brain. Slowly things started to make sense. Why growing up Dean was barely bigger than I was. Why he was always so thin, why whenever we went swimming in the lake, the few times dad allowed us to have fun, his ribs stuck out whereas mine never did. Maybe his smaller stature had nothing at all to do with him being premature.
"Are you telling me Dean starved for me?" My voice came out in an embarrassed whisper.
"He wanted you to be strong and healthy." Bobby shrugged, "You were always his first priority. Ever since your dad put you in his arms that awful night when you two lost your momma….Dean made you his priority. You were his little brother. His baby really. I guess he knew he would never get the childhood he was supposed to have, so he figured he'd try to give it to you."
Frowning I got up and went over to the wall where Bobby had a few pictures of us as kids. I picked up the one from Christmas. I was about ten holding up a history book of medieval castles Dean had given me (I was particularly interested in them that year). I winced as I examined the photo further. We had our arms around one another, both of us smiling. I swallowed as a wave of guilt passed through me as I noticed Dean's hands were empty. I vaguely remembered the only present he'd gotten that year was something small Bobby had given him, which sadly enough was received the day after Christmas. Dad didn't get either of us gifts that year. I remember running down to the Christmas tree that morning, at the dingy apartment we were staying in, to find no presents under the tree. Being a selfish ten year old, and not fully understanding Dad's lack of income (although I do think I always understood his selfishness) I burst into tears. I closed my eyes, the memory of that morning taking over.
"Whatcha crying for Sammy?" Dean asked, tapping me on the shoulder, causing me to turn around.
"There are no presents." I wailed (God, I was so embarrassing…how Dean didn't slug me then and there I don't know). "Dad forgot us. I told you he doesn't like us."
"Dad's just real busy." Dean said calmly, "But Sammy…look, I gotcha something." The hand that Dean had been holding behind his back appeared and he was holding a small (badly) wrapped present.
Eagerly I took it from his hands and begun ripping off the paper. Inside was a kids Explorer book on medieval castles. I yelped in happiness and hugged my brother tightly.
I smiled faintly at the memory, frowning instantly as I studied to photo in front of me further. I saw two other differences that I never noticed before. The first noted fact being that I was slightly pudgy especially next to Dean's thin frame. Was I seriously that needy and greedy of a kid when it came to eating that I allowed my brother to waste away while I stuffed my face? The second major differences were our smiles. Whereas mine sparkled with the happiness and innocence of childhood; Dean's seemed forced, and tired. Can a smile look tired? Or at least a fourteen year old boy's smile?
"I never knew." I said looking up at Bobby, who was now behind me, with a hand on my shoulder. "I never knew that about my brother."
"There's a lot you don't know." Bobby sighed. "But you have to cut your brother some slack. Lay off him about his size."
"Are you girls done with your slumber party yet?" Dean asked, re-entering the kitchen, handing the car keys to Bobby, and tossing me my favorite bag of chips. I noted he had nothing for himself.
"We were just getting to the point where we were going to paint one another's nails." Bobby replied, nudging me, clearly not wanting Dean to clue in on what we'd been discussing.
"Dad call yet?" Dean asked, grabbing an apple from the basket on the table. He sank down in a chair and begun spinning the apple around from hand to hand, looking up at Bobby unexpectedly.
"No." Bobby frowned, "I'm sorry, son. He didn't. He's probably still on the road."
I frowned as I watched Dean's normally tough exterior crack slightly. I bit my tongue to keep the insults from flying out my mouth at our absentee father. As much as I hated our father for the abnormal lifestyle he forced upon us, I hated him even more for the mental anguish he caused Dean on what seemed to be a daily basis. Their relationship was something I never understood.
When I was younger I was always somewhat envious of their connection. Dad and I butted heads as far back as I could remember. As soon as I was old enough to talk we fought. Over everything. Dean often said we argued just to argue. I'm pretty positive my first sentence was "I'm not listening to you, Dad". I was never one to pretend to be something I wasn't, and the whole macho-hunter burly man thing just wasn't my thing, and I made it be known. However, it didn't stop me from being jealous from time to time. Dad and Dean always seemed to operate as the perfect team.
Lately though…I don't know, I started wondering if there was something off about the whole father-son perfect-team thing. It just seemed like even though Dad and I fought a lot, he was awfully freaking hard on Dean. I mean, from where I was standing Dad blamed him for everything. But the more Dad blamed him, the more and more obedient Dean seemed to be. I don't know if it was a mind-trick on Dad's end, or just Dean's incessant need to make our father proud.
"He'll call." Dean replied, glancing at me, as if he was trying to give me some reassurance.
"He'll call." I said, offering a smile. Then I tossed the bag of chips back at Dean. He looked at me dumbfounded. "Eat up." I said. When he opened his mouth to protest, I knew that the best way to get Dean to eat was to poke slightly at his size, hoping Bobby wouldn't beat me over the head on the spot. "Put some meat on those bones. You have to at least give me a challenge when I'm wrestling my older brother. You're skinny-self makes it far too easy.
With that Dean flashed me an annoyed look, ripped open the bag of chips, and began stuffing them in his mouth.
I glanced over at Bobby, who gave me a solemn nod of approval.
I decided from that moment on, I was going to take as good of care of Dean as he did of me.