"No matter what, you can't tell Dad, Sammy." Dean Winchester said solemnly as he very carefully trimmed his younger brother's nails with the sharpest knife he'd been able to find.
His twelve year old brother looked up at him with wide, frightened eyes. Eyes that now held just a hint more gold then they had a week ago, when he'd first gotten sick. A fever, accompanied by chills and a full body ache. Dean had recognized the symptoms and had fervently thanked a God that he didn’t really believe in that this had happened while dad was gone and not due back for another week.
"Dean? What's going on? Am- am I turning into a monster?" He asked fearfully, voice dropping to the barest whisper at the last word. A fine tremble started to shake through his body.
"No!" Dean snapped out, setting the knife down so he could hug Sam. The younger boy let out a startled 'oof!' but didn't fight the embrace like he normally would.
"No, Sammy. You're NOT turning into a monster, I promise. You're- I-" He hesitated, chewing on his lip and trying to think how to explain. After a minute he release Sam and tugged the second chair over so he could sit down and face his brother while he explained. " Do you remember when we stayed at Bobby's that time when you were nine, and I got sick?"
Sam nodded hesitantly, then his eyes widened. "You mean-"
Dean nodded shortly. "Yeah, I mean, not the same. No claws or super senses." He paused and fiddled with the edge of the thin leather glove he wore on his right hand. "I, ah, see and hear stuff when I touch things. Stuff about the people who owned it, or little things about the person who touched it before me. I looked it up. 'S called Psychometry. Usually it's just the little stuff, like knowing that the person who touched the doorknob before me was mad about something, or," He quirked his lips in a grin, "finding out that the guy who checked us a couple days ago has a seriously HOT girlfriend." His grin widened when Sam groaned and rolled his eyes. He toned his grin back down and continued. "But sometimes it's bigger things, especially if someone owned it for a long time, or if it's really old. And I can't always pull out of what I'm seeing, so that's why I wear the gloves. I'm getting better at blocking all the little things, but the big things still knock me on my ass sometimes, so, gloves." He held his hands out and flexed his fingers.
He didn't mention that school work suddenly went from hard and boring to easy and boring that year, too. It wasn't that he suddenly had a photographic memory or whatever, it was just EASIER to learn stuff, and once he learned it, it stuck, no matter what it was.
"You've heard mutants mentioned on TV sometimes, right? That’s what we are. Still human, just- extra."
Sam was quiet for a long moment, looking down at his hands. The right had neatly trimmed nails, if just a touch thicker than was normal. And now that they were short you couldn't tell how much harder, tougher, they had become, either. The left hand though... Each nail came to a point, curving down just a bit at the tips. They were sharp, too. As evidenced by the ten neat punctures he'd accidentally made in the motel sheets.
He flexed his fingers. "Dad thinks mutants are monsters. I've heard him."
"Yeah, well, Dad's WRONG." Dean bit out, picking up the knife again and taking Sam's left hand in his and starting on those nails.
Sam stared at Dean, wide-eyed. Dean caught the look and rolled his eyes. "Well, he IS. This time. About this."
He hesitated, then added. "Bobby says so. Showed me a bunch of papers and articles and stuff that proves mutants are just special humans."
Sam's jaw dropped. "Bobby knows? And he hasn't told dad?"
Dean snorted inelegantly. "Course he knows. That first week I could barely touch anything without zoning out, an' Bobby's not stupid. He knows what Dad thinks about mutants so he's not gonna tell."
"Oh." Sam said softly. He watched his brother carefully cut his nails, his claws, down to a normal human shape. Once he was done he set the knife down and tilted the lampshade up so light shone in Sam's face. Hissing at the brightness he screwed his eyes shut and ducked his head down. "Don't be a baby! I need to see how much your eyes changed, Lion-o." Dean said pulling Sam's chin back up. "Need to see if I’ll need to get you contacts from somewhere. And if your eyes reflect light like a cat's, we're screwed."
Grimacing, Sam did as he was asked, opening his eyes to the bright light. Dean leaned close and scrutinized his baby brother's eyes intently. They were more golden then they had been, but not by much. And Sam was still young enough his eye color could still shift a little. Hopefully, if Dad even noticed, he'd buy it if Dean acted like they'd been like that a while now.
After a minute he let go of Sam.
"Looks like we got lucky, kid. If Dad says anything, just act like they've always been like that." Dean ordered flipping the light shade back down. "How badly did the light hurt? It'll cause problems if you're REALLY light sensitive... And how's your hearing? Nose acting up?"
Sam looked around the low lit room and turned towards the curtained window. "The light wasn't so bad once I got used to it. A lot brighter then I'm used to, but I'll be fine. But I can hear the two guys talking across the parking lot, Dean. It's like they're right outside the door! And the traffic is so loud. And the smells. Ugh." He slumped down and scrunched his face up in disgust. "I can smell the dumpsters like they're in the room." His voice had taken a distinctly whinny tone. "And I'm pretty sure the people three doors down are having sex."
Dean was less then sympathetic. "Suck it up, bitch. You have no freakin' idea how many freaky things I had to experience before I got a better grasp of my crappy power. Not enough brain bleach in the world for all that crap, Sammy. You're gonna just have to learn to tune out the bad stuff. And make sure you don't growl, or hiss, or do that purring thing around Dad."
"Easy for you to say, you jerk." Sam said, a smile hovering at the corners of his mouth.
"Trust me Sammy, it could have been worse. You and me, we can hide ourselves. No one'll be able to tell. There are others like us that end up with freaky skin colors, or gills, or four eyes. Or even weirder shit." Dean said flatly, recalling some of the horror stories he'd heard.
He'd kind of gone on an insanely obsessive researching binge after his own powers had activated. The death rate (the murder rate) for newly awakened mutants was one in three. If you survived that awesome little statistic, your life expectancy took another sharp nosedive if your mutation was something visible.
Sam was quiet for a long while before he finally spoke in a soft plaintive voice. "I wish we didn't have to hide."
Dean just sighed. "Me too, Sammy. Me too."