Title: Four Times Dean Winchester Set His Brother's Hair on Fire (And One Time That Might Never Happen)
Rating: PG, maybe PG-13 because it's Supernatural, but there's no sex or language and only a little violence. (And it's gen.)
Summary: The first time Dean Winchester set his brother's hair on fire, he was eight and a half and it wasn't really his fault.
A/N: I'm ashamed to say this is unbeta'd. But I totally spelled formaldehyde right.
Four Times Dean Winchester Set His Brother's Hair on Fire (And One Time That Might Never Happen)
The first time Dean Winchester set his brother's hair on fire, he was eight and a half and it wasn't really his fault. Sammy was hungry and he wanted something warm. Dean had planned to heat up the can of baked beans that he'd found in Bobby's stores, but it turned out that Bobby's stove used propane gas instead of an electric circuit and Dean really didn't expect the flare.
By the time Dad and Bobby came home, covered in werewolf blood and grinning, Dean had managed to mop up most of the foam from the fire extinguisher and convince Sammy that cold baked beans were what all the great Hunters ate. But he couldn't really explain why he'd felt the need to give Sammy a buzz cut.
The second time Dean Winchester set his brother's hair on fire, he was twelve and really should have known better. Dad had (reluctantly) left him in charge for the weekend, helping Pastor Jim exorcise a particularly stubborn demon from a little girl about Sammy's age.
Sammy was getting a little pudgy and needed some exercise, so Dean decided to teach him how to salt and burn bodies - Hunter Basics 101, he insisted.
He'd thought a funeral home would be a great place to find bodies but unfortunately, it was also a great place to find formaldehyde.
Dad rubbed a thumb over the place where Sammy's eyebrows would eventually grow back and looked at the front page article from Sunday's newspaper.
"At least no one was hurt," he told Dean seriously, and then added, "Next time, tell Sammy to lean back when he tosses the match, okay?"
The third time Dean Winchester set his brother's hair on fire, he was sixteen and learning to use a flame thrower for the first time.
It wasn't as easy as it looked.
The fourth time Dean Winchester set his brother's hair on fire, he was not quite 22 and Sam completely deserved it.
"I got accepted to Stanford," Sam said as they edged along the aisle beside the pews in a Catholic church whose spirits were far from holy. The only light came from the rows of prayer candles framing the alter.
"So?" Dean said, not really paying attention, because inverted crosses were definitely a bad sign, right?
"I got a full scholarship for my first year, renewable if I keep my grades up."
There was blood in the carpet, a large, sticky circle. "Well, good for you," Dean said, maneuvering the large container of salt out of his jacket pocket with his left hand while thumbing on the flashlight with his right. "That'll look great on your application the next time we need to tend bar for a few nights."
"Don't you get it?" Sam demanded. "I'm going, Dean. I'm leaving this crazy, dangerous, farce of a life and I'm going to Stanford to make something of myself."
"Hey!" Dean snapped, attention finally diverted. "This farce of a life is the card you drew. It's just the way it is, Sammy-boy. Wake up and smell the reality."
"No one has said that in at least ten years, Dean," Sam retorted.
"You are not breaking up this family," Dean said, ignoring Sam's jibe as his slang. "What do you think we're going to do without you?"
"You can do whatever the hell you want," Sam said, "as long as you leave me out of it."
At some fuzzy, indeterminate point after that comment, Dean's hands were fisted in Sam's jacket and they were struggling on the floor, and somewhere in there is when they crashed into the wooden stand holding the candles.
The church didn't burn down at least, and the property damage turned out to be just thorough enough to reveal the unholy grave they had been searching out.
"Do I even want to know?" Dad asked when they were safely back in the Impala, and he made Dean sit in the back with Sam.
Dean kicked Sam in the calf because he knew Sam hadn't told Dad yet.
Sam didn't kick back.
The last time Dean might set his brother's hair on fire, he will be thirty-one and have lived three years longer than he'd bargained for.
"It wasn't supposed to be you," he'll say dully, scratching the match on the outside of the box to light it. "It was supposed to be me."
He'll remember to lean back when he tosses the match.