Title: The Actor In Us All
Disclaimer: Only the Winchesters aren’t mine.
Point of view: third
Notes: part of my Dean canon
Point of view: third
Notes: part of my Dean canon
Heather Salinas loved teaching, always had. She taught her sisters and brothers plays they performed for the neighbors; she taught the neighborhood kids songs they could sing to their parents or friends; she taught herself how to act to keep tears at bay.
She grew from a scrawny little girl to a lithe dancer in the blink of an eye. She had dreams and places to go—a torn tendon in her knee changed all that quite suddenly at practice one day and Heather was kicked to the curb.
She returned home, head low and knee aching while her soul sobbed. Only Penelope still lived in their childhood home: Nick, Brandon, Chris, Monica, and Ann had all left to pursue their own dreams; Heather wished them better luck than she’d had. Penelope stayed for Momma and Daddy.
For three weeks Heather moped around the house, cleaning it, making it shine. “I miss my bright girl,” Daddy said and Heather answered, “I do, too.”
“Do you want a job?” Penelope asked. “There’s an opening at the school where I teach.”
Heather’s soul unfurled its wings a bit. “What type of job?” she replied, trying to keep her hopes down.
“Drama. Nate just moved out of town because of health reasons with no warning, so if a new teacher isn’t found quickly, the kids’ll be the ones who pay.” Penelope grinned and finished, “Don’t you want your life back, Hetty?”
Heather thought long and hard; a week later she turned in her application. And a week after that, she rode to school with her baby sister for the first time in almost a decade.
Heather taught drama with the passion she’d once used for dancing. She made friends with most of the faculty, especially Georgiana Dubois, the art teacher.
The students were drawn in by her enthusiasm, her love for life. Many of them knew she’d been on the fast track to stardom and they loved to hear about the dreams she used to have.
Years passed swiftly, none ever the same. Some teachers, she knew, grew bored with the monotony, the same thing each year.
Heather loved it. New kids, new dreams, new ways to touch them. She aged gracefully, from a twenty-five year old teacher to thirty-six year old teacher—and then he came.
Him. The boy with the most talent she’d ever seen in one body.
Three days into the school year, he slouched into her classroom, wearing a beat-up old coat and a don’t mess with me expression. She’d seen his kind a thousand times before—or so she thought.
She called roll and his name never appeared. “And you are?” she asked, not snotty just curious.
“Dean,” he answered, voice hoarse. He also had fading bruises on his face.
“You’re not on my list, Dean,” she said, flipping through the two pages.
She glanced up in time to see his expression changed completely, from bad boy to earnest student. “The office promised me it’d come, Ms. Salinas.” Heather wanted to role her eyes; Prince Charming at work, people, she thought, and knew half the class had already fallen in love with him.
“You’ll need to go back to the office, Dean, and get a note,” she told him, standing and walking around her desk to hop on it.
He nodded and stood slowly. He walked from the corner into the light streaming through the window. He looked up at her through his bangs and smiled; if she hadn’t been already sitting, she’d have collapsed.
Heather had never before lain eyes on perfection, and she hoped his soul was as ugly as his face was beautiful, so that she’d be able to dislike him.
For some reason, she doubted it.
The next day, he slouched in again. He stood by her desk waiting for acknowledgment. Finally she looked up and asked, “Yes?”
He smiled and placed a note in front of her. “This is my third hour, Ms. Salinas,” he drawled, hazel eyes laughing. Up close, the bruises looked a hundred times worse and if she hadn’t been an actor herself, she wouldn’t have seen the shadows in the back of his eyes.
She read the note and nodded. “Pick a seat, Mr. Winchester,” she said, finally learning his last name.
“Yes, ma’am,” he murmured and headed to the seat he’d had yesterday.
“Wait, Mr. Winchester,” she called and he paused, glancing over his shoulder. “Kayla,” Heather said, “take that seat.”
Kayla stood, grabbing her stuff, and passed him; Heather hadn’t noticed how large he was until five foot nothing Kayla stood next to him. “Take Kayla’s desk, Mr. Winchester,” Heather finished, and he did.
For the rest of the month, he only attended ten days of school. He only spoke when spoken to. He didn’t demand attention like most boys who looked even remotely like him, which surprised her.
She wanted to talk with his other teachers, see if he was the same for them. She wanted to talk with his parents, who he never mentioned at all, to anyone, from what she could tell. She wanted to sit down and talk—really talk—with him, ask about the bruises and the shadows in his eyes. Ask about the mask he pulled on every day.
Heather heard from George about Sam, Dean’s younger brother.
“He’s a kind soul,” serene George drawled, flipping through a magazine during their usual lunch in Heather’s room. “Eager to please, talented—quite the actor, though, Hetty.” She glanced up at Heather, eyes solemn. “Sound familiar?”
“What should we do?” Heather asked.
George looked back down at her magazine and said softly, “Nothing we can do. No proof and neither of them’ll say anything, ever.”
The bell rang and the year continued.
In December Dean missed a full two weeks in a row. Sam showed up, though, with a broken arm and haunted green eyes.
“Car accident,” he said, “In the mountains.”
He stopped by Heather’s room during her off-hour and stood by her desk silently waiting for acknowledgment.
She looked up and met his gaze. “Yes, Mr. Winchester?”
He looked away and said, “Ms. Salinas, Dean wanted me to tell you he’s really sorry for missin’ your class. He was lookin’ forward to the play.”
She chuckled. “Was he now?”
Sam smiled. “Yes’m, he was.”
Heather stared up at him and studied his features. He really looked nothing like his brother at all, except for the shadows—knowledge? pain? fear?—shielded by smiles in the back of his fathomless gaze.
Maybe I should have been a poet, ‘stead of a dancer, she commented to herself, watching Sam shuffle nervously. “Well,” she began after an uncomfortable moment, “you’ve delivered your message, Sam. Don’t you have a class to get to?”
“Yes’m,” he nodded and smiled his everything’s fine, just don’t look too close smile, the one she’d perfected before he’d even been born. Sam shuffled out and she called to his back, “You thought about tryin’ out?”
His laughter hung around her long after he faded from sight.
Yes, she decided, resuming her grading, ya’ll are brothers, alright.
Dean came back with more shadows and an easier smile. Heather watched him like a hawk, gleaning tidbits from other teachers, students, and Dean himself.
She knew for a fact that sometimes he let something slip on purpose. She understood—he had few, if any, equals in the school and fun sometimes had to be made.
In January play practice started. Sam had tried out and made it; Dean showed up every now and then to watch. Heather let him; none of the cast or crew said anything it, though no one else was allowed.
Something about Dean whispered of danger, sometimes. Heather’d heard that Dean’s second week of school involved making a bully cry. Witnesses—all three of them—said Daniel Michelin—a large, solid football player, the leader of the students—had cornered Dean with two of his large, solid friends.
Names had been called and challenges thrown. Daniel and his thugs clearly expected Dean to back down, fall to the bottom of the social ladder.
Boy looks like that, Heather had thought upon learning of the incident, who can blame them worrying about their positions?
One of the witnesses, a freshman named Holly, had said, “He just smiled. He laughed. He didn’t move, didn’t blink—just laughed in their faces!”
Daniel, of course, didn’t take too kindly to that and reached out to shove Dean. Dean caught his hand before it ever entered his space and growled, low and soft, “Don’t touch me, Dan.” The smile had dropped from his face and a cold, deadly serious look replaced it. He released Daniel’s hand, eyes completely—
“Empty,” Will, one of Daniel’s back-up, said later. “They were—man, I’ve never felt so—scared. Totally scared of what he was gonna do.”
Daniel didn’t back down, though. He reached out again and Dean let him grab his shoulder, face and eyes still empty. Daniel tried to shove him, but Dean didn’t move. Will and Mick shared a glance, Holly told the principle. “They both looked… uncertain? Like they didn’t want to be involved anymore.”
And then Dean’s face thawed into a smirk. In a blur of motion, he shoved Daniel away, into the lockers across the hall. “Self-defense,” he said, mocking. “C’mon, Dan—let me defend myself some more.”
Something old, dangerous, peered out from behind his eyes and Mick slowly backed away, then hurried down the hall. He didn’t look back.
Dean’s smirk widened and he glanced at Will, who also turned tail and ran. “Daniel isn’t worth taking on Winchester,” he explained, “and everyone who saw him will agree.”
Holly backed away, almost to the corner; Greg, a junior, chose that moment to leave; and Jack, another senior, stepped closer.
Dean glanced his way once and Jack froze. “I felt… the fear an antelope feels before it sees the lion,” Jack said, struggling for words. “I couldn’t—I left.”
Only Holly saw what happened next. She refused to speak of it. All the administration learned was that Daniel had a fractured wrist and didn’t look at Dean for the rest of the year.
Daniel left the office sobbing and kept his eyes averted from a somber Dean on his way out.
James Friedman, the English IV teacher, was the only one Dean ever came close to opening up to. George came in second place; art and writing were both very personal, and could shed a lot of light on a person. And while George shared his drawings, James never shared his papers.
All of his teachers watched him, wondering if they should intervene. He wouldn’t accept the help, wouldn’t aid them in putting whoever hurt him behind bars, and Sam would follow his lead.
And then with two weeks left till graduation Dean quit coming to school. And Sam, too. Both gone, lost somewhere in the shuffle, and Heather contemplated hunting their daddy down and ripping him a new one.
But there was too much to do. Students to be taught and tests to grade and parents to take care of. Penelope had finally moved out, married, had a life of her own—and Momma and Daddy were suddenly so old.
Heather now knew how parents felt, blinking and their kids were grown.