Pairings/Characters: Sam/Dean, John Winchester, original characters
Word Count: 5364
Summary: a 1920s AU *very* loosely based on the film, Public Enemy.
Notes/Warnings: abuse, dub-con, harsh images, morally challenged Sam, troubled Dean. There are hints of abuse, physical and sexual, but nothing terribly graphic. The rating is for the overall fic—it varies according to update. The fic features the boys at a very young age.
This here is a failed Big Bang. (i have a few) I had issues with this fic, and wasn't sure where to go with it. But inspiration struck and I've decided to break this thing into sections. Each section I think works as a complete story. At least I think so. *g* Many thanks go to rednihilist, twinsarein, locknkey and tabaqui. I don't know if you ladies remember this, but ya'll were generous with advice and encouragement.
"Brother—there's a rat under the bed!" The bed's metal springs creaked and rang as the small body, that had been keeping the boy somewhat warm, shifted.
"No there ain't, you're just trying ta get another bed-time story. Go ta sleep, I tell ya. If he comes home and you're still awake, we'll both be in trouble." The boy pulled the blanket up over his head, but the younger boy wouldn't be silenced. He grabbed the blanket and yanked and yanked until the other boy sat up straight, hair sticking up like an unruly haystack. That boy, the older boy, planted his hand against the small cheek blotched red with fury, and pushed—knocked the younger boy to his back, who howled at the injustice of it.
"But I'm tellin' the truth! There is one! A big son-ofa-bitch too!"
"What the hell have I told ya about cussin'," the older brother said, without a bit of irony in his voice, and ignoring the shriek of outrage. He was almost ready to smack the other boy again, but the sight of him, rubbing his burning cheek, eyes large and dark with tears of rage and betrayal, cooled his own anger. "All right! Lemme check. See there's no--holy smokes! That ain't a rat; it's a g-damn pony! Gimme---"
The boy fished under his pillow and pulled out the knife he kept there all the time, since that one night the man, their father, thought the boy's baby brother might be just the thing to whale on. The rat streaked across the room—the boy took in a quick breath of air and held it--flicked his wrist and the rat was pinned, squealing, to the base board. A sharp grin of satisfaction whipped over his face. "See? You ain't got nothing to worry about as long as I'm with you."
"I know," the younger brother said smugly. "Are you going to take it out now?"
"Saa—am," the boy pulled multiple syllables out of the short name, trying to make his distress plain and maybe play on his little brother's sympathies. "It's the g-damn middle-a winter! It's colder than a cooper's brass balls out there!"
It was a useless ploy on the boy's part. Sam was used to his brother doing whatever he wanted—to head off the waterworks, he always said. Sam squished his face up, made his eyes water and waited, having no doubt his brother would do just what he wanted, and sure enough, the boy rolled his eyes and slid out of bed. He began cursing the moment his feet hit the bare wood planks that made up their floor. The boy yanked the knife out of the wood and smirked as the impaled rat kicked a few times. He rolled his eyes at his baby brother's startled gasp. "It's just kicking the bucket, see. It's dead all right; its legs just don’t know it yet. I'm gonna toss this in the dust bin, and you—go to sleep."
By the time the boy made it down the dimly lit stairs to throw the rat into the cans where no doubt something would pull it out and devour it before day break, and walked back up the stairs and climbed into the narrow bed, the other boy was sound asleep. But, as soon as the boy climbed into bed, Sam snorted softly in his sleep and turned into his chest like a sunflower to the sun. He wrapped his little body around the boy's. Sam was warm for all that he was skinny and tiny as a minute, but the boy appreciated what he was trying to do—give him his heat.
Sam snuffled, and surprised the boy by speaking; he'd thought he was sound asleep. Sam snuffled into his neck, "You're a good brother, Dean."
The boy blushed a little, pleased at his brother's words, but he responded the way he always did, in an effort not to spoil his brother. He frowned and bumped his elbow gently against his brother. "Yaaaa, clam up and get some shut-eye, Sammy, y'hear?"
Sam chuckled sleepily into the back of his neck. "Best brother in the whole world, Dean."
"Yeah, well…go on now, sleep tight, okay?" But Sam was already sleeping, and the boy Dean settled down to listen for their father and to keep watch over Sam.
Morning came, but it was the clop-clop of horse's hooves, and the shout of the rag-man that woke them, not sunlight pouring into the windows--here, in the heart of the bowery, sunlight didn't have the nerve to come in. The older boy slipped out of the bed, quiet as a mouse, careful not to wake his brother. He watched him sleep for a bit, and smiled--a rare, real smile. It transformed his face, from pinched and angry to sweet, almost angelic.
He padded barefoot into the kitchen, cringing against the icy linoleum. He broke the ice on the water in the wash bowl, and wondered if their father had brought wood for the stove home…he shrugged. He'd check in a bit. If there was wood, he'd make oatmeal. If not, he would figure out how to get something for Sammy to eat. Maybe the man had forgotten his promise to take care of them but Dean had never forgotten the promise he had made. "Take care of your brother." That's what he aimed to do—no matter what.
The man was sitting at the kitchen table; him and a few of his cronies were drinking, smoking foul, cheap cigars. The air in the tiny kitchen was practically blue with it. They split a bucket of beer between them, one that Dean had fetched earlier from Mike's place and a bottle of cheap whiskey. They laughed, and shouted at each other as they slapped cards onto the table. The old table rocked with the movement and legs on the table and the chairs creaked from being abused. Dean listened and frowned, thinking of Sammy trying to sleep…it always sounded like a full-fledged fight going on when the men gathered together.
There was a particularly loud burst of laughter, and, "Ah, Winchester," one of the men spat. "You're full of it, ye did no such thing—"
The table dropped into silence, and the man—John Winchester—narrowed his eyes at the one careless enough to speak out of turn. The light bulb over the table made his squinted eyes a solid black. "Are ye questioning me, then, Matty? Think I'm lying when I'm telling ya I walked right into Assasi's den and put down his right hand man?" he asked the now sweating man in soft, gentle tone, his deep voice rumbling with the words, like thunder coming from far away. Dean nearly rose from his hiding spot in the shadows outside the kitchen door. He tensed all over at the sound of the man's voice—it was one he recognized as danger coming.
In the too bright kitchen, silence grew until it blanketed all sound everywhere…or seemed to. Certainly most of them had heard the story--certainly at differing times, there were more bullets, or more smoke, or more blood, but the facts remained. The Italian, Mr. Assasi had caused the death of John Winchester's treasured Mary, and for that he'd declared war, dragging Big Moe's gang into it, that John had gone without the permission of his boss, and really had walked into Assasi's house and killed his lieutenant. He'd have done more but Big Moe Kennedy had called him back, not wanting the bloodshed to spread, not at that time, so sure, he'd punished him—had to….
John Winchester drank himself nearly stupid most nights, locked down in the back of the back, gone to begging for pennies most days—but when Big Moe called on him to apply his expertise, he was swift and merciless, and his oldest son watched and took notes, the way he was watching now as the man John stood over Matty Green and no one at the table made a move to stop John, probably none of them could. He swept a bottle up faster than the eye could follow and before Green registered anything he was on his back on the floor, blood spraying. The move had been so sudden and so bloodily aggressive; it was over before it started. "No one doubts my word," was all the man said before sitting again, and yelling for his son to bring him another bottle, and a few of the fellows there dragged a senseless Green out into the hall.
Dean added another lesson to his personal gospel: move fast, move hard and put your opposition down without a word. He smiled a small private smile. Every lesson he learned was another way to keep the world from hurting his little brother.
"I wanna go to Boggy's with you!" Sam swung the belt holding his books together, stopping every few steps to pull his socks up. Dean counted the seconds between hops, one-two-three, stop and yank up a sock, one-two-three, stop and yank up a sock…he snorted and knuckled the back of Sam's head.
"Nope, Squirt, yer goin' to school if I gotta knock you out and tie you up and drop you there."
Sam ran a few feet out of arm's reach before turning and sticking his tongue out. "Won't learn nuttin' if I'm out cold."
"*Nothing*," Dean corrected with a slap to the back of Sam's head when he made the mistake of dancing back in reach. "Speak proper. And shut up about going with me. How many times I gotta tell you no, hunh?"
Sam walked ahead of Dean, bumping his books against the street and rubbing his head. "I *hate* you," he muttered. Dean took a step that trembled just a bit before he sauntered on, cocky as a rooster, past his brother.
"Yeah, well that don't matter see? I don't need for ya ta love me," he grinned. "I need ya to be safe, and smart. I don’t give a shit about anything else."
Sam stopped dead in the middle of the street, making a taxi veer around him, the driver shrieking curses at him. His eyes went wide, darker than their usual mix of green and grey. "You don’t care if I love you?" Tears filled his baby eyes, and his lip trembled. "But you have to!"
Dean reached out and grabbed his collar, yanked him the rest of the way across the street dodging through the crowd. "Don’t be stupid—'course I love ya! You're my brother right? Have to, don't I?"
Sam took in a tremulous breath of relief. "Yeah, that's right—brothers are supposed to love each other." His relief was so obvious it made Dean laugh out loud.
"Okay, okay." He graced Sam with a quick, one-armed hug. "Now get in there and don't come out 'til you're smarter than me."
Sam grinned a wicked slice of a grin. "Don’t even need to go inside then," he giggled.
Dean cuffed him, and pushed him towards the school doors. "Then get in there and don't come back until you're smarter than Dad," and Sam's giggle died, his face locked down.
"Come get me after," he ordered, and walked away without a second glance.
"Wheeeeeo,' Dean whistled. Sam had a bit of a ways to go before he became a man, but you couldn't tell it by the way he acted…Sammy was going to be one tough old bone to gnaw, that much was certain.
He turned and squared his shoulders. He had business of his own now—dinner wasn't going to magically appear in the middle of the table, he thought, and ran off down the avenue.
John Winchester was in a mood, that was certain. He stomped around the apartment, yelling into the shadows, cursing men not there, crying out for a woman who'd never be there again. He trailed the smell of whiskey and beer, unwashed skin and despair. He raged, crying out for Assasi's blood, damning Big Moe to hell, wishing himself dead....
Dean had Sammy shoved under the bed with orders not to move, not to speak—not to even breathe too loud. Sammy rolled under the bed, eyes blazing, small mouth set in a harsh, way too grown line, but he obeyed Dean. On this, in matters of his protection, he always obeyed Dean without question. Dean glanced under the bed and even in the dark under it he could see Sammy mouth, 'I hate him.'
Dean's heart seized a bit. Sammy didn't know any father but that raging drunk tearing apart what little they had, thumping down the short hallway and staggering against their door. Sammy didn't know the man who'd showed Dean how to make paper boats from newspaper, the man who'd held Dean's hand, taken the trolley together to the Park, bought him dogs and clams, back before he took to drinking up the money….
"Boys. Open this door! Open this fucking door or I'll kick it in, ye hear? God damn bastards…fuckin' useless lumps, treatin' me like shit. I'm the boss here, ya got it?" Slam—the sound of a boot smashing something. The wall, a door…"Me. I'm the boss, not some snot-nosed…I oughta…Dean. Dee-aan. I'm sorry. M'sorrysorrysorry…" the voice dwindled down but Dean waited for the thump of his body hitting the floor. Waited a bit until silence filled the place, eventually a stuttering, gasping snore rang out and Dean knew it was safe again.
"Okay, Sam. Can come out now, but maybe…maybe you should go up on the roof, just for a bit, hunh?"
Sam eased out from under their bed; his little frame stiff with anger and fear. "One day, I'm gonna be big too, and he won't do this to us. I'll make *him* scared." His eyes were black with anger and defiance and Dean pulled him in. Kissed the top of his head, and crushed him into his chest.
"You go up on the roof, okay? I'll be there after I put him to bed."
Outside the room, an empty bottle lay on the floor; John was curled around a viscous puddle of vomit, cheek pressed into the mess and the floor wet under his hips. Dean made a face. The man was disgusting but he was his father and family was everything. That's what people said. A man took care of family, best he could. Dean took the knife out of the man's hand, flipped the blade home into its mother of pearl handle, tucked it into his own pocket. John had carved circles into the door frame, eyes into the door, had written snatches of latin, 'Ave Maria, gratia plena', in his own blood over them….
Dean dragged his father to his feet, and into his bedroom. Tumbled him into his bed as he heard the slam of the front door. Sammy leaving. It made Dean tremble inside. This unhappiness crawled into all their hearts, infected them with its blackness, the bleak heavy hold twisting down into all their souls. The death of his mother had been the death of family. This little boy tried his best to hold it back, to hold what was left of them together.
He pulled off John's boots, pulled off his soiled clothes and wiped him down with a wet face cloth. He grimaced and worked at him, rinsing the cloth in the wash basin and washing the night away from his father. He wrapped him up in the blanket, and shut the bedroom door behind him and drew what felt like his first real breath that evening.
The roof was quiet, empty with the chill of the air. Sammy sat in corner near the wall, a blanket wrapped a few times around him and sorrow radiating from him. "He hates us, Dean. We didn't even do anything and he hates us"
Den lowered himself on the cold gravel next to Sam and pulled a corner of the blanket around him. "He doesn't. He's just. He's lost, Sam and he can't find his way home."
Sam looked puzzled and said, "But. He's here. This is home, how can he be lost?"
"He's. He just is, okay? And we have to look out for him—"
"No, no *no*. You look out for me. You're supposed to take care of me. He said so." Sam turned so his back was on Dean, and Dean just sighed, a deep, long exhalation of frustration, laced with fondness. His brother was a handful….
"Sammy, don't you ever doubt that you're the most important thing in the world to me…" he plucked the tip of Sam's ear and shoved him with his shoulder, "and stop making me say it, cripes, yer worse'n a little girl with it."
He dug his fingers into Sam's ribs until his brother was torn between giggling and squawking with outrage—"you're a girl! I'm not a girl!" Laughing or not, he wouldn't turn around, and Dean knew he was not completely forgiven, but Sam was generous enough to lean back against him, and Dean was pretty sure he'd breathed out a tiny, contented, sigh.
"You cold, Squirt?"
Sam turned, tucked his head up under Dean's chin and pulled the blanket tighter around the both of them. "Nah, not now," Sam sighed, and pushed ice-cold hands up under Dean's sweater. He shivered hard and lay his hands on his shirt, where Sam's were pressed against his skin, and tried to rub some warmth into them.
Dean was in the basement of Bill Boggs's place, a kind of combination social club, pool hall and fence. He'd been sent down to get clean bottles, now he and a few other boys were stealing sips of beer out of the trays set under the barrel spigots. They dipped in their cups and snickered and gulped the almost flat, warm beer and agreed still and all, it was a pretty fine thing to have. It almost filled his belly--
"Dean Winchester—you get up here now, boy," a thin voice called, words cracking at the end of the shout. Dean took the steps two at a time, racking his brain—was he in trouble?
Bill Boggs was standing in the back room, between the pool tables. He jerked his head towards a black door, marked 'private'. Dean followed into the room, a sort of combination bedroom/kitchen/office. Boggs' space. The thin, sharp-faced man dropped twitchy hands onto Dean's shoulders, an over-done look of sorrow on his face. "Dean, my boy, my good boy," Bill Boggs whined. He pulled him into a hug. "My dear, you're going to have to be extra brave…."
Dean tried to pull out of the man's embrace. It was uncomfortable and the heat of the scrawny, boney body pushing up against him made his stomach feel a little squirmy. "Geez, Boggy, get offa me. What're ya goin' on about—" and his heart seized up, ice flooded his veins "—somethin' happen to Sammy? What the—get off! Tell me!" He twisted hard and slipped out of the unwelcome grip.
"It's your dad. The cops took him away; they're sayin' he's not coming back. He killed one of them, your old man. You know what that means. Curtains…"
"They're saying, they're saying--*who's* saying?" Dean shouted, knowing exactly what Boggy meant. Dad was going to the big house, sure—and on the heels of that thought, it sank in, how much hot water him and Sam were in. What was he going to do without his dad? What was he supposed to do? He was just a kid—how was he supposed to take care of Sammy without their dad?
He burst out of Boggy's and into the street, dashed in and out between the carts and stands lining the street, darting through alley ways, ran and ran until his lungs fluttered and burned. He had to get to Sam, quick.
They sat on their bed, the two of them wrapped together, like they did in times of stress, in the old blanket Mary had made for Dean, once upon a better time ago.
"Don’t make no sense, that was a punk move, killing a flatfoot. Dad…he's not stupid. Why would he do that?" Dean worried the thought over and over in his head—it didn't add up.
Sammy spared no thought for it. Angry as usual, feeling betrayed by their dad, he cried," I don’t care. He's gone so what are we going to do?" Sammy's cheeks were pale, streaked with the salt trails of dried tears. "I'm really scared, Dean. What are we going to do? Can we stay here?"
Dean bit his lip and shook his head." Paid up to the enda the month, so more'n' likely we'll have to beat feet then, Sam." He knew that meant little—there was a possibility, in fact, an almost certain probability, that the landlord would toss the boys as soon as he heard. Dean looked around their space and contemplated what they'd need, what they could take with them. Their father was in prison and might as well be locked away in some fairy-tale castle for all the good or protection he could give them now. The boy held out some little hope that a friend or acquaintance of his dad would give them a hand but the reality was, they were on their own. Alone.
He was pulled out of thoughts again by a tugging on his sleeve. "Dean?"
"Don’t you worry, Sammy, long as you're with me, nothin' bad will happen to you. Believe that."
A few days later, he came home with Sam from school, and found their belongings on the street—though by the time the brothers made it home, it had been picked through and there was nothing useful left…even the old blanket was gone.
Sam cried. "He's gonna be mad his stuff is gone." It hit Sam then "—*my* stuff is gone! You said nothin' bad would happen! Now we got nothin' at all," he wailed and hit Dean in the chest with all his strength.
"Okay, okay—I'll fix it all right? Just—stop." He rubbed the spot that ached all out of proportion to the little fist that'd hit there. The pain went deep, and didn't stop hurting and it took all Dean's will to keep his own tears inside. "I know a place. It ain't great, but it'll be better than the street. Come on."
They stood in front of the beat up old keyhole desk in Bogg's private room back at the social club. Sam stood behind Dean, blocked from sight by his brother's body. Bill Boggs looked them up and down. It was dark in the little room, the gas jets were unlit but in the far corner, Dean could make out a dresser, and a bed nearly hidden behind a curtain. He shifted and the new angle let him see the bed, he could make out someone lying in the bed…a boy a little above his age, twisted up in the sheets and sound asleep.
Boggy made a great show of thinking…."A place to stay, hmm? Well, I might be able to help you there. I've got a room or two to let. Truth is, if you don’t keep under cover, Children's Aid will snatch you up…maybe split you up," and seemed to cover a smile at the shocked bleat of horror from behind Dean. His face was full of sympathy, but he kept his eyes from Dean's as he offered, "I have a building, there's a few rooms in the basement. I'd be willing to let you have one for a couple of dollars a week…."
Dean lifted his chin, eyes blazing. "We ain't got nothin', not a damn thing and you know it. Whatya want besides money for that room?"
Boggs made a great show of thinking. "I might need a little help from time to time, is all." Boggs shrugged. "Just a little help, hawk papers, run errands for me, run messages for me from time to time and…" he smiled, a long greasy streak of mirth. "Your brother there all hidden behind you like a ghost, he can go on to school, safe as houses. I'll look after him, promise."
Dean narrowed his eyes. "I look after Sam, no one else does."
Boggs licked his lips, struck with the odd sensation of being…afraid of an eleven year old. He sat farther back at his desk. "All right then, all right—there are times, my boy, you look something awful like your old man. Got the same kind of eyes." He shivered. "Murderous," he muttered, and messed about in a desk drawer—tossed Dean a key. "Go on, get the room."
Dean shouldered the one bag that held all they had and closed his hand tight over Sammy's shoulder; cast a wicked look back at Bill Boggs, a look that promised chaos and mayhem if he so much as looked at his little brother. Dean knew what Boggs was, Boggs was a rat, and if he stepped up to ratty goings on, Dean knew there were ways to ice a rat, but good.
They lay, fully clothed right down to their boots, on a bed that someone's granny had shoved under the stairs and forgotten long ago. The mattress was lumpy and smelled of damp; the sheets were thread-bare and faded to an odd colorlessness. It was dark under the stairs and it was damn cold. The little stove in the corner held no coal, there was no candles, no electricity, and his little brother was frightened and angry and…sad.
Sam pushed against Dean, the uncertainty of their situation making him react like a toddler again. "Brother. It's cold, I'm hungry. Why can't we eat now, why does it have to be so cold--I don't to stay here, I want to go home, why won’t you take me home--I want something to eat. I want—"
"Sammy! Please! Ya gotta shut yer yap—killin' me with all this!" Dean crammed his fists over her ears, and felt on desperate edge of tears—or screaming. He was supposed to take care of his brother and he was messing it up. He was the screw-up John always said he was, when he was deep in the bottle and the truth came out.
"Grabbed that little bastard and left Mary in the place to burn. What's wrong with you, boy, leaving your mother to burn--" That's what the old man would say, and then screw up his face and start to cry. "Didn't mean it. Love Samuel. He's mine, I know he is. Not a little bastard. Not my Sam." He'd grab Dean's shirt and bawl—"Ye take care of your brother, y'hear me? Take care of him. Got no one else poor babe. No one else…."
Dean'd let it roll over him like ditch water, the man's rants, from 'the little bastard's not mine, he's the devil's', to 'I love that little boy so much,' and Dean also got to hear how he was a useless steaming pile of shit…sure, the man claimed sometimes that Dean'd make a passable soldier some day but almost always it was that one thing he said, the only thing Dean really heard…how he'd had let his mother burn. His father never answering, never explaining where *he'd* been that day….
Dean heaved a long breath. That was all in the past now, spilled milk. He had one job now; the one he'd always known was the most important. He pulled Sam to him and crushed him quiet against his chest. It was okay, it would be. Life was like hopscotch. It went forward and sideways but eventually, there was home and winning. Somehow, some way, him and Sam both were going to win.
"Got ya some books today. Here."
Sam jumped off the bed, grabbed the bag of second-hand books out of Dean's hands and grinned his thanks. "Where ya been?"
"I was doing some work for Boggy. And look what else I got—" he held out salami and cheese, half a loaf of bread.
"Yay! I'm hungry—I've been waiting for you. School was boring. What did you do for Boggy? I hate him. I wrote Dad a letter like you told me to. Did you know Mrs. White on the third floor has five cats? I had tea with her today, she's nice but kinda blind—here—" Sam tossed him a pair of earrings. "They were in a little dish under some junk on her table, she won’t miss 'em."
Dean looked at the earrings in shock that shifted into anger; he grabbed Sam by the arm.
The smack, in the tiny, stifling room sounded like a gunshot. Sam hit the floor with the force of it. He didn’t gasp, didn't curse, didn't ask why—one moment he was prattling on like he always did and the next, he was screaming like he'd been stabbed, screamed like he was being ripped in two.
The bright red handprint covering one side of his face made Dean want to throw up. Sam wouldn't stop and Dean yanked him up, and shoved both hands over his brother's mouth. "Quiet, quiet, please Sammy, oh god, Sammy sorry, be quiet!"
"NO! no--" Sam punched Dean, split his lip, scraped his chin. He kicked out and hit Dean in the stomach, kicked his shins, stamped on his foot and yelled all the while, hurt, angry—devastated.
"Stop it! You can't' steal. 's wrong. You ain't turning into one of them, not like the rest of them punks at Boggy's. You're gonna be better. Better than me. You gotta be." Dean wrestled the hysterical boy to the ground, pinned him with the weight of his whole body and waited for Sam to calm down…when the boy had exhausted himself, Dean sat up, and pulled the shaking, shivering boy into his lap.
Sam cried then, flung his arms around Dean's neck. "I don’t wanna be better'n you. I wanna be just like you. I love you!"
"I know, I know." He patted Sam's back, rubbed warm circles and loops into his skin until he breathed easily again. "I just…you take them back tomorrow. Hide 'em somewhere in her place, she don’t hafta know. And don’t go back there again."
Sam scowled. "I won’t. I'll leave her earrings there." He rubbed his cheek. "You're not gonna hit me again, are ya?"
"No, Sammy—I promise. Never again." Dean felt like he was about to cry and Sam studied his face for what seemed like a long, long time before speaking.
"Okay then," he nodded and climbed off Dean's lap. "'M still hungry, Dean."
Dean pulled out the switch blade he'd taken off his father and kept for himself, and with it divided up the bread and cheese, promised himself he'd get milk for Sam in the morning….
The next morning, Sammy knocked on Mrs. White's door, told her he'd left a book there and made a great pretense of seeking it, and left her earrings on her buffet. Dean walked him to school after and gave him a hug before heading off to Bill Boggs.
A day or two after, Mrs. White stood in the stairwell, crying to a neighbor, wringing her hands over a lost cat. Sam knew where her cat was, and knew it wasn't ever coming back. But he'd never tell that to anyone. He smiled and skipped his way to Boggy's, looking for Dean.