John irritably paced the living room, his aggravation growing with every minute that ticked by with no sign of his boys. He looked at the clock, yet again, when he heard the familiar rumble of the old classic as she pulled up outside.
Dean entered the apartment first, stopping short when he saw his dad standing in the middle of the living room; his arms crossed over his chest, the anger that burned deep within clearly shining through his dark eyes.
"Uh, sorry dad, I guess my little side trip took longer than I had anticipated," Dean stammered, "But, I did find something interesting; I'll fill you in on the way. I'm gonna go grab our bags and I'll meet you out by the car, in five. Sam's already waiting in the car."
"Fine, but hurry it up, we should have been on the road over an hour ago," John called after Dean, not even bothering to try and conceal his anger. John made his way to the car and slipped behind the steering wheel, through the rearview mirror he looked at his youngest who sat nervously waiting for his brother in the backseat.
Sam felt his dad's stare and looked up, meeting his father's eyes in the mirror. John noticed how Sam squirmed under his scrutiny and decided now was the time to try to get the truth out of the kid, while he was alone and obviously nervous. John knew that as soon as Dean was around, Sam would glide back under his brother's protective wing and the truth would be lost.
"So," John causally stated, "You decided to stay after and wait for Dean in the library while he finished checking up on something, didn't you get bored?"
"No, actually it was nice, I had a chance to get most of my homework done, seeing as I won’t have any time this weekend to really work on it and with finals coming up, I really needed the extra time," Sam answered.
"Really, so that's the only reason you decided to stay after? There isn't another reason you would have needed to? I mean if that's the only reason you could have worked on that here, before Dean got home, instead of being cooped up in the school's library," John countered, not failing to notice how Sam's squirming had increased.
"Yeah, why else would I have stayed? I could have done the work here, but I really needed the quiet of the library. I guess Dean's running late worked to my advantage and it paid off on the research as well, wait until he tells you what he found."
John shrugged, he had given Sam a chance to come clean and he hadn't. He'd give Dean the same chance and if he refused to tell the truth, well there'd be hell to pay.
Dean let out an audible grunt when his back connected hard with the ground. He rolled over to his side and barely managed to deflect the kick that was heading for his mid-section. Rolling to his knees he put his hands out in front of him and pushed himself up, rotating around so he was once again facing his opponent.
His dad was pissed that much was evident, but about what Dean couldn't be entirely sure. His dad hadn't given any indication that he was upset on the ride up, in fact it was just the opposite; he sat and quietly listened to Dean as he told him about what he had discovered during his research, hell he even praised him on his good work.
Dean shook his head, so just what had his dad so worked up? He gingerly touched his left temple and felt the unmistakably warm and sticky texture of blood. He flicked his eyes in his little brother's direction and saw him watching them, uncertainty and fear dancing in his hazel eyes.
Sam looked on as the match between his brother and father continued. He didn't quite understand what was happening. Sure he understood that his dad had wanted to get a little sparring practice in once they had arrived at his friends house; but, this wasn't just sparring, this looked more like a beat down. He flinched when his brother's back once again connected with the unyielding ground and his head snapped back, bouncing against the hard packed dirt.
John raised his leg yet again, fully prepared to deliver another kick towards his eldest when the panicked voice of his youngest cut through the veil of anger that had enveloped him.
"Dad, stop," Sam yelled out, "What the hell, just stop." Sam's words were directed at his father but his eyes were on his brother. Sam ran to Dean's side when his father took a step back and had turned his back on them.
Dean laid on the ground his head spinning, stomach churning all the while unconsciousness tried to claim him. He blinked his eyes slowly and swallowed against the bile that had risen in his throat. His back screamed from the abuse it had taken, and although he was sure nothing was broken, he was certain he would be feeling the after effects of this little sparring session for days if not a few weeks to come.
Sam reached out took Dean's hand in his and asked if he was alright and if he knew just what the unholy hell all that had been about. Not trusting himself to not lose the fight he was winning against throwing up if he tried to speak, Dean simply nodded his head yes then shook it no.
John ran his hands through his hair then over his face. He looked over his shoulder at his sons, one kneeling beside the prone and injured form of the other, and drank in the obvious love and concern they had for one another. He felt a twinge of pride deep in the pit of his stomach at the closeness those two had been able to foster in spite of all the evil and darkness their lives had been shrouded in, it was clear and present proof that good, no matter how small, still existed in the world.
It didn't take long, however, for the pride to once again be stamped out by his resentment over having been lied to by both his boys. John turned on his heels, "Sammy why don't you go ahead and go inside and get ready for dinner? Dean's fine. We'll be inside in a bit."
"No," Sam said his voice shaky but determined, "You think I'm going to leave him alone with you? Jeez dad, just what were you thinking?"
John's dark eyes flashed and Dean reached out to touch Sam's arm. "Sam, I'm fine go ahead and go inside," noting the concerned look his younger sibling wore he continued, "It's alright, we'll be in shortly. Go ahead, please."
Sam frowned, shook his head and glared at his dad, "Fine, but could you tell me what the hell you were thinking or if you even were? You have that hunt coming up next week…."
John, interrupted Sam his voice firm and commanding, "Exactly, and that hunt involves wolves, Sammy, wolves. If your brother performs like he did just now on that hunt, well let's just say that Caleb and I will be bringing him back in more than one piece. Those wolves won't forgive your brothers sloppiness, not like I do."
"Yeah, right. Like I'm gonna believe that," Sam felt Dean tug on his arm and looked down at him, "What! Really, what? You can't expect me to believe that this was all about you learning to be more careful on the hunt do you? Do you?"
"Sam, please," Dean said turning on his version of the puppy dog eyes, "nothing is going on, trust me. Its fine….I'm fine. Now go on inside."
Sam shook his head. "Fine," he huffed. Sam stood and headed in the direction of the house he looked over his shoulder, caught his dad's full gaze and if looks could kill John Winchester would've dropped dead where he stood.
When John was sure that Sam was out of earshot he reached his hand out to his oldest, who grasped it, and helped to pull him up. Dean swayed and John wrapped an arm around him to steady him. As the two men walked to the house John let his oldest son know just what all that had been about, "Next time I ask you a question you might want to think twice before you lie to me."
Dean shot his dad a confused look. John smiled and coldly answered, "I know, Dean. I know that Sam was held after school today; they called and let me know. In fact it was a very interesting phone conversation I had with them. It seems that Sammy's French teacher is under the impression that Sam's being knocked around from time to time and he suspects that I'm the one doing the knocking. Sam denied it of course and said that he's been distracted by the prom and all that teenage stuff. Seems like Mr. Teacher didn't really buy it, but had to settle for it, he wanted to let me know that he's keeping an eye on the situation. I explained to him that there wasn't a situation and that maybe he might want to watch the accusations he's throwing around. I told him I've never hit Sam and I'm not about to start now.
As, if that wasn't infuriating enough, you both lie to me and tell me that the reason you're going to be late is because you were behind in the research and had one more thing to check out. Son," John started then stopped when he saw Dean instinctively shy away from the hand he had raised to put on his eldest sons shoulder. John let his hand fall before he continued, "I know you think you're looking out for Sam, but you're not when you cover for him. He needs to learn to man-up, to take responsibility for his actions and accept the consequences of those actions."
Dean stopped in his tracks. "Like, last night," he growled, "Huh, dad? I know you're the reason he has a busted lip. Oh he lied to me about it, he said it happened because he got pushed mouth first into a drinking fountain, but I know better. I know he left the house with his mouth like that. What, now; taking your anger out on me wasn't enough? You had to go after Sammy too? What the hell's wrong with you? Sam's still a kid, he's barely eighteen. He's not wired like us, and I thank God he isn't. You're going to drive him away is that what you want? Is it?" Dean's voice rose in pitch as his face turned red and he let all his pent up frustration and anger out.
John's first instinct was to knock the insolence that his boy was displaying right out of him and so he did. Dean felt the punch connect with his chin, tasted blood as he bit his tongue and watched with disconnected interest as the world went black.