Hey Man, Nice Shot
“Six hundred and seventeen divided by thirty-two…carry the three…”
“Shut up, Dean!” Sam grumbled. He jerked his head up from his algebra textbook and tossed a glare over his shoulder at his brother, lips pursed in a thin line of aggravation. “It’s not funny! I’m trying to study!”
“Oh, come on, it’s a little funny,” Dean said, grinning mischievously. “…geeeeek,” he teased, drawing the word out, hoping to get a rise out of his kid brother.
Chores and training completed for the day, he and Sam had nothing else to do except hang out in their room until their father declared lights out for the night. It was day four of a week-long grounding for both boys, and Dean felt like he was losing his mind.
No TV, no car, no girls, nothing to help stave off the boredom that had settled in; nothing to do, except torment Sam, of course. Four days cooped up in the bedroom of their tiny rental cottage with no real diversions, and he and Sam were practically at each other’s throats, the gentle teasing banter between them having morphed into something a little harder, edgier than just brotherly jibes.
Dean cast a morose glance over at his pouting cellmate, and felt a tiny spark of anger ignite in his chest.
He wasn’t the one that had been sloppy and shot out one of the Impala’s back tires with the miss-aimed crossbow bolt. His arrow had hit the makeshift target set up next to the rear of the car and Sam’s had…missed.
Okay, sure, as the oldest, he should have known better than to go along with the stupid game in the first place. And yeah, he had enthusiastically participated in Sam’s impromptu Robin Hood challenge - up until the precise moment Sam’s last shot had nailed the tire - but that shouldn’t have made him the big baddie in this situation. Especially when it hadn’t been his idea to begin with, which their father was still having a tough time believing. Because nine times out of ten, when the shit hit the fan while John Winchester was away, it was usually his oldest son’s guilty finger that had flipped on said fan, spreading the mess.
It really wouldn’t have been such a huge deal, Dean figured, if their father hadn’t pulled up in his truck just as it had happened. He’d been coming back from a rather long, hard hunt and hadn’t been in the mood for his offspring’s shenanigans or the cost of replacing a ruined tire, much less Dean’s feeble attempt at making light of the accident.
Dean would have gladly taken the blame for Sam if their father hadn’t caught them in the act. It was the big brotherly thing to do, and Dean was used to saddling the brunt of trouble ever since his baby brother had learned to climb out of his crib by himself at the tender age of two. Amazing the stuff a curious and determined toddler could get into when no one was paying attention. Still, he was twenty freaking years old! It was embarrassing having to suffer the same punishment as his sixteen-year-old goof of a brother. Sam was the only one that should have been grounded for the entire week, Dean thought in irritation.
I could be getting to third base with Kelly, that cute waitress at the IHOP, right about now, Dean realized sadly. Hazel eyes narrowing, he shot his little brother a resentful scowl.
While Dean chose to spend the majority of his time lying on top of his unmade bed, staring moodily at the tiny imperfections of the bland ceiling, Sam sat at the single desk in the room, busily preparing himself for the math competition he was participating in at school. Dean quietly watched Sam pore over polynomial expressions with a pleasant grin plastered on his face; the kind of semi-blissful expression that Dean himself reserved for covertly staring at pictures of naked super models. Dork.
With a chuff of amused disgust, Dean turned away from Sam and returned to staring, unblinking, at the off-white ceiling as he had for the past several days. By now, he had memorized every minute crack, every paintbrush mark, and every shadow of light cast on the boring, monotonous expanse of plaster. There really was little else to do.
It came down to the simple choices of sleep, stare at the ceiling, help his father with research or help Sam with his homework. Dean wasn’t tired, nor did he have any inclination whatsoever to crack open a book. He certainly didn’t want to spend the evening with his nose buried in a musty old text on ancient folklore and obscure pagan rituals. And in all honesty, he knew he couldn’t muster up any sincere desire to help his brother with his math homework either. Been there, done that, graduated and got the hell out of school, thank God, he noted dryly.
So, Dean resorted to the only other diversion offered him that at least held a kernel of fun. Annoying his brother for the hell of it. With that in mind, he lowered his gaze from the ceiling to stare at the back of his brother’s shaggy head, letting a smile play over his lips. Sam was still fussing over his math equations, his number two pencil scratching busily across the expanse of his notebook page.
“Hey, Professor Egghead,” Dean called out cheerily. “How ‘bout taking a break?”
Sam ignored him.
Dean’s smile wavered. He rolled over and picked up a deck of battered water-stained playing cards from the nightstand next to the bed and waved them in the air, brows raised. “C’mon Sammy, let’s play a little five card stud. Whad’you say? Penny ante for starters and I promise not to deal from the bottom of the deck this time.”
Sam continued to focus on his textbook, trying hard to pretend Dean wasn’t even in the room. Why can’t he just learn to enjoy reading quietly like me or you know, just act normal? Sam thought to himself.
Dropping the cards back onto the little side table with a suppressed sigh, Dean reached over further, grabbed the pillow from Sam’s bed, and pitched it at his brother. The missile smacked Sam square in the back, and the teen started, head shooting up in annoyance.
“What is your problem?” Sam snapped at Dean, half turning in his chair. “Quit buggin’ me!”
Dean shrugged innocently. “Just checking to see if you’re still breathing over there.”
Sam looked down at the floor where the pillow had fallen and in one swift motion, he swooped down to pick it up and rapidly snapped his wrist, tossing the pillow back at Dean, hitting his unprepared brother dead in the face. Sam risked a chuckle at the look of stunned offense Dean was now sporting.
“Jerk,” Sam muttered smugly. He turned back to his textbook.
Dean sat up on his bed, his earlier playfulness gone. “Too bad your aim wasn’t that good with the crossbow, bitch,” he jeered back and watched with satisfaction as Sam’s back stiffened.
“Maybe I’m just better with knives than crossbows,” Sam stated over his shoulder.
Dean snorted. “At least I know which end of a weapon is the business end, Samantha. You’d end up chopping a finger off if given half a chance with a blade.”
Sam whirled about in his seat, eyes glinting. “I would not, Dean! I can handle a blade better than you!”
“Bullshit back!” Sam challenged, his voice rising, along with his anger. He winced inwardly at the note of petulance that had crept into his tone and abruptly pushed his chair away from the desk, but remained seated, lower lip now jutting out defensively.
“Dude, keep it down,” Dean hissed angrily. He glanced apprehensively toward the closed bedroom door and then back at his brother, offering up a glare of disapproval. “Do you want Dad coming in here?”
“Scared, Dean?” Sam taunted, an insolent smirk crossing his lips.
“No,” Dean huffed, “but, I’m not stupid either. Dad has to come in here because we’re being too loud and you can kiss your ass goodbye.” He gave Sam a skeptical look, head tilted, studying the younger boy. “Seriously, Sammy, you some kind of idiot savant or what? I mean, you can calculate the square root of infinity in your head without breaking a sweat, but you can’t seem to hit a bulls-eye with a lousy crossbow at ten paces.”
Sam’s cheeks flamed a brilliant crimson, his chest heaving, but he had no rejoinder for Dean. He hated the crossbow. Hated it. And both his father and Dean knew it. And made him practice with the crappy thing every chance they got. This whole thing started because he was trying to think of some way to make practicing more fun. It wasn’t good enough that he could practically shoot the wings off a fly with a 9mm or split an apple in half with a throwing knife. No, he had to be an expert in everything, according to his dad. Just in case, Sam. You never know what you’ll be up against or what you’ll have on hand to use as a weapon.
Wordless, Sam stalked over to Dean’s bed, grabbed his pillow from the older boy’s hands with a yank and slapped it back in its rightful place on his own bed hard enough to make the headboard thump dully against the wall. He then turned and fixed Dean with a cold stare.
“Fuck. Off.” he snapped in a harsh whisper, letting his temper get the better of him.
Dean shook his head and lay back down with a sigh, putting his hands behind his head. “Fine. Whatever, dude. Go back to playing with your equations and times tables then.”
Sam wasn’t about to be dismissed so easily after the recent dig about his archery skills. “At least I know my times tables,” he snidely commented.
Dean sat back up again and met Sam’s smug look with a dark glare. “What’s that supposed to mean, smartass?” he questioned.
“Nothing,” Sam airily replied. “I wouldn’t expect someone who finds the Three Stooges intellectually stimulating to understand the importance of a mathlete competition.”
“Hey, the Stooges are classic,” Dean shot back, stung by Sam’s comment. “And who gives a crap about some stupid contest where the grand prize is a retarded little trophy? I mean, seriously, Sammy, what’re you gonna do with it if you win anyway?”
Sam’s lips curled up into a nasty smile. “Well, for starters, I could shove it up your-”
“Try it and you won’t live to graduate, math boy,” Dean warned.
“Blow me.” Sam scoffed. “Like I’m afraid of you.”
“Sammy, Sammy,” Dean started, shaking his head, but his brother cut him off.
“It’s Sam, jerkwad,” Sam said. He crossed his arms over his chest, glaring. “Stop callin’ me Sammy or I’ll tell Dad what you spent the pizza money on when he was gone.”
“You little squealer,” Dean retorted, jaw clenching. “You rat me out and I’ll beat your ass, Sammy.” He made sure to emphasize his brother’s name, thoroughly enjoying the sour bitch-face it produced on Sam.
Chest heaving, fists clenched, Sam rose from his chair, body rigid with indignation. He stalked towards the bedroom door, a look of childish triumph on his face. His hand had barely brushed the doorknob, when he felt a solid tug on his right shoulder, spinning him around to come nose to nose with his very pissed off older brother.
“That’s it,” Dean asserted. His other hand reached up to clamp down onto Sam’s other shoulder, imprisoning the teen. “You’ve been asking for an ass beating all week, you little shit, and now you’re gonna get one!”
Sam’s eyes widened, the sudden realization he’d crossed an already too thin line flooding his worried features. He tried to squirm out of Dean’s grip, but only succeeded in getting his head pinned underneath one of his brother’s inflexible arms as Dean dragged Sam over to the nearest bed and hoisted him up onto it, keeping Sam’s head down while maneuvering the boy’s wriggling backside up into position.
“Dean, no!” Sam cried. “I won’t tell Dad! I swear! I was just kidding!”
When that tactic didn’t work, Sam turned belligerent, which amused the hell out of Dean. How the kid could be so cocky when trapped in a headlock was beyond him.
Sam’s long legs thrashed, toes digging for purchase. “Lemme go, or I’m gonna kick your ass, you sonuvabitch!” he angrily spat into the bedspread.
He yelped and went still at the hard slap Dean delivered to his rear end.
Dean leaned down, putting his lips to Sam’s ear. “That’s our mom you’re talking about,” he firmly admonished as he smacked Sam’s butt again, harder this time. “Be nice or I won’t let you up. Your choice, Sammy.”
“Kiss my ass!” Sam seethed.
Dean wrinkled his nose, giving the seat of Sam’s jeans a pat. “No thanks. Don’t know where that ass has been, dude,” he quipped.
“You fucking bastard!” Sam snarled, face red from his struggles.
Dean let out a mock sigh. “Ass beating it is, then,” he said.
He grinned and resumed spanking his brother in earnest now, his big hand rising and falling against the seat of Sam’s blue jeans in a steady repetitive tempo, the firm smacks rapidly setting Sam’s rear end on fire and making him squirm and hiss.
Sam stared unhappily at the quilted bedspread in front of his nose. He tried to keep the little whimpers and grunts in, tried hard not to give his stupid jerk of a brother the satisfaction of knowing that the spanking was beginning to hurt. But, the prickly warmth quickly spreading all across his ass, coupled with the uncomfortable position he was twisted into began to wear down his pride.
It was when Dean started in on the backs of his upper thighs, the sharp smacks singeing the tender flesh there, despite the protection of the thick denim, that Sam decided enough was enough. He was just about to squawk out an apology and beg for a truce when the bedroom door slammed open and a large shadow filled the doorway.
“WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN HERE?!” John Winchester barked in fury.
Dean and Sam froze in position on the rumpled bed, Sam hopelessly entangled in the headlock, Dean’s one hand raised, ready to deliver another smack to his brother’s upturned bottom.
Two heads slowly swiveled as one to spy the older man behind them. John stood expectantly in the doorway, a dark scowl of anger painted on his tired face.
Dean quickly let go of Sam with a shove and Sam landed, sprawling, face down onto the bed with a muffled grunt.
“Uh, we were just practicing some wrestling moves, Dad,” Dean offered lightly. He covered the lie with an ingratiating smile, but John wasn’t buying it for one minute.
Dean fidgeted under his father’s continued scrutiny and then pretended to help Sam up off the bed by grabbing the back of the younger boy’s sweatshirt and yanking hard.
Sam’s eyes shot wide. “Dean! Quit – agh!” he choked slightly as his collar pulled tight, biting into his throat.
Sam managed to keep his feet under him as Dean hauled him up and finally released him.
“Thanks,” Sam rasped. He glared sullenly at Dean, purposely fingering his reddening neck.
John stood, arms crossed, watching his boys’ antics, his temper escalating by the second. Apparently, the dual groundings he’d doled out before hadn’t been enough to keep either of his children in line for very long. He really didn’t want to resort to physical discipline tonight if he could avoid it. Not that he had a problem with warming either of their backsides. He just didn’t relish the idea of going to bed reeking of Ben Gay from a sore hand and shoulder. Because if he did have to punish somebody again, he was going to make damn sure this time it would leave a memorable and lasting impression on the young behind in question.
“Sam, lay off the attitude,” John ordered, gruffly.
Dean’s lips quirked into a tiny smile, which John was quick to dispel with his next words.
“And Dean, stop harassing your brother,” he demanded.
“I wasn’t —” Dean started but both John and Sam interrupted.
“Bullshit you weren’t!”
“Watch the mouth!” John snapped, pointing a warning finger at Sam, eyes narrowing.
Sam cringed. “Sorry, sir.” He glared over at Dean. “You were too bugging me!” he asserted.
Dean snorted, his entire face crinkling in disagreement. He gave Sam a light shove. “You started it, William Tell.”
“Bullsh- baloney!” Sam countered, eyeing his dad before shoving Dean back a little harder than he’d planned.
“Enough!” John roared.
The intensity of his tone startled both boys into immediate obedience. Two sets of guilty eyes dropped to the carpeted floor.
“Both of you, noses to the wall, toes against the baseboard,” John commanded.
Neither boy moved, and John’s blood pressure spiked. So help me, somebody’s gonna die tonight, he silently conjectured.
“Daaad,” Dean complained, disgust written on his face. “C’mon, I’m too old for-”
“NOW.” John boomed.
Dean’s brows shot up into his hairline, eyes going wide as Sam actually jumped, startled, his mouth going slack in fearful awe.
John pointed to the wall on the other side of the room and both boys quickly scrambled to comply, jostling one another along the way in an effort to be the first to get into position.
Sam took advantage of his new long legs to cut in front of his brother, shouldering Dean out of the way with a brief smirk as he took the best spot, the one closest to the desk. Dean shot his little brother a death glare as he followed suit, a little further down next to the window. With a roll of his eyes, he fixed his attention on the streaky paint of the wall directly in front of him.
Great, Dean thought. Went from staring at the fugly ceiling to staring at the even fuglier wall. Not exactly making progress, am I?
John’s eyes flicked angrily from one boy to the other. “I hear one more peep out of either of you, and I swear to God, I’ll make sure you don’t sit down for a solid month,” he threatened.
With incredulity, John saw Dean open his mouth. He fixed a stony glower on his oldest son. “I don’t give a crap how old you think you are, Dean. You’re not so big that I can’t beat your butt for you, so shut it unless you’re jonesing for a trip over my knee tonight. Understood?”
Dean’s teeth clicked together as he snapped his mouth shut. He nodded quietly, face burning.
“We on the same page now?” John questioned the boys.
Two meek ‘yessirs’ came in reply.
“Eyes front and center then, mouths shut ‘til I say otherwise,” John ordered before executing a perfect about face to stalk down the hall and back to his research.
Exactly eight and a half minutes later, John heard glass shattering down the hall. His first thought was that something was trying to break into the place, something unnatural that had managed to break through the protective wards he’d set up. His second thought, the one that made his heart stutter painfully in his chest, was that his children were down the hall. Alone and unarmed, faces to the wall, vulnerable.
Leaping up from the kitchen table where he had been nursing a stale beer while paging through a tome on Egyptian immortality rites, John practically knocked his chair over in his haste to get to Dean and Sam.
He wrenched the door open, his mouth too dry with fear at the unnatural quietness pervading the room to say anything at first. He caught sight of Dean and Sam huddled near the window and quickly assessed them, noting with relief that neither boy was injured. In fact, his offspring appeared to be perfectly fine. He stopped in his tracks, staring at the boys, the fear quickly falling away to be replaced by confusion. What the hell was going on here?
Two sets of wide emerald eyes blinked steadily back at John, a glimmer of guilt and fear encapsulated there. John flicked his gaze over to the broken window, studying it for a moment. His eyes scanned back to his sons and his brows plunged into an angry frown.
“Dad, I can explain,” Dean said. He held up his hands, in the hopes of placating his father somehow.
John took a step into the room and watched with growing suspicion as his youngest child neatly side-stepped behind his brother, trying his best to melt into the shadows between Dean’s body and the fluttering curtains of the broken window.
Folding his arms across his broad chest, John offered up a deceptively neutral look. “Go ahead, Dean. Please. Explain. I can’t wait to hear how the window got busted when you and your brother were supposed to be noses to the wall.”
Dean looked as if he’d swallowed something nasty. He coughed, fidgeted, then cleared his throat, stalling for time.
“Uh, well see…this, this…um…” Dean swore under his breath. He peered over his shoulder at Sam, offering a silent apology, and then gave his father a defeated half smile. “You know? I got nothing this time.”
“Sam? You wanna try?” John asked.
Sam carefully poked his shaggy head from behind Dean. “Um, my book fell.”
John tilted his head to one side. “Your book?”
“Uh huh,” Sam said. He remained safely behind his brother. “My math book.”
Sam nodded. “Yeah. I mean yes, sir.” Sam looked up to Dean, who swallowed hard and gave his father a sheepish shrug of agreement.
John slowly walked over to the window, arms still crossed. It didn’t go unnoticed that both boys took an uneasy step away from him, almost crowding the corner to keep out of arms reach. Fell my ass, John thought heatedly. His lean muscled biceps stretched the worn fabric of his faded gray t-shirt as he leaned over to peer out of the broken window, careful to avoid the jagged edges still caught in the sill.
Sure enough, he spotted Sam’s math book in the dirt just below the window. It lay open, creased, torn pages fluttering in distress as the night wind batted at them. Bits of broken glass winked back at John from the grass, the light from the bedroom catching and reflecting off the shards. He pulled his gaze from the mess and pivoted, coming about to face Dean and Sam, eyes hard and flat.
“Your math book fell out the window?” John asked again, laying all pretense of credulity aside.
Sam’s nod came much slower and with more hesitation this time.
“The closed window?” John pressed.
He reached out one long arm and snagged Sam by the shoulder of his fleece hoodie, pulling the teen from behind Dean, tugging him closer, so that Sam now stood toe to toe with his father. Dean opened his mouth to intervene and John stopped him with a raised finger pointed in his direction. He wasn’t interested in hearing some completely bogus story about poltergeists or sudden magical telekinetic abilities right now.
Sam’s bangs hid his downturned face, his hands stuffed nervously into the front pockets of his jeans. John bent down to peer up into his youngest’s eyes. “You sure want to stick with your story, bud?” he questioned, letting his eyes carry the weight of his parental censure.
Sam squirmed. He bit his lip. He sighed. He stared at the tops of his shoes hard enough to burn holes into the leather. Finally, the teen’s shoulders slumped deeply. “No sir,” he mumbled.
John waited patiently.
Sam glanced up at his father, puppy eyes in full play. “I threw the book at Dean, but it missed and hit the window.”
“We so gotta practice your aim,” Dean muttered ruefully, and John’s head snapped up to shoot the twenty-year-old an icy glare from over Sam’s shoulder.
“Dean. Kitchen.” John jerked his head towards the door.
With a sympathetic look at his brother, Dean trudged out the door and down the hall. John caught Sam by his shirtfront, directing the boy over to his bed where John took a seat, pulling Sam in close between his legs.
“Wanna tell me what you were doing throwing a book at your brother?”
Sam nervously played with the strings of his hoodie a moment before answering. “He was pissing me off and I couldn’t punch him from where I was standing at the wall, so I grabbed the book off the desk and used it instead.”
John scrubbed a hand over his stubbled face. The kid was to the point if nothing else, he thought wryly. He wondered what Dean could have possibly said or done to rile Sam up so bad, and then realized, with chagrin, that at sixteen, it really didn’t take much of anything anymore for Sam to get pissed. He was like a keg of old dynamite; even the smallest vibration could set him off. Teenage moodiness aside, John thought, Sam seemed to need a refresher on following orders.
“You remember me telling you and your brother to keep your noses to the wall and behave?” John questioned.
“Yes sir,” Sam replied curtly.
“You didn’t think I was serious about spanking you if you disobeyed?” John challenged.
Sam shrugged lightly, the motion full of unspoken insolence and affected disinterest.
John let out a low grunt. “Maybe I can change your mind about that,” he stated as he clamped fingers around Sam’s left arm, pulling the boy forward and down over his lap.
“Dad, no!” Sam squeaked. “Dean already-” Sam stopped abruptly.
“Dean already what, Sam?” John asked. “Already spanked your butt for you?”
Sam choked at that and then let out a low groan of uneasiness when his father reached underneath him to undo the button and take down the zipper on Sam’s jeans. Sam felt his jeans sliding down his legs to his ankles.
“Let’s take a look,” John said.
Ah, shit. Sam let his face melt into the crook of his arm, cheeks blazing as he felt his dad take hold of the waistband of his jockey shorts, lifting and pulling them back from his upturned bottom. Just kill me now, he thought miserably. I’m a sophomore in high school and I’m bent over my dad’s lap while he checks out my naked ass. This is just…so wrong.
“Well, it doesn’t look like Dean was too serious about it,” John concluded mildly. “Your butt’s barely even pink, kiddo.” He let go of the elastic waistband between his fingers, grinning softly when they snapped back against the flesh, eliciting an offended huff from Sam. John affectionately patted the two round globes in front of him. “Let’s see if I can’t do better than your brother.”
Sam didn’t have a chance for rebuttal. His father’s hand landed with a determined smack onto his right rear flank, jolting the teenager. It was quickly followed by several more, the rapid, stinging swats alternating up and down, side to side. While Dean’s spanking was uncomfortable, Dad’s was utter hell. John’s hand was solid and hard and he wasn’t playing around. He wasn’t going to go easy on Sam or feel sorry for him. This wasn’t an older brother putting him in his place. This was Dad, and he was going to spank the hell out of him, plain and simple.
“Dad! I – ow! I’m sorry!” Sam managed to grit out in between yelps. “I’ll fix the – OW! The window! I swear!”
John nodded, continuing the spanking, moving down and peppering Sam’s upper thighs, turning them a deep pink. “You and Dean are both fixing the window in the morning,” he stated. “And then you’re both grounded for another week. And you’ll be putting in some more target practice with the crossbow after school every day until I’m convinced you can hit the bulls-eye blindfolded.”
Sam angrily swore under his breath, and then swore out loud, eyes shooting wide, when his father yanked down his shorts once more and began swatting the pinkened bared flesh underneath.
“Need to get a handle on that mouth of yours as well as your temper, Samuel, or we’ll be having this little conversation again all next week” John stated firmly. “You want that?”
“NO SIR!” Sam replied shakily.
“Good,” John said.
He eased up on the spanking, giving Sam’s glowing backside a half dozen more smacks before stopping altogether and then carefully pulled the teen’s shorts back up to cover his handiwork. John rested his sore palm on the heated flesh a moment, and Sam squirmed, wincing. He let out a disgruntled sniff and John smiled.
“You still think my rules are arbitrary?” John questioned.
“Plan on throwing any more books in anger?”
“No sir,” Sam whispered.
John nodded. “Am I going to get any more guff from you about learning to use a crossbow?”
Sam hesitated in answering, letting out a small sigh. He felt his dad’s hand twitch on his rear end and quickly spoke up. “No sir.”
“All right then,” John replied. He pulled Sam up from his lap, and patiently waited while the boy bent down to grab his jeans and yanked them back on with a hiss.
John eyed the clock across from the bed on the nightstand. It was eight. “Lights out in thirty,” he noted as he stood and gave Sam’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. Instead of letting go, John slid his warm palm up his son’s neck, letting his fingers tangle in the fringe of long hair there. “Hey,” he said, waiting for Sam to look up at him.
Sam obliged and peered up at John, nervous, sore, waiting.
“You got your book smarts from your mother, but you got your temper from your old man, unfortunately,” John said, the corners of his eyes crinkling a bit. “Keep a check on it, dude. I can’t afford any more broken windows or shot out tires, got it?”
Sam nodded, reaching back to palm his stinging butt. “Smart and dangerous,” he said, his smile rueful, but still wide enough to bring his dimples into play. “Hey, if I end up getting your muscles too, I’ll be a hell of a threat some day.”
John chuckled, taking a half hearted swipe at his teen’s head, grinning when Sam easily ducked the swing, bringing an arm up to block. He missed this. The easy back and forth. The playfulness. Too often lately, he and Sam were butting heads and casting angry accusations at one another.
“Get ready for bed, kiddo,” John softly ordered.
“What about Dean?”
John’s jaw clenched ever so slightly at the sullen edge that had crept back into Sam’s voice. Without turning, he headed for the door to the bedroom. “Dean’ll be in, in a minute. He and I need to discuss a few things first. Set some things straight, like how a smart mouth and a cocky attitude aren’t gonna hold with me.”
Sam didn’t say a word, but the smug whisper of a smile on his lips spoke volumes. Ha! I’m not the only one who’s going to be sleeping on his stomach tonight!
John stopped at the doorway. He cast a glance over his shoulder at Sam, eyes glinting with warning. “I wouldn’t go poking fun at your brother when he comes back in here, Sammy,” John commented dryly. “You start in on him about getting his ass handed to him at his age and I’m not going to feel the least bit sorry for you when he pounds you into the floor.”
“I didn’t even say anything!” Sam huffed, eyes widening. How the hell did Dad always know what he was thinking?
John quirked a brow at his son. “I’m just saying. You go looking for trouble, it’s going to find you.”
“I know,” Sam said, blowing out a disgruntled breath. “It’s just that I never get one up on Dean.”
John shrugged. “I’m not bailing your butt out on this if that’s the way you want to go.”
Sam chewed on his lower lip a minute and then gave John a hopeful look. “You won’t interfere either?”
“I’m done with you two for the night.” John raised his hands. “I gave you my advice. Take it or leave it.”
“Sweet.” Sam’s gentle smile returned, this time lighting up his entire face.
John pointed a warning finger at him. “BUT, if you break anything else in here, and that includes bones, my belt’s getting a workout tonight. We clear?”
Sam nodded his understanding, and John departed, muttering something about poking bears with sticks.
John took another sip of his whiskey-laced coffee, and stretched his neck, hearing the tendons snap and crackle as he sat back in his chair at the worn kitchen table. He’d taken care of business with his oldest child and sent Dean moping back to his room about fifteen minutes earlier. It had been relatively quiet up until a few moments ago, when raised voices had drifted from down the hallway.
He took another sip of his coffee, relishing the warm burn it left in his gut and picked up his pen to finish adding his notes into his journal from the last hunt. He wrote steadily, ignoring the thumps and yells coming from his boys’ bedroom. He didn’t even bother to look up from the page when the muffled slaps and shrill protest of Sam’s howls started up.
“I warned him,” John sighed, shaking his head. “Kid’s always gotta learn the hard way.”