Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: G

Synopsis: When exactly did Sam learn to stand up for himself?

Spoilers: None. This is AU before the series.

The principal's office appeared to be the same no matter what school the boys went to and John had seen his share of them. Mostly, though, he was called in because Dean had beaten the crap out of someone and usually, that meant that the pounced-upon kid had threatened his brother in some way.

John's schedule at the moment really didn't permit this interruption, but the job he was working was far from over and the boys needed to be in school, so there was really nothing to be done about it.

He stepped into the large office, his eyes snapping instantly to the small figure on the chair in front of the desk and the stern-looking woman sitting on the chair behind it. The principal eyed him and then rose. "Mr. Winchester," she said.

"What is this about?" he asked, stepped up beside his son and eyed the boy. Bruised cheekbone, cut upper lip, dried blood on the front of his t-shirt. He hunkered down, took a hold of Sam's chin and turned his face toward him to inspect the damage more closely.

"Well, as you can see your son has been in a fight. And I really do not condone that sort of thing in this school," the principal said sternly.

John assured himself that his son wasn't badly damaged, then rose again and eyed the woman. "Do you have a name?" he asked gruffly.

As always, his attitude paid off almost instantly. The concern was already there, masked lightly by the indignation she obviously felt at having her school disrupted by rowdy boys. "I'm Mrs. Tennant," she said. "Magda Tennant."

John eyed her for a moment, then glanced down at Sam again. The eight-year-old kept his mouth shut and stared ahead of himself, seemingly lost in thought. "What happened?" he asked, focusing on the principal again.

"Samuel told me that some older boys tried to take away his lunch money and one of them punched him in the face for it," principal Tennant said. "Personally, I find that hard to believe. None of the older boys would do that. They know what the penalty is for attacking other students."

John narrowed his eyes a little. "So you're calling my son a liar?" he asked, his tone carrying an undercurrent of anger.

"No, Mr. Winchester. But I just find it hard to believe that his story is true," she countered, defensive yet already intimidated.

John guessed she had been a bully in school. For some odd reason, most principals he had come across in his life, both during his own school years and during the years the boys had been in school, had always been former bullies. "Which in other words means you think he's lying," he stated coldly. "Let me make something clear to you, Mrs. Tennant," he added. "My son doesn't lie. If he says that's what happened, then that's what happened." He was angered by the fact that his son had taken a beating and that this witch had decided he had asked for it in some way or maybe even started it. "I don't see this as a beneficial facility for my boys to learn their life lessons when they can't even depend on you to upkeep the peace," he growled. "Perhaps I should go over your head with this?" he added.

She paled a bit. The threat had probably been made before, by other parents, but John knew he had an impact on other people that made them fear for their lives when he got angry. And he was pretty much pissed at her right now.

"Come on, Sam. You're going home," he said and held out his hand.

Sam took it and got up, gave principal Tennant a brief look and then followed John out of the office. John made a point of slamming the door shut hard enough to rattle it in its frame.


Once they had reached the Impala, John hunkered down in front of Sam and again inspected his face. "Now tell me what really happened," he said.

"Two older kids wanted my lunch money. But Dean's taught me what to do," Sam said and pulled the folded-up bill out of one pocket. "They punched me, but they didn't get my money," he added.

John couldn't help a grin. "That's my boy," he said and ruffled Sam's dark hair. "You okay for a bit? I'm just gonna go get Dean. We'll find a different school for you two until this job is done."

Sam nodded, scooted onto the backseat and picked up a book he had left there. John sighed lightly, slammed the door and turned back toward the school. As always, Dean had been keeping an eye on things and stood ready just outside the doors of the school. "Come on, slugger," John said and opened the passenger side door. "Get in the car. You're riding shot-gun."

At twelve, Dean wasn't taller than his brother, but he was a powerhouse nonetheless. Play-fighting with the kid when John had the energy for it proved that time and time again. Dean could keep going forever and his strength was increasing almost daily now.

Dean's foremost job, both in school and out, was to look out for Sam and it would seem he was doing his job right by teaching his brother how to defend himself. Sam had been bruised, but he had kept his money and thereby his dignity and that meant a lot.

For John it was no longer a question of fitting in, of molding the boys into perfect citizens. It was all about survival and finding that son of a bitch that had killed Mary. Nothing else mattered. The rest of the world be damned.

Dean slipped onto the front seat and the weary look in his eyes had been replaced by the fighter look. He too sported a black eye and his t-shirt was torn, which proved to John that he hadn't let Sam face the bullies alone. And that was all he wanted; for his boys to stick together.

John slid behind the wheel and glanced at Dean, then at Sam in the rearview mirror. Despite all, these two would turn out okay. His worries about Sam's gentler nature had been laid to rest today. Even if the kid had a heart the size of California, it didn't mean he couldn't bite back when he had to. And that was all John needed to know. With a grin on his lips, he reached over and ruffled Dean's hair. "You just keep teaching Sammy how to fight, Dean-o," he said.

Dean rolled his eyes. "It's Dean, dad," he said, his tone suffering. "I'm not a little kid any more."

John chuckled, revved the engine and pulled away from the curb. "That's for sure, dude," he agreed and couldn't help a grin at the suffering groan Dean emitted.

The End