Author: Minx

Prompt: #19 – Cover up


Type of Story:

Author's Website: Minx(blog) OR Minx(LJ)

Author's Note: Disclaimer - I own none of these characters. They are the property of Eric Kripke and the CW. Any characters in this story are used simply for entertainment purposes, and I am not making any money from these stories.
[Definition: COVER UP (noun): An effort or strategy of concealment, especially a planned effort to prevent something potentially scandalous from becoming public.]

Take a Left Turn at Trouble

Eastern Tennessee
State Route 34

Sixteen-year-old Sam Winchester slouches down lower in the passenger seat of his brother's sleek, black '67 Impala, jaw thrusting out moodily, emerald eyes darkened to the color of a stormy sea, his rigid body language a perfect testament to the pout he's working at the moment. It's as if a black, angry storm cloud has breached the interior of the car and settled in for the duration. They speed down the two-lane, pock-marked county road somewhere in the ass end of Tennessee in silence, following the formidable funnel of dust behind their father's tricked out pickup. It's summer, school is out, and John is hot on the trail of an urban legend known as "Skinned Tom".

While Sam understands his father's obsessive need to track down and kill every evil thing they happen upon, he isn't necessarily supportive of the habit, especially as of late. In fact, Sam's made little effort to hide his intense disgruntlement at being uprooted from their home of the past few months to plunge south into what he so charmingly terms "hick country". He despises being dragged around like so much extra baggage, being shuffled from one featureless town to another all summer long, and he puts up with it for one reason and one reason only. He doesn't really have a say, one way or the other.

His dad ordered them to pack up their belongings the day after school had let out, and of course, they'd done it, without argument or questions. Sam learned long ago that taking issue with his dad's militaristic parenting style only pisses the ex-marine off. And while pissing his dad off these days isn't necessarily a bad idea in Sam's book, it can be a dangerous ploy if not done carefully. For instance, he'd be signing his own death warrant by asking what would seem obvious and reasonable questions, such as where are we going, for how long and why?

No, it's pretty much an unwritten rule in the Winchester household: You do NOT question John Winchester's orders or motives. Ever. And that rule applies most specifically to his opinionated teenage son. So, unless Sam wants the embarrassment of getting his ass paddled seven shades of black and blue, he keeps quiet. The high school sophomore shifts uncomfortably in his seat, remembering with a rather awkward grimace the last time he lost his temper in a heated debate with his father about some order John had given. Yeah, that little uprising cost him two long, miserable days of avoiding awkward explanations as to why he preferred to stand, thanks...and it wasn't even worth it, Sam realizes in retrospect. John hadn't budged an inch.

But today, Sam's ire isn't directed just at his father. No, this time he has a bone to pick with Dean, and it's one hell of a big one in Sam's mind. About the size of an Ambulocetus bone, Sam thinks absently, remembering the freaky ass "walking whale" from the Eocene period he'd recently been studying in Biology. The amphibians were twelve feet long, with giant teeth and may have hunted like crocodiles. Not that Dean would know or care about any of that, Sam smugly recognizes. If it doesn't have tits or a carburetor, his older brother isn't interested.

Dean can be such a total dick sometimes, Sam thinks angrily, and yeah, this is one of those times. Ever since his sixteenth birthday last month, he's been itching to become a driver with a real, honest to goodness, bonafide drivers license, but his brother adamantly refuses to let Sam drive the Impala, even for a little while. Sam just wants to get some practice in before his driver's test.

It seems so unfair to Sam. He has a learner's permit, so it's not as if he's never been behind the wheel of a car before. Maybe not Dean's precious Impala, but even so, their dad taught both him and Dean the fundamentals of starting and steering his big, black bitch of a car when he and Dean were both barely old enough to reach the pedals, so doesn't that count for something? Apparently not in Dean's book.

Granted, it isn't exactly the same thing as knowing how to drive on a road with other cars around, but Sam desperately wants to put some more time behind the wheel, any wheel to be honest, so he'll be ready to ace the test the first time out the door. It's an important rite of passage to the teenager, and Dean should remember what it was like when he was Sam's age.

But no amount of pleading with his brother, including promising to be extra careful with the Impala – Dean's beloved 'baby' – seems to make a difference. Dean just keeps shooting him down and to add insult to injury, he'd ended up making a joke of it in front of their dad that very morning, stating that the Impala is not nor would it ever be a 'chick' car. Selfish jerk, Sam grumps to himself. Life can be interminably humiliating when you're sixteen years old, he sullenly decides.

With that in mind, Sam is now putting all his effort into pouting, his back against the door of the car, long legs drawn up to his chest, ignoring the occasional bumps and curves of the road. Maybe if he concentrates hard enough, he can make Dean's head spontaneously combust by mental thought alone, he muses optimistically. It's worth a try.

Dean casts an irritated glance at Sam from the corner of his eye, wishing not for the first time, that his pain-in-the-ass little brother wasn't such an expert at the whole teenage "the world hates me" thing. Hell, Dean thinks to himself, if you could take someone out using emo, melodramatic death stares, Sam would be wracking up the body count. He knows he can't take much more of it.

"Dude, you've been sulking since we crossed the state line over two hours ago. Give it a rest!" Dean grouses when Sam lets out another long, beleaguered sigh in his direction. "Jeez, Sammy, if I'd known you were gonna be such a little girl about this –"

"I'm not a girl, Dean!"

"I didn't say you were a girl, jackass. I said you were acting like a girl," Dean snaps in irritation. "Not that there's much of a difference either way with you..." he lets that thought hang between them, contributing to the icy silence that ensues. "I shoulda just made you ride with dad," Dean mutters under his breath, shaking his head.

Sam snorts, folding his arms and offering up a contemptuous look. "I'd like to see you make me do anything."

Dean's jaw clenches in annoyance, but he doesn't rise to the bait. He's used to Sam's bitter, snippy retorts by now. Hell, he's had three years of practice. The kid became full-on lippy the day he turned thirteen, as if puberty not only brought on the usual hormonal and physical changes, but somehow kick-started Sam's brat meter into high gear.

"Man, you are seriously harshing my fun, you know that?" Dean complains gruffly, not expecting any sympathy from his sullen passenger.

"Bite me," Sam states in a grumpy monotone, his fiery eyes boring purposefully into the side of Dean's head.

Dean stiffens. Seriously, enough is enough, he thinks.

"How 'bout I pull this car over and beat the snot out of you instead, Sam? Huh? How about that?" There's an impatient edginess to Dean's tone that Sam doesn't miss but he doesn't heed the warning.

"How about you let me drive?" Sam retorts, unwilling to let it drop.





"Sam, for the last time, no," Dean hisses.

He cocks his head to glare at Sam, daring the teen to say anything more. The two remain in a staring contest until, with a growl of frustration, Dean relents and sweeps his gaze back to the road to keep from swerving over the double yellow line.

Kid is getting on my nerves big time, Dean decides, as he grips the steering wheel a little tighter and shifts in his seat. He risks another look over to Sam who meets his gaze with a venomous scowl that would put Darth Vader to shame.

According to the roadmap lying on the seat between them, they're only half way to their current destination of Rock Hill, a tiny hamlet nestled among the forested hills and knobs of the Smokies. It'll take four more hours to make it the rest of the way, meaning this is going to be one mother of a long drive if things don't lighten up soon, Dean realizes. Trying to be the bigger man, Dean reaches over, eyes still on the winding road, and puts a hand on one of his brother's legs with a tender concern in his voice that belies his current state of agitation.

"Sam, c'mon, just let it go," Dean gently coaxes.

Sam studiously ignores him.

"Look I know you're pissed at me, okay? I get it, seriously. I understand how bad you wanna get your license and all, but this isn't just any car, Sammy, this is my baby. My girl."

"So, when's the wedding?" Sam inquires caustically. "I wanna make sure to get the two of you a nice gift."

Dean chooses to ignore the mean-spirited remark, running a hand reverently over the car's dashboard with a fondness almost bordering on obsession. "Dad gave me this car, Sam, and I intend to make sure she stays purring for a long, long time." He arches a brow at his brother, his face screwing up in mild distaste. "It would be, I don't know, like sacrilege or something to let an inexperienced, geeky virgin like you behind her wheel."

"I am NOT," Sam sputters, face going dark.

"You sure as hell are a geek. What did you write your last paper on, Sammy? Wasn't it that freaky ass crocodile thing?" Dean teases. He shakes his head, smirking. "Man, I wouldn't want to have to burn those bones."

"The scientific name is Ambulocetus natans, Dean," Sam wearily states. He looks down, suddenly shy. "And I meant about the other thing..."

Dean, still smiling at his own joke, suddenly chokes as he realizes what his brother is implying. Face contorting in surprise, Dean nearly loses control of the wheel, veering off into the opposite lane.

"DEAN!" Sam yells, eyes going wide as he points at the SUV barreling towards them, horn blaring.

"I see it," Dean snaps a little too loudly as he jerks the Impala back into their own lane, with seconds to spare. Beads of sweat break out on his forehead as he tries to get his heartbeat back down to normal.

Sam chuffs at Dean's performance. "Jeez, even I can drive better than that," he comments snarkily.

Dean glares at his little brother in amazement. "Are you CRAZY?! You nearly turned us into road-kill, you little freak!" he screams at Sam, eyes still wide with the aftermath of shock. "You don't just drop that kind of bomb on somebody while they're trying to concentrate on the road! I mean, holy crap, Sammy. You had sex?!"

"You don't have to freak out, Dean," Sam pouts quietly. "It's not that big a deal..." he trails off, blushing.

"Not that big a deal? Are you kidding me? You're lucky I didn't die of shock," Dean sputters in dismay. "You actually had carnal relations...with someone other than yourself. Um, that's a big deal, Sam."

A wide leer splits Dean's face as he quirks a brow in his little brother's direction, giving him a knowing nod. "So, how was it? Did she know what she was doing or did you get to pop her cherry along with yours?"

"You are such a pig, Dean!" Sam announces, a look of abject disgust crossing his face before he adds with an uncomfortable mutter, "And...I'm not sure..." The teen's face turns a deep crimson at this cryptic admittance.

"Not sure? What do you mean?" Dean's brows knit in confusion. He takes his eyes off the road to frown over at Sam.

Sam squirms under his brother's intense scrutiny. "Well...I..."

"You what, Sam?"

"I-it was..."

"Dude, don't keep me in suspense, here," Dean presses. "It was what?"

Sam swallows hard. "I don't know for sure if she was uh, know...because I know...before I ever actually got to, well, know..."

Dean thinks a moment, puzzling over Sam's words, and then realization washes over him and he clears his throat in amusement.

"Ah," Dean finally says, nodding sagely. His eyes twinkle gleefully as he barely manages to keep from grinning. "Your rocket left the launch pad before the count down was over?"

"Something like that," Sam mumbles clumsily, staring down at the leather seat between his bent legs.

"You see? This, this is why I'm not letting you drive my car, Sam," Dean announces with a sudden sense of conviction, slapping the steering wheel for emphasis.

Sam's shaggy head shoots up in bewilderment.

"What? Why?"

"Because, dude, you have yet to seal the deal, if you know what I mean," Dean shoots back, earning him an ominous death glare from his brother. "Nope. My baby likes virile men. You know, studs like me, not amateurs like you."

"You know a stud is just another word for a fairly useless ornamental object that gets pounded into walls and furniture," Sam says derisively, the sting of Dean's words souring his voice. "And as for the Impala, it's just a stupid car, Dean," he adds, rolling his eyes.

"Hey, show some respect," Dean snaps, pointing a finger at Sam. "You keep dissing my girl, and you can get out and start thumbing your way to the next rest stop, Samantha."

Sam glares but remains silent. As pissed as he is at Dean, Sam knows riding in the Impala is preferable to riding with Dad. Not only would there be hell to pay if John knew they were arguing too much to be trusted alone in the same car, but his father usually spent the entire trip grilling him on basic combat tactics or the names and uses of various herbs and weaponry. And when he's not trying to drill those little tidbits of minutiae into Sam's head, John masks the awkward silence by keeping the radio tuned in to the closest rock station available at a decibel level that, surprisingly, rivals his oldest son's. At least Dean comes by it naturally, Sam bitterly concludes.

"Hey, I promise as soon as we're done whacking this vengeful spirit, I'll try to talk dad into swinging over to Bobby's for awhile," Dean says, hoping to lift Sam's spirits and bring him out of his self-imposed exile. "We'll take one of his old beaters out on the back roads and I'll let you drive to your heart's content. Hell, Sam, I'll even take you to get your license while we're there. Deal?"

Sam remains silent, hooded eyes fixed on a spot somewhere between Dean's nose and his chin.

"Please, Sam?" Dean softly wheedles, trying to look as pitiable as possible. He wishes he could do Sam's patented puppy eyes but settles for a forlorn batting of his eyelashes instead. "C'mon, dude, please?"

Sam thinks a moment longer then with an irritated sigh, he nods and turns on the seat to face forward, staring out the bug-spattered windshield, silent still, but with less of an attitude to his posture.

"Jerk," he quietly huffs from the corner of his mouth.

"Love you too, bitch," Dean answers back, letting a tiny smile of relief play over his full lips as he reaches down to pop a tape into the cassette player. The distinctive opening riff of Enter the Sandman comes blasting through the speakers, and Dean nudges Sam in the side with an elbow, shooting him a suggestive glance.

" and Alice, huh?"

"Her name was Ashley, Dean..."

Quality Court Inn
Rock Hill, Tennessee
6:32 P.M.

"Okay, we oughtta be back before morning, kiddo," John assures Sam, hitching the heavy canvas weapons bag up higher onto his broad shoulder and taking one last glance around the antiquated motel room to make sure he hasn't forgotten anything.

Sam sits on one of the lumpy double beds in the room, back slouching against a hill of pillows he's piled up against the creaking wrought iron headboard, watching with bitter resignation as John strides over to the closed bathroom door, rapping on it once, sharply.

"Dean! Let's go!" John orders. "I wanna be at the site and set up before we lose the light."

"Just a sec," comes the muffled reply. The door opens a few seconds later, and Dean saunters out into the room, looking freshly showered, the ends of his sandy blonde hair still damp against the nape of his neck. Grinning, Dean looks over at his father, disregarding the impatient frown on the older man's face. "Hey, you can't rush perfection, Dad," he quips.

Mock wretching noises come from the vicinity of the bed Sam is occupying and Dean swivels about, pinning his brother with a sour look.

"You know, Dean, most people shower after they crawl belly first through the underbrush," Sam offers sarcastically.

For once, John has to agree with Sam. "This is a scouting op, son," he states dryly, giving his oldest child an appraising look. "The local wildlife isn't going to care whether or not you look pretty."

"Never hurts to look your best!" Dean protests as he flashes a cocky smile. "Just because Sam here never showers…" He trails off, letting the taunt hit its mark.

Sam glowers at his brother's insincere smile, but Dean just grins even more. "Besides, you never know when there might be some scared, lost chick in the woods just waiting for someone manly and handsome like me to come rescue her," he states in a semi-serious tone.

"Like who, Dean?" Sam snorts. "Little Red Riding Hood?"

Dean's expression grows stony. "Well, aren't you the wit, this evening, Sammy," he acidly replies, grabbing his denim work shirt from the end of the bed where Sam is reclined.

Dean shrugs the long-sleeved shirt on over his dark-grey tee and then offers Sam a saccharine smile, reaching over to pat the sixteen-year-old on the head as if he's an oversized puppy.

"Now, you be a good little boy and watch your cartoons while the grown ups go to work, m'kay?"

Sam's eyes narrow, his jaw clenching at the insult. But before he can lob a scathing reply back at his brother, John steps in behind Dean and wraps his fingers around his eldest's bicep, swinging him around toward the door to the motel room.

"Dean," John warns, eyes going flinty. "Lay off your brother."

Sam is already out of sorts, and John doesn't see the need to exacerbate the situation any further tonight. The kid's been pulling a major sulk all day, ready to do battle from the minute the trio walked in the door of the motel room.

First, Sam whined about the condition of the room, complaining that it smelled funny and that the bed was too small for him and Dean to share, meaning one of them (Sam in other words) would have to bunk on the couch which so wasn't fair. As if this place is any worse than the hundreds of other crap-traps they've stayed in, John thinks, shaking his head.

Then came the snide comments about the grease-laden, backwoods menu offerings at the little country diner they'd gone to for dinner. Not to mention the condescending tone Sam used on the waitress the entire evening, John reflects tiredly. Yeah, his palm had definitely been twitching to smack the attitude right out of his youngest offspring by then, but he'd refrained from making a scene in the middle of the restaurant.

The final straw, as far as John is concerned, came when they'd returned to the room to get ready for a night of scouting, and, out of the blue, Sam started in about wanting to go to Bobby's. While John isn't opposed to the idea of visiting his old hunting buddy, he'd refused to commit to the notion on the grounds that another job could present itself before they even left Tennessee.

Sam took his father's reservation as a definite "no" and, with hackles raised, he'd waded mouth first into the fray. Sam and John verbally circled each other like a pair of tenacious bull terriers, fighting over a favorite bone, both refusing to back down until John played his trump card, warning Sam that if he didn't drop the issue and lose the attitude, he would get a very painful reminder on how the chain of command worked in this family. Sam backed down, but remained sullen and withdrawn.

John figured it'd be easier to leave his youngest back in the room than have to deal with his moodiness out in the middle of a pitch-black glade where there might or might not be a psychopathic, murderous spirit on the loose. Sam seemed almost relieved to be left behind, and plopped down on one of the beds, TV remote in hand, peevishly flipping through the half dozen or so local channels on the battered set.

"Sam," John addresses his youngest, waiting for the teen to actually pull his eyes from the TV and look over to him. John gives Sam a stern look to let him know he means business. "Deadbolt the door after we leave, and make sure you put down a salt line too."

"Yeah, I know," Sam sulkily remarks, his eyes coasting back to the television, in effect dismissing his dad out of hand.

"Hey," John's tone is sharp, and Sam instantly snaps his gaze back to his father's face. "You've been moping all day long, Samuel, and enough is enough. I told you I'd think about us going to Bobby's after we get done here, but in the meantime, buddy boy, I expect you to shape up and start acting your age."

I am acting my age, Sam thinks crossly.

"You've got your cell phone in case you need to call us," John says as he heads for the door. "And I expect you to follow the usual rules, understand? That means you don't leave this room, and you don't let anyone in. Got it?"

Sam nods, attention back on the snowy picture of the TV. John's had about enough of the dismissive attitude from the boy.

"Samuel, do I need to go over this with you in private before I leave?" John warns, his tone so ominous there's no mistaking what he means.

"No, sir, I know the rules," Sam hastily replies, trying to keep the petulance out of his voice this time because under no circumstances does he want to have a "private chat" with his dad.

"All right then, see you in a bit." John says curtly, still clearly aggravated by his youngest's bratty behavior, but he chooses to let it go in favor of getting the hunt underway.

He motions for Dean to follow him out into the balmy evening. They pile their stuff into the back of the pickup, and John lets Dean pick the music as they pull out of the parking lot and drive off.

Sam gives up on watching television, swearing under his breath when he discovers the motel doesn't offer cable. Out of the seven grainy channels that come in, three feature slick-haired televangelists in butt-ugly pastel suits prophesying about the end of the world and damnation; two carry the news and sports; one is a local public access channel, basically a rolling billboard of want ads and job openings; and one is public broadcasting, currently showing a mind-numbing documentary about the history of a local sorghum mill. Figures dad would find the most rundown, podunk out of the way place to stay in, Sam complains to himself. Just one more thing to add to his growing list of: 'Reasons Why My Life Sucks Out Loud'.

Wandering into the tiny kitchenette area, Sam glances at the yellowed plastic clock on the wall over the sink and groans out loud. His dad and brother have only been gone forty-five minutes! He contemplates the hours of boredom stretching out before him and shudders. Sighing in resignation, Sam pulls a ragged paperback from his bag, but he's read it before and can't seem to get into it. Instead, he lets his head fall back on his neck, staring up at the meandering cracks of the plaster ceiling, wondering how he's ever going to survive the entire night with absolutely nothing to do. He begins to regret being left behind.

At least if he'd gone along with his dad and Dean, there'd be someone to talk to, he concludes. Even if the conversation consisted of stilted small talk and raunchy jokes, it'd still beat the monotony of sitting alone in a motel room that smells like mildew masked by Lysol, with nothing better to stare at than the faded shag carpeting and coordinating chenille bedspreads.

Martha Stewart would gouge her eyes out in this room. The crazed pattern of the bedspreads look, to Sam's discerning eye, as if someone has eaten an entire 120-count box of Crayolas, and then vomited it all back up onto the bumpy fabric. Guess he won't have to worry about accidentally spilling anything on them, he thinks wryly. Seriously, he could dump a four-course Thanksgiving dinner on top of the bed, complete with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, and it would blend right in!

Sam wanders over to the bathroom, figuring a hot shower might go a long way toward relaxing him and smoothing the jagged edges of his mood. If nothing else, it'll help make him sleepy enough to doze off and his dreams had to better than the reality he's stuck in at the moment.

Stepping into the dingy bathroom, Sam feels along the wall until he finds the light switch and flicks it on. His face falls at the sight in front of him and he lets out a huff of anger. The tiny room looks as if an F-4 tornado blew through. Several crumpled motel towels are thrown carelessly over the rim of the tub, their damp, frayed ends lying on the tiled floor in the sloppy puddles of water left behind by Dean. Looking over to the sink, Sam notices, with growing irritation, that Dean has pretty much taken over what little counter space there is with his razor, comb, toothbrush and other crap. And his slob of a brother has left his dirty clothes strewn all across the floor.

A low growl of disgust coming from his throat, Sam grabs up the towels and clothing, meaning to take them into the other room and dump them on top of Dean's duffel of clean clothes as a reminder to his big brother to pick up after himself, but a muffled jingling sound stops him. He glances down at the pile in his hands and gives it a rough shake. There it is again. The sound is slightly metallic, and Sam smiles, thinking Dean has left some coinage in his jeans pocket. Good, he thinks with a smirk, it'd serve the butt-head right if Sam helps himself to whatever cash he might find there.

Dumping the towels and other clothing in a pile on the wet floor, Sam fumbles a hand into the right front pocket of the torn, faded blue jeans. His fingers touch something and he yanks the item out into the over-bright fluorescent lights of the bathroom. Staring at what lay in his palm, Sam feels a slow, impish grin creep across his lips. Dean's car keys wink back at him. The keys to the Impala. Dean's baby. The love of his brother's life. His mechanized wet dream. And frighteningly enough, the first thing to cross Sam's feverish mind is a mental calculation of how much time he has to take her out for a few turns around the parking lot and up and down the street directly in front of the motel before his brother and dad get back from their recon excursion.

Sam can almost see and hear the little angel and devil sitting on his shoulders, taking opposing sides in his mental war about what to do.

Who'd ever know? his devil slyly suggests with an innocent shrug. Sam can take the car down the road a teensy bit and back again, you know, just to get some much needed practice in and be back in the room before anyone even knows he's been out. What would be the harm?

The harm would be that it is wrong and against the rules, Sam's angelic side argues, shaking a chastening finger at Sam's nose. His father gave explicit instructions to stay in the room, and Dean has all but forbidden Sam from even thinking about driving the Impala. And if anyone ever found out, Sam can pretty much forget about having the complete use of his ass again in this lifetime. Although, that is assuming Dean doesn't cut his life short as soon as he discovers the indiscretion, Sam's angel surmises.

Maybe so, Sam's devil side agrees with a dismissive flick of his hand, but isn't Sam getting just a little bit sick of following everybody else's rules all the time? Especially when they seem so counter to what he really wants? How is Sam supposed to get his driver's license if he never seems to get a chance to practice driving? Besides which, the little imp croons suggestively, once Sam does get his license…what vehicle will he most likely be driving from time to time? It would be the one he usually rides around in the most, right? And which car is that? Why, that's the Impala, of course!

Sam is out the door and sliding behind the wheel of the Impala five minutes later. Heart pumping with anticipation, the teen starts the engine, listening to its powerful rumble. With an almost palpable glee, he slowly backs the big muscle car out of its parking space, making a wide arcing turn to get her pointed in the right direction. He shifts the car into drive and, at a snail's crawl, Sam slowly steers the Impala across the quiet parking lot of the motel, giggling a little when he realizes he's forgotten to turn the headlights on in his rampant excitement. He flicks them on and then maneuvers the car out onto the darkened road, giddy with the prospect of actually getting to drive.

Cripple Creek Road
8:47 P.M.

As the Impala picks up speed on the desolate country road, the rush of wind coming in through the open car window ruffles Sam's long, dark bangs, scattering them across his broad forehead. The teenager ignores the wayward hair, keeping his eyes pinned to the stretch of dirt lane lit by the car's twin high beams. So far, driving is proving to be pretty easy, and it's way more fun than sitting in that stuffy motel room bored out of his skull. Sam will never admit it to Dean, but, yeah, the Impala is like the coolest car ever to be driving. She's sleek, powerful and just plain bad ass. Too bad he can't let anyone see him, Sam thinks wistfully.

Touring the motel parking lot and running up and down the small main street in town proved to be a little too conspicuous for Sam's taste. Too many chances to get noticed, especially when he made minor mistakes, such as cutting a corner too tightly and bumping the curb with a tire or hitting the brakes a little too hard, jarring the Impala to a stuttering halt. He can't afford to draw attention to himself, but he isn't ready to call it quits just yet either. Dad and Dean aren't supposed to be back until dawn and there are plenty of backwoods lanes not too far from the small strip of businesses that make up the main street of Rock Hill. Rural areas like this are always surrounded by miles of empty fields with nothing to distract him as he puts the Impala through its paces.

Sam cautiously eases the Impala out onto the main thoroughfare and away from the city, pleased to find a fairly deserted road a few miles outside of town. It's straight and secluded, serving his purpose well. With each mile he puts on the car, Sam begins to relax in the driver's seat, loosening his grip on the steering wheel a bit more, and getting a feel for the road underneath him, making minor adjustments as he goes. Grinning wide, Sam presses his sneakered foot down on the accelerator of the Impala with a bit more confidence, adrenaline coursing through him as the needle on the speedometer creeps further to the right, quickly climbing from 35 to 45 and then up to 50. The big V-8 engine growls as the car surges forward. Funny, but the sound seems louder now that he's in the driver's seat.

The feeling of all that power under his command is heady to the teen. Being the driver means he's in control for once; he is no longer just a passenger. And that, Sam realizes with a little smirk, means he can choose the music for once! He drops his gaze down to the radio in unabashed delight, switching it on and fumbling with the knob, trying to find something other than the usual hard rock his brother always insists on.

Sam cautiously accelerates up a gentle rise in the road, still fiddling with the radio dial until he finally settles on an alternative rock station playing some Green Day. Satisfied with his choice of music, Sam straightens back up, casually glancing back out the windshield as the car crests the hill with a little jolt and heads downwards, picking up speed naturally. As dark as it is, Sam's eyes patrol the edges of the yellow glow cast from the headlights. Despite that fact, it takes the sixteen-year-old a full minute to acknowledge the presence of a cow – a freaking cow with horns and swishing tail and everything - now fully outlined in the glare of the headlights. It's standing smack in the middle of the road, glancing disinterestedly at the car.

"Move, you freak!" Sam yells in panic.

The beast slowly cranes its spotted head towards Sam, its eyes eerily reflecting the glare of the headlights, reminding Sam of the shape-shifter stories his dad has told him and Dean about. Time stands still for the teenager as the Impala speeds toward the cow. Blood pumping loudly in his ears, Sam hears a high-pitched scream of terror. It is only later that he will recall with more than a touch of manly shame, that he must have been the one that screamed, but the sound startles him from his panicked stupor.

Reflexes kick in, and for once, Sam is thankful for all the years of training his dad has put him through. His foot automatically slides off the gas and jams onto the brake full force, driving the pedal to the floor. The Impala's brakes shriek in protest, the car slowing but not quickly enough. Heart in his throat, Sam adds his other foot to the brake pedal, somehow thinking that will help. He's all but standing on the little pedal with both feet now, panic overtaking him as he watches the car skid on the dirt road, trying for purchase and failing. The cow, for its part, seems to be unaffected by the car's approach. Or perhaps it thinks it has the right of way, Sam wonders irrationally, because it never budges from its place straddling the center line.

Realizing that he's about to have half a ton of Holstein hamburger spattered across the Impala's grille, Sam gives up on the brakes and instead, clamps down on the steering wheel, jerking it hard to the right. He almost slides into the passenger seat as the car veers sharply, wheels spitting up dirt and gravel as it fishtails crazily over to the side of the lane, missing the cow by a few feet. Sam has only a second to breathe a shaky sigh of relief before he realizes with horror that the Impala is still moving, inertia carrying the vehicle off the road and into the darkness beyond.

The stunned teen catches sight of a ditch and field directly in front of him and his feet instantly fly off the brakes and slam down hard on the gas pedal in surprise, engine gunning like crazy. Sam feels himself being pressed back into the seat as the Impala surges forward, flying over the weed-choked ditch in a leap worthy of the General Lee. Squinching his eyes tightly shut in terror, Sam holds on for dear life, not knowing what else to do. This was so not on the agenda for this evening, he thinks miserably.

He is still trying to deal with the absurdity of the whole cow situation when the car's front tires impact solid ground again. The jolt causes his head to smack painfully into the ceiling of the Impala, and Sam swears loudly, wincing. A half second later, the back tires finally grip dirt as well, and Sam immediately hits the brakes, praying that he hasn't ended up in a field full of more cows. The car comes to a shuddering stop, and Sam slowly opens his eyes and looks out the window in trepidation.

He's landed in a small, empty field of grass, surrounded by a huge dust cloud, no doubt caused by his less than stellar stunt driving. With one shaky hand, Sam reaches up and throws the car into park, shutting off the engine before daring to take his foot from the brake pedal. The engine ticks quietly as he sits, mouth open, blinking in horrified shock, his heart tap-dancing crazily up into his throat. Holy. Fucking. Shit. He can't believe he's come this close to almost totaling his brother's most prized possession! The enormity of that prospect stuns the teen into an almost catatonic state.

He's still sitting, immobilized by shock, when Sam almost jumps out of his skin when he hears a moaning noise coming from a few yards directly behind the car. He swivels around, gripping the back of the seat so hard his fingers leave indentations in the leather and squints out the rear window, mind racing to restless spirits and other night-time terrors. But Sam is met with only the shadowy shape of his bovine nemesis. The mooing bastard is still hanging out in the same spot as before, jaw chomping lazily up and down on its cud as if it doesn't have a care in the world. It turns its shaggy head toward him now, lowing deeply once again, its eyes widening and neck straining with the effort.

Sam starts to laugh. He can't help it. He falls forward, resting his forehead on the Impala's steering wheel, and just laughs hysterically, tears squeezing from his eyes as he smacks the dashboard with a hand. His shoulders shake as he snorts huge guffaws. At the cow. At himself. At the whole crazy situation. Fucking stupid Tennessee! He knows it isn't really funny, but his brain seems to be having trouble mixing up the synapses, confusing hilarity and panic for some strange reason. It's just all so surreal.

Sitting back up, Sam takes a few deep breaths to calm down, letting the last of the giggles die away and be overtaken by the crickets and other night sounds outside the car. He rakes both hands through his bangs, pushing them from his face as he tries to think. What's the first thing Dean or Dad would do? They'd do a systematic inspection, he figures. No problem, he can do that. He looks down at himself. He's okay – check. He glances back over his shoulder out toward the road once more. The cow, although possibly the stupidest piece of shit animal he's ever come across, is okay – check. He faces forward again, eyes flicking over the darkened dashboard. The Impala is…the thought sobers him right up. The Impala is what?

Sam licks his suddenly dry lips, head jerking around, eyes roaming over the interior of the unlit car with a growing sense of apprehension. The inside of the car looks like it always does, his brain tries to calmly reason with him, but then, Sam knows that isn't the part of the Impala he should be most concerned about. It's the outside, the body and frame, that would most likely be damaged from the little Evil Kneivel jump he made back there. Reluctantly, Sam slowly opens the driver's side door and slides out of the car, feet hitting the soft loam of the field but refusing to move any further.

While John hasn't raised his kids to be overly religious, Sam does believe in a higher power and has been known to offer up a prayer now and again. It gives him some comfort to know that perhaps someone is watching over them. With that in mind, the teen raises his face up to the deep, starry heavens above his head and closes his eyes, beseeching God, or whoever else might be listening, to give him a hand. Please let the car be okay, Sam fervently prays. Please let it be okay and I won't ever take it again without asking, I swear, and I'll drive it straight back to the motel right now, thank you, Jesus, amen. The cow bellows once again as if in answer, and Sam spins around, face a mask of startled rage.

"Shut the hell up, you stupid CRAP-ASS, DUMB-FUCKING COW!" Sam's voice rises from normal pitch to angry bellow quickly.

The animal jumps slightly, as if in offense, and then, with head hung low, it calmly sashays toward the opposite side of the road, offering Sam a view of its broad backside, tail swishing agitatedly. Sam lets out a bitter laugh. Cow almost gets run over and it doesn't bat an eyelash. He screams filthy language at it and it decides that's too much to take.

"No wonder you're so low on the food chain," Sam mutters in the cow's direction, vowing to order a big double cheeseburger tomorrow for lunch just to prove his point.

Shaking off his anger, Sam leans into the open door of the Impala, reaching under the seat to snag a flashlight from the utility box stashed there. Flicking it on, he plays the beam carefully over the side of the car, slowly making the circuit, checking for damage. To his utter relief, the vehicle seems to have made it through the incident dent-free. Sam almost sinks to his knees in prayerful thanks, but decides it'd be best if he calls it a night and gets his butt quickly, but safely, back to the motel room. He absently wonders if there might be any beer in the motel room because at this point, he's thinking he'll need a drink just to calm his nerves for when his dad and Dean come back.

Sam gets back in the car, and starts the engine, listening intently for a few moments to make sure it sounds normal. He's not any kind of expert, but nothing sounds out of order, and he lets out another ragged sigh of relief. He shuts the door, turns off the radio, and puts the Impala in reverse, backing up to turn and head across the field towards the little driveway he spotted earlier. There's no way in hell he's going to attempt another jump over the ditch. Sam backs up only a few feet when he feels a hard jolt accompanied by a loud thwacking sound. Shit! He hit something!

Putting the car back in park, Sam leaves the engine running and hops out of the car, stumbling around to the back, flashlight in hand once again. He sweeps the light down toward the chrome bumper of the Impala and lets out a strangled whimper. He's backed up into a weathered fence post. The post looks to be made of an old wood telephone pole, sawed off to about three feet in height, which is the reason he didn't see it when backing up. It hasn't connected too hard with the bumper, but there's a definite crease in the shiny silver metal that wasn't there before. Sam can't help but stare at it with a sense of growing dread. Son of a mother fucking bitch! he thinks.

And then he says it out loud, along with a long string of profanity, making a litany of every single curse word he can think of or invent outright until his voice is hoarse from all the swearing. He stares at the dent and the pole a bit longer. Then with a vicious kick to the post, Sam wearily trudges back to the driver's side and crawls in, slamming the door harder than necessary. He throws the car into forward, gunning it and spinning in the dirt, not caring anymore if he's careful or not. What does it matter now? He messed up Dean's baby and he's going to die. End of story.

He drives back to the motel in uneasy silence, jittery panic now giving way to a smothering sense of fear and dread. Why did he take the car out? Why? It was so stupid! Dean's literally going to tie him to the back of the Impala and drag his sorry ass all the way to Bobby's. And then his dad's going to pick the worst, most painful curse in his journal he can use on Sam before finally putting him out of his misery with one of the shotguns from the trunk. Wow, he thinks as he pulls the car into the parking lot of the motel, I thought life sucked before, but this really put things in perspective. Life had actually been pretty damn okay compared to now. In fact it had been freaking rainbows and unicorns compared to NOW.

"I am so screwed," Sam mutters under his breath as he slides out of the Impala, moving around to the back of the car to stare once more at the ugly dent in the bumper.

The bluish glow of the overhead lights does little to hide the crease in the metal. Sam looks about, thinking, and spots a large ceramic planter full of petunias in front of one of the vehicles down the row. He walks over to the pot and digs a handful of wet dirt out of it, and returns to the bumper. Kneeling down, he proceeds to artfully smear the mud along the bumper and over the crease, hoping to make it less noticeable. He just wants to buy some time, just enough to come up with a cover story of some kind. Something that sounds a little less condemning than the truth.

Standing up, Sam backs away a few feet, biting his lip and assessing his handiwork. He can still see the dent, but it isn't as obvious as before. Or is it? No, no, it's not, he firmly convinces himself. With a little bit of luck, no one will notice it right away and maybe then, Dean will just assume that some asshole backed up into his baby while they were parked somewhere. Not much else he can do now but wait. With a small, sad whimper, Sam wipes his hand on the leg of his jeans and heads for the room, shoulders slumped and head down. Apparently, prayers don't help much when you're already knee-deep in shit to begin with, he concludes.

Quality Court Inn
Room 17

Two days. It's been two whole days since the accident, and Sam still waits for the fallout. The Impala sits where he left it, untouched and unnoticed. Dad and Dean take the pickup whenever they go out to hunt in the evenings, and with the groceries Dad bought earlier in the week, they've been eating all their meals in the room. Dean's so engrossed in helping their dad with the job that he hasn't had time to take the Impala out for a cruise to the nearest pool hall for some action and so Sam's little cover up remains just that – covered up. If either man has chanced a look at the car, he's only seen the muddy smears on the bumper and nothing else apparently.

Sam's never been this lucky or maybe it's just that he's never been able to keep his guilt under wraps for this long, he considers with a twinge. And he does feel pretty guilty. But as bad as he feels about the damage to the Impala, his instinct for self preservation far outweighs the need to confess. Honesty may be the more honorable path to take, sure, but Sam sees quite a bit going for the plan where he doesn't end up getting his ass handed to him on a platter. Because let's face it, sixteen is way too young to die, and it's far too old to be walking around with a throbbing, red-hot behind.

"Sam?" John gently addresses his youngest, concern coating his voice as the three of them sit at the breakfast table. He leans in to inspect his child closely, noting the dark under eye smudges and fidgety demeanor on display. "You doing all right, son?"

"Hm? Uh, yeah, sure, Dad," Sam mumbles distractedly as he absently chews on a piece of burnt toast, ignoring the charcoal taste filling his mouth. "Guess I'm not sleeping so good. The couch kinda sucks, you know?"

"I told you I'd flip you for the bed, Sam," Dean says, rolling his eyes as he reaches into his pocket. "Got a coin right here, and-"

"No, that's okay, Dean. I'm good," Sam hastily replies, dropping the triangle of toast back onto his plate of half-eaten eggs and bacon before pushing it away from him with disinterest. Truth be told, Sam feels way too guilty about what he's done to the Impala to take the bed away from Dean, even for one night.

Sam looks over to John, brows raised. "Dad, may I be excused?" he asks meekly, and John blinks in surprise.

"Uh...sure, buddy. Go on," John stumbles over his words a little, not quite sure what to make of this new attitude.

The older man carefully watches as his son slips from the table and makes for the bathroom. It isn't until Sam shuts the door that Dean lets out a low whistle of concern.

"Something's up," Dean states flatly, giving his father a knowing look from across the breakfast table.

"Why's that?" John asks, taking another sip of his coffee.

Dean chuckles. "Sam just asked you for permission to leave the table? Dad, he hasn't asked that in....well, Sammy's never asked your permission, so either something's going on or that's not Sam."

"Your brother's just tired, Dean," John argues softly, wiping his mouth with his paper napkin before balling it up and dropping it onto his empty plate. "Besides, who am I to complain about your brother being polite? Kind of a refreshing change, don'tcha think?"

"Okay, but if his head starts doing a one-eighty and he starts yakking pea soup at us, I'm gonna say I told you so," Dean quips.

"You watch way too many movies, you know that?" John says, shaking his head. He rises from the table, going over to the bureau to grab up his worn leather billfold, stuffing it into his back pocket. "Hey, I need to run over to that hardware store we passed by yesterday. Need to stock up on lighter fluid and pick up another shovel for tonight. How's the Impala sitting for gas?"

Dean thinks a moment and shrugs. "Probably has a little under half a tank left, why?"

John holds out his hand. "Gimme the keys. I'll fill her up for you while I'm in town."

Dean grins and tosses the car keys to John. "Thanks, Dad. And hey, since you're feeling so generous, she could use a wash and wax too."

"Not feeling that generous, pal," John replies, amused. He grows serious. "Keep an eye on your brother and see if you can find out what the hell's bugging him."

"You mean other than being a pissy, little bitch?" Dean remarks, his words full of derision.

"Watch the mouth," John advises. "Unless you enjoy the taste of Zest soap." He levels a stern glare at Dean, lips thinning a little.

Dean's face scrunches up in obvious distaste. "Nah, I'm more of a Dove man, myself," Dean replies devilishly, a grin pulling up the corners of his mouth.

"Always gotta be the smart ass," John mutters under his breath, making for the door to the motel room before he decides to throttle his oldest child.

Sam, still in the bathroom, scrubs his hands for the fourth time, rinsing them under the steady stream of tap water. Despite the claustrophobic layout, Sam finds he prefers the little room to what's on the other side of the thin plywood door. He's not ready to don his mask of contrived innocence again so soon. Who knew getting away with something could make him feel so guilty? It never seemed to affect Dean that way, so why was it making his stomach churn every time his father glanced at him? Sam sighs, shutting off the faucet, thinking 'in for a penny, in for pound'. It's too late to back out of the charade now.

He hears the muffled slam of a door and frowns, apprehensive. Did they just leave him here alone again? Brows rising in curiosity, Sam pries the bathroom door open a few inches, just enough for his nose and one eye to peek out. Dean is standing, his back to Sam, gathering up the dirty dishes from the table. Cautiously, Sam ventures out of the bathroom, wiping his damp hands on the thighs of his jeans.

Dean turns slightly when he catches the sound of Sam wandering back into the room. He snorts softly, examining his little brother a moment. "I was starting to think maybe you'd fallen in or something," he comments lightly, moving over to the counter to dump the dishes in the sink.

"Where's Dad?" Sam casually asks, leaning up against the wall next to the bathroom door as if afraid to move too far from his safety zone.

"Out," Dean replies, his back still to Sam. "Had to pick up some stuff for tonight."


Dean finally pivots about to face Sam, giving a nod back toward the sink behind him. "It's your turn to do the dishes, Sam."

It's a statement, nothing more and nothing less. But Dean waits for the inevitable snotty refusal followed by some petulant excuse, of course. To his surprise, it never comes. Sam eyes Dean in a long, calculated manner before silently trudging over to the sink to smack the hot water tap on, reaching for the drain plug with his other hand. He senses Dean sidling up behind him, but doesn't acknowledge him, other than to tense up a little.


Sam rolls his eyes. "I'm not possessed, thanks."

Dean offers up a shrug as an apology. "Just checking," he says quietly and wanders off toward the beds, a bit mystified by his brother's sudden complacency.

Sam busies himself with the dishes while Dean sprawls on the nearer of the two beds, TV tuned into an old Gilligan's Island episode. It was either that or one of the 24/7 'Jesus Loves You' channels, and as far as Dean's concerned, Ginger and Mary Ann beat out the hallelujah chorus any day of the week.

Sam finishes washing the breakfast dishes and sets them in the drying rack next to the sink before wiping down the counter with a dish towel. That done, he meanders over to Dean, still lying on the bed, and wordlessly nudges his brother's hip with a knee to indicate he should scoot over. Dean complies without taking his attention from the TV because a Three's Company rerun is on now, and that Chrissy chick is bra-less and jumping up and down, making Dean's eyes nearly pop out of his head. Sam crawls onto the bed beside Dean, yanking a pillow from behind his brother's back and stretching out prone, keeping one eye on the show and one suspicious eye on Dean's feet which are uncomfortably near his head. It wouldn't be above his jerk of a brother to suddenly shove one or both smelly appendages into Sam's unsuspecting face just for a laugh.

AC/DC starts playing from somewhere near Dean's crotch area and Sam instantly recognizes the muffled tune as Hell's Bells, his brother's latest cell phone ring-tone. Dean digs the phone out of his jean's pocket and answers it as he rolls off the bed to move away from the noise of the television. Sam feels the bed dip a bit as Dean leaves, but ignores it. Chrissy and Janet are now sporting bathing suits, and Sam's eyes are glued to the set in adolescent lust. He finds it somewhat ironic that the one 'normal' TV station the motel gets seems to be all T&A, a rather direct contrast to the fire and brimstone offered on the other channels. Sam's attention is suddenly drawn away from the gratuitous display of cleavage when Dean's outraged tone overtakes the twitter of the TV conversation.

"I'm telling you, I don't know how it got that way!" Dean almost shouts into the phone, visibly upset, eyes widening as his face drains of all color. "Yeah, well, I don't remember hitting anything either, Dad!" he comments acidly, then sighs heavily, running his free hand through his hair in agitation. His voice softens. "No sir, I'm not trying to be smart with you..."

Uh oh. A light goes on in Sam's head and he catches himself before he gasps out loud. Time has just run out on his 'get out of jail free' card. He watches as his brother breathes heavily, trying to shed some of his anger as he clutches the phone in a white-knuckled death grip. Sam figures now might be a very good time to make himself scarce, but Dean stalks back towards the bed and stands right next to it, his back to Sam as he continues to listen to their father on the other end of the phone, his body rigid with fury. Sam begins to very carefully slide across the mattress toward the opposite edge of the bed, trying his best to be unobtrusive.

"But Dad, I didn't-" Dean anxiously tries to explain, then clenches his jaw shut tightly and nods, as if his dad was standing right there looking at him. "Yes, sir," he bites out in a tone bordering on mutiny as he continues to listen to his Dad's angry rant.

Dean catches subtle movement out of the corner of his eye, and the wheels start turning in his mind. The conclusion he comes to, although seemingly unbelievable, is nonetheless the most obvious and simplest answer. Dean spins and lunges towards the bed in a single move, one hand fisting into the back of Sam's t-shirt, effectively cutting off his little brother's hasty exit for the relative safety of the bathroom. He reels Sam back in, the kid struggling and grunting all the way.

Dean yanks Sam so roughly off the bed that the teen stumbles and almost crashes to the floor before he can get his gangly legs under him. Swinging Sam around to bring them face to face, Dean seizes the front of Sam's shirt threateningly. Enraged hazel-green eyes bore into Sam's darker ones with more than a hint of malevolence. He mouths "you are so dead" to his younger brother as he continues to listen to John over the phone. Dean's anger is palpable on his face as he scowls darkly at Sam, fist still tightly clenched onto Sam's shirt.

"Aw, c'mon, Dad!" Dean's pleading groan makes Sam wince in sympathy until he realizes what it means for him and Sam tries to squirm free of his older brother. He's about to try to shuck out of his t-shirt, Houdini style, when a warning shake halts his struggles. He goes limp, glancing up to see Dean giving him a 'move and you die' glare.

"No sir, I get it. No hunting. Yes, sir, I will. Yes, sir."

Dean ends the call, casually tossing the cell over onto the duffel bag sitting on one of the nearby chairs in the motel room. He pulls Sam close so that they are almost nose to nose, Dean having to look up a little since Sam is taller by a few inches. Sam can feel Dean's hot breath huffing angrily onto his face, as the older boy leans in, his irate countenance drawing an unbidden whimper of fear from Sam.

"You took my car for a joyride, didn't you, you little bitch?" Dean seethes, eyes glinting with unbridled fury. It was all he could do not to drive a fist into his little brother's terrified face. "You drove my car, Sam. After I freaking told you hands off!"

"What? Dean, no. What're you-"

"No?" Dean cuts Sam off, shaking him so hard Sam worries he may get whiplash. "Cut the bullshit, Sam! That was dad on the phone, and he just told me what you already know. You are so dead, dude, because my beautiful baby is now sporting a big friggin' dent in the rear bumper which, ha, ha, dad just reamed ME out for!" Dean's voice rises to ear splitting levels, his face a stony mask of rage.

Sam shrinks down, shoulders hunching, trying to be less of a target for his brother's wrath.

"What? Did you honestly think no one would notice if you messed with my car?" Dean's not really expecting an answer.

Sam pales slightly which doesn't go unnoticed by his brother. "Dean, I'm sorry. I just… okay, so maybe I went for a little ride...just a little one," he stutters, wincing uncomfortably.

"You don't even have a license yet, you little carjacker...and oh yeah – YOU MESSED UP MY CAR!" Dean's eyes narrow to slits. "I told you no, Sam." His ominous tone imparts a chill down Sam's spine. "You're such a genius, you tell me what part of that you didn't get!"

Now Sam is getting upset. He can feel a heated flush slowly climbing up from his neck to cover his face as his jaw juts out anger. While he knows what he did was wrong, he doesn't need Dean treating him like an idiot child over it, especially when he's trying to apologize. Temper flaring, Sam says the unthinkable.

"Jeez, Dean, it's not that big a deal," he peevishly asserts. "I'll pay for getting it fixed, alright?"

Stunned, Dean lets out a shocked chuff of air as if someone has punched him in the gut. That was a little below the belt, Sam regretfully admits to himself. But it's too little, too late because now Dean's way past pissed and rounding on thermo-nuclear meltdown. His brother's face takes on a grim expression as he transfers his grip from Sam's shirtfront to his upper arm, fingers digging into the flesh hard enough to bruise. Sam winces from the pain, but doesn't say anything.

"You'll pay for getting it fixed?" Dean repeats Sam's words slowly, incredulous. "That's not even the point, Sammy, and you know it! You think because I'm not dad, you can just do whatever the hell you want to my stuff, don't you? That's it, isn't it? My rules don't count as far as you're concerned." Dean lets out a short bark of laughter, and the sound makes Sam shudder. "Hell, you barely listen to Dad anymore, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I don't seem to warrant any respect from a snot-ass little shit like you."

Dean's anguish and rage overwhelms him and all he can think of is hurting Sam, pounding him with his fists until he stops seeing red, until he feels some sense of satisfaction. But it's Sammy he's talking about and he knows he can't do it. He's spent his entire life protecting the kid. Hell, the command is hard-wired into him to the point it's become an autonomic response akin to breathing or blinking. The hollow pain in his chest recedes but doesn't disappear completely.

Dean brutally shoves Sam away from him with both hands, and Sam stumbles back a few steps, catching himself against the dresser behind him, a mixture of fear and shame on his face. Dean turns his back on the teen, head falling and shoulders slumping, his breathing harsh.

"Walk away, Sammy," Dean quietly mumbles. "Go down the street and get a soda or something, anything. I don't care, just get the hell out of the room for awhile."

Sam stands frozen to the spot. "Dean? Dean, I'm sorry. Please."

Dean says nothing, fists clenched, continuing to stare at a spot on the floor between his boots. He's tired all of a sudden.

"C'mon, man," Sam tries again, his voice breaking slightly as his breath hitches. He can't believe he's fucked up so badly. "Dean, would you just say something please? Yell some sarcastic...I don't care, just say something."

Dean remains silent, his back to Sam.

"C'mon, Dean," Sam pleads. "Jeez, at least Dad would have whacked me and gotten it over with by now."

Dean raises his head, but he doesn't turn around. His voice is cold, scary. "Is that what you want, Sam? You want me to beat your ass for you? Think that'll make things better?"

Sam licks his suddenly dry lips, shifting nervously from one foot to the other. "I don't know," he answers lamely, swallowing hard around the lump in his throat. "But anything's better than this, Dean. Don't shut me out. Please."

Dean nods, more to himself than for Sam's benefit. He slowly turns around to face Sam, a dangerous glint to his hazel eyes that makes Sam take an involuntary step back. Sam's never seen his brother this mad before.

"All right," Dean responds icily, taking a step toward his younger brother. "But I wanna be very clear about something, Sammy."

Sam's mouth has gone dry, and his heart is jittering so hard in his chest that he almost thinks he can see his shirtfront dancing.

Dean takes another step towards Sam. "You messed with the one thing of mine that I really care about – the one thing I have for myself. Everything else I share with you and Dad, Sam. Always have. But you just couldn't respect that one little thing, could you? No. You went behind my back, and that just shows you got no respect for me."

Sam cringes, tears welling up in his eyes. Dean's hand snakes out to clamp onto Sam's left wrist, encircling it like a vise grip. His smile is arctic cold.

"I'll punish you, Sam, if that's what you want," Dean growls menacingly. "But I won't be nice about it." Sam pales, but Dean ignores his brother's mounting alarm and continues. "I'm gonna beat your little ass so bad you won't want anything touching it other than ice or goose down for days. But, after that? The slate'll be clean between us, dude, and Dad won't have to be any the wiser."

Dean fixes Sam with an unwavering stare, his eyes searching his little brother's face. "Or, door number two: you can wait until Dad gets back from the store and then explain to him what you did and pony up to whatever he decides to dish out. But, you and me, Sam? We'll still have hard feelings to work through, understand?" Dean's expression is firm and unrelenting. "Choice is yours, Sammy. You got to the count of ten to make it, and then I decide for you."

Sam lets out a long, shuddery breath, wondering how he managed to get himself to this point. Although the choice might not seem obvious to most, it is crystal clear to Sam.

"Dean, please. I can't stand you being so mad at me," Sam finally whispers, eyes downcast because he can't find the courage to look up into his brother's face at this point. His selfishness has cast a grisly pall of betrayal over everything.

Dean nods once, feeling a strange mixture of pride and heartbreak at Sam's decision. It took balls and he knows it. He just hopes Sam now has the backbone to face the consequences that are coming.

"C'mon then," Dean states firmly as he directs Sam towards the nearest bed. "Time to kiss your butt goodbye."

Sam hesitates at hearing those ominous words. He waffles a bit, his brain starting to process just what he's gotten himself into. He casts a worried glance at his big brother, notes the viciously determined scowl on Dean's face, and suddenly digs his heels into the carpet, halting their progress towards the bed.

"Uh, Dean?" Sam squeaks, his throat tightening in fear. He shoots his brother one last ditch, award-winning, sad puppy look, trembling with the silent plea.

But, Dean's eyes are flinty. The thought of the Impala, suffering an injury while Sam was skulking around like a selfish brat, turns the older boy's heart to ice. He recalls his Dad's angry accusations, and seethes at the thought of being grounded from hunts until he can fix the damage Sam's little joyride caused. Oh, yeah, he is so going to take this out of his little brother's hide, Dean promises himself.

Seeing the complete lack of sympathy on Dean's face, Sam says shakily, ", maybe we should wait for Dad..."

Dean almost smiles at that. He's got Sam so scared, the kid is ready to opt out and take his chances with their dad, slim as they may be. Good. Maybe he's getting the picture now, Dean thinks angrily. And while he's usually more than happy to let their father handle the discipline where Sam's concerned, this is one time Dean's ready and eager to take the lead.

"Nuh uh, Sammy," Dean calmly replies, and now he does smile, but there's no warmth to it. "You made your choice. No do-overs."

Sam wants to contest the ruling, big time. In fact, he's so sure of this he begins to struggle, his free hand going to his imprisoned wrist, fingers desperately scrabbling at Dean's, prying and pulling to no effect. Dean swears under his breath, reaching for Sam's other hand now as well, but Sam bats at Dean, like he's trying to swat a fly and yanks back to keep at least the one appendage free.

"Don't you fight me, Sam!" Dean warns. He leans toward the bed, using his weight to drag Sam forward a few stuttering steps by his one wrist, grunting with the effort. The bratty green giant is as stubborn as a freaking mule, Dean observes, becoming more annoyed by the minute. "You chose this, Sammy, and it is gonna happen!"

Sam is beyond rational thought at this point. While he knows he deserves to be punished, he's not willing to let Dean be the one to do it. He decides to go on the offensive. Sam tries a basic self defense technique on Dean, rotating his captured wrist while yanking it downwards, in an attempt to weaken his older brother's grip. Dean counters the move, turning in to Sam's body and grabbing his forearm to prevent further movement which only agitates Sam further.

"Sammy, you keep this up, dude, and it's gonna go worse for you." Dean's voice is low and laced with rising impatience as he grapples with the teen. "I'm not fooling around here anymore. Either suck it up and take it like a man, or those 501 blues are comin' off and you're getting this in the raw."

"Screw that!" Sam bleats, blushing fiercely at the thought of Dean taking down his jeans for him. He continues to squirm and buck against Dean's hold.

Desperate now, Sam kicks out, swinging a coltish leg in between Dean's, trying to trip the older boy up. But Dean knows Sam's moves like the back of his hand. Hell he taught the kid most of them. He does a little side-step maneuver, easily dancing around Sam's attempted block.

"Will you quit playing around!" Dean grits out between clenched teeth, and Sam responds by throwing a sloppy right hook at Dean's jaw.

Dean feints back, dodging the blow, eyes narrowing in fury. He can't believe the little shit just took a swing at him!

"Oh, that's it, Bruce Lee, your bare ass is mine!" Dean snaps.

He quickly switches hands on Sam's wrist, swinging the newly freed arm up and over to clamp his younger brother down into a tight headlock. Sam's now bent low, unable to see where he's going, cursing and punching ineffectually at Dean's nearest thigh. Dean squeezes hard until Sam yelps and calms down, docile for the moment, breathing hard.

Making use of the lull, Dean manages to manhandle his little brother over to the edge of the nearest unmade bed. He quickly takes a seat, roughly hauling all six foot and change of Sam, kicking and swearing, over his lap. Sam squirms, twisting violently in an attempt to get some leverage, face meeting the mattress despite his best efforts. Panicked, he spits blanket fuzz from his mouth and scrambles for purchase on the slippery sheets.

"Dean, STOP! I changed my mind," Sam whines fearfully, as he feels Dean's hand fumbling underneath him for the button and zipper to his jeans. "I don't wanna do this!"

"Tough," Dean snorts derisively, not surprised when Sam intensifies his struggles.

Sam snakes one arm down between them to capture Dean's hand, stopping him from getting his jeans undone. With a growl of determination, Dean frees his arm and grabs hold of the top of Sam's baggy jeans on either side of his waist, fingers catching hold of the kid's briefs as well. With one harsh tug, he yanks them both down past the curve of Sam's butt, forgoing the need to unzip them. There are faint pink scrape marks now down the sides of Sam's slender hips from the sharp, heavy fabric. Sam grunts, feeling the slight burn but ignores it in light of the bigger issue at hand – he's now fully exposed from the waist down.

"Dean! Wait! Lemme just expl –"

But, Dean doesn't waste time on listening to further explanations from Sam nor does he want to give the teen any more opportunities to put up a fight. He figures actions are louder than words. And in this instance, they'll be a hell of a lot more painful too, Dean grimly concludes. He raises his arm, rotating his shoulder fully to get maximum range, and then brings his open palm down with force on Sam's wriggling butt. The sound of the crack is startlingly loud and quickly followed by an indignant holler of pain from Sam as a prickly blaze spreads across his rear end.

"Dean, you bastard!" Sam wails, green eyes widening. "That really hurt!"

Dean casually examines the crimson handprint now outlined on the lower part of his brother's ass cheek and nods in appreciation. "Yeah, kinda looks like it does," he observes mildly. He offers up a sardonic grin. "FYI? I'm betting the rest of these are gonna hurt like a bitch too."

Sam is too stunned to react at first. He can't believe his big brother is actually going to spank him! This so isn't happening!

Dean commences to smack Sam hard on his bared bottom, letting his anger stoke his swings. His hand rises and falls, peppering the teen's backside with a volley of powerful swats that darken the tender flesh from the crest of Sam's rear end to the tops of his thighs, quickly bringing a rosy glow to the teen's quivering bottom. As Dean's large hand continues to warm his backside with increasingly painful swats, Sam begins to realize that his brother isn't just going through the motions this time. He really means to blister his butt raw.

"Shit!" Sam swears and begins to struggle in earnest again, trying his best to squirm away from Dean's punishing smacks. "Dean! This isn't – OW - funny! Let me up, dammit! AH!"

"Isn't meant to be funny, Sammy," Dean growls back, laying down a blanket of scalding swats all along Sam's crease between thigh and butt. He concentrates on turning the area a deep ruby red, his hand almost going numb from the stinging force of the blows. "You starting to get that when I tell you no, I mean NO?" he asks.

"YES!" Sam hisses, back arching in pain. "Dean, I'm sorry! I swear I won't ever take the car again! I PROMISE!"

"Who's car is it?" Dean questions, his hand firmly smacking down on first one and then the other of Sam's cheeks over and over in a smarting, staccato beat that leaves a bruising ache behind.

"Yours, Dean!" Sam cries out, wincing from the pain.

"Whose, Sammy?"


"That's right, Sam. It's mine," Dean states as he slows down the spanking and then finally stops. "MY. CAR. You don't get to drive it unless I say so. And you sure as hell don't ever get to put any dents in her unless you like getting your ass royally beaten by your big brother."

Sam is in agony, his butt on fire as tears well up and cascade down his scrunched up face. "I get it," he quietly mumbles, his breath hitching. "I'm sorry."

"Good, then we're done here," Dean replies, his voice tinged with a flicker of weary remorse.

He feels the anger draining from him, his muscles relaxing, back slumping. He glances down at Sam's punished bottom staring back up at him. His sore hand can sense the heat coming off the reddened flesh even from its position at the small of Sam's back, and Dean winces in sympathy. He'd really lit into the kid big time. Sam remains silent, motionless, body limp over Dean's thighs, sniffling quietly to himself.

"Dude…you all right?" Dean quietly asks.

Sam covers his face with his hands, forcing himself to breathe steadily while swallowing the last of his tears.

"Sammy?" Dean questions, growing more concerned.

Sam snorts a half-sob. Even so, it's one of those short, snide chuffs of derision he's perfected over the years. He slowly cranes his head over his shoulder to offer up a salty stare. "You just whaled the crap out of me, Dean. How exactly am I supposed to be all right?"

"Well, no, I know that," Dean stammers, wondering why he's feeling so awkward all of a sudden. "I mean, did I hurt you?" His gaze flicks back down to Sam's welted rear end, and he makes a little face.

Sam's eyes widen in astonishment. "Yes, you hurt me, you shit-head!" he half-laughs, half-shouts. He nods back towards his butt, arching a brow at his idiot of a brother. "You don't think that's obvious from your vantage point?"

While Dean's relieved to see that Sam still has a sense of humor, he's a bit annoyed to have that sarcasm aimed in his direction. He swipes a hand across his face, figuring to try again.

"No, Sammy," Dean's tone is gentler, matching the softening of his gaze as he rubs Sam's back. "I mean, did I hurt you?"

Sam closes his eyes and sighs deeply, then looks back over his shoulder at Dean with a rueful expression. "I'll live," he sulkily states, wincing as he shifts over Dean's lap. "Can I get up now?"

"Uh, yeah…sure," Dean says as he helps Sam stand back up, then focuses on his thumbnail a moment while Sam bends down to gather up his pants. He hears a soft groan escaping from his little brother as Sam gingerly pulls his jeans and underwear back up over his throbbing butt cheeks.

"Hey, look," Dean mutters, fidgeting now in discomfort as if he was the one who'd just been spanked. "I'm really sorry, Sam."

"No," Sam states quietly, but firmly.

Dean looks up at Sam, puzzled. "No?"

Sam shakes his head, eyes on the floor, shame-faced. "Don't apologize, Dean. I deserved it. You were right…what you said-"

"No, hey, I wasn't-" Dean tries to counter, but Sam won't let him.

"Yeah, you were," Sam cuts Dean off, raising his eyes to meet his brother's. He offers Dean a shaky, lop-sided smile, trying to diffuse the awkward tension hanging between them. "Seriously, I'm the jerk and I'm the one that should be apologizing to you. I'm really sorry for taking your car and messing it up. I should have listened to you. I know better. "

Dean starts to object and Sam raises a hand, shaking his head. Both look at one another in silence before Dean shrugs. "Well, just don't do it again, okay? You know, I don't ask too many things of you, Sam, but the things I do ask?"

Sam nods, face flushing. "Yeah, I know." He looks up at Dean, a grimace on his face. "You gonna tell Dad?"

"Nope," Dean answers. "Like I said earlier: what happens in Tennessee, stays in Tennessee. You, little brother, are paid up in my book. So, what say we call it even and just forget this ever happened?" he suggests hopefully.

Sam nods. "Sounds good to me, Dean." He lets a tired smile play over his lips, one hand going back to rub at his very sore behind.

Dean nods back, as he stands. "Good. Great." He looks around the room a moment, not sure what to do next, then smiles disarmingly at Sam, clapping his hands and rubbing them together. "So…pizza?"

Despite his aching rear end, Sam can't help but chuckle and shake his head which brings out a snort of laughter from Dean. The two are still sniggering when they hear the room door snick open and their father walk in. John's eyes travel from one boy to the other, but neither one notices his speculative look.

"Hey, Dad," Sam manages as he quickly drops his hand away from his backside, his face sobering immediately.

"Sam," John responds impassively. He flicks his gaze toward his oldest, holding out the keys to the Impala. "Dean, you need to clean the crap off the bumper so it doesn't settle into the dent before you can fix it."

"Sure, Dad, I'll do it right now," Dean replies just as smooth in tone as usual. He glances back at Sam, and John's eyes narrow as he watches his sons share a guarded look before Dean walks out the door to take care of his baby.

Quality Court Inn
Room 17

"You sure?" John asks once more, looking up from the disassembled Beretta in his hand to eye his youngest child with a raised brow. "It's a lot easier to do this if you're pulled up to the table, kiddo."

"I'm good, Dad, thanks," Sam replies offhandedly, a skittish smile forming on his lips and just as quickly disappearing. He stands next to the table, keeping his full attention on the shotgun in his hand, plunging the cleaning brush into the bore with more enthusiasm than he normally shows for this task. "You know, just kinda wanna stretch my legs and all. Been sitting around for the past three days."

John's not surprised when Sam once again turns down an invitation to sit at the wobbly kitchen table while helping clean and load the guns. The kid's been doing it all afternoon, preferring to stand or lean, rather than take a seat anywhere. John bought Sam's excuse the first few times, but this is now the fifth time his child's used the exact same alibi, and the older hunter decides it's time to play hardball. He's not clueless after all, much as his children might like to think from time to time. In fact, John's far more aware of the situation than either Sam or Dean even realize.

John had been in the process of coming through the door earlier, when he'd tensed, cluing in to the hushed anguish in the boys' tones. Dean and Sam had been finishing up their little discussion, and he'd heard the tail end of the conversation, specifically Sam's apology for taking Dean's car out and denting it. Being as silent as possible, John had eased the door almost shut again and then put his ear to the crack, his face growing stony as he listened to Dean promising to keep silent about the whole matter and Sam heartily agreeing to the deal. Parental sensibilities on fire, John's first instinct had been to barge in and start swatting butts in earnest. Both Sam and Dean knew better than to keep things from him, especially something of this magnitude.

But then, his curiosity had kicked in and John decided to let things go for the time being. While he could understand Sam's incentive for keeping quiet, he wasn't quite sure what Dean was getting out of the cover up. Taking the blame for the incident meant that Dean accepted being grounded from any further hunts until he got the bumper fixed. And while Dean tended to be overly protective of Sam, John knew this wouldn't have qualified as one of those times.

The twenty-year-old's passion for hunting was succeeded only by his love for the Impala. Suffering losses on both fronts simultaneously should have put Dean into a raging fit of violence, regardless of how he felt about his younger brother. John should have come back to a full-on brawl, not some hushed cover-up. Something is definitely up with the way the two of them are acting and John is determined to find out what, exactly, they are hiding before he lays down the law.

With that in mind, John sent Dean off to get the Impala washed and waxed, leaving Sam without his normal back up. Divide and conquer, John thinks grimly. It's the oldest tactic in the book and quite effective where his youngest is concerned. Sam can be smooth as molasses with total strangers, lying his ass off without even batting an eyelash. But the kid's never been able to pull off lying to him or Dean without tripping over his own tongue, John notes with wry amusement. Sam's heartfelt feelings for the people he considers 'family' are so deeply entwined with his personal code of honor that the kid would rather face death than be dishonest to anyone he truly admires or loves.

John waits, patiently observing his youngest child slowly crack under the pressure of keeping his deep, dark secret. And now, Sam's evasive sitting maneuvers all but close the book on this mystery for the older hunter. How many times has he witnessed just this kind of self-conscious squirming after spanking one of the boys? And it makes sense that if Dean already took his retribution out on his kid brother's backside, he'd be okay with taking the hit for the dented bumper, somehow considering it a fair trade. John decides a little more verification is due before he pulls the trigger though.

"Sam." John's bark cuts the silence in the room and Sam startles, almost dropping the shotgun he's just finished putting back together. Kid's nerves are just about shot, John silently observes. He points to the thinly padded chair to the right of him. "I don't want you dropping one of those when they're loaded. Sit down."

It's a command, not a request. A pained expression flits across Sam's face as he slowly sets the shotgun down on the table and drags himself over to the chair in question. He carefully pulls the seat out and away from the table as if the chair is made of something fragile and will shatter at the slightest provocation. He stares at it, drawing the moment out for as long as possible until John loses what little patience he has.

"Sit. Down." John repeats, a little firmer this time.

Sam quietly slides into the chair, trying hard to keep his face emotionless, but John only has to look into his son's eyes to see the bright shine of pain presented there. Biting back the groan of discomfort that wants so badly to slip out, Sam absently scans the assortment of weapons laid out on the towel-covered table and hastily chooses a Smith & Wesson .45, his hands fumbling to break apart the heavy stainless steel weapon as he fights not to squirm around on the hard seat of the kitchen chair. John's seen enough.

"All right, Sam. Let's go," John orders, interrupting Sam's forced concentration. He rises from the table, motioning for his son to follow. "Get up."

"You just told me to sit down," comes the slightly testy reply, as Sam frowns uneasily.

"And now I'm telling you to get up," John states, his dark eyes boring into Sam, making it quite clear to the teen he has no choice but to obey. With a thinly veiled wince, Sam stands back up, swallowing hard, eyes never rising any higher than the top of the table.

John takes Sam's right arm in a firm grip and steers the teen over to the little bathroom. Sam obediently follows, trudging over with shoulders slumped and head down as if he's just been ordered to walk the gangplank.

As John crosses the threshold, he flicks on the bright overhead light, noting the slump in the boy's back, which only confirms his suspicions. Sam is chewing furiously on his lower lip, refusing to meet his father's eyes reflecting back at him in the mirror over the vanity.

"Drop 'em Sam," John orders sternly, indicating his son's jeans.

"Daad," Sam whines, giving his dad a pleading look over one shoulder, but John isn't giving in.

He points, voice dropping low. "Now, Samuel."

With a heavy put-upon sigh, Sam slowly undoes the button and zipper of his pants, pausing before pushing them down with a soft whimper of fear. Before he can straighten back up, his dad issues another order.

"The briefs too, buddy."

Sam twists around, jittery apprehension painted on his face. "Dad, please, I-"

"Do you want me to do it for you?" John asks, a nasty edge creeping into his voice.

Sam's resolve crumbles and he quickly shoves his cotton briefs down to his knees, straightening back up to stare furiously at the rim of the bathtub across from him, thoroughly embarrassed by the situation and understandably nervous at what the inspection will reveal.

John cocks his head, studying the warm pink splotches still covering his son's backside with mounting anger. He can see the clear outline of a handprint in one spot, and he's pretty darn sure the mark wasn't made by Sam's own hand. He hears the motel room door open and then shut, heavy footfalls announcing his other son's return.


"Yeah, Dad," Dean answers as he drops his car keys on the dresser next to a pile of old newspapers.

"Get in here," John solemnly orders.

Sam groans, his head falling to his chest in mortification, hands twitching to go back and cover his naked butt. Dean pokes his head into the bathroom, brows furrowed in curiosity until he catches site of Sam standing there, rear end exposed, and his dad glaring over at him. He licks his lips, putting on an innocent face.

"You do this?" John asks, pointing to Sam's abused backside.

Dean knows he can't really lie about it, especially when the evidence is in plain sight. So he shrugs, trying to be nonchalant about the whole thing. "Yes, sir. Sammy refused to wash the dishes when I told him it was his turn and he threw a book at me when I tried to make him."

John turns back to Sam, who is hastily pulling his pants back up, heart racing. Sam finishes zipping up and slowly turns to face his brother and father, fear glazing his eyes.

"That true, Samuel?" John asks.

Sam nods, refusing to look his father in the face. "I lost my temper, and... and Dean spanked me," he confirms, but winces a little as his voice breaks on the last word.

John's stormy glower rotates back over to his eldest. "Seems kind of harsh..." John fishes dangerously, letting his protracted stare linger on Dean. "You sure that's all he was being punished for, Dean?"

Dean blinks, and John lets a lazy smile cross his lips. He can see his son's mind frantically working to keep one step ahead in this mental chess game.

"Well, uh...he swore at me too," Dean suddenly announces, nodding as if agreeing with himself. "Yeah, Sam was pretty raw with the language there, Dad. Total potty-mouth."

Sam's eyes widen in horror, wondering if his brother is really trying to help him or if he's just become the sacrificial lamb in this disaster. He flashes Dean a heated what-the-fuck?! look, and then turns to John, his expression now one of contrite discomfort, the painful half-smile on Sam's face making him look as if he's wearing shoes that are a size too small and are pinching terribly.

"Potty mouth, huh?" John is mildly impressed with Dean's quick thinking, but has no intention of letting his son enjoy his moment of glory. He crosses his arms over his broad chest and with an arched brow, confronts Sam. "What exactly did you say to your brother, Samuel?"

Sam reaches up to scratch the back of his head, face scrunched up in misery, rather amazed at how deep he's managed to sink into this abyss of deceit.

John waits calmly, watching Dean out of the corner of his eye, amused when his oldest coughs loudly into his fist, giving his younger brother a warning look.

"Yeah, uh...I, I really let fly..." Sam stammers, faltering before he can even move out of the gate. "I told Dean to go, you" the teen looks up at his father and stops dead, mouth open, forming the word but not uttering it. He moans softly, head dropping down in shame. He can't go through with it.

"Saaam..." Dean whispers, frantic, pleading.

Sam glances over apologetically at his brother and shakes his head. "I can't Dean. I'm not doing this anymore. I'm sorry."

He flicks his gaze over to his Dad and the truth finally comes tumbling out, the words falling over one another as Sam finally breaks. "Dad, I didn't swear at Dean. And I did the dishes like he told me to." Sam reaches up to swipe a stray tear from his cheek, trying to be manful about this. "Dean spanked me for taking his car without permission. I took it when you guys were out scouting the other night, and I was doing okay too, you should have seen," he recounts with a wistful smile, until he remembers where the tale is going and grimaces. "But, then there was this cow-"

"Wait. Cow?" Dean interrupts, tension in his voice as he eyes Sam warily. "You didn't say anything about a cow. What-"

"Dean, let him finish," John breaks in before the two of them are arguing over the details. "Go on, Sammy."

Sam nods. "Anyway, this cow was in the middle of the road, so I swerved to get out of the way and well, I guess I sort of panicked because I hit the gas instead of the brakes and ended up in this field after going over a ditch-"

"You took my baby airborne?" Dean nearly chokes, his face flushing in anger as he points a finger at Sam. "I'm so gonna-"

Sam pales and John puts a hand on Dean's chest, giving his oldest child a warning look.


"Dad, c'mon!" Dean hotly contests. "He didn't tell me he-"

"You saying you spanked your brother before hearing the whole story?" John asks in a dangerous tone.

"What?" Dean looks startled, mind grinding to a halt as he's caught off guard by this twist in the development.

John takes a step closer to Dean, leaning into the boy's personal space. "I'm asking you if you laid into your brother before he was able to tell you exactly what happened that night."

"Um, maybe." Dean clears his throat, fidgeting at having the spotlight turned glaringly onto him.

"Maybe?" John growls, incredulous. "Maybe isn't going to cut it here, Dean. You either did or you didn't. Which is it?"

Dean closes his eyes in defeat. "I did," he declares glumly.

John nods, satisfied. "It took you two long enough to cut to the chase," he declares with a bit of irritation.

"What?!" Both boys' heads shoot up in astonishment.

"I've known the truth for awhile now. I was just waiting for the two of you to finally 'fess up," John calmly informs them.

"How?" Sam sputters.

"I overheard your conversation earlier before I came in," John confesses.

"Way to fake out your own kids, Dad," Dean mutters darkly, earning a warning look from John.

"Hey, if anyone was getting faked out around here, smartass, it was me, don't you think?" John observes angrily. He's met with silence and downcast faces.

John herds his two trouble-makers out of the bathroom and back into the kitchen area. He grabs a chair from the table and drags it over toward the sink, flipping it around to face the counter.

"Samuel, come over here." John points to the chair as Sam trudges over to him, the world's saddest pout on his cherub face. "Sit."

Sam eyes the chair, then casts a wary glance up at his dad. "Can't I just stand?" he dares.

John puts a hand onto his son's shoulder, leaning in close, his lips to Sam's ear. "I suggest you sit down while you still can, little boy," John advises grimly. The sixteen-year-old's sore backside hits the chair in record time. "You keep your butt glued to that chair until I tell you otherwise. I'll deal with you in a minute."

John spies a large wooden serving spoon in the drying rack next to the sink and grabs it up, tapping it against his leg a couple times as he turns back toward Dean who is wistfully fingering the magazine of one of the disassembled pistols on the kitchen table. He looks up, catching sight of the spoon in his dad's hand and glances over at Sam, unabashedly fidgeting on the hard chair, his back to the action. Dean smirks, holding his hands up in front of him.

"If you and Sammy need some alone time here, Dad, I can just-"

"Oh, this isn't for Sam," John corrects, smiling darkly as he advances on his oldest son. He reaches over to grab another chair from the table, dragging it behind him as he approaches Dean. He pats the top of the chair warmly as if it's a beloved pet and then waves the spoon under Dean's nose. "This one's all for you, pal."

Dean eyes the spoon with growing dismay. He's twenty freaking years old, for chrissakes, he thinks with annoyance. Does his dad really intend to whack him with that? He hasn't been treated to a John Winchester ass-warming special since that time in Kentucky two years ago when he'd made the mistake of trying to exorcise his high school girlfriend who'd just also happened to be a demon. The thought of being put over his dad's knee now makes Dean blush with humiliation. Not to mention the fact that the spoon his father is brandishing so cheerfully looks to be pretty darn big. And solid. Which means it'll be friggin' painful.

"Wait…what am I in trouble for?" Dean sputters in confusion.

"You really don't know?" John asks, brows rising in disbelief.

"Let's see...Sam takes my car behind my back, plays demolition derby with it and runs it into something...I take the heat for the damage to the bumper to try to save the little geek some extra grief...and then...I get my ass beat?" Dean ticks the incidents off on his fingers, looking up to John with a blank stare. "Nope. Not getting it. Help me out, Dad, because I seem to be missing part of the equation here."

John chuckles softly. "Yeah, Dean, it's the part where you tried to cover up about spanking Sam, neglecting to mention the fact that it was Sam and not you who put the dent in the Impala."

"That's called being a good big brother," Dean staunchly retorts.

"No, that's called lying to your Dad," John counsels, pinning Dean with a deliberate glare. "And I could also add in the part where you took it upon yourself to punish your brother without consulting me or even taking the time to hear his side of things first."

Dean's mouth drops open, and he tries for suave but ends up stuttering. "Well yeah, okay...but..."

John gives Dean a critical look, and Dean's face falls. He sighs heavily. "I'm pretty much screwed, aren't I?"

John gives him a sage nod as he takes a seat in the chair. "Pretty much, son." He pats his knee, his smile cold and determined. "So, what do you say we get this over with?"

"Aw, man..." Dean groans, an uncomfortable grimace marring his handsome face as he looks over at Sam still fidgeting in the other chair and then back down at John. "You can't just, I don't know, punch me or something?"

John offers up a pointed look as if to say are you kidding me?

"You act like a stupid kid? You get punished like a stupid kid, Dean. That's how it works," John states, setting the spoon down on the table next to him. He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees continuing, his tone full of displeasure. "You're twenty years old. I shouldn't still have to be reminding you not to hide things from me or lie when I ask you for the truth."

Dean squirms at the direct hit. "I know..." he mutters in resignation, hating himself for having gotten into this position in the first place.

John's gaze remains solidly on his oldest son, but the anger in his tone has dissipated. "It's like you know here," John points down to his heart. "But, not always up here." He points to his head.

"I do understand, Dad," Dean sullenly replies. "Seriously, I do."

"Then why didn't you tell me the truth, Dean? Why didn't you trust that I'd handle the situation fairly?" John asks softly.

Dean's at a loss for words. His face contorts as he struggles to explain. "It isn't about's was my car."

John nods. "Yeah, I get that. And you should have known that I'd have let you handle the punishment, if you'd asked me. I'm well aware that Sammy sometimes forgets that you're second in command and that your rules are just as valid as the ones I set down."

Dean stares in shock, not sure he's heard correctly. "Wait...what? So, like, you would've let me spank the little brat? Then why am I standing here trying to talk my way out of an ass beating?"

John's amused grin unnerves Dean a bit. "I never said what you did was wrong, Dean. It's the way you went about it that could have and should have been done better. And I think you know that."

Dean is silent, thinking. He sighs deeply, realizing his father is right once again. With an eye roll at the ridiculousness of the situation, Dean shuffles closer to his dad, a dejected frown on his face.

"I can't believe I'm actually letting you do this," he mutters in disgust.

"Letting me?" John questions, brows rising at his son's inadvertent impudence.

Dean allows his cockiness to speak for him. "Well, no offense there, Dad, but I am younger and in better sha-"

Dean doesn't get to finish his sentence as John strikes lightning fast. He takes hold of his son by one shoulder and the back of the shirt, sweeping Dean's feet out from under him with one leg while twisting the younger man off balance and dropping him face down over his knees. Dean lands with a surprised oomph, eyes widening as John swiftly clamps a muscled arm around his middle. Dean flails, trying to right himself, until his dad catches his one arm and brings it around, pinning it behind his back, effectively restraining the twenty-year-old in a picture-perfect spanking position.

"You were saying, Dean?" John muses.

"That's okay," Dean wheezes, still trying to catch his breath after being slammed into his father's thighs so unexpectedly. His face is flushed from both the exertion and a sense of utter embarrassment. "Think I've chewed on my foot enough for one night, Dad. I'm good."

"A little humiliation goes a long way towards getting you to behave, doesn't it?" John smirks, patting his son's rump with his free hand.

"That's messed up, Dad," Dean shoots back over his shoulder, frowning unhappily.

John shrugs. "Not from my viewpoint, Dean. And that's the one that really counts around here."

Dean stares down at the ugly burgundy carpeting directly in front of his nose, sighing heavily. "Yeah, I'm guessing your view is way better than mine right now," he mutters under his breath and then tenses up, waiting for the first blow.

John reaches over and snatches the wooden spoon off the table, twirling it once like a drumstick before bringing it down firmly, smacking Dean's denimed backside with a hearty crack. Dean lets out a muffled grunt, flinching at the burning sting. He doesn't have time to fully process the range of pain being transmitted from his butt to his brain before his dad lands four more swats in almost the same identical place, one after the other. Dean's eyes widen, the pain register suddenly leaping up several notches for him without warning, and Dean is biting his lip in agony to keep from hollering aloud. He can't remember the last time his butt felt this scorched.

John is methodical and thorough in his spankings, much to his boys' distress. He's unfortunately had years of practice on both Dean and Sam, and his penchant for 'doing a job right' seems to carry over into his role as disciplinarian as well. John knows exactly where to apply the heaviest swats in succession to achieve the most sting, and he knows to occasionally mix it up, smacking the crest of the rear end once and then laying a lick or two across the sit spot next in order to keep his kid off kilter and unprepared. Half the fear of a spanking is in not knowing what to expect, and John is a master of suspense in this venue.

By the time John's run the full circuit from top to bottom twice, Dean is grunting loudly and letting slip distressed 'ows' from between clenched teeth. He can feel his eyes tearing up but refuses to cry. No way is he going to get all girly here. Instead, he grabs up a handful of the shag carpeting underneath his free hand, gripping it so hard, he's pretty sure there'll be a bald patch in the rug by the time his dad is done blistering his ass. Just when he thinks he can't take much more of it, Dean realizes the acute heat torching his backside is no longer being supplemented by the bursts of splintery anguish from the spoon cracking down on his butt.

"Have you learned your lesson, Jonathan Dean?" John suddenly asks, his tone no-nonsense.

Christ, Dean swears softly to himself, he's calling me by my full name like I'm ten or something. Why? Because the paddling with the ginormous serving spoon wasn't humbling enough or what?

"You need me to help get your tongue moving?" John threatens.

"No, sir," Dean sourly replies, trying hard to concentrate on anything other than the throbbing ache in his rear end. "Just reflecting on this profound moment before I profess my undying gratitude for your warped sense of justice."

Dean hears the swish of the spoon and has a second to think 'I know where that's going' before it smacks him hard across both cheeks, making Dean hiss in pain.

"Son of a-" he spits out, grimacing, then catches himself before he can finish the curse because he knows he honestly deserved that last one. He really did. "Sorry, Dad," he manages, his tone more respectful. "I'm sorry I lied to you and I'm sorry I let my anger get the better of me and that I didn't think it through before taking things into my own hands."

"Glad to hear that," John softly replies. "Hope we won't have to revisit this little lesson ever again."

"Not a problem," Dean quickly assures him.

John lays the spoon back down on the table and helps Dean up from his lap, fighting back a grin at the look of uneasy discomfort plastered across his oldest's face. The smartass may be a full-grown man by most accounts, but he will always be John's little boy at heart. And watching his twenty-year-old standing in front of him, unhappily rubbing his tender, spanked rear-end just proves that to him without a doubt. John pushes up from the chair, clapping a hand on Dean's back.

"Guess where you get to go now," he states, not able to keep the wry amusement from his voice as he points over to Sam, still in the chair facing the sink.

Dean gapes at his father, dumbfounded. "Oh, you gotta be kidding me!" he chokes, an expression of horror on his face.

"It's only fair, Dean," John calmly reasons, guiding the young man to his destination with a firm hand to his back. "Sam's had to sit there while you took your punishment, and now it's your turn."

Sam's smug grin only exacerbates Dean's feelings of misfortune. He glares at his little brother with unbridled resentment.

"Kinda ironic, isn't it?" Sam crows as he gets up from the chair, pretending to dust it off for the next customer.

Dean shoots him a dirty look. "Shut up, you little narc," he wearily snaps.

"The spoon's right over there," John butts in with a warning and both boys quickly clam up.

John grabs hold of Sam's bicep, directing the teen away as Dean gingerly takes a seat in what he's inwardly dubbed the 'chair of eternal misery'. He groans loudly as butt touches vinyl and grits his teeth in a world class effort to keep from squirming.

"Let's go, Samuel," John orders as he leads his youngest over to the table and the other chair.

Sam's had some time to build his case, and has decided to approach it from an ethical standpoint, figuring logic and some rational argumentation might just surmount the undeniable odds currently playing against him.

"Dad, you really can't spank me," Sam contends, glancing up at John with wide green eyes. "Dean already did and if you do too, then that's like double indemnity. I'd be getting punished twice for the same thing and that's not fair!"

"I think you mean double jeopardy, champ," John suggests with a tight smile. "And just so we're clear, you're not getting punished twice for the same thing."

Sam's look of wary disbelief announces just how much he disagrees with his father's statement. John takes a seat and pulls Sam close, their eyes meeting in an earnest collision of resolve. But his father isn't interested in debating the issue.

"You got paddled by Dean for taking his car without permission and damaging it in the process," John calmly explains. "I'm going to spank you for disobeying my direct order to remain in the room, driving without a license, and lying about what you did."

"Well...crap," Sam mutters in defeat and then gulps, whimpering, as a foreboding thought suddenly occurs to him.

The worst wasn't over for him! Dean's butt whipping had hurt like hell, no doubt. And that had just been for taking the stupid Impala. Considering his dad's list of his misdeeds are way worse than the ones Dean punished him for, Sam's legs begin to tremble, his mind conjuring up what's in store for him now. Driving the Impala might have been an epic deal, but it was so not worth losing sitting privileges for the next millennium. Sam gives one last pleading look over at his father and then resigns himself to his fate.

"My life sucks," he whispers under his breath with a sulky frown of displeasure.

"Get 'em down," John indicates his son's jeans, and Sam sighs, grouchily pondering on the inordinate number of times he's had to bare his backside today. Way too darn many in his opinion.

Nevertheless, Sam complies without a fuss. He definitely doesn't want to experience a repeat of Dean's resourceful method for getting him de-pantsed, although he seriously doubts his dad would be that rough with him. Jeans puddling around his ankles, Sam stands, pouting forlornly and waiting, as if he's never done this before and needs further instructions. John is quite familiar with his youngest child's subtle methods of emotional bribery and, wordless, he reaches over and takes hold of Sam's arm, guiding him face down over his lap, tucking him in close to his torso.

No slouch at the game of manipulation either, John angles for the corner pocket with confidence. "You really think you don't deserve this?" he quietly asks.

The tone is one of disappointment and makes Sam wince. He knows a loaded question when he hears one and opts to remain silent because he knows it's true. He does deserve to be spanked like a naughty little kid for messing with things he had no business in, nearly getting himself killed and ruining something that was important to Dean.

John tucks his fingers into the frayed waistband of Sam's thin briefs, absently making a mental note to pick the teenager up another 3-pack of fruit-of-the-looms next time he's out. He peels the underwear down to Sam's lower thighs, observing his son's pink tinged backside once again. While he knows the kid more than deserves a full-on butt roasting of the highest order, he just can't bring himself to be that cruel. Dean's done a pretty thorough job from the looks of it, so John decides to just rekindle the current embers to a nice toasty blaze rather than go for a paddling of inferno proportions.

"What you did was dangerous, stupid and insubordinate, Samuel," John admonishes as he rests his hand on the roundest part of the teen's inflamed butt cheeks, causing Sam to flinch. "I will not now nor will I ever tolerate disobedience from you, especially when it might result in you getting injured."

John picks up his hand from Sam's butt and then slams it back down crisply, eliciting a pained grunt from the teenager.

"The pouting, the defiant attitude, the disobedience? It all ends right NOW," John firmly states, again emphasizing the point with another decisive smack, this one right on top of a fading handprint left by Dean.

Sam sucks in air between clenched teeth and manages to bite out a "Yes, sir."

"You remember this the next time you think lying to me is a good idea." John lays down a pair of matching swats across the middle of each cheek, and Sam begins to squirm frantically in his grip, the incomparable sting reigniting the heat that Dean's previous spanking had established.

Not wanting to prolong Sam's suffering, John begins to spank the teen in earnest now, the barrage of swats evenly spaced and nowhere near as hard as the first few had been. Those had been to get Sam's undivided attention. These next ones are to make a lasting impression on the kid.

Sam lets out a loud yelp, not caring if he sounds like a big baby. It hurts! "Dad, please!" he howls, legs kicking frantically, "I'm sorry!"

"What are you sorry for?" John questions as he continues to wallop his youngest son's backside with a firm succession of smacks.

"For everything!" Sam yells desperately, then chokes out an actual list, just to make sure he's covered all the bases with his father. "I'm sorry I've been such a brat lately...I'm sorry I took Dean's car when he told me not to and drove it without a license...I'm sorry I left the room against orders...I'm sorry I tried to cover up the whole mess and lie about it...and I'm real freakin' sorry I ever let Dean punish me 'cause if I'd known I was gonna get it from you too, I'd of just waited!"

John and Sam both hear the snort of amusement from behind them, and John ends the spanking, half turning in the chair to spy Dean, still entrenched in his seat, face to the counter, his shoulders shaking slightly with silent laughter. John reminds himself to have a little
discussion with his oldest child later about the perils of taking delight in someone else's misery.

He turns back to the lanky teen stretched over his lap. Sam's breath is hitching, but it's more an emotional catharsis of letting go of his guilt than it is of childish sobbing over his butt hurting. John's hand automatically starts rubbing gentle circles on Sam's back as the kid works to compose himself. As Sam's breathing slows and returns to normal, John reaches down and carefully draws the kid's briefs back up, covering his beet-red bottom once again.

Sam pushes up from his dad's lap once he feels his father's arm releasing him, and turns, bending down to gather up his droopy jeans. He pulls them up, grimacing as they scrape over the tender flesh of his butt and slowly zips up, eyes concentrating on the tops of his sneakers.

The teen stiffens upon feeling his dad's calloused hand clasping his neck from behind and then relaxes as that same hand begins to soothingly massage the muscles beneath its grip.

"Not the best of weeks for you, huh, kiddo?" John's voice is a warm, gentle rumble.

Sam shakes his head, offering up a rueful half smile. "I hate Tennessee," he quietly confides, leaning into his father's hand as it eases away the tension in his neck and shoulders.

John thinks about it for a minute and then nods. "Yeah, not my favorite state either, really," he says thoughtfully. "I'm thinking a change of scenery might be good for all of us. I'll give Bobby a call tomorrow and see if he's willing to put up with us for a week or so after we get done with this hunt."

Sam's eyes light up at the news, despite the continuous throbbing in his rear end.

"Don't get too excited there, buddy," John advises. "Your little stunt's cost you more than you think."

The pained expression on Sam's face would be comical if it wasn't so grave. "Dad, I thought I just paid for my stunt," Sam whines, reaching back with both hands to rub his sore butt. "What else is there?" he asks slowly, hoping it isn't what he thinks, but knowing it probably is.

"You can forget about getting your driver's license until your next birthday," John states with a finality that Sam can't even hope to breach. "I'll be taking you out on scheduled practice drives between now and then, but other than that, you're not getting behind a wheel of any kind. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir," Sam mumbles dejectedly, his heart sinking about as low as it can go. He thinks a moment. "What if you and Dean get injured or something and can't drive?" he probes hopefully.

"Sam," John groans, giving his son a weary look of disbelief. "If, by some unbelievable stroke of bad luck, your brother and I end up out of commission to the point we can't drive, I would hope you'd be smart enough to call Bobby or Pastor Jim on our behalf - or at least dial 911- before gleefully running off with the Impala or my pick-up."

"Yeah, I could do that," Sam muses, earning him a playful swat to his head by John.

"Thanks, son, you're a real trooper," John remarks dryly, rolling his eyes.

A voice liberally coated in sarcasm floats across to them from the opposite side of the room.

"Hellooo? Still sitting on a really sore ass here…." Dean cranes his head around to shoot Sam and John an expectant glare.

John doesn't stifle his smirk this time. He motions to Dean, quirking a brow at the older boy. "So? Your legs broken? Get up already."

Dean lets out a deep breath of irritation, but holds his tongue as he rises from the chair, giving it a baleful glower. He seriously considers getting a hatchet from the trunk of the Impala and turning the wooden torture instrument into kindling. He may be twenty-years old, but being forced to sit in that chair with an aching, spanked behind makes him feel all of six years old. Never again, he vows. He's way too old for this shit anymore. He gives his rear end a surreptitious rub when he thinks no one's looking.

John stands up from his chair and reaches over, picking up the wooden spoon he left on the table top among the weaponry. He walks it over to the kitchen counter, meaning to drop it back in the drying rack, but pauses, turning the spoon over and over in his hand, eyes narrowed in speculation. On impulse, John pivots and carries the implement over to his duffle bag sitting on top of the dresser and drops the large spoon inside the bag.

"Uh…what're you doing, Dad?" Dean asks hesitantly, an apprehensive frown forming on his face.

John faces his kids, a wicked grin spread over his lips. "Just a little souvenir of our trip, Dean," he explains innocently, watching both boys fidget uncomfortably at the thought of that 'souvenir' being within such easy reach. "Besides, you never know," he adds, a hint of real conviction to his tone, "It just might come in handy."

Sam's expression goes from puzzled to horrified. He lets out a small squeak of terror.

John pretends to ignore it, clapping his hands once, then rubbing them together in imitation of what Dean had done earlier in the day. "So…pizza for dinner?" He's met with twin expressions of dumbstruck alarm from his boys, and he smiles to himself. Mission accomplished.

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