Author's Note: This story was written in response to Minx's Story writing challenge on her LJ page. It was for prompt #16 - storm, teeth, girl .

Lightning Strike


"Dude, what took you so long?" Dean asks, lifting his head from the kitchen table as a drenched Sam slips in the back door. The ache in his jaw now seems to encompass his entire skull, and he makes a mental note to add dentists to his list of evil SOBs.

"Sorry," Sam says, tossing the package from the drugstore to his brother. His eyes darken with worry as he watches Dean open the white bag. The older boy looks pale, freckles standing out vividly enough for Sam to play a game of connect the dots. "Ran into trouble."

Dean frowns as he twists open the cap on the Vicodin and pops a pill. He swallows dry, grimaces. "What kind of trouble?"

"Know that bar next to the strip mall?" Sam asks, watching Dean slowly ease back in his seat, thumb and forefinger pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Anthony's, right?"

Sam nods glumly, shuffling a little farther into the kitchen and trying to ignore the dull squish of his wet sneakers. "There was a guy out front arguing with his girlfriend, and things got physical, so I tried to break it up."

Dean glances up sharply from beneath his hand. "Jesus, Sam." But it's said without heat. Because stopping to help a stranger is exactly the kind of Dudley-Do-Right shit that makes Sam 'Sam.' "What happened?"

"I tried talking first, but it didn't work." Sam doesn't know why he's surprised. It's not like a guy who slaps his girlfriend around in the pouring rain is exactly reasonable. "He shoved her, so I knocked him down. I went to help her up, and she came after me."

Dean huffs, faintly amused despite his throbbing jaw. "You're shitting me."

"Do I look like I'm shitting you?" Sam flicks a damp lock of hair from his eyes in annoyance. "She went crazy; I barely made it into the truck without having to shove her myself. And she kicked in the taillight. Dad's going to kill me."

"He's not going to kill you." Maim, maybe, but not kill.

Sam snorts. "Right. I was supposed to use the truck to drive you to and from the dentist; 'Nowhere else,' remember?" He mimics their father's parting words in acid tones. Far be it for the man to actually trust him. Dean is the son for trusting; Sam's the one that screws everything up.

"Well, you couldn't exactly take my car." Not until Dean can replace the brake pads, anyway. "Besides, the truck's a hell of a lot safer in this weather, and Dad knows it."

"Knowing isn't the same thing as caring," Sam points out. "He'll just see it as one more count of insubordination; he's beat my ass for a lot less."

Dean rolls his eyes at the dire prediction. "Dad doesn't beat you." Although Sam and the old guy don't exactly see eye to eye these days. Dad asks, Sam balks. Dad orders, Sam argues on principle. It's no wonder the kid ends up over their father's knee every other week.

"Whatever. I'll be in my room."

"There's a surprise," Dean mutters. "And change your clothes!" he hollers after him, glancing at the trail of water puddling the old linoleum. "You're dripping all over the floor!"

************************************************************

"Why is there a broken taillight on my truck?" John asks, sliding off his wet coat and hanging it to the side of the back door. He'd just spent the longest ten minutes of his life with the awkward, pimply-faced cashier from the garage, and his mood feels as dark as the clouds looming over the small rental house.

"Now there's an interesting story," Dean says from where he's standing at the kitchen sink. He rinses another cup out and sets it in the drainer with the rest of the dishes.

"I'm listening." John leans against the counter and folds his arms. Dean doesn't seem particularly concerned, so maybe there's a reasonable explanation for the damage.

"Sam took the truck to the pharmacy - "

"Sam doesn't drive the truck when it's raining; not without my permission."

Dean glances over his shoulder, a small smile quirking his mouth. "C'mon, Dad; he saved the squirrel."

"He put us in a ditch," John reminds him, but his shoulders relax the slightest bit. Kid has the same disarming humor as his mother, the same way of putting him at ease.

Dean picks a soapy plate out of the water. "We were out of Vicodin," he explains. "I asked him to go; figured we needed it for the kit, anyway."

"Huh."

It's as much concession as he's going to get, so Dean continues. "Some guy was beating on his girlfriend outside Anthony's. Sam broke it up, but the girl wasn't exactly appreciative."

"Christ," John mutters, rubbing at his chin. "She did that?"

"Yeah."

"Damn it." He raised his boys with a healthy respect for women, but he doesn't like the way things could have gone here. At sixteen, Sam's as tall as his brother, but he still hasn't got the muscle all that height promises. And the kid's still naïve enough to turn his back on a drunk.

Dean sets the plate with the rest of the drying dishes and turns, watches the emotion play over his father's stubbled face. "Promise me you're not gonna lay into him about this."

"I'll lay into him when he needs it," John tells him automatically. Then, "What makes you think I'm going to lay into him?"

"Are you?"

John sighs. "No. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to talk to him," John warns, as Dean smothers a grin. He drops his arms, takes a closer look at the boy. "How you feeling?" The kid must have been really hurting to ask Sam to run to the pharmacy. Not that Dean would ever admit it.

"Fine." Dean shrugs. "I was gonna throw one of those frozen pizzas in the oven. You game?"

"Yeah; just give us half an hour." He gives the kid's shoulder a light squeeze, shakes his head. Leave it to Dean to have two wisdom teeth pulled and be eating pizza the same night. The kid's as steady as they come. Sam's the unpredictable one; always has been. And that's what worries John the most.

*******************************************************

"Dean told you what happened, right?" Sam drops his pencil onto his homework as soon as he hears his father enter the room.

"Yeah, and we're gonna talk about it," John says, closing the door to give them some privacy. He goes ahead and takes a seat on the kid's bed.

"Can we just pass on the lecture and get on with it? I already know what you're going to say," Sam bites out, shoving his chair back from the narrow desk and standing.

John raises his brows. "You do?" Maybe something he's been telling the kid has been sinking in.

"That it was stupid and I shouldn't have been driving the truck anyway, that I should have been home training or doing something useful and called you if Dean needed the meds," Sam recites bitterly. "And that if I'd just followed orders, none of it would have happened."

Huh. "You're right, it wouldn't have. You have to understand that - "

"I get it, okay?" Sam huffs in frustration, and John's brow furrows as the kid's fingers jerk at the button of his jeans. "Let's just get this over with."

Sam shoves the jeans down to his knees and moves to drop over his father's lap, determined to take this one with his pride intact. So he screwed up again; he can admit that. But he'd rather just take his ass-beating and be spared his father's disappointment.

John instinctively reaches to balance the kid, wrapping an arm around Sam's waist, his palm coming to rest on the brief-covered backside. He blinks at the unexpected turn of events. "This isn't what - "

"Are we going to be here all day?" Sam snaps. "I have homework to do."

The snotty attitude is enough to make John think a few swats won't harm the kid, and Sam is asking for it, after all. He lays a firm smack on each of the cotton-clad cheeks, causing Sam to suck in his breath, and then picks up a steady cadence, spanking side to side with just enough force to build a mild sting.

Sam squirms over his father's thighs, more in discomfort than actual pain. Maybe he is building up a tolerance for this. The punishment smarts, but it's not unbearable, and if he keeps quiet maybe his father will finally see he's outgrown this. The swats keeping coming, until Sam's sure the skin beneath his briefs is sporting a collage of handprints, and he bites his lip to control any gasps that might give him away.

John notices the change in the teen's breathing and lets his hand come to rest on the kid's backside. "You ready to talk about this?" Warmth creeps through the thin material and into his palm; enough to check Sam's earlier lip but not enough to bring the boy to tears. He gives it a moment, hoping the kid's had enough, but Sam's a little more stubborn than even John gives him credit for.

"No," Sam fires back, a little breathless, and John sighs.

"Your call, kiddo." Resigned to the task, John makes quick work of shucking down the kid's briefs, causing Sam to go rigid over his lap. The teen's behind is warm and pink, and John begins landing the series of brisk smacks that will gain him his opening.

Sam writhes in the man's grip and tries to brace himself against the smoldering heat being raised by his father's hand, but the swats are just coming too fast now. His hopes of withstanding this with any dignity dissolve, and his vision swims with sudden tears. The last thing he wants to do is cry like a baby, and suddenly the panicked words are tumbling from his lips.

"Okay, okay – I'm sorry! Just stop!" To Sam's amazement, his father actually does, and draws his briefs and jeans back into place. Sam hisses at the contact to his burning ass, drags in a shaky breath as John returns him to the upright position and guides Sam to sit beside him. Sam gingerly settles on the bed, oddly comforted by the warm weight of his father's hand on the back of his neck. He rubs a fist over his damp eyes. Building a tolerance. Riiight.

"I didn't want to do that, son," John tells him softly, and the kid nods.

"M'sorry about the truck."

"I'm not mad about you taking the truck, Sam," John says, pleased when the teen looks up in genuine surprise. "Dean asked you to, and you boys do a good job of taking care of each other. What concerns me is you getting in the middle of a drunken domestic brawl," he continues, and Sam's eyes drop to his hands again. "You were unarmed; either one of them could've come at you with a weapon, and you wouldn't have seen it coming."

"So I did screw up," Sam says glumly.

John drops his hand from the boy's neck, pretends to consider. "Well, no more than your old man."

Sam frowns. His father's admitting a mistake? "What do you mean?"

John's calloused fingers trace the scar crossing his cheek. "Didn't think I got this fighting weres, did you?"

Dean's story had actually been a lot more colorful, but Sam decides to keep that to himself. "What happened?" he asks, leaning forward on his knees and taking some of the pressure off his aching backside.

"Tried to stop a guy from beating his girlfriend outside a convenience store," John confides, leaning forward himself so that he and Sam are elbow to elbow. "When I knocked him out, she came at me with a broken bottle."

Sam wonders why he's never heard this before. "Wow."

"Yeah," John agrees wryly. "You know I've always taught you and your brother to respect women, and I'd be ashamed if you weren't the kind of man to intervene." He smiles a little when the kids flushes at the unspoken praise. "But you need to be smart about it, and expect to cut your losses once in a while; you can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved."

"I'll keep that in mind," Sam replies ruefully. Then, "Are we done talking now?"

John slants him a sideways glance. "You got the message?"

"Yes, sir," Sam replies, rising from his seat with relief. A spark lights his red-rimmed eyes as he reaches back to soothe his behind. "You screw up, too."

"Why, you - " John mock-growls, feinting a grab for the kid when the bedroom door swings abruptly open.

"What's taking you guys so long? The pizza's - " Dean trails off midsentence, eyes narrowing on the way his younger brother is rubbing his backside. He turns to John in disbelief. "You spanked him?? You said you weren't going to lay into him," Dean accuses.

"I wasn't," John replies indignantly. "He insisted."

Sam gapes. "I did not!"

John raises a brow. "You don't remember throwing yourself over my lap and demanding I get on with it?"

"But - " Sam splutters, fierce heat flooding his face as Dean starts to snicker. "I thought you - you mean you weren't going to - " His father shakes his head, and Sam thinks he might explode. "Why didn't you say something?"

John shrugs, a smile tugging at his mouth. "I'm a pleaser."

"You – that's just - " An adequate response for that doesn't even exist. Sam growls low in his throat and stalks off toward the kitchen.

"Aw, come on, Sammy," Dean calls after him, chuckling even as he pushes past his father to follow the younger boy. "It's a little funny."

John finally lets himself grin. Sam demanding a spanking was about as likely as being struck by lightning. Won't be seeing that again, he muses, and wonders if he has time to get the trash cans out before smoothing things over with his youngest. He's in the hallway when thunder rattles the windows in their frames, and the rain drums the roof even harder. Seconds later lightning flashes, briefly illuminating the house. Probably wouldn't hurt to stay inside.

Just in case.

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