The locker-lined hall teemed with students and teachers as they rushed to leave the prison-like building. Sam Winchester kept his head up but his eyes down, avoiding the stares of the other students. It was a defense he had learned from his twelve year old brother Dean, who had considerable experience at being the new kid in school. Eventually, he had told Sam, the novelty of his presence would fade and he could look the other students in the eye. They moved so often, Sam had yet to discover if Dean was telling the truth or just trying to encourage his little brother.
Even though he had attended this school for less than a month, Sam had no trouble finding the room he wanted. It wasn't the first time Dean had gotten detention from his eight grade History teacher. In fact, Mr. Greene kept Dean after school twice as often as any other instructor. Sam was glad Mr. Greene didn't teach the third grade. The man was taller and broader than anyone Sam had ever met. But what really bothered him were the teacher's eyes. Their dark depths seemed to be hiding something, making Sam avoid Greene whenever possible, a goal that would be made easier if Dean would stop mouthing off in class.
Reaching his destination, Sam leaned against the locker closest to the door. Bending his knees, he slid down until he was sitting on the floor. One of the passing feet kicked him in the ankle. Sam didn't bother to look up to see who the culprit was; he already knew it was Todd Miller. The boy had taken an instant dislike to Sam, seizing any opportunity to make the new student's life miserable. Miller's fear of Dean was the only reason Sam didn't go home every night with a black eye – or worse.
Being a small school, in a small town, new students were a rarity. Experience had taught Sam to ignore the spitballs and the kicks. He got his revenge in other ways, by getting good grades and being polite to the teachers and winning their support.
Dean wanted him to fight back, but Sam knew the battle would be one-sided. He may only be eight years old, but he could fight better than anyone his age thanks to his father. Beating up Miller wouldn't solve the problem.
Once the hallway was empty of distractions, Sam stretched out his legs and dug into his backpack, retrieving the book he had to read for English. Dean always said books you were forced to read were long and boring, but Sam was enjoying Treasure Island, and looked forward to a little quiet time to read the next chapter.
He had lost himself in Jim Hawkins' world when he heard screams coming from the classroom behind him. Shocked, Sam dropped the book and rose to his feet. He hesitated outside the door, knowing his intrusion would anger both the teacher and Dean. Another scream, clearly one of fear rather than excitement, ended Sam's indecision.
Despite the urge to rush inside to see what was happening, their father had taught his sons to be cautious, to gain as much intel as possible before rushing heedlessly into a situation. Wishing the door had a window; Sam slowly turned the doorknob and pulled it open. Carefully glancing inside, he saw two students huddled together in the corner opposite from him. There was no sign of Dean or the teacher.
Warily taking a step inside, Sam found himself pulled off balance when a hand roughly grabbed his wrist. Unable to stop the sound in his throat, he cried out in surprise and pain.
"Let my brother go," a familiar voice demanded.
Trying to pry the bruising fingers from his arm, Sam was shocked to see it was Mr. Greene who was hurting him. Dean pushed desks out of his way to open a path to where Sam was being held captive.
"I said," Dean growled, "leave my brother alone."
A soft moan escaped Sam's lips when Greene tightened his grip.
"Where's that smart mouth of yours now, Winchester?" Greene sneered.
Dean put his hands up in surrender. "Your beef is with me, Greene –"
"That's, Mr. Greene."
"Mr. Greene," Dean quickly corrected himself. "You want me, you can have me if you let my brother go."
The pressure around Sam's wrist eased. He didn't know what was going on, but if Dean was sacrificing himself, Sam knew it couldn't be good. "Dean, get out of here."
"What'll it be, Mr. Greene?" Dean didn't bother to acknowledge Sam's entreaty.
"Come closer," said Greene.
His eyes seeking Sam's, Dean didn't hesitate to do as he was told. Seeing the plea for forgiveness in the hazel orbs, Sam went rigid with fear. While it was an emotion his father's training had taught him how to control, he never thought he would have a reason to use his education in school.
Greene's left hand still circled Sam's wrist as he lifted his right and backhanded Dean. The blow sent Dean crashing into the desk behind him.
Anger swamped every other emotion Sam was feeling. His legs unable to make contact with Greene's, Sam resorted to the only other weapon he had at his disposal. Opening his mouth, he clamped down on Green's thumb, closing his jaw as tightly as he could. The bitter taste of blood filled Sam's mouth, making his stomach churn with nausea, until a satisfying scream filled the room. The grip around Sam's wrist loosened. Pulling free, he took a step towards his brother only to have Dean wave him away.
Mesmerized by the small trickle of blood dripping from the corner of Dean's mouth, Sam ignored the order and took another step.
The tone of his voice dropping an octave, Dean said, "Sammy, go for help."
The inflection sounded so much like their father, reflex took Sam halfway to the door before he hesitated. "Dean?"
When Greene lunged at Sam, Dean scrambled to his feet and tackled the teacher to the floor. "Sammy! Go!"
Sam didn't want to leave his brother to fight the crazed man alone. But he also knew that even with their superior fighting skills, two boys would be no match for the much larger man. Greene's height and weight gave the teacher a huge advantage. Hating himself – and Dean – Sam flung open the door and ran out into the empty hall. He could only hope the students cowering in the corner would find the courage to help Dean until assistance arrived.
Racing down the corridor, Sam didn't waste time checking to see if any of the teachers were still in their rooms. He knew this late in the day the only place he would be certain to find someone still working was the principal's office.
If he were Dean, Sam would know exactly where to find the office no matter where he was in the building. But Sam had only been there once, when they first registered. He slowed, not wanting to retrace his steps as he searched the blueprint in his mind. When he recalled the location, he picked up his pace, hoping his memory was right. This was the third school he'd been enrolled in this year, and it was only February.
When he turned a corner and saw his destination ahead, Sam stumbled in relief. His chest heaving as it sought to fill his lungs with air, he flung open the door, flinching as it crashed against the wall. He decided luck was finally with him when he found the principal, Mr. Boyer, in the outer office handing some papers to his secretary.
"H-help," Sam breathlessly stuttered.
Boyer peered at him over the top of his glasses. "Samuel Winchester, isn't it?"
"C-come." Quickly crossing the short distance, Sam tugged imploringly at Boyer's coat sleeve. "P-please."
"Is someone bullying you?" asked Boyer, standing his ground.
"Mr. G-Greene hurt Dean."
"What!" Boyer backed away his demeanor changing from supportive to indignation. "Are you accusing a teacher of attacking a student?"
Realizing that if he tried to convince the man with words it would cost valuable time, Sam pulled back his shirt sleeve. "He did this."
Boyer stared at the finger-shaped marks circling Sam's right wrist. Several were already turning a deep purple.
"Sally," Boyer addressed his secretary, "call the police and the paramedics. Send them to classroom 109."
"Yes, sir." The older woman reached for her phone.
Sam was already heading out the door when a hand grabbed his shoulder and gently pulled him back.
"I think you should stay here, Samuel," advised Boyer.
Furious that they were wasting time, Sam pulled free of the light hold, and slid away out the door. He ran as fast as he could. The sound of his tennis-shoe clad feet slapping the linoleum echoed back and forth across the lockers. Only when he reached the classroom did he stop. Checking to make sure the principal was right behind him, Sam entered the room. He was disappointed and angry to see the other students were still huddled in their corner. Dismissing them, Sam looked for his brother. The fear he had pushed aside resurfaced when he saw Greene kneeling over Dean. Both of the teacher's hands were circling his brother's thin neck. The realization that Dean wasn't fighting scared Sam more than the blue tinge of his brother's lips.
Throwing himself onto Greene's back, Sam pounded on the teacher's head with his fists. "Leave my brother alone."
Greene shook his shoulders, trying to dislodge Sam, but both hands remained around Dean's throat.
"Brian," Boyer cried, standing in the doorway, staring in shock at the scene before him. "Stop! You're killing that boy."
His worst fear confirmed, Sam increased his punching, and, though it probably hurt him more than Greene, he started kicking, hoping to find a vulnerable spot.
When Greene ignored his order, Boyer quickly crossed to his side and pulled at the teacher's rigid arms. "Brian, you have to stop."
One of Greene's hands released its hold to push Boyer away. The blow knocked the principal to the floor.
Knowing his brother was running out of time, Sam used Boyer's distraction to his advantage. He wasn't his father's son in name only. Slipping to the side, Sam waited until he had both targets in view before bringing up his hands. With all the strength of his little body, he poked his fingers into Greene's eyes.
The man's hands flew to his face. Falling back, Greene howled in pain. Hoping the principal would be able to restrain the teacher until the police arrived, Sam concentrated on Dean. His brother's face was unnaturally pale. The long eyelashes that were an embarrassment to his macho brother lay unmoving on pale cheeks. The blood at the corner of Dean's mouth had smeared across his chin.
Sam's fingers desperately sought the carotid artery to check for a pulse. When he couldn't find one, he started to panic. His brother's unruffled voice resonated in his head, telling him to, calm down and think. This was quickly followed by his father's stern order to, help your brother.
Even before he had taught his sons to shoot a gun, John Winchester had taught them basic first aid, including CPR. Automatically following each step in order, Sam slammed his fist against Dean's chest, willing him to start breathing. He was so intent on listening to the instructions in his head, he didn't realize the paramedics had arrived until Boyer physically picked him up and pulled him away.
Kicking and screaming, Sam begged, "Let me go. I have to help Dean."
"Let the paramedics do it," said Boyer.
The tears he had held back finally rolling slowly down his cheeks, Sam stopped fighting. Certain he knew as much, if not more, than the small town firemen, he watched their every move, ready to step in if it looked like they would hurt his brother.
"Good job, son." The paramedic with the name Sikes stitched on his uniform took the stethoscope out of his ears as he praised Sam. "We have a pulse. It's not strong, but it's steady."
The news barely made a dent in Sam's controlled fear. He kept a close eye on his brother's bared chest as it slowly rose and fell.
Sikes slipped an oxygen mask over Dean's nose and mouth as his partner started an IV. Once they had Dean strapped to a backboard, they gently lifted him onto a stretcher.
Their passage through the school to the ambulance, and the ride to the hospital passed in a blur for Sam. He was afraid to take his eyes off his brother, afraid to even blink.
Once they reached the hospital, he stayed close as the stretcher was pulled from the ambulance and rolled into the ER. Only when he tried to follow it into a cubicle did a nurse gently but firmly grab Sam's arm and hold him back.
Sam tried to shake her off. "Please, he's my brother."
"And we're going to take good care of him," said the woman in understanding.
"He needs me."
"Not right now he doesn't. You'll only be in the way."
His own desires clashing with what was best for Dean, Sam stared despairingly as the curtains were drawn around the treatment room. It was the first time in his life Dean wasn't there to tell him what he should do.
"Why don't you let me take care of your arm?" The nurse kindly suggested.
Distractedly, Sam glanced down at his throbbing limb. The flesh had swollen and turned a spectacular array of colors. While the pain was enough to make Sam bite his lip, he didn't want to chance losing sight of his brother.
Apparently reading his thoughts, the nurse said, "We'll be right over there." She pointed behind him to the cubicle across from Dean's.
Sam reluctantly nodded his consent and backed into the small space. He allowed her to help him up onto the bed, but stopped her when she started to close the curtains.
While she poked and prodded his bruised arm, Sam kept his attention focused on Dean's cubicle. Trapping his bottom lip between his teeth – another trick he had learned from his brother – he managed to keep the moans of pain from escaping. At least most of them. When she finally stopped and laid the arm between cold compression wraps, he didn't even try to suppress the sigh of relief. The ice packs dulled the pain as they reduced the swelling.
Wishing he had the courage to correct Boyer's use of his full name, Sam showed he was aware of the principal's presence, even as he kept his gaze on the partition across the room. "Yes, sir?"
"Samuel," Boyer unnecessarily repeated, "we've been trying to contact your father. Do you know where he can be reached?"
"No, sir." Sam nervously dropped his eyes, afraid the truth would be visible in the brown depths. He wasn't as good a liar as his father or brother. "Dean does."
"Obviously, I can't ask, Dean," growled Boyer. "Who was supposed to take care of you after school until your father got home? No one is answering your phone."
"I don't know."
Boyer sighed. "Dean knows."
"Yes, sir." Sam shamelessly used his young age to full advantage. No one here knew the Winchester boys well enough to know they were mature far beyond their years.
"I guess we'll just have to wait until we can talk to Dean."
Sam's lungs emptied in relief when Boyer walked away in frustration. Sam knew he would have to get to a phone and call Bobby or Pastor Jim. Hopefully, they would be able to contact John Winchester before the Department of Children and Family Services was contacted or Dean woke up.
Sam sat next to Dean's bed holding his hand. He would never dare do such a thing if his brother was awake.
While Dean had regained consciousness once since arriving at the hospital, he had promptly fallen asleep again when Boyer entered the room. Sam wondered if it was good timing or Dean's innate ability to immediately assess a situation.
The doctor had told Sam that Dean wasn't badly hurt, despite the continued use of a nasal canella and the IV. Dean's larynx was badly bruised but thankfully not broken. Eating, drinking, even talking would be painful for a few weeks. However, if there were no complications he would heal with no lasting affects. Besides the finger-shaped bruises around his neck, and deep bruising across his back, Dean's right eye was almost swollen shut and his cheekbone inflamed and lacerated.
Glancing at the clock on the wall, Sam saw it was almost midnight. Several hours earlier a strange lady had tried to take him away, saying it was time he went to bed and got some sleep. Sam had screamed and kicked until it was decided to leave him with his brother. Sam knew it was only a temporary reprieve; they were just outside the door waiting for him to fall asleep – which was why he had to stay awake, no matter what.
Despite his determination, his eyes slipped closed. His neck could barely support the weight of his head. Unable to fight any longer, he laid his cheek on Dean's bed.
A warm hand on his shoulder made Sam jerk awake. Through sleep-blurred eyes, he looked up and saw his father's face. Relief sapping him of what little energy he had left, he collapsed into John's arms. "Daddy." As he was pulled against a strong chest, Sam's arms automatically circled his father's neck and clung tightly. "The teacher hurt Dean."
"I know, Kiddo," said John, rubbing Sam's back. "Bobby told me."
Sam angrily pushed away. "People from DCFS are in the hall. They tried to take me away from Dean."
"I know that, too," John calmly stated.
"I didn't tell them you were hunting," Sam whispered. "I told them I didn't know where you were, that only Dean knew."
"You did good, Sammy."
Sam looked down at Dean before fixing his gaze on his father. "What are we going to do now?"
"We're going to let Dean heal."
"We'll have to go away again, won't we?" Sam sadly observed.
"I'm afraid so, Kiddo." John sat in the chair next to Dean's bed. Settling Sam on his lap, he pressed the little boy's head down on his shoulder. "They'll be watching us too closely now. It won't be safe to stay."
With a tired sigh, Sam relaxed against his father. He wouldn't have to put up with Todd Miller anymore. But there was sure to be someone like Miller in the next school, and the one after that. He would worry about them when the time came. Not now. All he cared about right now was Dean.
Snuggling deeper into his father's arms, Sam shifted until he could see his brother. Dean was his rock, his constant companion and he had come close to losing him today in the one place they were supposed to be safe. For the first time, Sam realized the things his father hunted weren't the only things that could hurt his family. Now he knew there was no place that was perfectly safe. He would have to be on his guard. He would have to be the big brother until Dean was well enough to reclaim his position.
"Wake up, Kiddo."
The softly spoken request was accompanied by a hand rubbing his back. Sam groaned as he tried to infuse his tired body with some energy. Finally prying his eyes open, he was greeted by his father's tired face. The bags under his eyes and the whiskers covering his chin and cheeks were testaments to John's sleepless night.
"It's time to go, Sammy." John threw the covers off his son and helped him sit up.
Sam was surprised to find himself lying in a bed. How had his father transferred him without Sam waking up? Both boys were light sleepers since they knew many of the things their father hunted only came out at night. Sam frantically looked around, only relaxing when he realized he was occupying the empty bed in Dean's room. Fighting to speak around a yawn, Sam asked, "How's, Dean?"
"Well enough to leave." John set a duffel bag next to Sam. "I brought you both a change of clothes. Go in the bathroom and get cleaned up, while I help Dean."
Grabbing his clothes, Sam looked over at his sleeping brother before obeying the order. There were questions he wanted to ask, but he could tell by his father's expression that now was not the time to satisfy his curiosity. The presence of the duffle bag made it obvious that John had left the hospital and returned to their apartment. What wasn't clear was whether this was the only bag that had been packed.
Still feeling the desire to close his eyes and go back to sleep, Sam washed in cold water. By the time he was done, he was shivering and no longer having trouble staying awake.
When he came out of the bathroom, Sam was relieved to see his brother was sitting up and with John's help getting dressed. Jeans had been pulled up to narrow hips and the hospital gown lay abandoned on the floor. Sam couldn't suppress a gasp when he saw the bruises on his brother's back. Even the slightest movement had to be pure agony.
"It's all right, Sammy," Dean said around gritted teeth. "I'm sure it looks worse than it feels."
The lie was clearly apparent, spoken in a raspy voice that only made Sam worry more.
John slipped Dean's arm into a shirt sleeve. As he pulled the remainder of the garment across the back covering the mottled flesh, he suggested, "Why don't you go wait for us in the car, Sammy? We won't be long. I've already filled out the release papers."
Knowing how much it was going to hurt to get the rest of Dean's clothes on, Sam gratefully accepted the offered escape. He couldn't stand to see his brother in pain. Backing towards the door, he said, "I'll see ya at the car, Dean."
"Don't drive off without us, Scrimp," teased Dean.
While Sam appreciated Dean's attempt to raise his spirits with a little humor, he really wished Dean wouldn't talk. It hurt to hear the sounds issuing from the raw throat. It had to feel even worse making them. A few months back, Sam had caught Strep Throat and his voice hadn't sounded half as rough.
Taking the car keys from his father, Sam hurried from the room and out of the small hospital. It wasn't until he got outside that he realized how early it was. The sun was just topping the horizon. It was another indication to Sam that their father wasn't taking them back to their apartment. When he unlocked the car and saw the pillows and blankets filling the backseat there was no longer any doubt in Sam's mind what his father planned to do. The only question left was how far they would go. The Impala had needed shocks a couple thousand miles back. Even with the blankets and pillows to cushion him, it wouldn't be a comfortable ride for Dean.
When his father appeared pushing a wheelchair, Sam opened the Impala's backdoor. Scooting inside, he laid the pillows against the opposite door so Dean could sit up. John helped Dean out of the wheelchair and into the car. As he rested against the pillows a sigh whispered past Dean's lips. His eyes were closed tightly to cover his pain. But pursed lips and a pale face couldn't hide the truth from his family.
"You ride shotgun today, Sammy," said John, spreading a blanket across Dean's lap.
Sam shook his head. "I'd rather stay with Dean."
"There isn't room for you, son. You'd have to sit on the floor."
"That's all right."
For a minute, it looked like his father was going to argue. If he did, Sam wasn't sure what he would do. He didn't want to disobey his father, but he also didn't want to leave Dean's side. There was no logical reason why he should. He couldn't ease his brother's pain. But it didn't matter. It was where he wanted to be.
"Suit yourself." Shaking his head, John slammed the door closed. Rounding the car, he climbed behind the wheel.
As they drove out of the sleeping town, Sam stood up on his knees so he could look out the window. The route took them past the school.
"I'm sorry, Sammy."
Surprised by Dean's apology, Sam asked, "For what?"
"It's my fault we're leaving. I know you liked it here."
Sam knew he couldn't lie to Dean, his brother would know and it would only make him feel worse. "I did like it here. But I won't miss Todd Miller."
"I don't think he'll miss you either."
In the soft glow of the early morning sun the one-story building didn't look menacing. Yet, Dean had almost died there
The car hit a bump. Dean groaned and closed his eyes against the pain.
Sam put a comforting hand on his brother's chest, wishing the connection allowed him to take some of the pain. He was surprised when Dean didn't shake it off or make a teasing comment. Strange as it seemed, Dean appeared to need him as much as he needed Dean.
When the car hit another bump that made the whole car shudder, Sam asked, "Where are we going, Dad?" Sam hoped his father could hear the real question in his words. How much longer does Dean have to endure this ride?
"I haven't decided yet," said John.
Though he knew it would anger his father, Sam was willing to face much worse for his brother. "Will it be far?"
"We'll stop when I decide to stop."
Sam had never argued with his father before. He had been raised to be obedient and respectful. Watching the grimaces Dean couldn't hide, Sam went against his training. "I hope it's soon."
"I told you it wouldn't be comfortable sitting on the floor," John growled. "Either stop whining or sit in the front."
As much as Sam wanted to make it clear he wasn't the one feeling every bump and curve in the road, he kept his mouth shut. He knew Dean would be embarrassed if his father became aware of his discomfort. As much as he wanted to, Sam would never betray his brother. It was disillusioning to discover their father hadn't seen what Dean needed for himself.
"You saved my life yesterday, Sammy." Dean leaned back against his pillows and closed his eyes. "Ya did good."
Sam gently tugged the blanket further up Dean's chest and let his hand rest lightly over his brother's heart. It was the first time he could remember Dean ever praising him for anything besides his school work. He felt his heart swell with pride. It gave him hope that one day he would be on equal terms with his brother, fighting demons, saving lives – together.
Author's Note: I don't want anyone to think I don't like teachers. My brother is a teacher and I admire him and all those who can do such a difficult job. This story is based on an incident that happened when I was in seventh grade (a long time ago). The teacher died months later from a brain tumor.