Disclaimer: As Timmy Turner would say, "Yeah, right!".
Thanks again, to the best betas in the business, overnighter and crashcmb. Good stuff, theirs. Bad stuff, mine. I tinkered before posting, so all remaining mistakes belong to me and me alone. Author's notes are at the end.
This is my attempt to explain away a picture involving Dean in a cheerleading uniform and yelling into a megaphone, if you know what I mean…and I'm pretty sure that some of you do.
Can I Get a Hey-ey!
"How in the hell does someone flunk PE, Dean?" John asked in dismay. But Dean knew that his dad really meant, "How does a Winchester flunk PE?"
Dean stayed quiet and remained hunkered down in his seat, though his total-body smirk of just a few minutes ago had vanished entirely. It had vanished instantly, the very second his father entered the office. John still had not sat down and, as he stood over his older son and glowered down at him, a whole range of emotions—well, disappointment, disbelief and irritation, mostly—radiated outward from him like a malevolent creature—it was in his very carriage and in the way his eyes narrowed, the creases around them deepening.
Dean had lost any semblance of his previously defiant demeanor. He ran through the few choices that presented themselves to him and quickly realized that his total disdain for authority—his total contempt for Mrs. Blustein—was…well…pretty much useless if he wanted to still be… breathing…come the next few minutes.
Mrs. Blustein was going to see him reduced to a 6-week-old golden retriever puppy. A naughty one at that; one who'd just been caught piddling on the floor, had his nose slapped with a rolled up newspaper and had been reduced to simpering and cowering under the bed, with his tail between his legs. And wasn't that just the image that Dean wanted to project?
Maybe death was the better option. Because, to have this…this…bitty…bear witness to his humiliation?
Forget the maybe…death definitely was the better option.
With surround sound.
And totally with high amp and Dolby tweeters and woofers, too.
"Have a seat, Mr. Winchester," Mrs. Blustein gestured towards the empty chair.
John shook his head and folded his arms tightly across his chest, tucking the first four fingers of his hands under his armpits—his only concession in turning slightly to face her. He stood less than a foot away from Dean. Well within striking distance, damnit!
"If it's all the same, I'd rather stand."
Mrs. Blustein looked slightly flustered for a second—a bit of pink flushed her cheeks, as she glanced from John to Dean. After all, she was the principal and this was her domain. She wasn't used to being questioned or denied and Dean allowed a slight smirk and a raised eyebrow in acknowledgment of her uneasiness.
"Of course …however you're most comfortable," Mrs. Blustein said. "Um…well…first of all, I'd just like to thank you for coming. I know that you can be extremely difficult to reach—I mean, since you're out on the oil rigs for so much of the time—"
If this was news to John, his grunt didn't acknowledge it.
"I think this is the—what is it, Dean? The fourth time we've tried to arrange this particular conference?"
Dean just stared at her stonily—or at least he tried to. He lasted a whopping three seconds—the three seconds it took before his father cuffed him roughly across the back of his head. Yeah, definitely within striking distance.
At least he managed not to flinch in front of the tiny, evil gnome.
"I believe that that there's a question waiting for an answer, son," John drawled, putting his hand on Dean's shoulder. Dean reluctantly, but automatically, straightened up in his seat at the heavy touch. Someday, he was going to figure out his father's secret—just how to convey an entire vocabulary of irritation through one clap on the shoulder.
"Yes—uh…ma'am," he added, when his father squeezed his shoulder slightly—and he was surprised when he didn't choke on the word. After all this was Mrs. Blustein.
"And these other times you tried to call me in—I was—offshore, I suppose?" John asked.
"Yes. I'm surprised I reached you today—and I'm glad that you could come in on such short notice. Dean said he wasn't sure when you'd be back, but I thought I'd take the chance and give you a call, anyway."
She looked at Dean and this time, she was the one whose lip slightly curled upward.
Dean returned the smirk. God, this woman was such an amateur.
"I just got back in today," John lied, as his fingers dug just a bit deeper into the flesh of Dean's shoulder. "It wasn't expected, but there was a problem with the drill bit—they had to fly out to pick up some equipment they needed to fix it—and a few of us…us lucky ones…got some unexpected shore leave."
The emphasis was not missed on Dean. Nor was the way Mrs. Blustein's face fell. He noticed how she looked to where John's hand was resting on Dean's shoulder and decided to be damned well pleased with himself, thank you very much, for coming up with the oil rig cover. This was Texas, after all...plus, with the amount of car grease and gunshot residue that was seemingly permanently embedded in the skin of his father's fingers and hands, and lay caked under his nails? Yeah, just try to prove that he's not out in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks or months at a time, you bat-faced loon.
"Well, I'm glad you're here today, anyway," Mrs. Blustein said. "As you know, Dean's scheduled to graduate in just a few months, but there's just no way we can give him a diploma if he fails gym."
"Fails gym," John growled softly, shaking his head—the disbelief physically dripping from his words.
"Fails gym," Mrs. Blustein nodded, then quickly continued, "Which he is. Failing. Gym, I mean."
Despite himself, Dean got a little kick out of the way talking to his father was making the usually composed principal sputter. Not that he didn't do okay in that particular field his own damned self, but hells, if John Winchester wasn't the master.
"Well, what's he need to do to graduate? He's certainly athletic enough," John noted with a thrust of his chin in Dean's direction.
"I'm sure he is, Mr. Winchester. But…that's really beside the point. The gym requirement is a course, just like any other, and there are a certain amount of classes that need to be attended…actual course work that needs to be completed…or there's just…no way…to get a passing grade. I'm afraid that we've reached that particular point with Dean. I mean, even if he attends all the rest of the classes and participates as he's supposed to…well…we're just at the juncture where it isn't feasible to bring his grade up to passing."
"So, let me get this straight," John drawled, "My son's not going to graduate, because he failed PE?"
To the untrained ear, his father sounded relaxed, even faintly amused, but Dean recognized the exasperation bubbling underneath.
"You cannot be serious."
There it was. Even the horror show in front of him ought to be able to pick up on it now.
"I'm afraid that I am," Mrs. Blustein confirmed, continuing to nod solemnly, as though she weren't enjoying every single freaking minute of this.
"There's got to be something that he can do to graduate on time," John queried, although it sounded less like a request than a command, and Dean knew—without it being said—that summer school wasn't an option. Hell, they'd been in this bum fuck of a redneck podunk town for four months, already…ever since they'd rid the local library of a particularly nasty self-help-book hating poltergeist…just so Dean could graduate and get on with hunting full time. And not graduating was even less of an option. Not after all of the late night promises, which John had made to Mary's memory. Dean had been down that road enough times since he'd turned sixteen to know that his father's stance was entirely inflexible. Even though, as he'd pointed out more times than he could count, in the particular profession he was entering, his need for a diploma was kinda like an armadillo's need for ice skates.
"There's gotta be a sports team or something he could sign onto, right? Baseball maybe? Dean's certainly good enough. The boy could have a pro ball career, if that was the sort of thing that jiggled his Jello."
Despite the circumstances, Dean felt something in his knotted stomach loosen, just a little, at his father's offhand praise. Though Dean also made a quick mental note to toss out a surreptitious Christo at the first opportune moment.
"Well…" Again, the principal feigned sympathy. "Actually, Mr. Winchester, even if the teams weren't nearing the end of the season, I'm pretty sure that there aren't any coaches here, who would readily agree to have Dean on their squad. In fact, I'm not sure how well Mrs. Valkrys has kept you informed, but Dean…let's just say that Dean's had quite a few run-ins with the coaches…with the teachers…with…well, with me, quite frankly. Dean…in case you're unaware…seems to have quite a bit of trouble following instructions…and a real problem with authority…"
John's grip moved from painful to…well…Dean was pretty sure that it might actually cut off the blood supply and make his left arm completely and utterly useless. A dead and blackened stump, which would have to be removed to keep from the spreading of the gangrene, or…or…something much worse. Knowing his dad, Dean wasn't at all confident that he wouldn't just lop it off himself, with one big sweeping downswing of a scythe…or an axe…or even the Chinese exorcism kungfu sword that was lying beneath the six 12-gauges in the trunk of his father's Impala.
"Mrs. Valkrys?" John asked, clearly befuddled.
"Mrs. Valkrys…your neighbor…the one who looks after the boys when you're gone…"
Dean shifted as Mrs. Blustein's voice rose questioningly at the end, in a familiar, worried cadence. Great. They could afford another social services visit even less than they could afford for Dean to spend all summer running laps for a useless piece of paper. Besides, he was eighteen, damnit. He'd invented Mrs. Valkrys for Sammy's benefit, mostly...and Sam was in the middle school, so it wasn't even like he was any Mrs. Bluestein's nasty old business to begin with.
"Mrs. Valkrys…oh…right…we dated a bit…I always think of her as Candy," John growled in explanation. Even after all of this time, his father's ability to think on his feet impressed his older son.
"Candy?" Mrs. Blustein looked thoughtful and Dean did his damnedest to suppress a grin. "That's an…um…an unusual name for a octogenarian."
If she was waiting for a reaction, John didn't oblige. After letting the awkwardness of the moment stretch out for what…well…what seemed like an eternity, frankly, Mrs. Blustein finally spoke, "Well…there is one way for Dean to graduate on time," she said, reluctantly, as if the information was being pulled from her against her will.
"Which is…?" John asked, when she didn't continue.
"I've spoken to Miss Shannon…the Spirit Club coach. She's agreed to take Dean on the team…for extra credit. That is, if he goes to the rest of his gym classes…and actually participates, without the smart aleck remarks and the attitude…if he joins the Spirit Club…and if he participates in all of their activities…then? Then he'd pass."
John's, "Fine, he'll do it," was nearly drowned out by Dean's, "No fucking way!"
Dean's language earned him another, gruffer cuff across the head. Which? Was actually a relief, since it got John's killer pincher claw of death off of his shoulder.
"Apologize to the nice lady, Dean," John commanded, through gritted teeth.
"Yes, sir. Sorry for the cussing, Mrs. Blustein," Dean obeyed, sufficiently cowed, but still pretty damned riled up. He looked up at his father for the first time, and despite his best efforts, he couldn't contain the fire in his eyes, "C'mon, Dad, please. I'm not joining the Spirit Club. That's ridiculous."
"Yeah…yeah, son, you are."
If he was expecting sympathy, there wasn't any to be had. Not in this particular audience.
"No way, Dad. It's like…cheerleading and shi—stuff. Baking cookies and yelling into a…a…I dunno…one of those cone thingys at football games, while the other kids throw sh—crap at you," Dean did his best to plead with his father, but John was having none of it.
Jesus fucking Christ on skis…in a snowstorm…in August…why couldn't he just…just this one freaking time…be able to work the patented Sam Winchester puppy-dog eyes. Sammy? Could totally have gotten out of this. Then again, if he allowed himself to go much farther down that particular road of thought, even he'd have to admit that…well…Sammy…would never be in this position.
But, dude, an overweight middle-aged gym teacher with large man-boobs is just asking for a black eye joke. I mean isn't he?
"The kids don't throw anything at the cheerleaders," Mrs. Blustein was quick to assure John.
"Yeah, well they oughtta," Dean was just as quick to note.
"He'll do it," John repeated, seriously.
"Cheerleading? Dad, you want me to be a fu—reaking cheerleader?"
"Aw…I think you'd look cute in a mini skirt, son. Singing your…little pep songs…waving your pom-poms," John winked at Mrs. Blustein.
He actually winked at Mrs. Blustein.
What the fuck…like…ever?
His father was so totally consorting with the enemy and this was absolutely, positively, ridiculously unacceptable.
"Hell, maybe you can even win a date with the quarterback…or be crowned homecoming queen."
Yep, his dad was definitely having way too much fun with this.
"Actually," Mrs. Blustein interjected…and the look Dean shot her should have withered a mere mortal…which only strengthened his tightly-held theory that she so totally was a crone. After all, her skin always appeared a slightly unnatural greenish hue under the dim florescent lighting in her office on the many, many occasions on which Dean had sat right here—listening to her drone on and on about—whatever. He wasn't even sure. After all, he rarely listened. In fact he tuned back in just in time to hear her finishing up, "… fall and most of the…um…more…popular sports get their support squad filled quickly."
Mrs. Blustein was holding a paper out in front of her, looking at Dean expectantly.
Dean looked back.
Eventually, and with an exaggerated sigh, she put the paper on the desk and slid it towards the Winchesters.
"This…" She said, tapping her fingers lightly on the sheet, "Is the list of the students for whom you'll be making spirit boxes; be sure to include little notes of encouragement along with some homemade treats like cookies or brownies. I'm giving it to you now, since it's already Friday and I assume that you don't have the appropriate clothing for practice. These kids have a game on Monday, though, and I wanted to make sure that they're well taken care of."
John, now completely amused, stepped forward, plucked the paper from the desk and started to go through the names, "Julie Finley, Brandy Tanner, Cathy Shreve, Chandra Johnson, Judy…uh…well…that's just downright unpronounceable."
"Are you freaking kidding me?" Dean was even more livid—not that he would have thought it possible—when he heard the names.
"I think you know me better than that by now, Dean." And just like that, her goddamned smirk was back. And…did she? Oh, she so totally did not just wink at him. This was…this was so not good.
John looked at Dean expectantly.
"You're telling me I gotta bake cookies for Rosie freaking O'Donnell's army …dude, it's the softball team, Dad. They need cookies like they need another left nut."
Yep, there was no ally in his father. His own freaking father. Who was right that very minute trying to stave off an entirely un-John Winchester-like snigger. And what was worse? What was worse than watching John freaking Winchester, hunter extraordinaire, a friggin' legend in toughness—try not to giggle like a little bitch of a schoolgirl?
He was failing.
Not that it stopped him from issuing another…well, semi-stern, "Dean!"
Mrs. Blustein lifted up both of her hands, offered a sympathetic little shrug towards John and wrinkled up her ugly little mug in a "see what I've got to deal with" gesture. While she was doing that, Dean spent his time focusing all of his energy in an attempt to make her smug hag ass just…disintegrate…using only the intense power of his dislike for her and his current, almost overwhelming, feelings of ire and humiliation.
But, instead of going poof, Mrs. Blustein just rose from her chair, signaling that the meeting was over.
"Thank you so much again for coming in, Mr. Winchester. I was certain that we could straighten this all out, once we finally got a hold of you."
"Sure thing," John agreed. He shook the hand she extended to him and then reached in his pocket for a pen and a small scrap of paper.
"Here," he said, writing quickly and handing her the paper, "It's my cell. It's a disposable, but the number should be good till Dean graduates. If you have any more trouble with him, feel free to give me a call. At the very least, I can get my messages when I'm…out in the Gulf."
"I appreciate that. It was nice meeting you."
Dean rose from his seat like he was waking from a trance. A really, really crappy trance. Like when that ridiculous scam artist of a hypnotist came to assembly in 10th grade and made Tommy Southlake think he was a chicken.
Yeah tough one, ace.
There's a reason everyone called Tommy…Tommy the Tard. Kid was three-quarters of the way there and probably went home to boink a rooster, even after he was brought out of it.
This was just…just…there were no words.
Well, at least not for Dean. Mrs. Blustein, of course, had a parting shot.
"Oh, Dean?" The sugary sweet lilt in her voice stopped the Winchesters just short of the door. Dean refused to turn to look at her. He was done looking at her. If he never saw her scrunched up troll-like features ever again—it'd be a couple of lifetimes too soon.
She'd beaten him.
Mrs. freaking Esther Blustein…all of 90 pounds—soaking wet and carrying a couple of 10-pound weights—Mrs. freaking Esther Blustein, who had be approaching 70 years of age…Mrs. freaking Esther Blustein, who had pictures of those stupid-assed babies in stupid-assed flowers and fruit and crap plastered all over the walls of her stupid-assed office…Mrs. freaking Esther Blustein…had bested Dean Winchester.
John threw an amiable arm around his son's shoulders and felt how every single muscle in Dean's neck and shoulder was taught, seemingly to the point of snapping.
"It's almost time for the fourth period bell to ring," Mrs. Blustein continued, sweetly, "But you've got plenty of time on your way to…physics is it?...to stop by the gym's storage closet and pick up your uniform and megaphone. I've told them that you're coming, so they'll be waiting for you. They should have a schedule for you, too. I think you all are cheering for the lacrosse team next Friday. They have a big game against Johnson. I'll be quite interested to see how you do."
As John gently steered a visibly defeated Dean out of the room, he couldn't help himself from throwing back over his shoulder, "Oh, me, too…me, too...his brother and I wouldn't miss it for the world."
AN: The not particularly PC views expressed by certain Winchesters regarding the masculinity and/or femininity of cheerleaders and/or softball players are theirs and theirs alone. Also, in my little mind, there is no way that John was physically abusive to the kids—the cuffs to the head and the clamping down of a hand on a shoulder are pretty much the extent of it, that is, when the Winchesters were not trying to beat the crap out of each other during training. I do believe, again in my own little mind, that he was a hella intimidating figure for his kids and I'm pretty sure that there were plenty of times, when he threatened to kick both of their scrawny little asses.
AN (part deux): No chickens were harmed in the making of this Crack!Fic! Though, poultry abuse…for the third story in a row. Go me! I'm not entirely sure how this keeps happening.