Hugs First, Ice Second

Disclaimer: I do not own "Supernatural".

Author's Note: Huge thanks to JJ Phoenix, who suggested this one-shot after reading another one of my stories, in which I have John mention the incident I describe below. Sorry it took so long JJ-the muse for this one abandoned me for a while, but I finally kicked it back into shape-hope you like it!

Sam and Dean struggled into the motel room, Dean's arm around Sam's shoulders as Sam gently lay him down on the nearest bed. "You have such a gentle touch, Sammy," Dean joked, wincing as he readjusted himself on the hard mattress.

"Yeah, well you won't be saying that once it comes time for stitching you up," Sam answered with a laugh, rummaging through the first aid kit. "You be alright if I step out for a second? I need to run over to the ice machine. Those bruises aren't going to heal themselves, you know."

"Yeah, just hurry back, jerk." Dean tried to slide up the bed, but was stopped cold as pain shot through his beaten body. "Shit, Sammy, that bookcase was hard. See, this is why I hate reading."

"Dean, it was hard because the poltergeist threw you against it." His tone gentle, Sam put his arms under Dean, helping him move up to put his head on the pillow. "I'll be right back."

Watching Sam exit the room, Dean bit his lip as he lifted his shirt, his eyes wide as he saw the expansive bruises covering his chest and stomach. "Stupid complete works of Shakespeare," he muttered bitterly, letting the shirt drop. When he'd shoved Sam out of the way, he'd earned the reward of not only having the bookcase fall on him, but every book inside as well.

Sam had immediately been there, ignoring the slam to the shoulder he'd received to push the bookcase off Dean. Even though Dean had assured Sam he was fine, Sam had still gotten that wounded, worried puppy dog look in his eyes, and so Dean had acquiesced to Sam's demands to go back to the room.

Closing his eyes, Dean could hear the sound of the ridiculously loud ice machine, quite a few doors down but still sending clunks pounding through his aching head.

"Sammy?" The sobs partnered with the front door opening and the familiar padding of small feet had brought Dean shooting up from his bed and comic book to sprint to where his seven-year-old brother sat huddled on the floor. "Sammy, what's wrong?"

And then Sam turned his face to meet Dean's, and under the streaks of tears was a massive ugly bruise surrounding Sam's right eye. Dean felt his heart plummet even as his brain calmly surveyed his brother for other injuries. "Who the hell did this to you?" Dean managed to choke out past his rising anger.

"Hell is a bad word," Sam mumbled softly, and Dean knelt next to him, laying a gentle hand on the uninjured side of Sam's face.

"What the heck happened?" Dean amended, and Sam turned his face into Dean's comforting hand.

"Tommy Templeton punched me in the face because I wouldn't give him my lunch money," Sam sobbed out. "And I didn't want to fight him because he's not a demon, he's a kid like me, but he's a mean kid."

"Yeah he is, Sammy, and you did the right thing." Sighing softly, Dean helped Sam stand, leading him into the kitchen. Settling Sam on a stool, Dean grinned at him encouragingly, trying to make his brother smile back. "Now what's our rule, Sammy?"

"Hugs first, ice second," Sam recited mock solemnly, and the smile that spread across his face was worth everything to Dean. Dean wrapped his arms around his little brother and held him close, feeling Sam's breathing calm.

"Exactly, Sammy, our special secret rule." Dean knew that their dad would never approve, because he had always taught them to think like hunters, and the notion of giving a hug before medical treatment would appall him. But Dean also knew, as the big brother, that what Sam always needed when he was hurt was a reassuring hug from his big brother, and Dean would be dammed if he wasn't going to give Sam what he needed.

Holding the ice on Sam's face, Dean spoke reassuringly. "And don't worry about Tommy. I'll take care of him."

The next day, Dean walked Sam to class like always, but this time he stayed. Eyeing the playground, he quickly spotted Tommy, a massive eleven year old with a permanent sneer and a constantly-clenched fist. Striding over to him, Dean wasted no time, punching Tommy with all his strength right in the right eye, just like Tommy had done to Sam. "That's for my little brother!" Dean shouted, looming above Tommy with fists clenched and at the ready.

Like most bullies, Tommy went down easily, but not without letting out a yelp that brought teachers running. Dean was quickly dragged into the principal's office, protesting all the way. It wasn't until his father suddenly showed up at the office a half an hour later that Dean realized he could really be in trouble. But he didn't care. He had stood up for his Sammy and that was what mattered.

Before Dean could even open his mouth to defend himself, Sam came rushing in. "Dean didn't do anything wrong!" Sam insisted loudly, running right up to where John and Principal Stevens sat.

"Sam, your brother punched another child," Principal Stevens said kindly, looking down at the young boy. "We take that kind of thing very seriously."

"But Dean didn't mean to punch Tommy! It was an accident!" And then Sam ran back into the hall, dragging Tommy back with him. Only Dean caught the look Sam shot at Tommy as he continued. "Tommy asked Dean to teach him self-defense, and Tommy just didn't duck right."

"Is that right Tommy?" Principal Stevens asked curiously.

"Yes ma'am," Tommy answered, unable to look at either Sam or Dean as Principal Stevens apologized to John for bringing him in for nothing, and Sam shot a grin at Dean.

The door opening brought Dean out of his memory, and he opened his eyes to see Sam already hovering over him. "What were you thinking about?" Sam asked, transferring the ice to a towel.

"Tommy Templeton," Dean answered nonchalantly, doubting Sam would even remember. Then Dean heard a soft noise, as the towel was laid down on the bed, and then Sam wrapped his arms around Dean, giving him a tight but gentle squeeze.

"Hugs first, ice second," Sam said softly, a smile playing around the corners of his lips as he released Dean and grabbed the ice, handing the towel to his brother.

"Yeah Sammy, hugs first, ice second," Dean whispered, trying and failing to hide a smile as he lay the ice on his right eye.