A/N: Still can't quite make it back into the multi chapter fics but I'm working on it. I have one in the works now. Bear with me. RL is just being a pain at the mo. Anyway, here's a one shot that goes back into something that I mentioned in another fic some time ago about the things Dean used to teach Sam the finer points of thinking on his feet. Sam learned the hunt from Dean. Hope you all like this little ficlet. There's no more to it. I just thought I'd share. Dean is ten Sam is six in the first part. Let me know if you like. Love ya all. Enjoy the read.

Battle Strategies

Summer had come to the small town where Sam, Dean and John had finished out a school year. Sammy had just finished first grade with a straight A average and Dean was doing well and learning the hunt also. With summer's warmth came more killings by the things that go bump in the night because humans were staying out later, enjoying the quiet, warm evenings and not seeking shelter. John had gotten wind of a Black dog that was killing outside of a nature reserve three counties over from their latest home.

"Dean I want you to remember what we talked about." John said as he packed his research materials and his duffel, anxious to stop the dog before anyone else died.

"Yes, sir." Ten year old Dean answered. "Don't leave the room after dark; don't answer the door for anyone and keep the shot gun handy and the windows and doors salted."

"What else?"

"Watch out for Sammy."

"That's my boy." John said, ruffling Dean's short hair. John slung his duffel onto his shoulder and looked to where a morose six year old Sam Winchester was watching cartoons with a sullen look on his face.

"Sammy, I wan'cha to listen to your brother, you hear me?"

"Why do you have to work Dad? I wanted us to go to the park Saturday. It's the town picnic!"

"Sam, you know my job is very important."

"We're your kids. We're supposed to be important too." Sam said with a huff as he crossed his arms over his chest and returned his undivided attention to the TV.

"Samuel! You will listen to your brother. Understood?"

"Yes Sir." Sam said, taking his eyes off the cartoon to glare openly at his father. Dean watched Sam. Well, this weekend's gonna be a blast. Dean thought sarcastically. Sam's eyes shifted back to the TV wordlessly.

"Dean, if I'm not back by Sunday evening, call Pastor Jim." John said as he walked towards the front door.

"Yes, sir." Dean followed him to the door and watched as he stowed his gear in the Impala. "Be careful dad." Dean said softly. He pushed the door shut and turned the lock. Walking over the threadbare carpet to the shabby living room he eyed his younger brother, his mind working at how to bring Sam out of the shell he'd been in since the end of the school year. Dean looked at his watch. 9:48 a.m. He walked into the hallway and began raiding the closet, letting Sam finish the cartoon he was watching. After all, Thunder Cats was Sam's favorite. Dean threw open the closet door and began rifling through the contents, most of which would get left behind or donated when they had to move on to the next hunt. Dean returned to the living room, object in hand and he heard the ending credits to the cartoon. "Okay Sammy. Turn off the cartoons." Sam jumped down from the threadbare chair he was sitting in and turned the knob on the old TV. The sound blared from the worn out device before static flashed across the screen when Sam turned the knob. He shook his head to clear his ringing ears and made his way to where Dean was standing holding a long box in his hand.

"I hate turnin' off that TV. It gets loud. Hurts my ears. Why do we always live places where everythin's broken Dean?"

"Cause we don't have a lotta money Sammy. Now, don't worry about it. Someday we'll have nice things Sammy. C'mon, let's play a game." Dean walked to the kitchen table and helped Sam crawl up into a chair, his short body still to small to make it completely unassisted.

"What are we playin' Dean?"

"It's called JENGA. It's fun." Dean carefully opened the box and quickly stood it on its open end, hearing the smack of wood against Formica. He gingerly slid the box up and over the stacked cubes, careful not to make the tower of odd shaped wooden blocks collapse. He put the box on the floor near his chair. "So here's what you do. I want you to look over the stack of blocks carefully and find one that you think you can pull out without makin' the others fall. Then once you pull it out, you put it on top. Then it's my turn."

"Okay." Sam muttered, looking carefully over the tower with his hands carefully on his lap. He moved as if afraid to knock the tower over but lifted one hand and pushed at a block, a rectangular one near the bottom of the tower. The Block slid forward and he gripped it with careful fingers and gently pulled it free. "I got it!"

"Good Sammy, now put it on top." Sam laid the block on top of the others, squaring the sides, but putting it on in the wrong direction. "No Sammy, turn it around before you take your hand off of it." Sam turned the block to a right angle from the top layer.

"Like that Dean?"

"Good Sammy. Now it's my turn." Dean reached one handed for a block that he'd had his eye on since the start of the game. He pushed it free and then sat it next to Sam's block, filling in the center of the newest top layer. Now the tower had two holes in it, one about four inches higher than the other. Dean watched Sam through the hole he had created, smirking as he watched the little boy stick his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and screw his face up into a look of total concentration. That's my boy. Now you're getting what I'm tryin' to teach you. Sam looked the tower over before deciding what block to move. He settled for one right in the middle of the tower in both height and width. The block had an odd angle to one end of it and caught the tower as Sam pushed it, knocking the top half down. Sam pouted over the clatter of wood to the table top.

"Dean, this game is stupid! It fell down." Sam said as he petulantly crossed his arms over his chest and kicked at a block that had fallen to the floor. Dean picked up the block that had started the collapse and eyed his brother over the top of what remained of the tower.

"Sammy, lemme show you somethin'." Dean said as he held the piece up for his brother to see. "Ya see this piece stickin' out here?"


"When you pulled it towards ya, it got caught and it knocked the others over. You should've looked to see that it was different than the last one you pulled."

"I get it. Look at things different ways and I'll see different things."

"You got it." Dean said, smiling at Sammy. "Set 'em up Sammy. I'm gonna get us somethin' to drink."

Sam enthusiastically slid the pieces into the tray that made it easier to set up making a solid looking tower that he carefully placed in the center of the table. Dean returned with drinks and soon they were playing the game again. Sam would choose his piece and study it carefully from every angle before pushing it out. Finally after several moves Dean collapsed the tower, taking too many pieces from one side of it. By the time they cleaned up the game it was dark outside and time for bed. Sam went to clean up while Dean readied his bed, tucking him in when he returned from the bathroom. Dean salted the doors and windows before finally falling asleep himself.

18 years later….

"Dean, hang on! I'm comin'." Sam looked down the steep incline that bordered the swiftly moving river. Dean was in the water, pinned by fallen branches against some large boulders. His head and one shoulder were thankfully above the water but the swift current kept cresting over his head.

"HURRY SAMMY!" Dean sputtered between getting a mouth full of water and drawing a clear breath that was becoming fewer and farther between. Sam lurched down the incline, good hunter balance and luck keeping him on his feet and nothing else as he felt mud from the previous three days rains sinking into his shoes. He splashed into the very shallows at the edge of the racing river and stopped himself, his mind going over the fastest way to make it safely to the brother that needed his help. The rapids broke over Dean's head again and this time a dull thunk sounded out to Sam's ears, along with a grunt of pain from Dean before his brother became too silent. There's no sputtering or coughing and Sam stops and stares. His brother's head had been bashed into the boulders at his back and Dean is now unconscious, head lying on the twigs that are weaved together and constantly shifting positions at the mercy of the raging water.

"DEAN!" Sam cried, stepping out of the shallows and racing along the slippery rocks to the portion of the river that held his brother prisoner. "Gotta get you out. Hang on Dean." Sam strode into the swiftly moving water and watched the rapids break against a stretch of rocks that led to where his brother was. Sam eased himself into the current and let it hold him against the boulder wave breaks. He used his upper body strength to move across the expanse and keep himself upright as waves dashed against his thighs and waist. He pulled himself across, the rocks against the sides of his legs keeping him from being washed downstream. He reached Dean's side and checked his brother for a pulse. He found one, weak but there. "Hang on. I'm gonna get you out." Sam pulled himself up to stand on top of the boulders at his brother's back, looking over the mass of tangled debris that held Dean tight. His right arm was pinned between two twisted limbs and battered by the onslaught of waves. Sam reached a hand into the water and gripped his brother's arm, fisting his torn jacket. Sam's hand felt his brother's flesh beneath the coarse denim of his coat. Sam worked at the branches and soon had his brother's hand free. Dean slipped just a bit, his shoulder disappearing beneath the water as another set of rapids broke over his head.

"Damnit Dean!" Sam cried as he quickly reached both hands in and grabbed his brother around the torso. He lifted Dean with a grunt and resettled him, feeling the debris catch on his brother's body. Sam knew he couldn't dislodge Dean from the tree limbs and boulders without hurting him. Sam's eyes carefully roamed the boulders at Dean's back. He saw his chance and reached in, one arm anchored around Dean's torso and the other wrapping around the boulder. Sam strained, pulled furiously in two directions by both Dean's weight and the slab of stone. The rock shifted and Sam left it drop away from his brother. It was carried just a foot downstream before sinking to the bottom and stirring the mud into the water. Sam studied the boulders again, stopping when Dean moaned.

"It's okay man. I'll have you out in a minute. Just don't move." Sam studied the rocks again and shifted another one. One next to the newly emptied space. It fell free and he gripped it, dragging it through the water and away from Dean. Dean slipped in Sam's arms and was jolted to a stop just before he slid away. Sam caught him and dragged him up onto the rocks, his own footing slipping. Sam landed with Dean draped over him, half in and half out of the water. Dean stirred but didn't wake. Sam gathered him up and slid off the rocks and into the water, holding Dean safely in his arms. The boulders bit into his shins as the current forced him off balance with the extra weight in his arms but Sam remained on his feet, determined to get them out of the water. He felt his jeans and flesh rip on a boulder and winced but kept going only falling to his knees on the bank of the river. He lay back on the bank, his brother's side against his chest as Dean's head lolled and then stilled.

"Hey man, can you wake up for me?" Sam nudged Dean just a bit, trying to catch his own breath. Dean flinched and his eyes fluttered, the wet spiky lashes lifting.

"Smmmy?" Dean slurred. He tried again. "Sammy?" Dean blinked to bring his vision into focus and looked up to see Sam's face.

"Yeah man. We're out." Sam said, taking a deep breath against his brother and letting it out on a worn down sigh.

"How'd you get me free?" Dean managed as he sat up just to lean back on Sam again when his world swam.

"JENGA." Sam said, smiling and laying his head on Dean's slumped shoulder. "Look at something a different way and see something different."

"That's my boy." Dean said, smiling weakly.

A/N: Let me know what you thought. I'm getting back into the longer stories. I promise. Hope to hear from you!