Summary: Pre-series-Pilot. Every time he got his ass kicked, dad taught him something new. Sooner or later, he'd have to learn himself.

A/N: Upfront, I just want to say that I love John to pieces even though he wasn't even close to father of the year. But, as a man, I understood him. So even though I don't shine a good light on him in some parts and make him sound like a bastard, I still love the guy. It's hard for his reactions to sound justified when I'm not including his POV.

This was going to be a "5 Times..." piece and it still is but the name doesn't reflect that. I couldn't think of an appropriate title in that sense without it being God-awful long. Exact dialogue from pilot taken from .?title=1.01_Pilot_(transcript)

1985 - 6 years old

He didn't know how it happened, really. It was like something inside him took over and he lost control. One second, he was quietly coloring in a blue dragon and the next, his fists were swinging wildly at the kid next to him. He didn't know what he was doing he just knew he was angry. So angry he cried right there in front of everyone. Now, he was sitting in the coat room all by himself while his teacher called his dad. As his lip shook, all he could think was how much he wanted his mommy and how much he hated that boy. He looked up when the teacher walked back in the room.

"I called your dad and he's on his way to pick you up." She sounded disappointed and it made his eyes tear up even more. He didn't even like her so it just made him madder.

"Lets see if that nose has stopped bleeding, shall we?" He didn't say anything but let her remove the tissue from his nose. "It doesn't look so bad. Poor Ryan has a busted lip and before you leave, I want to you to apologize to him."

"No!"

"Now, Dean, that's not nice. You can't just go around punching people. Honestly, you're only six. What made you do that?"

He didn't want to tell her. He didn't even want to look at her but she had his face in her hands and she was a lot bigger than him. Besides, he was always told he couldn't hit girls.

"Dean? I expect an answer, young man."

"You're not my mom!"

With that, Dean's eyes went wide and he slammed his lips together, biting down on them so much that it hurt. He tried to jump up and run but his teacher held on tight.

"Let me go! Let go, dammit!"

"Dean!" His father's stern bellow startled him to a dead stop in his squirming to get free. He looked up at his father, pitifully, and then to his little brother asleep in his dad's arms. "Apologize to your teacher right now. You know better than that."

Dean turned towards his teacher but didn't meet her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Miss Andrews."

"Sorry for what?" His dad wasn't going to make this easy on him.

"I'm sorry for causing so much trouble."

"Good. Now sit there and don't move while I talk to your teacher."

Dean did as he was told and waited for his dad to finish, wondering how Sammy was able to stay asleep on his dad's shoulder through the whole thing. Before they left, he was made to apologize to Ryan even though he wasn't really sorry and they made it back to the rental in record time. When Dean went to pull the handle, his dad's voice stopped him.

"Wait." Dean slumped in on himself but did as he was told. John got out and opened Dean's door. "Out. Come on." When he was fully out, John scooped him up and sat him on the trunk lid and placed his hands on each side of him. "Give me one good reason not to whoop your behind for that stunt you pulled."

Dean felt his lip start to tremble again and looked down, not wanting to tell his dad the reason.

"Dean, I'm waiting. Why'd you hit that kid?"

"Because."

"Because why?"

"Just because."

"That's not good enough, Dean. You've got until I count to five and then we're going inside and you're getting a butt whoopin'." John paused, thinking that was enough of a threat but Dean still didn't say anything.

"One... two... three... four-"

"Stop! Please, daddy, I don't wanna butt whoopin'!"

"Then tell me why you got in a fight in friggin' kindergarten, for Christ's sake."

"Ryan said- he said he hated his mom!"

All the air left John's lungs at that and he bowed his head, a tight ball forming in the pit of his stomach. Just like that, he wasn't angry anymore. When he looked up, Dean was trying real hard not to cry again.

"Dean." John sighed. "I know that must've made you real mad, but you gotta control that temper. You can't go around getting into fights at school."

"But what if they really deserve it?"

"You can't, Dean. If I'm gonna fight the monsters, I need to know that I don't have to worry about you at school."

"I'm sorry."

"I know you are. C'mon. Lets get your brother and get inside. I think we got a few more rules we need to go over." John lifted him off the trunk and set him back on his feet.

"Do we hafta? My nose hurts."

"Then stop hitting fists with it. I'm gonna have to teach you how to block."

"But you just said no fighting." Now he was confused.

"Don't be a smart-ass." Dean really wasn't trying to be.

"But-"

"Just get inside," John replied, exasperated.

1990 - 11 years old

He rocked a little in his seat, his arms crossed loosely over his chest. Waiting had never been his strong suit. He'd already counted as many ceiling tiles as he could until they were too blurred together to see. He counted the number of lockers he already knew the combinations to, twice, but nothing could distract him from the fact that he was in big trouble.

Dad's number one "follow or face the consequences" rule was no fighting in school. Well, technically it was no getting caught fighting in school. The second rule? Don't lose. Okay, so maybe going up against an eighth grader wasn't the brightest idea he'd ever had but it wasn't like he was some weak little twerp. More than anything, he was embarrassed at how quickly he went down. The third rule his dad ingrained in him was never underestimate the enemy. It was strike three and he was up a creek.

Troublemaker. That was what they labeled him the first time he smarted off in class. He was pretty used to being an outsider but sometimes it just sucked. Case in point, no one believed him when he said the other kid started it. It was a lie but, dammit, he was supposed to be good at that too. He knew he shouldn't have tried to make a bet with that kid. And taunting him probably wasn't smart either.

He should've won. He'd seen that kid run laps and he was slow. Too bad slow and indifferent didn't mean the same thing. Turned out, the kid just didn't give a crap about gym class. So, when Dean came out the loser, he tried to talk himself out of making good on the bet. Like hell he was going to give that kid his money. All it took was the kid saying something bad about his family and Dean's fists let loose and now here he was waiting for the executioner.

He looked up sharply when he heard the sound of boots on the floor. His dad was all silence and stealth. Loud and forceful was always a bad sign.

John didn't even look at Dean when he passed him and went straight into the principal's office. Dean tried to hear what they were saying but it was too muffled. The door swung open minutes later and startled him into attention. John wasted no time in grabbing his arm.

"Let's go." Speaking was probably dangerous at this point but he had to know.

"Am I suspended?"

"No."

That surprised Dean. He wanted to ask more but the tone in his dad's voice told him it was time to shut up. When they got back to the motel, he was forcefully directed into a seat at the small table in the "kitchen". He watched his dad pace the small area. He flinched when John opened and slammed a cupboard door.

"What if I'd been out on a hunt?"

Dean wasn't sure if he was actually allowed to answer.

"What have I told you about unnecessary attention at school, Dean? You know how careful we gotta be right now. Until you're old enough to handle this kind of shit on your own, I can't-"

"I'm sorry." He hadn't meant to sound so pathetic, he just couldn't take his dad being so disappointed in him.

"Don't be sorry. Stop screwing up." Dean hung his head.

"Yes, sir." John kneeled in front of him.

"That's gonna be some shiner tomorrow. What about your nose?"

"Not broken. Nurse checked." Dean mumbled and John sighed.

"Dean?" He looked up.

"Yeah?"

"Next time, duck."

"I did!" John looked at him skeptically. "The first time."

"Haven't I taught you anything?"

Dean had enough sense to look abashed.

1995 - 16 years old

The first punch grazed his chin, leaving behind a swift burning sensation. Had he not anticipated, the ham fist would've knocked him on his ass for sure. He wasn't as lucky when a second fist rammed his stomach up through this throat. As he fought to breathe, he tried to stumble out of reach. A fist clawed at his neck, grabbing at his shirt. Before he could raise his hands in defense, blood began pouring from his nose as he hit the ground. He gasped, his forehead buried in the gravel lot, when a steel-toed boot caught him in the ribs. He was fighting hard not to puke when he heard it.

The cock of the hammer caught the attention of his attacker as well and he turned to find a large caliber revolver pointed at his chest.

"I suggest you fucking run." Well, if there was one thing John Winchester was good at, it was being downright scary when he needed to be.

Not having to be told twice, the guy took off in a flurry of limbs. Not so badass now, are you? He would've laughed if he didn't think it'd kill him.

Before he could even get his bearings, he was hauled to his feet - where he promptly threw up bile and maybe a little bit of blood on his father's shoes.

"Dammit, Dean," John mumbled, leaning him against the dumpster behind them. "Look at me. How bad he get ya?"

Dean wheezed and screwed his eyes shut.

"I'm okay. Just gimme a minute." It came out choked and John shook his head.

"Okay my ass. What'd I tell you about hustling without any backup? You're not ready for going solo yet."

"I honestly-" He took a breath. "I honestly thought he was dumber than he looked."

John barked out a short laugh and shook his head. "Did you at least get the money before he embarrassed you out here?"

Dean frowned and looked affronted. "Of course. And I had him right where I wanted him. Lull him into a false sense of security before I strike. You just-" He winced when he straightened. "You spoiled it, is all."

"I bet. As soon as you can stand up straight without pulling that face, I'm doubling your training."

Dean groaned but it wasn't from the ache in his ribs.

"You good to go?"

"Yeah, I'm good."

"Good, then you can walk back to the motel." Dean's head shot up abruptly and he winced again.

"What? Dad, you can't be serious?"

John paused before getting into the car. "Where's your brother, Dean?" Shit, very serious.

"I didn't leave him alone that long. Besides, he's old enough to be on his own for a couple of hours." That was exactly the wrong thing to say but Dean's brain to mouth sensor was malfunctioning.

"When you gonna learn, Dean? When it's too late?"

"Dad, I-"

"Don't take too long or you're sleeping in the car."

Fuck. The money tonight wasn't even worth it.

2000 - 21 years old

He was drunk. Scratch that; he was out of his head, completely shit-faced. The walls were moving and everything was awesome. It wasn't as if he'd never drank before but now it was his right as a legal citizen to get shit faced in a bar without having to use a fake ID. His birthday was months ago and he'd gotten drunk then too.

Dad and Sam were fighting more often. Dean snorted. It sounded like he was some snot nosed kid crying over mommy and daddy fighting. Dean remembered when mom and dad fought and he remembered dad leaving once. Dad came back. Just like Sam came back whenever he took off. Ran away. Dean knew the difference. Dad took off and Sam ran away. Either way, Dean was always getting left behind. He got the feeling Sam was getting the itch again only, somehow, he didn't think he'd be coming back next time.

So now he's drunk and melancholy and wanting to hit something. That something, he decided, just walked in the door and it was a big mother of a something. The guy looked like a lumberjack on steroids and Dean decided he'd rather get his face beat in than listen to his family butt heads all night. Probably not the best decision to make when drunk but he wasn't going to worry about that.

The guy came in with a girl so Dean took it upon himself to see if she wouldn't mind leaving with someone better. The lumberjack reacted like Dean had hoped he would and he soon found himself outside, waiting for the first punch. The wait was short but, unfortunately, the guy lacked the strength Dean was sure the guy possessed. The hit to his chin only threw him mildly off balance. Dean rubbed it a little before smirking back at the guy.

"I bet your girlfriend hits harder than that." The lumberjack seethed.

"You just don't know how to shut up, do you?"

"I like the sound of my own voice. I bet I'd love your girl's when she's screaming out my name."

That did the trick. The first punch was nothing compared to the second and third. Dean could no longer hear anything beyond the roar in his ears. He deflected the next punch on reflex alone and took a swing of his own. He got in two good hits before he was on the ground, the lumberjack's fist connecting with his face twice more before he was ripped to his feet.

Dean didn't care how his dad knew where he was. He didn't need rescuing.

"That's enough! Get the hell out of here."

"Who the hell are you? This ain't none of your business."

"He's my business." The threat was there and Dean kind of hoped this guy wasn't smart enough to see it.

"Whatever, man. Keep him on a leash." Damn.

John scowled at the guy then turned to Dean, hauling him up by the arm.

"You finished?"

"Maybe." His dad's grip tightened slightly. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm finished."

"What's the one thing I always tell you?"

"Dad, could we not right now?" He spat out blood and wiped his sleeve across his mouth.

"I asked you a question." Dean breathed out heavily through his nose.

"Never start a fight you know you can't win." You should know, dad. You and Sammy do it all the time.

"That it?" What else was there?

"Yes, sir." John frowned and shook his head.

"I'm disappointed, Dean." He deflated at that.

His dad always knew how to hit him the hardest.

2005 - 26 years old

"God, dammit!" Dean swore as he swerved to miss another deer. That was now 3 in the last hour and if he wasn't so worried about even scratching his baby, he'd slam right into the Bambi sons of bitches. He was in a bad mood and he didn't need the extra aggravation of dodging roadkill.

He'd gotten his ass kicked in New Orleans. Even at 26, a part of him still expected his dad to show up and have his back. Not this time. Dad went off on his own job in Jericho, California and Dean handled the voodoo thing. He was proud that his dad trusted him and his skills enough to do jobs on his own now but sometimes he missed working along side him, or in most cases, missed that secure feeling of having backup if shit hit the fan. New Orleans wasn't that bad and he'd finished the job efficiently enough, bruises aside, but it felt like something was missing. After a few days of sultry, southern girls and food so good he could die there, Dean knew he had to hit the road.

It didn't take him long to realize something was wrong.

He called everyone he could think of, even people he probably shouldn't have bothered with, but no one had heard from or seen his dad. He even almost called Sam but he was as sure as shit that his brother hadn't heard from their dad either. It was going on three weeks now since he'd heard from him and the pit in his stomach was turning into an ulcer. It may have also had something to do with the "burger from hell" that he ate when he stopped over in Amarillo, Texas two days before. He was still belching that baby up.

Dad had gone missing plenty of times but never for this long. Dean knew something was wrong, he could feel it. Now, he was a day away from California's border and a certain kind of fear was rising up inside him. He started to go through all the what-ifs in his head and it made him white-knuckle the steering wheel. He wasn't sure what he was more worried about; finding his dad or not finding him. The man hadn't answered his phone when Dean started calling him a week ago. He started ripping into himself for taking a break, even if it was to heal up, and enjoying New Orleans for a bit before hitting the road while his dad could be in trouble or dead.

He knew better. Dad had certainly taught him better. But, dad wasn't here and now Dean didn't know what to do. He was on his own.

While he stopped at a gas station to take a piss and fill up the Impala's tank, his phone rang from the passenger seat. It went to voicemail before he got back in the car.

"Dean... something big is starting to happen. I need to try and figure out what's going on. It may... Be very careful, Dean. We're all in danger."

All of them.

The next night, he broke into Sam's apartment in Palo Alto.

"Whoa, easy, tiger."

"Dean? You scared the crap out of me!" Dean laughs from his position above Sam, having pinned him after their scuffle.

"That's 'cause you're out of practice." Sam reverses their positions and Dean ends up the one pinned. "Or not. Get off me."

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"Well, I was lookin' for a beer."

And maybe a little guidance.

End.

A/N: And you pretty much know where it goes from there. :) Hope you enjoyed reading!