Triple Trouble

John's eyes were wide with anger and disbelief. He absolutely could not believe either one of his sons would be this reckless. And if one did he definitely leaned towards it being his eldest. But there it was in front of him; Sam knowing he did wrong by looking at the ground and avoiding his father's gaze. John ordered his son along with the shaken boy that accompanied him to the car. He could only hope that he could convince the teen that this was all a hoax and misunderstanding not the reality that was the demented and evil spirit that had chased the two boys around the cemetery until they had escaped to the other side of the wrought iron fence.

With keeping his voice even and calm he thought that by the time he had dropped the boy in front of his house that he believed that such an event was the possibility of an elaborate hoax. Kevin absently nodded that he was fine and lumbered off towards his front door leaving Sam in the backseat alone and realizing what he had done was not only wrong but had serious consequences.

"Get up here," John ordered quietly speaking of the empty passenger seat.

Sam thought about declining the offer but didn't particularly want to create a scene in front of Kevin's house. The kid who he had wanted nothing more to scare the pants off of, the kid that had driven him to this reckless act and the kid that he felt was responsible for the punishment Sam knew he would be enduring in the very near future. Kevin Gleason was a first class brat and a bully and Sam merely wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. So with that in mind he told him the graveyard was haunted and he should check it out with him. Sam knew that there was a vengeful spirit in residence but also that it had limitations, limitations that Sam knew they could overcome. But things had gotten a bit dicey when it turned out that the bully was a grade A wuss. The kid totally panicked tripped and banged his head and then decided to curl up into a ball of crying shame. Sam had a hell of a time getting him to the front gate and when he finally did it was just in time to meet John who was heading in to the cemetery to see what the commotion was about.

Seeing John scared Sam a hell of a lot more than the ghost did. Kevin on the other hand was happy for the ride home. Now as the younger Winchester slammed the car door and put his seatbelt on he feared for what was to come.

John put the car in drive and pulled away and kept it at the speed limit. He gripped the wheel hard his knuckles white and his eyes looking forward. "I have one word for you," he croaked out. "Three."

Sam looked over his face showing the confusion as his brain ran to catch up. He couldn't figure out what he was missing, what did the number three mean? Then it came crashing down and came down hard. Sam's confusion quickly turned to panic his face twisted as he turned towards his father. "Dad please no, I'm sorry I was wrong so wrong."

"Yes you were and that is why I didn't find it necessary to say the preliminary numbers of one and two you my boy jumped right to three."

Being counted to three by John Winchester was something you never wanted to happen. It had happened to Sam one other time when he was six or seven and it still caused his heart to stutter when he recalled the event. He knew Dean had knocked on that door more than once and even pushed John to four at one time. This had all the connotations of a disaster and Sam was already thanking his lucky stars that Monday was a teachers institute and he wouldn't have to face a long day of sitting in hard chairs. Of course that then meant another day with his father breathing down his neck with who knows what planned to make his existence unbearable. But who was he kidding he deserved it and expected nothing less from his father. If John was nothing else at least he was consistent.

The remainder of the ride was spent in awkward silence and Sam trying to calm his shaking hands. What had he been thinking, how did he think this wouldn't come back to bite him on the ass? Somehow John always sniffed out trouble whenever either one of his boys was even contemplating it and managed to show up just in time for the ending credits and the discipline. Hell the man was supposed to be gone until tomorrow at the earliest but as luck would have it the previous hunt had ended early and John figured he would come home for some quality time with his boys. Only now the quality time won't be shared between John, Dean and Sam but between John, Sam and John's wide leather belt.

They pulled to the curb outside the apartment they were renting. Climbing out of the car Sam slowed his long legs down stalling for as long as possible but John's look of impatience forced the teen to double time it to get to the front door before his father blew a gasket. He knew Dean had a date that night and wouldn't be home for hours yet. He was grateful for the privacy in his moment of humiliation. He of course knew Dean would understand having been in this position oh so many times but for Sam it was personal, private and held in disdain.

He kept his head down as he shuffled into the living room following the sound of John's boots on the worn hardwood floor. He stopped and tried to stand up straight while his eyes were locked and loaded on the floor.

"Eyes front Sam," John demanded. "Now you want to tell me why I find you with some poor unsuspecting kid in the middle of haunted cemetery?"

Sam resisted the urge to shrug and tried to come up with some kind of plausible reason for his actions. "I didn't know?" Sam tried.

"Bull you knew all about that cemetery, now if I recall each lie gets you another swat. Try again!"

"Dad Kevin's a jerk and he bullies kids."

"Okay, so?"

"So I wanted to give him something to be scared of."

"And you wanted to show off in the process too right?"

Sam did shrug this time as he realized his father was right on the money.

"Son you know shrugging or saying I don't know is not nor has ever been an answer. And it also adds to your count. Now you are up two."

Sam damned his luck, but that had always been the rules, John never accepted "I don't know" as an answer. He once again searched the floor for an answer. "I wanted him to be scared and I knew how to do it."

"Eyes front Samuel, if I have to tell you again I'll be adding more to your count and I really don't think you want that."

"No sir," Sam said straining to keep his eyes trained on the wall in front of him. "I knew there was a ghost in the graveyard and Kevin kept boasting about how brave he was and so I dared him to go to the cemetery. He said okay so we went, no big deal," Sam finished as if it was the simplest thing in the world.

"Except it is a big deal son and you know that. You took a civilian into a situation you knew could get dangerous. You put him and yourself in harms way for absolutely no reason," John said his voice gaining momentum and volume. "You had no back-up and no real idea what this spirit was capable of."

"I knew it wouldn't get past the iron gate," Sam snapped instantly regretting it his eyes retreating back to the floor.

"Sure the iron gate that was too far away for you to easily drag your dazed and confused companion. You never and I mean never use the supernatural to even out a score with a friend or enemy. Dammit son you know better. You are the last the person I would expect to pull something this arrogant and stupid," John yelled gaining energy. "I don't even know what to say to you."

Sam remained quiet ready to move on. He hated John's high octane lectures. He knew he was wrong and just wanted the second portion of the evening to happen. He also knew John figured this too and decided to keep the pace languid and Sam hanging on that hook.

"That's another one kiddo now keep your eyes front. You can't even bear to look up because you knew what stupid thing you were a part of. How would you feel if that kid got hurt?"

"Terrible," Sam admitted knowing he didn't think his plan through very well especially the part about getting caught.

"You hate the entire supernatural world and fight against our involvement every day, but now you use it like a toy. Now it is something at your beck and call for your amusement or convenience."

Sam was trying to remember how many extra swats John had counted. He hated this whole ordeal the numbers escalating along with John's anger. Neither he nor Dean were strangers to physical punishment but unlike most parents John never stopped with the counting game. He even had Dean at two a few months back. But it did work despite the fact that Dean was now nearly seventeen. Now he was in the middle of this numerical hell and berating himself far more than his father ever could.

website"Are you listening to me?" John asked.

"Yes sir," Sam answered his eyes flickering around.

But John rightly so didn't seem to believe him and Sam soon felt an iron grip on his bicep as he was being propelled to the rickety kitchen table. His face soon met the top of the Formica still a bit sticky from breakfast that morning. There was no doubt John would be using his belt as that was a given when you hit three and it was generally followed up by extra chores and training. Sam felt beyond humiliated as he submitted knowing there was no other choice in the matter. He had done wrong and deserved some type of punishment and somehow his father always managed to pick one that Sam hated the most. Perhaps because that is the one that John chose the most. Of course grounding him and making sure Dean watched over him to ensure he complied wasn't fair to the elder brother and John really made an effort not to punish Dean for Sam's indiscretions; well at least most of the time. Sam tried to go with the routine remembering Dean's advice a while back that the old man went just a bit easier on you when you complied.

"See kid trust me if you are compliant and submissive and agree with him and just take what he dishes out then it will go much easier for you," Dean explained a few years ago.

"And how do you know that?" Sam had asked.

"Because I made up my own little experiment, I got in trouble twice for similar issues and played it both ways. I was all yes sir no sir one time and the other I gave him a moderate amount of lip and fought him a bit. The outcomes were very different; he definitely took the edge off when I was all repentant."

Sam didn't know whether to buy it or not but figured it couldn't hurt. His brother had to be the only one in the world that would think that experiment was a stroke of genius.

But now here he was his cheek to the table; his dad pulling his belt through its loops and he was in for the ride of his life thus far.

"You know I hate this Sam," John was saying. "But you just don't seem to have grasped the problem here."

Sam managed to mumble out a yes sir and thought that though John may hate this Sam bet he hated it more. The first stroke came crashing down and was quite the eye opener. Sam couldn't help but squirm as the second blast hit him. When the third found its mark he fought to stand up. He didn't really recall thinking about it, it just happened.

"Not even close kiddo," John said as he gently pushed Sam back to the table.

Back where he started Sam realized the intensity had built up a bit since the last time he had hit the naughty number three. Of course he was much younger then too and John had taken that into account. At least as the fourth stripe was laid Sam had managed to get his arms on the table and they were able to cradle his face and head.

John had been busy reminding him as to why he was in the position but the blood rushing through his ears kind of drown him out. He tried to pay close attention to anything that resembled a question so he could give the appropriate response. Yes sir I understand why I'm here, no sir I will never do it again, yes sir I was wrong and dangerous and so on and so forth. Generally John kept quiet in the air during an ordeal such as this but his anger just couldn't keep his lecturing in check. Sam did have to admit it did provide a bit of a distraction to the mangling his behind was taking.

"Next time you don't tell me 'I don't know' or shrug your shoulders at me, you definitely don't lie and if you do the crime then you keep your eyes up and forward and if you can't then you should have never put yourself in that position. I know you regret your actions and I certainly hope we won't be here again," John said sliding his belt back to its rightful place.

Sam was released back to his room and realized that after wanting nothing more than for Dean not to be there now wished with all his might that his big brother was there. He would console Sam and tell him stories about the time he had hit four and not only gotten pummeled but how it had happened right in the middle of a suburban street. Just the memory of the story made Sam's smile ever so slightly.

Now are you wondering about Dean getting to four? Stay tuned…..