Ten-year-old Sam Winchester watched with attentive eyes as his older brother went over the obstacle course. They were required to climb over an eight foot wall, crawl on their bellies in mud under branches of thorn and much more. John Winchester stood aside to observe his sons. He had no choice but to train them strictly so that they'd be more than prepared to face the evil that's out there. He wants to be a good father, but most times he feels like a military sergeant giving orders to a couple of soldiers, preparing them for the upcoming war.
Dean gave shouts of determination and confidence as he went through the last course – shooting man-like cardboard targets in the head or chest with a gun loaded with rocksalt. He ducked and rolled, leapt and fired, and finally completed the course. Muddy, dusty, and soaking wet, he broke into a jog to where his brother and father stood.
As his eyes swept over Sam, Dean can't help but notice his anxiety; sweat was dripping down his forehead. The humid weather wasn't helping much, either. This is so not good, Dean thought. Poor Sammy. Maybe I should –
"Dean! Great job, that's my boy!" the eldest Winchester exclaimed while patting the green-eyed youngster on the shoulder. He then shifted his glance down at his youngest son. "Okay, Sam. Go on, it's your turn. Show us what you've got!"
Sam looked up at his dad. He hoped his puppy dog eyes would work this time. "B-but Dad, I don't think I –"
"No," John interrupted. "You must go through this. No buts."
"Y-yes sir." Sam walked, unsure, towards the obstacle course after a gentle shove from John to get him started.
Meanwhile, Dean was worried about his little brother. He pulled at his dad's sleeve to get his attention. "Dad, I really don't think Sammy should do this. Not yet. I mean, c'mon, an eight foot wall? He could get hurt!"
"Shush, Dean," silenced John sternly. "If you could do it when you were his age, he can too. Just watch."
Dean opened his mouth to protest, but held his tongue before a single syllable could be uttered. He knew that it was useless to go against his father if he has set his -sometimes too stubborn- mind on something. He kept his fingers and toes crossed as he watched Sam make his way nervously to the wall that was more than twice his height. He gulped and took hold of the rough rope. I can do this, he thought. I will prove to Dad and Dean that I'm no loser.
Back there, Dean's brow furrowed. He just had a funny feeling that something was about to happen.
Sam climbed slowly up the rope, his feet pressing against the wall to support his weight. He was doing great… until his balance betrayed him when he was almost reaching the top. It all happened so fast.
Dean was the first to reach the young boy's side. He examined Sam's body tentatively. No broken bones. A huge sigh of relief escaped from his lips.
"Sam, are you okay?" John's voice rang in Sam's ears as he groggily opened his eyes. "Y-yeah. I guess so. My butt hurts though. Dad… where's Dean?"
Before Sam could even try to get up, Dean turned his brother's face gently towards him. "I'm right here, Sammy. Everything's gonna be okay."
Half an hour later, a cup of steaming hot chocolate with marshmallows peeking at the top could be seen in Dean's hand as he carried it to the bedroom. As he nudged the door open, quiet but distinct sobs could be heard. He set down the cup on the bedside table, sat down on Sam's bed, and gave him a playful shove. "Sammy… hey. You alright? C'mon, don't be a baby. Look at me."
Sam buried his face deeper into the pillow. "Go away, Dean. I know you think I'm a loser. You and Dad alike. Leave me alone," he mumbled in a muffled voice.
Dean sighed. Typical pain-in-the-ass little brother behavior. "Look, Sam. I know you're probably too young to be doing all these, but I went through it too when I was your age –" Sam sat up abruptly and glared at Dean. Envy and admiration both gleamed in those forest green eyes. "That's you, Dean. I'll never be as good as you. Ever."
The thirteen-year-old shrunk back slightly. Of all people, Sam admires me? Uh, wow. Dean shot Sam a small smile and put an arm around his small shoulders. "Trust me, you so don't wanna be like me. You know why? Cos I get in trouble most of the time, and if you get in trouble too, I'd be the one to take the blame. Not that I'm not willing to. My duty is to protect you, and I will. But you have to try to understand that Dad's doing this – training us – for our own good.
"No, I'm not gonna even try, Dean! Why does he have to treat us like we're in the military? I'm sick of all these… I wish we could live a normal life."
Ruffling Sam's hair, Dean smiled sadly at him. "I know, Sammy. I feel the same too, and I would give anything for you to have a normal life. But you know the thing that killed Mum? There are many others like it, and they're definitely not gonna be easy to deal with. Dad's preparing us now so that we could protect ourselves; so that I can protect you. I know he might be a tad too strict sometimes, but he's still our father and we have to obey him."
Sam knows that he can always count on Dean to make him feel better. He nodded at the somewhat deep lecture and touched Dean's arm. "Dean? Are they going to come after us too? If they could get Mum, they can get Dad, and if they can get Dad, they can get us. I'm scared, Dean." He proceeded to reach out to Dean for a hug, and Dean opened his arms wide. I love you this big, Sammy. So much bigger than I ever dreamed my heart ever would. But being the man that I am, I'd never admit it in front of you. He pressed Sam's head against his chest, and the steady thump thump of his heart added to Sam's comfort. That hug was enough for Sam to know that Dean will always be there for him no matter what.
As they pulled apart, Dean grinned at Sam like a Cheshire cat. "So, are you ready to go for that course again tomorrow? Don't worry. This time, I'll be there to catch you if you fall."
Sam's eyes lit up, and he nodded excitedly. "You bet! I won't fail this time. I'll show Dad what I've got!"
Walking out of the room, Dean replied. "Good."
"Dean?" Sam's voice called out bashfully. "Could we go get some Snickers bars after that?"
The older boy responded by winking with that signature smirk on his face. A chick-flick moment – along with candy bars – was certainly better than force. After all, Sammy was always all for chick-flick moments.