The Best I can Do

It was easy to see that the pros far outweighed the cons. Dean had listed them back and forth in his head the entire walk home from school and, yeah, he had definitely done the right thing in this situation.

Okay, so he had been kept after school and then suspended for fighting, but hey, at least it hadn't been Sammy who had been in the fight and got in trouble. And, yeah, it really didn't look good that the kid Dean fought is only in the sixth grade, same as Sam, and Dean is a freshman, but the kid was huge and was almost Dean's size anyway, so all in all it was fair. It wasn't much of a fight anyway, and Dean wasn't looking for trouble. At least he tried to reason with the kid, but he had been a real dick, just as Sammy said he was, and Dean just basically swatted him and the bitch went down like a pile of bricks. Dean smiled as he thought of how Sammy could've easily kicked the punk's ass into next week.

Which was the other con in the battle of pros and cons, Sammy was really mad at him for stepping in and fighting his battles for him. Dean would now have to face a pissed off little brother when he got home, but still, Dean felt pretty confident that all in all he had done the right thing, and once Dean explained it to him, Sammy would have to agree.

The best part about all of this was the fact that Sam and Dean's dad was still out on a job and wouldn't be home for a few days, so he wouldn't have to know anything about this. All Dean would have to do is forge his Dad's name on the note from the principal that he was aware of what happened and Dean would be home free….no harm, no foul.

That was, until Dean rounded the corner of the street to the house they were renting and saw his Dad's Impala parked in the driveway.

"Oh, crap." Dean said to himself as he felt the air leave his lungs. Dean stopped in his tracks to think for a minute. "Okay, this may not be as bad as you think. You can still get away with this one, kid, if you just play it cool. Maybe Dad doesn't know anything. You can still leave in the morning like you're going to school and just head off to the movies instead." Dean gave a quick smile to himself as he took a deep breath. "Just relax and keep your head. Besides, maybe he's just stopped in quickly to restock on supplies…Stranger things have happened."

Playing it casually, Dean jogged up the driveway, skipped up the porch stairs two at a time and tried to cheerfully enter the house. He gave a big smile as he saw his Dad seated at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee.

"Hey, Dad." He said happily, "You're home early." He then looked around the kitchen. "Where's Sam?"

John Winchester set his cup down and stood, leaning his back against the table. He folded his arms across his chest and cocked his head slightly to the side. He looked his oldest son up and down, and then gave a thin smile.

"Hello, Son." He answered. "Sam is in his room, working on homework, and yes, I am home a few days early. I can only stay the night, but we'll talk about that in a minute." He paused as he watched Dean set his backpack down next to the kitchen door. "I stopped at the school to pick you and your brother up, but Sammy told me that you had to stay after." He waited until Dean's eyes met his before he continued. "What did you stay after for?"

Dean shrugged casually as he tried to make light of the question. "Oh, it's just some school stuff." Dean walked to the fridge and opened it, looking for a snack. "Nothing I can't handle."

John turned and took a piece of paper from the table. He held it in front of him and looked at it as he spoke. "As Sam was getting in the car, the principal came out and handed me this." He held it out for Dean to see, but he could tell by the panicked look on Dean's face that he already knew what it was, so he placed it back down on the table. "Now, I'm going to calmly ask you one last time before I lose my temper…what did you stay after for?"

Dean sighed and bowed his head. "Okay, I had a disagreement with this kid and it escalated into a scuffle. It was over in just a few seconds and it wasn't a big deal. The principal totally over-reacted."

John leaned forward as he raised his voice. "Wasn't a big deal? Dean, you punched a sixth grader in the gut and dropped him to the ground writhing in pain and gasping for breath. You call that nothing? The kid's Sam's age, for Christ's sake, what the Hell were you thinking?"

Dean put his hands up to placate his father. "Okay, first of all, this kid may be in Sam's grade, but he's stayed back at least twice. He's closer to my age than Sam's, and he's almost my size. Second, he's been giving Sam a really hard time in school, and he needed to be brought down a few notches, so the punk had it coming. And third, that little bastard was sitting outside the school waiting for Sam to come out, so if I hadn't stepped in, the kid would have jumped him and it would have been Sammy in the fight."

"Well alright then, Sammy's fully capable of taking care of himself. Why didn't you just let Sam handle it on his own instead of jumping in and fighting for him? You probably made it worse for him, do you realize that?"

Dean blew out an exasperated breath. "Yes, Sir, I realize that, but I didn't want Sam fighting. He'd get in trouble and he would be the one suspended right now and not me…..and he can't get suspended or it would screw up that thing he has on Friday night."

A perplexed look crossed John's face. "What thing?"

It was now Dean's turn to raise his voice as his arms swept out in front of him. "That science fair thing, with the competition and the volcano that Sam's been working on for a month now!"

John gave a deep sigh and sank down against the table. He rubbed his temples as he remembered about the fair. "That's this Friday night?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah, it's this Friday night and if he got suspended then he wouldn't be able to go, and he'd be devastated 'cuz he's been working on that stupid volcano every single night and it's actually really great and he's got a good shot at getting first place in the competition, so he couldn't fight even though that kid was just a big pussy and Sam could've dropped him like a fly." Dean realized after a moment that he was ranting, so he took a deep breath and lowered his voice. "So that's the thing, and that's why I stepped in. Sam's mad at me as it is. He wasn't happy about me butting into his business, but I had to. It was for his own good." Dean then saw the look on his Dad's face. "You are going to the science fair, right? You told him that you…that we all would go together. It's important to Sam…you have no idea….you have to be there."

John shook his head to change the subject. "One thing at a time." He answered. John thought as he took in everything Dean had just told him. He gritted his teeth at the thought of Dean getting into trouble at school, but whether he liked it or not, he could see Dean's point, although he wasn't about to let Dean off the hook just yet.

"What's this boy giving Sam a hard time about, anyway?"

Dean sucked in a breath and shook his head. "I'd rather not say, Sam made me promise not to tell you, and you may not take it very well."

Dean's answer annoyed John, and soon he was at the point of losing his temper again. "Well, you can either have a conversation with me about it, or my belt will have a nice long conversation with your backside."

Dean's jaw tightened as he decided he'd better spill what Sam had told him. "Okay, but just remember not to shoot the messenger….."

"Just get on with it, Dean!"

"Yes, Sir. In the five weeks we've been here, this science fair will be the third after school event that Sam's class has put on, so at lunch yesterday this kid was giving Sam all kinds of crap about how you've never gone to any of them. He told Sam that he didn't believe he even had a father and if he did….." Dean paused, not quite knowing how to delicately put the rest of the sentence.

John felt a lump in his throat as he urged Dean on, "If he did, what?"

Dean swallowed hard, but continued. "And if he did, then his Dad must not give a crap about him anyway."

John felt his chest clench from the guilt inside him. He lowered his eyes and stared blankly at the floor.

Dean took it as a sign that his Dad wasn't going to explode just yet, so he cautiously continued. "So Sam stuck up for you, saying that he didn't know squat about you, and that you just had a very important job to do, and that Sam understood why you couldn't come to everything the school put on. The kid just laughed in Sam's face and said that you were probably just lying about having to be somewhere else so you wouldn't have to spend time with him, so Sam told him to shut his mouth. That night when Sam got home, I could tell he was upset, so I pried the story out of him. I had a feeling that things might come to a boil after school today, so I went to Sam's school to check on him, and when I did, I saw the kid in the parking lot, ready to jump Sam. That's when I ran over and stepped in."

John nodded at Dean. He sucked in a breath and thought for a moment, taking in the whole story. "Okay," he finally answered, "I can see why you felt you had to do what you did, so you're off the hook without consequence….for now. I do plan to double check this story with Sam and the school principal just to be sure."

Dean's eyes shot up to his father. "No, Dad. You can't tell Sam that I told you about this. He made me promise not to tell you, and if he knew that I did then he won't trust me with any other problems that come along. Do what you have to do with the principal, but please don't say anything about this to Sam." Dean gave a smart alecky smirk to John. "I only told you because my ass was on the line….literally."

John chortled at his boy and his crazy sense of humor. "Fine," he huffed. "But I am going to talk to the principal…and watch your language."

Dean took a seat at the table and opened the pudding cup he had taken from the fridge earlier. "So, you have to leave again tomorrow? Is everything okay with the hunt?"

John sat back down in his chair as he joined his son at the table "Yeah, everything is fine with the hunt. Caleb and I just miscalculated the lunar cycle by a day, that's all. We had to postpone the hunt until tomorrow night."

Dean cautiously eyed his father as he readdressed a touchy subject. "So, do you think you'll be back by Friday night at five o'clock?"

John avoided Dean's eyes as he brought his coffee mug to his lips. "I'll do what I can." He answered before taking a sip.

Dean groaned and leaned against the back of his chair, knowing all too well what that answer usually meant.

John read Dean's body language loud and clear and became defensive. "Look," He explained, "I know this fair is important to Sam, but it certainly does not take precedence over something as critical as exterminating a werewolf, or maybe even a small pack of them. I have to strike while the lunar cycle is right, so it's not like I can put this sort of thing off until it's convenient for me."

Dean winced as he heard the same speech his father gave his sons each and every time either he or Sam wanted their dad to be somewhere for them. He sighed heavily, "I know." Dean knew what the next words out of his dad's mouth were going to be so well that he could have said them with him.

"Need I remind you that people are dying, Dean?"

"No, Sir. You don't need to remind me. I'm fully aware."

"Okay, then. Now my first priority will have to be killing these things and for Caleb and me to survive killing them. As I said, I will do what I can to be there, and that's the best I can offer right now." Taking his last swallow of coffee, John brought his mug to the sink. "Besides, you're going to be there, right? So at least he will have one of us there, just in case I can't make it home in time."

Dean shook his head slightly and stared down at the table. "Yes, I will be there." Then, almost under his breath, Dean muttered. "I figure someone has to show up and be there for the poor kid." Dean seemed surprised to hear those words come out of his mouth as his eyes widened in fear and looked up at his father.

Dean fully expected his dad to have a very strong reaction to his comment, and he braced himself for it. Instead, John just glared at him, remaining motionless. "This conversation's over." He finally answered. "Go to your room until I get us some supper."

"Yes, Sir." Dean stood from the table and left the kitchen.

John watched Dean walk through the doorway. He let out a deep breath and scrubbed his hand down his face. As much as he knew his job was important, this was the part of it that he hated the most. Today was Tuesday, and he knew that the chances of him wrapping up this job and being home by Friday were slim, at best. However, He would try with everything he had to be there, and that was the best he could do.

TBC

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this….I hope you are enjoying it so far. I should have the second half of the story up within a week's time. Please take a moment and leave a quick review.