“Derrick! Answer the damn door,” Jeremy McDermott shouted above the television which he had cranked up in an attempt to drown out the heavy metal music streaming from his only child’s room. “Derrick!” He sighed and clicked off the TV as he rose to his feet to get the door himself. Anything to stop the persistent banging.
Switching on the porch light he opened the door without checking to see who it was, a habit he’d picked up soon after moving to the small Midwestern town. Also a habit he needed to break, apparently. A tall man with a dark beard stared back at him gruffly. A young teen was next to the man and another boy stood slightly behind and just out of the pool of light. Something about the group made him feel uneasy but he was certain he hid it well.
“Mr. McDermott?” the man asked.
“Yes? A little late to be collecting for the boy scouts, isn’t it?” Jeremy answered sarcastically as he took a closer look at the bruise blossoming across the older boy’s cheek. He knew why they had come; it wasn’t his first late night visit from an irate father. He suspected it wouldn’t be the last.
“We’re not with the boy scouts.”
“Whatever. Derrick! Get out here!” Jeremy called over his shoulder. He eyed the man again. “Who are you?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard of you. You live in that sleaze ball motel at the edge of town. You’re what? A gambler? Pool hustler? We don’t like your kind around here.”
Winchester’s expression didn’t change but the kid up front went from studied indifference to outright hatred in a second flat. Still, he kept his mouth shut which surprised Jeremy. He’d heard this one was a first class smart-ass.
“What’d you want?” Derrick muttered as he sauntered up from behind. As tall as his father and thicker in the chest and arms, his presence suddenly made Jeremy more at ease with the somewhat intimidating man at the door. “Ah shit,” Derrick added when he saw who was on the stoop.
“Derrick,” Jeremy corrected for show, “Don’t curse.”
“Sup, Winchester? Get a boo boo?” Derrick taunted. The Winchester kid didn’t flinch but met Derrick’s amused gaze head on. “I didn’t touch him, he fell down.”
“Yeah, I fell down after he tripped me.”
“No I didn’t. I can’t help it if the kid can’t walk,” Derrick scoffed with a shrug. “Sounds like my word against his.”
“Your son is a bully,” the oldest Winchester accused, casting a glance at Derrick before returning his scowl to Jeremy.
“Maybe your kid’s a liar,” Jeremy suggested, hoping to deflect the blame.
“Dean doesn’t lie. Not to me. I usually don’t have time for this kind of bull but in this case I’m going to make an exception.”
Jeremy sighed, imagining another lawsuit, or worse, another move. “You know, you’d spend your time better by teaching your kid to defend himself,” he offered in an admittedly poor attempt to appease.
“I don’t let my boys fight at school.”
“School’s out,” Derrick suggested with a leer, looking the much smaller Dean up and down like a piece of pepperoni pizza. Dean glared back at him.
“Yeah, it is.” John smiled menacingly. “We’re calling you out.”
“I’m not going to fight you,” Jeremy balked as he backed up into the solid form behind him.
“Not us,” John said with a sigh that sounded a lot like disgust. “Them.”
“Let me get this straight,” Jeremy gaped. “You want your ten-year-old shrimp there to fight my kid who’s fifteen?”
“I’m almost fourteen!” Dean interrupted heatedly, red with indignation. “And Dad says I’ll get my growth spurt in the next year or two.”
“Yes sir,” Dean answered, his voice quiet. Respectful.
“Dad, I’m sixteen!” Derrick whined even as Jeremy marveled at the esteem Dean showed his father, unheard of in the McDermott household.
Jeremy held the back of his hand up in his son’s face without looking back at him. “You want them to fight?” he clarified.
“Somebody needs to teach this kid a lesson.”
“Seems kind of harsh to me, but sure, I’ll let Derrick whip him into shape for you.”
Dean harrumphed and the smaller kid actually laughed out loud. “We’ll see about that,” John said with a smirk of his own.
“Wait a minute. You’re not setting me up are you?” Jeremy asked, narrowing his eyes.
John held out his hand. “No lawsuits, no police, no repercussions. This settles the matter once and for all.”
“Come on, Dad,” Derrick urged, giddy with the prospect of a fight.
“Okay,” Jeremy relented after a moments thought. Blood makes the grass grow and all that. He passed on the handshake.
“Sweet!” Derrick pumped his fist in the air before pulling off his Metallica t-shirt and flexing his muscles. “Prepare to die, you little prick.”
Dean actually smiled and winked before turning on his heel and herding his little brother out to the middle of the yard.
“No rules,” Derrick informed John.
“We don’t need any,” John assured confidently before joining his sons. “You okay with this, Dean?” they heard him ask.
“Yes sir,” came the eager reply from somewhere in the dark. “We saw him fight. He’s strong but he’s got no technique.”
“Yeah, he’s big but he’s slow,” a smaller voice agreed. “Dean’ll wipe the floor with him.”
Another uneasy feeling swept Jeremy as he switched on the light in the driveway and watched it flood the yard. The Winchester kid handed his dad a huge hunting knife from a sheath at his waist then another smaller knife from his boot. He ruffled his brother’s hair then rolled his neck on his shoulders and began to loosen up. There was no fear in his demeanor. The kid almost seemed to be looking forward to it.
“Dad, this is freakin’ great!” Derrick exclaimed as he pushed past him out the door.
“Derrick…” Jeremy began but couldn’t think of anything to say. ‘Don’t hurt him too bad’ came to mind but seemed oddly unsuitable. “Watch yourself,” he finally managed.
“No lethal moves,” he heard John order softly.
“I know, Dad. I won’t do any permanent damage.”
“Wait…” Jeremy started but Derrick was already rushing in. Dean easily side stepped him and landed a hard blow under Derrick’s left arm, knocking the wind out of him. Derrick bellowed and swung back around to take three more jabs to the gut. He stumbled back, stunned. Jeremy started forward but one look from John Winchester kept him frozen in place.
“Go Dean!” the little one cheered.
Dean grinned in triumph before landing another body blow and ducking away.
“Dean,” his father admonished and the grin disappeared.
Derrick howled in rage and swung blindly, never connecting a single punch as the smaller boy continued with punishing lefts and rights to the kidneys and gut. The dance continued for several minutes when Dean finally swept Derrick’s feet out from under him. Grass clung to his sweaty torso as Derrick rolled over and got back up.
“Dad?” Dean asked.
“Yeah, that’s enough,” John agreed. “Finish it.”
One solid punch in the mouth sent the giant crashing back to the ground. “Stay down,” Dean told him, not unkindly.
“No!” Derrick roared, spewing blood. With great, shuddering breaths as he pulled himself to his knees. He staggered to his feet and charged again. Dean put him out with a quick right hook to the chin.
As Jeremy rushed to his son’s side Dean backed off, still bouncing with adrenaline, his eyes shining. “Derrick?” Jeremy all but cried.
“I’ve got a job in Toledo,” John was saying. Jeremy finally looked up when he realized he was talking to him. “But we’ll be back to see if Derrick has changed his ways. Next time I won’t make Dean hold back.” John stood with his hand resting on the back of Dean’s head. Dean stared at Derrick with something akin to pity as the larger boy woke and began sobbing.
“He was raised without a mother,” Jeremy offered as an excuse for his son’s behavior.
“That so?” John asked coolly as he turned away.
Jeremy nodded as he watched them walk to the dark car parked in the street. Dean looked back before getting in the passenger side.
“Are bullies real monsters?” the little one asked.
“No,” Dean answered. “They’re just people.”
“So why are they so mean? I don’t understand.”
“Me either,” Dean assured, meeting Jeremy’s gaze as they pulled away.
“Me either,” Jeremy echoed before urging his son to his feet.