I've wanted to write a teacher-who-doesn't-adore-Sam fic for a while now, and I love outsiders' perspectives. A not-so-pretty look at the Winchesters, beta'd by the lovely Heather who knows exactly which sections I'm not comfortable with. :) It's also one of the longest shorts I've written so far. So here it is, the first general fic on this LJ:
Just Another Kid [1/1]
Characters: Sam, John, Dean, OC
Disclaimer: As always, I don't own anything.
Summary: Coach Grant was well aware that school policy demanded he check up on the Winchester kid, but that didn’t mean he was eager to go. Outsider's POV, Teen!chesters
Word Count: 4,233
Coach Grant was in an extraordinarily foul mood.
It wasn’t just that nobody cared about soccer in a world full of bullying, brain-dead football players. It wasn’t just that the school board had denied him funding for a new lawn when the cheerleading squad had just gotten a whole new set of uniforms. It wasn’t just that his team was on a seven-game losing streak now – even though that did make him want to wring somebody’s neck whenever he thought about it.
No, to top it all off, he was now supposed to play nurse-maid to some sophomore who didn’t know when to dodge.
The heat just made everything worse.
The heat crept over his skin like honey, thick and stifling. It made the thinnest fabric cling and suffocate. Sweat coated temples and ran down collars. The last thing he wanted to do was go out, go outside and drive through half the city to go check up on some kid that had gotten injured on his watch. He was well aware that school policy demanded he check up on the boy, but that didn’t mean he was eager to go sweat himself to death. And as Mrs. Principal had primly informed him, no, he could not send his T.A. to do it. Which sucked, because Coach Grant really wasn’t in the mood to fake interest in some spoilt little kid’s injuries.
So Sam Winchester wasn’t all up in your face about being a know-it-all and a teacher’s pet like some of his try-outs. He laughed a lot too, sprinting up and down the field like he actually enjoyed being yelled at to go faster.
Coach Grant disliked people who didn’t take sports seriously.
Sam had been on his newest batch of recruits. He was one of the few who actually showed some promise. He was fast, despite his feet being too damn huge for his body, his legs too long. He was going to be enormous, that one was. He looked a little goofy, sprinting over the field with his limbs going every which way, but he could actually aim, which was something not many of his players could claim for themselves. With some practice he might start aiming at the right things, too.
And then he’d gone and broken his wrist on the first day of training.
Granted, it wasn’t the kid’s fault. Tim Jackson’s ineptness to look where he was running was headache-inducing, and if the world was fair, he would have been kicked off the team a long, long time ago. But Jackson Sr. was an alumnus and made annual donations that covered Coach Grant’s entire paycheck, so he cussed and ranted and kept Tim on board.
Job before pride and all that.
Still, the Winchester kid.
He knew the type, knew it oh so well. The kids who were too smart for their own good. Who got everything in life handed to them simply because they knew how to get good grades. Who were pampered beyond belief, by parents and teachers alike. Everyone fawned over them, offered them scholarships, announced that they’d go far and make something of themselves until the kids’ egos didn’t fit through the door anymore.
And then they invaded the playing field and expected Coach Grant to drop to his knees and worship them as well. He’d lost track of all the times one of his players had blown up in his face, had a hissy fit about how mean and sadistic he was. So he was a little harder on them. This was sport, not playgroup, and he expected them to do their best, any day, all day. Games didn’t get won with SAT scores.
Granted, Sam Winchester didn’t seem like he was about to have a temper tantrum. The other kind, then, the ones who quietly suffered and just as quietly failed, dropped out and found something else to add to their list of extracurricular activities.
Coach Grant could not have picked a kind he liked more if his life depended on it.
He rose from his desk with a groan, already feeling a fresh batch of sweat working up along his hairline. He stopped in front of the fan, battling the still air just as he was battling the urge to just say Fuck you to policy and send his T.A. Zack anyway.
It took him a lot of willpower to get his feet in motion and head along down the hallway.
Zack was all right, fast feet and not afraid to dish out punishment if the players were goofing around.
And this was high school soccer. There were always players goofing around.
Zack had been the one to take the Winchester kid to the hospital to get his wrist fixed. And who had had to threaten him with suspension because he simply refused to go home and stay there for at least 24 hours. The kid was either crazy or the biggest sucker-up Coach Grant had ever seen.
Coach Grant had absolutely no desire to spend his afternoon off in the kid’s house. He could already see it – Daddy a democrat, Mommy a stay-home, smiling, neighborhood committee member. Pride and joy in their little bundle of talent, celebrated by lots and lots of framed photographs stacked on the shelves, a doggie and a white-washed picket fence.
He was, Coach Grant told himself with a pinched smile as he opened the door to the wall of almost tangible air outside, really looking forward to it.
The house did have a picket fence, albeit more grey than white; it probably hadn’t been repainted in a good dozen years. The front yard consisted of trampled earth and weeds, bushels of grass creeping through the cracks in the pathway. Everything about the house seemed to have taken on a grayish, undefined tint, from the trodden out steps to the peeling paint of the porch to the slightly slanted roof. The building itself might have been blue once, maybe greenish. Maybe it had been painted this murky color, like brackish water in a harbor. Maybe clean once but definitely not anymore. It fit right into the neighborhood.
Not what he had been expecting.
He parked his truck behind a worn-down but obviously cared for muscle car and brushed the sweat from his forehead before he made his way to the door. The stairs to the porch creaked with every step, so loudly he almost felt silly knocking against the crooked frame of the screen door. Everyone in a one-mile radius had to have heard him.
Heavy footsteps could be heard from inside before the inside door was opened, granting view of an only dimly illuminated living room area before the frame was filled out by a bulk of a man. Now Coach Grant was neither short nor slim in any way, but this man was just… enormous. Muscles spanned his arms, wrapped around them like snakes. His standard white military undershirt stretched across his chest. Add three days worth of stubble and scars raking his face and arms… He looked like those guys in the horror movies, the kind that opened the door of some abandoned farmhouse and you screamed at the heroine not to go in.
Coach Grant cleared his throat.
“Mr. Winchester?” he asked, even though it was unnecessary. He could see the kid in the dark eyes, the curve of his nose, the slightly curly hair.
There was a wariness in the man’s eyes as he tilted his head.
”Yeah?” he said, muscles tensing all along his body.
“I’m Coach Grant, I’m here to check on your son. School policy,” he added, because damn it all if he was going to appear like he was here because he actually cared about some random kid barely on his team.
Daddy Winchester let his eyes scan Coach Grant’s body, flickering over muscles, sizing him up, before he drew his black eyebrows close together.
And that was a very good question. Coach Grant had asked it at least twenty times on the way here.
“School policy,” he repeated, “If one of our students gets hurt on school property, we make sure they’re okay. Mandatory,” he added, because John Winchester might look like a serial killer but that didn’t mean Coach Grant was going to let himself be reduced to the caring, softhearted PE teacher.
Coach Grant didn’t doubt it. He didn’t doubt it at all.
“It’s required by the school,” he repeated once again, maybe going a little for that smoky voice thing this Winchester character had going on, rough and raspy and no-nonsense. He was willing to bet most of his salary that his players wouldn’t dare mouth off to that kind of commanding officer.
Winchester gave him another measuring glare before stepping back ever so slightly, the small invitation barely deserving the word, before he pushed the screen door open to let him in.
The house was dark, blinds and shutters drawn to keep as much heat out as possible. Mismatched furniture dominated the living area and the adjoining open kitchen which took up the entire ground floor. The coffee table in front of the threadbare couch was littered with papers and newspaper clippings. A stack of books was set to the side, English literature, a Spanish workbook, biology, tenth grade chemistry. The air conditioning whirred softly overhead, futilely battling the stifling thickness of the still air.
There weren’t many pictures, let alone framed ones. There was one stuck to the fridge with a magnet, a family portrait Coach Grant supposed. Other than that, not much. A map of the area covered a large part of graying wallpaper, adorned with arrows and X’s and barely legible handwriting.
He didn’t have time to stop and decipher as Winchester led him across the room, opening another screen door leading to a surprisingly large, badly kept garden.
Of course. Kid was probably lounging in the shade somewhere with a book and a drink and a plate of homemade cookies.
Except that there was no kid lounging in the shade. There was no kid to be seen anywhere, only small thickets and bushes and weeds.
Winchester didn’t seem bothered.
“Sam!” he called.
A movement somewhere among the weeds caught Coach Grant’s eye, a shaggy head appearing in the green, and he had not been prepared for this.
Sam was facing down, feet propped on an old log. He was supporting himself on one arm, the white cast behind his bare back. Sweat plastered his hair to his temples and the back of his neck as he looked up, reddening slightly at the sight of his coach staring at him.
No drink or cookies in sight.
Push-ups. Over ninety degrees, a broken wrist, probably dosed up to the gills on painkillers, and he was doing push-ups. Though, judging from the small flicker of hope crossing the boy’s face, it probably hadn’t been his idea.
Winchester fixed him with a hard stare.
“Ten more, and then I want you in here,” he called.
Sam gave a jerky nod, face registering discomfort before head and body dipped down again.
His father closed the door without another word.
“He’ll be done in a second,” he growled. “You want something to drink?” he added at an afterthought, his scratchy voice making it sound like a threat.
Coach Grant swallowed. Not because this Winchester character came off as menacing or anything. No, it was hot out. His throat was dry.
“Sure,” he said, tugging at his collar, “got a beer?”
Winchester didn’t even spare that a nod, as if it was obvious, and headed for the refrigerator, gesturing for Coach Grant to have a seat on the sofa as he went.
“So you took the day off to look after Sam?” Coach Grant asked, feeling slightly ridiculous even as the words left his mouth, and even more so as Winchester gave him an arched-eyebrow look.
“Something like that,” he said before sticking his head into the coolness of the freezer.
“Damned shame that he busted his wrist,” Coach Grant heard him mutter to the inhabitants of the fridge, “Shouldn’t have ever let him play.”
“You object to soccer?” Coach Grant asked, unable to keep the sharp tone out of his voice.
Winchester stilled, hand still on the handle.
“I object to my boy wasting his time,” he said carefully. Evaluating.
Coach Grant nodded. He was well aware that the man had edited out “And soccer is ‘wasting his time’” for his sake.
“I suppose it is good training,” Winchester added slowly as he sat down, “All the running.”
Whatever disagreement might have come up was cut short as the front door opened, heat flooding the room like a tidal wave. A boy in his late teens, clad in a dark, sleeveless shirt despite the sun, edged into the room. He had his back to them, trying to hold the door open with his foot while juggling several dozen shopping bags.
“Hey, Dad, the garage said-“
He broke off as he turned, gaze settling on the two men. It was fascinating to watch, the slightly breathless demeanor going from casually eager to wary and guarded in a split second. It was as if his expression simply shut down. The boy looked so much older than he had only a moment ago.
It took Coach Grant a moment to realize he looked a lot more like his father now; their expressions were equally distrusting, shoulders tense, movements measured.
Maybe not exactly tree-hugging liberals.
“This is Coach Grant,” Winchester said, head tilting in his direction, and Coach Grant could suddenly hear the caution in his voice, “he’s here to check on Sammy.”
The boy offered an acknowledging nod, but it seemed to take forever before he moved, unceremoniously dumping the bags on the counter.
“What about the garage, Dean?” Winchester pressed lightly.
The boy turned to give him a look and if he hadn’t been paying close attention, Coach Grant would have missed it, the father’s tiniest nod of permission.
“They said they might have some work for you tomorrow, if you want. Some 70s Mustang. If you want.”
Winchester nodded, gave a small grunt that probably meant he’d consider it. He leaned back in his chair as Dean pulled open the fridge door, pausing a moment to revel in the rush of cold, before rummaging through the bags for the groceries that needed to be cooled. As Dean slid milk jugs into the crammed, slightly stuffy refrigerator, beer bottles clinking softly, Coach Grant took the opportunity to look him up and down. Fine features, scrawny, dark blond hair. His t-shirt, faded print casually informing the world that he was on a highway to Hell, stretched across his chest. It didn’t seem like Winchester had picked up on the training thing only recently.
“How’s Sammy doing?” Dean asked, hand stretching toward the beer but being snatched back only a moment later with a glance in Coach Grant’s direction – not 21 yet, then, “He done with his training yet?”
Winchester frowned at the clock mounted on the kitchen wall, quietly ticking the seconds away.
“He should be. He’s taking a long time.”
Dean shrugged as if trying to quickly bury the subject again.
“Well, he does have that broken wrist.”
Coach Grant wasn’t sure the boy was even aware of the fond smile playing around his lips as he stacked canned food into the fridge. He wiped his palms on his jeans as he turned around.
“Anything else you need, Dad?”
Winchester’s wide smile threw Coach Grant completely out of the loop for a moment. He hadn’t even been sure ‘smile’ was in the man’s vocabulary.
“Nah, that’s all, dude. Go get ready, okay?”
He dismissed him with another smile and a nod towards the stairs when Dean hesitated.
“Sammy’ll be up in a second.”
Sure enough, the screen door swung open practically the second Dean had disappeared upstairs, letting in Sam and another wave of heat. The boy looked like he barely managed to stand upright, sagging into himself the second he was surrounded by the cool air in the house. His cast was protectively cradled against his skinny chest, other hand wiping the beads of sweat from his brows. Coach Grant could tell he was too out of it to notice his father’s expression soften.
Sam nodded, shoulders heaving. His face was flushed despite his tan. Nose almost white.
Winchester gave him a nod of approval.
“Go get washed up, we’re leaving in ten.”
Sam started, about to object, but a stern look from his father had him biting his lip instead. He stood quietly for a moment as if collecting his thoughts before meeting the gaze resting on him from underneath his lashes.
“Homework?” he asked softly.
Coach Grant stared. He’d never had a kid have to ask permission to do homework.
“Half an hour,” Winchester amended with a frown that had the boy ducking behind his bangs. He looked like he wanted to argue but didn’t, instead trudging to the stairs quietly with a flicker of a glance in Coach Grant’s direction. God damn it, everyone on this house was watching him.
Silence settled between them as the sound of steps upstairs slowly died. Coach Grant actually found himself wishing for proud chatter over cookies and coffee cake as he cleared his throat and gave the other man a pinched smile.
“So, uh, Mr. Winchester, what do you do?”
“This and that,” Winchester growled.
Coach Grant managed an eloquent “Oh”.
There was a moment’s silence, settling stiff and stifling between them. Coach Grant gestured at the hastily shoved together papers.
“So you do… research?”
Winchester’s dark eyes flicked to him, to the stack of notes and clippings; he looked like he was resisting the urge to stuff them all into the next closet.
“Yeah,” he finally said, “Family tree. For a friend.”
“Okay,” Coach Grant said, rubbing his hands together as he looked around while pretending not to stare at anything. There seemed to be a layer of grime covering every surface, nook and cranny, a crossbreed of dust, grease and spilled coffee.
“And is that where you’re going? With your sons?”
Winchester turned his head in his direction, slowly. Coach Grant couldn’t help ducking a little bit.
“The boys help me,” the man said in that same measured, carefully weighed out tone.
Even to himself, Coach Grant sounded ridiculous so he snapped his mouth shut. The clock on the wall ticked the seconds away, steady and slow until the sound seemed almost deafening. Both men watched it while Coach Grant waited for the moment when Winchester finally decided to kick him out.
Except it never really came. Instead, out of nowhere, he jumped to his feet.
“Sam, you ready?” he called upstairs, a satisfied nod making an appearance when the boy called a distant “Yes, sir” back to him.
“Okay, let’s go!”
Coach Grant rose as well, setting his mostly untouched beer down on the table.
“I’d better go, too,” he said, ignoring the silently pleased look on Winchester’s face, “Work to do.”
Winchester nodded and just about ushered him out the door, heading straight for the muscle car and popping the trunk with one hand.
“Boys!” he yelled in the general direction of the house.
The screen door screeched open again as Sam appeared on the porch. He walked slowly, boots clanking along the stones. Hiking boots, the kind used in long treks. Jeans, too, and a shirt that looked uncomfortably hot. He was carrying a book, a monster of a book, under his good arm. The title was strange, Latin maybe? Coach Grant made a mental note to check if Sam was taking a course this year, knowing full well he was going to forget about it in a moment. He couldn’t help a slight jolt of apprehension though. Winchester had said a half hour, and he didn’t seem like the type to take kindly to disobedience. Should Sam really be taking his homework to the car?
The feeling lasted only for a second before Coach Grant shook it off. He didn’t care whether this kid got into trouble or not. And besides, Sam had to know best what he was and wasn’t allowed to do.
Apparently, the book was accepted as Winchester looked up from the trunk where he was stacking his papers to one side, sizing Sam up. Sweaty forehead. Reddened ears. Hooded eyes.
“You take your painkillers?” he asked – no, demanded.
Sam nodded, another quick glance in Coach Grant’s direction.
“Good. Get in.”
He marched back into the house as Sam turned slightly on his heel, giving Coach Grant a fidgety smile.
“Um,” he began.
“Shotgun!” Dean called as he stepped out of the house. He’d changed into a tee with sleeves and like Sam wore heavy, tightly tied boots now, momentarily making Coach Grant wonder what exactly it was they were going to look up. No sane person would dress that heavily in this weather.
But then Dean ruffled Sam’s hair – he was barely tall enough to still do so without the action losing its condescending air – and smirked at the boy’s scowl.
“What, no argument? No bitch face? And you were all obedient to Dad, too.”
He shook his head.
“Painkillers must be getting to ya, Sammy.”
“Shut up,” Sam muttered without any conviction, more embarrassed than anything. He really did look slightly out of it, squinting in the sunlight, pale under his tan.
“Get in,” Winchester called from the door, appearing and disappearing somehow without the treacherous screeching of the worn wood, causing Coach Grant to jump.
The order was given to both boys and Dean climbed into the car immediately without even acknowledging their visitor. Sam stayed, fidgeting with his shirt, staring at Coach Grant like he wanted to say something, apologize, whatever. His hair fell into his forehead in a way that had Coach Grant’s fingers itching to brush it away, to chop it off.
“Are you sure you should be going with them?” he asked, “You don’t look so good.”
It was purely professional interest, of course. He couldn’t risk one of his players being out of the game for the long haul.
“I’ll be fine,” Sam said with a small smile, “I’m just on stand-by.”
He flapped the book around awkwardly, then quickly stilled it against his side.
“I’m not going to be doing any of the work.”
Coach Grant wasn’t exactly convinced (really, how many people were needed to pick through stacks of dusty records?) but he shrugged it off with a smile that was purely for Sam’s benefit.
“Just take it easy, okay?”
Sam nodded, squinting slightly as if he had a headache. Which he probably did.
“I’ll see you at practice, Coach Grant,” he said, a small, self-depreciating smile on his lips as he seemed to remember his hand.
“At some point.”
The door was opened again and John Winchester strode out, dressed just as heavily as his sons – one of them was bound to get a heat stroke, he just knew it -, dark, heavy looking sports bag in his hand. He locked the house behind him and marched to the car.
“Let’s go, Sam!” he called, stowing the bag away. The boy nodded hastily.
“Yes, sir,” he answered over his shoulder, shifting on his feet.
“I have to go,” he said softly.
Coach Grant nodded, biting off an “I can tell”.
“Tell you what, Sam,” he said before he could stop himself, “How about you come to the field anyway, that way you can at least learn the moves in theory.”
It was out before he even knew what he was saying – Coach Grant simply wasn’t nice to new kids who managed to knock themselves out for the count – but the smile lighting up the boy’s face made it impossible for him to take it back. And a boy should not be that God damn happy to be allowed to watch soccer practice.
“Yeah,” Sam said, face still lit up like a Christmas tree, “Sure, okay, Coach.”
Winchester was standing by the driver’s door now, waving him over with an impatient gesture. His voice hadn’t risen, though, instead dropping dangerously low. Annoyed.
“I, uh, bye, Coach,” Sam said, flush unhealthily red on his pale face before he scurried to the car.
Coach Grant was pretty sure he heard him mutter a downcast “Sorry” before he wrenched the back door open. He wasn’t quite as convinced, though, that John Winchester had really given the shaggy head a light pat. Didn’t seem like the type of thing he’d do.
The man stood by his car a moment longer, watching Coach Grant watching him. Finally, he gave an unsmiling nod before he followed his sons’ example. Coach Grant did the same. He heard the motor of the car growl to life behind him, adjusting his rearview mirror so he could see the sleek coat of the car gleaming in the harsh sunlight. As he watched them disappear, Coach Grant almost found himself hoping that Sam could return to the team soon. Partly because he seemed so eager but mostly because he would take Sam’s breathless laughter over Sam’s wary, subdued “Yes, sir” any day.
Almost. Because Coach Grant didn’t care about some random kid on his soccer team.
So tell me what you think?