Nothing but the Best
By: Ridley C. James
A/N: This story is an auction story secured by bhoney who made a kind and generous donation to the ‘Support Stacie April Author Auction’. The story was supposed to run about 2500 words and bhoney requested a canon-oriented wee-chester story highlighting that awesome brother relationship we’ve all been missing this season. I thank her for her donation to the cause and for choosing me to write her story. Also, thanks to Tidia for her special help.
Sam scuffed his feet along the sidewalk as he waited for his older brother. Dean went to the junior high and usually came to the grammar school to pick him up then they'd walk home together.
Usually, Sam hung around, played ball with one of his friends or waited on the swings, but today progress reports had come out. He wanted to get as far from school as possible-up to the corner where Dean would turn on the way to get him.
The yellow and pink slip was in his backpack. He had E's for excellent, except for math where there was a big blaring U. Sam thought of all the words he knew that started with U – unexpected, unjust, and unkind.
Unsatisfactory was just unfair-unacceptable. Sam expected nothing but the best. School was always the one place he got everything right, the place where answers were abundant and his for the taking.
He stuffed his hands in his pockets as the cold November wind picked up. He was getting cold just standing there. Sam was glad his father was away for the next few days. He got scared when he and his brother were left alone in a new town, but not this time. It would be bad enough to tell Dean about his grade. He did not want to explain it to his father.
No one wanted a math dummy for a son or a brother. Sam was so lost in his thoughts; leaning against the building that he was unaware Dean had turned the corner.
"Sammy, what are you doing here?" Dean was looming over him, his eyes scanned right and left. "What's the matter?"
Sam began to shift the backpack from his shoulders. He hoped his brother wasn't mad at him, especially since he had broken the rule of where to meet. Their dad said rules kept them safe. "Dean – I . . ."
"Someone picking on you?" Dean reached out, moving Sam’s face from side to side. At his last school Sam had come home with a black eye. Dean had gotten expelled. Dad was not happy. “You usually like staying at the playground.”
Sam pulled away, his eyes stinging. "She hates me," he said miserably.
Dean seemed relieved there were no bullies about, but he gave Sam the look-the one that said he needed to explain quickly before Captain One Helluva Big Brother emerged like the Hulk. Dean was sort of like David Banner. It was hard to contain his alter ego once it was set free.
“Who hates you?” He encouraged Sam to start walking back towards their home.
Sam started kicking the pavement again. "Mrs. Reilly, my math teacher."
"Come on, Sam.” Dean tossed his arm over Sam’s shoulders. Sam was grateful for the added warmth. “Teachers love you and your freaky sponge-like brain."
"Not this one." Sam needed Dean to understand. This teacher was different, like no other Sam had experienced in his three years of school thus far. "It's because I don't wear green."
"Huh?" Dean looked down at him.
"Her favorite color is green, and Vinny told me to wear it once a week.” Sam glanced up at his brother. “I couldn't find anything green. You don't have anything green either. I know we don’t have a lot of money, and that we need new coats, but do you think maybe you could get me a green shirt…maybe some green pants, too, just to be safe?"
"Dude,” Dean laughed. “You need to chill. I think your buddy Vinny is on the wrong track with the green thing, besides it’s definitely not your color.”
“But I don’t know what to do. I got a ‘U’, Dean. A ‘U’.”
Dean sighed. “Look, how about I help you on your math homework? What are you doing in class now?"
"Long division." Sam let the word roll off his tongue like an accidental drink of spoiled milk. “It’s awful.”
"Division? That's it? I thought you were going to say fractions."
"Don’t rub it in, Dean." He pushed his brother as they passed the big tree with the gnarly branches. By the next white house they would be almost home. They were staying in a brown wood house. There was someone living upstairs, but they were quiet. Dean said something about her only going out at night when Sam was sleeping.
“All I’m saying is you’re a black belt at multiplication. Division should be a piece of pie.”
Sam pulled his backpack up on his shoulders. Dean could be a jerk some of the time, but his brother always helped him when it came to school. Over the summer he had taught Sam his multiplication tables by treating it as a training exercise. When Sam learned his ones Dean gave him a white string to tie around a cut out picture of Chuck Norris he’d found in one of Dad’s gun magazines. When Sam nailed his tens, Chuck got a black string and Sam got chocolate cherry ice cream. Multiplying had been pie, division wasn’t anywhere close. “It’s more like broccoli with asparagus on the side.” Sam hated broccoli and asparagus.
“Don’t worry, Sammy.” Dean squeezed his shoulder. “We’ll start on it right after dinner.”
Dean made them Mac'n Cheese and after they had cleaned up, Sam put his homework on the kitchen table.
Sam watched his brother flip through some of his assignments, shaking his head. "With all the practice we did this summer you should be ahead. He frowned at the test where Sam had gotten a seventy. "Okay, here is your problem. You need to show your work. Teachers like to see that stuff."
Sam studied the paper. "But I can do it in my head." He didn’t need to write everything down. Sam could look at the problem and know the answer. “I don’t like doing the subtraction and bringing down the number.”
"Sorry, kiddo, but looks like Mrs. Reilly wants the proof."
“But why? If I get the right answer it shouldn’t matter. I get finished quicker than anyone else in class.”
“That’s great, Sammy, but obviously Mrs. Reilly isn’t handing out prizes for the quickest mathlete.”
Sam propped his elbows on the table with a defeated sigh. “Do you think maybe Mrs. Reilly is a monster?”
Dean grinned. “You better get to work, Kiddo.”
“Fine.” Sam picked up his pencil. “I’ll do it the slow way.”
The mean teacher had given a one page sheet for homework. Sam filled it out, while Dean did some of his own homework. When he was finished, he passed it to his brother to review.
"Are you sure that's right?" Dean pointed to the third problem."You're making rookie mistakes here. When you multiply and bring the number down, you need to allow for the ones space, make sure everything is lined up or else when you subtract, you’ll be off."
Sam gripped a handful of his hair, blowing out a frustrated breath. "I'm all confused. Working it through makes it harder. I don’t understand."
"We'll work on it.” Dean took the pencil and erased the problem Sam had gotten wrong. “You can do it, Sammy. Don’t let this shake you."
Sam bit his lip. He’d never had problems with school work before. Everything had always come so easy to him. Math sucked. "I have a test on Thursday."
Dean bumped his shoulder. "So on Friday you'll get a 100 and I'll put on the refrigerator for Dad to see."
Sam took the pencil from his brother, dusted the eraser shavings from the paper. “Can we get ice cream?”
“With whip cream and extra cherries on top.”
Sam grinned. Dean was definitely his favorite teacher. “Cool.”
Dean had two choices; pick on his little brother or be nice to him while his father was away. A lot of the times it was more fun to go the torture route. He had an image to maintain, but Dean didn’t feel so inclined this week. He was glad his father left them. It was November 2nd, which brought sullenness and a short temper. Dean didn’t want Sam exposed to it, and didn't want to run interference.
The whole thing with the math teacher was a good distraction for them both and at least Sam wasn’t asking him every day when Dad would be home.
It was still hard for Dean to believe anyone wouldn’t like Sam. His brother didn't have the attitude he had- one teacher had called Dean a thug. He worked hard to make sure Sam didn't deal with the same kind of hassles. His brother's desire to do everything perfectly helped with his crusade.
Sam had made it his mission to improve his math grade and, get Mrs. Reilly to like him. Dean took him to the Salvation Army store in town to look for a green shirt, but there was nothing in Sam's size.
His brother was nervous on Thursday morning so Dean made sure to leave him the last of the Lucky Charms for breakfast. It would be toast with butter for breakfast until Dad got back.
Sam was happy again on Thursday after school, chattering away that he aced the test. Dean half listened as he daydreamed about Stephanie with the tight sweater who sat in front of him in English. They had to read their essays out loud, and he made sure he looked at Stephanie the entire time as he recanted the story of how his baseball team took the county title last year.
By Friday Dean was planning on meeting up with some people from school to spend time with Stephanie. His father was supposed to be home by Saturday. All thoughts of that vanished when he saw his brother sitting dejectedly on the steps of the school.
"What happened, little man?"
"I waited here for you. I didn't want you to be mad at me." Sam barely glanced at him. "We got the math test back."
It was crumpled in Sam's hand. He handed it over to Dean, who saw the swath of red covering the page.
Dean's mood became like the color of the paper as he read over the answers. She had given him a seventy-five because Sam had not lined things up as straight as she wanted or marked the ones place. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I’m sorry.” Sam finally met his brother’s gaze. Dean felt his anger increase. “Please don’t show it to Dad.”
"Wait right here."
Sam started to get up. "But I want to go home."
Dean sat his backpack down and motioned for Sam to stay seated. "What room is she in?"
Sam hesitated. “It's okay, Dean. I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
“I’m not going to get in trouble. I just need to have a little conference with Mrs. Reilly.”
Sam clutched his bag to his chest. "The last room on this floor on the right."
"Just stay here, between the doors. I'll be right back."
Dean glanced at Sam’s paper again as he made his way down the hall. The teacher was being a bitch, shaking Sam’s confidence over stupid shit. He shoved through the door without knocking. "Mrs. Reilly, I'm Dean, Sam Winchester’s brother."
Mrs. Reilly put down the stack of numbers she’d been stapling to a bulletin board. "I see."
Dean weaved in and out of the rows of desks, coming to stand across from the teacher. She was older than Dean’s teacher, her gray hair pulled back into a tight bun that reminded Dean of librarian. He’d only met her once, last month on his and Sam’s first day in the new school. "Sam's really upset."
"He is." She didn’t seem surprised or concerned. Instead she took a seat behind her desk and regarded Dean over the rim of her glasses.
"You made some sort of mistake." Dean placed the paper in front of her.
She didn’t even look at the test. "I did?"
"Yeah.” Dean pointed to the large red number at the top. “You gave him a 75 when he should have gotten a 100. He got every answer right."
Again, Mrs. Reilly didn’t look at Sam’s test. Instead, she folded her hands in front of her, lips pursed as if she’d just sucked a lemon."What grade are you in, young man?"
"Seventh and I know my long division.” Dean tapped the test, pulling the woman’s eyes back to the paper. She’d been staring at the stain on the front of Dean’s t-shirt after raking her gaze over the tear in the knee of his jeans. He knew exactly what the old cow was thinking. “Sam's paper was right. You were wrong."
"Your brother was incorrect. He did not follow my directions.”
Dean shook his head. “Maybe you should take another look.”
“And he's been disrespectful."
"What?” Dean’s voice shook. “Sam was disrespectful to you?” That was bullshit. Sam might get smart with Dean, but he’d never known his brother to mouth off to any adult, let alone a teacher. The woman was grasping at straws. “Because he doesn't wear green?"
“I’m beginning to see where he gets his inappropriate behavior.” Mrs. Reilly scooted her chair back. “You boys are obviously lacking in social skills as most young men are these days.”
“Sam knows how to behave. He doesn’t have any problems in any of his other classes.”
“This is my class.” Mrs. Reilly stood. “I’m in charge here. Perhaps the principal needs to explain that to Samuel.”
“What is your problem, lady?” Dean refused to let his brother be bullied by other students. He sure as hell wasn’t going to let a teacher get away with it. “Sam isn’t going to the principal’s office. If he does, I’m going to make sure he sees this test, along with all the other papers you’ve ‘corrected’.”
"Where is your father?"
"Working. When he gets home he's not going to like this either. He wore a lot of green, too, as a Marine."
“Is that supposed to impress me?”
Dean snatched the paper back, and took a green marker from pen holder on the desk. In front of Mrs. Reilly he crossed out the 75, and made a 100 with a huge smiley face. “I’m not interested in impressing you.”
"That's not his grade." Mrs. Reilly grabbed her grade book, clutching it to her chest.
"It will be to him." Dean tossed the pen back on a stack of papers, turning to go before Reilly could object further.
It didn't make a difference. Dad would be ready to leave the area when he got back. They would be gone by Thanksgiving, then they could start somewhere else with a better teacher; a teacher who actually liked kids and would appreciate Sammy’s freakish smarts.
Sam was waiting for him when he exited the school. Dean forced a grin, flashing the newly graded test. “Look who’s a math genius.”
Sam took the paper. “I got a hundred?”
“You got a hundred.” Dean bumped his brother’s shoulder. “Told you Mrs. Reilly made a mistake.”
Sam frowned. “I didn’t think teachers made mistakes.”
“Mrs. Reilly is an exception to the rule, Dude.” Dean was pretty sure that applied in more ways than one. “She saw the error of her ways, though.”
“Do you think she’ll like me now?”
Dean’s chest tightened. “I’m not sure Mrs. Reilly likes anyone.” He ruffled Sam’s hair. “In fact, I’m thinking of reconsidering your monster theory.”
“Oh.” Sam looked down at his paper again, the teasing not working its typical magic. “Maybe Dad will be happy.”
Dean worried that would be unlikely, too. Their father could be clueless on a good day. Any day near November 2 was not a good day. “Weren’t we supposed to do something to celebrate? Grab some broccoli and asparagus on the way home?”
“It was ice cream.” Sam punched Dean. “Jerk.”
“Right.” Dean rubbed his side, pretending to wince as he picked up his and Sam’s backpacks. “Two scoops of chocolate cherry with whip cream on top.”
Sam whooped and did a little shuffle. “Don’t forget the extra cherries.”
“Never.” Dean could catch up with the kids from school and Stephanie later. “Nothing but the best for Dean Winchester’s little brother.”