By: Ridley C. James, July 2006 re-edited in 2007
Beta & contributor: Tidia
Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me.
A/N: This is a rework of an older story due to requests about The
Brotherhood. Thanks to Tidia, who has helped with this tremendously,
we’re updating this piece, which was actually the beginnings of The
Brotherhood AU. Looking back over the original we decided it definitely
needed to be tweaked…and tweaked…and tweaked. The characters had
changed a great deal. So, we played, and I hope this story is better
because of it. Let me know what you think.
"As you get older, it
is harder to have heroes, but is sort of necessary."
Thirteen-year-old Sam Winchester was caught in a nightmare.
Red and orange waves washed across the blood splattered ceiling tiles
above him, pulsating with the promise of pain and certain death.
A five-year-old Sam Winchester cowered in a tiny bed, unable to move or
He didn’t want to be burned. He knew fire was the enemy. It had taken
his mother and as much as he wanted to see her-he wanted to stay with
his dad and brother more.
But he wasn’t given a choice.
Blazing arms reached for him, their fiery tendrils scorching his tender
skin as they drew his body into their unforgiving embrace.
And he screamed.
Over and over again he screamed as the fire took him.
"Sam! Sammy? It's okay, buddy."
Sam felt Dean's hand on his shoulder. He awoke with a start. They had
been watching television. Actually, Dean was watching TV while Sam was
The teen inhaled a shaky breath to calm his racing heart. “Dreams
aren’t real,” he whispered. “They can‘t hurt me.”
"That's right, Sammy." His brother rubbed a circle on his back.
Sam sighed and rubbed his tired eyes. Dean was always there willing to
rush in and rescue his little brother from whatever thing was starring
as the feature monster of the night. Every time Sam got caught in one
of the nightmares, Dean’s voice would lead him away from the melee into
the comfortable safety of their rundown apartment or cheap motel.
"Fire dream?" Dean gestured with his hand for Sam to make some room on
Sam nodded. The fire dreams started five years ago. Sam would awake to
find himself in his brother’s arms. Dean would rock him; sing to him,
anything to soothe the misery. As Sam got older the embraces were
replaced by a hand on the shoulder or an arm casually draped across him
But no matter how condensed, Sam counted on it.
"This about the trip tomorrow, Sammy?" Dean questioned.
“Maybe.” It was embarrassing to admit. Sam was thirteen for cripes
sake! He’d be a freshman in high school next year. Leaving home for
four nights should not be the cause for nightmares.
In all fairness, Sam rarely did anything by himself. He could blame all
of this on his father. John Winchester had strict rules about where his
sons went, and who they went with. Sam had been protected and sheltered
his entire life. If it wasn’t his father or brother, it was their
adopted ‘hunting’ family. He was the baby. "But I can't wait to spend
some time with my friends."
That was true. He didn’t have many opportunities to socialize. The
invites from ‘normal’ kids were few; considering he rarely stayed in
one school long enough to make many friends,
"Yeah, they going to chicken out of the panty raid?" Dean snorted.
"You're just jealous that I have friends." This year had been different
since his family had remained in West Virginia after the Christmas
break. Sam had the taken the chance to get close to a few kids; his
brother had not. Even the guys on Dean’s baseball team were held at
"I have friends-the right kind." Dean raised his eyebrows up and down.
“Right.” Sam shook his head. “Caleb and his hardhat buddies. You’re
just lucky Dad hasn’t seen that fake ID.”
"You're just lucky that the hunt got drawn out and Caleb had a project
nearby. It’s the only reason Dad stuck around."
John had taken a real job working with TriCorp Construction. TriCorp
was owned by Caleb Reaves, a member of their close hunting family. Dean
and Sam attended Middlesburrow High, a small 7-12 comprehensive school,
for the entire spring term.
Dean slapped Sam's leg and stood up. "You all packed up?"
Sam was leaving for Camp Cedar Creek in the morning. Cedar Creek was a
camp built for experiential learning. There would be caving, kayaking,
snorkeling, hiking and other camping stuff intertwined with lessons on
geology, geography, astronomy and even math. "Yeah, pretty much."
"You bringing any contraband? Want a Playboy in case you're bored?" The
seventeen year old asked.
"No, I'll be too busy."
"Hope it's worth it." Dean had convinced their father to allow Sam to
go after a rare argument between the two. He had teased Sam mercilessly
about the teachers tricking them with a reward trip which was actually
more outside classroom than theme park. But, Dean had signed the
permission slip on their way to school, and forked over the thirty
"It'll be worth it." Sam had pretended not to notice Dean didn't eat
lunch for the next two weeks.
Dean rolled his eyes."Yeah, a cabin with Cody Slagle and Shelton Ayers.
That's my dream come true."
Sam was tired of the joking insults. He was already growing nervous,
fearful of having a nightmare while he was away. The night was when bad
things came. And even though Sam’s thirteen year old mind screamed at
him that he was being ridiculous, he couldn’t easily dismiss the
five-year-old inside who was terrified by the thoughts of going to
sleep without Dean. "Whatever. Hand me the remote."
"Make me." Dean dangled the remote control above Sam's head. The
thirteen year old tried to grasp it, and instead fell forward resulting
in an impromptu wrestling match. Sam felt Dean's arm snake around his
neck and tried to buck Dean off of him, but it was too late.
Sam tapped out, and Dean released him from the choke hold. The teen
rolled away with more than his pride being hurt as Dean stood, cradling
the remote control.
"I hate you." Sam meant he hated the invisible link that bound the
brothers. It was an anchor marring him to a lifestyle stifling him more
each day that passed. The younger Winchester saw the hurt flash through
Dean's green eyes. "I wish I didn't have a brother. That you were never
Sam waited for the wisecracking comment. It never came. Dean dropped
the remote in his brother's lap and left the room. And just like that
Sam felt a give in the steel band. Maybe he could stand on his own.
The next morning Sam awoke late and scurried to gather all his things
before Shelton's dad arrived. He slipped on his sneakers as he heard
the car beeping outside.
Dean was waiting for him. "Take care of yourself, Sammy."
The thirteen-year-old ignored his older brother. He had found his
independence however small and temporary and wasn’t willing to risk
losing it. Sam closed the door between them without even so much as a
Two nights later, Sam got his payback in the form of exactly what he
was trying to escape-a nightmare. This nightmare wasn't about his
familiar foe, the fire monster. It was about his hero. It was about
Sam ran through the forest, his tennis shoes striking the hard ground
with such force he could feel the vibration in every taunt muscle in
his body. It was dark out. The teen found himself wondering why he was
alone in the night.
After all, his father had rules.
But quickly Sam found himself in familiar surrounding. He pulled to an
abrupt halt at the cave he and his friends had explored on their first
day at Cedar Creek.
Thankfully, a bright spring moon illuminated the teen's path as he was
drawn towards the dark entrance. Sam was amazed to find himself
magically transported inside the opening with a torch in hand.
His feet seemed to have a life of their own as they guided him deeper
and deeper into the narrow passages. He was startled when the floor
fell from beneath him and he plummeted into the cavernous darkness
The punishing end to the journey didn't come. The sudden sensation of
falling halted and Sam found himself on his feet in a lighted room.
Glancing around, he noticed the cages first.
Crude wooden constructed boxes of boards and tree limbs lined the walls
and were stacked two high in some places. In the sparse light Sam could
see the small bodies hunkered in the confines, staring at him like dogs
at an animal shelter.
He made a move towards one cage where a little boy sat crying, but
recoiled quickly when a voice spoke to him.
"Sammy? You with me?"
Sam whirled around holding the torch out in front of him. He took a
step back when the flame illuminated the broken form of his brother.
"It's me. I'm here," the older teen whispered.
Dean was chained to a far wall, barely holding himself up. His face was
bruised and bloodied. What was most disturbing was the massive bruising
on one side of Dean's forehead.
"Dean?" Sam tried to take a step forward but found himself glued to the
spot several feet from his brother. "Are you okay?"
"I thought you weren't talking to me anymore?"
Sam rolled his eyes at the stupid reply. "What are you doing here?
"You tell me." Dean laughed, but then groaned in pain and closed his
eyes as if he instantly regretted the action.
Sam struggled once more without success to reach his injured brother.
"Dean, I can't move."
"Don't look at me, little brother. I'm kind of tied up at the moment."
"Are you hurt badly?"
"Words can't hurt me, Sammy."
Sam frowned, wishing like hell he could move an inch closer to get a
better look at Dean. He obviously had a serious head wound. "Dean. I'm
sorry. I can't help you."
"That's okay, Sammy. This works out better for you. Now you won't have
"What? That's not funny, Dean."
"Sure it is. You just don't know it yet."
Before Sam could reply he heard a noise in the distance-heavy footsteps
coming from deeper within the room. Then he heard growling, rumbling or
"Dean. We have to get out of here. Something's coming."
"It's something bad, Sammy." Dean's face took on a serious look. "You
need to get away from me."
"I'm not leaving you."
"You already did."
"No!" Sam shook his head, furious at his uncooperative body. "Dean!" he
screamed. The hulking shadow moved along the edges of the darkness,
drawing nearer to his brother. "Dean! Please." Sam could feel panic
taking hold of him.
Dean looked up, blood glistening on his face in the firelight. "Don't
cry, Sammy. It's just a dream."
Dean smiled sadly as Sam watched the blackness creep closer to his
helpless brother. "Wake up, Sammy. Just wake up. And this will all be
"Dean! I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
A massive claw inched into the flickering light, slowly reaching for
Dean. "You'll be okay. Dreams can't hurt you. I promise."
"Please! Dean-don't leave me."
Hideous fingers curled around Dean's throat, tightening menacingly and
tearing his last words from him. "Wake up, Sam!"
"Wake up, Sam!" Cody Slagle shook the unresponsive teen on the bottom
bunk and tried not to panic as his friend continued to struggle against
the confines of the blanket. "Come on, man. You're dreaming."
Sam shot up in the middle of the bed, nearly banging his head on the
"Dude, relax!" Shelton Ayers groaned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes
as he hung over from above the other two boys. "Normal people are
trying to sleep."
"Shut up, Shelton." Cody growled and placed a hand on Sam's shoulder.
"Sam? You okay?"
"Dean?" Sam whispered, disoriented. He desperately needed to hear his
brother's voice, or feel his touch to reassure himself it had been a
Sam turned his head, blinked rapidly and struggled to put the pieces
together. He sighed when he made out the concerned blue eyes and sleep
tousled dark curls of his friend and classmate. "Cody?"
"Yeah. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, the freak's fine." Shelton grumbled from above them. "Now stop
your yakking and go the fuck to bed."
Cody ignored the other teen and looked at Sam. "You were screaming."
Great. Sam ran a hand through his hair and nodded. "Sorry. Bad dream."
"That was some dream." Cody frowned and pushed his glassed from their
skewed position. "I couldn't get you to wake up."
"Dang it, Cody!" Shelton hung off the top bunk again. "So Winchester
has nightmares like a girl. Give it a rest and let me get some sleep."
"You were calling out for your brother." Cody continued to watch Sam in
the intense way that had earned him the nickname of Owl.
Sam groaned. It was very uncool to wake up needing your big brother,
but calling out his name was so far into geek territory Sam would never
register on the coolness meter again. "Really?"
"Yes, really." Shelton glared at him. "Sounds like somebody wants his
"Fuck you, Ayers!" Sam snarled. The other boy laughed; obviously
pleased he'd pushed Sam's buttons.
"Wait until I tell Kelley. She won't be drooling all over you tomorrow."
"And wait until I tell her that you had to sleep in plastic shorts
until you were ten," Cody shot back. He glanced at Sam. "Nobody would
invite him to sleepovers."
"Shut up, Owl!"
Cody grinned and sat down on Sam's bed. "I used to have nightmares.
Awful ones about huge bugs and grotesque spiders."
Sam swallowed hard, wishing he'd dream about such things. "Yeah?"
Cody nodded. "Was your brother being eaten by a zombie or something?"
The boys had been discussing the movie Dawn of the Dead before going to
bed. "No. I don't really remember what it was about."
"It must have been pretty bad."
Bad didn't begin to describe it. Sam needed only to close his eyes to
recapture the terrifying scene. His brother looked hurt and in so much
pain. Just thinking about it made Sam sick. "I need to call home." He
needed to hear Dean's voice-had to, in fact.
"What?" Cody frowned. "It's like two in the morning, Sam."
"I don't care." Sam tossed the covers aside, and slung his legs over
the bunk. "I need to find Mr. Taylor."
"Oh that should be fun to watch." Shelton laughed. "Taylor will put you
in detention for a week if you wake him up because little Sammy had a
Cody stood and allowed room for Sam to do the same. "I think he's in
Cabin Hemlock. It's about two down from us."
Shelton rose up on one elbow and peered down at Sam. "Seriously,
Winchester, you need to get a grip. He's a cool guy, but he's still a
"As much as I hate to admit that Shelton is right, Sam, he is. Mr.
Taylor won't like you waking him up. We're not supposed to leave the
cabins after lights out."
Sam grabbed his jeans from the footlocker that was at the bottom of the
bed and quickly slipped them on. "I'll tell him I'm sick."
"Maybe if you just go back to sleep, you'll forget about it. We have
the kayak race tomorrow. Remember?"
Sam considered it, but then shook his head, the pain written on Dean's
face still too fresh in his memory. He didn't give a shit about how he
looked to his friends. "I have to talk to my brother."
Cody studied him for a moment, nodded and went to his bunk across the
way to retrieve a flashlight. "Then I'll come with you."
"You guys are so busted," Shelton mumbled from the top bunk again
before surprising both boys by jumping down, and shaking himself like a
wet dog just done with a bath. "But if anyone is getting in trouble,"
he raked his hands through his shaggy blond hair, "it's at least going
to be the cool kid in the cabin." He grabbed the flashlight from Cody
and turned it on. "Try not to trip over your own feet, Slagle."
Sam watched the other two boys lead the way out of the cabin. He said a
quick prayer he'd end up not only being ridiculed by Shelton for the
rest of the year, but being teased mercilessly by his big brother for
calling home. Then Sam's nightmare was just that-a nightmare. All of
this worry would be the teen's unconscious way of dealing with the
guilt of being a dick to his brother for his own selfish reasons. And
Sam could live with that.
But as he stepped out into the dark forest, and noticed the bright
hunter's moon hanging above him, he knew things wouldn't work out the
way he wanted them to. And he might end up getting the wish he'd so
viciously tossed at Dean. Sam was terrified he would lose his brother.
Maybe, he'd already lost him.
Shelton had been right. Mr. Taylor wasn't happy to see the three boys
when one of the other campers finally managed to rouse him. He was less
enthused when he discovered the time.
But he'd taken one look at the pale and shaky form of the
thirteen-year-old practically begging to call home and had taken pity
on him. Taylor White still hadn't quite figured out Sam Winchester. The
boy was brilliant, obviously gifted, but slow to express himself in
class. He had been hesitant about the trip in the beginning and Taylor
had pushed slightly, encouraging the teen to come, even eliciting the
boy's older brother to help. It seemed to be a good idea after watching
Sam come out of his shell over the last two days, but now Taylor was
worried he'd misjudged the situation.
He liked Sam and something about his quiet nature and unsure
vulnerability had the educator's protective instincts kicking in. And
seeing the boy so upset now only increased his desire to help.
"This is it, Sam." Taylor unlocked the camp director's office and
fought off a wide yawn. "I know there's a phone in here somewhere."
The teacher had sent Cody and Shelton back to their own cabin much to
the teens dislike. But, he'd gotten the idea Sam was relieved not to be
on the receiving end of Cody's genuine concern and Shelton's snide
comments about being homesick.
"Let's just hope it works, unlike the hot water in the showers."
Sam entered the small building, blinking as the older man turned on the
lights. "Thanks for letting me call, Mr. Taylor. I know it's really
Taylor shut the door behind them. "No problem, Sam." The teacher
motioned to a large oak desk in the corner. "The phone's probably on
the desk. I'll just wait over there," he pointed to a leather chair by
the fireplace, "in case your family needs to speak to me."
Sam nodded; thankful the man was trying to offer him some privacy.
Taylor moved to the recliner, sank down in its worn softness and
watched the teen hesitantly pick up the phone. Taylor had met only one
member of Sam's family- his brother, Dean. The older boy was a junior
at Middlesboro. Well known for his ability on the baseball field. He
registered Sam and had attended the one and only meeting about Sam's
progress. It was unusual, but Dean seemed genuinely interested in Sam's
work. Kids could accomplish amazing things with just one person in
When Sam did mention his life outside of school, it usually involved
his brother. Although Dean seemed to be Sam's only engaged parental
unit, he'd heard talk in the teacher's lounge of a father no one had
seemed to have met. So it was surprising enough to draw Taylor's
interest when the teen's soft voice carried across the room.
"Dad?" Sam swallowed the lump in his throat as his father answered the
phone on the first ring. "It's Sam."
"Sam? What's wrong?"
The teen easily picked up on his father’s tell-tale sigh-could imagine
he wasn’t happy by the surprise call. "Where's Dean?"
"Why are you calling, kiddo?"
The use of 'kiddo' was Sam's first indication something was wrong. He
could almost see his father, raking his hand through his hair and
rubbing his eyes. "I had a dream, Dad."
"What kind of dream, Sammy?"
"A nightmare." The fact that his father wasn't chewing him out for the
outrageous hour or condemning the trace of fear Sam knew damn well the
man could hear in his voice only confirmed his dire dread.
"Was your brother in the dream?"
Sam's grip tightened on the phone as his fear increased. Why would his
father ask him that? John rarely ever asked about his son's dreams,
choosing to pretend they didn't exist, or even worse that they were
normal. "Dad-where's Dean?"
There was a long, painful silence before he heard the defeated exhale
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know? Isn't he with you? Why isn't he home?"
"Your brother disappeared while we were on a hunt tonight."
"What?" Sam's raised voice had Mr. Taylor glancing his way. The teen
turned his back to the teacher, closed his eyes and willed himself to
stay calm. "Why aren't you out looking for him? Where’s Caleb?"
"Damn it, Sammy. Caleb and I have been searching the area for hours. We
had to regroup and come up with a plan."
"Regroup?" Sam said the word like it was a slur. "Dean's hurt," he
whispered harshly into the phone.
“How do you know that, son? What did you see?"
"Come get me, Dad."
"Samuel? What the hell did you dream about?"
"I'll tell you everything when you get here."
"Sam-you need to stay where you are. I don't need to worry about you on
top of all this. You know how many kids have disappeared in this area."
Of course Sam knew. And so did Dean. His brother had been particularly
interested in this hunt. "I have to help."
"Listen to me, Sammy…"
"No. You listen to me, Dad. Come and get me. Now. Or I'll start
walking. I swear I will." Sam knew the threat of him alone in the woods
that had claimed a disproportionate amount of young children would sway
things in his favor.
There was a long silence and Sam suddenly got the meaning of ‘pregnant
pause’. "I don't even know where you are."
It sounded like his father was in confessional at Pastor Jim’s church,
confessing his latest sin. The lump returned to Sam's throat and his
eyes stung. John didn’t know where his son was. Dean had signed the
permission slip. Dean had listened to him talk about the trip for
weeks. He had even written down instructions for Sam and Shelton on the
proper way to perform a stupid panty raid on the girl's cabin. Dean,
his older brother, who Sam had been horrible to, was missing.
John's voice was full of emotion, although Sam didn't recognize the
specific feeling. He hoped it was guilt for having the audacity to not
know the location of his children.
"Did you hear me?"
"Caleb knows where I am. Dean left the directions and the other
information on the refrigerator door." Sam hoped his father picked up
on the sarcasm in his voice.
"I'll be there as soon as I can."
Sam continued to hold the phone long after his father hung up, the
empty silence blocked out the little reprimanding voice in the teen's
head. The hand on his shoulder caused him to jump and he nearly dropped
"Hey? Is everything okay?"
The teen hadn't heard the teacher cross the room. Taylor was right
beside him, looking at Sam with a familiar concern. The usually
well-groomed man was in a ratty Metallica T-shirt and sweats. Sam was
filled with the overwhelming desire to cry. It wasn't the first time
the young teacher had reminded the teen of Dean. But the man's typical
refined dress and love of mathematic equations usually kept the
comparisons at bay.
"Yeah," Sam forced the word out. He carefully replaced the phone,
quickly rubbed his eyes, hoping there were no traces of the emotions
raging through him.
"Are you sure?" Mr. Taylor smiled. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
Sam shook his head. "I don't believe in ghosts."
"Maybe I should have stayed in your cabin, then. The boys that I'm
rooming with had me pretty freaked out with their tales of spectral
encounters. Seems these woods are famous for disappearances."
Sam licked his dry lips and wondered how the teacher would respond if
he told him some of the facts he knew about Middlesboro, West Virginia.
Sam had done most of the research for Caleb and his father. He imagined
how the man would look at him as he told him his seventeen-year-old
brother had vanished into thin air while out hunting a Raw head with
their ghost busting father. "My group likes zombies," he offered.
Mr. Taylor shivered. "The walking dead flesh eaters? I think I was
better off with the Hookman and Big Foot theories."
When Sam glanced up at the clock, Taylor got the impression a change in
subject was due. "So, is Dean coming to get you?"
"No. He's not."
The pain that flashed through the teen's eyes was unmistakable. The
teacher had to resist the urge to reach out and put a hand on the boy's
thin shoulder. Some boys, kids in general, didn't like to be touched
especially when they were at the cruel age where the lines between
childhood and the struggle to be adult blurred.
"I just assumed he'd be the one, seeing as how he seems to look out for
"Yeah." Sam could feel the stinging again and wished the man wasn't
looking at him with such understanding. "He takes care of me."
"I understand that. I have an older brother." Taylor grinned. "He's
usually a pain in my a…side, thinks he knows everything, and just had
to one up me by becoming a doctor of all things. The M.D. kind, to beat
it all. But most of the time, he's not too bad to have around.
Actually, I miss him when he's not."
"Do you ever hate that?"
Taylor tilted his head slightly and frowned at the teen's soft-spoken
inquiry. "What? That I like him? Or that I completely idolize the
stupid jerk even though I wish like heck that I didn't?"
Sam's brown eyes widened almost comically in the way any teenagers did
when an adult came remotely close to voicing what they were thinking or
The thirteen-year-old nodded, stunned speechless, so Taylor continued.
"You bet. Sometimes I even wished that I never had a brother,
especially one that cast such a long shadow."
"Did you ever…" Sam bit his lip, fighting hard to keep it together.
"You know? Do something you wish that you hadn't because of it?"
"Like what?" Taylor crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against
The teen hesitated. "Like…telling him you hated him?" Sam glanced down
at his shoes and then back up. "Like you wished he would leave and
never come back?"
"Maybe only a hundred times." Taylor felt bad when Sam didn't smile at
his joke, but rather looked even more distraught.
"I didn't mean it." Sam's breath hitched. He clenched his fists in
anger, trying to control the torrent of remorse bubbling up from inside
him. "I didn't want anything bad to happen to him."
"Hey," Taylor said softly, completely surprised the boy was getting
upset. "Of course you didn't mean it. Sam, people say things they don't
mean all of the time. That's just human nature. That's why God invented
Again, the joke went bust.
"But he didn't deserve it. He's never done anything to me except take
care of me, and watch out for me. I was just so pissed at him…or at
myself…for needing him so much."
"Brother's fight, Sam. Sometimes it's a love/hate thing, you know."
Taylor took a chance, reached out and squeezed the teen's shoulder.
"Just wait until your first girlfriend falls in love with him. You'll
probably even end up decking him a few times before one of you leaves
the house. Trust me."
Sam sniffed. "We don't usually fight. Not me and Dean, anyway."
Taylor took that to mean maybe Sam and other members of his family
didn't fair so well. "Parents can be a whole other story at your age."
"There's just my dad. And Dean. Besides a few uncles, they're the only
family that I have."
Taylor had suspected there wasn't a Mrs. Winchester in the picture.
Kids missing that influence weren't hard to spot. "Was your dad upset
with you for calling home?" The teacher wondered if that was the reason
Sam was worked up.
Sam didn't appear the typical abused child. Taylor had seen enough of
those in his short career to pick up on clues. Even though Sam could be
quiet and withdrawn, the teacher had no reason to think badly about the
kid's parent. Sam's stress only increased after talking to his father
on the phone.
"He was just in the middle of something." Sam decided not to mention
that his dad hadn't wanted him to come on the stupid trip in the first
place. "He doesn't like to be disturbed."
"Was he sleeping?" Taylor smiled again. "Because I can understand not
liking to lose out on that precious commodity. We old folks need our
"He wasn't sleeping."
Drinking? Taylor hoped like hell the man wasn't a drunk. It would fit
the whole absent parent scenario, but for Sam and Dean's sake he prayed
for a better explanation. "Sam, I'll have to talk to your dad in person
before you can leave. Alright?" The boy wasn't going anywhere if his
old man wasn't sober.
Taylor took a deep breath and tried to let go of some of his own worry.
"So, Dean isn't coming to get you because of the fight you two had.
Sam shook his head. "No. He's not home. Dean would come and get me if
"He's out late." Taylor noted with a raised brow.
Sam nodded, his eyes filling. "I'm afraid he's in trouble." He wasn't
sure why the words tumbled out. He wasn't supposed to talk to strangers
about family stuff.
Taylor frowned. "What makes you think that, Sam?"
The boy shrugged. "It's just a feeling."
"Could be that you're just feeling a little guilty about what you said."
Sam stared at him, wishing that was all it was. He had desperately
hoped the dream was just another nightmare, but it had felt different
than the usual ones. The disconnected feeling was his first clue. The
experience was like watching a terrible movie he couldn't turn off.
"No. I just know something's wrong."
"I can't explain it."
"Dean seems like the type to handle himself pretty well."
"Most of the time."
"Then I'm sure he's fine. He's not the first seventeen-year-old to pull
Sam looked at him.
"Not that I'm condoning it, mind you. But I'm not so far removed from
that age that I can't remember what it was like. Does Dean have a
Sam snorted, despite himself. "To hear him tell it-lots."
Taylor grinned. "That's probably it then, Sam. Women can make us guys
do some pretty stupid things. Trust me."
"I guess." Sam had seen his brother act like an idiot because of a girl
on several occasions. Sometimes it was all he and Caleb talked about.
But unless the Raw head had a mate, Sam was pretty sure no female
influence was involved in this latest disaster.
"He might even beat you and your dad back home."
"Yeah." God, Sam wished that would be true.
"And then you guys can work things out."
"I hope so."
The kid sounded so doubtful and downhearted that Taylor would have said
almost anything to make things right. "I bet Dean understands where
you're coming from. He's been your age."
Sam shook his head, remembering the look on his brother's face when
they had argued, and the way Dean had been broken and bloodied in his
nightmare. "I was horrible to him."
"Sometimes we hurt people, Sam. Sometimes it's the people we love the
Sam recalled the moments leading up to his and Dean's fight. "But I
wanted to hurt him. I was glad I did." A hot tear escaped his lashes
and slipped down his cheek. He wanted to crawl under the table and
hide. "I just wanted him to go away."
"I get that, Sam." Taylor nodded. "Big brother's can have a way of
forgetting that their baby brothers aren't actual babies. Sometimes it
can be smothering."
"Sometimes I feel like I can't even breathe on my own." Sam wiped at
his eyes. "I just want to do my own thing. To be able to take care of
"That's not a crime, son."
"In my family it is."
"Your family probably wants to protect you. To keep you safe."
"The only time I feel safe is with Dean." And that was the real
problem. "And I don't know how to change that."
"I don't think you can change that, Sam." Taylor sighed and shoved his
hands through his sleep-tousled wavy hair. "I mean, sure, you'll get
older and you won't need your big brother as much, but I can tell you
from experience, there are times when I still need my big brother to
protect me from whatever terrible thing life is throwing at me.
Sometimes, he's the only one who can make me feel right again."
"But I pushed him away, and now it's too late."
"Sam, I don't know what's going on that makes you think that
something's happened to Dean, but I've seen how he is around you. I'm
willing to bet that it will never be too late to fix things with him.
I'm guessing he'd pretty much forgive you for anything, whether you
felt you deserved it or not."
"I don't know what I'd do without him."
Taylor nodded. "The feeling is probably mutual."
Sam took a shaky breath and let it out. "Not lately."
"I don't know about that." Taylor smiled. "I'm pretty sure Dean could
probably have taken you out if he'd really wanted to. I hear he's got
one hell of a swing."
Sam's brow furrowed. Taylor made a swinging motion with his arms as if
he were wielding an invisible baseball bat. "Coach Miller has bragged
about his prowess on the field."
"They're in the regional tournament," Sam said softly, thinking about
how he'd totally forgotten. He'd been so proud of Dean for making the
team, for becoming one of the standouts. But he'd never told him.
"So I've heard."
Sam only hoped his brother would get the chance to play. "You really
think Dean will understand why I've been such a pain?"
Taylor nodded. "Even if he doesn't totally get it, he'll still let you
get away with it. That's pretty much how it is with older brothers. I
think it's in their DNA or something. They have to love us kid
brothers, no matter how bratty we are."
"Lucky for us."
The teacher sighed. "Yeah. Lucky for us."
Sam glanced at the clock on the wall again. "Is it okay if I go to the
cabin and get my things? Dad should be here soon." The only thing Sam
wanted to do now was find his big brother. The rest could be taken care
of after Dean was safe.
"Yeah, okay. I'll take you over." Taylor motioned towards the door.
"I'm pretty sure Dean would never forgive me if I let you get taken by
some dead thing wandering about."
Sam tried to ignore the irony and stepped out into the cool night air.
Taylor joined him, pushing the screened door closed behind them. He
glanced at Sam, and raised a brow. "Besides, I heard talk that a
massive panty raid took place last night, and I wouldn't want an
innocent to get caught in the crossfire when the girls seek their
revenge." He shook his head in resigned pity. "I hear they are going to
strike right before dawn and that your buddy Shelton is in big trouble."
Sam's face registered his surprise but he quickly tried to cover, and
in his best Dean Winchester voice said, "What's a panty raid?"
Mr. Taylor clasped him on the shoulder and laughed. "Oh, yeah. I do
like your style, Sam Winchester. I like it a lot."
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