Title: The Reason I Live
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
Genre: Gen, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural except in my dreams where schmoop abounds.
Warnings: Those of you who think John Winchester was a good father doing the best he could under terrible circumstances may not like my portrayal. He's not deliberately cruel, but he is negligent and he treats his sons as though they are soldiers, not little boys. Just remember this story is AU and Sammy knows what his daddy does at a much younger age than canon Sammy.
Word Count: ~2,800
Summary: Sequel to I Wish I was a Growed Up and second story in the Wish 'verse. Something is lurking near Sammy and Dean's new school and John thinks this is the perfect opportunity for Dean to research his first hunt. AU hurt!!Dean protective!Sam Wee!chester Ages Dean 9 Sam 5 and 24
A/N: If you're still in the holiday spirit please leave me the gift of your feedback. Comments are cherished.
The Reason I Live
Chapter 3 Nothing's Ever Easy
There are several steps and types of research needed for a successful hunt. Dean has seen his dad interviewing witnesses, gathering local histories from libraries, heck he's even gone along to stake out possible haunt locations to get a feel for what his hunter father is going to be up against. He knows what kinds of things he needs to do and his brain is buzzing with the excitement of tackling it all on his own.
Lying in his bed and staring through the gloom at the crack in the ceiling, he goes over the information he'd already gathered from his classmates during the day and plots his next move. Even though his body is exhausted, he's nowhere near sleepy anymore. Apparently there's a world of difference between being physically exhausted and being able to sleep, but he's going to need to sleep if wants to put his plans for his hunt into action tomorrow.
Dean sighs, turns over onto his side and fluffs his pillow a couple of times as if it's just a matter of getting more comfortable. Truth is, his mind is working over-time and no matter how comfortable his bed is he can't force his racing thoughts to slow down enough to allow him to drift off.
Actually seeing the monster with his own two eyes will be the best way to figure out what he's dealing with. Other people have seen the thing and walked away so there's no reason to think he can't do the same. Once he's seen the monster it'll be a lot easier to figure out what it is and then he'll be able to work out a way to get rid of it. Maybe dad will help him come up with a plan.
His heart speeds up at the thought until it's galloping like a race horse inside his chest. Sammy stirs uneasily in the bed next to his and Dean puts both hands over his thumping heart as though he can quiet the noise and keep it from waking his brother up. Of course, he knows it's not the sound of his heart that's disturbing Sammy's sleep but the out-of-control emotion being transmitted along their link. 'Calm down' he thinks to himself, willing the adrenaline to stop pumping and his rapidly beating heart to slow. Despite his best efforts it's well past two o'clock by the time he finally falls asleep.
The early morning sun gives him just enough light to get dressed without turning on the lamp. Making lunches for school is his number one priority, there's no way he's allowing that idiotic mistake to happen again, and Dean sets to work immediately. An apple, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a couple of cookies in each paper bag completes the task nicely.
He wants to get to school early today because after thinking about it for most of the night he's decided to try looking around the school grounds to see if he can find the basement. At least three of the kids he'd talked to yesterday mentioned the school basement in their tales and since the school is easily assessable to him that seems like it might be a good place to start. The earlier he gets there the more time he'll have to snoop around, hopefully without drawing too much suspicion. Not all the sightings happened near the school and the high school student who went missing last week wasn't anywhere near the elementary school, still he has to start somewhere. All he needs is a clue, something to go on that will help with his research, something to show his dad as proof that he can do this.
For whatever reason Sammy hadn't acted like an alarm clock this morning and is still fast asleep even after the lunches have been packed securely in their backpacks. "Hey squirt, time to get up and get ready for school." Dean calls softly, waits a moment and then shakes his little brother's shoulder gently, trying again. "Sammy, come on, don't want to be late do you?"
That does the trick. The smaller boy blinks confused eyes at him a couple of times before sitting up with a slow smile, something close to wonder crossing his face. "Am I going to school today, Dean?" He asks as if yesterday might have been a one day only fluke or a really realistic dream.
"Yup, that's the way school works remember, it's every day except Saturday and Sunday."
"Oh, yeah." He says happily and scoots to the edge of the bed so he can climb out.
Dean has to remind him to brush his hair and teeth, but other than that Sammy is able to get himself dressed and takes great pride in pouring his cereal into a bowl. Dean pours the milk, of course. It's just easier that way, avoids the spill and the clean up.
Sammy is just as thrilled about school today as he was yesterday. The small boy trots into his classroom without saying a word about their early arrival and wearing a huge dimpled grin for his teacher as if he hadn't a care in the world. Dean thinks his own excitement is probably coming off as second day of school jitters instead of the uncertain nervousness of his first hunt that is actually making his lungs feel as though they can't quite keep up with his body's demand for oxygen. He's profoundly grateful when Sammy doesn't question the emotions he knows must be radiating strongly along their bond. He feels as though he must be glowing like a neon sign he's so charged up.
It's kind of amazing how Sammy takes the constant press of his older brother's emotions in his stride, how he simply accepts the burden as a normal part of life. And he doesn't act like he doesn't want to know how Dean is feeling every second of every day or like it bothers him in any way. Dean's not sure what he'd do if he had to sort through some one else's feelings all the time. He only has to know what Sammy's feeling when he actively seeks out the added contact.
Shaking his head, Dean walks away from his little brother's classroom, a warm smile still on his lips.
The institutional looking clock on the wall in the hallway says he has about twenty minutes until the tardy bell rings. Plenty of time to scout around for the stairs down to the basement.
Both teachers and students walk briskly past him. In order to fit in Dean picks up his pace, gives his movements more purpose. He trails his hand along the wall while softly humming some song he's heard on the radio the other day and no one spares him a second glance.
The basement is easy to find, too easy actually. A sign on the door reads 'STAIRS in large block letters. Remembering all the grumbling he's heard from his father about how nothing can ever be easy, Dean feels let down. He's obviously not doing this right, he must be on the wrong track here otherwise the basement would have been a lot harder to find, concealed in some manner. If it was this easy to find the monster's hiding spot surely the adults would have seen it by now, there would be more of a town-wide panic instead of just rumors from a bunch of kids. He may only be nine years old, but Dean has seen far too many things go wrong in his dad's hunts to believe in this kind of luck. Still, he has nothing to lose by taking a look.
With one hand on the door knob Dean glances around quickly. No one is nearby. It comes as a complete shock to him, therefore, when a crisp and by now familiar voice calls, "Dean, what are you doing?"
Where just a second ago Dean could have sworn the space was empty, now his teacher, Ms. Simon, hovers behind him. He's so startled his whole body jerks and he turns to meet her glare, face turning what he's sure must be a brilliant shade of red. Way to blend in and not draw any attention, he berates himself.
He decides to go with his tried and true answer for these circumstances. "N-nothing." The little stammer catches him off guard and he must look about ten types of guilty because his teacher's eyebrows bunch together and the frown lines around her mouth deepen.
Darn it, he's usually much better at talking his way out of trouble than this.
His hand falls from the door knob and he shuffles sideways, making sure he's out of her reach just in case she decides to put a stop to his escape. "I'll just…go now. Bye." He mutters, trying out a sheepish smile while continuing to back away. The school library is around the nearest corner so he heads in that direction and hopes Ms. Simon will think that's where he was trying to go all along.
He ducks inside and counts to ten before peeking back out into the hallway. The coast is clear and twelve minutes remain until he needs to be in his classroom. Having avoided an obstacle, Dean feels oddly better about his idea of checking out the basement. It seems more likely that there may be something down there now that he's had to work for it a little bit.
This time no one stops him when he slips unseen into the basement stairwell.
The only light comes from the open door and even though he sees the light switch within easy reach he doesn't flick it on. Leaving the door open the tiniest of cracks, Dean pulls his trusty flashlight out of the side pocket of his backpack where he had placed it with this mission in mind before leaving for school.
At the bottom of the stairs he looks back up to check the sliver of light from the slightly open door is still visible. A sense of calm filters through him at the sight of the crack. Safety is only a flight of stairs away.
By the beam from his flashlight he can see he's in a large storage room. Metal shelves stacked high with dusty boxes line the walls. On the outside of each box black marker labels the contents. Some of them have teacher's names written on them, but most of them seem to contain supplies for lesson plans of one kind or another; solar system models, food group pyramids, and colonial costumes to name just a few. Nothing catches his eye as being out of place or unusual.
There are two doors leading out of the room, one is directly opposite the stairs and the other is on the wall furthest away from the stairs almost hidden by a pile of gigantic gingerbread men made out of card board. Their painted eyes seem to watch him hungrily in the scanty light of his flashlight as he moves around the room. A little creepy, but not enough to throw Dean off his game. They're probably just stage decorations for the holiday pageants all school administrators seem to enjoy putting their students through in December.
Since he only has time to check out one more room, Dean decides on the one behind the gingerbread men which looks as though it isn't used very often. The extra layer of dust makes it seem a more likely candidate for his search. He's trying to find a monster after all, not decorations for a play about Hansel and Gretel. The creepier the better as far as he's concerned.
The smell that assails him as soon as he opens the door makes his eyes water. It smells of rot and decay, death and decomposition. The air is thick, moist and heavy. His flashlight doesn't penetrate the gloom, in fact the stream of light seems to reflect back at him, revealing nothing.
Dean's heart leaps up into his throat, choking him with fear. He's seen nothing, heard nothing, and yet an unreasoning terror grips him and he stumbles backwards, tripping over card board. It's just the smell, that awful stench. The flashlight falls from his nerveless fingers. His head is swimming and he can't breathe, every breath of air he takes is blocked, never reaching his lungs. Scrabbling frantically, he finds his feet and runs back to the stairs, guided by the faint glimmer of light from the hallway beyond the top step.
Before he can set foot on the first stair and begin his climb the door at the top of the steps closes with a click, extinguishing the light and his chance for safety. The only thing he can hear is the pounding of his heart in his ears. He's doomed. He's doomed. He's doomed.
He thinks he screams for help. He thinks he makes it to the head of the stairs and bangs on the door. He thinks something grabs his ankle and pulls. He thinks his head hits the stairs on the way down. He knows he sobs out his brother's name in desperation.
Sammy is on the playground where his teacher had told him to go to wait for class to start when he feels the first little jab of fear. The low hum of excitement had been pretty much a constant all morning and he hadn't thought too much about it. Sometimes it was difficult for him to tell which emotions were coming from him and which were coming from his older brother, especially if they were both feeling the same thing and Sammy had been excited about school so excitement was nothing unusual. But this, this fear is definitely not coming from him. There's nothing scary about jumping rope, frustrating maybe because he keeps getting tangled up, but not scary. No it's not coming from him and that means it's coming from Dean. Dean's scared.
Looking around, he sees a secluded spot at the side of the school building where no one else is playing. Dad had told him that the Wish and everything about it were family secrets; don't tell anyone, don't talk about it, and for God's sake Sammy, never, never, never, let anyone see you change. He doesn't always have a choice in the matter, but he takes that first jolt of fear as a warning sign and hunkers down against the cool brick where no one can see him.
He tries to get more information from his link with his brother, closes his eyes tight and thinks about Dean as hard as he can. It doesn't work. The fear is gone leaving a steady but distant trail of anxiety which could mean anything really. Dean feels anxious from time to time, it's something that Sammy has gotten used to and although he doesn't like it there's usually nothing he can do about it. Sometimes Dean is anxious about Dad, sometimes about money, and sometimes about Sammy. He wishes he understood why Dean gets anxious. It sure would make it easier for him to help.
A couple of minutes pass and he's just about to go back to his jump rope, resolving to ask his big brother about what happened after school, when he gets slammed by what feels like a solid wall of terror. The force of it rocks him backwards and he's not surprised in the least to find himself lying on the asphalt, long muscular arms and legs sprawled every which way.
Anguish all his own slices into him, sharp and painful.
Nononono, not again Dean, not again.
On to ( Chapter 4 )
Back to ( Chapter 2 )
Back to ( Chapter 1 )