"Sammy!" I heard Mary yell suddenly.
I jerked in my chair, immediately running up the stairs at the sounds of my wife's screams.
"Mary? Mary!" I yell, slamming the door to Sammy's nursery open.
I walk over to Sam's crib, noticing the small red droplets next to his head. One look at the ceiling and my world ended. My wife, my precious Mary, was dead.
Then, fire erupted in the room, and I grabbed Sammy, remembering I had a son to protect, and I ran into the hallway, seeing Dean outside.
"Dean, take your brother outside as fast as you can. Now, go!" I yell, racing back to the nursery, trying to get Mary out.
Then I saw it. That thing. It had yellow eyes. At first I thought it was a reflection from the fire, but then he reappeared in front of me, and it threw me against the wall.
I looked up and Mary was engulfed. She was gone. The man, or creature, disappeared, and I ran outside, grabbing Dean just as the upstairs window exploded.
Afterwards, sitting on the hood of the Impala, I was overrun with a need for revenge. I was holding Sammy in my arms, but I couldn't bring myself to comfort him as he cried.
Dean was watching me with a look that resembled fear, and quickly grabbed Sammy from my arms. I barked at him to get in the car, and before I knew it, we were heading to the nearest motel.
I finally managed to sleep in the bed next to my sons, but my mind was assaulted with horrific nightmares of Mary's death, and I could already feel the anger beginning to control me.
TWO YEARS LATER
I was jerked awake by the front door slamming open and my father screaming my name. I curled up in my bed even more, trying to hide from the inevitable pain I knew was coming.
I was barely two years old, but ever since my mom had died, I had to grow up pretty fast and learn to take care of myself.
I had Dean, obviously, but my father wasn't forgiving at all and if Dean tried to stand up for me, we would both get beaten badly.
He might even do something worse to us if he was really angry.
He yelled again, but I stayed silent, hoping he would give it up and pass out on the couch. He didn't.
I could hear him outside the bedroom Dean and I share and I began to tremble slightly in fear. He burst in, stumbling over to my bed and I immediately knew he was drunk.
Which always made the beatings worse. I scrambled away, trying to run out the door, but he caught my shirt and pulled me back.
He slammed me against the wall and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. I turned my head away, not wanting to look at him.
"I saw that mess you made in the kitchen, boy. God, you're so pathetic. This time Dean isn't home to save your ass, so I might as well beat this lesson into you," Dad growled.
He punched me, knocking me to the floor. He delivered a quick but powerful kick to the gut before dragging me into the living room of the crappy apartment we were renting.
He kicked me again and this time he didn't stop. Kick after kick rained down and I was helpless to defend myself.
Soon I felt myself start to get dizzy and tired, and my eyes started to droop closed. I was about to pass out in an attempt to escape the pain when the door opened and I saw Dean walk in through blurry vision.
"Sammy!" I thought I heard him yell as he ran over to me.
Dad knocked him to the ground with a punch to the gut before he even reached me. I thought he would start hitting Dean so I tried getting up to help but stopped when I felt the familiar blinding pain of my broken ribs.
Luckily he left us both alone and walked to the kitchen, grabbing another beer and sitting down on the couch.
I saw Dean running over to me and I was about to pass out when he picked me up and jostled my broken ribs, startling me back awake and making me cry out in pain.
"I'm sorry, Sammy. I'm sorry. It's gonna be okay," Dean whispered to me as he laid me down gently on the bed.
He disappeared for a few seconds but then came back with some gauze, medical tape, and a syringe.
He sat down next to me and told me to take my shirt off, and I hesitantly pulled it off, wincing as it pulled on my ribs.
I glanced up at Dean and could see that he was furious. I placed my tiny hand on Dean's, trying to comfort him. He smiled at me.
There was a crash in the living room and a long string of curses and the smile fell off Dean's face, reminding him of how bad their dad had gotten.
"I'm sorry, Sammy. You've been through so much. You don't deserve any of this," Dean said sadly.
"It's 'kay, De," I respond, my voice raspy, and I finally noticed how bruised my throat was from when dad slammed me against the wall.
He noticed too and gingerly touched my throat, his eyes tearing up with misplaced guilt before moving back to my ribs.
My stomach rumbled since I hadn't eaten in days, and Dean stopped, seeing that my ribs were way too noticeable against my skin.
He quickly finished taping my ribs, pretty messily, but good enough considering dad was getting madder.
"Sammy, stay here. I need to go talk to dad," Dean said, and I grabbed his hand, begging him not to.
"I'll only be a second," he finally says, yanking free of my grasp. I start crying silently, hearing the yelling beginning.
"He needs to learn to grow up! He's not a baby anymore!" Dad yelled.
"Yes, he is, dad! He's only two years old! He hasn't eaten in at least two weeks and if that doesn't catch up to him soon, these beatings you keep giving him are going to kill him!" Dean yelled back.
Then I heard that sound. Flesh smacking against flesh. I struggled to sit up but eventually managed to and limped to the door. I quietly pulled the door open and gasped as I saw my dad holding a knife to Dean's throat.
Unfortunately, he heard my tiny gasp and rushed at me, dragging me into the room with Dean and he simply said, "Choose."
"What?" Dean asked in confusion. I looked at Dean, not understanding what was happening.
"I said, choose," Dad yelled again at Dean. "Choose. Either you take the punishment, or Sam does."
Dad then pointed the knife at me, urging Dean to make his choice quickly.
"Me," Dean yelled, begging Dad to stop.
Dad just smiled and dragged me into our bedroom again. I started screaming, and I could hear Dean screaming after us even louder.
My wrists were then held behind my back and tied extremely tight with rope, cutting into my delicate skin. The action was repeated on my ankles. A blindfold was tied over my eyes and duct tape was wrapped around my head over my mouth.
I felt myself being shoved into the closet and I tried to scream, but the duct tape muffled my voice.
I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my chest as the pain of my broken ribs became known again and I passed out, the blackness enveloping me.
I didn't know what was happening. Dad asked me to choose, and I knew there wasn't a choice to make. I would do anything to protect Sammy from this horrible life. Even if I knew there wasn't much I could do.
Now he was dragging Sammy away, kicking and screaming, and I screamed after them that he better not hurt Sammy, that I had chosen to get hurt, not him, he was still so innocent.
I could hear struggling coming from the bedroom, but I couldn't get up to help because of the blow to the head I had received earlier.
After only a few minutes, the struggling stopped, but I could hear Sammy crying and my blood boiled.
Dad came storming back into the room and threw me back down on the floor, face down. He began pulling out his belt and held me still as he landed the first hard blow to my back. I cried out in pain, but bit my lip, remembering that crying made the punishments worse.
The whipping continued for several minutes before Dad finally let me go. I scrambled away and was about to head back to my bedroom when he told me to sleep on the couch tonight.
"But dad, Sammy might get scared," I protested.
"Sammy'll be fine for one night, he's going to learn to grow up, whether you like it or not," Dad replied, and I hesitantly headed to the couch, trying to get some rest.
I eventually drifted off to sleep, the newly formed cuts on my back irritating me.
It was already starting to get light outside when I woke up, and I sat up, noticing Dad sitting in the chair across from the couch.
"Get ready for school. I'm driving you today," Dad said.
"Why? What about Sammy?" I ask. Dad backhanded me across the face.
"Because I said so, boy. Now get ready for school like I told you to," he growled.
I knew I shouldn't push it, but I knew I had to protect Sammy. "But dad, yesterday you were hurting Sammy-" I start, but get cut off.
"I don't give a shit what you think, Dean. Now get ready before Sammy gets the same punishment you got last night," Dad finally said and I snapped into motion, heading to the bathroom.
I finally finished in the bathroom, and I still hadn't seen Sammy all morning, which was starting to bother me. He normally wakes up later than me but when he does, he sticks to me until I leave, too scared of our dad to be near him alone.
I know what happens while I'm at school. I could see how bad Sammy's ribs were beginning to poke through his skin, and it confirmed my thoughts that dad wasn't feeding him. I could also tell which bruises were caused because I wasn't there to stop it and it kills me every time.
I was really worried though because even though dad has beaten Sammy before, it's almost never as bad as it was yesterday, and dad was finally getting onto Sam and wanting him to grow up, which means tough treatment.
I walked back into the living room, grabbing my backpack on the way to the door.
"Dad! I'm ready to go!" I yell nervously.
"Great. Come on, let's go," he says, leading me out the door. Just as I stepped out, I could've sworn I heard a desperate whimper come from me and Sammy's bedroom, but dad's warning glare was enough to keep me moving, not wanting Sam to receive my punishment as well.
I woke up gasping for air, still stuck in the tight closet. I could hear the door opening and I began crying out, hoping Dean would hear me, but it turned to weak whimpers, since I was really running out of air in the closet.
But the door closed and there was silence. The blindfold made it impossible to see anything at all, so I had no idea how long I lay there, gasping for air.
Just as I was about to pass out from lack of oxygen, the door opened and I breathed in the much-needed air, whimpering as rough hands pulled me from the closet onto a soft surface, probably the bed.
I could tell it was my dad, and he didn't untie me or take any of the tape or the blindfold off as he pulled down my pants and my soiled diaper.
He had done it plenty of times before, and afterward, I was always left with an uncomfortable pain down there, but I didn't really understand what happened, and Dean always avoided the subject, so I took it just like the beatings.
This time was different. He had always been rough, and it always hurt, but this time I couldn't even make myself move because it was so painful.
He seemed so angry, and I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong. The worst part was that he refused to untie me which left me unable to cry out or see what was happening, and it was terrifying.
"I think that should've taught you a good lesson," I heard dad say. "When Dean comes home he can deal with you."
His footsteps got quieter as he left the room, and I lay there, praying that Dean would come home soon.
School had dragged on all day and I was beginning to get restless. I kept squirming in my seat, and the teacher sent me plenty of odd looks.
I stared at the clock, waiting for the bell to ring. The second it did, I jumped out of my seat, ready to run home and make sure Sammy was okay.
"Mr. Winchester, would you mind staying behind for a few minutes," the teacher, Mrs. Thomas, asked. I hesitated. "It won't take long."
"Um, sure, I guess," I said, glancing at the doorway.
"Dean, sweetie, is everything okay?" She asked, and I looked at her in confusion. None of my teachers had ever asked me that, no matter what town we stopped in.
"What do you mean?" I asked nervously.
"Dean, I'm not blind. You have a black eye and I can see the way you favor your right side. Is someone hurting you?" She asked, and she could obviously see the way I tensed up, because she pulled me into a hug, rubbing my back as a few tears slipped out.
"Who is it, honey? You can tell me, I can help you," she whispers soothingly after I pull away.
"I can't. He said he'd hurt him if I told anybody," I whisper, and her eyes widen.
"Who said that? Who is he going to hurt?" She asks softly. My hands start shaking and a few more tears fall. Mrs. Thomas keeps talking when she sees my hesitation.
"Well, is there someone who can get you away from whoever is hurting you? Your mom, maybe?" She asks. I just look down in sadness.
I hadn't thought of my mom in years. All it did was make me sad, and I knew she was gone, so I figured there was no point in dwelling on the past. The only times I ever talked about her were the rare occasions when Sammy would ask about her.
"Dean?" She asks again, and I jerk my head up to look at her.
"No, my mom can't help me. No one can," I say, ready to run out of the room, but she grabs my arm.
"Dean. What do you mean no one can help you? I'm sure that your mom would be happy to take care of you," she said again.
"She can't," I simply respond. "I really have to go, my little brother is home by himself and if I'm not there soon-"
She cuts me off. "Wait, hold on. Why can't your mom take you in? And I'm sure your little brother will be okay for a few minutes."
"My mom is dead, alright," I say quickly.
"Oh Dean, I'm so sorry. I had no idea. Now, your little brother. How old is he?" She asks.
I could tell she was just trying to calm me down and before I knew it, I was telling her everything. Well, almost everything.
"Sammy's only two. When our mom died, my dad changed. He was gone a lot more and he drinks too. I need to check on Sammy. He shouldn't be home by himself for this long," I say quickly, running out of the room.
Just before I left, I could see the flash of sadness and pity go through Mrs. Thomas' eyes. I kept running, trying to get home as fast as possible. Unfortunately, it was a twenty-minute walk, so now I had to run.
I could tell something was going on with Dean. The second he had gotten to class, he had been anxious. And the new black eye gave me my suspicions.
But I waited until after class to say anything, and when he ran out, I knew he meant that he had to stop his dad from hurting his little brother and I felt horrible.
I don't know why I decided to follow him home, maybe to make sure he was okay, but I had to know what that poor kid was going through.
I had dealt with my fair share of abused kids over the twenty-some years I had been teaching, but he seemed different.
So I eventually caught up to him, and I followed him to a run-down, cheap, dirty apartment building and followed him as he ran up the five floors to their apartment.
As he went inside, I could immediately hear the yelling start, and I held back, deciding to step in only if I felt I had to.
"Dad, it has to stop!" I heard Dean yell.
"No Dean, you're not going to tell me what is gonna happen! I have to find that son-of-a-bitch that killed your mother! Sammy needs to learn to grow up and act like a big boy!" I heard an older man yell, presumably Dean's father. I remembered Dean mentioning his little brother's name was Sammy.
"Come on! He's only two years old! You need to go easier on him!" Dean yelled back, and I could hear the anger in his voice.
"Dean, don't tell me how I should raise you or your brother. As long as you're under my roof, you'll do as I say," the man yelled.
I almost walked away, thinking I was wrong, that his father was just strict, when I heard Dean's piercing words, and my blood ran cold.
"Dad you almost killed him last night! He's too little!" Dean yelled. I froze, not moving yet.
"Oh please, your brother is fine," their father said.
"No, he isn't. I don't care if you hit me. You can beat me all you want, but not him. He doesn't deserve this, he's just a little boy!" Dean yelled, and I heard a slap, then a thud.
Then a bunch of grunts and footsteps heading towards the door. I quickly hid around the corner, and I saw a scruffy looking man storm out of the door, leaving it wide open.
I slowly approached the door and pushed it open a little more, and I gasped, seeing Dean lying on the floor, unconscious.
There was some blood coming from his nose, but otherwise, it looked like he just hit his head on the floor and passed out. I checked his pulse, and it was strong, so I stood up and looked around, seeing how horrible the place was.
Then I remembered Dean's little brother, and I started searching the room, not finding anyone. I checked the bedrooms, and in the last one, I found a little boy lying on the bed, covered in blood.
I gasped, running over to him. His hands and feet were tied with rope, and there was duct tape covering his mouth and a blindfold covering his eyes. The part that scared me the most was the fact that he was naked from the waist down.
I touched him softly, thinking he was unconscious also, but the second my fingers touched his tiny arm, he flinched back, trying to scramble away, whimpering through the duct tape.
My heart broke as I saw him struggle, and I started whispering to him, slowly pulling the blindfold off.
"It's okay, everything is okay, sweetie. I'm not your father, it's okay, don't worry, he's gone," I whisper to him.
Once the blindfold is finally off, his eyes squint against the light and he glances at me, still terrified.
I see how tiny he is and wonder when the last time he had eaten was. Suddenly his struggles grew stronger and his eyes widened as he thrashed against my hold.
I turned around and saw their father standing in the doorway, glaring at me.
"Who the hell are you?" He growled at me.
"I, um, I was just, you know, um," I mumbled, stopping when I saw Dean leaning heavily against the wall behind him.
Their father slowly turned around, grabbing Dean roughly and dragging him into the room, throwing him onto the bed next to his little brother.
"Sammy!" Dean yells, throwing his arms around him and glaring at his father in anger.
"Now who the hell are you?" The dad asked again, walking towards me.
"She was just coming over to help me with homework. She's my teacher. I asked her for help. I'm not so good at math," Dean spoke up, probably saving my ass.
"Is this true?" The man asked angrily.
"Yes, um, yeah, uh-huh, that's true," I say, stumbling over my words.
"Fine then. Help him and get out. I don't need CPS on my tail," he says, leaving the room. I hear a door slam moments later.
"Dean, who was that?" I ask, already knowing the answer. He just looks down at his brother in concern.
"I'm gonna take this tape off, Sammy, okay? It might hurt a little, but I need to, alright?" He asked his brother softly.
Sammy just nodded shakily. Dean slowly unwound the tape, trying not to hurt Sammy.
Once it was off, Dean grabbed a knife and cut the rope around his wrists and ankles. Sammy just whimpered in pain and crawled into Dean's lap. He quickly stuck his thumb in his mouth and fell asleep, probably from the exhaustion and lack of food.
"Dean," I whisper.
"What?" He said back.
"Please, let me help you," I say, trying to get him to look at me. He finally does, and the pain behind his eyes immediately made me wish he hadn't.
"You can't. We'll be gone in a few hours anyway, you might as well forget you saw anything," Dean says sadly, stroking his little brother's hair.
I smiled at how protective he was.
"Dean, what can I do? Do you want me to get you some bandages, or something? Anything?" I ask.
"Just some gauze and tape if that's not too much trouble. It's in the bathroom," Dean mumbles. I go off to get it. When I return, Dean has moved Sammy onto the bed and is examining his back.
I gasp at the bruises covering the poor little boy's back.
"It doesn't usually get this bad, I swear. He rarely hurts Sammy like this. But lately, when I'm at school, it's been getting worse," Dean says quietly, starting to cry silently.
"I'm so sorry, Dean. If I had known, I wouldn't have kept you-" I begin.
"It's alright. You didn't know. You know, it's funny. I could feel somebody following me, but I guess I just let you, I don't know, maybe so you would do something. But now, I wish I hadn't, because I can't let you tell anybody," Dean says.
"Dean, I have to report this. This is horrible," I say.
"You can, but it won't matter. People have before. Old neighbors, teachers. It never did any good then either," Dean says.
"I have to go pack up our stuff. My dad is going to make us leave soon, and I have to make sure Sam is bandaged up," Dean continues.
I decide to help him, even though he disagrees, trying to get me to leave. I know he didn't want me to, but I was going to report it anyway. Even if he thought it wouldn't do any good.
Suddenly the door banged open and we ran to the table where we had laid out all Dean's books in case his father did come home.
He glared at us. "Come on Dean, get your brother and your bags. We're leaving now," he said. I looked down, noticing how their father was swaying slightly.
They were all ready to go within minutes. Their dad held their three bags, while Dean had Sammy in his arms, still asleep. I stayed at the table, slightly afraid of their father. The minute they were gone, I pulled out my phone and called CPS.
"What were you thinking, Dean? Bringing your teacher there?" Dad yelled angrily.
I just sat quietly in the backseat with Sammy, who was curled up in my lap, innocently sucking his thumb.
It made me so angry to think about everything he had been through in his short life. When I was his age, I had a mom, a dad who wasn't abusive, and a happy life. Sam would probably never know any of that and it killed me.
I ignored dad as he continued ranting and soon fell asleep, all the stress and responsibility on my shoulders catching up to me.