by Dotfic (a.k.a. Constance Eilonwy)
Disclaimer: Supernatural is owned by the WB, but I love 'em like they were my own
Rating: PG


Sammy tries to explain it to Dad over breakfast, how the thing is in his closet is there on some nights and not others. The sound of its breathing is like the roar of the boiler and it smells like cemeteries. Dad nods attentively. Sometimes he turns over a page in his journal and makes a note.

In most families, Dad might just be humoring him. He might pat Sammy on the head. There's no such thing as monsters, son. The only reason Dean knows about families like that is because he watches TV.

Instead, Dad starts making plans. Sammy's going to sleep in Dean's room, Dad will sleep in Sammy's, so the next time the monster emerges Dad can kill it.

"That won't work." Dean snatches the last piece of bacon.

"Why not?"

"You're an adult. It'll only come out if Sammy's there. He should stay in his room while I sleep on the floor."

For seven nights, Dean sleeps wrapped in a blanket at the foot of Sammy's bed. The monster would have to go through him to get to his brother. They talk long after Sammy should be asleep, and sometimes Dean has to tell Sammy to shut up already, but he actually likes being in there. It reminds him of when they were younger, they used to share a room, but then Dean started to feel like he wanted to be alone more often.

For seven nights, nothing happens.

"It's because I'm too old after all," Dean explains.

"We'll have to try something else, then. Dean, you go back to your own room tonight."

Only Dean notices how Sammy opens his mouth to say something, panic stricken. When Dad looks at him, Sammy only nods. "We'll get it," Dad says. "You just holler when you see it. Also, I'm going to give you something."

Dad teaches Sammy how to clean the gun, how to hold it, how to brace himself against the recoil, how to load it. They go out in the backyard and teach Sammy how to shoot. The first time knocks Sammy over.

"Don't ever point that at anything or anyone unless you intend to shoot. Keep it under your pillow," Dad says, while Dean helps Sammy up.

Dean thinks the gun looks far too big in Sammy's small hand, but he got his first gun when he was just one year older than Sammy is now.

Sammy doesn't say anything about being sent into his room alone that night, but Dean knows the secret pocket where his brother hides fear.

"We're right down the hall," Dean volunteers.

Sammy shrugs. "Sure. Whatever."

Lying in the semi-darkness of his own room, Dean folds his arms behind his head and stares wide-eyed up at the Led Zeppelin poster on his ceiling. There's a little bit of light from his nightlight and from the streetlight below his window.

He knows that down the hall, Dad's also awake and fully clothed in the ratty armchair in his room, waiting with a shotgun across his knees. They haven't actually discussed whether regular bullets will work against this thing or not. But since there's no information on how to kill monsters in the closet, the unspoken consensus between Dad and Dean is that they might as well try bullets as anything

It grows subtly darker as lights go out in the nearby houses. Dean hates the dark. He rolls over onto his side, staring at the numbers on his clock radio, listening to a dog barking distantly and a sixteen wheeler downshifting on the nearby highway.

He guesses he falls asleep, because he blinks and when he looks at the numbers on the clock again, it's two hours later and everything is totally quiet.

Sammy's terror hits him like a fist to his chest, so powerful Dean curls up with something more breathtaking than pain. It stuns him for three seconds, and then he's rolling from the bed, thudding to the floor, grabbing his gun. His bare feet tangle in the sheets and he stumbles but kicks them off.

He's halfway down the hall when Sammy screams, almost to Sammy's door when he hears the loud bang of the gunshot.

Dad darts from his room, running with the shotgun, but Dean's already reached Sammy's room, where Sammy's crouched up against the headboard as if he wants to melt into the wood, the gun held loosely in both hands. Despite the lessons the recoil must have gotten him because his nose is a mess of blood.

On the floor lies a dark, stinking mass of fur, claws and fangs glistening. Blood pools, staining the rug.

Dean aims his gun at it, but the thing doesn't move. He turns and sees Dad stumbling to a halt in the doorway, astonished. Dad looks at Sammy, then at the dead monster.

Dean's first impulse is to snatch up Sammy and carry him far from thing on the floor. Take your brother outside as fast as you can... Up against the headboard, Sammy's starting to shake.

He meets Dean's eyes. There's not only fear, but pleading. He's terrified out of his mind, desperate not to show it, but at this moment has absolutely no way of holding himself together. There's really only one thing Dean can do to help him now.

"Hey, check it out!" Dean lowers his gun and sits on the edge of the bed. "Sammy bagged himself a monster! Way to go, bro." He holds up his free hand, palm flat, for Sammy to high-five.

After a moment, Sammy unclenches his grip on the gun and slaps Dean's hand, and then Dad steps forward and starts wiping the blood away from his nose.