The Sounds of Camping

Sam woke with a start. The sounds of crickets and rustling leaves reminded him of where he was; camping with Dad and Dean. He turned his head and caught sight of his brother's unruly mop of tangled hair poking from beneath the sleeping bag he had somehow completely cocooned himself in. Dean was asleep, looking content nonetheless. Sam relaxed. If Dean was okay, then so was he.

Their Dad had been the one to suggest the camping trip. Neither of the boys had been on one before, so it was about time they got around to it. Sam was five years old, life was getting away from him, he had to start living while he was young, before it was too late. Or at least that's what Dean had told him. And who was Sam to question Dean? He was nine years old after all and well experienced with things like these.

It started out fun. They'd set up the tents, cooked hotdogs, and their Dad had even shown them how to cook Marshmallows so they were just right, not too burnt, just a slight browning of the surface. That's the way Sam loved them. Dean, on the other hand, seemed to always burn his. He'd set the Marshmallow on fire, let it burn, and then extinguish it only when the entire thing was blackened and crisp. He'd pull off the black part and do it all over again until he was left with just remains on the end of his stick. Dean claimed he liked them that way, but Sam thought he just liked blowing out the fire. His brother always looked triumphant when he saved his Marshmallow from the flames. Sam didn't know why, it was only a Marshmallow.

Later in the day, their Dad had taken them fishing by the river. Sam had gotten upset when Dean caught a bigger fish than him, but then Dean had promptly told him that he only caught a bigger one so they could share it. That had made Sam feel better. They'd give up on fishing after that and Dean made an impromptu decision to go swimming when he slipped off the dock they'd been sitting on. Their father had jumped in after him, and of course, Sam wouldn't be left alone so he'd quickly followed, forgetting that he really didn't know how to swim. John had managed to pull both the boy out, Sam giggling and Dean looking very perturbed.

By the time night had fallen, both boys were exhausted and their Dad had decided they should call it an early night. Dean had helped John put a protection ring around the campsite, which had prompted Sam to ask why one was needed out in the woods anyway. Their Dad was quick to explain that it probably wasn't needed, but it was always good to be safe. Then he'd tucked his boys into their sleeping bags and had gone off to "check the perimeter." Sam didn't know what a perimeter was, but if his Dad said it needed to be checked, then it needed to be checked.

And now Sam was here, laying in his sleeping bag, staring at the top of the tent. It was really dark. The fire must have gone out some time ago. Sam wondering why he was suddenly awake again. He usually didn't wake up during the night. Maybe it was the cold air, or the annoying crickets, or the lumpy ground, or…and that's when he heard it. Sam froze up, eyes widening. What was that? He lay still, listening for it to sound again. When it did, Sam gasped and rolled over, reaching a hand out of his sleeping bag to shake his brother.

"Dean!" Sam hissed. Dean groaned something and rolled away. "Dean!" Sam tried again, this time his voice pleading. That seemed to do it. Dean's head popped out of the sleeping bag, his eyes half closed, cheeks rosy. He looked around and spotted Sam with a yawn.

"Sammy?" he asked, already falling back asleep.

"Dean, something's growling," Sam whispered. Dean opened one eye and looked at him. "I think it's a bear." And that woke Dean up. He'd always been afraid of bears. Ever since they'd watched a show about them on PBS. Dean had nightmares for weeks.

Sam watched his older brother sit up and duck his head, listening to their surroundings. Sam did the same and inched closer to him, wrapping his arm around Dean's. The two sat quietly for a moment before the noise came back. Sam cringed and pushed himself into Dean with a gasp. "There, did you hear that?" he said, scared now.

Dean looked down at him and nodded, wide eyed. "Yeah," Dean said and scrambled to his backpack that lay a couple feet away. He unzipped it, throwing aside his comics and army men as he reached for a crayon box and pulled it out. Sam watched him in fascination, gasping when the sound came back again, stronger this time. He looked at Dean fearfully and watched as his brother opened the crayon box and pulled out a wad of dishrags.

"What are you doing?" Sam asked. Dean didn't answer as he pulled apart the rags and revealed the knife he'd kept hidden there. "Where'd you get that?" Sam demanded. Their Dad had made it clear that neither of them were to have knives until they were at least ten. Both of them knew there were bad things out there that could hurt them, and they knew their Dad fought those bad things sometimes, but a five year old with a knife was still a five year old with a knife. Dean had been saying he wanted one for a while now, but John had told him that if ever there was something bad that Dean needed to have taken care of, he'd do it for him. Dean couldn't have a knife until he was ten and their Dad showed him how to properly use one.

"I took it," Dean whispered to him.

"From where?" Sam asked, wide eyed. Wasn't that stealing?

"From the kitchen," Dean answered and crawled over to the front of their tent where he crouched and waited for the noise to come back. Sam followed him. The noise came again and Sam couldn't hold back the whimper that escaped him. This had to be one of those bad things Dad talked about. Nothing else could make a noise like that. Dean turned to him and put a hand on his arm. "It's okay, it'll run away when it see this," Dean said, holding up the knife as though it were the most powerful weapon in the world. Sam had to admit, even though it was no light saber, it still looked scary. Yeah, bad guys would definitely be afraid of it. "Come on," Dean said after the noise sounded again. He unzipped the tent and crawled out. Sam sucked in a breath and followed him.

Sam stuck close to his brother, making sure he kept a handful of Dean's shirt in his hand at all times. They took a few steps away from the tent before the noise came again, making them both whirl. They scanned the woods behind them, trying to see where the noise was coming from. Sam shook his head and whimpered again. "It's a demon," he whispered. Tears coming to his eyes.

Dean nodded. "Yeah, but we're okay," Dean said, his voice sounding unusually strained. "It can't get in here. Dad's circle is protecting us."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, the noise sounded again and the two boys' eyes shot to the other tent in the campsite. They both gasped involuntarily. Sam pushed himself closer to Dean, now truly frightened. "It's inside Dad's tent!" he cried softly.

"Okay," Dean said, nodding his head. He gulped and walked towards the tent.

"No don't!" Sam cried, grabbing Dean's shirt with the other hand as well. "What if it eats you?"

"I'll stab it," Dean said with such confidence. He held the knife up higher and continued towards the tent. Sam walked quietly behind him, one hand still in Dean's shirt, the other coming up to place a thumb in his mouth, a habit Sam had kicked except for time when he was truly scared. They made it to the tent and by then, Dean was taking in shaky breaths. He reached his free hand out to the zipper on the tent, but didn't pull quite yet. He turned his head slightly to Sam and whispered, "Stay here."

"No," Sam pleaded, not ready yet to lose contact with his brother.

But Dean pried Sam's fingers from his shirt and then slowly started to unzip the tent, quieter than he'd ever been in his life. Dean pulled the flap away and peered inside. He sucked in a breath and chewed on his lip before saying, "It's huge." Sam almost let go of the tears he was holding back. He'd never been so scared. Dean started to crawl inside the tent. The demon made the noise again and both brothers froze. Dean was shaking, his eyes staring at the hidden monster he could just barely make out in the dark. Sam bent down so he could watch his brother as he crawled closer. He wanted to tell him to stop, that they should wait for their Dad to come and kill it, but he didn't want to make the monster angry.

Slowly, Dean positioned himself in front of the monster, kneeling there, raising the knife above his head, ready to bring it down. Dean was breathing so hard it felt like his lungs were going to explode. Sam's lip was quivering, but he was holding his breath, afraid to make any noise whatsoever. Dean's eyes glanced over at his brother before he grit his teeth and brought the knife down.

It happened so fast that Sam wasn't really sure what was going on. The monster had reached out at the same time Dean was bringing the knife down. Sam heard his brother scream bloody murder and couldn't contain the tears, or the scream, he'd been holding back. He watched as the monster flung the knife away and engulfed his brother, all the while Dean screaming as if he was being eaten, which Sam was sure he was. "Sammy, run!" Dean screamed.

Sam let out a sob and turned around, ready to run all the way home if he had to. But suddenly something reached out and grabbed onto the back of his shirt, pulling him backwards. Sam let out a horrified yell as he fell back. He started kicking and struggling against the monster that had a hold of him. He turned, grabbing hold of the monster's arm, and bit down, the only defense he actually had against anything. The monster let out a painful yell and Sam saw it let go of Dean, who looked flustered and terrified, but ultimately fine. But when Dean saw it still had a hold of his brother, his eyes widened and he lunged at the arm.

"Let go!" he screamed as he too bit into the arm, causing another yell and a curse to escape the monster. But it seemed to do the trick.

Sam fell back s the force he'd been struggling with suddenly let go. His brother tumbled with him, having been pulling on Sam's waist. They both looked back at the monster and watched as the blankets fell away, revealing a disheveled looked John Winchester in their wake. Both boys' eyes widened and Dean shoved his brother, trying to get him to move again. "It's possessed Dad!" he yelled and they were on their feet again, running as fast as they could.

It wasn't fast enough as suddenly John caught up with them and swooped them up, a boy under each arm. Sam and Dean struggled for all their worth. "No!" Sam screamed, unable t keep the tears away.

"No!" Dean echoed. "Don't kill us!"

"What?" John asked, his voice normal, albeit confused. Both the brothers looked up at him, still fearful. John looked at each of them. "Boys, it's me," he said calmly.

"You're not going to eat us?" Sam asked, his eyes still wild.

John looked at both of them again, now even more confused. "What? No," he said and set them back on the ground, he kept a hand on each of their shoulders, in case they should try to run off again. He kneeled down in front of them so he was eye level.

"You're not possessed?" Dean asked, his face was still fierce with both fear and anger. John was surprised to see the second emotion there. He was actually surprised to see any emotion there. His sons should have been sleeping, not sneaking around at night, and definitely not holding knives above his head. He didn't understand what had spooked his children so much.

John shook his head. "No," he said firmly. "I'm not. Boys, what happened?" he asked, seeing they were slowly starting to calm down, but still looked terrified. Sam still had tears on his face and was biting his lip with such ferocity that he thought he was going to draw blood. He reached a hand up and brushed Sam's hair back in a familiar gesture, which seemed to calm him again. "What were you doing in my tent?" he aimed the question at Dean.

"Sammy heard a noise," Dean said, his voice hitched, still breathing hard. "We thought it was a demon and it was in your tent."

John shook his head again, starting to realize what was going on. He couldn't keep the smile off his face. "Boys, I was the only thing in that tent," he said, watching as his sons looked back at him, the confusion now drifting over to them. "This camp is protected, nothing can get in here."

"But that noise," Sam demanded. "We heard it."

John had to make sure he kept the humor out of his voice. His sons didn't need him laughing at them. However, he couldn't quite keep the grin from spreading across his face as he asked, "What did it sound like?"

Both of his sons broke into description at the same time. Dean's face was as animated as John had ever seen it, and Sam was using both his hands to show him how big the creature must have been to be making a noise like that. They were both talking so fast and so intensely that John couldn't really hear what they were saying. But he didn't really need to. He already knew what had scared his boys. He finally let a chuckle escape and reached out to quiet them both. He looked the both in the eye.

"Boys, I think what you heard was me," he said, watching their reactions. Dean looked skeptical, his face crinkling in disbelief while Sam's eyes widened in renewed fear. John chuckled again and pulled them closer to him. Both took a step absently, watching John like any minute he'd spring wings and horns and carry them off to a nest to feed to his demon babies. "Out in the woods, around all these plants and polled, my allergies act up and I can be a pretty heavy snorer."

The boys were quiet for a moment, both of them staring at him with blank faces. John chuckled again at the looks. Finally, Dean was the one who spoke first.

"That was snoring?" his voice was quiet, disbelieving. John just nodded, unable to keep the amusement out of his face. "It sounded like a bear was eating your face," Dean's voice went up a notch, the shock and fear giving way to embarrassment and anger.

"Are you sure it wasn't a demon?" Sam asked, his face thoughtful, eyes scanning John for any signs that he was lying.

"I'm sure, kiddo," John said, standing up. "I'm sorry I scared you."

"I wasn't scared," Dean said hastily.

Sam looked over at his brother and then quickly looked back at John. "Me neither."

"Uh huh," John said, smiling. "Well, not that all the excitement is over, why don't you boys go back to bed." John watched as his boys trudged back to their tent. Sam kept glancing over his shoulder to make sure John was still John and not some demon. Dean was grumbling to himself, obviously embarrassed. John chuckled and then called out, "And in the morning, Dean," he watched as both his sons turned to look at him. "We'll talk about why you had that knife." He watched Dean's eyes widen and then narrow. He turned around and shoved Sam, who was smiling again, into the tent before he climbed inside and glared at his father as he zipped it up again. John heard Dean grumble some more, but could only clearly make out one sentence.

"I hate camping."

John could only laugh.

Author's Notes: This was written for a challenge posted in the forum, "Supernatural FanFiction Challenges" right here on this website. The challenge was, "What if what Dean and Sam are hunting turns out to be more natural than supernaturl." Or something along those lines. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, maybe you could give the challenge a try!