A/N: Before you throw hard objects at me, I'm SO sorry it took so long to come up with Chapter 2. I've been extremely busy, and before I realized it, I'd entered the zone of "waiting too long to update." Promise once I get back in the groove of things I'll bring the chapters more quickly. A brief thanks to everyone who reviewed. I appreciate it a lot. There's no better way to encourage a writer than to read a review. Alright, on with the story!

Chapter 1: A Friday Night Spent Inside

I stood patiently by the front door of our too-small apartment. The rain had just begun to fall, causing a puddle to form under the doorcracks, where the landlord had failed to fix. I wanted for it to be sunny, for the yellow rays shooting from the sky to clear up all water spots. I wanted to take Sammy out to the park, and get in some brotherly bonding while our father was gone.

"I still don't know why I can't go," I moaned to my Dad. The man was in the midst of throwing a duffel bag over his shoulders and walking to the exit. My thirteen year old instincts pushed me to complain one last time, to try and get him to change his mind.

"Dean, you know I can't leave Sam alone for that long. And besides," he stared me down. "I haven't trained you properly on vampires. Once I get this taken care of I'll take you out and show you the ropes. Alright?"

I nodded slowly, my head hung low. No, it wasn't alright. I would much rather have gone to help kill some freak bastard then play mother to Sam for the weekend. But with my father, there was no such thing as debating. What he said went. End of story.

"I left some hot dogs in the fridge, and there's a cart of milk in there also. It should be enough to get you through until Sunday night."

"Is there anything else?" I asked, hopeful. I had entered the teenage world not two months before, and ever since then it seemed like my stomach was always hungry for food.

"There might be one or two other things. Just be sure Sam drinks his milk, we need him strong." I frowned slightly. Of course all Dad cared about was Sam. He acted like the kid was a precious gem, if someone found out about him or looked too closely at, they'd snatch him away from us.

"Yes, sir." With a quick pat on my shoulder, the man turned to open the wooden door, then hesitated for a moment.

"You know the rules, Dean..."

"No games until our homework's done, and no t.v. until we practice sparring."

"And?"

Sighing, I continued. "Under no circumstances, go outside. Unless it's extremely important." The man's face hardened alittle, and his eyes sharpened. He knew both Sam and I hated that rule. When I was eight, and Dad had left us for the first time on an multiple day trip, I begged him to let us at least take a walk. I told him it was vital for young children to be outside in the fresh air, but he held his ground.

"Yes, sir."

"Okay, see you Sunday night, soldier," Dad said softly, dissapearing into the rain before I could answer. I hated and loved being called his soldier. It made me feel special, like I was his own personal assistant. But I despised how he named me a helper and always called Sam kiddo. I felt, especially on nights when he was gone, that I wasn't really his son. I was just some child held responsible for another child. One that was, apperently, more important.

"Hey Sam, get on those vocabulary words!" I yelled at the non-apperent child. Although, I knew my demand was useless. Sam had always been good at school, excelling at any subject he learned. Most likey, the vocab, along with his multiplication problems were already finished, and packed away deep inside his organized backpack.

I managed to see through the rain-slicked window and caught sight of my father's beat up black truck driving away. It was exactly the same as before. Me watching the only parental figure in my life drive away, only to return a few days later, abit more tipsy than when he left.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully. I checked on Sammy's homework, the kid was a future genius, and then I geared him up and skimmed quickly through some fighting techniques. He hated sparring, but I wasn't ready to completely disregard my dad's orders and let him slide by on training.

I managed to cook up a hot dog and some macaroni and cheese that I sent Sammy to borrow from our neighbor. It wasn't much, but money was tight and Dad preffered silver bullets to tomato soup.

I sat through an hour of a low-budget reality show while Sam sat on the creaky couch, reading a library book. It seemed every free moment the boy got he had his nose dug inside some novel he'd read a thousand times before.

Around nine thirty, when I couldn't stand the silence in the room any longer, I sent Sam off to our shared bedroom to go to sleep. Walking into our temporary haven, I noticed once more the vast contrast between us. Sam's side if the room was impecible. His blue bedspread was made neatly, free of any creases, and the few items of clothing he owned were all folded in drawers. On top of his nightstand were his minute collection of books, arranged in alphabetical order.

My half of the room, on the other hand, was a disaster. The pillows on my twin size bed were knotted with my sheets, and every outfit I had ever worn were sprawled out on the floor. Instead of books, I had car magazines on my stand.

"Dean," the still-high pitched voice of Sam said from behind me. I was waiting for him to finish brushing his teeth and hop into bed when he called my name out.

"Yeah?"

Crawling deep into his covers, I saw his face cring slightly as the remaining rain pattered hard against his window. "Can you talk to me 'till I fall asleep?"

It was a commonly asked question. On nights when Dad left us alone, and the apartment was silent except for the shifting frame, Sam would ask me to, more or less, convince him everything was alright until he felt safe enough to fall asleep.

"Sure, kid. What do you want me to talk about?" I asked, sitting down softly on the edge of his bed.

Sam considered my question, letting a few strands of his unruly hair fall into his eyes. "Tell me about what you want to be when you grow up."

My chest tightened slightly. Out of all the topics a nine year old could pick from, he chose the one I feared most. The thought had constantly crossed my mind. In school, when they made you fill out lifelong goals, I had to miraculously come up with some job I wanted to get. And when someone told me I had potential to follow a certain career path, I had to lie and say that I'd give it a shot.

But with Sam there was no lying. I had tried, God how I had tried to lie about so many things to him before, but everytime he looked at me with those intense eyes of his, the truth seeped out.

Gathering the strength I knew I'd need, I took a deep breath and began. The quicker I started, the sooner the boy would be lulled to sleep.

"Honestly, Sam, I don't know. I mean, I'm not very good at school, so I'll probably not go to college," I had to stop for a moment. It was becoming harder and harder to talk about a life I knew I'd never get to live. In Sam's nine year old mind, he still believed he'd escape the hunting life. He thought he could go on and pursue a life that was more accepted in society. I, on the other hand, had prepared myself. Knew the moment Mom died that this was my life, and I was stuck with it.

"I like cars a lot. Maybe I'll get a job that involves cars."

"You could be like Dad and work in a repair shop," Sam mumbled. His head had drifted to his pillow, and his eyes were already closed.

"Yeah, I guess I could. Or maybe at a dealership. You know, work on nice cars, like BMWs and Cadillacs. I want to be where all the hot girls go."

I saw Sam sigh. He knew the only thing I loved more than him and cars were girls. He still hadn't gotten the whole reason why though. He still percieved girls as disgusting and the owners of cooties.

"I want to own a lot of cars, and show them off at car shows. The types that let you win prizes if your car comes in first. That way I don't have to work a lot."

A soft snore escaped Sam's mouth. I looked down and smiled. It was perfect timing. I was just beginning to have hopes for my unrealistic car collection. If I didn't stop imagining my perfect future, I'd actually begin to want it. Sam might approve of those dreams, but Dad sure as hell wouldn't. He would stomp them out faster than he would a fire.

"Alright, kid, sleep tight." I took one last look at the sleeping body, knowing that within a few hours I'd be back on the bed, trying to wake the child up from some horrendous nightmare he was having.

Leaving the bedroom and walking past the living room, I caught tid-bits of what the news reporter was talking about on the television. My curiousity perked, I made my way to the couch and sat down.

"...this is the seventh time in a period of three months that young children have strangely dissapeared from outside. The parents say that they noticed their kid's absence within the hours of three and six. These are the hours kids are most likely to be outside. Their playing games, goofing off with friends..."

I racked my brain for rememberence of the last missing child. It happened about a week and a half ago. A boy around Sam's age, went to the elementary school about twenty miles from us. I caught a glimpse of the news article on morning when Dad had left the paper sitting on top of the table.

"...Police are doing everything possible to find the children and stop whoever is to blame. Officials suggest that if you allow your children to go out during those times, that you watch them closely, and teach them the rules about when a stranger approaches..."

I wondered for a moment if that was our kind of job. Seven in a matter of twelve weeks was a lot for a normal pyschopath. It could be some paranormal force.

Making a mental note to talk it over with Dad, I flipped the channel and searched for something alittle more entertaining. Finding nothing, I settled on a Cosby Show re-run.

Late into the night, once the rain had finally diminished, I woke up to the screams. I had fallen asleep on the couch, my head hung back and arms laying limply on the furniture, leaving the t.v. blaring.

Wiping away the grogginess that still overpowered me, I wasted no time in reaching Sammy. His sheets were thrown off the bed and his body was soaked in sweat. His skinny arms and legs were flailing widely, preventing me from getting anywhere close.

Watching with a broken heart, I called out to him softly. "Sam...Sam, please wake up. Please! It's not real, you're just imagining things."

The sound of my voice calmed him down some, allowing me to bend over and pull Sam's sleeping body into a hug. "Sam, wake up...WAKE UP!"

I felt hot liquid drop onto my shoulder. Sam had stopped yelling, and was in the midst of a very light sleep. "Hey, it's not real. Okay? It was just a nightmare, Sammy. I'm not going to let anything hurt you. Never."

The voice mumbled something incoherent. "Just forget it. It's done and gone, and I'm here with you now." I felt the body begin to tremble in my arms. "C'mon, lets get you a glass of water." Lifting Sam in my arms, I groaned slightly. It wouldn't be much longer before he would have to walk to the kitchen.

Once Sam was rehydrated and back in his bed, I stood over him protectively. I wished so hard that the nightmares Sam had been plagued with would transfer to me. I would take every single bad image there was, if it allowed Sam to alright. I hated how vulnerable he was, and how there was absolutely nothing I could do to save him from the dreams.

"Dean," I could barely hear Sam's voice, it was so soft.

Letting out a breath, I silently thanked whoever could hear, that Dad wasn't around. He had forced me to stop sleeping next to Sam when I was ten. He said Sam would never grow up if I babyed him, and I had to learn where to draw the line at protecting him. But I figured, that night, it was alright to bend the rule.

Crawling into the bed, I almost felt the terror vanquish from Sam. He got such a false sense of security when I was near, it amazed me. I pulled the ocvers more on my side, watching as Sam glared at me. It was my way of showing it was okay for him to need me. That that was why I was there. Be the mother he never met.

"Night, doofus," Sam whispered from my left.

"Night, kid."

A/N: Alright, not my best, but give me a break, I just came back from a long writer's block. It'll take some time to brush it off. Chapter 3 will be posted soon!