The Silence.

By Mellaithwen

Rating: T

Genre: Angst/Drama

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural in the slightest.

Summary: Spoilers for Nightmare. What if Sam and Dean had Max's childhood? Stand Alone.

I actually wondered whether I should put Tragedy as the genre…but there's a warning for child abuse, though nothing graphic. And I hate the John I've written with a passion.

Written for PL Wynter's Fanfiction challenge Forum.

"Well, I'll tell you one thing, we're lucky we had Dad." Sam said, edging closer to the Impala and away from the Miller house where Max had just committed suicide, ending his bout of revenge on his abusers.

"I never thought I'd hear you say that." Dean said, in a tone akin to mellowed out astonishment, and Sam shrugged in response.

"Well it could have gone a whole other way after Mom, a little more tequila, a little less demon-hunting, and we would have had Max's childhood. All things considered, we turned out okay. Thanks to him. "

Dean looked back at the house one last time, opened the door to his beloved car, and agreed.

"All things considered."

- "Nightmare." Episode 1x14.

Silence reigned but never for too long in this household. The neighbours complained, at first to John, who promised in a tone so sickly sweet that he would make sure his boys didn't play football indoors, and the neighbours would never know it was the oldest being kicked, not the ball.

The noise continued, for when John was in his stride, alcohol as his fuel, and he kicked and punched, and whacked his son, sound was a given. The neighbours complained again and again, and when one parent saw Dean at the school, picking up his younger brother from the juniors class, standing with a forced smile, shoulders hunched, arms wrapped around his ribs, and his face a collage of bruises, the parent had complained to the police.

But the bruises faded, and were explained away, and the police without evidence, real evidence could do nothing.

It was not the concerned parent that was punished, but Dean himself. Hit again and again, but now John knew better, and he hit his son where others would not see. He broke ribs, with his harsh kicks, and had caused a sprained ankle as Dean had tried to escape the attack. Broken bones deserved more slaps and kicks for the price of having them set. And more than once a doctor or nurse had voiced concerns, but there was never enough proof, and the telling that mattered the most, Dean's own, was always a lie to cover his father's deed. A promise to keep quiet, to keep silent, held through fear, and perhaps a deep dark and withering hope that one day the monster would go away, and Daddy would come home.

Daddy stayed away. And Daddy was never coming back. Sam had never asked where he was, because to Sam, Daddy didn't exist. Sam had never known Daddy, or Mommy. All he knew was the mean drunk, and Dean his big brother. Dean who looked after him and protected him and made everything all better. Dean, who was quiet and contained, but always ready to spare a hug to his little brother. Dean with his sad eyes, and aching body. Dean, who was dying inside.

The glass smashed and Dean cringed, already making his way downstairs with careful steps. Never too loud to anger his father, never loud enough to break the silence. "What the hell is this!" The booming yell reached him, and the whimper that followed made him hurry.

John towered over his youngest child, who's bottom lip was trembling furiously. "Don't cry!" John screamed in fury, the whiff of intoxicating drink ever present in the kitchen, and indeed, in any room where John stood. "What the hell is this!" He asked again, and Sam mumbled, "A picture."

Dean stood in the doorway, terrified for his little brother, waiting tensely for whatever would happen next. "Why did you draw this!"

"T-t-the t-teacher s-said to draw o-our f-f-first memory." Sam said, small droplets of tears running down his cheeks, his little hands clutching at his dirty shirt.

"And you drew this!" John screamed, throwing the picture away from him, the paper landing gracefully despite the harsh toss, and Dean could see the house, and see the flames. No doubt it was not Sam's first memory; it was simply one he thought he ought to remember. Dean had told his little brother of the fire that took mommy away, and when Sam had been told he was only a baby when it happened, he had obviously assumed he should remember it, and drawn it for his teacher. Dean couldn't see the comment itself, but he recognized the red pen showing through the thin paper, and could only imagine what the woman had written. Something concerning Sammy's mental health no doubt.

Any thoughts of the picture left him as he retuned his senses to the fight at hand. Sam was crying more, sobs escaping his lips, hiccupping, from the effort of trying to stop, and John was fuming more and more. "Stop it! I said stop it!" He was shaking the child, and Dean stepped forward, and froze when he saw the outstretched arm, and balled up fist that he knew only too well. He knew the pain of being on the receiving end, and he would not let Sammy bear those hurts.

He was going to hit him, hit Sammy, and he would never let that happen. Not ever.

"No!" He cried, already lunging in the way, already dead-set on stopping his father. On stopping John. The fist collided hard with his back, and he fell down instantly from the pain. "What the hell are you doing!" John bellowed and Dean wondered if it was even possible for the man to speak in a quieter tone. Dean didn't reply, he didn't know how to. He just looked at Sammy once, and the boy knew to leave.

John would take his anger out on Dean, and Dean would take it, and cry in the morning, in silence.

In the nights, he heard his wife scream, not out of pain, not from the fire, but in anger. Screaming at him, screaming for the way her sons were being treated by this monster, screaming to the high heavens she resided in, making him hear her, but nothing making him truly listen.

In the nights, he lay in bed, and felt the thirst deep within him, after all, it had been what, three hours since his last drink, surely it was time for another, the one that would help him sleep through the screaming. Always screaming. Mary screaming at him, Sammy screaming to the night, but Dean was always silent. He had been since the fire.

Silent and scared, but quietly he gained strength, and slowly, he felt the hatred within him boil over, felt the pain mount, telling him all that he had to do. And when he was old enough, he would know what to do.

His father barked for dinner, and Dean shuddered in the corner, sat in the kitchen, bleeding and broken from the most recent beating. But he had done what he needed to do, John had kept away from Sam, and that was all that mattered. He could take the bruises time and time again if it meant Sammy would stay pure.

Another roar from the bastard in the living room, downing his scotch, his whisky and beer. A mean drunk, a cruel, malicious father, and a mean, mean drunk.

He stood up, clutching the two bottles in his hand. Enough pills to put an elephant asleep. Enough pills to make sure John never woke up. Ever again. Enough to stop the hurting, and stop the pain. Enough to make the bruises fade, and new ones stop appearing. It was enough, and that was all that was needed. He crushed them with a great speed, and sprinkled them all over the dinner, hidden well, so that when John took every bite, he had no clue. Not until the drowsiness took over, and the darkness won.

Dean didn't leave the kitchen after handing his father the plate. He stayed there for hours, sitting in the corner, a knife close by should his father wake. Should the sleeping monster roar...

But he never did. Sammy came in, almost solemn, and hugged his brother careful of the pain. He hugged him, and comforted him in the way he had deserved to be comforted as a child, and this much spurred Dean on. He got up, slowly, wincing all the while, and he took the plate of food away from the living room, discarding the last remaining bits of food.

He took the pill bottles, wiped them clean of his own prints, and made sure John's lifeless fingers touched them more than enough.

He never spoke, not once, not really. He smiled at Sam, and the younger boy smiled in return. He barely spoke when he called the police, and when they asked what had taken so long, he had answered truthfully, he had been asleep. He had been sleeping in the dark, hiding from the malice, and as he walked through the darkness, he had murdered his father. He had dealt out the justice that the police never had.

In silence, they lived, in a clean home, in a peaceful neighbourhood in Lawrence. In silence, they went to school, and in silence, Dean looked after his brother, old enough and mature enough to retain custody of the younger boy. In silence they had buried their father with their mother, and in silence, they had fare welled any well-wishers without a clue.

In silence, the monster slept, and in silence, the brothers now lived, but a welcome silence it was, a happy, a peaceful silence, that neither one of them dare break. For fear that sound would reveal their secret. But it never did.

Moments passed, time went on, and days, weeks and months flew by. Soon years were passing with speed as Sam excelled in school, and Dean worked harder than anyone alive to keep them together, to keep things steady, and keep their life steady and sure. And more than anything, safe.

He would always know if something was wrong with the people he met, like a sixth sense, he recognised the fear that he had held for so long, and he would help in anyway he could, as though he were destined to do so. And he knew something was wrong when Sam received his mail, and he felt the forgotten pain when Sam told him he was going to college. Leaving for something better. That night, Dean sat in the kitchen, paraded into the corner and he stayed there, curled into a ball leaning against the cabinets. When Sam called out to him, he didn't move, and when the car drove away he didn't say a word.

Silence would always reign in this house.

He said not a word when he took hold of the nearest knife. Always close by, taunting with its sharp, fine edge, begging him to simply let go.

Silence would always reign in this house.

Sammy was gone, and he was a murderer. Tears ran freely as he leaned his head back onto the cabinets, taking shaky breaths as he willed himself to remember something good. A memory void of hurt and sadness.

"Come on, let's say goodnight to your brother." She had said, switching on the light, bouncing him on her hip as if he were a tiny baby, not a four year old toddler. "Night, Sam." And he leaned in and kissed his brow, just as his mother had taught him to do. To always be careful around baby Sam, to always love him, always protect him. But now there was nothing left to protect baby Sam from. "Goodnight, love." She had said, her blonde curls framing her face as she stroked the baby's cheek, and kissed him softly. "Hey, Dean." A man had said, and he still remembered how quickly he had spun to see his father. "Daddy!" How happy he had been, how willing he was to run into those arms, and how complete everything felt as his father hugged him tightly.

His Daddy had burned in that fire, his Mommy too, and he had often suspected if he himself had been set alight, because he wasn't the same. He would never be the same, he wasn't allowed that much. He longed to be held just the same. Longed for the feeling of safety in his life.

"You think Sammy's ready to toss around a football yet?"

"No, Daddy." He had said shaking his head a little too vigorously making his hair fall around him, his fringe growing far too long..."No," John agreed, pretending to scoff as he assured his wife he had him. "Yeah I got him." He would always have him. Always have a hold on him, scaring him. But no, not then, that night he had put his son to bed, kissed him goodnight, told him as he told him every night, to be sure to tell the monster under his bed who was boss, and to tell the bogeyman in the cupboard that he wasn't welcome here. He had smiled, and ruffled his son's hair, and that moment, had been the last time he had seen his father smile. The last time he had seen his father before the drinking, before the screaming. Before the deadly silence.

Silence would always reign in this house.

He clutched the knife, unsure of what to do, unsure of what was right, as he cried in silence.

Silence would always reign in this house.

Now, forevermore.

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