Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural in any way, shape, or form

Explanation: This story was written after a challenge that was give at the P.L. Wynter Supernatural Fanfic forums - "What if Sam and Dean had Max (from Nightmare's) childhood?" Just as a warning, this story does contain some violence (child abuse, though nothing too gruesome) and may contain spoilers for Nightmare.

Author's Note: This is my first shot at fanfiction, so constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated!

"But I had plans for the weekend, Dad!"

John stared down his younger son…Ham…no, Pam. No…it was Sam. Yes, Sam, that was a ticket. He swayed slightly, staring down his adolescent son. Sam glared back at him. He was newly thirteen, and still on the edge about whether he was enjoying entering the slightly intimidating domain of teenage-hood.

"I don't care, you're coming with me and your brother whether you wanna or not!" John said, his words seeming to slip and flail around like a car on an icy road in the middle of a thick snowstorm. "Dean and I…we hafta have someone. Watching." he said.

Sam glared darkly. "I'm not going with you, I have other things to do."

"Don't speak like that! Don't…" John said, his voice growing deep as he glared.

Sam glared back and turned around, heading for the stairs, shaking his head.

Somehow inside of John that ignited a fire. The harsh words that had been exchanged was the dumping of the lighter fluid, the glaring had struck a match…and now, Sam's turning away had dropped the match, setting of a rapid blaze in the deep pit of John's stomach.

He grabbed Sam by the shoulder, catching his young son off guard and off balance. He slapped him hard across the face, forcing him down to the ground with a kick. Sam backed himself towards the stairs in fear, and tried to brace himself and scoot out of the way at the same time.

Dean had been standing outside of the high school, putting a charm on for a few lucky women. They giggled in a happy way, clearly enjoying what he was saying. In elation, Dean was about to start finagling them to get a bit to eat with him when he had a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"Dean, you still there?" one girl asked, smiling a little bit. He seemed frozen on the spot, a funny looking coming over his face.

"Yoo-hoo – Dean?" One snapped her fingers and the others laughed.

"Uh…" Dean said stupidly as he tried to shake the sensation. He couldn't. Go home, just go home, a small voice whispered in his innermost conscience. He offered a smile, and then turned to the girls. "Actually, I need to be getting home now…but we can talk about those shakes and fries again tomorrow, alright?"

Some of the girls seem slightly put off as he hurried to where he'd parked the Impala. He got in and sped off, barely even looking as he pulled into the street. What was up with him? He'd probably get home and there would be nothing, and he'd feel more stupid than ever. Hey, those girls hadn't been bad, and they'd been wrapped right around his finger…

Tires screeching, he slammed on the brakes at a red light. Other drivers yelled at him, but he ignored them, drumming his fingers on the wheel and muttering darkly at the traffic light under his breath in great anticipation. The light turned green, and the old clunker in front of him was taking his sweet time with his left turn. Dean groaned; agitated. "Come on man, move!" he yelled, hitting the horn a few times. This seemed to irritate the clunker's driver even more, and he took an excruciating amount of time.

"Jeez, the light's going to turn red!" Dean yelled. Finally the man turned and he sped across the intersection. The funny sort of premonition was still fluttering around in the air close to his head, like an angry moth. He tried to swat at it mentally as he drove, but somehow that only made it angrier.

Sam tried to hold off his Dad. His nose was bleeding now, and his body was so sore. "Dad!" he cried as the man swung at him again, his fist colliding with the side of his head. "Dad…it's Sam…"

Where was Dean? Of all the days for him not to come home on time after school.

Sam grabbed at John's arm, trying to pin them back. "Stop!" he yelled. John pulled himself away easily, and hit Sam again.

"Don't…don't…!" he searched within his inner being for something to say, but the words never came. Fists worked more magic than dumb words any day.

Sam tried to block his face from another wave of brutality, but his hands did little to defend himself.

"Where are you Dean?" his mind screamed. "Why aren't you here?"

He didn't hear the tires squeak up the driveway over his cries and pleadings with his father. However, he did hear the front door open and felt a rush of relief flow through him as the front door flew open, along with his older brother.

Dean's eyes widened as he stepped into the house. John didn't even seem to notice him. He ran up behind his father and grabbed him by the shoulders, pulling him off of and away from Sam.

"What are you doing?" he shouted. His father turned his head towards him slightly, and as he exhaled he smelled alcohol on his breath.

Sam was still up against the wall, his face stained with a mixture of blood and tears. "Move, Sammy!" he yelled.

Dean didn't have to tell him twice as Sam got up, dashing away. John ripped back and forth viciously, and Dean lost his grip on his Dad for a second. John grabbed Sam again, pulling him down a few stairs as he had been trying to make a break for the bedroom.

Dean forced himself in between his father and Sam in an instant. "Don't hit him!" he yelled to his Dad, keeping himself in front of Sam, his arms outstretched.

John took a deep breath and shook his head. "He won't…he said –"

"I don't give a damn." Dean said, in a voice mixed with anger and concern and a level of calmness all at once.

John's face twisted angrily as he drew his fist back and punched Dean in the face. Dean reacted quickly, ducking underneath another blow and pushing his Dad backward, towards the sofa. His father collided with the sofa and plopped down on the ground, in a sort of sitting position.

"Sam," Dean yelled as he pushed his Dad to the ground, "go upstairs to your room and lock the door."

"Dean --!"

"Sam, now." he barked.

As Sam moved up the stairs, his father pointed to him. "You…you, we're not through! You got me?"

"Don't you hurt Dean!" Sam commanded from the landing. He was trying to sound assertive but his voice shook tremulously and his words seemed quieter than they should have.

"Sam, go upstairs!" Dean yelled again, and watched as his little brother climbed up the last few flights of stairs. Only when he heard the bedroom door close and lock did the growing calamity in his stomach finally cease.

Once upstairs, Sam pressed himself up against the door for a little while, trying to listen in. He couldn't distinguish any words, just some angry yelling. Finally, he gave up and sat down on his bed. He tried to think but he couldn't. He wanted to go downstairs, to help his brother…

He watched the sun sink lower and lower behind the treetops and the other houses as he lay in wait. The blood on his face began to dry, to stay there like an angry mask. He remembered learning about Indian tribes and how they always wore masks when they went into battles and wars. He wondered if this was his mask of War, and he wondered if he'd be donning it another time. He also thought about whether his ally, Dean, would be there the next time this ugly mask was forced over his face…

Suddenly, the door opened and Dean stepped in, closing it but not locking it.

Dean made his way over to his bed, adjacent from Sam's, with a sort of stiffness. He sat down, groaning slightly. Before Sam had a chance to speak, he said, "Are you okay?"

"I think so."

"Did you stop bleeding?"

"I dunno."

"Are you really that much of a moron?"

"Yeah, fine, I did." he said.

Dean sighed, staring up at the ceiling. "So, what set him off?"

"I told him that I didn't want to go hunting this weekend."

"You know what, you really are a moron."

"He's never gotten that mad before. I mean…"

Dean nodded. "Are you sure that you're okay?"

Sam glanced out the window again. Suddenly, he felt as if he couldn't talk, and he'd never be able to talk again.

Dean stared at Sam, worried. The sadness in his eyes…the tears unshed, the pain from within…the knowledge that this was all different, all the way that it wasn't supposed to be. Dean made his way over to Sam's bed, and raised his hand to give his kid brother a pat on the back. Sam flinched when he saw his brother's hand raise up like that, even though he knew that he wasn't going to strike him…it still scared him. Dean felt like someone had stuck a dagger through his heart, the way that Sammy had cringed like that. He stared at him for a few minutes, and through out the room swirled ten thousand words that someone needed to say, but no one had the courage to speak. Finally, Dean broke the silence.

"Do you want to go clean up first?"

"Yeah." Sam said softly, clearing his throat and standing up. "But…" He felt funny to ask Dean to keep his antenna up for his Dad, but…

Dean smiled a little bit. "Yeah, I'll keep an eye out for you."

"Thanks Dean…for coming." he said, as he stepped out of the room and down the hall to the bathroom. The door swung a little bit on its hinges.

"No problem, Sammy…" Dean said, quietly. He smiled and thanked his gut…thanked his sixth sense.