Dancing in Red Moon

Prologue

(Dean)

May 1, 2006

Red Moon, MN

I should never have brought Sam back to this godforsaken town. How could I have been so careless? He even warned me, like he warned Dad and me years ago. Somehow Sammy had known, before we'd even set foot in Red Moon, that it was going to go badly for us. The Winchester Boys were cursed in this town. But just like Dad and I had passed it off as Sammy being bitter about our fourth move in three months, I figured it just him being moody and pissed that I'd vetoed his request to follow Dad out to California. But he'd sure as shit known.

Damn it, Sam. Why can't you ever stay out of trouble?

It isn't his fault though. It's mine.

How could I have forgotten what this place did to you? How could I forget my promise? And why the hell didn't you call me on it? Why the fuck did you agree to come here?

I know the answer to that, just as I knew the answer then.

April 6, 1996

Oxford, IA

"We're not moving there," Sammy declared petulantly, glaring at Dad with far more rebellion than the typically mild-mannered pre-teen ever expressed. I was actually impressed by the way my geek brother was taking a stand, even though it was a pointless stand to take. "Not there."

"We don't decide where the leads take us, Sammy," Dad explained for what seemed like the zillionth time.

"So…just leave us here. Dean and I can hold down the fort."

"Sorry, kiddo, it's going to be too long a trip and I don't foresee us coming back this way."

"But we're in school," Sammy protested even though this was an argument that he'd tried unsuccessfully prior to at least three of our previous moves.

"And you'll be in school there," Dad replied simply. "This is not up for discussion, Sammy. We move out at 0600." With that, he cut off further argument by leaving the room and shutting the door behind him.

I grinned as I tossed my advanced algebra text book onto the desk. No need to do that homework. When was I ever going to need to know what the square root of 3x divided by 6 equaled anyway? It was pointless. It's not like there was an algebra demon out there that would kill me if I couldn't determine what a variable equaled. At least I sincerely hoped not. A few more weeks and school was out. And since I was sixteen and could legally drop out, I was hoping that by the time fall came around again I could convince dad to let me do exactly that. Unlike Sammy, I just didn't see the point in going to school to learn useless crap. I learned everything I needed to know out on the road with Dad.

As I pulled my suitcase from the closet and began packing, I watched Sammy sullenly pacing his half of our room. He looked far more upset about this move than he had any of the others. "It's going to be okay, Sammy," I assured him. "You may as well start packing."

He only shook his head and flopped down on his bed, covering his face with his pillow. I sighed and shook my head. I didn't understand why this move had him so upset. It wasn't like he particularly liked Oxford. He really didn't have any friends there that I knew of. In fact I'd think he'd be glad to be getting out of there. More than once I'd heard kids making fun of him on the way to and from school, and I couldn't imagine them being any kinder to him once I was out of sight, either. I'd think he'd be eager to start over somewhere else.

He hadn't even moved by the time I finished packing.

I sat down on the edge of his bed and tugged the pillow away from his face. I shouldn't have been surprised to see the tear streaks on his face, but I was anyway. Dad had always taught us that crying showed weakness, and weakness made one a liability. It might not have been politically correct, but it was a lesson he insisted we take to heart. Bury emotions deep, boys, or they'll be exploited at every turn. While I won't say it came easily, it did come for me. Sammy, though…Sammy was different than Dad and me. He wasn't a crybaby by any stretch of the imagination, but he also couldn't hold his emotions in like I could.

"Aw, Sammy," I sighed, rubbing his hair gently. "It's going to be okay. You'll see."

"No it won't, Dean," he insisted, swiping angrily at the tears he couldn't stop.

I tried not to smile. He could be so overdramatic sometimes. "Look, we'll get there and you'll make some new friends. Maybe I can even talk Dad into letting you play soccer or something." Sammy snorted with obvious disdain at that idea. "What? You said you wanted to this year. And besides," I teased, "you could definitely use some more exercise, pudge."

"Fuck you," he snapped angrily, rolling onto his side away from me.

Okay, so probably that wasn't the brightest way to try and lighten up his mood. I rolled my eyes. He could be so sensitive. I put my hand on his hip. "Seriously, Sammy, it's not going to be that bad."

He looked over his shoulder at me, his eyes red and swollen. "You don't understand," he whispered, his voice trembling. I shook my head and gestured for him to explain. He was right, I didn't get it. "If we move there…I'm going to die," he informed me morosely.

I couldn't help but chuckle. Did I mention that my brother was overdramatic? "You're not going to die, Sammy."

His eyes narrowed crossly and he shoved my hand away from him. "Fuck off."

"Language, little man," I chided lightly.

"You're an asshole," he informed me.

"Bitch."

"Prick."

"Bastard."

"Fucker."

I raised an eyebrow. "I wish."

It took Sammy a moment before the corners of his lips curved upward and he grabbed his pillow and swung it at me. I caught it and tossed it aside with ease then tackled him, tickling him until he cried 'Dean is a God' amidst peals of laughter, and then I stretched out beside him on his bed. For a few minutes we just lay there in silence, regaining our breath and calming down.

"Is it really going to be okay, Dean?" he asked in a small voice.

"I swear it will be, Sammy. I won't let anything bad happen to you." He smiled at me and I felt my heart swell a little bit as I caught the look of total admiration and trust in his eyes. "You're not like going to kiss me or anything are you?" I asked, officially ending the "moment" before it got too sappy.

"Shut up," he snapped, though this time there was amusement behind it. A few moments later he rolled off the bed and retrieved his suitcase from our closet.

May 1, 2006

Red Moon, MN

Sam trusted me. It all boiled down to that. That's why we were in this mess. That's why he agreed to come even though he knew it was a bad idea. He believed me when I told him I'd protect him.

And I'd let him down, again.

April 29, 1996

Red Moon, MN

The moment I heard the sirens, I knew that my brother was in trouble. I cursed under my breath and began sprinting the final blocks to Red Moon Middle School focused on one thought: Whatever happened to Sammy, I was going to be blamed. I was late, after all. I figure I probably shouldn't have stopped to talk to Jayne Willits, but if I hadn't, I wouldn't have gotten a date with her to Red Moon's celebration dance. I wasn't exactly sure what they were celebrating, but apparently it was a really huge deal. Not that Dad was likely to let me go now, I thought sourly. Damn it, Sammy. Why can't you ever stay out of trouble?

To be fair, it's not like Sammy went looking for trouble or nothing. Quite the opposite, really. He was a good kid. Sickeningly good at times, boringly good others. Yet somehow trouble always had a way of finding him anyway. Which is why, even though the kid insisted that twelve years old was quite old enough for him to walk himself home, I was still stuck on babysitting duty. Dad's orders, not mine. While I sympathized with my brother's want to be independent, I had to defer to Dad on this one. After all, I knew what things lurked out there, and I knew Sammy's penchant for somehow getting himself tangled up with them.

As I rounded the final corner, I slowed to a casual gait. There was no point in calling attention to myself. I eyed the two police cars in the lot and frowned at the ambulance pulling in beside it. The Winchesters had been in Red Moon for a record three weeks without showing up on the local law enforcement radar. I'd hoped to make it the next few months it would take for us to finish out the school year as well, but judging from the commotion that was pretty damn unlikely. What the hell did Sammy get himself into this time?

In case Sammy wasn't in trouble (fat chance), I didn't really want to clue anyone in that I was his older brother come looking for him. As if he wasn't embarrassed enough about me coming here daily. Usually I just waited a block away and 'happened' to catch up to him. But having his big brother waiting for him would be about the social equivalent of sticking a bullseye on his head and asking every kid in school to take their best shot. Still, I had to find out what was going on, so I casually walked up to a group of kids that was gathered on the front lawn.

"What's up with them?" I asked nodding my head toward the police cars and ambulance. My brow furrowed as I spotted a fire engine rolling into the lot as well. Damn, what the hell sort of emergency were they expecting here? There wasn't any trace of smoke, so it wasn't likely a fire. So why the engine? Was it normal for all three emergency groups to respond to calls? I looked back toward the group.

"Some kid is on the roof," one of the girls answered me as she folded her arms across her chest. "They won't let anyone back there." She sighed and looked wistfully toward the group of teachers blocking the side of the building. "We're missing soccer practice," she added, showing just how concerned she was about the kid on the roof. My brother.

What would Sammy be doing on the roof? I smiled slightly as I imagined him staging a coup and heading to the roof to protest some teacher's unfair rules. Still, if that were the case, there really wouldn't be call for the emergency crews. My smile was gone as quick as it'd come. There was really only one reason they'd need all these people. I watched as two cops directed the fire engine across the lawn and around the side of the building.

"I heard they can't get near him because he's got a knife or something." I raised my brow and looked at the girl who said it. "Yeah, I guess he threatened to stab someone or something." Or something.

Sammy wouldn't possibly threaten that. Hell, it was a battle enough to get the kid to use a knife on a hunt. No way would he be threatening someone else.

Oh.

Crap.

If Sammy wasn't the one threatening, and he wasn't here, what were the odds that he was the one being threatened? I'd say total. I looked back to the building, scouting the area for authority figure types and calculating the best way to get to the back of the building without being stopped.

"They need you around back!" he heard a shout and watched as one of the teachers waved the fire engine forward, directing it across the lawn. "You kids get back!" he then shouted at us.

"I heard it's the new kid. I bet the pussy jumps," one of the boys sneered. "With that lard ass he'll probably bounce." He had the grace to shrink back as I glared at him. If I hadn't had bigger worries at the moment, I would have set him straight on a few things about my brother. Sammy might be a geek but he was no pussy. He could most definitely kick this kid's ass, anyway. Without breaking a sweat. Hell this kid would be pissing in his pants at half the stuff Sammy dealt with on a regular basis. I was more concerned about getting to my brother, though, than wasting time with the pissant.

As the fire engine crossed the lawn, I made a dash for it, jumping onto the back bumper as it bounced across the uneven ground. I nearly got thrown once, but held on with determination until it passed the line of teachers and rounded the corner to the back of the building.

I jumped off the bumper as the engine rolled to a stop and looked around, trying to find my brother. They said he was on the roof, but I didn't see him. At least he wasn't on the ledge. Still, by the way most of the emergency responders were looking up, I had to guess he was still up there. I strolled as casually as I could past the group as they discussed the situation. I don't know if they truly thought I looked like I belonged there, or if they just didn't notice me as I headed up the stairs and into the building. As soon as I had passed anyone who looked like they might stop me I picked up the pace, racing up the stairs in record time. Once I reached the top floor, I began searching for the roof access. It wasn't too hard to find as a small group had gathered around the ladder.

"You can't be up here, son," a woman informed, grabbing my arm to stop me as I tried to pass her anyway.

I turned to her with an appraising look. The principal, I surmised, taking in her executive dress suit and her air of authority. "I think my brother might be up there. Sammy Winchester?" The woman's expression softened, confirming my fear. That's all I needed to know. I started to pull my arm away, but she didn't relinquish her hold. I looked back at her with a guarded expression.

"I'm sorry; you still can't go up there. Perhaps you should come with me to my office."

I raised a skeptical eyebrow. What good would I do in her office? "Ma'am, I'm a trained negotiator," I lied smoothly, hoping that she would mistake my confidence for age and wisdom. I'd only just turned sixteen, but when I put my mind to it, I could usually pass for a few years older. "I know my brother. I can get him down."

She looked hesitant for a moment, and her eyes searched mine. I could tell she was trying to decide if I was bullshitting or not. Apparently, I looked sufficiently sincere and she let go of me, giving me a slight nod.

"Thank you, ma'am," I called to her as I reached the ladder and began scaling the rungs.

"Sammy?" I called out as soon as I stepped up onto solid ground. I looked around, seeking my little brother. It took a few moments, but finally I spotted one of his sneakers peeking out from the shadows of the furnace vents. "Hey, Sammy?" I called again as I moved closer, confused by his non-response. This wasn't like Sammy at all. He might be moody, but he wasn't one to hide from his problems. He tackled challenges head on, he didn't hide on rooftops. Or threaten to jump. Or threaten to stab anyone, I mentally added, grinning slightly at that impossible rumor. "Come on out, Sammy," I tried again as I approached him.

I frowned when he didn't even flinch. Something was very wrong. He wouldn't look in my direction, he just kept his head tucked down against his knees and he was slowly rocking. "Sam?" I called out in a much softer, concerned voice.

Finally he looked up, his movement so slow it was barely perceptible.

Bile rose in my throat as I took in his appearance. What the--I dropped to my knees, too stunned to keep myself upright--Hell? There was blood caked around Sammy's mouth and nose and dried in rivulets where it had trickled from his eyes to his chin and from his ears to where it had dribbled down his neck. His face was unnaturally pale save for an enormous bruise that covered nearly half of it. My breath caught as I saw the deep bruising that encircled his neck, as though someone had been intent on choking the life out of him. "Sammy," I whispered as I crawled toward him. His shirt was torn and I could see deep bruising on his chest as well. "Who…what did this to you?"

Sammy didn't answer except to tilt his head slowly to the side and continue to stare blankly at me as though terribly confused by my question. His eyes were unnaturally dark, and for the first time in his life that I could remember, they didn't have that adoring light that always seemed to be reserved just for me. It's funny how you don't really notice things until they're gone.

I felt my eyes welling up with tears that I was forbidden to cry and had to blink rapidly to stop them. I hadn't protected Sammy like I promised him I would. I felt such a profound despair that I almost backed away from him, unable to handle the consequence of my failure. But I couldn't just leave him. I had to try to fix things.

After a few moments I inched closer, but stopped as Sammy began to emit a terrible high pitched mewling sound and cowered farther into the shadows. My eyes flickered to the knife he was clutching in one of his hands. I recognized it as one that Dad gave him to carry when we're on the hunt, and happened to know that it was particularly sharp. I was relieved to note that the blade was still clean, but I had to get it away from him before he hurt himself…or me. I slowly eased closer until I was almost close enough to reach the weapon.

In a flurry of movement Sam was suddenly on his feet and scrambling away from me in a panic. "Sammy, no!" I cried, as I watched him leap from the solid roof up onto the ledge. For a moment I swore he was going to go right over the side, but instead he stopped and turned toward me, balancing precariously on the edge. I don't think I've ever been as scared in my entire life as I was in that moment. I couldn't move. I froze completely, unable to say or do anything to save my baby brother.

Sammy's head slowly lolled back and for a moment I was sure that just that small movement was going to topple him off balance and over the edge, lost to me forever. Instead, Sammy's arms raised as if he were trying to hand the knife up to the sun.

"S-sammy," I called, my voice hoarse with emotion I wasn't supposed to feel. All my years of training escaped me as I watched my brother's life literally hanging in the balance. "P-puh…please just come away from there." I let the tears roll down my cheeks unchecked. It was the first time I can remember crying since…since mom. I swallowed a sob. I had to be strong. I couldn't lose Sammy. Not like that. He wasn't himself, he had to be…possessed or something. The Sammy I knew wouldn't do this no matter how upset he was. The idea that he wasn't in control made me feel oddly better. Not that he'd be any less dead if he fell. "You're stronger than this. Fight it, Sammy." His head stayed tilted toward the sun, but I could see his eyes rolling down to look at me. "Come on, Sammy," I encouraged, my heart racing as I glanced around, looking for anything that I could use to help him. There was nothing. I swallowed my fear and stood up straight, wiping the tears from my face. "Damn it, Sammy, you get down from there right now! That's an order!" I bellowed, borrowing my father's favorite tactic.

I saw Sammy's jaw clenching so hard I was afraid that his teeth would break. Come on, kid. I held my breath watching him struggle, wishing that somehow I could change places with him. When I found out what the hell demon was doing this it was going to wish it had never messed with my baby brother.

Sammy's mouth flew open and he gasped in air as if he'd been suffocating. That's it, Sammy, fight it. You're not going to die here. Though my heart was still pounding with an intense fear, I was starting to feel confident that he was going to beat this thing.

"D-" I heard Sammy struggling to speak.

"Yeah, Sammy," I replied, my mouth curving into a smile. "I'm here. Come on, Bitch. Come down off the ledge."

"D-dean…"

He had it. He was going to beat it. I could feel it.

"D-dean help me," Sammy called out desperately and I watched in horror as his back arched, forcing him to lean further over the edge. NO! I leapt forward, but before I could make it even half way to him his arms swung down and I saw the knife blade swiping the length of his left arm, ripping the skin it its wake. The knife was tossed from his right hand to his left and with a flick of his wrist, the blade made a matching gouge up his right arm. No…I screamed as the knife dropped from his hand, blood streaming after it. Way too much blood. Then, to my horror, Sam's arms raised again and he leaned back…toppling over the edge.

If we move there…I'm going to die.

"SAMMY!" I broke from my frozen stupor and raced to the edge, knowing it was too late to save him and insanely tempted to follow him over the side. I made myself stop short, my heart broken, but reason taking over. Dad would never survive this alone. I wasn't sure we'd survive it anyway. I dropped to my knees, my whole body shaking. My stomach heaved and I retched violently until there was nothing left in me to purge. And then just a little more.

When I felt a hand on my back and nearly had a heart attack.

"You need to get downstairs, your brother needs you," a woman's voice told me. I looked up and was startled to see the principal. What was she playing at Sammy needed me? He was gone. He didn't need me anymore. I stared at her, not comprehending. Confused I got up and stumbled to the ledge. Peeking over the edge my heart started beating again. They'd set up an air-mattress-safety-net-thingamajobbie. They were already pulling Sammy from it and loading him onto a gurney. My stomach clenched as I saw the streaks of red he'd left behind.

"Come on, son," Principal Lady tugged my arm, trying to lead me back toward the ladder.

Fuck that.

I pulled away from her and before she could stop me I leapt over the edge, and went crashing down into the safety mattress thing. I don't remember landing, or being hauled from it. I remember nothing but racing after my brother's gurney and jumping into the back of the ambulance along side him. "Sammy, can you hear me?" I asked, trying to make sure that it was really Sammy, not whatever had possessed him. He didn't answer right away, but his head rolled to the side so he could look at me. "Come on, Bitch…" The paramedic closest me was the only one to hear me, and he glared at me and pointed me to the passenger seat. Before I could obey, I felt Sammy's hand brush lightly against mine and turned back to him.

"Dean?" he whispered weakly.

"What?"

"You're an asshole."

It may not have been that funny, but I laughed with borderline hysteria. That was definitely my Sammy.

The paramedic looked at me as though I was crazy, and once again directed me into the passenger seat. I watched as the paramedics quickly worked to stabilize my brother. The first round of bandages they'd wrapped around his arms was already soaking through. There was nothing funny about his situation, yet I couldn't stop laughing, not even when the forbidden tears once again began streaming down my cheeks. As I heard the words 'bleeding out' I couldn't get the idea that the last words my brother would ever say to me were 'you're an asshole'. I silently promised him that if he did die, that was going to be written on his tombstone as his final words, so he had better pull through. As horrible as it would be to lose him, that idea made me laugh all the harder.

When we reached the hospital, the doctors refused to let me into the trauma room. I knew what that meant. They still thought he was going to die, and they didn't want me to witness it.

Instead of leading me to a waiting room, though, they led me into an exam room of my own. I was only dimly aware of someone unbuttoning my shirt and sliding it off. Why would they do that? As it dropped to the floor I saw that there were streaks of blood on it. Sammy's blood. Oh. I didn't have time to contemplate that, though, because someone was pushing me back onto the exam table.

The idiots, I laughed at them. They actually thought that I was hurt? It wasn't my blood, it was Sammy's. I felt something pricking my arm. And now they were drugging me? I looked over at the doctor in confusion.

"It…ay. J…alm…n." She seemed to be speaking some sort of foreign language. Maybe she was speaking in tongues, I giggled as she pressed me down flat. I could hear a soothing voice, and saw her mouth moving, but I couldn't understand a thing it was saying. It didn't matter anyway.

And then I don't remember anything else until I woke to the sound of a soft voice singing to me. A voice I hadn't heard sing since I was four years old. Daddy.

"Hey, Dean-o," my dad stopped singing and greeted me as he saw my eyes fluttering open. His voice was thick with emotion. Like he'd been crying.

I was immediately fully awake. Sammy. Sammy was dead. I knew it. Why else would my dad be crying? I shook my head. "No…" I said emphatically. "Sammy…" I gulped in air but couldn't seem to let it back out.

"He's going to be fine," my dad assured me, his giant hand gently stroking my hair, brushing it out of my face. I looked wildly around for my brother. If he was fine, he'd be here. "Shhh. He's in his own room. He's fine. Now calm down before they sedate you again," my dad said with a slight teasing tone in his voice. He smiled at me affectionately.

"I want to see him."

My dad only shook his head. "Sorry, kiddo. They won't let us see him right now." I struggled to sit up, but my dad pushed me back down gently. Why wouldn't they let us see him? "Shh. Dean, I swear it's going to be okay," he said, unknowingly echoing my words to Sammy.

"Why won't…?" I started to ask, my eyes filling with tears. I immediately tried to turn my head away from him, not wanting him to see my weakness, but his arms went around me and pulled me against him in a warm hug.

"They'll let us see him after the evaluation period is over."

Evaluation? I looked up, confused.

Dad smiled down at me sadly. And suddenly I knew.

"No, Dad. He didn't…he wasn't trying to kill himself," I cut him off.

"We'll get him through it," Dad assured me.

"No. Really. Dad." I struggled again to sit up, needing to get this out. Needing him to know. "I swear, you didn't see him. It wasn't Sammy. He was possessed by…by something."

Dad smiled sadly, and I could see that he didn't believe me. "Dean…in order to defeat weakness, we have to face it. And we will. Winchesters watch out for each other." And with that the subject was closed.

I was furious with Dad's assessment of the situation. Sammy wasn't weak, and I spent the next 36 hours trying to prove it. I poured over Dad's texts and even searched the local library for anything that might provide a clue as to what attacked Sammy. In the end I came up empty. The answers would only be found with Sammy himself.

Unfortunately they weren't found there, either.

Sammy was released after the initial evaluation period. They declared that he was not a danger to himself or others. It was determined that the suicide attempt was caused by a temporary loss of sanity triggered by a traumatic attack. An attack that Sammy himself remembered nothing about. He didn't remember being on the roof, or anything that happened before it, or after it. The police had a record of his injuries and were investigating the school, but without Sammy's story, there was little to no chance that his assailant would ever be found.

May 1, 2006

Sam said he didn't remember a thing about that day. He convinced almost everyone. He played the part flawlessly as he was questioned by the police and the therapist assigned to his case, even Dad. Yes, he played the part flawlessly. During the day.

At night, however, I would lie awake and watch him grapple with nightmares that he couldn't recall by the light of day. Or so he said. There were other signs as well. He was quieter after it happened. He'd never been all that talkative around most people, so few even noticed. But I wasn't most people. I wasn't the only one who noticed the dramatic loss in weight, but it was passed off as a typical teenage boy awkward growing stage. Nobody but me noticed that he'd stopped eating like a 'normal' growing boy. Dad didn't notice that our money stretched a whole lot further when we didn't have to replace the week's groceries half way through the week anymore.

The only time Sam ever gave any conscious indication that he might remember more than he let on happened the night we left Red Moon.

May 1, 1996

We had the house all packed before we even went to pick Sammy up from the hospital. Dad's lead hadn't panned out at all, and as far as he was concerned, there was nothing in the area that was worth the danger to Sammy. Someone at the school had attacked him, though Dad and I disagreed on whether or not that someone was human.

Sammy didn't say a word as he was being released and the doctor went over his discharge instructions with Dad. He stayed unusually close to me, though I didn't call him on it. Instead, I wrapped my arm protectively around him and pulled him against me in a one-armed hug, letting him use me as the excuse for it. I was rewarded by the way his eyes lit up slightly when they met mine. Though the light was dulled by pain, it was definitely an improvement. I wouldn't ever forget the one time I'd looked at him and it wasn't there. I grinned down at him and ruffled his hair. His response was to punch me playfully in the side and give me an exaggerated scowl.

"Dean!" I heard someone calling my name and looked up in surprise.

"Jayne?" What was she doing at the hospital? I looked at her in confusion, but then noticed the name tag she wore. She worked in the gift shop. "Hey," I greeted.

"Hi," she returned, smiling brightly, tossing her long blonde hair back over her shoulder. She looked down at Sammy and her expression changed to an odd mixture of sympathy and what I thought might be annoyance, but hoped I was misreading. He shrank back against me, peering at her shyly. "You must be Dean's brother." Sammy nodded, but didn't answer her. "Aren't you a cutie," she commented, though she was being extremely kind considering his current injuries.

Sammy looked up at me, his cheeks growing pink with embarrassment. I ruffled his hair again and gave him a little nod, indicating that he should give me a minute. He smiled faintly and casually went to sit in one of the wait room chairs.

"So…um…" I started awkwardly.

"How is he?" Jayne asked, still watching Sammy. "I heard he…tried to kill himself," she finished that in a whisper.

I shook my head. "He's fine. It was just a…misunderstanding." It was lame, but true. "Look, Jayne…"

"I can't wait for the dance tonight," she cut me off, her smile back full force.

"About that…"

"I have the cutest new dress. You're going to just die when you see it. I can't believe they finally got the new community center built. I can't wait to see that, either. My dad said that it looked amazing, and they've really gone all out for the dance," she continued, all in the same breath. "Maybe your brother could come with us. My sister's about his age, I think."

"Well actually…"

"You're gonna pick me up at 6:30, right?"

"Jayne…I'm afraid I can't go."

"What?" She looked as though I'd just struck her. A moment later her eyes darted over to Sammy and I saw her annoyance growing, obviously blaming him. My jaw clenched, but I didn't want to cause a scene, and I'd never have to deal with her again anyway, so I let it go.

"Yeah, we're moving…taking off from here, actually." If only she hadn't worked here, I never would have had to have this conversation. "So…sorry I can't take you to the dance." And honestly, the way she's looking at my brother at the moment, even if we weren't leaving, I'm not so sure I'd want to take her anyway. "I guess…uh…" I looked around for Dad, hoping he was ready to go. Fortunately he was. I gave him a nod. "Look, I've got to go. Sorry things didn't work out," I said hastily.

"Yeah…" she answered, her voice small. "Bye…"

I nodded and turned away from her, motioning for Sammy to come back over. I slung my arm around his shoulders as we walked toward the parking lot. I couldn't help but glance back as we reached the entrance. Jayne still stood in the hall, watching us, a sad look on her face. I gave her a quick wave on the way out the door.

I let Sammy take shotgun for a change and squeezed into the back seat with several of our suitcases. He didn't seem nearly as happy to be leaving town as I thought he'd be. I watched him closely in the window's reflection as we drove through town for the last time. I noticed the way he shrank down in his seat as we neared his school. I frowned as I saw his eyes close and the lone tear that ran down his cheek as we passed it. I wanted to ask him about it, but surmised from his earlier silence that he didn't particularly want to discuss it. I could understand that. It didn't mean that I'd let it go, but I wouldn't bug him about it in front of Dad…I'd have a better chance of getting a real answer later when we were alone.

As it turned out, I didn't get that chance until late that night. Sammy fell asleep almost immediately after we checked into a hotel for the night, so even when Dad left to take in the town, I couldn't ask him about it.

I flipped on the TV and tried to watch for a while, but in the end I ended up stretched out in the bed next to Sammy just watching him sleep. I couldn't stop staring at the bandages that ran the length of his arms.

I couldn't believe I almost lost him like that. Worse, I wasn't even the one who saved him. He'd been attacked and I'd done nothing to help him. I'd made it worse. If I hadn't tried to get the knife he never would have ended up…

"Dean?"

I was startled to notice that Sammy's eyes were open and he was peering at me wearily.

"Yeah, Sammy?" I choked out, realizing for the first time that I'd been crying again. I quickly wiped away the evidence, hoping that Sammy didn't notice. The last thing I needed was for him to figure out just how badly I'd screwed up.

"I'm sorry you're missing the dance."

I chuckled. "It's okay, Sammy…" The dance was the least of my concerns.

"I didn't know. I really didn't mean to…" I sat up straighter, somehow knowing he was about to tell me what really happened. Except then he stopped, his eyes turning glassy.

"Didn't know? Didn't mean to what, Sammy?" I encouraged, stroking his hair gently.

He looked at me with confusion. "What?"

"You said you didn't mean to. What didn't you mean?"

His eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "I don't know…I-I don't remember."

I gazed at him, not sure if I should believe him or not. He looked sincere, but I could swear that I could see just a hint of fear in his eyes. He looked away. "Sammy?"

"I ruined everything," he whispered, wrapping his arms around himself as if warding off the cold. But I knew that temperature had nothing to do with why he was shivering.

I gripped his chin and turned him back to face me. "Ruined? You didn't ruin anything…" I flinched as I saw a strange light in his eyes, almost as if they were on fire. But when I looked again, it was gone.

"We can't go back there, Dean."

"We won't," I assured him.

"Not ever."

"Promise, Sammy." I wrapped my arms around him, embracing him until he stopped trembling. "And Sammy…?"

"Hmm?"

"Not a word about this hugging thing to anyone."

He punched me lightly in the side. "Asshole."

May 1, 2006

Red Moon

I should never have gone back on my promise.

"Sammy!" I yelled, my voice raw from overuse. I threw myself bodily against the steel door that kept me imprisoned and helpless, once again, to save my baby brother.

I knew it wasn't possible but I swore I could smell smoke in the distance.

The fire meant for my brother.

I should never have brought Sam back to this godforsaken town.

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Thanks for reading. Constructive criticisms are highly appreciated. I'm an extremely neurotic writer, and getting feedback keeps me going. :) --Chaos

PS. Thanks to Serenity for beta-reading and encouraging me to get this chapter finished.