Just a oneshot. I don't own them; wish I did! The boys are younger in this one. Sam is 5; Dean is 9; and John is - ouch - sorry not allowed to say!

Final Selection

-The story-

John Winchester sighed as he watched the little boy playing on the empty playground. He had picked his five-year-old son up after morning kindergarten and then taken him to the local library so the demon hunter could do some research on an urban legend that he suspected was responsible for a rash of dog and cat mutilations in the area.

The rambunctious child had been as patient as any small boy could be on such a warm spring afternoon but after an hour of reading books and drawing pictures, he started protesting. Research was boring – especially when you weren't old enough to really help.

In a rare show of empathy, John had given in to the child, deciding to check out the books he needed and take his son back to the school. Sam could play on the playground while John researched during their wait for nine-year-old Dean.

Dean would be out in another hour, so with one final glance at the swinging child, John settled back into his books.

The man was a predator. He watched the park and waited, knowing there was no better place to find children than an elementary school. And he was right.

He noticed the little boy right away.

The child had an infectious laugh that filled the quiet afternoon schoolyard as he swung gaily on a rope swing before jumping into the soft woodchips and thenwith a natural agility pulling himself up on a set of monkey bars. The little boy had dark brown hair and dimples – the man smiled. He loved dimples.

Dimples when they laughed… dimples when they screamed.

And then he noticed the other man. The father he suspected, sitting at a nearby picnic table with books spread out in front of him. He was engrossed in writing something in a worn out notepad but glanced up from time to time to check on the boy.

The man frowned. He'd have to be careful. The risk of getting caught increased with an attentive parent, but in the end it made the prize even more the reward when he succeeded.

With practiced skill, the man melted into the background. He had a child to take.

ooooooOOOOOOoooooo

Sam was having a great time. It wasn't often that he got free time like this at the playground so he took advantage of it. He did wish his brother was here though. That would make the afternoon perfect, but Dean was in grade four and had to stay in school all day.

So the little boy played by himself, secure in the knowledge that his father was close and ignorant to the danger that lurked. He felt protected and basked in childish innocence.

The man made his move.

It took a moment for Sam to hear the sound over his spirited game. And when he did, he stopped and frowned. What was that?

Moving away from the slide and towards a cluster of small bushes and thin trees, the child followed the sound. It was a plaintive meowing sound like a small kitten and the empathetic heart of the young boy was drawn to it. The animal sounded alone and afraid – Sam would take care of it. Sam would keep it safe…

And then the man grabbed him, shoving his tobacco stained hand over the child's mouth and pulling him tightly against his body as he quickly moved away from the playground.

'Nooo!' the child frantically squirmed and tried to scream but the man just held him harder making it almost impossible for Sam to breathe 'Daddy – '

ooooooOOOOOOoooooo

John Winchester's head shot up. He glanced around quickly looking for his son. It was quiet. Too quiet.

Instantly he was on his feet and moving towards the playground, his instincts screaming at him to find his son.

He didn't call out for Sam though. Instead he listened.

'Sammy?'

The boy would not have wandered off – that was not Sam. If anything the child was a bit too clingy at times. No. If he was not here then something had taken him.

ooooooOOOOOOoooooo

Nine-year-old Dean Winchester sat at his desk, looked up at the clock and sighed. He envied his little brother for only having to go to school half-days and for getting to spend his afternoons with their father researching and doing other neat things.

The pre-teen doodled in his notebook as his history teacher droned on about something that he had no interest in and he wished that the school taught more interesting subjects like demonology or weaponry. But no such luck.

His reprieve was still an hour away and he took solace in the fact that it was Friday afternoon.

Of course the last hour was always the worst.

ooooooOOOOOOoooooo

Years of hunting things that defied explanation had honed John Winchester's tracking skills to a fine art. Closing his eyes and focusing on the sounds around him, he heard feet shuffling hurriedly away from the school and tuned in to the sound of quick breathing.

Opening his eyes, his face set in a cold mask he stealthily followed. He knew even before he saw the man, that whoever he was, he had John's son. And that was a big mistake.

The man could hardly contain his excitement at having succeeded. He'd stolen the child out from under the boy's attentive father. Grinning in satisfaction, he adjusted his grip on his terrified prize and moved towards a nondescript white cargo van parked beside the curb.

Removing one hand briefly to open the door, the man then cursed and dropped the child when Sam suddenly bit his hand, hard.

Scrambling to his feet, the little boy tried to bolt away but the man recovered quickly and grabbed his arm painfully, swiftly backhanding the kid when he cried out for his father.

He tossed Sam in the back of the van and started to climb in after him when his own arm was grabbed in a vice-like grip and he was yanked away from the door. His brain barely had time to register he'd been caught before a powerful fist plowed into his stomach, doubling him over and leaving him gasping for air.

Without giving the kidnapper a chance to recover, John Winchester followed up with another swing, this time connecting with the man's chin and knocking him against the side of the van. His head hit the vehicle with enough force for the man to see stars.

Furious, John grabbed him by his shirt and hauled him back to his feet. The look on the hunter's face sent chills through the man's soul and he realized in that instant just what a horrible mistake he had made when he had chosen this man's child to be his next victim; this boy was his ill-fated final selection.

And if he had any doubts, the beating the enraged father was about to give him would have been enough to convince him otherwise…

John would have killed the man with his bare hands if not for one thing. His son.

"Daddy?" the tentative little voice from the back of the van, followed by frightened sniffling saved his tormentor's life. John dropped the barely conscious man to the ground and delivered one more savage kick to his ribs, hearing a satisfying crack. The man curled in on himself briefly before losing consciousness.

Pulling out his cell phone, John dialed 911 and gave the operator the barest of details as he climbed into the van after his child.

"Sammy?" he whispered seeing his son crouched in the back of the van as far away from the door as possible. He quickly appraised the boy for injury, his eyes narrowing angrily at the trickle of blood from the split lip and he almost went back after his boy's attacker. Almost. "It's okay son," he said softly holding open his arms, "Daddy's here."

The little boy paused only a moment longer before he lunged towards his father, wrapping his small body around the man and holding on for dear life.

"Daddy," he whimpered as he buried his head against the man's chest. "Oh Daddy – "

"Shhh Sammy," John comforted, swallowing hard at the lump that formed in his throat both at how close he had come to losing his son and at hearing just how terrified the little boy was. His arms wrapped securely around the small body. "It's okay, son You're okay now."

"That man-" the child's words were muffled against his father's shirt. "I didn't want to go – I didn't…"

"I know son. I know." The sound of sirens in the background were oddly comforting as John Winchester sat down on the floor of the van and held his sobbing child.

ooooooOOOOOOoooooo

As soon as the bell rang Dean was out of his seat, had his coat grabbed and bolted from the room. His father and Sam would be waiting outside for him like they were every day.

With a huge grin plastered on his young face, the boy raced out of the doors, mindless to the sharp reprimands of adult voices telling him 'no running in the halls' and then he stopped dead in his tracks – something was wrong. Very wrong.

His father and Sam were waiting for him as usual but instead of hearing his brother's enthusiastic cry of 'Dean! Dean' as soon as Sam saw the older boy, or his literal bouncing on the spot as he waited impatiently for permission to go greet his brother, the younger boy was being held in his father's arms. Sam's head was pressed in against John's neck, his disquietingly still body wrapped in their Dad's jacket as the man gave a thin smile in greeting.

"Dad?" Dean said cautiously, instinctively keeping his voice low as if he knew it might spook his brother. His hazel eyes took in his brother's odd behavior and then moved to his father's face for some sort of explanation.

John gave a brief shake of his head, indicating that he didn't want to talk about it right now and then said gruffly, but in a low tone. "Come on Dean. Let's go."

The boy fell in line next to the hunter, his heart pounding loudly in his young chest as he didn't like any of this. His little brother had not even acknowledged him yet and then a spike of true fear shot through his body when he saw two policemen walking towards his father.

"Mr. Winchester," the older, salt and pepper haired officer greeted Dean's father. "We just want to let you know that in light of the circumstances, no charges are going to be pressed against you."

'Charges?' Dean looked up at his father, his face paling. 'Charges for what?' Somehow he knew that this must involve Sam and he felt a rush of irrational fear that the police might try to take him and his brother away from John but then the other cop, a woman with kind eyes, added.

"We just got a positive ID on your son's attacker and he's wanted in three states in connection with a series of childrens disappearances from playgrounds not unlike this one." Her voice sounded regretful. "We weren't even aware he was in the area or else we would have taken stronger precautions against this kind of thing happening."

'Your son's attacker?' Dean was almost hyperventilating now with fearful curiosity. 'Sammy's attacker? Someone hurt Sammy?' Now a bubbling anger surged, replacing most of the fear in the boy as he craned his neck to try and get a look at his brother's face; finally determining that the younger child was asleep.

The older cop looked at Sam briefly. "Your son is very lucky. His assailant seems to pride himself on taking children away, right out from under their parent's nose."

John snorted softly, careful not to wake his sleeping son. "He's lucky I didn't kill him." He glanced down at Dean and then back at the two police officers. "Now if you'd excuse us, I'd like to get my boys home."

The cops nodded and turned to leave when the woman spoke again. "Honestly sir. If you had we'd probably still be thanking you. That man is a monster." And then they were gone before the Winchester patriarch could respond.

John Winchester sighed and then looked down at Dean. He knew his older boy wanted answers and he would give them to him, never having sugar coated anything from his right hand man before – just not right yet. For now he'd try to take some of that apprehension from his son's face as he forced a smile and a lightness into his voice that he didn't feel. "Well it's a good thing then, huh Ace, that fighting monsters is what we Winchesters do best?"

Dean gave him a serious look as his young heart pounded with pride. He nodded curtly and just said. "Yes. Sir."

Easily holding the light weight of his younger son on one arm, John ruffled his older boy's hair slightly with his other hand and then laid it on Dean's shoulder. "Let's go." He said and led his small family towards the black 1967 Impala parked in front of a police cruiser.

Tonight there would be no research, no weapons training and no drill. Not when he had more important things to take care of, explanations to make and fears to soothe away.

No, tonight he needed to take care of Mary's boys – his sons – but come tomorrow the hunt would be back on…

The End.