Disclaimer: I own nothing and no-one.

Language / Violence: Mild and infrequent. Unless you include this website crashing just as I was about to upload a new story. In which case much violence, wailing and gnashing of teeth will ensue.

A/N: As a rule, when it comes to sequels I agree wholeheartedly with Dean's views on shorts. I just don't 'do' them. That said, this makes vague references to my first fan fic Lunch Money, but you by no means have to have read that one to follow this one. Although extra hits and reviews are, of course, always welcome.

Generally, I've usually finished or nearly finished a story before I start posting it on here, but I thought I'd try writing one while I was getting some feedback from people reading it. That's my very lame way of saying this might not get updated as frequently as my other stories did.

When I wrote Lunch Money, I really didn't think anyone would be interested in a full-length Kiddie Winchester Fic, which is why that one had the flashbacks intercut with scenes with the Grown-Up Winchesters. However, judging by the number of Kiddie Winchester Fics I've read on here lately, I think I was wrong. So I thought I'd give it a go...

Again, apologies for the British spelling but, in the words of the Goo Goo Dolls, I Can't Let it Go... (Shameless plug for new album Let Love In: in all good stores right now for your listening pleasure...!)

Better get on with the story then. This is the very very short Prologue. More to follow. Reviews always welcome. My biggest ambition in life is to top 100... But as 56 is my highest so far, not much chance of that...

What If You Don't

Prologue

Dean Winchester became a man when he was eight years old.

Or that's what his Dad had told him.

And Dean had no reason to doubt his Dad. Dad was big and strong and – what was that word? – 'in-vinc-ible' – which meant bulletproof, as far as Dean knew. And at eight, he knew some big words. Dad was invincible. Like Superman. And, like Superman, he never lied.

"Dean, come here," Dad had said, beckoning his oldest son into the motel room's tiny kitchenette, away from where his kid brother Sammy was splayed across the bedroom floor drawing big purple robots with broken Crayola stumps on a thick wad of paper towels that Dean had 'borrowed' from the men's room of the last gas station they'd passed through.

Dean had followed Dad into the horribly yellow kitchenette, adulation and apprehension fighting for control of his freckled face as he cautiously looked up at his father.

Dad had turned to face him then, big hands heavy on his shoulders, crouching down so they were at eye level.

Uh-oh, Dean had thought. Either I'm in big trouble, or this is gonna be another 'I know I've asked a lot of you, kiddo, but…' conversation. Straightening his shoulders, Dean had prepared for the worst, tensed and ready, obedient and attentive. Every bit the Good Little Soldier stance he'd practiced so hard in front of the mirror.

A strangely sad smile had tugged at the corners of Dad's mouth, and he had patted Dean's shoulder affectionately. "Okay, Dean," he'd said, all business again, the smile so fleeting that Dean wondered whether he'd imagined it. "This is really important and I need you to listen carefully."

Dean had nodded like he knew he was supposed to. "Yes, sir."

"Dean," Dad had said, eyes locking firmly with his oldest son's. "Something's come up. I have to be somewhere tonight. Or people will get hurt." He had looked even deeper into Dean's liquid eyes, seeing the fear there that the kid was so desperately trying to hide.

"Like Mom?"

That was always Dean's question, and it always made Dad's face go funny.

Dad had nodded, trying not to think about how much Dean looked like his Mom just then.

"People could die?"

Dean, unlike most kids his age, had a very real understanding of the concept of 'Death'. Despite what he told Sammy in those night-time moments when his kid brother just refused to sleep, Dean seriously doubted Mommy was an Angel in Heaven.

Dead was dead.

Like Vince Reardon's dog that they'd buried in his back garden. Or the bird with the broken wing that Dad had had to put out of its misery.

Dead was not here. Dead was gone.

Like Mom.

Dad had sighed then, a long sad sigh that hurt Dean's chest. "Yes Dean," he'd said quietly, never one to talk down to his son or sugar coat the horrors this world had in store for him. "People could die."

Dean had nodded. "Is it a ghost?" he'd asked, knowing that Dad hated that word. He said it made something unnatural sound like something warm and fuzzy, like a baby panda or a litter of chocolate Labs, and he blamed that damn movie. Sammy loved that movie. Always cried when the Marshmallow Man got splattered all over.

And Dean knew better than to even get Dad started on Casper.

"Evil spirit," Dad had corrected, as Dean knew he would. "Yes. And it could kill a lot of people tonight." He had squeezed Dean's shoulder again, his voice softening slightly. "I didn't think I'd get a handle on it this fast," he'd added, in a voice that almost said 'I'm sorry'. "We'd planned for Pastor Jim to come up here in a few days to look after you guys while I…" he trailed off, still not entirely comfortable with sharing all the grizzly details of the Hunt with his son. Especially when he knew Dean would remember all the grizzly details. "But I can't wait that long. I have to get it now. I have to get it tonight."

Dean had nodded, not really understanding. "Or people could die."

"People could die," Dad had echoed, gently stroking Dean's hair.

Another sad smile flickered across Dad's weathered face then, and he suddenly went all serious and hard-faced, the way Sammy hated. He'd straightened his back, and returned his hands to his son's shoulders, the weight nearly pushing the boy to his knees. "You remember we talked about this?" he'd said carefully. "That I might have to leave you alone to take care of Sammy one day?"

Dean had swallowed hard, head bobbing slightly as the words, 'Yes, sir', refused to leave his throat.

Dad had squeezed his shoulder again. "Today's the day, kiddo," he'd said, trying to smile reassuringly. "I gotta get this thing tonight. So." He took a deep breath. "I need you to take care of Sammy while I go do this."

Dean always took care of Sammy. Dad didn't have to remind him to do that. And it wasn't like the boys had never been left alone before. Just never for a whole night…

Dean glanced behind him at the little boy stretched out on the rug between the two beds and tried to ignore the sudden trembling in his knees and hammering in his chest.

"You think you can do that?"

Dean turned back to face his Dad. Shoulders back, back curtain-rod straight, eyes facing straight forward. "Yes, sir," he'd said, only the slightest tremor in his voice and a brief flick of his eyes to his father's giving him away.

Dad nodded, ruffling his little boy's hair. "Good boy," he'd said, standing. He'd picked up his dark blue duffel bag, hauling the tools of his trade up onto his shoulder. "It's only for tonight. I'll be back first thing in the morning, probably before you guys are even awake."

Somehow, Dean didn't think he'd be sleeping much tonight.

"And you know how to call Pastor Jim if you need any help, right?"

"Yes, sir."

"And if anything tries to get in…?"

"Shoot first, ask questions later."

"And what's your most important mission?"

"Take care of Sammy."

Dad had smiled down at him then, and a warmth had radiated through him, like it always did when he made Dad happy. "Good boy. Now don't open this door for anyone, you hear me? Not unless you hear the signal."

Dean knew the signal.

"There's cereal in the cupboard and milk in the fridge," Dad had added, as if he was talking to any little boy being left with the babysitter.

Dean eyed the empty pizza box still lurking on the rickety formica table.

And then Dad's hand was firm on his shoulder again, the other catching his son beneath the chin and turning his eyes up to face him. "You're the man of the house tonight, kiddo," he'd said with a smile, finally letting the boy go and heading for the door.

"Dad?"

Dad had stopped, hand hovering over the door latch, as he turned back to face his oldest son.

Faced with a night at home with the parents away, most kids Dean's age would have dived straight for the TV remote or the telephone or the video game console.

But Dean merely looked down at his tattered sneakers and mumbled, "What if you don't come back?"