Title:The Strange Face of Love

Category: Supernatural

Rating: M

Warnings: Angst, Sammy-whumpage, swearing, and unresolved family issues! Yay!

A/N: Hey all! This is my first supernatural fic, though I've been writing fan fiction for a long tim now. I know, I know, this fic probably won't be any good, but its been buzzing round in my head for weeks and I desperately needed to get it down on paper (so to speak.) I was looking for someone to beta it for me, but that turned out to be a failure, so the only editing this thing has had has been my weary eyes!

Any suggestions, ideas or comments will be welcomed. In fact, any feedback at all would be great! So I hope you enjoy, readers and don't forget to leave any comments!


Part One: Alone

-

How far that little candle throws his beams!

So shines a good deed in a weary world

- William Shakespeare

Sam let out another annoyed huff and collapsed backwards into the grass. Dean appeared over him and smirked down at his irritated brother.

"What, that's it? That's all you've got, little bro?"

Sam scowled at him and gave him the one fingered salute discreetly, all too aware that their father was nearby and keeping an eye on them.

Dean was now seventeen, and participating wholeheartedly in their father hunts. Sam, more often than not, was forced to stay alone in motel rooms and caravan parks because the hunts were too unpredictable for him to join in.

John had deemed it unwise to let Sam take part when he was so inexperienced so he had been forced to take up hunts that only required little actual leg work, and much research. Never anything that kept them away from Sam for too long.

And it was pissing Sam off. He was forced to do research while he was alone, which got boring quickly. Not to mention that he missed Dean, although he'd never admit it. He was used to it being just Dean and him when their dad was hunting but now that it had changed, Sam was lonely and miserable. Going out at night wasn't an option, and he had learnt long ago that making friends was pointless so Dean and their dad had come up with an unspoken agreement.

Whenever they were together they spent as much time with him as possible. And if anything, this made Sam even more irritable and alienated. Dean would spend most of his time getting on his nerves, and their father would make them train relentlessly like the drill Sergent that he was used to being. Sam was less than pleased with this solution.

And tonight they were off again.

He pushed himself up from the ground and glared at Dean.

"Why bother? I'm just going to be stuck in that rotting room anyway. Why not save your energy for the hunt?" he snapped at Dean.

Dean narrowed his eyes at him.

"You know why Sammy. You've got to be able to..."

"Protect myself, yes I know. Spare me the fucking lecture, Dean. God knows I get it enough from Dad."

Dean was glaring at him hotly now.

"Damn right you do. Cause it obviously ain't getting through that thick skull of yours, Sam." Dean snapped back.

It was probably a bad idea to rile him up this way Sam knew, but he couldn't help it. Hours of being cooped up by himself had allowed plenty of time for the resentment to simmer away quietly.

"Lay off Dean!"

"How about you start showing some gratitude, Sam-o and stop with these bratty temper tantrums. You're not the only one with needs in this family!" Dean growled.

" Fuck off Dean! What the hell would you know anyway?" Sam whirled around, ready to storm off when Dean grabbed his arm.

"I know a hell of a lot more that you do, you friggin ingrate!"

"Let go of me Dean!"

"No."

"I said let go!" Sam whirled and shoved Dean backward. Dean retaliated by tackling him to the ground, which led to an all out wrestling match, with shouts and insults and swearing interspersing their laboured breathing.

Abruptly they were yanked apart. The oldest Winchester held them apart by the scruffs of their shirts and shook them slightly.

"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded angrily. "I leave you alone for five minutes and I come back to find you two brawling in the dirt like a pair of drunks!"

Sam was scowling darkly at Dean who was alternating between glaring back and glancing at their father. Sam figured that Dean would back off once their father intervened which only served to make him angrier. Why did Dean always have to obey their father? Why didn't he ever stick up for what he wanted, or stick up for Sam anymore?

"Dean, I expect you at least to know better!" Their father was snapping. "You're the more responsible one, so suck it up and stop letting him provoke you."

He released Dean but kept a hold on Sam, who he glared at fiercely. Sam wasn't about to back down and he glared right on back, unwilling to let this one go.

"And you, Sam. I get that you're tired of being left behind, but you need to hold down the fort for me here. And stop disrespecting your brother like that. Apologise."

Sam almost choked at the unfairness of it all. Always was he the one forced to apologise, just because he didn't fall in line as easily as Dean did.

"No! Why should I! I'm old enough to come with you now, but you won't..."

"SAM! When I tell you to stop being disrespectful, I MEAN it! Now apologise!" John shouted, giving Sam a rough shake.

Sam glowered at Dean who was looking slightly worried now, and he felt tears threatening. He wouldn't cry in front of his father, who was so furious at him for talking back, and he hated Dean at that moment with an intensity that upset him.

Sam gritted his teeth, and looked away.

"Sorry," he muttered.

John shook him slightly again.

"Look him in they eye and apologise properly. NOW!"

Sam met his brothers eyes. Dean was watching him, upset himself now, and torn between placating his father and comforting Sam. If anything, Dean's sympathy made him angrier, and made him want to cry even more. He loved Dean, and he hated the distance that had been growing between them over the last few weeks. But most of all, he hated feeling like he was being left out, abandoned by his own father and brother. It was an old fear that had plagued him throughout his childhood, and one that Dean knew about. That he hadn't picked up on it yet hurt Sam more that he would ever admit.

"I'm sorry Dean. I didn't mean it," Sam repeated, even though his mind was rebelling against the spoken words, and his heart was screaming for some sort of recognition of his pain.

"Dean?" John turned hard eyes to his eldest son.

"I'm sorry too Sam," was the clipped rely.

Despite his eyes, Deans words were shuttered and the hunching of his shoulders told Sam that he was being shut out.

John released Sam with a small shove. He staggered before regaining his balance and glaring at his feet with angry tears in his eyes.

"Dean. Get your ass inside and start getting ready for tonight." John ordered. " And you..."

He turned to Sam.

"If you ever back chat me like that again..." Johns words were tight with anger and he didn't finish the threat, but Sam felt that old twinge of dread in his gut. His father was able to strike fear into the hearts of the stoutest men, and he had employed the tactic when it came to dealing with rebellious children. John Winchester knew though, that that fear was often punishment enough, and it usually ensured that the trespass or mistake would never be repeated.

Rarely had he ever raised a hand against his boys in anger, and then it had only been a few swift spanks when they were younger. Now that they were older, they had to work to gain his forgiveness, and sometimes that was a difficult thing. When it came to Sam, that forgiveness was the hardest to gain, and Sam had never understood why. He often saw it as favouritism of Dean, and he also found it hard to forgive Dean for this as well as his father.

"I want you to run laps around this field. You'll not stop until I say. Get moving." John ordered, turning his back on Sam and moving back inside the small cabin they were renting in the holiday park. Dean lingered a moment after the door slammed, watching him quietly

And finally the tears fell as he turned and made his way to the field that lay beyond their small cabin.

"Sam..." Dean's voice was quiet, but Sam heard him clearly.

He ignored the soft plea he heard in his voice as he started the punishment his father had set out for him.

It wasn't fair.

-

Sam had been running for a good hour, and dusk was starting to fall. His lungs gasped for air, and the sweat cooled rapidly on his brow. The tears had stopped long ago, but the anger and the pain remained and ate away at him.

Sam was tired; his high emotions combined with the exercise had worn his out thoroughly enough that he didn't want to move for a week. His muscles burned and he was barely even jogging anymore. He hadn't dared stop for a breather though, for the field was clearly visible from the cabin and he knew that his father would be watching. The lights from the cabin were inviting, and air was starting to get cold rapidly.

As if sensing his youngest exhaustion, John appeared at the door, his anger apparently gone.

"Sam. You can come in now."

Sam stopped running and made his way slowly towards the cabin to where his father waited. John stopped him at the door with a hand on his shoulder. Sam stopped obediently, but didn't look up at his father.

"Go and get a warm shower, son. I think you need an early night."

Wordlessly, Sam nodded and kept his head lowered as he slipped past his father into the warmth of the cabin.

Dean paused as he zipped up the duffle bag filled with the weapons they'd need and opened his mouth as if to say something but Sam hurried past him and into the sanctuary of the bathroom. He paused, and leant on the door, listening to the low murmur of voices beyond before he swift turned the shower on and stripped his sweat soaked clothes.

"Right Sammy, you know what to do," his dad told him as he slipped his favourite hunting knife into the sheath on his calf.

"Lock the door and salt all the entrances. Don't leave the room for any reason. Dean restocked the fridge earlier, so there's plenty to eat. If anything happens, both Dean and I have our cells on. You got it?"

Sam, who had been standing by the door and watching as Dean and his dad had loaded the gear in the car nodded at his father, and avoided meeting Dean's eyes.

Dean patted his shoulder as he left the room and got into the passenger seat of the Impala. John hesitated and rested his hands on Sam's thin shoulders.

"Look son, I know you hate being here by yourself, but I don't have any choice. Next time I'll pick a hunt that you can come on. How's that sound to you?" John's voice was gentle, his hands on his shoulders were warm and broad.

Sam wanted nothing more that to be able to lose himself in his fathers strength for awhile. To hug him without fear of repercussion but the sadness that lingered from the afternoon still stung like an insect bite, and he couldn't find it in himself to meet the man's eyes.

"Yeah Dad. Sounds good." he replied softly, knowing that his father was trying, in his own way, to show that he cared.

John sighed after a moment, and scuffed his hair before stepping back.

"Remember what I said, okay?"

Sam nodded and closed the door behind him. For a moment he leant against the door and listened as the Impala roared to life, and drove away. And then he was all alone again, for another night. Alone, by himself in a cabin at the edge of the woods. He knew better than to go out there at night. While he was confident in his ability to defend himself and hold his own in a fight, he knew that he didn't know enough killing anything supernatural to be much good to anyone, let alone himself.

Pushing away from the solid wood of the door, Sam set about salting the entrances and windows.

Having done that, he grabbed a soda from the fridge and plopped himself down in front of the TV for another quiet night alone.

-

The next evening, Sam was still alone and starting to worry. His father had said that they'd be back early afternoon, but Sam hadn't seen or heard anything from Dean of their dad. And if he was honest with himself, he was at a loss as to what to do.

He'd gone for a walk that day into town. He'd browsed the book stores, and eaten lunch in the small town's dingy park by the pond. What he really wanted though, was Dean. He missed his big brother and he wanted nothing more than to make up with him so they could get back to being brothers once again.

Now he was back at the cabin alone by himself, with no idea where his family was or if they were even okay.

Something was wrong. Sam could feel it. Not just with Dean and his father being gone so long, but Sam got the feeling like he was in trouble. Unguarded and alone. Vulnerable.

Not sure where the feeling was coming from, Sam grabbed the shot gun and made sure it was loaded. The salt lines were back in place and Sam had spent time carving protective symbols and charms he'd read in his fathers books into the cabins door and window frames.

Still the feeling wouldn't pass. It felt like some one or something was watching him. Waiting for him to slip up, to make a mistake so it could make a move.

Sam felt his panic rising. He huddled in between his and Dean's bed and clutched the shot gun to his chest like it was a lifeline.

He knew that it was probably just because he was afraid for his brother and his father that he felt so unsettled. They'd be home soon, he told himself, and the feeling will go away.

'There is nothing watching,' he whispered to himself. 'There is nothing here.'

The shrill ringing of his phone made him jump a mile and he fumbled desperately for it.

"Dean?" he asked breathlessly.

"Sam..." Dean was speaking but there was too much static over the line. "you need...its not...Dad...said to get..."

"Dean?!" Sam was frantic now. " Dean I can't hear you! What's happening? Are you okay?"

"Sam...listen to me..."

The line went dead and Sam felt his stomach drop. What was he going to do now? He tried to dial his dad's number, but heard nothing but the dial tone.

His hands trembled as his fear rose once more, but somehow he managed to dial Pastor Jim's number on the first try. The phone was answered on the third ring.

"Hello?"

"Pastor Jim?" Sam was ashamed of how his voice trembled. He was fifteen for Christ's sake...

"Sammy? Is that you? What's wrong?"

"Dad and Dean were supposed to be back this afternoon, but they're not here."

"Okay, son, you need to calm down. The hunt probably took longer than they thought is all. They'll be back before long. What's got you so upset?" The Pastors gentle voice worked to soothe Sam's nerves a little, but the feeling that something was there with him continued to build at a frightening rate, and Sam felt his chest tighten with fear.

"I think... There's something here, Pastor. Something's here with me and I don't know..."

Sam jumped as a strong gust of wind rattled the windows. Freezing air was blowing in underneath the door and Sam shivered at the unexpected drop in temperature.

"Sam? What are you talking about? What's there?"

"I don't know," he whispered, his voice catching in his throat. "I don't know what it is, but there's something..."

A loud rattling shook the windows and Sam huddled back against the wall clutching the phone desperately.

"Please, Jim, Help me..."

"Sam, stay on the line with me. Tell me what's happening. Did you salt the doors and windows?"

Pastor Jim's voice had taken on a harsh quality that Sam rarely heard from the quiet man and that was enough to put him on edge alone.

"Yeah and I put charms on the..."

A sudden sense of dread filled him as he realised something. The wind...under the door...and the salt. Sam scrambled to his feet and lurched to the middle of the room where he stared in horror at the disintegrating line of salt.

He could barely breathe as fear tightened his chest. He dove for the shotgun and, clutching his phone tightly, raced for the bathroom and quickly salted the door before he huddled down in the corner of the shower. He fumbled for the phone once more.

"Jim? Something's about to get in! What do I do? Tell me what to do!" he begged, unaware of the tears on his cheeks.

"Sam, you need to calm down. Tell me what's happening," Jims voice was deliberately calm, but it did nothing for Sam this time. He wished fervently for Dean and his father to show up in time, but he knew that the odds of that were dim.

"There's something trying to get in..."

"I know that, son. I'm on my way to you now. I need you to tell me what's happening. Where are you now?"

"The bathroom. The salt line across the front door was blown away..."

"Blown away?"

"There was this freezing wind. And the windows were shaking," Sam whispered.

"What else?" Jim demanded.

Sam could hear the sound of a car starting in the background and felt a small wave of relief. But Pastor Jim was hundreds of miles away, and he would never get to him in time to be of any help.

"Sam?"

"Um...it felt like something was watching me all afternoon but…..Jim I don't know what to do!"

"Okay, okay. Have you barricaded yourself in the bathroom?"

"Yeah."

"What about weapons? Have you got any around you?"

"Got the shotgun." Sam whispered, having to force the words out of his tight throat.

"What if...what if no one gets here in time? What if..."

"Stop it Sam!" Pastor Jim ordered. "You need to keep a level head about you. Think. What would Dean or your father do in your situation?"

A choked laugh forced itself out of him "They wouldn't be stupid enough to get into a situation like this!"

"Sam! What did I say? You need to be able to think your way out of this. What is there around you that you could use?"

"Um...I'm not sure."

"Take a few deep breaths for me, okay son? You're doing well. It sounds to me like you're dealing with a spirit of some kind. Have you noticed anything unusual around the place over the past couple of days?"

Sam did as he was told and breathed deeply, forcing himself to really think about Jim's question and not so much on what could happen if no body got there in time. He had to be brave. For Dean. For Dad, he told himself. Because he couldn't let them down by letting this defeat him.

He was still shaking though, and the gorge was rising in the back of his throat, but he forced back his tears and thought hard.

"I don't think...no." he replied, his voice still shaking. "There's been nothing."

"Are you absolutely sure?" Jim's voice was steady, and patient, and he seemed to realise that Sam had shaken off his initial panic.

Outside an extra strong gust of freezing wind shook the cabin and the windows rattled so hard he thought they would break.

"Oh god..." he whispered squeezing his eyes shut.

"Stay with me Sammy," Jim's voice was deep in his ear, and he convulsively clutched the cool metal of the gun closer to his chest.

"Jim? How am I gonna..." Sam began, but the sound of the door slamming open made him cry out in fear.

"Sam...?!?!"

TBC