Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural, if I did, there would be more shirtless Winchesters.

This will be the first story I've posted in... several years. And my first completed Supernatural story. Any plot inconsistencies, misspellings, grammar errors that you may spot, please feel free to point them out in your review, as well as any tips on improving the writing of the story. I appreciate all assistance in nearing my works closer to perfection.

---

Mary had been absently rubbing her stomach for two days. For those two days she hadn't felt movement. She hadn't told John, she couldn't bear to think she'd lost this baby, their second child, Dean's baby brother.

"Come on baby boy," Mary crooned, poking her belly, their special game, she poked, baby kicked, baby kicked, she poked. "Come on sweetheart, don't you want to play with Mommy?"

Mary closed her eyes, biting her lip as she felt a sting of tears. "Please baby, please do something."

"Mommy?" The quiet voice of Dean asked, a shaggy blonde head poking from behind the couch.

Mary smiled, discreetly wiping her wet eyes. "Yes Dean?" She sat up, patting the cushion beside her. Dean padded over, climbing onto the couch and cuddling close to his mother, laying a head on her stomach. Mary put an arm around Dean, holding him against her.

"Is something wrong Mommy?"

"No Baby, nothing's wrong."

"'m not a baby," Dean mumbled with a small pout. "Is something wrong with Sammy, Mommy?"

Sometimes Mary didn't know if she should be proud, or worried about her son's intuitiveness, especially concerning his family. "Sammy's just being shy is all Dean. He doesn't want to play with Mommy."

"But he's still in your tummy. How does he play with you? Can I play with him?" Dean said, smiling at the idea of playing with his unborn baby brother.

"Well, usually he kicks in my tummy, and I poke him," Mary explained, the lack of movement starting to go into the back of her mind.

"Can I try?" Dean shifted until he was sitting with his legs tucked under him, pudgy little finger ready at granted permission.

"Alright Dean, but as I just said, Sammy's being really shy," Mary reminded him.

"Okay," Dean nodded enthusiastically, wide smile on his face. He focused on her large rounded stomach, she was almost a week pass her due date and John had been carrying a pager for over a month for whenever she went into labor. They had already learned from Dean that some babies were impatient about living life and would force their own mothers into a two week early labor.

Unfortunately for her, Sammy was more troublesome, too patient, and definitely too quiet for her liking.

Dean gently poked her stomach, hardly enough to even be called a poke, at least by any self-respecting four-year-old about to be a big brother standards. Seeing no reaction, Dean poked again a little harder. Then again, and again, and once more.

"Sammy's definitely too quiet," Dean said, almost seeming to pick up on his mother's thoughts. "C'mon Sammy, grow a backbone," Dean said, poking Mary rapidly.

A sharp, almost painful pressure hit Mary in the gut, making her gasp and grab her stomach.

Dean scrambled back a foot, eyes wide and frightened. "Did I hurt you Mommy?" The toddler asked with a tremble in his voice.

"No baby, no," Mary shook her head. "I think Sammy's ready to come out and meet us now. I guess he's listening to you about that backbone."

The trip to the hospital was a bit of a blur to her, she vaguely recalled phoning John at the garage, and her water breaking in the Impala, a part of her wept that her well tended baby was now forever stained. Then she pictured a gawky, gangly teen with shaggy brown hair covering pretty green eyes, face as red as a tomato as his big brother retold this story, and she could only smile.

It was ten long hours of pushing, coaching, and squeezing John's hand until his fingers turned blue and he was shouting for an epidural. Some marine he was.

As she finally, finally, expelled her second son, the lack of sound immediately alerted her. Even though she was exhausted to the point of tears, her body was tense, willing her ears to hear crying.

"John?" She turned to her stricken husband, his hand slack in hers as he watched the doctor handle their limp and silent son. It was maybe half a minute, but to the pair it felt like half an eternity before the sound of soft whimpers reached their ears. The whimpers turned to wails and she fell back to her bed, crying. The medical staff checked their baby over, heart rate, movement, skin color, and Mary wanted nothing more than to jump out of the bed, grab her baby and never let go, not for the world.

But they did finish, and the soft spoken nurse who had talked with Mary and John throughout the labor handed Sammy over with a small smile and a comment about something certainly watching out for their son. As Mary thanked her tiredly, blinking twice, she almost thought the florescent hospital lights were playing tricks on her as the nurse's eye's glinted the color of a crocodile's. But it was gone in the second blink and Mary shook it off, ten hours of labor, everything starts to look weird.

She could only smile down at Sam, who stopped fidgeting and crying as soon as he was placed in his mother's arms. Her eyes stared right back at her in a pink, wrinkly, pudgy face, one of the most gorgeous sights she'd ever seen.

---

Sam leaned against the chain link fence surrounding the middle school. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, almost pouting at the empty, deserted street. Dean was late, again, and their dad was gone, again, and he couldn't walk home lest he suffer the punishment of indian burns and wet willies on behalf of Dean, then the lecture of John Winchester once he returned home. So he was stuck waiting outside his school, because Dean either forgot how to use his upstairs brain and was flirting with the flavor of the week, or he got detention, again.

Sam huffed, plopping onto the ground and pulling out a book. If he couldn't leave, he might as well do something. He was about ready to just make Dean carry him home, if his older brother ever got here.

Sam heard the loud rumble of a big engine and looked up out of curiosity. He stared up at a mammoth of a truck, the thing was bigger than some houses his family had rented. The engine died and a broad shouldered man, only a couple inches shorter than his dad, stepped out.

"All the other students are gone," Sam said turning back to his book disinterestedly.

"You're not," the man said matter-of-fact, just a couple feet away from Sam. The preteen stared at his book, no longer reading, paying more attention to the man. Part of him argued that it was just someone's dad who'd forgotten to pick up his kid so they had walked home and only now did he remember that whole, 'I'm responsible for another life' thing. And yet, twelve years of knowing about what lurked in the dark and being told to always be aware of those around you could not be driven out of one's head in one afternoon.

"You waiting for someone son, or do you just like to sit in the dirt and read?"

Sam rolled his eyes and grimaced, wondering what higher power hated him enough to send annoying assholes his way. He didn't respond, keeping his eyes on his book.

"If you tell me where you live, I could give you a lift," the man offered.

Beep, beep, creep alert, time to get the hell out of Dodge and not look back. Or is it, don't turn your back? For some reason, the alarms in his head sounded like Dean, then again he was surrounded by his brother almost all day every day, so, not that weird. It would figure, his inner voice would sound like Dean, rather than himself. If there was any justice in the world, Dean was tormented by an inner Sam voice as well.

Sam stood up, swinging his backpack over his shoulder and holding his book close. "I think I'm just gonna head inside the school," Sam said, eyes narrowed at the man, who was between him and the opened door of the fence. At this point, Sam would scale the fence to get away from Captain Creepy.

"My offer isn't really the kind you can turn down," the guy said, an audible edge in his voice. He reached out, hand barely closing around Sam's wrist before Sam's hand swung out, his hardcover edition of the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy colliding heavily with the side of the man's face. His foot swung out, hitting the man's kneecap hard enough to leave Sam's foot stinging. He took off, not even bothering to see if the guy was conscious. He ran all the way to the highschool, which was closer than home and far enough away from the creep to allow him to breathe easier.

He saw Dean, leaning against a car, two pretty red heads giggling at whatever he was saying.

If Sam didn't feel so relieved to see his big brother, he'd be angrier. As of right now, however, he was just strongly irritated and somewhat exhausted. He just wanted to go home and lay on his bed.

"C'mon Casanova," he growled, reaching up and snagging Dean's shirt collar, dragging his indignant, and embarrassed, older brother off.

Dean quickly shook Sam off, snagging the offending hand and turning the tables on his little brother by grabbing him by the back of his own shirt.

"What's the deal Sammy?"

"You were late, again. Now can we just go home?" Sam was tired, and stressed, and Dean could see that. He could've seen it if he were blind and deaf. So he let Sam slide and walked silently back to the car with him.

"Earlier today police pulled over a suspicious man loitering outside White Stone Middle School. This man was identified as David Hooper; wanted for the rape and strangulation of twelve year old Kyle Ramsey in Brier, Mississippi..." Sam could hear from the living room. He set down the pencil in his hand, pushing his math homework away and nearly sprinting to the bathroom.

Dean was beside him within moments, rubbing his back and holding back his hair as Sam made penance to the porcelain god. Besides asking him if he was okay, Dean didn't question Sam what happened before he found Dean. And Sam didn't criticize Dean if he became a little more fervid in his protection of Sam.

---

Sara Jones sat at her desk, grading papers, looking at her students every minute or so, making sure none were attempting to cheat on their test. She focused on one of her more trustworthy, well behaved students. Sam Winchester had joined her class less than a month ago, in the middle of the semester. His teachers had taken an instant liking to him, quiet, polite, and eager to learn, she'd have to say he was the ideal student.

Which made her question how such a well mannered boy seemed to get into so much trouble. Today Sam sported a cast on his right arm and a ring of bruises on his neck. Just last week she'd seen a fading black eye and a split lip. And a little over a month ago she'd sent him to the nurse's office after he opened some stitches in his side, the blood from the reopened wound bleeding out through three layers of clothing.

She'd questioned him on the injuries and he passed them off as accidents and him just being a klutz. She had uneasily let the injuries slide and kept an eye on him. But those bruises on his neck looked far too much like someone had actually tried to strangle the life out of him.

She waited for the bell to ring, asking Sam to stay. The boy wearily walked over to her desk, hand clutched to his backpack and shifting on his feet.

"Don't worry Sam, I'll write you a note for class if this takes too long," Sara said, trying to ease some of her student's worry. Sam was no less tense.

"How did you break your arm Sam?"

Sam shrugged, looking at the ground. "I fell, I've told you before, I'm a klutz."

"No one is that clumsy Sam," Sara said with a shake of her head, watching her student with sad eyes. "And what about those bruises on your neck?"

Sam shrugged again. "It's nothing," he mumbled.

"Sam," she said quietly, gently. "It looks like someone strangled you. Whoever's hurting you can be arrested."

"No one's hurting me," Sam whined, eyes pleading with his teacher not to push.

"Is it your father? Has he been hurting you?"

"No," Sam said, exasperated. "No one's hurting me."

"Someone is Sam, please just tell me and we can stop them."

"I have to go to class," Sam said, looking distractedly at the door. "Good bye Mrs. Jones."

It was only the next day did Sara recognized Sam's farewell for what it was. Sam hadn't only been pulled out of school, but his family had moved out of town altogether.

---

Sam toyed with the gun in his hand, the semi-automatic glinting in the lamp light. He could take it apart in less time than it took most people to tie their shoes and put it back into working order almost as quickly. He had dismantled, reassembled, and cleaned it and it's brothers more times than he could count.

How would his dad and brother look at it if they found it clutched in his cold, dead hand with a bullet hole in his head? Would they even keep it? Perhaps it would burn with his heavily salted body, or maybe tossed in a river as the dark shadow of the Impala dashed off, or just sit in a car trunk to collect dust and remind two men the casualties of war.

Sam set the gun down on the bedside table, flopping on the bed, staring at the ceiling. This wasn't the first time he'd thought about death. He'd dealt with it enough that he couldn't ignore the idea. What would his family do? A father whose approval he had abandoned seeking years ago and a brother oblivious to how deeply hunting life had scarred him with invisible blades.

He felt like he was caught in a trap, trying to gnaw his foot off to get away so he could curl up and die in his home. Only, Sam didn't have a home, he had a car and a family that would be better off without him. Dean and his dad had once had a home, and it had burned up from the fire in his nursery. Now they had a memory of better times to avenge, a purpose to punish the thing that had killed a women they loved and knew, could remember.

Sam didn't even have that. He didn't remember her, or home, or their family before it was burned to ashes. He didn't have a mom or wife or memory of better times. He had a clean gun he couldn't use because his father and brother had lost enough, and he wasn't even sure they weren't desperate enough to try to bring him back.

---

Sam glared at the ground, backpack slung over his shoulder, feet nearly stomping the dirt. He was beyond angry, he was livid. His dad had kicked him out, for getting accepted into college. Stanford even, on a full ride scholarship. Any other father would be jumping for joy, calling friends and bragging, pulling aforementioned son into a bear hug with an "I'm so proud of you" thrown in. Not the mighty John Winchester, he yells about disloyalty and disowns his son. He kicks his child out with hardly a moment to pack bags and gather necessities to travel halfway across the country.

John Winchester gives the worst ultimatum that his son could ever face, family or sense of self. If Sam spent any more of his life as a hunter, he'd either have a mental breakdown, or shoot someone, most likely his father. In the past two years he'd already experienced several panic attacks at the thought of his life as an endless road of monsters and credit card scams.

He couldn't survive as a hunter, he hoped he could live not being his father's son.

A banged up truck slowed down to match Sam's long legged gait, a man old enough to be his grandfather watched him with curiosity and concern. "Where're you headed son?"

"Bus stop," Sam said, jaw set.

The man clucked his tongue, not quite disapproval, more like wry amusement. "Bus stop's over ten miles away. You need a lift?"

Sam was going to decline at first. But it was true that by the time he reached the bus station, his feet would feel like they'd been beaten by a baseball bat. Besides, the guy was just a harmless old man, he couldn't hurt Sam on one of the young adult's worst days, much less when he was fine and healthy.

"That would be great, thanks," Sam said, smiling. The truck squeaked to a stop, Sam tossing his duffle onto the truck bed and ambling over to the passenger door, getting in.

The truck rumbled back up the road, Sam settling in and buckling his seat belt.

"So, where're you going that's so important you have to run off in the middle of the night?"

"California, I'm going to college." Vague enough answer for Sam's comfort and not to seem rude or distrustful.

The old man whistled. "College, your daddy must be real proud."

"Not really," Sam said, dark mood coming back, slouching into the seat with his arms lightly crossed.

"Ah, one of those father's," the man said with a nod, seeming to understand.

"Excuse me?" Sam said, puzzled.

"Doesn't see the need for you to go off, learn for learnin's sake, be better than him. Wants you right beside him doin' what he does, even if it's not the best for you."

Sam blinked in surprise, shocked how perceptive this man was. "Yeah, how'd you guess?"

"I should know, I was that father. Refused to talk to my oldest boy after he went off to college, became an architect. Now instead of fixing leaking roofs, he's buildin' 'em."

"Do you talk to him now?" Sam asked, hesitant, not knowing if he'd stepped the line.

"Yeah, didn't for a few years. But we made up, needed that time apart though, cause if we didn't butt heads every moment we were together when he was growin' up. I made sure he was doing alright, saw his school, asked my wife about him after she'd come back from visiting him. Didn't talk to him, not once, at least not until he'd graduated, invited me. That's how I knew he wanted to see me again.

"How long were you mad at him?"

"A long time, too long to hold a grudge, same as him. We needed those years though. It was best, for everyone. The years apart just made us that much closer once we did see each other again. Give you dad some time, he'll see his mistakes."

The truck slowed down, stopping at the near deserted bus stop. Sam was surprised how quick the trip had been. Time certainly flew when having deep and meaningful conversations.

"Thanks for the lift sir, have a good night," Sam said, getting out of the truck.

"You too Sammy," he replied. Sam turned back to the old man, puzzled. He snatched his bag and quickly walked away, missing the crocodile like eyes glinting in the light of a street lamp. "See you soon."