A Matter of Time

Disclaimer - I do not own Supernatural or any of the characters - though if someone wants to give them to me, I won't say no :)

"In ancient shadows and twilights

Where childhood had strayed,

The world's great sorrows were born

And its heros were made."

George W Russel (1867 - 1935)

Prologue

Present Day

Sam stormed away from the down-trodden bar, taunting memories flashing in his head.

"You're such a baby 'Sam-my'. You're always asking Dean. Grow up and do your own thing for once."

Sam tried to push away the childhood feeling of anxiety he felt every time Brad made one of his snarky comments about Sam's family.

"Dean is sooo bored of you. I heard him saying the other day that he was fed-up with you hanging around him all the time..."

All Sam ever wanted was 'normal', the same that thing Brad had. But the more Brad said, the worse Sam felt. Sam tried so hard to fit in but it never seemed to be enough. Not for Brad anyway.

"Don't you ever have anything new to wear? You're be poor... I bet your mum ran off with a rich guy."

The comments cut Sam up inside. He found, as he got older he'd believed Brad for so long, it was hard to think any different, even though he knew most of it wasn't true.

"Your clothes are smelly, why can't you wash them?"

"You're weird. You're lucky that I'm even your friend."

Sam tried not listen as he reached his teens, but the words always hurt more than he would ever admit. Sometimes he even laughed along with Brad and his friends just to be part of something, or would shrug his shoulders as if he didn't care.

"Why are you leaving? I thought we were bestest friends..."

The worst, was the feeling of guilt Sam had, that he felt like a traitor to his family with each comment Brad made, as he felt himself agreeing with the comments.

"Its your own fault," Brad told him time and time again.

Young Sam believed every word.

As Sam grew older, it seemed to him that Brad's tourmenting words never went away. Brad was like a ghost, shadowing over Sam and everything he did.... and Sam felt no-one could save him. Sam thought he would be free of Brad after he left school years ago.

But tonight, when Dean came back to the library to pick him up and told him that Brad was in town and was going to join them at the bar in a couple of hours, Sam thought he was strong enough to cope.

Unfortunatly, when the night came and Sam met Brad again for the first time in years, it was more than Sam could handle.

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Dean paused in mid-stride as he finally spotted Sam's forelorn figure in the distance.

His younger brother sat on the deserted park bench. Sam's tall frame seemed to have hunched in on itself, making the normally tall young man appear to have regressed to a position of a defeated child.

Dean let out a long sigh, of both relief for finding Sam safe, and for the talk he knew was about to take place once he got Sam to open up to him.

As Dean continued his walk over to his brother, he tried to figure out just what had happened a couple of hours ago at the bar.

For the last two hours as Dean searched for his brother. Dean tried to remember all the times they had encountered Brad over the years and he could think of nothing that would lead to the evenings events. His memory kept drawing a blank as to why Sam, who was normally happy to meet up with old friends, would react the way he did when Dean told him Brad was joining them for the next few days as they travelled north.

Sam's reaction was so 'un-Sam-like' that Dean had been speechless, for once. Rather than talk about it, Dean had at first shrugged it off as a little brother temper tantrum (even though Sam was 23) and he'd gone off in search of more interesting, less emotional company until Brad showed up.

Brad had arrived at the bar a few minutes later while Dean was making a pass at the bleached blond, barbie look-a-like called 'Sindy'. Her low cut top and hitched up skirt caught his eye seconds after turning away from Sam.

Dean's glance relunctantly left Sindy's jiggling bossom as she lent over to give him another beer, and he watched with interest as Brad threw an arm companionably around Sam's tense shoulders. Dean watched as Sam tried to shrug Brad's arm off him and said something to him. Brad, it seemed, was not going to let Sam go. Instead he lent in closer to Sam's ear. Sam sat rigdidly and listened for a few minutes before roughly pushing Brad away from him and storming off out the bar without looking back.

Dean could not see Sam's face, but if his brother had stormed out of the bar, then something was definately off. Dean just had to work out what it was, and what was going on between Brad and his brother.

Brad turned away from watching Sam leave to look at Dean and catching his eye, Brad smirked before calling out across the bar, "I guess its his time of the month again, huh?"

Dean glared at Brad from across the bar. Giving Sindy a quick smile before putting her number into his coat pocket. Dean made his way over to the younger man.

Once close enough, Dean grabbed Brad by the front of his shirt and pulled him close so their noses were only an inch apart. "What the hell did you just say to my brother?"

Brad's sharp eyes and calm exterior as he answered the question un-nerved him. "The truth."

"Cristo." The word escaped Deans mouth before he even realised he had said it.

"Let me go." Brad demanded. "Who the hell is Cristo? I'm not one of your ghosts." Brad sneered back. Dean tried not to look surprised, but Brad knew he would be, so he continued on, "You're forgetting that I know all about 'what' you guys do, I'm Sammy's best friend....remember, you're just his brother...Sammy tells me everything....besides, it was you who told me how much Sammy annoys you. Well, I tell Sammy everything too ..."

Dean's eyes narrowed dangerously at Brad's words.

Dean didn't even try to remember what he and Brad had talked about earlier that afternoon over a cold beer, after meeting for the first time in years.

Brad had been admiring the sleek, black car and recognised it to be Sam's fathers car. He called out "Winchster!" from across garage forecourt while Dean had been filling up the Impala.

Dean had been pissed off at Sam for using all the hot water up in the shower that morning - not that it was Sam's fault. The motels basics were lower than the normal standards they were used to, but Dean felt justified to blame his younger brother anyway.

Dean in turn, let off steam to Brad, Sams friend, over a cold beer.

But Dean suddenly felt a stab of jealousy and guilt. Guilty for what he told Brad, and jealous of Sam, for having Brad in the first place.

Sammy was his.

Sam should come to him, not to Brad. There was only one thing Dean could do to fix it.

The next thing Brad knew, he was on the floor and his jaw was bleeding.

Dean stood over him. "Its Sam." Dean paused for effect as he stared down at Brad. "Stay away from me. Stay away from my brother. Or you'll wish you never heard the name Winchester."

Brad spat out a bloody tooth as he pushed himself up to sitting position on the floor. "Yeah, well, its too late for that now. You ever think that Sammy may want the same? I bet he wishes he was never born a 'Winchester'. Not with all the crap you and your Dad put him through over the years. He knows he'll never really be part of your fucked up family...."

Dean did try to contain his fury, he clenched and unclenched his fists, but the taunt at their father was too much.

"....why do you think he ran off to college? Your shitty father hated him. Hell, even you don't really give a fu..."

Brad didn't walk out of the bar that night. He had to be carried out on a stretcher by the paramedic's. Dean was told not to come back to the bar again by Sindy, or she'd have to call the police. She did give him a wink as he glanced her way before stepping out the door though.

Dean went in search of Sam, who typically was not answering his cell phone. Dean also knew Sam would not return to the motel, even though it was the first place he looked.

Two hours later Dean located his sibling sitting alone in the dark at the kids park.

"So you want to tell me what all that was about back at there?" Dean asked as he sat down next to Sam, so their knees were touching in silent support.

Sam never looked at Dean, still lost in his memories as he stared into the darkness.

Instead Sam asked a quiet question. "How old was I, when we first met Brad?"

"Five." Dean answered in an equally quiet voice, waiting for his emotional little brother to tell him what was going on in his freaky head.

"Five." Sam repeated slowly, softly, as if trying to process the information. "Well....."

In a monotone voice Sam started to tell Dean about the side of Brad he had never told his older brother, and why he had behaved the way he did when Dean told him he had turned up at the bar last night.....

As Sam's story unfolded, Dean felt justified in his earlier actions....