TWO THUMBS DOWN

By: KAREN B.

Summary: Sam joins the family business. Dean age -- sixteen. Sam age -- twelve. Family drama. Sam angst.

Disclaimer: What do I own? What do I own? Nada. Zip. Zilch. I do have a cute little dog who owns me heart and soul, however, and my muse owns me. Dragging me face down through the mud most times.

Thank you for your care and time in reading.

Sunshine,

Karen

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It was another two thumbs down day…

Sam had spent ten hours sitting in the back seat of the Impala, staring out the window, trying to keep count of telephone poles and trees -- above Dean's singing, and Dad's snoring. Now he sat in a chair, counting peacocks on the motel room's wallpaper -- in rigid, abandoned silence.

The Blue Peacock -- another crap motel in another soggy, gray, no name town. His brother and his father always seemed to be bubbling with enthusiasm to move on, start a new hunt. Sam just never was on the same wave length. And why should he be? While his Dad and Dean bonded like real men, Sam was forced to stay alone. Left out of the triangle. Tucked away, comfy, and safe in motel room after motel room. Given meaningless chores. Organize the kitchen supplies, unpack their clothing, keep Dean's cassette tapes in alphabetical order, stay out of trouble.

It was no wonder Sam felt useless and bored. He would never be like them. He would grow up to have a regular nine to five job, a family, a house, a lawn mower.

Sam glanced out the partially open curtain, the large bush just outside the window danced wildly in the wind, rain striking the glass -- cold and hard. He didn't know what big game his Dad and Dean were stalking today, but they had to be waterlogged by now, at the end of their umbrella -- hunt. Sam hoped they returned soon. What he liked least of all about being alone was his imagination. He worried when his family was out and about. He was not to call during a hunt unless it was an emergency. That left Sam with a big, fat hole to fill. A hole he filled with all sorts of creepy things. Of rotting bones, of large beasts with sick yellow teeth, gleaming black eyes, and the slashing and gashing of razor sharp claws. Mostly it left him with nightmares -- of his brother and father, no more than bloody blobs lying on some faraway forest floor. And of himself, all alone in some bleak, Oliver Twisted orphanage. Sam shuddered. There was nothing he could do but worry and wonder. Nothing he could do but to sit, sit, sit. And he did not like it… not one little bit.

"Gah!" He hated Dr. Seuss.

Damn, Dean for overexposing him to that book last month when he had been trapped in bed with the flu. Dean had found the book in the crap motel room and read the stupid story to Sam over and over again, while he lay fussy and feverish -- unable to escape.

-- Two young siblings home alone, a nay saying goldfish for a babysitter, and a rebel feline up to his no good tricks. Dean always joked that if he ever was so lucky as to encounter such a being, he'd shove a handful of salt down the cat's throat, cut off pussy-cat's tail and burn the hairball's hat.

Dean -- a born hunter, thanks to their dad.

Damn his father for overexposing them both to the things most kids only imagined lived under their beds or in their closets. Sam hated his father for that. Hunting supernatural things to extinction was something their dad saw fit both his sons were born to do. Dean and his dad had been training Sam for a few years now. Sam was four years younger, but still could keep up with his brother. He could run as fast, jump as high, shoot a gun, and throw a knife almost as well. He was no hunter deep in his soul, but the family business came naturally, whether you wanted it to or not. Sam often wondered if that had something to do with their last name. Winchester -- a family born to hunt and to kill, like the gun.

Sam sadly got up and went to the small kitchenette. He really wasn't hungry, but pulled a jar of peanut butter from the cupboard. Maybe eating something would take his mind off his absentee family.

"Dean," he grumbled, shaking his head and holding the sticky jar up for closer inspection.

His brother, always busy, always rushing around, always plunging a spoon deep into the jar, globing the peanut butter all around the rim and smudging the spread down the sides of the container. Sam got two pieces of bread, and using the switchblade his father had given him, began to spread brown butter neatly over one side.

He didn't know which was worse. Dean's peanut butter mess or Dean's 'squeeze it in the middle' gunked-up tube of toothpaste.

Before he could finish, the motel room door violently pushed open. Sam held the knife up ready to shove the blade into whatever had busted in, a gut reaction, drilled into him by his father.

"Dean!" Sam eyes widened in horror, dropping the knife. and racing to his brother's side.

"I'm okay, Sam." Dean stumbled in. Grunting and sweaty, he tripped his way over to the bed falling face first into the mattress.

"Where's dad?" Sam glanced back at the open door.

"He's okay, Sam." Dean flipped over onto his back. "He's finishing the hunt." Dean licked away a drop of blood from his lower lip.

"You left him alone?"

"Sam, he knows what he's doing. Dad sent me back to get us packed up, we're bugging-out -- now." Dean stood to wobbly legs heading for the bathroom. "Move Sam, we have to meet dad back at the edge of the forest."

Sam peered out the open doorway, the wind splattering rain inside the room, soaking into the carpet. Every-time they were called to leave, Sam felt his stomach turn. He swallowed hard, never knowing what would be coming next once he set foot out that door was the worst.

Gawd, he hated this life.

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The sun had just set, the area caught somewhere between twilight gray and midnight black.

Sam and Dean exited the car, standing near ankle deep in lumpy, oatmeal-like mud.

"Where's dad?" Sam questioned.

"Obviously not here, genius," Dean replied impatiently, rounding the car to the trunk.

Sam glanced around, the trees looked ike a large dark wall, and knowing their father was behind that wall fighting some unearthly evil, scared the hell out of Sam.

"Look alive, Sammy!" Dean one-handedly shoved Sam against the passenger door."Here," he said, pushing a thirty-pound crossbow into Sam's hands. "Don't move."

"What are you doing?" Sam automatically knocked a silver tipped arrow.

"Going in after Dad." Dean checked his gun.

"Dean." Sam easily shouldered the bow, zeroing in on Dean's weapon. "You only have one silver bullet left."

"Ones all I need, bro."

"But…"

"Sam, I got it. Just don't move from this spot. I mean it, don't you move!"

Sam watched Dean until he couldn't see him any longer. He stood, back ramrod straight against the Impala, shivering and desperate to stop his arms and legs from quacking. Part of him wanted to run back to the motel, or lock himself inside the safety of the Impala. This was the exact thing he hated. The exact place he never wanted to find himself. Yet, Sam stood on his guard, the way he'd been trained to do. All six senses on high alert. Seeing -- misshapen shadows mingling between trees and brush. Smelling -- rancid mud, soggy earthworms, and Juniper. Tasting -- his own fear -- a sharpened, steel blade dipped in red-hot sauce-- rough and burning the back of his throat like a summer road. Touching -- his finger poised, unmoving against the crossbow's trigger, his back sticky with sweat pinned against cold, wet metal. Hearing -- heavy boots hitting rocks, cracking sticks, splashing through puddles. Instinct -- tanked-up on adrenaline, digging the heels of his shoes deeper into the mud, pushing further against the car.

Sam heard a far-off voice, and a single shot fired. Swiveling his head to the right, he picked up on the direction the sound had come from before he ever saw the source.

"Sam, move!" Dean burst out of the black-wooded wall, one arm wrapped around their father's waist. "Shoot!" he yelled. "Heart shot, Sam! In the heart!" Dean yelled louder, father and son staggering to keep their footing.

Sam moved up two solid steps, peeling his back away from the car. He smoothly raised the crossbow, looking through the scope. At first he saw nothing but the wall of blackness. The creature suddenly just appeared. Roaring and screeching. It's body was large, heavy and gray, the likes of which Sam had never seen except for in his imagination. Two symmetrical horns waved back and forth as the animal-like being tossed its head, yellow teeth gnashing. A large clawed paw swiped at the back of his father and brother, sending both off balance and tumbling to their knees splashing into the mud.

Sam swallowed, desperate to settle his stomach and steadying his body. So many things could go wrong. He could miss, overshoot, or worse, hit one of his family members. Amazingly, Sam's first time was the charm. Looking through the cross-hairs of the scope, he zeroed in on the large target thirty yards out. He gulped in a breath, and with one smooth squeeze of the trigger took the shot. Sam watched through the scope, surprised when the arrow struck straight through the creature's heart, spit and blood sputtering from its mouth as the beast dropped to the ground.

Sam stood frozen and his vision tunneled. The longer he looked the bigger the creature got and the greater Sam's fear had grown. He's brother and father could have been killed if he had not reacted without thought, the way he'd been trained to do.

"That's my boy, Sammy!" His father called out, beaming as he stood, boots splashing in the mud, heading toward the trunk of the car. "Nice, clean kill." His dad opened the trunk, pulling out a canister of lighter fluid not even shaken in the slightest. "Hunting's in the blood, Sammy boy, always remember that."

"Yes, sir," Sam bit his lower lip to keep it from quivering.

"Welcome to the family business, kid," his dad said, slamming the trunk closed and patting Sam's arm as he breezed by. "Pack up boys, we're out of here in ten."

Sam stared grim faced at the beast waiting for the thing to magically come back to life, and watching his dad causally circle the corpse -- a creature that should not exist. His father said a few choice words, squirting lighter fluid, stopping to strike a match and tossing the flame onto the kill. Fire and smoke rose into the night sky. Sam, again, wanted to run, but he stood stalk still as his father took a few steps away from the burning flesh. He drew his army knife from its sheath, hunched over, and busied himself with scrapping mud off his boots. For his dad, this was a walk in the park, an everyday occurrence. For Sam -- it was like being alone on an undiscovered moon.

Everything had happened so fast and so loud. Sam felt as though he'd been dropped off the side of a giant iceberg into the cold, Bering Sea. He shivered hard, lowering the bow and letting the weapon slip from his numb fingers, plopping to the muddy ground.

"That's not how you were taught to treat our weapons, is it?" Dean demanded.

"No, Dean." Sam shook his head.

"I guess you could call this beginners luck, huh, kid?" Dean asked, an edge of pride mixed with jealousy in his tone.

Sam shook his head more firmly, unable to say a word, both relieved and sad. Relieved, his family was okay. Sad, he had crossed the forbidden line he'd drawn for himself. From here on he would be forced to become an avid hunter. Following his brother, and his father's steps, he would become a part of the very thing he feared and loathed. Unable to escape. Like that kid a month ago with the flu -- forced to listen to some crap story. He didn't want to spend his life seeing the world through the cross-hairs of a deadly weapon or the blurred vision of a bitter, jaded, mortally wounded heart; such as his fathers.

"Sam?" Dean moved into his line of sight blocking his view of the flames.

Feeling Dean's heated gaze, Sam looked up through dripping, wet bangs. This was far from what normal families did.

"You good?" Dean asked quietly

"Yes," Sam replied.

"Me, too." Dean smiled weakly. "You sure?"

"Yes. No. Maybe." Sam shrugged. I don't know."

"What don't you know, man?"

"Dad," Sam muttered, his mind spinning. "He doesn't understand me." Sam looked accusingly past Dean at his father. "I was scared, didn't want to kill it, but I did, without even thinking twice."

"You can't be serious, geek. It's not human. Sam. It's what you're supposed to do. If you didn't shoot, that fugly sonuvabitch would have killed Dad, me, then you."

"I know." Sam's lips twisted in a rueful grimace.

"You had to, dork."

"Dean! I know!" Sam blinked away the rain. "Fear nothing. Survive and adapt. Kill or be killed," Sam quoted their father's teachings.

"Right. Dad's proud of you." Dean briefly glanced over his shoulder, then back down at Sam.

"So." Sam would never understand his father's military point of view.

"So, you did good, Sammy."

"He'll never understand me," Sam sneered.

"And you don't understand him," Dean offered plainly.

"I don't want…" Sam's voice caught in his throat, his eyes shimmering with tears. "Why do we have to be hunters?"

"You know the answer," Dean bristled, exchanging frowns with Sam.

Sam gave the flaming creature a murderous look.

"Sam," Dean softened. "You'll get used to hunting in a while."

"How long?" Sam swallowed, eyes searching Dean's.

Dean shrugged. "A while." He dropped down to one knee in front of Sam. "I'm sorry, little brother." Dean nodded.

"For what, Dean?" Sam shuddered slightly, tried to keep his face hard, but he could feel the tears escaping.

"I know, for you, this was a two thumbs down day." Dean pulled Sam against him. "Five-second rule, dude." Dean tightened his hold.

Sam let himself relax leaning forward into the embrace, feeling warmer. The five-second rule didn't just apply to fallen food. Dean allowed for five-seconds of chick-flick moments when the situation called for it. Sam allowed the moment, too, resting his chin on Dean's shoulder. For all the times his brother was a jerk, Dean truly did understand him, he was the best brother he could ever have.

"You know," Dean said after one second of silence. "You're better than most hunters twice your age, and tripple your size. Not many of them could have made that shot." Dean offered the rare complement with a tone of pride.

"Including you?" Sam asked -- two seconds.

"Don't get cocky, you little bitch," Dean hissed, loosening his hold on Sam -- three seconds.

Sam raised his chin off Dean's shoulder -- four.

"Let's pack it up." Five -- Dean stood, and walked away. "When we get back to the room, I can read you that Dr. Seuss book you love so much. "Ha!" Dean laughed opening the car door and sliding inside.

"Whatever, jerk," Sam whispered, growing cold again, watching his father poke and stir a stick around in the topaz-colored embers of evil.

The end