Summary: Sam's well trained, strong and brave, but he's most definitely afraid of clowns. A shapeshifter with a love for clowns almost had Sam once, but John and Dean ruin its plans. Could the second time be the charm?

A/N: Written for AngelfireSpirit's prompt over at the Summer of Sam Love livejounal fic exchange. A huge thanks to GidgetGal9 for being my awesome beta. Also, thanks to Kiscinca over at livejournal for making some amazing art to go with my story.

Spoilers: Minor for 3x08 A Very Supernatural Christmas.

Disclaimer: Don't own any of these characters but I certainty wish I did.

~*~*~

Sam held tight to his father's hand as they made their way through the enormous crowd of people, trying desperately to see through all the legs passing him. He wanted to get a good look at all the cool things he'd seen when they pulled into the parking lot.

There's a few really tall thing that Dean told him were rides like at the amusement park Dad took them to a few months ago. Sam was scared of them then and even if he wants his father and brother to think he's a big boy, it's not worth getting on one of those things.

The smaller ones he liked though and when he caught glimpses of the kiddie rides, as Dean would call them, he couldn't help the bolt of excitement that had him bouncing up and down. He tugged on his father's hand, trying to redirect their movement so he could get a better look and maybe even a chance to ride.

Instead of following him, his father easily scooped him up into those big bear like arms. "Not yet, Sammy."

Sam frowned but didn't fight to be put back down, he actually liked the view.

"When, Daddy?"

"Soon, Buddy."

Sam was pretty sure he'd never seen this many people in one place. Even that amusement park hadn't been as crowded.

He squirmed a bit in his father's arms, trying to see over the broad shoulders and make sure that Dean was still there. His big brother was never far, but sometimes he just needed to be sure.

Seeing Dean walking beside the two of them, Sam turned his attention back to his father. "Can Dean and I play games too?" He watched John's face closely, easily picking up on an argument and instantly turning on his baby charm. "Please, Daddy?"

John sighed and he knew that meant he had won. He smiled brightly and threw his arms around his father's neck, hugging tightly.

His father and older brother had a horrible time of saying no to him and he knew it. He might be four, almost five, but he was quite the conniving little boy. Then what could you expect when he learned from the best, that being Dean of course.

John finally stopped walking in front of a long trailer, away from the noisy crowd, and placed Sam gently back onto the ground. "You be good and listen to Dean now, ya hear, Sammy?"

Sam pulled his hand up to his head and saluted his father. "Yes, Sir."

John laughed and knelt down in front of him and Dean, tugging Sam's hand down and kissing him on the forehead. "You've been watching too much TV, son." Sam giggled and John turned to Dean, kissing him on the forehead and squeezing his shoulder. "You watch out for him and be good yourself, Dean."

Dean turned to Sam and smiled, making Sam slightly nervous. "I will, Sir."

One last good bye and John was up the steps and in the trailer in seconds, leaving Sam and Dean to stare after him.

Dean broke the silence a moment later, grabbing Sam's hand and tugging him back towards the crowd. "I want to show you something, Sammy."

"Can't we just stay here, Dean?"

"Why? Are you Chicken?"

"No," Sam thought about it for a moment but then puffed his tiny chest out a bit, standing taller. "I just don't like the crowd. Too many people, Dean."

"Just come on."

"Where we goin'?"

"You'll see."

Sam followed close to Dean, his hand clutching the hem of his brother's shirt for dear life. He wishes he were more like Dean, able to stand tall and push his way through all the mean giants but Sam was just not that brave. Maybe one day he'd be tall enough but he was just barely staring at everyone's knees, he wondered if they could even see him. He feared they would stomp on him and squish him like that bug Dean killed in their motel room.

One of the really mean giants ran into him and he was pretty certain that they really couldn't see him. He lost his balance slightly and ended up running into someone else and he could hear the person's angry voice above him before he was pushed once more in the other direction this time.

Dad had warned him about strangers and how never to talk to them or go anywhere with one, but Sam can't imagine ever wanting to talk to or go with one of these mean people.

The force of the second push had him toppling to his knees and he felt his grip on Dean's shirt slip. When he looked up he could no longer see Dean through the crowd of people and he forgot all about being brave as the tears started to roll down his cheeks.

~*~*~

Dean smirked to himself and he pushed his way through the crowd of people. He'd seen the shooting game on the way in and he really wanted to play it but knew Dad would never let him. It wasn't generally accepted that an eight year old know how to shoot a gun, or so Dad told him.

His little brother looked pretty horrified at the idea of heading back out into the crowd, but Dean couldn't leave him here. Either way Dad would kill him, but there'd be a better chance of not getting caught if he took Sammy with him.

He felt the tiny hand curled in his shirt and smiled. Despite his fear Sam really would do anything if Dean asked him, which kind of really stunk for Sam sometimes.

Feeling kind of guilty Dean tilted his head to the side so his brother could hear him over the crowd. "We're almost there, Sammy."

He didn't hear a response but he just figured either Sam hadn't heard him or he couldn't hear Sam. It took him a bit to realize that there was no longer an annoying little brother tugging at his shirt.

Dean stopped in the middle of the crowd and turned around, his eyes searching out Sam. When he couldn't see the shaggy haired kid anywhere he felt himself begin to panic.

"Sammy!" He darted off in the direction they came, not caring that he was running into people on his way.

He knew Sam would never deliberately run away and he also knew how frightened his brother had been which meant something happened. He was hoping they just simply got separated; Sam maybe stopped for a second and thought he had too. Of course Dean wouldn't have heard if Sam had asked him to stop.

Short lived relief ran through his young body when he spotted the trailer his father had walked into just minutes earlier. Forgetting all about his the manners and rules his Dad had taught him, he quickly ran up the steps and bagged frantically on the door.

"Yes?" A vibrantly dressed clown opened the door and Dean blinked a few times until his shock disappeared.

He tried to peer around the clown but the thing just kept moving to block his view, "Where's my Dad?"

~*~*~

John held up a manila folder with three wallet sized photos clipped to it. "Do you remembering seeing these kids at all, Mr…?"

"Call me Giggles." The clown chuckled and smiled at John as he motioned for him to have a seat.

He put on his most polite smile and tired not to laugh. "I'd rather not. Please, Sir, if I could have your real name for my records."

"Everyone knows me as Giggles, officer." The clown frowned and John swore that had to be the most ridiculous thing he'd ever seen. "Does it bother you?"

"It's hard to take you serious, sir." John cleared his throat before continuing. "This is really important and I really need you to cooperate with the investigation."

"I promise you, I am fully ready to cooperate."

Figuring he wasn't getting anywhere, John sighed and forced another smile. "Alright, Giggles, do you remember these kids?"

"Well…" A loud obnoxious banging interrupted the clown, but he didn't same shocked by the interruption at all. "Excuse me for a second."

John watched as the man stood and opened the trailer door, keeping his body fully in the doorway as if prepared for whoever it was to try and invade his space. Hearing the voice at the door, John was on his feet in seconds, picking up on the obvious panic in Dean's words.

"Dean?" He tugged the clown back with little effort and pulled Dean inside. "What is it, son?"

The boy starred up at John with frightened eyes, unshed tears making them shine. "Sammy's missing."

John grabbed Dean's hand and rushed out of the trailer, not realizing that Giggles was following behind them. Even if he did realize, he couldn't really bring himself to care. All he was worried about was finding his youngest.

He held tightly to Dean's hand as they pushed through the slowly diminishing crowd, looking every which way for Sammy. Dean didn't argue the hold at all, obviously on the same single track as John was.

~*~*~

Dean held just as tightly to his father's hand as they raced through the carnival. His guilt was piling up the longer it took to find his brother.

Sam was out there all alone, lost among all those strange people that Dean knew Sam was scared of yet forced his brother to follow him. He was scared now too. Scared that they wouldn't find Sam and it would all be his fault.

He should have just stayed where they were and waited for Dad. The shooting game definitely wasn't worth losing his brother.

Suddenly John had stopped and Dean was barreling into the back of his father. He followed his Dad's line of sight and knew instantly why they had stopped.

"Hey, officer!" The obnoxious clown from the trailer was waving his hands toward the two of them. "Over here!"

They just stood still for a few seconds before Dean felt himself being pulled forward once more, praying the man, or clown, had found something useful.

As they got closer Dean could see the thing inching slowly toward a huddled figure tucked against one of the game stands. Dean knew instantly that it was Sam.

~*~*~

Sammy hugged his jacket to him as tight as he could, trying to keep his head up as he walked but he was getting more and more tired. He knew Dean would be looking for him and he knew he should stay in one place but it was too scary.

He tried to get back to where his Dad was but then he'd just ended up more lost and more afraid as the people kept pushing past him.

There was no way he'd be able to find his family, he could only wait for them to find him and he knew they would.

"You lost, kid?"

Sam turned around quickly and screamed at the painted face starring down at him. He tried to turn back and run in the opposite direction but the thing grabbed his arm with its gloved hand and started tugging him.

Thinking quickly, Sam threw his other fists as hard as he could into the clowns groin and fell to the ground when his wrist was finally set free. He backed away as fast as he could, backing up into a hard surface just as the clown was regaining his composure.

Sam saw the clown turn around for a second and call out to someone before his attention was once again turned back on Sam. Before he got any closer though, Sam heard his name being called and he knew instantly he was saved.

"Its okay, Sammy." Dean dropped to his knees and Sam threw his arms around him.

He hugged Dean as tight as he possibly could, his head buried in his brother's neck as he let his tears soak Dean's t-shirt. When he lifted his head he quickly regretted it, seeing the clown once more only caused him to tighten his hold on Dean.

"Don't let it get me, Dean." Sam mumbled.

Dean hugged him just as close. "I won't, Sammy, I promise."

Sam braved lifting his head once more and was surprised to no longer see the clown. Instead he saw his father crouched beside them and Sam finally let go of Dean only to throw himself at John.

He knew they would find him.

"You ready to go home, buddy?" His father's beard scratched his face as the words were whispered into his ear but he didn't mind.

"Daddy?" He pulled back a bit and stared up at John, eyes still wide.

His dad smiled at him as he pulled Sam closer and got to his feet. "Yeah, Son?"

"I don't like clowns."

He felt the rumble of his father's laughter as they slowly made their way out of the scary place and back to the car. He wasn't sure what was funny but he didn't really care, instead he laid his head down on his father's neck and closed his tired eyes.

"They may look a little frightening, kiddo," His dad squeezed him tighter. "But they won't hurt you."

"Not as long as you and Dean are here."

Sam knew by the way the giant arms around him tightened that he was right. Nothing would ever hurt him with his dad and big brother around; they would always keep him safe. Even from big nasty, ugly looking, clowns.

~*~*~


Five years later

Sam stuffed the last of his clothes into his bag and threw the bag over his shoulder, following his brother out to the car. The two of them tossed their duffels into the trunk and then climbed into their respected seats.

He tried to sit quietly and wait for his dad but he couldn't stop himself from asking. "Do you think Dad will let me help out on this one?"

He didn't need to see Dean's face to know his brother was sporting his usual annoyed look. "You already helped out with the research."

"I want to do more, Dean."

"It's too dangerous, Sammy." Dean didn't bother turning around just stuck the keys their father gave them into the ignition. "Trust me; you don't want to be in on this one."

"You always say that." He crossed his arms and huffed out an angry sigh. "I'll never be allowed out of this damn car."

Dean turned to him this time and Sam bit his lip. "Watch the language in front of Dad, you hear me."

"Fine, but will you talk to him about letting me go, please?"

"No Sam."

"Why not?"

"Because." Dean turned back around and started fooling with the radio. "There will be clowns."

Sam rolled his eyes and reached over the seat to smack his brother in the head. "I'm not scared of clowns, Dean!"

He smirked when Dean grimaced in pain and rubbed at the back of his head. "Oh really?"

"I'm not Dean. It's just something you keep making up."

"Okay, Sam." Dean just turned up the volume on the radio and Sam glared at the back of his head. "You're still not going with us."

Sam wanted so badly for his glare to do something, anything, maybe even make Dean's hair spontaneously catch on fire, but nothing happened.

Dean continued to ignore his obvious anger and tapped out the drum beat to the annoyingly loud music.

Finally their father got into the car and instantly turned the volume down, sending Dean a similar glare as Sam.

Sam was just as angry at his father for not letting him on the hunt, but it was easier to be mad at his brother. He knew Dean couldn't punish him.

He also knew that they both were only trying to keep him safe but he wanted to prove to them he could do it. He's been training now for a few months and his Dad's already told him how impressed his was with not only Sam's research skills but his shooting too.

Seeing his Dad smiling slightly in the review mirror, Sam felt he might get lucky this time. "Hey, Dad?"

"No, Sam."

"You didn't even let me finish."

"You're not going."

"You both suck!"

Sam could hear Dean laughing and reached over the seat to smack him again. This time Dean just laughed even harder, not even flinching at the hit.

Thankfully their father stepped in as Sam's anger started to build to an uncontrollable level. "This isn't a first timer type of hunt, Sam. I'm not taking you on this one, but soon you'll get your first one, okay?"

Sam deflated and dropped his argument. "Fine."

"Plus," He saw his father look at him in the mirror again with a smile. "There'll be clowns."

"I'm not afraid of clowns!"

~*~*~

Sam was the master of the bitch face, according this his brother. Their dad would always berate Dean for the language but he never disagreed because Sam truly was one indignant child when he wanted to be.

He kept his arms crossed, face pulled down in an angry frown as he stared heatedly at his father in the rear view mirror.

Being the youngest Winchester was a curse sometimes.

"Sammy," His brother turned toward him after awhile and tried to lighten the mood. "We'll only be gone for an hour, tops. You can even listen to my Walkman if you want."

"I could have stayed at the motel." Sam spat back.

"Enough, Sam." Any further argument was silenced by the anger in his father's voice. Sam knew enough to realize when things went from playful to irate with his father. "Can't you just take no for an answer one time, and actually stick with it for longer than five minutes? You will get to hunt, but not tonight."

Sam finally unfolded his arms and his head dropped to his chest. "Yes, sir."

"Now are you through with your whining?" Sam nodded solemnly, long bang shielding his sad eyes. "Good. Why don't you tell us about your research?"

He perked up a bit and watched his dad closely for any hint that this was just an attempt to placate Sam, but he didn't find any. Nothing but pure interest was reflected in his father's eyes and it was finally his time to shine.

Proudly, he sat up straighter and pushed his shoulders back as he explained. "I think it's a shape shifter."

Sam watched both Dean and his Dad, waiting for either of them to laugh and tell him how horribly wrong he was, but neither even smirked.

"What makes you think that?" There was no condescension in the tone; his father was only trying to understand all the facts.

"It's happened at all of these different carnivals for the past six weeks, right?" He sat forward on his seat, leg bouncing with excitement. "And the police had found different prints at each site, plus, those fingerprints belong to suspects who all claim they've never been to the carnival."

Sam handed his brother the folder he put together, watching closely as Dean sifted through the article clippings and police reports. Every picture was different, and there was no common characteristic between them either.

The men all lived over thirty five miles away from the scene of their suspected crime, and also have strong alibis during the time of the murder.

The case had been a bit difficult for Sam to researching, having to read about the deaths of children not far from his own age. It's the type of things that gave other kids nightmares and have them running for their parents, but Sam was determined to search out the details in order to help his father no matter how gruesome the case was.

Whatever was responsible, snatched lost kids on the last night of the carnivals, dragging them off the grounds, somewhere secluded and typically grimy. Every child was murdered in the same way, leaving a clear connection between the murders.

Except that no evidence existed to back the connection. The state police were truly stumped, but fooled officials were nothing new for the Winchesters.

"This is some very thorough research, Sammy."

Sam watched Dean turn toward their father, proud smile curling at his brother's lips, and he was pretty sure his own smile couldn't get any bigger.

His dad glanced down at the folder that Dean held out for him and then turned his eyes back to the mirror to catch Sam's. "Great job, son. Now we just need to figure out whose face the shifter stole tonight."

"I also researched the area," Sam waited to make sure he had his family's attention before he continued with the most confidence he'd had in awhile. "There's an abandoned barn less than a mile away from the carnival grounds. Besides that, there's nothing us around but fields."

"So we know where he'll be taking his victim." Dean handed Sam his folder back with a smile that had Sam blushing.

"It won't get that far." His Dad's voice grew deathly serious and Sam knew he was now fully in hunter mood.

He almost felt bad for the poor sucker knowing that John Winchester wasn't letting the monster live past this evening.

~*~*~

When they finally pulled up to the carnival grounds, the place was still fairly empty as families were just beginning to arrive.

Dean watched his father scan the filling parking lot, eyes on patrol for anyone suspicious as he and John both dragged themselves out of the Impala. He spared Sam an apologetic glance before he moved toward the trunk.

"You think he'll be okay out here?" He whispered, hoping his father heard him but also that his brother hadn't.

"Better here than in there, you know that."

"I just don't feel right leaving him alone, unprotected."

"He'll have a gun, Dean." He grabbed the two pistols from his father and stowed one into his waist band. "If anything comes after him, he'll know what to do."

"Then why not let him come with us?"

"Dean," The obvious aggravation ended Dean's end of the conversation. "Let's just get this over with, okay?"

Dean nodded and headed back to the side of the car. He opened his brother's door slowly and crouched down in front of Sam.

It was obvious Sam was still quite peeved at being left in the car, but Dean gave the kid credit for keeping his protests to a minimum. Sam wasn't the type to give in easily and Dean, unlike their father, actually liked that about the kid.

"We'll be back before you know it." He handed Sam the other pistol, watching as the younger boy eyed it nervously. "You'll know if you have to use it, but I doubt you will."

"Be careful, Dean." Sam's eyes were slightly shiny and Dean had to look away for a second.

Dean's been going on smaller hunts with his father since he was Sam's age, leaving the younger boy with family friends, but it's been much tougher since Christmas.

Ever since Sam found out the frightening truth about what his family really does, Dean's found it much more difficult to part ways with his brother. Sam was more reluctant to let them go for awhile, but he eventually came to understand.

When his aggressive protests turned into quiet puppy eyes and forced promises that Dean and their father would be okay, that was hardest for Dean.

Now that Sam knows he's old enough to be included, Dean's pretty certain he only wants to be able to keep an eye on him and their dad. Truthfully, Dean would much rather Sam was with them, most of the time, for that same exact reason.

Dean shook his head and stared back at Sam.

"Hey," He warned, catching Sam's shoulder in his hand. "I'm always careful. We'll be back."

"Promise?"

Those puppy eyes got Dean every time.

"Always, Sammy." He smiled and shut the door, making sure it was locked before turning to follow his Father on to the grounds.

One more glance back at the car and he tried to convince himself that Sam would be okay.

The kid had one of Dean's larger hand-me-down winter coats, so he should be warm enough, but that really wasn't what worried Dean at all.

Sam would be safer in the car, Dean knew that, but a part of him would never get used to walking away from his little brother.

He felt his father nudge him in the side and he smiled slightly, knowing John was feeling the same way, even if he wouldn't admit it.

"What exactly do we look for?" Dean asked as they started their first lap around the grounds.

"To begin with, anyone who is paying a bit too much attention children."

"Dad, it's a carnival. That makes a lot of suspects."

The crowd started to really fill in the carnival grounds, making their job even harder and Dean really didn't understand the thrill of walking around in the cold just to waste a few bucks.

As they passed the section marked off for the workers a strange sense of déjà vu suddenly hit him. He stopped for a moment before realization hit him.

"You've been on a job like this before haven't you?"

"Yes."

The quick, but short, answer only had his suspicions increasing.

"That was the one where Sam got lost, right?"

His father only nodded this time, tugging him forward away from the trailers.

"Do you think it's the same thing?"

"I know it's the same thing."

"How?"

"Same MO, Dean." His father finally stopped and turned to face him. "I missed it last time and the thing moved on to a different state after that night. Then Bobby called a few night ago, said he caught wind of similar murders here in Maine and with what Sam found out, I knew it was the same thing."

"That thing could have gotten Sammy then, huh?" Dean remembered how frightening that night had been, but thankfully he hadn't known all the details at the time.

"Could have, but we found him in time. We were lucky."

"That's why you don't want him out here, isn't it?"

"The thing preys on young kids, Dean." Suddenly Dean was extremely thankful his brother was in the car, not lost.

"Did it ever kill that night?"

"No." His dad turned back and started another lap around the carnival. "I'm not sure why, but I can't say I care to question that one too much."

Dean nodded and followed closely behind, his eyes picking up anyone he even thought looked remotely suspicious.

It was seriously turning out to be a bust, especially since they didn't have much to go on when it came to suspects. The men were always average Joes and none of them appeared intimidating at all if you asked him.

They kept their ears and eyes open for lost children, making sure if they couldn't catch the shifter they could at least make its victim pool a little smaller.

The crowds started to disperse around nine thirty; only a few nut jobs stayed much later in the freezing cold, but there was still no sign of the shifter. There weren't even any frantic parents in a desperate search for a missing child.

They stayed just inside the main entrance until the last patron was gone hoping for a last minute lead, but none came.

Dean wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He hoped it meant the shifter had for some reason decided not to attack, but Dean was pretty sure that wasn't the case.

"What do we do now?" He tugged his jacket tighter, the cold really starting to get to him.

His father sighed and scratched at the back his neck. "I guess we go back to car and then check out that barn."

"You think it has a victim?" Dean stared at John in confusion. "No one was missing a kid."

"I think we need to check it out." He nodded and continued to follow his father to the car.

There was no denying the ache in his chest that screamed to see Sam safe and sound in the Impala, probably passed out across the backseat.

He just hoped Sam wasn't too pissed for them being longer than expected.

~*~*~

The sounds from the carnival were filtering through the windows and Sam tried his best to ignore them but found his attention drifting toward the bright lights more than once. He glanced at his watch and sighed; His family should be back any second now.

He leaned over the seat and grabbed Dean's Walkman, turning it up as loud as he could, hoping the music wouldn't be as distracting.

It took him another hour to finish the book he was reading yet his father and brother where still nowhere to be seen. The fear he tried to hold back was starting to make its self known as he stared at the entrance, waiting impatiently to see Dean and John.

Another half hour and he had enough of waiting.

He quickly pulled the earphones out and threw his book on the seat beside him. In his rush he didn't even realize he knocked his gun to the ground as he slid out of the car and hurried for the carnival.

Ever since he was little he's never been much for crowds, they've always made him feel small and nervous.

Dean and Dad had told him about the times he'd gotten lost, and it happened quite frequently according to them. Sam didn't really remember any times but he assumed that's where his fear had originated.

Now was a bit different though.

He was well trained and able to defend himself. Plus, he may not be as tall as Dean but he knew he was tall enough that the crowd of adults that surround him really shouldn't freak him out anymore.

Still there was something about crowds that put him on edge.

His eyes searched the grounds frantically as he pushed his way through the thick mass of people, but despite the added inches, Sam was still unable to see much.

The sound of a balloon popping at a nearby booth caused him to jump and reach for the gun that he had forgotten at the car. He cursed himself for being so jumpy and for forgetting his dad's biggest rule, never go anywhere unarmed.

He took a few deep, calming breaths as he started to move forward once more.

Sam tugged his jacket close to him and craned his neck as far as he could to see around another group of people. He was so focused on what was beyond the group that he wasn't paying attention to what was right in front of him.

He stumbled backward when he rammed into a larger body, sending him flat on his backside.

"I'm so sorry, sir." He shook his head to try and clear the fog before he glanced up at the man before him.

His eyes grew large at the thing standing above him, the brightly colored outfit being the first thing he saw. Sam swore there was something familiar about the painted face starring down at him but he couldn't figure out what.

"You lost, kid?" The clown reached a hand down to help Sam up but he refused the offer and pulled himself to his feet.

"No, just going to meet up with some friends." Sam tucked his hands into his pockets, eyes looking around the clown, trying to seem as sincere as possible.

"Could I help you find them?"

He shook his head and tried to move around the clown, breathing a bit faster than normal. He definitely wasn't afraid of clowns though.

Sam easily slipped past the creepy thing and didn't bother turning back around, wanting nothing more than to be as far away as possible. He didn't even pick up on the footsteps following him.

That was until he felt the hand on his arm, tugging him backwards and behind one of the tents, another hand covering his mouth, cutting off his frightened scream.

His heart beat picked up even more as his movement became frantic, trying desperately to pull away from the clown. He kicked his leg back into the thing's knee, praying it had held enough force.

Unfortunately the clown quickly regained its composure and instead of letting go, Sam felt himself being tugged tighter, the hand around his mouth squeezing as much as possible. He tried in vain to scream out but nothing would be heard, he was just wasting his energy.

"You were the one that got away, Sam Winchester." The clown whispered venomously into Sam's ears. "I could have had you, but no, you're Dad showed up and ruined all my fun. Well not this time."

Before Sam could even process what was going on, an arm was tightening around his neck. His fighting spiked again, body working on auto pilot, but it was useless. The arm kept pressure until all Sam saw was blackness as his knees buckled beneath him.

~*~*~

He couldn't really explain what it was, but something inside Dean was screaming for him to run as fast as he could and that's exactly what he did.

Behind him he could hear his father yelling at him to slow down, but he knew Dad was right behind him, fear just as strong.

By the time they reached the car both were breathing rather heavy, from both exertion and fear, but they couldn't see Sam.

Dean raced up to the back door and peered inside only to find nothing except his Walkman and Sam's book. He kicked his foot across the dirt in frustration and his toes caught something hard, sliding it underneath the car.

When he bent down to see what it was, his heart nearly stopped.

"Dad," He picked the gun up in his hand, the cold metal almost burning his palm.

The moment his father's eyes laid on the pistol, he knew they were thinking the same thing. Sam was gone, lost and unarmed.

"Do you think it has Sam?" Dean could hear the panic in his voice, knew he sounded like a scared child, but right then he didn't care.

He waited for his father to say something, wanting to hear that his assumptions were wrong, but John never said a word. The silence spoke just as much though and Dean knew that things just got really personal.

"Get in the car." He didn't hesitate for a second following his father's order and simply jumped in the passenger seat seconds before they tore out of the parking lot.

~*~*~

"About time you woke up."

Sam blinked his eyes open slowly, his vision a little fuzzy around the edges as he tried to figure out where he was.

The first thing he realized was that he couldn't move. His arms were stretched out at his shoulders, hands tied to whatever he was lying on, and his legs were spread apart, feet tied in the same manner as his wrists.

This definitely wasn't good.

Then the voice registered in his foggy mind and he tried to catch a glimpse of the person behind it. Whoever it was stayed out of his line of vision, but Sam knew they were close by, somewhere above his head.

"You're a fighter, Sam." He turned his head to the side as the voice drifted closer. "Most kids just give in so easily, but not you. I like that."

"Screw you."

"Now, now," Finally the thing moved into view and Sam couldn't stop the gasp that escaped. "Didn't your father teach you not to speak that way?"

"How do you know me?" The face starring down at him was different this time, a little darker and definitely more frightening, but Sam still saw something familiar.

"Oh, you don't remember?" He could have sworn the clown look genuinely saddened that Sam could possibly forget him, but that didn't last long. "You were only about four at the time, but, I almost had you if it weren't for that father and brother of yours. Don't worry though, I have you now and the fun hasn't even started yet."

Sam closed his eyes and turned away from the clown as its face twisted into an evil grin, made worse by the dark red paint around his mouth.

He heard the shifter walk away but he knew not to get excited, especially when he heard clattering of metal. Sam knew a lot about weapons and he definitely recognized that sound of knives being sharpened, but it never frightened him until now.

After about ten minutes, Sam heard footsteps nearing him again and he opened his eyes, turning toward the sound. Once again, the face he saw was different.

Each time the shifter changed, the painted face seemed to get darker and more menacing, if that were even possibly.

Sam tried to come off brave, remembering everything his father and brother had taught him. "So you have a kink for clowns?"

Maybe his father wouldn't have approved or his words, since he was definitely too young to be using such language, but that's what happens when you grew up with Dean. If there was anything Sam knew it was that his brother was definitely the bravest teenager there was and Sam needed to be just as brave.

"Why?" The thing asked, moving over Sam and leaning right into his personal space. "Does it freak you out?"

"No." Sam bit his lip and turned away from the angry face, trying to block out the images and focus on something else.

"Liar, liar pants on fire." The clown cackled.

Sam heard a click somewhere near his feet and he fought desperately against the restraints in order to see exactly what was happening. His movements became more frantic when his eyes fell on the lighter, a large flame flickering from the top.

The clown's evil grin grew wider as it moved the flame to Sam's pants, holding the lighter at the hem until finally the cloth ignited. Sam continued to thrash about as he fought to escape the fire spreading up his legs. Though he knew his battle was pointless, he couldn't bring himself to give up, not yet.

It lasted only a few seconds but it felt like forever as the heat spread up both his legs until at last the clown put out the fire. He felt the tears threatening to spill over as he tried to breathe through the pain, refusing to give the clown any further satisfaction.

The smell of burnt flesh lingered in the air causing Sam's stomach to churn and he swallowed hard to keep the bile from rising. His skin blistered even though the fire had been put out and while he tried to focus on something other than the pain, he couldn't help dreading what was to come if this was only the beginning.

All he could do was remember that he needed to be strong, like Dean; that his brother and father were coming for him.

"Now let me ask you again," He heard the snicker in the clown's voice as it got closer, face having changed once more. "Are you afraid of clowns, Sammy?"

"It's Sam." He spit the words out aggressively, purposely making sure he actually managed to spit right in the clown's face.

The creature's latest face had completely black eyes, his mouth encircled in blood-red with a thick outline of black. It wasn't like clowns could look much different but Sam felt his fear picking up each time he looked at the thing, more so each time he saw the clown grin.

The first cut came as a surprise, the knife running along his cheek. His eyes flew open in shock and he turned his head, unintentionally, toward the knife, making it cut even deeper.

"Look at me when I talk, boy."

Sam knew he was whimpering and he wished to God he could stop, wished he could be strong like his father and brother were, but he was still weak; still scared of a stupid monster wearing a stupid clown face.

"You think they're going to save you this time?" The knife moved down Sam's face, sliding over his neck and down his chest till it was resting over his stomach. "You think they'll get here before I kill you?"

Another cut across his stomach and Sam actually screamed out, biting his lip as hard as he could to stop himself from giving the thing anymore satisfaction. Blood started to pool in his mouth and he knew he'd bitten his lip too hard, but he didn't care.

The blood flowing down his cheek seemed to be slowing down, but his stomach was making up for it as the blood continuously poured from the cut at a scary pace.

He threw his head back against the hard table he was restrained to and silently prayed that his family would save him.

"They won't save you this time, Sammy."

The knife slid down his left arm and Sam sucked in a breath so deep he almost choked, but he didn't scream this time.

"They'll be here," He wheezed out through the pain as another cut was made across his chest. "And they'll kill your ugly ass."

The clown just laughed even harder as he dug the knife into Sam's stomach again and cut parallel with the other wound.

Sam bit his lip again, drawing more of his own blood, before the pain became too much and he thankfully welcomed the blackness that devoured him.

~*~*~

John paid no attention to speed limits and traffic laws as he tore out of the parking lot and around the carnival until he spotted the old barn.

He turned the Impala onto the farm land, speeding through the long since dried up corn crop as they made their way to the barn. Thankfully where the car lacked traction it made up for in speed.

Less than a minute later John was slamming the car into park, inches from crashing into the barn, as he and Dean hopped out and ran toward the building.

The situation caught up with John and his senses finally snapped back as he grabbed a hold of Dean's arm and stopped them right outside the door.

"We need a plan." He whispered as he searched the area around them. "We'll put Sam in more danger if we just barge in there."

He watched Dean nod sadly as they quietly made their way around the barn, checking for all possible entries.

They were just reaching the back when they heard it. Both of them stopping in their tracks as the frightened scream filled the air.

John grabbed Dean's arm once again, holding on tight when he felt the teenage tense beside him.

"Sammy!" He clamped a hand over Dean's mouth, pulling him close when his oldest tried to pull away and rush into the barn.

"You need to stay calm, Dean." John pointed toward the ladder leading to a window in the loft of the barn as he slowly removed his hand. "You climb through there and I'll sneak through the front door, okay?"

He waited for Dean to nod before he gave his son's shoulder a comforting squeezing and then moved back around the barn, toward the front door.

The large doors in the front were thankfully left unlocked and even open a crack, making it easy for John to slip inside the barn. He carefully crept along the wall, finding cover in the dark shadows as he tried to follow the muffled voice.

His mind raced as he remembered the terrified scream of his youngest and he had to desperately remind himself that playing it smart was the only way to help Sam.

He couldn't help blaming himself for Sam being taken in the first place. There was no reason for him to believe the shifter would get to Sam in the car, but if only he'd let the boy come along than they wouldn't be here right now.

John pushed the guilt to the side. He needed to stay sharp if he was going to save Sam, 'what if's' could wait.

Finally the shifter came into view and John caught a glimpse of the small body tied to the table as well as the glint of the knife resting just above Sam. John felt his blood boil when he noticed the blood dripping from the table, knowing it was coming from his son.

He looked up at the loft trying to spot Dean but his eldest was already making his way up the other side of the barn. Both shared a quick look that said everything they needed to know.

John waited till the shifter stood up to its full height, enough that he was sure Sam wouldn't be harmed, before he lifted his gun and pulled the trigger. The shifter jerked as the bullet pierced its heart before it fell limp over the table and Sam.

What frightened John was that Sam hadn't moved at all.

Dean was the first one to move but John was quick to follow, easily tossing the clown off his youngest and taking in the boy's state. The blood was still steadily flowing from Sam's wounds and John couldn't help but notice just how much blood was already spilled.

He shrugged out of his jacket and pulled off his button down shirt, ripping it in half and trying one strip around Sam's arm. John looked up as Dean shed his own shirt, shoving it at John in a hurry.

Taking the offered shirt, John smiled sadly at Dean before rolling the shirt up and pressing it to Sam's stomach before tying his own shirt around the wounds. It wasn't the best but it would do until they could get Sam to the hospital.

John picked his jacket up off the ground as Dean carefully untied Sam's binds, and John saw him eagerly watching his brother's face for any signs of waking. Surprisingly, Sam did stir as Dean untied his ankles but the whimper was anything but comforting.

"It's okay, Sammy." John whispered soothingly, running his hand through the boy's hair.

"His legs are burnt, Dad." His attention moved toward Dean as he finally looked down at Sam's blistered legs.

The pants were singed, revealing angry red skin and John had to close his eyes for a second to remind himself that the shifter was already dead. He wished he could bring the thing back just to kill it again, slow and painful.

"They don't look to bad, though." Dean touched the burnt flesh gently and John caught the soft whimpers again as Sam eyes slowly fluttered open. "Only second degree."

"Sammy?" John continued to rub his hand gently through the boy's hair, waiting till Sam's eyes focus on him. "We're here now, kiddo, everything going to be okay."

"I knew you'd come." He strained to hear Sam's words but he smiled when they registered in his frenzied mind.

Gently he tugged Sam up and wrapped his coat around Sam's small shoulders before he carefully picks his son up into his arms. The thought made him feel guilty but he could help enjoying the way Sam snuggled close to his chest, arms wrapped tiredly around his neck.

John held Sam close as the three of them finally made their way out of the dark barn, none of them bothered to spare the shifter another glance.

~*~*~

The first thing Sam was aware of when he woke up was that he could no longer smell the rotting wood of the barn. Instead the air was clean and sterile.

Sam knew instantly where he was.

"Dad?" His voice creaked as he tried to blink his eyes open, the harsh light causing him to close them quickly.

"Right here, Sammy." A gently hand rested against his left cheek, thumb rubbing calmly at his cheek bone. "How ya feeling, kiddo?"

"Like a carved turkey."

He heard two snickers from either side of his bed and even smiled himself, despite the painful pull from the cut on his right cheek.

"That's about right, little brother." Dean's hand gripped his smaller one and Sam melted into the comforting touches, reminding him that his family was right there with him.

Finally Sam blinked his eyes open, eventually adjusting to the lights above him. He turned toward his father first, noticing the worry and guilt before the emotions could be hidden behind his Dad's strong facade.

"Are you okay, Dad?" Sam moved his hand up to grip his father's, squeezing it tightly.

"Of course I am, Sammy." He kept eye contact even as John tried to look away, but he wouldn't let it go, he knew his Dad was lying.

"Dad?"

"I'm sorry, son."

Sam turned to Dean this time, wondering if his brother had any idea what was going on, but Dean looked just as confused. Finally their father took his seat and pulled his hands away from Sam, leaving Sam feeling cold without the touch.

"What are you sorry for, Dad?" He watched John run a hand over the stubble on his face before guilty eyes met Sam's.

"I shouldn't have left you in the car. I thought you'd be safe there but I was wrong."

Sam looked away from his father, eyes staring down at his hands as his own guilt took over. "I left the car, Dad."

"What?"

He could hear the poorly suppressed anger in John's tone but he also knew his father was more concerned than angry.

"It had been almost three hours and you guys weren't back," Sam bit his lip but winced as he tugged at his previous sore. "I got worried so I went to find you guys. That's when the thing got me."

He waited for John to start yelling but when his father only reached up and squeezed his hand, Sam decided to continue his story.

"It thought I was lost, but I told him I wasn't; told him I was looking for friends." He didn't miss the proud grin on both his father and brother's face. "I started to walk away but he grabbed me from behind. He knew me, Dad, said he almost had me one time."

Sam's hands started to shake and he felt his family tighten their hold, his father's hand moving up to run through his hair again. He relaxed a bit at the returned touch and listened as his father answered his question.

"I was on the same case when you were four but I didn't know as much back then because I didn't have your brains yet." Sam smiled but blushed at his father's praise. "You got lost in the crowd and the clown I was questioning found you, but we heard you scream before he could actually snatch you."

"He made sure I couldn't scream this time."

"We still found you though." Dean gently squeezed Sam's shoulder, effectively bringing Sam away from his dark memories. "But hopefully this'll make you understand why Dad and I don't want you on the hunt yet."

Sam winced at the words but nodded. "I'm sorry. I tried to be strong."

"Hey, now!" He snapped his eyes toward Dean, taken aback by the sudden anger. "I never said you were weak, Sam, you're far from it. You're just too tempting to most of these evil sons of bitches we hunt."

"Dean."

Sam couldn't help but laugh, knowing his Dad was scolding Dean for his language.

"Monsters." Dean corrected himself and Sam continued to smile as his brother rolled his eyes. "You get the point though, Sammy."

"You did well, kid." His father squeezed his other shoulder, pride shinning in his eyes.

"I left the car though."

"Yes and we'll discuss punishment later, but if it hadn't been for your thorough research, we wouldn't have known where to look."

Sam smiled at the praise as his eyes begun to suddenly feel heavy once more.

"Sleep, Sam." He felt Dean's hand brushing back his bangs as he turned his head to the side with a yawn. "We'll be here when you wake up, midget."

"I have a confession to make." He smiled sleepily and opened his eyes again, starring at his family standing around him. "I really don't like clowns."

As he drifted off into a pleasant sleep he heard Dean and John laugh and his smile widened.

He was well trained, strong and brave but he was most definitely afraid of those freaky painted faced things. He knew his family understood though.

If he never saw a clown ever again it would be too soon.


~*~*~DontKnowMyName~*~*~

Thanks so much for reading!

I had a lot of fun writing this story and I hope you guys enjoyed it.

If you have a moment I'd love to hear what you think. Your comments really fuel my creativity =).