The full title is: The Velveteen Winchester, or How Sam Became Real at Foster's Home for Um... Made 'Em Up Pals

A/N: Written quickly and un-beta'd, so any errors are mine, all mine. The front part of the story title is from The Velveteen Rabbit; the last half is from an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

Xover: Supernatural/Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends

Summary: Sam Winchester tries to make a life for himself at Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends.

Disclaimer: I don't own either Supernatural or Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. This is for entertainment only, and not for profit.

One upon a time there was a boy named Sam.

He was fairly certain that Sam was his name. Most days he'd answer to "Hey you."

Sam was a good boy now. Frankie and Madame Foster told him that all the time.

When he looked into the mirrors in the big hallway, Sam couldn't understand why he looked different sometimes. Sometimes he was tall, with shaggy brown hair. Sometimes he was shorter, but his hair was still shaggy.

His eyes were still sad, whether he was big or not.

That never changed.

He was pretty sure he wasn't in Kansas anymore, Toto. Sam didn't know why that kept coming to him, but it did. He wasn't even sure what Toto was, but a dog seemed about right. Sam liked the idea of that.

Sam thought he had family. Or maybe not. He was kind of fuzzy on the details. Sam thought his mother had long blonde hair and a bright beautiful smile. He couldn't remember seeing her in person. The image he had of her was kind of flat.

Thinking about his Dad made him mad and sad at the same time. Dad was big and growly and dark. Dad didn't understand Sam, and they yelled at each other. A lot.

And then there was Dean.

Dean was awesome. Dad was dark, Dean was light. Dean growled too, but he was different. He called Sam "Sasquatch", played pranks on him and bled for him, even told him he would die for him. They fought like cats and dogs sometimes (more like brothers, really) but Dean loved him, even when Sam had those headaches of his, the ones that turned everything yellow around him and hurt so bad it seemed like his head would explode.

Sam was Dean's imaginary friend.

Sam knew that because Madame Foster told Sam that four year old Dean really wanted a little brother, and he wished so hard and so long Sam appeared.

"Long as I'm around, nothing bad's gonna happen to you," Dean told him one day. Dean looked older, bigger, and Sam didn't trust that memory. Dean shouldered his duffel and looked Sam right in the eyes. "I'm not leavin' you, dude."

"Dean's not allowed to come here because he's bad," Duchess told Sam. He couldn't see her when she turned sideways. That was normal for her. "Dean likes sharp pointy things and guns and things that go boom. He likes fire. We can't have that around here. Dean's dangerous and you're lost and crazy. He doesn't want you around anymore, Sammy boy."

Sam didn't know what to make of that. She might have been right. He wasn't sure.

Sam still got excited whenever he heard a rumbly sound. It rumbled when it rained, rumbled when trucks went by on the road outside the Home. Some of the other friends teased Sam about it, but he still got excited.

They weren't his friends. They were someone else's friends. He was sure about that.

Sam cried himself to sleep most nights. His shoulders shook, and he didn't feel right, but when sleep overtook him Sam dreamed of battered brown leather, wide green eyes, and a cocky go to hell smirk.

Sam couldn't remember exactly how he came to the Home in the first place. Once he realized he couldn't leave, he fell into a routine fairly quickly.

At first the routine involved a lot of cussing. And fighting. He couldn't understand why Madame Foster's eyes looked funny sometimes. Frankie was nice enough to him, but Sam was a lost cause, and he knew it. Besides, Frankie had horns. They were underneath her hair, but Sam knew they were there just the same.

Sam tried not to stare at Mr. Herriman. The sight of a giant rabbit wearing a tuxedo and a monocle did freak him out a little, but it could have been worse.

It could have been clowns.

Mr. Herriman punished Sam for not following the house rules. In the beginning Sam got punished a lot.

Sam tried to leave, and Mr. Herriman broke his right leg just by thinking about it.

Sam mentioned Dean one time too many, and Mr. Herriman made Sam's voice go away for a while.

Mr. Herriman was not a nice rabbit. He knew tricks. Knew how to make Sam hurt without touching him. Mr. Herriman could keep Sam in agony for hours.

After a while Sam retreated inside his own head. He was a good boy when he came out. Most days his head hurt, low and dull and heavy, right behind his eyes. The Home smelled like burnt matches now, and Sam didn't mind.

He really hoped that Mac would take him home. Mac was only eight years old. He was kind and shy, but Bloo belonged to Mac, still did, apparently, and Sam didn't want to make Bloo mad.

Bloo looked funny, like a cylinder, but sometimes, when Sam didn't look at him directly, Bloo had red wrinkly skin and sharp white teeth like needles. The pranks Bloo played on Sam weren't as good as that time Dean put Nair in Sam's shampoo. Bloo's pranks hurt.

Sam remembered lying in bed moaning as his broken bones knitted themselves back together. Duchess sat by his bedside and laughed at all the blood.

Eduardo cowered in a corner nearby and cried because the sight of Sam's blood scared him.

The less said about Wilt, the better. He seemed friendly enough, with his stubby left arm. His left eyestalk was crooked. That was disturbing enough. He was very tall, and very red.

Sam hated the color red now.

Sam kept to himself, and he hoped Dean would come.

Dean didn't, and Sam wondered if Dean still loved him.

Prob'ly not.

It might have been a Tuesday when the clowns finally came for Sam.

Maybe it was a Wednesday.

The sun was out. Sam remembered thinking that since the sun was up in the sky outside, dark things had to stay hidden until the moon came up.

Sam knew he was wrong when he looked up and saw the first clown slink into the room sideways on four legs.

There were ten of them. Some of them walked on two legs. Some of them didn't even have legs. That redness around their mouths wasn't makeup. It was too dark and too thick, for one thing. It dripped down their chins and smelled like copper.

Sam backed into the wall of the rec room as they crept towards him. He stared at the pool table and he thought of picking up one of the pool cues, breaking it in half and staking the nearest one in the heart with it, but his muscles shook and his head hurt, so he just stood there. It was all he could do.

Freakin' clowns. Couldn't get any worse than this.

Nobody tried to help him. Not Frankie, not Mac, not even Wilt or Eduardo. Everyone stood around and watched.

The clowns wore bright colors like red and purple and green, but their skin was grey and mottled. Large black bugs scuttled out of their mouths and then burrowed back inside their ears. The lead clown was taller than Sam. Those clown eyes shone icy silver, and when he smiled his teeth moved and wiggled inside his mouth. His clown costume was smeared with blood and what looked like grey brain matter.

Come on, Sammy boy. Time to play.

They talked inside his head without opening their mouths, and the sound of those voices scraped Sam's brain.

Big brother doesn't love you anymore, remember?

Sam shivered.

If he did you wouldn't be here.

Sam shook.

So you're not real anymore.

Sam felt cold and dead inside.

It's mind over matter, little boy.

He didn't even flinch when Clown Boy reached out and gripped his shaky right bicep with bony white fingers.

We don't mind, 'cause you don't matter.

"Hey!" someone roared out. It was a single word that made everyone stop dead in this tracks.

Whoever this was sounded pissed.

Sam blinked. It wasn't Mr. Herriman. It wasn't Mac's brother Terrence, either. Sam recognized the voice, at least, he thought he did. His knees shook so much he pushed his back against the wall, hard, otherwise he would have slid right down to the floor.

Everyone turned to look at the man who stood in the doorway.

"You sonofabitch, get your damn hands off my brother," Dean Winchester snarled.

Dean had his sawed off shotgun in one hand, and a long handled ax in the other. The shiny silver head of the ax rested comfortably on Dean's shoulder. He had other weapons on him, too. Sam could tell.

The clown nearest the door snarled and rushed at Dean with its claws extended.

Dean smiled, bright and feral.

Sam watched his brother go to work. Duchess was right about one thing: Dean was a dangerous man.

And maybe Sam wasn't lost and crazy anymore.

"Dude," Dean murmured softly. "I'm...I'm sorry."

Sam froze. Sorry? He still couldn't think straight. His body felt like it was shrinking, going from big to little, then back to big again, but Sam supposed the longer he stayed real, the better he would feel.

He was almost certain of that, until Dean said he was sorry. Was Dean going to say, "I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to leave you here after all"? Or, "I'm sorry, but you're really not my brother. My mistake."

Sam heard himself say, "Sorry for what?"

Dean shrugged as he closed the Impala's trunk and walked to the driver's side. He looked young all of a sudden, young and uncertain. Dean seemed nervous, and Sam didn't know why.

Smoke poured out of the windows of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Sam looked at the solid sheet of bright flame that licked at the front door frame, and he couldn't remember if he'd walked out on his own. He must have, though.

Sam wanted to get gone. He walked over to the passenger side and fumbled with the door lock.

Let me in. Take me with you. Please…

Dean slid behind the driver's side just as Sam finally opened the door and settled onto the bench seat. "I'm sorry I didn't find you before now."

The Impala came to life with a welcome rumble (Glad to have you back, kiddo).

"We're gonna head for Bobby's. Hole up there for a while." Dean pulled away from the curb. He glanced in the rear view mirror. There was no other traffic on the road right now, but Sam didn't understand why Dean frowned a little.

Dean tightened his grip on the steering wheel. "I just…I thought you ditched me. That's all."

"Why would I do that?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "This life, remember? You told me back in Chicago I'd have to let you go your own way, once everything was over. It's not over. Demon's still out there. So's Dad. You were pretty pissed at me when I said we had to split up from Dad." Dean shrugged. "I dunno. I thought maybe you decided to bail on me early."

Sam shook his head. "Nope. You're stuck with me."

The look Dean gave him was slightly puzzled, but then he nodded to himself. The corners of his mouth turned upwards slightly, and his eyes softened. "Okay."

Sam decided he liked that expression just as much as the one Dean wore when he split Mr. Herriman's head open with the ax.

The sunlight on his face warmed his skin. Sam listened to his heart beat, slow and steady. He watched the real world outside the windshield.

It was real out here.

Dean was real.

And so was he.

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