Summary: Just the boys going on another crazy hunt. Time set: Early years.

Disclaimer: Not the owner…just the dreamer.

Thank you so much for your time in reading!

Sunshine even in rain, Karen

Sam creaked open his eyes. He couldn't see much through the haze of fog, and wasn't sure how long he'd been out cold. Everything was silent -- a damp chill lingering in the air. He shivered hard, this was no ordinary chill, the kind heat pouring from the Impala's vents could ward off. It was the chill of fear. He slowly glanced around, only hearing the plop, plop of water, only seeing strange, misshapen shadows. Damn, he was zonked, his trusted sense of direction had turned anomaly. Sam's left hand pressed to the soft ground and he pushed, scooting himself backward with a grunt. There wasn't much room, but he'd managed to sit up straighter, craning his head upward.

Great. He couldn't see a thing.

"Uhnnng," Sam groaned, his small world spinning with the effort to wiggle his toes and try to stand. A stream of warmth ebbed slowly down the left side of his face. "Ah." He forced himself to keep his eyes open, still seeing only cobalt darkness. Sam reached with his right hand to his jacket pocket. "Gahh!" he cried out.

Pushing his head further against the wall, he slammed his eyes shut trying to escape the sudden pain of what he thought to be a broken bone in his right arm. Worse, was the feeling the walls were closing in on him. He hated cramped quarters. Hated that trapped, suffocating feeling. Did he say 'hate'? He meant loathed, despised, detested -- okay fine -- he was scared to death. Everybody had a thing, a phobia, an irrational fear. Dean had a thing about spiders. Bobby, bats. Caleb, rats. His dad, well, okay, the great John Winchester was the one exception to the 'everybody had a thing' rule. Sam figured that was because his dad didn't fear, fear. He lived side-by-side with fear, and when fear got in his way -- he devoured it -- like flippin' Wheaties, the breakfast of champions.

Sam Winchester didn't have 'a thing,' he had two things. Thing one -- creepy clowns. Thing two -- he was sitting in it. A dark, cramped, tight, nearly airless accommodation. Man, claustrophobia sucked.

It first started when Dean had stuffed and locked him in his fifth grade gym locker -- another prank war gone way south. By the time Dean came back to let Sam out, he'd been exhausted from screaming and was shaking like the Leaning Tower in Piza during an earthquake. Then there was the time he and Dean had been hunting a Windigo. He and Sam had gotten separated, while searching the creatures lair. Sam's flashlight had died out, and he'd spent hours crawling through tiny crevices and cracks, going in circles through the everlasting darkness before he finally found his way out. The worst time, however, was when Sam had gotten trapped inside a casket trying to salt and burn a vengeful spirit that wouldn't go out of this life quietly. Sam had gotten pinned inside the coffin, lying on top the decaying dead person's jumbled bones, her long wiry hair forever poking him in the ear. Dean had pried him out fairly quickly, but just the forty minutes he'd spent locked inside the cramped, dark box made him feel scared and alone. He never wanted to feel that way again, yet, here he was -- scared and alone.

Sam's hands quivered as he wiggled around in the smelly slop of the pit. It was nearly impossible to maneuver in the tiny confines, not to mention the hole in the ground smelled like a sewer. The unpleasant vapors made Sam's eyes tear and his breath sputter. His heart beat too fast against his chest, and Sam swallowed down the bit of bile that had rushed into his mouth. It took a moment of breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth to gain composure. Sam cradled his broken arm in his lap, searching his jacket pockets, via his left hand. Great. No flashlight, no cell phone, no weapon. Luckily, he'd come across a box of matches, if he wanted to call that luck. The matchbook was soggy from the dampness. Anyone could light a match, but lighting a soggy match -- one-handed -- not so much. That was a skill Dean had taught him years ago. At the age of six, Sam thought the trick was the coolest thing ever. By the age of twelve, he'd learned that the coolest thing ever -- could just save your life. Swiping the match tip across the striking pad, Sam was happy to see he actually had gotten lucky as the match lit.

He leaned forward, holding the flame up. What the hell? Had he been turned into a gopher? How the hell? Even in the fragile light, Sam could see that the muddy, cylinder-shaped well he was trapped in was obviously deep. Sam couldn't see the opening above, and was completely unsure as to how far he'd dropped. There was nowhere to go. The walls were unstable, mud and rock plopping around him at the slightest movements. Sam lowered the match to look at his injured arm.

He groaned in pain and confusion at the sight of torn skin and jagged bone protruding through a hole torn in his jacket. The area was completely encrusted with dried, sticky stuff that looked a lot like strawberry jam, but what Sam knew was really blood.

"Great, ahhh." He waggled his hand as the match flame went out, burning the tip of his finger.

Sam tried to light another match -- kaput -- the match blew out as fast as he had struck the pad. He tried three more times with the same results.

"Damnit!" There went his luck. The air was too thin, and everything seemed to cartwheel around him. He tried to get his bearings, but panic was setting in. It was becoming harder and harder to breathe and Sam sucked in one shallow breath after another. Broken arm, cracked head. "Super great," he panted. "What a mess." Not only was he a mess, he was missing something. Something important. Something he couldn't quite recollect.

More greatness.

He floundered, trying to get back to his feet, but just breathing was taking up all his energy hiking the pain up ten degrees, and he sank back down. His good hand gripped at the soil under him in frustration, mud squishing between his fingers. Come to think of it, he wasn't missing something, he was missing someone.

"Dean," he whispered.

Sam struggled to concentrate. He closed his eyes to think. When was the last time he'd seen his wayward brother?

Memories slowly moved back into his hurting head, trickling in like the soupy mud seeping into his jeans. They were on a hunt. Their prim objective, patrol the area -- tactical recon. Track the witch to her hovel, map out her hideaway. Try to make sense of why three other hunters had torched and melted the bitch, yet she continued to reek havoc. Two of the hunters had been turned into tasty tidbits, the other, barely crawling away to tell the tale. Dean had gone ballistic. No friggin', sticky fingered, crusty booger, frog-eyed, scabby, jacked-up witch was going to be allowed to live.

Sam had a simple theory. Jacked-up witch, equaled, jacked-up weapon. He'd designed and built a homemade, high-powered flamethrower, combined with a special herbal brew of Bobby's, hoping to finish the tricky, old crone's wickedness off once and for all. He and Dean had spent the better part of the day marching through the gloomy forest, the scent of pine heavy in the air. The long hike brought nothing but the pain of blister filled feet, and the ache of empty stomachs. The last hour had been the gloomiest; the shadowed woods seemed almost demonic, but they'd trudged onward. By day, the heavily forested region was dim and stone-dreary. By nightfall, the tangle of trees had turned nearly midnight-black and Sam had sworn the moon and stars, he knew to be out tonight, must have fallen from the sky.

Sam followed closely behind Dean, stepping out of the shadows of the thick woodland into a brush-filled meadow. The darkness morphed into bright moonlight as they moved quietly under the full moon through the tall grass. Avoiding prickly bushes, they waved their flashlight beams back and forth across the ground. Everything seemed dead silent. Only the sound of one boot fall after another, tromping down the soggy grassland, could be heard. Sam shivered as a chill ran up and down the length of his spine. An overpowering scent, or should he say stench, drifted on a breeze making Sam's nose twitch and wrinkle.

"Christ, Sam." Dean hiked his duffel higher up on his shoulder, and glanced back. "With the high price of gas you'd think we could figure out a way to utilize your…your…" Dean faced forward. "Your disorder," Dean choked. "Man! You reek."

"Fox smells his own hole first, Dean." Sam sucked in a breath and held the air in, something really did smell bad.

"You're the one who stepped on a frog," Dean shot back.

"You stepped on a…a…" Sam stuttered. "On a duck."

"Whoever denied it… supplied it," Dean panted.

"Whoever spoke last… set off the blast."

Sam waited for Dean's comeback, but none came. "Dean?" No response. "Hey." Dean kept walking, not saying a word. "You not talking to me or what?" Sam stopped in his tracks. "Crap!" He'd been the one to speak last. Dean always, somehow -- forever managed to get the last word in -- even without getting the last word in. "Uggg," Sam gagged, the stench was stronger now and had to be in the top five worst smells he'd smelled -- ever. Glancing to his right, Sam shined his flashlight, its high beam landing on a giant-sized mound of…of…. "Ah, man." He blew out a breath. "Dean." Sam stood straighter, his tone serious.

Dean turned, his beam falling to the spot Sam's flashlight illuminated. "Ew, gross." Dean swallowed. "What is that?"

Sam opened his mouth to answer, but Dean beat him to the punch.

"Could be pheasant or duck, rabbit…maybe squirrel." Dean took a whiff, eyeing the rancid pile. "Definitely not deer or bear. Possibly…"

"Biodegradation of organic matter." Sam shook his head in disgust, not able to suck in a descent breath or take his eyes off the gore.

Raw flesh, appendages, fur, hair, hearts, bones and skulls -- all shapes, all sizes, all species -- mashed together and collected into one sloppy pile. The haunting scene seemed to increase the silence of the night, and the stench decreased any thoughts Sam may have had of eating in the next three days, at least. The stench of death was heavy, and the sound of buzzing flies feeding on the rotting flesh made Sam reflexively gag

"Come again?" Dean, also, gagging.

"It's a compost pile… of dead stuff." Sam explained, crinkling his nose. "Reduce, reuse, recycle. Poor souls." He glanced at Dean. "She's cannibalistic, remember?" Sam flashed his light around the area.

"Delightful, thanks for the recap my Grimm Brother." Dean made a lip-smacking sound. "I'll be, Hansel, you be, Gidget," he growled.

"Gretel," Sam corrected. "Why do I always have to play the female role?" Sam huffed a strand of hair out of his eyes.

"Your hair's longer," Dean laughed.

"Duu…ude." Sam paused. Aw forget it, he'd never beat Dean at this game. "Fine. Whatever. So, what do you think, Han? You think she's still around?" Sam waved a hand at the rotting pile. "Nothing here looks too fresh."

"I'm thinking that skeeve witch has had her last meal." Dean drew his handheld, homemade flamethrower.

Sam drew his flamethrower as well. The weapons were the size of a small handgun and didn't hold a lot of fuel. They each had one refill, but Sam didn't think it would take much of the supped-up flame to kill the witch.

"Just stay close, Ginger, and follow the trail of breadcrumbs," Dean sniffed. "Damn that bio…bio-dork…bio-deck…damn that shit's past its sell-by-date."

"Biodegradation, and it's Gretel, Dean," Sam puffed out in annoyance swallowing down the lump of sickness forming in the back of his throat.

"Just like a girl." Dean dropped a hand to Sam's shoulder. "Always letting a guy know when he's wrong. Ha! Don't upchuck, princess buttercup." Joking set aside, his hand fell away from Sam's shoulder. "Let's just keep moving." Dean continued on point.

Sam swallowed, forcing the lump of sickness back into his stomach, the bulge going down about as well as a package of raw hamburger. He stepped carefully around the hellish pile, following close behind Dean. They moved cautiously through the open field; the tall grass brushing against Sam's long legs, dampening his jeans.

"So you think this flamethrower jazz is going to Flambé dè bitch?" Dean asked, comically.

"Think that dish is illegal in most states, Dean," Sam said, deciding Dean had taken point long enough, and moving to pass his brother. Shadows swam around them, and the scent of the compost pile seemed to follow along. Sam's eyes had adjusted to the full moon's light and he'd long since turned off his flashlight, Dean shortly following suit. The wind kicked up, blowing a cobweb into Sam's face. He faltered, quickly swiping the invisible thread away. Fireflies blinked off and on, normally a beautiful sight to Sam, but right now they looked more like glowing eyes peering at them through the dark.

Dean moved up next to Sam, the back of his hand thumping against Sam's chest. "Bro."

"What?" Sam stopped, standing motionless.

"That's what." Dean tipped his chin, gesturing toward a grove of tall, thick needled pine trees. The stiff outstretched boughs of the pines sent creepy shadows swirling in shades of gray across the ramshackle cabin. The small house was badly deteriorating and nearly hidden away by crawling ivy.

They both stood silent and uneasy, eyeing the cabin. Witches were tricky bitches, unpredictably taking potshots when least expected. Sam and Dean waited for a sign, watched for the smallest of movements. Listened for the slightest of sounds -- nothing.

"Huh," Dean, interpreted the silence.

"Abandoned gingerbread cottage?" Sam muttered, studying the open door as it swayed eerily on squeaking hinges.

"What you say, Sammy, want to go nibble on her house?" Without waiting for an answer, Dean led the way.

"You'll make a meal out of anything… won't you?" Sam followed.

"It's Winchester law, Sam. If it smells good..." Dean glanced briefly over his shoulder. "Eat it."

"You're sick, man."

As they got closer to the cottage, Sam made sure to creep silently, watching boot placement, a talent their dad possessed and had passed down to both he and Dean. Their father was a solider. He'd raised Sam and Dean as part of his army, trained them as men before they were even tall enough to reach the kitchen sink. All their innocence had been lost years ago in flames of crimson red, when their mother was pinned to a ceiling and burned to death. The runoff of her blood would never be washed clean -- even if they ever did find the thing that killed her. The thought of his mom dying that way always made Sam's stomach lurch.

Dean flanked the left side of the open doorway, and mouthed, 'Let's do it'.

Sam nodded, flanking the right. He peered into Dean's face, a face that always appeared cool and calm no matter what they were up against. Weapons at the ready, Dean nodded reassuringly. Sam nodded in return as they entered the dark cabin in tandem and froze.

To stay alive in combat a solider understood he had to be alert, use sight and sound, sense the warning signals when you couldn't see or hear. John Winchester, ever the voice in Sam's ears, Dean's too, Sam was certain.

Sam was so attuned to his surroundings he could hear the whisper of Dean's breathing, could hear his brother's unspoken thoughts. The wind slipped in and out of a few holes in the crumbling cabin walls. Sam's gaze roamed the small house, his sight glued to the odd play of shadows. Torn and tattered curtains ghosted around a broken window, the smell of mold and decay filling the air. It appeared no one had lived here for years. A few pain staking minutes ticked by before both boys exchanged their weapons for flashlights.

Their bright beams bounced and flitted around the room, spotlighting an overturned table, broken chairs, a cast iron stove, empty pot and spoon still perched on top as if someone had stopped in the middle of cooking. Sam cringed, remembering the pile of decay. His eyes scanned the shelves lining the walls full of dusty glass jars. He shined his light on a few, examining the contents.

"Gross." Sam rattled off the contents. "Hairy spider legs, crow's beaks, headless bats, pig's eyeballs…" He turned to Dean and smiled slyly. "Still want to nibble, dude?" Sam walked to the shelf and picked up what looked like a wine bottle. He dusted the glass off to read the label. "Can wash all that nibbling down with some rat's blood."

"Delicious." Dean's normally strong voice sounded tight with disgust. "Damn' witches, I hate being skeeved out."

"Dean…" Sam put the bottle back shining his light toward the back of the cabin. "You think she's still creepin' around somewhere?"


Sam turned and narrowed his eyes, surprised when he wasn't greeted by the calm cool he was so used to seeing. In fact, all expression had been erased from Dean's face.

"Dean, I was just kidding about the rat's blood, stop wigging out."

"Sam, shut up, some-thing's off," Dean murmured.

There came a hissing sound, like cold water splashing over hot rock as the cabin filled with steamy vapors.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," Dean swore. "Sammy, stay close."

Sam moved backward until he bumped into Dean. They stood back-to-back, boot heel - to- boot heel in the center of the room, flashlights stowed, flamethrowers at the ready.

"See anything?" Sam asked, scanning the room, desperate to catch sight of the witch through the twirl of murkiness.

"No. You?"

"No…just fog and…" A hunched over, female figure suddenly manifested before Sam. Even through the vaporous mist, he could tell she was centuries old with bumpy, toad-like skin, green glowing eyes, and black dreadlocks that draped well past her hips. "Witch!" Sam took aim.

"Make that two." Dean's shoulder blades pushed further against Sam's and said, "Dreadlocks, glowing green eyes, bumpy…"

"Toad skin," Sam finished. "Twins." He raised his flamethrower higher.

"Two's… too much crazy for me, Sam, fire!"

On Dean's order Sam pulled the trigger sending a stream of fire straight into the witch, keenly aware of Dean, still hard-pressed against his back and doing the same. The room lit hot-orange and Sam blew a hole straight through the witch. She didn't so much as flinch, and the old cabin -- that should have burst into flames, like a racked pile of dead leaves -- remained unsinged.

"Uh, Dean…" Sam stared in disbelief at the unharmed witch, now chanting in a language Sam didn't comprehend.

"Let me guess?" Dean shifted. "Skeeve bitch is still on the warpath."

"No flambé, today."

"Cranky bitches and geeky poets -- so not my thing!"

The witch before Sam raised a crooked finger toward him, but before he could pull the trigger he was torn away from Dean's back and launched across the room. With a heavy thock, Sam hit a shelf, glass jars breaking and shattering as he sprawled to the floor.


Glass crunched beneath Sam's weight as he rolled through the broken shards trying desperate to stand, to find his weapon, to help Dean. He wasn't coordinated enough, his vision spiraling. Invisible hands lifted him up from the floor and sent him flying -- Wham-O -- Sam bounced around the cabin like a Super Ball.

"Gah!" The air was forced from Sam's lungs when he was thrown against a wall and stuck there, like a pesky fly to flypaper. "Deeaa…ahhhh!" He struggled to free himself, lifting his head an inch or two, only to have his skull kicked back against the cabin wall. "Ah! Dean!" Sam managed to roll his head to one side. The fog had disappeared and the room lit hot orange, once again allowing him to see Dean clearly.

"You sleazy, curbside bitch!" Dean yelled in rage. "Now that's a fire!" He bellowed, currently armed with both flamethrowers, one gripped tight in each hand.

Dean kept the double stream of fire steadily blasting into the witch's chest. With every step Dean took toward her, she was forced a step backward, disappearing and reappearing. The increased, mass effect of firepower seemed to be too much for the old witch. Dean was a bundle of trigger-happy energy, and Sam could see the head-chopping anger in his brother's eyes. The witch before Dean screeched and wailed, flames continuing to hammer into her chest.

"Sam…" Dean spared him a quick look. "Hold on," he said, his voice raw, his aim never wavering.

The witch before Sam suddenly stopped chanting and screeched, motioning through the air at Sam with her crooked finger. "Nuuuu!" Sam cried out at the sudden burning sensation. She hadn't touched him but Sam felt the pain, like a single sharp claw racking from the corner of his right eye and slicing all the way down his cheek. "Ahhh!" A warm ooze welled up out of what Sam knew to be a deep cut and drizzled down his neck. He was lifted away from the wall, only to be slammed cruelly back, repeatedly.

Sam struggled dizzily, but the compressed pressure on his chest cutoff his air supply.

"Get away from him!"

Sam was peeled away from the wall, yet again, this time sent headfirst crashing into something rock solid.

"Shit! Fuck! Sa-a-a-am! Sammy!"

Sam tried to call out to…to…he forgot the important name, choking up a little bit of bile instead as his head spun round like the hands of a runaway clock.

Sight and sound disappeared in a big blowout of flame, and fog, then darkness. Sam became a product of the whirling chaos. Gravity seemed a thing of the past. He wasn't sure what was happening, but whatever was happening couldn't be good. His head emptied, only full of blackness and aloneness -- fear and pain