Not Alright

Disclaimer : No named character in this story belongs to me, they are all the property of the Supernatural Franchise, CW and

Written for the prompt : Wee!Chesters. A very beautiful boy, age 6, hits his head and is lost. When he wakes, he finds he can't remember much of anything. No one comes for him and he's bounced from hospital to foster home where the other kids give him a new name every day, sometimes twice a day. The only time he ever speaks is when he wakes up from his dreams, calling for "Dad" and for "Sammy". Sometimes he screams for them. When he takes to breaking out, the concerned foster parents take to locking him in a room without windows for bedtime. Which upsets this little unnamed boy because, he still doesn't remember much, but he remembers a Dad and he remembers this Sammy and he's pretty sure he's going to go crazy if he doesn't find them. at the livejournal community, hoodie_time

"Are you alright, sweetheart?" the woman bent down to the little boy standing at the edge of the play area in the park, his eyes on the children playing on the swings and slides but not making any movement to join in.

She got no answer but the boy didn't move, didn't look at her. "Sweetie?" She bent down beside him, trying to get his attention. He'd been standing here for longer than she and her own son had been here, solitary, silent and unmoving. Gently she caught his chin, relieved as he finally looked at her. She saw the child was pale, almost ghostly pallid, eyes huge and slightly shocked looking. He took a step away and she let go, asking again, "Are you alright? Are you here with someone?"

He looked round and shrugged, biting on his lip with a frown creasing his forehead. "Do you need someone to help you find your Mommy?" He shivered and she saw his features crumple as if about to cry, but before the tears could start, he rubbed his small hands across his eyes and took a deep breath. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's take a walk round here and see if we can't find who you came with. What's your name?"

She took his hand and began to walk slowly and steadily, watching as his eyes scanned desperately across all the people around them, but nothing seemed to keep his attention, no one seemed to gain his recognition and worse still, there didn't appear to be anyone looking for him.

As he turned, she saw it then. A growing egg on his head, a bruise forming around it. She ghosted her fingers around it, saw as he flinched and she wondered again why no one was racing around calling his name. "Sweetie, can you tell me your name? Your phone number? Your mom or dad's name?"

This time tears welled and she could tell that he really was frightened by not being able to find someone he knew and quite possibly hurting too. She wiped a few stray tears from his cheek and asked, "Is there anything you can tell me, sweetheart? Who was with you? Where were you playing?"

A soft voice reluctantly said, "I don't know."

She held his hand in hers, gently patting it as she tried to reassure him. "Don't worry. We'll find someone." Giving up on finding anyone here at the park after yet another circuit of the area, she pulled out her cell phone and called the police before sitting down with her own son on one side watching as she comforted the lost little boy.

It didn't take the police long to arrive thankfully and after giving her details and a description of how she'd found the child and what he'd said, she was then free to go home, watching as a kindly policewoman held the little boy's hand and led him to their car.

They'd been warned that the little boy the social worker was bringing was quiet and possibly a little confused. Quiet wasn't the word, the child was silent most of the time. Biddable and easy in so many ways, he jumped to action whenever he was given an instruction to do something, but he didn't play, he didn't watch TV. He just sat at the window and looked out at the world beyond as if waiting for someone to come for him.

They'd already been to register him for kindergarten, the social worker and medical team having decided that he must be about the right age. It was problematic because they still had no real name for him, no idea what he could or couldn't do. He still hadn't given any indication of what his name might be, any clue to what had happened or who he was waiting for. So they called him Andrew and sometimes he remembered to respond when he heard them say it.

There'd been no indication of who he was, still no clue as to where he'd appeared from or what had happened to him. He'd been checked over by medics until the attention of too many people, too many questions and absolutely no answers had made him cry and so for the time being they'd let it slide, hoping safety and security would let the information come, allow him to tell them what he knew.

At mealtimes, 'Andrew' picked at whatever was put in front of him, no refusals, no preferences, but barely enough eaten to appease them as they watched. On trips to the park, he would stand silently beside whoever had taken him, eyes watching the other children as if searching for someone. He said nothing and he never joined in. He went to bed when told it was time.

And he would lie there . . . waiting . . . eyes open for hour after hour . . . silently. They had tried taking it in turns to sit with him, reading stories, hands sifting through his hair, gentle encouragement to close his eyes. Nothing changed though; it was still always the early hours of the morning before he would finally fall asleep . . . for a short while anyway.

The screams that echoed through the house in the darkest hours as night slid toward morning were heart-breaking to hear. The cry of "Daddy" that would shatter the quiet and the sobs that would follow were soul-curdling, worse for the lack of answers that anyone could bring. There was no respite. 'Andrew' didn't seem to have any answers to who or where and still no one else came forward.

He would sob hysterically in the arms of whoever made it to him first, head buried in their neck, body shaking with the gasping breaths. "Ssssh," they would soothe, grateful that he didn't fight them, glad that he at least accepted their comfort though they couldn't take away the pain.

The nightmares continued without a break, worse and worse each night. The cries of "Daddy" were joined by sobs of "Sammy" and "Baby Sammy". The only clues they'd had to try and find out who this almost silent waif was. By day, he was still obedient, by night he was a terrified screaming bundle of fear and no matter what they tried, how they reassured, they could not take that pain away from him.

The nights deteriorated for them all as the fear sank deeper and deeper into Andrew's soul, pushing him further and further from reality and safety as he once half awake from his bed began to run. At first he would run out of his room, stumbling onto the landing and seeming to look all round. But night after night, he grew quicker, his search more frantic and so with great regret the final step came to lock him into his room to keep him safe.

It served to give them time to reach him, time to keep him safe or so they hoped. They'd begin to awaken at the first muttered sounds now, heard over the baby monitor they'd put into his room to make sure they could hear when he needed them. The shout and scream for his father and Baby Sammy would quickly come, along with the soft thud of his feet landing on the floor and running for the door. By the time they reached the door and unlocked it things were worse than ever before and they were both vowing never to lock the door again even as she bent down to wrap his sobbing broken form in her arms and try to ease some of his anguish. In his panic, he had scrabbled at the door, catching and tearing fingernails and when that had had no effect, somehow he had banged his head. They couldn't be sure whether it had been an accident, frustration or sheer desperate terror. He still spoke so little, even when things were going well, that they stood no real chance of fathoming what it was that drove him.

The red marks on his forehead where he had collided with the door were too much to take in, but neither was willing to risk anything like it again. They needed answers, they needed help, for nothing that had gone before, no child, no amount of training could ever have prepared them for this.

In the morning, Andrew seemed even more broken than before, frightened to be out of their sight. His small hands held tightly onto the teddy bear they had given him as he trailed silently from place to place behind them. He would hover in the door of each room as if uncertain whether they wanted him there with them or not. The locked door of the previous night seemed to have damaged the trust they had been building and so they worked hard to repair the damage.

An appointment with a child psychologist reduced him to sobbing tears, curled into his new 'mom', pulling her arms tighter and tighter around him as if afraid she was going to try and get rid of him, pass him off to someone else, someone new and unknown again. The psychologist observed with interest, pushed and pushed with her questions, trying to break through the silence, but he said nothing. The adults saw as some questions made him cry more or shake with fear or hold tighter but he gave no explanation at all.

Back home, they didn't put him to bed, just kept him held close as they sat on the couch, until he fell asleep and then set him on a mattress on the floor beside their own bed. 'Their' little boy wasn't going to be alone again, he was going to know that there was nothing he could do to make them want to abandon him.

Days later, Andrew was out walking with his mom. There had been no more trips to kindergarten, everyone deciding that he wasn't ready, that the circumstances were such that he needed to be an exception for now at least. They spent their days active and involved, out exploring the world together.

He was always at her side, never ran away or wandered off distracted like other children, rather his eyes followed her everywhere, his expression desperate for her smile, her affection. He spoke rarely and only ever to give the 'right' answer. Until the day . . .

They had walked hand in hand from home to the grocery store, shopped together before setting off for the journey back. There had been cars passing regularly and neither of them paid much attention beyond making sure they were safe on the sidewalk. But then there had been the deep throaty rumble of a big car that had them both looking up.

She saw his expression change, a flicker of what might almost have been recognition. The sound grew closer and a sleek dark car slid past them along the road. Andrew's eyes followed it for a moment or two before he suddenly whispered, "Daddy?"

It was as if the mere murmur reinforced the thought and he said louder, "Daddy!" He started to pull away from her ready to follow the car, voice growing stronger as he repeated again, "Daddy!" She held him tighter, following his direction but not allowing him to run away from her. "Daddy!" he cried at the top of his voice as the car pulled away in the traffic too fast for them to catch up.

"Stop," she said hurriedly. "We'll find him, I promise, sweetheart, I promise we'll find him." Andrew turned and buried his face into her stomach, tears soaking the material of her blouse as she held him close until he calmed enough for them to make it back home.

Her husband made it back home as soon as he could after she called. He opened the door to the familiar sight of Andrew in the chair by the window staring out as if waiting for someone to come. "Hey champ," he said softly, ruffling the boy's hair as he passed.

Andrew looked up, eyes still watery and reddened from his earlier crying. His face turned back to the window and he said quietly, "Daddy?"

He looked across to his wife, saw the child's heartbreak echoed in her eyes as she began to softly speak, "A car . . . an Impala drove past us today." She swallowed at the memory of tears soaking through to her skin, the gut-wrenching sorrow she'd seen. "He thought it was his father, tried to follow it, but we couldn't keep up, couldn't catch the driver's attention."

"We'll call the social worker, the police. Maybe they'd be able to . . ." he didn't want to put it into words in case nothing more came of it.

That night, he slept in the room with them, for the short amount of time he slept at all. They took it in turns to hold him as he cried, to rock and attempt to soothe away his nightmares.

Morning dawned with them all weary. Andrew curled into his foster father's arms on the couch watching Thundercats, small hand gripping his shirt front tight as the little boy's head rested on his shoulder. The phone rang and feeling as Andrew tensed in his arms, he began murmuring soothing words of 'alright' and 'we've got you, we'll look after you" in the hope of reassuring their boy.

When his wife came through to join them a few minutes later, there were tears in her eyes and she leant in to kiss Andrew's forehead before sitting alongside and brushing her fingers gently down his cheek. "Hey sweetheart. How are you doing there, Dean?" her voice half-choked as she said the name.

His eyes looked up at her, in part confused, in part recognizing the name. She asked softly, "Dean? Is that your name? Do you remember that, sweetie?" Tears came to his eyes as he nodded before turning his head to bury it out of sight, until his foster father caught his chin gently, and he joined her in saying, "It's alright, we promise. Everything's going to be alright."

He nodded reluctantly, anxiety clear, only soothed by their continued tenderness and care. Almost an hour passed before he slipped into an exhausted sleep where he lay and so they began to talk quietly. "A Pastor is coming to get him, someone he knows apparently. He and his father were passing through town. You know he was found in the park, they assumed he'd been playing, fallen and bumped his head. Turns out that wasn't it at all."

They looked down at him as he snuffled in his sleep and shifted position before drifting deeper again. "There was a car accident on the far side of the park. He was pulled from one of the cars first. The people who saw the accident were terrified that the cars were going to go up in flames."

"I remember reading about it. It made the front page – thought it was a single driver in one car and a father and baby in the other?"

"They pulled him out and as the crowd surged round to see and to help get the father, the baby and the other driver out. He was pushed away. He didn't seem so injured, didn't seem hurt at all just then. As the person who pulled him out struggled to get the baby, he didn't realize Dean had been pushed back through the crowd. Near the back of the crowd, not knowing he'd come out of one of the cars, people assumed he'd wandered from the park to see what all the excitement was about and so they pushed him into the park, presumably thinking they were stopping him from seeing anything awful."

"Oh God! Poor kid."

"When they found him wandering in the park, he was watching the kids on the playground. He was confused because he was concussed but everyone, police and the medics when he got to the hospital, assumed it was because of a fall off the play equipment. No one realized he'd been in the accident. The father has been unconscious until just a day or so ago, but even now he can't be released. He'd been demanding to see his boys, continually asking for Dean and they had no idea, they didn't work it out because when the police took him to the hospital they used the other one! They'd been trying to get in touch with the father's next of kin because of the baby and that's apparently the Pastor. He's going to come here this afternoon with the social worker."

"Is he going to take him today?" He was torn between wanting this little boy, who finally trusted him enough to fall asleep in his arms, to stay with them and wanting him to be reunited with the family he truly belonged with.

"I think so . . . I should pack his things. He can take it all with him, we don't want to keep it all?" her voice was tentative, unsure.

"Anything he needs or wants." Both of their eyes fell to the teddy bear that was tucked under one of Dean's arms; the teddy bear that he hadn't let go of in days now. "Do you think he looks like a Dean?" he asked.

"Guess he must do . . . somehow it does seem more 'right' than Andrew. I hope he'll forgive us for that, for all the things we got wrong."

Dean snuffled again shifting position in his sleep, burrowing closer still, pulling the teddy bear in with him as he curled tight. "I wish we could have done more, made this easier for him."

The door bell rang not long after twelve. The social worker stood there grim-faced and somewhat guilty looking. Just behind her stood a tall, well-groomed man, expression a mix of calm reassurance and unnerving assertion. It was clear he had no intention of leaving without Dean. He was curt and dismissive of the social worker, but warm towards the couple who had taken care of Dean.

Dean was still in the arms of his foster father, head hidden until he heard the Pastor's voice. He looked up, tears welling instantly. Neither man could deny the pain they felt inside at the child's distress. The Pastor crossed instantly to stand closer, one hand reaching out to stroke the side of Dean's face. Holding him, the tension was clear, the urge in Dean to respond, the desire to lean into that touch, but at the same time Dean was rigid, holding still. "Dean? Here let me pass you over to Pastor . . .?"

"Pastor Jim to Dean. James Murphy to those who want the more formal," the Pastor responded gently. "'s alright, my boy," he reassured softly as he took Dean in his arms and the boy buried his head against his shoulder, crying again. "Hey, everything's going to be fine now."

The boy choked back his sobs, forcing out the words, "I lost Baby Sammy."

"No sweetheart, you didn't lose anyone. They lost you. Daddy's been worried about you. Daddy's got Sammy and they're going to be fine. No one's going to be lost anymore. Do you want to come with me? We could go and see Daddy and Sammy." Dean nodded against his shoulder.

"We have some things, not much but some clothes, a few toys. I've started putting them in a bag."

The social worker began to interrupt, to say they didn't need to hand over 'their' things with Dean. Dean must have his own things at home. Jim just cast another glare in her direction before assuring them both that anything they 'wished' Dean to have would be treasured and that he and Dean's father were beyond grateful for the care and love they had shown. He could tell that Dean was following the conversation, felt the child clasp the teddy bear closer to him for a moment before reluctantly holding out.

She moved forward, taking the teddy bear's arm and pushing him gently back toward Dean, saying softly, "You want to keep him, Dean?" Dean gave a small nod and with a smile, she leant in kissed his temple and said, "Then you look after him for me and remember that we love you too, just like your Daddy and Pastor Jim."

He pulled the teddy bear back and tucked it under his other arm, trapped between his own body and the Pastor's, before holding out his arm to hug her close. He hugged her husband as well. The social worker was attempting to hurry them to the door, saying there were other things to be done, she had meetings to attend.

The Pastor allowed her to usher him from the house, although his opinion of her was clearly low, he said nothing to make it clear what had fuelled that opinion. He walked still carrying Dean to his car and made a fuss of fitting Dean into the back seat and settling him with his teddy, dawdling long enough that with a final huff of exasperation, the social worker left in her own car.

The Pastor turned then, smiling back at these people who had taken such care of Dean. He didn't close the door of the car, determined not to hide anything from the child, knowing how much he would worry. "I want to say thank you again for all you've done. I know he . . . he's a good boy, such a good boy, but I know he's probably given you sleepless nights with his nightmares."

"He's been crying for his Daddy and Baby Sammy."

Jim smiled sadly, "He's . . . troubled. It's only a little over a year since his mother died in a fire. His father has found it difficult to be left with two such young children and Dean tries so hard to do everything he can to make things better for his father and brother. I can't imagine how frightened he was when he remembered or began to remember. I can only thank you for taking the time, for doing all you could . . . The police told me you contacted them as well with the information about Sammy and about the Impala. It's thanks to you, not the social workers, that he can be reunited with his family. I only wish that I had not been away from my home. When the medics searched John's wallet they found my details, but I was away on a . . . retreat. I didn't get the message until I got home. I came as quickly as I could."

"He's been so good. When I think . . . all that weight and he's tried so hard to do everything he could to be good. He's not slept well at all and he's not really being eating enough. If . . . I know . . . I mean I'm sure you'll just want to . . ."

"What my wife wants to say is, if there is anything more we can do to help, just say."

"We'll visit again, if that is alright with you. I want to show him that people aren't leaving him and he isn't losing them. What happened with his mom is . . . It isn't going to be like that with everyone he cares about . . . That's what he's frightened of or part of it anyway."

She looked at her husband, anxious, before saying, "We'll be here. If he needs anything, anytime. We don't mind, phone, letter, visit. We can be here for him."

Andrew was gone for good and with familiar faces and places, Dean soon reasserted himself. He would sit silently at his father's hospital bedside with his baby brother in his arms, eyes flitting between the two of them as if still frightened that everyone would be taken away from him again. Tucked alongside him on the chair was his teddy bear.

Anytime Sammy was taken from his arms, Dean would pick up the teddy bear and hold it close. Pastor Jim kept him close, not letting him out of sight for more than a moment or two at a time, constantly talking to him and involving him in everything that was going on around him, but it was clear he was still withdrawn after all that had happened.

Night times were a struggle. Dean would fight not to leave the hospital, not wanting to be away from his father. Both children were now staying with the Pastor in a motel just a short distance down the road. At first the Pastor had hired a cot from the motel reception into which he would lay Sammy when it was time to sleep, before settling Dean into the other bed and sitting with him, gently running a hand over his head hoping he would fall asleep. Soon he found that the only way to get Dean to rest was to allow him to sleep beside his brother, close enough to see the baby when his eyes were open, close enough to feel his living, breathing warmth when his eyes were closed.

Jim knew that none of them, family, friends or doctors, really knew how best to deal with Dean. Everything that had happened from the night his mother died right up to now had only traumatized him further. Dean hadn't cried when they'd said he'd cry, hadn't refused to eat when they said he would, but later when they'd thought the danger past he'd stopped. He'd been silent for a while, now his talk was always purposeful, not conversational, "Sammy needs . . ., Daddy wants . . . I have to . . ." He never asked for anything beyond the essential for himself, he'd passed any toys he'd been given since the fire to his little brother . . . every single one except the teddy bear that he now clung to awake and asleep. It told Jim one thing about the people that had taken care of Dean, they'd cared, they'd cared so much that even Dean could understand that much. He couldn't express it, probably didn't really know how to let them in properly, but he had known they wanted to help him and it had meant something important to him.

Having his brother alongside allowed him to fall asleep, but it didn't prevent the nightmares. It didn't stop Jim spending half of the night with a sobbing child in his arms, a child so frightened he couldn't even begin to explain what was in his dreams. They were both exhausted and Jim, for one, was thankful that Sammy was a sound sleeper who seemed to do little more than roll over and snuffle as his brother's screams would rent the silence of the darkened room.

John was released from hospital and they spent a few days longer in the motel before setting off for the Pastor's Blue Earth home. Thankfully John was now healing rapidly from his injuries. The Impala had been towed by Bobby up to his yard, ready for repairs when John was fit again. It was another thing to be thankful for, the solid build of the Impala had saved them all from far worse injury.

Time . . . Time heals all wounds . . . or so the saying went. Jim wasn't sure that was true anymore. The Winchesters had been staying with him for the last four months. John's physical injuries from the crash were gone, but he was still plagued with worries about his sons, Dean in particular.

Sammy was a toddler in every sense of the word now. His little legs would rush to get him round from place to place, a constant curiosity accompanied by rambling chatter, giggles and smiles. For a child surrounded by so much silence, Sam was uninhibited, a breath of fresh air and innocence.

Dean was in kindergarten now. It hadn't been easy, but the school had been understanding, had worked with John, still were working closely with John. Time, consistency, security all seemed to be key in helping him overcome the obstacles he faced. Support. They had made adaptations to his day to try and make it easier for him to be with so many people, children and adults. Dean was growing up, learning to cope with so many things but somehow Jim couldn't help feeling that Dean's wounds weren't healing in the same way John's and Sammy's were; that all that was happening was Dean was learning to paste over his wounds and hide them.

Day by day the facade seemed to be more secure, but Dean's eyes were less and less those of a child. Jim knew that he wasn't the only one who wished that they had an answer, a solution, something that would let Dean's soul heal and for the little boy to be whole again.

Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed it. Constructive feedback is appreciated.