Author's Note: In a recent trek to the local retirement community, I visited my paternal grandmother, Scarlet McQueen. She bestowed upon me a great many rumors about the neighboring ladies and their mysterious antics. And while my father tells me that Grandmother is going senile, I'm rather afraid for her safety. Paranoia is rampant in the McQueen bloodline, you see. We tend to crawl into dark spaces and stay there for hours out of fear of the people watching us in the Outside World. Sometimes we can be coaxed out by a kindhearted soul, but it's difficult for them to actually succeed - we're really very perceptive, is the problem, and our paranoia is often legitimate. It's not really paranoia at all. We McQueens just happen to know a little of what's going on.

Anyway, enough about me. I had the urge to write some Limp!Sam, Protective!Dean as it is my favorite Supernatural-specific genre. All of my thoughts are connecting in this very linear fashion and it is shaping up to be a rather long fic. I hope you enjoy this beginning.

Of Age and Wisdom
(Of Youth and Fear)

by Deanie McQueen

Sam was turning blue. He choked and gasped and clawed at that hand around his neck, the one that had him pinned against the wall, up high enough that his long legs were kicking above the floor. Sam missed the floor. Sam wanted to touch back down onto the old wooden planks so he could reach his gun, which had been thrown ten feet to his left side by this awful, awful bitch. She was so old. And dead.

Not to mention short. Her arm was unnaturally long, shooting out at least four feet to keep Sam in this particular position and it was terrifying. Her eyes were wide and unblinking as Sam struggled to scream for his brother, and her skin was pale and tinted blue in the dim, natural light of the stars and moon sweeping through the broken windows. He reached a hand out to tug at the frumpish bun on her head but that just made her even more angry.

"Why, you naughty boy," she hissed and Sam was reminded of that free after-school daycare John had put them in for a few days back in 1988, way down South with that lady who called Dean a naughty boy because Sam had accidentally spilled apple juice all over a beloved library book. She'd made Dean write lines until his fingers cramped. Terrifying.

"Dean!" Sam screamed, because if Dean could save him back then, then he could obviously save him now...but only a tiny bit of desperate air escaped. Sam was going to die. Right here. And this old lady ghost was going to be the one to do it. "Dean!" he tried again, but to no avail.

He was losing consciousness when he heard the bang of Dean's shotgun. He gasped and heaved for breath when his ass hit the floor and Dean was there in a second, fingers lightly brushing over the abrasions on his neck.

"You okay? Dude, that was kind of cool how her arm was all freakishly long and shit...Sam?"

Sam blinked. He could still feel her. The room was still cold and it felt like spiders were creeping up his spine and his neck hurt like a motherfucker and he felt rather indignant because Sam Winchester is not naughty, thank you very much. Sam is a good boy and a decent human being and he doesn't need scary old ladies trying to tell him otherwise and-

"Sammy, c'mon, man..." Dean helped him up, kept him balanced by tossing one of Sam's long arms over his shoulders. "Let's get you back to the motel. I'll take care of the salt and burn, okay?"

Dean was gentle about depositing him into the passenger seat. He even reached over and buckled Sam in with one of those retractable waist seatbelts he had put in back when he restored the Impala after the accident, those seatbelts that they never ever wore, muttering things about how Sam wasn't in any shape to go flying through the windshield after almost being ganked by an old lady.

"I wasn't almost ganked by an old lady, Dean," Sam protested, his voice little more than a rasp.

"Were, too," Dean replied, and he shifted the car into drive.

Dean waited until Sam was settled on his bed before going to finish the job by himself. Sam was okay with this. Dean would be fine. Dean would take care of it. Salt and burns weren't exactly foreign or difficult jobs to Winchesters.

Dean lingered in the doorway before leaving, though, and Sam blinked at him from the bed, waved a hand in indication that Dean should go, Sam would be fine.

Sam would be fine.

He kept trying to tell himself that as his eyes slid shut on their own accord. Stupid eyes. Sam didn't want to go to sleep, not until Dean came back. Not until he knew she was gone for good.

But he fell asleep, anyway.

Sam woke up screaming, soaked in a cold sweat with tears dripping down his face and his brother saying his name. Over and over again.

"Sam? Sam? Sam!" Dean was desperate. Dean was pulling Sam's head to his chest and rocking just slightly. "It's okay. Dude, it's fine. She's gone, okay? She's gone forever. No more old lady, I promise."

She wasn't gone, though. Sam had seen her. He'd seen her alive and smiling, baking cookies and ironing floral blouses and perching reading glasses on her nose as she read the back cover of a Danielle Steel novel, her hand raising to cover her lips when she got to a particularly risque part of the description. He'd seen her humming and watering her plants, and pacing her house in the middle of the night because she was too old to sleep.

Sam was with her all the way. She'd offered him those cookies and he had reached for them, smiling his good-boy smile, only for them to be immediately snatched away. He'd offered his assistance with the ironing (Sam was a fan of a nicely-pressed shirt), only to be threatened with the hot end of the heated appliance. He'd pointed a very polite finger in the direction of some less offensive reading material, only to be beaten with her chosen literary abomination. He'd run away when she'd caught him watching her as she hummed, but he couldn't escape the cold water of the hose she'd sent after him. And when night fell, and she paced, and Sam's subconscious had placed him there against his will, he'd tried to creep away. He'd gotten quite far, in fact, but not as far as she could reach with that freak arm of hers and that's when the strangling happened.

Sam hooked his fingers into the back of Dean's T-shirt and sobbed.

To be continued quite soon...