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Dean: 20

Sam: 16

...

A soldier's last stand

Crossfire.

Dean

I don't ask for much...

...Too live...Too grow old...Too not die alone...

No...I ask for a family who I know loves me...but...I get this!

I propped myself up on my elbows, trying to tune out the voices I could hear. The television was on as loud as I dared to have it and yet it did nothing. The age old, bitter family feud raged, slowly drilling resentment into me. I knew my place, the silent observer until things got to much. The only one unable to scream about my feelings. The whispered shadow, the fated weapon...The forgotten son.

I curled my fingers around the beer can I clasped. It groaned and creaked as I bent it into a new shape. The liquid sloshed around in it, spilling through the opening and suddenly I had no real want for it. It became the victim of my anger, caught in my grasp unable to defend itself or speak up. When the liquid stained my jeans, I sighed and lowered it to the table before me. I stretched out, placing my feet on the coffee table, I'd lost my concentration and suddenly the program had no meaning. The sound of something hitting the wooden table behind me jerked me to attention. I span round, Dad was on his feet, nostrils flaring and eyes burning with rage. Sam was leaning causally in his chair, eyes alert and focused on Dad. There was arrogance and annoyance plastered on his face. A part of me was suddenly angry because they didn't understand how it made me feel. How small and pathetic I became.

"Damn it, Sam! Can't you do as I say this once?" Dad growled.

Sam sat before him, defiant rebellion blazing from him. "I'm not a robot, dad! Why can't you just listen to me?"

"Because what you're saying doesn't make sense! We have another hunt and you want to stay and study?"

"Until term ends. One more week. Please, dad, this once, please!"

"No, Sam! We have a lead on the Demon!"

I saw something shift in Sam's eyes, revenge and hope. Mum's death had left bloody, insanity filled vengeance in it's wake. I'd heard this conversation before, we got close to it and the demon danced away from us. Always tantalisingly out of reach. Sam was starting to cave, his lust for death overriding his desire to learn. I saw Dad open his mouth and knew that his next words would shatter any chance of a truce.

"God, Sam. Why can't you be more like Dean?"

Bitter disappointment bubbled in me, rage flowed around my body, driving fire into my veins. I am just a weapon, against the nightmares we hunt, against Sam, against Dad. I'm only remembered to be used.

I didn't need to look at Sam to know his reaction. I didn't need to hear him speak to know his words. I wished he wouldn't react, that he wouldn't rise to meet Dad. But he would. He always did.

"Because I'm not 'Daddy's perfect Solider!' I have my own mind!"

"Sammy..." I tried to stop his words, calm his anger before he stole away my breath. He didn't listen. He never would

"What good is that to me?" Dad spat "I need a son who can follow orders!"

"Following your orders is what gets us hurt every time. Gets Dean hurt!"

"It's not my fault if Dean gets sloppy. Or you for that matter!"

"Don't you dare call us 'sloppy'. We're your sons, you're supposed to look after us!"

"I can be a father and still teach you to hunt."

...It's not supposed to go like this...

Am I really asking so much?

.

.

.

I'M HERE! YOUR SON! YOUR BROTHER! WHY CAN'T YOU SEE ME? WHAT DID I DO THAT WAS SO WRONG?

...Why do you keep ignoring me?...Am I not screaming loud enough?

"I don't want to be Dean! Why would I want to be him? We don't need three clones in this family!"

I lurched to my feet, sending the coffee table onto its side. The bang resounded through my head. There was just blind, bitter rage burning through me. I didn't want to acknowledge how much Sam's words had just cut me. My hands were clenched into fists, my body shaking with fury.

"Dean..." Sam's horrified voice reached me and I glared at him. "Dean...please..."

Why do you only remember me after you've hurt me? Why can't you remember me before?

"Son, calm down."

Dad's voice only caused the fury to writhe inside me, spitting insults that leapt to my tongue before I remembered to hold them back. I turned and stalked for the door.

"DEAN! Come back!" Dad ordered.

For the first time in my life, I walked away from him.

By the time I stumbled back into the motel room, alcohol had numbed my body and soothed my frazzled emotions. I padded nosily across the room, colliding with the table and knocking a few books off it. I frowned at them but made no attempt to pick them up. I stood in the middle of the room, suddenly unsure. Swallowing, I backed toward the door, wanting to run and knowing I could. The reality of the fact hit me hard and sobered my mind. Outside these wall, I could be anything. I could walk away from Sam and Dad. I opened the door, my mind longed for a new start but my body was unresponsive. I stood, frozen in the doorway with my hand clasped around the handle. The cold air bit into me and the stars shone, blazing above me.

Mum's up there somewhere. It's her I want to make proud.

...Would she hate me if I walked away from Sammy?...

Would I hate myself?

I lost track of time, I didn't know how long I stood there, lost in thoughts and buried dreams. Finally I moved, pushing forward and out into the cold. I wandered over to the Impala, my hand caressed the glossy body. Sighing, I clambered up onto the boot and stared into the dark sky. The moon hung in the blackness of the night and casted an eerie glow around me.

Mum...it's Dean. It been a while since I last spoke to you, sorry. Things have been...they've been busy. Sammy's OK, I look after him the best I can. You know that, right? And Dad...well...he's Dad, enough said. Me? I'm fine...I have to be. I can't be anything less. I hope you're happy up there. You're with Grandma and Grandpa.

The thing is, mum. They act like they can't see me. Dad and Sam, I mean. They argue and it drags me down. I think...I hate them...sometimes. That's wrong isn't it? I nearly ran from them, actually that's why I'm lying on my car. Trying to find the courage. They'd kill each other without me but maybe they deserve that. No...I don't want them to die. I want them to treat me right. But what's right? Like you did once?

I just don't know anymore.

Would they miss me if I did leave? I doubt they'd even notice. I...

I'm sorry, mum. This isn't your problem. Don't worry, I'll make it work.

I love you. Bye.

It was a long time before I moved again. I slid off the car and turned back to the motel. I knew I couldn't leave them, not yet. The thought was there and the urge was strong but for now it was overpowered. I couldn't raise my head, my eyes trained to the dirt beneath my feet. The door swung soundlessly open and my footfalls were light against the carpet. I stripped to my boxers, dropping clothes at my feet and not caring where they landed.

"Dean?" I turned to Sam in surprise. He wasn't awake, not properly, hovering on the edge of oblivion.

"Yeah, it's me, Sammy. Go back to sleep."

"Sorry, Dean. Didn't mean it."

"Shh." I pulled his cover up to his chin. "I know kiddo. Go to sleep."

He stilled, a smile playing on his lips. I slipped in between my own scratchy sheets, frowning at the texture. Sleep tugged on my conscious, pulling me down with it into it's slumber. But before I fell completely under its spell, I thought I saw Dad's eyes, fixed on me, shinning in the moonlight.

"Wake up, Dean! C'mon!" Sam's bright voice woke me.

I swatted at him and rolled over. "Go away. Sleeping."

"Not anymore you're not. Get up!"

"Five more minutes."

"You said that five minutes ago."

"And I'll say it in another five. Let me sleep."

"Get up, Dean. Please."

"You're begging to get me up? Seriously?"

"Will it work?"

"What's for breakfast?"

"Cereal."

"Nope! No way. Not getting up. Good night, Sammy. Wake me when you have real food." I pulled the pillow over my head, which didn't mute Sam's voice.

"Real mature, Dean. Dad says we're going to Bobby's."

"Bobby's? Why?"

"Because he needs our help on a hunt." Dad answered, appearing on my left side.

Frowning I sat up and looked at him. "What about The Demon? I thought you had a lead."

"It was false. C'mon, Dean. We'll stop for a burger."

"Awesome!"

We never did stop for that burger. Sam and Dad found it much more appealing to scream at each other while on the highway. Dad's knuckles were clamped around the steering wheel so tightly that they were turning white. I could see them shaking. Sat behind him, Sam's arms waved dramatically about his eyes blazing injustice and war. I sank deeper into the seat and wished for change.

"This isn't music, Dad! It's a racket!"

For Christ sake. You're arguing about music?

"I'm not listening to your stuff Sam. My car. My music."

"It's Dean's car!"

"Dean likes this music. It's his favourite track!"

"Guys...I'm sitting right here..."

"You brainwashed him! He doesn't know what he likes!"

"He's welcome to develop a personal choice any day!"

"Guys!"

"He wouldn't know how too! You've moulded him since the age of four! Turn the darn music off."

"NO!"

I reached out, ejecting the tape and throwing it to the floor. In the stunned silence that followed, I switched on the radio. I didn't care what was playing, I just wanted them to shut up.

"DEAN!" Two furious voices screeched.

"Sam doesn't want to listen to 'Metallica' and you don't want to listen to the 'Backstreet boys'. I don't want to listen to you argue, so we're listening to this. End off." Sam fell silent, shock playing on his features. Dad was ready to retort, I saw words building on his tongue. I cut him off. "My car. My music. Live with it."

We spent the next hour in silence. Sam sulking like a child, Dad staring out into the distance with cold fury in his eyes. I tried to pretend that I wasn't hurting. That some vital part of me wasn't broken. That I really could continue to bleed in silence.

...Notice me...

Walk away, Dean...just walk away...

Bobby's was the only place I could ever really consider home. The scrap yard of cars is a place I can escape. A place where I can get lost. Sometime, they can't find me. Bobby's features were schooled, something hidden behind his welcoming face. He moved toward us and the floorboards groaned. His eyes snapped to my face and something clouded his eyes. He placed his hand on my shoulder, squeezing in reassurance. I blinked at him in surprise but his gaze was on Dad. His eyes shone with emotions I couldn't understand.

"Boys. John."

"Bobby." Dad acknowledged.

"Hey, Bobby!" Sam greeted.

Bobby smiled, watching Sam bound into the house. He disappeared from sight and Dad turned to me.

"Get our bags from the car Dean."

"What? Oh, yeah. Sure."

Daddy's perfect solider.

...He'd fold in half without you...

Just this once...don't do it...

I stood in front of the Impala, the bags packed into the boot. There was nothing in me that reacted to Dad's order. I studied the material in which our belongings were kept. They were brown and fraying, a decade old. Identical. Slamming the boot shut, I prowled into the yard, slipping in between the rusting cars. Eventually I found myself on the other side off the yard, the house a speck in the distance. I lowered myself to the dirt, leaning against the wrecked shell of a car.

How long had I been going through the motions?

Existing but never really living?

I could never afford fun. Never had the opportunity to be a kid. Fire and death snatched my childhood away from me and Dad made sure it stayed gone. He didn't have to get hooked on this. He didn't have to become a hunter.

Why use my life for his? Why?

They don't see what they do to me. How I'm frozen inside with turmoil and hate trapped. I know I can't get out of this life. But it doesn't mean I don't want to try. Sam isn't the only one with dreams.

Sammy's going places. He'll be amazing.

But he'll leave me behind and Dad can't stick around forever.

I'll get my chance at life then. But it'll be tainted by hurt.

I have to leave before they do...it's the only way...

...Sammy...

Can I leave him behind? My baby brother? He's not so little anymore. He's big enough to insult Dad and drag me through the darkness.

I wish they'd stop using me against each other. I wish they'd see me for who I am. Not just a weapon.

I pounded my fist into the ground, wincing when the skin split and blood gushed from the jagged wounds. Bones creaked and muscles leaped into spasms. But I didn't care. I washed the crimson liquid snake down my skin, leaving stains behind it. It dripped onto the ground, turning the soil red. Finally, I wiped the blood away and straightened out the limb. It hurt and protested movement but I shut it out and let it sink into my subconscious.

I heaved myself back to my feet and headed toward the Impala. The bags hadn't been moved, no one had tried to help. Wordlessly, I picked them up, slinging one over each shoulder and holding the third. Three heads shot up when I appeared in the door. I thought I saw relief and concern before anger replaced it.

"Where have you been?" Dad demanded.

I said nothing, just placed the bags on the couch and moved to the fridge. There was nothing that I wanted but it was an excuse to not look behind me at the men crowded around a small table.

"I asked you a question Dean."

"Getting the bags like you told me too."

"That was twenty minutes ago. What happened?"

"Got abducted by aliens. Nasty creatures."

"Dean..."

Suddenly someone was holding my hand. Surprised I looked around, Sam had found my injured hand. His fingertips soothing ripped skin, wiping away the blood that still oozed out. When he finally looked up at me, concern was written in expressive eyes. I struggled to keep his gaze.

"What happened to your hand, Dean?"

"I told you. Alien's are nasty."

"Please, tell me Dean."

"I...must've tripped on something. I fell."

"It took you twenty minutes to get back up?"

"Took me a long time to fall. Anyway, I'm fine. I'll put the bags in our rooms. Same as usual, Bobby?"

"Course boy."

I hastily picked up the bags and hurried from the room. I fled up the stairs, not caring that they could hear my movements. I threw dad's bag into his room, hearing something bounce and praying nothing broke. I chucked Sam's bag onto his bed and dropped mine to the bed. Sam came up wordlessly behind me and took my ruined hand again. He didn't speak to me as he lead me to the bathroom and let the water run onto my knuckle. I hissed and he held my wrist tighter. The water ran red, I glanced at Sam. He met mine with suspicion but something that could be described as love played in their depth. He smoothed a fresh bandage over my skin.

"Dean. You know I didn't mean what I said. I like you the way you are."

"Dude, that sounds wrong. And isn't that from a song?"

"I'm being serious, Dean. You're ten times better than Dad. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Get over yourself, Sammy. Nothing hurts me."

Something trickled into his eyes, a burst of emotional pain seemed to rise from inside him. He reached forward and put his arms around my neck. Woodenly, I did the same, unsure of where to put my arms and how much pressure to put on his body.

I haven't been hugged in years...I'd forgotten what it felt like...

He didn't let go, even when I let my arms fall to my sides.

"Sammy? You mind letting go?"

He pulled back, but the agony was still written on his face. I wanted to wipe it away but I didn't know how.

"You look tired, Dean. You should go to sleep." Sam mumbled. I nodded mutely, confusion tugging at my exhausted mind. "I'll tell Dad to save you some food."

"OK." He stood and started to walk out the door. "Sammy, thanks."

He nodded. "Anytime, Dean."

-Start of dream-

"Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down! Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down. Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, Ashes. WE. ALL. !"

Dark. So dark. I've never known darkness like this. I can't breathe. Oh, God.

"Dad? Sammy? Get me out of here!"

I throw my arms around, striking out at darkness and hitting wood. The wood surrounds me, encasing me...entombing me...

I don't understand.

"Hush, little baby don't you cry. Momma's gonna by you a mocking bird. If that mocking bird don't sing, momma's gonna by you a diamond ring"

"Hello? Can you hear me? Let me out!"

"Let you out? Why would I do that?" The voice was female, spitting poison words at me. I shuddered at her.

"Because it's not nice to keep me here."

"But I get sooooo lonely here. Now I have you. We'll play together forever."

"My dad'll come."

She laughed. Nails dragged across the wood above me, sawdust fell. It slipped into my mouth and coated my tongue. I coughed and she laughed again.

"Daddy isn't coming. Daddy doesn't care. He gave me to you."

"You're lying!"

"Am not. Daddy doesn't love Dean. Sammy left him too. All alone."

"NO!"

"They argued and I stole you away. Argue. Argue. I took you and they didn't even know. Daddy won't come to save you. Sammy doesn't want his brother around anymore. Why do you think they argue? Because they can't face the pain off you."

"SHUT UP!"

"Poor boy. So brave. You've been so brave. But now its time to sleep. Isn't it lucky. You're already in a coffin. Lucky boy. Brave boy. No more pain."

I couldn't breathe, everything closed in around me. I thrashed, screaming words I didn't understand. My fists kept hitting solid wood. Panic was forcing every thought from me.

"LET ME OUT! SAM! DAD! SAMMY!"

"Humpty dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty dumpty had a great fall. All of the king's horses and all of his men, couldn't put Humpty together again."

-End dream scene-

"DEAN! DEAN WAKE UP, MAN!"

I threw myself away from the voice, away from the arms that reached for me. Confusion and fear burned through me, panic still lingered in my mind. I blinked up at the figures around me, unable to see faces in the darkness.

Darkness...

I lurched for the light, snapping it on and filling the room with an artificial glow. Sam's face was hovering anxiously near me, his hands still reaching out. Behind him, I saw Dad's anxious face and Bobby's frantic one. I'd woken them up, their hair was mussed and their eyes bleary. The covers from Sam's bed had been flung to the floor.

"Are you all right, Dean?" Sam's gentle voice asked.

"I-I'm fine. Just a-a...nightmare. Nothing too it."

"You were screaming pretty loud, Dean. Woke us all up." Dad commented.

"I've realised. Sorry sir, won't happen again."

"Not your fault Dean."

I nodded, rubbing my hands over my eyes. Sam's hand touched my ankle, grounding me to reality, keeping the monsters at bay but no fighting off the emptiness inside my chest. I forced a smile to weary lips.

"I think I'm going back to sleep now. Night everyone."

"Ok. Night son." Dad left, without a backwards glance.

"Try not to have any nightmares." Bobby ordered as e followed Dad out.

Sam hung around me, fear flashing through his eyes. I turned to him, placing a calming hand on his shoulder.

"I'm all right, Sammy. Really."

"Don't do that again, Dean. I know you're not OK."

I could only drop my gaze to the bed.

...

Ta-duh?

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