Alright, this is my first Supernatural fic! I've been a mega fan of the show for a long while now and have wanted to write a fanfiction for almost as long. Finally, I got up the courage to actually write one, so…here it is! It'll be short, maybe just a three-shot, but I had a lot of fun writing it so I hope you enjoy!
Obligatory disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Supernatural, I just play with them. This holds true for all other parts of this story.
The night air was dark and calm, so cold that it chilled down to the bone as three mismatched figures stumbled out from a black '67 Chevy Impala and toward a ramshackle house on the outskirts of a small Midwestern town. The first figure moved quickly over to the door, hands stuffed deep into the pockets of an over-used brown leather jacket, searching for keys. The other two much smaller figures trailed a few steps behind, sliding around on the two-inch thick snowfall layering the pavers leading up to the front porch.
Dean Winchester, only six years old, clutched fervently onto Sammy's little hand, his three-year-old younger brother half-asleep as they stumbled after their father. They had just finished driving ten hours across three states and all three of them were ready for a good night's rest. John Winchester had just rented out the new home and after living for two months in a cramped motel room, anything would be a welcome change, even if this new place looked like it probably should've been torn down.
Two months ago the Winchester family home in Lawrence, Kansas had burned to the ground, with Dean and Sam's mother inside it. John had managed pull Dean and Sam from the burning building but his wife had been caught in the original explosion—something about a gas leak—and had been gone too soon to save. Dean and Sammy had both been in the same room at the time…Dean could still remember the look on his mother's face when—
A dull sting pricked at Dean's eyes and he shook his head as he sucked in a long breath of the sharp, cold air. Nope, he definitely wasn't going to start crying again. It was alright for Sammy to cry, but he couldn't. He had to be a big boy now and take care of Sammy, had to be strong for his brother. His Dad had said that he had to be a big boy now, so he would.
Dean's attention was drawn up as he heard the rattle of keys and he took another breath of the lung-burning air as he watched his father wrestle with the front door. He could hear his Dad muttering under his breath as he rattled the keys around in the lock, his voice raspy from exhaustion. "God fucking dammit, come on…" Just when Dean was sure that they'd be sleeping in the back of the Impala again there was a loud click and the front door of the dilapidated house opened. "Finally, Jesus…"
John let out a long sigh as he shoved the door open then, with a low grunt, turned around and waved towards his sons. "Dean, get Sam inside and try to find a thermostat or at least a fireplace. I'll go back and get our things."
Trying to hide his shivers and too cold to speak, Dean managed a stiff nod. Tugging on Sammy's hand to get him moving again, he hobbled inside, tears almost pricking his eyes as they stepped over the threshold into the house and found that the temperature was no warmer than it was outside. Being inside seemed to wake Sam up a bit though and he blinked his wide eyes open. "Dean…? Where are we…?"
Dean bit his lip as he tried to scan the room for any source of warmth and think up an answer at the same time. It wasn't easy. "Um…We're, we're home, Sammy…"
Sammy let out a small moan at his reply. "No, we're not home…! Dean—!"
Dean shushed his baby brother, refocusing instead on a small woodstove tucked into the corner of the front room. Despite his whining, Dean was still unwilling to let go of Sam and so pulled him along as he wobbled over to the stove to investigate. Sammy let out a wide yawn and his wavy brown hair falling into his face, his free hand coming up to wipe at his eyes as Dean pulled the grate open on the woodstove. There were three small logs inside, a handful of crumpled up pieces of newspaper, and a few pieces of trash. Not the best fuel for a fire, but it would still probably work.
Hearing the front door open and slam shut again, Dean looked back over Sammy's shoulder to see his Dad wrestling their three duffle bags into the house. They didn't bring too much, not having been able to save much from the fire, but occasionally the fact that they had less to carry was a good thing. "Hey Dad, there's a stove, but the wood looks all dried up and stuff and I don't have a match."
John heaved a sigh and dropped the duffle bags onto the floor in the hall. "It's a start at least. Here," his voice trailed off and he dug around in his jacket pocket, his hand reemerging with a lighter clutched in his fingers, "good thing I come prepared."
Dean smiled and scooted Sammy to the side as their Dad walked over and knelt down by the woodstove. He had to click the lighter a few times but eventually a tiny flame sparked to life and John used it to catch the edge of one of the old newspapers on fire. In a matter of minutes the small flicker had spread to the logs and Dean began to feel some of the cold melting away. The garbage made the smoke smell funny but that was alright, the warmth was worth it.
Dean held his hands up to it and Sammy pressed closer to his older brother and the source of heat as the warmth began to seep into the room. The glow from the modest fire cast an orange glow on John's face as his lips curled up into a soft smile before he pushed himself back up onto his feet. "Since we don't have any furniture yet, what do you boys say I go get our sleeping bags and we camp out in the front room for tonight?"
Dean's green eyes lit up almost as bright as the fire inside the woodstove. "All three of us?"
"Yeah, the three of us."
"That'd be good!"
The small smile reappeared just for a moment on John's lips. "Alright then. You get you and Sammy changed into your PJs while I go get the sleeping bags."
That was the first night in a long while that Dean fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep through the whole night. He and Sammy ended up sharing a sleeping bag which was positioned mere feet away from the small woodstove while their Dad slept on their other side. Even in the strange new house, sandwiched between the warmth, Sammy, and his Dad, Dean felt more at ease than he had in weeks. With a sweater tucked under his head for a pillow and Sammy curled up against him, it took Dean less than ten minutes to drift to sleep after their Dad kissed them both good-night.
For the first time in a long while it felt like…like things might be able to feel normal again.
The next day Dean awoke to the feel of a beam of pale light hitting his face. Blinking his eyes open, it took him a moment to realize where he was. He was on the floor and a quick glance around told him that his Dad was already up. Sammy was still curled up against him, the space where their chests were pushed up together the only part of him that was still warm. Everything else was cold, the thin sleeping bag not doing much to fight off the chill. The small fire in the woodstove had long since died out, leaving the room as cold as a freezer. As Dean shifted he realized that his Dad had tucked his own sleeping bag over his sons when he woke up to try to keep them warmer but it hadn't helped much.
Shivering, Dean gently pulled himself free of his brother's tiny grasp and shimmied out of the sleeping bag. As soon as the cold air hit his skin directly his shivers grew to full on tremors and he immediately padded over to his duffle. With a small grunt he pulled two jackets out, wrapped one around himself, then shambled back over to where Sam was laying and draped his second jacket over his little brother. Sammy didn't even shift, the three year old still so deep asleep that he couldn't even feel the chill, but it made Dean feel a little better.
The sound of shuffling drew his attention away back further into the old house. Dean tilted his head up while at the same time he pushed his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "Dad?"
When he didn't get a reply Dean's face pulled into a pout and he began to move toward the noise. "Dad, is that you?"
The front room led towards a narrow hall and as Dean walked through it the cracked wooden boards under his feet creaked and groaned. The soft morning light trickling in through the ratty curtains in the front room didn't quite reach back into the thin hall, making it seem a little…creepy. Not that Dean was scared or anything. That was, that was something little kids would be scared by, not Dean. Not Dean.
A cry burst from Dean's lips and he jumped about a foot as a voice suddenly called out to him from a darkened room at the end of the hall. Before he could even open his mouth to call for his Dad, John Winchester himself hurried out of the darkened room and was at his son's side. "Dean! Hey, it's alright, it's just me."
Dean instantly began to calm down—as well as feel like an absolute baby as his Dad smirked down at him. "Sorry, Dean, didn't mean to scare you."
"Y-you didn't scare me, I, just, got surprised is all!"
"Right." Reaching down, John ruffled Dean's short hair, apparently willing to accept his son's reply. "Sam still asleep?"
Happy that his Dad didn't think he was a baby, Dean nodded quickly. "Yup! When did you get up?"
"Ah, about an hour ago. I had to wake up but I figured that's no reason for you boys to have to get up early."
"Oh. Is that why you were in there in the dark?" Dean cast an uneasy gaze into the room his father had come out of.
"Didn't want to wake you and Sammy with the lights. I was trying to get things ready for you two today so you wouldn't have to dig through boxes. I also wanted to check around and make sure there wasn't anything dangerous in this run-down piece of sh—"
Dean blinked as his Dad cut himself off mid-word but when he didn't continue, Dean figured that he was waiting for him to say something. It sounded like he was worried about the house and Dean didn't like the way his Dad's brow was so furrowed. He didn't know what to say but he knew he had to say something. "It's…it's okay, Dad."
John sighed and Dean immediately knew that he hadn't fooled his Dad this time. "I know this place isn't the best—hell, it's barely habitable—but until I get some money—" The man's tired eyes landed on Dean again and his voice trailed off before he pasted a weak smile onto his face. The forced smile brought a small frown to Dean's own face as he stared back up at his father. "I won't bother you with that. Long story short, we're stuck here for a while, so we're all going to have to make the best of it. I'm going to need you to be patient with me for a while, and keep an eye on your brother."
"I will. But, where are you going?"
Dean padded after his father as the eldest Winchester shrugged on his jacket and began to walk toward the front door. "I need to go to work."
Dean's bottom lip slipped out in another pout. "You're working again? You work too much!"
John chuckled, the noise different than Dean remembered ever hearing before two months ago. "There's no such thing as too much work, and I'll work as long as I need to in order to keep us going. Now," Dean blinked as his Dad crouched down in front of him and rested his broad hands on Dean's small shoulders, "I'm going to be gone for the whole day but," John winced, "I don't have the money to pay for a baby-sitter. Will you be alright here alone with Sam?"
Dean's answer was instantaneous, his face drawing into an expression much too serious for a boy his age as he gave a firm nod. "Yes. We'll be fine!"
John's lips quirked back up in a weak grin at his son's answer though he didn't seem quite convinced. "There's some food in the cupboards that we brought with us and I'll bring dinner back on my way home. And if anything happens, call me. I left the number to my new job on the fridge."
"It's okay, Dad. I'll take good care of Sammy."
"Okay then. You're a good boy, Dean." Straightening up, John ran a hand over his face before reaching out for the doorknob. "I'll be back around eight tonight, hopefully."
Dean swallowed but nodded. It would be dark by the time his dad got back, not that he was worried about it or anything. The house would be dark and cold and he'd have to tell Sammy not to be scared, but he could do it because he was a big boy now.
It still took everything Dean had not to tell his dad to stay and he had to bite his lip to stay quiet as his father slipped out the front door.
Sammy woke about an hour later. In the meantime Dean had poked around the house as much as he dared, happy that he had managed to at least find a small box of their toys. Good thing he did too because, what with the snow and ice outside, they spent all but an hour cooped up inside. They had cold, dry cereal for breakfast and lunch and it wouldn't be until dinner time that Dean finally worked up the courage to try to use the stove.
It had been two hours since they had gone out and an hour since Dean had gotten Sammy to take a bath with him after they had come back inside covered in ice and mud. Then Sammy had been complaining that he was hungry and that he didn't want cereal, he wanted something hot. Dean had been waiting for their Dad to come home—he said he would bring dinner—but by then it had gotten dark and both of their stomachs were rumbling. So Dean had dragged a step-stool over to the oven so he could see the stovetop and, after a few minutes of twisting rusted dials, got one of the burners to heat up enough to boil a small pot of water. He didn't know how to make much, but he had seen his Dad cook pasta enough that he thought he could do it.
Twenty minutes and two light burns later he managed to scoop a heap of over-cooked spaghetti noodles into two bowls and dump a spoonful of marinara sauce from a jar over them. Passing a bowl to Sammy, Dean fought back tears as he sucked on a burned finger before grabbing his own bowl.
His expression lightened a bit as Sammy began to shovel the soggy noodles into his mouth, the three-year-old not caring that it wasn't cooked right and tasted funny. If Sammy was happy, the burns didn't matter too much.
However, half-way through the make-shift meal some bad feelings started to come back over Dean and it had nothing to do with his cooking skills. It was a cold shiver running down his spine and the feeling of someone watching them eat. Sam seemed oblivious but three times Dean spun around in his seat to look around, his hand clutching onto his fork.
Nothing was outside the windows but pitch blackness, but that wasn't even it. It felt like someone was watching them from the hall. From inside the house. Not necessarily bad, just watching, intently. The third time he turned around, Sam looked up from his bowl. "What's wrong, Dean? Why'd ya keep trunin' around like that?"
"It's—" Biting his lip, Dean turned back around in his seat, "It's nothing. I just thought I heard a noise. Now keep eating. You gotta eat everything on your plate, like Daddy says."
He was the big brother and he had to take care of Sammy. He was too old to be scared of the dark, or cooking, or creepy hallways, or being alone. He was probably just making things up. No one was in the house watching them, he knew they were alone in the house. No matter how real it felt…
John Winchester had come home just a little after eleven, face haggard and a bag of cold take-out clutched in his hand, to find his boys already asleep, curled up together by the woodstove. As bad as he felt, he didn't even have the chance to apologize when the next day rolled around and he had to leave again before either of them woke up. All he could do was write a quick note, wash their dishes, and put the take-out in the fridge for them to eat for dinner.
When Dean finally did wake up, the only immediate evidence that his Dad had ever been home was a rumpled sleeping bag.
Their second day in the house passed similarly to the first, only Dean was more on edge though he tried to keep a smile on his face so Sammy wouldn't ask any questions. Like last night, it still felt like someone was staring at them as they played, from the hall, from the kitchen, whatever room was next to the one they were in. Once again, it didn't necessarily feel bad, or mean, it was just there, an invisible someone standing in a corner and watching. It felt like they were visitors in their own home.
Dean tried to keep Sam distracted from the weird feeling by grabbing their Dad's note and trying to read it to him. At six years old, Dean was just learning to read, and he couldn't be prouder that his baby brother was learning to read right along with him. Sammy was smart, really, really smart, and sometimes knew words that even Dean didn't know. So Dean sat down with little Sammy on his lap and held their Dad's note in front of him. The hardwood in the front room was cold, the woodstove having went out long ago, but neither the chill nor the feeling of being watched stopped the small smile from spreading across Dean's face as Sammy excitedly gripped the letter.
"What does it say Sammy, can you read it?"
"Yeah!" Sam squinted at the scrawled handwriting, his voice slow and stumbled as he tried to work out the letters. "'B-boys…S, so-r…sor-ry, sorry for lee…lee…'Dean, what's that say?"
Dean rested his chin on Sammy's shoulder and read the paper in the toddler's hands. It took him a few minutes of going over it in his head before he could answer. He wanted to make sure he got it right. "'Lee…leaving'! 'Sorry for leaving so er…early'."
"Oh, right!" Wiggling in Dean's lap, Sam stared down at the paper again. "'Sorry for leaving so early. I le…left so…some food in the…fr…fry—'"
"No, I can do it, Dean! 'I left some food in the fridge. I…I will…'"
Sammy's voice slowed to a stop as both boys' eyes drifted towards the front door. A soft noise was coming from it, like a small animal was scratching against the wood. Dean's brow furrowed and he swallowed as that eerie feeling intensified, now stronger than ever.
"What, what is it, Dean?"
Dean pulled Sammy a little closer. "Probably just a, a dog or somethin', trying to get outta the snow." It was nearly dark outside after all. It was probably pretty cold outside. Probably.
"A dog? Should we let it in?"
"No!" Dean answered so fast Sam jumped in surprise. "I mean, no, it could be mean." His finger's tightened on Sammy's arms as the scratching on the door grew louder, more determined, before it suddenly stopped. "See, Sammy? I probably went awa—"
His words froze in his throat as the doorknob suddenly gave a violent rattle. Dean threw himself back with a shout, his frightened green eyes wide as he stared at the front door.
Sammy toppled over with him, his tiny hand gripping his brother's. Seeing the fear in Dean's eyes made the color drain from his own face. "Dean?"
"I-it's okay, it's okay, Sammy! It's okay—" Dean was interrupted again, this time by a loud slam, the impact so hard that it cracked the wood on the front door. Instantly Dean was on his feet. "It's not okay! Not okay! Come on!"
There was another bang and snap, the paneling on the front door splintered, and Dean saw it. The shadowed figure of a man in a black hoodie. An entirely different kind of fear ripped through Dean as he saw him than what had been settled in his stomach for the last day and suddenly he only had one thought in mind. Protect Sammy.
Scrambling to his feet, Dean grabbed Sam around the waist and half dragged, half carried him out of the front room. His legs were working on automatic, his mind in a blind panic as he heard the door finally give way. That guy was in the house and he must have seen them! The way he had broken the door down—if he caught them, would he hurt them? Would he kill them?
Dean didn't want to find out. Heartbeats began to mix with footsteps, the mixed noise so loud that he could hardly hear Sammy's whimpers as he ran them down the darkened hall and into the only other room he knew, the kitchen. He didn't want to take the time to see if they were being followed, too afraid with what he might find.
Eyes locking on one of the rickety cabinets, Dean practically pushed Sammy inside before climbing in behind him. He had just gotten the door closed again when heavy footsteps stalked into the kitchen, the heavy footfall of boots on the tile floor reverberating around the room. Dean slapped a hand over Sammy's mouth to keep him from crying but was sure his heart was pounding louder than any of Sammy's sobs would be. He watched through a small crack in the cabinet as the man in the black hoodie walked in. He was large and scary looking, but not quite as scary as the hunting knife he had in his hands. Dean had seen it before, his Dad had one, and he had seen what his Dad's knife had done to a deer he had caught.
"Where are you, kids?" Sam froze up in his arms, his breath short and quick against Dean's palm, as the man spoke. His voice was low, raspy, and mean. "Come on out and I won't hurt you."
Liar, liar, liar! Dean squeezed his eyes shut as he heard the man start to rip the room apart. "Come on, you little brats, where are you?"
He was going to find them! Dean bit his lip, wishing that he had grabbed the phone. He wanted to call his Dad. He wanted his Dad here! He didn't want to do this!
"There you are, you little shit."
Dean gasped as the cabinet door was suddenly wrenched open and a hand reached in and gripped his shoulder. A strangled shout was torn from Dean's throat and he pushed Sammy away, further back into the cabinet as he was hauled out. Pulled across the room so fast that he could barely tell which way was up, he was suddenly slammed against the wall, the man's face mere inches away from his. His grip was like iron on Dean's arm and he kept the six-year-old pinned despite his thrashing. "L-let me go! Lemme go!"
"Shut up!" Dean's mouth went dry as he suddenly found a knife pressed to his throat. "Now listen up, you're going to tell me where your mommy and daddy keep all the goods."
"I-I don't, I don't know! I—!" Dean's gaze tore away from the man's burning eyes staring at him from under the hood back over to the cabinet where Sammy was still hiding. Please, please just let Sammy stay hidden. Swallowing, Dean's eyes bounced back to the knife pressed up against his neck. He could do this. He had to do this. Their Dad wasn't here, wouldn't be here; he needed to be the one to save his brother. "I don't know. D-dad doesn't tell me. We just moved here!"
He got a hard shake in response. "I know you just moved here! And you got one minute to tell me where all the good shit is before I slice your throat open!"
Sam stuck his head out of the cabinet and Dean's heart dropped down into his stomach. "No, Sammy! Stay back!"
But the man had already spotted his baby brother and his expression grew dark, twisting up into a smirk. "Maybe that little guy will be more talkative than you."
No, no, no, no! Dean began to thrash in the man's grip. He couldn't let him get to Sammy! He had to protect his brother! But he wasn't strong enough. "No!" He couldn't do this on his own anymore! He couldn't do it! "Please, somebody help!"
Dean didn't know who he had been calling for or, maybe he had, but the result was almost instantaneous. Less than a second after the words had slipped past Dean's lips the temperature in the room dropped so fast that the next breath Dean took clouded up. The would-be robber's brows knit and his eyes jerked around, as if trying to see who had turned the thermostat down to freezing. "What the hell?"
Any more questions he might have had were cut off as the robber was suddenly thrown back as if he had been kicked in the stomach. Dean fell roughly to the ground, gasping for air and unable to look away from his attacker as the man doubled over. He was unable to look away until out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw it. Standing at the far end of the kitchen was a…a person, a see-through person, and Dean didn't know how he knew but he knew that this was what he had been feeling for the last few days. It was what had been watching them and now…now it was helping them?
As much as Dean didn't understand, it didn't matter as the man in the hoodie shot across the room like he was on roller skates, flying right past where Dean was pressed up against the wall, and out through the hallway. A quick glance back in the corner told Dean that the misty figure in had disappeared, its new location made clear as a sudden scream echoed out from the front room.
Dean turned his wide-eyed gaze back over to where Sam was creeping out of the cupboard and found an equally frightened and shocked face staring back at him. "C-come here, Sammy!"
Sammy didn't need to be told twice and tottered across the kitchen as fast as his legs would carry him, all but throwing himself into Dean's arms. "What, what happened, Dean?"
Pulling his brother in closer, Dean's eyes went back to the shadows in the hallway that had swallowed the robber up. "I dunno, but I'm gonna go find out."
There was another loud bang from the living room as Dean and Sammy began to creep back down the hall and Sam's hand clutched at Dean's shirt. Dean tried to calm him as best he could but it was hard when it felt like his own heart was pounding so hard it was about to come out of his chest.
They peeked around the corner just in time to see the hooded man stumbling towards the door. His eyes were wild and he swung his knife around at nothing as he screamed into the empty air. "Come out where I can see you, you bastard!"
Behind him, Sammy sucked in his breath as a white fog darted across the room and slammed into the man. Whatever it was, the impact was strong enough to send the huge man tumbling out through the shattered front door. Breaking away from Sammy, Dean ran over to the door, his hands clutching at a snapped wooden panel as he stared outside, watching the robber stand up from where he had been thrown into a snow drift.
Dean stiffened as their eyes met but wasn't ready for the look of pure terror that passed over the man's face. It took him half a second for him to realize that the man wasn't looking at him, but something over his shoulder. It was then that Dean heard Sammy's frightened whispers and felt a chill run down his spine. Tearing his eyes away from the would-be-robber, Dean let out a long breath then slowly, as slowly as he could, turned his head to look over his shoulder.
There, hovering less than a foot away, was a man. He was wearing a suit with a long jacket and as Dean tilted his head up to look up at his face he saw ruffled dark hair and two piercing blue eyes staring back down at him. But aside from his eyes, the rest of the man was made of shades of gray, transparent gray. So transparent that Dean could see Sammy's face as he stood across the room. And as afraid as Dean thought he should be—he wasn't.
The two stared at each other for another second, blue eyes drilling into green, before the figure suddenly vanished, the fog melting away as quickly as it had come. Released from whatever spell he had been placed under, Dean spun around to look back out into the front yard but the robber was gone, footsteps in the snow leading back towards the road.
The six-year-olds knees gave out and he slumped up against the broken doorframe. He tried to figure out what had happened but he couldn't—he didn't even know…
He heard footsteps hesitantly walking over to him but didn't turn until Sam reached out and grabbed at the back of his shirt. "Are, are they gone, Dean?"
Sammy's trembling voice brought Dean back and he finally felt the sting of the cold air blowing in from outside. "Yeah…Yeah, the bad guy's gone, Sammy. Can you, can you get the phone?"
Dean barely had to get a sentence out over the phone before his Dad dropped everything he was doing at work and rushed home. The expression on his face when he saw the front door smashed open was so close to the one his Dad had worn the night their mother died that Dean almost cried. Sam, the three-year-old exhausted and frightened, had fewer reservations and as soon as their Dad stepped into the house Sammy began to bawl, tears streaming down his face as John scooped the toddler up into his arms. Dean was next, John crouching down and pulling him close so that he had both of his sons held tight against his chest. In the distance, Dean could hear the sound of sirens coming closer but he just nestled farther against his father, burying himself in the feeling of strong arms holding him as Sammy hiccupped uncontrollably.
The younger Winchesters remained glued to their father's side as the police came. John told them as much as he could and rubbed a soothing hand up and down Dean's back as he shakily began to go over what happened that night. The police officers' brows drew together when he got to the part about the misty figure appearing in the kitchen. His Dad though, fended them off with a few gruff words, something about "trauma" but Dean was only half listening. Eventually the officers nodded and said good-bye, leaving Dean, Sam, and their Dad to pick up the pieces.
The first thing John did was to fix the door, nailing a large wooden board over the gaping hole. It wasn't clean, or good-looking, but it kept the freezing wind out and that was what really mattered right now. After that, he had done his best to put the kitchen back together before heating up the take-out he had brought home the night before. None of them had been very hungry but John insisted that they swallow down what they could.
When they were done there, John had herded his shell-shocked sons back into the front room and tried to make them comfortable. Now Sammy was asleep, curled up in their Dad's lap, and Dean had finally gotten the nerve to separate himself from his father and his brother. With a weak excuse about needing to go to the bathroom, Dean cautiously tiptoed into the hall. But he bypassed the small bathroom and instead made his way further down the hall and into the kitchen. Stepping onto the tiled floor made his fingers curl up into a tight fist, thoughts rushing back to what had happened only hours earlier. How he thought he and Sammy, how they were going to die.
It was like reliving it all over again, and Dean really didn't want to be in there, especially not alone, but he had something he needed to do. And, and he wasn't alone. Not really.
Spinning around in a slow circle, Dean's eyes searched the walls for any sign of movement as he softly spoke up, keeping his voice low so that his Dad didn't get up to check on him. "Hey, are you still here?" He was met by silence but, after a moment of waiting, he knew that it, that transparent man, hadn't left the house yet. He could feel it again, watching like before, but this time it was in the room with him.
"It's okay, I know you're here. Um…I, I just wanna say thanks." He might've imagined it but Dean thought that he felt a small breeze suddenly waft through the kitchen. It felt nice and Dean's eyes lit up as he realized that it might've been an answer. "What are you? Er, who are you?" Dean was pretty sure that it was a person. It had looked like a person anyway.
This time, the response he got was more than he could've hoped for. Another breeze brushed passed his arm and he turned with it, finding himself staring once again at the kitchen wall. The temperature in the room had dropped again but this time Dean wasn't afraid. Though it was cold, it was almost comforting now. The chill made the windows fog up and his eyes drifted up to the small window above the sink as a soft squeak resonated around the room. Something, something was being written in the fog by an invisible finger. J…A…
Dean frowned as he tried to make out the words. "Jay..."
N-O-V-A "James No, Novak. James Novak." A surge of pride ran through Dean as he sounded out the words. "James Novak, is that your name?"
Another soft breeze brushed by his shoulder and Dean almost smiled. "Can I call you Jimmy?" He didn't receive a sure answer but Dean was sure that the feeling in the room grew amused. "I'll take that as a 'yes'. What are you doing here, Jimmy?"
Like before, he didn't get an obvious answer but a sense of something filled the kitchen. Again Dean got the feeling that he was a visitor in his own house but this time he got it. This was Jimmy's home. He lived here too, had been living here before Sammy, his Dad, and him had even moved in.
Dean's private moment was interrupted as his Dad's voice reached him from the front room. "Dean? It's getting late. Finish up and come to bed."
Dean let out a huff as Jimmy's presence evaporated. "Okay, coming!" Scuttling back down the hall, Dean just barely remembered to make a quick stop in the bathroom to flush the toilet to make it sound like he had actually been using it like he said he needed to.
When he got back to the front room, his Dad had already set their sleeping bags out by the woodstove. His Dad looked up us Dean shuffled in, his face carefully neutral though there was worry in his eyes. "You took a while in there. Everything okay?"
"Yeah, Dad." Dean walked straight over to his Dad and let him ruffle his hair.
"Alright. Go on and get in there with Sam. Today's been…rough, but let's try to get some sleep."
Dean nodded and yawned wide. The gesture made the corner of John's lips quirk up and he watched as Dean clamored into the sleeping bag next to his brother. Cuddling close, he pulled his sweater-pillow closer as his Dad zipped the sleeping bag up. After everything that happened, he was only able to feel calm enough to sleep when John lay down behind him in his own sleeping bag, moving in close enough to reach an arm out over both Dean and Sam, his warmth more comforting than it had ever been.
"Good night, Dean."
"'Night, Dad…." Closing his eyes, Dean felt a soft puff of air run through his hair. At first he thought it had come from his Dad but then he sensed something standing in the corner and the ghost of a smile played across his own lips.
After that night, the Winchesters fell into a fairly regular routine. John had stayed home a few more days before feeling ready to leave Dean and Sam on their own again, but after spending every cent he could on a new front door, a deadbolt, and window locks he finally decided it was time to go back to work. Dean told him that they would be fine, confident that no matter what happened now Jimmy would watch out for him and Sammy. He'd tried to tell his Dad so, but John had just patted him on the shoulder with a strange look on his face. His Dad didn't seem to like it when he talked about Jimmy so Dean waited until he left for work, until it was just him and Sam, before talking about him or to him.
For two weeks, Dean felt Jimmy watching them and for those two weeks he no longer felt scared about being alone all day having to watch Sammy, or cooking, or the house, or the dark. But Dean should've known that it could only last so long.
As their third week of living in their new house—which was starting to actually feel like home—rolled around, Dean noticed that something had changed. It took him a few hours after he woke up to realize just what felt so different: the house felt empty. He couldn't sense Jimmy anymore.
It was Sunday and Dean had never been happier because it meant his Dad didn't have work. Heart jumping around in his chest, Dean ran to where John was sitting in his newly furnished bedroom with Sammy. "Dad! Dad!"
John looked up from the newspaper he had been reading to Sam, his brow furrowed in worry at his son's panicked tone. "What is it Dean?"
Launching himself at his father, Dean tugged on his arm, trying to get him to stand up. "Jimmy's gone, Dad!"
All the concern in his dad's face washed away. "Jesus, Dean, I thought something was really wrong."
"It is!" Dean tugged on his Dad's arm again, angry that he still wasn't worried. "Dad, Jimmy's gone! He's not here anymore and I don't know where he went!"
"Listen, Dean…" With a soft grunt John moved Sammy off his lap and set him on the mattress beside him. "I didn't want to push this but Jimmy isn't real."
"No, Dean, listen for a minute." His Dad leaned down until he was at Dean's eyelevel and held his son's gaze. "Jimmy isn't real, alright? It's something that you—your imagination came up with, because you were put in a very scary situation."
Dean shoulders slumped as he tried to form words. "No, no, but…but Jimmy's…" His dad had never lied to him before, but this time, Dean knew that he was wrong. "No, Dad, Jimmy's real! He is! How, how else would I…would he've told me his name?"
"Dean, 'Jimmy' is probably just a name of someone you used to know. This isn't anything that you've done wrong, your imagination just—"
"No it's not! Jimmy is his real name, his name is James Novak!"
"What?" Dean watched as his dad's entire look changed as his eyes flew open in shock. "What did you just say?"
Suddenly frightened that he had said something that made his Dad mad, Dean tried to take it back. "N-nothing. Just, his name, he said his name was J-james Novak."
Sammy watched the exchange with wide eyes as John's expression melted from shocked to confused to serious. "Dean, where did you hear that name?"
"J-jimmy told me." Dean bit his lip. "Um, why? Is it bad?"
"No, Dean, it's, it's not…" His Dad released a huge breath and ran his fingers through his hair. "It's not bad. I just don't know where you ever would've heard…" His voice trailed off before he continued. "James Novak is the name of the man who owned this house before I bought it." Dean barely blinked, not surprised by the news. He already knew that this was Jimmy's house. "He lived here with his family until about a year ago when he, he got very sick."
A sinking feeling settled in Dean's stomach. "What do you mean, Dad? What happened to him?"
"He had to go live at the hospital, and his wife and daughter moved into an apartment closer to town."
That couldn't be right. Jimmy had only left today, how could he have been at the hospital? "Why was he sick? What was wrong with him?" When he had seen him, Jimmy had looked fine. Well, see-through, but okay.
"He…" John sighed again. "It's complicated Dean, but Mr. Novak fell into something called a coma. He was basically asleep for a very, very long time, a few months actually. But, last night—" His dad seemed almost hesitant before reaching over and picking the newspaper back up, flipped through a few pages, before pushing it over towards Dean. Before Dean could even try to read the small column of print though, his dad was already explaining it. "Mr. Novak, passed away last night."
A wave of cold rushed through Dean. "He, he died?"
John frowned and rested a hand on Dean's head. "He, moved on to a better place. Mr. Novak was sick for a very long time, and his wife decided that, that it was time to let him rest."
"But…I never got to say good-bye…"
John set the paper down and pulled Dean in close as tears began to well up in the six-year-old's eyes. "Hey, now, Dean, it's alright. It's alright. I don't know how you found out about Mr. Novak but, I'm sure, he knows that people cared about him."
Dean knew that his dad didn't like to talk about stuff like this and for some reason it made his tears fall faster. Without Jimmy he was going to be alone again. Without him watching them, the house would be empty, the shadows scary again. If Jimmy was gone, who would be there to keep them safe when their dad was at work?
Gripping at his Dad's shirt, Dean tried to see past the tears stinging his eyes and looked at Sammy sitting so close that their legs were almost touching. Looking at his baby brother, Dean realized he already knew the answer to his questions. Because Dean was a big boy now, he knew who was going to have to take care of them, fight off the dark, and keep them safe.
And maybe that was why he was so scared.