Over the summer, IamtryN and I had a "what if" conversation. What if John hadn't raised the boys? What if their childhood had been entirely different? What would their lives be? What would Sam and Dean be like? We decided to each write our own story on what we thought might happen, without any input from the other, and see what happened. She posted the first chapter of her story earlier today – When the Monster Comes – and I am already frothing at the mouth, VERY ready for the next chapter. Below is the first chapter of my take – Junkyard Dog. Hope you-all like it.

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At the beginning of our story, Dean is eight, Sammy is four, and John is missing.

CHAPTER ONE

There was a brisk knock at the door and Dean peeked out the window, sheltered by worn curtains. Crap. The motel manager again.

Another knock, harder this time.

Keeping the chain on, he opened the door a crack and peeked outside. "My dad's not here," he said politely. "You have to come back tonight."

Jessie Caldwell sighed. "That's what you told me yesterday, kid. Then when I knocked last night, no one answered the door."

Dean smiled at her, all angelic innocence. "Dad took us to the movies last night. Sorry we missed you."

Jessie studied the boy with narrow eyes. She'd been managing the Averyville Bide-a-While for almost seven years. During that time she'd had every line of bullshit known to man thrown at her. This particular line wasn't new, but it was the first time that it had been thrown at her by a kid and it was starting to freak her out.

Trying to ignore the puppy dog eyes being leveled at her, Jessie said firmly, "Look, kid, your dad's already two weeks behind on the rent. I need to talk to him. You let him know that if he doesn't come up with the cash, or a really good reason why I shouldn't kick his butt out of here, he needs to come see me. Today. Okay?"

Dean nodded, sincerity oozing out of every pore. "I'll be sure and tell him."

She looked at him for another long moment, then turned away and went back to the office.

Dean shut the door gently, fighting against the icy ball of fear in his stomach.

She knew.

Or, at the very least, suspected. If Dad didn't come home by tonight, she'd be calling the cops. And if the cops came, the local child protection people wouldn't be far behind.

Dean didn't know much about CPS, but his dad had warned him - many times - that if they came, they'd take him and his brother away, and they'd never see their father again. Even worse, they'd probably separate Dean and Sam.

No. No.

Dean thrust a shaking hand through his hair. He couldn't let that happen. The thought of his little brother being taken away from him, of not being able to take care of him, protect him – no!

No matter how mad Dad was when he finally got back, Dean couldn't wait any longer. He had to do something. And he had to do it now, before it was too late.

There was a sudden patter of little feet behind him. "G'morning, Dean!"

Dean turned around to see Sam, clad in ragged footed pajamas, looking up at him with wide, solemn, trusting eyes. Banishing the worried look from his own face, Dean smiled and tousled his little brother's hair affectionately, and was rewarded with a wide, gap-toothed grin.

"Hey, Sammy. You ready for some breakfast?"

"Lucky Charms?" Sammy said hopefully.

Dean nodded and Sam ran ahead of him into their room's kitchenette. Stretching up on tiptoe, the little boy grabbed two bowls and a couple of spoons out of the dish drainer, set them on the table and then climbed up onto his chair, looking at Dean eagerly.

Dean took the nearly empty cereal box out of the cupboard and filled Sammy's bowl. He poured the last of the milk over it and sat down at the table, watching as his brother started to eat.

After a minute, Sam paused and looked at Dean questioningly. "Aren't you gonna have any, Dean?"

"Nah, I'm not hungry," Dean said offhandedly. "I'll eat later."

Sam frowned. "You weren't hungry last night either. Are you sick?"

Dean smiled reassuringly at the worried little face. "I'm fine, Sammy. Go ahead and eat your breakfast."

Sam stuck out his lower lip. "If you're not gonna eat, I'm not either."

"You gotta eat, Sam," Dean protested. "If you don't, it'll get mushy and you know you don't like it mushy."

Sam scowled and folded his arms together and stared at Dean mutinously.

"Sam –" Dean said helplessly. "There's no more cereal. That's all there is."

Sam stared at him for a long moment. Then he picked up his bowl and poured half of it into Dean's bowl, milk spattering the table. He waited.

Recognizing from the stubborn glint in his little brother's eyes that it would be useless to protest, Dean sighed. "Thanks, Sammy." As he picked up his spoon and started to eat, an enthusiastic growl erupted from his stomach, prompting a giggle from Sam, who started again on his cereal.

The two boys finished their breakfast quickly. After they washed the dishes, Sam looked at Dean. "Can we go to the park now?"

"A little later, Sammy," Dean answered gently. "Why don't you go watch cartoons for a little while, okay?"

"Okay!" Sam ran toward the T.V., then made an abrupt U-turn and ran back to his brother, grabbing him around the waist in a ferocious hug. "Don't worry, Dean. It'll be okay." He grinned confidently up at Dean and then ran back to the T.V. Soon he was shrieking with laughter at the antics of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.

Dean watched him for a while, chewing his lip nervously, trying to gather his nerve what for he knew had to be done. At last, reluctantly, he dug his address book out of his duffel bag and picked up the telephone.

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