Christmas Witches

Summary: 1-shot. Dean is abducted on Christmas Eve leaving Sam struggling to find his brother & overcome his own discomfort of the first holiday after Jessica's death. Hurt!Dean / Upset!Sam

Spoilers/Warnings: This happens in the first season after Skin so it may contain mention of events prior to that. Also contains mild language.

Tags: No real tags.

Disclaimer: I don't own the boys, I just use them for entertainment purposes.

SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN SPN

"I hate snow, I hate snow, I sooo hate snow."

Running or trying to run through dense woods at night with no clear idea on which way to go wouldn't be easy at any time but doing it in the middle of winter with patches of snow going past his boots was making this run even harder yet he kept going.

The young hunter struggled to stay upright after stepping into a deep pile of wet snow and cursed soundly when he nearly lost the shotgun he was carrying while also trying to keep the backpack over his shoulder since he knew he'd need what was inside once he got to where he was going…once he found his brother.

For Sam Winchester, winter had never been a favorite time of the year. Growing up it often meant cold motel rooms or nights bundled in the 1967 Chevy Impala with his older brother while their father hunted some supernatural monster after another.

Winter also brought up Christmas which was something else Sam tried to tell himself that he'd lost interest in the year he'd been nine and he'd learned just what it was that John Winchester did for a living. He'd lost the childhood naivety he'd had upon learning the secrets his family carried.

Since that night, Christmas had failed to mean as much even though Dean still tried to make the most of it. Dean had always tried to make Christmas good…even when all Sam wanted to do was forget it.

This would be the first time since Sam left for college that they would be together at Christmas but for Sam the grief over losing Jessica just a few months back was still too raw. That and he was still shook up from that shapeshifter case a few weeks back.

Sam hadn't fully told Dean how much that damn 'shifter had shaken him by assuming Dean's form and he wondered how much of what the thing had said was really what his brother felt.

"Damn," tripping over a snow covered log, Sam felt something cut his arm as he struggled to keep the shotgun dry. "Hang on, Dean," he whispered to himself, focusing on following the trail he'd picked up as he struggled to find his brother before it was too late.

Glancing up at the clear night sky, Sam noticed a brilliant star shining in the sky as if calling to him and a childhood memory surfaced.

He'd been nine years old, the Christmas after he's learned what his Dad really did, and he'd gotten lost in some woods in Minnesota after he'd run away from someone who'd tried to kidnap him while he walked from school alone since Dean had been sick that day.

Sam's memories of everything were still hazy but he recalled the snow, the woods, and the fear of never being found until it got dark and he noticed the star shining in the sky like a beacon and he followed it. It had seemed like hours to him that he struggled through the deep snow and trees until he heard voices shouting and he stumbled into the arms of his nearly frantic thirteen year old older brother.

His biggest memory after that, aside from the fact that his Dad hadn't screamed at him, was asking Dean how he and their Dad had found him and Dean had said they'd followed the star. Though it was his brother's next words that stayed with Sam now.

"'I'll always find you, Sammy and I'd never stop looking for you.'"

Sam had heard those words a few times in his life and he knew that no matter what happened between them that Dean would always keep that promise. He also knew that he'd keep it too because he'd find his brother tonight no matter what.

The case should've been simple. It had seemed simple at first. Missing men in a small coastal Maine town, all found drained of blood with long slashes over their bodies. At first the Winchesters had considered it being an out of cycle werewolf but most of those didn't kill so cleanly.

Still coping with nightmares of Jessica's death and the events with that damn 'shifter, Sam had been tense and so blamed himself for not seeing the signs or clues before it literally hit him over the head.

He and Dean had been bickering earlier that day in a small diner owned by three local sisters over Dean's desire to set up a small tree in their motel room. Dean wanted to do the usual Christmas thing while Sam just wanted to forget it which irked his brother to no end until they ended up in a near shouting match.

Pissed that Sam didn't want to celebrate Christmas, since it would be their first one together in four years, Dean had gone to check in again with the local cops to see if anything had changed while Sam went back to the coroner for another look at the bodies and then to the library.

Feeling slightly guilty over hurting his brother by not wanting to do Christmas, Sam had been considering giving in and had stopped at a little drugstore in town to pick up a couple things when he heard some locals talking a few aisles over about the local men going missing and how the Gilligan sisters were at it again.

Placing the name as the sisters who owned the diner and the bed and breakfast in town, Sam was curious but distracted until he got a closer look at the bodies and noticed something he hadn't on the actual photos. A tiny burn mark on each of the victim's chest.

As Sam checked out some local lore in the library he began to put pieces together. All the victims were in the same age range, all were single, all seemed to be loners…those things pricked his brain since it seemed to remind Sam that the victims were a lot like his older brother in those areas. Then he hit the records and realized that this wasn't the first time men had vanished in the area.

Every seven years men would vanish only to be discovered drained of blood around the time of the Winter Solstice. Paying more attention, it only took Sam a few more clues to realize what they were facing and also to understand the danger.

Looking up again to be sure he was still following the star, Sam felt his head throb but ignored that as well in order to focus. He knew he needed to find Dean before midnight and a look at his watch told him he was too close to running out of time.

Unable to reach his brother by phone, Sam had hurried back to the motel and felt relief upon seeing the Impala parked in front of their room but then felt sick when he opened the door to see…

Stark fear still filled him as he recalled seeing his brother unconscious on the floor but before he could move toward his assailant Sam felt something heavy slam into the back of his skull and by the time he came to he realized what he needed to do.

"Dean hates witches," he muttered to himself, too cold to realize he was running the risk of hypothermia Sam caught sight of the fire before he came to the clearing in the middle of the woods.

The sound of something like a chant was heard and a look at his watch told him that he only had three minutes left to act before his brother became the final victim of the local witches who had been practicing in the area for generations or so he'd learned from the old woman who ran the motel.

Raising the shotgun, Sam's actions were ones that had been drilled into him years before both by Dean and their Dad. While Sam hated the life he'd grown up in, he had never hesitated when it came to protecting his family and the moment he stepped into the clearing his was firing at the white clad woman closest to the stone alter who had just raised a knife over his brother's chest.

"Get away from him!" Sam shouted, firing once and not looking to see if he hit because he was turning to aim toward the second witch as she lunged at him with a high pitched scream of rage and a pointed blade in her fist.

Trained by an ex-Marine for a Father, Sam hated to kill. He hated what his Dad wanted them to become but that didn't mean Sam was stupid. He accepted that some things in this dark world needed to die and if it came down to choosing between a witch or his brother then there was no choice in his mind.

Whirling back after the second witch went down under the shotgun…Sam needed to ask Dean what the hell he was packing in these shells, he stopped when he saw the third woman, the youngest of the Gilligan sisters, standing by the alter with her blade pressed to Dean's throat.

"I'll kill him," she threatened, voice no longer the gentle sweet one he'd heard but a gruffer, much older voice of someone much older than what this body appeared to be. "You killed my sisters."

"You threatened my brother," Sam returned, letting the shotgun drop since he knew she was too close to Dean to risk it. "Now get away or…"

A flick of a wrist sent Sam flying and told him which sister controlled the majority of the power but even as he collided with a tree, he was reaching under his jacket for what he'd stashed in his belt.

"Seven men every seven years for two hundred years, little boy," Gwen Gilligan smiled, stroking a hand down Dean's semi-conscious cheek but knew her victim was still drugged enough that he wasn't a threat. "Though I should thank you for freeing me from my sisters. Now the power is mine and you'll witness that as you watch your brother…what?"

"Don't think so," Sam hated guns and hadn't picked them up as fast or as much as Dean had but what he had picked up on was knives and once he'd learned what he was facing, he came prepared for it. "You've killed enough and you won't take what's mine," his hand moved swiftly before the last witch to slash her blade, his flew straight into her heart.

Gasping in shock, the woman stumbled back to stare at the blade in her chest even as her true age began to reveal itself and she withered with a shriek that seemed to echo in the now silent woods just as the fire in the center of the clearing seemed to flare once before slowing beginning to burn itself out as well.

"Dean," no longer watching the bodies of the witches wither away as the spell that kept them alive and solid went away, Sam lunged for the stone to quickly slash the ropes binding his brother. "Dean!"

Feeling a weak pulse, Sam felt relief until he noticed the slashes on Dean's arms that allowed blood to flow and he quickly jerked his jacket off while grabbing the backpack that he'd dropped to pull a heavy sweatshirt out. "C'mon, Dean. Wake up," he whispered, wiping the blood away before struggling against his now shaking hands to wrap a gauze strip up both of Dean's arms to stop the blood then pulled the heavy sweatshirt on while praying his brother hadn't come down with hypothermia too badly yet.

Hearing a groan, as he helped Dean up, Sam quickly put one arm around his neck without giving much through to how deep in the forest they were from where he'd parked the Impala until he realized how out of it his brother was and how hard it would be to carry him out through this snow.

"…Sam…"

Focusing on the star in the sky, Sam struggled to keep Dean upright and not lose his own balance even as his own head throbbed from where the witches had hit him and the cut on his arm bled more as he exerted strength to keep his brother moving.

"We're almost to the car, Dean," Sam told him, needing to keep talking even as his own body was fighting the cold now but was more concerned when he noticed the bluish tinge to Dean's lips. "I'll…get you warm then we'll be alright and…I'm sorry for what I said earlier."

Sam wasn't sure why he'd admitted that but just figured it was something to take his mind off the cold, the snow and how hard it was getting for him to move when he felt Dean try to walk on his own as if realizing how weak his little brother was getting.

"I didn't mean that I didn't want to spend Christmas with you…it's just…with Jess dying, not knowing where Dad is or what's happening and then…" he stopped before mentioning the shapeshifter because he didn't want that brought back to his brother either. "I…missed spending Christmas with you these past four years and now…don't give up on me, Dean," Sam whispered, seeing blood drops in the snow and not knowing if they were from him or Dean.

Stumbling out of the woods, Sam saw the bright star shining on the roof of the Impala that had been their home since Sam was six months old and with trembling fingers, he quickly got the back door open to lay his brother inside before managing to get the key in the ignition and prayed the car still would start despite the cold.

"Please start, please start," he mumbled before hearing the engine catch then cursed his own shaking fingers when they went to turn the heater on full blast before going back into the cold to grab blankets from the trunk.

Sam knew he needed to get them back to the motel, but first he wanted to stabilize Dean who he knew was in shock from both the drugs he'd been given, the beating in the motel and the knife wounds he'd gained from nearly being sacrificed by the Christmas witches as Sam had begun to call them.

"It's gonna be okay, Dean," he promised, finding it hard now to stay awake and realizing between the possible concussion and the cut on his arm that he'd also gotten too cold when his fingers seemed to fumble with the leather jacket that was his brother's. "Gonna…get back to the motel, get you warm and…"

The warmth that filled the Impala seemed to make Sam sleepier than he was already but he was happier to see that Dean's color was returning as he also got warmer. Memories of being a child came back to Sam as he recalled the times that Dean would hold him in the backseat to keep warm while they waited for their Dad to finish what he was doing or just driving to another town.

Back then the back seat of the Impala seemed too big for two small boys, now Sam smiled sleepily since the back seat seemed cramped to him now with both of them back here but then he settled back to just rest his aching head for a moment before trying to make the drive back to the motel.

Shock, exhaustion, hypothermia all combined to make Sam fall to sleep fully and he only barely felt the heat inside the Impala after awhile as memories reminded him of being a child in this back seat with his brother, of feeling safe, of not having the concerns or worries he has had recently.

Reaching to pull his jacket tighter, Sam blearily recalled putting his on Dean back in the woods and so just curled up tighter to sleep fully into sleep and so he was unaware of the presence that approached the running Impala.

The warmth had begun to return Dean to consciousness but he was still too in shock to pay attention to anything but his little brother sleeping next to him in the back seat and memories flooded of when they'd been kids.

Dean recalled the job, he recalled how much Sam's reluctance to celebrate Christmas had hurt him even though he knew a huge part of that was because his little brother was still missing Jessica. He remembered considering cutting the kid some slack when all hell broke loose and his last thought was of Sam not knowing the danger he could be in and hoping his brother stayed safe.

It had been the bright star shining over the clearing that Dean tried to focus on the few times he woke up and realized he'd been drugged, tied and was helpless against what would come. He thought he'd heard Sam's voice which is what made him fight to wake up because he'd be damned if some stupid witches would touch his baby brother on top of everything else the kid had been through recently.

Reaching on instinct, Dean eased his sleeping brother closer to him as shock and pain drew him back under even as he felt Sam hand grip his arm much like he would as a child and he was reaching for a blanket to cover him with when he felt the blanket being pulled up over both of them.

Shock and memories drew Dean back to his own childhood of huddling in this very seat with his frightened, trembling little brother until their Dad would come back. He could recall being half asleep with Sam in his arms and feeling the strong hand gently tousle his hair in a way to assure him that their Dad was back then the blanket would be tucked around them before Led Zepplin or AC/DC came on the radio and Dean knew it was safe to sleep.

Shrugging off these familiar things as memories and his own mind looking for comfort after weeks of pain and confusion, Dean slipped under with thoughts to remind Sam that leaving the car running was so not a good idea and he wasn't aware of when the driver's side door closed or when the car began to move. He let his own memories lull him back to sleep and was oblivious to the rest as sleep came with a peace he hadn't felt in years.

Sometime that night:

Shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve, the sound of low playing Christmas music from the battered motel radio woke Sam Winchester with a start.

Blinking, Sam recalled the witches, his brother's abduction and near murder by them and he recalled getting them back to the Impala. He just didn't recall anything after that…much less how they'd gotten back to the motel since with a look around he recognized the room they'd been using when something else caught his eye.

Sitting on the table was a small little Christmas tree decorated with lights, some thin tinsel and a few battered ornaments that Sam swore he recognized. There was also a wreath on the inside of the door along with lights on the two windows.

Pushing up on an elbow, he felt his head twinge but a careful probe of where he knew the bloody lump should be, Sam got more confused when he felt gauze which meant his head had been wrapped. He also noticed that the cut on his arm had been cleaned and dressed and he'd been put into dry and warm clothes.

"Dean?" looking to the bed next to his, he noticed his older brother appeared to be sleeping but then Sam noticed that Dean's wounds had also been cleaned and dressed while he'd also been dressed in heavier and warmer clothing.

Wary now, Sam struggled to remember what had happened but his last memory had been of closing his eyes in the Impala to just rest them for a minute.

He seemed to recall feeling Dean's hand as it eased him closer much like he would when they'd been boys and he thought he'd sensed someone else close to them but had shrugged that off but knew that he hadn't driven them back here much less dressed their wounds.

Standing slowly, Sam allowed his head and stomach to settle before he neared the tree to touch a tiny soccer ball ornament when he felt his breath catch. He knew that ornament because it was one he'd seen when he'd been seven. Another look showed him that each of the few decorations on this tree had been ones he and his brother had once had. Ones that he hadn't seen since…he'd left for school.

Hazel eyes clearing, Sam looked around the room when a folded piece of paper caught his eye but it was the two thin long boxes next to the tree that drew his attention and as when he'd been a child he went for the wrapped boxes first.

Sitting the one with Dean's name aside, he carefully unwrapped the one marked for him and blinked at the new, clearly hand made hilted silver knife with sheath that laid in the box.

Sam reached for the note with fingers he knew were shaking as he unfolded it and again felt his breath catch as he recognized the handwriting even before he fought past burning eyes to read the note…

"'Merry Christmas to my boys. Be careful, watch your backs…Dean, avoid witches and Sammy…I'm sorry for it all. Take care of each other and I'll call…soon. Dad.'"

"Well, it's better than that Barbie doll when you were eight."

Sam jerked at the tired voice of his older brother, turning to see that Dean had woken up and was standing behind him to see what had been written. "He…Dad was…he…"

"How'd you find me, Sammy?" Dean asked suddenly, green eyes tired and shadowed but clear as he gazed at his shocked brother.

Having to think to understand the question, Sam remembered asking his brother a similar question years prior. "I followed the star. I'd always find you, Dean and I'd never stop looking for you until I did," he murmured, seeing the short nod while watching his brother open the other box to discover a knife much like he'd received. "Dad was here?"

Seeming to recall a strong grip helping him into the motel, Dean also recalled hearing the same low soothing voice he would as a child when John Winchester remembered he was a father with sons to care for. "I won't ask why he was here at this moment but he was and he helped us when we needed it, Sammy. Dad wasn't perfect and hell, I'd never say he was after all this but I know that he'd follow that star too because he did the night we found you.

"Dad has reasons for what he's doing. I don't like 'em, you don't like 'em but he's Dad and for now we'll give him that and we'll do what it is he trained us for," Dean set the knife aside to move slowly to his duffel to remove a package wrapped in newspaper. "Save people and…this is for you. Merry Christmas, Sammy."

Still rocked that their Dad had been that close, that he'd been the one to bring them back out of the woods and had stayed long enough to care for wounds and help them stay warm, Sam stared at the thin package before tearing the paper and felt his eyes tear.

"Jess," he whispered, seeing the framed photo of him and Jessica that he thought he'd lost in the fire back in Stanford. "You…grabbed this?"

"It was the only one I noticed that first night that you had of you and her so I thought you'd want it," Dean shrugged, knowing he'd set up a perfect chick flick moment and was willing to give his still grieving little brother a free one. "Had it framed awhile back. I'm sorry you lost her, Sam."

Staring at the photo, Sam recalled the day it was taken but then considered something else. "I got you something but didn't have time to wrap…" he broke off when he noticed the other newspaper wrapped package that Dean had picked up from the table and smiled shakily. "Dad was busy."

Surprised at this since he knew that Sam was wary about Christmas this year, Dean smiled when he noticed the magazines and bottle of oil. "Thanks, Sammy but you'd already given me what I wanted for Christmas," he remarked, sitting both items down to reach up to grip his younger brother's neck while also noticing the bandage and swearing to fry the next witch he saw.

"What?" Sam shook his head, startled by the grip on his neck until he felt strong fingers squeeze it gently and he remembered the times Dean would do that to offer support or to just let him know that he wasn't alone. "Dean?"

"I have my little brother back for Christmas," Dean told him quietly, giving in and allowing the emotions that he'd normally never show to enter his green eyes as he met Sam's with a smile as he gave a gentle tug. "That's what I wanted, Sammy. Hearing from Dad, that's fine because at least we know he's alive but having you here, knowing you're safe that's what I wanted and what I prayed for when I was in that hospital."

Hearing Dean admit that, hearing the unspoken emotion in his deep voice, caused Sam to break a little and felt the strength of the arms that pulled him in for a brotherly hug that he knew Dean normally wouldn't do and returned it fully.

"I thought I'd be too late," he whispered, feeling the grip on his neck tighten just slightly in comfort before easing back to see some of the concern gone from his brother's eyes. "I thought you'd…"

"I knew you'd be there, Sam," Dean assured him, still tired but needing to make sure his brother was alright before he crashed again. "Head hurting?"

Shrugging that away, Sam went to move only to feel that same firm grip move from his neck to his shoulder. "I'm good, Dean…or at least I will be," he finally replied, feeling more than seeing the nod even as he felt himself being nudged toward the bed. "You're hurt."

"Been hurt worse lots of times, Geek boy," Dean countered, seeing the shadows in his brother's eyes and knowing he needed sleep. "Go to sleep, Sam. It's Christmas Eve and Santa won't come if you're awake."

Laughing fully, Sam allowed himself to be settled down into bed like he had been years before when he could still believe. "Stopped believing in Santa years ago."

"Fine, then go to sleep and I'll tell you about the Christmas Bunny who brings annoying little brothers really geeky gifts and…" Dean smiled fully when he heard the muffled laugh as Sam pulled a pillow closer to him before falling to sleep after offering a mumbled reply that only his brother could hear.

"Yeah, right back atcha, little brother," Dean murmured, lightly carding his fingers through Sam's hair and letting it rest on his shoulder until he was sure his brother was sleeping fully before stepping to the window to gaze up at the bright star in the sky. "Merry Christmas, Mom," he whispered, shifting his gaze at into the night as if looking at someone far away before sighing. "Thanks, Dad."

Pulling the curtain closed, Dean settled back on his bed after making sure the room was secured for the night but he stayed awake for awhile longer to watch his little brother. "Merry Christmas, Sammy," he murmured, closing his eyes after hearing what seemed like a truck in the distance rumble away and knowing they were safe for that night at least and hoping there would come one Christmas that he could give his little brother that one wish that Dean knew Sam still longed for. A home and family.

In the distance away from the motel, watching through the high powered lens of a camera, a man watched. He'd stumbled upon the scene in the woods by sheer accident because he'd been driving through the area on another hunt when the sight of that bright star took him back too many years before and a sheer gut feeling made him follow it to stumble on the running 1967 Impala and took injured boys.

Memories and long forgotten instincts churned in him as he debated with himself over getting involved until he noticed the way Dean had gathered his sleeping brother in closer like he had when Sam had been a baby and long buried paternal instincts kicked back in.

John had long ago accepted that he wasn't Father of the Year material but he loved his sons in his own way even if he didn't always show it. Tonight when he drove the Impala back to the motel he'd learned his sons were staying at, it brought back memories of when he and they were younger.

Dressing wounds, finding warm clothes had been one thing but adding the Christmas touches to the bare room had been a spur of the moment thing to surprise his sons since he'd known how Dean had always tried to make the best of the holiday for his brother's sake. He left the two knives behind because he'd been planning on finding a way to give them to the boys and now seemed a good time.

He'd stayed until he was certain both boys were safe and sleeping soundly and then parked a little away from the motel to watch, just to be sure his sons would be alright that night and he wasn't surprised when he felt the gaze that stared from the motel window.

John waited until he saw the curtains close, knowing that Dean was awake and watching his little brother before putting the truck in gear but before he left, he flipped down the visor to stare at the battered photo of what had been a happy family. He looked at his boys when the future was bright and full of promise and once again he made a silent promise to their Mother.

"Merry Christmas, boys," he murmured as he drove away with hopes that his boys would one day have a Christmas that didn't involve witches.

The End

Author Note: Merry Christmas to all the readers. I hope you enjoyed this one. Turned longer than I originally planned and the surprise cameo came out of left field since he wasn't planned at all, lol. Enjoy and thanks for reading.