Brightness in the Dark

Sam sighed as he turned the static-y television set off. Dean was out doing who knew what with who knew who, and Sam was stuck in the cheap room of the cheapest motel they could find in this speck of a town. They weren't on any assignment. There had been no coordinates sent via text message from their dad.

They were just – for the first time in a long while – honestly passing through. And Sam was bored out of his mind. He couldn't ever remember being this bored, not with his brother, or hell, even at Stanford he'd always had something to keep him occupied. But just sitting in this cheap motel room with nothing to do but watch the piece of crap television set was starting to make Sam antsy.

Despite his studious nature, Sam was not one to be content with just sitting and waiting. Dean was worse, which was why he was out doing who knew what with who knew who.

Sam would have gone out to find something to do in this speck of Nebraska, but ever since his little run-in with death, Dean had been particularly overprotective. Usually, Sam would just say 'screw it' and go do whatever the hell he wanted – he was a grown man, after all, taller even than Dean. But Dean's sacrifice, the one that brought Sam back from the afterlife, ate away at Sam, and made it difficult for him to just disobey his older brother when the guilt screamed at him to not do anything that would make his overbearing brother worried.

And man, was Dean a worrier, despite his gruff and devil-may-care attitude.

So, Sam let his guilt keep him from leaving the cheap motel room. And because of that, he was so freaking bored.

"Stupid guilt," he muttered angrily, reaching over and grabbing their dad's notebook off the nightstand. The television sucked, and his laptop was in the car – which Dean had taken to wherever, so the notebook was his last form of entertainment.

He opened the weary book and flipped through a few faded, worn pages, his eyes lazily scanning the chicken scratch his dad liked to call print. He'd already read through most of the entries, but every once in a while, he'd catch something that he'd looked over before, and he'd learn something new. Hopefully, he'd find a new and interesting creature to read about.

Thirty minutes later, as he flipped past an entry on Kobolds, which were little trickster spirits that Sam was convinced did not exist, since he'd never actually encountered one, he was beginning to think that this attempt to relieve his extreme boredom was a complete and utter waste of time.

Just as he was about to shut the book, his eyes caught an unfamiliar word.

Kyuubi.

Frowning curiously, he scanned the text on the page, his eyebrows rising with each word he read. The Kyuubi, which was apparently Japanese for Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, was rumored to be the most powerful demon in existence. It was one of nine powerful tailed demons – the more tails a creature had, the more powerful it was considered. These demons were made up of Chakra, which, according to his dad's studies, was basically life energy. This meant that they were 'immortal' and thus, could never be killed.

However, they could be sealed away, and apparently they were – into humans. These humans were called Jinchuuriki, which meant something like vessel. It was believed that these Jinchuurikiwere made near god-like in strength because of the demons sealed inside of them. It was also rumored that these human vessels, like the demons their bodies housed, were also immortal.

Because of these rumors and beliefs, the Jinchuuriki were a feared and hated race of monsters, and were shunned by the very people they were created to protect.

Folklore about the Jinchuuriki died down after they all mysteriously disappeared. However, to this day, the Japanese still worship the most powerful demon and its container, the Kyuubi, to this day, in the hopes that if the vessel and its prisoner do still wander the world, that their loyalty to them will keep the powerful beings from killing them all.

Sam's frown deepened. This sounded like another myth – like the Kobolds. At least, Sam really hoped it was a myth. If a creature as powerful-sounding as this Kyuubi existed, then how in the world would they be able to defeat it if it ever decided to start wreaking havoc on the world that shunned it and its vessel. Sam shivered at the thought as he turned to the next page.

His deep green eyes widened in shock as he took in the images on the page. The first was a very crude drawing of a snarling fox with nine tales waving around behind it. Beside the fox was a sketchy drawing of what looked like a human with obnoxiously spiky hair. Okay, either his dad really sucked at drawing hair, or this human had really bad bed head.

Underneath the two drawings, the words Kyuubi and Jinchuuriki were scrawled. Sam squinted back up at the sketches. So, the bed head kid was a rumored Jinchuuriki for the Kyuubi? He looked… like a kid, eighteen, at most. This kid was supposed to be an immortal being with the power of the most powerful demon in existence at his beck and call?

The kid must be really wise and mature, and good to not go around seeking revenge for the ignorance of humans. To be shunned for protecting everyone from the terror of a powerful demon… if Sam had been in this kid's position, no one would be safe from his vengeful wrath.

Sam's eyes then landed on the photograph taped so its contents were facing the paper. There was a short message scrawled on the back in handwriting even worse than his dad's.

'Thanks for the help, old man.'

Sam raised an eyebrow at the sheer balls whoever wrote this had to have in order to call his dad an 'old man.' Oh, he definitely had to meet this guy, totally.

A grin pulling at the corner of his lips, Sam scratched the tape off and picked up the picture. He read the message one more time before he flipped the picture over…

… and nearly dropped it from shock.

"Nathan?"

In the picture, four people were posed in ridiculous positions. Sam was laying upside down on a couch with his fingers pulling his lips apart and a small pink tongue sticking out at the camera. Dean's face was a picture of comical shock as he stared up at his dad and Nathan.

His dad, who's position was so out of character for the man that it had caused Dean's out of character reaction, was holding a blond kid in a headlock, a wide grin stretching across his weathered face as his fist noogied the blond into submission. The blond's mouth was open as he yelled obscenities at the older man, but his sky blue eyes were twinkling brightly with amusement.

Sam stared at the picture, his jaw practically down to his knees.

Holy shit, Nathan. He'd been seven years old when he'd met the guy, but damn had the blond made an impression on their whole family. Everyone had loved the guy, even their dad. The weeks spent with Nathan had been the happiest and most cheerful weeks their family had ever experienced. Nathan had even gotten Dean to come out of his Soldier-Shell and have some actual fun. Their dad had been way less of a hard-ass those weeks, too.

To Sam, back in his youth, Nathan was like an angel. He was bright and cheerful like the sun. He was selfless and everything Sam thought an angel should be.

This angel, Nathan, had brought their family out of the darkness for the duration of their visit.

After they'd left, things eventually returned to the way they'd always been, but Sam had tried to never forget his angel. However, as the years passed, and he learned about monsters and hunting and the darkness of the world, he slowly began to forget about Nathan, and the brightness that he represented. Soon enough, Nathan was nothing but a distant memory to Sam, who had different, darker things to worry about.

"How could I forget about Nathan, of all people?" Sam asked, fingering the picture almost reverently. His dad had kept a picture of Nathan, why? To remind him of the good times?

But, why was it under the Kyuubi section in his journal?

Frown returning, Sam glanced from the picture of Nathan with his wild and unruly blond hair, and the picture of the boy his dad had drawn. The picture was too bad to make out any details, but the only thing that really mattered was the hair. The hair that he'd only seen on one person in his entire life – Nathan.

His dad thought Nathan was a Jinchuuriki? He almost laughed at the absurdity of that. Nathan had been way too happy and cheerful to be the container of a powerful, evil demon. He'd also been immature and kind of ditzy. The complete opposite of the mature and wise Jinchuuriki he'd imagined the Kyuubi's container had to be.

But, thinking back on those weeks with Nathan, he had to wonder if his dad really was right.

-o-o-o-

Sam laughed brightly at the face Nathan was making.

"It's not that bad!" Dean protested, grabbing a spoon to sample the lunch he'd made them. He scooped some of the yellow goop up and popped the spoon in his mouth. The expression that followed was almost an exact replica of Nathan's, and Sam burst into another round of cheerful laughter.

"See?" Nathan said as he grabbed a glass of water and down the whole thing in one go. He walked over to the sink and refilled the glass before handing it over to Dean. Dean pouted, but the bad taste in his mouth eventually overwhelmed his massive pride, and he snatched the glass from Nathan's hand, chugging the liquid down as quickly as he could.

"This is why you should stick to Ramen," Nathan continued, nodding his blond head as he dumped the ruined food in the sink, "Ramen never goes bad, and it's easy to make, and always tastes super awesome!"

"But Ramen's gross!" Sam declared, waiting in excited anticipation for Nathan's reaction. He wasn't disappointed.

Nathan gasped dramatically, and clasped a hand over his chest. His large, blue eyes watered up as he collapsed to his knees, "You blasphemer! How dare you insult the Ramen gods' creation? Ramen is a masterpiece! A work of art! A godsend from the heavens! By insulting Ramen, you're spitting in the faces of the Ramen gods! You shall be smited, brat!"

"Smited's not a word, stupid," Sam said, giggling when Nathan wailed about 'smart-mouthed brats.'

Sam looked over at his older brother, smiling when he caught the usually stoic boy grinning at the scene Nathan was making. Dean had been smiling a lot more since they'd met Nathan, and Sam was really happy because of it.

Nathan was really cool, too! He'd take them out when their dad wasn't home, and he'd play with them and cook for them, and buy them stuff. He let them call him Uncle Nat and he never, ever got mad at them. Nathan was the coolest adult Sam had ever met.

Plus, Nathan wasn't scared of anything, not even their dad.

They'd come home late one night after a long day of playing hide and seek in the woods with Nathan, and their dad was mad. He'd gotten right up in Nathan's face and yelled at him for five whole minutes. Nathan hadn't said a thing the whole time their dad was yelling, but as soon as their dad stopped, Nathan had just laughed and said,

"Nothin'll happen to the brats while they're with me. I'm more protection than a whole platoon of soldiers. You should know that, John, better than anybody."

Sam had seen Nathan's eyes flash red for a second, and his dad had backed off with a wary expression on his face.

"You sure that thing's under control?" He'd asked Nathan.

Nathan had just shrugged and said, "No one's dead yet, are they?"

After that, their dad never got mad at Nathan again. He didn't care when they got home or what they were doing, so long as they with Nathan. Sometimes, their dad would even come and play with them! His dad actually tickled Dean at one point after Dean had tried to tackle him.

Sam had never seen his dad laugh until that day.

Several days later, Sam and Dean were hanging out with Nathan in the woods. For once, the sun wasn't out, blocked by darkening clouds as a storm approached. Nathan had walked off to 'take a piss' which he told Sam never to repeat around his dad, and Sam was getting bored waiting for the blond. If they didn't start playing now, then it was gonna rain and they would have to go home.

A rustling in the branches behind him made him jump. He stood up and turned, angrily pointing at the bush, "Uncle Nat! Stop trying to scare me! It's not nice."

Dean walked up to his side and stared hard at the darkness of the trees. Nathan didn't respond to Sam's accusations, nor did he leave his spot in the woods. The trees on the other side rustled, and a branch snapped, the sound loud in the sudden quiet of the clearing.

Dean switched to Soldier mode instantly and grabbed Sam's hand. He pulled Sam to the middle of the clearing and shoved a sharp stick in his hand.

"Hold onto this, and don't let go, got it?" Dean ordered. Sam nodded and grasped the stick tightly. This wasn't Nathan. Nathan wouldn't have gone this far.

"What is it?" Sam asked his brother as Dean scanned the surrounding woods.

Dean shrugged, his eyes never stopping their surveillance, "Dunno. Probably an animal or somethin'. Don't worry, Sammy."

But Sam was worried. His brother was strong and brave, but he was still a kid, and Sam was even more of a kid. If they were attacked by a big animal or something, then they wouldn't be able to fight it. They would lose, and probably die.

Sam felt tears well up in his eyes, but he blinked them away. His big brother wasn't crying, so he wasn't gonna cry either!

There was another rustle, this time from their right, and both boys turned towards the sound. Sam gasped when a large shadow jumped out from darkness of the woods. He could hear whatever it was growling. Thunder boomed as one drop of rain, then two, then three, then a whole bucket began to pour from the swollen clouds.

Sam swiped his soaked hair out of his face as he stared at the large shadow.

"It's a wolf, Sam. Stay still. Don't move," his brother ordered. And Sam froze. Sam, not Sammy. They must be in real danger for his brother to slip up like that. Sam felt the tears well up again and didn't bother stopping them as they poured out.

"We're gonna die, aren't we Dean?" Sam asked, his voice just a whisper.

Dean grunted, but didn't say anything, and Sam cried harder.

The wolf tilted its head back and let loose a spine chilling howl. The howl trailed off and yellow eyes glinted in the flash of lightning. Then, the wolf pounced. Sam screamed. Dean yelled. Thunder boomed.

Then another shadow appeared and tackled the wolf to the ground. Sam watched as the two grappled on the muddy forest floor, and caught of a glimpse of angry red eyes. He could hear ferocious growling from both shadows.

Was it another monster fighting for their blood? Sam shivered, and Dean crouched down, grabbing hold of Sam and hugging him close.

One of the shadows swiped at the other. The other recoiled, but shot forward again. Sam couldn't see what happened next, but there was a pained whimper, and one of the shadows hopped away as the other jumped up and ran into the woods.

Sam shook as the remaining shadow straightened. It wasn't the wolf.

"You guys okay?" The voice was low, and slightly growly, but Sam noticed the cheerful lilt that belonged to Nathan.

"Uncle Nat!" He screamed as he jumped up and ran towards the blond. He was lifted into strong arms and hugged close to a wet but warm body. Sam sobbed as he clung to Nathan's soaked shirt.

"Shh," Nathan hushed, rocking him slightly, "it's okay, Sammy. I'm here. You're safe now."

Sam's sobs slowed, but he continued to hold onto Nathan, not wanting to be put back down.

"You okay, Dean?" He heard Nathan ask.

"'m fine," Dean grunted, shuffling closer.

"… Ya sure?" Nathan pressed, shifting Sam in his arms.

"Yeah!" Dean said, and Sam could just see him pouting at being treated like a baby. He giggled, and felt Nathan's chest rumble as he laughed.

"Whatever ya say, brat," Nathan said, earning a glare from Dean. He chuckled. "Let's go back, okay guys?"

Sam nodded, and they were on their way.

The journey home and their arrival were hazy, but Sam remembered Dean saying something about Nathan bleeding, and Nathan saying that he was a fast healer. When they got home, their dad had yelled at Nathan, but it was more out of worry than anger. Shortly after that, Sam had fallen asleep.

The next day, Nathan had told them that he had to go back home.

Sam had later learned that Nathan was following that wolf, and that it was a werewolf. Nathan had wrestled with a werewolf and gotten away with just a scratch.

-o-o-o-

Sam was frowning as the memory ended. Nathan's departure was abrupt, but if he really was a Jinchuuriki, and the red eyes were signs of the Kyuubi coming through, then he'd probably had to leave before the demon inside of him got out.

Sam closed his dad's journal softly and placed it back on the nightstand. He kept the picture.

Dean returned later that night with a satisfied grin on his face. His eyes widened when he saw the picture.

"Nathan? I remember that dude. He was awesome," Dean said, laughing, "those were some good times, man. Dad actually smiled back then."

"They were," Sam agreed. The two brothers lapsed into a comfortable silence. Sam glanced from the picture, then up to his brother, "Hey Dean?"

"Yeah?" Dean grunted, dropping down on his bed.

"You think if we looked hard enough, we could find Nathan?" Sam asked, rubbing his thumb over the whiskered face of the blond in the picture.

"Maybe," Dean said, "Why?"

Sam shrugged, "I guess I just wanna see him again, that's all. He just disappeared on us back then. I want to make sure he's still alive."

Dean snorted, "That guy took down a werewolf with his bare hands. Nothin' can kill him."

"Still."

"Fine," Dean sighed, "We'll go look for him. But only when we're not hunting, got it?"

"Yeah. Got it," Sam agreed, grinning. Dean glanced over, saw him grinning, and snorted again.

"Bitch."

"Jerk!"


This was the original work of Sinfully Sadistic

She let me adopt this and I hope I do her and it justice.

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