Rip currents are one of the few things that scare me, along with The Exorcist and for some reason forest; irrational, but they scare the shit out of me. Worst time was when I went camping on some mountain with a bunch of people who thought it would be comedy gold to hide from me in the middle of the night and leave me on my own for at least an hour, :(.Plus, I know it seems I have a thing about Pre-Series… er, yeah, I do. I will do a current season thing at some point, just waiting for inspiration to strike!

Regular updates for my other stuff will start in a week or so when my Easter holidays start, bear with moi!

NOTE: I know its likely Sam would be able to swim well by age 11, but for this fic let's pretend he can't.

Disclaimer: Not mine

Summary: The waves tossed him around like a rag doll, throwing pools of salty water into his mouth as he fought to keep his head above the surface. Pre-Series, as per usual. Sorry!

oOoOoOoOoOo

The setting April sun beat boiling rays down on the crowded, colourful bay, glinting on the waves and dying skin a burning orange, slowly melting ice cream and warming beers. A light breeze swept across the sand, unnoticed by the clusters of people basking in the shallows, the families huddled on blankets, and the surfers catching the final waves before the sun disappeared on the horizon.

Eleven-year-old Sam Winchester watched mournfully as his friends splashed in the sea, their hair matted in salt and skin tinted a blood-orange colour by the vanishing sun. He'd do anything to be with them right now, to dive and swim in the unusually warm water… as frustrated tears threatened he turned and swept the beach for any sign of his brother, who'd tailed a group of girls a few hours ago and left him with a few friends he'd picked up earlier, along with three rules he had to follow in any circumstance.

"Don't talk to strangers". Fair enough; common sense really.

"If your "little buddies" offer you ice cream, take it." Yeah, trust Dean to think up that one.

It was the third one that Sam had stamped as 'unfair' with a string of curses he'd learned from his own brother.

"Don't even think about going in the water unless I'm here."

Seriously? As in, seriously? Sure, Sam wasn't the strongest swimmer in the world. He could swim good in lakes and pools, even when his feet weren't touching the bottom as he'd proved during one semester of swimming lessons. But you didn't need any lessons to dip your feet in the water and splash a few kids.

"Sammy, I don't want you near the sea if I'm not with you; you know you can't swim too well, there's a pretty strong rip current around here."

"I can swim just fine. Please Dean? I'll only be in the shallow part. C'mon, Timmy's dad will be with us the whole time. I'll be-"

"No, I've already told you. I'm not happy leaving you here, but…" he glanced over at his waiting groupies; a crew of bikini-clad, giggling blonde girls smiling and waving Dean over, "but duty calls. I won't be long and we'll go out together, deal? I'll even take you deep; see if we can get you swimming properly in a current."

"But Dean-"

"Sam, I swear to God, if I catch you even two feet from the water, I'll never bring you again," he warned, rubbing a hand over his head in frustration. Guilt crept through him at his brother's crestfallen face. "Hey, I'm kidding, buddy… Look, give me one hour. One hour, and we'll go swimming. Hell, we'll even borrow some kid's football and play catch or something. Sound good?"

Sam looked at Timmy and Ben over his shoulder, biting his lip as they gestured him over. He turned back to Dean, who smiled hopefully at him. He did deserve some time off Sam Duty, after all… He nodded, letting a grin lighten his features as Dean smiled thankfully at him, ruffling his hair and running off towards the girls, feet flicking back sweeps of sand.

Sam smiled as he watched; glad he'd been the cause of his brother's happiness for a change.

Besides, it was only one hour.

Four hours and thirty two minutes had passed since Dean had left him – he'd been counting the minutes until his big brother would come back on Timmy's Superman watch. He held it now in both hands as he sat on the rock pools where Dean had left him, praying he'd be back before dark.

He glanced up when two figures raced towards him, swimming trunks dripping with water and smiles plastering both faces.

"Sam, you gotta come in the water, man!" panted Ben, cheeks painted red with sunburn, "it's so warm."

Sam sighed, squinting up at both boys. "I'm not allowed."

Timmy groaned, nodding at Ben to grab Sam's arm as they pulled him to his feet. "C'mon, Sam, we're not going actually into the water, just up to our knees," he assured, bright eyes swimming with excitement.

"I promised my brother, guys," he said softly, disappointment growing at the saddened look in both boys' eyes. "Hey, why don't we play-"

"Look, Sam," interrupted Ben, "can you see Dean anywhere?"

Sam hesitated before looking around, not liking wherever Ben was going with this. Anything to do with his family was rocky territory to tread into; Dean was a whole different matter.

He shook his head. "No, not right now."

"So, what makes you think he can see you? " Timmy finished, eyes boring into Sam's.

Sam considered this; the thought of even dipping his toes into the water was a tempting one, but he'd promised Dean. "I can't. Sorry." He slumped back down into the sand, arms crossed as he tried to look away from the two boys in front of him.

Timmy sighed, the thirteen-year-old crossing his arms. "Sam, we've spent all day with your ass. Please come in, we'll teach you how to swim-"

"I can swim," mumbled Sam.

"Well, come on then!" Ben begged, pulling his arm again in an attempt to drag him down the sand. Timmy pulled at the other, ignoring the younger boy's protests as he was forced down towards the sea.

"Guys, please don't. Let me –"

Timmy laughed, unaware how serious Sam was. "Don't worry, Sam. My dad's there anyway, I've told you…"

Sam squirmed harder as they reached the water, the warm waves lapping at his toes. Some parents watched with amusement, assuming two friends were pranking the other, as if tossing a kid who didn't look much older than eleven into the choppy ocean was funny.

Ben, the biggest of the three, tugged Sam into his arms, wading to his knees before tossing the writhing boy beneath the waves.

Sam froze underwater, limbs eagle-spread as he relished the weightless, floating feeling. He'd never felt so… so free. Man, the sea was cool!

He sunk to the sand at the bottom, grabbing a fistful before standing in the shallow water, slowly searching for his target. Ben was doubled over in laughter, eyes streaming with tears as he imitated Sam's expression as he'd been rolled into the water. "Man… your face!" he yelped gleefully.

"Dude, you're an ass!" he yelled, tossing his loaded handful into Ben's curls.

Ben immediately stopped laughing, rising slowly as he tugged a hand through his hair. He glanced at Sam, grin breaking out on his face. "Says the one who refused to even touch the water all afternoon!" he laughed, dipping a hand into the sea and pulling his own handful of sand from the bottom, tossing it at Timmy who gleefully took on his friend.

Sam's own grin faded as he realized he had broken his promise to Dean… He'll understand. I'm sure. Won't he? He sunk back into the waves, unaware how quickly they were growing, treading water with his hands as he lounged in the warm sun, closing his eyes and sighing in content. I'll be out before Dean gets back anyway… just relax, Sam.

No one noticed the young boy slowly sweep across the length of the bay, their attention caught by the lifeguard's warning to clear the beach for the night. No one noticed either the young boy slowly advance towards the rip tide cutting the bay in half, his figure blotted by the rising waves and disappearing sun.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Dean Winchester poked his head out of the small shelf of rocks he'd been hiding beneath, checking the coast was clear before stepping back onto the main beach.

"Can you see my parents?" asked a small voice behind him, a thin hand wrapping around his wrist as he ignored her. "Dean? Can you see them?"

He sighed, glancing around the beach half-heartedly. He needed to get to Sam- surely it hadn't gotten that late? "Sweetheart, I gotta get to my brother; looks like they're all packing up," he whispered, pulling an arm around her bare, tiny waist as she pouted at his coldness. "Have you got a shirt or something? You must be freezing," he cooed – one thing he'd learned was to never, ever treat a woman like crap. Ever.

She smiled sweetly at him, white teeth gleaming in the – setting? - sun. "Baby, I don't do clingy," she announced, kissing him on the cheek and running off into the small stream of people leaving the beach, leaving Dean reeling in her sudden departure.

So… that's how it feels to be rejected? Huh.

He frowned, clicking his tongue as he focused on his next task. Find Sam.

He hadn't wanted to leave him. Every instinct had called him back to the rock pools where he'd left Sam. But they'd been stuck with each other for six days whilst Dad was on a hunt; they both deserved some time apart.

But man, it felt wrong. One hour had passed and he'd set off in search of his brother, only to be pulled back by the hottest girl he'd met. So far.

One hour had somehow turned into… well, allot judging by how low the sun was sinking into the horizon. And Sam had been alone the whole damn time.

"Shit," he mumbled, pacing across the quickly cooling sand in the general direction of where Sam should be. The kid was gonna be fuming. And sunburned. Boy, was he gonna be sunburned.

It took him a few minutes to reach the rock pools, weaving through tired families and intimate couples.

Bile rose in his throat as he scanned the empty area, seeing only their ragged towels and his own wallet poking out from beneath one corner of the material, coated in sand.

No Sam.

He spun on his heel, wide eyes searching the immediate area. "Sam?" he called, searching each floppy haired, doe-eyed kid he saw – which apparently was a lot in California – panic beginning to tremble through him. "Sammy! Come on, joke's over!"

A few turned to look at him briefly, sending compassionate glances before taking off for the car park.

We know how it feels to lose your kid.

Dean pounced on the nearest couple, eyes wide, stance feral. God damn anyone who thought he'd lost Sammy.

"Have you seen my little brother? About this high" – he gestured with one hand – "long dark hair, kinda lost-puppy look on him?"

The woman shrugged. "Sorry."

He sighed exasperatedly, eyes falling back onto where he'd last seen his brother, as if he could magically conjure him from thin air. He scanned the shallow waters, briefly, wondering if Sam may have got bored of waiting and leapt into the sea with his friends… Fuck.

He moved onto a family of four, the kids hiding behind their mother as the Scary Looking Man turned on them, repeating his questions over and over. The boy of the four peeked around his father, narrowing his eyes, his scared his expression still readable in what little light the sun still supplied.

"You're talking about Sam?" he asked quietly, fear taking over as he stared into the worried eyes of his friend's older brother.

Dean snapped his attention to the boy, quickly kneeling in the sand in front of him. "Yeah, I'm his brother. Dean. Where did Sammy go?" he asked.

The kid shuffled nervously foot to foot, his family's gaze now falling on him too.

"Sam?" asked his dad, eyeing him with suspicion. "Was that the boy you and Ben threw in to the water?"

Dean stared in horror at the father, bile rising in his throat as he processed the words. No. No. God damn it, no!

"I forgot about him, Dad. Me and Ben kinda got distracted-"

Dean gripped the kid's shoulders. "Where did you last see him? Huh?"

Timmy stared fearfully into his eyes, trembling in the man's grip as he pointed weakly to a random point in the ocean. "There. Just there."

"When?"

"We dragged him in about fifteen minutes ago –"

Dean quickly stood, the whole family eyeing him worriedly as he turned his focus to the sea.

Tide going out. Current heading east… wind's too strong. He'll have drifted pretty fucking far by now…

He jogged to the edge of the water, never taking his eyes off the ocean as he tried to calculate where his brother should be. He rested his eyes on the centre of the bay, where a narrow section of water was flat, almost perfect.

A rip current.

And there, barely visible as the sun threatened to dip behind the horizon, was a frantic splashing, a bobbing head, and a familiar, muffled yelling tore through the strengthening wind.

Dean gaped at the sight, freezing where he stood as he watched his baby brother being swept out to the open sea.

"SAM!"

oOoOoOoOoOo

The only thought that ran through his head as he bobbed in the vicious, merciless waves, tired arms ripping at the water that blanketed him, salt water stinging his throat and nose and eyes, was that he wanted Dean.

Despite the last six days of endless pranking, non-stop arguing and general discomfort between the pair of them, all he wanted was his big brother to save him from this floating mess.

"Dean," he spluttered as his head vanished beneath another wave, sucking precious oxygen as the water threatened to envelope him again. He kicked with weak legs, watching in horror as the beach emptied slowly, its inhabitants trickling as the sun dipped in the sky. "Dean!"

The waves tossed him around like a rag doll, throwing pools of salty water into his mouth as he fought to keep his head above the surface, aimlessly surging across the ocean. He dipped beneath the waves as he fought lethargy. Focus Sam. Get back up, try and get help. He reappeared, hiss view changed suddenly to a flat, calm section of sea, free of waves.

The naïve side of him hoped it was a settled part of the bay, that this particular narrow path had been flattened so he could paddle back to shore, curl up into his towel and let Dean say "I Told You So" as many times as he liked.

The educated part of him told him he was being dragged into open sea by a rip current.

The temperature of the sea must have dropped suddenly, or realization had a cold side, but his whole body felt like he'd been dropped in ice; no one knew he was in the water. He was going to drown.

"Dean? Dean, help me!" he croaked, kicking fiercely towards shore, "Dean!"

oOoOoOoOoOo

Dean sprinted into the water, panic overcoming all common sense as he leapt into a front crawl, ignoring the desperate cries from onlookers on the shore.

All he saw was Sam's bobbing head, heard his begging cries…

He kicked harder, ignoring the pangs of guilt that struck him as he slid through the water, shuddering as the temperature dropped the deeper he went. He stopped momentarily, shaking the water from his head as he bobbed his head above the water.

"Sam!" he called, scoping the surface for any sign.

Growling as only the dark sea greeted him, now coupled with a darkening sky, he aimed towards the rip current, arms already growing tired as he fought the waves. He stopped every few feet, treading water for a few seconds as he scoured the water around him, hoping, praying he'd see his brother's fanned mop of hair, or hear him call his big brother's name.

He broke into the channel of fast flowing water with one last push of any strength he had left, the cool water zapping any reserves he held as he tried to stay moving, keeping the blood flowing in his body. "C'mon, Sammy, where are you?" he yelled, voice cracking as exhaustion claimed him. "Sam!"

He held his breath as the wind picked up, whistling past him as the current aimed to wrench him from the protection of the bay. God knows if Sam was out there yet… images of Sam flailing blindly in the open Pacific propelled Dean forward and quickened his search as he surged further into the open.

"Sam!" he yelled again, "please, buddy, where are you?"

He held his breath again.

Silence.

He choked out a sob; hopelessness threatening as he slowed the frantic swimming pace, allowing himself to be swept with the current into God knows what.

His ears pricked as he heard a hacking cough, a rattling breathing and a muffled croak in order – there in the distance, Sam's bobbing head, eyes locking with Dean's before a wave cut him from view. "Sam!" Dean called, eyes wide as he waited for the wave to pass.

But Sam was gone, disappeared with along with the sun as they both sunk beneath the ocean.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Sam allowed his tired body to be pulled into the rip current, his mind telling him to give in. He watched as both peninsulas on either side of the bay began to rapidly shrink as he was pulled further away.

Christ, he was so tired.

He was cold, and wet, and achy, and all he wanted was Dean and a shower and bed. His arms ached, his legs hurt, his head had never felt so heavy. Why was that? Why were heads so heavy?

Focus, Sam!

Focus on what, though? On how he was going to die? If he was about to drown, he'd rather be concentrating on the weight of his head than his entire body swallowed by a vicious, angry sea, thank you very much.

He lay back, finally relaxing with the flow, his body slowly sinking beneath the surface.

"Sam!" he heard.

"I've done my homework, Dean, how 'bout you do yours?" he mumbled to the sky.

"Please, buddy, where are you?"

He snapped back to reality, quickly hauling his body upright as he heard a familiar voice trail off.

He opened his mouth to speak, only to be greeted by another mouthful of seawater, forcing another painful coughing fit as he cleared his lungs.

Wait, a wave? That meant… shit.

He looked up, meeting Dean's eyes for the first time in five hours, realization hitting them both.

Sam had broken free from the rip current, into open water.

Then a wave crashed over him, filling his lungs with more water and pushing his tired body beneath the surface; and in all the exhaustion, his world went black.

oOoOoOoOo

Sooo, a one-shot kind of ended up being a two – shot…

As you can tell, my knowledge of currents and that is very limited (I should know, I do quite a bit of watersports; but I skipped that part, ;)) sorry about that!

Sorry if they're a little OOC, my bad.

Reviews make me smile, especially at the moment with the bloody studying I've got going on. + they keep me writing!

Will update tomorrow hopefully, muchos love!