Author's Note: I'm back in the realm of fanfiction! And to celebrate, I've decided to try my hand at a new fandom, one of which I've only just recently become a fan of. Yes, yes; I am properly ashamed of myself, I'll have you know. I've been away for awhile, so I hope my drive for writing hasn't suffered.

To be on the safe side, however, my introduction into the world of Supernatural has been aided by a word prompt challenge.

That word? Sinister.

So this little ficlet, which is only supposed to be around 1000 words, is set in an AU, where the Winchesters are relatively normal people; not Hunters, but Sam still has his latent psychic abilities and all things supernatural aren't quite done with the Winchesters.

As they say- on with the show! (Or... er... story!)

Dean tried to reach over to snatch a delicious looking roll, but his mom beat him to it. With a gentle smack to the back of his hand, Mary gave her oldest son a mock glare.

"You can have as many rolls as you want during dinner, young man," she admonished, but her grin destroyed her efforts.

Dean sighed dramatically and placed his hands on his stomach, making growling noises with his mouth.

"I'm a growing boy, mom. I have to have food." The sixteen year old whined. Mary laughed and shook her head, reaching behind her back to untie her apron. She then laid it gently on the stool, before grabbing a handful of plates from the cabinet above the counter.

"You are so much like your father, it's scary," she replied, going to set the table.

"What's scary?" John's deep voice spoke up as he entered the kitchen. Dean gave his father a goofy grin.

"Mom's complainin' cuz we're hungry men," Dean explained. John snorted, and headed over to the kitchen sink to wash his hands.

"It's in the Winchester blood," John asserted, winking at Dean. Dean nodded, seriously.

"So true- Sammy's not even a teen yet and he's about ready to eat us all out of a house and home."

John laughed, and Mary rolled her eyes. Turning to Dean, her face turned curious.

"Speaking of Sam- where is your brother? I know you picked him up from his study group earlier. I haven't heard a peep from him all afternoon."

Dean shrugged.

"Last I saw, he was bunkering himself down in the basement. Probably setting up tea time for all of his imaginary friends," the teen snickered. It was no secret among the Winchester family of Sam's... "friends". The youngest Winchester had always gone on and on about the visitors and friends he talked with; people no one else could see, since he was just a toddler. Mary and John has chalked it up to an overactive imagination, but Sam was twelve now.

And though he rarely mentioned too many of his "friends" or "visitors" as of late, Dean was pretty sure Sam still had them.

John frowned.

"I think it's about time we took that boy to get checked out," he said gruffly, lowering himself into a chair at the kitchen table. Dean got distracted by the sight of the steaks his mother pulled out of the oven to reply, but he heard her say, "John, be serious please. There is nothing wrong with having an imagination. It's perfectly healthy."

"Maybe-but the boy will be going to high school soon. He'll need real friends. The only reason he even associates with other kids his age is because we make him get involved in school activities. If it weren't for our encouragement, he'd probably spend his days couped up here, or haunting the local library for hours on end."

Mary sighed, wiping her hands on her pants; something she did out of habit when she was beginning to get frustrated. She looked at Dean and gave him an apologetic smile.

"Could you please go find your brother and let him know dinner's ready?"

Dean nodded, tearing his eyes away from the food reluctantly.

"Sure thing," he said, hopping off of the stool and sauntering out into the hallway. Whistling softly, Dean went to the basement door at the other end of the hall. He opened it, wincing at the loud groan, and peered down the stairs. The lights directly over the staricase were off, but Dean could see faint golden light stretched across the basement floor, which meant Sam must be in one of the rooms.

"Sam?" Dean called. He heard a loud shuffling noise, and then a faint cackle that sounded so inhuman it made the hair on the nape of his neck stand on end. There was another shuffling noise, and then the unmistakable sound of a hiss saying, "be quiet".

What was even weirder was hearing Sam's muffled voice responding to something; "But I have to-"

Just what was Sam doing?

Dean glanced back in the direction of the kitchen, and then back dwon into the basement.

"Sam?" Dean called again. "I know you're down there! Dinner's ready, so come upstairs!"

There was a pause, and that freaky, weird cackle swept up the stairs. Only, this time, it sounded more like a growl. Try as he might, Dean couldn't stop his heart from skipping a beat at the sound, or the way his feet stumbled back a bit without his conscious permission.

"I-I'm coming! One sec!" Sam called up the stairs seconds later, and his voice was high and shrill- the way it got whenever he was extremely stressed or anxious about something.

"Not one sec. Now!" Dean called back, for some reason getting angry. Why did Sam insist always spending time alone, being weird and shit? He was almost a teenager, for goodness' sake.

Shouldn't he always be pestering their parents to be outside, or making trouble somewhere? Like normal boys his age?

No- instead, he spent himself holed up in either the basement, his room, or hiding away at the library. As much as Dean tried to accept that about his brother, it still rubbed him the wrong way.

"But Dean-" Sam started. There was a heavy thud sound, and Sam's voice cut off into a whimper.

"No- stop it," Dean heard Sam whisper harshly. "We can play later. Promise."

The deep, feral growl came back, and suddenly Sam was in Dean's line of sight, trudging wearily up the stairs. He was wearing a slightly large gray hoodie, and well-worn sweat pants. The clothing only made his lanky, thin body even more awkward, and when Sam finally stepped into the hallway, Dean could see his brother's face was an unhealthy shade of pale white.

"What were you doing down there?" Dean demanded, folding his arms across his chest. Sam glanced at him briefly, before lowering his eyes to the carpet. Dean's breath caught in his throat, however, when he saw a brief expanse of Sam's thin neck- and the dark, ugly bruise that discolored it.

His eyes went wide, and without thinking he reached out and gently cupped Sam's jaw, frowning at how chilled his skin was. His little brother winced harshly at the unexpected action, before relaxing and allowing Dean to gently tilt his head to the side to get a better look.

The bruise stretched from the side of his neck, and dipped down to his collar bone. It looked ugly and painful, and also fairly recent. When Dean pulled his hand away and huffed angrily, Sam lifted his eyes and stared back at his older brother with a trace of guilt on his features.

"I..." Sam's breath broke off shakily, and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. "It was Azazel. He... wanted me to stay with him for a little longer. He didn't mean to hurt me, I don't think."

Dean's nostrils flared.

Did his brother really have to make up lies to cover the truth? For the past few months, Sam had been mentioning a new "friend" of his by the name of Azazel. Enough to make both Dean and his parents sigh whenever he brought up the imaginary friend's name in normal conversation.

But, he'd been strangely silent about this Azazel for the last few weeks, now that Dean took the time to really think about it.

Until now, that is.

"Bullshit," Dean hissed, and Sam flinched. "There's no way any of your imaginary friends did this- they don't exist. Azazel doesn't freaking exist." Dean tried to calm himself by breathing slowly, but it did very little to help him. "Was it someone from school? Is someone bullying you Sam? Because if they are, I swear to God when I get my hands on them-"

Sam opened his mouth as if to refute Dean's concern, but his eyes briefly moved to something standing behind the older sibling. Just as his eyes shifted, Dean had the oddest sensation of something... big hovering right behind him, but when he turned, it was only him and Sam in the hallway.

Turning back to look at his little brother, Dean had just enough time to see Sam swallow hard, and something desperate and fearful shifting in his hazel eyes. Just as soon as it had come, it was gone, and Sam was looking back at Dean again.

"Uh... yeah," Sam said softly. "I got into trouble at school, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be a snitch. I was just joking about Azazel."

Dean was silent for a moment, before John's voice called out, "You boys finished out there? Food's getting cold!"

"Coming, Dad!" Sam called, and tried to move around his brother and make an escape to the kitchen. But Dean moved with lightning fast reflexes, and caught Sam's arm.

"We're not through here," Dean assured him. "I'm going to get to the bottom of this, you understand me? No one messes with my brother and gets away with it."

Sam was silent for a moment, before a small, but genuine, smile lit his face.

"I know, Dean," he said. Dean nodded, and moved off ahead of his brother to beat him to the kitchen table.

"Damn straight," he said over his shoulder.

He turned to look in the direction of the kitchen, and missed seeing his little brother turn back towards the partially open basement door and wave his arm frantically in a "go away" motion.

The basement door swayed gently, before slipping shut on its own with a quiet snap.

Sam let out a small sigh, and turned to join his family for dinner.

Wow. How about that, eh folks? Sorry for it being longer than 1,000 words- I tried to cut as much "junk" out as I could, and it still is near 2,000. All well. Hope you enjoyed, and what a relief it was to get it off my chest, let me tell you.

Answering the word challenge was fun, and I hoped you all enjoyed yourselves. (I'm sure Sam didn't. :P)

And, um, sorry if I didn't get their characters quite right- this being an AU and all, I figured it gave me a little leeway with their OOCness.

Tell me what you think, yeah?