Ronald McDonald- whose real name was Dennis Pine- dropped the boy's clothes in the kitchen and made his way to the bathroom to clean his makeup off.
He was so excited. It was Saturday and that meant he had the whole day to spend with Billy tomorrow and then after that… Dennis shivered in anticipation.
He never did anything to the boys on the first day. He was content to just touch them and watch them, get to know them a little bit before doing what he really wanted with them.
At first they cried and shook and fought but eventually they stopped and did whatever he told them to.
Dennis knew he had taken a risk by grabbing Billy in broad daylight but as soon as he had seen the boy playing with the other children, he knew he had to have him. It had taken Dennis all of his willpower not to run his hands through the boy's hair right there in front of everyone. No one had seen him leave with the child, he was sure of it. People were more concerned with their own brats to pay any attention to the friendly fast-food mascot.
Dean was growing impatient and worried. No one was approaching the information desk with his little brother in tow and the older boy was becoming frightened.
John checked his wristwatch every few seconds, his expression turning darker every second Sam remained lost.
"Excuse me?" a middle-aged man asked. He was holding the hand of a little blonde girl- Dean recognized her as one of the kids Sam had been playing with earlier- and had a frazzled, apologetic look on his face.
"Yes?" Security guard Earl asked and the father cleared his throat.
"Wanda has something to say," the man explained, "She refused to leave until she spoke to you."
The girl's father looked pointedly at Dean and the eleven-year old raised his eyebrow.
"Me?" Dean jumped off the desk and stepped up to the little girl.
"You're Sam's big brother," Wanda said matter-of-factly and Dean nodded.
"This is my Dad," he pointed to John and the eldest Winchester crouched down so that he was on eye-level with the children.
"When we was eating lunch," Wanda began, "I was lookin' around and I saw Sam talking to Ronald."
John's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, "Ronald?"
Wanda nodded, "Yeah! He was really nice to us."
Dean's father looked up at the little girl's, "Who's Ronald? One of the other kids?"
Wanda, realizing that the grown-ups had no clue who she was talking about, stomped her foot on the floor and nearly shrieked, "Ronald! You know! Ronald McDonald!"
"Ronald… McDonald?" John asked slowly and the girl nodded.
"I'm sorry, she wouldn't stop talking about it," Wanda's father explained but John waved the apology away.
Dean had gone very pale. His heart had dropped down into his stomach.
"How long ago did your daughter see the clown speaking with Sam?" Earl asked; a grim expression on his face.
"Half an hour," the man answered, "Forty-five minutes… why? You don't think?"
Wanda's father didn't finish his question, the implication of what his child had witnessed already dawning on him.
"Did you see where they went?" John asked, trying to remain calm and not frighten the little girl.
"Nuh," Wanda shook her head, her pigtails flapping with the movement, "Mom told me to eat my food an' stop starin' around."
"I hope you get your boy back," Wanda's father told John, his own expression mirroring the other man's. He didn't know what he'd do if anyone kidnapped his little girl.
"I hope that we've helped," he concluded and picked up his daughter, walking away quickly.
"Dean, did you see this guy?" John asked, straightening once again to his full height.
The eleven-year old bit his lip and shook his head, "I must have been in the restroom."
Had Sam gone willingly with the man? Although his brother liked clowns as much as the next kid, Dean recalled Sam's hesitation when their father had suggested having lunch at McDonald's; clearly the boy hadn't forgotten about the movie they'd been watching the night before. Sam knew not to go anywhere with strangers, though. Both Dean and their father had drilled the importance of that into the child's head and the eleven-year old had been to the same police presentations at school. So why had Sam left with the clown?
I should have been there; Dean thought guiltily, I should have taken Sam with me to the bathroom, not left him alone. If something happens to him, it'll be all my fault.
Sam stood on his toes and stretched as far as possible but he couldn't reach the window no matter how hard he tried. His fingertips just brushed the sill, scrabbling at the dust and dead flies on the wood but he just couldn't reach the glass.
Sam crouched down and wiped at his watery eyes. He was trapped. He just wanted to go home. He wanted his brother and his Daddy. He didn't want to stay here with Ronald.
The boy's eyes darted to the door when he heard the knob turn and he froze in fear. The man that walked into the room didn't look like Ronald at all but Sam could tell he was the same; he smiled the same way the clown had.
Sam's lower lip trembled as Ronald approached him.
"Please… I wanna go home," Sam whimpered, hoping that the man would be different now that he wasn't a clown.
"I thought you said you were going to be a good boy," he said in a quiet voice, "Now you're a liar as well."
Sam's eyes went wide, "I'm not!"
Ronald smacked the boy across the face, causing the child to stumble back and fall.
The seven-year old raised a hand to his mouth and felt something warm running down his chin. Pulling his hand away, Sam saw his small fingers red with blood and he started to cry.
"Stop crying!" Ronald snapped, "You deserved it!"
Sam tried to stop the tears from falling, wiping an arm across his eyes and choked back his sobs, afraid that if he didn't, the man would hit him again.
"I'm s-sorry," Sam whispered and Ronald smiled.
The boy ducked his head when the man reached out and carded his fingers through his hair, "I forgive you."
Sam peered up at Ronald through his long bangs hopefully. The man looked down at him and pointed to the single piece of furniture in the room.
"Get on the bed," Ronald instructed, his smile not leaving his face but his tone was similar to the one John used when his order was to be obeyed without question.
Sam's eyes welled up with tears of fear and he shook his head, "I don't wanna."
The hand in the boy's hair tightened into a fist and Sam cried out as Ronald dragged him forward.
"Get on the fucking bed now," the man growled and released Sam, giving him a shove in the right direction as he did so.
With tears streaming down his face, the boy clambered up onto the mattress and sat trembling as the man approached. Sam moved to the far side of the bed, closest to the window as Ronald sat down. The man lay down on the bed, facing Sam and grabbed the boy's arm.
"No," Sam whimpered, "Please. Let me go."
The stranger ignored him and forced to boy to lie on his side, facing away from him. Sam stared at the bright whitish sky through the window and held his breath. An arm snaked around him and pulled the boy closer until Sam's back was pressed up against them man's chest. Sam curled himself up into a ball, his knees tucked against his own chest and his arms wrapped tightly around them.
He was used to sleeping with his brother- the motels that their father took them to usually only had two beds- when his Daddy was with them but liked having his own bed better so he didn't have Dean kicking him awake in the middle of the night. Sometimes when Dean wasn't feeling well, Sam would have to sleep with his Daddy because he didn't want both of them to get sick but John never made the seven-year old lie right up against him.
Ronald started petting Sam's hair again and the boy just stared out the window at the sky, trying to stay calm so the man wouldn't hurt him.
"Don't be afraid, Billy," the stranger whispered to Sam, "I'll take care of you… but you also have to take care of me."
John was reeling. He couldn't believe it, didn't want to believe it. His little boy had been snatched in the middle of a crowded rest area by some pervert. This was every parent's worst nightmare. But John was familiar with nightmares and not every parent carried around the same firepower as he did.
"Earl," the eldest Winchester grabbed the security guard's attention, "Can you tell me anything about this person?"
The older man shrugged, "I don't really know the fellow… seems nice enough… good with the kiddies."
John snarled in frustration, "Does he have a name? An address?"
Earl's eyebrows raised, "Mr. Winchester, I think we should call the police."
John practically growled at the suggestion, "There's no time!"
"I don't have his information," Earl explained, "But they will at the McDonald's."
John didn't have to be told twice. He took hold of his oldest boy's hand and stalked off toward the restaurant.
Earl followed the father. He briefly considered calling the cops himself but decided against it, there was no way John Winchester was going to wait around for them take their time to question everyone and then hand over his little boy's body.
Dean ran after his father and couldn't help but smirk just a little as John pushed through the lineup of customers- receiving angry glares and muttered insults- and leaned right into the cashier's face, demanding to see the information on the guy who dressed as the fast-food joint's clown mascot.
The pimply-faced teen manning the cash register didn't say anything for a long moment, didn't answer John's questions about the man who worked as Ronald McDonald until he finally squeaked out that he should go get his manager.
Security guard Earl kept annoyed customers away from the father and son while John and Dean waited. The eldest Winchester rested his arms on the countertop, drumming his fingers impatiently. Dean peered around at the people watching them, some moved on to one of the other restaurants but many stayed to ogle or wait for their meal orders.
A woman in her forties appeared with a scowl on her face, clearly irritated at the Winchesters' disruption.
"Can I help you sir?" She asked in a tone that told Dean she really didn't want to help him at all.
"I need the contact information for the man who plays your clown," John all but growled at the woman.
"Ronald McDonald," Dean clarified and the woman peered down at the eleven-year old.
"I'm sorry sir," she apologized, "I can't give away that sort of information. Please leave before I call the security."
Earl cleared his throat and waved at the manager. The woman looked confused.
"I still can't just tell you where my employees live," she continued to argue, "If there's a problem, I advise you to contact the police."
John, teeth bared in a snarl, fished his wallet from his pocket and pulled out one of his many fake ID's- this one an FBI badge- and slammed it down on the counter in front of the woman.
"I am the police!" John all but shouted at her and Dean grinned smugly at the manager's shocked expression.
"I- I didn't know," the woman stammered, "I'm sorry."
John ducked his head down and the manager hurried into the back are of the restaurant to retrieve her employee's file.
Dennis Pine looked down at his trophies lovingly. He had arranged them carefully in the top drawer of his dresser. He liked to look at them whenever he was feeling particularly lonely, when he didn't have a boy with him.
Reaching down, Dennis ran his fingers slowly over the pair of children's' underwear that was sitting on top. The undergarment was light green and had belonged to a boy named Charlie Donahue. Dennis remembered Charlie- he remembered every boy- but Charlie was special; he had been the first.
Dennis carefully closed the drawer, his trophies safe from prying eyes and his thoughts turned to the newest boy, Billy. Although the child had only been with him for a couple of hours, Dennis already loved him. The man smiled as he thought of what the next few days would bring. He half-closed his eyes as he pictured the boy's expressive green eyes and soft, dark brown hair. Maybe he could break his own rule- just this once- and start things early with Billy.
Dennis nodded to himself and smiled knowingly as he walked down the hall towards the boy's bedroom.
John gripped the Impala's steering wheel with white knuckles. His gaze didn't waver from the road stretching out ahead of him. Dean sat ramrod straight in the passenger seat beside him, his young face etched with concern, his mouth a thin, grim line.
The eldest Winchester had barely read the son of a bitch's address before he tore out of the rest area, his oldest boy trotting behind him to keep up. John didn't know if Earl had called the actual police and he didn't really care- he would get to this fucker before they did.
The town was tiny- more of a hamlet than anything- with many houses boarded up and abandoned, their owners having gone to the bigger cities. John caught sight of the street signs in the periphery of his vision as he drove, his foot pressed down hard on the gas.
John nearly flew past the house. He slammed his foot down on the break and the Impala jerked to a stop, her engine ticking as it cooled in the wintery air.
Dennis Pine's house was one of only on its street not abandoned. It was an old, ugly bungalow- its brick face pockmarked and crumbling, the shutters hanging in dire need of fresh paint- with a small yard covered in dirty, grey snow. An ancient pickup with patches of red rush taking over the original blue paint on the truck sat in the cracked driveway.
John stepped out of the car and stared at the house for a moment while he took the safety of his handgun that he always kept in his jacket pocket. He turned when he heard the passenger door slam shut and frowned when he saw Dean coming around the front of the vehicle towards him.
"Wait in the car, Dean," John ordered his son. He didn't exactly know what to expect when he went into Pine's house and he didn't want Dean to see anything he shouldn't.
"No way! I wasn't watching Sammy like I was supposed to! I'm going with you! I have to!" the eleven-year old argued, his small face a tight mask of anger and guilt.
John closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, "Alright, but if I tell you to get out, you leave right away, whether we have Sam or not."
Dean stuck his chin out in defiance. John knew the boy would get his brother out of the house no matter what.
Without waiting another moment, John turned on his heel and stalked to the front door, Dean right behind him.
The eldest Winchester glanced at the door for a second before lifting one booted foot and kicked the handle, breaking the wood surrounding it and the door flung open.
John stepped inside, eyes darting around the hallway, sensing his son slip past him and moving deeper into the house. John swore silently, not about to shout out his son's name and draw attention to the boy.
The enraged father walked quickly but quietly down the hall, past a kitchen that was meticulously clean despite the out-of-date appliances it featured and turned into a short corridor that looked like it might lead to the sleeping quarters.
"SAM!" John cringed slightly as his eldest's voice called out almost frantically. A floorboard creaked from beyond the door on John's left and he sidled up to it, one hand on his gun, the other reaching for the doorknob.
Dean ran frantically into the house, his fear for his brother outweighing any thought of danger. He had to find his little brother, he just had to.
"SAM!" Dean cried his sibling's name, his eyes darting to every closed door he saw.
The eleven-year old rushed down a hallway that attached to the kitchen and called for his brother again.
"Sammy! Sam! You in here!" Dean shouted at the top of his voice.
Please God, let Sammy be here; Dean thought and jumped when he heard a cry come from the behind the closed door on his right.
"Dean!" The older boy's knees went weak with relief at the sound of his little brother's voice, despite the fact that it was shrilly with fear.
"I'm here Sammy," Dean pressed his cheek against the wooden door, "I'm coming to get ya."
The boy grabbed the doorknob and swore when he found it didn't budge when he tried to turn it; not that he expected it to open magically at his touch, and fished in the back pocket of his jeans for a paperclip.
Speaking words of comfort to his sibling through the door that separated them, Dean twisted the thin piece of metal until it was as straight as an arrow. He had been practicing jimmying locks and he was getting pretty good at it. Dean squinted his eyes in concentration, listening intently as he jiggled the make-shift pick in the lock.
After an agonizingly long minute the lock clicked and Dean felt the doorknob turn easily in his hand. He took in the room as he searched for his brother, narrowing his eyes in disgust as he saw the bare mattress atop the box spring and frame that was the only furniture. Sam was curled into a ball in one corner of the room, hands over his head and his knees drawn up until they touched his chin. Dean rushed forward, and pulled his little brother into a hug. Sam let out a watery gasp and wrapped his thin arms around his brother's neck.
"It's okay," Dean murmured, "It's going to be okay."
The eleven-year old frowned when he realized that Sam was only wearing his t-shirt and underwear. Shrugging his winter jacket off, Dean draped it over his younger brother's shoulders before picking him up.
"Wanna go home," Sam whimpered as he curled against his brother, his face buried against Dean's shoulder.
"I know Sammy," Dean said as he began walking, "We're leaving now."
The eleven-year old didn't even look back as he carried his terrified brother from the house and towards the safety of the Impala. John had left the classic Chevy unlocked and Dean somehow managed to open the rear passenger door with one hand while still holding onto his brother with the other. He slid Sam into the car first before climbing onto the seat beside him. Sam immediately crawled onto Dean's lap- even before his brother had closed the door- and leaned against him, shivering.
Dean peered down at his brother's face and saw silent tears coursing down the little boy's cheeks. Sam's eyes were bloodshot and puffy; a telltale sign that he had already done a lot of crying in the past couple of hours and Dean hoped that his father gave the sicko who'd nabbed his brother exactly what he deserved.
Dean wrapped his arms protectively around his brother's small frame and began rocking back and forth.
"I've got you, Sammy," Dean whispered, "It's going to be alright."
After a few moments Dean took a deep breath and made up his mind to ask his brother the single most important question he could think of.
"Sammy?" Dean said and shifted slightly. Sam looked up at his brother through his fringe of dark bangs, his lower lip- split and slightly bruised, Dean noted- began to tremble.
"I have to ask you something very important, okay?" Dean said. He may have been only eleven but he wasn't stupid, he knew full well what that clown intended when he'd kidnapped Sam. He carefully lifted his brother off of his lap and settled him down on the bench seat beside him.
"Did he hurt you Sammy? Did he touch you?" Dean asked. Sam's eyes were wide and filling with tears, "Did he touch you… down here?"
Dean indicated the area on himself and Sam shook his head.
"Or here?" Dean leaned forward slightly and placed his hand near the small of his back.
"No," Sam squeaked and shook his head frantically.
The eleven-year old felt as if a great weight was lifted from his heart and he pulled his brother back onto his lap, hugging him tightly.
"That's good," Dean murmured and Sam closed his eyes as they waited for their father to return.
"Dean?" Sam's voice startled his brother and Dean peered down at him, worried.
"Yeah Sammy?" he asked and his heart began to beat faster.
"You were wrong," Sam whispered.
"About what?" Dean's brows furrowed in confusion.
"Clowns," Sam answered, "They're not good… they're all Pennywise guys."
Dean stared at his brother in confusion until he realized what his brother meant.
"Oh," he breathed, feeling as if all the air had been pressed from his lungs. Dean clenched his eyes shut and hugged his brother to his chest.
I'm so sorry, Sammy, Dean apologized silently as tears began to slip past his closed lids.
John flung the door open with enough force that the handle embedded into the plaster of the opposite wall. The man who stood before him sent John's blood to boiling. He looked as if he was in his late twenties or early thirties, with short blond hair and blue eyes. He wore jeans and a black t-shirt.
"Who're you?" Dennis asked the bear of a man standing in the doorway of his bedroom.
"You son of a bitch," John growled and almost smiled when he saw the man pale at the sight of his pistol trained on him.
Coward, John thought. He stepped forward and shoved the man, sending him crashing into the dresser behind him.
Dennis collapsed and tried to stand, pulling the top drawer down as he did so, scattering his precious trophies all over the carpet. The look of horror on the intruder's face made Dennis laugh.
John felt sick to his stomach and all he could do for a moment was stare as almost a dozen pairs of boys' underwear tumbled from the dresser. He reached down and grabbed the bastard's shirt and tugged him up as he pulled back the hand holding the gun.
"Please don't!" the pervert's eyes widened and he held up his hands defensively.
John saw red, "Did they say that? Did those boys beg you to stop?"
The man grinned. Dennis wasn't stupid. He knew this father- for what else could he be- would kill him without flinching and he really didn't mind… that was better than going to jail.
So why not hurt him before he did?
"They liked it," the blond-haired man claimed, "They all liked it. Your son liked it."
Dennis started to laugh as the man's face turned green but quickly regretted his reaction when the father pointed the gun at his stomach and fired. The sound of the gunshot muted by an illegal silencer John had equipped the gun with.
Blood splattered and the man collapsed, holding his belly. Dennis groaned and rolled on the floor.
"You asshole!" the injured man cried and John kicked him in the face. A swift death was too kind for someone like him. He was a monster of the worst kind.
"Your boy squealed like a girl the first time I-" Dennis began taunting but the man kicked him in the teeth, silencing him.
John stared down at the piece of shit at his feet. He decided that he'd aimed a little too high the first time and prepared to correct that mistake.
Dean looked up when the driver's door opened and John sank into the seat.
"Is he alright?" his father asked and turned in the seat to peer at both his boys.
Dean nodded, "I think so… just shaken up."
"Good," John wiped a hand over his face but didn't turn around right away.
Dean met his father's gaze and wasn't sure what to think when he caught sight of the moisture in John's eyes.
Sucking in a deep breath, John righted himself in his seat and put the key in the Impala's ignition. From the rearview mirror he watched Dean raise a hand and lay it gently on his brother's head.
John turned the radio on and put the volume on low as he drove away from Dennis Pine's house, content in the knowledge that the man would never hurt another child ever again.
The father smiled grimly when he heard Dean mutter something to Sam and the little boy let out a weak, nervous giggle.
John allowed himself a slight, sad smile. Sam would be okay. He was a strong kid and although they'd no doubt have to deal with some nightmares for a while, John was sure that Sam would bounce back.
Sam backed away from the clown as it approached him, the child nearly tripping over his own feet in an effort to get away from the threat.
The boy backed into another kid and cringed when the girl shrieked at him, her slice of ice cream cake smeared all over the front of her pink smock top.
Dean saw his brother retreating from the party clown who was holding a poodle-shaped balloon out to him and stepped forward, picking his sibling up off the lawn and sighing when Sam wrapped his arms around his neck.
A concerned mother looked at Dean and the boy shook his head, "He's not feeling well."
The woman's eyebrows furrowed and she grimaced in sympathy. Sam's friend- the birthday boy- ran up to them curiously.
"Hey! Are you okay?" the child asked, his party hat slightly askew on his curly hair.
"We've got to go, Tim," Dean explained and wished he could just get away, feeling his shoulder dampen with his brother's tears of fear.
"Oh… okay," Tim mumbled, disappointed, "Bye Sam! See you in school tomorrow!"
Dean turned and slipped through the open gate, stepping over discarded wrapping paper and plastic cups and utensils, picking up the pace when he walked down the driveway.
"I'm s-sorry, Dean," Sam mumbled but Dean only patted his back comfortingly. Months had passed since that horrible day at the rest area and it was the middle of June now. Sam had practically begged John to let him go to his friend's birthday party and the hunter had reluctantly agreed as long as Dean went as well.
At first the older boy had thought a kid's party was going to be lame- and it was- but he was glad he'd gone so he could be the one to swoop in and rescue his brother from the clown.
Sam's nightmares had abated over the weeks and only seemed to surface whenever he was stressed but it was clear that the boy was not about to get over his fear anytime soon.
McDonald's was now an off-limits place to eat with Sam around, not that Dean really minded, it wasn't like the restaurant held great memories for him either.
Dean wished he could say something to his brother to ease Sam's fear but he just didn't know what. His heart broke for his brother when every clown the boy saw turned into that Ronald and Sam almost have a panic attack.
Dean shook his head, hoping that eventually Sam would realize that not every clown was that John Wayne Gacy wannabe in disguise but for now was content to constantly be his little brother's hero and keep the awful memories at bay.
Dean smirked when he saw his brother sleeping with his mouth hanging open, a string of drool hanging from his lower lip. Fishing his phone from his pocket, Dean quickly snapped a picture, grinning at the thought of his new blackmail ammo.
The older brother's stomach growled loudly- heard even over the rock music pounding from the Impala's speakers- and he moved into the turning lane, eyes sparkling at the sight of the red and yellow sign just up ahead.
"Welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order?" a bored teenage voice drawled through the speaker and Dean quietly answered.
Sam startled awake when he felt something land in his lap.
"Dean? How long was I asleep for?" He asked, rubbing a hand over his face. Dean shrugged, one hand on the steering wheel, one holding onto a Big Mac that was dripping its contents onto his lap.
Sam shook his head and opened the paper bag on his lap and pulled out a red Happy Meal container.
"Real mature," Sam growled at his brother and Dean gave him a shit-eating grin.
"What?" the older Winchester asked innocently and Sam huffed in annoyance.
"You're a jerk," Sam informed him and unfolded the flaps of the red cardboard container.
Dean took a large bite of his burger and watched from the corner of his eye as Sam munched away on his French fries.
"What toy did they give you?" he asked Sam and flinched when his younger brother threw the small Iron Man action figure at him.
Sam shook his head and chuckled when Dean's sudden movement caused his burger to slide out of the bun and plop down onto his jeans.
"Shit," Dean grouched irritably but soon he too was laughing along with his brother, the younger man clearly not thinking about Dennis Pine and Dean silently wished that it could always be like this for Sam.
Reaching over, Dean turned the radio up and smiled when the Rolling Stones began playing.
You can't always get you want, Dean thought silently, but sometimes you get what you need.
He filched a fry from his brother and smiled when Sam grinned back at him, the bad memories once again pushed to the back of his mind for the time being and that was more than Dean could ask for.
1. Thanks to Sparkiebunny, mb64, mandancie, AmaraRae, SPN Mum, TeamCastiel1997, rannablue, RodneyIsGodney, cold kagome, MysteryMadchen, Samstruck, 2012summerstar, L.A.H.H, sarah, DianaLadris802, emebalia, CapitalC12, Miuda22, SamDeanLover28, doyleshuny, sammynanci, and BranchSuper for reviewing.
2. Thanks to everyone who has favourited, followed and/or alerted this fanfic.
3. I hope you all enjoyed this story. I'd love to hear your final thoughts. Now, who's hungry for McDonalds?