He was too close this time, right over Sam's shoulder. And several of those tentacle-like arms were stretched out, seemingly reaching for his brother. At first Dean froze; he was helpless, gripped in the morbid feelings of fear and despair that rose off the being in incessant waves. They pressed down on him, giving Dean a sinking feeling. He did his best to push them aside, to keep from drowning in them; Dean knew it was all in his head.

The older hunter ignored Sam's attempts at drawing his attention away from the creature because if he looked away, he would move and it would be too late, game over; Slenderman would have Sam. But then his brother did something Dean hadn't expected him to. He started walking right towards him.

That set Dean in motion.

"SAM, NO!" Dean launched forward, pushing Sam out of the way as he barreled into Slenderman. "I won't let you have him!" If he had to sacrifice himself, then so be it, but he wasn't going to get his hands on Sam.

Dean suddenly found himself wrapped in Slenderman's iron-tight embrace, cheek pressed up against his chest.

He blinked and the bar was gone.

"Dean!" Sam quickly recovered from being sent off-balance into the wall behind him and ran into the shadows to where his brother had just…vanished. He felt around on the wall, fingers slipping over the hickory paneling, searching frantically for a hidden door, looking for something that might tell him where Dean went. But he knew before he started that he wouldn't find anything.

"Fuck," he muttered as he turned around and leaned back against the wall, then slowly slid down to rest on his haunches. Sam had nothing, abso-fucking-lutely nothing, to go on. His stubborn idiot of a brother hadn't breathed a single word to him about whatever was going on and Sam was completely in the dark. He had nowhere to even begin.

His eyes dropped to the floor. It was made from what looked like reclaimed barn wood and its aged wooden planks had been meticulously polished until they shone under the vintage lamps hanging above the tables. As his gaze followed along the intricate lines of the wood grain, something caught his eye. He reached over to pick it up. It was a small piece of material. Sam's brow furrowed as he studied it in the low light of the bar.

It was black and looked to be some kind of wool-based fabric, certainly not from something Dean was wearing. (His brother had his usual jeans, cotton t-shirt, flannel overshirt, and utility jacket on.) It might not be anything at all – tons of people passed through this place every night; it could be from any one of them – but Sam knew better than to just ignore something that could be considered evidence, so he tucked it away into his jacket pocket for safe-keeping instead.

As he sat there, Sam tried to quell the panic that was rising up like a viper getting ready to sink its teeth into him, but it wasn't working out so well. He had no idea what to do.

Dean was gone…again.

Things were still and silent for an unknown span of time – Dean wasn't sure if he had lost consciousness or not – but when he opened his eyes, he saw trees. What is it with the damn trees? Ominous shadows blanketed them and a cold breeze threaded through his short hair as he began to struggle against the bone-crushing hold Slenderman had him in.

"Dude, I've told you before, I'm not really the hugging type," Dean huffed out as he put a little more muscle into trying to get loose, face turning red from the exertion, but his effort was all in vain; he got nowhere. It pissed Dean off royally that he was as helpless as he was. Sometimes his life really sucked.

"Why fight me, Dean? I will eventually get what I want; you already know that." The words drifted easily into the hunter's mind and he shuddered; they felt oily, contaminated. He hated when Slendy did that, got into his head like he had a timeshare or something.

"Screw you," Dean growled as he twisted and tried to somehow work his way out of Slendy's arms. "Somehow – I don't know how yet – I'm gonna take you down." Yeah, maybe Dean wasn't in the best of positions to be making a threat like that, but, hey, why not, right?

"Your insolence entertains me, my little hunter. It is one of the reasons you are still around after all these years."

"And all this time I thought it was because you thought I was adorable," Dean deadpanned.

The razor-sharp tip of one of Slenderman's tentacles reached over and caressed Dean's cheek, causing the man to flinch, but it didn't cut into him like he knew it was more than capable of doing. "I need something from you."

That caught Dean by surprise. "Oh, yeah? And what's that?"

"Your brother, Sam, he intrigues me."

Dean stilled, heart caught in his throat, and then he renewed his struggles. "You leave him alone, you son of a bitch! We had a deal."

The arms around Dean tightened, crushing him further into the soft material of the being's suit jacket, causing him to gasp for much needed air; his ribs felt like they were going to give at any second.

"Oh, no, Dean. That changed a couple of months ago. Such a sweet, sweet tragedy that was, don't you think, how it broke your brother to pieces?"

Dean's mind was growing too foggy, too quickly; he needed air, but he still managed a weak, "No…"

"He is mine now."

"You…can't. Please…" The hunter felt himself depending more and more on the creature to hold him upright as his oxygen-deprived body started to slump. He hated that he was reduced to begging, but he would do what he had to. He wouldn't let Sam go through what he'd been going through all these years.

Dean's pleading words were ignored. "The bond between two siblings…such a remarkable thing it is. As he is your weakness, you are his." Slenderman paused then. Dean forced himself to look up into the Thin Man's face; he felt something else in its mind, almost as if it was reflecting on some thought or memory, but it was only fleeting and gone a moment later. "But, tell me, there is something about Sam that keeps his mind closed off to me. What is it about him that makes him so special?"

Special? There was nothing special about Sam. He was a little bit of a sensitive, but that was it. "N-nothing," Dean answered on a shallow exhale.

Apparently, his answer wasn't good enough. "Tell me!" The demand came again, but louder this time; the words ricocheted off the inside of Dean's skull like a marble in a glass jar. Somewhere he heard the disturbing sound of bones shifting and popping. The hunter had heard the sound before, the night Sam left for Stanford; Slendy was pissed. When he was pissed, he grew; Dean felt the ground disappear under his feet.

"I…" Dean struggled for a breath of life-giving air. Ah, hell. "Go fuck yourself."

He heard the sound again – bones cracking – but this time they were his own and Dean screamed as his ribs snapped like twigs under the increasing pressure around him.

"I will not be denied. I WILL HAVE HIM!"

A defiant smirk broke through the pained expression on Dean's face. "Over…my…dead…body," he grit out between clenched teeth, even as his vision was beginning to fade.

Slendy wanted Sam, but couldn't get into his head, couldn't use that to wear him down; that was some relief, at hunter grunted when the tight hold on him was suddenly released and he slipped almost ten feet to the ground below. The fall shifted his broken ribs and he cried out in agony as he clenched an arm around his damaged ribcage, his breath ragged and panting.

When Dean pried his eyes open, he was alone.

Sam eventually made his way back over to their table where he just sat and stared at the too empty corner. Something told him Dean wasn't going to just pop back out of some spinning vortex like the crew from that old sci-fi show, 'Sliders', he and his brother had watched on occasion; that was just wishful thinking. He'd already tried calling Dean, but, like the last time, the call wouldn't go through.

Finally, he got up, tossed a few bills on the table, and left…only to walk into another problem: the Impala. The doors were locked and Dean had the keys. Just fucking great.

Dean would kick his ass if he hurt anything on his 'baby' to get in, so Sam looked around for an alternative to breaking a window. Up the street he spied a local garage; a couple of tow trucks were sitting out in its lot. He arched his brow and crossed his fingers as he jogged up the street. His luck held out when he found the door to one of them was left unlocked. It took longer than he wanted it to, but he found what he was looking for. Sam pulled the slim jim out from the stash of tools and rushed back to the Impala. Five minutes later he was leaning under the dash hotwiring the car.

"Sorry, Dean," he mumbled as he cut the necessary wires and got the car started after a few sparks.

There was nowhere for Sam to go but back to the room. It would be home base until he found Dean again…and he would find his brother.

Sam booted up his laptop and immediately began scouring the internet for what might be going on with Dean. He really wished the man had opened up about what was going on. It would have made his search for whatever it was a hell of a lot easier. Maybe it would have even prevented this whole ordeal in the first place.

Almost two hours later, Sam leaned back in the chair and stared bleary-eyed at the screen. "Dean, dude." Sam shook his head at his brother's stubbornness. He blew out a frustrated breath and rubbed at his tired eyes. Glancing down at his watch, he saw that it was just after one in the morning.

His gaze fell to his cell phone sitting on the stained laminate surface of the table beside the computer; there was a yellowish-brown cigarette burn right next to it. He picked the device up and dialed Dean's number. The call went directly to voice mail again. "Dammit!" He tossed the phone back onto the table in frustration.

Sam pushed his chair back and stood up, needing to take a break for a few minutes. He stretched, trying to get rid of the kinks in his back from sitting in the crappy, plastic piece of furniture for too long. He could feel knots of tension all throughout his muscles and knew there wasn't much he could do about them, not with Dean out there somewhere dealing with God only knew what.

Having gotten through his initial panic about what had happened, Sam was rolling over to 'pissed off'' mode. He wanted to blame Dean; it was the easiest thing to do. If – when – he found his brother, they were going to have a serious talk. Dean came for him, wanted Sam's help to find their missing father. Sam wouldn't call this 'working together'; it was far from it. Obviously, whatever was going on, Dean was in over his head.

Hell, Sam knew Dean had his secrets. They weren't exactly in each other's pockets. Sam had his own as well, one in particular that he wasn't planning on sharing any time soon. The fact that he had had dreams of Jess dying before it happened still disturbed him – something was just wrong with that – and to this day Sam blamed himself for her death. If he had only done something…

After pacing the room and racking his brain for anything that might help point him in the right direction, Sam took a seat at the table again. His keystrokes were broken off a few minutes later when the monitor began to flicker and then cut out altogether. "Shit," he muttered as he gave it a few taps. And then he saw it…a reflection on the darkened screen. The entity that had been following him around was standing behind him, probably not more than eight feet away. The air in the room seemed thicker, heavier, somehow and Sam could sense an evil energy coming from the being, something he had never felt from it before. The hunter turned in his seat, only to see it slowly tilt its head and then disappear.

Sam frowned as the wheels started to turn in his head; connections were being made. He got up quickly, going over to the bed to retrieve his jacket. Sam reached into the front pocket and pulled out the piece of material he'd found at the bar just after Dean had disappeared. "Shit." It looked a hell of a lot like the suit his so-called spirit was wearing. Why the hell hadn't he noticed that earlier? Then again, until just now, he'd never seen the creature up close; it usually just lurked in the distance as it watched him.

A heavy thud followed by a soft, shuffling scrape coming from just outside the door had Sam snapping his eyes across the room; the dawning dread of his current speculations was forgotten for the moment. He was at the window almost instantly, Taurus drawn, safety off.

Sam slowly pulled the heavy curtains aside and looked out into the night; he wasn't sure what he was going to find out there after his recent visit. But what he saw had him unbolting the lock and ripping the door open a second later.


His brother was hunched over against the door frame; his breathing was strained and he was holding his left arm protectively up against his side and chest. The muscle along Dean's jaw was tight and his eyes had lost their usual luster. The man was in some serious pain.

"Jesus, man. What the fuck happened to you?" He gingerly helped Dean up and through the threshold. Not knowing what was wrong with him, Sam kept his touches light.

"Just need to lie down," Dean mumbled between ragged breaths. "Long walk."

The older hunter had gotten lucky this time (if you could call it that). The forest Slendy had dumped him off in was the one just down the road where he'd seen the creature for the first time the other night. His phone hadn't quite survived the encounter and Dean had been forced to make the half mile walk back to the room…and that was only after wandering aimlessly in the woods for what seemed like forever. But he'd made it, even if it had hurt like a bitch.

"Yeah, okay." Sam helped his brother over to the bed. He was so full of questions – like, where the hell had Dean just come from? – but he'd hold off. Dean was back, hurt, but alive.

Once Dean was on the bed, he shifted to lie back, wincing. He knew he was going to have to ask Sam for help and that sucked. But broken ribs needed attention…and he wasn't sure if one had punctured his lung or not. He was having a hell of a time breathing.


Dean lifted a hand, telling Sam to hold on. "Just give me a minute." He could feel his brother's eyes on him, didn't have to have his own eyes open to know Sam was taking in everything that was wrong with him. "Gonna have to get the first aid kit, Sammy. Think we're gonna need it," he said without lifting his eyelids.

Sam didn't reply, but Dean heard him move across the room, heard the long drag of the zipper on the duffel being pulled open, and then he felt the bed dip when Sam came back and sat down next to him a minute later.

Dean opened his eyes then and sat up as carefully as he could; a muffled groan escaped his effort of hiding how bad he was hurting. "Fuck. – I'm gonna need you to help me get this stuff off." He began to fumble with his jacket. "Think I've got at least two broken ribs…the bastard."

Sam helped remove his brother's jacket. "You planning on letting me in on the big secret any time soon?" he finally asked, not being able to hold back any longer. "I mean, you fucking disappeared, man. Twice now in the last week. Whatever it is, it's obviously more than you can handle alone."

His coat and overshirt off, and now working on his t-shirt, Dean hissed in pain when he raised his arms up. "Can we – fuck – just deal with this first?"

"Jesus Christ." Sam eyed the bruising that colored his brother's torso. Deep purples and blues painted the expanse of Dean's ribcage. He couldn't help but reach out and run trembling fingers along the man's side causing goosebumps to rise up under his touch. Dean had gotten it good. His hazel eyes darkened in fury as he took in the damage done to the older hunter. That thing – whatever it was – was going to pay for this. "Yeah, we'll fix you up, but after, you're gonna tell me what's going on. I'm not letting this happen again."

"Yeah, whatever." Dean shrugged off his brother's words, even though he knew they'd be having some sort of discussion at some point, and then he scooted forward, arm instinctively wrapping around himself again. "Just get this done."

"Yeah, alright. Hold still and no crying." That earned Sam a swat upside the head. The corner of his lip twitched up when he heard Dean gasp. "Take it easy there, big guy, don't wanna hurt yourself."

He grimaced when Sam began to palpate his side, looking for broken bones. "Shut up."

Dean felt his eyelids growing heavy. Between the liquor from earlier, the minor shock that his body was in, and the three pain killers that he had popped twenty minutes ago, he was shot. All he wanted to do was roll over and go to sleep, but…

"So…," Sam started. He was sitting on his own bed facing Dean, hunched over slightly with forearms resting on his knees; his fingers were laced loosely together where his hands hung down between his knees. The younger man's gaze was fixed on Dean; he was waiting for answers.

Dean shifted a little on the bed; his ribs felt stiff and he was beginning to feel an itch under the ace bandages which, by the way, felt like they were holding him together. "Do we have to talk about this tonight?" Really, tomorrow would be better. Actually, make that never.

"Dean." Sam's voice was low and full of warning. His kid brother knew him too well.

"Seriously, Sam. I have a killer headache and I'm tired. – And, shit, I gotta take a leak." The last thing he wanted to do was get back up, but the drinks from earlier were wreaking havoc on his bladder.

Dean knew Sam was going to get pissed off, but it wouldn't be the first time; he'd get over it. He maneuvered himself to the edge of the bed and braced himself as he stood up. The heat of Sam's glare burned into him, but he chose to ignore it as he made his way around the younger man's long, sasquatch legs which were taking up most of the space between the two beds.

Sam watched the door close behind Dean. He chewed on the inside of his cheek and sighed. Even after all of this, his brother still didn't want to talk. Well, he was going to get Dean to talk whether he liked it or not.

A few minutes later, Dean reappeared and was in the middle of carefully turning down his blankets when Sam spoke up.

"He has no face." The younger Winchester watched as his brother tensed. So, I'm on to something.

The kid had found something, dammit. And Dean knew exactly what his brother was doing; he was baiting him. "Sam, just, please," he pleaded, "can't we drop it for the night." Sam didn't know how dangerous it was to just be talking about him.

"Why won't you talk about it? What's got you so scared?"

Dean turned and looked at Sam. There was no anger in the man's green eyes, only concern. Sam could clearly see that his brother was worried. "The less you know, the safer you are."

"You're worried about me? Is that why you haven't told me what's going on? Seriously?" Sam nearly screeched. "Fuck, Dean. You're the one with three broken ribs. Don't you think we should be worrying about you instead? How do we know it's not gonna kill you next time?"

Sam couldn't help it; he was crashing from the overwhelming emotions of the day and unbidden tears welled up in his eyes. He couldn't lose Dean. The man was all he had left. As far as he was concerned, their father was already gone, probably dead; the man hadn't answered any of their recent calls.

"C'mon, Sam. Don't do this. If it hasn't killed me yet-"

"Yet?" Sam cut his brother off. "How long has this thing been after you? Talk to me, Dean."

Dean looked down at the worn carpet between them, a quiet cough broiled in his chest and he did his best to keep it down. Okay, he could tell Sam a little, put him at ease some. But he wouldn't tell his brother who was stalking him. Slenderman was one of those creatures where the more you knew about him, the stronger he became, the easier it made it for him to hunt your ass down. He wouldn't do that to Sam.

He took a seat next to the younger man, lowering himself slowly so as not to jar his ribs. "Look, I'll answer whatever questions I can, but I can't tell you everything, not right now. You have to trust that I know what I'm doing." I'm protecting you.

Dean's words had Sam automatically wanting to delve deeper, but he forced himself to take this thing one step at a time. "Yeah, okay. I got it." He turned on the bed, tucking one foot up under the opposite knee. Once he was comfortable, he repeated his earlier question. "So, how long?"

Dean thought back in his mind. He had been little, but he remembered it clearly the first time he saw him. "It was the night of the fire."

"Since Jess died?" That was the first thing that came to Sam's mind. It would coincide with when he first started to see it. When Dean didn't answer right away, it dawned on Sam. "Oh, god. You mean the fire? Since Mom?"

Dean nodded; his eyes came up and met with Sam's. He read the shock in the wide, almond-shaped eyes of his brother.

"Shit. But you were only four years old," he said, stunned.

"And I've dealt with it ever since then. So, see why I don't need your help now? I'll get through this. He always goes away."

"Who is he, Dean?"

Shit. "Don't ask me to tell you anything about him. This is my problem, not yours." Dean would make this all go away before Sam got hurt. He had to; he didn't have a choice.


"No, Sam."

Sam leaned back against the headboard and dropped his head against the wall in frustration. What questions would Dean answer? "Has he hurt you before?"

"He's roughed me up some, but I've managed to survive."

Now if that's not a vague answer. "Has he done worse than that?" Sam gestured to Dean's newly wrapped chest.

"Don't worry about it."

"Goddammit, Dean!" Sam sat forward and pinned Dean with a fiery glare. "Why won't you open up and let me help?"

"Because I'm trying to keep him from getting to you, okay!" Fuck. Dean silently berated himself for letting that one out of the bag.

"Me?" Sam sat there, slack-jawed. What did this thing want with him? Dean was the one disappearing and getting his ass handed to him. "How… Why? Dean, what is he?" Sam's thoughts turned to his silent watcher, to what he had assumed, until tonight, was just a displaced spirit.

"Never mind. I've got it handled." Dean started to get up. As he did, he heard Sam mumble something about 'bullshit', but he didn't bother answering to it. He had to shut this conversation down before his brother got too much to go on. Mr. Wizard over there only needed a few clues and he'd have the whole riddle figured out in no time. It seemed he already knew more than he should. It was probably a good thing that there wasn't much out there to find on him.

When Dean was old enough, he started researching the creature. Bobby's library was a treasure trove of supernatural lore. (If you didn't find something you were looking for in it, it usually didn't exist.) He'd found small scraps of information on Slenderman, but nothing on how to kill the creature. Later, when the internet came along, he'd made use of it, but only to come to the same dead end: no one knew how to kill the thing. Dean knew that eventually it would probably be his demise, but he'd do his damnedest to protect Sam in the meantime.

"You know, he was here, just before you showed up."

Dean's knees nearly gave out then. – He had hoped that Sam would never have to see Slendy, that his supposed immunity would keep him away from his brother. – Somehow he made it over to his bed. "That son of a bitch," he cursed under his breath. "Are you okay? Did he do anything to you?"

"Aside from the creep factor? No, he didn't do anything. Before tonight, I always just thought he was some harmless spirit or something. You know I've had a couple of 'em latch onto me before."

"You've seen him before?" Dean watched Sam and saw a flash of hurt in his brother's eyes before he replied.

"Um, yeah. Since Jess died, he's been around."

"And you didn't bother to tell me?"

Sam looked over at Dean; anger flashed in his multi-colored eyes. He couldn't believe Dean had just said that. "Ohhh, don't even, Dean. Don't even go there."

As Sam's nostrils flared and his lips pressed into a tight line, Dean thought, Okay, maybe that was a little too much like the pot calling the kettle black. "Forget it. I'm tired and I'm saying shit I shouldn't be." He lay down on the bed without waiting for a reply and pulled the blankets up over himself. "Let's just get some sleep."

In the last few minutes, Sam had noticed a slight slur in his brother's speech. The pain meds had to have been kicking in by now; he was sort of surprised Dean hadn't passed out already. And it was late; they could continue this conversation tomorrow after they both got some rest. "Good night, Dean." Sam settled down into the bed and turned over.

No matter how much the 'big brother' in Dean wanted to stand guard over Sam all night, there was no way he'd be able to. The pills Sam had forced him to take earlier were some fancy, high-end prescription and they were doing their thing. He would just have to rely on the fact that Sam was protected by something. At least the kid had that much going for him.

"G'night, Sam." Dean's answer was muffled by the blankets as well as a groan when another cough forced its way out.

…June 14, 1991…

The sun had set a little over an hour ago and Dean was sitting out on the back steps of the rundown house their father had decided to rent while they had finished out the remainder of the school year. The far edge of the property butted up to a small section of undeveloped woodland – it was up for sale though, so it probably wouldn't be long before some contractor moved in and cleared all the trees out – and the call of thousands of crickets sounded from all around him disturbing the otherwise quiet night. He wasn't interested in sitting inside with Sam, who was eating Spaghetti O's while watching re-runs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and their father was currently too occupied at the wobbly kitchen table – the fourth leg was propped up and a couple of old magazines to help keep it steady – going over maps of central Montana for Dean to bother. They were heading out first thing in the morning. So much for a relaxing summer vacation.

He flipped through a girlie magazine he had stolen from the quickie mart down the street and sighed. Dean couldn't concentrate on the pages full of naked women. Today had been the last day of school – thank god –but there were plusses and minuses of finishing up this particular year. In the fall, Dean would be starting middle school. Yeah, that was good and all, but he'd no longer be able to keep an eye on Sammy; his brother would be left alone to fend for himself as he started the third grade, his first time ever being without his older brother. That didn't settle well with Dean, not at all. He knew it wouldn't hit his brother until September, when John would be the one dropping him off at school every day. Actually, Dean didn't know how that was going to work either because that would mean their dad would have to be around every day. (That was like asking for a miracle.) Dean would still make sure he was there to pick Sam up after school; it would help make things a little easier.

As these thoughts floated around in his young head, Dean continued to absently flip through the pages of the smut mag. His favorite, Destiny, was on the cover. (Hey, he might only be twelve, but you had to start somewhere.) Off in his peripheral vision he saw something…or thought he had.

Dean slowly closed the magazine and put it down on the step before reaching for the small silver knife that he kept strapped to his ankle. He unbuckled it and stood up. At first he didn't see anything, just the long shadows falling across the backyard, but his burgeoning hunter instincts told him something was there. The young hunter knew he should probably go inside, get his dad, but he didn't.

He pressed his back up to the wall of the house and slid along it. – Dean cursed his eyes for taking so long to adjust to the darkness as he moved out of the circle of light cast down from the back porch. – As he approached the side of the house, he peeked around the corner, eyes scanning the yard. Nothing. Maybe it had just been some animal? It wouldn't surprise him, not with the woods so close. Less than two weeks ago, he and Sam had spotted a black bear wandering through the yard.

The breath Dean didn't know he'd been holding finally escaped and a nervous laugh eased out of his throat as he shook his head. "Dean, you're too jumpy, dude." He turned to go back into the house. Sam should be done with his dinner by now and Dean wanted to make sure his brother got a shower in before bed tonight.

Dean walked right into something…or rather someone. The scream that formed in his throat was silenced almost immediately as long, spider-like arms wrapped around him and pulled him tightly against the being in front of him; his nose rubbed against the silky black tie. Dean couldn't move, couldn't fight, couldn't call out for help as he and his silent captor winked out of sight.

When Dean opened his eyes, he knew at once that something was far from right. The house was still there, as was the yard, the Impala…and he could even see his dad through the kitchen window. What told him things were different was the lack of anything…no sound, no movement – John Winchester stood leaning over the table, unmoving, not even a breath – no heat, no cold, no smells. It was as if he was in a vacuum.

The young hunter spun around and looked at the Pale One. The being stood just as motionless as his father in the house, but Dean knew it could damn well move if it chose to do so. A foreboding chill ran down his spine as his gaze was drawn into the hollow area of pallid skin stretched tautly over where eyes should be.

"W-what d-do you w-want?" Dean managed to stutter out.

"You." The word echoed deep in his mind.

He attempted to move back a step, but his body wouldn't listen. Instead, he was forced to take several steps forward. When he came to a stop, Dean was only inches from the being. The hunter had no idea how that worked other than he had felt a pull in his mind. He shook his head. "No. I've told you before, you need to go away…leave me alone. I don't know what you want, but you can't have me!"

"But my child, don't you know? You are already mine. I will never go away." Suddenly, a thick coiling appendage shot out from behind the creature's back and wrapped around Dean's neck; he found himself helpless in its relentless grip. The end of the 'arm' slid under his chin and caressed his tender flesh as they stared at one another. – Dean might be young, but his moss-green eyes burned with a hatred only those who've seen too much could carry. – He flinched when the being nicked his skin; his blood trickled hotly down the column of his neck, wetting the collar of his t-shirt. "If you try to fight me, others will suffer." A brief flash of Sam was shown to Dean's mind's eye. "Starting with him."

"No." Dean barely blinked…and it was gone. He stumbled back a step, gasping for breath as the sound of crickets filled his ears once more. When he looked inside the house, John was taking a pull from a bottle of beer; it was as if nothing had happened. Dean wiped the underside of his neck with the back of his hand and flinched at the sting of the raw wound.

It had just threatened Sammy. Dean was pissed; he was scared. And he was alone. If he went to his dad for help, Sam would get hurt. Dean wasn't going to let that happen.

That night was the first time Dean had ever had physical contact with Slenderman. It was also the first time it had ever forced its will upon him or caused bodily harm however slight it was.

He shivered as he stood there surrounded by the night, not because he was cold – no – but because Slenderman had spoken the truth when he had said Dean was already his. He knew Dean's weakness.

…Present Day…

As exhausted as he was, Dean was restless and found himself tossing and turning. Every time he did, his ribs cried out, keeping him awake even longer. But eventually he fell asleep. He didn't dream, but he wouldn't have considered it a peaceful sleep either.

Outside, the moon was in the infant stages of its monthly phase and it was one of those almost too dark nights. A lamp just on the other side of the window cut through the almost impenetrable shroud of darkness and sent long shadows skittering across the floor of their room.

One of those shadows seemed to have a life of its own as it slid up the side of Dean's bed.

Something had stirred Sam from his sleep. He didn't move, but rather remained still, keeping quiet. He just listened. One of the first things he noticed was that he didn't hear Dean's steady breathing coming from the other bed. Sam opened his eyes then and he was startled to see his brother standing at the foot of his bed staring down at him, silent as death.


No answer.

Sam scooted up and reached over to the nightstand to turn the small lamp on so he could see. As he did, he noticed it was close to 4:00 a.m. They'd only been sleeping for a couple of hours. Scratch that, he had been sleeping for a couple of hours. He couldn't be so sure about Dean.

"Dean?" He looked over at his brother as the room lit up under the soft amber glow of the light.

The man didn't respond. He just stood there staring, watching Sam. What really creeped the younger brother out was how the corner of Dean's lip was tilted up in a half-smile. Something was so not right about this.

The younger brother kept his guard up as he threw the blankets off himself and got out of bed; he made sure not to take his eyes from the man as he did. There was still no movement except for the fact that Dean's eyes followed him.

"Dude, stalker much?" Sam tried to kid, but it didn't lighten the not-so-good feeling he had about this whole situation.

Since he wasn't getting any reaction from the man, Sam squared his shoulders and moved towards the foot of the bed. He had to get his brother to snap out of this…thing, whatever it was.

As he approached the man, Dean finally moved. He turned to face Sam as Sam got closer. The expression on his face didn't change though. When Sam was close enough, he noticed Dean's eyes were fully dilated; the bottle-green of his irises was nearly washed out by obsidian.

Sam took a moment to look over his brother. The state he was in was trance-like; it reminded him of someone when they were sleepwalking, but Dean had never been one to do that before. His breathing appeared to be normal. His coloring was fine. Everything looked okay except for his eyes and that damned disturbing smirk that wouldn't go away.

Dean's right hand slowly came up and cupped the side of Sam's face, its thumb smoothing over the day-old stubble on his chin. It was an odd touch – Dean had never touched him like that before – and Sam backed away from it. It felt all wrong. Dean was wrong…off. He wasn't himself.

"Dean? Dean, man, snap out of it." Sam reached up and waved his hand in front of his brother's face. Nothing, just that blank stare and creepy-ass smile.

And then suddenly, Dean's hand shot out and grabbed Sam by the wrist. His fingers dug sharply into the thin flesh causing him to cry out, half in pain, half in surprise.

As Sam fought against his brother's grip, he never noticed the dark figure hovering in the shadows in one corner of the room.

To be continued...

Author's Note: For any Slenderman purists out there, I know Slendy isn't known to speak, but for this fic to make sense I took a little creative initiative and allowed him to telepathically 'speak' to Dean, otherwise we'd have a lot of blank staring going on for the duration of this fic and no one would know what was going on. LOL! I could have changed this fic drastically and went in that direction (I could have made it work somehow), but I chose to go this route. I think, for the reader, it works better.

I appreciate any comments, good or bad.