Word Count: 1,109
Sam has a ritual that he always does before going to sleep: shower, brush his teeth and read for 30 minutes. Then he snuggles down into this bed, clutching his old, green frog that Dean had given him and falls asleep. This nights ritual was the same as always, but the dream that followed would not be.
He’s running, running so hard his chest is constricted and his legs hurt. But he can’t stop, he mustn’t stop. He can’t look back, that’s what Dean told him: ‘Run, Sammy. Run and don’t look back.’ Sam’s heart is beating so fast, it feels like he’s going to have a heart attack. The thing that follows him makes no noise, but Sam can feel it, feel the hairs it raises on the back of his neck. His sweat beads and streams down his face, as he runs into the black in front of him. The never ending blackness stretches out for eternity in front of his eyes. He can’t breath, he can’t run anymore, he can’t. His knees buckle…
Sam jolts awake, the dream vivid in his mind. The darkness still stretches out in front of him, his bed is soaked in sweat and Sam shivers as he screams out. He’s crying uncontrollably, the feeling of fear heavy in the pit of his stomach. Dean is already at his side, frantically asking if Sam’s alright.
“Sammy?” Dean asks in a sleepy but worried voice.
“Dean? Dean! Do I still have to run?” Sam asks, his voice shaking with fear as he clutches onto Dean’s shoulders. “I don’t want to run anymore, Dean. I can’t.”
“What? Sammy, calm down; it was just a dream.” Slowly Sam takes this in and finally opens his eyes. To his right a very concerned Dean is staring at Sam through sleep heavy eyes. Sam can see now that the darkness is gone, the crack of light from the door is bright and comforting. He closes his eyes as Dean tries to get information out of him but the sound of Dean’s voice lulls Sam back to sleep.
The next morning when Sam wakes up he doesn’t immediately remember the nights events. Not until he feels his still-damp sheets, does the fear in his stomach jump into his throat and make him want to start running. He doesn’t though. He grips the side of his small, creaky bed and sits there. In the dirty, run down apartment they call home this month. The watery sunlight fights it’s way through the dusty curtains and feebly hits Sam’s face, lighting up the fear in his eyes.
“Sam, get up!” Dean yells as he walks in. Right away he notices Sam’s ridged form, his hands clutching the bed and sweating glistening on his face. “Sammy? Are you alright?”
Sam shakes his head, the movement travelling through his body; relaxing every tense muscle and loosening his grip on the bed.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.” he replies in a distant almost hollow voice, the colour returning to his face.
“Are you sure? You’re not looking too good.”
“Yeah, Dean. I’m fine.” Sam gives him a weak smile and heads for the bathroom where he splashes water on his face and sits for a while. Trying desperately to shed the uneasiness he’s feeling.
Sam’s nightmares don’t stop, each week the get progressively worse and worse. He wakes up crying, screaming and in a cold sweat. Hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep for weeks, the fatigue is doing a number on his young frame.
John doesn’t notice until Dean mentions it too him. The more he watches him the more Sam’s lack of sleep and nightmares send prickles of concern through John’s entire body. He can see the exhaustion in his eyes, feel the fear emanate from his body. ‘It’s my fault.’ John thinks, guilt coating his every word.
“Sammy, you’re going to stay here with Pastor Jim for a bit, alright? Dean and I have something to do.” John says before mussing up his son’s hair and turning to Dean, who’s sitting on a duffel bag by Pastor Jim’s office door. At his fathers look, Dean get’s up and heads for the Impala in the church parking lot to warm the car up.
“Why can’t I come, Dad?” Sam says with his puppy-dog eyes.
“Because you have school, Sammy.” he replies as he stuffs weapons into an old army bag. He hasn’t told Sammy what he does on their trips, not explicitly.
“Doesn’t Dean have school too?”
John stops, turns to his youngest and leans in close, “How’re you going to memorize your Latin if you’re in a car? You know how that makes you sick.”
Sam shrugs his shoulders “I guess. But I hate being left behind.”
“We’re not leaving you behind Sammy, some things just aren‘t safe for little kids.”
“I’m not a little kid!” Sam says indignantly, crossing his arms.
John cracks a small smile. “Alright, but you still have school and Latin.”
Sam just rolls his eyes and mumbles something inaudible before going to say goodbye to Dean. John turns to Pastor Jim “He should learn from Rituale Romanum. Start with Pslam 67 it’s the most practical-”
“I know, John.” Jim says with a kind smile, placing a gentle hand on his arm. “Go and be safe, for both of them. Sam will be fine here.” John doesn’t look up, just nods and lifts his bag off the table before slinging it over his shoulder.
Sam watches as his father and brother pull out of the church’s parking lot, runs to the sidewalk and stays their until after the car has turned the corner. Sam would have stayed their all week, waiting for the car to come back.
Sam is running, running so hard his chest hurts and he can‘t feel his legs anymore. But he can’t stop, he’s not allowed to stop. “Don’t look back, Sammy and run. Just run!” Sam wants to ask about his father, but the words aren’t coming out of his mouth, they fall short and all he can do is keep running. The thought of stopping doesn’t even cross his mind. He hears Dean yell out in pain and turns his head, but all he can see is black. An unnatural darkness the swallows everything and leaves Sam blind.
Sam wakes up screaming again. This time the room is pitch black and he can’t hear Dean.
“Where’s Dean! Where’s Dean!?” Jim runs into the room and flicks on the light, he sees Sam sitting in bed crying and feeling around.
“Sam, calm down,” he says gently, grabbing his shoulders firmly. “It’s just a nightmare.”
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