When You Need a Friend
By: Arian

Disclaimer: Don't own, don't profit, just like to play

Notes: Notes: Imaginary friend prompt from the September 16/06 60_minute_fic SYOS. This is my take on how Dean got his leather jacket.

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Dean would never admit it to anyone, especially not to his dad or Sammy, but he had a friend. One that no one else can see. At first he had been scared that a ghost or a poltergeist haunting him. He'd slept with a bag of salt under his pillow for a month, just in case. Then he finally realized that other kids his age could see similar things, and if his dad was right (and he always believed his dad was right), most people couldn't see ghosts. So he figured his friend wasn't a spirit.

Not long after, he discovered the existence of imaginary friends. He'd been watching Mr. Dress Up with Sammy, not really paying attention to it because he decided he was getting "too old" for that kind of show, when Casey had told Finnegan about a new friend. One that only Casey could see.

Dean had sat a little straighter in his seat and paid closer attention. Casey's friend was a worm named Ted who wore black-framed, round glasses, a yellow pinstripe tie, and a brown fedora on his head. Ted liked to travel.

Later that night, once Sammy was asleep and his dad was in the other room, Dean finally decided it was safe to speak to the boy that no one else could see but him.

"How come you aren't a worm?"

The boy laughed, kind and light, not mocking Dean's question. "Why would I be a worm?"

"I thought imaginary friends were supposed to be worms, that's all. Do you have a name?"


"I'm Dean."

"I know."

"What are you doing here?"

"I thought you might need a friend, so I came to stay with you for a while."

"What if I don't need a friend?"

"Don't you?"

Dean paused and let his eight-year-old mind process the question. "Sammy's my friend."

"Sammy is four. I'm eighteen. I'd make a much better friend than him."

Dean glared. "Not if you say stuff like that," he snapped. No one insulted his baby brother, unless he was the one doing the insulting.

Jamie held up his hands in mock surrender. The sleeves of his worn leather jacket slipping to reveal the cuffs of a plain, dark blue shirt. "Sorry, I won't say anything like that again little buddy. I just thought you might like someone older to hang out with for a while. I'll go if you want me to."

Dean fell quiet, considering this. "No," he finally said. "You can stay for now. I don't mind. Just promise to be nicer to my brother or you'll have to leave."

"I promise, dude."

"That's a cool jacket."

Jamie grinned and tugged at the lapels, straightening it. "Thanks little buddy."

"So what do you do when you're not here? Do you have a home to go to? A family?"

"I mostly just hang around, don't do much of anything." Jamie stood and sat down next to Dean on the bed, which took his weight without a single bounce, bump, or jostle to Dean. Dean looked at the bed, then back up at Jamie's face. Jamie smiled sadly at him and brightened an instant later.

"Do you want to do something fun?"



"Whether or not you're really an imaginary friend, or if you're really a ghost."

"I'm not a ghost."


"Pinky swear," he said, holding up the digit and offering it to Dean.

Dean nodded and reached out, linking his own with it. Jamie felt real enough against his skin. "What did you want to do?"

"I was thinking we could get Sammy and your dad, and go get some snacks from the vending machine down the hall."

Dean glanced at the other bed in the small room he shared with his brother. "He's sleeping already. And it's late. And Dad won't let us have snacks after dinner."

"I know, but I was thinking that this time he could make an exception."

"An exception?"

"Yeah. He could bend the rules. Just this once. I bet if you ask him, he'll let you."

Dean looked up, doubt playing across small features, the headlights of a passing car flashing across the window to highlight the freckles dusted across his face. In the momentary brightness, Dean could see the bedroom door right through Jamie's seated form.

He jumped up and backed away, moving close to Sam in order to protect him. "You are a ghost," he whispered.

"I'm not a ghost, Dean, I'm your friend. I promise."

"I could see the door through you!"

Jamie smiled again, sadness in his pale blue eyes. He stood and stuck his hands in the pockets of his faded jeans. "You have to have been alive once in order to die and become a ghost, Dean. I was never alive."

Dean's heart was tripping along in his chest at an alarming rate, and he inched closer to Sammy in order to reach out and shake him awake.

"G'way Dean," his brother's sleepy voice mumbled from under the covers, barely intelligible as a car rumbled to a stop just outside their bedroom window.

Dean shook him again. "C'mon Sammy, you gotta wake up! We gotta go!"

Sam mumbled something again, but this time pulled the covers off his head and looked up at his brother with bleary eyes. "Why?"

"'Cause I said so, now get up, Sammy!"

"I don' wanna, Dean, 'm tired." Dean could tell by the crack in his voice that Sam was about to start wailing. Maybe that was a good thing, he thought. If Sam started crying, maybe their dad would come. He'd make Sammy get up.

Outside the sound of a car door creaking open and then slamming shut a few seconds later reached his ears. An overwhelming sense of fear tightened Dean's chest, and he grabbed Sam's hand and tugged.

"Come on, Sammy!" Dean cast furtive eyes back over to Jamie, who hadn't yet moved from his spot by the bed. His head was down, and Dean couldn't see his face anymore through the shield of dark hair falling across it.

Sam let loose with a piercing wail just as a scratching noise could be heard at the window. In the living room of the apartment they'd been renting for the last three months, John Winchester glanced up from his papers and looked towards the partially open door of his son's bedroom just down the hall. The news droned on the background, warning the community of a pedophile currently wanted by police and asking for any information regarding the man to be forwarded to the authorities. When Dean's shout of "get back, stay away from us!" reached his ears seconds later, John was on his feet and running, snagging the handgun resting against the small of his back and clicking the safety off.

Inside the boy's room, the scratching noises had stopped at the sound of Dean's cry. John arrived in time to see Dean tugging a half-asleep and sobbing Sam towards the door, and a dark figure retreating from their open window.

"Dean, Sam, in the bathroom and lock the door, now!"

Dean looked up at his father's roar, never having heard the man sound so angry.

"You lock the door and don't open it until I tell you, Dean. Go!"

Dean didn't hesitate. He picked up a wailing Sam and flew into the bathroom, slamming the door shut with his foot and depositing Sam on the counter long enough to turn and flip the lock.

He heard his father's footsteps pound past the door and a thud as the front door was pulled open and crashed back into the wall. Outside he could hear the sound of squealing tires and his father cursing loudly. A few seconds later, John was banging on the door and telling Dean to open up.

When he did, John took stock of his boys. Sam was clutching Dean's leg, red-faced and covered in snot, but no longer crying. Dean face was pale even against the white backdrop of his Spider Man pajamas, and he had an arm wrapped tightly around Sam's shoulders.

John knelt down in front of them, putting a hand on each of their shoulders. "You two ok?" He waited for a nod before continuing. "What happened in there, Dean?"

Dean started talking a mile a minute, telling his father about what he'd thought was an imaginary friend, but wasn't. How he'd tried to get Dean to take Sam and John and leave the apartment. How he could touch him, but could still see right through him. Finally, he told John about Jamie saying you had to have been alive before you could be a ghost.

John took this all in silently before asking, "Dean, did you see anyone outside the room?"

Dean was quiet for a moment, thinking. He shook his head no, finally, and then added in a whisper, "I heard someone, though."

John nodded and gathered both his boys up in his arms. "C'mon, you two can sleep in my room tonight." Sam, trauma already forgotten, squealed with joy at this prospect.

The next morning saw them packing up and moving on again. It wasn't until John sent Dean into the bedroom to get his and Sam's clothes together that he saw it. Folded neatly in the centre of his bed was a worn, brown leather jacket. Jamie's jacket.


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