It is AU of course... I don't own anything... and would be set in season three. Thanks to Mick for the run through.

Not Normal…Safe

“So, what are you gonna do? You just gonna live some normal, apple-pie life? Is that it?”

“No. Not normal. Safe”


Dean glanced nervously around; hoping the bag he carried would remain inconspicuous. He never in his wildest dreams could have imagined doing what he was about to do.

He’d laughed when Sam had described his own experiences with it to him. Sam had bought a similar damn thing months ago. He claimed it had been invaluable to saving at least his own sanity during a dark time.

Dean slipped into his brother’s room and before settling into the chair; he gave his brother a careful once over. He hadn’t wanted to leave his little brother’s side, even for a short trip to the nearby store. He secretly hoped a miracle had occurred while he’d been gone, but Sam’s condition seemed unchanged, from what Dean could tell anyway.

He settled himself in the chair and pulled the box from the bag. He fumbled with the shrink-wrap and tossed it to the floor. He removed the board and planchette and set it on the tray across Sam’s bed.

“Ok, Sammy. It’s been two days. I realize this might be some college-boy form of vacation.” He coughed slightly, pushing back the emotion from his voice. “If that’s true, and I’m not saying you haven’t earned a break…” He shook his head. “You… Ya gotta let your big brother know. I… I need to know you’re coming back.”

Dean noticed he hadn’t placed his fingers on the planchette. “Damn it.” He moved his hands, scowling. “Sam, this isn’t funny. Give me a sign here!”

Dean swallowed and held his breath. He had no idea how long a response took.

“Come on, Sammy.” His fingers flexed and unflexed, but didn’t leave the gliding tool. “Don’t do this, Sam.” He whispered.

He felt his breaths coming in gasps. “Damn it, Sam. You cannot leave me… not after… not after everything we’ve been through… all I’ve…” He couldn’t finish. His arm shot out and sent the Ouji board violently crashing across the room.

“You can’t leave me, Sammy.” Dean clutched his brother’s hand. The only sound in the room was Dean’s tiny sobbing and the whoosh of the ventilator as it delivered air to Sam’s lungs.

Dean was vaguely aware of the door opening behind him. He swiped at his eyes.

“Dean? Everything alright in here?”

Dean swallowed and took a deep breath before glancing over his shoulder to wave off Jane, a well-meaning nurse.

She stepped in and checked Sam’s condition for herself. With a brief squeeze of Dean’s arm, she left him alone again.

Dean shook his head. “How did we get here, dude?”

Chapter One

“No way, Dean! I can’t even believe you think the cylons are hotter!” Sam groaned as he slammed the Impala’s passenger door. “No frakkin’ way!”

Dean smirked. “I can’t believe you said ‘frakkin’. Dude, you’re such a geek.”

Sam stared at his older brother in shock. “That’s not the point, Dean. The Cylons tried to wipe out humanity. It is wrong on so many levels that Boomer and Six give you a hard on.”

An elderly woman passing the brothers on the street gasped at Sam’s language and rushed by him. Sam immediately blushed bright red and Dean burst into laughter.

Dean held his stomach and feigned a reprimand. “Watch your language, young man!” His smile wouldn’t quit. A granny had just glared at his straight-laced brother. It could have only been made more perfect, had he opened the camera on his phone in time to capture the moment. It ranked right up there with the spoon in his mouth for memories.

Sam could only groan at his luck in life.

Dean glanced around to be sure no one would hear him. “The only hot human left is Starbuck. Now, if she turns out to be a Cylon…” He didn’t complete his thought. He simply raised an eyebrow in confidence.

Sam got to the diner door first and pulled it open. “We hunt evil for a living and you pick the Cylons? I still say it’s wrong!” His statement came out as a growled whisper.

Dean merely chuckled and took a seat at a booth facing the window. Normally, they opted for something in the back, but the diner was so small, it really didn’t make a difference. Dean decided Sam might enjoy eating in the bright light from the window. His brother was going to have to learn how to live in the light again. He fully intended to make sure Sam promised to give up hunting once this was all over.

As soon as they were settled, a perky, young waitress swooped down on them. “Hey, guys. I haven’t seen you two before. You move to town or just passing through?”

Sam smiled at his brother’s reaction to the greeting. It only took a quick glance to tell the girl was completely Dean’s type. Then again, Sam thought, what girl wasn’t Dean’s type? A small smile crossed his lips. It had been a long time since Dean had enjoyed some ‘fun.’

They’d spent too many days fighting the demon’s released a few months ago. The war was on and there really hadn’t been time for a break. The best they’d achieved in the way of relaxation was the SciFi channel. Dean loved to tear the shows apart. Of course there was also part of him that hoped they could actually learn something.

Sam pretended to watch. He spent his precious free time researching possible ways to save his brother from a destiny that loomed only months away. Dean had sold his soul to bring him back from the dead. Dean insisted there were no outs and Sam should give up, focus his efforts on something useful, but Sam couldn’t. Dean had never given up on him and he wasn’t about to give up on Dean. He just needed somewhere to start.

Dean refused to talk about it and Sam had given up pressing him. They made like nothing special would happen in ten short months.

Sam refocused on his brother’s new hunt, nothing supernatural, simply biological.

Dean’s entire body tapped into a private source of energy at the girl’s greeting. His body, once tired and slouched, was now alert and in charm mode. “Well, we were just passing through, but if everyone here is as friendly as you are, we might have to reconsider.” His eyes twinkled.

Sam rolled his eyes at the girl’s reaction to the standard pick-up line.

The waitress beamed. “My name’s Karla. Here’s the menu.” She handed them each one. “Everything’s pretty good. I would avoid the meatloaf today though.” She glanced over her shoulder toward the kitchen. “It’s leftover from yesterday.” She stepped back. “I can give you a few minutes, if you’d like.”

Dean had already glanced through the menu and decided on his usual. “I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger with fries and a coke.” He smiled directly at her. He knew it was enough to make most women melt.

Sam might have groaned, but he was still enjoying the relaxing pause in their normal routine. “I’ll have the chef salad and a lemonade.”

Dean groaned. “You’ll have to excuse my nature-boy brother. He doesn’t know what’s good for him.”

Karla laughed. “His loss, right?” She left only long enough to put the ticket on the swivel rack for the cook. In an instant she was back at their table.

Sam got the feeling he wasn’t welcome. He rubbed his hands together. “I think I’ll wash my hands before the food comes.” He scanned the diner for the lavatory signs and left Dean to his flirtation.

Just before he rounded the corner to his destination, he looked back and watched his brother in action. He sighed, knowing at the very least, they were in for an extended lunch. The way things were going, he half expected his brother to decide to find a motel for the night, for Sam at least.

Sam emerged a few minutes later and found no change in the scenery. There were no other customers in the diner, so Karla hadn’t been compelled to move on to other tasks.

Sam moved slowly back to the booth. He wasn’t in the mood to get mixed up in the seduction.

As he crossed the diner, he watched the world go by outside. Mayberry. That’s what the town reminded him of. It seemed like a picture perfect environment, ready for a postcard.

The diner was on Main Street. Across from them were the standard businesses, a bank, an insurance office, a drug store and a hair salon. Sam ran his hand through his hair, briefly wondering if he should get a trim since it seemed he would have the time. He shrugged off the notion and let his eyes wander farther down the street.

The hair on the back of his neck stood on end. Before him, the older woman from earlier was being dragged into the alley. Her assailant had grabbed her mouth, leaving her unable to call for help.

Adrenalin rushed into Sam’s system. “Dean! There’s a woman being mugged across the street!” He said no more. In the next second, Sam was pushing through the door, running toward the street.

It took several moments for Sam’s actions to register with Dean. In the confusion, he had to shove Karla out of the way to clear the booth.

Before Dean could fully exit the diner in pursuit of his baby brother, an incredible crash, followed by screams and at the same instant a sickening thud filled his ears. His eyes automatically looked to the noise and his heart stopped.

In Sam’s haste to save the woman, he’d neglected to check traffic. A large, red construction truck had struck Sam. Hard.

Dean’s feet were frozen. Before him, his brother fumbled on the dark asphalt. Blood obscured his face, flowing freely from a large wound in his head. It was obvious it had struck the windshield. What was also obvious was Sam’s panic. He kept trying to rise on legs that wouldn’t support him.

“SAM!” Dean’s paralysis was finally ruptured and he ran to catch his brother who was again trying to rise. “Sammy!” Dean captured Sam’s chest and brought him to the ground, where he cradled him against his own. He willed his beating heart to keep Sam’s going as well. “Sam… Sammy… Calm down. Stay still. Help is on the way.”

Dean looked around to be sure help was indeed coming. From the size of the crowd gathered and the number of cell phones he saw, he knew he was right. “It’s ok, Sammy. You’re going to be ok.”

Sam’s body stopped thrashing against his own and Dean looked down into his brother’s half-opened, dull eyes. Come on, Sammy. No giving up. Not after everything we’ve been through. Not like this. Not in some freak traffic accident. I’m not spending my final months alone.

“Deeeaann.” Sam’s voice drifted to his ears.

“I’m here, Sammy. Hang in there. Help’s on the way.” Dean hoped his voice offered reassurance that wasn’t currently in his heart.

“Wo.. man? Ok?” Sam sputtered. Each word send waved of agony through him.

Dean wanted to scream. He could hear the gurgling sounds coming from his brother’s lungs. Sam’s life force was bleeding out all over the street and the fool was worried about some old bitty? Damn him! Damn his gentle soul. “She’s fine, Sammy. Your little stunt scared the bad guy away. You did good you big lug!” He hugged his brother a little tighter. He might have crushed him, had Sam not cried out in pain from the increased pressure.

“Good.” Sam whispered. He coughed, spitting up blood.

What happened next would always be a blur to Dean. Emergency workers arrived and he felt himself being shoved aside as his brother’s body was ripped from his arms. A tantrum unlike any other threatened to spill forth, but reason took hold and Dean simply followed the gurney bearing his brother.

The next memory he had was being gently pushed backward into a waiting room. “You need to let us help him. You’ll have to wait here.” Someone said it to him, but he had no idea whom.

Chapter Two

Dean had no idea how long he’d been sitting in the hard plastic chair. Nurses had brought him miniscule bits of information just often enough to keep him at bay. Overall there was no news other than ‘he’s in surgery.’

The smell penetrated his thoughts first. Next, the steaming cup of coffee entered his view. He followed the arm offering it and looked up to find a vaguely familiar face.

He couldn’t refuse the coffee. His throbbing headache begged for it. “Thanks.” He took a deep sip. “What are you doing here?” He couldn’t think of her name, but knew she was the waitress from the diner.

She smiled and gestured to the chair next to him. “May I?” He nodded and she slipped in next to him. “Remember me? Karla from the diner?”

He nodded. “Yeah, sure. But why are you here?” He hadn’t gotten to know her well enough to form an opinion of her; so finding her at his side now, was indeed a surprise. Dean hadn’t trusted a stranger, even a good looking one, since he was four.

“What happened today… it was awful. I came to see how your brother was doing.” Her voice held genuine sympathy and concern.

“He’s in surgery…” Dean said flatly, but then his voice dropped to a whisper to continue. “So I guess that means he’s still alive.” He wasn’t ready to confess his soul to her. He knew Sam would have bought her sincerity hook, line and sinker, but that wasn’t Dean’s style.

Karla swallowed a deep breath. “I’m sorry for this. If it’s any consolation, his attempt… well, his actions, did save Mrs. Tredmill. She was being mugged in the alley.”

“Joy.” Dean mumbled. He really didn’t care about the old bitty. It was because of her that Sam was being cut into at this moment. Where was she to offer support or thanks?

Karla hesitantly reached her hand out and rested it on his thigh. It wasn’t a come-on. It was a show of compassion and Dean only flinched slightly. “Is there anything I can do?”

He shook his head. Winchesters don’t accept help unless their desperate. Dean refused to consider that option.

“Is there anyone I can call? Your parents, maybe? They’ll want to be here.” She pressed gently.

He wanted to groan out loud. Didn’t she get it? He didn’t need her. “Why are you here?” He asked abruptly. Dean wasn’t in the mood to play twenty questions or have his needs sated. He needed to feel as badly as Sam.

She shrugged slightly away from him. “I… I just didn’t think you should be alone. I… I’m done for the day and I thought you could use some company until the rest of your family could get here.” She paused. “No one should have to wait through something like this alone.”

Alone? Deep down, Dean knew he was terrified of being alone. He’d brought Sammy back from the dead to avoid it. Sam hadn’t been happy with the thought of being alone either. He continually promised to save Dean from his fate. Dean, however, knew that Sam would recover. He would be able to move forward with his life. Dean couldn’t find it in himself to do as well.

He glanced briefly at Karla. Sam would have cuffed him by now for being mean. He shook his head feeling guilty. He took a moment to imagine Sam hollering at him for his behavior. “There’s no one. He’s all I have left.”
For the remaining ten months.
This isn’t supposed to be happening. It wasn’t fair.

“I’m really sorry.”

“Yeah, me too.” Dean’s response was bitter.

“Listen, I know this might be strange, but…” She pulled a small bag out from her purse. “I brought you a sandwich.”

A small smile looked as if it might appear, but then flickered from Dean’s face. “I’m not hungry.”

“You were starving earlier, or so you said.” She grinned teasingly. “Listen. I know the last thing on your mind is food… And it sounds corny, but it’s true. You have to keep your strength up. Your brother…”

Dean cut her off. “Sam. His name is Sam.”

“Sam will need you when he wakes up. He’ll need your strength.” She unwrapped part of the sandwich. “It’s just a simple ham sandwich. I promise, it won’t make you feel that much better.”

He couldn’t help but smile. Dean accepted the sandwich and took a bite. He really couldn’t taste it, but he knew she was right. Sam was going to need him like never before. “Thanks.”

She settled back in the chair. “I find it hard to believe that two charming guys like you don’t have anyone else who would be worried about you. No girlfriends? Uncles? I mean I’m not trying to pry, but…”

Dean thought briefly of Bobby and Ellen, who had been working as a team for a few months now. He supposed he should call, but… He didn’t have anything to tell them. It was bad enough he and Sam would be out of commission. He knew the duo would come immediately and then there would be four hunters down. There were too many demons in the world at the moment to risk it. Or so he told himself.

If he was honest with himself again, he knew he just wasn’t ready to share this pain. Sammy was his responsibility and always had been. He’d never been good at sharing. “No. We’re pretty much loaners.” He sighed and finished the sandwich. “Hey, thanks for this.” He held up the empty wrapper. “I appreciate it.”

She smiled warmly. “No problem. It was my pleasure.”

He expected her to leave, but she didn’t. “You know… I’m sure, well… A pretty girl like you… I’m sure you have somewhere else to be, right?”

She shook her head. “No, not tonight. I can stay.”

“You don’t have to.” Dean couldn’t understand why she would want to wait here with him. He was pretty sure he didn’t want her to either.

“Look. I’m not a martyr. I’ve got to work in the morning and trust me. I’m not working the breakfast rush without sleep… in my own comfy bed.” She grinned and then sobered. “I just… It’s obvious you love your brother… and… well, when you entered, you seemed to be arguing. It probably wasn’t important, but it’s probably weighing on you now.” She fumbled over her words.

She paused and when she did, she sucked in her lower lip. Dean couldn’t help but find it endearing. It was something Sam might have done.

“Well… today I saw two very special guys. For heaven’s sake… A complete stranger dashes off to try and save an old woman. That doesn’t happen every day. It makes a big difference in this world. I’d… I’d like to be close to that… See that it continues.” She blushed. “I sound pretty dumb, don’t I?”

Dean had a bold comeback in mind, but he stayed it. “Normally, I’d make some sarcastic comment and call it a chick-flick moment.” He leaned in and narrowed his gaze. “I hate chick-flick moments. Ask my brother…”

“I will. The first chance I get.” She beamed, knowing she’d won this small battle. If she could be of some help, he was going to let her.

Dean slouched down in the chair and then checked his watch. “I’ll warn you.” He said without looking at her. “If I were hitting on you, I’d be talking your ears off, but…”

“I get it. No talking beyond necessary.” She also settled back again and turned her attention to the television.

A few minutes later, Karla happened to look over to the nurse’s station. “Oh.”

“What?” Dean asked, assuming she’d seen a doctor approaching.

She pointed to the station. “That’s Arnold Hastings. He owns the construction company… Well, his man was driving the truck that hit Sam.”’

Dean tensed. “If he thinks I’m letting…”

Karla rested a hand on his arm. “I’m sure he’s not here to make trouble. He’s a good man.”

On cue, the tall, graying man strode over to them. Dean stood. He was still tense, waiting to see what the man wanted.

“Are you Dean Wilroy?” He nodded to Karla and held out his hand. “I’m Arnold Hastings. My man Troy was driving the truck that hit your brother. How is he?”

Dean’s normal attitude thundered back. “I don’t know. How is ‘he’ after he plowed into my brother?”

Arnold didn’t immediately understand. “No… I mean your brother. How is he? We’ve all been worried sick about him.”

“Really? How nice. Maybe your drivers should pay more attention and then they wouldn’t have to worry.” Dean really had no idea if the guy was at fault, but it seemed like a logical place to put his anger. He’d take it out on Sam as soon as he was awake. After all, if his idiot brother hadn’t decided to play hero, this never would have happened.

Arnold pulled slightly back from the hostility Dean presented. “Look, I feel awful. Your brother ran right out in front of the truck from between parked cars. Even the police understand that.” He paused to allow the young man time for another outburst. When Dean offered none, he continued. “Listen, I only came by to let you know, anything you need, I’ll take care of.” He quickly added. “This isn’t an admission of guilt… This is just being decent. Your brother was trying to help Mrs. Tredmill. We value heroism like that in this town.”

He paused again. The fire in the young man seemed to have vanished. It wasn’t surprising; he’d been through a lot in the past hours. “I’ve already left word with the nurses. Anything you need, you get… Of course the same goes for your brother. Anything insurance doesn’t cover, I will.”

Dean found the thought ironic. Technically, their insurance was covering nothing. All the information he’d given was bogus.

“I won’t stay to bother you, but I wanted to introduce myself. I’m sure your brother will be just fine.” Hastings nodded positively and after an awkward silence, slipped away.

“That was nice of him.” Karla remarked.

“Sure. Freakin’ Mayberry RFD.” Dean sniped.

“Wow… you have a Jeckyl and Hyde thing going on, don’t you?” She replied.

Dean scowled. “No. I don’t. I’m just pissed,” he raised his voice. “that a person can’t get any information around here.” He stormed off to the desk to demand an update.

The walls seemed to be crashing in around him and he needed to get away. Knowing he couldn’t actually leave, he did the next best thing. He pushed everyone else away.


Before giving up for the night, Karla had delivered another coffee for Dean and then bid good night.

Dean waited a few more hours until the doctor finally appeared before him. There was no need to ask for anyone. The waiting room had long since cleared out.

Dean jumped to his feet. “How is he? When can I see him?”

“I’m Doctor Richards. Your brother is alive. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can offer at the moment other than he’s a fighter.”

Dean was about to explode but the man redeemed himself when he said Sam was a fighter. Dean could respect that. It meant they were on the same page as far as Sammy was concerned. “He’s gonna be ok though, right?” He asked optimistically.

Dr. Richards swallowed. “His condition is critical. When he first arrived, we assumed his hip was broken. As it is, it’s only badly bruised. He did break his wrist and there was several small internal bleeds as well as a collapsed lung. These conditions are currently stable.” He paused to let his words sink in.

“Then why is he critical?” Dean asked. His words were slow and deliberate, as if he was afraid of the answer.

“It’s the head trauma that’s severe….”

Dean cut him off. “No way. He was conscious and alert after it happened. He knew who I was and what had happened. How can…” His words trailed off.

“Your brother sustained a major skull fracture. Not only was there massive blood loss, but the swelling has…” He paused again, but this time it was to find the right words. “At the moment, we can’t make an accurate prognosis. We’ll have to wait until the swelling comes down before we decide. We’ve installed some shunt to aide drainage.”

“Decide? Decide what?” Dean stammered. His heart pounded within his chest.

“Sam has no measurable brain functions at the moment. This is not unusual for this amount of swelling.”

Dean swallowed and visibly paled. “So… How long until the functions return?” He gulped for air.

“I suspect it will be a week or more for the swelling to go down, assuming no complications. Once that happens, if brain functioning hasn’t returned, we’ll have no choice but to declare him brain dead.”

Dean felt his world spin into a black void. “Br…ai..n De…ad?”

The doctor closed his eyes for a moment. No matter how long he practiced, these conversations never got easy. “Right now, his life is being sustained through artificial measures.” His voice softened. “Does he have a living will?”

Dean shook his head.

“I’m sorry to say, you may have a decision to make.”

Dean’s face contorted with not only the emotional pain of the situation, but physical as well. It was too much. This hurt worse than his brother dying in his arms. “Decision?”

Richards placed a hand on Dean’s shoulder, intending to comfort the man. “Would your brother want to be kept alive by artificial means? Brain dead means he’ll never wake up. We aren’t talking simply of his being non-responsive.”

“A vegetable…” Dean murmured. He coughed and then firmed his words. “When can I see him?”

“A nurse will come and get you as soon as he’s settled.” He turned to leave, but stopped. “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Dean nodded. He returned to his seat and sipped at the remainder of his now cold coffee.

There was just no way Sam wasn’t going to wake up. He’d saved him from death once and he’d do it again.

Chapter Three

Dean was fairly certain his ass was going to permanently conform to the shape of the chair he’d been sitting in beside Sam’s bed.

He’d spent the darkest hours of the night at Sam’s side before the strain had driven him to write Sam a letter and then he’d bolted to find the nearest crossroad.

Of course, he’d failed to consider the Impala was still parked downtown. His enthusiasm and confidence were shaken some by the time he jogged down to retrieve it. Once settled in the familiar leather seat, he knew he was doing the right thing. He’d left Sam a note explaining it.

What good was nine more months if Sam wasn’t going to be there?

“Bitch demon.” Dean muttered, shifting slightly and adjusting his hold on Sam’s hand.

She’d refused to make any more deals, even when Dean had promised to go immediately.

“It doesn’t work this way, especially not for you.” She laughed. “Enjoy your final months, Dean.”

And then she’d vanished.

Dean drove back to the hospital and took up the space next to his brother’s bed and had been there since shortly before dawn.

He focused only on Sam’s hand. It was the only thing visible that seemed undamaged. Surrounding Sam was a wealth of medical equipment Dean couldn’t even begin to fathom the purpose of. Wires snaked in and around the multiple tubes running to various drainage bags. Sam’s skin was pale and cool to the touch, which Dean supposed was a good sign. No infection.

Worst of all was his head. His face was almost unrecognizable from swelling and bruises. The damage was turning blue and black with each hour. His face was the only thing visible beyond the swath of bandages that covered the rest of his head.

If the situation weren’t so dire, Dean might have launched a wealth of jokes concerning the state of Sam’s hair, or lack thereof now. The surgery had required the complete shaving of Sam’s wavy brown locks. It was a scenario their father had threatened Sam with for years and never followed through on. He hadn’t had the heart and neither had Dean.

It was one of the precious memories he held of their mother. She quietly rocked baby Sam in her arm and used her free hand to play with his soft, infant curls. As required by all mothers, she’d smooth them out following a bath, but Dean had often seen her stir them to life as she held her infant son. Dean had delighted in helping as well; although he preferred to make them into a tiny, baby Mohawk.

“It’ll grow back, Sammy. No worries.” Dean said softly to his brother.

“Hey! I’d ask how it was going, but it’s kind of obvious.”

Dean turned around to find Karla in the doorway carrying a couple bags. He couldn’t force words into his mouth. Behind her stood his favorite nurse so far, Jane. She was an older, kind woman who claimed to have two sons of her own, about their ages. She hovered over Sam like he was her own and Dean loved her for it. He was thinking only with his heart. Lower and upper brain weren’t factors. He’d worry about finding the sexy nurses when Sam woke up.

Karla smiled and stepped in. “I know I’m not family, but Jane said I could bring this in.” She held up the bags in her hand. “And this.” She raised a cup in her other. “I know the hospital stuff is no good.”

“You eat that, Dean. You hear me?” Jane called out as she stepped away from the door.

“Thanks.” Dean mumbled.

She stepped closer and pulled Sam’s tray table closer to Dean. “I figured since you ordered this yesterday, it would be ok today. Bacon Cheeseburger and fries.” She pulled the Styrofoam container from the bag and set it near him.

“I’m…” Dean began.

“Not hungry… I know, but like I said yesterday, you have to eat.” She stepped slightly back. “Have you had anything since the sandwich last night?”

Dean sighed and shook his head. Grudgingly, he took a bite from the sandwich. Again his taste was gone, but he assumed it was good and tried to show it. Swallowing the first bite, he gestured to the second bag. “What’s in there?”

She smiled and pulled a second chair closer. “Well, honestly, a new t-shirt and some basic toiletries. I thought you might feel better if you cleaned up.” She pointed to his shirt.

Dean followed her gaze and only then realized just how stained his shirt was. Sam’s blood was caked all around the torso of his shirt and had been for days. “Why?” He whispered.

Karla wasn’t sure what he was questioning. “Um, I don’t know…”

“Why him? He’s a good kid. He never asked for this. All he ever did was try to do the right thing.” Dean’s eyes went back to his brother. Sam suddenly looked childlike and innocent, bound to the bed.

Karla stretched her hand over and rested it on Dean’s shoulder. “You’ve been through a lot. You could use some rest.” She squeezed her fingers, waiting for him to face her. “I know I’m a stranger, but I’ll sit with him if you’d like to lay down. You don’t have to go far. I’m sure the hospital has a lounge you could rest in.”

Dean swallowed and his face contorted at the pain. “No, I can’t leave him.” He had no idea why he cared, but in an attempt to reassure her, he grabbed the burger and continued to eat. As he consumed the food, he couldn’t help think the reason he responded to Karla was her caring attitude. It was very like Sam’s. Sam would do the same thing if he were in her shoes.

Dean could never refuse his brother.

Once he finished eating, he sipped at the coffee and then opened the second bag. He pulled out the shirt inside. “Can I pay you for this?” He wasn’t even sure how much money he had in his wallet, but he was sure Sammy had money in his.

She chuckled softly. “No, I’ll send the bill to Hastings.”

Dean joined her in a soft chuckle. “Good idea.” Next he pulled out a toothbrush. “I bet I need this.”

“Just a little.” She waved her hand in front of her face in jest. “I know there’s a restroom down the hall. You wouldn’t be gone long.”

Dean glanced around, realizing the ICU suites had no private baths. These patients couldn’t use them anyway and families weren’t usually allowed to remain as long as Dean had. “Would you mind staying with him?”

She smiled and shook her head. “Not at all.”

Dean squeezed Sam’s hand. “Yo, dude. Karla’s here. She’s the hot waitress…” He winked at her. “from the diner. If you want to make a move, do it now. I’m going to head down the hall and clean up. I don’t want you waking to my stench. It’s all I’d ever hear from you.” He sighed and his voice faltered. “So behave while I’m gone…”

Dean waved sheepishly to Jane as he crossed to the nurse’s station. He was sure he’d used the restroom, but he couldn’t honestly recall where it was.

He didn’t need to say a word. She smiled and pointed a few doors down. “Take your time, sweetie. He’ll be ok until you get back. We’ll watch him.”

Dean left and Karla slipped into his chair. “You’d better keep fighting, big guy. He’s not going to handle it if you don’t.”


The days passed in the continual pattern. Dean sat at Sam’s side with Karla bringing him food and beverage to sustain his vigil. Jane did what she could to bolster his lagging spirits. She was a constant sense of reassurance for him.

Dean’s cell phone had several messages from both Ellen and Bobby, wondering where they were. They were supposed to have met up yesterday. He had again considered calling Bobby, but every time he tried, his thoughts would jumble. He couldn’t bring the words out to describe the situation or say he needed the help, the support.

He couldn’t tell anyone Sam was dying, dead.

Five days had passed and Dean was becoming more and more unwound. Dr. Richards reported the decrease in swelling. Sam’s cranial pressures were almost normal.

Dean knew that meant the moment of decision was at hand. They would connect Sam’s brain to electrodes and measure his brainwaves. If there was activity, the vigil would continue. If there was none, Dean would be asked to sign forms removing the life support from his brother.

Dean wasn’t sure what was happening one moment to the next. The hours blended into days and still there was no real change in Sam.

Dean rubbed absentmindedly at the growth on his chin as he watched the technicians connect the wires to Sam’s head. The doctor used the opportunity to change Sam’s dressing. Once his bald white head was exposed, Dean could clearly see the vivid, stitches that closed nearly half his brother’s head. The stitches were small and neat and would be well hidden when his hair returned.

Sam would always feel the scar though. Each time he ran his fingers through his hair or washed it, he would trace the rise along his skull. Dean wondered if it would bother his brother or serve as some kind of badge for him.

Dean’s vision swam. He was barely aware of the test occurring before him. He was fairly sure he was holding his breath and it was only the occasional gasp that kept him going.

His eyes tracked to the monitor the doctor studied. He had no idea what he wanted to see, but he suspected it should move. He willed the thin, green line to rise or fall. He needed it to do anything, anything at all.

It merely flowed across the middle of the screen.

Dr. Richards turned to face Dean, who met his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

.Chapter Four

“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry.”

The words played over and over in his mind. Dean swallowed bile. “He just needs more time. There’s still swelling.” Dean demanded anything other than the truth.

Richards shook his head. “There’s not enough swelling to interfere at this point. I’m afraid he’s gone.”

Dean was sure if his heart hadn’t stopped, at least his world had. Nothing made sense to him. Forms were shoved in his face and although he resisted, he eventually signed them. He glanced around, looking for someone to comfort him, someone who would understand. There was no one around. Karla was at work and Jane had the day off.

His worst nightmare had come true. He’d always known it was possible, but it was that possibility which had always kept him fighting to the bitter end. Now, it was here.

He was utterly alone.

He took sympathy in knowing if he didn’t have the strength to end it on his own, Black Dogs would come in a relatively short period of time to drag him to hell.

He knew he wouldn’t see his family there, but at least the pain of life alone would be over.

Although the staff had encouraged him to leave, Dean stayed at Sam’s side when they began to shut the machines off. One machine at a time was eliminated and the room grew more silent with each one.

The last to go was the respirator.

“This is it, Sammy. Show them they’re wrong. When they try and take that tube out, breath on your own. Show them who the boss is….” Dean whispered it over and over, not caring if anyone heard him.

Sam’s lungs made no attempt to inhale when the tube was removed.

Dean grabbed Sam’s bag of meager belongings and stumbled from the hospital. He made only two stops. The first was a liquor store and the second a motel office. He locked himself inside the room and proceeded to drink himself to oblivion.


There was a time, long ago, when Ellen Harvelle was considered a beautiful woman. To the casual observer, she still was, but now if one looked long and hard enough, they found first strength. Her tough exterior radiated an inner power born of pain and loss. She’d spent years around evil and the hunters of evil and it had hardened her.

Bobby Singer looked on that woman now and it scared him. She had a mission and she was as determined as any Winchester to see it through. “Damn it, Ellen. We don’t know something has happened. They could have gotten caught up in another hunt. It’s not like they’ve never stumbled across something before.”

Her eyes flashed with anger. “They would have called.”

Bobby smiled. “Like it or not, you are not those boys’ mother. They aren’t obligated to check in.” He hated Ellen when she went all mother hen.

“Well SOMEONE needs to look after them. Now get in the truck.” She demanded, hands on her hips. If she were a wild animal, her nostrils would have been flaring.

Bobby slipped off his cap, ran his hand across his head and replaced the trucker hat he was never without. “We don’t even know where to look.”

Ellen was already behind the wheel. “Look, we know where they were and where they were going. There’s only one road. It’s a start. Are you coming or not?”

Bobby growled and stomped his foot on the ground before climbing into his own truck’s passenger side. “Crazy woman!” He muttered. It was all a sham. He was secretly glad they were going after the stray Winchesters. Although he’d never admit it, he’d developed a fondness for the two and he wasn’t about to lose them.

Ellen glared at him.

“Well, get going!” He demanded.

Her glare intensified and focused on his seatbelt.

“Oh for crying out loud.” He fastened the safety strap and she peeled out of the hotel parking lot.

Bobby continued to grumble for the first part of the trip. When Ellen had had enough, she looked over to him and said plainly. “Are you going to deny that you want to be out looking for them?”

Bobby refused to answer. “Dean’s gonna bust a gasket.”

Ellen’s eyes flashed with anger. “I’ve been hunting demons by your side for months now. I’ve seen and done more than I ever would have thought possible. Do you think for one minute a ticked off Dean Winchester is anything I’m remotely frightened of?”

Bobby chuckled. “Maybe you should be?”

They both breathed a sigh of relief and let the lighter mood wash through the vehicle. Finally Ellen added. “They should have called.”

Bobby shook his head. “Dean wouldn’t think of it. As long as he’s got Sam, he doesn’t need anything or anyone else.”

Ellen smiled sheepishly. “Dean maybe, but Sam would have called if he could.” She winked. “He’s the polite one.”

Bobby couldn’t rebuke her statement. It was true. Sam would have called them to say they would be late or be missing the meeting.

Something was wrong with the Winchester boys.


The worried hunters had little to go on in their search and unfortunately, they knew they couldn’t involve law enforcement. Their process was slow and time consuming. With each town they came to, they’d check the motels and then the hospitals for any sign of the boys.

It wasn’t as if the classic, black Impala didn’t stick out. It was sure to draw attention.

If a town contained a car shop, Bobby would check there too.

Finally, two days and countless numbers of towns later, Ellen choked on her coffee as she looked through the motel parking lot. “THERE!”

Bobby followed her gaze and turned his truck into the lot. Sure enough, the black impala was parked outside of room fourteen at the Happy Trails Motor Inn. Bobby hovered outside the room, not wanting to disturb the wrong person, as Ellen went to the office to confirm the presence of the boys. Bobby also took the opportunity to examine the Impala to see if it was damaged. It might have been the reason the boys were delayed.

Ellen pounded on the bell at the desk, impatiently waiting for someone to come.

A plump young lady sauntered from the back room, finishing a drag on her cigarette before greeting Ellen. “Welcome to the Happy Trails. What kind of room do you need?”

“I’m not sure if I’m staying. I’m looking for two men. They drive that black Impala. What room are they in?” Ellen demanded. Her expression left no room for frivolous banter from the clerk.

The woman checked her paperwork, but did so slowly as if she was hesitating. “I’m not allowed to give that information out.” She leered.

Ellen growled and reached into her pocket. “I got twenty. That’s it. If this is what you need, fine. If that’s not enough, I’m also carrying a knife and I can cut your throat and take the information. What will it be?”

The woman swallowed, snapped up the bill and croaked. “Fourteen. He’s in fourteen.”

Ellen stepped back. “He? There’s two of them.”

The woman shook her head, slinking away from the demanding guest. “No… just the one… good looking… Charming…”

Ellen rolled her eyes. That could have described either of the boys. Sam might not have been overtly charming, but his dimples had their own affect. She knew she’d often fought the urge to succumb to them. They were more irresistible than Dean’s banter.

Before leaving the office, Ellen spied the second set of keys for the room hanging on a hook in the key box. She grabbed them and left without further word. As she charge across the parking lot, she nodded to Bobby, who began to knock on the door.

Bobby pounded and called out for Dean and Sam. By the time Ellen reached his side, there was still no response.

“The bitch in the office says only one of them is in here.” She paused to call out to the Winchesters herself.

“Which one?” Bobby knew Dean still had months to go. His heart beat faster wondering who was beyond the door and where the other was.

Ellen scowled. “She only described him as handsome and charming.”

“Which one is that?” Bobby innocently asked.

Ellen rolled her eyes. “Hold on. No more being polite.” She slipped the key into the lock and pushed open the door. “Damn it. If you’re sleeping, you’re dead meat. We’ve been pound…” She froze in the doorway.

Bobby noticed the smell wafting through the open doorway first. “What the hell…”

Ellen needed a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room. Her hand reached out and patted the wall until she found the switch and flipped the lights on. She swallowed hard, wanting to turn the lights back out.

Bobby pushed further into the room. “Good god. What happened?”

Before them lay a thoroughly trashed motel room. Chairs were slashed and broken; the drawers were flung from their slides in the dresser; the mattresses were overturned and there were empty alcohol bottles, some intact some crushed, everywhere in between.

“Someone had a party and didn’t invite us.” Bobby mumbled, scratching his head under his cap.

“Dean? Sam?” Ellen called out to the silent room. There was no reply. She stepped further in and her hand went to her mouth. On the other side of the mattress were several piles of human bile. “Someone was sick.”

“That explains the smell.” Bobby came to see what she was looking at. “Maybe they called an ambulance?”

Ellen picked at a few personal possessions, hoping to identify the owner. “I think it may be Dean.” She was looking at a shredded Metalica t-shirt.”

Bobby nodded. “It would explain the alcohol. I don’t see Sam going on a bender without Dean’s influence.”

Ellen chortled. “Even with Dean’s influence.” She smiled at the thought of Sam Winchester drunk. The smile quickly faded and became a stab at her heart.

Bobby pressed passed her and moved over to the bathroom. The door was slightly ajar. He pushed it open and flicked on the light. “Oh god.”

Ellen moved quickly to join him. Her heart fell at the sight in the bathtub. “Is he?”

Bobby swallowed and moved to the edge of the tube, being careful not to get mixed up in the mess surrounding Dean. He rested two fingers along the side of Dean’s neck, praying for a pulse.

Chapter Five

When the first 24-pack was empty, Dean staggered his way to the store around the corner and bought another and several other bottles. He struggled to get them all back to the motel room, so he sat down and began to drain one can of beer after another. Eventually he found himself back in the room and he continued to work on the rest.

He had no clue how long it had been since he’d left the hospital. He supposed there was something he should have been doing for Sam… or Sam’s body, but he couldn’t think about that. His mind wandered right away from any considerations that were logical.

Sam… Sammy… His baby brother… His little brother, who was actually taller. Sam Winchester, the hunter who wore his heart on his sleeve… The boy who wanted normal…

Dean choked on the emotions surging forth. It was simply too painful to think about Sam.

The loss of his family, his whole family, has always been his worst nightmare. He’d often woken in a cold sweat from the mere thought. Now, it was his reality. His nightmares paled in comparison to how much it really hurt.

That’s when the rage had come. Dean had never in his life felt so empty or lost. He knew he was a broken man. He took those feelings out on anything he came in contact with. He destroyed the room.

He felt the shards of broken glass pierce his skin as he stumbled through the debris. He sank onto the overturned mattress and grabbed the nearest bottle and drank. When that was empty, he crawled on the floor until he found another.

When the alcohol was gone, he crawled back to the mattress and collapsed. He passed out.

When he woke, the room was dark. Before he was remotely aware of his actions, his stomach revolted over and over again. He was on his hands and knees, giving the contents of his digestive track over to the carpet.

When there was nothing left to remove and his body had tired from the dry heaves, he pushed his chest off the floor. He made it only to his knees. He raised his arms into the air. They were bent as if pleading.

Tears rolled freely down his face. “Don’t… don’t do this to me. Why? Why take them all and leave me? They… I did everything you asked of me… WHY?”

Any energy that might have been driving his body dissipated. His arms went slack and he sank backwards, legs still bent beneath him. To anyone aware of the world, the position would have been painful.

Dean knew nothing of mere physical pain.

Some time later, he crawled into the bathroom. Remaining on his knees, he pulled himself up far enough to see his face in the mirror.

He didn’t recognize the being he saw.

From the shin halter he always wore, he pulled out his knife. Crawling just enough over the edge of the tub so he could fall in, he lay splayed out.

“There’s no sense waiting.”

He held the knife in his trembling hand. He turned his other over, revealing his pale wrist. The wisps of blue vein mesmerized him and he watched them in fascination, imagining the blood pulsing through them. Then he saw only the quick flick of a knife needed to open the skin and let the blood drain out.

“Dean, no!”

The voice calling out to him was the last thing he heard. “Smmy?” He mumbled.


“Dean, no! Dean!” Bobby slapped Dean’s face lightly. “Wake up, Dean.”

Ellen added her voice to Bobby’s, pleading for Dean to wake. “Dean, honey? Wake up, baby.” She ran her fingers lightly through his matted hair.

Somewhere in the deep blackness, Dean heard voices calling to him. His lips attempted to mumble something, but it wasn’t coherent.

“That’s ok, boy. We’ll get you cleaned up and then you can tell us what happened.” Bobby murmured his instructions and began to strip Dean’s soiled clothing.

“And tell us where Sam is.” Ellen added softly. He couldn’t answer. She left Bobby to clean Dean up while she tried to make some semblance of the room.

Some time later, Ellen had done as much as she could with the room and retrieved the trio some food and coffee.

It had taken Bobby what seemed like forever to get Dean cleaned up, but now he was propped against the bed frame, with the covers tucked securely around him.

Ellen watched Dean closely. “Has he said anything at all?”

Bobby shook his head and sank into the only unbroken chair. “Not a word.”

“He’s catatonic.” She scowled. “I’ve seen Dean drunk and injured. I’ve never seen him like this.”

“You’ve never seen him without Sam.” The gnarled hunter murmured.

Ellen swallowed and sank on the second mattress. “You don’t think?”

Bobby sighed. “I don’t know what to think. All I know is it’s late and I’m tired. I’ll check the standard spots in the morning.”

“I can’t wait that long.” Ellen jumped from the bed and grabbed one of the Styrofoam coffee cups. She pulled the lid off and sank onto the bed at Dean’s side. She waved the steaming cup under his nose. “Dean! Wake up. Come on now, honey. You got to focus. Where’s Sam? Dean, is Sam hurt?”

Dean blinked a few times and his face contorted with pain. “He’s…”

Ellen nodded. “Where’s Sam?” She rested her palm alongside Dean’s cheek to encourage him to go on.

“He’s dead.” Dean whispered. He met her terrified eyes for a split second, slid down the bed and rolled over on to his side, away from what he knew were the only two people left in his life who might care about him.


Dean woke to gentle slapping at his cheek. “Get up now, boy.”

“M’ not your boy.” Dean mumbled, wondering why anyone would bother to wake him. Course, he wasn’t sure why he felt like shit either. A smile spread across his face at what must have been a hell of an evening. It had been a long time since Dean had cut loose to the point of oblivion. “Where?” He finally dragged open his eyes and scowled. “Bobby?”

Dean sat up in bed. “What the hell are you doing here?” His eyes darted around the room and landed on Ellen. There was something wrong with the room. “Where’s Sammy?”

Bobby growled. “Damn it! We’ve been waiting two days for you to tell us that.”

“What?” Dean pushed Bobby away and threw back the covers. Seeing himself in only a t-shirt and boxers, he shivered. “Where are we? How?” Dean’s heart thundered in his chest.

Bobby growled. “What do you remember?”

Dean sank onto the edge of the bed, ignoring his state of attire. “We were havin’ lunch at the diner downtown…” His face began to pale. “Oh no…” He choked on his words.

Ellen jumped to his side. “Dean, you have to tell us what you remember. Sam needs us.”

Dean shook his head. “Sam… he saw some woman being mugged. He ran across the street to save her, except…” His pulse was beating so fast, he couldn’t catch a breath.

Bobby hovered. Ellen clutched his hand. “It’s ok, Dean. You can tell us. Just take some deep breaths.”

“He got hit… A truck. He…” Dean rubbed his hands across his face and drew in as deep a breath as he cared. “He was pretty busted up. He… He had a bad skull fracture. He…”

Ellen had never seen Dean like this and it scared her like nothing she’d ever encountered before. This was worse than any demon. If Dean Winchester could crack up, what hope was there? “Dean… you told us Sam was dead… You’re confused, right?”

Dean closed his eyes. “No. He was brain dead. They waited for the swelling to go down, but there was nothing.” He cringed. “I killed him. I had to sign the papers that shut the machines off.” Dean slid off the end of the bed to the floor.

“When did it happen?” Bobby refused to take time to grieve. There was something about the whole situation that just didn’t feel right.

Ellen scowled at him. “Not now, Bobby.”

Bobby shook her off. “When was it, Dean? We’ll have to see to his body.”

“It can wait.” Ellen wrapped a protective arm around Dean as she spat her words out.

Dean felt a sense of calm pass over him. “No, he’s right. I… I should have done it sooner…” There was something absent about his words, as if he was lost somewhere else. “Something’s not right about this.” His mind searched for the answer to his own question.

Ellen squeezed a little tighter. “Of course it’s not right, Dean. Losing someone we love never is. You can’t blame yourself. There was nothing you could have done.”

Ellen offered the platitudes with pain in her voice. Dean knew she only meant well. He shrugged away from her. “No… There’s just something wrong about the whole thing.”

Bobby nodded. “Like who messed with you?”

Dean stared at him confused and Ellen looked shocked. “What?”

Bobby continued. “Dean, I’ve known you since you were a kid. You’ve never once given up on your brother. You mean to tell me you willingly shut off the equipment without someone holding a gun to your head? That ain’t the Dean Winchester I’ve know for more than twenty years.”

Dean nodded slowly. “We start at the hospital.”


Dr. Stanley Richardson took a deep breath before entering his office. He focused his thoughts on his daughter and son. Would they be proud of him? He sighed and step through.


He expected the greeting.

“Is he settled?”

“Winchester is taken care of. The room is clean.” His hesitation was evident.

“Something bothering you?”

Richardson’s eyes narrowed in disgust. “This whole thing? It’s not right.”

“Think of your children, doctor. This is their future you’re protecting. You should be proud.”

Richardson choked back his reply. There was no pride in his actions.

Chapter Six

“No, the diner… We have to go to the diner first. Karla… that bitch… It had to be her.” Dean scowled and finished the final button on his shirt. He grabbed his gun and tucked it into his waistband. “Let’s go.”

Bobby grabbed his arm. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Karla… she was a waitress at the diner. She showed up at the hospital being all nice and supportive. She’d bring me food and coffee.” To Dean it was all perfectly clear. He all but stomped his foot in frustration when Bobby and Ellen didn’t seem to track as quickly. “She DRUGGED me! It explains why everything was so fuzzy.” He shook his hands in anger. “You said it yourself. I’d never give up on Sam like that. I’d have…” His words fell off.

They all knew how far Dean would go to save his brother.

“If I’d have been thinking straight, I would have eventually called you. I kept thinking of it…” His gazed narrowed in on first Bobby and then Ellen. “I just couldn’t get words out when I tried or I’d forget the numbers and the words on the cell would blur.”

“Let’s find the bitch.” Ellen stomped out the door.


“Where is she?” Dean pounded on the counter in the small diner. Ellen and Bobby stood behind him scanning the area.

A burly cook dressed in stained white pants, t-shirt and apron appeared from the back. “What the hell do you want?”

“Karla, I need to see Karla. Where the hell is she?” Dean demanded.

“Why the hell would I tell you?” the cook asked.

Bobby moved for his wallet, but Dean acted first and pulled his gun from his waistband. “I need to find her. She holds the key to my brother’s life. If you don’t tell me, my brother dies and then I’ll have to kill you.” Dean’s voice was even, but cold. The threat was very real.

“She’s a good kid. You’re wrong.” The man stammered. “She’s just trying to work her way through law school.”

Dean swallowed. “My brother wanted law school. Now, he may be dead. Where the fuck is she?” Dean suddenly realized the man was probably feeling protective of her and he was coming across as a lunatic. It was a rare moment of clarity and Dean couldn’t help but think Sam would be proud of him. “Look, I don’t want to hurt her.” He waved the gun in the air as if it was a toy. “I just want the truth. She’s probably as much a victim as my brother.” He held his breath, hoping his new tactic, which was so much more like Sam, would work.

The cook swallowed and glanced nervously around. “She’s a good kid. She’s home, getting ready to leave for school.” He scribbled an address on a piece of paper and handed it to Dean. He had no idea why he was giving the information out. Maybe it was the air of utter desperation about the man? Maybe Karla could help him?

Dean put the gun away. “Look, I appreciate this.”

He rushed out, knowing the other two would be right behind him.

The town wasn’t so large that it took them long to find her house. They pulled up and climbed out of the Impala. Dean all but ran to the front door, pounding insistently when he reached it.

Several beats later, the door swung open. “Jeesh, patient much.” Karla froze when her eyes settled on Dean and his companions. “Dean!”

“Where’s Sam, Karla?” He stepped into the doorway, preventing her from closing the door.

She swallowed. “Look, Dean. I’m sorry. I heard about Sam and… I…” Her mind fought for a reasonable explanation; that much was clear to all. “I should have come to you, but I felt so badly… and then you disappeared.”

Dean’s eyes narrowed. “Not good enough, Karla. What’s the story? Where’s my brother?”

She stepped nervously back. “Look, Dean. I don’t think you should be here. You’ve been through a lot. I can’t help you.”

“Why did you do it?” He stepped forward for each step she took back. Ellen and Bobby flanked him, scanning for potential threat. “Why Sam? Why did you do this to me? To us?”

Tears rolled down Karla’s cheeks. “I needed the money… School’s expensive… They said you wouldn’t be hurt… That…”

“That what? That you should drug me enough to keep me out of the way while they let my brother die?” Dean’s anger got the best of him and he shoved her against the nearby wall. “You’re a murderer.”

She shook her head, crying harder. “No, I swear. I didn’t understand exactly how it was going to work. They just…” She sobbed. “They just told me to slip you the drugs. That was all. I didn’t know what they were doing to Sam…” She ducked her head away as Dean raised his arm to strike her. She whimpered. “I swear, Dean. I didn’t know he was going to die. They said they needed him for some testing and that you wouldn’t let them, so they needed you distracted. They said it was important.”

“You believed that? You believed they’d…” Realization dawned on him. “The whole accident… it was all a set-up. Shit! Even the old woman in the alley? You knew it all… from the moment we entered the diner.”

“It was dumb. I know. I didn’t know what else to do. I lost my scholarship and my dad’s out of work. I needed the money. I never meant to hurt you and I never thought Sam would die.”

Dean hadn’t lowered his arm. He smashed it full force into the wall next to Karla’s head.

Bobby pulled him back, glaring at the young woman. “So the whole town’s involved?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so…” She looked to Dean, her eyes pleading for forgiveness. “They said it wouldn’t hurt you, just make things numb or hazy for you.”

Dean glared at her through cold eyes. “You keep telling yourself that. You tell yourself every night that you didn’t kill my brother.” He whirled around and fled the house.

Ellen followed him, close at his feet. “Dean?” She reached out an arm to comfort him. He ripped from her fingertips.

Bobby joined them. “What next?”

“The morgue. There’s no way they’re testing on my little brother.” He ripped open the driver side door and sank onto the seat. He flexed his fingers and relished the pain rushing through him. He needed to feel something, anything.

Bobby fell in next to him in Sam’s normal spot. “Did they do any special testing before Sam… died?”

Dean swallowed. He’d been running the hospital time over and over in his mind wondering the same thing. Had they run tests on Sammy under his nose? Had they done it during the few brief times he’d left his side? It made no sense. “Not that I noticed, but it seems I was out of it.”


Ellen had switched into full maternal mode and insisted the trio stop for a bite to eat before heading to the hospital, their next logical stop. “We need to think this through. We don’t know who is involved and who isn’t.”

When Bobby had backed her, Dean discovered he didn’t have enough energy to fight them both. He picked at the food on his plate, a meal Ellen had selected when he couldn’t. “Are we through yet?” He gestured to their plates.

“Dean, honey. You barely ate anything. You should eat something. You need your strength.” Ellen chided him.

Dean glared at her. “Gee, you sound just like Karla.” Or Sam.

Ellen winced and slouched back against the seat.

Bobby rejoined them. “I got a few others working on it. He’ll get back to us if he digs anything up.” He picked a few fries off of Dean’s plate. “You’re sure you’ve got no connections to this town or this Hastings fellow?”

Dean nodded. “I’ve been through dad’s journal a million times. Sammy and I practically have it memorized…” His words fell off. His heart ached at how easily Sam’s name flowed from his lips, as if he was just in the restroom or around the corner. “I’ve never seen the name.”

“We should double check it all the same.” Bobby glanced around and made eye-contact with the waitress, who brought their bill. He paid and they loaded once more into the car.

“So what about the doctor, what was his name?” Ellen continued to pry information from Dean by pressing the same issues over and over again.

Dean growled. “I dunno. He seemed legit. I mean, Hastings, he was too freakin’ nice. I should have known he was evil, but… Richardson, he seemed genuine.” He couldn’t help but wonder which hospital staff were involved and which weren’t, if any.

Dean jumped out of the car and went to the trunk to get a gun. Bobby grabbed his arm. “You can’t just go storming in there looking for your brother with a gun, Dean.”

Dean smiled, a hint of his former mischief present. “I wasn’t planning on it, but I’m not afraid to use a little force to get Sammy.”

Bobby scowled. “We don’t know that he’s here or that they won’t just release the body.”

Ellen had been standing to side and she coughed to gain the men’s attention. “Speaking of the body… They won’t just release it to us. They’ll only release the body to a mortuary. They have laws about these things.”

Bobby nodded. “We need to borrow an ambulance.”

Ellen rolled her eyes. “I’ll do it.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. He didn’t doubt that Ellen Harvelle had many skills, but he wasn’t sure auto theft was one of them. “You’ll do it?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Honey, I was hustling before you were born. Don’t you dare doubt my abilities in this department.” She leaned back and rested her hands on her hips, confident of her position. “I’ll meet you at the rear entrance in an hour.”

Bobby and Dean exchanged glances, but before either could speak, Ellen had already taken off for places unknown.

Bobby slammed Dean across the chest. “Let’s go find Sammy.”

Dean hesitated. “Don’t you mean his body?”

Bobby shook his head. “I ain’t convinced Sam’s dead. I’m surprised you are.”

“I watched him die, Bobby. I held his hand. It was cold. His lungs… they didn’t move.” Dean’s voice trembled with the effort to keep his emotions under control. The memory was too clear, too painful and too powerful. Bobby couldn’t understand how hard it had been for Dean to watch Sam’s lungs expel his final breath.

“You think you watched him die. We already know you weren’t in your right mind. If they wanted to test Sam for something, they needed you out of the way.” He paused and offered a small, reassuring grin. “Someone did their homework on the Winchester boys. They knew you wouldn’t give up until Sam was safe.” He sighed. “I think they went to a lot of work to get Sam away from you.”

“So he could be some guinea pig?” The hard edge had returned to Dean’s voice. “Ain’t no one making a rat out of my little brother.”

“Let’s go find Sam.” Bobby shoved Dean forward.

Chapter Seven

“Why hasn’t he woken yet?” The man in the white coat scanned the file, as if he knew what it all meant.

The doctor on the other side of the bed had been looking out at the dark skies and rolled his eyes. “Can you see the damage? He’s lucky to be alive. As it is, he’s not breathing on his own yet and waking? Well, you should have thought of that before you had the truck run him down.”

He set the chart down and his eyes narrowed. “I don’t like your tone, Doctor. Watch yourself."


The two men made their way through the hospital corridors in search of the morgue. Bobby hung back to watch the door, as Dean approached the counter.

An attendant strolled up after dropping his lunch. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, I’m here to claim my brother, Sam Wilroy. He died the other day.” Dean fiddled with a clipboard under his fingers.

The man behind the counter frowned. “That name don’t sound familiar. Let me check.” He read through a stack of papers and shook his head. “Nope, I didn’t think so. We don’t have anyone here by that name.” He burped. “Excuse me.” Swallowing again, he continued. “Are you sure he was brought here?”

Dean swallowed, knowing it was too soon to hope. “Listen, I held his hand when he died upstairs in ICU. He died here. He’s got to be here.”

The man thought. “If it was a few days ago, maybe he was already shipped out. What home you using?”

Dean was confused at first and then understood. “Ah, we didn’t pick one. We’re not from around here. That was the delay.”

The man scowled. “Well, we might have sent him to Anderson’s. Let me check the last couple days.” He flipped through the files again and shook his head. “I got no one by that name in any listing.”

Dean took a few deep breaths, not knowing what was better, his brother being tested or being dead. “How about John Doe’s? Maybe someone made a mistake?”

The man shook his head quickly. “We don’t have many visitors at the moment. As a matter of fact, the only body we do have currently is Dr. Richardson. Poor guy died of a heart attack last night. He’s being picked up later this afternoon.”

Dean swallowed again. “Look, he’s freakishly tall… You can’t miss him. Sometimes, even looks like a girl… He keeps his hair long… No wait! It’s bald… They had to shave his head. He’s got to be here.” Dean felt himself slipping back down a dangerous slope, but this time there were no drugs in his system to blame.

Bobby saved him by pulling him away. As they left the room, he called over his shoulder. “Our bad… We’ll check elsewhere.”

Dean paced the hallway. His body was tense with anger.

Bobby shoved him roughly. Violence seemed to be the only way to get through to Dean without Sam. “Pull yourself together. Don’t you see? This is good news. Sam ain’t dead.”

Dean’s chest heaved with his attempts to get air. “So, someone fixes things to make him seem dead, but he’s not… Instead someone has him and is doing who knows what to him? I’m supposed to be relieved?”

“He’s not dead and he’s a Winchester. That means he’s fighting up a storm and making it very difficult for anyone holding him. How many times have you called him a pain in your ass? Now, he’s a pain in someone else’s.”

Dean tried to smile at the thought. Bobby was right. Wherever Sam was, he was fighting his captors tooth and nail.


Bobby updated Ellen via cell phone and the men made their way to the ICU. Dean said nothing, but he knew who he wanted to find. He slunk down the hall to a small closet just off the nurse’s station. Bobby waited behind him.

Just as she walked past, Dean snaked one arm out to cover his prey’s mouth and the other to pull her in. Bobby snapped the door shut behind them.

“Hey, Jane. Remember me?” He released the hold on her mouth only enough for her to speak softly.

“Dean? What’s going on?” There was fear in her eyes.

“Where’s Sammy? What did you freaks do with him?” He removed his hand entirely from her mouth and grabbed both of her arms to keep her still.

“I… I thought you were with him.” Jane glanced back and forth between the two men.
“I saw them moving him upstairs and I assumed you were there with him. That’s why you hadn’t come back.” Her words shook with fear and confusion.

“Sammy died. They disconnected everything. They had me sign papers. BUT he’s not dead… Where is he?”

Jane swallowed. “Dean, please let me go. You’re hurting me. I’ll help you, but I don’t quite understand what’s going on.”

“Why should I trust you? How do I know you aren’t in on it?” He demanded.

“I haven’t screamed yet. I’m not fighting you. Dean, I don’t understand, but I’ll help. I swear.” Her confidence was growing.

Dean and Bobby exchanged brief looks and Dean released her. “They told me Sam died. That his brain was dead and they shut off all the machines.”

She shook her head. “Susanne got sick. I came in on my day off to cover the end of her shift. When I was clocking in, I saw them wheeling Sam to the elevator. They took him upstairs to the private area.”

“He was alive?” Dean asked, his heart pounding in his chest.

She nodded. He was still on a ventilator, but from what I could tell, he was doing… well, holding his own.”

“How do we find him?” Dean asked. “Will you help?”

She smiled. “I told you I would.” She shook her head. “I knew this just didn’t seem right. And then, last night…”

“This Doctor Richardson didn’t die of a heart attack, did he?” Bobby broke in.

She shook her head. “I don’t think so.” She sighed. “Look, Dean. No matter what, Sam still needs a lot of care. Getting him out of here might not be easy.”

“What are you suggesting?” Dean took a step back, to give her breathing room and show his trust. And he did trust her. There was something about her that had always brought him comfort. Even Karla had always seemed too good to be true. Jane was just real.

She thought a moment. “Let me do some digging around, at least find out his current condition. Then we can figure out how to get him out and where to take him.”

“Where to take him?” Dean hadn’t thought that far ahead.

Jane reached out and clutched Dean’s hand. “Dean, Sam was badly injured. He’ll need long term care if he’s going to get back on his feet.”

Dean swallowed. “I can do it. I’ve care for him his whole life.” Dean tried not to sound too hurt from the suggestion that he wouldn’t be able to care for his brother.

She smiled. “Not like this, Dean. There’s catheters, and if he needs oxygen and feeding tubes? He needs to be in a medical facility.”

Bobby stepped in again. “That can’t happen. If these people have any kind of power, they’ll be able to track him at any facility.”

Jane nodded. “That’s why we need a special one.” She nodded at the idea in her brain. “Where are you staying?”

“Why?” Dean asked. He didn’t see why she’d need the information. He wasn’t going anywhere.

“I need some time. I need to check on Sam and then I need to call a friend. It’s a ways to go, but I think I know where we can take him to be safe.” She sighed and then nodded, growing confident in her plan. “We do this, but I need some time.”

Dean shook his head. “No… I need to stay here. Sam doesn’t have time. We need to get him out of here now. We’ve got an ambulance waiting. We can take him now. You can make plans on the way.”

She chuckled. “Dean, I’ll need to gather supplies and make a few arrangements of my own. I promise it won’t be too long. Tomorrow at the most.”

“Tomorrow? What? Your plans can wait, can’t they?” Dean stammered, not happy with the sudden change of direction. The hope of finding Sam was fading.

She squeezed his hand. “I need to make a few arrangements if I’m going to go with you.”

Bobby scowled. “You’re planning on coming with us?”

She nodded. “You’ll need me.”

Bobby groaned. “We don’t know how high up this goes. Someone is bound to find out you helped us, it won’t be safe to come back.”

“I’ve got nothing holding me here. I can get a job anywhere. Who knows, maybe one of my sons would like to have me closer.” She stretched her hand up and rested it on Dean’s cheek. “I don’t understand why they are doing this to you and Sam, but I won’t stand for it. I expect any mom, even yours, would do the same. Let me help you.”

Dean thought about how his mother’s spirit had saved them. Missouri had said virtually the same thing. Dean nodded, but said nothing. Deep down, he knew it had to be this way. He had to trust her. Sam would need the care. It was always about Sam.

Bobby complained. “You don’t know what you’re getting in to. This ain’t no joyride.”

“Then let’s get it over with. I’ll call you as soon as I know something, but you can’t risk being caught here. So git.” She swatted Dean’s arm to encourage him.

They exchanged numbers and Bobby and Dean slipped out to meet up with Ellen, who returned the ambulance. They’d find another for the actual escape.

Chapter Eight

Jane made her way to the private area of the hospital as if she were going about her normal business. There was a man near the main elevator. She assumed it was a guard of some sort, but he wasn’t very good. All she had to do was take one of the employee elevators to the floor and she could move about inconspicuously. She wore scrubs, as all hospital staff did.

She greeted a few of her co-workers and they also didn’t seem to find her presence odd. She slipped into the ladies room to steel her nerves. She drew in several deep breaths as she held her hand before her eyes and watched it tremble. Eventually, it settled.

So far, it seemed whoever was keeping Sam here, was doing so with the confidence that no one would look for him. His brother thought he was dead after all. They wouldn’t have counted on her involvement, right?

Taking one more firm breath, she stepped back into the hall. She walked confidently into Sam’s room and grabbed his chart as she would for any patient. She didn’t actually read the papers before her; she was engrossed by the young man on the bed.

Sam was pale and his head was still bandaged. A nasal canula ran to his nose and a nutrient tube had been placed in his abdomen. She couldn’t actually see it, she saw only the tubing. Her head was clicking off the equipment she would need to try and locate for the journey.

She’d called her friend the previous night and it was all arranged, but she had to prepare for three days of transportation.

Doctor Isabella Mastonia had worked with Doctor’s without Borders with Jane fifteen years ago. They’d survived a plane crash over Mongolia and worked side by side to keep everything and everyone together until they were rescued five days later.

They’d bonded after that. Jane had confided how she’d left her two young sons with her ex-husband to go off on this adventure in order to find her self-worth, which had been badly shaken in the divorce.

Isabella confided stories from her impoverished childhood. Despite her strong Italian name, she was raised deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She lived her early years among people who held many different beliefs and were filled with superstition. She’d always dreamed of getting out. It never left her heart though. She found herself opening a small hospital in rural Louisiana. It wasn’t quite the same atmosphere, but she reached out to a population many in the big, thriving cities forgot.

Isabella was going to provide a haven for Sam as soon as they could get him there. Jane had no qualms about her ability to save Sam. She was the best.

Now, if she could only figure out how to get Sam out of the hospital, get the needed equipment and get them all safely out of town. She couldn’t explain it, but a feeling of dread and fear had crept into her heart. She found herself nervously glancing around and doubting everyone she saw. She no longer felt like she could even trust her co-workers.

She drew in a deep breath. If she went through with this, she couldn’t come back. Her life here would need to be over.

She refocused on Sam’s face. She whispered. “Sam, I don’t know what’s going on, or why they are doing this, but I don’t think I could continue here knowing it had happened. I can’t just stand around and do nothing. So… if I’m going to give up everything I have here, you had better damn well promise to see this through.”

She finally looked to his chart and her brow wrinkled in concern. Sam had long periods of consciousness in which the doctor, whose name she couldn’t make out, would conduct tests. The tests seemed to leave Sam worse off than before. He wasn’t critical in the truest sense of the word. The oxygen was being used to ward off pneumonia. He certainly wasn’t gaining strength or improving.

She couldn’t find notes concerning his awareness. With the head trauma he’d received, some sort of damage, at least confusion or impairment was probable. She wondered how Dean would react if he’d gone through all this only to find his brother really wasn’t ‘there’ anymore.

She sighed and reached out to touch Sam’s blanketed foot. “Hang on, Sam. Help is on the way.”

Later that night, they’d gathered in Jane’s small house to go over the plan.

“Are you sure you can get this stuff without anyone noticing?” Ellen asked again, as she pondered the list. “Maybe we shouldn’t be moving him yet?”

“Knock it off. She’ll get it.” Dean’s eyes implored Jane to back him followed by a quick glare at Ellen for even suggesting it. “Right?” He swallowed. “Sam’s tough. He’ll make it. He’s made it this far.” His voice trailed off at the end.

Jane nodded. “Based on what I’ve seen, he would be better off out of there. He’s not critical. The shunts were removed and we can get an oxygen tank or two. Even if we run out, assuming we watch him closely…”

“And drive fast.” Bobby interjected.

Jane smiled at him. “He’ll be fine off the line. It’s more preventative.” Her face morphed into a scowl. “What about the vehicle?”

“Taken care of.” Bobby replied confidently.

Jane wasn’t convinced. “An ambulance would attract a lot of attention…”

The three hunters nodded with agreement. Bobby spoke though. “Sure would. It’d be stupid.” He grinned. “Don’t worry. We’ve got it taken care of. We’ll tow the Impala behind my truck…” He continued on despite the sheer panic that swept across Dean’s face. “And Dean’ll drive you and Sam. You’ve got plenty of room to move. All I have to do is apply a couple stays so the gurney doesn’t roll around. With the way Dean drives, we need to make sure everyone is secure.”

Dean snapped at the bait. “What’s that supposed to mean? I drive expertly. And what’s this crap about towing the Impala? I never agreed to that.” He faced Bobby defiantly.

“I figured you’d want to drive Sam.” Bobby said sincerely, but with a touch of tease.

“I do… but…” Dean frowned. “I…” He stuck a finger in Bobby’s chest. “If you hurt her…” The warning was enough.

Bobby chuckled. “Like I’ve never towed her before?”

“That was different. She was in pieces…” He quickly added. “And let’s remember, that was SAM driving… not me. I’ve never totaled her. Hell, he’s even driven her through a house…. Not ME!” He jerked away and met Ellen’s smiling face. “What’s that grin supposed to be about?”

She laughed softly. “Nice to finally have you back, Dean.”

Dean’s eyes flared and he stormed out of the room. Ellen and Bobby laughed while Jane stared at them in loss. “What was that all about?”

Ellen sighed. “Well, I haven’t known them as long as Bobby, here… But Dean doesn’t seem to do well without Bobby and those drugs in his system? Well, he just hasn’t really been himself.”

Bobby nodded in agreement. “There’s three things Dean is passionate about: Sammy, the Impala and hunting. He’s good with all three. But there’s only one he’d die for in an instant. Or a year. And now that passion is back.”

Ellen snorted. “Oh, I don’t know… He might die for the Impala.”

Bobby groaned. “Only if he could come back and haunt her.” Please don’t let that happen to him.

Jane simply shook her head. “You’re all certainly an interesting group of people. This is turning out to be quite an adventure.”

Ellen nodded. “And honey, it’s only just begun.” The woman chuckled. Bobby left and Ellen glanced around. “Are you sure you’re ok with leaving so much behind?”

Jane nodded. “I can handle the house and car sale from a distance. I trust my lawyer to handle things… I think… Are you sure there will be room for some boxes?”

Ellen nodded eagerly. “Bobby’s got loads of space on the truck. How’s about I help you with some packing?”

Jane eagerly accepted and the two women moved into her bedroom.


Dean stood on the back steps chugging at the beer he now held. Bobby joined him and they toasted.

“I don’t like leaving without knowing who’s behind this.” Dean revealed. “It goes against everything I’ve ever believed.” He added more softly. “Sam won’t be safe until we end this here.”

Bobby nodded. “That may be so, but Sam could die or heaven only knows what if we don’t get him away from here. You heard Jane. They’re testing him.”

“Why? He hasn’t had any powers since that bastard died.” Dean reflected.

“That you know of.” Bobby surmised.

“I’d know!” Dean barked. The offense was clear in his voice.

Bobby waved him off. “Ok… Ok… Don’t worry about it. We’re not letting it go. As soon as Sam is safely away, I’ll come back and poke around. Then when you can, you’ll join me and we’ll end the bastards.”

Dean nodded and offered his bottle in toast. “For Sam!”

“For Sam.” Bobby replied in kind.

“Are we missing anything about tomorrow?” Dean asked quietly. “It has to be perfect.”

Bobby sighed. “I don’t know. Our plan is as good as Jane’s information.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Do you trust her?”

“She’s not a hunter. She could have missed something.” Dean admitted.

“So… We’ve planned for the best and we prepare for the worst.”

Dean nodded again. “Keep an eye on Jane. I don’t want her getting hurt.”

“Keep an eye on Sam or all this is for nothing.” Bobby replied.

Dean chuckled. “If you’re watching Jane and I’m watching Sam, who’s watching out for us?”

Both men groaned. “Ellen.”


“Well, welcome back again, Sam. Are you ready for another round?”

“No… “ Sam groaned. In his mind he called out for Dean.

Chapter Nine

As soon as Sam’s ‘treatment’ had begun, he made up his mind. He’d been a pawn of evil forces for far too long. He was done. It was time to take control of his destiny.


Jane had explained the inner operations of the hospital until they could all recite it by heart. With this information, the quartet mapped out a very detailed rescue mission that left little room for failure. All conceded the soundness of the plan. There was only one hitch. Who would play the various roles?

Bobby had the nerve to suggest Dean’s only role would be waiting in the ambulance station, prepared to leave the moment Sam’s gurney arrived.

Jane took the opportunity to call the hospital and check on Sam. She’d already learned to read these people and she knew when to make her own escape.

Dean hadn’t even flinched. He moved without comment to his duffle, pulled a small vial of holy water from it and splashed the seasoned hunter.

“What the hell was that for?” Bobby sputtered, water having hit his face.

“You must be possessed. There’s no other explanation for what you just suggested.” Dean spoke calmly, but his anger lay just below the surface.

“Dean, you spent a solid week at that hospital. If anyone recognizes you, Sam’s as good as dead.” Bobby used a tone that was laced with reasoning.

Ellen jumped in. “Dean… I know you want to be at Sam’s side. This is killing us all, but…” She swallowed, sensing the uselessness of her words. “This plan will get Sam safely out of the hospital with little risk… unless someone gets suspicious.”

Dean’s eyes narrowed. “So I’ll go in disguise.”

Bobby stood up from his chair and leveled himself against Dean’s own stance. “No, Dean. Jane and Ellen will move Sam and I’ll cover their sixes. You’ll wait in the ambulance. That’s how it HAS to be.”

Dean’s eyes flashed with anger and his entire body tensed. “You can’t expect me to sit and wait while you all rescue my brother? MY BROTHER?” The words were spit out between clenched teeth.

Bobby leaned forward in challenge. “That’s exactly what you have to do.” Dean started to argue, but Bobby held up a hand. The glare in his eyes shut even Dean down. “You’ve said it yourself… since you were four years old, Sammy’s been your responsibility. You’ve ALWAYS done what was right for him, right?”

Dean’s head shook. “That’s not right. Stop it.”

Bobby continued. “You didn’t want him to go to school… but you let him. We both know that one word from you and he’d have never gone, but you let him go. Hell, you sold your soul to save him.” Bobby’s voice softened. “You’d do all that, but can’t wait in the car if it’s in Sam’s best interest?”

Dean slunk back and kicked at the back of the couch. He’d never learned to accept defeat. It simply wasn’t in his nature.

Jane returned. “That damn doctor of his was in tonight for one of those damn sessions. According to his night nurse, he’d been awake and beginning to speak, but now he’s out again.”

Dean punched at the high-backed chair next to him, sending it toppling over. “Damn it! We should move now!”

Jane shook her head. “No… this is fine. According to his chart, it will be at least a day before the doctor tries another. He doesn’t even show up to check in between. He relies on nurses reports.”

Ellen smiled. “Well, that’s got to be a good sign? If Sam wasn’t doing well, wouldn’t he need to be there round the clock?”

Jane felt herself becoming slightly defensive, despite her mind’s knowledge that it wasn’t necessary. “We might not be a big city hospital, but we’re well trained. We can handle most situations.”

Ellen blushed and shuddered. “I didn’t…”

Jane blushed as well and waved off her apology. “No… I know you didn’t. Anyway, that’s not what worries me.”

Dean was immediately back in the conversation. “You’re worried? What changed?”

She chuckled softly. “Well, I’ve been worried from the beginning, but that’s not it. It’s just that the night nurse said there was damage in the room as if there had been a struggle. She said she wouldn’t swear by it, but she thought she saw the doctor hiding an injury when he left the room.”

Dean beamed. “That’s my Sammy! He’s fighting to get out of there, just as hard as we are.” Dean’s smile was filled with genuine pride.

Jane shook her head, dulling his enthusiasm. “He couldn’t offer a fight, Dean. Sam’s in no condition. He can barely open his eyes much less summon enough strength to even sit up.”

No one wanted to consider what might have happened. In their own ways, they all used the silence of the remaining night to dwell on only making tomorrow’s rescue a success.


It was all going according to plan. Jane and Ellen, both in standard nursing uniforms, reported to the floor and went about their actions as if they both belonged. Ellen’s nametag sported the name “Susan” and underneath, it said ‘training’.

Jane had memorized their ‘stories’ the previous night. Susan was a nurse in training. She’d recently left her factory job and gone back to school. She was shadowing the veteran nurse for an assignment.

Their instructions were to take their charge down to radiology for testing. He’d be back in an hour.

Jane forced herself to consider Bobby as she would any custodian. She smiled and nodded at him in greeting, hoping it wouldn’t reveal anything further between them. He was mopping the floor and moved his bucket halfway between Sam’s room and the elevator.

As soon as Jane and Ellen had Sam in the elevator, he’d stash the bucket and move to the stairs. He wasn’t looking forward to the run, as he needed to beat the elevator down to radiology. At least it wasn’t upstairs, he mused. He’d be on the floor to assure nothing went wrong when the doors opened. The trio would need to stop on the 2nd floor in order to continue their ruse.

If things went as planned, he’d slip inside with them and they’d continue to the basement ambulance bay, where Dean waited.

Bobby would be lying if he said he wasn’t interested in who was doing this to Sam and why. He knew it was eating Dean up as well. The only thing keeping Dean from ripping the hospital apart was Sam’s safety. None of it made sense to the seasoned hunter who had spent a large portion of his life fighting demons. Of course, humans were another evil that he’d never get a good handle on. They would be the last mystery.

This doctor, who seemed to be in charge, wasn’t remotely interested in Sam’s security. Other than the one guard near the elevator, anyone could go in and out of the room.

Ellen had been temporarily paralyzed by her first sight of Sam. She swallowed back her tears and reached out to touch his temple, where she might have normally found a stray curl. She shook off her emotions and looked to her partner for their next step. Jane guided Ellen on how to move the bed. They would transfer him to a gurney downstairs. It would be more suspicious if they did it here. Jane had worked quickly to switch the IV bags over. The new ones were a valuable asset for them in their journey. Next she tucked various supplies in and around Sam’s slack body.

With a smile and a quick nod, she propped the door open and the women moved Sam out.

Just before exiting, Jane took a deep breath to calm her nerves. They still had to clear the guy at the elevator.

As expected, he stopped them. “Where do you think you’re taking him?”

Jane raised an eyebrow, as if offended by his question. “Excuse me? Are you a doctor?”

His eyes narrowed on hers and they locked into a battle of wills. “No, but this man is my concern and he’d not going anywhere.”

She moved her hands to her hips. “Did you see that room? The doc? Last night was rough and a new MRI was ordered. Do you want to get in the way of that?” She paused and then softened. “I’m just doing my job.”

He studied the two women and the man on the bed. “Fine, let’s go.”

Bobby was close enough to hear the conversation. They’d hoped it wouldn’t happen, but they’d planned for this possibility as well. He sent a silent prayer to the heavens. He needed a double shot of speed at the moment.

As the other group moved into the elevator, he slipped his mop bucket into the closet and made his way to the stairwell. He ran as fast as his knobby legs would carry him down the stairs. He pulled the door open, as the elevator bell dinged. He paused only long enough to suck in a deep breath.

“You need to get out before we can.”

Bobby heard Jane arguing. He smiled. The lady was a natural. He stayed around the corner, but edged close to listen and was prepared to jump if necessary.

“What the… Oh damn…”

“Hey, you hit the… Your elbow…”

Bobby’s smile grew. He watched the guard hover outside the door, where Ellen pretended to struggle with the locking wheels on the bed.

They delayed long enough for the elevator doors to close. Bobby watched, praying the ploy worked. If the guard bought it, he’d wait, assuming the women would be back up.

Bobby held his position just long enough to see the man pacing in front of the sliding metal doors and then made his own way down the final flights of stairs.

Bobby pounded down the corridor. Ahead of him he could see Dean helping Jane transfer Sam to the gurney, while Ellen stashed the supplies.

Dean’s heart pounded. Despite what Jane had told them, he couldn’t help but expect Sam to be awake, just knowing his brother hadn’t failed him and was getting him to safety. He’d even expected the severity of Sam’s injuries to be lessened. He’d been drugged. Why couldn’t he hope for better?

All of them continually glanced over their shoulders to check for pursuit. Sam was quickly loaded into the ambulance and they all climbed in.

A few miles out of town, they pulled into an abandoned warehouse parking lot and switched everyone into their respective vehicles.

Jane climbed in next to Sam and reestablished a line of air. Sam had been breathing on his own, but she didn’t want to take any chances until Isabella could check him over. Dean slipped into the driver’s seat without even a passing glance to his beloved Impala, tucked carefully behind Bobby’s tow truck.

They drove as fast as possible to put as much distance as they could between Sam and his Mayberry nightmare.


Evanston’s eyes narrowed in fury. “You just let them walk out? The man was unconscious and on a bed and you couldn’t stop them?”

The guard fumbled nervously. He knew exactly who he was dealing with and he was beginning to wonder why he hadn’t just run when he realized the group had escaped with the doctor’s patient. “I…”

“How long did you wait by the elevator before you decided they weren’t coming back up?” Evanston shook his head and stormed off.

“I’ll get men on it. We’ll find him. They can’t get far.” He feebly offered, hoping it would buy him some good grace.

The doctor turned back to him. “No. No need to worry. We know all we need to about Sam Winchester now. They’ll come back to us. I’m sure of it.”

Chapter Ten

At every stop, Dean would spend the time sitting at Sam’s side, talking to him, urging him to wake up. “Come on, Sammy. I need you to open your eyes.”

The most he got was a slight groan or moan. Every now and again there were eyelash flutters, but never open or even half-open eyes.

Jane touched his shoulder. “Dean, I know this is hard, but it’s better this way. His body is relaxed and he’s actually got time to heal.”

“You really think so, don’t you?” Dean whispered, squeezing Sam’s hand. He turned slightly so he could see her face. There was obvious doubt in his voice, but Jane didn’t know the life they really led.

She smiled. “I do. He’s resting, healing… so he can come back to you.”

Dean swallowed. His chest was heavy with his words. “He died… nearly died once before… I…” He shook his head and tried to lighten the conversation. “You’d think I’d be used to it.”

“That’s not funny.” She rested a finger on his lips to still them. Then she removed it and pointed out the rear door of the van opened for air and indicated Ellen and Bobby. “You have people who care, but he’s your brother. That’s special… I…” She sighed. “I only hope my boys mean as much to each other as you boys do.”

Dean considered her words a moment and then spoke softly. “I hope your boys do as well, but I hope they don’t come to it like we did.”

“You take care of each other.” She surmised.

Dean chuckled. “Well, I used to think it was one-way. I took care of Sammy. He’s my pain-in-the-ass younger brother, but I do....” He sighed. “But he’s been beating into my head that it goes both ways.”

She sank on the floor next to him. “You sound more like a parent. I never thought my boys could live without me… but they do and they do fine. One day I broke down and asked my son about it.” She smiled at the memory. “He said it was because I raised them so well. He told me not to worry, they still needed me and they’d come to me when it was necessary.” She laughed softly. “Then he made me promise if I needed them, I’d ask.”

Dean nodded. “They’re lucky boys.”

“As are you and Sam.” She suggested.

He shook his head. “We grew up moving around, following my dad from job to job. Our mom died when Sam was a baby.” He ran his hand across his face. “Sam… he’s like your sons.” It’s me that doesn’t do well without him.

She squeezed his forearm. “I think you both are. It doesn’t seem he’s going anywhere. He’s a fighter, this one. You both are.” On that note, she climbed to her feet and jumped out the back door to stretch her legs with the others.

Dean watched her go. “And yet I’ll be leaving him…” He refocused on Sam. “She’s right though, Sam. You are a fighter. You’ll be fine.”


They finally arrived in Louisiana. It was late night and Dr. Isabella Mastonia hurriedly threw a sweater around her shoulders as both she and Jane barked out instructions for moving Sam inside the small hospital. It was really little more than a clinic, but it was large enough to fill the immediate needs of the small town.

Had Dean been focusing on anything other than Sam, he might have noticed the large house next door as his headlights flashed across them when they drove up the driveway. He was oblivious to everything but his brother. He didn’t feel Bobby’s initial tug on his arm. He waved the hand away unconsciously.

“Dean, Isabella’s house is next door. She’d got coffee and sandwiches for us while she and Jane see to Sam. Let’s go.” Bobby replaced his arm and pulled harder.

“No. I’m staying with Sam.” Dean argued.

Bobby shook his head. “You’ve been driving non-stop and you’re exhausted. They’ve got Sam covered. You need some rest. We won’t be far.”

“I left him alone once. I’m not leaving again.”

Isabella appeared before the men. She stuck out her hand. “Hi, you’re Dean, right? I’m Isabella and I am a doctor. I think you missed the introductions earlier.” She paused long enough for Dean to actually take her hand and release it. “Listen, I need some time to see what’s going on with Sam. It might be a couple hours. You’ll honestly, only be in the way. Go rest and I’ll come get you as soon as I know anything. I promise.”

Dean opened his mouth to argue, but stopped as her hand immediately went into her jacket pocket and retrieved a syringe. “I was told you were stubborn. I’m prepared to fight dirty. Did you need help to rest?” She pointed the needle squarely at his forearm.

Dean growled and allowed Bobby to pull him away. As they walked the short distance, Dean could actually feel the cool, night air on his cheeks, which were flush from the battle.

He was angry, but not at the people around him. He was angry with himself. He felt like this whole experience had been one giant manipulation. First the accident, now obviously a set up, then the drugs and then Bobby talking him in to staying off the front lines. Now, a complete stranger had stood up to Dean Winchester and won.

His insides were in turmoil. Sure, part of him, the rational side, knew everything that had happened in Sam’s rescue had to be. However, his heart ached. He felt like he’d failed his brother at every step. Dean had always told Sam he’d protect him, save him, be there. Look how easily he’d been led astray. No wonder Sam was pissed at him for making the deal. Maybe that had been the first link in this chain of failures? Maybe Dean had lost his edge? Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t have long?

There was a time only another Winchester could stop him. Now, it seemed anyone could. What hope was there for this demon war now?


“No… no… Dean wouldn’t leave me.”

“What do you want with me?”

“Let’s begin, shall we?”

“Open your damn eyes!”

“Don’t struggle”

Sam felt his eyelid lifted and the white light flash across again. “No…” He mumbled and actually tried to fumble with his hand. He couldn’t believe it was happening again so soon. Couldn’t they just leave him alone? At least in the darkness of his dreams, it was just memory.

“Sam? Can you hear me?”

He heard a strange voice. He tried to place it, but failed. He groaned in protest instead.

“Go get Dean!”

Sam’s mind jumped. “Dean?” His mouth was forming the name; he knew it. He called out repeatedly for his brother. Dean would provide him a connection out of this nightmare.

Isabella held Sam’s shoulder as he struggled. Ellen had left to get Dean. “Sam, calm down. Dean’s on his way. He’ll be here shortly.”

Sam continued to struggle and his voice made weak attempts at speech. What came out was garbled, but a ‘D’ was clear enough. Isabella actually took it all as a good sign. She’d done a complete workup on the young man and had been hoping he’d show signs of consciousness soon.

She’d agreed with Jane concerning his current state. Sam was aware of being safe and he was using the opportunity to gain strength. It was obvious in his struggles to rise. From what Jane had seen in his charts, he hadn’t moved much on his own. The blood tests were inconclusive, but the lack of activity might have been chemically enhanced.

Dean thundered into the small room. “SAM!”

“De…” Sam had heard his brother’s voice and longed for more.

Dean dropped on the edge of Sam’s bed. He reached up and touched Sam’s cheek. “Sammy? Open your eyes, bro…”

Sam’s response was to groan.

“That’s it. Come on, Sammy. We need you to open your eyes. Groaning isn’t going to cut it.” Dean pressed on, going so far as to gently slap at his brother’s cheek.

“Open your damn eyes!”

It wasn’t Dean’s voice.

“Open your damn eyes!”

Sam’s eyes snapped open. They were dazed and dry. He blinked several times to lubricate them. His hands clenched and unclenched. He slowly tilted his head down to try and see the room. He caught a familiar face and let out the breath he’d been holding as Dean’s smiling face peered down at him.

“Way to go, Sammy!”

Sam coughed and sputtered, trying to form more words. He felt his head being raised and a glass was pressed to his lips. He drank, relishing the cool water as it eased his throat.

“Not too fast, Sam. You need to take this slow so your stomach doesn’t rebel.” Isabella pulled the cup back. “Can you look at Dean for me?” She was testing his recognition.

Sam didn’t know the other voice, but he did as he was asked and forced a smile to his lips as he saw Dean. “Dean?” he whispered. “Really you?”

Dean grinned. “Who else would rescue your pathetic ass?”

“Bobby?” Sam forced out.

Dean’s eyes flared. “Nice to have you back, Bitch!”

Sam was suddenly overwhelmed. He sighed and a large yawn split his expression. His eyes began to drift closed. “Jerk.”


Life at the small hospital settled into a series of routines. Sam slept and healed, while Dean hovered nearby. Ellen and Bobby researched the situation and found several possible hunts in the local area. After a week, they left to pursue them.

Dean, Jane and Isabella cared for Sam.

Isabella was in her office making notes on Sam’s case when Dean found her. “So, how is he?”

She pulled her glasses from her nose and dropped her pen. “He’s doing well. The headaches are lessening, and his mobility is increasing. I don’t think he’ll be dancing on that hip any time soon, but walking with a cane will be good.”

Dean nodded, but wanted more. “So… He’ll be alright… There’s nothing else?”

She leaned back in her chair. “I think, in time, he’ll make a complete recovery… Oh, I guess the hip might always trouble him if he overdoes it, but… No… Things are going well.”

“So… there’s no sign of what they might have wanted from him?”

She sighed. “Nothing physical but you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t noticed something… say emotional?”

“He’s quiet… He’s not saying much.” Dean mused.

“He’s been through a lot and he’s tired.” She countered.

He nodded. “He won’t talk about it… what happened.”

“He may need more time.”

I don’t have the time. I need to make sure he’s safe now before I’m gone. Dean smiled. “You’re the expert.”

She shook her head. “I think its ok it you start to press him for more details.” She watched for the reaction and got what she expected. “Isn’t that why you’re here?”

Dean blushed and nodded. “You’re good… real good.”

She laughed. “Go see Sam.”


“So… Sam… Want a haircut?” Dean stood in the doorway and watched his brother gaze out the window.

“Funny… you really should go on tour.” Sam mumbled.

Dean flopped onto the chair next to the bed. “So, seriously, does it itch?”

Sam turned to face him. “What are you talking about?”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Still not tracking well, huh? You’re scalp? Does it itch with the hair growing in?”

A tinge of sadness flashed through Sam’s eyes. “Is it really growing in?” His hand went to his head. He wore a stocking cap procured by Jane when she found him shivering from the chill. The wound was well healed on the outside, but Sam had refused to look at himself in a mirror.

“You can’t feel that brown fuzz?” Dean teased. “Man, what dad wouldn’t give to see your head now. It was his dream. Do you know how many times he threatened to shave your head while you slept?”

“You must have been ready to explode… holding those lines in while I healed.” Sam’s voice contained bitterness.

Dean nodded. “Just about… Too soon?”

Sam groaned.

“So, Sammy… Isabella says you’re doing great.”

“Yep.” Sam offered with no enthusiasm.

“So, what the hell did they do to you? What did they want?”

Chapter Eleven

Sam looked away. Dean might want answers, but he wasn’t ready to provide them. Sam knew no matter what he said, Dean would never fully understand. He had to keep this experience to himself. “I don’t know. They just ran tests.”

Dean rolled his eyes. Sam wasn’t looking anyway. “What kind of tests? They seemed to take a lot out of you.”

“How would you know?” Sam barked bitterly. He immediately regretted it, but wasn’t going to take it back. He knew he needed to calm the situation though. “It’s over, Dean. Let it rest.”

“Over? You think this is over? Not by a long shot.” Dean moved to the other side of Sam’s bed to face him. He knew Sam knew better than to look away in this case. “As soon as you’re on your feet we’re going back to take care of these bastards once and for all.”

Sam shook his head. “No, Dean. There’s no need to go back. As soon as I’m back on my feet, we’ve got demons to fight. Did you forget there’s a war on?” Sam knew he couldn’t turn again, but he tilted his head away.

Dean reached out and grabbed his face roughly. “Christo!”

Sam’s eyes flared. “You think I’m possessed?” His voice edged on a shout. “What the hell?”

Dean pulled his hand back feeling guilty. “Well what am I supposed to think? Why wouldn’t you want to find these suckers?”

Sam winced and closed his eyes. This conversation was quickly becoming too much for him. “Dean… there’s more important things to fight right now. Why go back? They can’t hurt me. Demons can.”

“Is that what this was about? They thought you still had some kind of psychic ability?” Dean pressed. He’d fought hard, tired often to keep secrets from his baby brother, but ultimately the truth always came out. Under other circumstances, Sam would have applauded his desire to get straight to the truth. Of course, other circumstances wouldn’t have Sam keeping secrets at the heart of the matter. “You don’t do you?”

Sam hadn’t been suffering visions, but the whole situation suddenly made Dean wonder if Sam had merely learned to control them.

“Tell me--have you ever heard the expression, "If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is?"

“You call that deal good?

“Well, it's a better shake than your dad ever got. And you never wondered why? I'm surprised at you. I saw what your brother just did to Jake, right? That was pretty cold, wasn't it? How certain are you that what you brought back, is 100% pure Sam? You of all people should know, that's what's dead, should stay dead.

“Sure Dean.” Sam shook his head and finally reopened his eyes. “They thought I was still a psychic and just as they found out I wasn’t, they were done with me.” The look on his face dared Dean to defy the logic.

Dean didn’t mind dares, especially from Sammy. “Sooo… they were going to just let you go? Heal you up and send you on your way with an apology?” He sneered. “You need a better story than that little brother. This is me you’re dealing with.” He paused a moment. “Hell, no one would buy that one.”

Sam rolled his head on his shoulders and rubbed at his neck, his eyes displaying his exhaustion. “Dean… I’m tired. Let’s just end this. Do it please? Let it go? For me?”

Dean sighed and considered Sam’s request. He pursed his lips as he considered his response. “I can’t do that Sam. You haven’t given me much to go on here. It’s obvious you’re hiding something. I can’t do what you want until I have the whole story.”

“And what if I never want to tell you?”

Dean growled with frustration. The conversation had gone and was going no where. “It doesn’t work like that, Sammy.”

Sam’s face showed a little spark and his head bobbed up and down. “Just like how you told me right away what dad said and then how you’d made the deal… Yeah, Dean. You’re the king of forthcomingness.”

“Forthcomingness? That’s not a word!” Dean scowled.

Sam’s face scrunched in pain and frustration. “Dean! You know what I mean.”

Dean’s face fell. “I only know secrets have a way of coming out at the wrong time between us, Sam. Maybe its better we don’t have them?”

Sam was struck by Dean’s sincerity, but not willing to give in. “That’s a nice sentiment Dean. You first?”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “What? Me? What the hell could I possibly be hiding?”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. “The demon had quite a few things to say to you in the graveyard. Have you told me everything or are you saving something good?”

Dean swallowed. “I’ve told you everything.” Important. Anything that’s not a lie anyway.

“Yeah, well, me too.” Sam crossed his arms and pressed back into the pillows.

Jane appeared in the doorway at that moment, ending the conversation. “Well, hello there, boys…” Her spark faded as the tension from the room pelted her. “Am I interrupting anything?” She didn’t wait for an answer, having eyed Sam with a careful glance. “I hope so...” She jumped over to Sam’s bedside. “This guy looks beat.”

Sam jumped on the opportunity. “I was just telling Dean how tired I was.”

Dean glared at his brother. “And I was just leaving.” He slapped Sam’s good leg harder than necessary. “But don’t worry, little brother. I’ll be back. I’m not leaving until this is resolved.”

“Great.” Sam muttered.

Jane suppressed a shiver as Dean passed. There was definite ice in the room. “Is everything alright?” She asked Sam softly, as she checked his vitals.

Sam hadn’t known Jane as long as Dean had. Well, in fairness, he hadn’t been conscious. He already liked and respected her for the risks she’d taken in saving him. He didn’t want to tarnish Dean in her eyes. “Yeah, I’m just tired and grouchy.”

“Sick of that bed, I bet.” She added cheer returning to her voice.

He grunted in agreement.

“I think Isabella is going to have you up tomorrow.” Jane was famous for offering hope.


She chuckled. “Well, that didn’t sound even remotely convincing.”

Sam opened his mouth to reply, but she shushed him. “It’s ok. I know it’s not easy. You’ve been through a lot. You’re allowed.” She finished her check-up and rested her hand on his cap. “We should wash this. It’s supposed to be warm tomorrow. Care to try life without it or should I scrounge up another?”

Sam swallowed. “I’m…” He choked on his words. He simply wasn’t ready to face himself.

She nodded. “I’m betting Isabella has another around. No worries.” She grinned. “Dean showed me a picture. You had lots of hair. Of course it would be a shock.” She reached up and switched off the light above his bed. “Why don’t you get some rest? I’ll wake you when dinner’s ready.”

Sam forced a small smile to his face. “I can’t ever thank you enough… You’ve been really good to us.”

She beamed at his praise. “It’s all in a day’s work.” She leaned in and giggled. “Wait until you get my bill.”

Sam was already succumbing to the sleep calling for him. He mumbled. “Give it to Dean.”

When Jane had left, Sam couldn’t quite close the deal on rest. A dim light from the blinds across the room nagged at his eyes. He slid them open and rested his gaze on the swivel rod that opened and closed the window covering.

In the next second, the blinds closed completely.

Sam sighed and gave in to the darkness.


Dean was sitting on Isabella’s big porch when Bobby and Ellen returned. “Success?”

Ellen groaned and collapsed on the steps. Bobby nodded. “How’s Sam?”

Dean scowled. “He’s Sam.”

Bobby grinned. “Let me guess. You tried to get him to tell you what happened and he wouldn’t?”

Dean glared at him. “Why? What?” He didn’t finish. Bobby’s confidence irritated him.

Bobby couldn’t respond. Isabella and Jane came out of the house. “I’ve got ‘em!” Isabella proudly held up two matching canes. “Let’s get that boy out of…” She finally noticed Bobby and Ellen. “Welcome back! You’re just in time to see Sam’s first out of bed experience.” She beamed.

The group wandered over to the clinic and presented Sam with his new freedom.

“It won’t be marathon running for a spell, but if you can stand and take a few steps today, we’re a hit!” Jane grinned excitedly.

Sam’s hip held well. He had to admit it felt good to move, even if it was a few short steps across the room. His balance was a whole other issue. As soon as he sat fully on the side of the bed, his vision swam. That was to be expected. It had happened all along. He’d worked on sitting first. Standing brought the brain’s involvement to another level of swimming. Sam would have easily hit the floor if Dean’s strong arm hadn’t grabbed his shoulder.

“Thanks.” Sam whispered.

Dean smiled. “Always, little brother.” He winked at Jane. “I’ve been doin’ it all your life.”

Sam groaned. “Now I get the four canes.”

Isabella frowned. “No, Sam…” Suddenly it hit her and she chuckled. “Can you figure out which ones to move?”

He smiled. “I think so.” Sam raised his head and spied a goal. “To the door and back?”

Ellen replied first. “How about a step before you try making a break for it?”

“Killjoy!” Sam shot quickly at her. He was feeling his first hope in a long time. He slid one cane forward and then the next, following with his good leg.”

“So far so good.” Bobby reported.


With those first few steps, Sam’s mood lightened. Dean didn’t have to the heart to ruin the improved atmosphere. He kept his questions to himself and concentrated on the physical therapy Isabella was teaching he and Jane.

Bobby and Ellen bid farewell and part company as well. The remaining foursome settled into their routines. Jane and Isabella saw to Sam, but worked in the clinic as well. Sam’s care had fallen primarily to Dean and he took his responsibility seriously. He wanted Sam back to speed. When Sam rested or wanted to be alone, Dean would occupy himself by tuning up the Impala or performing odd jobs around the house and clinic.

Time was passing quickly, but neither brother would acknowledge the toll this recuperation was taking on Dean’s remaining days.

In the first week, Sam remained at the clinic, but as his strength returned, they moved him to the house. Isabella moved a bed into her first floor study. There was a restroom nearby, and Sam didn’t feel like as much of a patient.

It also allowed Dean to sleep in a real bed. He’d spent most of the previous nights in the various chairs around the clinic. He wasn’t willing to be in a different building from his brother.

“Night, Sammy.” Dean closed the door most of the way behind him.

Sam rolled his eyes. Dean insisted on this nightly ritual, which made him feel like he was five again.

In truth he wasn’t tired. Last night, after sleep claimed him, he’d begun to dream and it left him chilled.

“Sam… Sam can you open your eyes for me?”

Sam heard noises. It might have been a voice, but he wasn’t sure, so he preferred to remain in the darkness. If it were Dean, the demand would be clear. So sleep remained his preference.

He hadn’t counted on the pain cutting through his vacancy. His head exploded for a moment and then in the next flash it was gone.

“Sam. You need to open your eyes.”

A mental shiver passed through Sam’s mind. It wasn’t Dean’s voice, but even his muddled thoughts connected the pain with the request. He slowly slid one eye open and then the next. The white light in the room sent a new pain through his head and he squeezed them quickly shut.

“Dim the lights.”

There was a moment’s pause. “Sam. The lights are lower. It won’t hurt to open your eyes. Try again please.”

“Open your damn eyes or the shock will begin again.”

A second, hostile voice invaded his ears. Sam put in a call to his body requesting a status report. Whatever was going on wasn’t good and he sensed the need to defend himself. When nothing responded, he knew he had no choice but to obey. He slid his eyes once more open. “Dean?” He forced the name out of his dry mouth and even drier lips.

“I’m sorry. Your brother isn’t here.”

The monitors attached to Sam’s body displayed his distress. “No… No… Where’s Dean?” Sam’s voice was harsh and scratchy.

A light breeze from the open window caught his skin and the sensation calmed him. He looked out the window and longed to sit out in the calm night, enjoying nature’s symphony.

Sam glanced around the room looking for his cane. He’d dropped down to one, but Dean didn’t trust him and always placed it across the room.

He saw it next to the door. Raising his arm, the cane flew through the air to his waiting grasp. Sam whispered into the darkness. “This cane brought to you by Dr. Evanston. Thanks doc!”

Chapter Twelve

Sam winced at the brief flash of pain surging through his head at the effort. “Well… I guess that was more than I’d tried before.” He held his eyes closed a minute and tightened his grip on the cane to channel the pain through his body.

With a sigh, he opened his eyes and pushed himself up. No matter what powers Evanston had awakened in Sam with his treatments, Sam couldn’t avoid the limp or dependence on the cane for his balance. Isabella had assured him it would pass, but he wished it would be sooner than later. He was tired of feeling helpless.

He was tired of secrets as well, but he knew there was no telling Dean about this one. He would never understand. He’d fought this ‘gift’ for so long. His brother would never accept it as a benefit. Dean would see it as an insult. He’d offered his soul to save Sam and Sam, in a moment of weakness and despair, accepted all the demon world had been pushing him to do for so long now. Sam knew Dean would see it as complete and utter failure on both their parts. Of course, and Sam smiled at the thought as he settled himself on the large porch swing, Dean would take more of the blame on himself.

Sam hoped this might be the tool they needed to save Dean from his hell-fate, however, if it didn’t work, Sam wouldn’t want Dean to go down with this added guilt. Sam would save Dean with the new skills but had to keep it secret.

“A secret? Then how do I practice?” He mumbled to the darkness around him. Only the light of the stars touched him. It reflected off the shiny finish of his cane, which rested within arm’s reach, against the porch rail. He concentrated on it and soon the cane lifted a few inches off the deck and began to spin in place. Sam sighed. He’d once watched Max do relatively the same thing, except he’d used a knife on a sofa table.

In the beginning, it had taken all of his concentration to move anything. Now, like Max, he was able to do it with little effort. This allowed him to dwell on his problems. He checked off the list in his brain.

• Walk with no limp
• Stand with no cane
• Defeat the demons we released
• Practice my skills
• Keep the skills a secret

All of which led to his most important goal, saving Dean.

“How the hell am I supposed to do all this?” Sam whispered to the cool, night air.

Soon the tranquility and symphony of nighttime rhythms lulled him to sleep.

“I’m Dr. Richards and this is Dr. Evanston. We’ve been taking care of you since you were brought in.” The man stepped back so Sam could see both of them. “I’m sure you have many questions and there will be plenty of time for answers.”

“Where is Dean?” Sam demanded, sputtering less over his words.

The two doctors exchanged glances. The one referred to as Evanston stepped closer. With no emotion whatsoever, he explained. “You’ve been here for some time. You’ve been in a deep coma. You suffered a severe head trauma. In that time, your brother left now and again. He said he needed to get away. He said he was hunting. He left about six months ago and has never come back.”

Sam shook his head. “No… no… Dean wouldn’t leave me.”

Evanston wasn’t going to be known for his bedside manner. “He’s not here. Believe what you’d like.”

A sharp jolt to the swing startled Sam awake.

“What the hell are you doing out here? Are you trying to kill yourself?”

Sam dragged his heavy eyes open and blinked a few times until he could focus on the angry face of his older brother. “What?” He muttered and pulled himself up on the seat.

Dean stood directly in front of Sam and held the swing in place. “I asked you a question. How did you get out here?”

Sam noted Isabella’s arrival as well. She didn’t seem nearly as annoyed as his brother. It heartened Sam to see that she didn’t seem bothered at all. “I’m not sure how sitting on a swing is going to kill me Dean. Maybe Doctor Mastonia could enlighten me?” He shifted his gaze over Dean’s shoulder.

Dean glanced quickly and then looked back at Sam. “Aren’t we the funny guy? You’re sick. You could get pneumonia sitting out here in this cold air… NOT to mention how you got out here in the first place.” Dean stood defiant.

“Dean… He’s…” Isabella attempted to defend Sam’s actions, but was stopped by one glare from Dean. She finished quickly. “He’s really over the risk of that. A chill won’t really hurt him.”

Dean whirled on her. “Really? He’s healed? His immune system is completely up to snuff? That’s great news.” He whirled back on Sam. “How about his head? Can he walk steady now? We don’t have to worry about him falling and hitting his head or anything? Great!” He stormed off, shouting over his shoulder. “I’ll get the car ready to leave.”

Isabella let out the breath she’d been holding and stretched out the coffee mug she carried. “Well…”

Sam accepted the warm mug and wrapped both hands around it. “Welcome to Dean in angry-bear-mode.” He chuckled. “You get used to it.”

“You scared him… When he found your bed empty.” She chided. “How long have you been out here?” She sat next to him.

Sam merely shrugged. He had the sudden feeling she wasn’t as ok with his actions as he’d thought.

She sipped from her own mug. “The first floor rooms get really muggy at night. They don’t get the breezes the upstairs rooms do.”

Sam shook his head. “Don’t tell Dean. He’ll stuff me upstairs. I know I won’t make it down them alone.”

She rested her hand on his arm. “Promise me you won’t try. I’m not as worried as Dean, but you are still healing.”

Sam smiled sheepishly and nodded. “I think I’ll go stop him.”

Isabella raised an eyebrow. “You think you can catch him?”

“I’ll always try.” He pulled his cane to his hand and pushed himself up, assisted by a strong arm from his doctor.

“You want help with those stairs?” Isabella asked as she eyed the two stairs down to the walkway.

Sam stopped at the edge. “Are the railings solid?” She nodded. “Na, I’m good.”

She watched from a distance, knowing her patient needed to start doing for himself and building his confidence back up. She was ready to spring in an instant. “He’s only going to be angrier that you went after him.”

Sam grinned. “I know.”

Sam found Dean in the back oh the house at his beloved car. He was polishing her hood, but it was obvious it was an act. “Hey.”

Dean spun around and his eyes flared. He threw the polishing cloth on the ground. “Damnit, Sam! What the hell are you doing here! Are you trying to kill yourself?”

Sam held out his free arm. “Stop it, Dean. I’m fine. Isabella knows I’m here.”

Dean locked his face and retrieved his cloth. “If you wanted to camp out, you should have said something.”

Sam smiled. Dean wasn’t found of chick-flick moments, but he knew how to deliver his love nonetheless. “It just came over me. I’ve been locked in a room for some time now.”

“How did you get there?” Dean pressed, but more calmly.

Sam grinned. “I walked… just like how I got here.”

Dean glared at him, his eyes narrowing. “I put your cane across the room. How did you get it?”

Sam stifled his panic, knowing his brother couldn’t possibly suspect anything. “I got it and then went.”

“There was nothing to hold on to… How did you cross the room?” Dean stepped closer to his brother and his eyes narrowed in challenge.

Sam rolled his eyes. “I’m stubborn. I wanted it, so I crawled to it.” He let his anger rise. Feeling false anger was easier than guilt over lying. “Is that what you wanted to hear? I was so freaking stir-crazy, I crawled on my hands and knees so I could get the cane to get some stupid fresh air. Happy now?”

“Sam…” Dean started.

Sam waved it off. “Dean, knock it off. It’s not worth it. I’m fine. Let it go. I’m not going anywhere.”

Dean’s eyes were glued to the ground. “Not with that hair…”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Like I could trust your opinion.”

Dean’s expression changed to one of puzzlement. “You really haven’t looked at yourself in a mirror yet, have you?” Dean knew Sam had been using an electric razor in the morning.

Sam clammed up and looked away. “I’m hungry. I’m heading in for some breakfast.”

Dean caught his arm and stopped him. “Why, Sam? It’s just hair.” He rubbed Sam’s head through the stocking cap. “It’ll grow back. You can have the girly look again in no time.”

Sam pulled his head away and stormed off as best he could. Dean followed, slower, but closely enough to help if necessary.


Dean was quiet the rest of the day and into the evening. He responded to questions, but as briefly as possible. He provided no comment at dinner. Sam knew it was his fault. Jane and Isabella provided nervous banter designed to cover the pall that had fallen over the room.

After each of the women had turned in for the night, Sam and Dean were alone in the living room. Sam was frustrated with the situation. He wanted to ask Dean for specific help and yet considering his brother’s mood, he didn’t think it would come without a cost.

He cleared his throat. “Um, Dean?” He waited until his brother acknowledged him. “I was hoping to ah… take a shower tonight.”

Dean perked up a bit.

“I think I can handle it, but… I thought maybe you should be… you know… near by?” Sam finished quietly.

“You think you can stand alone?” Dean asked, leaving all emotion out of his voice.

“There’s a support bar in there. I can use it.”

Dean raised an eyebrow. “How are you going to wash your hair?”

A tinge of sadness entered Sam’s eyes. “What hair? Rinsing my head should be enough.”

Dean wanted to say, ‘you can’t avoid the mirrors.’, but instead stood up. “Let’s get it done then.”

Dean watched his brother’s movements carefully. He had to admit, there was more confidence. Sam was healing. Dean knew he had to lighten up. He lingered in the make-shift bedroom as Sam puttered in the bathroom. He heard the shower running and then the curtain opening. “Sam, let me help. Don’t take the step alone.” He jumped up and entered the bathroom to help Sam step over the edge of the tub. “Wouldn’t it be easier to take a bath?”

Sam scowled and pulled the curtain shut, obscuring his brother’s face. “Yeah, and I’d still feel like I was five.”

Dean chuckled at the memory of all the years of Sammy-baths he’d overseen or given. “Na, when you were five you went through an ‘anti-bath’ phase. Dad and I practically had to hold you down to get you clean. You still don’t wash behind your ears.” Dean felt good teasing again.

“Ha ha.” Came Sam’s response although muffled from the shower.

Dean pushed the toilet lid down and sank onto it. “So, how you doing? Want any help?”

“I’m fine.”

Dean nodded. Although it could have felt voyeuristic, he watched his brother’s silhouette for signs of trouble. He had to further admit he seemed to be doing fine. He wasn’t leaving though. Toweling off with one hand wouldn’t be easy. He smiled. Sam still needed him. He swallowed back the implications of it.

Dean took his eyes off Sam and began to count the tiles in the floor. He looked back up in time to see Sam fumbling. “Need some help there, Sammy?”

He watched as Sam’s hand dropped to his side. “Um… my…”

Dean grinned. “Want some help washing your head?”

“Yeah… I guess… There’s some fuzz…”

Dean heard the sadness in Sam’s voice and opted for support. “I told you it was growing in. You can look for yourself. Are you trying to tell me you haven’t even touched it?” He spoke as he opened the curtain and reached in to soap up his hands. Sam used the towel bar to lean over and Dean scrubbed at Sam’s head, careful to leave the healing wound unscathed. He continued to banter on, knowing it was awkward for his brother.

Once finished, he slipped back, wiped his hands on the towel and waited for Sam to finish.

Sam turned the water off and shook a bit. He pulled the curtain open and accepted the towel Dean held for him. “Thanks.”

“Look, I know you’re all independent now, but do me a favor and step out of the slippery tub before you dry off.” Dean asked, holding out his arm and a second towel.

Sam nodded and accepted the help over the edge. He even allowed Dean to help dry him a bit. “It’s cold out here.”

Soon enough, Sam was dressed in sweats and a t-shirt. His cap also replaced. He sat on the edge of the bed and seemed relaxed and content. “I feel human again.”

Dean was just finishing putting Sam’s socks on. “Glad for ya.” He stood up and stepped back. “You need anything else?”

Sam shook his head. “No… thanks… Look, Dean… I’m sorry…”

Dean played dumb. In truth, he wasn’t entirely sure what Sam was referring to. “For what?”

Sam was tempted to roll his eyes. “For scaring you last night. I promise. No more late night wanderings.”

Dean held up his hands defensively. “Hey… It’s your call.”

Sam smiled. “Yeah, but I scared you… and well, you’ve done too much for me. You don’t deserve that.”

Dean didn’t like the emotional turn and he clammed up. Glancing to the bathroom door, he moved in and tidied things up before returning to Sam. “Listen, if you want to make it up to me, tell me what happened at that hospital.”

Sam groaned. “Now why did I believe you might let that rest?”

Dean was undeterred. “Look, you’re getting better. We’ll be out of here soon. I say we call Bobby, have him meet us and we take care of the bastards who did this to you.”

Sam closed his eyes. “Dean, I told you. I don’t want to go back there.” With you. I’ll take care of them myself.

Dean shook his head. “That’s not good enough. You’ve got to tell me more.”

Sam sighed and considered what he could tell Dean. “Fine.” He pushed himself back on the bed. “When I woke up enough to be aware of things, he started testing me.”

“Testing you how? And who did this testing?” Dean asked, jumping on the information offered.

Sam thought a moment. “Trying to test my supposed psychic ability. He used some shock stuff and images… It wore me out. I’d fall asleep and he’d come back next time I woke up.”


Sam hadn’t yet lied to Dean, but he had to. “I don’t remember the guy’s name. It was all fuzzy then and now.”

“So… nothing happened. He didn’t find anything?” Dean pushed.

Find anything? “No… Yellow eyes is dead, Dean. I’m free now.”

“Sure thing, Sammy… But I still think this doctor needs to go down.”

Chapter Thirteen

Richards swallowed. “Let’s get you more comfortable.” He offered Sam a few sips of water and then fiddled with the drugs on the IV. “It’s a miracle you’re awake. Let’s not push things too far. You rest now.”

Sam felt something new coursing through his veins. He wanted to stay awake. He wanted to ask more questions. He didn’t want the darkness that flooded his senses and quickly overtook him.

When next he woke, there was less equipment around him. He hadn’t actually looked before. The only comparison he had was the noise level around him.

“You’re awake again. Excellent. I’ll tell Dr. Evanston. He’s been waiting to begin.” Sam hadn’t even noticed the nurse in the corner of the room until she was done speaking and then she left.

He swallowed hard, the sense of isolation growing by the second. He knew Dean was nowhere around and his heart ached at the thought. His body hurt. He was trapped in a bed in god only knew where and he didn’t trust the doctor’s supposedly caring for him. He’d never wanted Dean, or even Bobby and Ellen so badly in his life.

Right next to the isolation, grew despair as well.

“Excellent. You’re awake and you seem quite alert.”

The doctor Sam recognized as Evanston enter the room. From the bounce in his step and excitement in his voice, Sam almost expected him to be rubbing his hands together in evil glee. “Where am I?”

“A hospital.” With a glance, Evanston dismissed the nurse who’d returned with him. His answer was abrupt.

“What do you want with me?” Sam demanded, forcing his voice to sound strong. His body certainly didn’t feel the same. He knew escape on his own talents wouldn’t happen any time soon. Even sliding his limbs against the bed seemed an impossible task. He wondered if he was being given drugs to keep him physically incapacitated.

“Yes, we are.”

Sam’s eyes connected with Evanston’s. “You read my mind?”

Evanston smirked confidently. “Yes, and soon you will be able to read minds as well.”

Sam shook his head. He didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, but it was clear he was being held because of psychic abilities someone perceived him to have. “The demon is dead. I’ve got nothing. There hasn’t been a hint since then.” He struggled to raise his arms in a casual, confident shrug. “You’ve been wasting your time.” So you should let me go and bring Dean here. I swear we won’t press charges. He added in thought to test the man.

The doctor chuckled as he rummaged through the pockets of his lab coat in search of a pen. Clicking it into readiness, he grabbed Sam’s chart and made a few notes. “Nice try. Really. Dean, your brother, is not coming to save you. As far as he’s concerned, you’re dead and buried.” He paused as if enjoying a memory. “The funeral scene was priceless.” He waited another second for a visible response from Sam. Getting none, he continued. “And as for your pathetic insistence that you’re now pure, wrong. The demon’s blood may be gone, but the door was already cracked open.”

“You intend to try and open it all the way?” Sam scowled and glanced around the room, his gaze landing on several pieces of equipment in the corner.

Evanston nodded. “All our reports said you were smart. Glad to see our research was complete.” He leaned over and adjusted the flow of medication in Sam’s IV and then pulled one of the machines from the corner to the side of the bed. “Let’s begin, shall we?”

Sam woke in a cold sweat. He took several deep breaths, trying hard to calm his nerves.

The late afternoon sun broke through the window panes and Sam rolled over onto his side to get off the bed from his nap.

“Hey, you’re awake… Good. I didn’t want to have to wake you.” Dean stood in the doorway.

“What’s up?” Sam asked groggily.

“Bobby just called. A demon just popped up about two hours from here. He’s on his way there and asked me to meet him.”

Sam nodded. “Let’s go.”

Dean laughed. “Not you, Crew cut. You’re definitely sitting this one out. I just wanted to run it by you. I’m already packed.”

Sam shook his head. “No, Dean. I should be there. I’m a part of this.”

Dean nodded. “And when you’re back in fighting form, you will be. For now, Isabella and Jane will be here to take care of you. I should be back in a day or two. Bobby’s already got a line on how to kill this one. It shouldn’t be too tough.”

Sam pushed his legs over the side of the bed. “No, Dean. I want to come along.”

Dean, ever confident, refused to listen. “Not happening. I already told you. The Impala’s packed and I was just stopping in to say good-bye. You…” He pointed at Sam. “Are staying right here or I’ll kick your ass when I get back.” He was forcing himself to be confident. He didn’t want to leave Sam, but part of him thought maybe he needed the time to think. About what he wasn't sure...

Sam swallowed, unsure as to why his nerves suddenly felt aflame. “If you come back…”

Dean looked truly shocked. “Sam… I’ll be fine. Bobby will be there.” It then occurred to Dean that Sam might know more. “You… You said you weren’t having visions. Did they come back? Do you know something about this, Sammy?”

Sam shook his head. “No… I just don’t like you hunting by yourself. I should be there.”

Dean smiled. “That’s truly sweet, Sammy, but I’ll be fine. I’ve hunted alone before and…” He was about to add, ‘I’ll do it again’ but stopped in time.

“But it’s me who needs the practice?”

Dean swallowed and ignored Sam’s question. “I’m out of here. Behave yourself or Isabella has orders to use big needles and drugs to sedate you… If you really cause problems, I told her to call in a clown.”

Before Sam could reply, Dean vanished from the room.


Sam called Dean every few hours until Dean promised to check in at key times. The first day and night passed without incident. Dean checked in the following morning with nothing new to report. He figured he and Bobby would be making a play for the demon that night, so he’d be back some time the following afternoon. He also pointed out that the cell reception in the area was sketchy at best. “Don’t panic like a pansy if you can’t get me right away.”

Sam was reading a borrowed book on the swing. His body was tired from a physical therapy session with Jane, but his mind was alert. He tried to occupy it with the book, but it wasn’t working.

He drew in a deep breath and allowed his mind to drift to Dean and imagine what might be happening. The porch around him began to blur and his vision reformed elsewhere.

He was wandering around a graveyard, standing at a headstone for Molly McKinnon. Before him stood a woman with dark, flowing hair. She raised an arm and pointed. Sam turned his vision eyes to follow her gaze and saw his brother, pinned to a tree.

Bobby lay crumpled at the base of the tree. With a flick of her finger, Sam watched in his mind as Dean was tossed like a pillow to another tree and then back to the original. Slamming against each one was taking its toll. Dean still struggled and cursed the woman with all he had.

Next the woman brought his brother to hover before her. She ran her hand along his chin and cheek. Next she moved it up to his forehead and in the next instant; she pushed back and snapped Dean’s neck.

He fell to the ground and stared up through vacant, dean eyes.


Sam’s scream pierced the air and Jane ran from the house. “What’s wrong?” She found Sam dazed and slumped on the deck. “Are you ok?”

Sam snapped back to the present and focused his bewildered eyes on Jane’s face. “We have to go… Dean’s in trouble. I have to save him.”

Jane held his face between her hands. “Sam, honey… I think you were sleeping and had a nightmare. Dean’s not here. Remember?”

Isabella ran onto the deck. “Did he fall?”

Jane spoke to the doctor as if Sam wasn’t there. “I think he fell asleep and slipped off the swing.”

“Is he ok?” Isabella asked.

“HE’S FINE!” Sam demanded. He pushed Jane away. “He simply needs to borrow one of your cars.”

Isabella broke into laughter. “You planning to drive somewhere?”

“I have to get to Dean.”

“Dean will be back tomorrow. That’s what you told us.” Jane added.

Sam’s body quivered with frustration and anger. “You don’t understand… You couldn’t possibly. You have to trust me. I have to get to Dean.”

Jane and Isabella exchanged worried glances. “Maybe you should try to explain?” Jane said softly.

Sam took several deep breaths. “You won’t believe me.”

“Try us.” Isabella snapped quickly. “Look, it’s obvious you and Dean, heck, even Bobby and Ellen work differently. You trusted us once, try it again.”

Sam studied her and then Jane. “Most people don’t believe the story I’m about to tell you…” He waited for them to reply, but they both settled onto the deck to listen to his tale. And so he continued on, giving them a brief snapshot of the lives of the Winchester family.

“So we thought the visions were gone, but they aren’t. I saw Dean die and I can stop it. You have to take me to him.”

Jane was visibly shaken, but Isabella remained calm. “We’re not even sure where he is, are we?”

Sam nodded. “I can find out quickly enough with the internet. I just need to find out where Molly McKinnon is buried. It’s got to be within several hours of here.”

Jane stood up and held out her hand. “Let’s fire up the net.”


Dean growled. “Why does it seem like we’re wasting our time with spirits now?”

Bobby took a long draft of his beer. “Everything suggested it was demonic, not spirit.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “At least we know how to kill her.” He raised his own bottle.

Bobby clinked his own bottle with Dean’s. “Salt and burn.”

Dean chuckled. “Hell, for this I could have brought Sammy along.”

Bobby thought about it a moment. “You think he’s ready? He tell you any more about what happened?”

Dean’s scowl returned. “Not really. He tried passing off some bullshit version, but I know there’s more.” He grew introspective for a moment. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s planning his own revenge.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me if he was.” Bobby added calmly. “Makes sense.”

“What? Why does that make sense? Since when does Sammy do anything on his own?”

“Since you made a deal to send your soul to hell? Maybe he’s going to wait until you’re gone? Maybe he doesn’t want to waste your time? Why are you here? You know Sam needs to get used to being without you.”

Dean’s eyes glittered with anger and his jaw set defiantly as well. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” He now knew why he was here by himself. His subconscious had pushed him to it.

Bobby remained calm and unmoved. “Yeah, well, you’re not the one who’s going to be left alone soon, are you? Did you think clearly when you knew what your daddy did for you?”

Dean’s hand clenched and unclenched. “Let’s get going. It’ll be dark soon. Let’s torch this bitch and head out.”

They rode over to the cemetery in silence. Grabbing their gear, they wandered through the graveyard until they came across Molly’s headstone.

“Well, bitch, the time to torment is over.” Dean swung his pack off his shoulder and dug through it for the shovel. He glanced to Bobby. “You digging?”

Bobby snorted in laughter. “Digging’s for the young. I’ll guard you.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Gee, thanks.”

Dean had no more than shoved the shovel into the ground on his first strike when Molly appeared and slammed Bobby into the nearest tree.

Dean fumbled for his shotgun, but was too late. He felt himself flying through the air.

Chapter Fourteen

Jane drove as fast as she could through the winding roads. Sam had the printed directions and was guiding her. She was surprised he was so alert. With the activity and stress, she expected him to sound asleep by now. Then again, his brother’s life was on the line. That kind of adrenalin would keep anyone awake.

She’d won the coin toss about going. Both women had volunteered, but knew one needed to stay with the clinic. Jane was now behind the steering wheel, praying this was real and yet praying Dean was safe. What would my sons say?

She slammed on the brakes as the pulled into the parking lot of the cemetery. Sam made his way as quickly as possible across the terrain. He wasn’t sure where the grave was, but he knew it was along the tree line.

“DEAN!!!” Jane screamed as she followed Sam.

Sam didn’t have enough energy to tell her to be quiet. At this point he didn’t mind distracting the spirit from his brother. He was using his energy to push his body for sure, but he was also using his energy with his mind. He was sending out waves, or whatever it was, to try and locate his brother and friend.

He saw the men before him. He was too late to stop Bobby’s headfirst impact with the tree but Sam came to a full stop about 30 feet from Dean and the spirit. He held out his arm and stopped Jane.

Molly’s spirit was staring at Dean. Sam watched in horror as Dean began to fly through the air. “Stop!” Sam whispered.

Dean dropped easily to the ground, stunned.

Sam changed his focus on the spirit. “Freeze.” He whispered further, not caring if Jane heard him or not. 


Dean stared at Molly with disbelief. The spirit seemed to have frozen. “Bobby? You wake?”

A garbled response came from behind him and he went on. “You ever seen this before? She seems… frozen.” Dean’s voice wavered with concern.

Bobby slowly pulled himself off the ground. “Then get digging, you idiot. We don’t know how long this will last.”

Dean slipped past the hovering, frozen ghost and began digging with all his might. Meanwhile, Bobby used a package of salt and created a circle around her. “Maybe this will buy us more time if she decides to start moving again.” 


Sam broke out in a cold sweat as he used all his concentration to keep Molly in place.

Jane stared at him in wonder. Part of her wanted to run over and help Dean, but the other was quite content to stay with Sam, seemingly out of harm’s way. She looked at Sam in the dim light of the stars. He was pale and sweating. She knew he was doing something to hold the situation, but she didn’t think she should stop him either. She nodded her head at her decision to stay. She suspected Sam might need her shortly.

She sent up silent prayers that this would cause no lasting damage. She’d seen Dean suffer Sam’s loss once before. She was sure it wasn’t something he was ready to go through again.

Then again part of her wanted to believe this whole experience was a strange nightmare. She’d wake up and know not to eat linguini with clams again.

After what seemed like forever, Sam watched as Bobby and Dean poured salt and gasoline over the remains. Only then did he release Molly’s spirit. She turned immediately on the two men, but the salt held her until she dissipated.

Sam let out a long sigh and turned quickly to Jane. “Let me do the talking.”

“What do you mean?” Jane asked.

“I’ll tell Dean about the vision and how it brought us here.” He spoke confidently, hoping she understood what he wasn’t saying. Dean wasn’t to know anything about his assistance after they arrived. Course, he could deny it to her, but he respected her. He didn’t want to lie to her. He hoped she would be content to keep his secret.

She swallowed, sensing Sam’s unspoken request. “I’m not sure I could explain anything anyway. Better to let you do the talking.” She threw in a shaky smile.

Sam smiled, feeling some relief and hope that this could work out. He looked back over to Dean and Bobby. “DEAN!” He hobbled to the men, with Jane at his side.

Sam grinned at Dean’s stunned expression. “Man, am I glad you’re ok.”

Dean’s eyes flared in the reflection of the flames from the burning remains. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Sam swallowed. “I can’t explain it. But I couldn’t get a hold of you. Then…” He swallowed again for dramatic effect. “I had a vision.”

“YOU WHAT?” Dean charged forward grabbing Sam by his arms. “YOU TOLD ME THEY WERE OVER!”

Sam panicked slightly. He was also thrown off balance by Dean’s hands and was struggling to stay upright. “Back off, Dean.”

Dean could see the tremble in his brother’s body and he released his grasp and stepped back a few inches. “TALK!”

Jane chimed in. “Dean, stop yelling. We’re in a cemetery. Are you trying to wake the dead?”

Dean glared at her from shock and anger. “It’s better than my brother trying to join them. What the hell were you thinking?” He focused his attack on the nurse now.

She stood her ground. “You’d rather he’d have tried this alone? Because that’s what would have happened. So I drove him here. Is that a problem?”

Dean shook his head in disbelief. “Ya think? He needs his rest… Not running around the countryside.”

Sam stepped between the two. “Dean! I wasn’t about to sit at the house and wait for my vision to come true. She was going to kill you both. I had to come. Jane helped me. It’s not her fault.”

Bobby had been silently studying the situation and opted to step in. “Why the vision all of a sudden?”

Sam shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Residual? Maybe because it was Dean? I have no idea.”

Dean’s head was spinning. Sam was standing here at the site of a salt and burn that could have gone very wrong. “Was there pain?” He asked quietly.

The question startled Sam. It hadn’t even occurred to him that there had been no pain this time. “No… none at all.”

Dean loomed before him. “If you’re lying to me…”

Sam shook his head. “I’m not. I swear. There was no pain.”

Bobby cut in again, knowing Dean was on a single track that would take them nowhere. “Did you see what happened here?”

Sam frowned. He wasn’t entirely sure of how much to admit. With a quick glance to Jane, he knew he needed to acknowledge their complete presence. It would be asking her to cover too much. “Yeah, what was up with that? We were running in to try and help, but then she just froze. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Dean shivered and scanned the area. “There might be something else around here. Something stopped me mid-air. We should get out of here.”

Bobby glanced to the flaming grave. “What about Molly?”

Dean shook his head. “Let someone else put the dirt back. Let’s get out of this place before we find something else we aren’t prepared to fight.”

As they walked back toward the cars, Dean slapped Sam along side the head. “What were you thinking getting Jane involved in all of this?”

Sam felt a flood of warmth from Dean’s reprimand. “I had to. I had to save you.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “We’re going to have to talk about this when we get you back to Isabella’s and into your bed.”

“Hey!” Sam growled. “I’m fine.”

“You look like shit, bro. No more traipsing around for you.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “You promised.”

“What?” Sam asked, not catching Dean’s last comment.

Dean stopped and turned to his brother. “Damn it, Sam. You promised you’d behave. No more nighttime wanderings.”

Sam chuckled. “We left during daylight, Dean.” He grinned to try and lighten the mood.

It didn’t work. Dean was just as upset. “Knock it off! I swear to god. I’ll kill you myself! You can’t keep doing this to me. I don’t have enough time left for this.”

Sam swallowed, his face falling with the blatant reminder of Dean’s mortality. He mumbled. “I didn’t realize it was a dying wish…”

Dean slapped at Sam’s shoulder. “Damn it, Sammy.” He waited until Bobby and Jane had slipped by them and moved politely toward the cars. “This is enough my fault without you taking risks like this. I thought I could trust you to stay safe. I thought I could take this one job….”

Sam hadn’t really heard much of Dean’s confession. He was hung up on Dean’s guilt. “What are you talking about?”

Dean stopped and pulled back, realizing he’d revealed too much. “Never mind. Let’s get going.” Dean started to move off.

Sam grabbed his arm. “No, Dean. What did you mean? How is any of this your fault? You didn’t force me to run out into that street.”

Dean’s face froze up and his body tensed. “Forget it, Sam.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “God! Do we always have to do this? Just tell me why you could possibly think this is your fault.”

Dean took several deep breaths. “I let them have you.”

“What? Did you arrange this?” Sam offered, suddenly needing to tease his brother. The statement was just too ludicrous.

“I believed them. I let them take you away from me. I won’t let it happen again.” He whispered.

Sam shook his head in shock. “Dean, they were drugging you. Bobby told me. You couldn’t help it… Besides, they turned off all the machines. You thought I was dead. This isn’t your fault.”

Dean’s face scrunched up as he fought back the wave of emotion. “No… It’s not good enough. I should have known you wouldn’t give up…”

Sam relaxed, seeing an opening. “Then you should have known I would come tonight, no matter what. Right?” He read the disbelief in Dean’s expression. “It’s what we do, Dean. We save each other. Neither of us could ever sit by and let the other be hurt.” He grinned. “Nothing changes, Dean.”

Dean swallowed and looked away. “You’re wrong. Soon enough, I’ll be gone and I have to know you’ll be safe.”

No way, Dean. I wasn’t sure until tonight, but now I know I’ll be able to save you. “We’ve still got time. And… well… even if…” He took a deep breath. “I’ll be safe, Dean. You and dad trained me well… even if you don’t believe it.”

Dean continued to tremble from the power of the situation and feelings he’d battled that evening. “If you’re up to this stuff then, we’re going back. I won’t die without knowing this damn doctor is dead and burned.”

“Dean…” Sam began, but Dean was already making his way to the Impala.

Chapter Fifteen


Guilt would cloud Dean’s mind the whole way back to Isabella’s. Just after Sam had called out to his older brother, he collapsed on the ground.

Hours later, Dean was still pacing the hallway outside Sam’s room. Isabella appeared and he pounced on her. “Is he alright?”

Isabella smiled and shook her head in wonder. “He’s exhausted, but no permanent damage.”

“He was sweating up a storm. Are you sure he’s not sick? Pneumonia?” Dean simply couldn’t accept that Sam would be ok.

Isabella froze and raised an eyebrow, her smiling fading. “Are you doubting me, Dean? Did you want to call in a second-opinion? You want to explain what’s been going on to someone else?”

It was obvious to Dean he had gone too far. “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean it like that.” He wiped his hand across his face. “This whole thing… It was just wrong. He shouldn’t have been there.”

Isabella relaxed and chuckled. “You try telling him that. We couldn’t have stopped him.”

Dean scowled. “I know how he can be… but now,” he pointed over her shoulder at Sam’s door. “He’s back to square one.”

Isabella shook her head. “No… he’s tired. There’s a difference. He’s fine. The sweating was simple exertion. All he needs is a good night sleep… Speaking of which, you look like you could use one too.”

Dean shook his head. “No… I’ve got too much on my mind…”

Bobby stepped into the foyer. “Get some sleep, Dean. The mystery will be there in the morning. We can work on it then, when everyone’s fresh.”

To emphasize his point, he climbed the stairs to the room he’d already been invited to crash in. Jane came out of the kitchen carrying a cup of something warm and followed him, calling out good night’s as she went.

None of them noted that the sun was rising. 


Sam didn’t remember getting back to the house. When he woke, he thought it might have all been a dream… until he moved. The aches from his body, which hadn’t moved that much in too long, sang out in chorus.

He pulled himself to the edge of the bed and saw immediately that his cane was resting against the small table at bedside. “Guess I’m allowed out.”

He grabbed the cane and pulled himself upright, making his way slowly toward the sound of voices in the dining room.

He found Dean and Bobby with books scattered about the table. They were both so engrossed with their research; they didn’t notice him at first.

“Hey? What’s up?” Sam had reached his limit for the moment, so he sank onto the nearest open chair. “Anything I can help with?”

Dean ignored him and continued to page through the book in which he was looking.

Bobby glanced at Dean and then turned to Sam. “Have you ever seen anything like that? Read anything about a spirit like that?”

Sam was puzzled. The whole evening was still a bit fuzzy for him. “Um… what exactly are we talking about?”

Bobby shifted his hat and ran his hand though his hair. “Last night. Something held that spirit in place. It froze. I’ve never seen anything like it.” He slammed the book he’d been using closed. “And we can’t find anything about it in these either.”

Sam smirked. “Maybe we’ve got a guardian angel?”

Dean finally acknowledged his brother, but with a glare.

Sam rolled his eyes and Bobby managed a discreet retreat. Sam watched the elder hunter leave and then turned back on Dean. “What is it now, Dean? I thought we hashed this out last night? Did I do something when I was unconscious?”

“Oh good… You know you were passed out then… You hit the ground and didn’t wake up until now! What does that tell you?” Dean demanded.

“I was tired?”

Dean slammed his own book and violently shoved a few others away.

“Damnit Dean! It goes both ways. I had the vision. Since when would you think I’d sit here on my ass and not help? You think I’d just sit back and let you die?”

“You weren’t having visions. That’s what you said.” Dean said softly, but menacingly.

“I wasn’t. I don’t know where it came from.” It was the truth. Sam had been using lots of other powers in his brain, but not visions.

Dean reached down to the floor and pulled a sheath of papers up. “What the hell is this?”
He thrust the papers toward Sam.

Sam paled. He knew exactly what Dean had stumbled across.

“I… I told you… If you try and get me out of this, you die. I also told you I’d stop you. I thought… I thought you understood. You promised.” Dean’s voice was failing fast.

Sam drew in a slow steadying breath. “I never promised Dean. I never would. The only thing I’ll ever promise is to be there for you, just like you’ve always been there for me.”

Dean grabbed the papers back and ripped them to shreds. “No, Sam… I didn’t do this so you could throw your life away.”

Sam opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced by Dean’s challenging expression.

“No more, Sam. No more. When the year is up, I’m gone and you’re free. End of story.”

Dean’s words hurt. “You think your death sets me free? How the hell is that supposed to make any sense?”

Dean grumbled and then explained. “Dad’s gone… I’ll be gone… You can be done… No more hunting. No more killing… You’ll go back to school, get a degree, find a wife, raise a family… Damnit, you’ll be happy.”

Sam looked away too angry and hurt to reply immediately. Finally, after minutes of silence, he spoke. “What if that’s what I want for you? Or, what if I want to hunt? Dean, all this has ever been about is making my own decisions. That’s what I fought dad over for years… Don’t you get it? You step in and decide what I’m supposed to do, like I’m always going to be five years old. When does it end? When do I truly get to do what I want?”

Dean chuckled. “And you called me selfish?”

Sam stared him down. “Well, maybe we both are.”

They sat in a silence that was only broken by the arrival of Jane to fix dinner. “Sam, you’re up. Good to see you out and about. I thought you were going to sleep through the day.”

“No way, not me.” Sam mumbled, relieved for the interruption.

She smiled and moved into the kitchen. Sam pulled himself up and followed her. “Jane… Thanks for everything yesterday.”

She turned to face him. Her face was somber. “Sam, I was glad to help, but… I don’t like being part of secrets you’re keeping from him.” She looked around Sam to the archway leading into the dining room. “You’ve both been through too much.”

Sam swallowed. “I’m not sure what you mean.” Again, Sam wasn’t lying. He wasn’t sure exactly how much Jane had figured out.

Her eyes narrowed and she shook her head. “Don’t do that to me. Those men have been sitting at that table the better part of the day trying to figure out what happened last night. I think you and I both know you had something to do with it. Why aren’t you telling him?”

Sam closed his eyes briefly. “Jane, please. I’m sorry… But.. Dean knowing about last night… It would make things worse. I swear.” I’d have to acknowledge to Dean that as an infant I drank demon blood and now my inner demon is coming out. I’ll become everything he’s spent his life fighting. “You have to trust me.”

“This is it, Sam. No more. I just can’t.”

Sam nodded. “I wouldn’t ask more. I swear.”

Jane let out a long breath. “Sam, if Dean asks me… I won’t deny it.”

Sam nodded. “I’d never ask you to lie to him.”

“Keeping the truth to myself isn’t much different.” She offered.

Sam forced a weak smile. “It’s somewhat different.”

Jane rolled her eyes and slapped at him with the towel she’d been holding. “Get out of here and go clean up before dinner.”


Dean slunk back into the dining room, having heard the conversation between the two. The yellow-eyed demon’s words came haunting back into his brain. “How certain are you that what you brought back, is 100% pure Sam?”

Dean played along until after dinner. Sam was going to tell him everything tonight or he’d beat his little brother to a pulp. There was only one fact that night. Neither Winchester was leaving the room until the truth was out.

Sam bid goodnight and made his way to his room alone. He sensed Dean’s footfalls behind him, but said nothing. He knew a battle was coming and he was saving his energy for it.

He went about preparing himself for sleep, ignoring Dean’s presence in the doorway. As he finished brushing his teeth, he stopped in the bathroom doorway. “There’s nothing to tell Dean. I’ve told you everything.” In a nutshell.

Dean had intended to remain even keeled, but Sam’s announcement from out of the blue startled him. “What the hell?” Did he just read my mind?

Sam held up his hands in defeat. “Why Dean? Why won’t you believe me? Trust me?”

The demon said I can’t… I don’t know what I brought back and your behavior is scaring me. “Because everything about your behaviors tells me you’re not telling me everything and damnit, I’m not leaving until you do. This ends here, tonight.” Dean’s voice was filled with resolve.

Sam didn’t hear what Dean had to say. His brother’s silent admission was still rattling through his mind. Dean had been keeping his own secrets all this time and Sam hadn’t suspected a thing. In anger, he blurted out. “How could you believe a freaking demon over me? Especially THAT ONE! He killed our mom, our dad? And you’d believe anything he told you?”

Dean starred at Sam, stunned. He began to mumble. “What are you talking about? How did you… Sam… What’s going on?”

Sam looked plainly at Dean and saw the fear in his eyes. “Dean… no…” He shook his head. “It’s not what you think.”

Dean paled. “You… You’ve been lying to me… How long????” His words sputtered from his mouth. Every instinct told him to run, but this was Sam and he knew he had to hold his ground.

Chapter Sixteen

Sam shook his head, completely frazzled that Dean was so close to figuring things out. He could think of only one line of attack. “Dean, the demon lied to you. I’m me. I came back me. You can’t believe him.”

Dean considered Sam’s words and nodded. “That might be easier to believe if you hadn’t suddenly developed supernatural powers of your own that you’ve been denying… I mean… What would you think if you were in my shoes, Sammy?” Dean felt his confidence rising and in as much, took a step into the room and closed the door behind him. “So, tell me, Sammy. How do you explain all this?”

Sam swallowed, intent on playing dumb. “All what? Dean, I had a vision.”

Dean rolled his eyes and stifled the urge to throttle his baby brother. His head bobbed again. “Keep it up, Sammy. Keep looking me in the eye and lying to me.” No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t keep a mist from forming over his eyes. “I think I’ve earned better than this.”

“Dean…” Sam whispered, overcome by the situation. He literally couldn’t say more.

“The vision? How about the cane?” He shook his head. “You had me going, little brother. I was feeling guilty that you might have crawled on your hands and knees to get your cane… but you didn’t, did you? You did it once before… You moved the wardrobe. Now, it happens whenever you want, right?”

Sam couldn’t believe his entire deception was falling apart before him. He should have known better. He hadn’t given Dean enough credit, despite the fact that he had been fighting the supernatural since he was four. Sam had naively thought he could protect his brother and spare him this pain. “I’m not a demon, Dean.” It was all he could offer.

Dean looked away at Sam’s protest. “I never called you one, Sam.” He took a deep breath. “Is that your new skill? You can read my mind now?” A burst of laughter escaped his lips. “How long has that been going on? No wonder I didn’t have to worry about you dating… You’ve been reading my mind and living vicariously through me?”

Sam’s eyes welled up with tears and he shook his head, but he was speechless.

“That’s the only way you could have known what that demon bastard told me… I haven’t told a soul.” He looked at Sam. The pain was evident in his eyes. “You can stop me any time Sam… Stop me if I’m wrong.”

Sam swallowed repeatedly, trying to bring some moisture to his throat, which threatened to swell shut on him. He was fairly sure he was going to die here and now, but not by his brother’s hand. He was going to die from the guilt that was sucking the air from his lungs.

Dean remained un-swayed by the distress his brother was obviously in. “Was there anything else you wanted to tell me?”

Sam shook his head. He fought for words. “I thought I was protecting you.” He choked out the whispered words. After drawing in another deep breath, he tried for more. “I figured I could either use the powers to save you or at least spare you from knowing about them before you…” Sam knew how pathetic his excuses sounded out loud.

Dean smirked. “Wow, Sam… That’s… That’s really touching… You develop demon powers and you keep it to yourself to protect ME? How about save yourself?”

Sam closed his eyes. He’d once begged Dean to kill him and Dean had been unable to do it. Opening his eyes and taking in Dean’s expression, he couldn’t help but wonder if that time had passed. Perhaps Dean would send him to hell first.

At that moment, Sam couldn’t see any hope for the situation. He had revealed abilities known to be evil and they’d killed things for less. How had he hoped to think he could ever lead a peaceful life with these abilities? It was better than the alternative at the time.

Sam pulled open the drawer next to his bed and checked the gun he kept there. He checked the safety and tossed the gun to Dean, who caught it on instinct. Then Sam pulled himself up and stood before his brother. “Dad warned you this might happen. I begged you once to kill me and you wouldn’t because you said it wasn’t me. Well, we both know it is me now. So do it, Dean. Kill me now. End this. You’ve always known you might have to. It’s time.”

Sam stood calmly before him. Dean tightened the grip on the gun. He brought it up and began to level it at his brother, but then stopped. “Sam… Sammy...” He shook his head, but didn’t drop the gun. “Was this going on before the hospital?”

Sam shook his head no.

Dean sighed, but still didn’t lower the gun. “So… When the demon died… He’d still left his mark on you?”

Sam closed his eyes and then reopened them. It was time for the complete truth. “When I was in Cold Oak, the demon came to me in a dream.”

Dean nodded. “So you said.” He adjusted the grip on the gun.

Sam shivered from the truth chilling his own soul. “He showed me what happened that night… When he killed mom.”

Dean nodded again. “Go on.”

Sam swallowed. “He fed me his blood.”

Dean’s body shifted perceptibly at the news. “He what?”

Sam sighed. “He slit his wrist and dripped blood into my mouth. Then mom came in and…” He couldn’t tell Dean that their mother recognized the demon. It was simply too much on top of the pain he’d already delivered tonight.

Dean lowered the gun. “So even though he’s dead, there’s a part of him still alive in you.”

“So it seems.” Sam said quietly.

“And the hospital… this doctor… he did something to you that activated these powers?” Dean surmised.

Sam nodded. “It was the only way…” His words dropped off.

“Only way to what, Sam?” Dean pushed.

Sam breathed deeply again. “To save myself…” You weren’t there.

Dean swallowed a dose of bile down. Because I wasn’t there.

The pain of Dean’s reaction screamed into Sam’s mind. “No, Dean. You can’t blame yourself. I was dead…”

Dean’s eyes flashed with anger. “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” He pounded the bookshelf near the door. “You have to shut this off, Sam. I need my thoughts! It isn’t fair!”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Dean! That one came through loud and clear. I didn’t have to read your mind. I’m your brother. That thought in your brain was a given!” He couldn’t help but chuckle. This caused him to waver a bit on his feet.

Dean stepped forward and gently shoved Sam down onto the bed. “Sit down before you fall down and hit your head.”

Sam eyed him suspiciously. “Does this mean you aren’t going to kill me?”

Dean grinned. “Not right now. You get a chance to explain.”

Sam’s forehead furrowed in confusion. “I’ve told you everything.”

Dean shook his head. “Nope, not everything. I want to know exactly what happened in that hospital.” He growled as Sam opened his mouth to reply. “And don’t tell me you don’t remember, or that it isn’t important. I know everything or I have to kill you. Your choice.”

Sam wasn’t sure just how serious Dean was. “I think you’ve made it clear you can’t kill me. Deep down, you know I’m not evil. Right?”

Dean raised the gun and pointed it at Sam’s temple. “Sammy, let’s make one thing clear. I’ve only got a short time left on this earth. My goal is to kill as much evil as possible, making you safe. If I’m not sure you’re safe, you die. Comprendes?”

Sam was stunned. Dean hadn’t been at all kidding. Sam reached out and pushed the gun away, which Dean allowed. “It’s not easy.”

Dean nodded. “I know and I’m sorry, but we can’t keep secrets. I have to know or I can’t help you.”

Sam flashed a bit of anger. “And if I don’t want your help?”

Dean rolled his finger in the air. “Replay, Sam. We’ve been here before. Move on.” He pulled a chair closer to the bed and settled into it. “Spit it out. All of it.”

Sam pulled his legs onto the bed and stretched out. “Some of it is still fuzzy. And I was out of it, a lot.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Quit making excuses!”

Sam sighed and began. “Evanston… He was the doctor who seemed to be in charge. There was a nurse he brought with him. I never got her name. Richardson… He was just a regular doctor I think…”

“Makes sense. They killed him.” Dean added. “Must have developed a conscious.”

Sam looked startled. “I didn’t know that.”

Dean nodded. “We discovered it when we went for your corpse. But, go on. What happened when you woke up?”

The format of this post was funky to design... Normally, I like things in the past to be in italics... BUT, I put thoughts in italics too. Normally, I'm fairly sure it all makes sense.

The problem is... I need BOTH in the same chapter. SO, I'm using plain, old, ordinary notes to let you know where we are...


Chapter Seventeen

“What happened when you woke up?”


Sam felt the bile in his stomach rise up. The man’s attitude was so confident and almost perky, as if he had every right to hold Sam hostage and perform who knows what on him. A chill passed through him. He tried again to move his limbs, but failed.

“Don’t struggle. You can’t move. And even if you could…” Evanston began attaching electrodes to various parts of Sam’s head.

Sam could feel layers of bandage being pulled back, followed by small pin pricks.

“It wouldn’t be wise. You’re still healing from your injuries from the accident. You’ve got stitches and not to mention a badly damaged hip. It wasn’t broken, but I doubt even you would be able to withstand the pain.”

He spoke evenly as he methodically applied the wires. The last thing he did was place two small pieces of adhesive across Sam’s eyebrows and lashes, preventing him from closing his eyes.

Sam’s heart began to beat faster than was healthy. He was fairly sure his chest was collapsing in on him. The tension was uncomfortable to put it mildly. “What are you doing to me?”

Evanston laughed softly and squeezed several drops into his eyes. “Opening your mind to more possibilities.” With that he moved a video monitor directly above Sam’s eyes and turned it on. As images from his life began playing, interspersed with horrible, bloody pictures of obvious murder victims, thin wisps of electricity rocketed through his brain.

Sam cried out at the agony, willing his eyes to close despite the tape. He needed an off switch.

.... Supernatural ....

Sam had no idea when it had finally ended, or how long the torture had gone on. He only knew that darkness finally claimed him and he embraced it.

The ‘treatments’ as Evanston called them, occurred over and over again. Sam felt himself disassociating with the world around him, which consisted only of his clinical room. He’d long ago stopped examining it. Whatever was flowing into his veins from the thin plastic tubing above his head, kept him hardly able to move his head.

It seems they might have lessened the dosage as he had minimal use of his hands, but no arms. Every few hours Nurse Betty would arrive and force-feed him some kind of slop. He’d tried refusing, but the sessions following the denials were worse than ever.

He hardly reacted to anything anymore. He did as he was told and his body gave up the fight. His mind still occasionally rallied, but it wasn’t enough to sustain him. He felt hopeless.

“It hasn’t been six-months.” Sam whispered, as Evanston applied the wires once more. He was a Winchester; he supposed he would always have to keep up some kind of fight.

“Why do you say that?” he asked, but tried to appear only vaguely interested.

“I have calluses on my hands and you only removed the stitches yesterday.” To emphasize his point, Sam rubbed his fingers together.

Evanston chuckled. “And your hair would have grown back by now.” He rubbed a small section of Sam’s scalp. “Fine. We told you what we needed to at the time. We lied.”

“Where’s the other doctor?” Sam asked. He’d only seen Evanston since the initial discovery.

“He’s gone.” Evanston attached the final wire and pulled two small strips of tape from a dispenser. “He developed a conscious.” He wanted to contact your brother.

Sam’s eyes sparkled with hope for the first time. “He wanted to tell Dean.” A small smile touched Sam’s lips. “Dean’s not gone, is he?”

Evanston nodded. “Very good, Sam. You read my mind as I hoped you would.”

Sam’s smile faded. “I… I didn’t… It made sense…” He refused to believe there was any truth to anything happening to him.

Evanston shook his head, smiling. “No, it’s your powers unlocking. Think about it. It has happened before… just like the wardrobe. You’ve always denied these magnificent blessings.” He leaned back, still holding the small strips of tape. “You’ll thank me one day. I’m sure.”

Sam had no idea how Evanston had known about the wardrobe, but he didn’t care. He shook his head. “No, never.”

Evanston sighed. “Why would you deny it? Why not embrace it? Why not be safe? Can’t you imagine it? Your work with your brother and father was honorable, even impressive. But you were never safe and you made plenty of enemies. Where has it gotten you?” He paused to allow his words to sink in. “Your father is dead. Dean will die soon enough. The demons released want to kill you, not to mention a great percentage of the hunters of the world, who blame you. Why not open this part of your mind and become who you were meant to be?”

Sam swallowed and closed his eyes for as long as he could.

It wasn’t long. Evanston’s warm thumb pulled one eyelid at a time up and sealed his latest fate.

“It’s not who I am.” Sam whispered. “They wanted better for me.” Sam focused his thoughts on his parents and brother. He would be strong for a bit longer to honor them. They wouldn’t want him using the demon’s mark.

Evanston’s finger hesitated just above the switch. “You don’t get it, do you? I don’t enjoy hurting you. I’m simply trying to lead you to your gift.”

Sam snorted at the thought.

“Think what you like, but you can end the pain, Sam.” He sighed. “You have the power within you to end this pain. I only ask that you use it.”

Sam turned his head to face him. “And if I use it to break your neck?”

Evanston smiled. “Then I’ll die happy that I released you.” He applied the drops that kept Sam’s eyes hydrated and pressed the screen into action. “Once this power is released, there will be no stopping you.”

.... Supernatural ....
(Isabella’s home - present)

Sam lapsed into silence. His forehead was furrowed and sweat slid down his face in even streams. Dean couldn’t be sure it wasn’t mixed with his tears. “Sammy?” He reached forward and touched his brother’s hand. “You’re safe now.”

Sam closed his eyes and took several breaths to try and even his breathing. Then he began a soft chuckle. “Safe? How ironic.”

Dean looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Remember when you came to Palo Alto to get me? You were angry because you thought I was giving up the family for a normal life.”

Dean nodded. “Well, that wasn’t quite it…” Thinking about all they’d been through and all they faced, Dean wasn’t so sure Sammy wouldn’t have been better off back in school. Maybe Jess wouldn’t have died? Maybe the demon wouldn’t be dead? Maybe dad would be alive? Too many questions flooded his mind and he forced them away. It was too late to second-guess.

“I told you then. I said it wasn’t about being normal. It was about being safe.” He paused and let out a long breath. “Everything we’ve been through? Am I really safe? Will I ever be? Is it crazy to think I ever would be?”

Dean sank onto the bed next to his brother. “I give up. I can’t answer any of these questions, Sam.” He rolled his head to relieve the tension in his upper body. “Sam, you seriously… I mean Max and Andy… They only had single powers. You… If they…” The questions spilled from his mouth.

Sam closed his eyes. “I don’t think there are any answers.”

“So… the doctor… this Evanston dude… You seriously don’t want revenge on him?” Dean had been dying to ask for some time now… since Sam began. It made no sense to him.

Sam sighed. “I was going to wait until we’d resolved your situation.”

“My situation?” Dean raised an eyebrow. “What? Why?”

Sam rolled onto his side and his hands cupped his head as if blocking out some invisible attack.

“Sam?” Dean grabbed at his brother’s shoulder.

Sam finally dragged his eyes open. “I’d had it.” He dropped into silence and didn’t say more.

“In the hospital?” Dean pressed. He knew Sam was wiped, but they’d come this far and they needed to get to the whole truth.

Sam nodded slowly. “I just wanted it to end and it seemed like the only way.”

“Give in to what they wanted?” Dean mused. “Everyone has a breaking point, Sammy.”

Normally, he might have criticized his brother for an apparent cave-in, but he seemed too fragile at the moment. Besides, no matter how much he loved his father, that’s what John would have done. Sam suffered enough knowing his father doubted his decisions. Dean knew his father had been angry when Sam hadn’t killed the demon in the shack that night. John Winchester couldn’t help it. He was a man obsessed and no matter how much he loved his son’s, he couldn’t shake that. He could never make his sons the true priority.

Dean was smart enough to learn from his father’s mistakes. He knew Sam was more important than any hunt.

Sam shook his head. “That’s not why I did it, Dean.”

Dean was tempted to roll his eyes, wondering if Sam was drawing this out on purpose. “Ok, so why?”

“You.” Sam said softly.

Dean’s head shook violently. “No, way. Sam. NO! You don’t get to do that to me! This isn’t about me.”

Sam snorted. “But it’s ok for you to make all decisions about me? Sorry Dean. It doesn’t work that way.”

Dean growled. “OK, so how was this about me?”

“I would have been fine to die. It hurt so badly… I just wanted it to end. He kept telling me to use the power to save myself. Then… Well, I knew that wasn’t enough. It occurred to me that if I accepted this curse… I could do some good with it.”

“Like freeze a spirit at a graveyard while we salted and burned the bones?” Dean questioned.

Sam tossed out a small smile. “Or save you from your fate.”

“You think you can freeze the crossroad demon that long huh?”

Sam’s smile grew. “Yeah… I do. It would be worth it.”

“Damn it, Sam… This is too much…”

“But maybe I can do some good?” Sam offered.

“Reading everyone’s mind? Sure… it would make getting money easier…” Dean quipped.

“I’m pretty good at not doing it. Half the time I’m not sure I’m really reading anyone’s mind or just making really good guesses.”

“Great.” Dean droned. Then he grew serious again. “Sam… this is a big risk.”

“I can’t go back. It’s done. Or I guess you could kill me?” He rested his hand on the gun at Dean’s side. “I’d prefer you help me figure it out.” He softly added. “I couldn’t stand it any more, Dean. It all seemed so hopeless.”

“So, this gives you new hope?”

“Maybe… Maybe if I can do some good… It will help make everything hurt less. Mom’s death… dad’s… Maybe there could be some purpose… Maybe I can accept this thing, but not use it in the way they intended?” Sam didn’t think he was making sense in a way Dean would appreciate, so he stopped.

“So, what happened? In the end? Jane said there was some damage to the room. Did you lash out?” Dean was growing as exhausted as Sam looked. He needed to move on.

“I guess.”

“I guess? That’s all you have to say.” Dean raised the question after Sam lapsed into silence.

“Are you really to the point of being able to kill me?” Sam wasn’t sure what answer he wanted.

Dean reached over and placed the gun back in the drawer.

Sam forced a small smile. “You’re putting it back near me? Knowing what you know?”

Dean’s eyes narrowed and then softened. “It seems you could kill me without it, so why bother.” He grinned. “You have to swear you’re not going to control me like Andy or read my mind or any of that other crap.”

Sam smiled. “I promise.” He snickered. “It scares me too much to go into your mind.”

Dean growled. “So, you’ve had time to avoid my question. You going to answer it now?”

“I’m really tired, Dean. Haven’t we said enough tonight?” Sam begged with his words.

Dean shook his head. “I don’t think so. I still want to know what happened.”

Sam sighed, as if resigning. “That’s all I’m going to tell you, Dean.” He rolled over on the bed, away from his brother, indicating once and for all, that he was done talking for the night.

Sam decided he was done discussing it for good.

Chapter 18

Sam woke the following morning with heaviness in his heart. He had expected to feel better now that the truth was out between them, but he didn’t.

He glanced around the room and his eyes settled on Dean, who had fallen asleep in the armchair next to the window. He couldn’t help but smile. Under any circumstances, Dean would always opt to place himself between danger and his brother. Whether in the bed by the door or the chair by the window Dean was always on guard.

He knew there was only one thing keeping him from doing the same for Dean. As exhausted as he was following the night’s long discussion, he knew it was time.

He pulled himself to his feet and made his way slowly to the bathroom. Once inside, he switched on the light and stood before the mirror. He rested his hands on the vanity to stabilize himself and took in deep breaths to prepare for what he was about to do.

With tears rolling freely down his face, he released one hand and raised it. He pulled the stocking cap off and let it drop to the counter. His hand fell back into a place of support. His eyes remained fixed on the faucet. His heart thundered within his chest and he felt like his whole body was quaking.

He brought his hand up again and ran his fingers along the scar on his head. His fingers seemed to feel each and every nub of hair growing around it, threatening to hide it from the world. The nubs sent a shock of pain through his fingertips as if they were tiny daggers.

He knew it would always be there. It didn’t matter how long he let his hair grow, the scar would remain. He would always feel the symbol of his horrid fate, of what he’d allowed himself to become, of the choice he’d made.

He finally raised his eyes, slowly, agonizingly slowly, until at last, he came face to face with the image in the mirror. His breath halted in his chest.

Anyone else might have simply seen an extremely short-haired man. Anyone else might have been happy to have survived with such a small cost. Anyone else might have easily accepted that the hair would grow back. That’s what Dean pushed him to remember.

Sam Winchester wasn’t anyone.

Sam saw only what he had become. He looked at the epitome of his past, present and future reflected at him from the mirror before him.

He saw only a monster and prayed he could force it to remain true to a heart that had once driven his actions. 


Sam had long since stopped marking time. One day seemed the same as the next anyway. He instinctively however, knew Dean had only a few weeks left.

The time together since leaving Jane and Isabella in Louisiana had been filled with seeking out and destroying as many demons as possible. Sam had promised and kept it. He never worked on reading minds. Occasionally thoughts of those around him would enter his consciousness, but he focused on developing shields to prevent it.

Dean didn’t seem to mind Sam’s ability to foresee evil or control the demons while he performed the exorcisms. It was far easier than building devil’s traps all the time. Reading minds was just too much for Dean though. Of course, none of this was ever spoken about. It was simply accepted between the brothers. Drawing it to the surface would merely raise questions and uncertainties between them and neither wanted their time to be spent in this way.

“Damn, Dean. Could you have read any slower?” Sam rubbed at his neck and rolled his head to ease the tension in his upper body.

Dean’s expression didn’t change as he stripped off his shirts in preparation for the shower he craved. “What? That demon getting a bit tough for you? You getting soft in your old age?”

Sam rolled his eyes and collapsed back on the bed. “Ha. Ha.”

Dean ducked his head out of the motel’s small bathroom and called out to Sam. When Sam finally turned his head to meet Dean’s request, he went on. “Get us some dinner while I’m in the shower.”

Sam’s response was to groan.

“What?” Dean demanded. “So all of a sudden you don’t need any food cuz you’re using your massive brain and all?”

Sam’s face contorted in repulsion. “No, Dean. I groaned because this means you’ll be in the shower the whole time I’m gone and there won’t be any hot water when I get back.”

Dean grinned. “Hey! Let’s see?” He appeared to ponder the situation. “I could remind you that soon enough you’ll get all the hot water you want… Or, face it, the eldest gets the hot water… or…”

Sam cut him off. “Your personal favorite? You snooze you loose?”

Neither of them was going to point out the heat with which Dean might soon coexist.

“Bingo! And Sam? I’m starving. Get lots of food.” He snaked back into the bathroom and shut the door.
Sam shook his head. Raising his voice just a bit, he called over his shoulder. “Sure thing, Dean. I think I saw a vegetarian restaurant down the road.”

The bathroom door shot open and Dean’s face appeared amidst the steam. “That’s NOT FUNNY SAM!”

Despite Dean’s opinion, Sam broke into a heartfelt chuckle. The moment of lightness was more needed than the massage or sleep he thought he needed. He stepped onto the small porch outside the front door of their rented room and drew in a deep breath. Letting it out slowly, he moved toward the waiting Impala.

As he slid behind the wheel, his hand instinctively went to the bar at the base of the seat and he adjusted it back a few inches. Dean wasn’t short by any means, unless he was standing next to his baby brother. It had been Sam’s one match-point. It had been the one thing he could ‘win’ since his late teen years.

He couldn’t imagine a life without that joke. He could even stand being called ‘Sasquatch’ the rest of his life, if it meant Dean was safe.

With each battle they’d fought he’d dedicated part of his mind to solving the problem of Dean’s deal. As he controlled each demon, each requiring a small tweak or spin, he’d commit the details to memory and study them. He used his new brain power to create a database in his mind. He had no need of a laptop for this material. He sorted the information and began to build a small arsenal of weapons to use in this ultimate battle.

Failure was not an option. The prize was Dean’s soul.

Dean refused to allow the possibility of Sam saving him. “What’s the point, Sam? If I live, you die! What does that change for either of us? You at least stand a chance at a normal life when this is over.”

Sam sighed and rested his head on the steering wheel. An overwhelming exhaustion settled once again on his shoulders. “Damn it, Dean. There is no more normal for me.” Pulling his head up and turning the key in the ignition, he let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “I’m not sure there will ever be safe, either.”

He hated letting his thoughts much less words drift in this direction. Dean was confident Sam could move on and find happiness. Dean was also convinced he would be lost without his younger brother and without Sam, his life was worthless. Dean really thought he was worth more than his own soul.

How could Sam show Dean he was wrong? Everyone had tried. Yellow-eyes told Dean Sam wasn’t right. Even their father had warned Dean he might need to kill him. All the demons they’d encountered said this whole nightmare was about Sam.

So why would he be the one to live?

He closed his eyes as an image formed in his mind. He shook it off and closed his mind. “Not this time. I’m not playing by your rules anymore.”

He backed the car out and drove to the nearest diner.

Sam picked at his meal while Dean consumed his with gusto. As had become their M.O., Dean went to the local tavern to enjoy the rest of his night, while Sam stayed in.

“Bro, you’re becoming an old man. No wonder you have no energy. You don’t do anything fun to get your libido going.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Yep, Dean. Whatever you say.” He pretended to be engrossed in the article before him on the laptop screen.

Dean shook his head. “Seriously… No monasteries when I’m gone. You’re living too monk-like now.” 


Dean danced around the motel room as if he were a prize fighter. He threw punches and bobbed and weaved. “Dang! That was fun. I forgot this could be fun. Did you see how I handled that mother?” He paused and looked to the other bed, where Sam had been sitting. “Hello? A little credit here?”

Sam nodded. “You looked just like Rocky.” He stretched out on the bed and quickly curled onto his side.

Dean paused, not sure about his brother’s tone. “One, not six, right?”

Sam merely groaned.

Dean watched his brother turning away and tuning him out. His head shook in response. “No way, Sammy. Not again. Not tonight.” He crossed the room and dropped to his knees facing Sam on the bed. “Come on. I feel great and I want to go out and celebrate.”

“Have fun.” Sam’s eyes were closed but he felt the impact from Dean’s fist on his arm. “Ouch!” Sam’s eyes snapped open. “What was that for?”

Dean raised an eyebrow, as if the reason were obvious. “Come on. Get cleaned up. Let’s go.”

“Dean, I’m tired. You go. Have fun. You don’t need my buzz-kill around.”

Dean sank onto the floor and rested against the wall behind him. His enthusiasm was distinctly faded. “That’s not the point, Sammy. I want to go out and have fun WITH my kid brother. I want my kid brother to have some fun too.” Sam’s expression didn’t change. Dean went on. “I know it’s hard for you to believe, but I don’t always have a good time when I’m out and I know you’re here moping in some godforsaken motel room.”

Sam grumbled. “It’s never stopped you before, Dean. Don’t let it stop you now.” His eyes drifted shut.

Dean swallowed hard. “Sam…”

There was something in Dean’s tone that wrenched at Sam’s heart. He opened his eyes again. “Dean, what’s going on?”

“I don’t have much time left, Sammy. Why is it so strange to want a night of fun, out with my brother?” His volume dropped. “It might be one of our last chances.” He coughed. “I mean… I know I’m not one of your college cronies… but I’m sure you could have a good time if you tried.”

Sam pushed himself up on the bed and his forehead scrunched up in confusion. “What do you mean? My college cronies?”

Dean shook his head. “Hey… I watched 90210… and well, any other TV show with college kids. I know about the parties.”

“And you think I did that? After all this time together and all the bars I’ve NOT enjoyed with you?” Sam was stunned and yet wanted to laugh at how stupid the conversation was.

Dean tilted his head. “Ok, so maybe I was just trying to guilt you in to going out with me?”

Sam groaned. “Fine… Give me some time to clean up.” He watched as Dean’s face radiated with childish glee.

Sam stepped out of the bathroom fifteen minutes later, freshly showered and shaved. He had to admit he was feeling renewed and vaguely excited for a fun night out. Dean was just closing a phone book and ending a call. “Who are you talking to?”

Dean grinned. “I was just getting the name of a cab company.”


Dean’s grin grew. “I booked us transportation for the evening.”

Sam raised an eyebrow.

Dean’s smile sank just a bit. “God, you really didn’t party in college did you? How are we related?” He shook it off and continued. “I hired a cab to drive us around to the various bars tonight. He’ll wait outside and bring us home safely when the night is over.”

“Dean, that sounds expensive. I can DD* tonight.”

Dean groaned. “Sam, trust me. I am your older brother. I have more wisdom than you. This is how it’s done. If you are going to have a good time, you are going to drink.” His grin returned. “Let’s get going. Larry should be here shortly!”

It was 2:20am when Larry dropped the Winchesters off at the door to their motel room. Dean was flying high from the evening’s activities and tipped the driver accordingly. As he fumbled to unlock the door and keep a very drunk Sam from wandering away, he reflected on events of the past few hours.

The brothers had enjoyed a great steak dinner and hooked up with a couple local girls who directed them to their next destination, the Swan Dive.

Larry must have been bored, because they stayed there until last call. Drinking was a given, but both boys had played pool, darts and partnered with a few ladies for conversation and dancing.

Dean paused as he considered the smiles and laughter he’d seen from his brother. Those were the memories he was counting on to sustain him in the future.

Dean pushed his brother onto his bed and pulled his shoes off. He stepped back and watched his brother snooze. He couldn’t fight the smile that spread across his face when he considered the torment he’d deliver during Sam’s hangover in the morning.

His smile fell as Sam rolled into a ball on his side. His face contorted and he clutched at the sheets. Dean knew instantly Sam was having a vision. He actually found himself hoping his brother wouldn’t remember it in the morning. They would both need a down day to recover from tonight.

Sam’s lips began to move as if he was talking.

Dean leaned in closer. This was different, even for the ‘new and improved’ Sam. Sam’s mouth began to form words and Dean concentrated on them.

“No… It doesn’t matter. I’m not coming. Why should I?”

There was a pause as if Sam was listening to someone in his mind.

“He’s dead. So what? He was in on it, part of it. It doesn’t bother me at all that you killed him. You saved me the job.”

Sam’s tone chilled Dean to the core. This was either new, or something his brother had been hiding from him.

The vision seemed to end and Sam’s body relaxed into deep sleep.

*Designated driver, one who doesn’t consume alcohol when out celebrating.


Chapter Nineteen

Sam refused to open his eyes. If the pain in his head with them closed was this bad, it couldn’t get better opening them.

He lay on the bed, refusing to move until nature’s annoying nudges turned into all out demands. He rolled off the bed and crawled into the bathroom. He winced as he was forced to open his eyes. He refused to consider the mirror though.

Once that mission was accomplished, he stumbled back to his bed.

“There’s aspirin and a glass of water on the table next to the bed.”

Sam pulled one eye open and dragged himself to the other side of his bed, which now seemed king-sized. “It’s the least you could do.” He managed to choke out the words as his upper body collapsed back on the bed after swallowing the pills.

Dean snorted from across the room. “Yeah. I held a gun to your head last night. No! Wait… Better… I’ve developed your psychic abilities and I forced you to do it.”

“Ha ha.” Sam groaned and opened both eyes to look at his brother. “Why are you up and working? You had just as much as I did.”

Dean, who was at the table with the laptop, turned it to Sam. “I haven’t been to sleep.”

Sam pushed himself onto his elbows and frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“I was scrolling for information about something you said last night.” He pointed to the screen. “This confirmed it.”

“What are you talking about Dean?”

“You’ve been lying to me again.” Dean didn’t try to disguise the pain or anger in his voice. “You had a vision last night… Except this one was different… You interacted with it. It was like you were communicating with someone… or something.”

Sam paled even more and swallowed hard. “What did I say?”

“You seemed to be having a conversation with what I assume was the good doctor. You said you didn’t care that ‘he’ was dead.”

“So?” Sam said hesitantly.

“Arnold Hastings is dead. Ring any bells?” Through gritted teeth he spoke now. His anger now unhindered. “You didn’t think it was important you were communicating with our old friends? You know; the ones I don’t get to deal with?”

Sam said nothing. There was nothing he could say. Evanston had been coming into his mind for weeks now. In the beginning he couldn’t stop him, but now he’d learned to block them when he wanted. He knew he needed to string the bad doctor along. It seemed he wasn’t successful in his sleep.

“As a matter of fact, in the last two months, they’re all dead.” Dean went on, his expression tightly controlled.

“All? Who all? Who’s dead?” Sam stammered. Evanston hadn’t shared this information with him.

“That old lady… One of the nurses… Karla.” Dean said somberly.

“Karla? The waitress? The one who drugged you?”

“Yeah, the girl who slipped me a micky to pay her way through law school. Maybe her grades weren’t as hot as yours?” Dean couldn’t keep the bite out of his voice. He had a mixed reaction to reading Karla’s obituary late in the night. He understood doing what you had to do to survive. However, he also knew the price you paid when you messed with the Winchesters.

“I’m sorry, Dean.” The sentiment was sincere.

Dean snapped the laptop closed and stood up. “Pack your bag.”

Sam couldn’t believe this whole turn of events. He shook his head. “No, Dean… You’re over reacting.” Dean didn’t appear to listen. He continued to pack his bag. “Dean! Just where in the hell are we supposedly going?”

Dean glared at him. “Back to Mayberry!”

.... Supernatural....

Sam hadn’t said much in the first hours of their journey. His headache had either gone or been long forgotten. He’d hurriedly packed his bag and followed his brother silently to the car.

The silence was becoming more and more uncomfortable. “Dean…”

“What Sam?” He growled. “Is there something else you’d like to confess?”

Sam closed his eyes briefly and sighed. “I wasn’t keeping it from you.”

Dean glared at him and raised an eyebrow. He turned his attention back to the road. “Oh, this ought to be good. How were you not keeping this from me?”

“It didn’t mean anything. It’s not like he was hiding. I knew where he was. He’s waiting for me to come back, Dean.”

“Don’t you mean ‘us’?” Dean demanded.

Sam shook his head. “No, Dean. That’s why we have to stop this now. You can’t come.”

Dean twirled the wheel abruptly and pulled to the side of the road. He shook his head and the tension of his anger radiated from his body. “I can’t come? This is your fight? I thought we didn’t get to go solo? Isn’t that the rule, Sam? Winchesters stay together? If this guy is tapping into you, I’m going.”

“Dean, this isn’t your fight.” Sam pleaded.

“You really think I’d sit this out?” Dean slammed his hand on the dash. “How could you?”

Sam’s own anger was beginning to rise. “I’m not the one running into this battle, Dean. You are.” He took several deep breaths. “Look, I know you want me to be safe… If it makes you feel better, you take a vacation and I’ll go take care of it. Will that make you happy?”

“Happy, Sam? Happy? No, this won’t make me happy. You, back at college with Jessica, Mom and dad happily married and dying a natural death after a life together… Those things would make me happy. Hell, even Ellen having the roadhouse back and Bobby actually having time to work on those damn junkers of his… All those things would make me happy. THIS…” He gestured between them. “doesn’t make me happy.”

“I can win this one Dean, but not…”

“Not if I’m there? That doesn’t make any sense, Sam. I can hold my own. Why would you doubt that?” Dean’s anger was churning into frustration and hurt.

“I can’t protect you and fight him, Dean.”

Dean’s eyes revealed the blow it had been to his heart. “Since when… Have you been?”

Sam shook his head. “No, Dean. I haven’t been protecting you all this time. I haven’t been commanding you either. I wouldn’t do that.” He waited for Dean’s body to relax, even a bit. “But this is different. He’s different… He’s not a demon… He’s…”

Dean was finally beginning to understand Sam’s insistence. “He’s human?”

Sam nodded slowly.

“And you think that if you kill him, it makes your fate come true.” He watched the truth land in Sam’s eyes and continued. “So you figured if you waited until I was gone, I wouldn’t have…”

“To see me fail… disappoint you and… dad.” Sam whispered.

Dean rested his elbows on the steering wheel and his face collapsed onto his waiting hands. There was silence between them as he tried to determine the right words. Sammy used words to heal, but this had never been Dean’s strong suit. He knew this time though he had to get it right. “Sam, people can be as evil as demons. After what he did to you, he deserves to die. Hell, I’ll kill him myself. Sam… You’re not doing this alone. And for the last time, you’re not going to go dark-side. You just can’t… The very fact that you’ve struggled this long…” He grinned. “You’re going to win and it starts when we take this bastard down.”

Sam gazed at his brother, noting the confident grin and wished he could feel even a touch of it in his own soul. He might have been able to if he thought Dean really believed what he was saying.

“It’s either you or me, Sam. There’s only one difference. I want it.”


They were on the outskirts of ‘Mayberry’ when Dean finally broke the silence. “Where do we start? Does this Evanston-dude hang out at the hospital waiting for you?”

Sam shook his head. Words were hard to form as they fought the emotion in his heart. He didn’t want this battle. He never asked to get demon blood. He never wanted to hunt. He’d just wanted to have a normal life. Fate stepped in to continually prevent that. He’d embraced his fate to save himself and hopefully, his brother. At the time he hadn’t considered that it also indicated he was embracing his fate.

The demons now expected him to step forward and lead their army.

If he didn’t, Evanston was more than willing to do so. He didn’t know the supposed doctor’s history. He had no idea where his abilities had come from, but he seemed to know all about Sam’s fate and he was prepared to take the reins.

Sam often found himself wondering why he didn’t just let Evanston win. Dean would probably die in fulfillment of his deal, but Sam might finally be left alone to live the rest of his life in peace. Isn’t that what Dean wanted?

Except he knew they’d never leave him alone.

“Drive through town. He’s out on a farm on the other side.” Sam said quietly.

Dean shook his head. “I’m not going to like asking how you know that, so I won’t.”

The brothers were shocked by what greeted them on Main Street. It was all but deserted. As they drove past the diner where it had all begun, they found it boarded up. Dean’s eyes narrowed in wonder. “Was it a scam for us or did it go down hill this fast?”

Sam shook his head. His eyes were locked on the alley where he’d been headed when the truck hit him. “It was planned out… down to the split second.” His breath caught in his throat. “How did they know? How could they have known I would see her or…”

Dean was struck all at once by the vulnerability in his baby brother’s voice. It occurred to him that Sam might be right, but not for the same reasons. “Sam, maybe we should get a room and rest up before we do this?”

“No, Dean. It’s not going to get any easier. Let’s get this over with.” He forced a grin to his face. “Then can we go to Disneyland?”

Dean scowled. “I was gonna say that!”

“But as you always point out… I’m the little brother. It’s my job to want Disneyland.”

Dean had an evil glint in his eye. “I heard Disney is premiering a new movie about clowns. Maybe they’ll have a new exhibit up.”

Sam cocked his head and frowned. “Ha ha!”

The moment of brevity was just what both needed and optimism entered the Impala’s domain for the first time in days.

Nightfall was upon them as they pulled over along the road, just outside the driveway to Evanston’s farm. “This is it?” Dean asked, as he pulled his gun from the glovebox.

Sam nodded. “He’s got guards all along the path going in. We need to walk it though.” Sam knew Dean could handle the human guards. He was purposely setting Dean up to distract them while he went after Evanston. It was the only way he knew to keep his brother safe.

Dean grinned. “I think we can handle that.” If he had any indication of Sam’s plan, he didn’t show it.

They loaded up with weapons and secured the Impala. Slipping through a gap in the gate across the drive, Sam knew they were expected. Dean probably did as well, but wouldn’t say so out loud.

They stuck to the edge of the drive, which was lined by tall willow trees. Dean grumbled quietly as he swatted branches from his face. It was just dark enough that he didn’t notice Sam was pushing them out of the way with his mind.

“That’s far enough.” The voice came from behind them.

Dean and Sam stopped, but only after exchanging brief glances in the dim light. Dean adopted a swarthy attitude and turned around. “Whoa! Dude...” He looked at the light reflecting off the gun barrel. “What’s all this for? Our car broke down and we were looking for some help.”

“Nice try, Winchester.” The armed man motioned them forward.

“Well why the hell did you stop us if we’re going to the house anyway?” Dean muttered.

Sam remained quiet, but with his mind, stretched out to locate the other guards in the area.

Dean kept glancing at his younger brother. With a raised eyebrow he kept trying to motivate Sam to take some action. He didn’t like the gun pointed at his back. It was obvious Sam was either lost in his mind or ignoring him. ‘Guess I get to save us, like always. What are you going to do when I’m gone, Sammy?’

Dean took a few more steps and then feigned a fumble. As his body began to fall down, he stretched back and moved to take their captor with him. As the men struggled, Sam backed away from the fight. He made his way more quickly down the drive. As reinforcements bore down on him he sent out several messages to their more susceptible minds. ‘You don’t see me. Detain the other but don’t hurt him. Keep him occupied.’

He wasn’t worried about coming across anyone else, so he jogged on the road. His destination was the well lit home before him. He stopped ten-yards from the front steps. It was an old-fashioned, cliché farm house with a huge wrap-around porch on the front. Everything about it screamed welcome, but every nerve in Sam’s body told him to leave. Now that he was here, he had no idea what he would do or what would happen next.

He didn’t have to make the first move. The front door swung open and Evanston appeared. “Sam, no need to wonder. You’ve managed to occupy your brother so we can see this to the proper end. Won’t you come in?”

Chapter Twenty

“What’s going to happen here? I kill you? You kill me? How is this supposed to go down?” Sam demanded, not moving from his spot.

Evanston smiled sickly. “Ah, mano y mano, Samuel? Psychic versus psychic? Last one standing? Don’t be so dramatic. I thought you were the practical one. I’d expect this from Dean, not you.”

Sam couldn’t back away from this now. He moved to join Evanston on the porch. Maybe it was the vague emptiness compelling him forward? He would never deny missing Dean behind him.

“How about some refreshment?” Evanston offered as he held the door open for Sam to pass.

“I don’t want anything but the truth.” Sam spit, his anger mounting from Evanston’s casual, if not friendly attitude.

Evanston remained calm, but did raise an eyebrow at Sam’s venom. “Sam. Sam. Sam. Why must you fight your destiny? You know the truth, but you continue to deny it. You pretend there is some way you can get around it.” He leaned in. “You know life doesn’t work that way, right? If we could fight our destinies, there would be no reason for them to exist. Destiny drives life. It was your mother’s destiny to die in flames on the ceiling above your bed. This led to your father’s two-fold destiny. He trained his son to be a warrior and then offered his own soul to the everlasting flames so Dean could live.

“Dean’s suffering and self-doubt led him to save your life by making the crossroad’s deal and then you finally had to confront your destiny by accepting your power in order to save him.” He paused. “You see? It can’t be changed.”

Sam swallowed, but held his cool. He refused to acknowledge how much Evanston’s words unnerved him. He couldn’t accept this as his destiny no matter what logic dictated. “So I can save Dean?”

Evanston doubled over in laughter and took a moment to compose himself. “Oh Sam… Why do you worry about such insignificant things? What difference does it make if you can save Dean or not? As soon as you embrace your full power, nothing here will matter.”

Sam wanted to press his enemy further, but knew it would do no good, so he opted for an alternative direction. “I don’t get it. You sound like you’re encouraging me to become this so-called leader-demon. I thought you wanted the job?”

Evanston smiled and turned his back on Sam. Walking across the foyer, he stepped into a parlor and at a sideboard, poured himself a drink. He took a sip and then seemed to recall his role as host. “I’m sorry. Would you like a drink? Surely it would help settle your nerves.”

“My nerves are fine. Answer my question.” There was defiance in Sam’s tone. He hoped he could rattle Evanston even a bit. He could already tell the doctor was trying to invade his mind. He was happy to feel his barriers firmly in place. Evanston wasn’t getting in.

Evanston sank into a comfortable looking chair next to a fireplace with a raging fire. “You just won’t be civilized about this, will you? You think this has to boil down to a battle between you and me?”

“You said as much.” Sam stepped closer.

Evanston swirled the amber liquor in his glass. “I’ll be blunt, Sam. I don’t know for sure if I can beat you. I suspect I can. I’ve been using my powers a lot longer than you. I know exactly what my limits are… You…” He gestured to Sam with the glass. “You are the x-factor. I don’t know just how much control you’ve gained.” He settled back into his chair. “Your blocks, for example… You don’t need them any more. I can’t get in. I know that. Your thoughts are your own.” He suddenly leaned forward. “You… You I don’t get. Are you that good or are you faking?”

Sam sighed. “When are you going to start making sense? You haven’t said anything.”

Evanston chuckled and played with his drink.

Sam was annoyed with the way things were going and knowing Dean might show up at any moment, lashed out at Evanston. He sent the hand holding the drink flying out to the side. Evanston’s hand dangled over the fire, where Sam held the glass. If Evanston didn’t want to severely burn his hand, he would have to let go of the glass.

And yet, he didn’t. Sam watched as Evanston, slightly more pale than before, tried hard to break Sam’s hold. He let out a small sigh of relief when Evanston finally released the glass.

The only noise in the room was the crash of glass and sizzle of the burning alcohol.

Evanston pulled his hand back and examined it briefly before returning his attention to Sam. A smile lit his face. “That’s more of what I expected… wanted.”

“Answer my damn questions!” Sam demanded. He emphasized his request by reaching into Evanston’s mind. He had just about won purchase when Evanston was finally able to block him out.

“As I said, are you naïve or faking it?” Evanston took several deep breaths. “Fine, I’ll be more clear for you.” He adjusted his position on the chair and gestured for Sam to sit. Sam of course refused, and he coughed to clear his throat before beginning. “It’s like this. You were Azazel’s pick. He recruited others, but you were always the one he wanted.” He paused and his face took on a dark hew. “It didn’t matter how hard I worked to please him, he wanted you. Nothing I did was good enough.”

“Jealous much?” Sam baited.

Evanston ignored Sam’s barb. “So, when Azazel died, I saw my chance. The demon army needs a leader, but despite everything that’s happened, most still want and expect you. I needed to force your hand. You would either embrace your fate or not. If not, I’d kill you and rightfully assume my role.”

“Why not just kill me and take the job?” Sam insisted. None of this was making sense.

“I told you.” Evanston’s voice had become ice cold. It was obvious Sam had broken through the calm façade and begun to rattle the man. “Most demons expect and want you. If there was any suspicion or doubt behind your death, they would never accept me.”

“Honor among demons, how noble.” Sam shook his head and chuckled. With a mere thought, he slid the chair with Evanston in it, closer to the fire. “You’re looking cold and a bit uncomfortable.”

Evanston moved the chair back with his own mind. “Don’t toy with me Winchester. This isn’t a game. This is real.”

Sam’s laughter grew harder. “There is nothing real about this. This is a complete nightmare.”

Evanston relaxed. “Not if the right decisions are made here, right now. Order can be restored to both our lives. We can finally take our rightful places.”

Sam’s face skewed in confusion. “We?”

Evanston broke into a smile. “I was getting there before you interrupted me. We… We can do this.”

“What? I’m supposed to trust you?”

Evanston shook his head and laughed. “Well, I’d like to think eventually you would. But for now, I’m content to serve you.”

If Sam had been drinking, it would have exploded from his mouth. “Say again?”

“There are two options for the resolution of this situation. You ignore your fate and I end up killing you in such a way that the others see it was necessary. It shouldn’t be too hard.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. “And the second option?”

“You embrace your role, assume command, and I work as your assistant.”

Again Sam sputtered. “You work for me?”

Evanston nodded as if there was nothing remotely disturbing about his suggestion. “Face it Sam. You’ve fought demons and evil your entire life. You only know one side of the story. You need me to facilitate your transition.”

Sam nodded, finally coming to an understanding of his adversary. “The perks of second-in-line versus nothing at all?”

“Exactly.” Evanston leaned forward. “You see, it can work out for both of us.”

Sam turned away as if considering the options.

“You know the right thing to do, Sam. Say the word and the power is yours and I will be at your side to help you the whole way. What more could you need or want? You’ll have anything you ever wanted.”

Sam shook his head. “Dean…”

Evanston jumped to his feet and cut Sam off. “Damn it, Sam. I know you’ve spent time at his side, but you’ve shown you can live without him. You went off to school. You’ve got to let this Dean-thing go. This is not part of the deal. He made his deal and it must be honored. There is an order to be respected.”

“Dean’s the only one I want working at my side.” Sam spun around and with a non-necessary flick of his wrist, he sent Evanston crashing against the far wall of the room.

His chest heaving, Evanston pulled himself to his feet. “So this is your decision? Only one of us will walk out of this room?”

“I control my destiny, not you.” With that Sam slammed his enemy across the room again. Suddenly he felt the air being sucked out of his lungs as he was thrown against the fireplace. He felt the heat clinging to his back and pulled himself away.

“You really didn’t think I’d go down without a fight, did you?” Evanston was staring at him with ice cold eyes. “I’ve been preparing for this far longer than you. I know you don’t need to resort to such animalist methods of killing.” He stepped closer. “Bashing people across the room? How juvenile.”

Sam pushed with his mind to force some action upon Evanston, who was bearing down on him. Evanston seemed suddenly able to block his every move. Sam wondered if he hadn’t underestimated. He found himself wishing Dean was here to help.

“There are far better ways to kill a man, Sam.”

With those words searing pain shot through Sam’s mind. His eyes clenches shut and his hands went immediately to the sides of his head. It felt like his skull was being ripped apart from within. Visions had never brought near this agony. He felt his mind beginning to swirl.

Evanston stopped. “See the power you could have claimed?”

Sam pulled his eyes open and met the man’s glare with one of his own. “I’d rather die.”

Evanston smiled wickedly. “That was just what the others needed to know. Now you will.”

The pain returned. Sam crumbled to the floor and curled into a ball, willing the pain to go away. He was quickly losing the ability to think or focus. His last thoughts were of Dean. He’d never be able to save him now… and in essence; his death would now be in vain, as Sam would go first.

Sam was left to wonder if he would join Dean in hell or find some other place to rest? Would he be lucky enough to be with his parents? Maybe it would be better to be in hell with Dean? But then, would it be hell?

Sam’s thoughts stopped when the pain suddenly receded. He opened his eyes and saw that Evanston had backed off. Glancing around the room, he saw why.

Dean stood in the foyer, pointing a gun at Evanston. Sam and Evanston exchanged glances. They both knew Dean’s efforts were futile.

Evanston, however, grinned. “Ah, Dean. Perfect timing. Welcome to the final destruction of the Winchester clan.” He stepped back from Sam. “Who will die first? Will Dean watch Sam writhe in agony as the pain melts his brain? Or will Sam watch as Dean’s all too short time is brought to an end?” He rubbed his hands together in sickening glee.

“Oh dude! What was that? You’re wringing your hands? You’ve been watching too many B movies.” Dean moved forward, closing the distance. He knew he was up against a psychic but he was going to do what he could before Evanston made a move.

Sam couldn’t help but suppress a chuckle at Dean’s bravado. It was pure Dean before him.

Dean was quickly at Sam’s side, offering an arm up, keeping his gun trained on Evanston.

“You think it will be this easy?” Evanston remarked, very amused with himself. “You think I’ll just let you walk out the door and it will be the end?”

Dean shook his head. “No, this doesn’t end until you’re dead.”

Evanston grinned. “And how do you intend to make that happen?”

“You’re human. You can die.” Dean tightened his hold on the gun and pulled back on the trigger. “That’s how I do it.” The gunshot echoed through the room.

In the next instant, Dean was flung back against the wall. He was pinned there and his gun and the fired bullet flew across the room to gently land in Evanston’s hand. “That’s how I do it.” He stepped toward Dean, leaving Sam behind him. “I was going to leave you alive to watch Sam die and spend your final days in grief, but you pulled that damn trigger. Now, you have to die first.” With no physical action, a bloody slash appeared across Dean’s chest. He cried out in pain. “And it won’t be slow.”

He made another gouge in Dean’s chest and then began collapsing his windpipe. Sam watched in horror as his brother suffocated before him. He forced his mind to focus, concentrate on some hidden power, but it was still muddled.

Another cry from Dean forced Sam to take a deep breath. He saw only one chance. Mustering his remaining focus, he built a shield around himself, praying Dean could hang on those precious seconds. Using the shield to blind his motions, he pulled himself to his feet and stepped quickly behind Evanston.

Placing his hands on either side of Evanston’s head, the man finally recognized Sam’s presence. He began to turn, calling out Sam’s name, as Sam jerked his head in the opposite direction, breaking his neck.

Sam could just see the wild terror in Evanston's dead eyes as he crumbled to Sam's feet.

Please remember, this story was planned and written long before season three began, so the crossroads demon is the owner of the contract with Dean in my version.

Chapter Twenty-one

Dean slumped back against the wall, but managed to avoid the floor by clutching his knees. His chest heaved as he attempted to regain control of his thundering heart and gasping lungs.

When he was finally able to lift his head, he captured Sam’s gaze. After a moment of mutual gratitude his eyes dropped to Evanston’s cooling body. “Damn, Sammy.” He wheezed. “All those VanDamme movies paid off.” A grin spread across his face and brought him renewed strength. He straightened up. “No demon skills needed for that.”

He couldn’t force the façade any longer and slid to the ground, clutching his chest.

.... Supernatural....

Hours later, Dean started to roll over in his sleep but was rudely awakened by the sharp pain radiating across his chest. He gasped and felt the bed at his side sink as he opened his eyes. He groaned as Sam came into focus.

“That will teach you to move.” Sam chided gently, offering pills and a bottle of water.

Dean pulled himself slowly higher up onto the pillow and accepted Sam’s offering. “How long have I been out?”

Sam smiled. “Only a few hours… But it was nice. I could patch you up without listening to you whine.”

“Bitch!” Dean sniped.

“Jerk!” Sam countered. He sobered. “Need anything else?”

Dean shook his head. “Na… I’m fine.”

Sam smiled sheepishly. “Well, you will be. I only needed to take a few stitches in some of the deeper areas.” He offered the water bottle. “But you should drink more water for your throat.”

Dean rolled his eyes and grumbled. “Freakin’ mother hen.”

“Hey! You saved my life… again. You owe me some mother-henning.” Sam straightened the covers around Dean until his hands were slapped away. He took the hint and switched over to the other bed. “Seriously, you need anything else? You want to try food?”

Dean shook his head. “What happened back there?” There was that note of hurt and confusion again that went straight to Sam’s guilty heart. “Those guards? They were straight out of ‘The Three Stooges.” They couldn’t do anything right. All they did was get in my way.”

Sam swallowed and nervously looked away. It was enough for Dean to piece things together. “You did it. You? What the hell did you do to them?”

Sam tried to make it a joke. He grinned as if he was proud of his work. “I suggested they couldn’t hurt you.”

Dean frowned. “You couldn’t have told them to leave me alone?”

Sam’s attempt at humor disappeared. “Dean… I couldn’t risk you being there.”

“When you confronted him? And yet I seem to recall saving your ass? How do you explain that, wise one?” Dean’s voice was tinged with both anger and pride.

Sam sighed. “Thank you.”

“Thank you? That’s all I get?” Dean’s anger pushed him forward, but he winced as the pain forced him back down.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “You used to complain that we never get thanked.”

Dean scowled and looked away. “This isn’t funny, Sam. I don’t have enough time left for this shit.”

Sam almost opened his mouth. He almost told Dean not to worry. He almost admitted his plan, but he didn’t. He knew Dean would never believe him or want him to take the risk.

That night, Dean had seen Sam caved on the floor, curled up in a ball by a human with psychic ability. How would Dean ever believe that after that incident, Sam had found the inner strength he needed to destroy the crossroad’s demon?

“How about that trip to Disneyland?”

.... Supernatural....

Dean watched as Sam slept on the bed across from him. Dean had precious little time left. He’d wanted to simply enjoy his final days, but the situation with Sam nagged at him.

They’d come to Bobby’s, not Disneyland. Dean wanted to be near the closest thing he had to a home when the time came for him to leave. He’d already told Sam he was going alone and would leave at a time Sam least expected. He wasn’t going to give Sam any opportunity.

He also wasn’t going to give the damn Black Dogs a reason to hunt him down. He walked into the deal like a man and he’d close the deal in the same way. No demon hound was going to drag him kicking and screaming into hell. He’d meet the demon on her ground and present himself as a warrior with honor.

“How certain are you that what you brought back, is 100% pure Sam?”

Still the demon’s words haunted him. Since Evanston’s death, there was no indication anyone else was gunning for Sam’s job. Sure, there were demons to fight, but word on the street, from a demon Bobby vanquished two days earlier, was that Sam was considered to be out of the running for the job. Now, he was no more than a normal hunter threat. None of them seemed worried about Sam’s abilities. They even seemed to know what had happened at the farmhouse.

I shouldn’t worry, right?

That’s what he kept trying to tell himself. Sam’s abilities had been almost useless in the long run against Evanston. They seemed to help him enough to keep him relatively safe, but not enough to make him a target.

I shouldn’t worry, right?

Dean had watched Sam’s face when he twisted Evanston’s neck like a pretzel. There was no hesitation. No remorse. There was no Sammy.

What nagged at Dean was Sam’s lack of guilt.

Maybe the demon had been right?

Sam had taught Dean all about gray. Although Dean spent most of his life seeing their job as black and white, Sam had forced Dean time and time again to note the gray that surrounded them. It was the gray that fueled the guilt Sam often felt when a human death occurred.

Sam had spared vampires and agonized over the loss of a human possessed by a demon. Dean thought of Max. Recently, Sam had killed a human in a relatively cold-blooded way. He’d never seen such a deliberate, violent act from his baby brother, the boy who always saw gray.

So why was this death different for Sam?

“Damit Dean… Stop watching me. What is it you expect me to do?” Sam grumbled out his words as he rolled onto his side and switched on the light to face a surprised Dean.

“What the hell are you talking about? A man wakes up and happens to look over at his brother and now all of a sudden it’s a crime?” Dean plotted quickly to cover his tracks.

Sam glared at Dean, unwilling to accept the line of bull he’d been handed.

Dean swallowed, slumped back and turned away from Sam.

Sam wasn’t going to let it rest. “Ask the question, Dean.”

“Go to sleep, Sam.”

Sam sat up and switched on the light. “Dean, don’t do this. Not now. What’s going on in your head?”

Dean sighed, still facing away from Sam. He closed his eyes and sought the right words, finally rolling over to face his brother. “You snapped that bastard’s neck, Sammy. You just walked up and snapped it like a twig. You didn’t even use your super powers.”

Sam nodded. “So you think I’ve really gone dark-side and this…” He gestured around the room, indicating their time together. “Is a sham for your benefit? So you can die without worrying about me? Without wondering if you should have killed me?”

Dean nodded. “Basically.” He shook away the thought that Sam had read his mind.

Sam laughed and fell back on the bed. “All those years you and dad wanted me to be tough. I finally am and you think I’m evil.”

Dean scowled. “That’s not it, Sam.”

Sam nodded and turned on his side to face Dean. “I was using my powers. I shielded my movements from him. I was too tired to do anything else. When I got to him, I realized I didn’t really know how to use my powers to kill him.” He paused. “If you’ll recall, I haven’t actually killed a demon with my mighty-mind.”

Dean’s face acknowledged the logic behind Sam’s explanation.


Sam cut him off with a held up hand. “Dean, you don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine. I know what I’m doing.” He chuckled. “It’s not like you see me using my powers all the time, right? I’ve got things under control.” He shook his head. “You know what I’ve been thinking about?”

Dean waited for Sam to continue, but when he didn’t, he growled. “Oh for crying out loud, I have to ask?”

Sam chuckled. “Well, this is getting awfully chick-flickish. I was waiting for you to tell me to shut up. That you didn’t care what I’m thinking about.”

“I always care, Sammy.” Dean shot his brother half a smile. “I just don’t always want to hear it.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “I was thinking about back in Chicago. You wanted us to be a family and I told you I wasn’t going to live this life forever.”

“Yeah… I was there.”

“I told you when the time came; you were going to have to let me go my own way.” Sam raised an eyebrow, daring Dean to get to the same page he was on. “Now look at us. You’re telling me I have to let you go.”

“Soon.” Dean whispered.

“Too soon.” Sam replied. He let out a long sigh. “Then dad died and I couldn’t think of anything but hunting.”

“And now?” Dean asked, genuinely interested in where Sam’s head was.

“If I can’t save you, I just want it to end.”

Dean’s eyes lit up with worry. “Sammy! You’re not talking… I mean, I did this so you’d live…”

Sam shook his head. “No… I’m not going to kill myself. I just want out. I want the demons to leave me alone and hell, I’m ready to leave them alone.”

“That hunting urge has died, huh?”

“I wouldn’t mind a quiet life.” Sam pondered the idea in his mind.

“You’d be bored.” Dean teased.

“I’ll risk it.” Sam replied.

They lapsed into silence. Dean was still troubled by something Sam said though. “Sam. What you said earlier… You’re not still planning on trying something, are you? I mean, you have to let me go. I made this deal. I’m going to honor it. There’s only one thing you can do for me now.”

“What’s that?”

“Live.” Dean smiled. “I don’t give a rat’s ass if you hunt or go back to school. I just want you to carve out a corner of happiness and live for the rest of us… Be safe.”

Sam said nothing. Dean knew it meant he was planning something. “Seriously, Sammy. Nothing. You’re not going to do anything. Right? Promise me.”

Sam’s demeanor grew cold. “I can’t do that, Dean. I won’t.”

Dean returned the silence. He reached over, switched out the light and rolled away from Sam. He knew words were useless. Sam would try something stupid and it would make all he’d sacrificed for nothing. It angered him. He wanted Sam to see reason and just accept the situation. If he was honest however, he knew he would do the same in Sam’s shoes.

As Dean lay in the darkness, he formed his own plan. He wasn’t about to let Sam take this chance, powers or no powers.

The following night, Dean told Sam he wanted a special dinner out, his last supper so to speak. He even made reservations at the finest restaurant in town for the three of them and required Bobby to put on a shirt and tie.

During the meal, he set his plan in motion. Subtly, when Sam was distracted by menus or ordering or his meal, Dean slipped small doses of a sleeping pill into Sam’s food and drink. Bobby had seen him, but said nothing.

Later, as Sam struggled to stay awake, Dean delivered the other men beers. Sammy’s was of course dosed with a final tablet. He barely made it to bed without help.

Dean spent an hour watching his sleeping brother and finally rose from the opposite bed and placed a short note on the nightstand.

He met Bobby at the bottom of the stairs. “He’s going to be furious in the morning.”

Dean grinned. “More like late afternoon with the dose I gave him.” Then he sobered. “It will be over by then.”

Bobby’s lower lip trembled ever so slightly. “You Winchesters are too damn stubborn.”

Dean sighed. “Yeah, I love you too, Bobby.” He choked back the emotion and continued. “Take care of him… Whatever he wants… I mean, except that going evil, part.”

Bobby nodded. There was silence between them. “I gassed up the van. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather take the Impala?”

Dean shook his head. “No, I can’t do that to her. She’s taken good care of me. I can’t ask her to do this.” He accepted the keys Bobby offered. “Better to go out feeling like a freakin’ soccer mom.” He quickly added. “This isn’t a mini-van, is it?” He prayed it wasn’t. His soccer mom comment had been a lie.

“No, a bug.”

Dean’s eyes widened in disgust. “A bug? As in Beetle? As in VW?” He groaned. “Kill me now.”

Neither man was the type to draw out a good-bye, much less a permanent one. Dean held out his hand. Bobby grabbed at his forearm and then pulled him in for a brief hug. They parted and Dean slipped out into the night.

Bobby turned away from the door and heard a creak from the hallway. He looked to the noise and met a wide-awake Sam.

Chapter Twenty-two

“Why aren’t you asleep?” To describe Bobby as startled was an understatement.

“I know you weren’t part of the advanced planning.” Sam explained. “But Dean couldn’t really believe I wouldn’t expect something from him.”

“You read his mind?” Bobby surmised.

“Every detail and I know exactly where he’s going. And I knew not to eat or drink anything tonight.” Sam added. “The floor is a mess under our table.”

Bobby considered his options in the situation. He didn’t really want to get in Sam’s way, but he didn’t want Sam to die either. He hadn’t been brought in on Sam’s situation until very recently.

“You can’t stop me either, Bobby.” Sam watched as the older man’s eyes glanced to the phone on the wall. “And you’re not calling him to warn him either.” It was a command. One that Bobby couldn’t refuse.

This was one of the moments when Sam knew he had to use what he’d been given and he didn’t feel badly about it… at least not at the moment. He knew he might one day regret it, but it was more important to save Dean. He also suspect Bobby would forgive him if they all survived. It was worth the risk.

There was no cost too high in saving his brother’s soul from hell.

Bobby looked sadly at Sam. “You’re going to unleash everything?” He and Dean had talked about keeping Sam’s powers to a minimum.

“I’m going to do what I have to in order to save Dean.” Sam seemed frustrated that he didn’t have Bobby’s full cooperation. “You can’t possibly want him to go through with this? You can’t want him in hell?”


Sam sighed. “But you’re afraid of me now?”

Bobby knew it was pointless to pretend otherwise. “Go save him.”

“I intend to.”


Sam willed the wind to rise to hide the sound of the Impala pulling in behind Dean’s borrowed bug. He couldn’t help but grin at the bright yellow beetle that Dean was driving to his doom. “That’s just plain wrong, girl. It should have been you.” He sighed. “Dean is your only true driver and I’m bringing him back to you.”

He shook his head at how like Dean he sounded. “I’m talking to the car.”

He followed the road, but stayed back as he watched Dean wait in the clearing. The moonlight illuminated the area. Sam knew Dean was waiting for the demon, in some form, to arrive.

He didn’t wait long. A beautiful brunette, in a skimpy dress and well stacked, sauntered into the clearing. Sam couldn’t help but groan at how the demon had selected a woman that was exactly Dean’s type. He slipped closer in order to hear.

“Well, Dean. Look at you, come to pay the piper.”

Dean smirked. “Yeah, well it’s the least I could do considering the fine set of pipes on that stolen body.”

The demon grinned. “Oh Dean, you’re ever the charmer. I doubt it will help you though. There are a lot of demons waiting for your arrival.”

Dean held his hands out. “Let’s get on with it.”

She held out her hand to stop him. “Don’t you want to wait and see Sam die?”

“What?” Dean’s eyes flashed with anger. “What are you talking about? I kept my end of the deal. I’m here. Sam’s safe. You promised. You gave your word.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I also said you couldn’t try and get out of the deal.”

“I haven’t.” Dean sounded almost as if he was pleading. “What’s your game?”

“What’s yours? Why is Sam here? He just here to watch your descent to hell?”

Dean followed her gaze and spun around to find Sam behind him. “How? I… Damnit, Sam!” Dean screamed his anger at his brother and abruptly shoved Sam backward in fury. Fear clutched at his heart and he turned back to the demon. “He’s just here. He’s not stopping anything. Let’s get on with it.”

“You’re wrong. He is interfering.” As if on cue, her human body began to tremble. She turned her now black eyes back to Sam. “Is this how you want it? You really think you can take me on?”

Sam said nothing. He merely moved closer. His eyes narrowed and the demon emitted a small, choked scream. She quickly regained her composure and Sam stumbled, but continued to draw nearer.

Dean turned to Sam and grabbed his shoulders. “Stop it, Sam. Don’t do this. I was there remember? I saw what happened with Evanston. Don’t do this.”

Sam averted his eyes from the demon to Dean. “I learned a lot from him. I can do this, Dean. No one is going to hell but that damn demon.”

“No, Sam, you can’t do this.” Dean pushed Sam backward again. He knew the best he could do was break Sam’s concentration and yet he wasn’t sure that was a good idea with an angry demon present either.

“Oh no you don’t.” The demon was instantly next to the brothers. She looked at Dean and he felt his body flying through the air to be pinned to a sign at the edge of the road. “It’s time to let the big kids play, Deanie. Sam started this and I’m going to finish it.”

Sam grinned, confidence pouring from every inch of him. “Bring it on, bitch.”

Dean fought the invisible bonds that held him in place. “STOP THIS! SAM… STOP NOW!” He coughed and sputtered as he clenched for breaths. “I came. I’m here. LET HIM GO!”

The demon turned to Dean. “Don’t worry Dean. This isn’t about your deal any longer. You’re still going to hell. This is about Sammy’s little power trip. I’m the lucky one. There’s a lot of us jumping at the bit to take out the great Sammy Winchester, divined leader extraordinaire.”

With a flick of her head, she sent Sam flying into a tree stump. All Dean heard was a sickening snapping sound. He had no idea if it was botanical or his brother’s body. “SAM!” He couldn’t quite see what was happening.

The demon shook her head as Sam struggled to rise. “The thing about humans playing with our powers is that they are human. They’re so damn fragile. Sure, your mind might be powerful, but all we have to do is break a few bones…” She snapped at Sam’s arm and it clearly broke. The bone protruded, nearly breaking through skin. “and then human is distracted. They can’t focus.”

Sam took a deep breath and summoned the energy to rise to his feet. He stood before her and sent her flying backward. “Unless you can ignore pain?”

He strode forward. “Dean met his end of the deal. He didn’t back out. Let him go or die.”

The demon pushed herself up on her elbows and laughed. “Yeah, right.”

Dean was suddenly released. He fell to his knees. He couldn’t immediately move, so he merely looked up and watched the scene play out before him. “Stop this Sam.” He pleaded over and over again.

His body trembled and his lips quivered as he watched the silent, non-physical battle between his brother and the demon that would guide him to hell. They were obviously asserting or attempting to assert control over each other. Their faces contorted with the pain of their efforts.

This battle wasn’t being fought in the physical realm.

Dean studied his brother carefully for signs of fatigue or distress, not that he knew how to help. Sam’s jacket was torn and covered in blood from where he must have hit the stump. He cradled his left arm, which was obviously broken. Dean wanted to hope that his brother could win this battle, but the physical evidence suggested otherwise. As the battle raged on, Sam began to slump and soon dropped to his knees.

And yet, the demon didn’t seem to be winning either. She wasn’t any better off.

Dean’s body still didn’t want to obey him, but he pushed himself forward. On hands and knees he inched closer to his brother. He was within feet of Sam when he felt a force prevent him from going closer. He looked up and briefly made eye contact with Sam knowing it was him.

Dean was horrified to see blood oozing from Sam’s ears and nose. He could only imagine the damage being done to his brother’s magnificent brain. “Stop this Sam… Please.”

Sam whimpered. “I’m sorry, Dean.”

“He’ll stop soon enough.” The demon spit out the words. She summoned some final reserve and with less than a blink, Sam cried out and collapsed in a heap on the ground. She did as well.

“I told you.” She looked at Dean and then tried to rise to her feet, but faltered.

It was clear to Dean that Sam had done some damage. He was proud of his brother. He crawled to Sam and pulled him into his arms. “Sam? Sammy? Come on, little brother.” He slapped lightly at Sam’s cheek.

“It’s over.” The demon pulled herself slowly up and glared at Sam and Dean. “He’s dead. Now you can go find him in hell.”

Dean’s fingers drifted over Sam’s neck searching for a pulse. Then he clutched at Sam’s uninjured arm and felt at his wrist for one as well. “No… no… no…” He muttered over and over until he felt a cold hand on his.

“Your turn now, Dean.” Her voice was cold and bitter. She had dragged herself over and her eyes swirled inky blackness.

She glanced over her shoulder and a portion of the land beyond the road began to shimmer. “There it is. The one-way passage to hell. Anyone can go through it, but no one comes back.”

“My dad did.” Dean barked, his own heart thundering in his chest. His whole world had spun out of control in a mental battle of wills between his brother and the demon.

She laughed weakly. “Who will be around to open a Devil’s Gate for you, Dean?”

Dean shook his head. “No… You broke the deal. Sam’s dead.” Dean didn’t really care about his life or future at the moment. He knew only that he didn’t want to give in to the bitch now.

“Who broke the deal, Dean?” She laughed again, although even more weakly. “Time to go.”

Dean felt his body compelled to move toward the mirage. He couldn’t fight it. It was almost as if he was floating. He did manage to squirm around and he kept his eyes on Sam’s body. Better to see his brother than the waiting fires of hell. His breath came in short, halting gasps. “I’m sorry, Sammy. I never wanted this.” It came out as a whisper.

There were no words to describe the environment Dean felt himself pulled into. Words would always escape him. All he knew is that just as he crossed the threshold, he seemed to get stuck.


Sam sensed cold and grit as he returned to awareness. He pulled his head up and coughed away the dirt clinging to his mouth. He looked around just in time to see Dean’s body being enveloped by a shimmering mirage across the road. “No!”

The demon glared at him, stunned to see him alive. “Ready to join him?”

Sam shook his head. “No, but you will. He met his end of the deal. He’s in hell. Now, bring him back.”

The demon laughed uncontrollably. She’d had a moment to regain some strength.

Sam wiped at the blood flowing across his mouth from his nose. His eyes narrowed and he focused on the demon before him, who seemed oblivious. Drawing on what he had learned from Evanston, he willed her dead.

She screamed. Sam was pulling the demon from the human body and forcing it to take Dean’s place in hell.

All with his own mind.

The effort caused the blood to resume flowing and Sam’s face grew paler and paler as the seconds ticked by.

Dean felt his body slipping back. His head reappeared in the normal world and he looked up to see Sam’s raised head focused on the demon. “That’s my boy!” Dean cheered in his mind. His heart couldn’t help but leap at the continued battle his little brother waged for his soul. “Go, Sammy.”

The female human body collapsed to the dirt and a cloud of black smoke poured into the air. Dean fell to the ground landing on his hands and knees and watched as the portal to hell began to close.

He closed his eyes knowing it would all be for nothing. The demon would simply find another host and come after the brothers again. All they’d managed to do was buy more time. He opened his eyes and looked to Sam, who met his gaze.

Sam drew the same conclusion. His eyes went to the portal and he focused his remaining energy on holding it open. At the same time, he was commanding the black smoke to enter it but forming a field around it, preventing it from dissipating.

With an agonizing, guttural scream, Sam pushed the demon smoke into the entryway to hell and at the same moment, closed the portal.

His head dropped back to the dirt and he was aware of nothing until he felt Dean’s arms pulling him to his chest.

“That a boy, Sammy. You did it. You sent that bitch to hell.” Dean tilted Sam’s head so he could see it.

Sam’s eyes fluttered open. “Dean?”

Dean grinned. “I’m here, Sammy. You did it. You sent her to hell.” He choked. “You saved me…well, until she climbs out of hell.” He tried to make his voice into teasing banter.

Sam shook his head. “Destroyed her.” He coughed and sputtered, releasing blood from somewhere inside from the corner of his mouth.

Dean had an overwhelming feeling of loss pass over him. “Don’t do this Sammy. Don’t leave me now. Don’t you do it!”

Sam tried to smile. “Closed the portal on her… she dies… for good… you’re safe…”

Sam was having a harder time breathing. His eyes rolled in their sockets as he struggled to keep them open.

“Hang on, Sam. We’ll get you help. Just hang on.” Dean pleaded as he fumbled to carry his brother to the Impala.

“Dean?” Sam called out. “I had to save you. It was worth it.” He grinned this time.

“You never do listen to me, bitch.” Dean felt his brother slipping from him.

“Jerk.” Sam spoke his final word and then his eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped against his brother.



A wicked glare cut the teen’s voice instantly. A finger to the lips and gesture to the man sleeping on the lounge chair followed.

The teen nodded and backed away.

“That wasn’t necessary.” A groggy voice rose from the chair. “I wasn’t sleeping.”

Dean snorted. “Yeah, right. Try again Mr. Van Winkle.”

Sam groaned and rolled over. He pulled the blanket which had slipped, tighter around his shoulders. “What time is it?”

“Late enough. The party is breaking up.”

Sam smiled sheepishly. “Was it good?”

Dean rolled his eyes. “If you hadn’t slept through it, you’d know.”

Sam nodded. “Sorry.” He coughed mildly and sighed. “I was dreaming.”

“Good dream or bad dream?” Dean asked, glancing over his shoulder to the kitchen window where he exchanged knowing glances with Sarah. He knew at least it was simple dreams. The visions were long since over.

Sam smiled, despite closing his eyes. “Well, you’re still here, not burning in hell, so…” He pretended to think, drawing out his answer. “Good. I guess.”


Sam continued to smile. “Jerk.” He pulled his eyes open. “It seems like yesterday.”

“Yeah, well it wasn’t. It’s better forgotten, don’t you think?” Dean took a long slug of his beer, scowling at the flat taste.

Sam shook his head. “No way. That was a big day for me.”

Dean growled. “Sure Sam… We’ve heard this before. The great Sam Winchester saves his brother from the awful deal. Yadda Yadda Yadda.”

Sam ignored his brother’s rant and rolled onto his back, gazing at the sky above them.

“I didn’t do it alone, Dean.” Sam whispered. He’d held this precious secret for far too long. He knew it had been selfish, but the memory meant too much to him. He didn’t want to share it on the chance Dean convinced him it hadn’t happened. He was ready now. He didn’t need Dean to believe or not. He knew it was enough that he did and there was no room or time for secrets between them any longer.

“Really? There was someone else there? I mean, I did my best, but… Bobby? I was prepared to honor the deal, Sam.”

“Until the demon was going to kill me anyway.” Sam smirked.

Dean’s growl grew louder. “If you hadn’t shown up, it wouldn’t have been an issue.”

“And you’d be dead.”

“And…” Dean sighed. “I’d be dead.” He thought back to that day. “I thought for sure you were dead, dude. I checked for a pulse and then the bitch started pushing me into hell.”

“I don’t know if I was or wasn’t. I guess I’ll never know.” He pulled himself up on the chair. “I thought it was over. I was sure I’d failed. I was so sure I knew how to kill her and save you. All I remember was being pissed and feeling like a failure.”

Dean released a quiet snort. “Welcome to the club.”

Sam grinned. “But then I heard a voice.”

Dean beamed. “Mine.”

Sam shook his head. “No… I didn’t recognize it at first, but then it pulled me up. I was stunned.” Sam got lost in the memory and grew quiet.

Dean groaned. “Do you have to be such a drama queen? What the hell was it?”

Sam swallowed and turned to face his brother. There were unspent tears glistening in the corners of his eyes.

“Dad?” Sam shook his head and looked away. He couldn’t face his father after such a brutal failure. “No… I’m sorry. I tried… I couldn’t save him.” Then it occurred to him that his father might still be able to help Dean, like before. “Dad? Can you help him, please? Can you save him? You have to save him!”

John Winchester knelt down at Sam’s side and raised his son’s chin to face him.

Sam was bewildered by the compassion and warmth in his father’s gaze. He felt it spreading through him, pushing life back into his body. He assumed it was all his father could offer. As at the devil’s gate, he assumed his father would be silent. He was content to die in his father’s warming spirit. It felt selfish in light of Dean’s agony, but he couldn’t fight it.

“No, Sammy. I can’t. But you can.”

Sam was alarmed at both the words and the suggestion. “But dad? I can’t. I failed. I’ve got nothing left.”

John Winchester smiled at his youngest. “You’re wrong, Sam. You’ve got the heart of a Winchester.” He rested his hand against Sam’s chest. “You’ll never fail Dean, just like he’s never failed you.”

“Just like you’ve both never failed either of us.”

The second voice, lighter and higher, drifted from behind them. Sam turned his head to see his mother coming around to join his father. “Mom?”

She smiled and took the hand he reached out to her. “I’m sorry it’s been so hard, Sam. But it’s almost over. All you have to do is save Dean now.”

Sam’s eyes closed and he groaned. “I can’t. I want to, but I’m so tired. I can’t… I’m not strong enough.”

Mary ran her iridescent hand across her baby’s cheek. “Maybe not alone, but we’re here with you now.”

Sam opened his eyes to find his parents gone. He looked over to the portal where Dean was being sucked through. “NO!” Power returned to his mind.

Dean fell back against the chair. “Why didn’t you tell me?” His question came out as a whisper.

“I… I wasn’t sure it even happened at first.” He grinned softly. “My mind wasn’t exactly clear at the time… or for some time after that.”

Dean snorted. “That’s for sure. Damn, even after I got you back to Isabella, I wasn’t sure you were going to make it. Your brain was mush.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “A fact you’ve loved pointing out for years now. But I had to come back. Someone needed to keep you in check. Course, it would have been easier if those demon gifts hadn’t burned out.” Sam grew somber and ran a hand along the stocking cap on his head. “Course, now it’s true.”

Dean swallowed back the bile that rose instantly in his throat. He preferred to live in denial. He wasn’t going to acknowledge the cancer eating away at his brother’s brain giving him only months to live. When he was first diagnosed, Dean had argued for some supernatural intervention, but after long thought, Sam and Sarah convinced him it was time to allow Sam the dignity of a natural life.

The brothers fell into silence.

“Um, seriously, Gramp? Can I?”

Dean looked over his shoulder. “What is it, J?” Before him stood his 18 year old grandson. Who would have figured Dean would find a woman and settle down? Well, attempt anyway. The marriage hadn’t lasted, but a great daughter with all Dean’s best and worse traits came from the union and she’d presented her father with a grandson.

Sarah slipped in behind her great-nephew and sat on the end of Sam’s lounge chair, pushing his legs over and offering him a cup of some warm beverage. “The kids are getting ready to head out.” She said softly.

“There’s a poltergeist running amok about ninety miles from here. Mom thought you might want to head over with us.” John Winchester was the spitting image of his grandfather at that age, down to the smirk in his smile and twinkle in his eye.

Sam grinned as he looked from Sarah to his brother. “Have fun.”

Dean feigned a scowl. “Fun? Damn it, Sam. This is work. This is serious stuff.”

Sam nodded, pretending to accept his reprimand. “Right. Burn the bastard for me, will ya?”

Dean raised an eyebrow, but deliberately avoided his sister-in-law’s face. “Hey, why don’t you come with us for old time’s sake? I bet if you tried, you could dredge up some demon skills.”

John quickly added. “Yeah, Uncle Sam. It’ll be awesome. We can take the bucket.”

Dean’s eyes flashed with anger. “DON’T CALL HER THAT!” Dean’s grandson had many great qualities, but he’d never held any respect for his granddad’s classic, black Impala.”

John laughed and dashed away before he could get in more trouble.

Dean took a calming breath and turned back to Sam. “So, what do you say?”

“You’re never going to believe those powers are gone, are you?” Sam rolled his eyes.

Dean grinned. “You’re my little brother. I know better. I always know when you’re hiding something. Besides, how else would such a class act agree to marry you?” He winked at Sarah. “Much less support us all these years with her money. You had to have mojo-ed her.”

Sam snorted. “Yeah, right.” Sam smiled, and reached out for Sarah’s hand. “I think I’m good here. Maybe another time?”

Dean nodded and smiled at Sarah. Neither would acknowledge reality. There wouldn’t be another time for Sam.

“OK, then. I’m off to teach these youngsters the right way to destroy evil.” He shook his head. “You wouldn’t believe the stuff they try.” He rolled his eyes. “Kids these days.”

He walked off muttering and then stopped just before entering the house. “You sure you don’t want to come, Bitch?” He had to try again. This was his baby brother. He’d always try, always fight for him.

Sam laughed. “Get out of here, ya Jerk. Before John thinks he can drive.” He tugged Sarah’s arm and she complied and settled in next to him on the lounge chair.

The End...