The Roadhouse was quiet so early in the morning, the sun not even risen yet. Ellen and Jo were sound asleep and would be for another few hours. Sam felt bad, leaving behind just a note to say his goodbyes for him. But he couldn't face them... He couldn't look them in the eyes and tell them goodbye. He was much too weak for that.
So he slipped through the darkness, bag over his shoulder, to leave his note on the bar next to the phone. He hoped they wouldn't be too upset with him, that they'd still talk to him when he called in the future. He knew they'd need time though, that Ellen would definitely yell at him the next time they spoke. And Dean and Mom... well, it would probably be another few years until he saw them again, any ill feelings would either be gone completely or amplified times-ten.
Swallowing thickly, he looked around the bar one last time, hoisting his bag higher on his shoulder, and began to walk to the door.
"So that's it then?" A voice called out from the darkness, causing Sam to jump. He spun around, eyes wide and reaching for his knife on instinct until he recognized the voice. "No goodbyes? Just a note on the bar?"
"I thought you were at your motel..."
Dean marched forward, his footsteps heavy with anger. Justified anger. "And that's the worst part, isn't it? That you weren't even going to tell Mom and I bye. You were just going to disappear into the dark."
"Couldn't or wouldn't?"
"Both, okay?" Sam snapped, looking up at his brother. "The sooner I leave, the less I leave behind, the sooner everyone else can get back to their own lives. The sooner they forget I was even here. I'm horrible at goodbyes, Dean, and I hate them because that means I'll always have to see the disappointment in people's eyes and know that as soon as I turn away that I'm no longer going to exist in their minds! Call me selfish but I don't want to see that!"
Dean blinked at him, wide eyes visible even in the darkened room. "You... you think we're going to forget you? Out of sight, out of mind or some crap like that? Sam... Sammy, we could never forget you, especially after this week. You mean too much to all of us to forget."
"But you did before..." He hadn't meant to say that out loud. It just slipped out. But now Dean was leaning in and he couldn't escape and-
"What does that mean?"
He swallowed and shifted on his feet. "Forget it, I'm just-"
"No, Sam, what does that mean? We forgot you before?" His large hand went to Sam's shoulder, shaking him gently to get him to look in his eyes. "When have we ever forgotten you?"
"I didn't mean to say that."
"But you did. I'm not letting you go until you tell me."
Frustration built in Sam, heaving in a breath and shoving Dean's hand off his shoulder. "Take your pick! If I'm not there, I don't exist! I'm fifteen years old and I've only met you twice that I remember! And I get that you're trying to play the part of the good big brother and make sure I feel welcomed or something but you can stop now! Please...! I'm trying to leave quietly so that you and Mom can go back to your lives before me-"
His legs were suddenly swept out from beneath him, a hand grabbing his shirt and pushing him backwards. Sam fell heavy on his back, the little air he had left in his lungs leaving as something much heavier landed on his chest.
"Now you listen here, you bitch, because I don't like repeating myself. I don't know where you got these ideas from but every single one of them is a load of crap! Do you have any idea how much Mom has cried over you? Over Dad? Or how often I would see some snot-nosed kid on the street and long to have you by my side? There's not a day that we went without thinking about you! Not one! God, every time a case involved brothers, I'd nearly lose it...! Do you really think I want us to be separated? Do you really think I would have spent a week hanging out with you and getting to know you and rubbing your damn back while you threw up if I didn't want to be around you? Hell, I was even going to wipe the blood from your damn nose before you bolted! Sam, I want to be your big brother more than anything! From the moment I found out I was going to have a little brother, I couldn't wait to meet you! And when you were a baby I used to climb into your crib at night and-" His voice cracked, tears dripping down his face and landing on Sam's cheek. Sam could only stare in bewildered wonder as Dean took a calming breath. "I love you, Sammy. This week with you has been one of the best weeks in my life, I don't want to forget it, and neither do the others."
Sam stared, tears burning his own eyes as his eyebrows pushed together before he was shaking his head and looking away. "But you... You never tried to find me again after that fight five years ago."
"We did! We kept checking in with Ellen and all the hunters we knew, trying to find where you were! Dad was supposed to give you a normal life, he was supposed to stay a civilian and let you grow up in a single school! When we found out he wasn't, that he was turning you into a hunter, Mom wanted you to come stay with us! We only hunted on the weekends back then while I was in school, and we'd have given that to you too. But I guess Dad went underground or something because no one could find you two for months. And each time you two popped up, you were gone not long after. We could never catch up fast enough."
The first hot tear escaped his eye, rolling down his cheek and into his hair. "You... You searched for me...?"
"We never stopped, Sammy." The hand holding his shirt released, Dean moving off of him to sit on the floor and hauled Sam up with him, pulling him to his chest. "Just say the word and we can leave, you can stay with me and Mom."
"I..." Sam's heart clenched in his chest. He wanted to stay with them, but he didn't want to leave Dad. "Dean, I..."
"Okay. I understand. I couldn't imagine leaving Mom after all this time either." There was shuffling as Dean moved, but Sam kept his face buried in his shoulder. "But we're not going to be disconnected again, you hear me? I'm not going to just let you disappear."
There was the sound of his bag unzipping, which caught Sam's attention enough for him to turn his head. Dean's hand was shifting through his bag, his frown increasing until he let out a victorious laugh and pulled out Sam's phone. He flipped it open, and Sam recognized as he worked his way to the contact list. A shot of hope ran through Sam, he'd be able to talk to his brother...!
"I'm putting both Mom and my number in here. Doesn't even have to be an emergency, you can call just to talk. And maybe next time Dad needs to leave you somewhere, you can talk him into staying with us."
Sam nodded against Dean's shoulder, heaving a sigh. "...I'm glad I got to know you, Dean."
Arms tightened around his, Dean's head resting on top of his. "I'm glad I got to know you too, Sammy." They stayed there for a minute longer before Dean tapped his shoulder and cleared his throat. "Alright, let's end this chick flick moment before someone wakes up and catches us. I have a reputation to keep."
Sam gave a short laugh, pulling back and wiping his eyes. "What reputation, jerk? You gave that up when you screamed like a girl yesterday."
"Bitch, that roach had some kinda personal grudge against me. I'm allowed to scream like that."
Sam knew the exact moment that his dad showed up at the Roadhouse.
He had been sitting in his room, eyes closed and back to the door, listening to the chatter coming from the others, trying to memorize their sounds. Dean was sitting next to him, arm over Sam's shoulder and completely silent, eyes staring at the far wall.
The chatter stopped completely in the bar.
Sam's eyes opened but didn't move otherwise. He could hear the forced politeness of the others as they greeted his dad. He had minutes left before he would leave.
"Time to go," Dean's voice broke the quiet, Sam nodding against him. Neither of them got up to leave.
A thought hit Sam suddenly, sitting up straighter and moving out from under Dean's arm. He tugged at a cord around his neck that stayed mostly hidden under his clothes, pulling it over his head and letting the brassy amulet hang in the air between them.
"It's a protection amulet, I got it years ago from Uncle Bobby's. It's kept me safe for so long..." He gave Dean a smile as he held out the amulet to him. "I want you to have it."
"Please, Dean. Just take it."
A smile tugged on his lips as Dean took the cord, bringing it closer to his face to see the little face and horns before slipping it over his head. "Thanks, Sammy."
"It's just me being selfish, giving you proof that you won't forget me." Sam's grin was filled with fake arrogance that he was sure Dean saw, but still didn't say anything. "You better tuck that in though, it hurts pretty bad if it smacks you in the face."
Dean's chest puffed out as he straightened his back and made a show of placing the amulet on the outside of his shirt.
"I warned you..."
They stood up then, starting to hear the voices in the bar raising. Dean grabbed Sam's bag and they left Sam's room together, walking out to meet their family.
The air in the bar was tense, all three adults in some sort of standoff and Jo looking just as fierce as her mother. All of them turned to face Sam and Dean as they walked in, John's eyes softening just a hair at the sight of his sons.
Dean offer a smile at the man, head held high and back straight. "Hey, Dad."
"Dean. You've grown up."
"Still a few more months until January, kid." His eyes landed on the bag Dean was carrying before drifting to Sam. "You have all your things?"
He nodded, turning around and starting to walk out. "Say your goodbyes, I'll be in the car."
They waited until he was gone before Mary rushed to wrap Sam in a hug. "You don't have to go, you can stay with us if you want to. We'd love to have you, Sam."
Sam's arms wrapped tightly around her, eyes starting to water again. "I can't... He needs me, I can't abandon him. I'm all he has left." He pulled back to look up at her, a hopeful smile in place. "But next time he needs to leave me behind, if it's okay...?"
"I'll keep a room ready for you." She smiled, brushing his bangs away from his face and planting a kiss on his forehead. Sam closed his eyes, hugging her tightly before slowly letting go and taking a step back.
He looked towards Ellen and Jo, stepping closer to them. "Thanks for taking care of me this last month, I had a lot of fun; probably one of the best months of my life. I'll never forget everything you've done for me."
The words were barely out his mouth before Ellen was wrapping him up in a hug of her own, hand brushing through his hair. "We're happy you enjoyed it, Sam. Don't be a stranger, you hear? Get your stubborn dad to let you come visit us more often, or I'll hunt you down myself and make you."
"I'll hold you to that." Sam laughed, but paused as he saw the frown on Jo's face. "What's wrong?"
"You were supposed to stay another couple of days. We were supposed to go to the fair together, I was going to force you on a roller coaster."
Sam's laugh joined in with everyone else's, and he tugged the girl towards him for a hug. "Next year, I promise. We'll go on all the rides until we puke."
She wrapped her arms tightly around Sam's neck before pulling back and punching him in the arm. "You better keep that promise or I'll do a lot worse than that."
He then looked to Dean, hands shoved into his pockets but smiling sadly at Sam. It wasn't goodbye forever, not by a long shot. But it would be goodbye for a long time... And after spending a week with his older brother, he couldn't help but feel the deep loneliness already settling into him. They had already said their piece to each other, there really wasn't anything left to say, but Sam went up to him and wrapped his arms around Dean all the same, relaxing as he felt his brother's strong arms circle him too.
"Don't forget me, okay? Or that amulet is going to smack you in the face and leave a physical reminder instead."
"I'd deserve it if I even thought of forgetting you." Arms tightened slightly before his hand came up and ruffled his hair. "Take care of yourself, bitch. I want to stay a big brother for a long time."
"Same to you, jerk."
They pulled away, both their faces a little red with emotions that they tried to shove down. They shared a smile before Sam took his bag from Dean and started towards the door, calling out to Ash as he went.
"See ya, Ash!"
The only response from the man sleeping on the pool table was a shifted groan. Sam laughed to himself before pausing at the door and looking back on the people standing around the room. He gave a little wave before pushing out the door and walking to the waiting Impala.
His dad was in the driver's seat, a map spread out on the steering wheel. He didn't look up as Sam threw his bag into the window of the backseat or when he climbed inside.
"You ready?" He asked once Sam was settled.
"Yeah. Where are we going?"
"East." Was all he said, throwing the car in reverse and starting to leave. Sam held back a sigh, already missing the conversations from Dean and the others. He looked at the Roadhouse, intending to watch it grow smaller in the window, but eyes widened when Dean ran out of it.
"Wait!" Sam shouted, startling his dad when he saw Dean waving at him as he rushed over. "Dad, hold on!"
John stepped on the break, jerking Sam forward in the seat. He had an angry set to his eyebrows before he spotted Dean running over, a more guarded look crossing his face instead. But Sam ignored it as he rolled down his window.
"Dean, what's wrong? Did I forget something?"
His older brother shook his head, arms reaching out to Sam as soon as he was close and slipping something over his head. Sam blinked, looking down and seeing one of Dean's silver engraved rings hanging off a chain that looked like a pull chain to a ceiling fan. Dean placed his fist over the ring, pressing it lightly into Sam's chest as he grabbed the amulet against his own chest.
"Now you have proof too." Dean said, looking at him with serious eyes but a small smirk. He let go of the ring, but his hand still held the amulet, and ruffled Sam's hair. "See you around, kiddo."
Sam's hand went up to hold the ring, matching Dean's position, his eyes starting to burn with tears. As Dean stepped away from the car, John took the initiative to start driving away again. Sam waved to Dean until he could no longer see him, the Roadhouse just a tiny dot behind them.
Fire. There was fire everywhere. It burned too hot and too fast to be normal.
Through the roaring of the fire, Sam could hear the screams. They were in agony, trapped inside the bar as it was burnt to the ground. He could see their faces in the windows, fists slamming against the glass in a futile attempt to escape. It might have worked if it was a normal fire, but Sam knew it wasn't. He knew that the man with the yellow eyes standing in front of him, back to the fire, had started it.
"You're my favorite, Sammy-boy," The man said, a wicked smile on his face as he walked closer to Sam. "You just need some... proper motivation." A rough, calloused hand brushed against his cheek in an almost gentle touch. Sam was frozen to the spot and couldn't move away though, his eyes locked on the windows. Locked on the green eyes crying for help and trying to break free.
"I'm doing this for you. You probably won't thank me one day, but you'll understand it in time." The man knelt down next to him, his hot breath fanning against Sam's face. "You'll embrace the power you'll receive."
The Roadhouse exploded, the screams suddenly cutting out but the man only laughed-
Sam shot up in bed, eyes wide and breathing heavy. A dream? Something warm slid down his face, a shaky hand coming up to feel it and finding it wet and sticky. He didn't need to see to know that it was blood.
It wasn't a dream.
He felt a cry building in him as he tumbled out of bed, running to his dad's bed and shaking his body. "Dad! Dad, we have to go back! They're in danger! They're going to die because of me!"
John's eyes had snapped open as soon as Sam touched his arm, hand reaching for the gun under his pillow before his mind registered that it was Sam.
"What...? Sam, what are you talking about?"
"There's a demon that's going to kill Dean and Mom and Ellen and Jo and Ash and everyone at the Roadhouse! We have to go save them! Dad, please, we have to go!"
John checked the bedside clock, squinting at it before shaking his head and laying back down. "It was a nightmare, Sam. Go back to sleep."
"It wasn't a nightmare! There was a yellowed eyed demon there that was killing them! He was killing them because of me!"
"Demon's don't have yellow eyes, Sam."
"Sam...!" John's voice raised, tone angry. Sam quickly backed down. "It was just a nightmare, now go back to bed. End of discussion."
Sam stared at his father, hurt clear on his face but John's eyes were already closed and breath evening out. Asleep. He went back to sleep. He wrote Sam's fear off as childish paranoia and went back to sleep.
He gripped the ring around his neck, trying to control his breathing.
Dean was going to die.
And it would be his fault.
Glaring at his dad's sleeping figure, Sam quietly backed away to the TV stand where the Impala keys were. He was going to be in so much trouble later, but he knew what he saw and he couldn't let Dean and the others die.
Already the soft snores of John had returned and Sam let out a sigh of relief, for once thankful to his dad's drinking habits.
John didn't often become drunk, especially while at the motel with Sam. But he had come back that night to find Sam on the phone with Dean and Mary as they were driving off to a case and helping them research. The beer was opened not long after.
Timing the opening and closing of the motel door with a snore, Sam let out a breath into the cool night air. The engine of the Impala was sure to wake him though, so he'd have to book it as soon as he turned the key...
Nerves built inside Sam again as he approached the car. It wasn't as if his dad hadn't taken him driving before, he knew all the basics, but he had never driven by himself. Or for such a distance...
It had been two months since he had left the Roadhouse, but somehow was not on the other side of the country yet. Three states away, he'd be there the next night. Which was around the time that Dean said he'd be there. That was his one comfort knowing that his vision wasn't going to happen tonight, before hanging up Dean had let him know where they were and when they'd get to the Roadhouse. He had time left... He could save them.
He had just started the car when he thought about his phone and how helpful it would be to have it. Too late now, he could almost picture his dad scrambling out of bed to get to his car. Sam threw the car into drive and peeled out of the parking lot just as the door opened, John yelling at him as he ran out.
Too late... No turned back now. The consequences be what they may, he was in it completely now. And he would save his family.
It was well past noon when he realized he should have grabbed his duffel as well as his phone. He was still in his night clothes and therefore couldn't even stop to get food for lunch. His adrenaline had worn off hours ago and left behind a hunger he wasn't able to satisfy.
He also didn't grab any money... He should have planned this better. Thankfully the car had a full tank.
He pushed his hunger down, gripped the wheel tightly, and continued to drive.
The moon was high in the sky when the Impala skidded into the Roadhouse parking lot. He could see Mary's car parked by the door and the lights on inside, but there was no one else. None from the regular night crowd, nor any loud music and chattering coming from inside.
Something was wrong.
He jumped out of the car, running to peek through a window. His breath caught in his throat.
The man from his dream was standing there, back to the window, talking to the others inside. Mary and Ellen looked ready to kill, Dean and Jo were pressed to the ground by an invisible force. Hostages... Dean and Jo were hostages.
Sam held onto the ring tightly, taking deep breaths to calm himself. He slowly backed away and went to the Impala's trunk. He had never fought a demon before, Dad never let him get anywhere close to one. He knew that shooting it would only make it madder, an exorcism and holy water would be his best bets. But then, why hadn't Mary or Ellen started an exorcism yet? They both knew how, even Dean knew the words to it, so what was stopping them from exorcising? The demon would have to let go of Dean and Jo once the first few words were out, so they weren't an issue. It had to be something else...
Demons don't have yellow eyes, his dad had said. But this one did. This is the demon that nearly killed him and Mom, Sam was sure of it. So then this wasn't a normal demon, and an exorcism probably wouldn't work.
You're my favorite, Sammy-boy.
An idea shot through his mind, not great and not fool proof, but it was all he had. He grabbed a knife and shotgun, hiding the blade in the back of his waistband and holding the gun against his chest.
Another deep breath and he was walking to the door.
"Oh," The demon nearly cooed as Sam neared the door, "Here comes our guest of honor now."
No turning back...
Sam stepped inside, everyone's eyes on him. Dean jerked slightly, struggling to get up, eyes frantic as he shook his head. "Sam...! What are you doing here? Get out while you can!"
Sam kept his eyes on the demon, holding his head high and back straight. "Let them go. I'm the one you want, right? So take me, do whatever you want with your favorite, but let them go."
The demon's eyes brightened, a delighted grin spreading across his face. "You've seen this, haven't you? So you know this is going to play out."
"Yeah, it'll end with you dead."
A fondness appeared in the demon's eyes, Sam almost wanted to puke at the sight of it. "Nice try, Sammy-boy, but we both know that's not the truth."
Sam cocked the gun, aiming it as his head. "I'll make it true."
His eyes flickered to Mary and Ellen, worry in both their eyes. He tried to smile, to let them know he'd make sure they were okay. He made it in time, he wouldn't let them get hurt. It took him too long to be reunited with his family, he wouldn't let them be separated again.
Looking at them proved to be a mistake though, the demon was suddenly in front of him with a hand yanking the shotgun away from him. A rough hand gripped his cheek tightly, jerking his head up to look into those evil, yellow eyes.
"Still so weak... Still so human. But you have promise, you just need to get stronger." His eyes drifted to the others, a smirk spreading across his face. "I know just how to do that."
Dean let out a strangled gasp, eyes widening impossibly more as his mouth opened in an attempt to take air in. Sam felt as if the air from his own lungs had been taken as well. He tried to run to Dean, tried to call for him and save him from the invisible force that had a hold on his throat, but the demon blocked his path. Mary and Ellen dropped next to him though, comforting hands on his back, tears in Mary's eyes. Dean's face was turning redder by the second, his eyes foggy as he desperately looked at Sam.
He was dying.
Dean was dying.
The ring nearly burned against Sam's chest, his anger at the demon flaring higher than he ever felt it. This was the creature, the demon, that had destroyed his family; that appeared in his nursery and tried killing his mom. If Dad had been any slower when he heard her scream, if he hadn't of noticed her pinned to the ceiling, she'd have died. Burned up in a fire and stomach cut open, the scars from the near death were still there but faint. And now this demon had its sights set on his older brother.
The lights flickered, the windows rattled, Sam felt something stirring inside him. But that didn't matter because he could see a dark aura around the demon. That was the key, that was how he would save his family.
He reached for the aura, some part of him that he couldn't see wrapped around it tightly. He saw the demon stiffen, heard Dean suddenly filling his lungs with air, heard a lightbulb shatter somewhere in the distance, felt the blood running from his nose.
The demon turned, an unreadable look in his eyes. Sam felt a hint of fear bubble inside him, as much as he tried to push it down, he couldn't hold onto the dark aura for much longer. It didn't seem to do anything noticeable to the demon, aside from drawing his attention from Dean to him. Guess it served its purpose at least. Dean was going to be fine.
"Don't you dare try to hurt my brother again." Sam's voice was surprisingly level considering the panic that was slowly building in him. "Don't come anywhere near my family again."
"You may be destined for great things, Sam, but don't get ahead of yourself." The demon towered over him, but Sam lifted his chin defiantly.
"You have plans for me, huh? Well, if you don't leave now, you'll never see your plans come true."
"Is that a threat?"
A smirk pulled at Sam's lips. "No. It's a promise." His hand quickly went behind his back, pulling the knife out and - before he could think it over any more - stabbed it into his middle. The pain was immediate and burning and his vision whited out for more than a few seconds. But as he regained his senses after a moment, he saw the look of absolute shock on the demon's face.
"Try to pull it out, I'll bleed to death, right here. Try to threaten anyone else, I'll start cutting. You might be fast, but I can guarantee you won't be able to stop me. If you don't leave right now, walk out that door and don't ever come back, then I will ruin any plans you have. Do you understand me?"
It was dead silent for a moment, Sam struggling to stay on his feet. He didn't dare look at anyone but the demon, holding his gaze in a stand off. He couldn't read what the demon was thinking, what he was planning, his face was perfectly blank.
Then a chuckle built in him, a smirk spreading across his face that Sam was already way too familiar with to be comfortable. The chuckle turned into a laugh, a heavy hand landing on Sam's head and nearly forcing him to shove the blade deeper.
"Well played, Sammy-boy. You win this time," He leaned down, eyes focused on Sam as he paused next to his ear. His breath was hot and smelt like the rotten eggs of sulfur, but Sam held back his gag, squaring his shoulders. "But I will have you eventually. This little display only proves that you're the one who will beat the others. I will see you on the throne, boy-king."
He disappeared. Gone without a trace. Sam sagged in relief, Dean and Mary and Ellen and Jo all suddenly around him, Dean's hands holding him up and they were all talking but Sam felt his mind slowly disconnecting from his body.
The last thing he saw before falling unconscious was Dean's worried face over him, his mouth forming soundless calls of his name.
The first thing Sam noticed as he started waking up was the beeping of medical machines. The second was the warmth around his hand and weight against his chest. He had a good guess as to what it was, and he desperately tried to open his eyes. But his body felt heavy, sluggish and not his own. Like it was a shell holding him in instead. He started to feel himself panicking, not being able to move or command his body more scary than he thought it would; the machines responded to his panic as well and alerted the person holding his hand.
"Sammy?" That familiar voice called, so close yet too far away. "Hey, can you hear me? Mom, I think he's waking up."
There was shuffling around the room, a gentle hand on his face, more hands on his arms and chest. More voices than he expected were calling to him. The room had to be full...
Heaving in a deep breath, Sam fought to the front of his mind, struggling to control his body. It took much more energy than he thought it should, but his eyes cracked open just slightly enough to be blinded by the bright hospital lights. He immediately shut his eyes again, flinching back.
"The lights too bright, kid?" Another voice asked, gruff and stoic but so familiar and warm. He groaned in response and not long after the brightness against his eyelids dimmed. "How bout now?"
He tried again, peeking through dry lids to a much darker room, but still just bright enough for him to see everyone around his bed.
Dean was in the chair to his right, hand wrapped around his; Mom stood just beside him, her hand still on his cheek with her thumb rubbing soothingly. Ellen and Jo were closer to the foot of his bed, Jo sitting on the edge of the mattress and her eyes red from crying. Uncle Bobby and Pastor Jim were standing at the foot, more emotions on their face than Sam had ever seen. Ash was on the other side across from Ellen and Jo, his long hair messy and knotted but he was smiling and patting Sam's leg. And sitting in the chair to his left was Dad, a rough but gentle hand on his arm.
He tried to sit up, eyes widening once he realized how much trouble he was going to be in, but a sharp pain spread through his stomach and he cried out, hunching over himself in an attempt to dull it. So many hands were on him then, trying to push him back down.
John raised a hand, shaking his head. "No, don't apologize. You aren't in trouble. I should have listened to you, Sam. I should have taken your dream seriously. You did the right thing."
Sam squinted, tried to make sense of the words. He wasn't going to be in trouble? Of course he was, he stole the Impala. He should be getting skinned alive by his dad by now! And the fact that Dad thought he should have believed Sam's dream?
"Sam," Pastor Jim cleared his throat, sympathy shining in his eyes. "We've known about your... gift... for a while now; John, Bobby, and myself. Suspected it even longer before then."
Sam's brows knitted together in confusion, looking back to his dad. "You... you knew...? You knew I was-" His voice cut off in an almost sob, the heart monitor starting to beep faster, "I was some kind of freak? And you never told me?"
"Sam!" Dean scolded, but Sam couldn't take his eyes away from the widen ones of his father. "You are not a freak...!"
"I am though!" Tears burned in his eyes. "You don't get it! I see things before they happen, I see things when I'm not even there!" He finally looked to Dean and the others, "You all saw what I did in there, heard what that demon said! He- he has plans for me! Said I was-" He stopped short, mouth snapping shut. The demon had called him a boy-king, said that he would be seated on a throne. The demon wanted him on a throne, did that mean Hell? Was he destined to rule Hell? "I'm a monster..."
A loud protest from the group went up, but Sam just sat there, his mind reeling. He was going to rule Hell. That's why he could see the demon's aura, why he could grab it with some invisible part of himself. An invisible part just like how the demon was choking Dean.
It made sense, suddenly, why the demon in his dream said he needed motivation and used his family to do it. Imagining his life without them left a deep hole in his chest, an emptiness inside that would never be filled. Just threatening Dean had given Sam the ability to tap into a power he had never had before. If he had lost everyone, what kind of power would that give him?
His eyes shut tightly, his body curling in on itself. He didn't want to think about that. Not now. But they all knew and would probably leave him anyway. Or kill him. He was a monster, they were hunters. It was their job to kill monsters.
"Hey," A hand grabbed his chin, jerking his attention to the right, his eyes snapping open and seeing the earnest but serious green of Dean's. "You listen to me; I will not tolerate you talking about my baby brother that way. He is not a monster, not a freak. He's kind and smart and sassy as hell but he is human through-and-through. So don't you dare talk about him like that, okay? Screw what that demon asshole said, he doesn't know shit about you. But I do, okay? I know you, Sam. I know who you are."
Tears slid down Sam's face, his lip quivering. Dean's expression softened slightly and he just barely opened his arms before Sam was launching himself into them. The amulet's horns dug harshly into his chest, but he just tightened his arms around Dean's neck and cried into his shoulder.
He was faintly aware of the burning pain in his stomach slowly growing stronger the longer he stayed twisted into Dean, but he couldn't care about that. All he wanted was his brother's devotion and love. Dean seemed to know it anyway, shifting over but never letting Sam go. Soon they were both on the bed, Dean's legs stretched out and Sam curled on his lap.
He didn't know how long he cried for, or how long they sat there with Dean rubbing soothing circles on his back, but when the tears did finally dry up it seemed like it was Mary's turn to speak. Sam wasn't surprised to find that the others had left when he opened his eyes, giving the family their privacy.
Mary's face was red with emotions, unshed tears in her eyes as she took Dean's seat and reached a hand out to Sam's arm. "I have a confession to make..." All eyes were on her, but she only looked at Sam. "This... all of it... It's my fault."
"No, let me finish, Dean," She held up a hand and heaved a sigh. "When I was young, before John and I were married... the night he proposed, I made a deal with that demon."
The silence was deafening, all eyes wide and looking at her. She moved her eyes from Sam to John, smiling sadly at him. "I was raised in the hunting life, and there was a bad case we were on... That's why I went to you, I needed to clear my head. But the demon we were hunting killed my parents and possessed my dad's body. He killed you, John. He killed you because of me. Then he offered me a deal, and it didn't seem so bad so I took it. He brought you back to life and then disappeared."
"Mary..." John was frowning, eyebrows pushed together. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because you were safe." A tear rolled down her cheek, she quickly brushed it away. "I wanted out of hunting and you were safe and normal and innocent. Everything a hunter isn't... And after a while, I forgot about it, buried it away."
"What was the deal?" Dean asked, voice guarded. Mary looked to him then back to Sam, sighing again.
"That in ten years, he could enter my home, and as long as he was uninterrupted then no one would get hurt. Ten years is a long time... I lost track of it after a while. We had a normal life, a happy family. And then I heard the baby monitor go off... Sam, I'm so sorry. I made the deal but you're the one that ended up paying for it." She reached out to him, cupping his cheek. "But I promise, you're human. You're not a monster."
Sam couldn't help but lean into her touch, letting her brush away the tears from his cheeks. "But why me though? Why does he want me?"
"I'm not sure, honey," Mary smiled sadly, "but we won't let him have you. We'll protect you."
Dean jerked his arm slightly, jarring Sam to look up at him. "And that means no more stabbing yourself and giving a demon an ultimatum. Geez you scared me with that stunt..."
A sheepish laugh bubbled out of Sam, looking down at his hands that messed with the hem of the hospital blanket. "It was the only thing I could think of to get him to leave though, it wasn't like I could have fought him off by myself and he wouldn't have hesitated to kill any of you."
"Or next time, if this does ever happen again, you could just, I don't know... turn around and don't come inside the building with the demon that is weirdly obsessed with you."
Sam looked up to meet Dean's eyes, seeing the leftover fear that was hidden behind the fake anger. He almost found it funny how easily he could read his brother after such a short time together... Just a few months ago he hadn't even known what Dean's favorite color was, and now he was able to tell just what every line on his face or crease of his brows meant. Dean had truly been scared for Sam, scared he'd lose the little brother he had just gotten to know. He had been ready to face that demon with no backup plan if only Sam would have been safe. Sam understood the feeling, probably better than Dean realized.
"No," He said simply, smiling a bit. "If you or anyone else is in danger, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure you're safe. If that means stabbing myself or offering myself to a demon... I'd do it gladly." His eyes scanned across to the door where the others had left. "All of you... You're my family and I can't imagine my life without you, and that's why that demon targeted you. If I don't have you, then I'll have nothing left to lose. That demon managed to pull out a... a power I didn't even know I had just by threatening you, Dean. If he managed to actually kill any one of you, I'm scared of what that would pull out of my grief. So I'm going to do everything I can to keep you alive, both for you and for me."
"But not at the risk of yourself...!"
"We're hunters, Dean!" Sam sighed, "Isn't that the whole point of it? We have the abilities to kill monsters to protect people, even at the risk of our lives. I have the ability to save you at the risk of my life, it's practically in my blood to do that!"
"It shouldn't have been..." John commented, voice low as he leaned forward in his chair, hands clasped in front of him. "You were the one supposed to have a normal life."
"Dad," Sam reached for him, though he didn't try to leave Dean's arms, "I don't regret it. I know I fought you on it before, but I understand now."
John glanced at him, a shadow in his eyes that Sam didn't see often. It was remorseful, regret building so deep in him that he couldn't hide his emotions as he normally did. With a faint smile, John reached for his hand and held it firmly. "I know you do, but it doesn't mean that you should. I had made an agreement with your mother when we left..." His eyes flickered to Mary. "I would raise you normally, outside of the hunter life. But when that Shtriga came for you... seeing it hovering over your bed... I lost it. I knew that no matter what I did, no matter where I went, something was always going to come for you. So I did what I could to prepare you to fight them. I never realized how much it would cost you, how much you would hurt from it, all I cared for was that you were prepared to fight the monsters that you shouldn't have known were real."
"A Shtriga?" Mary's eyes widened, glancing from John to Sam. "A Shtriga went after Sam?"
John nodded weakly, "When we were in Wisconsin, shortly after you had visited. Kids in the town were getting sick left and right, getting admitted to the hospital. The babysitter who was watching Sam had her younger brother in the hospital and had to leave early; Sam was already asleep so we figured it wouldn't hurt if he was alone for a while, I was just thirty minutes away. When I walked inside and saw it feeding off him... I guess I scared it off, threw Sam in the car and took off for Jim's. When I went back to kill it, it was already gone."
"John... Why didn't you tell me? You should have called."
"I did, I started to... But I hung up. I'm not sure why, probably because I knew you'd know I planned on hunting." He heaved a heavy sigh, "But I almost lost Sam that night, if I had been a minute later... I had to train him, prepare him for a world that wanted him dead. I couldn't lose him."
Sam swallowed thickly, his body feeling cold from the vulnerability in his dad's voice. If John Winchester had been shaken up by it, even after all this time, it must have been really bad. The way that Dean's arms tightened around him showed that Dean was thinking along the same lines.
The conversation lightened up significantly after that though, especially when the others came back in. The brothers couldn't stop sneaking glances and smirks to each other when they noticed their parents talking and smiling more comfortably than they had in years. Neither expected a drastic change or for them to start hunting as a family again, there was still too much tension for that. But if they got along, there was always a chance...
When a doctor came in some time later, Sam had to fight back a laugh at the face Dean made behind the doctor's back when he was forced to get off the bed. Though when Bobby whacked the side of his head Sam couldn't stop the giggles even if he wanted to. But then he was lectured by the doctor about why he shouldn't play with knives and how extremely lucky he was that the damage hadn't been worse. Sam had made a mental note to throw his pillow at Dean as soon as the doctor was gone for the smirk playing on his brother's face.
When it was announced that he would be kept overnight in the hospital for observation, anxiety went all through the group. What if the demon came back? What if there was another type of monster in the hospital? Sam would be alone and defenseless and he wouldn't be able to save his family if they were in trouble. It took Bobby physically dragging Dean away from Sam's bed once visiting hours were over to get his older brother to leave, along with the threat of Mary to ban him from visiting until Sam was released.
Just before his room door was closed, Sam smiled to Dean, a hand wrapping around the ring hanging around his neck. Dean paused, eyes zeroing in on Sam's enclosed hand before a smile of his own made its way to his face. He relaxed in Bobby's hold, his own hand going up to grab the amulet.
"See you tomorrow, Dean."
"See ya tomorrow, Sammy."
That smile and the comforting weight of the ring in his hand was all Sam needed for a peaceful sleep that night. His family was there... If only the Sam from a few months ago would have known that he wouldn't have to close his eyes and pretend he had a family, that they could all be in the same room without fighting and no pretending and be genuinely happy. The fact that even his dad had been laughing was enough to ensure Sam good dreams for a long time to come.
Sam had a family. He let that feeling soak in while he drifted to sleep, he had a family.
Maybe he didn't hate the word so much after all.