After a large display of dramatics on both Sam and Dean's parts, multiple school staff and board members showing up, and several hours of questioning by police, the brothers were able to pass everything off as a crazy teacher pumping chloroform through the vents in an attempt to kidnap her students for a trafficking ring.

Sam didn't enjoy playing the victim card, he didn't like having to whimper and whine and cry. But he was good at it, and he could see Dean's hidden pride in his acting skills from his own group of police. Plus, one of the paramedics gave him a sucker for 'being such a brave boy.' Free candy always made the victim card worth the humiliation.

At some point though, the police had called John. Sam could see the worry on his face as his eyes scanned the crowd of people looking for him; the worry was replaced with guarded confusion when he spotted Dean talking with police a few feet away, but he didn't say anything and just rushed to Sam's side. In true victim fashion and emotional pain, Sam threw himself into his dad's arms as he approached and cried on his shoulder.

Sam had to give his dad props, for the lack of times they played the victim card as a father and son duo, John barely hesitated when he patted Sam's back in a comforting manner.

It took two more hours before Dean was released, and another hour after that before the police and paramedics released Sam - a quick patch job from Dean over the lamia's scratches and a spare shirt enough for Sam to get out of a full inspection and hospital visit. It would have been very hard to explain how he had gotten scratched while wrestling with a perfectly human teacher.

John guided Sam away from the scene with a gentle hand on his back, though as soon as they were out of eyesight from people his expression turned stony. Sam couldn't help his nervous gulp as he kept his eyes on the ground.

The ride back to their motel was silent, though Sam did spot Dean's car pull in behind them a mile away from the school. He risked a glance at his dad, trying to understand his mood.

John's face was blank, seemingly calm if not for the crease between his eyebrows and tight grip on the steering wheel. He was angry. Sam could see the storm brewing in his eyes. He made the smart decision to stay quiet until they got to the motel.

Which really worked out for him because it gave Sam time to think. He had been stuck in the lamia's illusion and probably wouldn't have been able to break free if it hadn't been for that voice in his head. It had been painful, but also familiar. It was a stronger version of the pain he felt when he had a vision. And that voice... How had Sam been able to forget that voice...? It still haunted his dreams, always connected to a pair of glowing gold eyes.

The Demon had saved him from the lamia.

The Demon had called his name and broken the lamia's hold from him.

Pastor Jim and Uncle Bobby had given him so many blessed artifacts and protection trinkets once they learned that Sam and Yellow-Eyes had a connection, Sam more than grateful for their attempt to ward him away. He thought it had worked... He hadn't had a vision since that night at the Roadhouse.

But now... it was useless. Yellow-Eyes was able to tell that Sam was in danger and used their connection to help him. That or he was staying close to Sam to keep an eye on him. Both possibilities were equally unsettling.

Out of habit, Sam gripped the front of his shirt where Dean's ring sat safely, the round shape offering some comfort to him.

The Impala skidded harshly as his dad pulled into the motel parking lot, loose gravel flying before he slammed the breaks and came to an abrupt halt in a free space.

"Get inside," John's gruff voice commanded. Sam didn't need to be told twice, flying out of the car and unlocking the motel room.

He left the door open as he went to sit on his bed, glancing from the side of his eyes as Dean pulled into the space next to the Impala, John pointing a finger into their room as Dean stepped out. Quietly, head down, Dean went inside and sat next to Sam.

The door slammed shut behind John, their fates - whatever they may be - sealed with the lock.

Silence stretched out for more than a minute as John paced the floor, arms crossed and jaw tense. Sam, unable to take it anymore, risked a glance up at him.

"I was going to tell you..." He ventured, voice small and quiet as his shoulders hunched inward.

"When? After you got yourself killed?"

"No...! I wasn't even supposed to be in the school, I promised Dean I would leave early. But my friend was still inside, I had to save him!"

"Damn it, Sam!" His dad slammed a hand against the table, the legs of it shaking. Sam couldn't suppress his flinch, and caught Dean trying to hide his as well. "You don't risk your life for them! You don't go on hunts alone, either! You could have been killed, both of you! What were you thinking? You should have told me as soon as you knew there was something wrong with that school!"

Anger boiled inside of Sam, a feeling that he normally forced down when it was directed at his dad. But he didn't fight it this time, didn't try to tame it. He didn't like the way that Dean shrunk into himself and swallowed thickly, he didn't like the way that Dad's glare was aimed at Dean, he didn't like the way that Dad was putting Dean's hunting abilities into question. So he let his anger take hold of his mouth.

"Why?" His voice was calm, instantly pulling the eyes of both men to him.

"What?" John's voice was also calm, and like Sam's, it held a terrible storm.

"Why? Why to any of what you just said? Why shouldn't I risk my life to save my friend, a civilian? Isn't that what you've been training me for my whole life? Why shouldn't I have been alone on this hunt too? You've sent me on hunts by myself before. And I wasn't alone, I had Dean. Dean's an adult now, he can take care of a hunt and take the lead without going to you for permission. Besides, it's not like you've been around much for us to tell you about the hunt...! We've been at this for a while now, and this is the first time you've heard about it! We've been in this same motel room researching together and you never knew about it because you weren't here! Maybe if you'd call to check in more, or actually made an effort to show up every night like you were supposed to, I'd actually have a chance to tell you things!" Sam pushed himself up from the bed, ignoring the wide eyes of his dad and brother as he stood in front of John. "And you better thank Dean for showing up! Because if he wasn't here then neither would I! I never would have known about a lamia in my school! I wouldn't have known to get out the school at first! I was stuck in her illusion! She would have eaten me and you never would have known about it!"

"That's enough."

Sam ignored him, just as he ignored the hot tears that rolled down his cheeks. "No one would have known about it because you aren't here! You are never here!"

"Enough, Sam."

"It would have taken you, what? Another week before you finished your hunt and were ready to pack up and leave, and I'd have already been digested!"

"Sam!" Dad grabbed his shoulders, shaking him and putting a stop to his rant. Expecting to be scolded, Sam was completely unprepared when his dad's arms wrapped around him and pulled him against his chest. He blinked in confusion, completely frozen in his dad's embrace.

"I'm... I'm sorry," John whispered, his arms tightening. "I should have called in more, but the job kept going. And then the police called and said there was an incident that involved you and that paramedics were on the scene..." He pulled back, kneeling in front of Sam with more emotion in his eyes than Sam had ever seen before. "I was able to brace myself for the bad when you ran off to the Roadhouse before, but this... You were supposed to be safe here, this was supposed to be a small hunt. I thought I was going to lose you... I can't lose you, Sammy. I wouldn't be able to take it."

Sam stared with wide eyes as his dad showed his vulnerability to him, something Sam never expected to see. When they had surrounded his hospital bed before, the emotions that his dad had shown were for him but not directed at him. John Winchester didn't show weakness to him, Sam wasn't part of his dad's inner circle...

But looking at it now, maybe he was... Maybe his dad had moved him into his trusted circle without Sam even noticing it. He consulted Sam's knowledge of lore first instead of immediately going to Uncle Bobby or Pastor Jim, he asked for Sam's input regarding myths and legends and trusted his words. When had the change happened...? When had his dad started believing in him?

"And, Dean," John pulled away only slightly to look at his oldest. "You're barely out of your teens, you could have been a target too. Lamias prefer children, but they've been known to go after adults too. Especially ones that get in their way. Did you even know it was a lamia at first and not something that would have gone after you instead? You have to be more careful than that."

Sam looked back at Dean, watching his brother open and close his mouth as if trying to speak but unable to find the words. His eyes were wide as he stared at John, finally giving up on speaking and shutting his mouth, swallowing deeply as he ducked his head. Sam couldn't stop his smile as he spotted Dean's light blush. Having their dad worry over him probably felt as good for Dean as it did for Sam.

It took a moment more before John let out a sigh, releasing Sam and standing up. "Are either of you hurt? The paramedics were there for a reason."

The brothers shared a sheepish look, Sam taking his turn to curl in on himself. "I may have been scratched a little after I came out from the lamia's illusion. But that's not why they were there...! It was just protocol to have them there, plus we told the police that the teacher was using chloroform to drug students."

Their dad's eyes hardened once more but he silently went to get their medkit from the bathroom, Sam knowing to remove his shirts before his dad got back. He could see the disapproval in his dad's eyes as he looked over the wound. He worked silently, deeming the scratches light enough to not need stitches and just putting a couple of butterfly bandages instead.

Sam could also see a question burning in Dean's eyes as he watched their dad work, his leg bouncing nervously. Sam couldn't fathom what would make Dean nervous enough to bounce his leg... the hard part of their conversation was over, they talked their feelings out with their dad. What else was left?

"Spit it out, Dean." John commented as he placed the last bandage on Sam's chest. Guess he had noticed as well. "Say what you need to."

"Can Sam spend the night with me?" The words rolled so fast out of Dean's mouth that Sam's head spun for a moment. He couldn't register them immediately, but when he did, his eyes widened and snapped to look at John's face. His dad's hands had paused momentarily over Sam before continuing to put the medical stuff away. Dean swallowed deeply before he kept going, "I'm staying just a few rooms down, I don't even have to move my car. And the guy at the front desk gave me a room with two beds. You got called away from your hunt, right? So if you have to go back to it, Sam would be safer to stay with me."

Their dad stayed quiet, Sam's stomach in knots at the possibility of spending the night with Dean. After the scolding they got about the hunt, Sam wasn't very sure what his dad would think or say about it, if he would be willing to give Sam's safety to someone else... But he kept his fingers crossed with batted breath.

As the silence dragged on, Sam could feel his hope falling. He started to look over at Dean when his dad shut the medkit and captured his full attention again.

John stood up to his full height and took a deep breath before turning to face Dean. "No hunts, no researching, no nothing. You don't leave that room. You understand me?"

It was like the room brightened with Dean's grin, nodding quickly. "Yes, sir...! We won't leave. I'll keep him safe, I swear." The brothers looked at each other, Dean's smile infectious as Sam beamed back at him. Dean stood up, lightly slapping Sam's arm. "Get your bag, Sammy. We're having a sleep over...! I'll go order us some pizza!"

Dean ran from the room, presumably to his own. There was a crash down the hall that definitely sounded like he ran into his door...

"Sam," Dad started, pulling Sam's attention back to him. Maybe Dean had seen the look in their dad's eyes and decided to leave them alone for a moment... "Dean is the adult, listen to what he tells you. But don't let him talk you into anything either. You know your rules."

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Go pack your things, have fun with your brother."

Sam sent him a smile as he grabbed his duffle and shoved the clothes that he had put into the motel drawers back into his bag as well as a few books. He rushed to the door and pulled it open, pausing in the hall to look back at his dad with a smile. "Thank you."

The door shut and Sam rushed down the hall to Dean's room.

Dean's door was still open when Sam got there, his brother just tossing his phone on the bed and grinning brightly at him. "Pizza's on the way, and the school called to tell me that tomorrow's classes are canceled as the police investigate so we can stay up as late as you want."

"Can we stay up late enough to laugh at the late night creature features?"

Dean's eyes went impossibly brighter as he nodded, "This is why we're brothers! I knew there was a reason I liked you."

Sam let out a confused laugh as he put his duffle on the unclaimed bed. "We're brothers because I watch creature features?"

"Because we both laugh at creature features, Sammy!"

"Sure..." Sam smiled but shook his head. "I think science would have a few other points about why we're brothers though, leading with the fact that we have the same parents."

Dean's eyes rolled so hard that he rocked back on his feet. "Put your nerd brain to rest for a few minutes and accept that some things in life are deeper than science."

"Like laughing at creature features together?"

"Exactly like laughing at creature features together."

The two shared a smile before a pillow smacked Sam in the face, which lead to a very dramatic and drawn out battle of betrayal and sibling rivalry - until the pizza arrived. To which all fighting was called to an end as they ate.

As they talked, waiting for the late movies to start playing, Sam couldn't help but feel like this moment could be the closest thing to a home he would get. He wouldn't complain, couldn't even if he wanted to. Because the idea of Dean being his home... it felt right to Sam. Like he belonged at Dean's side.

Those feelings were amplified when, after changing into sleep clothes to prepare for the movies, Sam saw the amulet he gave Dean at the Roadhouse still hanging around his neck. Where it belonged, just like Sam.

A/N: Thank you to everyone for reading this story! I hope you enjoyed it! The next story in this series is already halfway written, so hopefully it won't be so long before its posted. I also have a list of story ideas for this series... So with a bit of luck, this will continue for a while!