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But I'm the one you know

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When John woke up in a hospital, he first couldn't remember how he got there, but then the demon and the accident came back to his mind. Where was Sam and that coward Dean?
He tried to stand up, but in the same moment a nurse rushed in. „You're awake!“, she smiled lovely and went to check the monitors. „I'm going to inform the doctor and your son.“
Why was she only talking about one son?
She came back not even a minute later with a dark skinned man in the late forties. The doctor asked him some questions, then left the room and some moments later Sam was standing in the door frame.
Thank god, it was Sammy and not that other thing.
Sam looked bad, but he didn't seem to have dangerous injuries. The boy just looked, like he hadn't slept for days, probably sitting all the time beside Dean.

„How do you feel?“, Sam voice sounded tired and really sad.
„I'm fine. How long has it been?“
„Two days. Dean still didn't wake up, doctor said it's bad and they started asking questions. We need names.“
John looked around and saw his purse on the nightstand: „Here“ he handed Sam one of the plastic cards over „Give them my insurance.“
Sam looked at the card and raised his eyebrow: „Elroy McGillicuddy?“
„And his two loving sons. So, what else did the doctor say about Dean? “
They couldn't know, not even the demon did.
„Nothing. Look. The doctors won't do anything, then we'll have to, that's all. I don't know, I'll find some hoodoo priest and lay some mojo on him.“ Sam's eyes were begging him for help.
„We'll look for someone, but Sammy, first we have to talk about something important.“
He should have ended this years ago.
„Take me to Dean.“

 

Dean was connected to a lot of tubes and machines, but John knew he wouldn't die, the damn thing never did. Before they left, he had taken the small silver blade out of his purse. Sam hadn't seen it. „Give me his hand.“ Sam's mouth started to built an objection, but then he sighted and followed his Dad's orders.
It wasn't comfortable to sit in a wheelchair, but the doctor and Sam hat insisted on it. John took the limb hand carefully in his left one and the made a small cut with the silver blade.
„Dad, what the hell!“ Sam's eyes grew incredibly wide, when he saw the burning flesh. „No, what happened? Where is Dean? Is that him? Was he bidden? When? What the fuck!!!“ Sam's last words ended in a scream.
John looked at his son and he felt so guilty. He shouldn't have lied, shouldn't have done this.
„Sam, just calm down, I'm so sorry I lied to you, but I just couldn't tell you. You were still so young. You had already lost so much, I just . . . I just couldn't bear the thought.“ His gaze was locked at his son. He could see Sam thinking. This was going to end up really bad.
It took Sam some time, but then his gaze stopped traveling from John to Dean and back. It was fixed on John's mouth. „How long is a long time? Where is my brother? What is that thing in the bed?“
He dropped his head. He had known , this day would come, but it was so hard to tell Sam how much he had failed him.
„Dean wasn't . . .Dean hasn't . . . I don't know how to tell you. I lost your brother, when he was 11.“
Sam's eyes widened and John could see, how hard it was for him to control himself.
„ Do you remember the night when Dean hid in the car to go with me on a hunt?“
Sam's face lost all emotions. He opened this mouth a few times, before he dared to speak again.
„You've been injured and Bobby had to pick me up. Took you more then three weeks to get back. What do you want to tell me? Was that the last time I saw my brother alive?“

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August 1991

John had parked his car in front of an old house outside of the city. The house belonged to Christian Manners. People had heard screams two weeks ago and Manners had changed. He acted different and nearly didn't leave the house anymore. John wasn't sure about the thing's purpose, but he had seen the man's eyes in the supermarket security cam and here was definitely a shapeshifter doing his business.
He had watched “Mister Manners” for three days now. The guy only had left the house once to go for supplies. Besides that he hadn't even opened the freaking curtains. Stayed mostly on the first floor though. The house had a back door which wasn't locked and neither used. Perfect way in for John. Two revolvers full of silver bullets accompanied him, when he sneaked around the house. A silver blade rested in his left hand. He still had to be sure.
Back pressed to the wooden wall he listened carefully while his hand searched for the door knob. There were steps inside the house, but they stayed on the first floor, so John opened silent the door and slit inside. The kitchen smelled of roast beef and orange juice, some used plates stood in the bowl and a washing machine was running in some other room. The light had been turned off, but light came from the staircase.
He heard the man speaking upstairs. The constant voice rumored like a whisper from above. John took one of the guns in right hand and made his way to the stairs. He hesitated for a moment, when the first step crackled under his foot, but the voice kept talking in the same position. The hunter scaled step by step the way to the corridor on the first floor, still listening to that constant flow of words. The sounds came from the second door on the left. Light gleamed through a barely opened door. Four more steps and John stood right beside the wooden frame, holding his breath and listening again.

“. . ., but the other ducks around them looked on and said right out loud, "See here! Must we have this brood too, just as if there weren't enough of us already? And-fie! what an ugly-looking fellow that duckling is! We won't stand for him." One duck charged up and bit his neck.”

Why the hell was that monster reading a fairy tail out loud? John gathered himself for a seconds and counted down.

3

"Let him alone," his mother said. "He isn't doing any harm."

2

"Possibly not," said the duck who bit him, "but he's too big and strange, and therefore he needs a good whacking."

1

John stormed into the room to find the man sitting on a stool with a book in his hands in front of a small bed. A boy not older than ten was huddled beneath the covers and looking up with sleepy eyes. The moment they realized his arrival, the man jumped off his seat and let the book fall to the ground. The boy's eyes grew wide and he pressed himself to the wall behind his bed. John stroke out and cut the man in his forearm. A fizzling sound filled the room for a blink of an eye and was followed by the smell of burned flesh. The man screamed and threw himself on John. His back hit the hard floor and for a moment the air was pulled out of his lungs. The one second he lay there on the floor, he heard it. There were footsteps on the stairs.

How hadn't he notices two additional shapeshifters in the house? How had he gotten so careless? The man above him grabbed his wrists and started to turn them, so John had to let go of his weapons. He tried to shove the man off him with both hands at it's chest, but it didn't work and the shifter's hand collided hard with his jaw. His face was turned to the door frame now and the sight nearly killed him. The person standing there wasn't another shifter, it was his 11 year old son. Dean looked at him with big eyes and then shifted his sight to the gun on the floor.

Dean didn't make it to the gun, the shifter got hold of him before and threw him against the wooden closet on the opposite wall. The cheap wood burst under the impact and John's firstborn lay unconscious in a pile of chopped shelves.

His whole world only moved in slow motion and nearly stopped, when Dean's back hit the closet. The sound of Dean's body, when it finally fell on the ground, was enough to snap John out of his trance. Now free of the shifter, he took the knife and slit the monster's throat in one smooth motion and buried the knife in it's chest. Even before the body hit the floor, John was up and on Dean's side. The boy already started to come back to consciousness. He blinked a few times, before his eyes focused on his Dad. John ran his hand over his oldest's forehead. “Hey buddy, how are you doing? Think you can sit up for me?”

Dean gave a weak nod and John helped him to get vertical again. How did the kid even get here?

John looked over his boy, but he couldn't see anything bigger than some scratches. And then out the the sudden, there was a red spot on Dean's chest. A spot, that grew bigger every second. The shot would rang forever in John's ears, but now he couldn't hear anything else then Dean's surprised sob and his own heart trying to break out of his chest. His head swung around just to see, that pulling the trigger had been the last move the shifter had ever made. The blank eyes still stared at him, while the body was surrounded by a dark puddle of blood.

He brought his attention back to Dean. His hands were already adding pressure at the wound, but he knew it was too late. There was so much blood, that probably one of the arteries was ripped. Dean Winchester died that night in his father's arms. It were only three minutes after the shot, that his young heart stopped beating. John held his son for an hour, crying about his lost, condemning his carelessness, before he recognized the second mourning in the room.

The kid that had been in the bed before, sat crying beside the bloody corpse of the shapeshifter. The book of fairy tales, now stained with clotted blood, pressed to his chest.

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Sam clearly didn't like they way this story was turning out. His eyes still rested on his father, but for the first time in his life Dean's presence made him uncomfortable. Or better this thing's presence. John had stumbled over the last words and sighted now. His eyes moved from that one point at the hospital floor, he kept starring at, to his son's face.
“I wanted to tell you.”

John took for the first time a close look at the boy. He had bronzed skin, dark black hair and dark brown, nearly black eyes. His thin frame was only covered by a white t-shirt and a pair of light blue boxers. The boy was kneeling in the monster's blood, absently stroking a hand above the stabbed chest. John could see a car patch on his right knee, that was now soaked with blood. He hadn't really thought about it before, but what was this kid? Just another shifter or maybe real Manner's boy?
He had to know. Carefully he lay Dean's lifeless body to the ground and stood up. It where only three steps to the second dead body in the room. The boy hadn't noticed him for the last our, but now when John moved, he nearly jumped backwards until his back was pressed tightly to the wall. His knees were squeezed to his chest holding the dirty covers of the book in place.

John stepped over the corpse and pulled the knife out of the motionless ribcage. He approached the boy cautious, while the kid's eyes began to water even more and his mouth tried to form silent words. He didn't cut the boy, after all it was still a kid. He got onto his knees and with a light pressure he hold the knife against the boy's lower leg. The moment the blade touched skin, he was rewarded with that unforgettable sound and the foul smell of burning flesh. The boy sobbed, but he didn't scream. John left the knife rest a few seconds longer in contact with the child's skin than it was necessary. It seemed to smooth the screaming pain in his soul, it seemed to numb his guilt over Dean's death. He got up and starred at the sobbing mess at his feet. He should just end it with a bullet in it's head.

But he didn't instead he carried Dean's body to the Impala and lay him gentle on the backseat, then he entered the house again and grabbed the little monster. He bond his wrists with silver handcuffs and threw him into the passenger seat. The third time he entered the old house, he carried a canister of gasoline. He poured most of the liquid over the monster's corpse on the first floor and spread the rest over the staircase an the kitchen. A quick match was his last good bye to this haunted place.

It took seven ours to get from south Wisconsin, near Dodgeville, to Lawrence Kansas. The kid was still sobbing and every now and then terrified eyes searched John's face for a hint of his plans. The truth was, John didn't have a plan. He was screaming inside and numb at the same time, his knuckles had turned white, when he had gripped the wheel of his car, the car Dean had loved so much and still he wasn't able to loosen his grip.

The car finally stopped at the grates of a cemetery, here he had buried his beloved wife years ago. He tumbled out oh the car and fell to his knees. A scream escaped from his throat and tears went down his cheeks, while his whispered words begged Mary for redemption.

And then there was another thought, he had left Sam. He had left the only one he still had alone in some god damned motel in freaking Wisconsin. Did he want his sons to die? How stupid could he be? He left poor 8 year old Sammy alone and scared with no one to protect him. He had broken all speed limits to get here and in that seven hours he hadn't even thought about his son. Selfish old bastard.

He sighted and searched for his cell phone. It took a few moments before Bobby Singer answered the phone.

“Bobby, I screwed up, can you get Sam for me?”

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His head felt heavy and his whole body ached. His throat hurt and even though he knew he was breathing, he felt like he was choking.

There was a voice from somewhere inside his head: You have to wake up, you have to look after Sammy!

Sammy, where was Sammy? What happened?

And then there was the memory. Sammy was hurt. There had been a truck and there had been blood.

The memory blew through his brain like a lightning. The picture of Sam with blood on his face made his eyes snap open. He wanted to scream, but something blocked his throat. His torso bucked from the bed, when the muscles tried to work against the thing in his mouth.

He searched for something familiar to recognize where he was, but all he could see, was a white ceiling. A high pitched sounded from his left side and then a woman rushed into the room.

“It's OK honey, I'll take tube out, relax.”
Gentle hands caressed his cheek and then the pressure in his throat increased, before it vanished. He coughed and warm liquid spilled over his lips.
“Just breath, it's alright. I'll get your doctor.”
His mind cleared for a moment and it made sense, this was a hospital.
“Sa . . Sa . . Sam . .y?”
It was barely a whisper, but the woman seemed to understand.
“I'll inform your brother and your Dad. They'll be here in some minutes.”

The woman left and he was alone again. The soft hissing of the machines the only thing, that kept him company. If John Winchester was here, why was he laying in a hospital bed and not on the floor in some cheap random motel? Why would John change his mind? These injuries couldn't kill him, so why wasting the money? Probably to mislead Sam. That was the only possible explanation.

He already heard the steps of the approaching Doc on the floor, but he allowed himself for a quick moment to enjoy the soft bed and the pain medication. Sure he had been patched up, when he was with Sam, but the last years he had spend alone with John? That man hadn't even wasted a patch on him.

The doctor entered the room, took a quick look at the monitors and checked his vital functions, then he left the room with a short nod to the nurse. She smiled and left the room a second time, only to come back a moment later with Sam and John. The older Winchester sat in a wheelchair and had scratches over his whole frame, but there were no bigger bandages. Sam looked better. His eye was still lightly swollen, but beside some scratches, he seemed to be fine. The disturbing thing was Sam's expression. He had never looked like this at him. There wasn't any joy to see his big brother. Those eyes were filled with hate and disgust.

His gaze traveled from Sam's glowing eyes to John's. The man seemed to be quite confident, a relieved smile was placed at his face. For a short moment he panicked. What if Sam knew, if John had told him? But John had promised him, he wouldn't tell Sammy, unless he failed, disappointed the old man. He hadn't or? He recognized, that John was possessed. Sure late, but still, he had noticed. He had tried to fight the demon. Hadn't it been enough? He tried to calm himself. Sure thing, Sam was upset because of something else, probably had a fight with John.

He tried to speak, but he wasn't sure, if anything else than a raspy mourn escaped his mouth.

“Sa-aa-am-my-y”

Sam's eyes nearly stabbed him with pure hate.

“Stop acting, I now what you are.”

His eyes grew wide and he gave a pleading look to John.

“I told him, it's over.”

His mouth opened, but only silence left his lips. A tear streamed down his face, while he searched for a last hint of love in his brother's face.

Sam's face stayed cold. When he couldn't take it anymore, he shifted his sight to the painless white of the ceiling.

“We'll leave tonight, be ready.”

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Bobby had yelled at him for fifteen minutes, before he agreed to pick up Sam and take him in for some days. Then the hunter had hung up without another word.

John Winchester was standing beside the cemetery, where he had buried the love of his life, with an old car, a monster in the passenger seat and the lifeless body of his son in the back seat.

He looked up to the sky and searched the firmament for stars, but the night was as dark as his thoughts. His eyes traveled over the field on the other site of the street, the big iron gates of the cemetery and then stopped at his car. The monster was still there. Dark eyes followed him from the passenger seat.

And then all the grief about his loss turned into anger. His feet carried him to the right door of the Impala, the moment he opened the door, he reached for the kid and pulled it out. He pushed the small body to the floor and let his foot crash with the ribcage. The crack of several rips ripped through the night.

“He was just a kid, he was innocent, eleven years old!!!”

His scream was followed by two more kicks. For a moment he listened to the monster's sobs, then he pulled it up by it's collar.

“What are you crying for, Freak?”

Before the shifter could move his lips, John's free hand collided as a fist with the small jaw.

Blood dropped from bruised lips. He led the monster fall to the floor and it curled up to a small ball.

“Think that's gonna help you?”

He kicked again and his boot collided with the small head. The boy whimpered an made himself even smaller.

“Shut the fuck up, you worthless freak!!!!”

Again John let his boot clash with the small body at his feet. The shapeshifter stopped crying, he unfolded himself a bit and turned his swollen face towards John: “Please”. It was more a whisper, than an actual spoken word. John's answer came fast. This time the kick knocked the shifter out.

John looked around again, he couldn't leave the mutilated body of a child here. He sighted and lifted the blood soaked body from the floor, then he tossed it into the passenger seat again.

There was a lonely forest some miles outside of Lawrence. It took him twenty minutes to get there. He parked the Impala next to a big glade and four hours later he had gathered the wood, he needed for Dean's funeral. The pyre was nearly as high as his hip and made of mostly wet wood. It would smoke like hell. He got another canister of gasoline from the trunk and soaked his son's last resting place with it, then he tossed the empty plastic container to the floor and turned to his car. His boy's lifeless body lay still there unmoved from the moment, when his father had positioned him there. John's vision began to blur and and he felt the wet stream of tears on his cheeks.

The forest lay silent. Only the weak murmur of the trees crawled through the night. The weak sound of a chocking breath reached his ear.

Yeah, right, the monster. He still had to go get rid of it. It would be the best to put a bullet in it's head now.

Carefully he opened the passenger door. One dark brown eye stared at him terrified, the other one too swollen to open. Even though these eyes screamed panic, the body didn't move, probably wasn't even able to at the moment. For a second John felt sorry for the kid. The boy couldn't be older than ten, still a child and until now he probably hadn't even hurt somebody.

John's compassion faded as quickly as it came. One day his thing would kill. How could he even know wether it was real child? Could be some grown shifter wearing some random child's skin. He felt the anger flowing through his veins again, but then his gaze fell to Dean.

He had to tell Sam. Tell how he had failed. That he wasn't even able to protect his kids. He hadn't been able to protect Mary and he let Dean die. He would probably get Sam killed in some years, too.

He would have to go to this innocent eight year old and tell him, that the brother he loved bled to death in Daddy's arms, because John was too careless to recognize a child hiding in the back of his car.

And while he thought about little Sammy's horrified face, an idea crept into his mind. What if he didn't have to tell Sammy? What if Sammy could stay with his big brother for some more years?

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It were only some more minutes to midnight, when he started to get rid of the machines, needles and tubes, that were still connected to his body. The heart monitor's connection was still in place, he couldn't risk the nurses to be alarmed. He sat up and the pain of several broken bones and bruises shot through his body. John and Sam would be here in some minutes. A shiver ran over his spine. Sam knew. There were no more reasons to keep him alive. The bullet John kept for him would now finally find it's way into his head. Maybe Sam would do it. Spit his disgust into his face and leave his burning body on the side of some nameless highway. Would Sam look back? Would he think that after all the time with him hadn't been so bad? Would he remember all the fun they had when they were younger? The things they went through? Or would he erase every memory of his big brother, the freaking shifter? Only looking back to the real Dean?

It wasn't fair. He was Dean. For years he done everything for this family. This was his face, he had made it, it was his, no one else's. He was the Dean Sam knew. The one he spent the whole last year with. The one he gave the amulet to at their first Christmas. He had bought all the fireworks on the 4th of July, when Sam was thirteen. He had given Sam his first beer, when Sam was sixteen and just had to break up with his girlfriend, because they were moving again. He had shown Sam how to drive in one of the old wrecks at Bobby's, while John was burning a corpse in Conneticut. He had taken Sam to a bar with faked IDs on his 18th birthday, when John wasn't around again. He sat in the audience at Sam's graduation, while John was screwing some monster in Missouri.

But it didn't matter, because he wasn't the real Dean, not for Sam and never for John. The older Winchester had used him to cover his failure. It was all he had been, a cover.

Maybe Sam would give him some last words, before he pulled the trigger. He could tell him that he was sorry and that he loved him, before his little brother ended it. He wouldn't hope for life, he wasn't stupid, but maybe some last words to Sam. Tell him, that he would always love him, Dean or not.

His elbows rested on his knees and he held his face between his hands, tears between his fingers. His face. It had taken years to design it. Thinking about how Dean would have looked, when he grew up. Adding some features he liked, some of John's, some of Sam's. This was his face, no one else's. And when they put him down, he would die with his face.

There were steps in the hallway, steps too silent for a nurse. He cleaned his tears and swung his legs from the bed. The door opened and Sam's silhouette filled the door frame.

“Put that on.” The younger Winchester tossed a jeans and a shirt towards him and closed the door again. Face emotionless, avoiding eye contact with the thing sitting on the bed.

He turned around and shut down the heart monitor, taking the sensors off his chest. His broken rips rebelled, but it was something he was used to. Though it made dressing quite difficult. He sighted in relief when he finished pulling the shirt over his head. His feet were still bare and he would have liked some boxer's, but complaining wasn't an option.

He opened the door and looked right in his brother's face. For a second, there was love and happiness in his little brother's eyes, but then it was spilled with black poisoned hate again. Sam turned around and followed his father, who was already aproaching the corner at the end of the floor.

Dean let his head hang down and followed the two men out of the building to a rent car in front of the main entrance. He limped on the right side due to a fracture of his hip. His left arm was plastered and bandages tried to support several broken ribs. He had worse, but it made walking hard. There were other things, that hurt more. Sam hadn't looked at him, since he had left his room. Not even wen he nearly fell, because his left leg just wouldn't carry his weight.

He felt like a kid again. He had tried to make John like him when he was younger. Listened carefully to everything he said and trained hard, so his “Dad” would be proud of him. He had been a fool. He was thirteen and so hungry for some kind of recognition, that he had tried not to notice the mean words and hated looks whenever Sam wasn't around.

He started to dress like John, listen to the same music, until one afternoon when Sam wasn't home John's fists had explained to him insistently that his “father” didn't appreciate it. He had lowered his efforts, but he kept the music and the styling he had developed. He liked it and it was a satisfaction, because he knew, it still pissed John off. It had hurt to know that he would never be something else than a monster in John's eyes, but there had still been Sammy. Now there was nothing. Sammy had turned from him and he was alone now.

John Winchester opened the back door of the blue Toyota and indicated him to get in. John and Sam got in at the front, but silence remained. They were two hours on the road, when Dean couldn't hold his eyes open anymore. It wouldn't matter. They would probably wake him up, before they put that bullet in his head.

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Sam sat in the passenger seat of the rented car, his fingers clenched to his jeans, so no one could see they were shaking. The silence seemed to press him down, squashing him into the seat.

It wasn't real. It had all been false. The only thing he had always been able to rely on, was a lie. Some days ago he had been sitting by his brother's bed in a silent hospital room, praying for Dean's life. Now Dean was dead. He hadn't died in that small white painted room, he had died years ago and Sam hadn't known.

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It killed him to see his brother like that, connected to several tubes and machines. The doctors hadn't told him directly, but he knew by the sound of their voices, that they didn't think Dean would ever wake up again. But these people didn't knew him, Dean was a fighter, had always been. He would wake up, he would walk out of this building with a smile on his face and a joke on his lips.

His brain went through the same promises again and again, but there was this little voice in the back of his mind, that told him, that maybe Dean wasn't as strong as he thought. The broken body of his brother didn't look like it would stand up anytime soon. He had listen to the doctor's words about several fractures and internal bleeding, about bruises and cuts, telling him that it was a wonder his brother was still alive, but didn't want to hear it. Didn't want to hear that it was a miracle, that Dean's heart was still beating. He didn't want to hear, any of that. He wanted them to say, that his big brother would be fine.

He sat at Dean's side for three days, holding his brother's hand and begging to every power that be to save him and then the nurse came in and told him that his father had woken up.

He had visited John two or three times, spoken to the doctors, but most of the time, he had been at Dean's side. He didn't want to leave his brother's side, but he needed to see his Dad.

When John's story ended, Sam couldn't look into his father's eyes. He rammed his fist into the nearest wall and then left the building without another word. Tears streamed down his face. He felt betrayed and alone. His feet just kept walking to get away from the painful truth that lay in room 3751 on the third floor of the Avera McKennan Memorial Hospital.

It started to rain, but he barely felt the water soaking through his clothes. He was numb to everything around him. The sounds were far away, whispers from a different world, but nothing seemed to reach him. Time stood still, nothing really moved, but still everything was in motion. It all made sense now. Why Dean had always been the good little soldier, why he didn't question John's decisions. Why Dean had never even wasted a thought to another life.

It was afternoon, but due to the bad weather the streets were empty and Sam was alone. It was exactly what he wanted right now. He tried to think back, if Dean had ever said anything, if he had ever seen something. How couldn't he have noticed Deans eyes for all this time? Shapeshifter's eyes flash at cameras, why hadn't he never seen it? Why hadn't he never noticed the changing? Dean must have touched silver in all those years. He couldn't remember. There were so much more important memories of Dean.

How his brother had patched him up after his first hunt. How Dean sat with him on the floor of their motel room, when he was sixteen and had just broken up with Rachel. Dean's face, when he gave him the amulet on Christmas. Deans's lips, when Sam had been seventeen, totally wasted and had kissed his own brother. His brother's face had been full of desire, at least he had thought that, but then Dean had turned away and they had never talked about it. It had happened again, while they were on the road in the last year. Dean had turned away again and Sam had felt like the biggest freak in the world. It made sense. Apart from all the other things, that made Sammy's little fantasy impossible: that Dean was straight and had been/was/had pretended to be his big brother. Why should a monster want someone he was forced to live with? Sam's little crush at Dean had always been ridiculous, but now it felt even more like a cruel cosmic joke
Dean had probably hated him for all those years. He was the reason his father had “trained” this thing. He wanted to hope that he was wrong, that maybe Dean would feel at least still a little sympathy for him, but he knew better. There was no way that this monster would feel anything than hate for him.

At first he had listened to his Dad's plan to get rid of the shifter as soon as possible, he just didn't care, but than there had still been this little spark of doubt in his mind or maybe it had been hope.
Somewhere deep inside something screamed, that maybe after all Dean still cared for him. That he could ask him, if anything had been real, but he wouldn't listen to his naive heart.
No he just wanted the shifter alive, because he was after all still a damn good hunter and he could help them kill Yellow Eyes. John hadn't been happy about his son's plans. After four hours of fighting they decided to go to Bobby, as soon as the shifter woke up and they would decide there what to do.

When Dean's eyes finally opened, Sam couldn't control himself. He told the thing to stop acting, he couldn't bear the pleading voice, that called him to his brother's side. It was too much. How could that thing lie so cold into his face? And there was the anger again, made of betrayal and lies, flowing through his veins and blinding him with hate. He didn't even want to look at that face anymore, the fake visage of family and safety. He threw the clothes he had brought, listened to John's barked order and left the room without another look back. He thought there had been tears on the shifter's face, but he wasn't sure, even if they were. They weren't for him, maybe it was relieve knowing, that he didn't have to pretend anymore, maybe it thought they would get rid of him a s soon as possible like John had planed. His heart told him, that it was because he thought he had lost Sam, but his mind silenced these naive whispers. He wouldn't be so dumb.

When the thing came out of the hospital room, he had forgotten for a moment. He had only seen his brother. Vivid again, walking out of the hospital like he had dreamed it, but this wasn't his brother. This was just some random monster his Dad had trained. This thing felt nothing for him, had been forced to make him believe that it cared. All these memories, they weren't true. This freak had lied to him.

But still he had to control him self not to run to Dean's side, when they walked along the white corridors and he heard his brother's struggling. The steps were uneven, he limped on the left side. He heard the pained moans and the unsteady breathing, but he wouldn't turn around. He tried to block out the sound, when Dean nearly fell to the floor, when his leg collapsed under his weight. This was the thought he had to get rid of. This wasn't Dean. This thing didn't care about him, didn't love him in any way. The only person he hated more for the betrayal then the limping monster behind him, was his Dad.

Not because he had lied to him about the shifter, not because he had let him alone so many years with a monster, not because he had thought Sam would be too weak to hear the truth, no John Winchester did something much worse. He had seen Sam's beloved brother dying, held him in his arms while he bled to death and then he had burned him in some nameless forest, letting the ashes be blown away in the wind like some random dead animal he had found on the street. He hadn't bothered to let anything in the world to remember Dean. No tombstone with his name besides his mother's grave, no funeral to share one last time the short history of Deans's young life with the world. He had just replaced Dean, like an old dog, who had died, he had just bought a new one and given him the same name.

It may hadn't really been John's fault that Dean had died, but John had destroyed every memory of Dean's death, every proof of his pain and his fear, when he died in his father's arms. John had just turned away and went on with life, like nothing ever happened.

He had screamed at his Dad, called him a coward, a monster, but John hadn't joined the fight. He had listened to Sam, listened carefully to all the hateful words that kept coming out of his mouth and then he agreed with Sam. John Winchester, who had always fought back, had just accepted all these insults. He had told Sam, that after all he had still done it for him, but that he would understand, that Sam needed time to accept that. He would just hope that Sam would understand it one day, he didn't ask for forgiveness just that Sam wouldn't turn his back at him forever.

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Now Sam sat in the front of the Toyota his Dad had rented and listen to the breathing behind him. Dean – the thing – the shapeshifter was sleeping. His head resting against the window, his arms clenched around him. He was still wearing a lot of bandages and patches to cover his cuts, but they would heal fast. The doctors hadn't known how the internal bleeding had stopped, how the skull fracture had disappeared over night, but Sam knew. Dean, this thing wasn't human. John had told him, that it normally controlled the healing, so nobody would notice, that he kept the scars, so nobody would get suspicious.

Sam tried to see just the monster there on the backseat, but somehow it was still Dean, the Dean he knew at least.

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When Dean opened his eyes again it was morning and they were just passing the gate of Singer's Salvage. It was kind of sad, but he was surprised, that he was still alive. His body felt stiff from several hours on the road. John was still driving, while Sam seemed to be sleeping. John stopped the car right in front of Bobby's house.
“Kid, wake up.”
Sam gave a weak grumble, before he opened his eyes. He unfolded his long limps and got out of the car to follow his Dad to Bobby's front door.

Dean sat in the backseat not knowing, what he was supposed to do. Did they want him to stay in the car? In the past it had never been a problem. He had been a Winchester, he had been part of the family, but now was he still allowed to enter Bobby's home? Maybe John hadn't told the other hunter yet. Or maybe Bobby had known all along? John had called him the night the real Dean died. But Bobby had never said anything.

“Get you're ass over here!”
John's voice cleared all his doubts and carefully he manged his hurting body out of the car. Four quick steps and he stood right behind the others, when the owner of Singer Salvage opened the door.

“What are you idjits doing here? You're supposed to lie in a freakin hospital!” He shifted his gaze from John to Sam. His eyes grew wide, when he realized that it was Dean, who was standing behind them. “Jesus John, I didn't even knew the kid woke up. Why is that boy standing in my yard and not laying down in the hospital?”

“Gonna explain it you. Can we come in?”
“Yeah, sure your boys can, for you I'm thinking about that shot gun again.”
John brought a halfhearted smile to his lips and lay a hand on Bobby's shoulder.
“Just give us some time to rest, then I'll explain it and then you'll probably like that shot gun idea even better.”
“You better not joke about that Winchester. It tempts fate.”

Dean had always liked Bobby's place. Sometimes the old man could be a little grumpy, but he had always been really nice to him and Sammy. John on the other hand, had the really incredible talent to piss off everybody. He had made Bobby Singer hunt him off with a shotgun. He didn't know exactly why it happened, but for some reason Dean was quite confident, that John had started what ever happened that day in South Dakota.

Now he didn't knew what to do, when he entered the spacious building. Sam nearly ran up the stairs to the room they normaly shared and locked the door from inside. Bobby gave the remaining two man a questioning look, but an unpleasant silent remained.

John took his boots off and crashed on the couch, while Dean stayed right behind the front door. Head bowed, eyes locked with the carpet and not knowing what to do.

“Boy, you should better lay down, too. You still look like crap. How the hell is this even possible?Last time I saw you, you were nearly dead, several broken bones, internal bleedings. How do you walk? How did you get out of that bed?”

“It . . .It's fine Bobby , don't worry.”
Bobby obviously wasn't satisfied with that answer.
“Nothing's fine here, Dean, just look at you and what happened to your brother, that he locks himself in his room like a teenage girl?”
Dean felt water gathering in his eyes. It was too much.
“Dean, did you swallow your tongue? What happened to you?”
Bobby would push him away, if he knew, wouldn't bother anymore, if he lived or died.
“Don't call me that, please, just . . .just don't call me that.”
His lies had never felt so heavy on his shoulders before, but now they seemed to crash him.
“God Dean, you're shaking, you've got to rest. Come on just...”
It was just too much for him to bare.
“I'M NOT DEAN. I'm not, I'm, I'm...”

Just seconds after these words bubbled out of Dean's mouth. John Winchester was suddently there and his fist collided with the younger man's jar.

“Are you nuts?” Bobby tried to hold John back, but the man was frantic. Dean's father had punched and kicked his son several times, before the barrel of Bobby's shot gun convinced him to stop.

“John Winchester, I pray to god, that you have a really good explanation for this shit!”

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Dean lay on the floor, blood dripped from his left brow and blocked his view on that side, but even only with one eye, he saw the tension building in John's shoulders and he knew what would follow. John used his left arm to get the shot gun out off Bobby's grip, while the impact of his right fist on the older man' face made him back off a few steps, while John pointed the gun at the other man' chest now.

“You know nothing about this Singer! So don't you dare to interfere!”

This wasn't good, beating him was one thing, but aiming a gun at Bobby was crazy, even for John Winchester.

“Don't you dare, putting a gun on me in my own house, John. I meant it, put it down.”

The two men's eyes were still locked and to Dean it felt like an eternity passing, until John finally lowered the gun.

“You have to listen to me Bobby, this is not what you think.”
“First of all we're gonna patch up your son.”
“That's not my son.”
“What the...?”
“That's not even Dean.”
“Oh god John, what stupid plan of yours went bad this time? What did you do? Where's your boy?”

When John didn't answer, Bobby sighted and looked down at the broken body at his feet. Fearful eyes seemed to be searching his face for something. It was bleeding in several places and and his shoulders were shaking again.

“So, who or what is that then?”

Dean eyes closed, he didn't want to see the expression on Bobby's face. It was enough that Sam looked at him like this now, that John didn't even pretend anymore.

“It's a shapeshifter.”
“You brought a shapeshifter to my house and you didn't even bother to tell me? Are you nuts?”
“I brought that thing to your house for years and you never noticed. You got careless old man.”

Dean's eyes were still closed, but you was pretty sure, there was at least a hint of a self-satisfied smile on John Winchester's lips.

The next thing he heard was a body crushing down on the floor next to him and the oldest Winchester moaning in pain. His eyes snapped open and he saw John sitting on the floor, a hand pressed to the left side of his skull.

“Was that really necessary Singer?”
“No, but it felt damn good. So now get your sorry ass off my floor and explain me, why a bleeding shapeshifter is laying in my house, wearing you're sons face.”

Bobby offered a hand to help John up and the other man accepted with a light smile.

“You got something to drink? 'Cause I think we're gonna need it.”
“Sure does Whiskey do or is it that bad, that I have to get the rotgut? “
“Probably both.”
“What are we doing with him?”, Bobby asked and pointed a finger towards Dean. “You wanna tie him up or something, secure he doesn't do something stupid?”
“It's a good pet, knows how to behave.”
A faked chuckle escaped from John's lips, when he closed the big wooden doors to the library behind him and Bobby.

Dean was alone, not only laying in a puddle of blood on Bobby's carpet in an empty room, no, now he was really alone, no one cared for him. He was a monster in a house full of hunter, who would probably just shot him like a sick animal in the next hours. He didn't now exactly when he had pissed off fate, but he was pretty sure he did.

He already felt the bruises from the impacts of John's boots and fists as well as several of his older injuries that had opened again. He lifted his upper body from the ground and managed to sit down with his back pressed again the wall. Dean let his head fall back against the hard wall and his tears flow, it didn't matter anymore.

He hadn't noticed the person standing on the top of the steps. Sam had left his room, when he heard the shouting of Bobby and John downstairs. He had watched Bobby, landing a hard punch against John's temple and it had definitely delighted his craving for vengeance against his father, when John hit the floor.

Now the only thing he could see was the broken body of his brother, collapsed against the wooden wall of the entrance, tears flowing down his cheeks. Dean/It hadn't said anything to defend himself, he/it had just listened, when John had called him a pet. He hadn't tried to stop John's rage against him. He had just surrendered when his “Dad” had started to beat the shit out of him.

Dean's gaze had been locked with Bobby's face until John had told the other hunter, what he/it was. Misery had invaded Sam's feelings, when he saw the hurt shameful expression on Dean's face, before his brother closed his eyes and turned his face toward the floor. It seemed that this thing had actually cared for Bobby. Maybe the screaming voice in he back of his head had been right. Maybe after all, this Dean cared for people, maybe even for him.

It was still confusing and his feelings towards Dean were fighting each other in his head all the time. There was the hunter part, that ordered him to put a bullet in the monster's head as fast as he could, compassion for all the bad things, that this Dad had done to this kid, there was still a hint of family and safety and there was the voice that screamed louder than everything else, that he loved his brother, even more than he should.

He had tried to silence the voice, but it came always back. It screamed even louder than the painful moans of betrayal and the lunatic cries of hate. Even now he couldn't get rid of his ridiculous crush, but if there was any chance, that Dean felt anything else than disgust for him, he wanted to know. After all this was still the Dean, he fell in love with.

Carefully he walked down the stairs, looking at his shoes, because after all, he was still afraid to look into these eyes and may see something different than love. He paused two steps from Dean's trembling body and gathered all his strength to lift his gaze from the blood soaked carpet to his brother's eyes.

The left one was swollen and colored with a dark purple. The right one seemed better, but it was also closed and tears were streaming out from underneath the lids. Dean didn't seemed to notice him, his shoulder's were shaking and Sam was pretty sure he tried to hold it back, but a low whining emanated from his throat.

He hunkered down and lay a comforting hand on Deans right shoulder, at least he had intended it to be comforting. Dean's whimpering stopped immediately, together with his breathing. His good eye snapped opened and searched terrified for the origin of the touch. It took some seconds before Deans gaze stopped traveling between the hand on his shoulder and Sam's boots, but it finally found his brother's eyes.

Sam had been prepared for a lot of different expression's. He had expected hate, love, disgust, reproval, god, he had even thought, that maybe they would just be blank, freed from every false emotion, but those eyes were full of fear. Dean feared him, thought that he was just like John. He removed his hand from the shaking shoulder and tried to explain, that he wasn't like John, that he wouldn't hurt him.
“Dean, I...”
“I'm not Dean.”
The shapeshifter closed his eyes again and turned his face away from him. Sam hadn't expected him to talk, but these hushed words had silenced him immediately. He didn't know what to say, so he said the only thing that crossed his mind.
“I know.”
“Then why are you here?”
Sam sighted and sat down beside Dean. “I guess, because after all, we've still been through a lot together and I just wanted to know...”
Dean turned his head to him again and his right eye examined his face questioning.
“... if anything was ever real.”
There was a change in Dean's features. His eye opened more and even the swollen one unclenched a bit, while the corners of his mouth started to rise. His lips opened a few times, until finally one single word escaped.
“Yes.”

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“What was real?”
“I really love you Sammy, you're the best family I ever had, the best thing in my fucked up life.”

Sam's heart jumped in joy at every single word he heard.

“So you really care, after all?”

Dean just gave a weak nod and Sam couldn't hold back anymore. He lay his arms around Dean's broken body and hugged him soft. His brother tensed for a moment, but then relaxed into Sam's warm body.

“I'm sorry that Dad did all this to you because of me.”
“Wasn't your fault, don't worry.”

Sam let one of his hands slide through Dean's hair and felt the clotted blood underneath his fingers. He didn't want to end this peaceful moment, but his brother's wounds needed to be cleaned and patched up.

“We should clean you up and get a close look at all these bruises.”

Dean sighted an sad eyes made contact with Sam's.

“Don't worry it will be ok tomorrow. Shouldn't waste any patches at me.”
“But you're hurt. Come on, let's get you into the shower at least, wash off all the blood.”

Sam's heart jumped again, when Dean gave a weak smile, but then there was sadness again all over his brother's face.

“He doesn't like it. Never let me even clean my wounds, when you're not around. Says it's a waste of material to patch up a monster.”

The lump in Sam's throat felt so big for a moment, that he thought, he could never speak again.
“Doesn't matter what he says. Come on.”

He stood up and helped Dean to do the same. An arm around his brother's waist he took some of Dean's weight to support the left leg. A hissed moan escaped from Dean's lips, when he straightened his body. Sam could now see the whole damage and his stomach turned at the sight of the torn body beside him.

They were just about to take the first careful steps towards the stairs, when they heard voices raising in the library. The next moment the wooden doors flew open and a pretty pissed John Winchester stomped towards the front door.

“Sam, get the piece of shit in the car. We're leaving.”

Some seconds later Bobby followed with an at least equal pissed look on his face, a shot gun in his right hand though the barrel was still pointed at the floor. John was already half out the door, when he realized, that Sam hadn't moved. He hadn't taken a closer look at the the two of them, when he stormed out of the library, but now he was shocked finding his son at the shifters side.

“What are you doing?”
“Clean Dean up, take care of his wounds.”
There was only one sharp answer from John.
“That's not Dean.”
“Yeah, I know, remember you told me some days ago?”

John didn't know, what to do. How could Sam be so blind?

“But he is a ...”
Sam didn't let him finish his sentence.
“Yeah a shapeshifter, a shapeshifter YOU made pretend to be my brother. It isn't like he crept into our room one night. You made him do it! You pushed him into our family, because you didn't have the courage to stand up for your mistakes!”

Dean had turned his face towards Sam's chest, when the other two hunters had entered the room again. He had stiffed, waited for Sam to push him away, but Sam had only tightened the grip around his waist. His Sammy had spoken up against John for him.

“You know, why I told you?You wanna know why? That thing is obsessed with you Sammy, it's a freaking shifter and sooner or later it will go nuts and try to harm you! That's why. I see how it looks at you, every time you turn around, how it's eye-fucking every inch of you and I won't just sit around and wait 'till it kills you!”

Dean gasped at these words. He thought, he had been careful, never watching Sam too often, never too long, but John had seen it. He lost his cover, because he hadn't been able to hide his stupid little crush. Sam had been the center of his life for years, had been everything for him and when he got older his love for Sammy had changed. He didn't love only love Sam as a brother anymore, no he wanted to wake up every morning in those arms and never think about John Winchester or hunting again. He had thought about changing. Being a petite blond like Jessica or some dark haired beauty, but he would have to stop being Dean for that and he didn't want Sammy to lose his big brother and so he had stayed at Sam's side as a brother, but he had always dreamed of more.

“I would never harm Sam.”
It was Dean's voice that sliced the heavy silence in the room. He turned his head away from Sam's chest and stared into John Winchester's eyes.

“You will. Sooner or later you all go psycho.”
Dean's face stayed confident.
“No, I won't.”

Sam was pretty confident his Dad overreacted as an excuse for his behavior. Dean would never hurt him. When Dean spoke to John for the first time since Sam knew the truth, he was sure that Dean meant what he said. The tension in the room remained and neither of the four man dared to make a move. He needed to get Dean away from John before the situation escalated.

“I'm gonna take Dean upstairs now and take care of his injuries. Do what ever you want, but don't you fucking touch him again.” When he finished, he shifted Dean carefully towards the stairs. When the were halfway up, he heard the loud bang of a closing door. They made it silent to the bathroom at the end of the floor an after he closed the door he started to take Dean's clothes off.

He had dreamed at least a million times about this situation. His brother's warm body pressed against him, his finger slowly lifting the soft fabricate of the shirt over the pink skin. But it was all wrong. More tears fell down with every inch of Dean's skin he saw. Purple an green drew surreal designs over Dean's abdomen and he wanted to throw up, when he saw the cracked stitches of Dean's operations.

“It will be OK Sammy, just one day and I'll be fine.”

Sam swallowed hard and helped Dean out of the shirt an the jeans. He let him sit down at the toilette, while he turned on the hot water and and took his own shirt and jeans off. When the water was warm enough he helped Dean into the shower and tried to get the blood out of his brother's hair.

After ten minutes he decided it was enough and helped Dean out. He wraped a towl around him and after he put his clothes back on, supported him on the way to their room. Dean's eyes were already closing, so Sam layed him down on the bed and covered him with some blankets. He wanted to get up, when he felt Dean's hand on his wrist.

“Please stay.”

He sighted. It was still early in the morning and he hadn't slept more than two hours at the way to Bobby, so a nap couldn't hurt. He locked his fingers fingers with Deans and sat down beside the bed. His back would kill him, when he woke up, but that didn't matter now. He lay his head on the mattress right beside Dean's and let the calming darkness of sleep take him away.

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It was his birthday, but it was different. It was really his. John was his Dad, he had bought him presents and even a cake. Little Sammy had made him a present himself. He wasn't just some monster, he was really Dean. John's smiles weren't faked, they were real and full of love. He cared for him, was proud of him. Sammy would never turn from him, because there was nothing wrong with him. He smiled, he was happy. It wasn't about the cake or the candles, not about the toys he got, no, this was about being real. Not having to fear that he would lose everything just in the blink of an eye.

Sammy asked him weather they could play with his new baseball and just seconds later they were running into the garden, but something wasn't right, there were too many trees and the sky was too dark for a summer morning. The house was gone, they were running through a forest.
He called out for Sam, but the kid didn't seem to hear him, so he tried to catch up with the small boy, but he wasn't fast enough. Suddenly the trees stopped and he was standing in front of an house. It seemed familiar, but he couldn't remember were he had seen it before. Sam's legs just disappeared into the front door, but Dean couldn't follow him. He couldn't move move, couldn't breath. This wasn't right. He had to look out for Sammy. His paralysis stopped when he heard Sam's panicked screams sounding from inside.

He followed Sammy's path through the front door into the living room, but he couldn't see the kid. His eyes searched the whole room several times until the finally spotted a movement behind the closet door in the next room. Just a second after he passed the door way the door fell shut behind him. He knew this room. There was the cheap wooden closet and the small bed in the corner. An old stool was placed beside of it and an old book of fairy tales was lying on top of it. He had been in there before. No not him, no, the other kid, the wrong kid, the wrong Dean. But he was real, he was Dean, he hadn't been here. He opened they wooden doors of the closet and his breath stocked.

There was a giant mirror inside in front of him, but it didn't show him. There was the kid, with the dark skin and the nearly black eyes, but at the same moment there were others, others who's faces the wrong kid had worn. The thing behind the glass smiled and let his sight drop to the floor. He didn't want to, but he had to look. His eyes traveled from the face down the blood coated hands to the lifeless body on the floor.

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Dean woke up with a scream. He looked around and scanned the room. He knew this place, they were at Bobby's. Memories from the events of the morning crept back into his mind and he nearly panicked when he didn't catch a sight of Sam at the first try. The muffled moan to his right brought the attention to the giant young man, who was cuddled again the side of his bed. Relief flooded him and he smiled. Maybe this wasn't perfect, but for him this was the best thing that had happened in years, this was better than everything he had ever hoped for.

As quiet as he could he slipped out of the bed and closed the door after he passed it. He needed to get this done now, he didn't want Sam to see it. He knew where everything was, he just had to made sure they didn't see him. John had always stored some bottles in one of the wrecks, he just prayed, that Bobby still hadn't found them.

His skin was itching, it had been too long already. He sneaked out to something that had once been a red middle class car. The only thing, that was still recognizable was the glove compartment. He opened it carefully and grabbed two of the bottles. The clicking of a loading gun made him froze in his place.

“Put the bottles on the ground. Hands behind your head and on your knees.” He turned around slowly to face the barrel of Bobby's gun.

“Please I can explain this.”, Dean went down on his knees and placed the bottles with shaking hands in front of Bobby.

“You better got a damn good explanation for carrying bottles of salt acid around.”

Shit, he hadn't thought about Bobby. He had just assumed the older hunter had also lay down to rest, too.

“Please, don't shoot. This isn't what you think. I need that stuff. Please Bobby!”

He knew, he had just ruined it all. Maybe Bobby hadn't said anything about Sam letting him sleep in the bed, but running around with bottles of acid? He was lucky Bobby Singer didn't just shoot him in the back. The lines in Bobby's face deepened for a second, like he was considering his options, but then he lowered the gun.

“You know, I always wondered why John hid them here. Couldn't think of any use for it. What do you need it for?”

Dean swallowed hard. He didn't want to speak about this disgusting part of his existence. It was embarrassing to tell that he had to shed his skin. That he couldn't even pretend to be human, because his real nature would always catch up with him.

“I need it to get rid of it, rid of the . . .”, he gulped again, trying to erase the lump in his throat. “ . . the skin.”

“You dissolve your shed skin with that?”

Dean just nodded and looked away. This was already enough without seeing the disgust in Bobby's face.

“Hey boy, come on look at me.”

He didn't want to look into these eyes, but he wouldn't disobey a man with a shot gun in the hand, who was trained to kill things like him. Bobby sighted and squatted in front of him.

“You know, when John said, you were a shapeshifter, I thought you were just some random m . . . one he picked up somewhere the last days. I would have never thought that . . . it didn't even cross my mind that he would have actually made you play Dean for years. Even for John that was a whole new level of stupid. But if what he told me was true, you walked into this house since you were a kid and you never . . . I'm sorry for the gun, it's just hard to except it.”

Dean was pretty sure he was dead or at least in a coma or something. One good thing never happened to him and now he should believe in several ones? Yeah, he probably hid his head a little too hard at the accident and was still laying in that hospital bed, this couldn't be real.

Sam and Bobby accept him? Way too good for his life. But still this felt real, as good as he knew this was real and so maybe just ones in his lifetime fate didn't hate him.

“Come on kid, Sam is still asleep. You can . . . ehm . . . shift and then we'll have a talk, all three and you can explain some things.”

Dean got up slowly and grabbed the two bottles from the ground. Bobby also got up and he followed the older man into the house.

“You know, I always wondered, why I had to change the tubes in the upstairs bathroom so often, but the salt acid quite explains it.”

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The hot water felt good at his itching skin, it seemed to smooth the pain of ripping it open. The liquid that flowed down his body started to color red. New teeth pressed the old ones out of their place.

He reminded himself of every little scar he wanted to keep, everything that was important. The pain made it hard to concentrate, but messing it up would mean to get through the same stuff again. It was easier if you just changed into someone who's DNA you knew. The body would read it like a construction plan, but to change into something you made out of nothing? It took years of training to be that good at it.

The nails began to split and underneath them new ones formed into fresh skin. He started to peel the bloody remains of his former skin of. Inch by Inch new smooth skin appeared. Wounds faded to scars and the cracks sounding out of his body told him that his bones started to heal too. Ribs connected again and his hipbone settled in he right place in one piece. The nerves in his body screamed, but he had learned to handle it, it wouldn't take too long. Hair fell down on his shoulders and with just one smooth grip of his hand his whole scalp fell on the bloody floor of the shower. The new skin was on fire, it felt like he was burning alive, so he turned the water cold.

He had already removed everything from his chest and had nearly finished the arms. He pulled the last of his fingernails out and started to scrub his thighs free of the dead tissue. There was a building pressure in his lower abdomen and he really wished he could just ignore it, but it increased every second until it started to hurt. He reached between his legs and got rid of the now dead meat. The new was already forming in the same place.

Blood was dripping down his face and started to blur his vision. The face always hurt the most. He started at his chin, slowly peeling away the cold substance. Every inch he managed was regarded by a burning sensation that made him tremble. It took him nearly half an hour to remove all the remaining old skin, but when he looked in the mirror, he was pleased. Nothing went wrong, this was still his face, he had just added some more scars to the body, but nothing hurt anymore.

Dean grabbed the two bottles of acid and added the liquid to the bloody mess that had ones been part of his body. He let the water run and watched as the disgusting remains of his existence slowly vanished into the tubes. When everything was gone, he scrubbed the shower for at least fifteen minutes to get rid of every possible proof of his disgusting nature.

He put on some boxers, a white shirt and some worn out jeans. Bobby said they would talk. It sounded like he would get a chance to explain him self. Maybe, just maybe this would mean that he had a chance to tell them, that he cared, that he wasn't just a monster. That he wanted to be Sammy's big brother, that he liked being called Dean like he actually was someone people cared for.

Dean took the two bottles and went down the stairs to throw them away. Bobby was already in the kitchen, cooking something for lunch. He went outside and threw them into one of the big barrels. The afternoon sun was shinning and he liked the warm feeling on his new skin. It would be hard to tell them everything, but he couldn't expect them to not have questions. He would answer what he knew and hope that it would be enough.

He entered the house again and made his way toward the stairs, when Bobby called him to the kitchen. The older hunter turned around from the stove and looked shocked, when he saw Dean.
“Jesus, you . . .”
Dean looked ashamed to the floor.
“Oh come on, give an old man the chance to adjust. Don't look at the floor like a kicked puppy.”
That wasn't what he had expected. He raised his sight again and looked at Bobby.
“See boy, that's much better. Now get Sam and then we'll all get some lunch.”

Sam was still huddle against the bed and sleeping deeply. He really wished he could just let him sleep, but the kid was probably hungry and they had to talk. He lightly shacked Sam's shoulder but got nothing more then a unwilling grumble.
“Sammy, come on.”
Sleepy big brown eyes looked at him confused for a seconds, before Sam seemed to finally wake up completely.
“Dean? Why are you up? Your wounds!”
“Told you it would be alright.”
Sam blinked in confusion and hesitantly raised a hand to Dean's face.
“What? Your face, it's all gone.”
“Told you just one day. Now get up, Bobby made lunch.”
Sam took the hand Dean offered him and slowly got up from his place on the floor. His back hurt and his stiff neck hurt even more, but he was too hungry to care.

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Bobby had made them pasta with some kind of tomato sauce. The food was good, but an awkward silence lay over the table why they ate. After they finished Bobby grabbed a bottle of beer for each of them from the fridge.
“So, I really think we have to clear some things up. I don't know about Sam, but I've been wondering about a few things. How did you hide it? I mean no one ever found out. You worked with a bunch of hunters, crap, not even me or Sam saw it. What about your eyes? They don't reflect.”
Dean took a deep breath before he started to speak.
“When John . . .ehm . . . took me in, he trained me.”
“You mean the three weeks I stayed with Bobby.”
“Yeah.”
“But how? I never heard of a shifter able to touch silver or hide the reflection in his eyes.”
Dean watched Bobby carefully, he knew they wanted answers, but he couldn't tell them what John did. He didn't want to go back there.
His thoughts were interrupted, when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder and Sammy's smoothing voice. “We just want to understand it Dean, please?”
“I can't hide it.”
“What?”, Sam sounded deeply confused.
“I don't hide it, because they don't reflect anymore. It's . . . John . . . he. . .”
Oh god he couldn't tell him, just thinking about that day made him wanna puke. He felt Sam rubbing smoothing circles on his back, but it couldn't calm the panic rising inside of him.
“Dean come on, calm down. Nobody's gonna hurt ya.”
“Back there, when . . he told me we had to get rid of it, so that nobody could see, what I was, so he cut . . . the lids out.”

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He was scared and cuffed to an old table. The man, John, the same one who had killed his Dad, had said they needed to get rid of the reflection of his eyes. He had told him, he found a way to get rid of it, then he had cuffed him to the rotten wood and fixed his head in position with a leather belt. He just wanted to go home. But thinking of it, there was no place he could go. He tried to think back, if there had ever been a save place, but he couldn't remember.

There had been his mom. She was beautiful with long blond hair and brilliant green eyes, but she hadn't loved him. She had been scared of him, had locked him in the cellar so no one could see the monster she had born. She always said, that she would have loved her baby, but that he wasn't her baby, he was just a monster. He had tried to tell her that he was sorry, that he didn't want to make her cry, but she didn't listen. He had just been a kid. Hadn't known that people who could shed their skin were monsters and that their mommies would never love them. He had just been a scared little kid, not knowing why his Mom hated him.

The loud squeal of the opening door ripped him out of his thoughts. The man was there. He could smell the alcohol in his breath even from the other side of the room.
John never talked to him unless it was necessary. Mostly he just barked orders at him. Sometimes he just watched him with those sad eyes.

He had seen the kid die, had seen John cry beside the body of his dead son. The kid who's face he wore now. Dean. He had felt those well too known twitches in his stomach again. Dean really had someone who cared for him, who loved him.

Yeah he had had his Dad for the last years, but that was different. He didn't know how the other shifter had found him, but one day he had heard his mother screaming upstairs. After some moments of silence, a man around forty had opened the door to the cellar he lived in.
The man had told him he was just like him and that he would take him away from his evil mother. He had told him, that his mother wasn't evil and that it was all his fault, but the man hadn't listened to him, he had just carried him out of the house.

He had tried not to recognize the red liquid on the kitchen floor, but it had haunted his dreams since then. In spite of everything he had still loved his mother, he hadn't want anyone to hurt her, especially not because of him.

He tried not to see the silver knife John got out of his bag, but it was impossible. He started struggling against his bounds when John sat down on an old chair beside him.

“Shh shh shh, don't move, you don't want me to cut off the mark or?”

There had been burning pain, when John started to cut away the additional lid of eyes. On some point he had lost consciousness.

When he woke up again the world looked different. Everything was darker now. A red glimmer lay on everything. The cuffs were gone gone and he lay on a dirty blanket on the floor, one ankle cuffed to a pipe on the wall.

He crouched into a ball and sobbed to himself. He missed his Dad. The other shifter had taken care of him. He maybe hadn't loved him, but he had tried. He had told him, that something like this would happen someday. That hunters would find them. That they would hurt them, because they were different.

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“He cut your lids out?”
“Additional lids. They change our eye color and they let us see in the dark.”
Sam's and Bobby's faces were pale.
“But you can heal it right?” Sam looked hopefully at him.
“He cut them out with a silver knife and cauterized the cuts with silver nitrate. It will never heal again.”
“Oh my god.” With these words Sam rushed out of the house.

Dean got up and followed him slowly into the yard. Sam stood beside the house, his front pressed against the wall. His fist crashing against the solid material several times.

“Sam.”

Sam turned his face towards his brother/the shifter. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.

“I don't understand you. You said I was the best thing in your life. Me? You were tortured because of me! My Dad cut the lids out of your eyes because of me! I'm a fucking curse in your life! Being near me means nothing but pain to you!”

Dean couldn't believe what he heard. How couldn't Sam understand him? He closed the gap between them, standing now right in front of his baby brother. He cupped Sam's face in his hands and made him look him into the eyes.

“You are the best thing in my life. The one I love most in the whole world. You're not a curse to me Sammy, you're a blessing.”

Still aspirating the last words, Dean pressed his lips against Sam's. He had wanted this so long. Wanted to tell Sam, that he felt the same.

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The sensation of Dean's lips against his own made it impossible to move. This was what he had wanted for so long, what he had dreamed of for years, always knowing that it could never be real. If this was the biggest wish he had coming true, then why did it feel wrong? There was something in the back of his mind that stopped him from responding to Dean's kiss. Something his Dad had said.

“Sammy, what's wrong? I thought you wanted this, too.”

“I'm sorry Dean. It's just what Dad said. He knew and he said . . .”

The moment Sam mentioned his Dad Dean could feel his heart shatter. He had thought, no, he had actually believed, that Sam had understood him, that he would trust him, but he didn't.

“ . . . you would go crazy like the others. What did he mean?”

Sam could see the pain of rejection in Dean's eyes and it nearly killed him, but he had to know the truth. He loved this Dean, this Dean had been his brother and his friend. He had been there for him in the last years. He wanted to trust Dean. Tell him that it didn't matter, what he was, but it would be a lie.

This was after all a shapeshifter. He had to know more about this . . . this thing before he could trust him. God knows he just wanted to kiss Dean again and never let go, but that was just his heart, his mind screamed at him to know first what he was dealing with.

John Winchester my had never been a good father or a great man, but he had been an outstanding hunter and Sam knew better than to ignore the things his Dad had told him.

“Dean, I just need to know, before . . . I always loved you more than I should have, but I have to know certain things.”

Dean could feel his legs weaken, so he let his back crush against the wall and slid down until he sat on the floor.

“Why? Why do you have to know? It could be true everything you wished for, everything you dreamed of. Why wouldn't you want it?”

How could he have been such a fool to believe that his dreams would come true? Monster's dreams don't come true.
Tears streamed down Dean's face. It had only been a dream, like everything that had been good in his life had always just been a fantasy.

The places he fled to, when the pain of reality became to much to bear. The false memories, that made him go on, even if he knew that it had never been real.

When he was still a kid, he tried to remember a day at the park with his mom. They played and had a pick nick. She had shown him how to let a kite fly and he had petted someone's puppy. He had loved that memory, even knowing that it wasn't real.

He had just once seen a photo of his mother smiling at a pick nick in a park. Seen another kid with his Dad and a kite in television. The neighbors had a little dog and once he had seen him in front of the cellar window. But it had been the only think that had made him smile in that cold place. After hours of begging his mother for forgiveness. Not even knowing, what he had done to hurt her, it had been a place where his mind had been able to go, a place where he had been happy, where he was loved and cared for.

When he had gotten older and been with his Dad he looked into the memories of the kid's who's faces he had taken. There were the sensations of loving hugs, mother's kisses and true love. He had dreamed it had been him, laying in a bed with a mother sitting beside him and reading out fairytales, but it had never felt like the day in the park.

He had started to dream of a real life with his Dad, that they would wake up and would be humans. That his Dad would stop talking to people who weren't there, that they would be normal. When John Winchester had entered his live, he had stopped dreaming for a long time.

“Dean, I'm sorry. I just want to know. Please just tell me.”
Dean felt Sam's body sliding down the wall beside him and his brother's strong arm resting around his shoulder.
Maybe he could tell Sam. After all he deserved to know.

“John had this theory. My 'Dad' and the other shifters. They weren't always like that. They weren't evil. John said, that it happens because we can't manage all the memories in our heads. We're confusing what's real and what already happened. The more memories we get from other people, the harder it gets to tell them apart from our own. In the end we get schizophrenic.”

“But you don't change. You don't have all those other memories.”

“I did as a kid. There's no proof that it will happen or not. I don't even know if John's right.”

Sam went quiet for a moment, but Dean could see in his face, that there was another question on Sam's mind.

“What else is it?”

“Before us, before you became Dean, what was your name? Who were you before?”

“No one. I didn't even have a name. No one cared, if I lived or died. I know you don't understand this, but that your Dad took me in, it was the best thing, that ever happened to me. I have a life, because of that. I have you.”

“How old were you? Are you?”

“I'm just one year younger than Dean was. So it's no big difference.”

“What about the other shifter? The one my Dad killed? He was your Dad?”

Dean smiled for a short moment.
“No he wasn't, he just took me in some months earlier. Tried to play happy family with me, but it didn't really work out. He was already so far gone, he talked to people who weren't even there most of the time. Quiet an exemplary case of crazy.”

Sam rested it head on Dean's shoulder and buried his face under his neck.

“Why didn't you want me before? You said no each time I tried.”

“John would have killed me, I couldn't risk to loose you. See what only looking brought me to.”

Dean shuddered, when he felt the sensation of warm lips against his throat.

“I'm glad you told me now.”

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“You know, that Bobby's still waiting for us in the kitchen right?”

“Some minutes more won't kill him.”

Dean smiled and relaxed to the feeling of Sam's lips on his throat and his hand flat on is belly.

After a couple more minutes Sam sighted and got up. He offered Dean a hand and helped him up. Brushed his lips against Dean's one more time before they entered the kitchen.

Bobby had used the time to clean up the table and checked both of them curiously from behind his beer bottle now.

“You're both good?”

“Yeah, don't worry.”

He frowned a bit about Sam's quick answer, but both of the boys looked much calmer now, so he wouldn't question it.

”So you're ready to go for some more questions or you need a break?”

Dean was afraid of all the memories this conversation would bring to the surface again, but he owned them answer. He couldn't just expect them to get along with the truth about his real nature
without having question.

“Na, let's just get over it.”

Both Winchester brothers sat down on the old wooden table in front of Bobby. Under the board Dean felt the reassuring weight of Sam's hand on his knee.

“What else do ya wanna know?”

“Dean, you should tell him, what you told me.”

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Bobby Singer had heard a lot of weird stuff in his life, but John Winchester's ideas really gave him the creeps.

“Never heard about anything like that before. I'll take a look at some of the folklore, may call a shrink down in Indiana, the guy still owns me for saving his ass. Maybe he can help, but honestly I have no idea, if John's right or not. So Dean, the silver, how did you do it? How do you touch it?”

Sam saw his brother's hands tremble once more and immediately lay more pressure on Dean's leg, reassuring him that he was there with him. Dean took one more deep breath.

“Do you know what hypersensitization means?”

“Something to do with allergies, if I'm right.”

“Yeah, it kind of make the immune system unresponsive.”

“That works with mo . . your silver allergies?”

“No, not directly. But there is an affect, that works quite similar. If we already suffer a silver poisoning, we won't react so intense to a new contact with the metal.”

“You mean like what? John kept you under permanent silver poisoning?”

“Kind of. He implanted silver splints in my body.”

Once again Sam couldn't believe what a man his father was. When Dean felt his beloved brother tense beside him, he quickly smoothed his fears.

“Don't worry the doctors took most of them out, when I was in surgery.”

Dean tensed a bit, when Bobby got up and went to the kitchen counter, searching for something in one of the drawers.

“So you're not immune anymore?”

He shook his head carefully and just a second later, Bobby lay a big silver knife on the table in front of him.

“Prove it.”

Sam was already halfway up to jump at Bobby, when Dean stopped him.

“It's OK, Sammy.”

He took the knife handle in the right hand and gripped the blade tight with the left. The familiar warmth was there immediately, but it took nearly half a minute before the unpleasant fizzling of burning skin filled the room accompanied with the rotten smell of scorched flesh.

“Dean stop.”

Sam's voice interrupted his agony and with a loud rattle the knife hit the table top again.

“You're happy now, Bobby?”

“I just needed to be sure, Sam. For your own sake, I know that you want to trust him and so do I, but you can't just blindly believe in everything he says. After all he's still a shapeshifter.”

“He practically raised me Bobby! He never did anything to harm me!”

“Don't ya make me look like I'm all bad, boy. I'm sure, you had your moments of doubt, too. And believe me, even if he told us the truth, it won't have been the last time you did.”

As Bobby and Sam kept arguing with each other, none of them noticed, how Dean still sat there motionless on the old wooden chair, starring at his burned palms.

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He was scared. It wasn't like there had just been one day, since John Winchester took him in, that he hadn't been, but this time it was different. John was furious. He had accidentally touched silver, when he had been in the same room as Sam. The little boy hadn't noticed, but John did. He had ordered him to get up again, after Sammy fell asleep and there he was now. Trembling with fear in nothing more than his Batman boxers and a plain white shirt.

“What did I tell you? Are you just to stupid to avoid the freaking silver or do you actually want, that I shoot you in the head?!”

“No Sir, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to . . .”

“Shut the fuck up!”, John gave a point to his words with a slap in the little monster's face.

And now it was crying again. How the hell, could it cry all the time? The little shit should be grateful, that it was still alive.

“We'll have to get rid of that problem.”

Dean tensed at the words. The last time John had told him something like that, it had ended with a pretty drunk Winchester cutting the lids off his eyes with a silver hunting knife. He really didn't wanna go there again.

“I can do better, Sir, I promise.”, he tried to stop the sobs sounding from his throat, but he just couldn't.

“No, you can't. You had your chance, you dumb little monster.”

Dean held his breath when the oldest Winchester went to one of his bags and started to search for something inside. It took John just a minute to find, what he was looking for.

“Do you know, what that is?”

John held something in front of Dean's eyes, that looked like a syringe with a really thick needle.

“This is an applicator for chipping pets. Now, you know what we're gonna do with it?

Dean shook his head, while his eyes grew wide in fear.

“We're gonna implant some of these little fellows under your skin.”

John shook a little box in front of his eyes, that was filled with something, that looked like little metallic pearls, and grinned. Five minutes later, when the first burning pain spread through his leg, Dean knew that the little splints were made of pure silver.

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He needed air, he didn't want to hear Sam and Bobby fighting about him, he just wanted a moment for himself. Dean quietly rose from the chair and walked out of the door. He sat down on the old porch and stared at the rotten car wrecks.

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Nearly half an hour later, Sam appeared in the door and sat down beside him.
“He shouldn't have made you touch it.”

Dean sighted and watched his beloved brother with sad eyes.
“No Sam, he's right. He just wanted to be sure. I'm not human and that won't change. It doesn’t matter how hard I wish for it. I can't blame Bobby for wanting to test me and you should neither.”

“But it hurt you, your hands. . .”

“Sam, I just can't, not now, please give me just an hour, I need some time to think about all this.”

“Ok, I'll be inside. Just tell me, when you need anything.”

The hour Dean had wanted, finally lasted until the sun came down. When the last shafts of sunlight disappeared at the horizon, he got up and went inside, without adressing just one word to Sam, he went upstairs and entered their bedroom.

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When Sam came in an hour later, Dean was sitting on his bed in boxers and a plain t. The younger Winchester quickly stripped down to the same outfit and than sat down beside his brother.

“I'm sorry for all the fighting.”

Dean's gaze remained impassivly on the wall at the other side on the room.

“Please, look at me.”

His trance was finally broken, when he felt Sam's gentle hand caressing his cheek. Before he knew, what he was doing, he lent into the loving touch.

“It's ok, Sammy.”

Sam sighted and carefully brought their foreheads together.

“No, it's not.”

When the temptation became to big, Sam slightly pressed his mouth against the shorter man's full lips. He wasn't sure, whose throat escaped the moan, he heard, but when he felt Dean's tongue ghosting over his lower lip, he knew it didn't matter.

Willingly he opened his lips to welcome his brother into the wet heat of his mouth. A groan escaped him, when he felt the sensation of their tongues touching.

Sam's hand slowly slipped along Dean's body until it finally rested above his hip. Just in the right position to cares the bare skin, which was exposed between boxers and t.

While Dean drew his head back for a second to catch his breath, Sam trailed numberless kisses along his throat. He slipped his arm around Dean's waist and pulled him closer until his lover was finally seated in his lap with Sam's arms wrapped around him.

The sudden contact of their groins, made him realize, how hard he already was. The knowledge that Dean also was, nearly made him lose it.

Erratic breaths, that filled the room, became faster, when Dean started to move his hips. The increasing friction between their crotches made Sam bury his face in the familiar bend of his brother's neck.

The smaller Winchester kissed his brother's hair two more times, before he threw his head back for a silent scream, while his orgasm waved over him. Feeling his lover climaxing in his arms drove Sam over the edge.

“I love you.” The hushed words, not more than a whisper against the shell of his ear, were everything Dean had ever wanted to hear.

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John starred a the bottom of the empty whiskey glass and wondered, when his whole life had gone downside. Mary's death? Maybe even before, when they had started to argue all the time? Could it have been a sign? A sign, that everything was meant to end in blood and tears?

He had tried to make the right decisions, but somehow they had all turned out wrong. Looking back he had seen his failures. The crossroads of his life, he had taken the wrong branch. They were clearly visibly through the haze of cheap booze now.

He had gotten weak. Had started trust the monster. Believed that somehow, he could keep the lie going. When he had realized his mistake, it had been too late. The shifter had already found away to worm his way so deep into Sam's heart, that he had turned against John. His own son had turned against him in favor of a monster.

He knew he had to save his son. He had failed Dean, he wouldn't lose Sam, too. Even if Sam would turn away from him forever. It would be worth it. Sam's life for his son's love. Maybe one day Sam would realize, why he had to do it. Why he couldn't sit there and wait for the beast to show it's true colors.

“Ellen, give me one more.”

She sighted and filled his glass once more.

“You know, after so many years of avoiding us, it's an quite impression to just come in here, and drink yourself into oblivion, two days straight. Sure you don't wanna talk about it?”

“I'm good, Ellen, thanks. Walker still hangs around here sometimes?”

“Every now and then.”

“Got a number or anything?”

“Ask Ash, he probably does. How are your boys? Haven't seen them for years. Heard about Sam's girlfriend. I'm sorry. Must have been hard for him. Where are they by the way?”

“Crashing at Bobby's for some days. Been a hard week.”

It were just minutes before the dusty neon sign at the front of Harvelle's Roadhouse turned off, that John Winchester stumbled out. Clenching his fist around the small paper with Gordon Walker's number on he walked into the night, smiling at the knowledge, that tomorrow he would end the shameful story, he had started years ago.

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He woke up, feeling safe like never before. Sam's strong arm was wrapped around his waits and his confident smiling face rested just inches in front of his own. Their legs were tangled underneath the the warm covers. It was almost like his dreams had come true. He smiled, lightly caressing his lover cheek with one thumb. Maybe after all his Mom had been wrong, maybe it was possible to love a monster.

Sleep dazed eyes fluttered open in front of him and soft lips found their way to his own.

“Morning.”

He couldn't do anything else, but smile. It was perfect. Just how it had to be.

“Morning.”

Sam pulled him him closer and kissed him again.

“Slept good?”

Dean snuggled happily against Sam's broad chest.

“Better than ever.”

He sighted, when he felt Sam's hand petting lightly over his hair.

“Dean, your wanna tell me, what yesterday was about?”

Sam could feel the tense of Dean's shoulders.

“I was just worried about you. You sat there for hours starring at the same old cars.”

“I just had to think about a lot of stuff.”

“You don't have to tell me, but if you ever need to, just do it, ok?”

“Yeah, ok. No more secrets. I'll just need some time to adjust to this. You're gonna need some patience.”

Sam chuckled and kissed his lover's forehead.

“Same here. But I'm gonna have questions Dean, not because I don't trust you, but simply because I don't know a lot of stuff about who you are, what you are. I'll need answers. At least to some of them.”

Deans tensed at the mentioning of his true nature, but the smoothing touches of Sam's hand on his back made him relax again.

“I'll try. I'll may need some time for some of them, but I'll give my best. I promise.”

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John smiled, as he drove down a highway in South Dakota. Not even one hour, then he would meet up with Walker and some of his buddies. The man normally just hunted down vampires, but he hadn't refused John's ask for help. Walker was reckless, exactly the man he needed to solve his monster problem. He hadn't told the man everything. Just that they had to get rid of a shifter, which had infiltrated Bobby's house by wearing his son's face. They didn't need to know more and they hadn't asked.

He would make the freak pay. Bleed it dry and let it beg him to finally end it. The thing would get, what it deserved. As long as Sammy was save, he didn't bother. Even if Sam hate him after wards, it would be worth it.

He sped up the car and watched the sign on the town border of Sioux Falls pass bye. Just a few hours and Sam would be save and the freak would be dead.

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The breakfast had gone quite. Sam and Bobby were still glaring at each other from time to time, but it had gotten better. They had excused themselves after wards and taken a walk over the yard. It was strange talking about their shared memories and now listening to a whole different side of it from Dean.

“You remember the first time, I tried to teach you to drive?”

Sam chuckled and playfully punched Dean's arm.

“I was thirteen. Way to young to drive. A wonder I didn't kill us.”

“You weren't that bad.”

“No, indeed I was that good, I nearly killed Bobby's dog.”

“A month later and you were driving like a pro.”

“I'll give you that, but still way to young.”

They sat down on a wooden bench right between the forest, that surrounded Bobby's property, and the house.

“You know, I wouldn't mind a beer now."
“Dude, you don't really think I'll stand up just to get you a beer, or?”
“Never hurts to try.”

Dean grinned over his whole face. It was like nothing had happened. They had talked for hours and slowly the remaining tension of the last days had faded. He felt comfortable in his skin, even with the knowledge of Sam knowing about his true nature. He checked the windows for a sign of Bobby, before he pressed his lips on the other man's mouth. His tongue swept lazy over Sam's full lips, savoring the taste of the one thing, he never wanted to lose. It was met by Sam's just seconds later, twirling around each other inside the heat of Dean's mouth.
Sam finally drew back to catch his breath.

“Ok, since you've been so convincing, I'll get the beer.“
“You really wanna leave now?”
“I think, I need a minute to cool down or I can't guarantee for anything.”

Dean just couldn't stop smiling, it was perfect. Just the right way of teasing and caring. He watched Sam slip off the bench and finally disappear into the kitchen door. In the moment before the world went black, when he felt the sharp pain of a needle in his neck, he knew that something was wrong, but he couldn't keep the upcoming darkness from swallowing him.

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There was a dull throbbing pain in the back of his head.
No not just his head, everything hurt.
His shoulders were burning.
The muscles in his arms sore from being stuck too long in the same position. He tried to see, but there was just darkness.
His wrists hurt from the cuffs, that held him in position. The toes barely touched the floor, nails scraping over hard ground.

How did he end up here?
This was wrong, he shouldn't be here. He should be with Sam.
They should laugh and kiss. He should be with the one person in the world, who really cared for him.
He should lay in that tiny bed in Bobby's house, his lover's arms wrapped around him.

Maybe it had been to good to be true. Such things don't happen to monsters, monsters don't get happily ever afters. They die alone in the dark, their flesh ripped apart by the knight in the white armor.

So maybe this was gods way of showing him his place. To let him now, that he would never be human enough to be allowed to be happy. That he would always stay a monster. That he was no good to Sam and would never be.

But it had felt so right. The one moment in his life, when he had felt like he had a home. Beeing kept safe and loved in Sam's arms as they just lay there after wards, being content just by feeling each other breathing next to them. Knowing that there hadn't been any more secrets, that could break them apart from each other.

Now he tried to hear, if there was something or someone on in the darkness around him. That person had bothered to catch him alive, so they wouldn't just leave him here. They would be around just waiting for him to wake up.

Who? That question was that easy to be answered, that it nearly hurt. A hunter, John probably, but anyway someone who knew what he was. He could feel the outer silver layer of the cuffs burning his wrists. At who's ever mercy he'd bee now, they knew, what they were dealing with.

If it was John, he was as good as dead. He wouldn't even think of any kind of mercy. He had betrayed the oldest Winchester. Had told Sam the truth. Made Sam decide between the two of them and the worst of all Sam had chosen him.

His thoughts were interrupted when the high pitched squeeze of an opening door broke through the heavy silence. There were heavy foot steps, a man, trained, biker boots and at least his height. Just seconds later his vision was enlighted again, when a dark bag was removed from his head.

“Ahh, so sleeping beauty is finally awake.”

The face he starred in belonged to afro-american man around thirty he had never seen before.

“I'm sorry, but I believe your 'Dad' isn't here yet, so I'll take care of you.”

The wide grin on the strangers face made Dean feel sick.

“Who are you?”

“Me? That really shouldn't bother you. You on the other hand? You're interesting.”

The muscles on Dean's stomach cramped involuntary, when Gordon's hand slid over them.

“You know, John didn't tell me everything, but I heard enough to know, that you're probably not just some random monster, but the only domesticated one, I ever heard of. Like a dog, obedient enough to even hunt alone. It's fascinating.”

Dean couldn't keep his eyes from growing wide, when Gordon gripped a large knife from the back of his jeans.

“So, why don't you tell me a little bit about you?”

The moment Dean tried to ask Gordon, what exactly he wanted to know he felt the sharp metal cutting through the unprotected flesh of his forearm. He wouldn't scream, he wouldn't give this man the gratification.

“Ahh, a brave little monster. But you know what? They all scream in the end.”

For the last words Gordon lent closer until his lips nearly touched Dean's right ear.

“We'll have so much fun together.”

While Dean was still occupied keeping his stomach from turning upside down, Gordon started cutting away his shirt.

“You know, I think Winchester has done a good job really, but I think he got too . . . too soft soft over the years. If I had such a weapon I would use it, you understand what I mean? And letting you live as his son? Nice cover, but still, it may have given you some false ideas.”

The last words made Dean laugh. Who did this man think he was?

“You have no idea, what you're talking about.”

And then just a second before the knife sliced from his left collarbone nearly down to his hip, there was that sickening smile of Gordon again.

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After five hours of bone deep cuts and not one question asked, Dean was was too weak to just hold up his head. He had tried not to scream, but after the first hour, the first whimpers had escaped and after the second he had given up. He screamed, when Gordon Walker had pushed the blade that far into his thigh, that it got stuck in the bone for a moment. He screamed when the hunter changed the ordinary blade for silver and started to carve letters into his skin.

He felt cold and the blood lost made him dizzy. It was strange, but he nearly missed John's way of showing him his place. He had told him, what he had done wrong, explained to him, what he did and why. This man just seemed to find pure pleasure in his pain.

“You know, I like it. It really suits you.”

Dean didn't even try to raise his head, the room was already spinning.

“Take a look, come on pretty boy.”

When Dean's head didn't move, Gordon grabbed his hair and yanked it up, so they were face to face now.

“You little prick. Don't you dare ignoring me, filthy little monster.”

The only thing Dean still managed to answer was a soft painful grunt. Gordon held a small mirror in front of his face, so he could see the letters that covered nearly his whole body now. Monster was written there again and again.

“So you don't forget it.”

Gordon crushed his head into the wall behind him, before he finally released his head.

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John was anxious, Gordon had called him some hours after their meeting and told me he got the monster. They would meet in old warehouse three hours from Bobby's. There everything was prepared for John to get his revenge. He had doubted for a moment, if bringing Gordon Walker into this had been the right decision, but there was no doubt the man was efficient.

When he turned his truck into the dark parking lot, he could see two jeeps that were already parked there. Inside he met one of Walker's partners. Kenneth if he was right. The guy was huge, packed with muscles. The left side of hid face was covered with deep red scars, which looked like they had been drawn by giant claws.

“They're in there.”

John inhaled deeply before he dared to open the door. He hadn't meant for it, but the harsh sound of the shapeshifter's skull crushing against the wall, it moved something in him. Seeing the broken creature there on the wall, to weak to even lift his head, for some reason it felt wrong and he couldn't stop the words from coming out.

“Walker, what the fuck?”

“Ah, John you made it. Me and your little pet just had a little conversation. I hope you don't mind.”

At the mentioning of his name John could see how the shapeshifter tried to lift his head, but was obviously too weak.

“Gordon, he's not even lucid anymore.”

“Oh don't worry he's exactly as lucid as you need him. I left out all the bigger blood vessels. Oh and if you wouldn't mind, I would love to have another chat with him tomorrow, so don't already kill him tonight, ok?”

With one final smirk Gordon left the room.

Since they day he had taken it in, John had dreamed of they day he would get rid of the monster. He thought of the many occasion to just leave the cold body somewhere in the woods. A hunt going wrong and he would have never had to have told Sam. This thing ruined everything.

He stepped closer and looked at the broken body in front of him, only covered with a blood soaked pair of boxers. It was shivering, the breath uneven.

“You really thought I wouldn't make you pay for it?”

The thing started to cough as it tried to speak and nothing but a thin line of blood left it's mouth. John grabbed the chin to pull the face up, when his fingers met nothing but warm wet meat. Not a piece of skin was left. He tore his hand back and lifted the monsters head like Gordon had done it by the hair.

What he saw, nearly made him throw up. The whole skin on the throat had been peeled away. John could see the vocal cords and the wind pipe standing out between clotted blood and torn flesh.

This wasn't what he had planed. He had wanted to punish that thing, to make it beg for death, but by his own hands. No one else had the right to do this. He had been brutal, hell, he had done so bad things to that kid, that if it had sliced his throat in his sleep, he would have understood, but this, this was different. Everything he had done, had had a purpose, a tool to form this creature into something that would pass as human. In all these year that he that thing under his care, he had never raised his hand without a reason. Maybe it hadn't always been a righteous one, but he had never just hurt it for his own pleasure.

He had wanted to end it for Sam, to save his little boy from damnation. Had wanted to erase his mistake, but this was just wrong. Gordon Walker had no right to do this. He didn't now what this thing deserved and especially what it didn't deserve.

It was a monster, but still it had tried and John respected that. It had tried to be good enough, to be what John and Sam wanted it to be. It had just never understood that it couldn't be, that it could never take Dean's place for real, because it would always be a monster.

If it had been a kid, a real human kid, John had taken in that day, he would have been proud to call that kid his son. But as harsh as it sounded, it wasn't a kid. It was a monster, a monster that would start to kill one day.

He tore his gaze away from the sticky mess that had once been a throat and dared for the first time, since he had entered the room to look into the monsters face. Tears were streaming down from bloodshot eyes, while the mute lips formed the word 'sorry' over and over again.

“This wasn't what I wanted to happen.”

The monster's eyes tried to focus on him, but it's gaze slipped each time it tried.

“You know I can't let you go. We both know what you're gonna do. Maybe not right away, but the day will come. You will hurt him.”

John sighted and let the monster's head down carefully. He went to the small table on the other side of the room and picked the little key for the cuffs up. The thing on the wall whimpered quietly at the loss of contact, but silenced soon.

“You know, you did good. For a monster, you did good.”

The gurgling sound coming from the torn throat, as the thing tried to scream, when John got it off the cuffs and lowered it to the ground, made his stomach turn again.

“If it was different, if there was another way, if you were. . . Maybe then it would have been different.”

In all these years he had never been kind or gentle to this thing. Maybe for the last moments of his life, he deserved something else, maybe it deserved something nice, just for this one last time.

He settled down beside the broken body and carefully held an arm around the blood stained shoulders, while his left hand searched for the silver knife in the pocket of his jeans. The sobbing mess, which he had taken into his family years ago, leaned into him. It's face rested against his chest, while the still flowing blood, streaming out of the ripped throat, drenched his shirt.

He had meant to kill it in revenge, but now it was nothing else than mercy. Too many of the cuts were made with silver, they were to deep, the thing to weak to shift.
This wasn't about revenge, this was a question of humanity. Spare him more time with Gordon, more pain. Let him leave this world, while he was still himself and hadn't hurt anyone. He had given him enough years. It was time to finish what he had started years ago.

As John lifted his knife to point it to the breast of the helpless creature, he tightened his grip around the shaking shoulders.

“I'll take care of Sammy again. It will be alright.”

Just in the moment, he wanted to end the miserable existance in his arms, he heard the safety of a gun right behind his head.

“I don't think so John.”

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“I told you not to kill him, John. You should have listened!”

John lowered his hand, which had already positioned the knife just inches above the shapeshifter's heart, and turned around to look into Gordon Walker's face.

“What do you want with him, Walker?”

“I'm just an admirer of your work, John. Did you really think I would fall for that pretty little lie you told me? Believe, that a shapeshifter made it into Bobby Singer's house without help? Made it into your son's bed?”

Dean grew stiff in John's arms when those words left Gordon's mouth. That little bit of mercy that John had been willing to show him this time; it would all be destroyed by these words. The one moment when John had looked at him with something else than disgust and hate. Told him that he hadn't screwed up everything. It had felt so nice to be held the first time by those strong arms, that had haunted his dreams and his life for years. It had felt nice to know that all his dreams of being something other than a monster to John Winchester hadn't been in vain. But still, this small moment was over now. Walker had told him the one thing that John would never forgive.

For a short moment nothing but silence filled the room, until finally John's voice broke the uncomfortable hush.

“That's not true.”
“Oh, come on John. I know what I saw, right before I shot that narcotic arrow at his neck. It was anything but a brotherly kiss.”

Dean groaned in pain, when John's grip on his shoulders got tighter. He would never regret kissing Sam, but right now, when the blood loss made him dizzy and the several cuts on his skin felt like he was burned alive, he wished they had waited, or better, they had run. Had gotten away from Bobby's. To a place where nobody knew them, where they would have been safe. But it was too late now. He was as good as dead and Sam would never know what happened to him.

“You little bastard.”

When John's grip on his bleeding flesh tightened again, he tried to scream, but nothing more than a weak gurgling came out. He deserved this, because of what he was and what he had done. In spite of what John thought, Dean understood his place in this world. He knew that he wasn't supposed to be happy, but still, even a monster could dream and after so many years of pretending, he had willingly let the illusion of a possibility for happiness enter his mind.

“You touched him? You were supposed to protect him! How many times did I warn you?”
“Nah, John, you shouldn't be so harsh. I didn't see your little brat fight him off. Seemed to be more like an interest of both parties. Now, if you would step back please? I've got some plans for your little pet.”

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Bobby had never seen Sam so broken in his entire life. It had been a whole day since the boy had come out of the kitchen door just to see how some men shove Dean's unconscious body into a black truck and drive off. Of course he had tried to follow them, but in the end he had lost their trail just a few towns away.

In the beginning Bobby had been quite happy that the shapeshifter problem had seemed to solve itself, but the gnawing feeling in his gut had finally been overwhelming. Even if he didn't like it, he felt sorry for that poor thing, was worried about him. It was still the same boy that had played baseball with his brother in his yard and whom he had taught to fix engines. Sam had been able to see behind the facade of a monster. If the boy was still able to care for that thing, even love it, then maybe even an old hard ass like him could care.

But one problem remained. Even, if he was willing to save this Dean, they had to find him first and they had no clue where to start looking. They had checked all of John's nearby safe houses and several other places they could think of, but there had been no trace of Dean, John or the black truck. John wasn't working alone on this, so probably they brought him to a place chosen by his companions. And there was another problem again. They didn't know who those men were.

He thought about calling some of his contacts, but it was dangerous. Some little rumors in the hunter world about a shapeshifter with Dean Winchester's face and things would go downhill. So far they hadn't heard anything, but if the truth came out, there would be no safe place for Dean ever again.

Sam was checking the same maps over and over again. Bobby could see tears forming in his eyes, each time the desperation started to overwhelm his last hopes. He had seen him down before, on the edge of breaking, but there had always been one thing that had been able to bring him back. Whatever fate had done to Sam Winchester his older brother had always found a way to get him back on the road. And now? Now the one thing that had always saved him, had finally broken him.

Thinking back, Bobby didn't remember a monster playing baseball in his garden. There was just that brave little boy, who loved his brother more than anything else.

Maybe John was right and this thing was a monster, but even if it was true, Bobby was still sure that it loved Sam. He had always been impressed with how obedient the older Winchester had been, even in his teenage years. The kid had never asked anything for himself. Looking back, he couldn't even recall a single time Dean had asked him for something not meant for little Sammy.

Knowing that exactly this self-forgetting love had doomed the kid in the end was macabre. He had heard some stories of the shifter's life and he still couldn't believe it had gone through all this and still been able to love, to accept this existence. He hadn't even heard him complaining about John's 'training'. There had just been blank surrender to the asserted necessity of such a cruel treatment.

His dark thoughts as well as Sam's endless checking through the same old maps were suddenly ended by the cushioned vibrating of a cell phone.
“That's yours, boy?”
Sam searched through the several stacks of papers on the old wooden table until he finally found the sound's origin.
“It's my Dad.”
For a short moment Sam turned pale, but then he finally answered the call.
“Where is he, John?”

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The address his father had given them was a couple of abandoned factory buildings near Buck Grove There was just John's black truck in the parking lot, but they saw the trails of at least three other vehicles that had been parked here in the last days.

“Think we should go in, boy?”
“I can't leave Dean alone with him any longer. I can't even . . . what if . . .?”
“Take a deep breath. You said he just told you to come here. We don't know what he did or what he did not do. Just give him a chance to explain, before you do something you would regret. Deal?”
“Yeah, alright.”

Still, Sam got his 9- millimeter out before he entered the rotten iron door. It was mostly dark inside; the only light that could be seen came from a room further down the corridor. They approached carefully, listening to every sound that would give away John or his partners, but it remained silent.

Just a few steps away from the room's entrance, red stains on the floor caught Sam's attention.
“Oh my God, Dean?”

In a rush he slipped through the door frame, just to see that his brother/the shapeshifter/his lover was nowhere to be seen.

“I'm sorry, Sammy.”
John Winchester was sitting on the ground to Sam's left. Shackles covered in dark clotted blood were hanging from the wall behind him.
“Where is he?”

His father's bloodshot eyes watched him sadly, when he aimed his gun at him.
“I don't know.”

“You know it! YOU took him! Now tell me where he is!”
It hadn't been until that moment that Sam had noticed his father's bloody hand pressing against the older man's stomach.

“I'm so sorry Sam. This is all my fault. Everything is.”
The younger Winchester carefully tucked his gun away and knelt down in front of his father.

“What happened, Dad? Where's Dean?”
While he spoke, he slowly lifted John's hand. Two dark red bullet holes lay underneath his father's old leather jacket.

“You're hurt. Who did this to you? Bobby, we need an ambulance!”
John watched his old friend leaving the room, already reaching for the phone in his pocket. He coughed weakly before he finally answered.

“I should have never trusted them.”

“Who? Where is Dean?”

“He took him. Said he had plans for him, but he doesn't know, what he did.”

“What he did?”

“Sammy, I'm not proud of what I did, but it was necessary. But something like that, I would have never done. You have to believe me.”

“Dad, who took him? What did he do to him?”

“You can't save him anymore. Even if you should find him, he's too broken. Promise me you won't try to fix him. You have to promise me, Sammy! Make an end. Give him peace as long as he's still human, before he becomes one of them.”

“Dad, what are you talking about? I won't kill him! Who has Dean?”

“Listen to me, Gordon Walker is a dangerous man. He will do everything to . . .”

“Gordon Walker? That's the man who's got Dean?”

When John tried to speak again, tremors started to shake his body, while his now stronger coughs drew blood.

“Sammy, get Walker and do whatever you want with him, but it's too late for the shifter, you can't save him.”

“Dad, it's ok, just breath, the ambulance will be here in a few minutes.”

“No, you have to listen to me.”

More tremors went through John Winchester's body, while his choking coughs made the thick red liquid dripping from his lips.

“Dad.”

And then the heart of Sam's father stopped beating.

When the ambulance finally arrived, they could do nothing more except declare John Winchester dead. Bobby Singer was alone when he witnessed the man's corpse being loaded into the vehicle and brought away to the next morgue. He made sure his old friend would get the funeral he deserved. Sam had already been gone in that moment. Chasing after the last member of his family he might be able to save.

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It had been weeks and Sam still had nothing. Nobody had seen Walker or talked to him. Two times he had been close. In the first week he had found two of the abandoned hideouts, but each time they had been empty. Just a puddle of blood telling him that Dean was still alive, that his heart was still beating strong enough to pump the red liquid out of his veins.

He couldn't sleep, was barely able to eat. Every time he closed his eyes he could see the blood running out of his brother's sliced flesh. He tried to imagine what his Dad had been talking about, what Gordon had done to Dean, but too often it left him throwing up the little bit of food he had managed to get down. So in the end, he just concentrated on finding them, trying to block out every thought about what Gordon Walker was doing to his beloved brother right now.

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Gordon Walker wasn't happy at all. John Winchester's little monster was much more insubordinate than he had anticipated. After five weeks it still refused to change, even though the skin had already started to peel off and a rotten smell tainted the air around it. It didn't matter how many beatings or electroshocks they gave it, it still refused to change.

It started to annoy Gordon in a really unbearable way. Who did the little fuck think it was? After their first little chat it had taken the thing a whole week before becoming conscious again. It hadn't spoken one word since John Winchester's death. It didn't even scream most of the time, the sore throat still too sensitive. Sometimes, when it couldn't hold back anymore, the old wounds burst open again and instead of the expected screams of pain just blood left those bruised lips.

The other two hunters he had hired had gone their own ways again. Kenneth had staid. Just wanting one or two hours a week alone with the freak.

Kenneth had lost his family in a werewolf attack and unlike most other hunters he never salted and burned. He had committed himself to a life of hunting monsters. Ghouls, vampires, skinwalkers, it didn't matter. Ten years in the game and that guy already had an impressive body count.

“We should move soon. Winchester's brat is probably already on our trail.”

Gordon somehow liked the man, he thought practically and he didn't shy away from dirty work.

“Two more days, then we'll get over to Minnesota, already found a nice little place there.”
“You really think, it's gonna work? Five weeks already and he still doesn't obey.”
“Give him some time. He's already falling apart. Maybe it won't be next week, but we'll reach his breaking point.”
“You really think you'll be able to hunt with him?”

Gordon chuckled a bit at his companions doubts.

“That thing was trained to hunt by John Winchester. As soon as he's obedient and out of that silly act-like-a-human-mode, he'll be just excellent for hunting. Imagine someone who could get any information, could slip in everywhere without getting noticed.”
“But he's still a monster.”
“Yeah, of course, but for a few years, he'll be an outrageous weapon and then I'll let you put that bullet into his heart, promise. So I should take a little look at our guest.”

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It was cold, it had been for so long he nearly couldn't remember anymore how warmth felt. How the sunshine felt on his skin. Where Gordon and the other man brought him it was always dark. He missed the light. It wasn't like he needed it, but he had been so used to it. To see the shafts of sunlight fall through the trees and how they reflected on Sam's lips.

Sammy, oh yeah, he missed Sammy. He tried to remember that one night he had slept in his arms. How each one of Sam's heartbeats against his back had felt, but it was so hard to focus, when everything turned black again and again, because he must have lost consciousness once more.

He didn't know how much time had passed, but it seemed like years since the last time he had seen his brother. Since John Winchester had been shot because of him. Dean just hoped he was alright. It would be so much harder for Sam to not only lose his brother, but also his father. He often wondered if they were searching for him or if they just went on with their lives. Maybe Sam had finally understood that he wasn't worth saving.

Every now and then there was the sound of another drop of his blood falling down into the cold puddle which had already accrued underneath him. He couldn't even feel his legs anymore, they had been numb since the day Gordon Walker had first started to slice the flesh from his bones. His arms were just held in position by the chains over his head. Sometimes Walker would lift them, make him stand up, even though his legs couldn't even bear the weight for a second. But he didn't feel that anyway anymore. Mostly there were just the screams of the burning muscles in his arms telling him that he wasn't sitting on the cold floor.

He had often imagined his death, had pictured how John's bullet would break through his skull and leave nothing but a disgusting mix of brain and bones as a reminder of his former thoughts. Maybe John would have beaten him before, spit all the disgust he had to live with for years into his face again, but he had always been pretty sure that John would have ended it fast. Maybe a few punches before he would raise his gun and finally end the life he had borrowed from the real Dean for this long already.

He didn't have Dean's memories. He wished he had been able to talk to Dean, but the truth was he didn't know anything about him, just what John had told him. Dean had been dead, when he had taken his form, so he hadn't been able to read them out anymore. He had just seen the admiring look on Sam's face every time he looked at him.

The younger Winchester had always blamed him, that he never stood up against their Dad, had always been obedient, a good little soldier. He was pretty sure that the real Dean would have done otherwise, but how could he know? Who was he? Nothing. Just a fading lie of a scared father. He had always known that it would end some day. It had tortured him not to know when or how it would happen, if Sam would ever know the truth or if he would cry beside his grave still believing him to be his flesh and blood.

Now he knew that Sam would at least know the truth about him, that he accepted it and at least for one night in his life he had been happy. Dying after he had experienced this one moment was bearable. He wouldn't die as monster, he would die, knowing that someone had loved him, that he would be remembered as a person and not only as a threat, that there would be the one soul that would care for him in spite of knowing what he was. Not even Gordon Walker would be able to take that away.

Hour after hour the man told him to change. Told him to put on another face, another form, but he never obeyed. If he died he would die with his face on. The face he made and wore for years now. The face Sammy knew. He would be able to identify the bruised corpse which Walker would leave behind.

And still there was that little spark of faith. Maybe Sam would find him, would free him.
John had had shown mercy after his first session with Gordon, maybe he would give him a last day at Sam's side before he ended it.
Yeah, one last look at Sam's face and he would be able to rest in peace forever.

And of course there was the possibility that John was dead, killed by the two shots Gordon had fired at him. If it was true, there was a chance that he wouldn't have to die. That Sam would free him and they could be together. He barely dared to dream about it, but when the pain became too strong and unconsciousness just wouldn't come, it was the one thought, that kept his mind from going insane.

It was the only thing he was able to hold onto when he heard the footsteps getting closer again

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“Sam, I think, I found something.”
“Dean? Do you know where he is?”
“I'm not sure, but I got a friend at a police station in Minnesota. He said some guy whose description matched Gordon moved into an old farm house outside Alvarado. It would be a perfect hiding place for a hunter. Surrounded by forest, lonely place, no neighbors who peek into the windows.”
“You're right. Sounds like Walker. Maybe we finally got a trace.”
“Sam, just . . even if you find him, maybe it's already too late. We don't know, if Dean is still there with him.”
“I can't think differently, Bobby. I just have to believe he's still there.”

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“So how are we doing today?”

As soon as he entered the dark room Gordon turned on the bright neon lights. Winchester's monster didn't even flinch. It just kept staring into the empty room. It smelled like it had already died weeks ago. The rotten skin falling off the dark infected flesh. The eyes now of a gray color lying in deep red holes in that sunken empty face. Nearly half of its teeth were missing due to their earlier conversations.

It was skinny. The ribs standing out underneath the foul flesh like foreign objects. The markings Gordon had given him in their first little chat were still visible, standing out angry and red against the remaining pale skin.

He kicked against the lightly rising torso, but wasn't rewarded with any reaction. Not even a moan or a cough. It just kept lying there in its own blood, numb to the world around it.

“Not in the mood for a little chat? Maybe we can change that.”

He smiled while he detached at the chains which were attached to the monster's handcuffs from the wall. Gordon let go of the chain and savored the sound of the monster's body colliding with the floor. After a few seconds he started to pull at the chains again. Slowly the broken body was lifted from the floor. The monster didn't even try to stand, it just whimpered quietly at the increasing pull on its sore muscles.

The pain-filled eyes started to focus and a tremble went through the tortured creature, when the hunter took a knife from his belt. Gordon gently slid a finger over the blade, testing the sharpness of the edged metal.

“You know it's all your choice, whether we keep this annoying little game up or not. Change and I'll stop. No more knives. No more pain. Of course, just as long as you do as I say.”

The hunter inspected the bruised face in front of him carefully. Sleepless eyes were twitching from one side of his face to the other until they finally stopped and the monster was staring straight into his own.
The trembling lips, covered in blood and filth began to open. But not the expected words of surrender left them. Instead the freak dared to spit into his face. Small drops of foul spit mixed with bits of clotted blood hit Gordon's face.

“Fine. Remember, you had youre chance. You were asking for this.”
There was a hint of a smile on the shifter's face before it collided with Gordon's fist.

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The address Bobby had given him was actually more a cabin than an old farm house. Maximum three rooms. So if Dean was in there, there was probably a cellar. In all the other places Walker had never kept him somewhere where light would still reach.

All five windows were dark, 3 of them covered with curtains. He waited one hour for a sound or a movement, but the cabin remained lifeless. What if they had already taken off? If Dean wasn't here anymore? What if he was too late again? Maybe all that would wait inside there was a cold body. Nothing left of the one he had wanted to save.

He couldn't wait any longer. Carefully staying out of sight from the windows Sam approached the door. It was now or never. Maybe they were waiting for him on the other side, but he would take Walker down, no matter what.

The squeak of the turning door handle echoed like a scream through the beginning nightfall. He took one more deep breath, before he pushed the door open and aimed his gun at the center of the entrance.

But the room was empty.

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“Now come on, make this easier for the both of us. Change. Into anybody you want. Even your little darling Sammy.”

The shifter hadn't moved for the last two hours of their little conversation. It hadn't lost consciousness, it just tried to ignore Gordon. The moment he mentioned Sam Winchester however, those nearly dead eyes focused again.

“Oh did I touch a sore spot? I'm sorry.”
He let his fist connect another time with the bruised ribs in front of him.

Maybe Gordon Walker should have looked closer at the creature in front of him, how it had changed, when the last hint of humanity had been ripped away by his cruelty.

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He had tried to stay human. To ignore the little voices that had started to tell him how easy it would be to rip Walker to shreds. How good the hunter's blood would feel on his skin. How lovely his last heartbeat would sound. He had tried, but they started screaming louder every day. Sometimes he couldn't even here the man who was torturing anymore due to the several voices in his head telling him to rip that man's heart out of his chest.

But it seemed that John Winchester had been right. In the end they all turned crazy. The weaker he got, the more his instincts seemed to take over control. Those instincts, that told him to kill, to be the monster they all said he was.

And then there came the time, when giving into those calls looked less scary everyday. To give up pretending and just let it happen. He was as good as dead anyway, what did it matter? Nobody was coming for him anyway. Didn't he have the right to defend himself? Just once in his life? Raise a hand against the ones who hurt him? It wasn't wrong. It was his right. No one had the right to do this to somebody else, not even if he was a monster. He hadn't done anything wrong, he didn't deserve to be treated like that. He had always just tried to be what everybody had told him to be. Tried to be human, but they never cared, they just kept hurting him for what he was, never caring who he was.

So when the man who was cutting the flesh from his bones, dared to speak the name of the one person on this earth he would love forever, something inside him just snapped and he became what everybody had always feared he'd become one day.

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It was empty. No Dean, no Walker.

Carefully Sam stepped into the cabin. There was a kitchen to his right and a couch in the corner on the other side. Three doors on the left. One probably the bathroom, a bedroom and the third - maybe where Dean was. Maybe Gordon hadn't left already. Maybe Dean was still here. Maybe he could save him. Every step he took towards the wooden door seemed to last ages. When he finally grabbed the door handle and opened it, he was nearly deaf due to the banging of his racing heart.

A foul smell ascended from the darkness underneath the stairs. The aroma of rotting flesh mixed with the stink of mustiness. No light. Sam's heart dropped again. He tried the switch, but the room stayed black.
But there had been a sound. He was sure. Something had moved down there. Maybe Dean was still here.
Step by step Sam moved down the wooden stairs, carefully looking out for a sign of danger in the all swallowing obscurity, while the smell of decomposition increased with every inch he descended.
Nothing, no sound, no breathing. Maybe he had been wrong.

He needed light, so he grabbed his cellphone and unlocked it. The pale shine of the display presented a chamber of horrors to him.

There was black clotted blood everywhere. On the floor, the walls, even the ceiling. Bits of flesh had dried and where glued like scabs to the tainted walls on which they had been splattered. Two bodies were lying on the floor.

One was definitely Gordon Walker. His throat had been slit. It looked like an animal had ripped it out. Even parts of his face were missing, torn away by claws and inhuman strength. His chest had been burst open, his heart lying beside him in a puddle of a black substance that had used to pump through his veins.

Sam didn't know the other man, but he didn't look any better. His head had nearly been ripped off his body. The whole torso was covered in scratches and bites. From the smell and the looks he had to be dead for at least already three days. Gordon Walker even longer.

Looking around, Sam spottet another body in the room. It wasn't lying there in its own blood like the other two. It was sitting back against the wall, the head hanging. Chains attached to iron handcuffs at it's wrists. Yet it looked like it had been dead much longer then the other two. The bones were clearly visible under the rotten greyish skin. It was nearly naked, just some shorts covering the most sensitive parts.

This thing looked nothing like Dean. Maybe John Winchester had been right. Even if he had been able to find him alive, he would have probably never have been the same again.

He made his way through the remains of Walker and his helper to kneel down in front of what once had been his brother. Broken, that's all he was able to think. Maybe if he had searched harder, if he had found them earlier. He didn't know what or who killed Gordon Walker, but he wished nothing but the best for the one who had ended the life of that monster.

It wasn’t until he took a closer look at the body in front of him that Sam noticed that the chest, which he thought had stopped moving forever, was still rising.

“Dean?”

It was only a little bit, but the body in front of him tensed when he mentioned his name.

“Oh my god, what have they done to you?”

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Darkness.
It had been all there was. Just the cooling black of oblivion spiced with the sweet promise of death. Nothing but his own lost thoughts screaming through the abyss of his madness. Just glints of the past, long forgotten places, the visions of long deceased enemies and maybe also those who had been friends. It had been all there was, but then the voice came and took the night away and when he opened his eyes, for what felt like the first time, he saw an angel's face. Heavenly features that were covered in tears, while the eyes were radiating the essence of happiness.
Maybe the reaper had finally delivered on his promise and taken him away.

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“Dean? Can you hear me? Can you speak? I . . . I'm gonna call Bobby, OK? Don't worry, it won't take more than five minutes and I'll get you in the car.”
Sam's fingers were shaking when he pressed the speed dial for Bobby's phone.
“Singer Salvage.”
“Bobby, I found him.”
“God, boy, you're alright? You sound awful. How is he?”
“He's . . . I've never seen .Can I bring him to your place? I don't think a hospital would know what to do with him.”
“Sure, but shouldn't he get some rest before? I mean, how bad is it? It's at least a six hours drive.”
“It's... we'll be there tomorrow. Thanks Bobby.”
Bobby was probably right; he should take care of the bigger wounds first and then get going tomorrow.
“Dean? I'll get you upstairs, in the car and then we'll find a nice little motel for the night, OK? I'll get you washed and stitched up and tomorrow we'll be at Bobby's. It's gonna be alright. Don't worry. It might hurt, but I've gotta lift you up now. I'll try to be careful.”
Sam caressed his brother's cheek one last time, searching for the spark of life he still couldn't find in there. The body in his arms tensed when he slowly started to lift it from the ground. The chains that were still attached to the bruised wrists rattled when they were lifted from the cold floor.
Silent tears streamed down his face as he approached the stair case. Each step accompanied by a moan of his brother's pain. If there was a way, he'd bring back Walker and kill him a thousand times again. Letting him know the pain he had caused. But now was not the time for revenge, he had to take care of Dean at first.
An eternity must have passed until he finally reached the last step and entered the cabin's living room. Should he get Dean straight to the car? Maybe it would be better to take a look at the deeper wounds first? But he couldn't risk another hunter finding them here. Maybe someone had been looking for Walker, too. At least a little water for Dean. The town was a few miles away and he hadn't seen a motel sign on the way. A sip of water and maybe some painkillers. With luck, he'd find some in the bathroom.
“Hey buddy, I'm gonna put you down for a second. Just checking out the bathroom. Be back in no time.”
After carefully laying his brother down on the couch Sam first entered the door on the left. It was a two bed bedroom. Clean linen on the beds. There were two bags in the cupboard and a book on the table in front of the window. He took a moment to inspect a few pages. It was a journal or more of a report.
Gordon Walker's report.  
There were sketches of eyes and broken limbs. Portraits of Dean's face and even some of his whole body, always in painful poses: kneeling on the floor or hanging from the ceiling with his hands cuffed above his head. And one word was repeated over and over again: obey.
Everything Gordon Walker had done to Dean was pictured here with every cruel detail. There were meticulous lists of what he had done to Sam's beloved brother in all those hours down there in the darkness. He should burn it. Extinguish its presence forever from the face of the world. But something stopped him. Instead he lifted the accursed object and stored it in the back of his pants.
Thankfully the other room was a large bathroom. Behind the mirror he found several different antibiotics and some painkillers. In the closet he even found a still sealed first aid kit. He took everything useful and entered the living room again.
Dean hadn't moved at all. He carefully lay everything down on the table in front of the couch and turned to the kitchen to check for some water bottles. Thankfully there was a six pack of them under the sink. He grabbed them and quickly returned to his brother.
Dean's eyes were empty, not focused on anything. There was no reaction when Sam sat down beside him and opened one of the bottles. Not even, when he carefully pressed the open water bottle to Dean's lips.
“It's water, Dean. Come on, take a sip. You must be thirsty.”
When his brother didn't move, Sam started to let some water drip into Dean's mouth. Finally the broken body came to life. At least a bit. Slowly he started to drink the cooling liquid.
“Did they give you anything, while you were down there? I'm so sorry Dean.”
When his brother had emptied half the bottle, Sam slowly took the bottle away and put it on the table again.
“I found some painkillers in the bathroom. Two of these should do.”
He took two of the little white pills out of the orange box and offered them to Dean, but again the body in front of him didn't react.
“This will take away the pain, Dean. Come on, open your mouth.”
Sam carefully pressed Dean's lower lip down with his thump to let the pills slip into his mouth. His brother's body stirred at the unwelcome intrusion but swallowed once he placed the water bottle at his lips again.
“The Impala is outside Dean. We're gonna get you out of here now.”
After Sam had placed the bottle on the table again, he tried to get Dean to stand up, but switched his plans soon and carried his brother out the front door. He opened the Impala's back door and laid Dean down as gently as possible. He covered him with a blanket from the trunk and whispered a promise that he would be back in a second when he closed the door.
When he stood in front of the open trunk, he nearly thanked his father for teaching him to always have a spare canister of gasoline. He took the flammable liquid inside and soaked the couch as well as the two beds and the kitchen with it. He spilled some on the staircase, but didn't dare to enter the basement again.
When he left the cabin again he poured the remaining gasoline on the wooden outer walls, before he flicked the lighter open and threw the small burning device through the door on the kitchen counter.
Sam didn't dare wait until the fire spread. He rushed to the driver's side and within seconds the Impala turned its backside towards the slowly growing flames.
In the end it took Sam nearly an hour to find a motel in that godforsaken area. The furniture in the room was old, but at least everything was clean. It was nearly midnight so nobody asked any questions when he dragged the nearly lifeless body of his brother over the parking lot towards their room.
He gently lowered Dean on one of the two beds and took a deep breath. His brother looked pale. Food would probably be a good idea, but a closer look at the infected skin changed Sam's mind quickly. The wounds would have to be dealt with first.
After getting rid of his jacket he gently helped Dean out of his boxers and lifted him up again to bring him into the bathroom. After he had settled Dean in the bathtub, he turned on the warm water on and started to wash him with a small washcloth.
It took Sam nearly an hour until the water wasn't a mixture of red and black anymore. Dean's skin was infected, nearly black in some spots. In other places the skin was peeling off or it already had. Also most of the cuts were inflamed due to silver poisoning.
“Let me just patch you up and then you can get some sleep, alright?”
The only answer he got was a small whimper. Every time he moved Dean just a little bit, he could see the pain in his brother's eyes. It broke his heart to know that he was the one causing this pain now, but he hoped that Dean could forgive him.
He let Dean sit on the edge of the bathtub and softly dried the sensitive skin. When he was done he dressed him with a pair of boxers he had gotten from the Impala and bandaged the deeper wounds. Several cuts would also needed to be stitched, but they could do it tomorrow
“OK, I think we got most of it off. I'm gonna take you to the bedroom now. So you can get some sleep and later I’ll bring you something to eat.”
When Dean had finally fallen asleep and it seemed like the nightmares had taken a pause, Sam's shaking legs led him to the couch and when he sat down, he couldn't stop the tears from coming anymore.
What if Dean stayed like this forever, caught in the memories of his suffering, too close to insanity to speak? It was all his fault. He had been too late. He should have saved him like Dean had done it all those times.
He didn't even know if Dean would be able to recover. There wasn't anything in all those books to tell him how to save a Shapeshifter, all there was were ways to hurt and kill one. It has been all people had ever done to Dean, hurt him.
Maybe John had been right, maybe he couldn't save Dean anymore, but he would stay with him no matter what. His brother never wanted to be a monster. He tried so hard to be human. The only reason he might become one was humans.
All this time, since he had gotten to know it, he had thought of a moment which should have told him truth. But all he could remember was a loving brother. Towards him,Dean had always done his best to pretend.
But now he knew why John had always treated Dean like a soldier instead of a son. Why Dean had never spoken against his father. He now understood the look on Dean's face, when he said good bye at the bus station, ready to leave to for Stanford. He had thought John would kill him.
It wasn't fair, that Dean had to live all his life in constant fear, always scared he’d be hurt by the people around him. He couldn't imagine living such a big lie for years. Having to pretend to love the person who'd hurt you so much.
And now when Dean had thought he'd finally be safe, they took everything away from him. Broken him in any possible way. It wasn't fair.

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He let Dean sleep 'till dawn before he prepared the soup. Sam carefully put the bowl on the nightstand before he started to wake his brother. Dean didn't react at first, but when he opened his eyes he backed away from Sam; his eyes wide in terror. His mouth formed into a snarl, showing his teeth like a dog
“Shh, Dean, it's OK. It's me Sammy. You remember me right?”
Dean's eyes frantically searched the room for more possible threats, but finally rested on Sam. A deep growl started to sound from his chest. Something Sam had never heard before.
“Dean, I'm Sam. I got you out of the basement. Here, I brought you some food.”
He pointed at the bowl on the nightstand and slowly Dean seamed to calm down. The growling stopped and even his face seemed to relax. His eyes however still fearfully followed every move the other man made.
Sam took a few steps away from the bed and lowered his eyes. He tried to stand as motionless and nonthreatening as possible. Dean inspected him a few more moments before he started to sniff around until he focused on the chicken soup.

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There had been too much darkness, too much fear. The voices in his head were still screaming, telling him to let the blood run once more, telling him to kill the human. They were so loud he couldn't here, what the man was saying. Couldn't hear if the words were meant to threaten or to calm.
He tried to remember what had happened before the darkness came, but there seemed to be nothing else then blood and pain. He didn't dare to go deeper. Didn't dare to see what else was buried down there.
When the men man stepped back he allowed himself to breath again. Steam was ascending from the bowl on the nightstand. The air started to fill with something good, something that hadn't been around him for a long time. The smell let his mouth start to water. He remembered the feeling. Hunger, he wanted what was in that bowl. While his eyes stayed focus on the tall man he scooted closer to the night stand and then inspected the turbid liquid.
It took a few moments, but slowly he remembered what he was supposed to with the bowl. Even though his hands were shaking he carefully maneuvered it towards his lips and tentatively took a sip. It felt incredible. When the warm liquid poured through his throat, he could feel his insides come back to life. The sour taste vanished from the back of his throat and was replaced by a delicate saltiness. The torturing cold, that had taken over what felt like an eternity ago, was replaced with a pleasant warm.
He greedily emptied everything and licked the bowl clean. He wanted more. It had felt so good and he like the warm feeling in his belly. The tall man was still standing on the other side of the room. Maybe he had more? He hesitantly extend his arm with the empty bowl and looked at the hazel-eyed man.
“You want more, Dean?”
The sound startled him. Yet it was so much nicer then the voices. They had faded away with the cold and the hunger. It had sounded friendly. He liked the melody of that voice. It seemed to calm something deep inside him. He extended his arm a little further and smiled at his handsome savior.

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“I'll get you some.”
Sam couldn't keep himself from smiling, when he slowly grabbed the empty bowl from his brothers hand. Maybe there was hope for them after all.

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After the third bowl, Sam ran out of chicken soup and he also didn't want Dean to get sick. His brother didn't really seem to understand, when he told him, that the soup was empty and kept extending his arm with the bowl in his hand towards him. Sam sighted and took the bowl.

After he carried it to the small kitchen and just placed it there without refilling, he returned empty handed to Dean. The young man’s face went through a series of emotions: confusion, hurt, anger. It finally settled on betrayal.

Sam carefully sat down on the side of the bed. Dean instantly moved away until his back it the wall. It hurt the younger Winchester to cause such a reaction in his beloved brother.

“I know that you want more, but I don't think it would be a good idea for you to eat so much after such a long time of not eating. And we have to leave this place, Dean. We have to get to Bobby.”
There were no signs of recognition in Dean's face. His expression was still dominated by hurt, yet it was now mixed with something like curiosity.

“Ok, first I need to take another look at your wounds, Dean. I think some of them need stitches and we probably have to do something about the silver poisoning.”

Again Dean didn't seem to understand a single word he said. But he hoped that the sound of his voice was at least a little bit soothing. Trying not to scare the older Winchester, he calmly raised his hand and moved it towards him. His attempt was a complete failure. Dean's eyes grew incredibly wide and every muscle in his body seemed to start shaking. Sam slowed his movement, trying to show, that there was nothing intimidating about it.

Dean's reaction became even more extreme. He started pushing his body harder against the wall behind him, desperately trying to get out of the other man's reach. Sam knew it didn't help anything to scare Dean. He stopped his hand and tried to figure out how he should get Dean to Bobby. He couldn't touch him, so he had to find another way to get him into the Impala. And clothes would probably a good idea.

Maybe he should try food again. Dean had been quite relaxed while he ate, maybe he would be able to put some clothes on him, while he was eating. He needed something, that would keep him busy. Maybe some snacks. Small portions, so Dean would have to ask him for more. Chocolate would probably be the best. Dean was missing several teeth, so any hard stuff would probably be a torture for him. The motel should have a vending machine somewhere outside, but could he really leave his brother alone in this state?

A quick look towards the other man told him all he needed to know: Dean wasn’t going anywhere on his own, he wasn’t doing anything other than breathing. Getting the candy wouldn't take more than a few minutes and right now it seemed like his only chance to get his brother out of here.

Thankfully he found a vending machine just a few feet away from their room. He looked through the different offerings: chocolate covered peanuts, Reese’s pieces, some candy bars. In the last rack he found a small package of Hershey’s Kisses. He bought two packages and returned to the room. Dean hadn't moved a single inch. His breathing was still a little too fast and his eyes anxiously tracked Sam, when he reentered the room.

“Hey buddy, I got you some candy. You want a piece?”

Sam slowly opened the packaging, took a piece out and unwrapped it. Dean didn't seem to understand, what exactly that brown little thing laying on the taller man’s hand was, so Sam maneuvered the chocolate drop as theatrically as possible towards his mouth and made a quite big show of chewing it with a giant smile on his face. His little play seemed to spark Dean's interest and when he offered another Hershey’s Kiss to his brother, a thin hand slowly took it off his palm. His brother's face lit up with amazement as soon as the chocolate touched his tongue.

“These are really good, right? Now, if you want another one, you'll have to come closer, so I can look at your wounds.”

The younger Winchester showed his sibling another piece of candy, but this time he didn't extend his arm, but held it in front of his chest. It took several moments until Dean hesitantly started to move towards the other man. Sam was barely breathing, too scared to startle Dean. When his brother was finally sitting next to him on the bed, he let the older man snatch the candy from his hand and slowly took another one out of the bag. After Dean had collected his prize, he immediately started moving back towards the wall, but ceased his movement when he saw the new piece of candy. He popped the chocolate drop in his mouth and extended his hand to get the new one presented in front of him. Sam carefully closed his left hand around the chocolate drop and observed his brother's reaction. Dean's brows furrowed in confusion and he tentatively poked the closed hand with his right index finger.

Sam used the time it took Dean to figure out where the candy had disappeared to, to take another look at his wounds. While his whole skin was pale, the wounds infected with silver poisoning stood out in an angry dirty red. Even on his brother’s thighs, where most of the skin had peeled off, exposing bare flesh, he could still make out the red carvings. The whole body in front of him was covered in them. They seemed to form a pattern on the rotten skin.

Sam tried to make out the form and when he finally saw what the red cuts on his beloved sibling’s skin meant, his breath got stuck in his throat. After he opened his hand to allow Dean to collect his candy, the younger Winchester’s legs slowly took him to the bathroom, where he puked out what little his stomach contained.

Gordon had marked Dean, all over his body. Even if he healed, if he shifted, the letters would remain. Dean had told him. Silver injuries never completely heal. The marks would stay forever.
Sam couldn’t even cry anymore. His broken heart was too weak to have any strength left for tears or screams. The only thing he could do was to sit next to the dirty motel toilet and stare at the ceiling.

Had John been right? Dean didn’t recognize him, he didn’t speak or interact with him. His body would forever be marked, even if his mind should heal.

But even if the Dean he knew was beyond saving, he owed it to him to at least try. And if he should spend the rest of his life taking care of his brother, it would be worth it.

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He was confused. After the other man had finally given him the sweet brown ball, he had just left the room. He could here disgusting wet noises from the other room for some time and then just silence.

The one thing he was sure about, was that he wanted more sweet brown things. The problem was, that only the tall man had them and he was gone. No, not gone. He was in the other room. Maybe he had more of them in that other room? Walking over there had looked pretty easy, so maybe he could just do the same? He remembered walking. He must have done it before, so maybe he could do it again?

Carefully he led both his feet slide off the big comfy thing he sat on. The floor felt cold, but not too bad. He remembered the last time he tried to stand. Did he try or did someone make him? It had hurt, he hadn’t been able to keep upright and he had fallen. He remembered the feeling of his body colliding with the floor.

No, he shook his head. Those were bad memories, he didn’t want to remember. He needed to put them away again. Back into the dark place with all the others.

Once more he considered walking, but he was afraid it would bring back more of the memories. Walking seemed like a bad idea. He wasn’t sure, if his leg could even support him. Yet he still wanted more sweet balls and to get those, he needed the tall man. If he couldn’t walk, maybe he could try to move on all fours?

Slowly he let his whole body slide off the comfy soft thing. Shifting his weight onto his knees didn’t feel too bad and he could easily place his hands on the floor in front of him. The first steps were a bit shaky, but he soon got the right rhythm. The door to the other room was still open and when he came closer he could see the tall man’s foot on the floor. He didn’t dare to directly go into the other room, instead he positioned himself next to the door frame and carefully peeked inside.

The tall man was sitting on the floor, his hands hanging lifelessly on his sides, while his eyes were focused on some far away point behind the ceiling.

He couldn’t see any more of the sweet balls, but maybe the tall one had some more hidden somewhere? A decision was necessary: should he dare to get closer or should he go back to the big comfy thing?

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Sam’s trance broke, when something nudged on his right foot. When he turned his head, to see what it had been, his eyes grew wide with amazement. Dean was sitting there in the doorway, tentatively poking his brother’s right foot.

Once more he didn’t know how to act. He wanted nothing more than to hug his brother and let him know how amazing it felt that he had come to him, but he didn’t want to scare Dean again. So he waited motionlessly.

Dean poked his foot again and then looked at his face. Apparently he didn’t find what he was looking for in his brother’s face, so he carefully moved closer, this time carefully poking Sam's hand and then once again watching his face.

Sam wasn’t sure what Dean was trying to do. He seemed to be expecting something from him, but without knowing what it was, he didn’t know how to react.

His brother moved closer again, still carefully observing Sam’s face. It seemed nearly experimental, when he lifted the younger man’s hand and then let it drop on the floor again. Hesitantly he touched Sam’s arm, tracing the line of his muscles up to his collar bone.

Sam’s heart was racing. Dean seemed to be completely focused on his arm, but the closer his hands come to his face, the less sure he was about what was actually happening. Even though he didn’t like to admit it, he was scared. Scared of Dean being so close to his carotid artery. If John had been right, the creature in front of him could end his life any second now.

He didn’t know who or what had killed Gordon and the other man, but there was a strong possibility, that it had been been the exact same being whose face was now getting closer to his throat. Dean would never hurt him, but if this creature couldn’t even remember him, was he still safe?

Just when he braced himself, for the feeling of teeth piercing through the delicate skin on his throat, he realized that Dean was sniffing him. The warm tip of Dean’s nose poked the side of his neck accompanied by short inhales.

Apparently Dean really liked what he was smelling. He pressed closer to the body in front of him and crawled over Sam’s legs until he was sitting in his lap.

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He had been scared at first. He didn’t know how the man would react. Just because he hadn’t hurt him so far, didn’t mean he wasn’t planning to do it. He moved the foot a little bit, but even though the man turned his head around to look at him, he didn’t show any other reactions.
Once more he moved the foot a little with his hand, but the other man remained still. The man had given him the sweet brown things with his hands, so maybe, he had another one there? A single look at the hand told him, that it was empty, but maybe if he moved the hand he would get a reaction? He moved closer and lightly poked the hand with his index finger. Nothing again.
The lack of response from the tall man frustrated him. He lifted the hand he has just poked off the ground and let it fall. It hit the ground with a small thump and remained there motionless.
He didn’t understand why the stranger didn’t do anything. He was looking at him. His eyes traced every movement. Yet his body remained motionless.

Maybe he was wrong? Maybe these eyes weren’t directed at him? He moved closer to the stranger’s face to inspect the eyes closer, but something caught his attention: the smell.
It smelled like something warm and gentle, like light and comfort. He directed his nose towards the smooth skin along the young man’s neck and inhaled the scent. Home, it smelled like home.

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Dean was pressing his whole body against him. His nose traveling up and down the sensitive skin on the sides of his neck. His brother’s hands had been ghosting over his arms in the beginning, but now they were settled on the lower sides of his torso.

Sam didn’t know what was happening. Yet the careful touches and the warm body in his lap felt so
familiar. He wanted nothing more than to hold Dean in his arms, to kiss those lips once more, but most of all he wanted to tell him, that it would be ok.

It almost felt like his big brother had heard the silent prayers in his head, when he straighten and fixed his eyes on Sam’s. Once again it seemed like Dean was looking for something, but he appeared more certain this time. His gaze now steady without the nervous twitching. Even his breathing had slowed down, it was calm now, regular and not too deep.

Sam’s motionless trance broke when Dean slowly pressed his lips against his brother’s mouth. It wasn’t an experienced kiss, nothing like the last time it had happened. The former smooth skin was dry and cracked. He could feel where Dean’s lip had split under Gordon’s blows. But it reminded him so much of what he had lost, that he couldn’t keep his hands away anymore.

He carefully placed his right hand on the side of Dean’s face and let the left one slip along his torso until it reached his side. The body in front of him stirred, but his brother’s lips remained connected to his.

Since the other man hadn’t backed away yet, he tried moving his lips a little bit. Just slightly opening his mouth and then sealing his lips again. Dean apparently liked the feeling. He pressed his body harder against Sam’s, while he carefully tried to mimic the younger man’s movements.
Could it be that Dean actually remembered? That there was still hope?

Just when Sam started to hope again, Dean drew back and started to whimper. Had he hurt him? He searched for a sign of what he had done wrong in Dean’s face, when he noticed the fine red lines, which had appeared on his brother’s face. A small line of blood started running down from Dean’s hair line. It was nothing, he had ever seen before, yet he immediately knew what was happening.

“You’re shifting.”

Sam was nearly as startled by his own voice as Dean. His brother looked confused like he didn’t know what was happening. Sam checked the rest of Dean’s body. The red marks were everywhere. Some had burst open and were now bleeding. His brother started crying. Salty tears mixed with the red trails of blood running down his face.

“It’s ok, Dean. I’m here.”

He lay his arms around the shaking body in front of him and Dean thankfully leaned again his chest. Under his hands he could feel the skin and the bones underneath moving. More and more of the red lines burst open, letting small rivers of blood flow all over Dean’s body.

Dean was sobbing now, hiding his face in his brother’s chest. Sam carefully petted his hair, trying to offer as much comfort as possible.

“I’m with you. It’s gonna be alright.”

Under his palm Sam felt the skin under Dean’s hair getting loose. He kept petting until a big chunk of bloody scalp fell to the floor. The body in his lap was shivering, while blood from Dean’s face was soaking through his shirt.

“I think it might be best, if we peel it off. What do you think?"

Of course Dean didn’t answer him, but he also didn’t protest when Sam started to peel away the old patches of skin from his back. Sam wouldn’t lie about it, the feeling of peeling bloody chunks of skin from his brother’s back made his stomach turn and it took everything he had to not empty his stomach once again into the toilet bowl. But there was also a brighter side to this: the new skin underneath seemed healthy. It had a fresh pink tone and most of the shallow cuts and bruises went away with the old layer of skin. Some deeper wounds remained open, the silver poisoned carvings showed as dark red scars on the new layer.

“Come on, Dean. The back is done.”

It took a little bit of force to get Dean to straighten up, so he could work on his front and face. He did the chest first, then the belly and the arms and as much of the legs as he could with Dean sitting in his lap with boxers on.

Dean’s gaze was focused on a point behind him, his sobbing had become silent and an occasional shiver the only reaction to Sam’s work on his body.

“We’re nearly done.”

He wasn’t sure why exactly, but the thought of peeling away Dean’s face terrified him. Maybe he was afraid of what he might find underneath. Anyway he didn’t really have a choice: most of the left side of his beloved sibling’s face already started to slide down. Even though Dean hadn’t really shown any reaction before, he shook every time Sam removed another patch of skin from his face. It seemed to be a lot more sensitive. Tears ran down Dean’s cheeks, when he peeled away the bruised and split flesh from his mouth to reveal new lips in a pale shade of pink. Underneath the old layer of hair a new layer of longer brown hair came to light. When he was done with the face, Sam took one of the hotel towels to wipe away the blood and little pieces of flesh that remained.

The eyes, which were staring out of that face, were still the same. The face however was not. It was not unfamiliar though. He had seen this mouth and nose many times, but normally he was looking into a mirror, when he saw them.

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“It’s going to be alright. Don’t worry.”

Sam wasn’t even entirely sure if he was trying to reassure Dean or himself. He managed to carefully move Dean from his lap to the floor and get up. His clothes were soaked in blood and the surrounding floor was covered in layers of skin.

The older Winchester was still wearing his boxers, which were now soaked in blood as well and there was still some of the old skin underneath the fabric. Sam didn’t even want to know what happened between Dean’s legs, when he shifted, but it seemed like he would find out in a few moments.

“Let’s get you into the tub, so we can rinse all the blood off, ok?”

He hunched down next to Dean, positioning one arm under his legs and one under his torso to lift him up. Dean seemed startled at the renewed body contact and slightly opened his mouth. Blood immediately started to flow out between his lips. Something small and white came along with it and landed on the bathroom floor.

“It's ok, just spit them out.”

Sam softly patted his brother's back, while he spat teeth and blood on the white bathroom tiles. When the man in his arms calmed down again, he gently lifted him up and settled him in the tub. Getting the boxer shorts off Dean was a disturbing task. Apparently something inside had already detached itself from the body and was now caught in the fabric. After Sam had carefully pulled the boxers down, he caught a small glimpse on the lump of flesh. What used to be Dean's genitalia was now a bloody piece of dead meat.

He peeled the remaining skin off Dean's hips and then turned on the shower just enough to rinse off the blood and the remaining little chunks of flesh. Dean kept still except for an occasional tremble. He wasn't sure how easily damaged the new skin was, so he decided against soap.

Even for a Winchester, the experience of bathing a starved version of oneself was absurd. This body looked like him and yet in some ways it did not. There were nearly no muscles, each bone looked like it would pierce through the thin layer of fresh skin any moment. The general form however was exactly like him. The broad shoulders in combination with that particular chin line, the long, slender arms laying right next to that point of the torso where the ribs end. It all fit, just the eyes were different. It almost seemed like Dean just put on one of those weird silicon masks they always had in movies. Like he could just take it off and it would be his face underneath there again. But it wouldn't. This was Dean now. Maybe this also made the truth about what Dean was, finally settle in. It was one thing to know that a person was a shapeshifter, but it was a totally different thing to see that person change and to suddenly look into one’s own face. Maybe deep inside he hadn’t really realized until now, what Dean being a shapeshifter actually meant.

The change had left Dean in a shock like state. He let Sam handle him like a doll without any reaction. Soon Sam had settled him on the bed dressed in boxers, sweat pants and one of his hoodies. Sam took a moment to plan his next steps. His clothes as well as the motel bathroom were covered in blood and skin. He would need to clean this place if he didn’t want to be a murder suspect. Afterwards they could drive to Bobby’s and figure out what would come next.

The bathroom looked like a crime scene. It would be hard to explain to the manager how this happened. Sam actually considered setting the room on fire for a moment to get rid of it all, but settled on cleaning it up instead. He got a garbage bag from the small kitchen and started to collect the pieces of flesh and hair off the ground. It was a surreal feeling to pick the teeth his brother had spit out from under the sink. Grabbing cold dead meat, which used to be situated between his big brother’s legs, out of the bathtub to throw away was a whole new level of crazy.

When he was done, he had two plastic bags, which looked like they contained the remains of a murder victim. He scrubbed the floor clean with the white motel towels and stuffed them into a third bag. After rinsing the bathtub and picking the last pieces of skin out of the drain, the room looked ok and he was positive that the maid wouldn’t call the police right away.

He allowed himself a brief shower after adding his old clothes to the contents of the third bag. After putting on some old jeans and a green shirt, he left the bathroom to check on his brother. Dean was still sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall on the other side of the room. Sam’s hoodie looked gigantic on his brother’s thin frame. The other man didn’t react when he came closer. It seemed that the shifting had taken it’s toll on him. He hadn’t moved since Sam had sat him down on the bed. While Sam was glad that Dean didn’t flinch when he put his arm around him, he feared that this lack of responsiveness could be a bad sign.

“I packed everything and cleaned up the bathroom. We can leave now.”

Again there was no reaction, he wasn’t even sure if Dean had heard him.

“I’ll put everything in the car and then I’ll get you.”

Sam waited a few seconds hoping that this time his brother might at least show some acknowledgment of his words, but it was in vain. He took his duffel and the three garbage bags to the Impala after making sure, that the parking lot was empty. He would burn the stuff at Bobby’s. Taking it to a dumpster included the possibility of someone seeing him with bags full of human looking skin and he couldn’t deal with that right now.

After closing the trunk he opened the passenger door so he would be able to place Dean directly on the seat. His brother was still too weak to walk so he had to carry him to the car. The body in his arms remained lifeless when he carefully lowered him onto the car seat. He closed the seat belt around his brother and situated himself on the driver’s seat. The sound of the Impala's purring engine was what finally drew a reaction from Dean. While he first looked a little bit startled and confused, a small smile slowly started showing on his face.

"Still love your baby, mhh?"

Dean didn't really pay attention to him, since he was busy memorizing each curve of the dashboard with his fingertips. Sam was sure that this was a good thing. Dean remembered, maybe not everything, but there definitely was something of him left.

When he finally reached the freeway Dean was fast asleep, curled up as small as possible in the front seat. It would still be about five and a half hours back to Bobby's, but at least Dean seemed to be relaxed. Sam took a deep breath and floored the gas pedal.

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Robert Singer had seen many horrible things in his life. He had learned the hard way that there was not just black and white, but thousands of shades in between. What seemed bad or evil might just be fighting for a different cause. What seemed to be good and heroic might be fueled by sadistic or even evil motives.

He had brought down his fair share of monsters. Human as well as supernatural ones. And while he mostly felt like it had been a good thing, there had been cases where he had doubted what he had done. Where the creature had begged, had assured him that it never hurt anybody, but he still pulled the trigger, because he knew they would.

Did it make him like John? To punish people for crimes they did not commit yet? The nearly empty glass of whiskey in his hand felt heavy. The remaining amber liquid probably couldn't answer his question, but he drank it anyway.

A pile of photographs was spread over his kitchen table. They showed him, Sam, Dean and John. He had wanted to know if he had been blind, if it had been obvious. He saw the differences now. It was not Dean's face or his body, it was his posture. In the old photos the real Dean always leaned toward John, held his hand or hugged his leg.

The other Dean always kept a certain distance towards John, leaning towards Sam. It often seemed like he tried to shield his brother from the older Winchester. Of course Dean had changed when he grew up and of course Bobby had noticed things, but all children change when they grow up. How could he have known what it meant?

There was a question in the back of his mind, he didn't dare to ask, but everything inside him screamed for it to be answered. Was this Dean a danger to Sam? Would it hurt him? Had John been right?

He didn't know how bad Dean was hurt, but Sam's voice had been shaking when he called. Just thinking about all the blood Sam had found at the other hideouts made his stomach turn. Shapeshifter or not; the kid definitively hadn't deserved what Walker had done to him.

Looking over the pile of pictures, a special one caught his eye. It was him and Dean arm in arm in front of an old Chevy. Not as pretty as the Impala, but still a beauty. They were both covered in grease, but with giant smiles on their faces.

Dean must have been 17 or at least his official age must have been that. John had dropped both boys off for three weeks at his place while he worked a case in New Orleans. Sam had spent most of the time reading, but he and Dean had worked on that car for a whole week. Restoring it piece by piece. Sam had taken the photo when they had finally been done.

Bobby had been proud. Dean had been beaming, thanking Bobby for everything thing he had showed him. There was nothing dangerous about the kid in this photo, so why wouldn't that voice in the back of his mind shut up?

Looking around the room his eyes fell on the pile of books on his desk. He had gone through every piece of literature he could find about shapeshifters, trying to find out if John had been right about the schizophrenia. Of course nobody had ever written down anything about the mental state of a shapeshifter. There were thirty different detailed descriptions on how to torture and kill one. Several lists of things that would hurt them, but nothing about their mental health or how to treat their wounds.

Maybe what scared Bobby so much was not Dean himself, but the people that would sooner or later come after him. People like John or Bobby, who wouldn't listen to reason. Who would just see a monster and pull the trigger. People who might not even make a difference between a monster and a person who defends one.

 

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Sam finally called Bobby one hour from Sioux Falls. He parked the car on a sand trail which led into a forest that flanked the highway between Minnesota and South Dakota.

“Singer Salvage.”

It felt incredibly good to hear the old man’s voice.

“Hey Bobby, it’s Sam. Just wanted to let you know that we will be there in about an hour.”

“That’s good to hear, son. How is your brother doing?”

“He’s better. Seems like he still remembers the Impala. Slept like a baby as soon as I started the engine.”

There was a small chuckle on the other side of the line.

“He always loved that car.”

“Yeah, he did. Listen Bobby, about Dean. I just wanted to warn you. Dean does not look like Dean right now.”

“Is it so bad?”

“No, it actually got better. He shed his skin. But he didn’t manage to keep his face.”

“So what does he look like now?”

“He looks like me. A really sick, malnourished version of me.”

There was a calculating silence for a few moments, before Bobby finally spoke.

“Well, as long as I can still tell you two apart.”

Sam let out a breath he hadn’t even been aware of holding in. He hadn’t been sure how Bobby would react to the news of Dean changing.

“I’ll see you in an hour and thank you Bobby. For everything.”

“You're welcome. I’ll have dinner ready when you guys get here.”

After he ended the call, Sam returned to the car and checked on his brother. Dean was still asleep, curled up as small as possible in the passenger seat. He looked better than when Sam had found him. His skin was still pale and marked by scars and open wounds, but the lifeless grey color had changed into a light pink. His eyes weren’t twitching anymore underneath the closed lids.

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Dean woke up twenty minutes before they reached Singer Salvage. He didn’t move. Only the changed rhythm in his breathing told Sam he was awake.

“We’ll be at Bobby’s soon.”

If his brother had heard him, he didn’t show it. Dean’s eyes were closed, but Sam could see his muscles tightening with every waking minute.

“Dean, you’re safe. I got you out. I’m Sammy. Do you remember me?”

Sam noticed Dean’s limbs starting to tremble.

“Ok, hold on, I’ll pull over.”

When the Impala finally stopped moving Dean’s whole body was shaking. His breathing was erratic and his face a grimace of pure terror.

“Dean, I am Sam. You’re safe. I got you out.”

In an attempt to calm his brother down, Sam put his hand on the other man’s back. His gesture however had the opposite effect. A scream tore from Dean’s throat, more heartbreaking than anything Sam had ever heard. It went on for what felt like an eternity until the distinct sound of ripping tissue could be heard. Dean’s cry of terror ended in wheezing wet coughs.

“Oh god, Dean, I . . . I . . .it’s gonna be alright.”

Sam could do nothing but watch as droplets of crimson fell from his brother’s lips. As much as he wanted to comfort the other male, he did not dare to touch him again. He would need something else to calm him.

As he tried to think of a solution his eyes fell on the tape sticking out of the cassette player. With a slow movement he pressed the tape in and a few seconds later the sound of Metallica filled the car. It took some time, but gradually Dean began to calm down. At the last chords of ‘The Unforgiven’ his breathing had settled to a normal rhythm and his muscles relaxed.

“I’m gonna start the car now. We’ll be at Bobby’s soon.”

His own voice sounded far away to Sam. It felt like he watched somebody else turn the Impala’s keys. He barely paid attention to the road in front of him until he recognized the gate of Singer Salvage.
Bobby came out of the house as soon as Sam turned off the engine. The older man’s shoulders seemed hunched and even a few yards away Sam could tell that his breath smelled of whiskey. The younger Winchester carefully closed the Impala’s door behind him and went to meet Bobby at the front of the house.

“Hey boy, how’s your brother doing?”

“He’s . . . I thought he knew me, but he was so scared … he’s hurt, Bobby … really bad.”

Sam hadn’t even known how much he needed the hug Bobby gave him.

 

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The next weeks went by in a blur. Some days Dean would remember him, seek comfort in his touch and the next, every move made him try to claw his way out through the nearest wall.
They had tried showing him pictures, of him and Sam as children. Everything had been fine until Dean had recognized John in one of them. He had spent the rest of the day under his bed in Bobby’s guest room.

Bobby was spending his time with his nose buried in books about PTSD and therapy, but nothing seemed to fit Dean’s case. The shrink Bobby knew in Indiana, had died 3 months earlier in a car crash. But after weeks of digging Bobby finally found someone who would maybe be able to help them.

Dr. Miller was a therapist specializing in the field of PTSD. She mainly treated soldiers and survivors of domestic abuse, which in Bobby’s opinion would fit with Dean’s case. The most important point however, was that Dr. Miller knew about hunters and the supernatural. She had several retired hunters as her clients.

“It’s still going to be difficult. We can’t risk her alarming one of her clients.”

Sam knew that Dean needed professional help, but involving an outsider in this situation was difficult. Especially because they didn’t know her.

“We’ll have to contact her carefully. Make an appointment and talk about it with her first. If she’s on board we can bring her here to see Dean.”

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The walls of Dr. Abigail Miller's office were painted with swirls of warm orange. Every piece of furniture, every painting screamed comfort at him, yet Sam's muscles seemed to tense up further with every minute he spend there. Dr. Miller's secretary had told him, that the therapist would be with him shortly, but it already felt like an eternity when the door behind him finally opened.

“Mister Foster, I'm sorry for the delay. I had an emergency call from one of my clients.”

The therapist welcomed him with a firm but reassuring hand shake.

“Dr. Miller, I hope your client is better now.”

“It's small steps, but she's going in the right direction.”

She smiled and gestured for him to take a seat.

“I understand you're a friend of Mister Turner? May I assume you work in the same field?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Then I also assume your name is not Foster. Correct?”

Sam hesitated for a moment, but then nodded.

“As long as we're clear with each other, this will not be a problem. So what brings you to me?”

“I need a professional to help a friend.”

“Well then, why are you here and not him?”

“Because my friend is not like other people. I have to make sure that I can trust you first.”

“Mr. Foster, I am none of your monsters or demons. You have nothing to fear from me.”

“What if he were one?”

“Were one what?”

“A monster, someone who is not human.”

Dr. Miller carefully examined him before she replied. Her brows furrowed in mild confusion.

“I thought you were a hunter.”

“I am.”

“So this friend of yours?”

“Never hurt anybody.”

“So why would he need to see me?”

“Because a lot of people hurt him and I don't know how to help him.”

The therapist's face cleared into an expression of sympathy.

“You know why most of your fellow hunters come here?”

Sam could only shake his head. He had ideas of course. The haunting memories of being too late, the constant threat of dying or the nomadic life. There were many things burdening a hunter.

“They regret something. They take revenge again and again. But at some point they look back and the bodies they left behind suddenly look different. They wake up at night remembering the pleas and the tears. Not every decision is one of black and white. There are infinite shades of gray in between and those decisions are the ones that haunt us the most. ”