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Castiel, in his heavenly body, stayed invisible as he watched the young couple enter the nursery and place the infant in the crib. He hovered over the three, trying to comprehend why Father felt he needed to watch over this one small child. It seemed a long waste of time to him. He went into the corner of the ceiling as the parents went to lie down and others entered the room. The angel was protected from the demons at this time. They would not be able to sense him. Castiel frowned as he noted that Azazel was telling several others that this was not the expected one

"Did you know this one would be born, father?", asked a female demon.

"No, but the expected one is four years away. This one is worth nothing. We will return at the time I was invited to come. I wanted to see what this one was like. He may be an influence over the other, and it may not be what we want. We will watch and see. He can always be removed."

The demons disappeared and the angel softly landed by the crib, staring at the small baby with curiosity.

"Your future brother would seem to have a fate, young one? Is it possible Father expects you to have one too?"

Mary Winchester entered the room and leaned over her son, "Angels watch over you tonight, my love."

Leaning over the crib, the young blond gently kissed her fair haired son and left the room.

Castiel stared at her and thought about what she had said. He looked at the blond haired infant.

"We will. I promise."

Chapter Text

Castiel winced at the shrill cry of the infant. Dean was a few months old now and the child's cry was still piercing to the angel. During the time he'd been with the family, he'd learned to discern the types of cries the baby gave: hungry, bored, in pain, scared, and bodily needs. The one the angel hated...dirty diapers.

The heavenly defender had faced all sorts of things during his long life but never had he come across anything so...foul in stench as this. Merciful Father, it could be used in warfare against the demonic legions!

Mary was on the telephone in the kitchen talking to John at the mechanic shop. Castiel knew he could take on angelic form and change the diaper but he was not sure if Dean could handle his form. He heard a whisper from Father telling him to tend his charge. The angel groaned.

"And what of the child? He cannot handle me in my true state," he told his parent. In truth, he didn't want to do this and mentally begged Mary to get off of the communication device to tend to her child.

"The child is important, Castiel. He will be more important than his brother. He will have great sin his life, but love and self sacrifice will save him. At this point, he is an innocent. Innocents can see angelic forms and not be harmed. Tend the child, Castiel. He is your charge for life. He will not know you yet, but one day he will.

Blue eyes turned skyward. "And his mother will not suspect when she finds her son in a fresh diaper?" He knew of Mary's background.

"His mother believes in angels, Castiel. She tells him every night that angels watch over him because she believes in you. She knows that a demon would not change him. Let her know her son is guided and protected. And if it helps you any, you can use this story one day to silence his big mouth."

Castiel said nothing more, materializing into a more corporeal form so that he could manipulate the squalling infant. It didn't take long before he had the 'onsie' off of the squirming baby and opened the diaper to remove it. Ancient Enochian flowed from him as the stench wafted up, making his eyes water.

The baby's eyes turned deep green as a calmness overcame him. One small hand grabbed an angelic finger and tried to pull it into a mouth where young Dean could chew on it and ease the pain of teeth breaking through his gums. Castiel had never had his finger gnawed on by anyone in any form. He stood mouth open, his eyes wide, as the stench made them water, but the mouth gumming his finger stopped all movement.

"What in Heaven's name are you doing, little one?" Ok..diaper wasn't even changed but Dean seemed to think he was some sort of..food?

Dean's legs kicked in the air and he squealed around the mouth full of finger. Castiel finally pulled it out of the baby's mouth and went to work on the diaper.

The little boy pouted at having his 'treat' removed and sniffed, giving the angel puppy dog eyes.

Castiel stopped changing the diaper and stared at the begging eyes. He shook his head.

"Father told me you would have a lot of sin in your life, Dean. If you keep staring like that, women are in trouble. Do not chase after the fairer sex, Dean. They can hurt you."

The baby simply cooed at him in answer to the angel's comment. His little hands reached out, grabbing at the diaper.

The angel ducked as a small handful of baby poop almost hit his face. The baby squealed in delight. An angelic head lifted from below the crib.

"Should you have that good an aim at your age, Dean?"

The baby simply squealed again, waving dirty hands at the angel. The eyes were full of love and mischief.

Castiel smiled, but had a sense of foreboding. This one was going to be a charmer, but a deadly one. He thought back over his past, trying to figure out what he had done wrong to be placed in this position.

The angel managed to get the squirming baby cleaned up and into a fresh diaper before anything else could happen. "Why do I have a feeling you are going to be one massive headache in the future, young one?"

He lifted the young boy and held him against his shoulder, feeling the young heartbeat. Suddenly young Dean Winchester belched and spit up all over the angelic form. Castiel swore he heard Father's laughter in the distance, but thought he had to be mistaken.

Chapter Text

There were times when watching over an infant wasn't too bad. Dean could be rather..cute..when he wasn't fussing or dealing with a disgusting diaper. Castiel found that he rather enjoyed the giggles from the boy as he occasionally made an appearance and talked to the baby.

It never occurred to the angel that repeating his name to a young child could have consequences. Castiel thought it would be important for the baby to know who he was. If he had to guard the child for the rest of his life, the kid ought to know his name.

So..one sunny Saturday morning, the family was in the living room while Dean gummed on his blocks. Castiel was watching from near a window, aware of the green eyes watching as he was given an occasional drooly smile.

John was reading the newspaper, while Mary watched their son. She noted that Dean kept smiling at the window and assumed he was fascinated by the sunbeams that touched the floor and moved because of the wind blowing through the tree limbs in the yard. Dean started giggling and dropped the block that was now covered in baby drool.

It still amazed Castiel just how much babies could see. He knew that cats and other animals could see the supernatural but human babies were something he hadn't expected. "So you're watching me today, hmm?"

The baby's eyes looked like a cat's eyes as they widened. Cas loved the myriad colors of green Dean's little orbs could change into. His charge surprised everyone at that moment when he raised his arms towards the window.

The angel moved closer, kneeling by the infant. "What is it, Dean?" It was moments like this that made working with his little charge so incredibly special.

Dean's chubby hands touched the angel's face as he squealed. A pin drop could be heard in the living room as the little boy called out, "Cath! Cath!"

Castiel froze while Mary looked at John. "Did he just say cat?"

John frowned, "I don't know how you got him to say it, hon, but I've told you before. No cats in the house."

"It could be cartoons or the books I read him," she said. The angel chuckled at this discussion.

"We'll let them think that's what you're saying, hmm? I cannot believe you chose me as your first word though, Dean."

Dean continued to touch the angel's face, saying "Cath!" over and over again. Mary wondered what her son thought he was touching. Her eyes widened and she smiled. Maybe Dean did have an angel watching over him.

Chapter Text

Ever since Dean had become more mobile, Mary couldn't figure it out what it was that was keeping her son so entertained. She'd often watch his little body hitching around on the floor, giggling as he tried to reach for something just out of his grasp.

When he started crawling, he was everywhere in the house. He seldom played with John. His eyes were always on a far away spot in the room. He would sometimes bump into furniture when staring far off into the distance. At first, Mary considered an eye doctor, but than realized that Dean could see just fine. He was not paying attention to his surroundings. Those beautiful green eyes were always watching something in the distance.

The way he acted only made her wonder if her suspicions were correct. That there was something else in the room with them, something that her little one had befriended.

She saw no signs of anything evil. Mary Winchester knew her monsters. She was a Campbell, after all. She guarded her son carefully, not wanting him to live that lifestyle. Dean was a gentle soul. He never got into anything. 'No' seemed to mean something to him. He just had an invisible friend. John did not understand.

Castiel knew that Mary had somewhat figured it out and had informed his Father about it. He had no reason for concern but Dean following him like this was annoying...annoyingly adorable as it was pointed out to him.

"What do we do, Father, when both parents realize I am here?"

"Both of them won't figure it out. John is not alert to the supernatural, Castiel. Mary will say nothing to him because she does not want him to know. Dean will not remember this in a couple of years. Horror and fear will blot it out, but you will always be there to protect him. As he ages, that will not be allowed as often. His course is set before him, but right now, he needs you. Actually, he always will, but he won't recognize it. He will not believe, Castiel , and he won't feel worthy of salvation."

"I don't want to question you," he said as he watched the little one crawling towards him again. "But it doesn't seem right to determine his fate with something bloody and horrible."

"Because of his fate, Castiel, his brother's fate will alter. This will prevent the destruction of mankind. Dean Winchester is important. Azazel has no idea, and he won't. You are here because a time will come when others will understand. At that time, you will give all you are to help him. You will be his friend, my son. Not just a guardian."

"Wouldn't it be better just to have us take Azazel down? Save them from this pain?" He was terribly fond of the baby.

"No, Castiel, we have to let man have freedom of choice. Where Azazel is, there is Lilith, Ruby, Alistair, and many others who follow or lead. Your brother, Lucifer, will be the cause, as he has been in the past. Sometimes someone we love has to hurt to prevent even greater pain. I am sorry, but it is something I have felt myself. Be there for him. It will not be all pain, but most of it will be. Guard him, and keep the enemy from killing him. For the time being, my son, he will not die, but a time will come. Free will, Castiel. I believe he is fixing to try to walk."

Castiel was watching his charge. "Forgive me again for questioning, Father, but this isn't freedom of choice. You're allowing the demons a chance to do what they want and Dean will be hurt by it. I don't find it to be fair, Father." Oh..he was walking a thin line but it had to be said.

"It is foreknowledge, Castiel, but man does the choosing on his own. Seven years ago, Azazel killed John Winchester. Mary could have let it be. Azazel offered her a deal. He would come visit in ten years, and if she allowed him to enter unopposed, John would live. Mary made the deal, Castiel. Because of this a second son will be born, and he will be the weapon of Lucifer. It will be his choice. Dean will raise him, protect him, fight him personally and for him, and make choices that will affect both of their lives and the future of mankind. All of these decisions that happen are man's choices, not ours."

"This isn't Dean's choice," he objected. "Nor is it the brother's that will come."

"It is not always the choice of the one affected, Castiel. The sins of mankind fall upon others all of the time. If Mary had not tried to run away that night, she may have died with her family. Instead, John Winchester was brought into the battle. He died. She is only the first in this family line to make a deal with a demon to save a life. It becomes a precedent among them. The brother will die, Castiel. Dean will sell his soul to return him, following in John Winchester's steps, who did the same to keep Dean alive. Dean will go to hell, Castiel. You will free him, but the damage is done. If it helps, Dean does change for the better after Lucifer is freed. You will be there at the final battlefield, but all will be scarred or lost."

"It isn't fair," he told him. "They need to be able to make their own choices, not tainted by what the others have done. You could stop this..stop them before anyone else is harmed."

"It is freewill, Castiel. I can not interfere. These things are prophesied and some will be prophesied. He may not know you are there, but you will still guide and comfort him. He will need you, because he will not believe and will seek comfort in wrong things. Be there, Castiel. He actually will turn into a very good man."

"Dean! What are you holding on to? Who is holding you up?"

Dean giggled, arms wrapped around one invisible angel leg. He had walked across the room and held on to the one that only he could see.

"It is a sign, Castiel, that even when he rebels, he will cling."

The angel looked down at the child, voice soft. He'd seen the little one's first steps, amazed that the frail limbs could hold up such a chubby little torso. "All this way to me, Dean?" It wasn't fair. He didn't want Dean to hurt.

Chapter Text

Castiel had to restrain the urge to laugh when Mary was trying to get her overly excited son dressed to partake in the odd ritual of "trick or treating." Dean was bouncing, ecstatic to be able to go and get candy. He and his mother had gone shopping for an outfit earlier, and the boy had chosen one that had surprised the angel.

He refused every cute, plastic masked costume in three stores. His mother was shocked when he picked a make up kit for a werewolf. He was upset that the clawed gloves were for adults and his little hands could not fit in them. Mary bought two kits so he would have enough hair for his hands. The former hunter in her concerned over a two year old's interests. Where had her son learned about werewolves?

The angel simply smiled. It was a harmless fascination for now and after hearing the song "Bad Moon Rising," he'd had to explain about werewolves as best as he could to his ward. Dean knew they were dangerous but was interested, and the heavenly warrior knew the interest in the supernatural would only serve him well in the future. He smiled as the make up was applied. "I know this day is a pagan celebration, Father, but I have to say that he looks rather adorable."

"At least he will not be eating too much candy with adult vampire teeth in his mouth," Father mentioned. They both listened as Dean asked his normal questions about tricks and treats and the difference in them.

"No, we just have to worry about that after he gets home," the angel said with a laugh. John was staying home to hand out candy, so it was just mother, son, and the angelic guardian. "He looks like a big puppy more than a fearsome creature," he admitted, large smile curving his lips.

The next hour, mother, son, and angel walked the neighborhood streets. Dean learned that no light meant no candy. He walked by his mother's side. They stopped at a local grocery store. It was closed but the outside lights were still on. Mary opened the door and Dean ran to the counter. The owner frowned when he saw the child.

"Oh goodness! What do we have here?" The owner seemed to act properly afraid of the miniature wolfman.

The child growled as best as a mouth full of adult teeth would let him. At this time, the door opened and two teenagers entered. The man looked up and said, "We're closed." The boys laughed and started taking chips and drinks, enjoying their plunder.

One walked up and tried to get into Dean's candy bag. The younger Winchester spit out his teeth, and said, "You tricked. No treat." The teen started to reach down to him. Before Mary could do anything, the little boy was on his knees with a mouth full of calf. The teen was screaming, Mary was trying to stop the situation, and the storekeeper was on the phone talking to 911.

Castiel reacted, using some of his grace to encourage the boys to leave the child alone. Mary could fight but seemed to have forgotten how to at this moment. He nudged her, trying to get her to embrace the fighter's instinct even for this moment.

Dean dug in deeper, gnawing the calf and the older boy fell to the floor, screaming louder. The other teen stopped staring and ran to his aid. Dean let go and looked up at the boy running towards him and bared bloody teeth that showed through the blood covered hair. He raised his hands like claws and yelled, "I got wabies!"

Both boys stared, wide-eyed at the two year old as a police car pulled up front. Castiel and Mary were trying to figure out where Dean learned about rabies and canines.

Castiel looked at the scene for a moment before breaking into full laughter, nearly hitting the floor. Oh merciful Father, life with this Winchester was NOT going to be dull! Rabies indeed.

Chapter Text

Winter hit Kansas hard in 1981. John and Mary kept the house warm for Dean, who hated shoes. He was always losing one. That winter, Dean developed a new habit that embarrassed his parents greatly. He discovered his naked body and wanted to show it everywhere.

For the angel, it was rather amusing to watch the two year old streak around the house, giggling as his parents chased after him with one kind of garment or another. In truth, to Castiel, there was nothing wrong as the boy was innocent in all things and to be unclad was no sin at all. He really didn't understand mortals at times.

The Winchesters had gone to the mall so Dean could see Santa. John swore he would never do so again when Dean pulled the old man's beard off, climbed off the man's lap, and gave the beard to a little girl close to his age. Castiel's brows went up when the young Winchester kissed the little girl on the lips and left the beard with her as a gift.

Once the child had gotten home, he had stripped out of the red candy cane sweater and jeans that Mary had declared as perfectly adorable and had hurriedly gone running around, snickering gleefully.

The next day an event occurred which made Castiel realize that maybe mortals were right about nudity in children. The Winchesters went to the local pond to ice skate with friends. Dean was playing on the ice as his parents kept an eye on him, while skating.

The sound system that was set up played a Christmas waltz and John took Mary's hand. They were caught up in the moment when they heard someone scream. Turning they saw Dean sliding across the ice and his bare butt disappearing into a snowbank. John swore and took off after his naked son, with a distraught Mary right behind.

The celestial being was grateful it had been a snowbank and not the ice the naked boy had fallen into. He did have a feeling that Mary and John would not be thinking of the same thing, however.

The Impala pulled into the drive, John got out, grabbed his naked son, and entered the house. Mary gathered Dean's things. When she entered, she could hear John's belt strike their son. Mary ran and yelled at John to stop. He told her it was the only way to make a boy learn.

John and Mary had a large argument and John left the house. Mary sat in the kitchen, trying to figure out what should be done about Dean. Castiel could hear the child crying.

The angel went into the small, cheerful room and knelt beside the bed. "It's all right, Dean. Adult humans don't always understand things sometimes."

The young boy climbed into the angel's lap and laid his head on an angelic shoulder, sniffling. After this, the boy tended to be more quiet and not as playful as he had been. Castiel decided he did not like John and Mary Winchester. She had not gone to her son to comfort but sought solace in her kitchen trying to figure out what to do.

Castiel was glad for the first time that Father had sent him to guard the older Winchester boy.

"Never fear, Dean. Even if you cannot see me, know that you are in my thoughts and I will watch over you, Father willing," he whispered to his charge.

The boy whispered the name he always called the angel, "Cas." The angel held him until he fell asleep and placed him back in his bed and remained there.

Chapter Text

When Dean turned two, John informed Mary that it was past time for diapers. He saw no reason the boy couldn't use the big toilet. Mary stared at him and said there were special made potties for training and they had a cup in front for little boys. John snorted and told her to get the boy a small stool and make him stand like a man. He was a boy, not a girl.

At that point, Castiel had the distinct pleasure of watching Mary go out and buy the proper training tools for Dean, including a special potty just for Dean. He was very happy for that, especially given what John had done over the last nudity issue. She was learning to stick to her beliefs when it came to helping Dean through certain phases in his life.

The arguments started when John got home. He left the house and did not come home that night. Dean had pottied during the argument. Dean had actually done both in the potty and was very proud of himself, but did not know how to wipe. He could hear mommy crying in the kitchen.

Castiel knelt beside his charge. "You have done so well, Dean. Your mother will be so proud of you."

"Mommy is crying," Dean pointed out the obvious to the angel. Castiel could see, in the bright green eyes, the brain working. Dean was not a stupid child and he was trying to find a way to make Mommy stop crying. Before Castiel could stop him, the little boy, training pants still around his ankles, reached into the potty and grabbed what Castiel was sure was something that should have remained where it was. He headed to the kitchen to cheer his Mommy up. Castiel had said she would be proud.

The angel facepalmed as he followed his charge into the kitchen. Fortunately for Dean, Mary didn't react negatively and knelt, asking her son if he'd done his business in the potty when she saw the 'gift' in his hand.

Not for the first time was the Winchester charm shown in a bright smile. Father had said the smile would get the boy into lots of problems later in life, but it would also help him. Castiel had problems comprehending this in the innocent face before him, but Father was never wrong.

Mary beamed at him, calling him a good boy and then guided him to the bathroom to help him put the 'present' back into the potty and then taught him how to wipe himself properly.

Dean smiled up at his Mommy, when she picked him up and took him to the sink to wash his hands. He put his arms around her and whispered, "Don cry, Mommy. I luv you."

"And I love you, my precious boy," she told him, kissing his little face. "And my little one, if I cry, it's never your fault. Remember that, ok?"

"Daddy made you cry," Dean's little voice just sounded like he was stating a fact.

"Sometimes daddies can make mommies cry," she told him. "They don't mean to but can be quite stubborn."

"Wuz subborn?" Castiel thought the question was cute, as Dean yawned. It was past his bedtime.

"Let's brush our teeth, little man, and I'll tell you," she said, getting his toothbrush wet and a dot of paste on it.

Castiel watched a sweet scene between mother son, marveling at how much the young man looked like his mother. Little did he know that one simple question would open a part of childhood he had never dealt with.

In later years, most people would think that Dean was not that smart. His younger brother would be credited with the brains of the family. Dean started asking questions, nonstop, at age two. Castiel, being his invisible guardian, and Mary would get the brunt of it. The angel was going to learn patience.

Chapter Text

Mary sat down the evening John left in anger and explained the word, 'stubborn,' to her two year old son. Castiel listened and thought that Dean might actually have a good mother after all. She took the time and put it into words a very young child would understand.

What Castiel and Mary had not expected was the string of questions to follow. She thought it would come at a later age, but Dean was very inquisitive. The angel realized that his charge was very intelligent. He came to one more realization. He seriously disliked the words, 'who,' 'what,' 'where,' 'when' and the most irritating word of all...'why.'

Of all the words in the multitude of human languages, Castiel was certain that "why" was the one word he disliked the most. He would've said hated but it was simply not acceptable for an angel to hate something. Supposedly, it was very unangelic like or so he'd heard. However, the constant use of "why" when his charge was told something was, in a word, frustrating. "It's time like this, Father, I have to ponder the creation of the world 'why.' If I'm hearing it this frequently, I can only imagine how much You hear it," he said in private communication as he watched his little charge.

"Why is an important word in the human vocabulary, Castiel. Humans do question everything and it is often that they do it, my child. Sometimes they do not understand my wishes or decisions. As long as they ask me, they are communicating with me. That is good. When Dean stops asking, worry. Give him the best answers you can. His parents may fail in it. We do not want to fail him too."

But they would fail him if something wasn't done to alter the destiny of this family. However, he couldn't ask why because that wasn't allowed by his kind. The angel sighed. "I suppose so, Father. I answer the best I can but it is difficult. Young minds are so limited in what they can understand. It's like Mary trying to teach him why the stove is hot."

"Teaching that things are dangerous is difficult, my son. Remember that it is important that he comprehends that things are dangerous. He will be a great hunter, but only if he understands that many things cause pain."

Castiel's conversation was cut short when Mary screamed, "Dean do not touch the stove!" He heard Dean's scream and immediately was in the kitchen.

The angel teleported himself into the kitchen to find his little one on his knees, holding his hand and crying. He could hear a mix of a cry for his mother as well as the mangled form of his own name. Castiel knelt beside his charge, resting his hand on his back. "This is why we do not touch things that are hot, little one. Hot can hurt when not mixed with cold."

Mary, getting ice out of the freezer, and Cas both stared as Dean asked, "Why?"

Castiel thought he heard laughter from heaven again, but was not sure.

Chapter Text

Mary had been busy with things for the Fourth of July picnic. John told her he'd keep an eye on Dean. He put his son in the front seat of the Impala and headed to his job to pick up his paycheck. The mechanics would always tease him about having such a fair haired son The teasing seemed to mainly be about how the boy looked like such a beautiful girl. This worried Dean's father a good deal.

The worry didn't make sense to Castiel, who was currently seated in the backseat so he could keep an eye on his charge. They had come to a stop and being such a hot day, the windows were down in order to cool off the vehicle. The holiday didn't make much sense to the angel but it seemed to have everyone outside and as scantily clad as was morally possible.

John had pulled into the bank and was filling out a deposit slip to put into the drop. Dean was standing up and looking out the window. A very skimpily clad woman walked up to the drop and was putting a money bag in it. Castiel watched his charge get very still. A small grin appeared and Dean Winchester leaned out the window and yelled, "Wow!" John's head jerked up as the woman walked past Dean's window to his. The slap was loud and hard, and the woman turned away.

John rubbed his face and looked at his son, realizing that he was no 'girl.'

Castiel watched the scene and then did something very rare for him. He laughed. Not the gentle chuckle kind but a full deep belly laugh. Oh, he could foresee a great deal of trouble for this one and it seemed John Winchester was just now starting to realize it.

Dean leaned out the window and pointed to another skimpily clad woman. Before he could say anything, John dragged him back inside and sat him down, sternly telling his son, "No!"

Dean asked, "Why?"

The angel couldn't stop the laughter as he watched John deal with his first bout of the infamous 'why' when told something.

"Because women dressed like that get angry at men when they yell something like 'wow. You got me slapped for something you did. It hurt."

Dean asked, "Why?"

For once, that was a good question Castiel mused to himself. He couldn't claim to understand the female species but wouldn't dressing like that mean men would ogle and treat them like objects? Why would they be angry?

"I don't know why they dress like that and get angry, but I sure as hell know why it hurts, Dean." John reached over and slapped the boy on the face. "That's why it hurts. That's why you stop something when I tell you no. You didn't learn from the last time you got in trouble. Learn this time and quit asking me why!"

Dean did not cry which surprised the angel. His hand touched his cheek and the green eyes turned turned almost dark with distress, but he kept quiet. There were no more questions.

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Castiel had pretty much stayed in Dean's line of sight since the incident in the car. The little boy was very subdued, even when they reached the picnic and Mary had set out the delicious looking food she'd prepared for her family. Usually the sight of his favorite foods had the child eager to eat but not this time, and it had the angel very worried.

Dean had taken some of his Legos and was building a fort for his toy soldiers. He was sitting beneath a tree in the park, about ten feet away from his parents. His mother had not noticed the slight red mark on his cheek and Dean had not talked about it.

The angel sat beside his charge. "I know it's hard to understand, little one, but your father does not hate you." Though there were times he wondered at it.

The blond raised his head and green eyes gazed into the angel's. "What...?" He stopped the question before he finished asking it. The small boy lowered his head and went back to his Legos.

"Dean, you are allowed to ask questions when I'm with you. I will never hurt you for asking me anything. I promise," he told the boy.

"Hate?" was the only word that came from the hesitant child.

"Hate is an emotion that people feel," he said, falling into teacher mode, which he seemed to do more and more lately. "You remember how your mom was teaching you about opposites the other day? Hot and cold, wet and dry?" Basic terms but easy for a bright child Dean's age to comprehend. The young child's head bobbed in a nod.

"The opposite of love is hate. Hate makes you feel all bad inside because you can't see the good things around you," he said softly. "Your father loves you very much, never doubt that. However, his life has been rough and things have happened that have made him more aggressive to people than is normal."

Dean was having problems understanding some of the big words the angel used. Castiel could see his little mind working in the way the eyes focused. He stared up at the angel, "Agesive?"

Ok, too big a word. "You know how, when you're tired and it's close to nap time, you get a bit mean to your mother sometimes?"

"I dun hit Mama."

"No but you do yell at her, right?"

"I not mad at Mama. Dayey was mad at me."

"Well, when you yell at her when you're tired, that's being aggressive. People do wrong things when they're upset. Sometimes, they yell and say mean things. Other times, they hit and later feel bad because they did. When people hit, they may not be aware of just how much they hurt the one they've hit. Dean, I want you to remember this, ok? When you're upset, try to talk it out but never..ever...hit a child or a woman. They can't protect themselves as well as males can." He stroked his fingers over the soft hair, reassuring his charge.

Dean nodded and turned looked at his parents, both of them seemed happy and contented. His daddy didn't look upset to him. He knew the angel was right, but he would be careful around his daddy, anyway. He liked being daddy's boy. Dean smiled. The twigs and ants were bothering him. He walked over to the Impala with his Legos and climbed into the front seat and began to play with the small connecting blocks on the dashboard. He never noticed that several pieces slid down into the vent. His mama called him to come eat. Leaving the Legos where they were, he hurried over to join his parents, leaving one angel with a wide-eyed stare at the vent.

Castiel began to raise his hand to draw the toys out of the vent when Father intervened."The Legos must remain, my child. They are important in the future."

That didn't make much sense but the angel complied. "As You wish, Father." He was quiet for a moment, watching the little family. "Did I do all right there? I have no comprehension as to why John Winchester is so abusive to his child."

"John Winchester does not recognize it as abusive, my son. He is a strict man. In a few years, Dean will come to worship him. He will dress like him, listen to the same music, and he will own the Impala. Whatever John Winchester says will be law. John's attitude will not change.. He will use that to control Dean, but the younger brother will see it for what it is. Dean is a hero, Castiel, but he will never recognize that side of himself. neither will his family. I promise you that there will be those who see it."

"If he will mimic the man that closely, Father, then I will have failed because Dean is unique as are all humans. John Winchester's only redeeming point is that he sired such a child," he whispered.

"You will not have failed. Dean is not completely blind, Castiel. He loves and worships his father, but when he is reaches his twenties, he will be deserted by his family. It will hurt deeply, and he will do all he can to win them back. John Winchester will do things that some might consider to be a fatherly thing to do, but there will be repercussions and he will use Dean at the end of his life. Dean will have to bear great burdens, but he will make most of the right choices. Not all of them will be, but you will become a vital part of his life again, at that time. You will never leave him, Castiel...not permanently. He will lose sight of you."

"I never thought to say this, Father, but I wish that he will not. He has become..special..to me."

"I will give you other errands at times, my child. You may have to find ways to understand what has gone on during those times. Until I send you back into the fight for his soul, safety, and sanity, you will not always know what he has been up to. You will have to find ways to know. It will be important that you do."

The sound of a car backing and tires screeching to a halt brought an end to the conversation. Castiel could hear John Winchester yell, "Damn it Dean, they're in the vent!"

Chapter Text

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Castiel was sitting in a chair in Dean's bedroom watching the young child as he slept. Blond hair fell across his forehead into his eyes. Castiel fought the urge to push them away.

He heard John and Mary in the kitchen, and knew they were having a heated discussion about the Thanksgiving dinner. John wanted fresh turkey, and the angel could not see any problem in that.

Ten minutes later, Dean's father entered his room. Castiel sat up straight and watched intently as the ex-Marine woke his son.

"Wake up, Son. We are going to the Hale farm to buy a turkey."

The younger Winchester yawned and rubbed his eyes and looked up at his Daddy. He wanted to ask about buying a turkey at a farm but kept quiet, not trusting his father enough to ask questions.

John got out a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and a pair of tennis shoes. He went to the drawer and got underwear and socks for his son. He laid the clothing on the bed and left the room. Dean stared at the clothes and the door, wondering what he was supposed to do. He knew parts of getting dressed but could not tie his shoes, and the snap on his jeans was difficult to fasten.

Castiel shook his head and offered to help his young ward. Dean looked at him and said, "No." The angel's head jerked back and he nodded, watching the stubborn jaw sticking out as Dean tried to dress himself and please his father.

"Father?" the angel questioned. "Why is he trying to please a man who has hurt him so often? I want to protect and help him and he is already trying to be independent. Will he manage to be?"

"The boy will always need and rely on his family. He will need to be needed, my son. Just be there when he needs you. Let him grow up at his own speed."

Castiel nodded and heard John coming back up the stairs. Dean had everything on, but the jeans were not fastened and he was tripping over the laces of the shoes. John nodded and helped him finish getting dressed.

"You did a good job, Dean. It will get easier with time. We are going after a turkey and we are going to pick our own."

Dean smiled a sweet smile, proud that his Daddy was taking him to help pick a turkey. He reached out his hand and his father grabbed hold and they headed downstairs and outside to the Impala. Castiel was already in the back seat.

Chapter Text

The weather was crisp with a hint of winter in the air. Dean was staring out the window watching the fields go by. John had Metallica playing on the cassette deck.

In the back seat, Castiel watched the man and son. Dean was listening intently to the music. The angel frowned. Since he had to guard the child, he hoped for a more eclectic taste. Metallica at almost age three was a frightening thought.

John turned left off the highway onto a gravel road. He drove slower and they arrived at the farm fifteen minutes later. Dean jumped out of the car with angel right behind him.

John was not far behind, calling to his son to stay with him. The place had the look of neglect. The older Winchester frowned. An elderly woman came out of the house and walked towards the two Winchesters.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, Ma'am. I was told you had live turkeys and that you had a machine that plucked, cleaned, and processed them."

"I do, but Mr. Hale is in the hospital and has been for two months. He had a massive heart attack, followed by a stroke. I will not kill the birds. You want one? I'll loan you a rifle and you kill it. I'll do the rest."

John Winchester smiled and looked down at his blond haired son. This should be an experience for the boy.

Castiel stood with his eyes opened wide and thought, 'Are you insane?'

Mrs. Hale handed the man a rifle. He grinned and started walking towards the large area where the turkeys were kept. He called to the young boy to follow.

Dean followed his father into a very large penned in area. It had to cover several acres of land. They walked for a while. Dean spotted the hen first and pointed to his father.

"Daddy, a big bird!"

John aimed the rifle and shot and killed the hen. Dean ran towards it and stopped when he got closer. There was a large hole in the head of the bird and it lay on the ground, lifeless. He turned towards his father.

"The bird not moving, Daddy."

"That's right, Son," John called to him as he walked towards Dean and the dead turkey hen.

At that moment a large tom ran out into the field, straight towards Dean. The bird was huge and the young boy, stood frozen, unable to move at all.

"Dean!" John started running towards his son. He aimed the rifle and fired over the head of the turkey. The second shot brought the bird down as it hit his son. Dean lay on the ground with a large dead turkey on top of him. He started screaming. John ran up and pulled the big bird off the boy.

"You all right?" John moved experienced hands over the boy, checking for injuries. The younger Winchester just nodded yes.

"Then quit screaming, Dean," the older man told him. He handed the rifle to the boy and told him not to point it at anything. John hauled in the two turkeys.

Mrs. Hale kept the tom and prepared the hen for John. He paid her and put the large bird in the trunk of the car. Dean just stared at it. The angel was upset with the man, and did not understand why Father stopped him at the last minute. He would have pulled the boy out of harm's way. He questioned it on the way home.

"You may not interfere in such ways, Castiel. Little things that are not noticed will be permitted, but that would have allowed everyone to know you are here watching him. It must not be known. Not now."

Castiel did not understand but did not question further. He was concerned about the quiet and stillness in his young charge.

Chapter Text

Mary worked all morning on Thanksgiving dinner. John was raking the yard and Dean was striving to put the leaves in bags for pick up on Friday. His father grinned, watching the boy picking up leaves and putting them in the bags. Dean would manage an armful, but three or four made it into the bag. His father raked a large pile and set down the rake. He walked over to his son and picked him up and carried over his shoulder and dropped him into the massive pile of leaves. Dean squealed, and the angel sitting on the Impala, smiled.

John jumped into the leaves and began to wrestle with his son. Dean's childish voice could be heard.

Mary came to the door and called to both of her men. Dinner was ready. The older Winchester dusted both of them down, removing leaves. He swung his son over his shoulders and walked into the house.

Dean giggled as his father set him on the living room floor and tackled him gently, both of them spending some time wrestling.

Castiel watched his charge, smiling when he saw the glow of happiness on the young boy's face. He knew that times were coming for the younger Winchester that would not bring happiness to him. The angel wanted to hold him and tell him it would be all right, but he knew it wouldn't be. He sighed and thought, 'Let him enjoy every minute he has now.'

Mary waked into the living room and scolded both of her men and told them to wash up. Dean giggled and ran up the stairs, chased by his father. Castiel heard a loud thump and appeared in Dean's room. Both of the Winchesters were wrestling on Dean's small bed.

The angel laughed. Mary was going to have a hard time.

Chapter Text

The family headed toward the stairs, Dean still being carried across his father's shoulders. They entered the dining room where Mary had set the meal. The young Winchester stared at everything in front of him. His curiosity about the large thing on the platter was heightened by the knife and large fork that lay next to it.

John took the knife and fork and began to cut the meat off the turkey, unaware of his son's strong gaze. Dean reached out and touched the bird. He looked at his mother and softly whispered, "What?"

That is the turkey, Dean. The young child's eye grew wide and he swallowed hard. His father set a slice of the meat on the small plate set aside for the young boy.

Mary stared in surprise as her son shook his head 'no' in a violent gesture.

"Dean, it's all right. It's cooked like chicken. You like chicken."

"Chicken didn't try to squash me. No."

John stopped cutting and stared at his son, "You will eat it, Dean."

Dean jumped off the chair and screamed, "No!" He ran out of the dining room and went upstairs to his bedroom and hid in his closet.

Mary and John argued over Dean's reaction. John wanted to drag the boy back to the table and demand that he eat the bird. Mary told him that the past few days had been traumatic to Dean and she would not demand that he eat the turkey.

John Winchester snorted and told his wife, "If he does not eat it, he eats nothing. Keep some turkey in the refrigerator. When he's hungry enough, he'll eat anything."

Castiel listened to the argument in the dining room as he sat outside of his charge's closet. One simply did not starve a young child. His righteous anger drove him to pace the floor.

"Father! Why?"

"Dean will have many idiosyncrasies, my child. It will drive his brother crazy. Watch him when he is an adult. This event, and what he does to provide for his brother will scar him and alter how he perceives food."

"He's a little boy."

"Yes, my Son. He is. He will still be a little boy when the cares of the world start to fall on his shoulders."

Chapter Text

Dean was dressed in dark green slacks, a white shirt, red bow tie, and a light green sweater for his picture with Santa Claus. He did not want his picture taken with the large man. Mary asked him why he did not want it taken, and Castiel stood behind her watching the young boy.

"Santa not real," the little boy told his mama and Santa's helper. The helper asked him why he thought that.

"Cause Santa did not give me something to eat," Dean's lower lip pouted out and the helper smiled at him and asked when Santa did this.

"I wuldn't eat the big bird. Daddy said I had to. Mummy didn't feed me for two days,' Dean whispered.

Mary stood still, looking at her young son and the helper who was staring at him. The last thing they needed was for Child Protective Services to think that Dean was being abused.

"Honey, if you don't want to get your picture taken, okay. Let's go get something good to eat at the food court."

Dean held his mama's hand and they walked to where the eateries in the mall were gathered. Dean looked at the different places to eat and stopped in front of a bakery shop. He pointed at the pie and asked his mama if he could try it. Mary ordered a slice of apple pie and a glass of milk. Sitting at a table with Mary and Castiel watching him, Dean Winchester decided that he liked pie. Maybe Santa was okay too.

Chapter Text

Dean sat at the kitchen table listening to his daddy talking on the telephone. John was talking to a restaurant and making reservations for two people. After he hung up, he called a florist shop and ordered a dozen wine red roses to be delivered to the house.

John looked over at his son and told him it was Valentine's Day and a man always did something special for the woman he loved.

"You're too young to understand that, Son," he commented as he left for work.

Dean thought for a long time about love and what a Valentine was. He went up to his room and took down his piggy bank. He had nickels, dimes, and pennies in the bank. He filled his jacket pockets with the change and left the house by the back door. He knocked on Mrs. George's door and waited.

The elderly lady came to the door and looked down at the golden head.

"Well, good morning, Dean. Does your mama know you're out?"

"No, Ma'am. I need to walk to the store and buy somethin.' Could you walk with me?"

"What are you up to, young man?"

"Daddy said a man was s'posed to do somethin' special for the woman he loved. I got to go to the store."

Knowing it was Valentine's Day, Mrs. George wondered who Dean's young woman was. She invited him in and went upstairs and called Mary. Dean's Mom had no idea why Dean needed to go to the store and did not ask her, but she trusted the lady who usually baby sat her son.

Mrs. George walked the young Winchester to the corner store. The young boy spotted some very small heart boxes. He picked one up and asked the elderly lady if these were for Valentine's Day. She said yes. The green eyes lit up and he smiled a sweet smile and walked to the counter. The man behind the counter looked down at him and smiled. Dean raised up on his tiptoes and placed the box on the counter. The man scanned the box and told him the candy was $3.98. He almost laughed when the young boy began to haul fists of change from his pockets. Dean was eighteen cents shy of enough. Mrs. George put two dimes on the counter.

As they walked home, Dean thanked the elderly lady and walked into his yard. There were some early flowers blooming in a pot that his mom had put outside to get some sunshine. Dean picked a flower from the pot and snuck back into the house and went to his room. The young boy rummaged through a small bookcase in his room and found some paper and crayons. He traced the candy box and colored the heart red. He signed his name, the D backwards. Taking his gifts, he went downstairs looking for his mommy. Mary was having a cup of coffee in the kitchen and talking to John on the telephone. Dean entered and set the flower, candy and the homemade card on the table in front of Mary. Mary, asked John to call back. She looked at the gifts and then at her son.

"These are for me, Dean?"

"Yes, Mommy. Daddy said a man does somethin' special for the woman he loved. I love you, Mommy."

Mary cried softly and pulled her son into her lap. She gave him a big hug and a kiss.

"Thank you, Dean. This is the best gift I've ever had."

Snuggling in his mom's arms, Dean sighed in contentment, knowing he had done all he could for his 'woman.'

Chapter Text

Dean woke up on Easter morning to the sound of church bells. Most of the churches rang them, but this was not the normal music that was played. He got on his knees at the window and looked outside. People were walking down the street towards the Lutheran Church. The children were dressed in fancy clothing and the women wore flowers on a shoulder.

He looked across the street at the Montgomery children. They were out in their yard with baskets, picking up something colorful from the grass. Easter was not a holiday the family celebrated. John had never understood Mary's reasons. She just said she would rather not.

This Easter, John was taking the family to the park for a picnic. Dean saw the baseball and gloves, but there was a new ball being put into the trunk of the car.

They found their favorite picnic spot and set out the blankets and food. John and Dean played catch for a while. Mary relaxed and watched them play, but also had a new book she was reading. John walked over to the car and got the other ball. His son stared at it.

"This is a football, Dean. I'm going to teach you how to throw it like a quarterback would."

Green eyes looked up into the man's eyes. The younger Winchester ran to his mom and asked for twenty-five cents. Mary looked up at John and then back at her son.

"Why do you need twenty-five cents, Dean?"

"Dad wants a quarter back."

Dean's mom bit her bottom lip and looked in her purse for a quarter. She handed it to Dean and he ran back towards his Dad. John took the offered coin and his shoulders started shaking. Dean watched his dad turn and walk off. He looked puzzled as he went back to his mom.

Castiel was laughing. He really couldn't help it this time. He never understood why the backs in football had to have strange names. He watched Dean run around looking in the bushes around the park, and remembered that his charge had seen the Montgomery children hunting for Easter eggs. Castiel felt that Dean should know about Easter, but knew he'd have to wait until Dean was much older before he told him about it.

Dean couldn't find the colored items the Montgomery children were finding, but when he looked under one bush, a rabbit ran out. He fell backwards. Standing up, the young man ran after the bunny, looking for a rabbit hole.

His father walked up with the football, a grin on his face.

"Are you ready to toss the ball, Son?"

"I'm lookin' for a bunny hole."

"A what?"

"In the cartoon, Alice went down the hole after the bunny. I just chased one over here."

"That's not Alice's bunny, Dean. It's the Easter Bunny."

Dean looked at his dad with a question in his eyes. John shook his head.

"He doesn't come to our house."

The little boy turned towards his mom.

"Mommy, the bunny doesn't come to our house. Did the turkeys tell on us?"

Chapter Text

It was still early morning. John had gone to work, and Dean was sleeping. Castiel was letting his mind wander the house and yard, keeping an eye on things.

Dean's head lifted from his pillow and he blinked sleep from his eyes.

"Mommy?"

The three-year-old jumped out of bed and ran down the hall to his parents' bedroom. He opened the bedroom door and, not seeing his mother, peeked his head in. He heard noises in the master bathroom.

"Mommy?"

The noises continued. The young man ran to the bathroom door and quietly opened it. Mary Winchester was kneeling on the floor next to the commode. She was vomiting. Dean ran to her and put his arms around her.

"Are you okay, Mommy?"

"I'm just not feeling very well, honey."

Dean saw the tears in her eyes, and the sweat on her face. He turned on the water faucet in the sink and wet the washcloth. He didn't understand about wringing out the excess water. Carrying a dripping wet cloth to his mother, he washed her face. Looking up at her son, Mary smiled and took the cloth from him.

"Thank you, Dean. Why don't you go and get dressed."

Castiel, standing in the doorway, looked at the woman on the floor. It looked like the time was approaching. Mary Winchester was pregnant.

Chapter Text

Mary was not sick for very long. Life went on as usual. Castiel kept an eye on Dean and his parents during this crucial time. Mary did not go and see a doctor until October. Mrs. George stayed with Dean, and John was at work at his garage.

Dean was enjoying the book the elderly lady was reading to him. He would lean over her shoulder and read some of it. The young Winchester was picking out words at a faster pace. Mrs. George knew he would be four-years-old in January and wondered if his parents knew how bright he was. Castiel, watching the two reading the book, knew very well how intelligent Dean Winchester was. He smiled as the young boy asked about words and pictures. He hoped his charge had the opportunities to use his brain.

Mary arrived around 4:00, thanking her neighbor for caring for Dean. She hummed a tune to herself as she prepared supper. Dean sat on a chair in the kitchen watching her. His mother turned and stared at him.

"Dean, I stopped by the garage and talked with your Daddy this afternoon. I need to talk to you too, Son."

"'Yes, Mommy?"

"You remember how sick I was?"

Her son nodded and a small look of fear showed in his eyes. Mary hugged him and sat down next to the boy.

"I'm all right, Dean. I went to the doctor today. I'm pregnant, Son."

Confusion replaced the fear. Dean tried to wrap his mind around the word, 'pregnant.'

"What?"

"I'm going to have a baby, Dean. You are going to have a little brother or sister."

Dean Winchester sat back in the chair and thought about what his mommy had just told him. Mary watched the expressions on his face.

"Dean?"

"Can I pick it out? I want a brother."

Chapter Text

Dean woke up early on January 24, remembering that it was his birthday. He knew his dad would be at work. Castiel was sitting at the foot of his bed.

"Happy birthday, Dean."

The young boy smiled at the angel and reached to hug him. He heard his mom call his name. Jumping out of bed, the child ran out of the room and down the stairs.

His mother walked out of the kitchen.

"Dean, put some clothes and shoes on. It's cold."

Running back upstairs, the child bumped into the angel who was carrying clothing and shoes for him. Grinning, Dean hurried to don the clothing. He sat on the floor and put socks and shoes on his feet.

Back downstairs, he entered the kitchen. His mother had bacon and French toast made for him. There was a cup of hot chocolate and a glass of apple juice. His eyes widened.

"Happy birthday, Dean," his mother spoke softly as she hugged him and kissed him on his forehead.

Mary watched as he enjoyed his food. After the dishes were done, she read to her son for a couple of hours. Dean took a nap. At 2:00, John came home. They took their son upstairs and walked down the hallway past his room. John opened the door on the right and let their son enter.

The room was a typical little boy's room. It was done in shades of blue. There was new furniture and a nice little bookcase with all of Dean's favorite stories on the shelves.

"This is your new bedroom, Son. It is time you had a big boy's room"

Dean hugged his parents and they took him downstairs. There was cake and ice cream. Dean was given a T-ball set and a cowboy hat, boots, and toy pistols for his gifts.

The family had cheeseburgers and French fries for the boy's birthday meal. Later that evening, Mary and John tucked Dean under the covers of his new bed.

Mary softly said, "Angels are watching over you."

They turned off the lights and shut the bedroom door. Castiel heard a soft sigh and asked his young charge what was wrong.

"I got cake for my birthday."

"That is the usual dessert for birthdays, Dean."

"I wanted pie."

Chapter Text

Dean woke up early on Sunday morning. He tiptoed down to the kitchen with a curious angel right behind him. He opened the refrigerator and took out butter and milk. He went to the pantry and got cereal and bread.

The boy looked at the coffee maker and frowned. He didn't know to make coffee. Dean poured the Captain Crunch cereal into a bowl and popped bread into the toaster. He went back to the refrigerator and got out the apple juice. The toast popped up and he buttered it. Placing the toast on a plate, he poured milk on the cereal. The young man put the drink, cereal, and toast on a tray. It was not an easy walk up the stairs with everything sliding on the tray.

When he reached his parents' room, he put the tray on the floor and opened the bedroom door. His daddy was asleep on his left side. He could see his mommy's large tummy. Dean picked up the tray and walked to her side of the bed.

"Happy Mother's Day, Mommy."

John Winchester sat up quickly and looked at his son. He grinned and watched the look on Mary's face. There was spilt milk and cereal on the tray. The apple juice had spilt onto the toast. The cereal was Dean's favorite; not Mary's.

Dean's mom looked at the food and smiled at her son.

"Thank you, Dean. This is beautiful."

The young Winchester bounced up and down as his mommy took the tray and ate the meal. He went back to his room and played with his Legos. Castiel smiled at him. Dean was good son.

Chapter Text

Mary awoke in the middle of the night and told John they needed to go the hospital. The sounds of them getting ready to leave woke their son. Dean came out of his room, rubbing his eyes, followed by an angel.

John looked at his son, "We're going to the hospital, Dean. I'm going to call Mrs. George."

"I wanna go too. My baby brother is coming."

"We don't know whether you are getting a brother or a sister, Dean. You are too young to be there."

"He's my brother, Daddy. I gotta show him things."

Castiel's eyebrows rose at the young one's comments. Dean seemed quite adamant about a boy. The angel knew the child was a boy. Azazel had said as much when he looked in on Dean.

"It's a baby, Son. You can't show a baby anything. You'll have to wait til your brother or sister is older."

John went downstairs and called Mrs. George. He went outside and put Mary's things in the Impala.

Dean went to his mother who was slowly getting dressed.

"I wanna be there, Mommy. Daddy says I can't."

Mary ran her fingers through the blond hair, "You can't come, Honey. You're not old enough."

Dean went to his room and sat on his bad, frustration showing on his face. Castiel looked out the window and watched the Winchesters drive away. He noticed Mrs. George walking across the yards.

The elderly woman came upstairs and tucked Dean back into bed.

She softly said, "Good night, Dean."

Dean muttered, "It's a brother."

The angel smiled, and thought, 'If you are as adamant about taking care of your brother as you are about his sex and showing him things, your brother will be very blessed indeed.'

The young Winchester tossed and turned most of the night. He beat Mrs. George to the telephone when it rang at 5:30 in the morning. He grabbed the phone.

"Hello?"

"Dean? This is your Dad. You were right, Son. You have a baby brother. His name is Samuel. Sam is big baby. Your Mama is sleeping. He is screaming his head off. I think he may have a temper, Son."

"Thanks for calling, Daddy."

"You're welcome, Son."

Dean ran upstairs. Castiel followed. The angel sat and watched Dean make a welcome card for his brother.

"His name is Samuel, Dean."

"Naaah. His name is Sammy."

Chapter Text

Three days later, John brought Mary and Samuel home. John was calling the baby, Sam. Mary just smiled. Dean stood at the front door jumping up and down, trying to see his brother.

They took him to the nursery. Mary told Dean to sit in the rocking chair. She placed Sam in his arms. Dean stiffened for a moment, trying hard to be careful. He looked down into his brother's face with awe.

"I'll take good care of ya, Sammy. I'll teach ya everything you need ta know. I love ya, Sammy," Dean whispered as his kissed his brother's forehead.

Mary reached down and picked up her youngest son and kissed Dean. She laid Sam in his crib, whispering, "Angels are watching over you."

Dean smiled when he heard the words, automatically expecting his brother would have a Castiel.

The angel watched and listened. In his innocence, Dean Winchester had no idea how prophetic his promises would be.

Chapter Text

After a week of hearing the baby being called 'Sammy,' John informed his oldest son that the boy's name was Sam. Dean, standing by his brother's crib said, "Naaah, Daddy. He's Sammy."

John shook his head and walked out of the room looking for Mary. He found her out in the garden.

"Mary! We have to do something about Dean. Sam won't know what he's supposed to be called."

Mary laughed and answered her husband, "He will probably spend more time with Dean then any of us, John. What do you think he's going to be called?"

In frustration, John Winchester shook his head again. He bowed his head and then looked up sheepishly.

"Sammy?"

"Yes, John. Sammy."

Chapter Text

Castiel stood by the living room window staring out as the rain came down. The leaves had been turning into wonderous shades of color for some time. Halloween was around the corner and Dean hadn't even thought about the holiday or the free candy.

Mary had placed a deep blue quilt on the floor and Sam was laying on his back and kicking. Dean lay on his stomach next to his brother, taking a nap. Cas turned and looked at his charge and the infant lying next to him. The older boy had his arm around his brother's waist. Whenever Sam kicked, Dean moaned slightly. The angel walked over and checked on both boys. Sam did not see him and this surprised the angel, who thought he would be able to.

"Father? Why does one young one see me and the other does not?"

"You are not Sam's guardian angel, my Son. Dean is your charge."

"Where is the baby's guardian?"

"He does not have one. His mother made a deal with Azazel and the child is not ours at this time. He will be, but not yet."

"Father, this will hurt Dean."

"Yes, my Son. I know. We cannot interfere. Man is given free will. It is not something you can understand."

Castiel heard the hesitation in Father's voice.

"But I will?"

"At a much later date, Dean will teach you about Free will. One day all three of you will be mine again."

Castiel looked upwards, consternation on his face.

"Again? Father?"

"Yes, my Son. Again."

Dean woke up, crying out. Castiel leaned down and touched his head.

"It is all right, Dean."

Green eyes looked up at the angel and then down at his brother.

"Bad dream, Cas."

"Yes, but it was just a dream. Tell me about it."

"The house was dark and I couldn't find Sammy."

Castiel was quiet.

"You will find him, Dean. You may not find me for a while, but I will always be here; even if you cannot see me. I promise."

The older Winchester boy put both arms around his guardian angel and hugged tightly to him.

"I don' want to not find you, Cas."

"It is all right, Dean. You will not remember."

Chapter Text

John had carried Dean to his room after saying good night to Sammy. Mary followed behind and tucked the boy in.

She whispered, "Angels are watching over you." The sleepy eyes looked over at his guardian angel and smiled.

Later in the evening, Dean heard his mother get up and check on Sam. He heard her go downstairs. A few minutes later, her running feet could be heard in the hallway. Dean got up. Castiel followed him out of the room. Dean stepped into Sam's nursery and stood in a dark corner near the door. He heard his Mommy scream as she went up the wall to the ceiling. He saw her belly rip open. Cas pulled him out of the room and sent him to his own room as they heard John scream, "Mary" and saw him run towards the nursery.

Dean sat on the floor rocking back and forth. Cas could tell the boy was almost in shock.

"Dean, your Daddy and Sammy need you. I think it is safe for you to go back to the nursery."

Green eyes looked into the brilliant blue.

"Why didn't you watch over Mommy? Why did God take her away?"

Cas stood there, his heart breaking, as Dean heard his father screaming. The little boy ran to the nursery. As he entered, his father placed his brother in his arms and told him to run and protect his brother.

Castiel appeared as Dean ran down the stairs. Mary Winchester was on fire. John covered his face and finally ran.

The angel found Dean and his brother on the front lawn. The older boy looked lost. John ran out and grabbed both boys. They sat on the back of a car and watched the fire. John held Sammy. Dean stared off into space. Castiel knew there something terribly wrong. He tried talking to the boy but Dean did not respond.

The angel cried out to his Father, "Why did Dean have to see this? He's not talking! He's staring off into space, Father! Why couldn't I stop Azazel? I could have. He was alone!"

"Azazel is powerful. It is not your destiny to kill him, but he will be killed. Watch over the boy. He will no longer hear you. You will need to find allies for him; people who will care. He will need them to survive, Castiel. This will change his father completely. If there were problems before, Dean has yet to face real ones. Help him where you can. He will not believe in you. This has blocked the memories."

The angel sat on the ground, staring up at the little boy, and he cried.

Chapter Text

John and the boys stayed with some relatives of Mary's. An uncle bought a cemetery plot and a stone, but the grave was empty. The fire had been incredibly hot.

John knew her death had not been normal. He tried researching and could find nothing. He went to Missouri Mosely. Most of the time, he took the boys with him. From Missouri, he learned about the evil that was out there.

John would bump into hunters because he was looking for them. They knew how raw and unlearned he was. He was given a name: Bobby Singer.

While John was searching, Dean was having his own problems. He was afraid; horribly afraid. All memories of Castiel and his protection were gone. His mind, in pain and anger, blocked all of it; too much pain and horror for a four-year-old. Mary's family didn't want him. He refused to talk, and they could not separate him from Sam.

John had changed drastically. When he got the name of Bobby Singer, he called the man. Leaving the boys with Mary's family, he drove to South Dakota. After several weeks, he received a call to come get Dean. The Campbells told him they would gladly take care of Sam, but Dean was not normal and had to go.

John talked with Bobby and left for Lawrence, Kansas. There was a loud argument. Dean climbed back into Sam's crib and refused to get out. John entered the room and packed the boys' things. He reached into the crib for his oldest son. The boy froze and stiffened and held on to his baby brother.

"Dean, I am taking both of you away from here. I don't know how you know, but you do. Where you are going, you'll both be safe. Now let me get both of you in the car. We're leaving here and I won't bring you back."

Green eyes looked into the older Winchester's. The blond head nodded, but he still didn't talk.

John put both of his sons into the back seat of the Impala and drove to South Dakota and Bobby Singer. In the back seat with the boys was a very sad guardian angel.

Chapter Text

John drove at a fast speed from Kansas to South Dakota. There were no motel rooms. He stopped only for restroom breaks and food. Dean began what would be a lifetime responsibility. At almost age five, he was feeding and tending to diaper duty for his six-month–old brother. Taking care of Sam would become the most important thing in his life.

Castiel, watching the older boy, frowned and wondered if this was his lot in life. He sighed.

"Father, is this what Dean Winchester was born to do?"

"The boy's love for brother is all encompassing. He will do anything for Sam. Remember that, Castiel. You need to bring others into his life to give him hope and self-respect. There will be a lot of pain. Some of it will be from loss. Most of it is because his family does not always realize what they have in him. Start with Bobby Singer. He can and will be a great influence for Dean. Dean will need him for some semblance of normalcy."

"Yes, Father."

The Impala was soon a few miles from Bobby's place. Dean had fallen asleep from exhaustion. Sam started crying. John, hearing the baby, looked into the rearview mirror.

"Dean, take care of your brother."

The older boy did not respond.

"Dean!"

Cas watched the young child jump. He hugged him, knowing the boy wouldn't feel it. The angel did it anyway.

"Take care of your brother. You need to start talking, Son. I have to be able to communicate with you."

Dean fed his brother and stared at his father, saying nothing.

Chapter Text

By the time John Winchester pulled into Bobby Singer's Salvage Yard, Castiel was ready to strangle him. Dean was exhausted, frightened, and becoming overly protective of his brother. To Castiel, this was not good.

A man stepped out on the porch and the angel thought he could smell the alcohol from inside the car. 'Father wants me to influence this man to help Dean?'

The older Winchester stepped out of the car, leaving the children inside. The angel followed him. Bobby looked at the man walking towards him.

"You can't go hunting with two little ones, John; especially as new at it as you are. How old are they?"

"Dean will be five in January. Sam is six months old."

"Tell me again why your wife's family won't keep them?"

"Dean won't talk."

Castiel pushed at Bobby. The man walked over to the car and looked into the back seat.

"John!"

The boys' father walked over to the car, and the older man motioned to the infant. John reached in and got the Sam out of the car seat and headed towards the house. Bobby just stared at him. The hunter leaned into the back seat and stared and the blond haired child. The green eyes showed fear and determination. Bobby liked him immediately.

The older man's voice softened, "Well, hello, Dean. Why don't I bring you inside and give you something to eat and find you a bed to sleep in? "

The child froze. 'Sammy!' Bobby could read the thought in the Dean's eyes.

"I think I have a crib somewhere. I can put it in your room. I have the place set up where bad things can't get in unless I let them in. You can watch over your brother and I'll watch over both of you."

Bobby thought he heard a sob escape the little boy but he wasn't sure. Dean crawled over the car seat and stumbled as he exited the car. Bobby caught him and picked him up. The little boy froze for a second. With a sigh, he laid his head on the man's shoulder and relaxed for the first time since his mother died.

Castiel watched and told Father he was grateful for this man. The angel followed Bobby and Dean into the house.

Chapter Text

John laid Sam on a pillow on the floor and walked past Bobby and Dean as he headed towards the Impala and the few meager things he had bought the boys since the fire.

Bobby set Dean down and went into his room and came back with a blanket and more pillows. He made a pallet for Sam and went to check on John. When he saw the small amount of items he stared at the man.

"This it?"

"Yeah. I need to get going."

"I know you had a fire, John, but you worked for a while. Why didn't you take care of those boys?"

"I did. This is all they need."

"Which of these small duffels belongs to which kid?"

"The bigger one is Sam's. Babies need diapers, formula, and more clothes. They grow fast."

"And Dean?"

"There's enough there for him. He doesn't start school until the Fall. I'll be back when I come through this way."

"You gonna say goodbye to Dean?"

John sighed and walked towards the house. Bobby and Castiel followed behind him. Dean was sitting on the blanket near his brother; reminiscent of his time at Mary's family's home.

"Dean, I'm going to be gone for a while. You and Sam are going to stay here with Bobby."

The child looked horrified. He ran to his father and held onto his leg. John pushed him off.

"You've got to learn to be a good soldier, Son. Good soldiers do not question their commanding officers. Take care of your brother. He is your priority."

Bobby watched the man walk to his car and leave. Dean stood at the door and watched his father leave him again. He ran back over to his brother and held onto him.

Bobby left them there and went looking for the crib. He took it upstairs to a large room and set the crib up. He put fresh linens on the single bed and brought the boys things up to the room. He noticed a number of items of clothing for the baby. More than likely the family bought them. He doubted it was John. Dean had two pair of jeans, underwear, t-shirts and two shirts. There was a pair of blue flannel pajamas. There was no toothbrush or anything for the boy.

Walking downstairs, he noticed that the older child had not moved. The angel had followed him. He was just as upset as Bobby. The man walked into the kitchen and dialed a number.

"Hey, Rufus. Are you still in the area? Good, I need you to go the store for me. I'll pay you when you get here."

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches wafted their scent into the living room. The young boy sniffed and recognized the soup smell. Sammy was asleep and the man seemed nice. He was so hungry.

Bobby was at the refrigerator pouring a glass of milk when he realized he wasn't alone. He turned and saw those expressive eyes staring up at him from the doorway.

"Are you hungry? I have tomato soup. A sandwich cut in half and the crust removed. I seem remember people telling me kids don't like crust. I just set down a glass of milk. I'll eat with you. We can hear Sam just fine in here."

Dean climbed up on the chair and slowly started to eat. He finished the entire sandwich, soup, and milk.

"Why don't we put Sam to bed and you take a nap? Good idea?"

The blond head nodded. The man and boy went to get the baby. Dean watched Bobby lay His brother in the crib. He helped Dean take off his shoes, shirt, and jeans. He tucked him under the covers. The child was asleep within seconds of laying his head on the pillow.

"I'll keep you two as long as he'll let me, Boy," the older man whispered.

Castiel also whispered, "And I will not leave you, Dean. No matter what your family does, I will be here."

Chapter Text

Castiel watched a large truck pull into the salvage yard and a large man jumped out and headed towards the door. He raised his hand to bang loudly, but Bobby opened it wide and went, "Shhhh. They're still sleeping. The older boy needs the rest badly."

"What older boy, Bobby? I kinda overdid whatcha told me to do. The kids have nothing?"

"You were here when John Winchester showed up."

"Yeah. He's gonna make a good hunter."

"Yeah, well, he's a lousy father. When you hunt and have a family, you got to balance both."

"He's not?"

"No. Let me help you bring the stuff in."

The two men carried in several large bags fill with clothing, books, and toys. Bobby led Rufus upstairs to the boys' room, followed by Castiel.

"Dean won't accept a separate room. He's gonna watch the baby. I've never seen that kind of intensity in a young child, Rufus. He was starving and exhausted by the time he got here. He ate a whole sandwich, and large bowl of soup, and a glass of milk. The boy was asleep as soon as he laid down. He's a cute little fellow, too."

The two men and the angel quietly entered the room. Rufus stared at the baby. There were several infant's toys in the crib. The older boy had hand-me-downs.

Bobby murmured, "They didn't fit him right either."

The larger man cursed, "I'll be damned. I got just the thing for a tired, frightened little boy."

Bobby and Castiel waited. Rufus brought all of the bags into the room and the two men put clothes in drawers and hung them in the closet. Books and games were placed on a book shelf. Some toys were placed on a table near Dean's bed. Rufus placed a large, stuffed, tan dog on the bed with the boy.

The child opened his eyes at the movement. He checked on Sam and then noticed the stuffed dog. As he turned he saw the two men standing by the foot of his bed. Rufus made a hugging motion then whispered for sleeping with. Bobby and his friend experienced a rarity. Dean smiled a big smile, hugged the dog and pulled it under his blanket. Soon he was back asleep. Castiel sniffed and smiled.

Rufus turned towards Bobby as they walked downstairs, "Can I shoot him?"

"Hell no, Rufus. That little boy needs his Dad. His Mom is dead."

"That's why you are fixing to pay me for all of that stuff?"

"Yeah, I'm not gonna lie to the boy. This stuff is from us. But I'm not gonna let him think he don't have a dad either."

"Okay."

Castiel watched the two men make plans to help the eldest Winchester boy.

Chapter Text

Rufus was fascinated with Dean Winchester. He stayed the night at Bobby's with the idea of watching the young boy the next day. The two men played cards and drank beer until they heard the baby cry.

The sound of feet moving caused two pairs of eyebrows to rise. Dean came running down the stairs and threw open the refrigerator. He had an empty bottle in his hand and a look of panic on his young face. Bobby realized that the young boy did not know he had taken the bottles and put them in the refrigerator. He heard a soft sigh and a bottle was removed.

They watched the child push a chair to the counter and microwave the formula. He had it down to a science, checking the liquid ever ten seconds. When the formula was warm enough he ran back up the stairs, followed by an angel who had followed him down. Both men looked at each other.

Rufus enquired, "How does he get him out of the crib?"

"Hell if I know," Bobby snorted as he jumped out his chair and headed towards the stairs.

Both men entered the room and saw that Dean had released the railing and pulled it down. He climbed up into the crib and was holding his brother and had the bottle in the infant's mouth.

When the little one had finished eating, Dean burped him. He laid his brother on his back and climbed out of the crib. Going through the duffel, he had another look of panic. He went through drawers and the closet before he found the diaper hanger on one side and clothing on the other.

Bobby walked over and picked up the young boy. Dean struggled to get to his brother when Rufus took the diaper.

"Sam will be fine, Dean. Let us help you while you are here. I want you to just be you; a kid."

"Hell, I can change a diaper. I'm sure I've done it at some time or another."

Bobby took the young boy downstairs. He placed some milk and cookies at the table and smiled at the intense stare in the young child's eyes.

"They're yours. Your brother is changed and fed, so relax a while."

Dean ate the cookies as if he had never tasted anything sweet before. The hunter figured it had been a while. Castiel nudged Bobby to encourage a fatherly attitude in the man. His charge needed a father's love more then anything at this time. John would not offer that. He wanted a soldier.

Bobby made another pot of coffee. Rufus had come down and was looking up information on the computer for a hunter who had called. Castiel watched the boy fall asleep at the table.

Bobby Singer picked up young Dean Winchester, wiping cookie crumbs and a milk mustache off his face. He carried him back to the bedroom and laid the young boy on the bed and covered him with a quilt. He watched one arm moving around the bed until the stuffed dog was found. A slight smile appeared as the child sunk deeper in his sleep.

He sat in the rocking chair for a long time, watching the moonlight kiss the face of the older Winchester boy. He could just see a spattering of freckles across the nose and cheeks. The older man smiled, thinking that maybe he was going to be a daddy after all.

The angel, sitting on the bed, running his hand through the blond hair, knew the man would be the best father in the world. After all, he would be what this one Winchester needed more then anything.

Chapter Text

The boys had been with Bobby for six weeks. John had called and said he would be stopping by that afternoon. Bobby frowned. Dean had started opening up; being a kid a little. His father would ruin it for the child.

The angel went upstairs and watched the child. Dean was sitting in the rocking chair, a book in his lap. Castiel looked over his charge's shoulder and read the title. The boy had a book on phonics. Every word had a picture.

'Teaching yourself to read, Dean? You can not wait until next fall and school?'

'Castiel!"

'Father?'

'Do everything you can possibly do to encourage him. Other then Bobby, no one will. Sam will be considered the intelligent one. Dean is smarter then they will realize. Help him where you can.'

'Yes, Father.'

The angel watched the young boy as he struggled over words. He would put the sound in the child's mind. It was just a touch. He wished Dean had not closed himself off from him. There was much Castiel could do if the boy still listened to him.

Both the angel and the boy heard the Impala. Dean ran down the stairs and out the door. Bobby and Cas followed him.

John walked towards the house. He nodded at Bobby, asking how Sam was. Bobby frowned.

"He's just fine, John. Dean is doing well."

"I can see that. The hunt I'm on will be taking me towards the Texas/Mexico border. I hope Dean is behaving."

"Why don't you ask him?"

"Dean, I will be gone for a long time. You obey Bobby like you would me. He's your commanding officer while I'm gone. You take damn good care of your brother."

Dean stared at his father in confusion. John ran up the stairs and held his youngest son. He was followed by Dean, Bobby, and Castiel. Dean frowned and Bobby felt him start shaking. The boy ran outside and disappeared.

"John?"

"Yeah, Bobby?"

"You're an ass. You have two sons, damn you." Bobby walked away.

A few minutes later, John drove out of the salvage yard.

Castiel found the boy sitting by a stream on the property. He was throwing acorns into the water. Bobby spotted the child and headed off to a storage shed he had nearby. Dean heard the man's footsteps a while later. He did not move.

Bobby sat down with two fishing rods and bait.

"I figured you would like fishing. You look like you would find it to be something that would help you relax. Want to give it a try?"

Dean stared at the fishing tackle. The sad green eyes looked into the older man's. Bobby could see the tears the boy was holding back, wondering how a child that age could acquire such strength.

Bobby put bait on a hook and tossed the line out. He felt the intense stare and the little boy reached for the other rod. The small hand tried to put the bait on the hook. The man showed him how and watched the child cast the line out.

Castiel leaned against a tree in contentment, enjoying the peace and the quiet until Dean spoke.

"Daddy loves Sammy"

Bobby turned towards the boy, "Yes, he does."

"Daddy doesn't like me."

Bobby wracked his brain for a response. The sad green eyes stared at him, expecting no answer. The older man cursed John Winchester and an angry angel disappeared.

The long silence had been broken and John Winchester was stuck on a deserted road with four flat tires.

Chapter Text

On May 2, 1984, a package arrived at the salvage yard. It was addressed to Samuel Winchester. Bobby brought it into the house and noticed there was no return address on the package. He began checking for sulphur and other residue. The phone rang as Dean ran into the house and up the stairs to check on his brother.

Castiel was following Dean when he saw the package. His eyebrows rose as he saw Sam's name on it. He heard Bobby in the kitchen.

"Birthday? Today? Okay, John, I'll see to it. When is Dean's? He's older. He'll notice a delay. When?"

The angel jumped when Bobby slammed the receiver down. With everything that had been going on, he had forgotten the boy's birthday. The child had to have realized it was missed. Of course, they were not at Bobby's, but John should have made sure there was something. He did for Sam.

Bobby called a friend in town and asked for a delivery. After he was done, he went digging in a storeroom in the house. He found some childhood games and decorations.

Dean came down the stairs carrying his brother. The older hunter looked up.

"Can we have ice cream, Unca Bobby? It's Sammy's birthday and he's not old enough to eat cake."

"I ordered some ice cream, Son."

Dean smiled and saw the package. He walked over to it and turned to Bobby. "For Sammy?"

"Yes, Dean."

"From Daddy?"

The older man nodded. Dean walked over to his brother who had been placed in a high chair.

"Daddy sent you a present, Sammy."

"Did you get one on your birthday, Dean? "

The boy shook his head no, and went outside to play. He did not return for several hours. A woman friend of Bobby's stopped by with packages and received a handful of cash.

An hour later, Bobby went to the door and called out Dean's name. When the child and his guardian angel entered the house, it was quiet. Dean called Bobby's name. He heard a noise in the kitchen and walked in. Sam was in a high chair and wearing a party hat on his head. His brother's eyes grew large. A hat was placed on Dean's head.

He was taken over to the table and saw a cake. On it was written Happy 5th Birthday, Dean - January 24, 1984. Below it was Happy 1st Birthday, Sammy - May 2, 1984. One tear slipped down the child's face. He wiped it away and smiled.

Bobby had presents for both children. He served up cake and ice cream for Dean and ice cream for Sammy.

"Well, Son?""

Green eyes stared up at him and the boy smiled, Thank you Unca Bobby. It was good. Wish it was pie stead a cake."

Castiel burst out laughing.

Chapter Text

Bobby took Dean and Sam to town the last week of August. Sam was in a stroller and kept trying to climb out of it. Dean would walk to the stroller and tell his brother to behave.

Both boys had grown a good deal. Bobby bought Dean new clothes and shoes for school. He bought clothes and shoes for Sam. School supplies were next on the list. The store had lists for each grade. He was pretty sure the Kindergarten teachers were not going to be happy. Dean knew how to read, write his name, count to twenty and could recite the alphabet.

Bobby took the boys out for lunch. Dean asked for a cheeseburger and pie.

"You know that's not really good for you. If you eat a regular meal, I'll get you the pie."

The green eyes stared up at the older man and weighed his options. Bobby always loved to watch this. The young boy was smart and was contemplating whether or not he could manage keeping the pie if he pushed for a cheeseburger. He finally nodded.

Castiel, watching this, was betting on Dean. He was trying to figure out how the boy would get what he wanted.

The waitress asked them what they wanted. Bobby ordered a dinner, some finger foods for Sam, and turned to Dean.

"What will you have, Son?"

The boy had listened carefully to how Bobby ordered his meal.

"Hamburger steak with fried potatoes. Can I have a salad with lettuce, cheese, and tomato? I don't want rolls. Can I just have some bread please? And pie."

The waitress walked off, Castiel was laughing, and the hunter stared at the boy in front of him who had found a new way to order a cheeseburger and still have a full meal. The green eyes stared at him and Bobby swore there was a twinkle of laughter in them.

"God help us," he murmured.

Chapter Text

Bobby drove Dean to the elementary school for Kindergarten. Dean carried a sleeping mat, his lunch, and the school supplies were in his backpack. The child looked around the room in shock. He'd never been around this many children in his life. The green eyes stared up into the older man's, a plea in them.

Bobby knelt down. Dean walked up until they were eye to eye.

"I can't go here, Unca Bobby. I gotta take care of Sammy."

"School is important, Dean. You're a very smart boy. Study hard and you will end up doing something of major importance someday. I'll take care of Sam."

"His name is Sammy," the boy murmured as he turned and walked into the classroom, followed by an angel.

Bobby kept an eye on Sam who was toddling everywhere. He had his computer turned on and had several books stacked next to it. He was still adding research to it. His local phone rang. Getting up, the hunter answered the phone.

"Singer's Salvage."

"Mr. Singer. This is Mark Jameson at the school. We need you to come and get Dean."

"What? Why?"

"He's been expelled. We will talk when you get here."

Bobby packed up Sam and headed to the school

Dean was sitting in the outer office, with Castiel standing next to him.

"Dean?"

The blond head jerked up and Bobby watched the eyes go blank. The principal walked into the outer office.

"Mr. Singer? Come in."

"Come on, Dean."

"The boy stays out here, Mr. Singer."

"Dean has a right in this country to face his accusers."

The two men and the young boy sat inside the inner office.

"What did he do?"

"First off, he drew a picture of a bleeding woman on a ceiling and there was fire everywhere. Mr. Singer, that is not normal for a five-year-old boy."

Bobby looked down at Dean. The boy's eyes were closed.

Bobby answered softly, "His mother was killed and he was a witness to it. You expelling him for that?"

The principal blushed and said no.

"Well?"

"He tried to leave the schoolyard during recess."

"It has an eight foot fence around it," Bobby replied

"When he couldn't get over it, he took the spoon he stole from the cafeteria and tried to dig under it."

Bobby turned wide eyes towards the young lad.

The angel sitting in the chair next to Sam's stroller watched his charge closely. How can one prevent what the child did if one could not let him know he was there?

Bobby asked, "Dean?"

"Daddy said it was my job to take care of Sammy. I gotta check on him."

Bobby turned to the principal, "Their Dad is on the road a lot. Dean thinks that watching his brother is his job. Maybe we can figure something out."

The principal turned redder. "He cursed his teacher."

Castiel bowed his head and thought again where would he learn profanity?

Bobby closed his eyes. The child was being raised among hunters.

"What did he say?" he asked.

"Why don't you ask him. I prefer not to repeat it."

Castiel stood up and walked over to his charge and knelt down and looked into the child's eyes. Dean Winchester was angry. Cas couldn't remember that look before.

Bobby looked over and softly asked, "Dean? What did you say?"

"The teacher dragged me by my feet."

"Okay, that's uncalled for from any teacher."

The principal looked at the hunter, "I would have too."

The green eyes looked into his Uncle Bobby's, "I called the teacher a stupid summa bitch."

Castiel stood up quickly and murmured, 'Oh, Father.'

A pin drop could have been heard in the office. The principal cleared his throat in the silence.

Bobby asked, "How long?"

"Two weeks and we need to speak to his father. Face to face."

Chapter Text

Three days after Dean was expelled, John Winchester pulled the Impala into Singer's Salvage. Bobby and the boys were at the creek, fishing. When John got no answer, he walked around the back and followed the trail. He stopped and watched his son catch a nice perch.

Dean looked up and saw his father smiling and froze. Castiel looked up and saw the man standing there amongst the trees. He was surprised that Dean did not run towards his father.

Bobby, seeing the man, invited him to come down and join them. Surprisingly, John did. He sat down next to Dean and looked at the fish that had been put on a stringer.

"Nice catch, Son."

Green eyes looked into his and there was almost a smile on the boy's face. John showed him a trick for casting further. Dean relaxed.

"I went by the school, Bobby."

"Okay," the other hunter replied.

"They wanted to call in Child Protective Services. We can't have that, so I'll be hanging around a few days and see what needs to be done."

Castiel stood behind the older Winchester and was talking to Father.

"Can I just kick him once, Father? Please?"

"No, my Son. This is part of the predictions?"

"What predictions, Father?"

"You will learn more later. Right now, stay with the boy."

Castiel was quiet and frustrated. Too many questions and not enough answers. He still wanted to kick John Winchester.

Chapter Text

The day after John's arrival, Dean was awakened early by his father. The sun was just rising. John had some clothing laid out for the boy.

"Daddy?" his son whispered.

"I have a test for you, Son. Get dressed."

The young boy hurried to get into his clothing. Castiel was infuriated. This was too early be taking a child who knew where. There was nothing he could do unless Father allowed it. There had been enough problems over the four flat tires.

John handed his son a soda and a package of mini donuts. They left the house and went towards the Impala. John took a pistol and a bag of bottles and cans, and motioned for the boy to follow him.

The father and son walked for almost a mile towards Bobby's shooting range. The angel walked behind them, bothered by the gun.

When they reached the range, John set bottles and some cans on posts and hung some in the air with string and hit them so they were moving. He showed Dean how to use the automatic and explained the kick in it. The angel's grew wider. Was the man insane?

Dean was told to take a deep breath, release, aim and fire. His father explained that it was important to hit every one of the targets. The boy nodded.

The revolver was heavy. John stood back and watched his five-and-a- half-year-old son aim the gun, expecting the child to miss every one of the targets. Dean spread his legs to help steady his hands. His father's eyebrows went up. The child breathed deeply, letting the air out slowly and started firing. He lowered the gun and stood there.

John Winchester walked towards his son and took the gun. The clip was empty. There had been enough bullets to take out each target with one shot. The man looked at the targets. Every one of them had been hit. He turned and stared at his son and grinned the biggest grin Dean had seen in a long time. He slapped him on the back and they headed back to the house.

John was contented. Dean walked beside him, only knowing he had somehow pleased his dad. Castiel was striving to gain self-control. If it weren't for Dean and Sam, he would have contemplated letting Azazel know where the man was. What John Winchester had just done was set his son on a course that would bring nothing but sorrow and grief. The angel was completely distraught.

Castiel felt a breath of air wash over him.

'You're job has just begun, Castiel. You must now protect the hero.'

Chapter Text

That afternoon John sat down to have a few beers with Bobby. Dean sat on the couch in the living room with a book. He kept his eye on Sam who was trying to get into everything. He also listened to the men in the kitchen. Castiel stood looking out the window and watching his charge. The boy was tense as if he expected problems.

John set down his fifth beer and asked Bobby if he didn't have anything harder. Bobby brought out a bottle of whiskey. The older Winchester was getting incredibly drunk.

"Bobby, I have a case in Lincoln, Nebraska in three days. I'm meeting another hunter there. "

"Okay," Bobby muttered. "When will you be back? What happens with Dean and the school?"

"I'm taking the boys with me. It's time I started training Dean."

"For what?"

"Come on, Bobby. Every family that goes into the business raises their kids to do the same."

"Like hell they do, John! You took on this life to avenge Mary. Dean has seen enough of that already. Let him live a normal life."

"He can shoot, Bobby. Like nothing I've ever seen in a child his age. He'll be the best soldier ever."

"He's a kid, John."

"He's my kid, Bobby. We'll leave in the morning."

Dean got up and picked up Sam. They went upstairs where Dean began to pack their belongings, knowing they'd each get one duffle. Castiel sat on the bed and watched the boy. The child made no comment. He did what he knew his Daddy would want.

'The perfect little soldier,' Cas murmured.

'Yes, my Son. He will be one of the best and most famous hunters of all time. Both sides will fear him at some point.'

'Our side, Father?'

'Yes, my Son. Our side is not My side. Understand that when you do what you have to do.'

The angel watched Dean put the duffles in a corner and sit down to play with his brother.

'Am I the perfect little soldier, also, Father?'

'Yes, Castiel. Remember that this little soldier playing with his brother will be a brother you one day.'

'He will?'

'Yes, my Son. There will be four of you who fight for the world.'

'Who, Father?'

'You, Dean, Sam, and Bobby.'

'The father?'

'At that point, the only family Dean has will be you, Bobby, Sam, and the Harvelles.'

'A brother.'

'And his guardian angel.'

Chapter Text

Dean dragged both duffels downstairs the next morning. John was asleep on the couch. Bobby was in the kitchen. Sam was coming down right behind his brother. Setting the duffels in a corner, Dean took Sam by the hand and led him into the kitchen

Bobby was drinking coffee and looked up when the boys entered. His eyes were red. Castiel wondered if the redness was alcohol or tears and wished he could just ask but Father would be upset if he did so.

Breakfast was already ready for the boys and he had packed lunches for them, figuring John would forget to feed them until Dean reminded him. The man was worried about the two children. John had only one thing on his mind; hunting.

"Dean, your Daddy is taking you boys with him when he wakes up."

Green eyes stared into the older hunter's. The blond head nodded but the boy kept quiet.

"You can talk to me, Dean. I'm not your Daddy. I'll be one for you any time you need one. You understand?"

"Yes, Unca Bobby."

John stood in the doorway.

"Don't fill his head with all of this childhood crap, Bobby. Dean, are you finished eating?"

Dean looked at his half-finished plate and back at his Father.

"Yes, Sir."

"Put your stuff in the car."

The little boy ran into the other room and dragged his and his brother's duffels out to the Impala.

"He wasn't through eating, John, but you knew that."

Castiel stood in front of John and looked into his face. The man was not completely sober.

"Yeah, Bobby, I knew that. He's got to learn to tough it out. Nice meals are a luxury for a hunter. Dean better learn it now."

"You're still an ass, John. Sign over custody of the boys to Pastor Jim or me and let us raise them."

"I need them, Bobby. Thanks, but I'm not gonna do that."

Dean walked back into the house. He grabbed Sam's car seat and took it to the car and strapped it into the backseat. He was shaking as he did it. Castiel followed him out this time and could see how the child was struggling not to cry. The boy didn't need another loss.

'Father, please let me push John Winchester to let the boys stay here?'

'No, my Son. Dean will not become what he needs to become by staying here.'

'I don't understand, Father.'

'When the time comes, you will.'

Dean ran to the house as John and Bobby came outside. John gave Sam to Dean.

"He's your responsibility from now on, Son. I will hold you accountable."

Doing what he always did, Dean looked at Bobby and whispered, "What?"

John interrupted, "It means that anything happens to him, it's your fault."

The green eyes widened. Castiel clenched his fists and lowered his head. Bobby grabbed John's shirt front and shoved him off the porch.

"You aren't fit to be a father, John. You hurt that boy in any way and I'll fill you full of buckshot."

John sneered and told Dean to put Sam in the car and buckle them both up. Dean ran to Bobby and hugged him. The boy was trembling.

"I love you, Unca Bobby," he whispered.

Bobby knelt down.

"I love you too, Son."

John was halfway to the car and yelled, "Dean, I gave you an order, Boy!"

Dean took Sam and buckled him in. Climbing into the backseat of the Impala, he looked out the window at the hunter standing in the yard. Castiel had gotten into the front seat. He sat so he could watch his charge. Dean kept his face emotionless.

The car pulled out of Singer's Salvage.

Chapter Text

Dean requested several restroom stops during the day for himself and Sammy. He asked for drinks and food. John wasn't happy about it but bought the boys tuna sandwiches and a coke. Dean looked at the food and at his brother. He took out the bag that Bobby had made for Sammy and got out what the boy could eat at his age. He did let him have some of the coke. John watched and grew angry over the sack lunches.

"Okay, next time, you go in and get the food."

The drive to Lincoln was difficult for both boys. Around eleven in the evening, Dean woke up beside his brother, not sure where he was. The motion made him realize they were still driving.

He looked at the highway through the front windshield.

"Daddy?"

"What, Dean? Don't call me Daddy. Call me Dad."

"Okay. Dad?"

"What Dean?" John sounded irritated.

"We need to go to bed."

"Sam is asleep and you were. Go back to sleep. I'm not stopping until I have to."

"Dad?"

"What, Dean!"

"Sammy and I had a bed at Unca Bobby's."

"Damn it!" John pulled off the highway into cheap motel. Castiel looked at it and a memory of Sodom and Gomorrah passed through his mind. One hour room rentals followed that thought.

John locked the car and went to get a room. When he came out a hooker was tapping on the rear window trying to get his son to roll it down, much to the chagrin of one angel.

"He's underage."

The woman turned and smiled up at the older Winchester.

"You're not."

"You're right, but I'm broke and I got the two kids with me."

"If you got a bottle to split, put them to bed and come to my room."

John grinned and asked for a number.

He took the boys and their duffels into the motel room and showed his son how to salt the room.

"If anyone tries to get in, you shoot them with this," he handed Dean the pistol he'd tested him with.

Dean stared at his Dad as the man took a bag with a bottle in it and left the room.

Castiel was freaking out.

'Father!'

'Castiel, if anyone attempts to enter the room, deal with them. You have my permission to protect the boys in this situation."

The angel turned and saw Dean put his brother into pajamas and climb into the bed with him. Exhaustion was such that the young Winchester could no longer keep his eyes open. He cuddled his brother close and instinctively put himself between the door and Sammy; a habit he would never break.

Chapter Text

Castiel's head jerked towards the door as he heard it open. John walked in with an almost empty whiskey bottle in his hand. His eyes were bloodshot and glazed over.

Dean woke up and slid out of bed and walked towards his father as the man sat on a chair and buried his head in his hands and leaned on the table. His shoulders started shaking.

The boy stood beside his father, uncertain what to do. The angel stood over him and waited to see what would happen.

John started sobbing out Mary's name. His son climbed up into his lap and put his arms around his father's neck and cried with him. After a while, John calmed down. Dean climbed off his lap and took his hand and led him to the other bed. The man fell asleep immediately.

Looking in his father's wallet, Dean found some cash. Taking the money and the key card, he went to the diner next to the motel and bought some breakfast to go for Sammy and himself.

Getting back to the motel, the young boy turned on the television and found cartoons. Sammy clapped his hands and sat at the table and ate his breakfast. The boys kept the television low.

During the morning hours, Dean bathed his brother and himself and they got dressed. A man from the motel came by and said they needed to vacate. Dean looked at the man and smiled softly.

"My Dad got sick. He's asleep now. Can I pay for today and tonight?"

The man told him how much and Dean gave him the money and followed the man to the office. He was given a receipt.

Castiel followed the boy from place to place, amazed at how capable he was.

John Winchester slept off his drunkenness while is little boy took care of his family.

Chapter Text

The smell of coffee and food woke the man sleeping on the bed. John's head pounded. He reached for his duffel and noticed it wasn't there. He fought to remember what happened. He didn't remember going to bed. He looked over at the other bed to see a sleeping Sam. Dean sat at the table. The remains of a cheeseburger and a coke were beside him and he was eating a slice of pie.

John stood and the boy looked up at him. The man headed to the bathroom. While he was taking his shower, the boy grabbed the key card and the car keys and got his dad's duffel from the trunk.

A few minutes later John opened the bathroom door and came out with a towel wrapped around himself. He saw his duffel on the bed. Taking some clothes, he went back into the bathroom.

A few minutes later, he came out and went to his duffel and grabbed the medical kit. Taking it to the table, he sat down and opened the coffee. He took three aspirin. The older Winchester unwrapped the meal and saw a steak, potato, and a salad. Dean watched him shake his head.

Halfway through the meal John asked him, "How did pay for the room for another night and for the food?"

"I took money from your wallet."

John stared into the green eyes and snorted.

"We need to leave tonight."

Castiel had been sitting in the other chair watching everything. At that moment he nudged John Winchester. John shook his head as if he felt it.

"Sammy's asleep," Dean spoke matter-of-factly.

"He can sleep in the car."

"I'm not going."

"What makes you think you can tell me what to do? I'm your father."

"I hid the keys."

John's head hurt too much and he sighed and went and laid back down. He was soon fast asleep. Dean stared at him and resalted the front door. He turned off the lights and went and slept next Sam. Again he put himself between his brother and the door. Castiel wondered if John was part of what the boy was protecting his brother from.

Chapter Text

John woke the boys up early and, after a quick breakfast, they found themselves in the car and driving to Lincoln, Nebraska.

John had Dean sit up front. The boy was nervous having Sam in the back seat. His father began quizzing him on what Bobby had taught him about hunting. Bobby had let him play and take care of Sam. Dean really did not understand hunting. John was infuriated over the boy's lack of important knowledge and skills.

John began to teach Dean about hunting. He lectured, gave information, and talked about training. Castiel listened and wanted to stop the man. He felt a nudge from Father and a whisper to 'let it be.' He shook his head and kept a hand on Dean.

By the time, Sam started getting hungry, Dean had quit talking. He listened, muttered 'Yes, Sir,' and Castiel could tell the boy was terrified. John pulled into a truck stop and told Dean to get his brother. They went inside to eat a meal.

John questioned Dean over what he had told him. Even Castiel was surprised over the answers the boy gave. Dean was frightened but he wanted to please his Dad more than he was afraid. John was pleased. The angel was infuriated more than John had been earlier.

They reached the Nebraska border around six in the evening. The hunter John was meeting was waiting for them. They continued on to Lincoln. They stopped for a meal around nine in the evening. Sam was half asleep at this time. Dean asked for tomato and rice soup.

"Are you feeling sick?" John asked.

"No, Sir," responded the soft voice. Castiel, watching his charge carefully, recognized a need for comfort. The boy knew he would not find what he needed from his father so he sought out a memory of being sick and his mother fixing the soup and caring for him.

"Well, I've studied everything, Beau. You say the thing is in the Sunken Gardens in the city?"

"Yeah, John. It attacks at night and we need to get there. Who's taking care of the kids? We need to hurry."

"They'll stay in the car."

Beau looked at the two little boys.

"That won't work."

"Yeah, it will. Dean, here, is a crack shot."

Chapter Text

John followed Beau to the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln. The two men got out of their vehicles and double checked their ammo. John told Dean to stay in the back seat with Sam and use the gun on anything that tried to get into the car.

Beau watched John walk away and shook his head. He motioned for Dean to roll down the rear window. A long blade was handed to the child.

"I'm not sure this thing will take what's in the gun, so use your body and all the force you got and push this into it if it comes near. Okay?"

Dean held the gun in one hand and reached for the long blade. The green eyes stared into Beau's and the boy nodded.

"What?" he whispered.

"It's a large dagger I had made from silver. You shouldn't have to be too close to stab it."

Dean murmured, "Kay."

Beau left to follow John.

Castiel stood outside of the Impala.

'Father! This is insane. Dean isn't six yet. I can sense the thing, Father. It's a wraith. Please Father, let me take it out.'

'No, my Son. This is part of the boy's future. He must face this from the beginning to be who he will be. He will know he can protect his little brother. Sam will need Dean's protection. Sam will stray. Dean is the only one who can bring him back from the dark. Only Dean, Castiel.'

'Yes, Father.'

The hours passed and Dean fell asleep beside Sam on the back seat. Cas circled the car every so often.

A gunshot was heard. The angel stared into the distance. Dean jerked awake and Sam started crying. The older boy tried to quiet his brother but to no avail.

Suddenly, Castiel felt himself be thrown away from the car. The wraith was able to see him, surprisingly.

The creature pulled on the rear door and pounded on the glass. Dean stared and Sam screamed. Suddenly, it went around the other side of the car and broke the window by Sam. The blond head turned quickly. The creature reached in for the younger Winchester boy.

"No!" Dean screamed. "You can't touch him. I won't let you!"

Cas saw his charge throw himself on top of his brother. The wraith jumped in through the window and landed on the blade that Dean held in a tight grip in his hands. Cas had reached the wraith and saw what happened. He pushed on the creature, embedding it on the silver blade.

Sam was screaming loudly. The creature's blood flowed over Dean and into the car seat he had covered with his body.

John and Beau heard the child screaming and ran.

They tried to pull the wraith out of the car but Dean was not letting go of the blade. John climbed into the backseat from the other side and pulled the blade out of his son's hands. Beau pulled the creature out of the car.

John pulled Dean out of the car. Beau turned a flashlight on the child. The green eyes were wide and the young boy was shaking. He was covered with the blood of the wraith. He kept whispering, "It can't touch Sammy."

John grabbed his other son and held him, trying to stop the screams. Dean walked over and tugged on his Dad's army jacket. His father looked down and the boy reached up for his brother. Sitting on the ground, he rocked Sammy and whispered to him. Soon his brother was sleeping, with Dean still shaking as he held him.

John and Beau salt and burned the wraith and loaded their vehicles. They rented two motel rooms on the outskirts of Lincoln. John bathed Sam and put him to bed. Dean took a bath. He came out in his pajamas. John looked at his older son who was so much like Mary. He told him to get into bed. As he sat on the other bed, he called his son.

"Dean?"

The head turned away from Sam and stared at him.

"I'm proud of you tonight, Son. "You're going to be a good hunter.

Dean Winchester turned back over and held his brother. No one knew what kind of nightmares he may have had that night, except for one angel who stayed close on the bed and hugged the boy, letting his own peace wash over him.

Chapter Text

John managed to put away a half a bottle while lying on his bed. Dean tossed and turned, waking up with a start, eyes wide in terror. The angel would breathe a soft breath against the sweat covered skin. He would touch the boy on his cheek and run his fingers through blond hair.

'It's all right,' came a soft whisper like a breeze.

The boy had no idea where it came from but was reminded of his mother. Once in a while, there would be a soft sob, and hands trying to wipe away unseen blood. The angel kept up his soft touches and whispers.

The blond head would turn and make sure his sleeping brother was okay. Castiel knew that he needed someone to just hold onto. He put his arms around the child, knowing there would be no pressure of arms holding the boy.

'You are loved, Dean. You are protected. Sleep, child. I am always here.'

The young boy curled up next to his brother with an angel curled up next to him. The breath of air was there, and with it, a strange sense of peace and comfort. There were no more nightmares that night.

Chapter Text

Beau knocked on the door the next morning. John was up and answered the door, letting his hunting partner into the room. Dean sat up on the bed next to Sam, his hair going in every direction.

Beau brought breakfast and sat down at the table with John. He turned towards the boy on the bed.

"You and your brother gonna eat with us, Dean?"

"Yes, Sir," the blond murmured and woke his little brother.

The four of them sat at the table, eating scrambled eggs, sausage, and biscuits. Beau had brought coffee and glasses of milk. Sam watched a cartoon on the television, but Dean tried to listen. He was scared about where they were going next.

John muttered that the hunt had gone well.

Castiel, sitting on the bed, almost choked.

Beau stated, "Like hell it did. The boy made the kill. He and the little one should not have been there. If he had been left with the weapon you gave him, both of your sons would be dead. You're a fool with your kids, John. I won't be hunting with you anymore. I don't want to be responsible for those boys."

Dean held his breath and shook. Would his dad be doing this alone and leaving them in the car? They would have died with the gun. He looked at his brother as he laughed at the cartoon.

He jumped up and yelled, "Don't leave us in the car!"

John stood, "Dean, sit down."

"No! Don't leave us in the car!"

The man grabbed the boy and dragged him outside and shook Dean hard.

"I said to sit down. You stop yelling. You're scaring your brother."

"Don't leave us in the car!"

John slapped his son. Castiel not thinking of what was the correct thing to do, caused the man to fall backwards and strike his head. Dean stood there, with moist eyes, but no tears fell. He held his face where his father's hand struck him. He ran back into the motel room and got Beau when his dad fell.

Beau took John to the hospital. The man had a concussion. He got money for the motel room and cash for a few days for Dean and gave the car keys to the boy, telling him not to let his father drive.

Dean walked with the man to the door and Beau motioned for the child to come with him.

"I have something for you, Son."

He brought out a nice Army duffel and gave it to Dean. The boy looked at the empty duffel and back at the man with a question in his eyes. Beau smiled and handed him the silver blade.

"You were the one to first kill with it. It's yours, Dean."

"Thank you."

"Call this number collect, and ask for Bobby Singer."

"Unca Bobby?"

"You tell him that Beau said to come get you and Sammy."

"Yes, Sir."

Chapter Text

After Beau left, Dean got dressed and made sure his brother was warm enough. He got on the phone and dialed the number Beau had given him. Castiel sat on the bed next to the boy, keeping a hand on his back, giving encouragement.

"Singer's Salvage."

Dean was quiet for a second. The sound a safe voice shook him up.

"Hello?"

"Un…Unca Bobby?"

This time Bobby was quiet.

"Dean? Are you and Sam all right?"

"No. Beau said to call you. We wanna come home."

"What happened, Dean?"

"They hunted last night."

"Okay. Your Dad there?"

"He fell. Beau put him in the hospital. Can we come home?"

"Yeah, you can come home. Where are you?"

"I dunno."

"Okay, give me the number written on the phone. I'll find you."

Dean gave him the number. Bobby picked up another phone and dialed the number, getting the name and address of the motel."

"I'll be there tomorrow morning, Son. Are you two okay? Is there a grown up with you."

"Just me and Sam, but Beau gave me money. "

"I'm on my way. You be careful. Order in. Don't go out."

"Kay. Gotta pay for tonight."

"No further."

Dean went to the office and paid for the night. He lied and said his dad was sick and asleep. He saw a restaurant across the street with a small store next to it. He knew he promised Bobby but this was better. He bought food and snacks and headed back to the motel.

Neither boy left the room after this. Every few hours Bobby called and checked on them. Soon they were getting calls from someone named Caleb and a minister named Jim Murphy.

Dean colored with Sam and read him stories from the books he bought at the store. He never showed how scared he was. It was his job to protect Sammy and he would do it.

Castiel kept a close guard on the room, not letting anyone near it.

As evening set in, Dean microwaved Spaghettios and he and Sam had supper. He bathed and dressed his brother and helped him into bed.

The young boy sat on a chair and tried to watch television. His vision was too blurred by tears to see anything. After a while he dozed in the chair with the tears drying on his face.

The angel sat on the arm of the chair all night and allowed himself to be a pillow for the blond head.

Chapter Text

Dean woke up the next morning to a knock on the door and his father demanding to be let in. For a second the boy panicked. John Winchester would want to leave and Bobby would not find them.

He opened the door and let his father inside. John grabbed his duffel and got clean clothes and headed to get a shower. He turned and looked at the young boy standing at the door.

"Beau told me he gave you money. Go get breakfast."

"Yes, Sir." Dean was still dressed from the night before and his neck hurt from lying at an angle. He winced and headed out the door. Fifteen minutes later he saw three vehicles parked on either side of the Impala as he carried breakfast back to the motel.

Setting the food down on the ground, Dean opened the door and walked in. The voices inside grew silent. He stood just inside the door. Sam was sitting on the bed.

"Take care of your brother, Dean."

"It's customary to introduce your guests, John," the one in the minister's garb responded.

Bobby snorted.

The green eyes wondered at the crowd in the room. Dad would be angry about Bobby. The other two had to be Pastor Jim and Caleb. Both kept calling last night. He really didn't know who they were.

"These are my boys, Sam and Dean. This is Caleb and this is Pastor Jim. Bobby, you know. If that's breakfast bring it over here. Don't stand there and let it get cold."

"I didn't bring enough."

"Dean? It's okay. Caleb and I have both eaten already. I imagine Bobby has too."

Bobby looked at the boy. His eyes were red and the man could tell the child was hurting.

"Did you get some sleep last night, Son?"

Dean nodded, "Yes, Sir."

Castiel knew there was probably a major crick in the boy's neck. He slept, but it wasn't a restful sleep, and the angel knew it.

Dean took breakfast over to the bed and ate with his brother. He listened to the argument.

"The boys are not going with anyone but me. They are my sons and it's my job to care for them."

"I talked to Beau, John," Caleb replied.

"And?"

"John, you two weren't one hundred percent sure what you were up against."

"The boys were fine. Do they look harmed?"

"John, they are alive because Beau gave Dean a large silver blade. You two found Dean on his back on top of Sam with the blade in his hands. Oh, did I forget to mention it was embedded in a wraith?" Bobby commented, sarcastically.

"Does he look hurt?"

Pastor Jim responded, softly, "Physically? No. Mentally and emotionally? Most likely, John. How did you fall?"

"I'm not sure. It felt like I was pushed. Dean, did you push me?"

The boy shook his head 'no.'

The minister looked at the boy.

"What did happen, Dean? You Dad has a concussion. Beau told us. He won't remember things right."

"He slapped me and he fell."

"Okay, Dean. John, you need time to get well and learn to hunt and know what you're hunting. We are going to take the boys until you know what you're doing. No sense in you having to worry about them and have your mind off your job. They'll be better off with Bobby."

"Fine, but no kindergarten. Child Protective Services doesn't need to know he has them."

Bobby rose from his seat.

"Dean?"

"You and your brother get ready to go, Son. I'm taking you home."

The men talked as the two children got ready to leave. Dean walked to his dad and hugged him. Sammy was in John's lap in seconds. The hunter hugged his sons and told them to behave.

Bobby said goodbye and loaded the duffels in his car and made sure the children were strapped in the back seat.

Thirty minutes later, the angel and Bobby both checked the back seat. Dean was sprawled out on the seat and fast asleep.

Chapter Text

Dean awoke late in the afternoon to the movement of a vehicle. For one moment he didn't know where he was. He saw his brother sitting on the rear seat next to him without his car seat. Confusion crossed his young face for a moment and the memory returned.

Panic ensued as he sat up with a jerk and looked for his father. Cas turned around and saw the fear in the young eyes. He reached back and touched the tousled hair sending a feeling of peace through the boy.

Bobby looked in the review mirror.

"Afternoon, Son. It's about 4:00. You hungry?"

A rumble erupted in Dean's midsection and the child smiled.

Bobby smiled and pulled into a Denny's. He got out, opened the rear door and picked up Sam, noting the panic on Dean's face.

"It's all right, Boy. You called me. Remember?"

Swallowing hard, Dean nodded.

They got a seat and ordered a large meal. Bobby watched Dean eat a small steak, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable that he wrinkled his nose at. Bobby pointed to it and asked him to try it. The boy made faces as he chewed it.

Sam was talking to his brother about the drive. Some of it was understandable. He watched the older boy listen and respond to the little boy. Sam was covered with food. His brother wiped the food from the smiling face.

"Dean?" Bobby questioned.

"Sir?"

"Apple or peach?"

"Apple," the soft voice replied with a tremor.

"You're safe with me, Son."

Green eyes met his.

"I know Unca Bobby. Thank you."

"You're welcome, Boy. Enjoy your pie."

For a second, a smile that would attract women from miles around flashed across the face, and Dean Winchester relaxed.

Chapter Text

Bobby pulled into Singer's Salvage around eleven that night. Sam was asleep but Dean stayed awake and watched over the younger Winchester. Castiel figured Dean's exhausted nap was the reason for it.

Bobby stopped the car, picked up Sam and headed towards the house, with Dean and Cas following.

"Unca Bobby, if you give me the keys I can get our stuff."

"Nope. You are going to get a nice hot bath, and I'm going to put Sam to bed. I'll fix you something to eat and then you should sleep too. Just remember. My house is protected."

"Yes, Sir."

Dean followed Bobby and Sam up the stairs and waited while Bobby helped Sam get into some pajamas. Much of their things had been left behind with Bobby. Dean spotted his dog and smiled softly.

"You have pajamas still here, Son."

Dean went to the chest of drawers and found some blue pajamas and underwear. The angel followed him to the bathroom.

The boy started the water when the hunter entered.

"I, umm, bought this last time I was in town. Thought you might like it. It's bubble bath."

Dean watched the water foam with a small grin on his face. He slid into the water and under the bubbles. Soon his head emerged, covered with foam. The boy slid down the tub and back into the water splashing it everywhere. Bobby laid out some towels on the floor to catch the water. As he headed downstairs to make some soup and a sandwich for the boy, he heard a loud laugh. It was the first time Dean had done so since Bobby had met the child.

Castiel enjoyed watching the child play, reveling in the joyous laughter. Dean had a wonderful time, until Bobby called him. He dried off and put his dirty clothes in a basket. Getting dressed, the child checked on his brother and headed to the kitchen.

Bobby had two cups of soup, two sandwiches, a glass of milk, and a cup of coffee on the table. Castiel sat and kept an eye on his charge. Dean was quiet while he ate. The man and the angel noticed his head nodding and the soft yawns.

Dean and Cas were surprised when the man picked Dean up and hauled him upstairs. He tucked him in and gave him his dog.

"Good night, Son."

"Night, Unca Bobby."

Castiel sat in the rocking chair and noticed Dean go over to the crib and climb in. He slept next to his brother, placing himself between Sam and the door.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Bobby checked on the boys and saw that Dean was in the crib with Sam. Frowning, he went downstairs to fix breakfast and think of a way to help Dean with his fears.

Drinking a cup of coffee, he gave Caleb a call and asked the man if he was home or hunting

"I'm doing some research on a vampire nest I heard about. I'm over-nighting the information to Daniel Elkins in Colorado. He's the expert on them."

"Elkins is a good man. He'll handle it. Where are you?"

"About 200 hundred miles from your place."

"Two hour drive?"

"If I take the back roads, yeah. Watcha need? How are the boys?"

"I have a Dean problem," Bobby answered, and he explained what was happening.

Sam woke his brother, and was taken to the bathroom. Dean gave him a bath and put clean clothes on him. The younger Winchester was chattering and Dean 'shhed' him.

"Be quiet, Sammy. I don't hear Unca Bobby."

"That's because I'm up here," the hunter responded watching the boy jump in surprise.

"Come on. Breakfast is ready. You got a long day ahead of you, Dean."

The green eyes looked at him, a question in them.

Caleb is taking you out to get Halloween costumes for you and Sam.

Dean remembered Halloween. Mama quit taking him after the young men in the store caused problems. He never understood that.

Dean cleaned up and watched cartoons with Sam. Caleb arrived and asked about a car seat. Bobby had cleaned Sam's but it was still damp, so he gave the other hunter Sam's sizes and said the younger boy would stay with him.

Caleb and Dean spent several hours looking at costumes. Dean picked out the items to be G.I. Joe and pointed at a small Spiderman costume for Sammy.

When they arrived home, Bobby was sitting on the porch and Sam had some new toys to play with. The older boy carried the costume items into the house and Bobby told him to take them to their room.

Caleb grabbed Sam and the two men slowly followed the boy upstairs.

"You get it all done?"

"Yep. A neighbor helped me. She bought everything needed for it. I gave her the money and told her what to get."

"Good."

They stood outside the room after Dean entered. There was no sound. Peeking into the room, they found the bag of costume supplies on the floor and the boy was touching a quilt on a full-size bed. The sheets, blanket, and quilt were camouflage. There was a brown rope netting hung like a canopy. The curtains were made from the same print as the bedding. Dean looked up at the two men as they entered.

Bobby smiled and spoke softly, "It's okay, Dean. This bedroom is yours and Sam's from now on. We can change styles as you get older, but this is home. It doesn't matter where you go, this is home."

The boy ran towards him and jumped into his arms and hugged him tight.

He gently whispered, "Thank you, Unca Bobby."

Dean Winchester finally understood that 'Unca Bobby' was home.

Chapter Text

The next two weeks were quiet ones. Dean followed Bobby around the property, looking at the damaged vehicles. When Sam was asleep, Bobby knew he'd find the older boy in a car somewhere on the property.

The day before Halloween, John called. Bobby answered immediately as it was a hunter's line.

"Bobby?"

"Yeah?"

"This is John Winchester."

The quiet was deafening as the older man decided what he should do or say. Castiel listened in, frustrated that he couldn't just make the older Winchester disappear for a while.

"Whatcha need, John?"

"How are MY boys?"

"The boys are fine. Sam is taking a nap and Dean is outside, playing."

"Well, that stops now."

"What stops?"

"Dean's a good shot, and he has one kill under his belt. It will harden him and help turn him into the perfect soldier. I want you to start training him on other weapons and how to clean and take care of them."

"I'll be damned if you are going to tell me how to take care of that boy!"

"If you don't, I will."

Bobby was quiet for a moment, thinking hard.

"I'll do what I can, John. That's all I can promise."

"Not good enough, Bobby. He's my boy and he'll be raised as I say. Take it or leave it."

"All right, John," Bobby said as he slammed the phone in its receiver.

"Damn fool!"

Castiel stood there for a minute. He went back outside to where Dean was sitting in an old 1957 Chevrolet Bellaire. He watched him with sorrow in his heart.

'Father, he'll be six in January. Please let him be a child.'

'This is his destiny, my Son. We cannot change it. No matter how much we want to. We cannot change it.'

Castiel turned from his short conversation with Father and felt something on his cheek. He reached up and felt a drop of moisture, a tear. He stared at it in disbelief and turned to look at his charge.

'I shed a tear for you, little one. What will our future hold if I shed a tear for you?'

Chapter Text

Dean returned to the house when Castiel nudged him to do so. Bobby was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking whiskey. Dean recognized the bottle and the smell and backed away.

"It's okay, Son. I'm not your Daddy. I can hold it. I wanna talk to you."

Dean sat at the table.

"I think it would be fun tomorrow to go bow hunting. I will teach you how to use a bow and arrow and help you become good at it. Would you like to learn how to do that?"

Dean nodded and spoke softly, "Yes, Unca Bobby. What about Sammy?"

"I have a neighbor who will come over and watch him. I promised her some of themeat if we get any."

"Kay, Unca Bobby."

"Would you like to learn how to use it today, so we can spend tomorrow looking for game?"

Dean nodded. Bobby disappeared into the back of the house. The boy went upstairs to check on his brother. Cas followed him and they both saw Sam sprawled out on the new bed, arms and legs wide apart and head turned as he breathed deeply. Nodding in satisfaction, Dean went back downstairs and outside.

Bobby was already there. He had two bales of hay set up away from the house with a large target attached to them. The man spent about 30 minutes going over and over the way to attach and unattach the string from the bow. Dean finally learned how to step into the bow and bend it.

Dean seemed to be a natural at aiming and shooting with a bow and arrow. Bobby stared at him in surprise, knowing he'd done the same with a gun.

Castiel watched the arrows hit in or near the bull's eye. He was concerned about Dean.

'Father?'

'Yes, my Son?'

'Dean is hitting every bull's eye. He aced shooting with a gun'

'Sam Winchester will have incredible powers, my Son. Dean needs to be better than good at hunting. I have gifted him. He will never know this. It will be a natural talent for him and he will be proud of it. He should be. Sam will be an incredible hunter, but he will never surpass Dean. Remember that when Dean falls.'

'Falls?'

'You are not ready for this knowledge, my Son. Be proud of him and encourage his pride in these talents. He has a right to them. It is the one thing his father will rely on. Dean is the good son. Whatever helps him survive in his family is a good thing.'

Castiel turned when he heard Dean shout for the first time in a long time. It was a shout of triumph. The angel smiled, sadly. He was relieved that Father knew Dean was the good son and was providing him with a means of survival.

Both bowmen ran towards the house when Sam called out for Dean. Bobby looked at his watch. Supper time. Dean had done incredibly well. He was proud of him.

Chapter Text

Bobby and Dean were up before dawn, and had a quick breakfast. The boy was dragging and Bobby knew he'd had trouble sleeping from excitement. Castiel, the memory of the turkey on his mind, was less enthusiastic about the hunt than Bobby.

After walking for about six miles, Bobby found a clearing. He and Dean settled in some brush and waited. After about twenty minutes, the boy was asleep. Bobby smiled at him and kept his eyes on the clearing.

The sun finally rose high enough for the light to shine in the woods. A deer slowly moved into the clearing. Bobby grew very still and watched. When he saw the antlers, he knew he had a buck. He slowly raised the bow and attached an arrow with a razor tip and waited. Taking a deep break, he exhaled and released the string. A slight Twang was heard and the arrow entered the deer's neck, right below the jaw line. Bobby watched it run a few feet and drop.

He went forward, set his ammo down, and field dressed the buck, bleeding it and removing the organs. He wrapped it in a large tarpaulin and went to wake up Dean.

Gently nudging the boy, he woke him up. The green eyes focused on his face and the child yawned.

"We got us a big buck, Dean. You were a great help," the man commented, watching a smile light up the young face.

Castiel was only glad that the animal was in a tarpaulin. He could imagine thoughts of Bambi and winced.

The three of them headed home with Dean carrying the ammo and Bobby dragging the tarpaulin. The wind blew through the trees and the sound whistled through the woods. Man and boy felt a peace and joy being together in such a beautiful place. The angel thanked Father for the opportunity to give Dean such a gift.

Chapter Text

Bobby drove the boys into town for Trick or Treating. In the back seat, Dean was trying to explain to Sam why he had to keep the mask on and what the plastic orange pumpkin was all about.

Bobby would stop at the end of a street, let the boys out, then follow them slowly in the car. Castiel walked behind them.

One house had a black light burning on the porch. Sam started to pull away and run towards the porch, but Dean grabbed him. Sam tugged and pulled away and ran up the steps. The door opened and a man stood there staring at the younger Winchester.

Dean yelled, "No!" He ran up the stairs and stopped, staring at the man who was reaching down towards his brother.

"Dun touch him!" the older boy yelled. The man looked at him with yellow eyes. Dean had a flashback of when his mama died. The man in the room had yellow eyes. He grabbed his brother and started to pull away.

The man laughed, "So, you are going to be trouble, Dean Winchester. I should have known."

The boys didn't see the glowing form behind them but the demon and Bobby did.

"Dean! Sam!" the hunter yelled, running towards them.

The demon saw Castiel glowing with power and backed down, hissing.

The door slammed shut and Bobby grabbed both boys. He looked up and the glowing form was gone.

Dean wouldn't let go of Sam. Bobby finally got the boy's hand pried loose.

"It's okay, Son. I've got him."

"He killed Mama."

"Who did?"

"That man. I saw him kill Mama."

Bobby checked the house number and then drove home.

He put a call for someone to check the house and told what had happened.

He went upstairs and found both boys asleep. Dean had the silver blade under his pillow and salt in front of the bedroom door, the closet and the window.

Bobby whispered, "I don't know what was protecting you boys tonight, but I'm grateful."

Castiel whispered, "You're welcome."

Chapter Text

Castiel stayed close to Dean the entire night. The boy squirmed in his sleep and whimpered. He touched the skin and felt the perspiration and knew the boy was remembering his mother's death.

"Sammy," the child moaned. Castiel ran his hands through the sweat dampened hair and let his peace flow through him to his charge. Dean would calm down for a while and it would start up again.

Sam was getting restless. Castiel went looking for Bobby who was sitting in the kitchen with two hunters.

"The boy thinks the man killed his mama. I couldn't hear what the man said but Dean thought he was going after Sam. What is really interesting is there was a glowing figure behind the boys and the man backed down and shut his door."

One man leaned on the table holding a cup of coffee. "I don't mind checking it out, Bobby, but I'm heading home afterwards. I haven't seen Ellen in a while."

"Thanks, William," Bobby said as Castiel softly touched him. He stood up.

"You hear anything?"

The other hunter shook his head. William Harvelle rose and grabbed his hat.

"We're gonna check it out and head on. If you don't hear anything, the place is empty. I'll give you a call from the Roadhouse once I get home."

Bobby saw them to the door, and heard a noise upstairs. Sam was coming down the stairs very slowly.

"What are you doing, up, Son?"

"Dean."

Bobby picked the child up and hurried up the stairs. The older child was tossing and turning in his sleep. Bobby set Sam on the bed and pulled Dean into his arms. Startled, Dean screamed, "Mama!"

"It's all right, Dean. I've got you."

The golden head buried itself against his chest, and the boy cried. Bobby rubbed his back and held him. Sam sat there watching, a curious expression his face. Bobby laid down on the bed with Dean in his arms. Sam crawled over on the other side and put an arm on his big brother. Soon all three were asleep on the bed. Castiel sighed in relief and sat in the rocking chair to await the morning.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Bobby turned the page on the calendar and realized that tomorrow would be a year since Mary Winchester had died. His mind began to click. He knew he had to call John Winchester, but he wanted an agreement that the boys would stay with him until Dean started school. He would be six in January.

The conversation with John had been difficult. The man was drunk. Bobby understood the reason behind the drinking. John knew the date better than anyone. The two men talked for over an hour. The boy's father wanted to come get them, but realized he wasn't ready to protect them, knowing the little he knew. Different hunters were taking him under their wings and teaching him the aspects of hunting they knew, and he spent time with Missouri Mosley.

Bobby did suggest that he come and visit at times and just spend time with his boys. The man agreed. What surprised Bobby was John had decided that Dean did not need Kindergarten. He still wanted the boy to learn all there was to know about hunting. The older man agreed but planned on continuing the training his own way.

John cried on the phone, and the older hunter listened and waited. He promised to spend Thanksgiving with his sons. The call ended.

Bobby sat back with a cup of coffee and plotted Dean's training and how to intermix it with typical childhood needs. John wanted to wait until Dean was seven and that seemed wrong to the man but it did give him time to try to help the boy. Sam would be three before Dean started school. Maybe the older brother would be able to handle that. He sighed, sipped his coffee and planned breakfast for his two boys.

Castiel had been sitting at the table, listening in on the conversation. He, too thought seven was too old for first grade, but was relieved on Dean's behalf. The boys would have almost two years with Bobby before John took them. The angel smiled at the thought.

Chapter Text

Sam and Dean were watching cartoons after breakfast. Bobby was outside talking to a hunter who had stopped by to ask some advice. The phone rang and Dean ran into the kitchen and picked up the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Dean?" John's voice queried.

The young Winchester froze for a moment.

"Dad," he replied.

"It's good to hear your voice, Son."

Dean was quiet, unsure of what to say. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Castiel stood beside him and was thinking fast. He went to nudge Bobby.

"You there, Son?"

"Yeah, Dad. I'll go get Unca Bobby."

"I called to talk to you."

"Kay."

"Dean, I know I told you to protect Sam. Today is double important. It's November 2nd, Son."

"Kay, Dad."

John's drunken voice raised in anger, "Don't tell me you don't remember the day your Mom died! What kind of son are you? Whatever it was came after Sam. You protect him. You hear me?"

Dean dropped the phone and ran to Sam as Bobby entered the house. He walked over to the boys.

"You boys all right?"

The expressive green eyes showed fear and tears were glistening. Bobby knelt down and spoke softly, "What happened?"

The boy sobbed. As Bobby reached for him, another line rang. He got up and went into the kitchen. He saw one phone dangling and paused, picked it up and heard a busy signal. He answered the other line.

"Yeah?" Bobby listened, eyes getting wider and he turned and looked in the living room where Dean was holding his brother.

"You told him what! John don't call here drunk ever again. You can't expect Dean to do one half of what you're wanting." Bobby listened. "John you just messed him up again. How can he heal if you keep doing this crap? Forget Thanksgiving. The boy won't be ready to see you."

Bobby hung up the phone and tried to think of what to do. A thought came to mind. He walked into the living room.

"Dean, Sammy, we are going out. I thought that maybe some putt putt golf and a cheeseburger and pie would be a good way to start the day. We'll pick up some movies and popcorn and snacks for this afternoon. Let's go."

Castiel saw a small tremor of a smile on Dean's face. The angel closed his eyes and disappeared. John Winchester came down with a virulent case of influenza. The angel was satisfied. Now to help Dean recover.

Chapter Text

Bobby took the boys to the local miniature golf course and taught Dean how to play while Sam hit the ball everywhere with his club. Bobby was grateful they were the only ones playing. By the time they were through with the eighteen holes, Dean was laughing at Sam and seemed to be having a good time.

They drove to a local diner and Dean had a cheeseburger, French fries, a coke, and slice of peach pie. Sam had a hot dog and French fries, milk, and an ice cream cone. Sam would ask lots of questions and Dean answered every one of them. The youngest Winchester was showing a lot of intelligence for his age. The older showed great patience.

Bobby always wondered why the older boy was so hesitant to ask questions. The best he'd heard from Dean was the boy touching something and a soft what would be asked. He felt there was something, but he did not want to approach that at this time. There were so many major problems for a child not yet six.

After lunch, they drove to the local video store where Bobby purchased three new movies for his collection. He bought "The Karate Kid", "The NeverEnding Story", and "The Last Starfighter." He looked at some new horror stories but thought better of it. No nightmares that were unnecessary.

The three headed home and Sam fell asleep during the first movie. Dean enjoyed all three, eyes open wide, and very intent on what occurred in each story.

After the last movie, Bobby carried Sam upstairs with a sleepy Dean behind him. After both boys were in the bed, Bobby pulled up the rocker and sat by the them.

Dean reached out a hand and sighed when he touched it.

"It didn't get Sammy, Unca Bobby. I carried Sammy outta the house. It didn't get him. I protect Sammy. I didn't know it was today."

"Your Dad is not a very nice drunk, Son. He's not dealing with this very well. I'm sorry you had to hear that. You're a good son. He has yet to realize that, but I do. Your Mama would want you to be brave. You do what you need to do."

Dean hugged the man, "Thank you, Unca Bobby."

Soon the boy was asleep on his stomach, one arm around his stuffed dog and the other around his brother.

Bobby sighed, moved the rocker back where it belonged and headed downstairs to his bedroom. Castiel watched him leave and turned and looked down at the two boys.

"So Bobby agrees with Father, little one. You are the good son, and You are an amazing charge."

Chapter Text

A week before Thanksgiving, Bobby got off the phone with Ellen Harvelle, making plans for the holiday. William and Ellen were coming to spend a few days. William wanted Ellen to rest because she was four months pregnant.

The hunter stood at the foot of the stairs and called Dean's name. The older boy appeared at the top of the stairs. Bobby smiled and told him to get himself and his brother ready.

The two boys were downstairs when Bobby came out of his room. He smiled and waved towards the door. Dean grabbed Sammy's hand and headed out to the car.

Once both boys were strapped in, Bobby started the car and pulled out of the salvage yard and headed towards town. They pulled into the shopping center and parked close to the local super market.

He put Sam in the child's seat of the buggy. Dean walked beside him.

"We're gonna have company for a few days. You'll like them. Bill and Ellen Harvelle. She's expecting a baby."

"Did they ask for a boy or a girl?" Dean queried.

"I don't know, Dean. You can ask her when she gets here."

Bobby bought food for the holiday and the weekend. He turned down the meat aisle. Dean was looking over the edges of the refrigerated sections, eyes big. He watched Bobby put different kinds of meat in the buggy. When the hunter put a large turkey in with the rest, Dean frowned. He stood on his toes and touched the big bird and asked, "What?"

"It's a turkey, Son?"

"I don't eat turkey."

Curious, Bobby asked the boy, "Why not?"

"Cause it tried to kill me."

"What?"

"Dad shot one and another came after me. I won't eat it."

After the groceries were bought, Bobby put the perishables in a large ice chest in the trunk and drove over to the diner. They went inside. He ordered Sam's usual and two turkey dinners.

"I won't eat it, Unca Bobby. It's meat. It tried to kill me."

The waitress brought the meals.

"Are you telling me you don't eat meat, Dean?" Bobby asked, knowing the boy had no idea what constituted 'meat'.

"No, I don't."

"Okay. I'll get you a salad."

"I wanna cheeseburger."

"A cheeseburger is meat, Dean. It's dead cow."

"Really?" the boy asked.

"Yep. Cow."

Dean thought about it for a few minutes, than picked up his fork and took a bite of the turkey. Bobby was right. The boy would not give up his cheeseburgers.

Chapter Text

The Harvelles arrived the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. Sam was playing with a toy in the living room and Dean was sitting at the coffee table making cards.

Bobby was plotting times for everything that had to be cooked when the dogs started barking. Dean ran to the window and looked outside.

"It's a truck, Unca Bobby. There's a man and a woman getting out. He's got a big box. She has a suitcase."

"Let them in, Dean."

The boy ran to the door and had it open before either Harvelle could knock.

Ellen entered first, followed by Bill. She knelt down and ran her fingers through Dean's hair.

"You have to be, Dean. I know all about you, young man. I am going to make several pies while I'm here. By the way, I'm Ellen. You just call me that."

Bill smiled at the boy and said hi to him. Dean just stared for a moment and followed the woman into the kitchen. Sam followed him. Bill set the large box on the table.

Ellen gave the older man a big hug. She turned to make sure the box was where she needed it and she spotted Sam.

Kneeling down, she looked at the younger Winchester.

"Well hello there. You have to be Sammy. I have that right, Dean? His name is Sammy. Not Sam."

The green eyes widened and Dean nodded, still speechless. Bobby and Bill grinned and left Ellen with the boys.

Sammy reached up and hugged Ellen saying, "Mommy."

Dean turned pale and closed his eyes. The angel who had been watching felt the pain go through his charge. He had not realized he could actually feel the boy's emotions. He usually just read his face.

"I wish I was your Mommy, Sammy, but I'm not. I'll be glad to stand in for her when you boys need one, though." Looking over at Dean, Ellen's eyes watered. She leaned over and pulled the older boy into her arms.

"I know, honey. Sometimes you need that touch a Mama gives. I know you miss her horribly. You gotta be a big boy for your brother, but you can still be a little boy with me. Remember that."

Dean sobbed and shook a little but he nodded and said, "Yes, ma'am."

"Ma'am isn't necessary. You can call me Ellen. Everyone does."

Dean sniffed and nodded. He noticed the small belly protruding beneath Ellen Harvelle's shirt.

"Did you order a brother or a sister?"

Ellen laughed, "I did not get a choice."

"I did," Dean said knowingly. "I named him Sammy."

Castiel got caught up in Ellen's laughter, but he knew that Dean believed he would get a brother. Father planned just that. The angel dared anyone to say Dean did not name the younger Winchester Sammy.

Chapter Text

Ellen and Bobby prepared for Thanksgiving the remainder of Wednesday. The group watched a movie Ellen had brought for the boys.

Thursday morning, Castiel watched the Macy's parade with Dean while Sam played with a toy. Bill watched the parade with the older Winchester, and would go into the kitchen and sneak cookies for them.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, Ellen called everyone to the table. They put Sam in a high chair. Ellen put a small amount of dressing, mashed sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, turkey, cranberry sauce, and a roll on Dean's plate. He was given a small salad in a bowl.

The green eyes stared at the lettuce and tomato in the bowl. It had blue cheese dressing on it. He took a small bite and started to spit it out.

"Don't you dare, Dean Winchester. That is bad manners. Chew it and swallow it," Ellen said forcefully.

Dean glared at her, but he swallowed the lettuce. He made a face and pushed the salad away. Bobby frowned.

"Dean, you need the fresh vegetables."

"It tastes bad."

Castiel could see a monumental argument starting and winced.

Also seeing an argument fixing to start, Ellen got up from the table. She returned a few minutes later with a hamburger bun. Bobby, Bill, Castiel, and Dean watched as she put a plate in front of the boy. Opening the bun, she removed the turkey from his dinner plate and set it on the bun

"This is the meat, and this goes on the sandwich," Ellen said as she added the lettuce and tomato from the bowl.

"Don't start, Dean. The salad dressing has cheese in it. Here, this is as close to a cheeseburger you are getting on Thanksgiving. Just remember there is still other food on your plate."

Dean looked into the woman's eyes and nodded. Castiel looked on in surprise when Dean picked up the turkey sandwich and took a bite.

Chapter Text

Bobby took the time to decorate the house for Christmas. Sammy watched all of the bright lights and ornaments being placed on the tree in the living room. His young face was gazing at everything in wonder. The hunter watched the young Winchester and smiled. He noticed the older boy standing by the window watching the snow falling.

Castiel knew Dean did not believe in Santa Claus and the child had a good enough reason. He worried that the boy would have no childhood at all, much less any memories of one.

It was Christmas Eve and Bobby followed an old family tradition and waited until the day before Christmas to decorate. He made hot cocoa and cookies and sat down with the boys to watch "Charlie Brown's Christmas."

Dean mumbled, "He's not real either."

"Who's not real, Son?"

"The baby in the manger. He's like Santa Claus."

Castiel closed his eyes in pain, 'Father? What do I do?'

'Be there. There is nothing you can do for him at this time. He will not believe for a long time. When he does, it will not last because I cannot help him with what he will need.'

'What will he need that You cannot give?'

'I cannot stop free will choices, my Son. Everyone will be making them. The angels in Heaven, the demons below, Ellen and her daughter, Bobby, Sam, Dean, and you will be making decisions. Not all of them will be good ones, but there will be incredible sacrifices and I will honor them. You will not hear from Me and you will believe that I am gone or do not care. Try to remember this.. I am seen and known through My actions not verbal responses. I love you, my Child. I love them.'

The angel turned his attention back to the man and the two boys on the couch. He hoped for a miracle. The hunter looked at the young boy sitting next to him.

"Dean, not everyone believes in Jesus or Santa Claus. They are ideals and beliefs of some people. Christmas is a celebration of a spirit of peace, love, understanding, and giving from deep within yourself. Now that should be something you can believe in."

The blond haired boy looked up at the older man and thought about what he said. He looked at his little brother and smiled.

The angel watching him found comfort in the smile. He'd hoped for a miracle and he'd found one. Dean Winchester had found something to believe in.

Chapter Text

Bobby took the boys sledding for Dean's sixth birthday. Castiel rode the sled behind the boy on every ride down the large hill. After about six times, Bobby suggested they go and get warmed up and find something to eat. Dean begged for one more time.

On his way up the hill, a young girl stopped and talked to him. Dean smiled shyly and the two walked up the hill together. When they reached the top, the girl turned to face him.

"I brought you a message. Azazel said to tell you that Sammy is not worth fighting for. He will turn his back on you, hate you, and try to kill you. Azazel asks why die for him? You will die for him?"

Castiel started to intervene but Father stopped him.

'Let Dean answer, my Son.'

"We're brothers. I don't think Sam will do that, but if he does, and if I die to save him and it will help him, I'll die for him. He is what I believe in. He's my brother."

The little girl laughed and disappeared.

Castiel realized that Dean had just set his own course.

Chapter Text

Two days after Dean's encounter with the little girl, the Impala was heard pulling into the salvage yard. Bobby cursed, but Dean remained silent.

John entered the house when his son opened the door for him. He picked up Sam and hugged him and turned to stare at the older boy. Dean saw tears in his father's eyes and frowned.

"Son," John spoke softly.

The boy watched his father intently. John turned red.

"I'm sorry I missed your birthday. I seem to do that a lot." The older Winchester looked at Bobby.

"I've come to get the boys."

Bobby scowled, "Like hell you are. The agreement was when he turns seven and he's just six."

"Well, I'm breaking the agreement. Dean and I have things we have to do. He knows it. Don't you, Dean?"

Thoughts of the yellow-eyed man and the little girl worried Dean. He looked into his father's eyes and knew he had to go.

"Unca Bobby, I love you. This is home, but I gotta go with Dad."

Castiel was fuming.

'Father!'

'It is time, Castiel, my Son. Dean knows there is a home here, but he now has to train for Sammy. I have put that need to do so in John Winchester. Dean will become the good son and the perfect soldier. You will understand one day.'

Castiel stormed out of the house. He could hear loud voices. It took an hour, but Dean carried three duffels with him. One was for Sammy. One was for him. The third held the blade Beau gave him, holy water, and salt that he took from Bobby's supply. Slowly, he was building an arsenal.

John exited the house with Sam in his arms. Bobby had not convinced the man to leave the youngest boy with him. Dean had said Sammy was his job, and both men stared at the young boy.

Castiel sobbed, 'Father, please?'

'No, my Son. Dean wants to go now. He knows that Sam is his job and he will do what is necessary to protect him.'

The angel went to his charge and looked into the green eyes and saw determination. Sam was the main concern now. Castiel shook his head. Before him was a small boy with a man's concerns on his shoulders. The angel felt defeated.

Chapter Text

Dean and Sam had been traveling with their father for four months. John spent a lot of time with the boys, renting a home, working for a while, and training Dean. Dean grew as a hunter under his father's encouragement, but shrank within himself when John would yell and curse at him.

In late May, John got news of a hunt in Texas. He quit his job, gave up the lease on the home, and packed up. Dean was surprised. He thought they were staying for the summer and he would start school in the fall.

Several days later, John pulled into Texarkana, Arkansas. The Texas hunt had turned into an Arkansas hunt near the town of Fouk. He began his investigation and found out there had been a movie made about the creature. Laughing, he turned to his son.

"I'm giving you some money. The motel is paid up for two weeks. I shouldn't be gone that long. Protect Sammy," John ordered as he laid a pearl-handled gun on the table. Dean knew he was to shoot first and ask questions later.

John was gone for four days before the small amount of money Dean was given ran out. Sam was feeling bad. His throat hurt and he had a fever. After several hours of delirium, Dean panicked. He had no money, so he walked to the local pharmacy and read labels on medicines. Watching carefully, he pocketed cough syrup, children's Tylenol, chicken soup, and Seven Up in the military back pack Bobby had given him. He managed to get out of the store and back to the motel.

Sam wasn't getting any better by morning, so the older boy called Bobby, collect.

He was told to bathe his brother in lukewarm water and give him plenty of fluids. Dean did as he was told. At three in the morning, Sam's fever finally broke. Dean stayed up and kept an on him for the next three days. He did not eat or sleep.

John finally showed up, drunk. He brought some hamburgers. Dean ate his and told him about Sam. John nodded and went to bed, telling his son to keep an eye on his brother and he would get him some medical help in the morning. Bloodshot green eyes stared at the man, but Dean obeyed.

Chapter Text

Dean spent his summer training. The boy knew how to break down and clean rifles, shotguns, sniper guns and pistols. John gave him the pearl handled pistol; one new addition to the boy's small arsenal.

They stayed in Colorado for a while as John tried to get in contact with a man named Daniel Elkins. Dean was taken on some salt and burns as John explained the necessity of salting and burning remains. The first few times the boy vomited, but slowly acclimated himself to the site of remains in a coffin.

Much of Dean's time was spent watching over his brother. It had been ingrained for long enough that Dean would let no one else watch the little boy. John would have to fight his older son to enable a babysitter to be with Sam while they did the salt and burns and the training.

In the back of Dean's mind were the yellow eyed man and the little girl. He watched his brother sleep when John was on a hunt and marveled at the thought that he might have to die to protect the sleeping child. The only deaths he had seen were his mother's and the wraith's. He winced at the thought, looked at his brother, and smiled. He believed in Sammy. It would be all right.

Chapter Text

At the time John Winchester reclaimed his sons, Father called Castiel home. The angel fought to stay with his charge, but Father told him that it was important.

Castiel spent the next six months following the little girl who had accosted Dean on the sledding hill. The child terrorized her family, disappeared for days on end, and two people were dead.

Tracking the child down took time. When the little one left, she used Enochian symbols to ward off angels. The yellow-eyed demon had warned her to do so. He finally found her and drove the demon out but he had to fight several others and soon Gabriel came to his aide. The two of them were able to vanquish the demons back to hell but could not get close enough to kill them.

Gabriel informed Castiel that he felt something bad was coming. There were problems and arguments amongst the garrisons and he had had enough. Castiel would not see him again.

The angel was heartbroken over the loss of Gabriel, but the thought of something bad coming worried him. He asked Father if his job was done and could he go back to Dean?

'Yes, my Son, but Dean has changed some. Be prepared.'

'For what, Father?'

Father gave the angel a vision of the past six months. Castiel immediately found himself in a dirty motel room where John Winchester sat cleaning guns while his two boys slept.

Chapter Text

Dean realized he was not going to school in September. When asked, his father looked guilty, but said that Dean could wait until he was seven years old. John intimated that Dean would need the added age to keep up with the students from preschool and kindergarten.

Castiel was furious. John had been pushing the boy hard all summer. Dean could break down and clean every weapon in the trunk of the Impala. He could fight with most of them if he were big enough. John began running a boot camp for the boy every other day when the man was home.

Sam was getting bigger, growing fast. John laughed about keeping the child in clothes. Dean saved change when he was given money. His little brother was smart and he was buying him books with the change. In the evenings, while John was visiting a local bar, the older boy taught his brother how to read, count to twenty, and recite the alphabet. Sam knew how to spell his name.

Tired as he was, Dean waited up for his father. He kept food for him and tried to get the man to eat. Most of the time, John would be tired. Sometimes he would be hurting. Other times, he would be angry. Dean took the brunt of the anger, making sure Sammy was safe and did not know the other side of his 'Daddy.'

Castiel watched in horror and would touch the boy and let his peace fill him. He knew Dean hurt inside, feeling everything the boy felt, but he had no idea how to help him. The angel would cry out to Father and was always told the same thing: Guard him, bring people into his life he can trust, and this has to happen to make him the man Father would need and Cas would trust with his life.

This became the time Castiel started something new. When Dean laid down beside his brother to protect him and would fall sleep, he had an angel laying down next to him and covering him with his wings.

Chapter Text

Castiel thought back over what Dean had been going through for the last six months with no one there to stand up for him. He decided to stand back and watch and see what affect the training and his father's attitude were having on the boy.

John kept everything he needed for the training in the trunk of the Impala. He would find a deserted area and put Sam in a day care for the time he and Dean would be working. A rope net would be hung from branches of trees, two ropes would be hung between two trees, and an obstacle course would be laid out.

The angel watched carefully. John would encourage the boy when he did what he was told. He yelled like a drill sergeant when Dean faltered or messed up. Soon the older boy began to excel at the trials his father ran him through.

After one workout, John ruffled Dean's hair and smile at his son. "You did good, Son."

Castiel looked at the joy in Dean Winchester's eyes and realized that somehow John had managed to earn the adulation of a six-and-a-half year old. He wanted to mourn but knew that John was really all the boy had to look up to. Bobby would be around but John was his father. At least for now. Cas followed both of the Winchesters as they loaded the gear in the Impala.

"Let's go pick up Sam and take some burgers home, Son"

"Yes, Sir," the young boy responded

'Father?' Castiel asked from the front seat of the car.

'Dean will worship John Winchester for many years, but he will need you, Castiel. Do not leave. Do not mourn. He is becoming a hero.'

The angel looked at the satisfied face on the tired little boy in the back seat. He smiled to himself and remembered the ruddy cheeks and small stature of David when he slew Goliath with a stone and a sling. The boy in the back seat reminded him of David in a way.

"So, Dean," Castiel spoke softly. "You are a hero. I wonder how many Goliaths you will face with a sling and a stone?"

Chapter Text

John received a call about a hunt on October 29th. He packed up the Impala and Dean put Sam in his car seat and buckled both his brother and himself in.

John found a motel outside of Lansing, Michigan. He left the boys and headed into the city. Dean sat in a chair, watching a movie on television, while he waited for his father. The movie was over at 1:30 a.m. in the morning.

Castiel looked at the clock and worried. John had told his son it was a simple salt and burn. The angel watched the boy double check the salt at the door and windows. He yawned, went back to the chair, and looked for something he could watch that late at night.

He heard the noise at the door and thought it was John. When the door didn't open immediately, Dean looked out a window. A man in black was picking the lock. He ran and picked his brother up and laid him on the floor with the bed between him and the door. Grabbing the pearl handled pistol, the boy ran back to the bed and slid down to the floor next to Sam.

Castiel watched and waited. The door opened and the man entered. Dean had turned off all the lights except the one by the door.

"Okay, boy. All I want is the young one and you can live," a harsh voice whispered.

Castiel could tell it was a demon. He headed towards the creature when Dean spoke up.

Cas stopped as he listened to the boy read an exorcism from his Dad's journal. He spoke it softly. The demon recognized it and left the body. The angel looked over the bed where the older brother held a cigarette lighter over the journal. He closed it and got up.

Castiel watched the boy take a lamp and bind the man on the floor with the light cord. He locked the door and noticed there was a scrape in the salt. Dean frowned at that. How had he missed it? He looked outside and the wind had picked up with a storm front coming in. The demon had counted on the wind blowing the salt.

After he re-salted the door, Dean sat on the floor near his brother, with the lights turned off until John got home.

John Winchester arrived at the motel at 4:00 a.m. He saw the man on the floor and found his sons. Dean explained what happened. John looked at Sam fearfully and packed up his family and left Lansing.

Castiel, in the front seat, looked at the older brother, asleep on the rear seat. He sighed, grateful that John Winchester had been doing such a good job turning his son into a hero.

Chapter Text

John had a hunter friend who gave him a set of keys to his cabin. The house was made of pine and was a simple place, but nicer then the motels he'd left the boys in.

He told Dean he had hunts he had to make but the two boys would be safe here. Dean looked up at his father and told him money would not help them here. John took the boys into the nearest town. He watched his oldest son buy food, clothing, linens, books, toys, and games. Dean found a rack of used VHS tapes and grabbed a couple of packs. John paid no attention to what the boy bought. Dean wasn't even sure.

John hugged Sam goodbye and told Dean to take care of him. He was gone. Dean watched the car leave and walked around the area outside. They were near a lake. He would have to keep a good eye on Sam. Neither of them knew how to swim.

Sammy watched his brother clean the cabin and put away the food and other items he'd bought. Hunters always added to the items in the cabin when they stayed there. Sam was reading a new book while Dean looked at the movies in the packs. One pack contained children's movies but the other had "Re-Animator," "Night of the Living Dead," "Friday the 13th," and "Nightmare on Elm Street." He looked at the covers and was pretty sure he should not have these.

After Sam went to bed that night, Dean had some popcorn and a coke and watched "Friday the 13th." He jumped at every sound he heard. He crept through the house, eyes wide, and looked out the windows. Spanish moss hanging from a tree made him nervous. He knew the cabin was salted but Jason Voorhees was not a ghost. He was real. Dean loaded a shotgun with real ammo and went to sleep with the weapon on the floor beneath the bed.

The oldest Winchester had a bad night and overslept in the morning. He was wakened by the sound of Sammy laughing. He walked into the living room. Sammy was on the floor watching "Friday the 13th" and laughing at every scene. Dean turned it off and stared at his little brother.

"Didn't it scare you, Sammy?"

"No. Not real. Blood not like that."

"How do you know that?"

"I seen it."

"Where?"

"When you stuck the monster."

Dean stared wide-eyed at his little brother, who would have been too young to remember the nightmare of that night.

Castiel looked on in concern and remembered Azazel's comments about the second Winchester child. 'Oh Father, what are we facing with Sam?"

"Sam will be saved, my Son, but through fire.'

The angel watched the two brothers as Dean turned off the player and threw out the stack of horror movies. He put in a movie his brother could watch and went to fix breakfast.

Chapter Text

Dean and Sam were sitting in the living room of the small house John had rented for the winter. The older Winchester was out on a salt and burn and Sam was watching holiday cartoons.

The blond walked into the kitchen, trying to decide on what to have for Thanksgiving. The stores were closed. He looked in the refrigerator and saw a half package of sliced ham and some eggs. He shut the door and went to the cabinets. There was a half a loaf of bread on the counter. He looked at the can goods and saw some pudding cups, a can of pork 'n beans, and a box of oatmeal.

Castiel watched the young boy sit at the table, trying to think. The angel understood that Thanksgiving was a time to give thanks, but most Americans looked at it as a time to have family over and eat a lot of food.

Dean knew there was nothing he could do. When his dad came home, there would be no nice meal for the holiday. Maybe Dad forgot about it. At three in the afternoon there was a knock on the door. The young boy looked out the window and grinned. He ran to the door and let Bobby Singer and Rufus Turner come into the house.

Both of the boys were given hugs and the two men headed to the kitchen to cook Thanksgiving dinner. They did not buy all the regular fixings because of the lateness of the hour. A frozen turkey loaf was put in the oven. Three boxes of stuffing mix and instant mashed potatoes were set on the counter with a bag of frozen corn on the cob. Bobby placed a pecan pie out to thaw and a pumpkin pie was ready to bake when the turkey was done.

John arrived at 5:15 p.m. He smiled and thanked the men for what they had done for them. At 6:30, everyone had a plate and was seated wherever they could find a place and had dinner together. Dean found a seat on the floor by the coffee table where he could see everyone. The boy ate his meal with contentment.

Castiel, feeling Dean's emotions, knew this would be one of his fondest memories. He reached out in a hug to Father and received a special blessing. It was a day of thanksgiving and Cas was thankful.

Chapter Text

John was home for a few days in December and decided to play at being Dad for the boys. Dean stared at the new jeans, white shirt, green sweater, and tie. Sam was in red. John grinned and told Dean to get dressed and help Sam.

When they pulled into the local mall, Dean frowned. He had told Bobby he didn't believe in the story of Christmas. He had not mentioned that it included Santa.

John took both boys to the center of the mall. Sam was fascinated by the lights, the moving mannequins, and the music. They stood in line for Santa. Dean watched the beautiful young girl dressed as an elf as she got candy canes and coloring books for the children. The coloring book and candy would be nice, he thought.

Castiel watched the scene, smiling. This was something American children did every year. It was normal. Dean needed normal.

Santa picked up Sam and placed him in his lap. Sam had been looking at the candy and coloring book in the pretty elf's hands. He turned and looked at Santa, seeing the huge white beard. The younger Winchester froze stiff and began to scream.

Before John could say a word or move, Dean was on top of Santa, pulling off the beard that had frightened his brother. Santa was trying to beat Dean off. There was no help from the young elf as she was staring in shock at the scene. The beard was tied on and would not come off. Dean reached into his pocket and pulled out a pocket knife Rufus had given him for his arsenal. He cut off Santa's beard and showed it to Sam.

"It's okay, Sammy. It's fake."

John grabbed Dean's arm and placed him on the floor. Picking up Sam, he told Dean to follow him. Dean ran to the colorful bin by the Christmas tree and took two coloring books and candy canes. He turned and ran after his Dad and brother.

Castiel followed the trio outside, striving not to laugh. John put the boys into the Impala and sat in the driver's seat. Dean figured he was in big trouble when he heard a wheezing sound. John had his head laid against the steering wheel, laughing harder than Dean ever remembered hearing him laugh.

"Well, Son, you have to be the first kid to ever give Santa a shave," John said through bursts of laughter. "Did you at least get your goodies?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Great, let's go find a McDonald's. You earned it."

Castiel, sitting in the front seat, said, 'Father, with Dean, nothing is exactly normal.'

Father didn't answer. Castiel swore he heard laughter.

Chapter Text

John had placed a small Christmas tree on the coffee table. Dean stood, staring at it. He shook his head and left the room. Sammy stood and watched the lights, mouth open, eyes wide. John came into the room and sat on the couch. He had invited some friends to come on Christmas Day.

Dean had the soup and sandwich John served for supper. Sammy did not want to go to bed, but finally dozed off when his big brother laid down next to him. The older boy had tears in his eyes, remembering Christmas at Bobby's.

The boys had been asleep for several hours when all the noise broke out. Horses were neighing and a sleigh could be heard. Running down the stairs, Dean saw his Dad open the door and walk outside. He followed his father, no shoes on, into a snow storm. A large sleigh had stopped in front of the house. People in old clothes walked up to the porch and sang Christmas carols.

Dean forgot the cold as he listened to the harmonies and the words of the songs. They were beautiful. Snow started falling heavily. John looked down at his barefooted son and picked him up. The Winchesters felt a magical peace coming from the music. A golden head leaned against John's shoulder, and the older Winchester smiled in contentment, all evil forgotten.

Castiel stood with the choir, granting peace to the men, women, and children who had braved the cold to spread Father's cheer to their neighbors. He looked at the father and son and felt joy. There could still be times that Dean would remember with happiness. This was good. He thanked Father and asked that the Winchesters would have peace for Christmas.

Chapter Text

Sammy was up early and came running upstairs screaming for Dean to come see. The blond stared at his little brother and wanted to turn over and go back to sleep.

"Dean!" The younger brother shook the sleepy one and yelled, "Gets up! Sanna has been here!"

"Wha...," Dean murmured and slowly rolled out of bed.

Following the younger boy, Dean noticed the Christmas lights on the tree twinkling. There were packages on the coffee table and in the stockings John had insisted that they hang on the wall.

Sammy was looking at the presents, while his brother went towards the kitchen where a light shown and the smell of coffee and donuts wafted on the air. John, Bobby, and the Harvelles were seated at the table.

Ellen smiled and told the boy, "Merry Christmas, Dean."

The baby in her lap was making happy gurgling sounds. Dean walked over to her and looked down at the dark eyes and blond hair.

"What's his name?"

"Her name is Joanna Beth Harvelle."

"A girl?"

"Yes, Dean…a girl," Ellen smiled.

"That's a lousy present," the boy murmured and walked back into the living room to enjoy Christmas with his brother.

Chapter Text

Bobby had stayed for the duration of the holidays and he and John were watching a football game on the television. It was the fourth quarter and the game was tied between the University of Texas Longhorns and the Texas A and M Aggies.

Sammy ran into the house yelling, "Dean needs yella mobbles."

Bobby asked, "What?"

"Yello mobbles for da snowman."

John looked at the television, sighed, and got up. "Bobby, do you know what Dean did with that big bag of marbles Ellen gave him?"

"They're in a drawer in the kitchen. Only place to keep from tripping over them."

John looked in the drawer and found two large shooters that were yellow.

"Why in the hell does he want yellow marbles for a snowman? Their eyes are black as coal."

John shook his head, "I don't know, Bobby. Let's find out." The two men walked outside and saw a large snowman in the front yard. Dean had to have worked hard to get the balls of snow on top of each other.

John handed his son the two marbles. He watched Dean stand on tiptoes and reach for the face. Bobby and John exchanged glances.

"Son?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"Why are you giving the snowman yellow eyes."

"I'm gonna put salt around it and keep him away."

"Keep who away, Dean? Who has yellow eyes?"

"It was the color of the eyes of the man in Sammy's nursery. He tried to take Sam at the door of the house at Halloween."

Both men exclaimed, "What?" at the same time.

Chapter Text

John Winchester spent the remainder of New Year's Day packing. Bobby tried to convince the man to let him have the boys.

"No, Bobby. It's my job to protect Sammy. Dean seems to be failing at that."

"That boy has bent over backwards protecting his brother, John!"

"He was salting a snowman with yellow, marble eyes, Bobby."

"It proved something to that boy that he needed to see, John. The snowman melted when the salt hit it. Dean needed to know that this creature, whatever it is, can be destroyed. I think that someone or something led that boy to do that."

Castiel, standing in the corner, whispered, 'Me. It was me.'

"Well that may be, but I'm taking the boys away from here. I need to get back to hunting and training Dean."

"John, promise me you won't let your son think he's not capable of watching his brother."

"No. I'm not gonna do that, but I'm gonna drill it into him so deep, he'll never shake it off. Secrets are not a good thing, Bobby."

"You have a new clue, John."

"I should have known that two and half years ago."

Bobby walked away, muttering, "What an ass."

Castiel went looking for his charge. Dean was sitting on the bed next to a napping Sammy.

"It's okay, Sammy," he whispered. Dad doesn't understand and he doesn't know what I know. I'll keep you safe. I promise. I'd die for you, Sammy. I love you and I believe in you. I won't let the man with the yellow eyes have you."

The angel's eyes widened and he all but sobbed, 'Father!' Heaven was silent. Father knew the angel was already aware of this and what his duty was.

Chapter Text

The day after New Year's Day, John packed the boys into the Impala and hit the road. It was early morning and both boys fell back asleep in the car. For their father this was good. It meant no stops for food or other things.

Castiel sat in the front seat watching the road, turning every so often to check on the older boy. Dean slept fitfully, head against the door. He would wake with a start, check on his brother, and go back to sleep. His father never noticed.

John was heading to Texas. There was a little town spelled, 'Anahuac,' and a community south of it called Oak Island. There were problems in both communities.

By midmorning, both boys were awake and hungry. John pulled into a small store and gave Dean the money, telling him to buy breakfast and lunch for both boys. He asked for coffee for himself. Sam started yelling that he had to potty. Dean ducked his head and grinned. John cursed and got out of the car, taking the money from Dean.

The blond took his brother's hand and they went to the bathroom. Castiel followed, not liking the idea of two young boys by themselves in a strange restroom.

Everyone in the store heard the crash and screams. The manager began screaming as he ran towards the bathrooms. John beat him to the door and rushed in. The door of a stall had fallen. Sam was yelling because Dean had thrown himself on top of his brother to protect him. Castiel had slowed the door's fall to prevent injury to his charge.

John was swearing. The manager was apologizing. He thought a sign had been placed on the door. There was no sign in sight.

The food, drinks, and gasoline were free. Dean kept looking around him for something. Castiel realized the boy had noticed how the door fell. He smiled to himself, wondering what the boy would do about it. A thought occurred to the angel and the smile left his face. Would Father consider this interference or his job?

Chapter Text

After the incident in the store bathroom, John bought the food, loaded up the boys and drove until he hit Texas. He found a small town outside of Dallas and pulled into the first motel that had a vacancy sign.

The next half hour was spent examining both boys. Dean tried to tell his father that the door barely touched him when it landed. Castiel was turning shades of yellow. He watched his charge closely, wishing the child wasn't quite that smart.

John left early in the evening to visit a bar. Dean looked into his father's journal and a couple of old books the man carried in his duffel. By late evening, several traps were set beneath rugs or in the window. Castiel watched with a smile of relief on his face. Dean was hunting demons and a few other creatures, but the boy had no understanding of angels.

A layer of salt was spread on the floor around the bed the boys shared. Dean had to crawl under the bed to make sure the entire bed had a circle.

Cas watched the older boy read a warding spell out of a book.

'Father?'

'Yes, my Son?'

"He will be seven in less than three weeks. If he ever thinks angels exist, I may be in trouble. He has set a trap for everything in the books he has the materials to use.'

'It is good practice, my Son.'

'Father, he set up a ward against succubi and incubi!'

The angel heard laughter, 'That might disappoint his father, but they are not interested in him. At least, not yet.'

'What?'

Castiel heard laughter from Heaven and knew he had just been made the butt of a joke. He shook his head and watched the innocent face smiling as the last trap was set.

'Father, help us. You are going to be dangerous, Boy.'

Chapter Text

The Impala pulled into the rural town of Anahuac, Texas at 2:00 in the afternoon. The only motel was up for sale but was still renting rooms. Dean frowned at the size of the rooms. The child had been in bigger bathrooms.

John and the boys walked over to the Dairy Queen and had a fairly decent lunch. The children's menu was a good one. The boys talked quietly as John listened to the conversations. No one spoke of any evil or hauntings in the area. He was surprised by it.

Most of the conversation was about the bad weather coming in. Weather meant omens to the older Winchester. People were buying rock salt and stocking up on wood for their fireplaces and wood burning stoves. He heard talk of oil lamps, water, and extra blankets.

Interrupting a conversation, he explained they were new in town and asked about the preparations everyone was making. The Gulf coast was subtropical but every so often the area was hit with ice storms. No one was prepared for it. John realized he was not up north.

As soon as the boys had finished eating, the hunter took them back to the hotel and left them while he went to the area stores. There wasn't much choice. He had two Dollar Stores, two grocery stores, a Christian used items store, and two lumber yards. It took a while to gather up what would be needed. Realizing the boys would not be able to go outside, he bought some games and books for them.

After dropping off all of the supplies, John started driving around, visiting places, and listening.

Dean and Sam played games until it started getting darker than usual. Dean looked outside and saw rain. He turned up the heat. Castiel sat on the other bed in the room and watched. The boy fixed sandwiches for himself and his brother.

By 6 in the evening the temperature dropped to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and the rain had turned to sleet. The wind began to pick up. Castiel watched the boys dress in their winter coats, hats, and gloves and go outside. It was almost dark.

They were sliding on the ice when the Impala pulled up. John got out of the car and walked towards his sons.

"Dean! What the hell are you doing?"

"It's not snow, Dad, but ice is almost as good."

John stood there and watched boy boys sliding on the ice and falling on their butts. Their laughter rang through the air, drowned out by the wind. A large branch on a tree down the road fell with a large resounding thud and the lights in the entire area went out.

Grabbing two half frozen little boys, John entered the house. He turned on the hot water in the shower, knowing it wouldn't last long. He told both of his sons to strip and get in the hot shower to warm up.

Warm pajamas with extra warm undergarments were on the boys' bed. They dressed in these and a sweater. John set up a camp stove and made instant coffee and hot chocolate. He played Candy Land with his boys by candlelight. Castiel watched the scene with a smile, but had trouble figuring out the reason behind the game.

Chapter Text

John spent every day carefully driving ice covered roads and searching for the evil in Oak Island, Texas. He researched the back copies of the local "Anahuac Progress." It wasn't difficult. The paper only came out once a week. He smirked when he was told this.

He discovered that there was an unusual number of teenagers who had died in the small communities in the area. He couldn't imagine the county having more than 4 or 5 thousand people.

He finally found a working phone out on Interstate 10 at a convenience store. He called both Bobby and Pastor Jim with his information. He promised to call back in the evening.

Dean spent his time keeping Sammy warm and using the camp stove to heat food and hot chocolate for his brother and himself. He read to Sammy and taught him more words.

John came in and told the boys he would be gone for the evening. Dean expected him home and probably drunk, but John did not come home. Castiel could sense the fear in this charge. He realized that John had not told them he wouldn't be home. It was the not first time the hunter had done this. Dean was concerned about money in the bad weather. There was only a small convenience store and it was closed. The Dairy Queen was not open either.

Castiel left the motel and searched for the Impala. John was staying at a nice motel on the Interstate with a woman he had met at a bar. He had the name of what he was hunting and knew what he had to do, so he celebrated. The angel was furious. The boys were cold and running out of food. A hot meal from one of the food places on the freeway would have helped them.

John went after his prey the next morning, not knowing that his youngest son was sick. He came home late that evening, drunk. Dean was sitting in the only chair in the room, a look of fear on his face, when his father finally came home.

John looked at his oldest son.

"What's wrong with you?"

"Sammy's sick. We have no food, Dad. I had no money to get medicine. I couldn't find a place. Everything's closed, Dad. He's sick. Where were you last night? We needed you."

"Don't talk to me like that, Dean. Soldiers don't question their commanders."

"I'm not a soldier, I'm a boy. Sammy's sick."

John struck his oldest son with an open hand, knocking the boy to the floor.

"Go to bed!"

The older man fell across the other bed and was soon snoring.

Castiel knelt by his charge. Dean held his face. There was a look of cold anger in his eyes and the angel felt fear for the boy.

'Father?' the angel called as the oldest boy climbed into bed next to his little brother. He held Sammy close, keeping him warm with his body heat. A small sob escaped him, but he quickly smothered it.

'Yes, my Son?'

'John struck Dean!'

'It will happen again, Castiel. Dean has learned a valuable lesson.'

'What can a small child learn from this?'

'Not to trust his father. Dean will rely upon himself from now on. It will take a lot of caring from others to break his barrier.'

'Father, this cannot be right!'

'It is not, my Son, but it is part of being human and having free will.'

'I still do not understand that.'

'You will one day, and Dean will teach you. Right now, love him. He has so little of that.'

The angel climbed into the bed and placed an unfelt arm around his charge and let his warmth and peace cover the boy and his little brother.

Chapter Text

John was in Portland, Oregon, meeting with Daniel Elkins. They were taking out a vampire nest. John had been told to learn how to kill vampires from Elkins who specialized in them.

Dean and Sam were left in Montana where John had killed a wendigo. He'd given Dean a hundred dollars and had paid for the room for two weeks. The older boy did everything he could to entertain his brother in the middle of a Montana winter.

Sam was getting into everything, asking questions, and constantly wanting things Dean couldn't provide. The older boy was tired and not feeling well. He hoped he wasn't getting sick because Sammy needed him. He had no idea who he could call. Dad would be angry if he did. After Anahuac, he avoided getting his Dad angry.

Two days later, Sammy heard his brother in the bathroom. Dean was sick. His face was white with flushed cheeks and his eyes looked glazed. He would not lay down when he had a little brother to care for.

That night, the older brother had fever driven nightmares. He woke, sick and was unable to hold down liquids. He heated food for his baby brother and it would make him sick to smell it.

He finally called his Uncle Bobby.

"Hey, Dean. Happy Birthday, Son."

Dean could barely get words out. Bobby got the gist of what was happening. Calls were made. Bobby and Pastor Jim both reached the small town in Montana about the same time.

At this point, Sammy answered the door. Jim picked picked up the younger boy as the older man found the little boy's brother delirious on the bed closest to the door.

He looked up at Jim, "Hospital?"

The minister nodded. They packed up everything in the room and checked the boys out of the motel.

Chapter Text

Bobby filled out the papers in the emergency room. He gave them an insurance card he kept for the boys. He said he was their guardian and Pastor Jim confirmed it.

The two men and Sam waited in the waiting area. Forty-five minutes later a doctor called Bobby's name. Dean had pneumonia and needed to be hospitalized. The two men looked at each other. Jim nodded.

"I'm gonna get a room and I'll call and let you know where Sammy and I are. You can give them the phone number."

Bobby nodded, "I ain't leavin' the boy."

"Of course not. I'll get hold of Caleb and have him hunt down John."

"Good. I'm gonna kill him."

Chapter Text

Castiel had been in Heaven. Father had called him home, saying there would be no attack on the boys while he was gone. Cas had been nervous the entire time, but the knowledge learned about Azazel was important. Something big was planned and it involved both boys. Cas was to remain the guardian of Dean but watch Sam.

'It is time to return, my Son. The boy is ill and friends have put him in the hospital. The father is in Oregon. The boys are in Montana.'

'I can heal him, Father.'

"Not at this time, my Son. He's under good care. It is why I give the knowledge to Doctors. I do answer prayers.'

Cas looked unhappy but returned to earth quietly. He arrived in the hospital Pediatric ICU waiting room and his eyes widened in surprise. He saw Bobby Singer sitting in a corner with a large cup of coffee. There were the remains of three other cups on the end table next to his chair.

Cas entered the ICU. Dean was on oxygen to help him breathe.

'Please, Father. At least let me clear the lungs?'

There was silence. The boy looked weak. Castiel felt anger and an unknown feeling…rebellion. He touched Dean and cleared his lungs and gave the boy strength.

The angel left to find John Winchester.

Chapter Text

John was driving on a black top road at two in the morning, heading back to Montana. Caleb had not found him yet, but Castiel did.

He appeared in the front seat of the Impala and he spoke in his monotone voice.

"I would stop the car now if you wish to keep it intact."

John jumped in surprise and swerved the car off the road. He reached for his gun and it flew into the back seat.

"Damn! Demon!" the oldest Winchester said as he reached into his jacket for a flask of holy water.

Cas was not in the seat when he got the water out. He turned and looked into the back seat when his driver's side door opened and the angel dragged him out of the car.

"Who the Hell are you?"

"You have a very sick son and you left him with no adult protection," the monotone voice showed a small amount of anger and it was more frightening in the monotone than if the angel had shouted.

John stared and threw a fist at the man in front of him. The angel caught the fist in his hand and squeezed down until the human was on the ground in front of him. He reached down, grabbed John's jacket in the front, pulled him up, and stared into his eyes. The hunter never saw the first fist.

'Castiel,' came the quiet voice.

'Father?'

'You have done enough. Return to your charge.'

'Yes, Father.'

Thirty minutes later, Caleb found the Impala with the unconscious hunter lying on the ground beside it.

The angel spent the rest of the night sitting beside Dean Winchester's bed. The boy was off the oxygen.

He had not taken the time to face what he had done, but he knew he would do it again for this child.

'Was this Free Will?'

Chapter Text

Bobby was awakened by loud screams and recognized Dean's voice. He ran into the ICU towards the boy's room. A nurse tried to stop him, telling him it was not visiting hours. Bobby pushed past her.

"That's my boy screaming. You're not stopping me."

Rushing into the room, the man rushed past an angel who stood and waited to see if he had to intervene. He allowed Bobby to do so.

The hunter pushed the nurse out of the way and saw the child trying to pull out his I.V. and screaming for Sam.

"Dean! It's okay. Sam's okay. Now stop this. You were very sick. Thank God you called me before you passed out. Sammy's okay."

The tear filled green eyes stared into his and Dean leaned into the man's arms, crying.

"Uncle Bobby. I couldn't take care of him."

"He's okay, Son. We found your Father. As soon as he can, he'll be here."

Dean nodded, but held onto Bobby as if he were a lifeline.

"Now you got to stop fighting these people so you can get better. All right?"

Bobby heard a large sniff and Dean nodded. The hunter started to get up.

"Don't go, Uncle Bobby."

The nurse was on the phone with the doctor. She smiled at the child and told him that his Uncle could stay.

The older man sighed and sat in the chair. Cas sat on the foot of the bed and thanked Father that Bobby was there.

Chapter Text

Dean was moved from ICU to a room and was eating a breakfast sent up by dietary. Bobby took the time to go downstairs to eat breakfast and have another cup of coffee.

The boy was watching a cartoon on the television that was mounted on the wall. He wanted to go the motel and make sure Sam was all right, but the doctor said he had to stay one more day.

John entered the room and stared at his son. The green eyes showed surprise and a hint of fear. Both knew Dean had failed to obey his father's orders. John intended to instill that fear in his boy.

"Hey, Dean."

"Hi, Dad. I'm sorry."

"You let me down, Boy. You let Sammy down. Who let Bobby in?"

"I don't know. I was sick, Dad."

"Dean? You failed me. You failed Sam. We are in a war, boy, and soldiers can't afford to fail their commanders. I trusted you and you failed. I can't afford to keep you around if you can't do your job. I have to know Sam is okay."

"I called Bobby when I got too sick to watch him. I didn't have a phone number for you."

"I have the number where Pastor Jim is staying. I'll come get both of you tomorrow. I want to be proud of you, Boy. I can teach you how to protect Sammy, but you have do the job. You have to be a good soldier. You don't let me down. I won't let you down."

"Yes, Sir," Dean voice quavered.

Castiel sat in the chair, wishing he'd gone ahead and finished what he'd started in Oregon. He knew that, this time, Father would intervene if he did.

"Remember what I said, Son. I'll make you a warrior, but you have to have more discipline and do your job. I'll pick you both up tomorrow."

John left the room

Castiel looked at his charge and wanted to tell him to be a little boy. It would be all right, but he knew it wouldn't be. He couldn't stop it.

Chapter Text

Bobby took Dean to the motel to see Sam the next morning. John was in the room when they arrived. Dean stood still, not sure what to do. He smiled when Sam ran to him.

"John," Bobby muttered.

"Bobby. Thank you for taking care of my boys. We'll be leaving."

"Dean? You want to go through this again?" Bobby asked the boy.

Looking at his father, Dean nodded.

"Let's go," John spoke to his sons.

"Just a minute," Bobby stood in the way. Jim began to rise, but Castiel nudged him gently and the man sat back down.

"We have nothing to say, Bobby," John spoke firmly.

"Like hell, we don't. Let's take it outside," the other man countered.

John pushed past him. Jim told Dean to stay in the room and followed the two men outside, with an angel right behind him.

John turned to say something when Bobby's fist hit him directly in the face and the man fell backwards. John struggled to get up but the other hunter grabbed his jacket, pulled him halfway up and hit him again.

"If you ever treat your boys like this again, John, the next time, I'll use buckshot!"

"You can't tell me how to care for my boys!"

Bobby picked the other man up halfway again and the blow was hard.

"Dean didn't call right away because he was trying to obey you're damned orders, John!. If he had called me, we might have avoided a lot of this. He got pneumonia and called when he was delirious from a high fever. Your son was unconscious when we found him. He nearly died, John. Quit being an ass and raise him right!"

John laid there on the ground, a look of shock on his face.

"Nearly died?"

"That's right!"

Bobby and Jim left him lying on the ground in the parking lot.

Chapter Text

Dean watched through the window in surprise. His head turned when the door opened and his father did not enter with the other two men. He ran out the door before Bobby could stop him.

"Dad!" the young Winchester yelled and stopped when he started coughing. Cas started to touch him but stopped when he felt a touch from Father. He remained still and watched his charge.

John watched his son double over with the cough and managed to get up and walk to him. He knelt back down on the ground and softly touched his son on the back. Dean looked up at him, tears streaming down his face.

"I'm sorry, Son. I've been a fool. I didn't realize how sick you were. From now on, anything like this happens, and you feel you can't do the job, you call Bobby. You hear me? He'll get to you or send someone who can. I don't want to lose you."

Dean went into his father's arms and both of them cried. John pulled away and looked at his son.

"I think I'll get a room and we'll spend a couple of days here. It will give you time to get completely well. I can have some time with you and give you some lessons. That sound good?"

Dean wiped his nose on his sleeve and sniffed.

"Yes, Dad."

"Let's go see what they have."

The two walked towards the motel office.

Bobby stood at the door, watching.

"I hope that's real, Jim."

"Me, too, Bobby."

"I wish it was, but it's not," thought Castiel.

Chapter Text

The Winchesters stayed in Montana for another week. Dean's cough lingered due to the winter weather.

The next few months were spent traveling from place to place. John trained his older son more than the boy had learned before. There was no longer a weapon in the man's arsenal Dean didn't understand the use of, had fired, and could break down and clean.

On the first of May, the family stopped in the Ozarks. John had a hunt for a wendigo. Sam and Dean stayed at a cabin another hunter had loaned their father. Dean continued with his training when his father was around and planned for Sam's birthday.

Sam was asleep in the upstairs bedroom when the wendigo showed up at the cabin. Dean could hear it outside and went looking through the items his dad had left for their protection. He found the flare gun. His head turned when the front door opened. He knew he had locked it. The creature had to be strong to break a lock.

It was standing in the doorway when the flare hit it. The creature fell backwards, a loud roar escaping its lips. Sam came running into the living room. Dean dragged him back upstairs and stayed with him in the bedroom.

"Dean?"

"It's okay, Sammy. It was a bear. I hit it with something and it roared and ran away," the boy lied. "Dad will be here soon."

Sam fell asleep in his brother's arms.

John arrived two hours later. He'd tracked the creature back to the cabin and panicked when he saw it.

"He ran into the house, noting the broken lock.

"Sam! Dean!"

The man ran upstairs and heard his older son whispering to his younger brother. Opening the door, John knelt down by the boys.

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah, Dad."

"You did good, Son. I'm going to take care of the remains. You boys get some sleep."

"Yes, Sir."

John took care of the creature's burnt body. He cleaned up and went upstairs. He looked in on the boys. Sam was sound asleep but Dean was restless. John ended up sleeping with his sons.

The angel sat in a chair in the corner. He had stayed with the older boy the entire time. The creature would not have killed him. Castiel would have stepped in. It bothered the angel that a seven year old would have to do what Dean had done.

Chapter Text

John took Sam to the nearest town to buy a present for the boy. Dean stayed at the cabin. When the Impala drove away, the boy headed into the kitchen.

He looked in the pantry and found the one cookbook that was on one of the shelves. Looking through the book, he found a recipe for chocolate cake. He started looking for ingredients. There was no cocoa but there were some chocolate bars.

Taking the ingredients to the counter by the stove, the boy made his brother's cake. The cookbook did not explain what Tb or tsp meant. He did not understand fractions. The cake called for cups of flour, so Dean took down a coffee cup from one of the cabinets.

John and Sam came home an hour later to a strange smell and some softly spoken curses coming from the kitchen. Opening the door to the room, John saw Dean lifting a mess out of the stove. The boy was covered with flour and there was flour and eggs on the floor.

"What the hell happened, Dean?"

"I made Sammy a cake, Dad."

"That's nice of you, Dean," John said softly looking at his messy son and the floor that looked more like paste then hard wood.

Dean and his father cleaned up the mess. John found a can of frosting in the pantry and let his son frost the cake. After a meal of hot dogs and French fries, Dean brought out the cake.

John tried to cut the cake but the texture wasn't right. He had to scoop the cake out of the pan.

Sam made a face when he bit into it. John spit out a large piece of egg shell. Dean tried a bite and frowned.

"What did you use for measurements, son?"

Dean brought the utensils he used. John smiled softly. Nothing was measured right. He watched his son spit out two pieces of egg shell.

"Did you break the eggs, Dean?"

"Only on the floor, Dad," the boy responded.

Castiel, looking at the messy cake, smiled when John burst out laughing.

Chapter Text

The next two years saw the Winchesters traveling some, but John attempted to stay in one place for a while, at least. Dean turned nine in January of that year. He had already attended five schools. John realized it was a struggle for the boy, but he had to go where the hunting was. He wasn't leaving his boys behind.

Sam's fifth birthday arrived. John was gone, as usual. Nine-year-old Dean called his Uncle Bobby the night before and asked if he could come for the day and help him make his brother's birthday special. Bobby agreed when he realized the boys were only two hundred miles away.

The man arrived at three o'clock in the morning and found the older brother awake and waiting for him. Dean let the man sleep in the second bed and slept beside his brother.

The next morning, the hunter took the boys out for breakfast and they went to the local roller rink. Neither boy had learned to skate and Bobby enjoyed watching them as they learned. Sam caught on faster than his older brother. Dean didn't give up and finally made it around the rink without falling.

After the skating, Bobby and the boys went to a pizza parlor. After the meal, a birthday pizza was brought out and the employees sang "Happy Birthday" to Sammy.

Dean was allowed to pick out a present for his brother. He chose two books for the voracious reader. Sammy was reading on a third grade level. Bobby bought a G.I. Joe for both boys. The hunter stayed the night and watched movies with the boys. Sam went to bed early. Dean fell asleep with his head in man's lap with an angel sitting at his feet, a contented smile on his face and blue eyes, shining.

Chapter Text

Nine-year-old Dean followed his father and little brother out to the Impala. He carried their duffels. John placed them in the trunk and told his older son to get into the car.

Dean sat in the back seat, his brother's head in his lap. The younger Winchester slept the entire drive. The older boy ran his fingers through the thick head of hair, tears going down his face. He remained quiet, not wanting his father to see him crying.

The evening replayed in his young mind. His Dad was right. He had almost gotten Sammy killed. It was his fault. It had not helped that he had frozen when the monster attacked his brother. He had failed Dad and Sammy.

Dean Winchester sat up straight, a determined look on his young face.

'I'll do whatever Dad says from now on. Can't let Sammy be hurt,' the young boy's thoughts were determined. His heart ached over what his disobedience had almost cost him.

Castiel sat in the front seat, looking back at his charge. The green eyes were glistening, and the angel could see the heartache the boy was trying to contain.

'Father, John Winchester needs to comfort his son. Please, Father. Make him realize.'

'I cannot do that, my Son. A major part of Dean's personality formed tonight. He will obey whatever John Winchester tells him to do. It will be a point of contention with Sam Winchester. One day, Sam will learn of this event and he will understand this part of Dean.'

The angel saw more tears fall and thought of ways to torture the father. Surely Father would not be offended by ideas as long as they were not carried out?

Chapter Text

John pulled into Bobby's house around four a.m. Looking into his rearview mirror, he noted that his oldest boy was awake.

Opening the driver's door, the man spoke abruptly, "Get you brother, Dean."

John Winchester walked to the front door and knocked. Castiel stood behind him but kept an eye his charge. Bobby answered the door on the third knock.

"John? Is everything okay? Where are the boys?"

"They're coming," the oldest Winchester answered.

Bobby looked over the man's shoulder and saw Dean helping his brother walk across the yard. Sam was upset about being wakened. Dean was having problems with him.

"You should have picked Sam up and carried, John. Dean's having a problem."

"He can deal with it."

"What the hell has gotten into you?"

"Dean disobeyed commands and almost got his brother killed. When faced with a life and death situation on top of it, he couldn't even fire his weapon," John spoke scathingly, not seeing his son come up behind him.

Bobby saw the pain in the young boy's eyes and snapped at the Father, "You might pay attention to who's listening, John." Bobby went past the man and picked up Sam.

"Come on, Dean." The boy followed his Uncle Bobby upstairs to the room he shared with his younger brother.

Bobby put Sam on the bed and covered him. He turned to the older boy.

"What happened, Son?"

"Dad's downstairs, Uncle Bobby."

"He can damn well wait. This is more important."

The boy broke down in tears and told the older man the entire story. Bobby was not a stupid man. No one left children in a motel room in a community where children were going into comas.

"You're human, Dean. You needed a break. Your Dad should never have left you boys there. It's not your fault."

"Yes, it is, Uncle Bobby."

Bobby hugged the boy and headed downstairs.

"John!"

He found the man in the kitchen drinking a glass of whiskey.

"I'll keep the boys for now. You get the hell out of my house."

"What?"

"I'm not a fool, John Winchester. You left those boys in that town with a shtriga running loose in it. Dean tells me the thing attacked Sam and he froze. BUT, you were there almost immediately. How convenient, John."

"I don't know what you mean."

"It's really bad, John, when you use your children for bait. Get out of my house until I can calm down."

"I'll get the boys."

"No. They need a little sanity for a while. Bait? Get out!"

Bobby heard the duffels hit the porch and the Impala drive off.

Castiel, upstairs, lay beside his charge, his eyes flashing in anger. It had not occurred to him that the father would use his sons as bait.

'Father, I want to hurt him.'

'No, my son. John will never learn, but Dean needs him right now.'

The angel trembled along with the boy who sobbed quietly.

'I will find a way, John Winchester. I will.'

Chapter Text

Dean had grown exceedingly quiet after the shtriga. Bobby wracked his brain trying to come up with something to help the child. He was so angry with John. John had called that morning and talked about Dean's training. Bobby had not been very polite with the man.

School would be starting in a few weeks and Bobby wanted to give the boys a chance to have some fun. His first idea was to take them to the park outside of town. He packed a large picnic lunch and included a pie for Dean.

Bobby worked with both of the boys, teaching them how to play catch. Dean had argued that he had to practice his shooting every day. The hunter told him that fun was just as important and they were going to play ball. The boy obeyed.

Sam ran after the ball, laughing as he did. Dean watched his little brother and slowly began to relax and try catching the ball. At first, he missed, but he began to judge way the ball was thrown and managed to catch it. Bobby watched the boy's face as he calculated each throw. He loved it when Dean began teaching Sam how to do the same thing.

The three played hard for two hours. Bobby asked them if they were hungry and thirsty. Both boys nodded and told him yes. He went to the truck and grabbed a large quilt and two baskets.

The boys helped him set up the picnic area. Bobby set out a large jar of iced tea and one of lemonade. Plates, forks, glasses, and napkins were brought out. The other basket had a potato salad, corn on the cob, and fried chicken. He took out a cake and an apple pie.

Castiel leaned against a tree, enjoying the togetherness the three were having. He sighed and hoped the boys would be able to stay with Bobby. He doubted it would happen. Father seemed to think that Dean's attitude and personality stemmed from living with John. He hated the thought and was still dealing with thoughts of removing the older Winchester.

He heard Bobby laugh and looked back up and saw Dean getting his third slice of pie. He smiled, thinking Dean would run it off in very little time.

Bobby taught the boys how to play Chinese checkers. They had a portable radio playing rock and roll. Sam fell asleep with his head in Dean's lap. The older boy smiled and looked up at the hunter.

"Got to take care of him, Uncle Bobby. Dad won't find fault with me about that ever again."

Both the angel and the hunter were quiet. Neither had a response for it.

Chapter Text

After John found out about the picnic and playing ball instead of practicing, he drove to Bobby's house to get his boys. Dean sat on the front porch watching Sammy play out front. He could hear the two men arguing. A few minutes later his father opened the front door and looked outside.

"Dean, get your things. You and Sam are coming with me."

"What about school? Sammy starts Kindergarten."

"I'll have you in a school."

Dean did as his father said and loaded the car with their duffels. Sammy watched him and looked at the house.

"We leaving again, Dean?"

"Yeah, Sammy. Dad wants us with him."

"There's no home with Dad."

Dean stood still and looked at his brother.

His voice cracked with emotion as he answered his little brother, "Sammy, where ever we are, I'll see to it you have a home. I'm home, Sammy. Okay?"

"Okay," the younger brother said softly and hugged the bigger boy.

Dean closed his eyes and held on.

John walked outside, telling the boys, "Let's go."

Sam ran to the man on the porch. Dean stared after him and Bobby could see the pain in the boy's eyes. He hugged Sam and walked out to the older boy and hugged him.

"It will be okay. You have my number. I'll be there any time you need me."

Dean nodded and got into the car. This time the angel touched Bobby and gave him grace, filling the man with peace.

'I will be with him too, Bobby. I promise,' Castiel murmured softly.

Chapter Text

John headed to West Virginia on a hunt. He got a motel room that had a small kitchenette and left Dean some money for food.

"Dad, school is starting. We're gonna need supplies and stuff," the boy said.

"You'll have to make do. I have all the papers you'll need on the desk over there," their father said.

"Yes, Sir," Dean responded.

John hugged Sam and looked at his oldest.

"I expect things to go more smoothly this time, Dean."

"Yes, Sir."

The boys watched their father drive off.

The school wasn't far, so they walked. Dean led his brother to the office where they registered for school. Dean knew he was behind but he made up his mind to catch up as fast as he could.

The second day of school, the older boy received call to go to the office. Sam was sitting in the waiting area. Dean's eyes widened. The secretary told the older brother to go into the principal's office.

Dean knocked on the door and was told to come in. He entered the room and stood by the door. The man behind the desk looked up and asked him to sit down. Dean obeyed and waited.

"Dean, where's your father and mother?"

"My Mom is dead, Sir."

"I'm sorry, Dean. Where's your Dad?"

"He's working, Sir."

"Where does he work?"

"He's a mechanic. He works on fancy cars. He's a couple of towns over working on one, Sir."

"I want to believe that, Dean, but Samuel told his teacher that your Dad stays gone for days at a time. I want to see him tomorrow morning," the principal replied.

"Yes, Sir," Dean answered.

The final bell rang. Dean went to get his books and walked out of the school with Sam.

"Sammy, you got to keep your mouth shut about how we live. We got problems now."

"I'm sorry, Dean."

"I'll call Uncle Bobby for help."

Chapter Text

Bobby Singer was sitting in the school's office when Sam and Dean entered the building. He'd driven straight through. Dean paused and looked at the man. Bobby smiled and nodded at the boy. Castiel, standing behind the boy, could see the anger in the way the man sat in his chair. He left Dean and entered the office to sit with the man Dean had called for help.

The secretary motioned to Bobby to enter the inner office. The angel followed the man into the Principal's office, remembering another time when Dean had wanted to go home and watch over his brother. Now the little brother was the problem.

'Father?'

'Yes, My son.'

'Help Bobby with this situation, please? No one should have to teach a five-year-old how to lie. It is bad enough that Dean has to do so, but for Dean to have to teach it to Sam is wrong.'

'I will bless Bobby Singer in this venture, Castiel, but I will not interfere with free will and neither will you.'

'Father, will I be cast out if I continue in my course?' The angel thought back over the rebellious decisions he had made.

'I look at the heart, Castiel. Remember that. I, your Father, look at the heart.'

'Yes, Father,' the angel's voice responded in confusion.

Bobby introduced himself as the boys' uncle and explained where John was and that they worked around the country, using his salvage yard in South Dakota as a base of operations. He explained that he had joint custody of the boys and was taking them back to South Dakota. He handed the papers to the principal.

The man looked at the papers the older hunter had forged and nodded. He told his secretary to bring the boys to the office and check them out of school.

Dean walked into the office and saw Sam sitting there. He looked around for Bobby in fear. Sam smiled at him. The older boy sat next his little brother.

"Where's Uncle Bobby?"

"I dunno, Dean. The lady said we were leaving school."

"We're expelled?"

The door had opened next to the boys and Bobby touched the older boy's shoulder.

"No, Son. I'm taking you home."

The relief on the boy's face was heartbreaking.

"Let's go get your things and I'll call your Dad."

At the motel, Bobby tried the number John had given him. He left a message and loaded the boys into his car. The angel sat in the front seat and sighed in relief. The boys were going home again, but for how long?

Chapter Text

Bobby reached home by early evening. He had two exhausted boys in the back seat of his car and one frustrated angel in the front seat.

Castiel was beginning to feel the boys had become the objects of a power play between the two men. He did not blame Bobby, who only wanted normalcy for the two lads. John was another matter. The man wanted soldiers; not sons.

Caleb had dropped by and was sitting on the porch, waiting for the older hunter and the boys. He smiled and waved at everyone.

Dean remembered him and shook hands, searching the man's eyes for problems. The younger hunter was surprised by the intensity in the youngster's eyes. He realized that the oldest Winchester child had stared, read him, and made his decision about him.

The angel and the older hunter watched the interchange between the two. Castiel knew that Dean would do this. He had learned on his own. Bobby was surprised.

"Let's go in. I imagine everyone is hungry. I'll cook up something and put some coffee on," the older man said gruffly and unlocked his door.

Dean had both duffels and carried them up to the bedroom he shared with Sam. His brother and the angel followed.

Sam watched his brother check the salt lines in the window. He shook his head, not understanding the reasoning for it. Dean turned and smirked softly.

"It's just for protection, Sammy."

"From what, Dean?"

"There's bad things out there sometimes. It's better to not have to deal with them."

Sam sighed, "Okay, Dean."

Bobby called the boys to the kitchen. Dean's stomached growled. Sam laughed at the noise and both of the young Winchesters ran down the stairs.

Bobby had made cheeseburgers and set out a bag of potato chips and some milk for the boys. He and Caleb had coffee with their burgers. Dean stared at the milk and thought a minute. Cas could read him. The boy had thought about asking for a soft drink, but changed his mind. Dean was learning to pick his battles. Bobby was not a battle and the man's kitchen was not a battlefield.

After supper, the boys went up their room and each found a book to read. They laid on the bed and read until they fell asleep.

Castiel sat in the rocking chair and watched his charge. He could relax until John Winchester interfered again.

Chapter Text

Bobby was awakened by an early phone call. He looked at his clock and noted the time. It was 3:00 a.m. He walked into the kitchen and picked up his hunter phone.

A soft, weak voice queried, "Bobby?"

"John? Are you okay?"

"It wasn't what I thought. It was a demon, Bobby; a powerful one. It's gone. Protect my boys. It told me you have them. I think it's coming after them. Protect my boys."

"John are you all right? You coming here?"

"I'm hurt pretty bad. I busted my leg and there's no way I can even drive right now. Don't worry about me. It wants my boys, Bobby! Protect them!"

"Don't worry about them, John. I'll take care of them. Caleb is here."

"Thanks, Bobby. Keep me updated. You have the number here."

"I will."

The hunter hung up the phone and turned to see the oldest Winchester boy staring at him.

"Dean, are you okay?"

"How bad is my Dad?"

"He's messed up his leg, but he'll be okay," the hunter replied softly.

"What's coming, Uncle Bobby?"

"A demon, Son."

"Tell me what I need to do," the boy said quietly.

"Go get Caleb and check on your brother and make sure the room is salted at any opening."

"Yes, Sir," Dean answered as he headed upstairs to awaken Caleb.

Bobby made a pot of coffee and some hot chocolate. Caleb entered and sat at the table. Ten minutes later, Dean joined them.

The three made their plans to keep out a demon and whatever it brought with him.

Castiel, listening to the plans, looked towards the ceiling.

"Father?"

"Yes, my Son?"

"May I fight?"

"If it becomes necessary; yes."

"Thank you, Father."

The angel stood behind his charge and kept his peace surrounding the boy, helping him remain calm.

Bobby fixed breakfast and all turned as Sam entered the kitchen, yawning.

"Hey, Sammy. There's hot chocolate and Uncle Bobby's making pancakes."

The younger Winchester smiled and joined the three at the table.

The time of waiting was upon them.

Chapter Text

Caleb and Dean drove into town and stocked up on groceries and medical supplies Bobby was running low on. The two had spent a good deal on the food and added things Sam would eat. At the pharmacy, basic first aid items were purchased. While Caleb was paying for the items, Dean walked next door and entered a book store. The hunter saw him leave and frowned. He quickly put the merchandise in his truck and entered the book store.

Dean was in the children's books, looking for books for Sam and for himself. Both boys read above their age level. Caleb helped Dean find some books on animal life, oceans, and space for Sam. Dean walked over to a young adult section and chose Doyle's Holmes, and Bradbury's Mars books.

The two climbed into the truck when Dean looked at the pharmacy and saw the man who had been at the door on Halloween. He had been after Sam. Dean knew he was a demon. He gently touched Caleb and nodded towards the man.

"He's a demon."

"We're heading out, Dean. Keep an eye out for anything or anyone else who looks wrong," the hunter spoke softly.

Reaching the salvage yard, the two began to unload the truck with the help of Bobby. Sam was told to stay inside.

Bobby fixed lunch and told everyone what needed to be done. He explained about the safe room and told them to go there if the house was breached. Dean nodded and looked at Sam who was having a difficult time keeping up with the conversation.

"Sammy? You remember when I said there were bad things and we had to be careful at times?"

"Yeah, Dean. Is this one of those times?"

"Yeah, Sammy, so we do exactly what Uncle Bobby and Caleb tell us. That way we stay safe. Okay?"

"Okay, Dean," the young boy answered softly.

After lunch, the older Winchester took his brother upstairs and they both started reading the new books. Slowly the sun began to set. The two hunters kept watch.

No one knew Dean had a pistol filled with salt rounds under his pillow.

Chapter Text

The day grew dark as evening set in. Caleb came upstairs to check on the boys.

"Bobby has supper ready," he commented noticing the grip of a pistol beneath Dean's pillow.

"May I see that?"

Dean turned pale and told his brother to go on to the kitchen. He reached under the pillow and pulled out his pistol.

"Where'd you get this?"

"It was given to me. I have a large blade too," the boy spoke quietly.

"What is it loaded with?"

"Salt rounds?"

"Dean, it can't be salt rounds. I've never seen them used in a pistol. May I see the gun?"

Caleb took the pistol from the boy and looked at the rounds inside it. He smiled.

"These are iron rounds, Dean. You need a shotgun for the salt rounds. I have an extra one and I'll let you have it."

Dean sighed and thanked the man.

"I'm surprised your dad didn't teach you the difference. It's not a problem. Let's go and eat supper and I'll get the shotgun for you."

The two headed downstairs and into the kitchen.

Bobby had pork chops, baked potatoes, and a salad. Dean frowned at the salad, but ate the potatoes and the chops. Sam was enjoying the salad. The older boy grimaced at every bite his little brother took.

After dinner, Caleb and Bobby took a walk outside. The two boys watched a movie.

The boys heard a knock on the door. Dean grabbed the shotgun and looked out a window. A young woman stood on the porch and proceeded to knock again. There was no sign of the hunters.

A third knock was heard. Dean wasn't sure what to do. He looked at Sam and told him to go downstairs and go into the safe room and lock it. He had to order his little brother to make him go.

The woman called out, "Hello? Is anyone there?"

Dean swallowed hard and opened the door after checking the salt line. He looked into beautiful blue eyes and noticed dark brown hair and a wonderful smile.

"Well, hello. Is your Mother or Dad available?"

"There upstairs and can't come to the door. Can I help you?"

"You're a pretty good liar, Dean," the brunette said softly. "Why bother doing that? I know who you are."

"You're not getting my brother," Dean answered.

"What if I don't want your brother?"

"What?"

"He's not ready and neither are we, but you are in the way."

Before Dean could reply a shot rang out and the demon disappeared. Bobby and Caleb ran into the house. The older hunter grabbed the boy and shook him.

"Are you crazy? You don't stand there and talk to a demon, Boy! You shoot them! What did she want?"

"She told me I was in the way," the boy spoke softly.

Both men turned and stared in surprise.

Chapter Text

"In the way?" Bobby asked.

At this moment, Castiel appeared. The angel had been told that a demon was looking for the boys and had gone to check on it. He now knew it was a ruse to get him out of the way. He looked at Dean, and could see the boy was frightened but not willing to show it.

Dean's guardian came closer to him and stood by him, allowing his peace to flow, but this time the boy was not receiving it. Frustrated, Cas looked around the room for anything that might be hindering him.

The angel walked near the door and took a closer look at the mark that was on the frame. The demon had placed a small sigil where it would not be seen by human eyes. He frowned and peered closer. It was a curse mark; a spell. Turning towards his charge, he realized the curse was for the boy; his boy.

The angel studied the spell. It had to be carefully removed. A wrong move could harm Dean. He chanted softly and reached out and touched the mark. A flash occurred and Dean moaned and fell to the floor.

Bobby knelt down and checked the older Winchester to make sure he wasn't harmed while Caleb ran to the door frame. Castiel had moved quickly to aid his charge. He reached out and touched Dean's forehead and healed him.

Dean slowly opened his eyes and looked around him in confusion. The angel sighed in relief and kept a hand on the child's shoulder. Bobby sobbed and grabbed the boy and pulled him into his arms.

"Are you all right?" Dean nodded and looked up as Caleb knelt down.

"I can't find anything, Bobby," he said softly.

"Let's take him down to the safe room and let him rest there," the older hunter said, his voice shaking.

Dean began to protest but was over ruled by two hunters. Bobby carried him down the stairs and they put him in the room with Sam, who cried his name.

"I'm all right, Sammy," Dean whispered, as they laid him on a cot. The boy drifted off to sleep. Caleb brought some food and they left the two boys and the angel in the room. Cas sat on the floor, keeping a hand on his charge. Sam sat on the edge of the cot, a frightened look on his face.

It remained quiet as Dean slept off the effects of the spell while his two guardians watched over him.

Chapter Text

Three days passed and there were no demon signs. Bobby and Caleb discussed the situation. They called John who told them the demons would have no reason to go after Dean. He was concerned about Sam due to where his mother died. He asked that the men remove the boys from the safe room and keep an eye on the youngest.

Bobby wasn't overjoyed at the idea of not watching the older son. Dean had no reason to make up such a story. John scoffed at the older man's fears and told him that Dean wanted attention.

Bobby took the boys to town to buy some clothes they needed. What they had was too small for them. They were still out of town when the demons attacked. The truck went sliding off the road and hit a tree. Dean threw himself on top of Sam as Bobby hit the windshield. The passenger door opened and hands reached in to grab the boys.

Sam was tossed to the ground and the man dragged Dean away from the truck. The younger brother screamed his brother's name. A woman reached down and touched the boy.

"It's all right, Sam. We'll protect you. You don't need him. He'll be a hindrance in the future."

"I don't think so," came a voice that held no inflection. The woman turned and looked into the piercing blue eyes of an angel. She screamed as his hand went to her forehead and she could not evacuate the body and dropped dead.

Dean was struggling with the man who held him in a vice-like grip. The man grabbed the boy's throat and squeezed and he reached the other around his head to snap his neck. They both heard the scream and saw the woman drop, but only the demon saw the angel.

A large cloud of smoke left the man's body and Dean fell with the man landing on top of him. Sam ran towards his brother as Castiel checked the older boy. He was going to have bruises. The angel walked over to the truck and lay a hand on Bobby Singer. The man woke and looked around him. He saw the bodies and started swearing as he jumped from the truck.

"Are you two okay?"

"Yes, Uncle Bobby," Sam stuttered. Dean nodded softly, his teeth gritted to keep from showing any emotion. Castiel watched him closely.

'Father?'

'The demons will leave them alone for now, my Son. They now know which brother is being protected. This will worry them. Stay close to Dean from now on.'

'Yes, Father. Thank You for letting me protect him.'

'You are welcome, my Son. When did he become your boy?'

'My what?' Castiel stared at Dean Winchester in confusion. He thought back and realized he had called his charge 'my boy.' He was concerned that maybe he was becoming too close to him.

'Well,' thought the angel. 'He is my charge so he is my boy.'

Chapter Text

Bobby had managed to flag another vehicle down and asked the driver to let Caleb know what happened. Caleb came with a wrecker and brought everyone to the salvage yard.

Dean remained quiet, but Sam was talking. He told Bobby what the woman had told him. How she just screamed and died. The boy mentioned the other man trying to hurt Dean and how a large puff of black smoke left him as he fell on the older boy.

Bobby could get no response from the older Winchester. When they reached home, he called John. Three days later, Jim Murphy came and got Sam. The boys' Dad felt that a church would be better protection for his youngest. Everyone was surprised that he allowed Dean to stay with Singer.

Things remained quiet for some time. After six months, Pastor Jim called Bobby and told him that Sam had run away. He was heading out to find the boy, but Bobby should be on the lookout because Sam wanted Dean.

The older Winchester brother sat on the top of the stairs listening to the one-sided conversation. He soon realized that Sammy was trying to get home to him. His brother was somewhere without protection. Dean packed a backpack with a few clothes, his weapons, and pocketed the money he had saved.

After getting off the phone with Murphy, Bobby went to check on Dean and found him gone.

Panicking, the older man called Murphy and Caleb and told them that Dean must have overheard and had gone to look for his brother.

Caleb called John at his last known number and was cursed for his time. John told them to find his sons. He was in the middle of a hunt and could not go and find them. Lives were at stake.

No one knew that Dean had a protector. Castiel knew were Sam was and kept his charge going in the right direction. At times, he would lessen the distance by blurring the boy's thought processes and moving him closer to his brother. Several times, Father tried to contact him, but Cas had one thing on his mind….helping the Winchester brothers. No one realized at the time that it was the beginning of a lifelong process for the angel.

Chapter Text

Castiel was beginning to worry about Dean. His charge was not eating, barely drinking anything, and his rest was sleepless. The angel knew he would have to intervene to keep the boy alert and able to continue his travels.

Sam stayed away from the highways. He had read a book on traveling without being seen. The child figured it was the best way to get back to Dean. He had a map and was charting as he walked. Sometimes he snuck onto a truck or trailer being pulled and would hide under a tarp. He found places that were safe to sleep in.

Dean had no idea how close he was to finding his little brother. Castiel had helped him travel day after day without his knowledge. The angel knew that all those who were searching were frantic, looking closer to home and not knowing that Dean had help.

The last night, Dean tried to sleep and dozed for a few minutes. He awoke with tears streaming down his face. He stared at the stars, wishing there was someone he could believe in to pray to. He knew there was no way he would find Sam. The boy was frightened.

The angel touched his charge and made him go to sleep. He put sigils around the area to protect the boy. He left him and went to find Sam. The young boy was asleep in a thicket. Castiel gently touched him and caused him to move.

Sam was placed next to his brother. Neither knew the other was there, but the comfort of being together permeated the atmosphere surrounding the two boys; encouraged by one guardian angel.

Chapter Text

The sound of rustling in the brush around him woke Dean. He tried to sit up but felt as if he were tied down. In the sleepiness of his mind, it took a few minutes to realize that arms and legs were wrapped around him. He turned his head and saw his Sammy.

"Sam," came a soft, unbelieving whisper.

"Dean!" Sam threw himself on top of his brother, holding on for dear life.

"Where did you come from? You weren't here when I laid down," the older boy questioned.

"I don't know. I don't care. I've found you," the hazel eyes showed absolute joy.

Dean rolled over and pulled his brother into his arms.

"They're not gonna tear us away from each other again, Sammy. I won't let them. We need to get going. We got a ways to go to get home," Dean spoke in a whisper as he started putting their things together.

"Let's find a place where we can get something to eat and I'll call Uncle Bobby to come get us."

Castiel sighed and turned his mind towards Father and he winced.

'Father?'

'Castiel, you had no right to interfere in the way you did. You must return to Heaven and face your wrongs.'

'I will come, Father, but not until Bobby Singer finds the boys.'

'No, Castiel. You will come now.'

The angel ignored the command and moved Bobby Singer closer to the boys. After this act of rebellion, two angels appeared and took the renegade angel captive.

'I must not leave my charge. I will come. He has to be protected!'

The three angels disappeared and boys were alone.

Chapter Text

The boys walked for two hours before they found a restaurant. Dean ordered breakfast for the two of them and spent more time watching his little brother eat. Neither noticed the old car pull into the parking lot. They did not see Bobby Singer walk towards the door. He stood inside the restaurant looking for the boys.

Spotting Dean's face, he grimly walked toward their table. The older boy spotted him and stood, studying the older man's face. Bobby knew that the boy understood he was in trouble.

"Uncle Bobby, I found Sammy," came a stutter from older brother as the younger one jumped up and hugged the man.

"I missed you, Uncle Bobby," came a mumbled reply as Sam's face was buried against Bobby's body.

Bobby shook his head and told both boys to sit down and finish their breakfast. He motioned to the waitress and ordered ham and a short stack with a cup of coffee.

Dean stared at his plate. He looked up into the stern features of the hunter sitting next to Sam.

"I'm sorry Uncle Bobby, but I'm not sorry I looked for Sammy. I found him."

"You both coulda been kidnapped, killed or worse," came the gruff reply.

"I had to go after him, Uncle Bobby. He's my brother and it's my job to protect him."

"It's your Dad's job to protect him, Dean. It's your job to tell me things and get my help. You're a kid!"

"I've taken care of him since I was four, Uncle Bobby. I've been raising him. It's my only job. I won't stop."

Bobby Singer looked at the defiant stance of the older Winchester boy. He would have become angry if he didn't see the quivering lip and the fear and worry in the green eyes.

He took a sip of his coffee.

Sighing, he looked at both boys, "From now on, when you get an asinine idea like this, think twice and don't do it. Idjits."

Sam smiled and continued eating. Dean looked relieved and sighed.

Chapter Text

Castiel sat in a cell awaiting judgement. There were manacles around his wrists and ankles. Soon, two angels from his garrison came to take him before Father.

They quietly entered the throne room and Castiel listened to the music of the angels and Saints who stood before the rainbow throne singing. The prisoner stopped before the Judgement Seat and fell to his knees before Father.

A gentle voice called his name, 'Castiel?'

'Father?'

'Why did you ignore Me? We could have prevented all of this. Rebellion is not a worthy cause for you, my Son.'

'Father, Dean Winchester has become my cause. I have been with him for nine years. I watched him give up belief when his Mother died. He can no longer see me, but I can do much to help and comfort him,' the angel whispered.

'You need to distance yourself, my Son. It is not time for free will.'

'What do you mean by free will, Father?'

'When Dean is grown, he will teach you about it and you will follow him. I told you to keep him alive and not worry about Samuel.'

'Dean worries about him and where Dean goes, I go, Father.'

'Castiel, I am going to give you a strict warning. Keep this impersonal or I will remove you from this job and give it to someone else. Perhaps Uriel?'

'Father, I will strive to be what you want, but I will falter. I find that I cannot help but want to do more for him.'

'If you continue in this way, I will give the concern to Uriel and hand you over to Raphael for punishment. I understand your heart, Castiel. I appreciate how you want to help him, but you are becoming too human. Stop it now.'

'Yes, Father.'

God raised his hand and the manacles were gone and Castiel was in the front seat of Bobby's car as the hunter and the Winchesters drove back to South Dakota.

Castiel closed his eyes in relief when he heard Father's voice, 'I will be sending you on other cases at times, my Son. Dean has to grow up under John's care to become what he must become. You will be there but not at every moment in his life.

The angel closed his eyes in emotional pain and quickly opened them, concerned that Father would take it as a weakness and give Dean to Uriel. He shivered and sighed.

Chapter Text

Four years passed, with Castiel doing more jobs away from Dean. Sometimes, he would sneak around to check on the boy. He did not like Dean's attitude. The boy was showing some cockiness and was definitely becoming a smart ass. The angel wanted to know why.

John was training the boy more intricate parts of being a hunter. Sam was being taught the basics. When John was gone, Dean stayed close to his brother, keeping an eye on him.

The angel noted how the boy was idolizing his father. He frowned with worry, trying to focus on why. The angel sat on the ground where Dean was watching girls and smiling. Sam sat next to him, leaning against a tree in the park, with a large book in front of him.

'Why are they here instead of Bobby's? Father?'

'John Winchester believes Dean is capable of handling things now. Dean likes that his parent treats him more like an adult. '

'Why has his attitude changed?'

'He hides his hurts and fears with the sarcasm and cockiness. It is a defense mechanism. John Winchester is still drinking. He can be harsh. Words cut like knives and Dean is very sensitive. He needs his father. Home is important. Sam and John are all he has. He will take any abuse and still worship the man. I am sorry, Castiel. You cannot change this.'

The angel watched the two boys, tears unknowingly going down his face.

Chapter Text

Thanksgiving had passed quietly. Dean managed to get a chicken dinner from a nearby restaurant. John drank two bottles of whiskey. Sam stayed in his room, reading and doing homework.

Dean tried to help his Dad get to bed. The man had been crying for over thirty minutes. John's older son attempted to help him rise. Suddenly, the man shoved the teen hard. The boy landed on the coffee table and skid across it to the floor.

"Dad, you're not feeling well. You drank too much. Let me help you go to bed? Please!"

"You think you can tell me how to do things, Boy?"

"No, Sir. I'm just trying to help you get some sleep."

"I'm tired of you telling me what I ought to do. Get your gun," John growled at his son.

"What?"

"Damn it, Dean! I said get your gun!"

Dean ran to his duffel and grabbed his pistol. He was frightened but would not let his father or brother see it. Sam had run into the room.

"Go to bed, Sammy," the older boy told him. "It's not safe to be in here right now."

"Dean!"

"Go to bed, Sammy."

Sam Winchester watched his brother follow their drunken father out of the motel room. The sound of the Impala leaving the parking space made him panic.

Den sat in the passenger seat, terrified. His father drove out of town and out into the forested areas of the community.

He told Dean there had been a large number of animals dying in the area. Their throats were cut and the bodies drained of blood. John ordered his son to take the lead.

Dean had no idea what he was looking for. His father had mentioned no hunts in the area. He could hear the man stumbling behind him.

After fifteen minutes and no sign of any danger, Dean was contemplating asking his Dad to take them home. He could tell the man was losing his ability to concentrate. The man was swaying as he walked.

"Dad?" Dean heard some crashing sound behind him. He turned and saw his father in the underbrush. The man tripped and his gun went off.

Castiel had been in Canada helping a priest when Father told him to go help Dean. The angel was gone in a second.

The forest was silent after the gunshot. The angel spotted two bodies on the ground. One reeked of alcohol. The other had the smell of blood.

"Dean!"

Dean's eyes opened for a second and he stared into cerulean blue ones.

"Who?" the boy whispered.

The angel was speechless.

Chapter Text

The angel stared into the slightly glazed eyes of the young teenager laying on the ground beside him. The green eyes stared into his blues ones and a sudden glimmer of recognition passed over his face.

"Cas?"

'Father? What do I do?'

'He needs this right now. Give him strength to fight, my Son. He is badly injured. Stop the bleeding and let him believe in you.'

"Yes, Dean. I am Castiel. You remember me,' the angel replied with more of a surprised statement than a question in his voice.

"How do I know you?"

"I watched over you when you were little," Cas spoke softly as he pulled back the jacket and saw the wound. The bullet had punctured a lung. The boy was going to bleed out before another human could help him.

"Are you an angel?" Dean had surprised disbelief in his voice as he started having difficulty breathing.

'Father, I have no choice.'

'I know, Son. I am giving you free will here. He must not die and he must not remember.'

'Thank You, Father.'

"Why did you leave me?"

"You no longer believe in me, Dean," the angel spoke softly as he placed a hand on the wound.

The younger Winchester gasped and bit down on his bottom lip to stifle the scream. A light surrounded him for a small second and the pain was gone. He took a deep breath and looked up at the man in the trench coat with questions in his eyes.

He placed a finger on the boy's forehead and watch him go limp. The memories of the moment were gone.

"I never left you, Dean. You left me," Castiel said, sadly.

Chapter Text

Dean finally regained consciousness. He slowly felt himself for injuries. His jacket and shirt were sticky. He looked for his flashlight and saw blood on his hands.

Panicking, the boy looked everywhere for a wound and found none. Confusion replaced the panic he had felt. He struggled to remember what had happened.

His father was drunk and he fell. He had not had his safety on. Dean remembered hearing the shot and feeling a sharp pain. He remembered waking up in pain. Everything went blank after that.

The boy rolled over onto all fours and slowly got to his feet. He needed to get his Dad home and into bed. Dean was grateful he knew how to drive the Impala but he just had to remember how to get home.

The angel followed the boy as he slowly made his way to his father. Dean did not know that he had help getting his father up and to the car. The man stumbled and spoke incoherently.

Castiel helped Dean with the driving, nudging him on where to turn. He waited as Dean parked the car and sat in the seat with his head on the steering wheel.

"It is all right, Dean," the angel spoke softly. "You are safe."

Taking a deep breath, the boy got out of the car and went to rear door. Again, he had angelic help.

Trying to hold his father and find his key was difficult. The door suddenly opened and a frightened Sam reached to help. They dragged their father to his bedroom and put him on the bed. Dean covered him while Sam took off his boots. They walked into the living room.

Sam saw the blood.

"I'm okay, Sammy. I don't know why, but I am.

"Dean, go take a hot shower and get out of those clothes. I'll make some hot chocolate."

"Thanks, Sammy."

Dean came out of the bathroom in sweats and a t-shirt. They drank the chocolate and Dean told Sam what he remembered. It made no sense to either of them.

Cas spent the night sitting on a chair in the second bedroom, watching the two boys sleep. Sam had arms and legs all over Dean, but the older boy did not seem to mind. Cas would get up when Dean had a nightmare. He would gently touch the boy and ease the fears. Dean slept under angel care.

Chapter Text

Sam woke up to find his arms, legs, and body intertwined with his brother's. Dean had dark shadows under his eyes. The younger boy stared at his big brother with a worried frown on his brow.

Sam eased out of the bed and went into the kitchen. He put on a pot of coffee and fixed himself a bowl of cereal. John stumbled out of his room a few minutes later. His bloodshot eyes focused on his youngest son.

"That coffee I smell?"

"Yes, Sir, Dad," Sam murmured.

"Good. Where's your brother?"

"He's still sleeping."

"He's supposed to be keeping an eye on things. Get him up!"

Before Sam could move, Dean entered the kitchen. He poured John a cup of coffee and fixed himself a cup and a bowl of cereal. The three remained quiet. John kept staring at his eldest son.

"Dean."

The older boy stiffened and looked his father in the eyes.

"Sir?"

"Where's my shotgun?"

"It's in the Impala, Dad."

"I cleaned it yesterday. It was here."

"You left it in the car, Dad," Sam interspersed.

John saw Dean wince at the words. He stood up and walked out to the Impala and opened the door. The shotgun was on the front seat and there were streaks of dried blood on the driver's seat and the steering wheel.

He carried the gun into the motel room and shouted the oldest boy's name. Both boys ran into the living room. Dean pushed Sam behind him and quietly told him to go to their room and stay there. At first Sam refused, but he sensed the fear and panic in his brother and slipped out.

"What the hell happened?"

"I don't know what you are asking about, Dad," Dean said softly.

"There's blood in the car. What happened? Who got shot? The gun's been fired."

"No one's hurt, Dad."

John walked over to his son and stared into his eyes. Dean tried to back up but his father grabbed him. The boy stiffened, but stood still. He had Sammy to worry about.

"What did you do? Who did you shoot?"

"I didn't shoot anyone, Dad. You drug me out to the woods and said there was something killing animals and draining blood. That's it. You fell. The gun went off. I dragged you to the car and drove here. Sammy helped me put you to bed. I swear," Dean was trying not to let the fear reach his voice.

"You're a lying son of a bitch. Do you know that? There's blood in the car!"

Dean winced and stood still as his father's fist hit the side of his head and he went down.

The angel had gone out on a case for Father that morning, but he felt the pain Dean experienced and was back at the motel. John kicked his son and told him to get up. The boy had curled into a ball. The third kick never hit as John landed flat on his back. A severe pain went through his head and he passed out.

The angel knelt beside Dean. He ran his fingers through the short hair and whispered, "Take deep breaths and relax a moment. Let the pain ease."

The boy could not hear him but felt the peace and the comfort. He closed his eyes and one single tear went down his face. Sam came out and brought John's blanket. Dean slowly rose and they covered the man. Sam put his arms around his brother.

"You okay, Dean?"

"Yeah. It was nothing, Sammy. I've had worse."

Castiel shook his head at the lies. Dean was going to protect his family even if it killed him.

Chapter Text

John had gone on a long hunting trip. School finals were almost over. Sam was feeling antsy. Dean watched his little brother, knowing another argument with their Dad had occurred. The older boy was at a loss how to fix things between his father and brother. The fights made his stomach hurt. Sam was questioning everything. John Winchester never tolerated anyone questioning his abilities.

Two days after school was out for the summer, Sam told his brother he was going to walk to the library. Dean decided to walk with him and go to the local burger place. There was a girl working there he was interested in. The two boys parted ways at the library.

Two hours later, Dean entered the library. He searched all three floors but could not find his brother. He asked at the checkout desk. No one had seen Sam. Concerned, Dean jogged back to the house his father had rented.

"Sam!" Dean slammed the front door. "Sammy," he yelled.

Dean stood still in the house and felt the silence. Where was his brother?

The bedroom they shared was empty. He looked around. Sam's duffel and some of his clothing were gone. His brother had tried to run away before but never got very far. He knew he could wait him out or bring him home. The older boy headed to the living room and the front door.

Hours later, Dean walked towards the house and entered the front door. He stood there, feeling the emptiness. A large lump had formed in his stomach. He walked through the empty house, fear growing.

"Oh God!" he cried. "What am I gonna do?"

Chapter Text

Dean stood still for a while, eyes closed, with his hands fisted, nails biting deeply and drawing blood. The boy finally winced from the pain and his mind cleared. He only had two choices Bobby or his Dad. If he called Bobby, he might get Sam back without John knowing. Shaking his head, he knew the reality of John Winchester never knowing.

The boy walked over to the phone and called the number of the hunter John was working with. His father said very little. Has asked the pertinent questions and told Dean to be ready.

It was late when the man finally arrived. He walked into the house, stared at his older son, and walked to the phone. Dean realized the man was calling Bobby. John listened for a moment and hung up the phone.

He walked over to Dean. The boy stood and faced the man.

"I had no way of knowing he was gonna do that, Dad," he spoke quickly, a sense of panic in his voice.

John said nothing. He kept staring. The quietness made Dean's stomach hurt even more.

"Dad, we gotta find him. He could get hurt. I'm sorry, Dad."

"He ran off on your watch, Dean," the man spoke quietly.

"I know, Dad. He was going to the library."

"Where were you?"

"I went to the burger place," Dean turned pale as the thought of the girl came to mind.

He never saw the fist.

"Get up, Dean," John growled.

The boy rose to his feet and faced his punishment. He'd lost his charge and deserved what was going to happen. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth.

"You were supposed to keep an eye on him! You were chasing girls, Dean! Sam was your responsibility. Anything happens to him, I will take it out of your hide!"

"Yes, Sir!" Dean took the hits to his stomach and his face.

The angel arrived and headed towards the boy's father.

'Castiel….'

'Father? I have to stop this.'

'No. You may comfort him when it is over, but you cannot interfere this time, my Son. This memory is vital for Dean. I am sorry.'

'May I help him heal?'

'After the father is gone, but slowly. He must not think it is a miracle.'

Cas watched John Winchester beat his son, anger showing on the angel's face. If he had his way, this would be the last time the man touched the boy.

John headed for the door, leaving his son leaning against a wall, holding his stomach.

"Dad?"

"He's in Flagstaff. Bobby called around. You will stay here. I'll decide whether you get to stay with Sam or not when I get back," the hunter answered as he left the house.

Dean laid on his side on the floor and deep sobs left him. He would take anything from his dad but don't take his Sammy away. Cas could hear the whimpered cries between the deep sobs.

He laid down on the floor with the boy, and held him, slowly easing some of the pain and letting his peace fall upon him.

Chapter Text

The week that passed was the most difficult time the angel had ever passed with the teenager. Dean would not get off the floor. Finally, the need to relieve himself became urgent and the boy struggled to rise and attend to his needs.

Castiel watched over him, but had no way of making him eat. Dean crawled on his bed and huddled there. The angel stayed close, pouring out his grace and peace, slowly healing the boy.

'Father?'

'Yes, my Son.'

'His body is healing, but how do I heal his mind and spirit?'

'He will learn to hide it and go on, my Son. There is no way to remove it.'

'You can, Father.'

'Yes, but he has not come to me, Castiel. He does not believe in me. When he does, it will be during a time when I cannot help him. Not in the way he will want.'

'If we removed the father and let Bobby Singer have them, it would be better, Father.'

'Yes, it would, but it is not allowed, my Son. Remember free will.'

The angel bowed his head in confusion and sorrow, but never left his charge.

There were no calls from John Winchester. Dean was sick with worry. One week and no one called.

The boy finally slept from exhaustion and never heard the front door open.

Chapter Text

Castiel's head turned as he heard a commotion at the front door. The door closed and someone was running towards the bedrooms.

"Dean!" Sam's head peeked into the bedroom. He saw his brother sleeping, grinned, ran and jumped on the bed. Dean jumped, a look of surprise on his face.

"Sam?" He looked beyond his brother to see if his father had followed. The sound of the Impala's engine entered his clouded mind. "Where's Dad going?"

"He said he had a hunt to finish," Sam answered, staring his his brother. "What happened to you?"

Cas walked over to the bed he had deserted when the younger Winchester entered the room. Dean stared at his brother.

"He didn't need to talk to me?"

"No, Dean. He said you knew what he wanted."

"Oh," was all the older brother said.

Sam punched his brother's shoulder. "What happened to you?"

"I had an accident. I tripped and fell into something."

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, Sam. I'm always okay. Right?"

"You would have liked Flagstaff, Dean."

"I don't want to talk about it, Sammy," the older boy whispered softly.

"Okay. Can we eat? I'm starved," Sam grinned as he spoke.

"Yeah. Give me a few minutes."

Castiel, listening to the conversation thought that Sam's next walk would bring him in contact with poison ivy or poison oak. He was still contemplating John Winchester.

Dean entered the kitchen and found some can spaghetti and put the food into a pan and turned on the stove. He set a bowl for Sam, and passed out on the kitchen floor.

Sam ran into the kitchen and turned off the stove. He ran next door and got the elderly lady who lived there.

The woman knelt beside the boy and checked him. She looked up at the darker of the two.

"He's been injured. When was the last time he had a meal?"

"I…I don't know. I was in Arizona."

"Where's your Dad? I saw him drive up."

"He had to finish a job. I can get our Uncle."

"Get him. If that pasta is for you, finish heating it and eat. I'll revive this one and fix him some soup. I had no idea he was here alone all this time; and injured, too."

The woman was a retired nurse. She managed to waken Dean with unexpected help from an angel. The boy managed to rise and apologized.

"You don't owe me one. Let's get you into bed. You look exhausted. I'll bring you some soup. When was your last meal?

Dean turned red, "The afternoon Dad left to find Sam. He ran away."

"He beat you?"

"I fell."

"Of course you did. I'll make your soup."

The nurse called the number Sam gave her. She made soup and brought it to the older boy. After he ate, Sam entered the bedroom, a look of concern on his face. He had not realized that Dean was in such a bad shape. Guilt showed in his eyes.

Dean ate the soup and laid down on the bed and slept. Late in the evening, Bobby arrived. He entered the house without knocking. He stared at the nurse who returned his gaze.

Sam was reading a book in the kitchen and walked into the living room. Bobby stared at him and cut him off before the boy could speak.

"How's Dean?"

He had the first meal he has eaten in a week. I think his brother's arrival woke him from the first sleep he's had."

"Damn!"

"The boy was beaten, Mr. Singer. I am obligated to report this."

"The boys will end up in the system. Let me take them. Believe me, his Father will pay for this."

"I shouldn't, but the system isn't a good one and he's older. All right. I am going to head home, Mr. Singer. Get those boys out of here."

Bobby entered the bedroom with a quiet Sam behind him.

"Well, boy, what have you gotten into this time?"

"I fell, Uncle Bobby."

"Idjit. I'm no more stupid than the nurse. Sam, pack everything you boys have. No, Dean, stay put. You're healing well, but you look like you did a round with a prizefighter."

Within an hour, Bobby had the boys in his car. Sam rode shotgun, and Dean slept in the back seat with an angel watching over him.

Chapter Text

Bobby pulled into Singer Salvage midmorning of the next day. Sam was asleep; his head against the passenger seat window. Dean was still asleep in the rear seat. Stopping the car, the hunter sat still for a few moments. He was worried about Dean. The boy idolized his father. John Winchester was woefully misusing his son. Shaking his head, Bobby Singer muttered, "Balls," and opened the car door. Sam woke, yawning.

"Take your things up to your room, Sam. Don't forget Dean's. He's gonna need a few days to get back to his old self. I'll need you, Boy."

The younger boy murmured a response and opened the trunk to reach the duffels. Bobby leaned into the back seat. He checked Dean and spoke softly, "Dean?"

The boy moaned and tried to stretch. The hunter saw the wince on the young man's face. The green eyes opened and stared into the older man's face.

"Bobby?" Castiel watched his charge carefully.

"It's okay, Dean. You're home. I'm gonna kick his ass. That's if I don't put a bullet through his head."

Dean gasped as he sat up and leaned into the man's arms. Bobby held him close.

"Let's get you inside and feed you something. I bet you're hungry."

"Yes, Sir."

Dean leaned heavily on the older man as the two walked towards the house.

"Uncle Bobby?"

"Yeah, Dean?"

"Thanks for coming after me."

"You're my boy, Dean. There's no way on this earth I would have left you there."

The angel was the only one who heard the softly whispered, "Thank God," followed by a slight sob.

Chapter Text

Two days had passed. Dean spent his time fishing. Sam lived among Bobby's books. There had been no word from John. The older hunter knew the injured boy was worried there was no communication. Sooner or later he would have to tell the boy his father had not been called. Bobby felt that Dean needed time to heal.

After dinner, Dean washed the dishes. The hunter drank a cup of coffee and watched the boy.

"Dean?"

Bobby watched the young man's shoulders stiffen. He shook his head and sighed.

"Come sit down, Son."

"I need to get these dishes done."

"They'll wait, Boy."

The young Winchester sat at the table across from the older man. The bruises were healing and had turned to shades of green and yellow. The cuts were almost gone. He sat quietly at the table, hands clutching each other, and his head bowed.

"I've decided not to give you two back to your father."

The head came up with a look of surprise on his face.

"You can't do that, Sir. Dad needs us!"

"Dean, your brother keeps running away. He beat the shit out of you! He left you injured for a week and never entered house to check on you when he brought your brother back. If he needs you he's not showing it. You could have died, boy."

"I can't do that to him, Uncle Bobby. I can't. He's taught me everything I know. He wants me to hunt with him after school."

"Tell me, Dean. How is school?"

The head bowed again, and the boy didn't answer.

"Did you pass?"

"I missed too much school. I had to spend my time taking care of things while Dad's gone. Sammy has got to have good grades. I couldn't do all that and find time to study. I'm hunting some with Dad now. Not all the time, but short hunts."

"You like hunting."

"Yeah, I think I do. The kids at school aren't seeing real life like I am. This is important."

"So is school, Dean. You don't realize now, but you'll regret it later. I promise you."

"Dad said we were gonna stay where we were so I could catch up and finish school."

"Well, you can't go back there now."

Dean rose and turned back to the sink to finish the dishes.

"He'll figure something out," the boy spoke calmly as picked up a fork and began to wash it.

Bobby got up in frustration and left the room. Castiel, sitting at the table watched the boy in surprise. This was not the boy who whispered, "thank God" and sobbed softly. He shook his head, knowing that John had his hooks in deep. Dean would do whatever his father wanted.

Chapter Text

A week after Bobby's conversation with Dean, the telephone rang. Bobby was outside, working on a car and Sam was upstairs reading a book. Dean had come in to get the hunter a beer and he picked up the phone.

"Singer's Salvage."

"Dean?"

"Dad?"

"Sammy there with you?"

"Yes, Sir. Where are you?"

"I just got cursed at by a retired nurse. What the hell did you and Bobby tell her?"

"I told everyone I fell, Dad. I didn't say anything to anyone."

Castiel could hear the conversation. He put an urgency in Bobby to check on the boy.

"I'm coming to get both of you and we'll discuss this more when I get there."

"Yes, Sir," the boy answered.

"Give me the phone, Dean," Bobby took the phone from the boy's hands. Dean tried to reach for it, but was stopped when the older man gave him a look that made him hesitate.

"John," Bobby spoke in anger.

"Bobby, you had no right to take my boys."

"John, the nurse was ready to report you. I saved your boys. You didn't even check on Dean after you beat the crap out of him for not reading Sam's mind. You set foot on my property, you'll regret it."

"I'm coming after my boys and we'll let them choose where they want to stay."

"I'll fill you full of buckshot," the older hunter threatened.

"You can try," John stated as the phone went dead.

Bobby turned and looked at the hope in the green eyes. He shook his head, knowing Dean would go with his Dad; and Sam would follow his brother.

Castiel wanted to curse, knowing Father would be highly upset if he did. 'I can't stop him. Father, I can't stop him.'

Father did not respond, knowing that Castiel had reached a major threshold on understanding Free Will.

Chapter Text

John left the home he had rented for the boys and went to the Impala. The man was cursing under his breath. He didn't see the elderly woman step out into the street and face him. Her arms were crossed and she frowned.

"Damn," the hunter swore. He stood with his hand on the roof of his car. "Lady, I don't have time to deal with you any longer. I have to get my boys."

"You aren't going anywhere, Mr. Winchester," the woman murmured as she smiled at something behind him. John turned and faced the car that pulled up behind the Impala.

"A deputy sheriff stepped out of the car and walked towards him.

"Mr. Winchester?"

"That's right."

"You are under arrest, Sir, for child abuse and neglect."

John smiled, "Do you see any children, Officer"

"We have witnesses, Sir"

The hunter turned to get into his car when he heard the sound of a gun being pulled from a holster.

"On the ground! Now!"

John cursed under his breath as he felt the cuffs.

Castiel leaned against the Impala, a small smile on his solemn face.

'Castiel?'

'I am buying time, Father. It is Free Will.'

The angel heard no more. He returned to South Dakota and his charge.

Chapter Text

Two days later, a car pulled into Singer's Salvage. A middle-aged woman stepped out of the vehicle and walked towards the porch. Sam looked up from a book he was reading.

"You must be Sam Winchester," the woman asked softly. She smiled at the young man.

"Yes, Ma'am," the younger Winchester responded.

"I am Ms. Wilkerson. I am from Child Protective Services."

Sam jumped up, "Let me get my brother and Uncle Bobby." He ran into the house, leaving the visitor on the porch.

A few minutes passed and Bobby opened the door.

"Ms. Wilkerson?"

"Mr. Singer?"

"Yes, Ma'am. Come inside," the hunter stood aside to allow the woman to enter his home. He grimaced as she passed him.

Dean sat on the couch, staring at the woman who had the power to destroy his life.

For the next hour, Ms. Wilkerson questioned both of the boys. Dean was adamant about falling. He claimed that Sam had run away and their father did not know about his accident.

Bobby watched the and listened. His main thought was where had Dean gotten so fluent at using a smooth tongue and expressions to maneuver a woman. It frightened the man. The boy was sixteen.

After another half hour, the woman stood. "I believe the boy, Mr. Singer. Mr. Winchester will serve some time for abuse."

"He didn't abuse me!"

"Dean, your father left the two of you in that house. He did not bother to check on you. He will receive six months and counseling. Mr. Singer, we have seen how you care for them. I will leave them in your charge."

"Thank you, Ma'am."

Castiel wanted to jump up and down, but felt it was beneath an angel's dignity. He did bring his fist down and murmur a happy 'YES!'

Father shook His head and smiled. No great harm was done to the boys at this time. He would let it happen as the angel had arranged.

The older boy stared in shock at the door after the CPS representative left the house.

"We get to stay for six months," Sam squealed.

Dean shook his head, "Dad's gonna kill me." He walked back into the kitchen and sat at the table to finish the sandwich he had been eating.

Chapter Text

Dean found a part-time job in town doing yard work for a businesswoman. He mowed, trimmed the hedges, and weeded the gardens. He was paid one hundred dollars a week to keep her yard looking as it should.

He had cleaned out the swimming pool the day before and was weeding the vegetable garden kept in a fenced in area beyond the back yard. The back door opened and the screen door slammed shut. Dean looked over the hedge that hid the garden from the remaining yard. Mrs. Summers, the businesswoman, was home early.

The teenager started to return to the job at hand when Mrs. Summers removed the white robe she was wearing. Dean froze. The woman wore a skimpy white bikini. The young hunter was seldom around scantily clad women. He swallowed hard and tried to remember the job he was supposed to be doing.

Dean worked diligently for the next fifteen minutes. It grew quiet in the back yard and he felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck. He knew he was being watched. Suddenly, he turned and looked up into the brightest blue eyes he'd ever seen. Mrs. Summers stood near the hedge and studied him. Her eyes scanned the jeans he wore, the sleeveless t-shirt under the unbuttoned plaid shirt, and the sweat and grime that covered his skin.

"You look like you could use a swim, Dean," the silky voice commented.

Dean swallowed hard. "I don't have a swimsuit, Mrs. Summers."

"You don't need one. You wouldn't be wearing it very long any way."

Dean's eyes widened and he was afraid to stand up. He knew he had a boner. He saw her eyes drift down towards his crotch and she smiled.

"Come swim with me, Dean, and I'll take care of that."

The younger Winchester smiled and said, "Yes, Ma'am."

Dean got paid for a full day's work.

Chapter Text

It didn't take Bobby very long to see a difference in the older Winchester boy. Dean lost some of his shyness and had developed a confidence alien to him.

Bobby drove over to the Summers' house one afternoon and saw his boy and Mrs. Summers frolicking in the swimming pool. It wasn't difficult to see what was happening. The hunter shook his head and sat in his car trying to decide what he should do.

Dean was sixteen. What was happening constituted statutory rape in South Dakota. Mrs. Summers could end up in jail. He hated for that to happen to the woman, but Dean was sixteen. It kept going through his mind. John would be upset by it, wouldn't he? Knowing John, he might also be proud of the boy and just give him warnings.

Bobby drove home and waited for Dean. Sam was at the movies. He told him he would pick him up when the feature was over. The older man sat in the kitchen and drank a beer. The front door open and the teenager walked towards the stairs.

"Dean! Would you come into the kitchen?"

The boy entered and stood at the door. "Hey, Bobby."

"Sit down, Dean. We need to talk."

Dean hesitated but finally sat at the table.

"How long have you and Mrs. Summers been having sex in her swimming pool?"

"I'm gardening, Uncle Bobby."

"Like hell you are, Boy. I stood by the gate and watched you learn a few new maneuvers in the swimming pool, and I know you didn't learn those at a swimming hole."

Dean's face turned bright red.

"She's not hurting me."

"I doubt any of that hurt physically, Son. I'm trying to decide whether or not to have her arrested. You are definitely quitting the job."

"You can't do that! Dad's not here and you're not my dad!"

"You know, I could let that hurt me if I thought you meant it. You're grounded to the property. Give me the keys to the car."

Dean stood up, reached into his pocket, and handed the man the keys and walked upstairs to his room.

Bobby rose from his chair and called Mrs. Summers. His conversation was blunt. He suggested she get a gardener over the age of twenty-one and made sure she had no more contact with Dean.

Castiel, returning from a job for Father, arrived in the boy's bedroom. He could tell that Dean was upset, but had no idea what was going on. He went downstairs and heard the one sided discussion between Bobby and his charge's tutor. The angel turned white and looked at the ceiling.

'Dean?'

Chapter Text

John's appeal was heard two weeks after Dean was grounded. Jails were crowded and the judge looked carefully at the man's case. John was not found guilty of physical abuse, thanks to his son's adamant insistence that he had fallen. The charge was leaving two boys alone while he worked out of town. One of the two was sixteen years of age. Shaking his head, the judge tossed the case and freed John.

Child Protective Services called Bobby to notify him. The man was almost purple with rage. He knew that John would press the issue and demand the return of his sons. At this point, only Sam wanted to remain. Bobby knew that the younger Winchester might want to stay but would follow his older brother.

Castiel sat at the table, his mind in a quandary. Dean should not be with John, but Father wanted the boy to be with his dad. Father believed John was an important part of his charge's background and personality. Dean would be who he was due to his father.

Bobby kept a shotgun filled with buckshot. He wanted to use it on John, but it would most likely kill the man. The hunter didn't want to risk that in front of the boys. Rock salt would hurt the man, but not bad enough in the hunter's opinion. He went to his ammo closet and searched through boxes and cases of shells, settling on birdshot.

The angel watched Bobby load his shotgun with the birdshot and smiled. Dean would be angry, but it would be enjoyable to watch John Winchester find someone with tweezers pick the pellets out of his rear. 'Yes,' he thought. 'Very enjoyable.'

Chapter Text

Two days later, Sam answered the phone and heard his Dad's voice.

"Hi, Sammy," the oldest Winchester spoke softly with a smile in his voice.

"Dad! Where are you?"

"I'm about an hour away. You and Dean have your things on the porch. Bobby really doesn't want me there, so we'll make a quick getaway."

"Okay, Dad. I'll let Dean know."

"Don't bother Bobby with this. Okay, Son?"

"Okay, Dad."

Sam ran outside, looking for his brother. Dean was helping Bobby work on a truck. He was good with his hands and was a quick learner. The hunter was grateful for the boy's help.

Bobby looked up as Sam walked up to the truck. The boy stood and quietly watched the two as they began to put the transmission back under the vehicle. Dean finally looked up at his brother. The quiet was deafening. He frowned as he noticed the boy grimacing and nodding at him.

"Bobby, I'm gonna head to the house and use the bathroom. I'll be back in a few."

"Why don't you go ahead and clean up, Son. The worse is done. I only have to tighten a few bolts," the man suggested.

Dean responded with an "Okay" and walked back to the house.

Sam told him about the phone call. Dean nodded and asked him to pack their stuff while he showered.

Bobby was in the shower when the boys took their things to the porch and came back into the house. Both boys were glad he was bathing when they saw the Impala. Dean was nervous as he walked onto the porch.

John got out of the car and looked around. He nodded at his sons.

Sam grinned and said, "He's in the shower, Dad."

"Good," John told his boys. "Put your things in the car."

The two picked up their duffels and walked towards their father. Castiel was frantic and nudged Bobby as the man tied his shoes. The hunter walked into the living room and looked out the window. Cursing under his breath, he grabbed the shotgun and ran out the door into the yard.

John froze. "Boys, put your things in the car, now." Dean turned and saw Bobby aim the shotgun. The boy ran towards the older man and grabbed at his arm, trying to pull him off center and lose his aim.

"Damn it, boy, let me go," Bobby yelled.

Castiel intervened and Dean fell, yelling, "Run, Dad!"

John saw the shotgun aimed at him and turned and ran towards the Impala.

One blast was heard, followed quickly by a deafening scream.

Chapter Text

Sam stood in shock as his father hit the ground, cursing like a sailor. Dean got up off the ground. He stared at his Dad, than turned towards Bobby.

"You shot him? Why did you shoot him? I wanted to go with him."

"Dean, your Dad beat the crap out of you and left you alone for a week. I could have gone and gotten Sam. Any hunter would have done it. Sam, did your Dad beat you?"

The younger Winchester turned his head towards Bobby. He shook his head 'no' and looked at his brother.

"Dean, did he beat you?"

"No, Sam. I fell."

"Cut the crap, Son. I saw you a week later. The nurse and I both knew you were lying. She kept quiet to keep you two out of foster homes, but your Dad pissed her off so bad she called him in. You need to realize you don't deserve what he does to you."

"He's my Dad, Bobby. He's doing the best he can. I messed up….Big Time. I earned what I got."

"Dean! You and Sam get in the car. Now!"

The older boy stared at his father and the older hunter. He trembled slightly. Castiel walked towards him and put his arms around his charge, knowing Dean wouldn't feel it. The angel prayed that Father would at least let some of his grace and peace flow into the boy.

"I'm sorry, Bobby. We gotta go. Dad needs us."

"Dean, don't let him hurt you again. You call me if you need me, Boy."

"I'll be fine, Bobby. Come on, Sam."

Bobby walked over to the man lying on the ground. He nudged him with his foot.

"Get up, John. It's just bird shot. The pellets can be pulled out with tweezers. Might take a while, but it will give you some notion of what it's like to have someone you know and trust hurt you. Maybe you'll see your son through different eyes next time."

"You won't see them again, Bobby."

"I figure I will. You can't behave yourself long enough to protect them and they will need me."

"Dean's old enough to not need help and babying any longer."

"You're a fool, John. You'll lose him one of these days."

John smiled, "I don't think so. He's trained better than most."

"You should be proud of him, John. He's a good kid."

"He does make me proud at times."

John gingerly got into the car and grimaced.

Dean looked back at Bobby, an excited expression on his face.

"He's proud of me, Bobby. I need to take care of him. Let's go, Sam."

The younger boy stared at all three men. He knew something wasn't right, but he wasn't sure what it was.

Castiel sat in the back seat with Sam. Dean rode shotgun.

Bobby watched the Impala leave the salvage yard. He was worried about both boys, but Dean was the main concern. John didn't beat Sam.

Chapter Text

John drove out of the salvage yard. His son watched him as the man pulled out on the highway. John was grimacing and biting his lower lip. Dean was concerned.

"Dad, we need to get a motel room and let me take care of you," the boy urged.

"I'm gonna drive awhile," John answered.

"You need to let me take a look at you and get those pellets out. You're not gonna feel any better until we do, Dad."

"I said I'm gonna drive. I'm sure as hell not going to let you anywhere near my ass," the older man responded sarcastically.

Dean was surprised by his Dad's remarks. He couldn't think of any reason why his Father would be afraid of him.

Castiel, sitting in the back seat with Sam, smiled. He wanted John Winchester to beware of his son. His charge ought to hate his father, not worship him. If the older man was afraid of his son, maybe he would back off and let the boy be a boy.

Fifty miles out of town, Dean saw a motel.

"Dad? Can we stop for the night? There's a store next to the place. I can pick up what's not in the first aid kit."

Swearing, violently, John pulled into the motel parking lot. He got out of the car, slamming the door. Dean turned pale, but got out of the car, telling Sam to help him grab the duffels. When John walked back out, the boys were waiting.

"We're in 127," he said, throwing the keys at Dean.

"Where are you going," his son asked, grabbing the keys.

"I'll get what's needed, some food, and some whiskey."

"Dad, you don't need the whiskey," Dean said softly.

"You're not touching my ass unless I'm drunk," John yelled at his son as he pulled out of the parking lot.

Castiel laughed, looking towards Heaven in hopes that Father was not offended.

Chapter Text

Three hours later, John had not returned. Dean had almost called Bobby, but knew the trouble it would bring on. John Winchester was angry enough to report the older hunter.

Sam mumbled about no food and dug through the duffels in hopes of finding something. Dean shook his head, knowing his brother would find nothing. John didn't always eat if he had alcohol.

"Hey, Dean!" an excited voice interrupted the older boy's thoughts.

"Yeah, Sammy," the teen answered.

"Dad left his emergency wallet in his duffel," the boy replied eagerly.

Dean moved from the window and knelt down by his father's duffel. The wallet had over one hundred dollars in it. The older boy looked into his brother's eyes.

"Let's walk over to the Kettle and eat supper. I'll bring something home for Dad. He's out drinking somewhere, Sammy."

"Okay!" Sam was hungry. Dean smiled and walked over to the table and picked up the keys.

The two boys ate a large meal and Dean ordered a steak, baked potato, salad, pie, and a coffee for his Dad. The older boy paid for the meal.

It was getting dark when they walked back to the motel. Dean and was laughing at something his younger brother was saying. He looked up and stopped, the smile leaving his face. Sam followed his brother's gaze. The Impala was parked in front of their room.

"We didn't do anything wrong, did we Dean"

The taller brother looked down at the younger one. He forced a small smile on his face.

"No, we didn't, Sammy. Dad didn't come back. We had to eat. You're a growing boy."

Sam nodded in relief and the two walked to their room. John was half asleep in the car. Dean had the keys. The boy bit his bottom lip and opened the door to their room. He set the food on the table and turned to go wake his Dad when the door burst open.

"Where the hell have you been? I come back with everything and you sneak out and take your brother with you!"

"Dad….Sam?"

"Where were you"

"Sam was hungry. We walked over to the restaurant," Dean's voice shook slightly.

"You had no money," John asserted.

"You had your emergency wallet in your duffel," Dean whispered.

"You stole my money?"

"Dad, that's our money. You didn't come back. How was I to know if you were going to?"

"You little bastard! You don't talk to me that way and you don't steal from me," John shouted as he stumbled towards his oldest son.

Dean panicked, "Dad, you gonna start something in front of Sam?"

John stopped, looked at the fear on the face of his youngest boy.

"I got you food and then I can take care of the wounds, Dad?"

"I'm not hungry," the man slurred.

"Dad, you can't do this on a stomach full of alcohol and no food. You're gonna end up puking your guts out."

John's bloodshot eyes stared into this son's. He nodded and moved towards the table. Dean released a deep breath.

Castiel had been ready to take on the drunken man, knowing he'd be recalled and both boys would have seen him. He shook his head and sat across from the man, giving him a glaring look.

Dean sat on one bed and watched his brother move away from the table and give him a questioning stare. He shook head and motioned for Sam to sit next him. The boy obeyed for a change.

Chapter Text

John ate a large portion of his meal but refused to drink the beverage Dean had supplied. He pulled out a bottle of whiskey and drank it with the meal. When he tried to rise from the table, the man stumbled. Dean jumped up and grabbed an arm. Sam began to help, but his brother hissed at him to sit on the bed and stay there.

It took the teenager some time to undress the man on the bed. John was in a drunken stupor. The boy removed his shoes and long sleeve shirt. He left his father's t-shirt on the man, but undid the belt and pulled both the jeans and the boxers off. The socks remained.

Dean grabbed the med kit and the extra items John had purchased. He found the forceps and began to pull the pellets out of his Father's rear end. John moaned at times, but the alcohol had more than done its job. The boy removed twenty-three pellets from his Father. He looked up and noticed that Sam had cleaned up after their Dad's meal and was laying on his side on the other bed.

The older boy cleaned up and got ready for bed. He climbed in next to his younger brother and turned to face his back.

"Thanks, Sammy," Dean whispered quietly.

"I'm sorry, Dean," Sam spoke softly.

"For what?"

"Dad was mean to you. I'm sorry," Sam choked on the tears.

"Sammy, I'm a warrior. Dad's training me. Commanding officers are always mean to soldiers. That's how we learn everything and don't forget what we're trained to do. I'm all right," Dean comforted his brother.

Sam sniffed, dozed off, and the older boy lay there beside him and thought about what he had said.

Castiel made sure that John Winchester had alcohol-induced dreams the entire night. The angel's favorite was for John to be running through a nightmarish forest chased by large birds with shotguns filled with 'people' shot. The angel sat quietly, a strange smile on his face.

Chapter Text

Dean woke early and checked on his Father. John did not bleed through the bandages. The boy winced, thinking how painful it would be to sit with all the holes in his butt. He dressed and left the room. Walking towards the restaurant, the teen plotted out breakfast.

John Winchester woke at the sound of the door clicking shut. He sat up quickly and hissed. His head pounded and he found sitting to be almost impossible. The hunter eased out of bed and checked on the boys. Dean was gone.

"Sam, get up, Son," he spoke quietly. The younger boy moaned and yawned. He sat up when he saw his father.

"Where's your brother?"

"I don't know, Dad. He slept beside me, and I didn't hear him get up."

John walked over to the cooler that had been brought in and looked inside. All of the beer was gone. His face turned red.

"Where the hell is the beer, Sam"

"Dean tossed it, Dad."

"He what?"

Sam eased off the bed and grabbed some clothes. He inched past his father and went into the bathroom. John grabbed a pillow and sat on one of the chairs by the table.

Sam slipped out of the bathroom and grabbed a book. He sat on the bed he shared with Dean and read.

Castiel was with his charge. He'd seen the boy empty beer bottles and frowned. John Winchester would not look kindly on any reason for taking away the alcohol.

Dean went into the restaurant and bought three large breakfasts, two coffees, and a milk. Heading back to the motel, the boy looked around him. There was a park down the street. He wished he could take Sam there to toss a ball around.

The angel noticed his charge looking longingly towards the cleared area down the street. It had a pavilion, children's equipment and lots of open space. He knew Dean was turning into a great hunter, but the boy still longed for the times Bobby took them out to play.

He'd have to find a way to meet the needs the young man was expressing in his thoughts. After all, John's butt had to hurt. The angel smiled as he thought, 'Even if it didn't.'

Chapter Text

Dean entered the motel room he shared with his Dad and brother, Sam. The younger boy looked up from his book, a scared look on his face. The older boy stopped and stared at him. He followed his brother's gaze to the cooler and swallowed hard.

"Dean?"

"Yes, Sir," the boy answered quickly.

"Where the hell did you go?"

"I bought breakfast, Sir," John's older son responded as he brought the food to the table. "Sam, come eat before it gets cold. " Dean set out the meals and handed his Dad a cup of coffee.

"What I wanted was a beer, Dean," John said, harshly. "They are all gone."

"Yes, Sir," Dean's voice shook slightly.

"You got rid of them?"

"Yeah, Dad, I didn't think you needed to be drinking so much when you're driving."

"Since when do I tell you to think?"

"Every day we hunt, Dad."

"Are we hunting?"

"No, Sir."

"Well, you're not your brother. Never decide what I should or should not do or have. You understand me, Boy?"

"Yes, Sir," the teen answered softly.

"What did you say?"

"I said, Yes, Sir," Dean spoke loudly.

John slapped his face, "Don't yell at me, Boy!"

"I didn't yell, Sir. You said you couldn't hear me!"

Dean ducked the second slap. John stood up quickly, his chair turning over as he rose. Sam jumped up and ran between the two older Winchesters.

"You leave my brother alone!"

John turned to slap his younger son, when Dean grabbed his arm. The man turned and raised his fist.

"You can hit me, Dad, but you just threatened, Sammy. You hit me. You don't touch him. I'll turn you in and I'll take him and run. You'll never find us."

The hunter backed off, turned, got dressed, and left the house. In a few minutes, the boys heard the Impala's engine.

"What do we do now, Dean?"

"He'll be back. He doesn't want me calling Uncle Bobby. Let's eat breakfast. We'll split his."

Castiel, watching the scene, added more pain to John's injuries and put the memory of the park in the older boy's mind.

"There's a store down the street, Sammy. I think we'll buy a ball and go to the park for a while."

Chapter Text

The boys finished the breakfasts and walked to the local store where Dean purchased a ball and two gloves, knowing John would be angry over the purchase.

The Winchesters spent the day at the park. Dean taught Sam everything Bobby had taught him. They laughed, ran after stray balls, and acted like two normal boys. Neither boy thought about John.

Castiel sat at a picnic table and watched his charge and the younger boy. He smiled at the laughter, enjoying the free day as much as the two young people.

Sam started to get hungry and Dean looked up at the sky. It was late afternoon.

"Let's go get lunch, Sammy," he said as he grabbed the gloves and the ball. The two Winchesters walked back towards the restaurant. Sam had a soup and sandwich, while Dean had a large cheeseburger, fries and a coke. It had been a good day and both were happy with how it had turned out.

After sitting and talking for a long time, Dean paid for the meal and they headed back to the motel. The boys were laughing and having a great time when they turned towards the section that housed their room. Both stood still and stared at the Impala. John was leaning against it, staring at them.

Chapter Text

John Winchester did not move. Instead, the boys' father stayed where he was and waited on his sons.

Dean sighed and looked down at his little brother and saw the hesitation in the boy's eyes. Sam did not want to go further. A sad smile crossed the older Winchester boy's face.

"It's okay, Sammy. He's not gonna hurt you," the teen spoke softly, placing an arm around his brother's shoulder, feeling how tense the boy was.

Sam nodded and the two walked towards their father. John remained quiet as the boys approached the car. He looked at the ball and gloves.

"You played ball?"

Before Dean could respond, Sam piped up, "It's a good way to practice hand and eye coordination, Dad. You had the car. We had nothing else to practice with."

Both of the older Winchesters stared at the youngest. John grunted and opened the car door.

"Get in. Your stuff's already in the trunk. We have a hunt in Alabama."

Dean didn't realize he was holding his breath. He released the air and whispered, "Thanks, Sammy." The younger boy smiled up at him and Dean realized just how much he loved and needed the boy. Sam was his only constant. He took another deep breath and both climbed into the Impala.

Castiel was relieved and marveled at the younger Winchester's ingenuity. The angel smiled and thought that Dean might just have the companion he needed when John got out of his life.

Father smiled sadly, knowing what the future held.

Chapter Text

John made a decision to spend time with his sons. Using one of his credit cards, the hunter bought a tremendous amount of fireworks for Independence Day. He planned to take them out to the country, have a picnic and shoot off the fireworks.

Sam and Dean were surprised, but thought it would be a fun family time; something they never really had with their Father. Both boys went to bed early, excited about the day ahead.

Dean heard the phone ring in the middle of the night. Slipping out of the bed he shared with his brother, the older boy stood in the doorway and listened to his Dad plan a hunt for the next day. Sighing, he walked into the room and got his Father's weapons and began to clean them, knowing the man would not be there in the morning for them to take care of it.

John got off the phone and looked at his oldest son. He grunted and smiled at the boy. Dean was the perfect soldier. He didn't think the boy would ever equal his younger brother, but he obeyed every order and could be trusted to do what he was told.

The oldest Winchester walked into his bedroom and packed. He came back into the living room and looked at the teen finishing the breakdown and cleaning of his rifle. He nodded and sat down.

"I'm gonna be gone for a couple of weeks, Dean," he commented. You two stay here and keep out of trouble. Stay away from the fireworks. We'll find another time to use them. Who knows. They might actually be usable in a hunt."

Dean forced a smile and answered, "Yes, Sir."

John grabbed his weapons and duffel and headed for the door. He turned and looked at his oldest son."

"Tell Sam goodbye for me. Keep an eye on him. I don't want to have to punish you if anything happens."

Dean winced and answered again, "Yes, Sir. Nothing will happen. I won't let it."

John grunted in reply, headed out the door to the Impala, and drove away, leaving one unhappy teenager behind him.

Chapter Text

Castiel arrived around eight in the morning of July 4, from a mission for Father. Dean had dozed off on the couch and Sam was still sleeping. He saw the large box of fireworks and looked for John. The older Winchester was nowhere in sight.

Sam walked into the room, yawning.

"We need to wake up Dad, Dean," he said, excitedly.

Dean woke suddenly and looked up at his little brother. It was at that moment, he made a decision he knew would get him in trouble. He got his duffel out of the bedroom and emptied it. Sam watched as his brother packed the fireworks into the bag.

"Dean?"

"Dad left on a two week hunting last night. We're gonna celebrate Independence Day on our own, Sammy."

"How are we gonna get out into the country?"

"There's an old abandoned car at the gas station at the end of town. We're gonna hot-wire it."

"Dean, we'll get arrested!"

"Not if no one's using it. It's been sitting there. The owner wants to sell it. I talked to him about it two days ago. He's not open today. It's a holiday. The pumps are open for credit cards, Sam. We're gonna have our holiday. We'll stop and get some fried chicken. One of the convenience stores is gonna be open. They have a deli. I'm not letting you down."

Castiel stood in shock as he listened to Dean's idea. He wanted to stop him but felt a nudge from Father to let him go.

'Father, he never disobeys John Winchester.'

'It is time, my Child. Dean has never rebelled.'

'He will be punished.'

"But this time, he will have earned it.'

'How is that good, Father?'

"Dean will learn that everything you do has a repercussion. He needs to learn this. Now is a good time for him to learn. Protect him from the law, Castiel. It is not time for him to deal with them.'

'Yes, Father,' the angel answered in a confused voice.

Castiel followed the boys as they walked through town and stopped to buy chicken. Sam placed it in his backpack. They reached the closed gas station and Dean hot-wired the old car. Using a credit card, the teen filled the car. They backed out of the station and headed out of town.

All Castiel could think of was 'Grand Theft Auto.' as he sat in the backseat of the car.

Chapter Text

The boys found a lovely field surrounded by trees. They pulled the 'borrowed' car off the road and set up a blanket and laid out the food they had brought. Dean got out the ball and gloves and the two young Winchesters had a fine day playing catch and eating a lot of greasy chicken.

As the day grew late, Dean put the blanket in the car and set out the fireworks. Both boys sat on the hood of the old vehicle and watched the stars come out. When it grew dark, the older boy grabbed his flashlight and made sure he had a lighter.

The next hour was one of rare joy for John Winchester's sons. They shot off bottle rockets, Saturn missiles, Roman candles and many other loud and colorful fireworks. Halfway into the second hour, a fire started in the hay field next to the land the boys were on. Dean grabbed the blanket and ran to the fire, trying to put it out. There had been no rain and the hay was dry. The fire spread like wild fire.

"Sammy, grab everything and throw in the back seat! We gotta make sure we leave nothing behind!" Dean ran towards his brother and searched the grounds. Everything went into the back seat of the car.

When the parked the car at the old gas station, both boys ducked as fire trucks sped past them, followed by police vehicles.

The two Winchesters hid behind the building until everything returned from their picnic ground. They sat on old tires and talked quietly.

"Dean, Dad's gonna kill us."

"No, Sammy. Me.. maybe, but not you. You're okay."

Chapter Text

Dean spent the next two weeks worrying about John's return. The boy knew his Dad was going to be angry, and he deserved whatever the man decided for punishment. He winced when it crossed his mind.

Sam was nervous and quiet. His big brother felt guilty for being the cause of the boy's fears. The younger boy didn't understand that Dean was the one who would take the punishment. John would be angry, but Sammy would be safe. Dean would protect him. He always would.

Castiel watched the older brother with concern. Dean was not eating and sleep was difficult for the boy. No one should be that afraid of their parent. The angel was angry, but was not sure what he would be allowed to do. It was his job to guard and protect the older boy. He wanted to do his job and do it well.

Late one evening, the sound of the Impala's engine could be heard and both boys stared at the door. John Winchester entered the house. The older boy rose to his feet when he smelled the alcohol. Their Father had been drinking heavily.

Dean walked towards his brother and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Go to bed, Sam," the teen told the boy, softly.

The younger boy looked up at the brother and shook his head, "No," he responded.

Dean looked down into his brother's eyes. "I said go to bed, Sammy. I can't take care of both of us right now. You gotta go. Please, Sammy."

There was a tremor in the older boy's voice and the younger one recognized the fear in it. He looked at their Dad and remembered how his brother had looked after Flagstaff. Sam turned and walked towards their bedroom.

Castiel stood in the corner of the room and watched. He had made a decision.

Dean went to his father. "Here, Dad, let me help you. Have you eaten?"

"Where are the fireworks, Dean?"

"We shot them off, Dad. You had a hunt, so Sammy and I celebrated the Fourth of July alone."

"I didn't tell you to shoot those off. How'd you get out of town."

"I hot-wired a car, Dad. We drove out of town."

"Did you cause that damn fire? It ruined a man's entire hay crop. You boys could've been in bad trouble. I would not have been able to get you out of it."

Dean looked at the blood shot eyes and could hear the whiskey talking through his Father's drunken voice.

"I'm sorry, Dad. I won't disobey you again. I promise," the boy spoke respectfully.

The older Winchester slapped the boy, leaving a large red welt on the left cheekbone. Dean stepped back, regaining his balance.

"I can't trust you do anything right. I'm so damn tired of cleaning up your messes, Boy!"

"What messes?"

John's fist came up but never moved any further. An unseen hand grasped the fist and squeezed. The older man screamed and went to his knees. Dean's eyes opened wide as he watched his Father writhe on the floor.

"Dad?"

Neither Winchester saw the angel as he squeezed on the man's fist.

Castiel finally let go and whispered into the older Winchester's ear, "Never lay a hand on the boy again. The next time, I will break something."

In his drunken state, John heard the whisper but wasn't sure it was real. The pain in his fist was real, and that was enough.

Chapter Text

Dean woke the next morning, alone. He jumped out of bed, looking for his brother. When John Winchester was drunk enough to hit, he was drunk enough to still be drunk in the morning. The older Winchester boy did not want his little brother crossing John's path when he wasn't normal.

Going through the motel suite, Dean finally found Sam eating a bowl of cereal and watching TV. His eyes searched the area, remembering the night before and the unseen attack on their father.

"Morning, Sam," the older boy whispered quietly.

"Good morning, Dean," Sam spoke around a mouth full of cereal and milk.

"You see or hear anything unusual?" he older boy

"Like what?"

"I don't know. Something grabbed Dad last night. I couldn't see anything."

Sam set his bowl on the coffee table, "Really? I missed it?"

"It's not funny, Sammy. Dad wouldn't let me look at his hand."

"It hurt his hand? Why his hand?" Sam saw the bruise forming on his brother's cheek. Dean had such pale skin and bruises formed easily."

The other boy turned his head.

"You can't lie this time, Dean. He hit you? How many times?"

"Just once. I had it coming, Sammy."

"No, Dean, you didn't have him hitting you coming," the younger brother tried to make his elder listen to reason. "If he kicked your ass, I could see that, but he hit you in the face. Good parents don't do that, Dean. Dad's got problems."

"He misses Mom. He loved her so much, Sam. He drinks to forget the pain. I get in the way too much."

"No Dean, you take care of him and he doesn't deserve it."

"You and Dad are all I got, Man."

"That shouldn't include getting beat up. Next time, I'm calling Bobby and the police and I'll turn him in."

Castiel, sitting on a chair, smiled and hoped the hand was either badly sprained or broken.

Chapter Text

Dean just stared at his brother after the comments Sam had made regarding John, Bobby and the law. He shook his head, ruffled his brother's hair, and went to get some breakfast. He put on a pot of coffee for John. Sometimes it helped.

John walked out of his bedroom, holding his arm against his chest. Sam stared at him, but remained quiet.

"Morning, Sammy," the man said softly.

"Morning, Dad," the younger boy replied.

Dean almost dropped his bowl of cereal as he turned quickly to make sure his Dad did nothing to hurt his brother.

Turning towards the kitchen and facing his oldest son, John stopped and stared at the bruise on the boy's face. He winced, knowing people would ask about him.

"It's okay, Dad. I got into a fight with a couple of boys in town. There won't be any problems."

"Damn it, Dean!" Sam yelled.

The boys' Dad turned on his youngest, "You be quiet and stay out of this, Sammy!"

"I'm not stupid, Dad! You can't keep treating Dean like this! He's a kid, Dad! You don't beat your kids!"

John turned towards his youngest and began to push him. He was stopped by his oldest. Dean grabbed his Father and yelled at his brother to go to their room and stay there.

The older Winchester faced the teen, "You keep your damned hands off me, boy! Don't interfere with Sam and me!"

"Dad," Dean spoke softly. "You have a bad hand right now. How are you gonna take me on? Let me fix the hand for you."

"You think I can't take you on, boy? I can kick your damn teeth down your throat," the man roared.

"Something attacked you last night. It wasn't me. I don't know what's going on, but maybe you ought to calm down. You're still drunk from yesterday."

Castiel stood up and walked over to stand behind the boy. 'Father, I am sorry, but I will not let him do it again.' There was no sound from Heaven.

John Winchester stared into his son's eyes and turned towards his room. Dean watched the door close behind him and released the breath he was holding. He shook and sat down on the couch.

Sam came back out and fixed his brother some of the cereal.

"You need to eat," the younger boy told his big brother.

Both boys sat on the couch and watched a movie on the television.

Chapter Text

Dean heard their father moving around in his room and told his brother to pack their things and load them in the car. The teen knocked on his dad's door and heard a murmur. He opened the door and entered.

"Dad, we're loading up. I figured you'd want to leave as soon as you were ready."

John stared at his son and nodded.

"Can I make you some coffee or a bowl of cereal?"

John shook his head and finished dressing. Dean left the room, confused at his father's attitude. Castiel stared at the man and wondered what he was up to.

John walked out of his room and found his son waiting with the med kit. His eyebrows raised and he sat down at the table and let Dean check the hand. It was badly bruised, but there were no breaks. His son wrapped the hand and made a sling for him.

"I don't need the sling. I have to drive."

"I can drive, Dad."

Two pairs of eyes stared each other down.

Thirty minutes later, Dean pulled out of the parking lot of the motel. John rode shotgun. Sam and Castiel sat in the back seat. The angel had a smug look on his face.

Chapter Text

The Winchesters were in North Dakota, hunting a wendigo, on Dean's twenty-first birthday. The hunt had been difficult, and all three men had been injured. They reached an abandoned farm house at sunrise. Dean checked the wiring outside and managed to break the lock mechanism and find a way to get lights on. John found an old woodpile and Sam hunted for kindling. Before long, the three men had lights, water, and a fire.

John stitched some scratches on Sam's back and bandaged his son. Sam began to do the same for him. John had a gash on his side. They jumped when they heard a gun go off twice.

"Check on your brother, Son," the older man told the teen.

Sam found Dean standing outside, cleaning and skinning a brace of rabbits.

"Dean?"

"Supper, Sammy. Aren't you hungry?"

"Yeah, Dean, but you're injured."

"I'll be fine. Bobby called a while ago. He's coming up here."

"Why?"

"Not quite sure."

Dean found some pots in the ancient kitchen. "There's an old garden out there, Sammy? You think something might still be growing?"

"Like what? This place is old, Dean," Sam whined a little.

"I forgot. You're hurting," Dean commented and walked outside, leaving his brother with their father, who had killed a half bottle of whiskey to kill the pain and get drunk. He walked around the gardens. The plants were over grown, but he dug around some and found two very large potatoes and one huge onion. Going to the car, he looked in the back seat for a bag from the fast food place they had stopped at the day before. He found ketchup, salt, and pepper. Going back into the house, the older brother put the cut up rabbits in a pot of water, added the ketchup, salt and pepper and put a lid on the pot.

At that moment, a dizzy spell hit him. Sam grabbed him and opened his jacket. The shirt beneath was covered in blood.

"Damn it, Dean," Sam swore as he began to stitch the nasty gash that almost ripped his brother's stomach open

Dean laid down on a sleeping bag while Sam watched the stew his brother had put on the fire.

Bobby arrived late in the afternoon and took charge. He checked the stew. The food was cooked. Checking the wounds, he noted Dean's was the worse.

After everyone ate the stew, John and Sam both laid down and slept. Dean sat up and watched Bobby check the salt lines. The older man sat down next him. He opened up his backpack and pulled out a small bottle of Irish whiskey.

Dean's green eyes stared at him in surprise, "Dad's asleep, Bobby."

"That's right, Son. Happy birthday," the old hunter spoke softly as he offered the whiskey to boy.

Dean took a small sip and coughed a little. Bobby smiled.

"First drink?"

"Of the hard stuff? Yes, Sir."

The two hunters split the bottle and Bobby tucked Dean into his sleeping bag. The hunter slept near the boy, knowing there would be a major hangover in the morning.

Castiel arrived from an errand for Father and frowned over the wounds, knowing he could have prevented them. He smelled the alcohol and realized what day it was, and felt grateful for Bobby.

Chapter Text

After Sam's seventeenth birthday, things began to get worse. Dean watched his little brother question every order their father gave him. The arguments grew louder every day. The older brother would feel his stomach knot with stress. He loved his family and could not understand why Sam had to question everything.

Dean had found a fast food place that had a sale. He bought a large bucket of chicken and a number of sides to go with it. Stopping at a convenience store, he purchased a case of beer. It would take John longer to get drunk on beer.

Castiel walked behind him, looking at his purchases. Dean found some fried pies on sale and picked up ten of them with a grin on his face. The angel smiled. His charge never lost his appetite for the pastry. He shook his head, not understanding the need to eat such things.

Dean paid for his purchases and walked towards the Impala. He smiled when he looked at the car. His father had purchased a large truck and Dean was now the proud owner of the vehicle. He was overjoyed with the gift.

Pulling up to the motel, Dean drove down to the end of the building and parked in front of the room his Dad had rented. He grabbed the food and headed towards the door. The noises coming from the room were loud and profane. The older Winchester boy stood at the door, sorrow and worry on his face. His stomach twisted and he turned back to the car and sat inside of it.

Dean knew his Dad would get drunk and Sam would be too angry to listen to reason. He opened the chicken and grabbed a thigh. Reaching over to the case, he grabbed a bottle. It was going to be a long night.

The angel in the back seat watched and worried.

Chapter Text

August wasn't far away, and Sam's Senior year was coming fast. Dean never finished high school, but he knew his brother had an almost perfect grade. He thought he was either a 3.9 or a 4.0. In their business, it was hard to keep up with things like grade point averages.

Dean spent a long time on the phone with Bobby, Jim, and Caleb, asking for help. The first week of August, he found a house in town. Dean spent time hunting for it while their Dad was tracking the thing that killed their Mom. The oldest boy figured it would be another dead end.

School would start in two weeks and Sam was frantic. He wanted to stay in one place and John was saying, "No."

They were at home one evening when there was a knock on the motel room door. Sam answered it and found their three closest friends.

John rose to his feet and welcomed them inside and asked why they were there. Pastor Jim told him they had come to help get the family situated in the house Dean had found.

"What house?" John snapped

"The house we have to have for Sam to finish school. It's his last year and we talked about it, Dad. You said it would be a good idea for us to stay here while you hunted. We can do salt and burns on weekends together, but it will let him finish. I was gonna get a job so he can have the things he needs for school."

"What?"

"Yeah, Dad. You even told Uncle Bobby," Dean lied smoothly.

John turned red and asked to see the house. Grinning, Dean grabbed his jacket and told everyone to come on.

Chapter Text

With everyone standing behind him, John signed a one year lease on the house. He packed and left that afternoon. Bobby, Pastor Jim, and Caleb helped find some used furniture for the place.

Dean came home that afternoon and told everyone he'd found a job at a mechanic's shop. His dad had taught him well, and the pay wasn't bad. The three men gave Dean money for groceries, school supplies, and everything the two boys would need while living on their own.

They headed out that afternoon. Dean took Sam shopping. By the end of the week, both boys had the house livable and were contented to live there without their Dad.

On Saturday, Dean came home at four in the afternoon, covered with grease. He smiled and went to take a shower. After he had cleaned up, he told Sam to come with him

"Where are we headed, Dean?"

"To a place that closes at five, so we need to hurry."

The Impala pulled up in front of a book store. Dean jumped out and said, "Come on."

"Dean?"

"Come on, Sam. You know a house isn't a home without books. There's some old bookcases in the attic. I thought we could fix them up and paint or stain them. We'd have a place for any books we buy."

"What do we do with them once Dad wants to hit the road again?"

"Leave them at Bobby's. The books here are all twenty-five cents to one dollar in range. I have thirty dollars so let's see what we can find."

The boys bought over one hundred books. They carried them out in boxes. Neither was sure what all they had bought. Dean pulled into the local lumber yard and bought a few tools, some wood glue, nails, and paint.

They spent the remainder of the day repairing three nice size book cases. One was left in the living room, and the other two went into their rooms.

By Sunday afternoon, the cases had books on them, and both boys were in their rooms, laying on their beds, reading.

Chapter Text

Sam came home from school on Friday and started dinner. Dean didn't make it home until 6:30. He was covered with grease and looked exhausted. The older boy headed straight for the bathroom and a shower.

Fifteen minutes later, Dean entered the kitchen and sat down at the table and sighed.

"Man, I'm beat, Sammy. We had an engine with a cracked block and the damned owner wouldn't believe it. I took it all the way down so he could see. Now, he's haggling price. Told my boss he doesn't want to pay top price for a kid."

Sam set a beer on the table and placed the food bowls down. He grabbed a beer and joined his brother.

"What did your boss tell him?"

Dean grinned, "He told him he could either put it back together himself or pay me the going rate."

"Well, you're good enough to get the rate, Dean."

"Thanks. How was your day at school?"

Sam blushed, "I have a date."

"All right!"

It's next Saturday night and it's the Fall Festival. Can I use the car?"

"Hell, yeah! My Sammy's growing up."

"I've had dates before."

"Not without me driving," Dean replied with a grin.

Sam smiled, feeling proud to have the use of Dean's baby.

Castiel wondered what Dean find to do without transportation.

Chapter Text

The following Friday, Dean came home from work, covered with the usual grease. He placed a takeout bag from a local Chinese restaurant on the kitchen table. He winked at his brother and headed towards the shower.

Fifteen minutes later, the older brother entered the kitchen, walked towards the refrigerator, and took out a beer. He grabbed a fork out of a cabinet drawer and sat at the table, reaching for the bag.

"What time ya leaving, Sammy?"

"In fifteen minutes, Dean."

Dean set a small bag and the Impala keys on the table. Sam looked at the bag, picked it up and opened it. Inside was a package of condoms. He looked at his brother and shook his head.

"You need protection, Sammy."

"I already have some. Dad bought them for me last year."

"Man, that's my job," Dean complained.

"You would have flunked on it, Dean."

"How?"

"These are too small,"the younger brother stated, as he took the keys and walked towards the living room and the front door.

Dean sat in the kitchen, meal forgotten, a look of shock on his face.

Chapter Text

Dean lay on his bed, reading a Sherlock Holmes mystery, when he heard a key in the front foot lock. He could hear the soft treads of his brother coming down the hall. He'd left his bedroom door open and saw the younger man try to slip past.

"Hey, Sammy," he spoke softly.

His brother exhaled sharply and stopped and turned to face him.

"Hey, Dean," Sam turned to move on.

"How'd it go tonight?"

"Fine."

"You're kinda late, aren't ya?"

Sam swallowed hard and answered the question, "Yeah. We went for a drive afterwards."

"So you went parking. Get any?"

"Dean!"

The younger brother turned red and headed off down the hall.

Dean Winchester grinned and murmured, "That's my Sammy."

Chapter Text

Dean was dressed in a shirt and tie, and waited in the Impala. Sam walked outside in a burgundy cap and gown. Dean sighed softly, turned his head, and quickly wiped a tear from his eye. A major part of their life was over.

Sam climbed into the front seat.

“You got your speech memorized?”

“Yeah, Dean. I learned it last night.”

“Valedictorian. Man, I’m proud of you.”

“I’m sorry I’m late. Dad called.”

“What time is he gonna be here?”

“He caught another hunt in Alabama. He’s half way there.”

The angel in the back seat watched his charge stiffen and worried.

“I know you wanted him here, Sammy. I’m sorry it’s just me.”

Without thinking, Sam responded, “Well, at least, Pastor Jim, Caleb, and Bobby will be here.”

Cas saw the shoulders of the driver sag down, and saw more than heard the slight sobbing sigh.

Chapter Text

John arrived two weeks after Sam's graduation. A major argument ensued. Dean walked out of the house and decided to drive through town to the post office and see if there was any mail.

Parking in the lot across the street from the building, he got out, took a deep breath, and walked across the street. Entering the large building, he turned towards help station. There was a long line. Taking another deep breath, he joined the queue.

Twenty minutes later, the older Winchester brother found himself facing an employee of the post office.

"May I help you," the elderly woman asked.

"Winchester. General Delivery," Dean responded.

The woman left the booth and walked to the back. Five minutes later, she returned with a letter and handed it to the young man. Dean took the letter, thanked the woman, and walked away. He left the building and crossed the street to his baby.

Opening the car door, Dean sat inside, and looked at the envelope. Surprisingly, it was for Sam. Dean frowned, looked at the return address, and trembled. The letter had a return address for the Stanford University Admissions Office.

"Oh god, no, Sammy," he whispered.

Chapter Text

Dean drove to the park and sat on a picnic table for hours. He knew what the letter meant. Sammy was leaving him again. He had no way to stop it.

He wanted to cry but felt numb inside. Dad was going to be furious. The fighting would get worse.

"What am I gonna do without Sammy? Who's gonna protect him?" His mind was screaming the questions his voice had softly whispered.

Castiel had been gone for several months. He arrived in time to hear Dean's voice. He looked in the car at the envelope on the dash. Stanford? The angel walked towards the young hunter and stood behind him. He gently touched him and allowed his grace to sweep over the him.

The last thing the hunter spoke frightened the angel.

"How am I gonna live without him?"

Chapter Text

Dean walked into the house and listened to the silence. He took off his jacket and headed to Sam's room. Sam looked up from the bed. Dean tossed the letter to his brother and left the room.

John was nowhere in sight, so he walked into the kitchen with the thought of making a sandwich in his mind. He placed all the fixings on the table and sat down. At that moment, John walked into the room.

“Where the hell have you been?”

“I went to the post office and sat in the park for a while.”

“You don’t go anywhere without telling me.”

“Dad, I’m twenty-two years old. I don’t need to ask to go out for a while.”

The older Winchester walked across the room and shoved the chair and Dean fell to the floor. He lay still for a moment, wondering just how bad the argument with Sam had been. Before he could move, John began to kick him. The first kick was in the diaphragm. Dean lost all the air in his lungs and rolled into a ball, gasping. His father kept kicking. One hit his kidney. Dean cried out. Sam ran into the kitchen and grabbed his Dad, pulling him away from the older son.

“You are under my roof and you will let me know where you are at all times. Do you understand me?”

Dean choked out a “Yes, Sir!”

The older man walked out of the house and they could hear his truck engine turn over.

Sam leaned down to check on his brother. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, Sam. Why wouldn’t I be?”

The younger son stared at his brother and sighed. He stood up and left the house. Dean lay there on the floor.

“What the hell am I gonna do?” he whispered.

Chapter Text

The three Winchesters hunted together through the summer. August 5th, Sam told John and Dean he was leaving for Stanford on Saturday. The fight started. Dean stepped back, his heart aching.

Castiel had been back for a while. He could feel the confusion, anger and pain his charge was feeling.

‘Father? Sam is leaving him again. This time he is not coming back.’

‘Not for quite a while, my son. Be there for him, because the father will not be a help.’

Dean heard his dad tell Sam not to come back. He started to interrupt but his father turned to him.

“Did you know about this?”

“I brought him the letter.”

John struck his older son and dragged him over to his brother.

“Take a good look, Dean. This is the last time you’ll see him. Get out, Sam.”

“Dad,” Dean interrupted.

“Shut up, Dean. Don’t ever interrupt me again.”

John walked out and did not come back that evening.

Saturday morning, Dean drove his brother to the bus station. They had not talked since Dad left them.

Sam got his ticket and checked in his duffle. Dean walked up to him and tried to show bravado. He wanted to act as if it didn’t matter, but the angel standing behind him could hear the screams in his brain.

The two brothers stood together until they called for boarding. Sam turned to leave when his big brother put a hand on his arm. The younger Winchester turned to face him.

“I have been saving to buy new wheels for Baby. I figure you need it more than she does.” Dean handed his brother one hundred and fifty dollars.

“Wish it was more, Sammy. I’ll try to stop by and see you once in a while.”

“Dean, I wish you wouldn’t. I’m going to be real busy and I’m starting a new life without hunting.”

The older brother’s eyes widened and he took a deep breath and said, “Oh.”

Dean watched his brother enter the bus and take a seat. He watched the bus leave and followed it out of the terminal. He did not move until the bus turned a corner, headed for the interstate.


Castiel could sense the pain but could not help him.

Chapter Text

Dean hung around the house for a week. He drank a lot of beer but ate very little. Bobby called to check on him and asked if John had come back. Dean sighed and told him hadn’t. The older hunter told the boy that his Dad should be there soon. He had stopped to talk with Bobby and the man told Dean that he reminded him had a son waiting on him. Dean snorted and told him okay.


Later in the day, he heard his Dad’s truck pull into the drive. The young hunter did not move.

His guardian angel appeared just as the older Winchester walked into the house.

“He leave?”

Dean looked up at his father from where he was sitting on the couch. Beer bottles were everywhere. His green eyes showed anger, but he remained quiet.

“I asked you a question, Dean.”

The young man stood up and swayed slightly. He looked at his father.

“Yeah, he took the bus.”

“Where’d he get the money?”

“I gave him all I had.”

John snorted and looked around the room. “You need to clean this mess in the morning. Bobby is going to come get all this stuff. I have a list of jobs for you to take on.”

Dean stared at the list and then back at his dad. His voice shook as he asked, “We’re not hunting together?”

“I’m going to be working a second list and you will work this one. We kill two birds with one stone.”

“So, I’m not needed because there’s no Sammy to look after?”

John stared at him, disgust in his eyes. “No, you’re not needed for my hunts. I can do them just fine. If I need someone, I’ll call you or Bobby and see who’s closest to me. You work these. Bobby will give you more when these are done.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dean replied, anger and pain in his voice.

John went to the third bedroom where he stayed when he was there. Dean watched him leave the room and sobbed softly.

Cas could feel his pain and knew his charge felt deserted and unwanted.

‘I won’t leave you, Dean,’ he spoke but he wasn’t heard. He watched the older Winchester brother go to his room and lie down on his bed, tears rolling down his face. The angel felt helpless as he laid his hand on the young man’s head and his heart cried out to Father, but there was silence.

Frustration built within the angel and Castiel, angel of Thursdays, screamed in anger and sorrow. He knelt on the bed and urged Dean to move over. The hunter curled into a ball on his side, and suddenly felt comfort flow through him as his invisible guardian curled next to him and held him in his arms.

Chapter Text

Dean hunted solo most of the time. Castiel checked in on him. Father had given the angel other charges to watch over. He always took the time to check on his favorite.

Once in a great while Dean worked with John. His father called him in on a case and Dean worked hard, still trying to prove he was worthy of staying with the man.

It was on this case that Dean met Cassie. They spent as much time together as the young man could spare. The angel watched over the budding romance with concern. He knew Dean slept around quite a bit but this one lasted longer than a day or two.

Dean planned a special weekend with the girl. John was away and the young man was told to stay in case anything happened.

Castiel decided to stick around and watch over the situation.

Chapter Text

Dean had it all planned. Dad was gone. Things were quiet. He had a reservation at a nice restaurant and a bottle of champagne in the plastic ice bucket in his motel room. His suit had been cleaned. He was ready to pick Cassie up at her dorm. Castiel watched all this and worried.

+++++

Dinner had been perfect. Dean and Cassie had made love as they had several times before. Dean commented on how good they were together.

“We are good at this, Dean.”

“Cassie, I need to talk to you.”

Cassie kissed him and smiled.

“I want you to know that I have done something I’ve never done before.”

“What is it, Dean?”

“I’m in love with you, Cassie. Because I love you, I have to tell you the truth.”

Castiel, sitting at the table, winced.

“You’ve been lying to me?”

“I haven’t told you everything.”

“Tell me now.”

The angel noted a tenseness in the woman’s voice.

“I’m a hunter.”

“Lots of people hunt, Dean.”

“I hunt monsters.”

“What?”

Dean explained what his family did. Cassie sat up and slipped out of bed.

“If you wanted out so bad, Dean, all you had to do was say so. Don’t sit there and tell me you love me and then come up with something this crazy to get out of it!”

“I’m not lying, Cassie,” Dean pleaded as he watched the woman he loved get dressed. Cassie picked up her cell phone and called a cab.

“Cassie. Please.”

“I don’t need this kind of insanity, Dean. It was nice while it lasted. I’ll wait outside. Goodbye, Dean.”

The hunter watched the door close behind her and felt the pain in his heart. It felt as bad as it did when he lost Sam. He curled into a ball and fought back the tears. He knew how to hide the pain and would not let it out again.  The angel walked towards him and laid his hand on the man’s shoulder, a single tear going down his cheek.

‘How many times will I cry for you, Dean?” Castiel sighed.

Chapter Text

For the next two years, Dean worked off and on with John, but only when the man couldn’t find a partner for the hunt he was on. He did call Dean once a week. The talk was always about the hunt. Dean would update his father on every aspect of the job he was on.

In 2004, Dean got injured. He had been fighting a demon when another one stabbed him in the abdomen. He managed to apply pressure and bandage it, but he’d lost a lot of blood and his hands were shaking too hard to stitch the wound.

The young hunter got his cell and hit speed dial. It automatically went to Sam. He heard his brother’s voice message and realized his mistake. He knew Sam wouldn’t pick up the phone, but it hurt just the same. He hit ‘2’ on speed dial and reached his Dad’s voice mail.

A sob escaped his lips as he made one more attempt. He dialed ‘3’.

“Hello.” Dean almost cried.

“Bobby?”

“Dean? Are you all right?”

Taking a deep breath which hurt, Dean answered his surrogate father, “Bobby, it went bad. I need help. I’m hurt bad. Can you help me?”

“You still at the same place?"

“Yes, Sir.”

“I’m on my way.”

Dean slowly moved over to the bed and laid down. Within a half hour he was unconscious.

Chapter Text

Bobby finally arrived three hours later. He took the back roads and traveled between ninety and a hundred miles per hour. He pulled into the motel parking lot, driving around the building until he found Dean's car. Getting out, he grabbed a duffle and a large medical kit. The man walked over to the room the car was parked in front of and knocked on the door. There was no answer.

“Dean.”

There was still no answer. Bobby picked the lock but found there was a chain on the door. He moved back and ran towards the door, ramming it with his shoulder. The chain broke on the second attempt.

Picking up the things he had taken out of his car, the man entered the motel room and locked the door. He looked around. Dean had not salted the entrances. He quickly did the job and set the dufle and kit on the other bed.

He turned Dean over and examined him. The boy had staunched the bleeding but it was a deep wound. He opened the kit and removed the bandage. He carefully examined the entire area and realized it was a deep stab wound and the knife was probably demonic. Bobby poured whiskey on the wound. Dean jerked but did not revive.

“Damn it, boy,” Bobby whispered as he threaded several needles. For the next thirty minutes, the man stitched the hunter’s wound and kept up a monologue as he did so. When he was through, he applied pressure to the area, checking for internal injuries. He found nothing. He undressed Dean and covered him with a blanket. He gave him a shot of antibiotics and looked up a spell against demonic caused wounds.

Tired, Bobby laid down on the other bed and dozed off.

Chapter Text

Bobby was awakened by Dean’s feverish murmurings. He touched the boy’s forehead and swore at the heat and perspiration.

“Damn it, Dean. What am I gonna do with you?” Bobby changed the bandage, gave Dean another injection of antibiotics and tried to get some water into him.

By late afternoon, Bobby took out is cell and called Pastor Jim. The two talked for over an hour. When the older hunter hung up, he was holding the phone number of a retired surgeon. The man helped hunters. He called him and told him the situation.

Forty minutes later, a knock was on the door. Bobby opened and saw a man in his mid-60s and an attractive woman in her early 40s.

“Bobby Singer?”

“That’s me.”

“I’m Robert McConnell. This is my daughter, Kelly.”

“Come in, both of you."

The two visitors walked over to Dean and began a thorough examination. After about fifteen minutes, McConnell sent his daughter to their vehicle for two cases.

“He has dehydrated fast. I need to put him on an IV.”

“How do you get the stuff if you’re retired?”

“Kelly and I own the local ambulance company. She’s a paramedic."

Bobby sat back and watched the two work on Dean. They wiped him down with a lukewarm wash cloth and Kelly inserted the IV and put him on a saline drip with a powerful antibiotic in it.

The three sat at the table and talked and drank coffee.

“I’d like to take him home, but there’s the problem of his car.”

“We can help. We came in an ambulance. I’ll drive the car, Kelly drives the ambulance, and we’ll follow you home.”

The next morning, a gurney was moved into the motel room and Dean was carefully placed on it. They took him to the ambulance. Within fifteen minutes, the two caregivers and Bobby were in the vehicles and pulled out of the parking lot towards home.

Chapter Text

The three vehicles pulled into Bobby’s salvage yard. The three together managed to get the gurney into Bobby’s house.

“I guess we can put him in my room,” the hunter offered. “I’ll sleep upstairs.”

“We need to monitor him. His fever is high. We don’t want him going into seizures.

“Seizures!”

Kelly spoke firmly, “We’re not leaving him, Mr. Singer. We have three ambulances and there are two more paramedics at the station.”

“Thank you. Is it the knife that is causing the fever?”

“I don’t know a lot about the evil you men fight, but if it was demonic, it’s a possibility.”

“I used the spell I usually use to stop a curse from an evil knife.”

“What if it’s not a curse?” Kelly looked thoughtful as she asked the question.

“Are you thinking poison, Kelly” her father asked.

“Yeah, Dad.”

“Bobby, do demons have a typical poison they would use?”

“I can’t think of one.”

“I’m going to need some medical supplies.”

Chapter Text

An hour later, Kelly returned with a box filled with supplies from the doctor’s shopping list. The two set up a lab on the table in the kitchen. Kelly went to draw blood from Dean.

“Kelly, put him on a catheter. I’ll set to work here.”

The two caregivers worked on the blood for the next couple of hours. Late in the evening, the doctor sighed.

“What is it?” Bobby asked.

“He has a nasty virus. Seems they ran that knife through some animal feces somewhere. I’ll keep him on the antibiotics but we’re going to need an antiviral and there aren’t many of those out there. Kelly, I need you to go see David Carter the next town over. I’m going to give you a letter to give him. He’s helped me out on hunter cases before. He’ll write you the prescription for the drug.“

McConnell sat at the desk in Bobby’s study and wrote a long letter. He put it in an envelope and addressed it to Dr. David Carter. Kelly took the letter and headed outside.

Bobby looked at the man. “How bad is he?”

“I won’t mince words here. He’s pretty bad.”

“Do I need to find his Dad?”

“Do I know him?”

“John Winchester.”

“Winchester? Hell no.”

Bobby watched the man head back to his bedroom and followed him. They walked over to the side of the bed. The doctor checked Dean’s temperature and sighed.

“We need that drug. I can’t just fight the symptoms with this one,” McConnell said, looking down on the hunter. “This is John Winchester’s boy? Which one?”

“The oldest. His name is Dean.”

“Maybe you better call the man. If he treats his boys like he does everyone else, he won’t come.”

“I know,” Bobby stated as he left the room to call John.

Chapter Text

Castiel had been given a new charge in India that had been taking most of his time. Father had told him that Dean no longer needed his constant supervision. The angel felt pain for the first time. He wasn’t sure what it was.

+++++

Jim Murphy hung up his phone after the call with Bobby. Dean was home but not responding to any treatment the doctor tried. The preacher knelt at the altar in his church and prayed for healing.
God heard his prayer.

+++++

Castiel watched the little girl play by the river, his mind, as usual, thousands of miles away. The afternoon sun made the river sparkle like diamonds floated upon it. He sighed.

‘Castiel.’

The angel’s head jerked up. ‘Father?’

‘I have given Samandriel charge over the girl. You must leave.’

‘What have I done?’

‘Nothing wrong, my son. The young man needs you.’

‘Dean?’

‘He is dying.’

‘No!’

‘Save him, Castiel.’

The angel vanished.

Chapter Text

Dr. McConnell met his daughter at the door and grabbed the package she was carrying. He hurried back to Bobby’s room and injected the drug into the IV port where it entered the vein.

Kelly followed her father into the room and watched him administer the drug. Within ten minutes Dean began to seize.

Bobby ran to the bed and reached for the young man. The doctor and paramedic tried everything they could think of.

“We’re losing him,” McConnell groaned.

There’s got to be something we can do,” Bobby cried out.

“I’ve done all I can. If we were in a hospital, maybe, but not here.”

+++++

Castiel appeared in the room and mentally moved those around the bed. He looked at Dean in surprise. ‘What had happened?’

Reaching out, the angel placed his hand on Dean’s head and a white light flowed from him to the dying man.

‘You are not going to die on my watch, Dean. As long as Father will allow me, I will guard you. It is my calling.’

Dean’s seizures stopped, his fever broke, and his wounds were healed. The angel knew Father would not be pleased with that part but enough was enough.

“What happened?” The paramedic wiped the sweat of the hunter’s brow.

“I don’t know. He should not be doing this.” The doctor began to examine the young man and found the scar tissue where the knife wound had been.

“I’ve never denied that there is a God but I’ve never believed either,” Bobby murmured.

“This is a miracle. I’ve never seen one quite like this. Kelly, let’s put some clean clothing on him. He’s drenched from the sweat.”

Dean was bathed and clothing changed. The two caregivers and Bobby went into the kitchen to have a cup of coffee.

Dean slept peacefully with an angel by his side.

Chapter Text

The young hunter slept for another twelve hours. The angel did not leave his side. The two care givers and Bobby took turns sitting in the room. No one wanted the man to wake up alone.

At 5:00 in the morning, Kelly and Cas heard a soft moan from Dean. He moved slightly and the woman smiled when he softly smacked his lips. She imagined his mouth was probably very dry. The paramedic turned on the table lamp and set it on the low setting. Dean opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling, a confused look on his face.

“Wh…where am I?”

“You’re at Bobby’s house. Let me go get you some water. Your mouth has to be dry.”

“W…w…wait,” Dean’s voice was hoarse.

“I’ll try to answer all your questions. Let me get the water first.”

Castiel could sense the confusion and frustration in his charge. He wished he could just appear to the man and tell him what had occurred, but Father would punish him horribly if he did.

Kelly came back into the room and began to tell Dean what had happened. Castiel listened and then looked up. Father was calling him. The angel stood and took another look at Dean and smiled. In another second, the angel was gone.

Chapter Text

Dean stared at the paramedic in disbelief. He slowly moved his left hand down his body, looking for the wound.

“I don’t understand.”
Bobby and the doctor walked in and Robert went over to give Dean a thorough examination.

“If the wound is gone except for a damned scar, do you really think I need one?”

“Maybe you don’t, but you had a major seizure from the drug reaction, so hell, yes. I’m going to give you an examination before I’ll let you out of bed.”

A pair of green eyes watched every move the physician did. McDonnell felt uneasy from the scrutiny but refused to let it hinder his work. He sighed and began to remove the IV.

“Well?”

“I can’t find any sign of brain damage. You need an EEG but the odds of that happening are astronomical.”

“Can I get up?”

Kelly came over and helped the hunter sit on the side of the bed. Dean realized he was clad only in his boxers.

“Bobby, can I have some clothes please?”

The older hunter headed upstairs to get some things out of the younger man’s duffle. He returned and Dean took the clothes with a thanks and headed towards the shower.

Fifteen minutes later, he walked into the kitchen and asked for something to eat.

As he sat at the table, he looked at the doctor and asked, “How did I heal?”

“I would say it was a miracle.”

“In my experience miracles never happen.”

“Well, in your experience, one did.”

Dean took a bite of the sandwich Bobby set in front of him and looked up at the other hunter.

“You got another hunt for me?”

“Dean!”

“What?”

“Not no, but hell no.”

“I’ll call Dad for one, Bobby. It’s all right.”

Chapter Text

Dean finished up a ‘Whodo’ case in New Orleans and made numerous attempts to reach his father. John had told him he’d be in Jericho, California and would drive by Stanford on the way to see if he could spot Sam.

Dean started his drive towards the west coast. He did not want to worry about his Dad. He finally called Bobby, who had not talked to the man in months.

Dean drove straight through, stopping only for gas, restroom breaks, and coffee. He argued with himself over involving his brother in the search. Sam had wanted out. He knew this, but he was lonely and the need for family was overwhelming.

He pulled into the college town around 9:00 in the morning. He walked the campus and saw his brother heading towards the library. Sighing, he realized it would not be a good idea to bother him at school. Exhaustion was setting in. The hunter got into his Baby and found a motel and some rest.

Chapter Text

Dean sat in his baby, waiting for Sam to finish packing and saying his goodbyes to Jessica. Dean sighed, realizing his brother was not happy to see him. He was surprised the man finally agreed to go with him.

Sam placed his duffle in the back seat of the car and opened the front passenger side and climbed in.

Dean started the car and they hit the road. Sam remained silent, and Dean was almost overwhelmed with his attitude. They stopped for coffee about four in the morning.

“How’s school going?”

“It’s doing all right. Like I said, I need to be back on Monday for that interview. It means everything to me.”

“I’ll get you there.”

Sam was silent again.

“She’s a beautiful girl, Sammy. How long have you two been together?”

“Long enough. If you ever talk to her like that again, I’ll kick your ass. Don’t call me Sammy.”

Dean began to wonder if this had been a good idea. Sammy was not happy. He sighed and turned on the radio.

“That’s loud,” his brother griped.

Dean sighed again and lowered the volume. This was going to be a very difficult trip. He hoped they found Dad fast.

Chapter Text

Dean sat in the room the officers had taken him to at the jail and stared at the blank walls. It had been two hours. He had no idea if Sam had gotten away. He had the keys to the Impala which meant his brother would have to hotwire her to finish their job.

The door opened. and an older man stuck his head inside and stared at him.

“Follow me,” the officer said.

Dean considered whether cooperating was worth any merit. He doubted it but followed the man to an office where they spent the next hour. The sheriff interrogated him, and Dean was pretty sure he was lucky he didn’t get his ass kicked.

When the man knew his name, the hunter began to worry. Seeing his father’s journal worried him more. He knew he was being even cockier than he had been before the appearance of the book. His mind began to work overtime contemplating a means of escape.

A miracle happened. The phone rang, all the police were leaving the building, and he was cuffed. He picked up the paper clip and stared at it, grateful for small blessings.

Chapter Text

Dean found a side door and walked to the rear of the building. He discovered the employee parking lot where one vehicle was unlocked. It took very little time to hotwire the car.

He had not been formally charged so his things had been on the Sheriff’s desk. He immediately called his brother. After teasing him about how illegal his phone call had been to the Police department, he asked where Sam was.

+++++

As Dean pulled into the yard of the old Welch home, he noticed a woman in the front seat with his brother. He slipped out of the stolen car and moved quietly towards the Impala. He was unarmed so he opened the trunk as quietly as he could. The situation inside Baby was so intense no one noticed him. He grabbed a weapon loaded with rock salt.

Creeping around the driver’s side, Dean looked in and knew his brother was going to die unless he did something immediately. Whispering, “I’m sorry, Baby,” Dean opened fire on the woman in white through the closed window.

He heard his brother saying something about taking you home and his car was driven through the front of the house into the building. He stood, staring in shock, then ran after them.

Chapter Text

Dean mentioned going to coordinates their dad had left in his journal and had to listen to his brother talk about the interview and the plans for his life. The older brother had to dig deep to act cool; he would not show the pain he felt at being left again.

+++++

The Impala parked in front of Sam and Jessica’s building. Dean listened to his brother suggest they all meet later, knowing it would never happen.

He put Baby into drive and pulled away. Dean had not gone far when the lights in the car started flickering, and the radio acted up. He stared at it for a moment, a distant forgotten memory flooding his thoughts. The hunter turned the car around.

Parking across the street, he jumped out of the Impala and hurried to his brother’s building. The door was locked, and he could hear Sam screaming Jessica’s name and ‘no.’ Dean kicked the door several times, breaking the wood at the last attempt. He backed up and rammed the door, landing in the living room as the framework gave way.

Screaming his brother’s name, he ran into the bedroom, looking up at the flames on the ceiling in shock. Memories of his mother almost overwhelmed him, but he remembered a voice saying, “Take your brother and run, Dean.” Running towards the bed, the older man grabbed Sam and forced him to come with him.

+++++

Leaving Sam at the Impala, the hunter called 911 to report a fire. He watched the nightmare unfold, not sure what he should do or say. Slowly, he turned and looked at is car and saw Sam digging in the trunk. Dean closed his eyes, heart breaking.
The only thought in his mind was “why?”

+++++

Castiel had done what Father had asked but was given the promise and the right to go to his former charge if there was need. He stayed highly attuned to the hunter.

The angel was in Kenya, helping a missionary protect an orphanage. He would use his grace to work minor miracles of healing and to ease the heartache that went with the work.

Suddenly, he felt Dean Winchester’s heart breaking. The hunter always seemed to hurt but this was different. The cry of “why?” reached him.

‘Father, I have to go.’

‘You are needed, my son, but you may not remain.’

‘Thank You, Father.’

The angel disappeared.

Chapter Text

The hunter pulled himself together as best he could and walked over to the Impala. His brother was going through their weapons and pulled out a handgun, checking to see if it was loaded. He turned to Dean and said, “We have a job to do.”

Getting behind the wheel of his baby, the older man turned the key and they headed out of town. Castiel appeared in the rear seat and was surprised to see Sam. He kept a close watch on the brothers, trying to gauge what had upset his charge so badly.
It was a long drive to Colorado. The Winchesters discussed the coordinates their father had left them. While listening to them, Castiel wondered why Sam was hunting when he should be in school.

+++++

It wasn’t until 3:30 in the morning that the angel found out what had occurred. Dean stopped for gas and coffee before walking into the restroom to call Bobby. The angel listened in on the call.

“This better be important.”

“Bobby,” Dean choked out.

“Dean? What’s the matter, boy?”

“Sam’s girlfriend is dead.”

“What happened, son,” the older man asked softly.

“She died…,” Dean bit back a sob.

“Dean?”

“She died like Mom, Bobby. The same thing had to have killed her. I’m not sure what to do; Dad wasn’t in Jericho when we got there. We took care of the case on our own. He left his journal behind, Bobby. We’re not gonna find him.”

“How’s Sam,” Bobby asked, trying to help the younger man stay calm.

“He’s acting like Dad. He wants to go after it, but I don’t know what ‘it’ is. We’ve got a hunt Dad left for us, but I don’t think Sam wants to do it.”

“You two just keep working the jobs. I’ll try to find out more on the thing that killed your mother and Sam’s girlfriend. If I can, I’ll find your dad.”

“Thanks, Bobby.”

“Dean?”

“Yes, sir,” the younger man replied.

“Take care of yourself.”

It remained quiet on the other end. Bobby heard a soft “Bye Bobby” and the phone went dead.

+++++

Dean walked back to the car with some coffee and a bag of food. The angel followed him and watched his every move.

‘Father?’

‘Yes, my son?’

‘I have to stay for now; Azazel is back.’

‘Do not get involved, but watch over them. Do not let the demon near them.’

‘Yes, Father.’

The angel watched his charge as he drove through the remainder of the night.

Chapter Text

When the team got separated by the Wendigo, Castiel went after the creature but was stopped by God.

‘Father! Dean is in trouble and could be killed.’

‘Dean will not die today. You must stand back and watch, but do not interfere. This event and other future ones must occur to bring about the man your charge will become. I will allow you to watch at times, but you must not follow your instincts to step in. His life must follow this course so he will become the Righteous Man.’

‘Righteous Man? Father, Dean is the one the prophecy speaks of?’

‘Yes, my son. Do not prevent what must happen.’

‘Father, the Righteous Man will go….’

‘If you allow events to take their course, you will bring him out.’

The angel stopped tracking the Wendigo and sat under a tree, shock flowing through him. How could he allow this to happen when Dean had already been through so much? How would it happen? God’s servant grew angry and cried out in rage. Father allowed him to vent, knowing His servant would need to be calm in order to be capable of becoming the friend of the Righteous Man. Dean Winchester would need him.

+++++

Dean fired the flare gun and watched the creature burn from the inside. He hurt but ignored it, going towards his brother and the Collins family.

“Let’s get of here,” the eldest hunter stated.

The Winchesters helped Tommy Collins get out of the cave. It took a couple of hours to get back to the Impala and Haley Collins’ car. Dean found another cell in the glove box and called the ranger’s station. Within a half hour, park rangers and an ambulance were on site.

The hunter watched the ambulance pull away and a park ranger drive off with Haley’s car. He turned as his brother walked up.

“They’ll be fine, Dean.”

“Yeah, they will be,” the older man commented, still feeling the kiss Haley had bestowed upon him. He smiled.

“I’m driving,” the younger brother stated.

Dean’s smile grew wider. He hurt like hell, but they were a team. At least for now.

Chapter Text

Dean remained quiet as the two of them left Lake Manitoc. Taking note of his unusual demeanor, Sam remained quiet also. The younger man wanted to know more about his mother’s death. Dean had told Lucas Barr that he had seen his mother die, and the former college student was pretty sure that their father did not know this. The only thing he’d gotten out of his brother was the man carried him out of the burning house. There had to be a way to find out more.

+++++

Castiel had a good idea what the younger Winchester was thinking. He would never forget that night or the shell shocked four year old whose mother’s family wanted no part of. He knew the hunter had buried it deep and seldom thought about it. It had been a long time since Dean had opened himself to anyone because each attempt brought pain and rejection. Bobby and Caleb had found out when the yellow eyed demon had tried to take Sam. He thought that John had been told, but no one had spoken of it to the young hunter. It seemed better that way. But, Sam? Castiel knew Dean was worried about the possibility of his brother grilling him for information, and he was not allowed to intervene.

‘Father. Please prevent the younger brother from questioning him.’

‘Sam knows Dean well enough, my son. He got more than he thought he would. Dean is safe from that, but the memories have been rekindled. Comfort him tonight.’

+++++

The hunters pulled into a drive thru and ordered dinner. Finding a cheap motel at the outskirts of the town they were in, Dean went in and paid for one night. He parked the Impala close to their door, and the two got out and unloaded the weapons for Dean to clean while Sam searched for another hunt.

They ate their meal in silence and drank two beers. Dean worked on cleaning the handguns, rifles, and shotguns. It was something he did religiously.

At 11 in the evening, both Winchesters had showered and were asleep; Dean taking the bed nearest the door. The angel thought that things never changed.

At 3 in the morning, the older brother walked into his brother’s nursery and saw the man bleed into Sam’s mouth. His mother passed him; he tried to stop her. Watching her go up the wall, her stomach ripping open, he froze. Suddenly, Dean saw himself at four years of age hiding in the shadows near the door.

‘Oh God,’ he tried to cry out. Castiel laid a hand upon the hunter and allowed his grace to flood over him, easing the nightmare. Dean Winchester fell into a dreamless sleep. The angel relaxed, and his head bowed in sorrow.

Chapter Text

Father had called the guardian angel away for an important assignment.

‘Dean will be fine, my son,’ the angel was told.

+++++

The next few days were a nightmare in the making for the older Winchester. They had received a call from someone Dean and John had helped. It led to both brothers boarding a flight to exorcise a demon. When it was over, they discovered that their father was still active, giving out Dean’s fairly new number to anyone who called him.

Sam was all the more adamant than ever that they had to find the man. The older hunter knew they would not find or hear from John Winchester unless the man wanted to be found or heard from.

The arguments continued, but Sam would back down for a while. Dean could be just as stubborn as his brother, and he kept pulling seniority as the older brother. The taller man would get really pissed, and it would start all over again.

+++++

The two drove for twenty hours straight, and Dean kept quiet again. The terrors of the flight and strange exorcism Sam performed had rattled him more than he wanted to say.

They pulled into a town, and the younger Winchester looked at his brother when they pulled to a stop under a stop light. Concern crossed his features.

“Hey, Dean, there’s a Denny’s up ahead. Let’s get a regular hot meal. It’s been a while since we just sat down and had supper together.”

His brother stared at him, a question in his eyes. “Okay.”

They pulled into the parking lot, and Dean parked the Impala. The two men entered the restaurant and found a booth. The younger brother ordered a Chef’s salad, while Dean had a steak with a baked potato and soup instead of the side salad.

During the meal, Sam kept the conversation steered away from John and hunting, noticing that his big brother was finally starting to relax. He smiled softly and watched the green eyes check out the room every few minutes, always vigilant.

After the meal, they found a motel and got a room. There was no beer that night to the relief of the younger man. They took turns with the bathroom, and Sam found his brother sleeping with the television on. He turned off the t.v. and moved his brother into a more comfortable position.

+++++

Dean’s nightmare woke his brother. Sam could hear him crying out about falling. He climbed into his brother’s bed and pulled him into his arms.

“It’s okay, Dean, we’re not on an airplane. Nothing is going to crash; we’re on solid ground. I promise you.”

“Sammy?”

“Yeah, it’s okay,” the young man answered as his brother fell asleep in his arms. He had no idea that his unflappable brother had deep enough fears to cause nightmares. Arranging the two of them, Sam held his brother close and they both went to sleep in the older man’s bed.

As he dozed off, Sam grinned, thinking Dean would freak and probably try to kick his ass in the morning when he woke up and found himself in his brother’s arms in the same bed.

Chapter Text

The older hunter slowly awakened, stiffening while he tried to take stock of where he was and who he was with. He remembered getting a motel room and waiting for Sammy to get out of the shower.

'SAMMY!!!'

He tried to move and feel the other person who held him so tightly. Huge. Dean began to struggle. He felt the other person hold on tighter and panicked.

"Dean! It's all right," his baby brother spoke softly.

"Damn it, Sammy! What the hell are you doing?"

"Taking care of my big brother for once. Don't argue. You were having bad nightmares last night so I'm not letting you go. It's early, and you need more sleep."

"No, Sam," the older man interjected.

"Yeah, Dean. I'm bigger than you now. Yes, you can still kick my ass, but right now you can't. Go back to sleep. You haven't been getting enough."

Sam could almost feel his brother fuming but knew the man had lost.

Slowly, Dean Winchester dozed back off and his younger brother continued to hold him close.

Chapter Text

Dean took Sam back to their motel after the battle with Bloody Mary. They showered, dressed, and headed over to talk to Charlie. When they had done all they could to help the girl, they headed out of town.

The elder Winchester drove in silence for hours, worry for his brother clouding his thoughts. The hunter knew the younger man was hiding something; Sam had admitted as much. Whatever it was, it was enough to make Bloody Mary go after the man.

Sighing, he pulled into a gas station. After paying for the fuel and drinks, he walked outside and found his brother answering emails on his cell phone. The next thing the hunter knew, they were headed towards St. Louis, and he still had no idea what Sam was hiding.

Chapter Text

Dean still hurt from his earlier injury but put on a brave front about not seeing his own funeral. His mind went back to entering the house and seeing himself killing his brother. For a second, his only thought had been 'Sammy!'

He knew he had yelled at his other self and fired. After walking over to the body, he steeled himself and ripped the amulet off the creature. He almost grimaced at the memory of his fingers tracing over the body as he grabbed hold of his most priceless possession.

'Everyone thinks I'm dead and I went down as a murderer,' his mind kept replaying the thoughts over and over.

They pulled into a motel in another out of the way place. Seeing a bar, the older man talked his brother into going for a few drinks.

Sam, noticing how pale the man looked, agreed.

Chapter Text

Dean watched his brother say good bye to the preacher's daughter. He had hoped there would be a kiss, and worry over Sam's lack of interest had him biting his lower lip.

He was informed that his younger sibling had no wish to stay. Dean found himself trying to come up with ways get his brother laid.

He finally realized just how much the younger Winchester was mourning Jessica. Dean felt the guilt of dragging his brother off on a hunt and leaving the woman he loved unprotected.

Pulling out of the parking lot of the church, Dean headed south.

Chapter Text

Dean had gone back to the car and waited for his brother to finish talking to Matt Pike. His brother's attitude about family had irked him. Nothing seemed to have changed.

He thought back over their childhood. He remembered the times John had left them as well as the times he bore the brunt of their father’s temper when Sam did or said something stupid. He winced when he thought about the time Sam ran away. He knew he shouldn't defend the man, but he saw what John was going through. He understood it partly.

John had wanted him to be a good soldier, and he failed so many times by protecting Sam from their father's anger. When he failed, he was punished. It was to be expected. Sam seldom if ever saw it. Once or twice he wasn't sure if his brother knew. He didn't have the cajones to ask Bobby.

Sighing, he waited for his brother and pushed away the panic that he might have to be alone again.

Chapter Text

Dean sat in the Impala waiting for Sam to quit talking to Missouri Mosely. He was relieved it was over, but he was shaken to the core. In his mind was the presence of his mom in the house, and it broke his heart. He could not understand why she apologized to Sam. It worried him.

He wanted to ask Missouri but refused to face her again. For reasons he could not understand she seemed to take a major dislike to him, and it hurt. He didn't remember her, but she would have been in the part of his life he had trouble remembering.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and the phone call to his dad ran through his mind. He'd begged the man to come. Dean hadn't faced that kind of fear in a long time, and his father couldn't take the time. Again, he wanted to ask Missouri, but she'd already made it plain she didn't know. He wasn't sure he believed her.

Sam climbed into the passenger seat, and Dean looked at him.

"You ready," Dean asked.

"Yeah. Let's get out of here," his brother responded.

The older hunter pulled out and headed out of town. His last fading thought was the hope he never had to return.

Chapter Text

When the two men said goodbye to the teens and walked towards the Impala, Dean stood by the door and listened to his brother go on about how Dean had to know it wasn't Sam but the ghost. The older brother just quietly agreed and tried to let it go.

As they drove out of town, the hunter wondered where the younger man had even gotten such an idea. His thoughts went back to the visit with the ghost's son, who was also a psychiatrist. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The ghost had played on the anger and resentment, and Sam had tried to kill him. It was almost like the anger between his brother and their dad. Dean didn't think he could handle that with Sammy.

His mind began looking for ways to build up walls of protection from this new source of assault. "God," his heart cried out. "I can't do this!"

He looked over at this sleeping brother, sniffed softly, and turned on the tape deck. Dean let the music play low enough not to wake the other man but loud enough to help block the pain.

Chapter Text

Dean looked in the rearview mirror at his brother as he stepped on the gas and left the man standing there on the side of the road. Sam wanted him to leave.

The older Winchester brother covered the pain with his anger and drove towards Burkitsville. He spent his time talking to the locals, even making an attempt to protect a young couple.

The brothers finally talked on the phone after the older hunter saved the couple, and the older man took the time to talk to his little brother.

After the call was over, Dean accepted the fact that he was again on his own and headed to the local college to find out about scarecrow gods.

Chapter Text

Dean had never been more relieved in his life when Sam arrived. They had barely escaped with their lives.

The two men had taken Emily Jorgensen to the bus stop and watched her leave the area. Dean was shocked when Sam informed him they actually needed each other and, although he still wanted to find their dad, they were all each other had.

A deep seated fear was relieved and the older hunter exhaled slowly, a soft smile on his face. They walked towards the Impala, and the two men climbed inside.

"Where to," the taller man asked.

"Anywhere but here, Sammy," Dean said softly.

"Don't call me Sammy."

Grinning, the older hunter started the engine and turned on the music. "Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" was heard from the speakers.

The drove down the road, headed anywhere but there.

Chapter Text

Dean had not wanted to see the faith healer. Dealing with the man's wife had been a nightmare that nearly killed him. He had accepted he would die, but Sam wouldn't let it go.

As Layla Rourke said goodbye, he closed his eyes wishing they had not stopped the reaper and that the young woman would be able to live at his expense.

He finished packing his duffle and walked to the car. Sam met him in a few moments.

"There's an Ozzie concert in Denver," the taller brother mentioned.

"Yeah?"

"I just happened to buy tickets for it."

Dean shoved the sorrow deep inside him and grinned at his brother. "Let's go."

Chapter Text

Dean and Cassie said goodbye, and the hunter struggled to remain calm when she told him she knew it would never work. He thought he had done well when he kept the tremor from his voice when he responded with "Stranger things have happened."

As he got into the car and Sam talked about the woman and the wish that things could be different, he carefully shoved the thoughts of a relationship into the part of his brain where he kept all things he knew were taboo. All Dean knew was the past twenty-two years of his life had been different.

You don't attempt to have relationships because they never last. They never work out. One night stands to satisfy an urge and a need he didn't want to put a name to were all he would allow.

At least he had one good memory of Cassie now. He bit his bottom lip and turned on the radio as they drove out of town.

Chapter Text

After leaving Alice Miller with the police, the Winchesters headed out of town. They discussed their father, and Dean finally joked about going to Vegas.

As they settled in for the long haul, it grew quiet. Dean's mind went back to Sam telling him he had nightmares and now they were occurring during daylight.

A feeling of panic went through him. What was he supposed to do? There was no point in calling Dad because he never answered. He wished he had someone he could talk to. Bobby? No, he didn't want to drag the man into this. Besides, if Dad knew he had told Bobby this? Dean didn't want to go there.

Reaching over, he turned on the music and allowed AC/DC to flood the car. Sam grumbled about the volume, but the older Winchester ignored him. At that moment, he needed the noise to drown out his thoughts and fears.

Chapter Text

As they left the Bender's property, Dean kept an eye out for the police. It would be a long walk back to town, and he didn't feel well. He kept up a light conversation as they walked.

They finally hit town, and Sam went to the police station to pick up the Impala. He drove back to the convenience store where he'd left his brother and realized that Dean was not outside. Walking inside, the taller brother asked if anyone had seen him.

One of the employees mentioned seeing him head towards the bathrooms. Sam entered the room and could hear his brother vomiting.

"Dean? Are you all right?"

"Don't think so, Sammy," came the choked reply.

"Open the door, Dean."

"I can't get up. Feel dizzy and it's making me sick."

Sam rushed back to the counter and told them was happening. The man who did the maintenance hurried back to restroom with the younger Winchester.

"Dean?"

The man took a hammer and a chisel and worked the bolts out of the hinges on the door. They were able to move it part way so Sam slipped in and unlocked the lock.

The two men moved the door against the wall and discovered Dean was on the floor.

"Damn it," Sam swore as he knelt down next to his big brother.

The other man said, "I'll go call an ambulance."

"No, that's all right. We have a doctor I can take him to."

Chapter Text

Dean didn't come to, and Sam finally realized that there would have to be medical help. He called Bobby Singer.

"Hello," the man answered.

"Bobby," Sam managed to get out.

"Hey, Sam. How are you boys doing?"

"I think Dean needs a doctor."

"Tell me what happened," their mentor ordered.

Sam explained the situation while the older man listened quietly.

"He was tied to a chair? Did he seem all right?"

"You know Dean. He usually has tells, but this time there was nothing."

"Give me the symptoms again?"

Sam repeated them, hoping Bobby could help.

"He needs a hospital, boy."

"I'm not near any place right now, Bobby. I didn't take him because I wasn't sure it was that bad, but he's not waking up."

"How far are you from Sioux Falls?"

"About a day."

"How far are you if you if you were hurt, and Dean was driving?"

"Five or six hours."

"Drive like Dean," the older hunter ordered.

"Yes, Sir, Bobby."

Sam got off the phone and put his foot down heavily on the gas pedal.

Chapter Text

Bobby knew of a new doctor in the area who was known to treat hunters. It was around 11:30 Friday night when Sam finally called and let their mentor know he was on the road to the salvage yard.

"I got a doc who plans on staying the weekend, Sam. We'll be looking for you," the older man stated.

"Thanks, Bobby. He hasn't made a sound, and it's scaring me."

"Did you call your dad?"

"Hell no, Bobby! He didn't come either time we needed him so I'm not bothering. I’m sure as hell not gonna let Dean get upset again. He gets hurt enough."

"It's your decision, Boy. I see the car’s lights; we'll be waiting out front," the older hunter answered.

+++++

Sam pulled up out front of the house and jumped out of the car, running to open the rear door. "He's back here!"

The doctor leaned in to take the older brother's pulse. "Okay, we need to get him inside.’

“I put him in here, had some help but most of it was me."

"If you want I can take his feet," the doctor suggested.

"It'll be faster if I carry him," Sam responded, leaning in and pulling his brother into his arms like he would a child.

"Use my room," Bobby stated. "We've been down this route before."

Bobby led the way and opened the door. The doctor pulled down the covers, and Sam laid Dean on the bed.

"I have some heavy medical equipment I need to have brought in here."

Bobby looked at the doctor and said, "You heard him, boy. Let's go."

It took a while to set up the equipment. After running his tests, he joined the two hunters, who looked up as he walked in.

“The skull's not fractured; you should be grateful for that. There's a bruise on the brain itself, and it has not fallen back in place yet. I'll stay the weekend and send my personal nurse out Sunday night. We'll get him through this. I gave him an IV to give him medications when needed. He also needs the fluids so he doesn't dehydrate."

"He's really scared of needles, Doc," the younger Winchester stated.

"I wouldn't say scared," Bobby interjected. "More like nervous."

Sam stared at him, "Seriously, Bobby? Nervous?"

The older man met his stare, "I'll stand by that too."

The doctor grinned. "Let's just say he doesn't like them. He won't be left alone. Now you two get some sleep."

+++++

Bobby went into the kitchen and fed Sam a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of water. The younger man stared at the beverage and then at the man serving him.

"You'll sleep better drinking that."

"Yes, sir, Bobby."

Sam finished his meal and went upstairs to the room he and Dean always shared. He kicked his boots off, fell back on the bed, and was out like a light.

Bobby placed a pillow on the couch and covered himself with a blanket and nodded off within minutes.

The house remained quiet.

Chapter Text

The hunter awoke around 3:30 the next afternoon and found Bobby sleeping in the chair next to his bed. The green eyes tried to blink the crustiness out of them. Dean tried to lick his lips, but his mouth felt dry.

"Hey, Bobby," came a soft whisper.

The older man jumped up and looked down into those expressive eyes, forgetting it wasn't the little boy laying there. He hurried out of the room and went to let the physician and Sam know.

Soon all three men were in the room. The doctor dampened a washcloth and dripped water into the green eyes to wash away the encrusted sleep. Sam got a glass of cool water with a straw and gave his brother a nice long drink.

Dean looked up at his brother and asked, "Who ran over me?"

Chapter Text

"Dean, I have no idea what happened to you. You have a concussion, several burns on your chest, a ton of bruises, and one broken rib."

"Damn, Sammy. I can't remember."

"I caught the daughter holding a knife on you. Was she involved in this?"

"Just a little, I think. It hurts to think right now."

"This may come back in bits and pieces or in one vivid memory. When it does, you need to be prepared to deal with it," the doctor said.

"That means, telling me, Dean. No hiding what happened."

"All right." The hunter was quiet for a moment. "Can I get a cheeseburger and fries?"

"I think you should start off with something light like oatmeal."

The green eyes stared blankly at the doctor when he spoke.

"Well, you see, Doc. I don't do oatmeal."

The older man leaned over the hunter and looked him straight into his eyes. "Well you see, Dean, oatmeal is all you're getting. You will stay in bed for the next couple of days until I release you."

Sam turned away, a grin on his face, his shoulders shaking. Dean had met his match.

Chapter Text

Five days after Dean's release, the two men entered the town of Chicago. Dean, who hated large towns, looked for some place to rest while they investigated the strange death. He found a small mom and pop motel on the outskirts of the city.

They checked into their room and plotted their investigation. He was aggravated about spending hard earned money on uniforms, but Sam was right. It got them inside the crime scene with no questions asked.

+++++

They spent the evening at the bar where the victim had worked. He watched his brother hitting it off with a blond. When they left, he went back to the motel and Sam went to keep an eye on the woman called 'Meg.'

Sam came back several hours lately with a story Dean wasn't sure he wanted to hear. He told his brother that the creatures doing the killings were called Daevas.

They went back to the building where Meg had her altar. In a short time, despite their attempts to remain quiet, they were both prisoners.

Sam managed to escape and turned over the altar, and the creatures went after the demon.

+++++

The two were battered and bruised with some cuts. Their only thought was getting cleaned up and sleeping.

Entering their room, it only took moments before they realized they weren't alone.

Chapter Text

Dean and Sam froze but soon saw John. The older brother went to him and then stood back to watch the interaction between his father and younger brother.

The attack by the daevas was a total surprise, but they managed to overwhelm them and get out.

Sam wanted them to stay together, but Dean realized the danger. John agreed with his older son, and the three parted ways. No one saw the demon.

Dean knew he had upset his brother but knew it wasn’t the first time and would certainly not be the last. John was a volatile topic, and he just wanted to get them safely out of Chicago.

He drove quietly for several hours. When he reached a major east/west freeway, he headed west out of Illinois into Missouri. His only thought to protect Sammy and Dad.

Chapter Text

Dean left the city limits sign for Richardson, Texas behind them. He glanced over at Sam, thinking that it had been a good hunt and the pranks had been fun. It had been a while since they had done anything as stupid as a prank war. The fact that his little brother could still do so after all that had happened was encouraging.

They received a text from John giving coordinates for a town in Wisconsin. They pulled into the town Fitchburg, and Dean found a motel. Their investigation lead them to a shtriga.

The older brother remembered the past and John’s anger and how he never looked the same at him. His heart ached for what had happened.

Across the world, Cas felt the pain coming from the one under his protection. He had felt it before, but Father would not let him go. He cried out pleading to be allowed to go this time.

‘This pain is familiar, Father.’

‘You may go but you cannot interfere, Son.’

Cas was immediately in Fitchburg. He watched the brothers hunt the creature and winced when Dean used the boy as bait.

When it was over, green eyed male tried to pretend nothing was different but the angel and his brother knew better. Castiel reached out and touched the man, whispering, ‘It’s over, Dean. You can let go.’

Father called to him and told him to go back to his other charge. Both the angel and God knew that the hunter would still carry the heartache.

Chapter Text

Dean watched his brother return and kiss the woman they had hunted with. This one was special, and he didn’t think he was wrong when he jokingly told his brother to marry this one. Sarah was perfect for a hunter’s wife and more importantly, Sam needed her.

When his brother finally came back to the car, Dean headed over to another motel and an argument ensued. Sam was stubborn, but neither of the other two Winchesters had an inkling just how stubborn the older son could be.

“We’re staying for a week so call the girl and tell her. I’ll spend time looking for another case.”

Sam stood and swore at Dean. He made every argument he could think of. He even called Bobby who told him that Dean was a grown man and nowhere near as stupid as Sam and his father thought he was. The younger Winchester finally gave up and called Sarah.

Dean loved the look on his brother’s face and handed him the keys to his Baby.

“If I don’t see you tonight, good.”

“Dean!”

“Have fun, Sammy,” Dean replied with a grin as he watched his brother leave the room.

He laid down on the bed and pulled up pay per view and some Casa Erotica.

Chapter Text

Sam stood in surprise as he watched his brother speak up and tell their dad he was, in essence, wrong. Dean’s color was a little white, and the younger brother could tell he was barely controlling his fear. John Winchester was not a man to cross, especially if you were his son. Sam thought it over and corrected his last thought from son to older son. He was a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. He knew why Dean behaved the way he did.

Castiel, listening in to Sam’s thoughts, mused. The younger Winchester actually knew very little about his big brother or the sacrifices he had made through his young life. The angel looked up and closed his eyes.

‘I wanted to make sure the man did not overstep his boundaries again, Father.’

‘It is not time for that yet. Go back to your charge, Castiel.’

‘Yes, Father,’ the angel commented as he watched the Winchesters get into two vehicles and head out together. Dean had won this one.

Chapter Text

Dean and Sam had argued about going after the YED. The older brother had put his foot down. His only thoughts were to find their dad and not be tracked by the demons who were after the colt. Sam was angry.

Dean felt panic welling up inside him. His mind went through one idea after another.

Calm finally flooded him. “We’re going to Bobby’s.