Sam had never expected to wake up. More specifically he had never expected to wake up in a soft and warm bed, dressed in fresh clothes, not restrained by any kind of chain, collar or rope. He could not remember the last time he had opened his eyes to find himself in a nice, clean room that didn't smell like blood, sweat or piss, that didn't echo the screams of the people like him. This place was quiet and peaceful. He tried to move but his body wouldn't cooperate; he felt weak and numb but he reckoned this feeling was 100 times better than the excruciating pain he went through when Lilith's minions hit, cut and carved him. The only thing he could recall after almost getting slaughtered like a pig was the face of a man and his voice guiding him from the darkness back towards the light, his soothing words convincing him to fight for his life. Why did this man care? Why had he saved him? Was this the demons' new trick, a new way of torture? Because if that was the case, it would be the most cruel act of them yet; thinking he had finally escaped that living hell and suddenly getting drawn back to it.

Sam was snapped out of his thoughts when the door opened and a middle-aged man, wearing an old baseball cap, walked in. He was unfamiliar with his face. Was he a new torturer? Did he want to use him like everybody did for the last 6 years? His breathing quickened, his eyes mirrored the terror he felt inside and he began shivering violently.

"Hey, son! Calm down! I'm not here to hurt you. It's alright, you don't have to be scared of me" the man promised but Sam didn't seem to interpret the meaning of his words.

"Dean, Dean! Come over here, he's awake!" he shouted.

Sam heard heavy footsteps, quickly reaching the room and closed his eyes, bracing himself to enter the world of pain once more.

Doesn't anyone have mercy? I can't take this anymore . . . Please . . . Please . . .

"He's come around but he's petrified. No surprise, given what he's been through. Perhaps you can calm him down? You're the one he's seen before, even briefly."

"Leave us alone for a few minutes. I'll try to talk to him. And Bobby, make some food. He needs something to eat, he's been on the IV for 5 days. I'll get him off of it."

Sam was hyperventilating. He had his eyes shut tightly and he was sobbing uncontrollably, muttering no, no, no repeatedly. His body was trying to take a fetal position but it refused to move much while the previously numb feeling was gradually getting replaced by intensifying pain.

"Sam, hey, hey, Sam! You're safe, you're safe! We got you out, you're okay! Please, listen to me. You have nothing to be afraid of."

That voice again. Why did it sound so persuasive, so reassuring?

"Come on, kid. You need to get hold of yourself, you're gonna pull your stitches and you haven't healed yet. It's ok, open those eyes for me."

Sam's trembling has subsided a bit, though the tears wouldn't stop falling down his red cheeks. He was so afraid to open his eyes, sure he was about to confront new horrors. But something was nudging him to do it nevertheless. Slowly and waveringly, he opened them and looked at the figure hovering over him; he remembered that face.

"That's it, you're fine. Shhh, no one can hurt you anymore" the familiar stranger reaffirmed. Sam scanned his expression and saw no lies there, no evil intention. Just an unexplainable worry and an honest yet sad smile. He was confused. Why would anybody worry about him, care for him? He stilled and kept his gaze on the man, trying to understand what was happening.

"My name is Dean, Dean Winchester. My friends and I found you, bloody and unconscious, inside an abandoned barn. We were planning to clean a lair of demons, the ones that where nesting there but we were too late. Fortunately not too late to save you. You were in a pretty bad shape but you're one tough nut, my friend. You're not out of the woods yet, but you're going to be okay. This is a secure, warded place. We brought you here a few days ago. We couldn't risk putting you in a hospital, those bastards might have come after you to finish the job cause I'm sure whatever they were trying to accomplish didn't pan out with you alive. So, they're probably looking for you but they'll never get to you here. I'm sorry we couldn't save the other 3 that were with you. They were already gone by the time we got to you. I'm glad you pulled through though."

Sam didn't know how to react, what to say. He rarely had the chance to speak anyway, his voice only functioning whenever he screamed out of agony and fear. Was this real? Was he truly saved? Was he finally going to be free? No . . . It couldn't be . . .

"Wh-why did you help m-me?" he asked hesitantly.

"Why? Why wouldn't I? I couldn't let an innocent person die like that! Not when I could do something about it" Dean replied matter of factly.

"No one's ever done something like this for me. For a-a freak . . ." Sam said sadly.

"Don't call yourself that. I know you've got some kind of psychic mojo but you didn't choose to have it and it's definitely not something to feel guilty over."

Sam averted his eyes from Dean, trying to hide the shame he felt deep inside of him.

"What is it, Sam?" Dean asked calmly.

"If-if you knew what I've done, you'd change your mind. You'd want to put me down . . . " Sam told him, choking on his words while tears had started to roll down his face again.

"For the millionth time, not me nor anyone else is going to harm you. Not on my watch. You're safe with us, we'll protect you."

Sam wiped his tears with the heels of his hands and looked at Dean with an expression that very much resembled that of a kicked puppy.

"And anyway, what is it that you did? I guess it has to do with those abilities you have, right? Speaking of, what are they?"

Sam opened his mouth to speak but boggled, scared of the hunter's possible outburst after he'd have heard about his past.

"Sam, you can tell me. It's ok. I just want to understand, I only want to help you."

The battered boy was really frightened but for an unknown reason he felt like he could talk to Dean, trust him with his secret. Maybe this wasn't all a trick. Maybe he finally had a chance in life again. So, he made the decision to share his story; he didn't have much to lose anyway, did he? He made an effort to sit up using his elbows but a wave of severe pain washed over him and he fell back down on the bed. Watching him struggle, Dean reacted almost immediately by propping Sam against the pillows carefully, trying not to strain him much. Sam flinched at the touch but relaxed a little when he realised Dean just wanted to bring him in a more comfortable position.

"There. Better?" Dean asked and Sam nodded weakly, taking in a deep breath and blinking a few times. He didn't fail to notice Dean's sparkly emerald eyes, focused on him, waiting for answers. It was time to spill the beans.

"I-I am not like the others. I can't move things with my mind, I don't have great physical strength and I don't get visions of the future. Actually, I only have two powers. Thing is, no one else has them. They're extremely rare and that's why they wanted me so badly. That's why . . . why they killed my whole family and took me away. I was 18 when that happened. I don't remember many details but there was a fire and there was so much blood . . . They left no survivors. They didn't even spare my baby sister . . . I had no idea back then that I was capable of doing the things I am today. If I knew . . . I would have disappeared or ended my life when I still had time. Perhaps my family would still be alive if it wasn't for me . . . "

There was a long pause. Sam was trying to keep himself from bursting out in tears again and Dean from standing up and starting throwing punches at the wall - he felt boiling anger inside of him for what the boy had been through; he didn't deserve any of what those bastards had brought upon him and most of all he didn't deserve to believe it was his fault!

"I-I can project thoughts and images to other people's minds, make them feel and think what I want, make them see things that aren't really there. I can also heal others by taking on their pain. For example, if someone has been stabbed and I touch them, by concetrating enough I can transfer the wound and the pain to me. Once I'm finished, they're good as new and I take their place as moribund. You can't imagine how many times I've been close to dying. The demons . . . They wanted me to use my power to heal their hosts, not out of the goodness of their hearts of course. They just didn't want to 'wear' rotting corpses as they put it. And they used this as a way of torture as well. They tortured people to the point of death but then they made me heal them so they could start over."

Dean was listening to Sam's story with all of his attention and he'd be lying if he said that what was being revealed to him didn't scare him at all. In fact, it scared him very very much. He wasn't sure though if he was scared of Sam's powers or of how the demons used him for their dirty work.

Sam saw the distress in Dean's eyes and all he wanted to do was crawl in a dark hole and die. Here he was, scaring away the only person that had been kind to him in years.

"I'm sorry . . . I'm so sorry. Please, believe me! I never meant to hurt anyone! They made me use these powers! I wish I could get rid of them but I can't . . . I don't know how!"

Dean stood up abruptly and walked towards the only window of the room; he stared outside, mostly at nothing. Sam cried, the sounds of his weeping heart-rending, his unremitting litany of apologies breaking Dean's guarded heart. The older man turned around decisevely and appoached the wailing boy whose eyes were pufffed and red from the tears.

"Okay, Sam, I want you to listen to me closely. First of all, I want you to stop apologizing. I'm not blaming you for anything. Secondly, I'm sorry to hear about your family. I know what it feels to lose someone like that. Both of my parents were killed by a demon too and I had to stand by and watch while it happened. I'm also sorry you had to suffer all these years. I can't imagine how life must have been for you. I don't want to push you right now but I will need to know more. You've got to tell me everything you know because I suspect something big is going down and we must figure out what before it goes off on our faces. But we'll discuss more about all this a little later. It's more important that you get better. What do you say? Would you like to take a shower and have something to eat? You must be starving!"

Sam was left speechless. He was staring at Dean as if he was the biggest wonder of the world. He just couldn't get his mind around the fact that he was being treated with kindness and hospitality.

"So, do you feel like you can manage it?" Dean asked.

Sam just nodded, very much puzzled to say anything.

"Good. Bathroom's right outside this room. Everything you'll need is already there: towels, shampoo, soap. I'll get you another set of clothes. I went shopping earlier; I reckoned my clothes don't fit you very well, you being taller than me and much thinner. I hope you like what I got you."

Dean has bought me clothes? Why would he waste his money on a freak like me?

"Is it okay with you if I help you get to the bathroom? I wouldn't want you to fall and hurt yourself further. You're still on the mend. It's gonna take some time to get you back to full strength."

"Y-yes" Sam answered shyly, biting his lip.

"Alright. Oh, before that, I'll take this thing off your arm. It might sting a bit but it's only for a couple of seconds" Dean said pointing at the IV needle inserted in Sam's right arm.

Sam hadn't noticed it until then and he only regarded it indifferently while Dean was removing it. He barely felt a pinch, Dean had been very gentle.

"Now, let's get you on your feet, shall we?" Dean smiled at Sam who resembled a little kid listening to his parent's instructions.

Throwing the covers aside, Dean slowly helped the young man into a sitting position and after getting his legs off the bed, his feet touching the floor, he put his left arm around Sam's waist, settled Sam's right arm above his own and heaved him up. Once standing straight, Dean loosened his hold on Sam but Sam's knees buckled; he'd fallen down if Dean hadn't sprang into action right away, grabbing him just in time and steadying him. For a moment, he thought Sam had passed out because he had his eyes closed but he realised he was just fighting the dizziness away. Tightening his hold on him, Dean guided the boy outside and towards the bathroom. When they got there. he set Sam on the edge of the bathtub and ran the water. A couple of minutes later, satisfied with the temperature, he let the water fill the bathtub and turned to Sam who hadn't moved an inch from where Dean had left him.

"Hey, how are you holding up?" Dean asked.

Sam, still not used to getting asked about his well-being, slowly raised his eyes that were previously pinned on the tilled floor and looked at the hunter, trying to read him, understand how he could possibly be so nice to someone him, a monster. He opened his mouth and stuttered:

"I-I'm ok. Just a little cold" he admitted.

"We'll fix that, buddy. A hot bath will warm you up in no time!"

Sam managed a small smile which made Dean lighten up, offering back a wide, bright one.

"Here's what's gonna happen. I'll go get your clothes and wait outside the door. Holler if you need anything. When you're done, knock on the door to let me know. You sure you can do this by yourself?"

"Yeah . . . I-I think so"

"Just be careful with your wounds. Don't rub them harshly. You don't want to open them up!" Dean advised and turned around to leave.

"T-thank y-you . . ." Sam stammered.

"You're most welcome!" Dean said happily, glancing at Sam before walking out.

Sam found it difficult to stand in the beginning but using the sink as support, each of his hands grasping its two sides, he managed it. Breathing through the pain that was making itself known once again, he stood there for a moment, in front of the mirror. When he looked inside he barely recognized himself. It had been ages since he had checked how he looked like anyway; being a demon slave didn't require having a decent appearance. He was pale but the black and purple bruises along with the countless little cuts on his face gave him a little color. His eyes seemed haunted, gloomy, no sparkle of life evident in them, no hope for tomorrow. As tears started trailing down his cheels, falling on the old marble of the sink, he thought to himself:

What if this is gonna be even worse than all those times before? What if Dean's faking to be nice to me and when I've told him everything he decides I'm of no use anymore and kills me? God . . . Will I ever find some peace?

His shivering had gone bad and he figured he should get in the warm water to seek some comfort even if he wasn't sure how much it would last. At a slow pace, he stripped out of his clothes and with shaky legs and hands got in the bathtub and sat down; his long legs barely fit its length and his upper body remained exposed above the surface. Despite the fact that the water made his wounds sting, it felt like heaven. He could sense his tense muscles relaxing, giving in to the warmth it provided. After about 20 minutes, Sam was done washing his body and rinsing out the shampoo off his hair; the task was simple yet it left him drained. With great effort, he got out of the bathtub and grabbed a clean towel which he used to cover the lower part of his body. He tried to reach the door and knock on it to let Dean know he had finished but a wave of vertigo hit him so hard that he didn't even register the moment he hit the floor, his head luckily missing any sharp edges, landing instead on the pile of clothes he had previously gotten out of. Mere seconds later, Dean stormed inside, having heard the loud thud, rushed to the young man's side and gathered him in his arms.

"Hey, hey! Talk to me! Sam? Can you hear me?" Dean asked Sam frantically.

Sam's eyes fluttered open almost instantly and he looked at Dean confused wondering why the hunter was shouting.

"Thank God! You gave me quite a scare, man! You okay? What happened?"

Having realized that he had probably blacked out for a few seconds, Sam looked down on himself and then at Dean who was impatiently waiting for a reply.

"I-I guess, I got a little dizzy . . ." he said.

"Okay, let's get you up" Dean told Sam and hefted min up carefully.

"I'm gonna help you get dressed, alright?" Dean announced to Sam whose face grew even paler if possible at Dean's suggestion, fear obvious in his eyes.

"Dude, first off, you got nothing I haven't seen before and second, I'm not into guys so don't worry. I ain't gonna touch you wrong."

Sam didn't seem completely convinced but he nodded in agreement. He didn't dare look at Dean while the hunter was assisting him in slipping into the clean clothes; he felt too embarassed, his cheeks had turned red from the exposure. Dean also picked up a towel and dried Sam's hair, making the boy feel even smaller. Sam might have been around 24 years old but if anyone was to look at him at that moment he looked like an 8 year old scared little boy.

"All done! That was it. See? It wasn't that bad!" Dean smiled and Sam gave him a short, shy glance, his face returning to its previous relatively normal paleness.

"Th-thank you . . . sir . . . " Sam replied, adding the title at the end of his sentence, figuring he should show Dean respect from now on.

Dean raised his eyebrows, surprised to be called that.

"What are you calling me a 'sir' for? You don't need to do that. Just call me Dean, okay?" Dean encouraged.

"Okay . . . Dean" Sam spoke hesitantly and his lips formed a dimpled smile and soon as he saw Dean smiling from ear to ear hearing Sam say his name.

"I know you're tired but I want you to eat something first. After that, you can rest some more, deal?"

Sam felt indeed exhausted but he hadn't eaten real food since God knows when and his stomach had started to protest. So he agreed and Dean helped him out of the bathroom and guided him towards the kitchen which was located downstairs. It was a bitch getting Sam down the staircase; they almost toppled over a couple of times but Dean had a death grip on him and didn't let either of them fall. When they reached the kitchen, Dean set Sam on one of the chairs around the table and gave him a minute to catch his breath.

"You good?"

"Yeah . . ."

"Okay. Bobby's made chicken noodle soup. He ain't a chef but I can guarantee this is delicious."

Dean grabbed a clean bowl from the counter and poured inside a large portion of soup. He found a spoon and some fresh bread and brought everything to the table.

Sam stared at the food, not knowing what to do. This was more than what he'd ever get in 2 days! He was afraid to touch it. He had been punished so many times for eating what they'd give him in the past even if it was essential for his survival and despite of it being leftovers not even a dog would eat. They truly got off on people's suffering. Dean, noticing Sam's distress put a hand on his shoulder and made the boy look at him.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Is-is that all f-for m-me?" Sam asked nervously.

"Of course it's for you. Don't you want to eat?"

"I-I do. It's just . . . It's too much . . . I shouldn't eat all of it."

"Nonsense. You have to eat it, you need to build up your strength. You can't get better if you're starving. Come on, eat up. You know what? I think I'll join you!" Dean said and filled another bowl of soup. He wasn't really hungry but he thought that would make Sam feel more comfortable with the idea of eating. And it worked. Once Sam saw Dean eating, he reached for his spoon and started doing the same but a bit slower than Dean at first. It tasted so good that eventually he emptied his bowl in less than 5 minutes. Dean, pleased that the young man had liked the soup, poured him some more which Sam gratefully and greedily consumed too.

"Atta boy! Here, have some water. You need to take this. It's for the pain. Couldn't have given it to you earlier. You have to take it after having eaten well." Dean explained and handed Sam the pill who eyed it for a second before swallowing it.

"Hey, Sam! Did you like the soup?" Bobby asked, walking in the kitchen towards the two young men.

The sudden appearance of the older hunter startled Sam so much that he jumped on his seat, dropping the glass he was holding. Sam's eyes widened and he froze in place; he went back to the last time he accidentally broke something when he was still with the demons. They got so mad at him that they made him take his shirt off and whipped his back mercilessly until he passed out from the bone-shuddering pain. He could do nothing but crawl for more than a week after that.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to, please, please don't hurt me! Please, I'm so sorry!" he screamed and the two hunters exchanged a concerned look before rushing towards Sam. The petrified boy brought his arms over his head, waiting to receive a blow but it never came.

"Sam, it's okay! No harm done!" Dean tried to reason with him.

"It's just an old glass, Sam! No one's mad at you. We're not going to hurt you, son." Bobby said in a gentle tone.

Both Bobby and Dean kept a small distance from Sam, raised their hands up to show him they weren't going to hit him or anything like that and waited. It seemed to lead somewhere since the young man finally realizing he wasn't going to get a beating, calmed down and looked over at the two hunters who seemed to be showing genuine concern for him.

"Wh-why are you being so . . . so nice to me?" Sam asked perplexed.

"We're being human, Sam. Being human means caring for those who need you, protecting them when they can't protect themselves. It doesn't matter that you're a bit different. You're still a person, you have rights and you deserve your freedom despite what those SOBs were trying to make you think all this time" Bobby explained.

Sam was in awe. He couldn't believe his own ears. Not only had these people saved him, tended to his wounds, dressed him and fed him but they were also trying to make him feel human again, make him feel safe and realize he was a free man and that he was going to be treated as equal.

"But . . . you don't know everything about me . . . When you do you'll want to punish me, even kill-"

"Stop it right there! No one in this room is a saint. We all have our share of guilt. We all have blood on our hands. I know there's more to your story and we'll have to learn everything but I promise you, as long as we're here, as long as I'm here, no one is going to lay a finger on you. I don't know you well yet but I've always trusted my gut and right now it's telling me that you're not evil, a murderer but someone who has been used for evil purposes without his consent. So please, do not feel threatened by us. You have nothing to be afraid of. Focus on getting better and everything will come at its time" Dean said.

Sam's eyes were tearing up, not because he was scared or in pain but because of the way they were talking to him, the kindness they were showing him was too overwhelming, too much to handle all at once. He stared into Dean's eyes and found honesty there, truthfullness not cunningness or bad intent.

"Dean, why don't you get Sam upstairs? He looks pretty tired, he needs to refill his batteries. I'll clean up here." Bobby stated and Dean nodded.

The younger hunter walked towards Sam and offered his hand to the confused boy.

"Come on, kiddo. Let' get you to bed" Dean said and helped Sam up, taking most of his weight on the way upstairs.

By the time they reached the bedroom, Sam could barely hold his head up. His battered body needed the rest so badly in order to heal faster and his tortured mind some time away from the horrible images of the past. Dean eased him down on the soft mattress, adjusting his very long figure so that he was as comfortable as possible and pulled the covers over him. Sam seemed to be already asleep when Dean put his palm on Sam's forehead to check his temperature. Happy to find it cool, Dean went to switch off the lights but Sam's voice stopped him and made him turn around:

"D-don't . . . I'm scared of the dark . . . Please?"

"Oh, sure, that's fine. I'll leave the lights on. Do you want the door open too? Just a little?"

"If that's okay with you . . ."

"No problem. My bedroom is next to yours so if you need anything, call my name and I'll be here before you know it"

"T-thank you . . ."

"You're welcome! Goodnight, Sammy"

And with that Dean walked out and disappeared into the corridor, leaving Sam zonking out, his last thought before falling into a deep sleep the peculiar nickname Dean had called him that both annoyed him and made him feel inexplicably warm inside.

Heeeeey ! So, what did you guys think of this chapter? :) Was I too mean? It took me a while to update but this was a longer chapter than the first one. I'd love to read your thoughts! 3

*Reviews keep me going ^_^

** If you have any ideas for the future chapters, let me know and I might write them in the story!