Disclaimer: Eric Kripke is the creator of the characters of the Supernatural TV series. The WB network owns the show. No profit is being made.

NOTE TO READERS: This is the eighth story in my fanfic series. If you haven't read the other stories you should, as they build on one another. The stories in order are: Uninvited, Whisper, Going Under, Until it Sleeps, If I Could Be Where You Are, Down with the Sickness, and Last Resort.

Also, I'm so sorry this took so long to update. Between life being way too busy, my hard drive decided to die, and I had to have it replaced. And, it has been a drudgery getting things back to working order. So, I offer my apologies for the lengthy wait. But, it wasn't intentional.

Also, I want to send a BIG Thank You to everyone who takes the time to read and review each new installment. Thanks!

Side Note: The title of this story is inspired from Sarah McLachlan's song Answer from her Afterglow CD.

Answer

By Dawn Nyberg

I will be the answer at the end of the line. I will be there for you while you take this time. In the burning of uncertainty I will be your solid ground. I will hold the balance if you can't look down. If it takes my whole life I won't break I won't bend. It'll all be worth it worth it in the end. 'Cause I can only tell you what I know that I need you in my life. When the stars have all gone out you'll still be burning so bright … Take me to a place so holy that I can wash this from my mind the memory of choosing not to fight …'Cause I can only tell you what I know that I need you in my life, and when the stars have all burned out you'll still be burning bright. Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind. Lyrics excerpt by Sarah McLachlan.

Six Months Later: Cedar Flat, California

Samuel stood out on a large deck over looking Lake Tahoe. The compound he now lived in was a palatial estate with the demon. Who in his human form was known for the past five years as Logan Belial here in Cedar Flat. The locals thought him to be a reclusive business entrepreneur, and very wealthy. He had a large wood and stone home built to his specific specifications, and he had bought a large parcel of land surrounding the home. He had security that walked the perimeter and manned a security gate into the compound. He had been seen in town on a few occasions when he was acquiring real estate or completing other business needs. However, most of the time he would make use of his private jet housed at the local airfield, Truckee-Tahoe Airport.

The town had heard wind of Mr. Belial bringing his son to live in Cedar Flat, and they were buzzing about the mystery son they had never heard of. After all Mr. Belial didn't strike them as a family man. They had seen the young man once or twice in town with his father when Mr. Belial was not away on business. The young man had the same presence of person about him that Mr. Belial did. However, the townspeople thought that Mr. Belial was very protective of his son making him appear more approachable. The local banker, Mr. Sawyers dealt with the Belial's on a regular basis handling all of the international and domestic accounts Mr. Belial kept, and he had met Samuel once when he came in with his father to transfer funds from a Swiss bank account.

Samuel watched the water, and drew in the energy of his environment as he watched. He could feel the very hum of every living thing, and he fed off the energy. "Samuel," Ahriman walked up behind his chosen one. Samuel turned toward him. "I need for you to join me on a corporate conference and then a political meeting in D.C."

"Of course, father," Samuel answered. Ahriman used his chosen ones abilities of mind reading to manipulate humans and their thoughts. Over the past six months Samuel's power had grown exponentially. He could not only read minds, but control them at will. He could kill with a thought if he wanted to or was ordered to, although he hadn't yet. Ahriman had spent his time over the last few decades living among the humans, and had discovered early on that the demonic world could take hold here on Earth. They would control the world via the societal constraints of the mortal world. He preferred giving humans the illusion of choice when in fact they had no choice at all, but were mere pawns for his ultimate goal of world domination. Ahriman had placed his legions in key areas of government and finance where demons masqueraded as humans, and held positions of influence. Samuel was his key, and held the power he needed to reach the level of domination he hungered for.

An attendant opened a door drawing the attention of Ahriman and Samuel. "Sir, Pardon my intrusion, but you have a call from Senator Yasht."

"Samuel, I have to take that call." The young man nodded. Samuel looked back out over the water, as something nagged at him. He had dreamt the same dream last night, and the images bothered and confused him. His father had told him there was no need for dreams in their life, it was a human need. He had no real memories of a time before this place, and it just seemed that one-day he just simply was. He had no recollection of a childhood, just waking up in this place in his own room, and to his father. He knew his father was a powerful man, and he also knew his father was not human. But, Ahriman had explained to him that he was not like him, he was a human walking among demons. But, Ahriman had told him he was born special, and that his power would be coveted.

He didn't speak of the dreams to his father in fact he locked them away in his head, so that his father would not pick up on them. His dreams were fleeting images, and voices. They had started a month ago. He dreamt of a black car, and a young man laughing next to him calling him Sammy, and little brother. He saw a cabin and a man with warm eyes standing next to him by a lake watching two dogs run around. He saw another man briefly, and this man took him in his arms and hugged him standing in what looked like a motel room. And, the young man that had called him Sammy stood next to him with a smile on his face watching the two men hug. And, one final image always woke him when he did dream. He would see these two men with terrified eyes, and then he heard his own voice saying, 'Dad, I won't let you and Dean die.' The word 'Dad' confused him, and he always tossed it away. He had a father. He had no brother. And, these fleeting images that had started to fill his head at night had to be meaningless drabble he was picking up from other people he told himself, and it manifested itself in some strange reality in his head that had never existed, how could it?

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

"John I think I may have finally found his energy," Kieran sat across from the eldest Winchester.

"Where Kieran?"

"I felt him, and I can find him again now that I know his new energy. But, right now, I can't zero in on the location, but I should have it soon. In another day or two. I'll meditate tonight." John nodded. Both men glanced out toward the lake and could see Dean sitting in the dirt by the water looking out while petting the dogs that had settled calmly beside him. The young man had been nearly silent the first two months after Sam's 'death' and John had spent the last six months here at the cabin with him. He was thankful that Kieran and Samaire had been available to help out with Dean too. Dean still didn't have much to say, but at least he could converse when he chose to, and he answered questions in a general conversation.

Dean couldn't hear the mention of Sam's name the first four months without his jaw going tight, and his eyes flooding with a raw anguish at the loss of his little brother. Kieran had finally broken through his barriers in the fifth month and Dean had spoken about Sam, and he raged against the loss of his little brother. John helped as much as Dean would allow. John had hated the shell-shocked look in Dean's eyes the first couple months, but now the lost and haunted look bothered him just as much. He hadn't regretted lying to his son about his brother. He could only imagine how tormented Dean would be to know that his little brother had become what needed to be hunted. "Kieran?"

"Yes," the man turned to look at John.

"Will you go speak to him? He opens up to you more than me," John hesitated. "I don't think I'm much help to him when it comes to Sam."

"John," Kieran's voice held a comforting tone. "It isn't that you aren't helping him," he suggested. "It's just that I think he recognizes your loss as well, the loss of a child, and in his eyes he doesn't want to add to your pain. And, he doesn't want to burden you."

"Burden me," John's tone was incredulous. "He's my son. His well being supercedes mine without question."

"I know that," Kieran comforted. "But, he bore a heavy weight being Sam's big brother, and he took the responsibility to heart. He still loves that boy to the very center of his being, his soul. And, he's trying to find his footing in a world without his brother, and it may be a while, a long while before he truly goes on."

"I know," John's voice was sad. "I just want him …" his voice trailed off watching his son down by the lake.

"To be happy again," Kieran finished. John nodded. "I'll go talk to him if you want me to, but I think he needs you more." John offered a small smile to Kieran and left to see his son.

"Hey kiddo," John's voice was gentle. Dean looked up at his father.

"Hey Dad," he turned his eyes back to the lake.

"Mind if I sit?" Dean shook his head, and his father sat down. "Dean, I need to talk to you, and I really need you to hear me," his tone tentative. His son turned his eyes toward him.

"Dad," Dean began. "You don't have to comfort me. I should be trying to help you, but instead I'm too caught up in myself." John interrupted his son.

"Now, hold on one minute, sport," John held his son's gaze. "It's not your responsibility to help me, it's mine as your father to help you, you're my child, Dean."

"Dad," Dean's voice was quiet and hesitant. "I'm not the only one that lost Sammy," his voice hitched in his throat at the mention of his brother. "I lost a brother, but you lost a son, your child. I can't understand that pain." John reached out and grasped his son's shoulder and gave a comforting squeeze.

"You can understand my grief Dean. You lost Sammy, too." John felt his chest tighten. He knew his youngest son was physically alive somewhere, but he mourned the loss of his Sam, and the loss of that soul in his life left him empty, and his grief raw. "Don't discount your feelings Dean. You lost your brother, and you can understand my pain because it's yours as well. Hell, Dean, there were times you were more of a father to Sammy than I ever was. You raised him as much as I did, maybe even more."

"Dad…"

"No, Dean. We lost your brother, but I'll be damned I lose you, too. Losing your mother just about killed me, but you boys saved me from myself. I won't let this break you Dean." Dean's eyes filled with tears that refused to fall. John looked at his son's eyes filled with tears, and he wrapped an arm around his son's shoulders and pulled him roughly against himself. There was a long moment of silence between father and son.

"I miss him Dad," Dean's voice choked against his attempt to hold back his emotions. John rubbed a comforting hand along Dean's shoulder that his hand cupped.

"I know, me too. When I think about that fight your brother and I had when he left for school I'm reminded of all the time I lost with him. I could have been a better father to you boys. You deserved better than you got."

"Dad, you did the best you could. And, Sammy knew that too, Dad. Remember his note back when he left me at that motel?" John smiled and nodded.

"I never…" Dean's voice was soft.

"Never what?" John urged his son to speak knowing he had to get things off his young chest.

"I never told Sammy I loved him." John gave his son a knowing smile.

"He knew Dean."

"Yeah," Dean relented. "I can't imagine life without him Dad." John pulled his son close again. He had no words for his son. He found himself at a loss, and knowing what was coming only made it more difficult. When Kieran zeroed in on Sam's location he would hunt his own son down, and keep the unspoken promise he had given him back in that warehouse. He would end his son's physical life to kill the evil. He just had to remind himself when the moment came that it was merely his son's body he was killing and that the essence of his youngest child had been released months ago when he sacrificed his life for his family's survival. John searched for the right words.

"Me either, son, but your brother would want you to go on. He'd want both of us to carry on." He wondered if what he had said was too cliché, but they were the only words that came out.

"I know Dad," the corners of Dean's mouth turned up ever so slightly. It was a mere ghost of a smile, but it was something, and John felt something swell inside his chest. His first-born had grown into such a fine man, and he was proud.

Flat Creek, Colorado

"Samuel," Ahriman called out in the large house for his chosen one.

"Yes, Father?" Samuel came down the staircase to meet Ahriman in the foyer.

"Are you packed for the trip? We need to leave within the hour."

"Yes," Samuel replied. "Darien has all ready taken my bags out to the car."

"Very good. I need to tend to some calls, and we'll leave in an hour."

"Yes, Father."

New York City, New York

Sam stood out on the balcony of his father's Manhattan penthouse, and waited to leave for the corporate meeting among his father's business partners. The meeting in D.C. had been bumped up and they had flown there first, and now they were in New York to handle business.

"Samuel," a voice came from behind and without turning he replied.

"Jheryl," Samuel's tone low. Both men lacked the courteous greetings of 'hello,' they simply greeted one another with their names. "I thought I made it clear the last time we spoke to never call me by my first name. You'll refer to me as Mr. Belial." He turned slightly leveling a sinister look on the man.

"You're just a young pup that has no respect for his elders. I was your father's right hand for years before you came along." Jheryl was older than Samuel, but not by a large margin. He was in his mid-thirties, and like Samuel's father he was a demon, but had a lower level rank. Samuel turned fully to look at the man now.

"I won't tell you a third time Jheryl," Samuel warned.

"Tell me," Jheryl's voice was appalled. "You don't tell me what to…" Jheryl voice suddenly cut off, and his eyes grew wide. He grabbed at his throat unable to draw in a breath. He clutched at his throat, his eyes wide in fear as he looked into Samuel's eyes as they shifted from their green-brown to solid black, and then returned to their normal state. Jheryl dropped to his knees as his world began to dim on the edges. He was dying.

"Samuel!" Ahriman shouted as he walked onto the large balcony. But, the young man did not release Jheryl. "Enough Samuel," Ahriman chided, and with that the invisible force around Jheryl's neck relinquished. Samuel left the balcony leaving Ahriman there with his former right hand man now turned assistant. The man remained on his knees gasping for breath as the cool feeling of oxygen filled his lungs. Ahriman shot a look at Jheryl, "Not one word," he commanded. "You will show my son, my chosen one the respect that comes from that. He could crush you with a thought you petulant fool."

"Yes, sir," Jheryl backed down. He had always known that Ahriman had said the boy possessed great power, but until that moment he had never experienced it first hand.

"I won't stop him the next time Jheryl." Ahriman commented idly as he began to leave the balcony to greet the other partners that were beginning to arrive. "Have I made myself clear?"

"Yes, sir. There won't be a next time."

"Very well."

The two men walked in and joined the group of partners for the corporate meeting to discuss finances and corporate takeovers. Samuel leveled a hard gaze on Jheryl, and the man shifted under the scrutiny of the gaze. He nodded in assent to the young man, and dropped his eyes from Samuel's. And, with that simple action Samuel knew the man had backed down, he had relinquished whatever imagined Alpha male status he thought he had.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Dean's sleep was restless with dreams of Sammy. The dreams would shift from happy to different nightmare versions of losing Sam. Sometimes he disappeared with the demon, and other times he'd die in his brother's arms on a hunt gone wrong. It didn't matter to Dean because the end result was always the same… he would jerk awake, and reality would hit him, and he his brother was gone. Sammy was dead. Across the hall John stared at the ceiling as his mind refused to let him sleep. He hated lying to Dean about Sam, but it was easier than saying Son, Sammy's alive, but it's only his body. All that's left is something evil. And, I promised your brother I would kill the evil thing he knew he'd become when he left with the demon. He knew he could never say anything. He feared that one day he'd find out the truth long after he had hunted his youngest child down, and ended his life. He feared Dean would turn his back on him, and he'd lose his only surviving child. Sam good or Sam evil wouldn't matter to Dean because in Dean's eyes there would always be something inside his brother to save, to protect. No, Dean would never forgive him if he found out.

John sighed in frustration as he lifted up and punched his pillow a couple times and turned onto his side staring at the moonlight streaks on the wall. His mind going back to the possibility could there be something to save? He angrily cast the thought out of his head. There couldn't be anyway that some piece of his baby son survived the ritual there just couldn't. He closed his eyes willing himself to sleep.

New York City, New York

"Samuel?"

"Yes Father."

"I have some business that needs tended to in California, and I'd like for you to take care of it while I fly to Geneva."

"Of course," Samuel replied. "What do you need?"

"Just some paperwork finished, and some envelopes delivered to some associates in Sacramento that manage some properties for me in the warehouse district. It may take a couple days. The paperwork required in the human's world can be taxing, but if you want to hide among the sheep…"

"I know Father, you must be able to camouflage in plain sight, and root them out from within with subterfuge."

"You're learning," Ahriman's voice proud. "I'll be leaving for Geneva in the morning. And, when you finish in California I want you to return to Colorado. I do so hate using man's modern invention to get around, but when dealing with humans you must always remember to hide your abilities from them unless you intend to kill them. I could be in Geneva by simply thinking it, but I choose not to in order to maintain control they don't realize I have over them, understand?"

"Yes, Father."

Ahriman didn't feel threatened that the Winchester's might be looking for his chosen one. He hadn't felt John Winchester near, and assumed the man believed his youngest son dead or accepted he had lost the battle. And, at any rate, he knew Samuel's mind, and he felt no recollection of a family there. There was no love for a family seeded within that he could feel. Samuel was his.

Three Days Later … Boothbay Harbor, Maine

"John, could I speak with you?" Kieran walked into the kitchen where John Winchester sat with Dean eating some breakfast.

"Sure," John answered as he stood up to follow Kieran to his office down the hallway. "You okay kiddo?"

"Yeah, Dad," Dean assured. "Everything okay, Kieran?" Dean questioned.

"Sure Dean. I just need to talk to your Dad about some things. Hey, would you mind letting the dogs out when you're done eating?"

"Yeah, no problem."

John followed Kieran down the long hallway on the opposite end of the house. He knew what the man must want to talk about, and he could feel his chest tighten at the thought of hunting Sammy. Kieran's office was bright with a large picture window that looked the front of the house. His desk was a hand made large mammoth carved from birch and ash trees. It felt warm, and reflected the man's personality. John was thankful that this man had come into his family's life, but was especially thankful that for a short time Sam had found peace and safety here. And, now Dean was slowly healing while here, too.

"You found him didn't you?" Kieran nodded solemnly.

"I found his energy while astral projecting and I was able to cloak my presence from him. He's on the move. I heard where he'll be for the next two or three days."

"Heard? You mean he's doing something?"

"I heard him making flight plans for a business errand in Sacramento. Yes, it appears he has been trusted to do things for this demon you're hunting."

"How was he?" John couldn't resist asking. There was still the part of that was Sammy's father, and not the hunter seeking to kill him.

"His power has grown exponentially John. You will have to exercise great caution when you confront him. I sense that he could kill with a thought if he chose to." John nodded.

"Did you…" John paused. "Did you feel him? Did you feel Sam at all?"

"No, John," Kieran's answered sadly. "I only felt and saw darkness inside him. But…" he hedged.

"What?" John couldn't allow any hope to cloud the issue, but he had to know.

"He's become so powerful, and if there is something that survives inside him of the Sam you and I know. I'm sure it's buried deep." John shook his head.

"No, Sammy's gone. He was gone that night in the warehouse. I promised my son that he would not have to live like this with that evil living inside him. I will free him. Where is he?"

"I heard the address of a warehouse complex he'll be at, and memorized it. I wrote it down." Kieran handed the paper to John. John looked at the paper.

1410 SW Pacific Ave. Sacramento, California. Warehouse # 10.

"Will you look out for Dean?" John asked as he turned his eyes from the paper to Kieran. And, the older man knew what John was really asking. If something happens to me, and I don't make it will you look out for Dean, and make sure he's okay? Kieran nodded, and clasped a hand on John's shoulder.

"I will, but we'll see one another again, John Winchester. I'm sure of it."

"I hope you're right. I need to call some associates for help with this in California."

"You mean fellow hunters?"

"Yes, I will be the only one to end my son, but I will need some help to go up against the other demons I'm sure that will be there. I know what that damn demon has done. He's taken my son, and made him his own. And, he's not. If I hope to come back to Dean then I know I need some help." Kieran nodded.

"Please, feel free to use my office phone. I'll give you some privacy."

"Thank you Kieran," John hesitated. "For everything."

"Sure thing." And, Kieran closed the door behind him with a click leaving John to make his calls, and make plans to hunt down and kill his youngest son. He wished that he could have told John that he felt something of Sam inside, but he couldn't see past the darkness, and the thick walls locking him out of his mind. It seemed to him that Sam had walls up every moment, and they never dropped. He had allowed himself to mourn the loss of Sam Winchester months ago, but even now there was a slight pang of sadness that filled him as he thought about the gentle, bright boy he met, and helped train and learn his abilities. The world had lost a light the day Sam Winchester was lost to darkness, and an ancient evil.

John hung up the phone, and glanced at his watch. He had been at the phone and contacting friends and associates for over an hour. It wasn't a large group of hunters he had put together, but it would do. He would meet up with Joshua, Steve, Bobby, Seth, Gary, Patrick, and Devin. All of them were formidable hunters in their own rights, and all of them had an immense knowledge in demonology, especially Bobby and Joshua. They were prepared to go into battle with John, and they knew the reason, too. John had been very specific that no one was to kill Sam, but himself. And, they all understood. John would fly to California today. Everyone on his list was two to three hours from Sacramento except for Seth who driving in from Nevada, Bobby who was catching a flight, and Joshua who actually lived in Sacramento. John went to his room and threw together a duffel bag for his flight. He had purchased his ticket over the phone, and it would be waiting for him at the airport.

"Kieran," John called out as he walked back into the kitchen from his room. There was no answer, so he glanced out the window and saw the man down by the water with Dean. He sighed at the thought of explaining to Dean why he had to fly out of town. It would be part truth he suspected, but mostly lies. "Hey," he offered lightly as he approached his son and Kieran.

"Hey Dad," Dean studied his father for a long moment. "What's going on?" John had to smile. His first-born knew him so well.

"I have to go out of town for a few days. I'll be back."

"What? Why?" Dean knew his father wouldn't leave him right now if it weren't something big.

"I have to help some friends with something," he supplied.

"You mean a hunt don't you?" Dean hadn't meant for his tone to sound accusatory, but it did. "Why do you have to help?"

"Dean you know I'd stay with you if there was another option," John tried to assure. "It's just I need to help Bobby and Joshua with something."

"If they're involved then it's something big. Can I help? It's not the demon is it? I deserve to go if it is. That bastard killed Sammy!"

"No son, I'm not going after the demon" John's voice soft. "I want you here where you're…"

"Where I'm what? Safe?"

"Dean, please understand. I have to go do this. Josh and Bobby aren't the only ones I'm helping, okay. I will be back." Dean shook his head.

"You can't promise that Dad. I can't lose you too," his voice cracked.

"And, you won't."

John spoke with Dean a while longer, and then Kieran had assured him that Dean was safe here, and they would look forward to his return in a few days. They had walked back up to the house as a group, and John waited for the taxi. A few minutes later a car horn sounded out front, and John looked at Dean and smiled. "I'll see you in a few days son," he pulled Dean to himself and hugged him tightly.

"Dad?" Dean called out his voice quiet.

"Yes?" He asked turning toward his son as he threw his duffel into the back seat of the taxi.

"Watch your back okay? No heroics, got it?"

"I got it," John smiled. "See you soon." He got in the taxi and Dean watched his father leave.

"Should I be worried Kieran? It's not like Dad to not tell me what the hunt is."

"You're father knows what he's doing Dean. Now, come inside. I thought we'd meet Samaire in town for dinner. I've reserved a table at Oliver's. My treat."

"You don't have to Kieran," Dean felt like a big mooch letting the man pay for his meal. After all, he had all ready opened his home to him and his father after… he stopped his thoughts as they headed toward his little brother.

"I know I don't have to," he assured. "But, I want to, and Samaire is looking forward to it. Of course, she doesn't know your father has left on business yet, but she'll be just as happy to have the two of us.

Five Hours Later … Sacramento, California

John walked out to the arrival level of the airport, and spotted Joshua waiting in his truck for John. The two caught each other's eyes and smiled. Josh waved at John. He jumped out of his truck and approached John with an extended hand. "It's been a long time John," Joshua looked his friend over.

"Yes, it has. Well, aside from the occasional phone call. You don't look any worse for the wear." He chuckled.

"Yeah, thanks," Josh's tone an amused sarcastic. "I wish the impromptu reunion was under better circumstances. I'm real sorry John, about Sammy, I mean."

"Thanks," John's voice was gruff as his throat constricted at the thought of his baby son. Both men climbed into the truck and left for Josh's place just outside the city.

"Everyone will be in by tonight John. Bobby is set to land in another hour, I think. He said he'd rent a car and drive to my place. And, everyone else should be in by tonight. Are you sure you're up for …" his voice dropped off. "I mean, if it's gonna be too hard John …"

"No," John's voice was harsh. "I'll take care of Sam. No one else touches him!"

"Sure John," Joshua countered lightly. He couldn't imagine what the older hunter was going through. His youngest son taken by the very evil that had fragmented his family all those years ago. And, despite knowing that it was only a shell of his son walking around, a vessel for the evil, he suspected that when it came down to it that a piece of John Winchester would die when he killed his youngest son.

Two Days Later … Warehouse # 10

John and the hunters fanned out across the warehouse. They had watched the warehouse for activity over the last day and half, and now as the sun was beginning to set across the city there had been an increase in activity. Joshua had glimpsed Sam exit from a limo and walk into the warehouse marked # 10. The other hunters had their objectives, and proceeded to follow the battle plan they had all agreed on. John put on an amulet that would permit some protection from the other demons, but would not save his life if it came down to it. He carried holy water, and a gun. The gun would have no effect on any demon, but it wasn't meant for a demon, but was meant for his son who despite being taken over by evil still bore a mortal body subject to death. He heard in the distance the sound of gun fire, and knew the battle had begun.

He watched four other demons exit the warehouse, and run toward the sounds of gun fire. John noted that all of the demons he had seen thus far were demons possessing human forms which meant they were constrained in some ways. They could not travel by thought from one place to another. The human flesh had them bound to its rules, so to speak. They had to run or walk, and that would prove their undoing John mused. He wondered why they bothered to possess human forms when they could take their own forms, and move between space and time at will.

He suspected that they needed the cover of concealment that possessing human form granted them. After all, in there true forms, although they appeared human at first glance there were signs that gave them away. Whether it is their eyes or other strange features they had that did not resemble a humans. He slid into the warehouse with complete stealth, and he pulled his gun out and held it at ready while he scanned the building for Sam. He knew Sammy was here because he had not left with the others. A sudden invisible force flung him against a wall. He looked around frantically for the demonic force holding him bound to the wall. He still held tightly to the gun, but his arm was pinned and he knew he wouldn't be able to aim and fire in this position.

"Who are you?" The familiar voice hissed, and John's eyes turned toward the voice of his youngest son. He looked into Sam's warm eyes, and he felt his throat constrict with emotion. Damn why can't your eyes be the black soulless ones I expected. Damn you for using his eyes his mind quietly raged. He watched Sam quirk his head to the side slightly.

"I can oblige if you wish," he offered lightly, and John watched his son's eyes change to the black orbs, and he stared into their dark emptiness. And, John realized that his son had read his mind. A just as quickly as the black eyes appeared they were gone, and warm brown-green eyes returned. "I asked you a question," he asked. "Who are you?"

"You're so full of fancy tricks why don't you tell me," John quipped. Samuel studied the man he held pinned to the wall with his mind. "John Winchester and you're here to kill me. But you hesitate," Samuel observed.

"Yeah, just let me go, and we'll see how long I hesitate."

"I don't know you," Samuel hissed. "I could kill you with a thought," he offered.

"Then do it all ready!" John dared.

"Your mind is filled with revenge," Samuel dug deeper into this strange man's mind. "You blame me for your son's death," and he pushed further into this man's mind and pulled memories to the surface, and he saw himself. He saw his face and this body, but why he couldn't get his mind around. How could he be in this man's memories? And, then he stepped back and really looked at the man. John watched Sam step away a study him, and he simply watched. Samuel tried to place his face, and then he remembered his dreams, and this man had been in them. And, a memory from his dream pushed forward and he spoke giving voice to the words he had said to this man in his dream.

"Dad, I won't let you and Dean die," he voiced out loud in a whisper as he processed the memories of his dream. He began to pace back and forth. John stared at his young son refusing to believe what he was hearing.

"Sammy?"

"My name is Samuel. Samuel Belial."

"Why did you just say what you did?" John pushed. "You remember don't you?"

"There is nothing to remember it was merely a recollection of a useless dream. It means nothing," Samuel yelled.

"Why would you dream about that if it weren't meaningful? It happened, Sammy," John's voice pushing. "You remember, my God, you remember!" Sam turned toward John with a fierce hard look. John felt a force increase its hold on him and he grunted in discomfort.

"There is nothing to remember!" Samuel shouted. "You are nothing to me!"

"Sammy," John spoke. "You're my son. I'm your father."

"I have a father," Samuel spat.

"Sammy…" John felt an invisible force push against his throat silencing him.

"Stop calling me Sammy," the youth hissed. "My name is Samuel." And, the force lessened on John's neck, and he was able to pull in sweet air. He coughed, and brought his eyes back up to Sam.

"Dean misses you Sam. He thinks your dead. Sam the dreams are true. Your brother and me," he paused. "We are your family, not that evil bastard." Sam stalked over to John.

"Shut your mouth!"

"It's the truth!"

"No!" He walked away from his father, and stopped staring at his father. This man called John Winchester.

"Read my mind Sam, you know it's the truth son!" John screamed.

"No!" Samuel's scream was guttural, and John felt a shock wave of energy expand out from his son, and the windows blew out showering the outside ground with glass rain. John felt the force holding him against the wall release him and he was free. Sam had turned his back to the man calling himself his father. He turned agonized eyes toward this man.

"Sammy," John's voice choked in his throat. Sam held a hand up telling the man to stop.

"Stay away," his voice no longer held venom, but pain and confusion. "You have to stay back."

"No, Sammy, please. It's me," John took a step forward. "I'm your father." Sam took a step farther back from the man.

"No," Sam paused and looked at the man. Suddenly, he saw himself with this man, and another person, a brother, an older brother, his brother, Dean. "Please, don't come any closer. I can't hold it back." John stopped. He saw the look of pain etched across his young son's forehead, and the tight lines around his mouth, and then he knew. He understood with sadness that there was fragment of his son still alive inside this black void, this darkness that had filled him so many months ago had been held at bay from one tiny piece of his baby son. But, only a piece and he needed to be free. "Dad?" Sam's voice was strained. "Do it," his voice almost pleading. "You have to do it."

"Sammy, I …" John wasn't faced with absolute evil in this moment. It was his son asking him to end his life, to kill the evil inside, to free him. And, he found his hand frozen unable to raise the gun and fire a bullet at his youngest child.

"Dad, only in death will I be released." Sam was fighting back the darkness that threatened to consume him wholly. All these months the darkness had had its way, but there was always some piece of himself that tempered the evil inside, and he was so tired, and he wanted it to end. He needed for it to be over. He was tired of the fight. Sam suddenly advanced on his father, but John didn't back away. Sam pushed him forcing him up against a wall. Sam's eyes shifted to black in the blink of an eye, and he wrenched the gun from his father's grip, and tossed it away. "No," came out sounding breathless from Sam's mouth, and his eyes shifted back to his warm green-brown. "Dad," he begged.

There was something in Sam's voice that triggered something in John, and before he knew what he was doing he had wrapped his hands around his son's neck, and began squeezing. It was as if he were watching himself from a detached place in the corner. He could see himself force Sam to the ground, and pin him with his knees while never releasing his son's neck. He watched Sam struggle, but it was more survival instinct than actual resistance. He was letting this happen, and John looked in Sam's eyes as he squeezed harder. He watched the life slide away behind Sam's eyes, and when he released his hold on his baby son's neck he stared into the sightless eyes of his son.

His stare didn't look accusatory at his father, but almost saying a silent thank you for his release. John felt a shift in the room, and he pulled back as darkness, like a thick shadow seep from his son and burn away in the light if day. The evil was gone and his son was free. He reached over and placed a hand over Sam's eyes closing them. He looked down at the limp, still body of his son, and pulled him up into a sitting position and held him against his chest. His head lulled backwards and John supported it in a broad hand. His hand by fatherly instinct had sought out his son's pulse point in his neck, and felt only stillness. Only in death am I released his son's words ringing in his head, and then something else fired inside him. He had let death come, but it didn't have to stay.

He laid Sam down on the hard ground, and began compressions on his son, and pushing air into his silent lungs. He hunched over his young son willing life back into him. The evil was gone, but Sam couldn't be, no not yet. He repeated compressions and breaths only stopping to check to see if his son had a pulse, but there was nothing.

"Sammy, please," John's voiced begged as he worked on his son. "Just breathe, son, please." He had sweat dripping down the sides of his face as he worked on his son; the muscles in his arms burning from the continuous hard labor to try to make his son live. Suddenly, Sam gasped in and began struggling to breathe as his body tried to regulate his long silent lungs. His heart pounded with a slight irregularity as it tried to begin its work of pumping blood once again. John held his son to him, and now he allowed quiet tears to streak down his cheeks. Sam was alive. "Sammy, can you hear me?" There was no response. His son was breathing, but unconscious. A noise of the door opening caused John to jerk and protectively cover his son. He waited for death from some returning demon.

"John?" It was Joshua. He looked up at his fellow hunter and friend.

"It's out of him," John whispered. The moment almost felt reverent. "I had to kill him," John's voice hitched slightly. But, I got him back. He's breathing again," he said as if trying to convince himself that his son was alive. "He's unconscious."

"Let me help," Joshua made a move to help with Sam.

"No, I'll carry my own son," John's voice boomed out of protectiveness. "Is it safe out there?"

"Yeah," Joshua let out a breath. "We won this round, but we better shag ass out of here though." John nodded, and went about picking up his son's long, lanky body. He rested Sam's between his shoulder and neck. It was comforting to feel his son's warm breath on his neck. He relished the feel of his young son's hair against his cheek. John glanced at Bobby as he came into view. "Salt and burn this place," his voice firm.

"All ready on it, Johnny," Bobby assured.

John suspected the demon may try to get at his son again, but he had won this fight, and he knew the hold that was over Sam was now destroyed undone in death. The rules to the prophecy had been upheld, and no matter what the demon could do would reestablish that hold over Sam once again unless the boy repeated the ritual, and that wasn't going to happen. John Winchester wouldn't lose his young son to that bastard again.

Three Days Later, Camarillo, California

John had taken Sam to a safe house, and had a doctor friend look at his son to assure him he had done no permanent damage to his baby boy, but he still hadn't called Dean. He watched Sam sleep. His son had been exhausted after waking up two days after dying at his father's hands. He remembered everything right up to the moment the ritual took full effect. He hadn't been possessed by evil, but more similar to being consumed. He

had become a vessel for it, and the powers he had tapped into while with Ahriman had been relegated back into hibernation. He watched Sam sleep soundly, and decided he should make a phone call.

"Dean?"

"Dad? It's really you?"

"I told you I'd be fine sport. I'm glad you had your cell on. Look I wanted to tell you I'll be back in a couple days, okay?"

"Yeah, you okay?"

"Never better. And you?"

"Hangin' in, Dad," Dean's voice sounded resigned. John couldn't tell Dean over the phone about Sam. He would bring Sammy back to Maine, and reunite his son's once again. And, he wouldn't lose his family again. But, part of him could hardly contain the thought of watching Dean become whole again in front of his eyes when he sees Sam.

"That's my boy," John encouraged. "Tell Kieran I said hello, and I'll see you in a couple days son."

"See you then Dad." John hung up his cell and turned his eyes back toward Sam. He sat down on the bed and ran a gentle hand through his tousled bangs.

"Soon Sammy," he murmured. "You'll see Dean soon." Sam turned into his father's touch even in sleep, and John smiled. "You're safe," he whispered. He rose silently from the bed, and went out to join Joshua. "Hey, Josh?"

"Yeah?"

"I need a phonebook," he inquired. "I need to make some plane reservations to Maine."

To Be Continued? You tell me…

Like it? Hate it? I plan one more installment after this and the series should be done. But, if this series is starting to flicker out then let me know, and I won't write the last installment since it could basically sit where it is now, and will only lack the physical reunion and epilogue. At any rate, let me know what you think, and only reviews can do that. After all, a review is the only payment a fanfic writer gets for their work. Thanks!