DISCLAIMER: You all should have a pretty good idea of how this goes by now. And if you don't...well, I'm not here to judge anyway. But anyway--I don't own Supernatural or its characters, and the song belongs to Simple Plan. I think...Oh, and also, credit for the basic plot goes to my sister, who gave it to me because it was going to waste, but the actual writing of the story belongs to me. ME, ME, ME!

- - - - - - - - - -

Tell me what's wrong with society,

When everywhere I look I see

Young girls dying to be on TV.

They won't stop 'til they've reached their dreams.

Diet pills, surgery,

Photoshopped pictures in magazines,

Telling them how they should be.

It doesn't make sense to me.

This place is a crap pile, Sam Winchester thought gloomily, looking out the motel room's second-story window at busy, bustling Manhattan. He had been surfing the web for about fifteen minutes now, more out of boredom than anything else, but he'd recently fallen into a sort of trance.

Sam had never been a fan of cities. He hadn't ever lived in one, except for that brief foray into the world of college kids. Hell, he'd never really lived anywhere. But still, he and Dean had stayed in so many motels in so many cities that he ought to have been used to it by now.

He wasn't. He hated cities, and even big towns, with a fiery passion. It didn't matter why—he just hated them, and always would.

"Dude, this place is awesome!"

Sam rolled his eyes as his older brother came out of the bathroom, his hair still slightly damp. "I knew you were gonna say that. Again."

"Well, it's the truth," Dean said with a lopsided grin. "All you have to do is look at this room to know it. And the ladies..." He gave a low whistle and let that speak for him.

Sam just frowned and turned back to his laptop.

"Oh, come on, man, Emily Post has been known to loosen up more than you."

"Well, Emily didn't have evil after her at all times," Sam snapped.

Dean shrugged, unaffected by his tone. "Crank."

"Dean, do you have any idea of the kinds of things that happen in cities?"

"Oh, here we go. Listen, the horror stories you tell me about cities—I've yet to see any of them come true."

"Doesn't mean they don't exist."

"Why do we have this argument every time we have a job in big cities?"

Sam half-shrugged, his eyes still on the computer screen. "Never mind. How long until sunset?"

Is everybody going crazy?

Is anybody gonna save me?

Can anybody tell me what's going on?

Tell me what's going on.

If you open your eyes,

You'll see that something is wrong.

"What are we even looking for?" Dean asked grumpily, his eyes scanning the dark but crowded streets.

Sam shrugged. "You know what the victims look like. And you know where the killings have been happening. And you know that the death toll in downtown Manhattan has increased dramatically in the last few weeks. Put it all together and you get—"

"Alleys," Dean groaned. "Dirty, rotten, trashy alleys."

"Told you taking that shower was pointless."

"Oh, look, what a nice alley!" Dean said, far too quickly. "Got your gun?"

"Oh, no, I left the life-saving gun with the life-saving blood-tipped bullets back in the room," Sam said impatiently.

"Okay, okay, jeez, I was just asking. What is your problem?" Dean asked as the brothers turned into the first alley they cazme to.

"Nothing," Sam snapped.

"Yeah, right. I mean, you're never exactly a bucket of fun, but…"

"What do you suddenly care if something's wrong?" Sam asked harshly. "You never did before." That wasn't fair, and he knew it, but the words were already out there.

Dean's face hardened into a familiar mask, and Sam felt a pang of regret.

"Dean—"

"Okay, there's nothing here," Dean cut him off. "Let's move on."

The rest of their hunt—which went on for most of the night—was spent in near-silence, and Sam had plenty of time to start feeling horrible. What is wrong with me?

At around eleven, Sam finally spoke up. "Dean, about earlier—"

"Sammy, that was like five hours ago. Move on already."

Sam frowned—he hated when Dean brushed things off like that. "Dean, come on—"

"Look, I don't think we're gonna find anything tonight," Dean said suddenly. "Our faults. We didn't do enough research. We'll try again to—"

"GET AWAY FROM US, YOU DISGUSTING BASTARD!"

"Or…it's possible I was wrong."

I guess things are not how they used to be.

There's no more normal families.

Parents act like enemies,

Making kids feel like it's World War III.

No one cares, no one's there.

I guess we're all just too damn busy.

Money's our first priority.

It doesn't make sense to me.

Despite his obviously-enormous lungs and apparently-wide-ranged vocabulary, the person who had yelled was actually quite young, probably in his mid-teens. When the Winchesters arrived, they found themselves behind the kid, who was backing up and still screaming obscene and entirely insulting words at the tall, dark figure closing in on him.

Sam drew his gun and Dean shouted, "KID! DROP!"

The teen apparently had good reflexes—he ducked instantly, falling flat on the ground, and Sam tossed a quick thanks to the heavens that they weren't rescuing an idiot. Then he fired, at almost the exact same instant as Dean.

The bullets hit the creature a split second apart, both in the heart. It stopped in its tracks, teetered comically, and when it didn't fall, Dean fired again. The third bullet accomplished the task, and the thing dropped without a sound.

Dean went, gun still in hand, to examine the kill. Sam let him take care of that while he went to help the boy.

"Are you okay, man?" the youngest Winchester asked, extending his hand.

The teen ignored it and got up on his own, one hand resting on the side of his neck. His gaze passed over Sam, and Sam revised all estimations of him in that split second. This kid was old—not in body, but in all other respects—if his eyes were any indication at all. He looked more careworn and tired than any old man, and though he was meticulously clean, his clothing was faded and torn and much too large for him.

"What's your name?" Sam asked gently.

The kid didn't answer—instead his eyes went wide and he practically shouted, "SARI!"

"Wha—" Sam asked, but the boy was already running past him, heading for—of all places—the two-ton trash cans at the end of the alley. As Sam followed him, he slid like a cat between two of them. In a couple of seconds, he reappeared, holding the hand of a tiny girl. She, too, wore too-big clothes, and looked sad and tired.

When Sam reached them, the child shrank away, arm wrapped around one of the boy's legs. Sam smiled, and crouched down. "Don't be afraid…"

The little girl retreated further, until only her big brown eyes peeked out from behind the boy. Sam gave up, and stood again. "Are you okay?" he asked the guy instead.

He nodded, though his hand was still clamped tightly over his neck. Sam frowned. "Here, let me see—"

The boy shied back as Sam reached for him, and shook his head. Without a word, he hefted the pack he had over his shoulders, swung the girl up into his arms, and ran off, silent as a ghost.

Is everybody going crazy?

Is anybody gonna save me?

Can anybody tell me what's going on?

Tell me what's going on.

If you open your eyes,

You'll see that something is wrong.

Is everybody going crazy?

Is everybody going crazy?

By the time the brothers returned to their motel, Dean's cool manner had disappeared, and he was grilling Sam about the people they'd saved. "Did they seem angry or something?" he asked as he flipped boredly through channels with the sound off.

"No," Sam replied, still confused. "I mean, they didn't seem angry or scared or surprised or…anything. Just…tired."

"Well, if they didn't get enough sleep last night that's no reason to just run off right after we saved their lives."

"No, I mean tired…in general. Of life, I guess."

Dean scoffed. "Now that's just lame. They're too young to be that tired."

"Well, I'm just telling you the impression I got," Sam said, and then continued to browse the internet in silence for a while. "So we leaving tomorrow?" he asked after a bit.

Dean shrugged. "I don't see why not. If that vamp was what we were looking for, then it's made at least a kill a night for the last couple weeks, and sporadically before then. So if everything still looks shiny tomorrow, we're outta here."

"Oh…okay."

Dean kept channel-surfing for a moment, then turned off the TV and said, "You want to find those kids, don't you?"

Sam hesitated, then nodded. "Yeah, I do."

"You having one of those freaky feelings of yours again?"

"Not exactly. Nothing premonition-like. But…I think they're having trouble."

"What do you mean?"

Sam sighed. "Just…never mind. But I want to at least try to find them."

"Hey, don't sweat it. If there's one thing we can do, it's track."

XXX

"Okay, maybe we won't have to track," Dean said as he and Sam walked out of their hotel after getting some sleep, to find the two kids—who could only be brother and sister—sitting with their backs against the building. As soon as they saw Sam and Dean, they scrambled to their feet as if ashamed of something.

"Hey," Sam said, trying to keep the surprise out of his voice. "How…?"

"Only one motel anywhere near where we were last night. Plus I saw your car," the brother answered, speaking for the first time.

"…Oh. Smart. Well, since we didn't get to the intros last night—I'm Sam Winchester, and this is my brother Dean. He was there last night, too, but you didn't see him."

"Yeah, I did. He was looking at that corpse. We'll get to that in a second, by the way. Anyway, I'm Morgan Matthews." He held out his hand, and Sam's first thought was that the kid was surprisingly polite.

Sam and Dean both shook hands, and then looked down at the girl still hiding behind Morgan. "And what's your name?" The child regarded Sam with a serious expression and didn't speak.

"Sari. Her name is Sari. She's…kind of quiet. She can talk, really well, bur…she doesn't like to."

"Well, that's cool," Dean said. "Least she won't talk my ear off—OW!"

"Yeah, but she will do that," Morgan said as Dean crouched down to clutch at his newly-bruised ankle. "Sari, what do you think you're doing! He's a complete stranger! Not to mention the guy who saved us! I am so sorry, Mr. Winchester…"

Sam burst into a fit of uncontrollable laugher that made all three jump. "Mr. Winchester? God, I don't think I've ever heard that one before! No one even called Dad that…"

"Yeah, yeah, it's all very funny," Dean snapped, still rubbing his leg.

"Oh, don't be such a wimp, man," Sam said. "She weighs like thirty pounds. It's fine, Morgan. Dean's been through worse and it was a lot less hilarious. Even if he doesn't think so. So…why are you here?"

Morgan shrugged. "I just wanted to thank you. For earlier. I'm sorry for running off like that. I just needed to get Sari out of there. And…well, I was confused, I guess."

"Why?"

Morgan touched his neck, and Sam noticed a couple of small punctures, joined by an ugly-looking mark. The wound had been cleaned, but was an ugly sort of red. Morgan saw him looking and smiled a little. "I'm fine. But…I need to know…what happened?"

"What do you mean?" Dean asked lightly, trying for a convincing lie. "You probably just got in the way of the bastard and took the bad end of some kind of weapon—"

"Like what? A toasting fork? No, what I actually want to know is how you found the vampire and how you killed it."

Sam opened his mouth, closed it again, tried to think of a response, and failed.

Morgan raised an eyebrow. "I'm not an idiot. That thing bit me. Left fang marks in my neck. It wasn't an animal or a weapon of any kind. I can put things together. Which means that I've put together that you Winchesters are some kind of demon hunters. Am I right or wrong?"

"Dude, this kid is freaking me out—"

Morgan looked at Dean, and his expression could have stopped a rampaging rhino. "Don't call me that. I stopped being a kid a long time ago."

Dean raised his eyebrows and took a half-step back. "Sorry, k—Morgan."

"Don't worry about it. But are you gonna answer my questions?"

Dean started to shake his head, to explain that they never told innocents these things, but Sam replied first. "Come with us. We'll buy you breakfast."

"Oh…uh…" And suddenly Morgan went from being uncomfortably inquiring to inquiringly uncomfortable. "No, I don't think—"

"Come on. We haven't eaten yet and we were headed there anyway. And you might as well eat while you listen, unless you're not hungry."

"But we don't even know you. We can't take your money!"

"You can if I'm offering. You should if I'm offering." Morgan shook his head, but hesitantly. "What if I said please?"

Sari, almost forgotten in her silence, tugged on her brother's pant leg then, and Morgan leaned over. She whispered something to him, and Morgan sighed. "Okay. Uh…thank you. Really."

Sam smiled. "Forget it. Come on, we'll take the Impala."

As the two headed for the car, Dean grabbed Sam's arm. "Sam, we do not have the cash to feed them, too—"

"Shut up," Sam growled, and Dean flinched in surprise at the anger in his tone. "Don't you say anything like that to them."

Dean could only stare as his brother followed the Matthews to the car.

XXX

They found a diner, and the group of four spent the next hour eating. Sam and Dean didn't eat much, and Morgan—after inhaling half his plate—seemed to suddenly think of something, and ate much more slowly. Sari, however, shoved good in with the careless abandon of a child who had no concern but filling up. Morgan tried to refine her, but eventually gave up when Sam laughed and told him to let kids be kids.

"I'm sorry. She…she loves to eat."

"Really?" Dean asked. "But she's so sk—"

Sam kicked him under the table.

"So…uh…" Morgan changed the subject quickly. "What about that vampire? And…all the other stuff I asked you about?"

Sam sighed. "I was hoping you wouldn't ask that."

"Look, I can see it makes you uncomfortable, but I need to know this stuff. I need to know about everything that could be dangerous to us. I always thought humans were the only problems, but…apparently not. And I can't be in the dark. It's…important."

Sam nodded. "I know. That's why I'm going to tell you. But you can not tell anyone else."

"You don't have to worry about that. I don't have anyone to tell."

Pretending not to notice the bitter edge to his voice, Sam launched into his explanation. Dean didn't try stopping him—he had apparently gotten the message earlier—but he didn't give any input either.

Sam gave the abbreviated version of the Winchester tale—he didn't mention anything at all about his mother's death, and talked very little about his father, his Stanford college career, or the way it had ended. Mostly, he just concentrated on the demons he'd hunted and how he'd killed them.

Morgan listened intently, hanging on Sam's every word, and Sam could practically see him going through all of it in his head.

Meanwhile, Dean committed himself to getting some words out of Sari. He tried everything from teasing to bribery, but the girl just kept watching him as if trying to figure out his very thoughts. She couldn't have been more than five, but her intelligence was already plain—and a little startling.

"So…you do things like what you did for me…all the time?" Morgan asked as Sam finished.

Sam shrugged and nodded. "Pretty much."

"And you don't get paid?"

"Not many people are all that willing to part with their money. We live mostly by hustling. But…you didn't hear that."

"No, no, of course not," Morgan said, really smiling for the first time. "Well…I think that's really cool of you two. To save all those people for free when you're broke and all."

"No. Not really. We just…know too much. We can't ignore it. You haven't lived it…you can go on with your life without thinking constantly about what's out there in the dark. Be grateful—you don't know how good that innocence is."

Morgan looked down at his empty plate, his thoughts plain on his face. I don't have it… But he didn't say that. Instead, he just said, "Thank you. For…all of this. Especially the food."

Sam smiled and nodded. "You're welcome. And if you two are done, we'll take you home."

Morgan shook his head emphatically. "No. It's okay. It's not far."

"There are no residential places within two miles. Even if you can walk that far—and I don't doubt you can—it's California summer. Sari couldn't make the walk and you shouldn't."

The younger boy looked hard at Sam, and understanding flooded his face—along with shame, sadness, and some sort of obscure, masked relief.

XXX

Dean went absolutely white when he pulled the car up where Morgan told him to stop on the outskirts of the city. The building in front of them was barely standing—the brick was crumbling, anything and everything wooden was rotting, and the roof seemed about to cave in.

Morgan, sitting in the back with Sari, tried to keep any shame out of his voice as he spoke. "Thanks for the ride. We need to get inside—" And then he was throwing open the door and dragging Sari out by the hand.

Dean, still a bit pale, turned to look at Sam, comprehension dawning. "You knew?" he asked softly, voice tempered by shock and a truckload of grief for two people he had only met an hour and a half ago. And unless Sam was very much mistaken, there was a touch of anger coloring his tone, too.

Sam nodded, his eyes still on the homeless, penniless brother and sister. "I knew."

Tell me what's wrong with society

When everywhere I look I see

Rich guys driving SUVs

While kids are starving in the streets.

No one cares.

No one likes to share.

I guess life's unfair.

The inside of the "house" wasn't any better than the outside. For one thing, it seemed…smaller, somehow. There was very little furniture and the floors were concrete. The paint was chipping off the walls and there was no refrigerator or microwave or anything of the sort.

Morgan and Sari were sitting in the middle of the only safe-looking room in the place—the small one right in front of the door—playing Go Fish with an old, faded deck of cards. Morgan didn't see the Winchesters come in behind him, but Sari, facing the doorway, looked up and then reached over to turn her brother around.

Morgan sighed upon seeing them, but he didn't tell them to leave. He just said, "Come on in. Sit if you want. Do you have any sevens?"

Sari grinned and shook her head, and Morgan groaned theatrically, and threw down his last card. "You win again. And now you need to take a nap."

Sari pouted.

"Now, none of that. You promised. One game and you wouldn't give me any trouble. Come on, into bed."

Sari obeyed without a word, kissed her brother on the cheek, and went to climb onto one of the two mattress on the floor. Morgan covered her up with an afghan, and then, finally, turned to Sam and Dean.

"So you've been sitting out there all this time trying to decide whether to come in or not."

"Uh…yeah," Sam admitted, embarrassed. "We didn't know if we should."

"You thought you'd show some tact and just leave us alone?" Morgan looked from Sam to Dean, who was concentrating very hard on the far wall. "Come on, stop doing that, you two."

"Doing what?"

"Stop pitying me!" Morgan snapped, then sighed, and sat down on the other mattress, motioning for Dean and Sam to do the same. Then he just…started talking. "Look, my old man left us when I was born. And with him went all the money in their joint account. The bastard left her with no money, no job, and a baby to raise. IRS took our house barely two months later and we moved into a little crap heap downtown.

"We lived like that until I was eleven years old. My mom worked two jobs trying to make ends meet, and barely succeeding. And then—impossibly—things got worse.

My mom and I went out one night to try to beg…food, or a job, or money…something to sustain us. And while we were walking down this one deserted side road—I swear I could pick it out for you on any map, right now…that's how well I remember the whole thing—this man came up to us. He was scruffy and tall and I was terrified the second I laid eyes on him. He was drunk and he…he had a gun. He aimed it at me and…and then, when my mother started begging him to leave, he…he turned the gun on her instead. And then…"

Noticed only by Sam, Dean's hands clenched themselves into fists as Morgan's voice became bitter and quiet.

"He raped her. He raped her right in front of me, and I didn't do a thing about it. I was so scared and pathetic. And he…left her pregnant. When she found out…oh, it was horrible. She couldn't figure out what to do. An abortion was out of the question—my mother was a strong believer in doing whatever possible to maintain life. Abandoning the baby—also out of the question, because that would surely kill it. We couldn't afford to keep it. We could barely afford to keep me. About all we had was putting it up for adoption.

"So that was our plan. We didn't like it, but…at least the baby could go to a good family." Suddenly, Morgan chuckled without humor but with much sadness. "It didn't work out…quite like that. Things changed…"

"When she was born," Sam finished.

Morgan shook his head. "Not her. Them. Twins. A boy and a girl. My mom…she died in the birth. Along with the boy. I think…that's why Sari doesn't really talk much. It sounds stupid, but…" He turned to look at Sari, who was asleep on her side, facing then, and blinked back tears. "I think part of her died with her brother. She has always been quiet, smart, but…sad, y'know?

"Well, anyway, I couldn't give her up after that. The doctors at the hospital sat me down and told me that Sari and I had to be entered into 'the system.' That we had no choice but foster care. I didn't argue about it—it didn't seem worth it anymore. All I said was that Sari went wherever I did. It wasn't up for debate. And since I was her only living relative…that wasn't a problem.

"We had three sets of foster parents. The first one split with her jerk live-in boyfriend within the month. The second died in a car accident a year after we came to live with them. And the third set proved to be in it purely for the money and started beating me—well, I decided enough was enough. I took Sari—who was almost two then—and I ran, with no thought but to get away.

"We were in Pennsylvania at the time. I wanted to at least cross the border. So I snuck us onto a train and stayed in it until the last stop—New York City. But that wasn't good enough for me—I found out that Manhattan would put actual water between us and Pennsylvania social services, and that settled it.

"When we got to Manhattan, I had to decide what to do next, obviously. I had been to school, of course, but not nearly enough. And I had no money to go now. I couldn't take a job because of Sari. She had to be fed and clothed and cared for—she has always come first in my mind, way before myself. From watching you guys, I know you get that. So, I moved us in here—it was falling down then, too, but it was my only prospect—and…we started our new lives."

Morgan was reaching the end of his story now, but he no longer seemed to be truly in the room. He seemed to be drifting…back in time, to two or three years before, when he was forced to grow up all too quickly.

"I stole what we needed, and we lived on cold food and warm drinks, and wore our clothes until they fell apart, and ducked any sort of authority figure, and we never got caught. Our luck is, apparently, golden—except for being homeless and all.

I passed through the days, the places, the people, like a ghost. Apart from everything, alone except for my sister. I always focused on what would happen to her without me—she became everything to me. The center of my world. She was all that kept me going.

"This is the only life Sari has ever known, but…for almost three years now, it's been chipping away at me, until…there's almost nothing left now. I'm fifteen years old and already wondering when it's going to end."

As he finished his tale, Sam realized that there were tears dampening his skin, and wiped them away quickly. Beside him, Dean sat as still as a stone, hands still in fists, so that they wouldn't shake.

"But…" Morgan looked up at them, and his eyes weren't sad or angry or…anything. They were as cold and unfeeling as the man he had been forced to become. "…But I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I only told you this because you told me your secrets. Not so you would pity us. People pitied me after my mom and brother died, and they pitied me my whole life for being poor and fatherless. It was never a bit of help and it's not what I want."

Sam took a last swipe at his eyes, and Morgan pretended not to notice.

Is everybody going crazy?

Is anybody gonna save me?

Can anybody tell me what's going on?

Tell me what's going on.

If you open your eyes,

You'll see that something…

Something is wrong.

"We have to find some way to help those kids," Sam said broodingly, scrolling down a long web page.

Dean didn't reply—he hadn't said a word since they'd pulled up at Morgan's home hours before. Sam had been trying to coax a conversation out of him, but Dean hardly even glanced at him. It was getting seriously worrying—and annoying.

"Dean, what is the matter with you?" he finally said in frustration. "Why won't you say something? I mean, I know today sucked, but—"

Sam was cut off abruptly when Dean got up out of his chair and headed for the door. He left without a single word of explanation, and Sam was left alone in the little motel room to wonder…

XXX

Dean came back within the hour, so Sam didn't have too much time to worry. He was still sitting at the computer when the door banged open and Dean came in, followed—to Sam's astonishment—by Morgan, carrying a half-asleep Sari.

"Are you using that?" Dean asked, pointing to the laptop.

"Um…not really…" San said uncertainly, and Dean immediately unplugged the jack and tucked the computer under his arm. "Dean, what…?"

"I'm going out for a while. Keep them here."

And then he was gone again.

"Um…what the hell was that?" Sam murmured, at the moment more puzzled than he could ever remember being. "He's really been acting weird…er. Oh…uh…go ahead and make yourselves comfortable. Take one of the beds…" he added vaguely, still staring at the door Dean had left through. "Do you have any idea…?"

"What that was about? Not really," Morgan said, sitting next to Sari, who was lying on Dean's bed, falling back to sleep. "He just came back, walked in, and told us he wanted us to come with him for the night. And let me tell you, he meant business. So…here we are. He didn't tell us why he wanted to bring us here or how long he wanted us to stay. I mean, he's your brother! Can't you figure it out?"

Sam sighed. "You know, I'd like to tell you I can, but the truth is…sometimes, I don't think I know him at all."

XXX

For the next five and a half hours, Sam and Morgan played every card game known to man, and Morgan watched TV for the first time in over ten years. "I don't think I missed much," was his verdict. Sari fell asleep almost instantly—she seemed fairly comfortable in the unfamiliar place, but Sam sense that it was only because Morgan was nearby.

Sam tried not to check his watch too many times, but Morgan noticed anyway. "Does he do this often?" he asked curiously as Sam checked for the fifth time.

"What? Oh…no. That's the weird thing. Dean's not the most thoughtful guy, but he usually lets me know where he is…"

Morgan was quiet for a moment. Then he suddenly said, "I think Sari and I make him uncomfortable."

"Oh, no, that's not true," Sam protested, but it sounded feeble even to him.

"Don't worry, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just…true. He didn't think people…people like us really existed, did he? Or if he believed it he's been trying to forget it, ignore it."

Sam sighed. "I honestly couldn't tell you. This is one of the few times in our lives when…I have no idea what he's thinking."

XXX

It was almost one in the morning when Dean returned to the room. He looked tired, but he didn't seem angry anymore. The moment he closed the door behind him, he went over to Sam and gave the computer back to him with a murmured, "Thanks." Then he walked over to Morgan, reaching into his pocket. Morgan gasped as a bundle of cash fell into his lap, along with a card.

"Dean, what the—" Sam asked, completely baffled.

"This is the most hustling money I've ever been able to make in one night. Five hundred even. And the card has the info of an organization to sponsor people in…desperate situations. You know, for school and places to crash and stuff."

Morgan's mouth was slightly open as he took in both the money and Dean's words. "Dean…I…I can't take…"

"I don't want to hear any of that crap. I worked hard for that money, and finding that organization was no picnic either. I don't want to have wasted my time," Dean said firmly. He didn't give Morgan any time to argue. "You and Sari can have my bed tonight. I'll take the floor. Oh, and Morgan?"

The boy, still half in shock, just stared at him.

"Don't spend it all in one place."

XXX

Sam and Dean left two mornings later. Neither of them really wanted to go, but time and jobs were flying by, and at last Morgan made it clear that the brothers shouldn't stick around just for him and Sari. They had spent the last nights in Sam and Dean's motel room, but with the cash Dean had given them they would be able to hold up all right until they could contact the shelter.

"So go. Save people. Do your thing," was the last thing Morgan said to send them off.

So, at about the crack of dawn, the Winchesters loaded up the Impala, and said their goodbyes—their very short goodbyes, as neither had ever been big on making scenes.

"Here," Sam said, handing Morgan a piece of paper. "This is my cell number. Call and tell us how it turns out, okay?"

Morgan smiled and nodded, then reached out and squeezed Sam's shoulder. "We're gonna be fine, Sam. Count on it."

Sam smiled, and nodded. Then he knelt down next to Sari. "Bye, Sari," he murmured.

Sari smiled, and stood up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. He patted her thin shoulder and then stood up again, and moved aside so Dean could come forward.

"Uh…good luck," the elder Winchester said awkwardly, then grunted in shock as Morgan pulled him suddenly into a hug. "What the—"

"Thank you, Dean," Morgan murmured. "So much."

"Uh…you're welcome?" Dean said, sounding entirely terrified.

"Oh…sorry," Morgan said, letting go of him. "Yeah…sorry."

"Don't worry about it," Dean replied, red from embarrassment. He looked down when Sari tugged on his jacket. "What…?"

"Thank you," Sari whispered, looking shocked at her own daring.

Dean stood there for a long moment, looking down at her, and then reached out to tentatively ruffle her hair, just for a second. "Sammy, you coming or what?"

"Sammy?" Morgan mouthed over Dean's shoulder as the older man turned away.

Sam rolled his eyes, gave the brother and sister one last smile, and climbed into the Impala to leave New York far behind.

XXX

Dean clammed up again once they reached the mainland, and for countless miles Sam couldn't get him to say a thing. It must be admitted that he didn't try overly hard, but still, Dean could have given him something

And then, as they crossed the state border of New York, Dean spoke up. "I can't believe I said it wasn't true."

It took Sam a moment to figure out what he meant. "Oh…oh! Is that what you've been so cranky about today? You've been beating yourself up?"

Dean shrugged. "Well, kinda. I just…I never knew. I let all these kinds of things happen without even acknowledging it."

"Dean—"

"They were starving, Sammy. That little girl was starving. In the streets. She was born because of a rape! And neither of them deserve to live the way they have to." Dean's hands were holding the wheel so tightly that his knuckles were white, and he didn't seem to care, or even notice, that he was going against every one of his own rules and actually talking about his thoughts. "I mean, I've been to almost every major city in the U.S. and I never saw any of this."

Sam shrugged. "I dunno, Dean. Maybe you just didn't want to."

Dean gritted his teeth. "Yeah. Maybe. But…I mean…if I had seen it before…"

"What, Dean? What would you have done?" Sam asked, his voice holding a gentleness that belied his rough words. "You can't save everyone, all right? I know you're used to being able to make absolutely anything better, but…"

Dean sighed heavily. "Yeah, I know. But…I just wish I knew why."

Sam sighed, his heart aching. "Yeah. Me too."

They were silent for a while, letting the miles drop by. Then Dean spoke up again. Twice in one day…so miracles can happen…

"But…maybe someday we'll be in a position to do something about it. Right now…let's just concentrate on what we can do."

Sam smiled a little, relieved. "Agreed." Then he leaned his head against the cool glass of the passenger-side window, listening to Dean run through their list of job prospects and watching the scenery flash by as the Winchester brothers moved ever closer to something they could do.

Someday…

Agreed.

Is everybody going crazy?

Can anybody tell me what's going on?

Tell me what's going on.

If you open your eyes,

You'll see that something is wrong.

- - - - - - - - - -

AN: Please excuse any and all inaccuracies in this story—I've never actually been to Manhattan, so keep that in mind. Also, I'm sorry that this story was so focused on ethics and morals and not the supernatural. If anyone had a problem with it, that is.

I would love to hear any and all comments, complaints, etc. on this! It's my first story of its kind, I think, and feedback would be much appreciated.

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"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian." –Dennis Wholey

"There is a point, in every life, where one moves from being protected to protector. It is as inevitable as the progression from infancy to adulthood and it is as inescapable." –witchofnovember

"Ninety percent of everything is crap." -Sturgeon's Law