Title: How to be Dead Series: Can I Call in Dead?
Author: Moonfairyhime
Rating: T
Disclaimer: I don't own the lovely Winchester boys.
Summary: Instead of Sam leaving for college, Dean did. And when Sam shows up on Dean's doorstep four years later, finding out that his brother is a psychic is the least of Dean's problems.
Notes: This is an AU fic, in which Dean leaves for school and Sam is left with John. However, Sam has developed his "gifts" a few years earlier. Please keep in mind that this is not the normal Sam you're used to—this is a bitter Sam who is completely resigned to his fate. Many, many thanks to kashmir1 for her beta-ing and all the support she gave for this fic and thank you to okibibanshi for beta-ing in a fandom she doesn't actively participate in. Slightly Wincest-y (of the Dean/Sam variety) if you tilt your head sideways and screw with your eyes… or so I've been told. If I get enough positive feedback, I am interested in turning this into a series, which is why some questions remain unanswered in this story. Title taken from a song by Snow Patrol and series name from the old adage "I used up all my sick days… Can I call in dead?" This is the edited version. If you want the un-edited version, e-mail me. Basically, I just cut out almost all of the swearing so I could post it here. For some reason, I can't get the line break thing to work, so you'll be seeing the title of the fic in between scene breaks. Oh, and warning, character death.

How to be Dead

"Sam?" Dean wasn't sure who he was expecting to be at his door at one in the afternoon, but he was pretty sure his little brother was nowhere near the top of the list.

Sam smiled tiredly at Dean. "Hey, big bro. Have you heard from Dad lately?"

"Sammy, you know I haven't talked to Dad since I walked. Besides, shouldn't he be with you?"

"We were on separate hunts." Sam shrugged, as is this was an everyday occurrence.

"You were on your own hunt! What the hell, Sam? Why would Dad let you do that? What about school?"

An eerie light came into Sam's eyes. "Believe me, Dean; things should be afraid of me. Besides, I graduated last year."

Dean's eyes glowed with pride. "You graduated a year early, Sammy? Way to go."

"Yeah. I got accepted into Stanford. Dad found out and burned the letter. He said he lost one son; he was going to be damned before he lost another. He's already damned." Sam shook his head. "Anyhow, I was handling a simple possession and Dad had a rumor he was checking out. We were supposed to meet back at the motel, but he never showed. I waited half a day for him and kept calling him but no answer. I was hoping he showed up here, but I guess not. I better go then. See if he showed up while I was gone."

Dean reached out to grab Sam's arm, but an invisible force stopped him. Dean blinked at his hand, "What the hell?"

Sam winced. "Sorry about that. Then again, my instincts have saved me more times that I can count."

"And again, what the hell?"

"You've been gone for four years, Dean. Did you think Dad and I wouldn't change while you were gone? Of course, we never thought I'd change this much, but whatever." Sam shrugged. "I have to go. Have a great life, Dean… Was great to see you. See you again in four years."

Dean tried again and met the same force. "Sam, what happened to you? Did this happen to you because of hunting and Dad?"

Both Sam and Dean heard the unspoken 'Because I wasn't there?'

Sam smirked bitterly. Dean never wanted to see that expression on his brother again and watched as Sam opened the door without being near it. "Dean… Forget it. You weren't there when this all happened. I'm handling this fine."

Dean watched as Sam walked out the door. He then grabbed his phone number and dialed the number to his dad's cell phone, long remembered but never used. When it switched to voicemail, Dean hung up without leaving a message before dialing another number. "Pastor Jim? It's Dean. What is going on with my little brother?"

How to be Dead

Sam frowned as he opened the door and threw the Impala's keys on the dresser. Dad still wasn't back yet and the sun was going down. He carefully checked the entire the room for a sign that any living being had been it in while he was gone. His frown only deepened when he realized that the only thing his empathy was picking up was his emotions from earlier: slight bitterness with a hint of worry.

"Where are you Dad?" Sam asked aloud as he sat on the bed. Sam rubbed his hands over his face, feeling older than the eighteen years he actually was. Seeing Dean again was not in his plans, but Sam needed to find their dad. Sam's empathy became hard for him to control without a familiar presence to ground him-someone with familiar emotions that kept Sam from becoming lost in someone else's turmoil-every so often. Although Sam could easily control his telekinesis, the premonitions wrecked havoc with his mind whenever they felt like it. As for the empathy, Sam just wished that "gift" had an off switch. Most of the time, he could ignore what other people were feeling, but in a crowd…

Sam felt a familiar tug into darkness and eloquently summed up everything with two words:

"Well, shit."

How to be Dead

Even though Dean had a lab tomorrow he was supposed to be getting ready for, he kept replaying the conversation he had with Father Jim in his mind.

"Dean? What can I help you with?" Although John had turned his back on his older son, Father Jim had never refused Dean.

"Sam was here a little while ago. Jim, what has happened to my little brother? He moved stuff with his mind!"

Jim neatly sidestepped the question. "Why was Sam there?"

"He couldn't find Dad. Jim, you're not answering my question: what is wrong with Sam?"

Jim frowned, although Dean couldn't see it. "There's nothing wrong with your brother. And the sooner you realize this, the better."

Dean heard a click and then the dial tone. Dean stared at his cell phone. "What is going on? I was only gone for four years."

A loud banging noise on the door stopped Dean's thoughts. He got up to answer the door, fully ready to tell his friends he didn't want to go to a bar tonight. Once again, Dean was shocked to see his little brother. He was even more shocked to realize that unlike the composed Sam he saw earlier, this Sam seemed riled up and Dean could swear he saw his brother's left eye twitch. There was a slight wildness to Sam's eyes that almost frightened Dean.

"Sammy? What the hell?"

Sam reached out and touched Dean's arm. Dean blinked as some of the twitchiness left Sam. "Sammy, dude, why are you touching me?"

Sam withdrew his hand as if Dean's arm had suddenly turned to fire. The wildness left, only to be replaced by eyes that were almost dead. "Sorry. I told you: I'm empathetic. I need to ground myself on familiar emotions every now and then or I could get lost in other people's emotions. Although I haven't seen you in four years, your emotions haven't changed too drastically. Four years away can't change the fact that I knew you inside and out for fourteen years. Was a bit blindsided by you leaving, but that's a moot point."

Dean winced at Sam's bluntness. "Sam. You knew all the reasons why I left. I told you them."

"Dammit, Dean! You left me when I needed you the most. You left me in the middle of puberty. Take a good look at me, Dean." For the first time, Sam stood up to his full height and Dean was annoyed to find that Sam was three inches taller than him. "Tell me, Dean, how well do you think Dad took your leaving? You were perfectly trained and comfortable in your own body. I was a gawky teenager who grew three inches in a one-month period. I had to relearn how to shoot every gun, how to block every punch. And I didn't have to deal with just that type puberty. My "gift" decided to emerge right after my sixteenth birthday. Some kids get a car when they turn sixteen, well; I got the power to move a car."

Dean was slightly afraid when he realized that the furniture in his apartment was shaking. Sam smiled bitterly at him before taking a deep breath and closing his eyes. The furniture stopped moving and Sam opened his eyes. "Do you know what it's like to be able to feel someone dying, Dean? I can't go into a hospital anymore. Last time Dad took me to one, I had broken my arm and collarbone after a poltergeist shoved me out of a second story window. He had to sneak me out in the middle of the night through the window because all I could feel was death and hopelessness. He had to stop me from committing suicide because I couldn't take it anymore. The telekinesis really isn't that bad, but I don't even want to talk about premonitions. Even though they're the reason I'm here."

Dean felt his blood stop cold. "What's wrong?"

"Dad was tracking down a rumor when we separated. The rumor was about a shaman in Catawba. Fifteen deaths have occurred recently in the town and no one knows the cause."

"Sam, what are you trying to imply?"

"I think that Dad's in trouble, Dean."

"Sammy, where was the motel you were staying at?"

"Some motel in Wabun."

Dean sighed. He got out of his life of hunting four years ago. He was free and never imagined that it would taste so sweet. Even though Sam said he was a lost cause, Dean was sure Sam was exaggerating in normal Sam fashion. "Sam, I'm sure Dad is fine. What do you want?"

Sam's eyes flashed angrily and for a minute, Dean was worried that things were going to start levitating again. Sam sensed Dean's fear and shook his head. "Were you not listening to me three minutes ago? I had a premonition. Dad is in trouble."

Dean blinked, not sure he was believing this. "Sam. Just say it. What do you want from me?"

"I want your help!"

Dean sighed again, this time louder. Sam actually growled at his older brother. "Oh, screw you, Dean. Forget I ever showed up here. Go back to earning your degree in mechanical engineering and your normal life. I'll go deal with Dad. I've been doing it for four years now. I don't even know why I came to you. You'd think, me being psychic and all, I'd know better. Goodbye, Dean."

Dean tried to grab Sam's arm, but was met with the same invisible resistance. "Sammy, wait. I'd go and help you, but I have a lab in the morning and it's worth half my grade for the semester and…"

Sam's eyes were cold. "Forget it, Dean. I'll handle it. Go to bed or whatever." Sam paused by the door, his head cocked. "Oh, by the way, whoever lives below you is about to have wild, kinky sex. Hope you have earplugs."

Dean paused and weighed his options: listening to someone have sex while studying for a lab or going with Sam. He missed his brother and knew that he had missed important pieces of his brother's life, but when he left for Virginia Tech, he stopped hunting. Still, Sammy wouldn't have come back unless something was really wrong…

In the end, duty to his little brother won out over duty to school. When you ignore something, it doesn't go away. It just lingers in the back of your mind until you're ready to deal with it.

How to be Dead

Sam was leaning against the Impala, sipping a cup of coffee. When Dean appeared in front of him and the car, Sam merely raised an eyebrow.

Dean stared at the Impala. "Dad lets you drive the Impala?"

Sam grinned at Dean and Dean was shocked to see a hint of the younger brother he remembered in the smile. "I told you that some kids get a car when they turn sixteen. I never said I didn't get a car."

"Dad didn't give me a car when I turned sixteen." Dean said, smiling at the Impala and his brother.

Sam ignored that statement. "Are you coming or not? I don't know how far into the future my vision was."

Dean sighed. "Sammy, I want to, but…"

"But what Dean? You were the one who told me that an education was worthless and that I should just give up the dream. You were the one who told me that hunting was the only life for the Winchesters."

"Sam, I left for you." Dean's voice was icy. "I left so that you could have a better life than hunting."

Sam's eyes narrowed and he swore. "Shit. Do me a favor and calm down. You're giving me a headache."

"I'm giving you a headache! What the hell! I wasn't the one who appeared on your doorstop, out of the blue, asking for help! I'm not the one who is asking you to drop your normal life to go off and track down Dad!"

Sam brought his hand to his forehead and began to massage his temples. "Dean, you're not the one who's empathetic. You're so pissed I can feel it in my bones. Please, calm down. When I said I remembered your emotions, I don't know them well enough that they don't hurt."

Dean suddenly realized how pale his little brother was and all the anger flowed out of him. "Oh, Sammy… I'm sorry."

Sam sighed in relief. "Dean, in my vision, Dad was being attacked. By who or what, I don't know. I just have a feeling that I can't do this by myself. If you want to stay here, fine. I don't care. I'm going to sit in the Impala. If you want to come with me, pack a bag and meet me in the Impala in ten minutes. If not, I'm leaving without you. Either way, I'm going after Dad."

Ten minutes later, Dean was sitting shotgun in the Impala and Sam had Coldplay playing at a reasonable level. Dean stared at the radio like it had three heads. "Sammy, what is this?"

"It's my music. If you even think about touching the radio, I will break your fingers one by one and shove them down your throat."

"You can't do both at the same time."

"You can if you're me."

How to be Dead

Dean and Sam hadn't talked for thirty minutes and Dean was sick of whiny ass British emo rockers. He turned the radio off with a flick of his wrist. "So, Sam, what have you been doing for the past four years?"

As soon as Dean asked that question, he had to stop himself from hitting himself in the forehead. Luckily, Sam was there to do it for him. Sam rolled his eyes, ignoring the question. "What have you been doing? I thought you'd be living in your own private harem by now."

"Nah… I had a steady girlfriend, but we broke up last semester. I had a roommate this semester, but he transferred out to Penn State. Kind of nice having the apartment to myself, though." Dean appreciated having room to himself after sharing a motel bed with his brother for so long.

"So, you're like the cat lady minus the cats?"

"Shut up, Sam."

Dean waited five minutes before he tried to strike up a conversation again. "What did you see in your vision, Sam?"

"Oh, so now we're acknowledging that I'm psychic?"

"Sammy."

"Dad was walking down an alley. He was alone, but it didn't feel like he was alone. Felt like something was watching him. Everything felt off." Sam said, and there was a note of finality in Sam's voice that told Dean that Sam was done conversing for a while.

How to be Dead

As Sam and Dean pulled into Catawba the sun was just beginning to rise. Dean looked at his brother; Sammy looked dead on his feet. As soon as Sam stepped out of the car, his head pivoted and he glared at an innocent looking shop. Dean noticed the look and raised his eyebrow. "What's up, Sammy?"

"There's definitely something not right with this town. Everyone feels alive, but I just felt something that felt… blank." Sam said, struggling to find a word that would describe the empty feeling that was tugging at his empathy.

"Blank?"

"Forgive me for using a hard word, Dean. Everyone has an emotion and they all buzz around in my head. Like that girl over there is depressed. Her mother is happy because she got laid last night. That man over there, with the suitcase, is hopeful. However, in that shop, I felt something that had no emotions. Every human being feels something."

Dean didn't look like he believed Sam's little speech. "Sam, maybe you're imaging this. You look like you haven't slept in a week."

Sam's eyes flashed dangerously at Dean. "Dean, out of all of my "gifts", empathy was the one I knew right away. You and Dad always said I was the best one of us to draw up sympathy, that I could play people the best because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Well, Dean, you remember how well you used to read me? I can read every one of these people better than that."

Dean held up his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. "What do you want to do, Sammy? Want me to barge right in and go 'oh, terrible sorry to interrupt, I'm looking for someone that my kid brother can't feel anything from?'"

Sam's lips twitched. "Of course not. The place doesn't open until nine and it's only six-thirty. I want to get a little bit of sleep… You can do research if you want to. I think I saw a motel sign down the block."

Dean paused as Sam gave the building one last look before getting into the Impala. "What's wrong, Sammy?"

Sam shook his head. "I don't know. That's what worries me."

How to be Dead

Dean checked his watch. It was eight-thirty and Sam had left him with instructions to wake him up at quarter to nine. Dean looked at his kid brother and was surprised that Sam still looked like an innocent kid when he slept. Dean smiled softly and brushed away a piece of hair that had fallen in front of Sam's eyes. Kid would only cut his hair when it was a centimeter away from being considered girly. Sam shifted in his sleep, a slight smile on his face and Dean wondered if Sam's empathy worked even when he was asleep.

Dean frowned. Maybe it was better that Dean had left Sammy with Dad. Dad, while not being a complete and utter bastard, knew how to keep his emotions in check, and something told Dean that someone with that rigid control would be exactly what a young empath needed. Still, Dean had to wonder if he made all the right choices four years ago.

"Dad, you have to understand! This will be good for me and for Sammy! I'll still be able to go hunting on the weekends!" Dean said.

John rounded on his son. "Oh, so not only do you think you know what you want, you know what's good for your brother as well?"

"Dad, you know Sammy isn't happy with this life! I got into Virginia Tech, Dad, for mechanical engineering. It's a good school and Sam's much smarter than me and you know it. The Ivy League schools are going to be hounding him in three years. When Sam enters college, I'll have graduated. I'll support him Dad."

John glared at Dean. "Go ahead and leave. But your brother stays with me. Know this, Dean… If you walk out now, you are not welcome back. You will not contact Sammy or me ever again. What Sam wants to do in four years is what he's doing now."

Dean glared right back at his father. "You can't control Sam's life."

"While he's a minor, I'm going to control his life."

"Dad, I've never asked for anything. I've always done what you wanted of me. Please, let me have this for my little brother. Sammy deserves this."

John shook his head and walked away. "As far as I'm concerned, you have no little brother. You have no family."

Dean frowned as he banished thoughts from that day away. He was here for Sam, not his dad. Sammy asked for his help. A small whimper escaped his little brother's lips and Dean realized that he was broadcasting his emotions loud and clear. He reigned in his temper before he woke Sam up. Dean checked his watch and decided to take a quick shower before it was time to wake Sam up.

Dean came out of the shower in time to see Sam begin to dig through his duffle bag looking for clean clothes. "What's up?"

"I had a vision. Dad's not doing so well. He was walking down an alley again and he turned around to face something, but... Whatever was behind him got to him first. He was attacked by something I couldn't see." Sam said, his lips drawn in a tight line. "I have a feeling like this already happened, but I can't be sure."

"Sammy, why are you so worried about Dad? The two of you never got along."

Sam looked ready to drop everything and just walk out the door, but he sighed and shook his head. Sam always wore his heart on his sleeve and loved to bitch at whoever would listen. "Because he stayed with me! He didn't leave for a dream. When I started to develop my "gifts", he didn't call me freak or freak out because of it. Dean, I'm not a moron. Even though you look okay, underneath, you're freaking out because I'm psychic. Dad may use my abilities as a tool, but he's not scared of me."

"Cut me some slack, Sam! You just appear in my life one day after not saying a word for four years and everything I knew about you changed. Suddenly, you're opening doors without touching them," Dean saw Sam made a grab for his forehead, "Oh, hell no. You don't get to play the empathy card for this one. I'm pissed and you're pissed. You've changed, Sam, and I think I have the right to be a little bit freaked out because you can suddenly move objects with your mind and see the future. You just dropped this in my lap and expect me to be with fine with it. It doesn't work that way."

Sam eyes flashed again and Dean noticed Sam's boots levitating out of the corner of his eye. "You think I had a choice. You think I woke up one day and someone said 'Hey, Sam, got a question for you. Do you want to be psychic or live what you Winchesters consider a normal life?' No. I woke up one day and my bed was two feet off the ground and I could feel every emotion in the motel we were staying at. I could feel the druggie coming off his high and a prostitute leaving a broken family man even more broke. I'm sorry that I just dropped this on your lap, Dean, but I gave you a choice to come with me or not."

"Sammy, you know that I can't refuse you anything. Why do you think I chose to go to school?"

"You keep telling me that I was the reason you left Dean, but I wasn't the one pushing you out the door, telling you to leave. You walked out that door under the power of your own two feet. You left because you wanted to. I respect you for leaving, Dean, and for wanting a better life, but I don't respect that you keep blaming me for decisions you made that went against what you thought you wanted." Sam looked around the hotel and realized that everything was shaking. "Second time in two days I've lost control this badly. An empathetic person with telekinesis is really not a good combination."

Dean blinked as the furniture set itself down. "We have issues."

Sam smirked as he continued to rummage around his bag. "No shit, Sherlock. We better go… that shop is opening up at nine and it's ten to nine right now."

Dean watched his little brother get dressed. He thought he saw some new scars on Sam's arms but he couldn't be certain if it was just shadows playing tricks on him or not. "You said that you use Dad to ground you… So why can't you use your empathy and search out his emotions?"

"I'm not a bloodhound, Dean. Besides, if a person is unconscious, I can't read their emotions. It's like they're dead. And if Dad's awake, there's enough people in this town that unless I'm in a ten foot radius of him, I'm not going to be able to pick his emotions out. It'd be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Did you find anything out while I was sleeping?"

"Not really. The only thing I noticed that before each person died, they had been seen arguing with someone that they cared about, like a husband and wife or mother and son. There are no wounds on any of the victims, they just dropped dead."

Sam grabbed the keys to the motel and Impala. "Let's go and pay the neighborhood shaman a visit."

How to be Dead

Sam figured later that he should have seen it coming. In the past two days, he had managed to eat one actual meal and get seven hours of sleep and while Dean's emotions were somewhat familiar to him, they didn't have the rock-solid steadiness and familiarity that their Dad's did.

Upon entering the shaman's building, Sam and Dean were both surprised to see that it had a very modern look and feel to it. So modern, that the shaman had a waiting room and a receptionist. After being assured that the shaman (who went by the name Dr. Shawn Homme) would soon see them, the two settled into the uncomfortable plastic waiting room chairs. Across from them was an arguing married couple and next to them, a father was arguing with his daughter about his choice in dating her ex-boyfriend.

"Tell me, Sammy… When did shamen become relationship counselors?"

Sam had a look on his face that Dean was beginning to recognize as "my empathy is bothering me, but I can't figure out why". It should have bothered Dean more than it did that he was back with his brother for less than a day and he was all ready figuring out his little brother's newest tics.

Dean softened his voice. "What's wrong?"

Sam snapped out of whatever trance he was in, breathing heavily. "I'm fine. Just felt the empty presence again."

"Why do I get the feeling that this shaman isn't just a shaman?" Dean also had the feeling that Sam was lying to him, but he didn't push the subject.

Sam smiled bitterly. "'Cause nothing about this job is easy."

"Mr. Winters and Mr. Chesterfield? Dr. Homme will see you now." The receptionist smiled politely as she led Sam and Dean through a maze of doors. She opened one and ushered them in the room before closing the door behind her.

As soon as Sam entered the room, he felt his empathy go so off kilter so quickly that he had to grab Dean's elbow so that he wouldn't fall over. Dean quickly ushered his brother into one of the chairs. "What's wrong, Sam?"

Sam actually shivered and that worried Dean more than he cared to admit. He kept his death grip on Dean's arm. "It's so cold here… So many people have been through this room and have completely given up hope on their loved ones… It's so barren and it just makes me feel… Something about this feels really off… Like I should recognize something…"

Sam's voice trailed off as the door opened and Dr. Homme walked in. He smiled at both boys, but Dean was sure that he saw a glint in his eyes and that the grin turned a bit ferocious when the good doctor laid eyes on Sam. "Welcome boys. How can I be of service?"

As soon as Sam laid eyes on Dr. Homme, Sam felt the empty feeling beginning to swallow him alive. No matter how tightly he gripped Dean's arm, he just couldn't escape the feeling. Dr. Homme said something before he smiled at Sam and Sam finally gave in to the empty feeling that surrounded him as he sunk into blissful unconsciousness.

Dean felt Sam begin to grip his arm tighter and Dean hoped that, after this hunt was over, that he would be able to use that arm again.

Dr. Homme smiled at Dean. "So, Mr. Chesterfield, what seems to be the problem with Mr. Winters?"

How to be Dead

Later, when Dean had time to process everything, he would admit that Sam lost his grip of death on Dean's arm the same time that Dr. Homme turned his full attention on his baby brother. At the current time, Dean was too worried about his brother passing out cold to process anything other than getting Sam out of the building.

Dean had Sam propped up in bed and was regarding his younger brother with a critical eye as Sam finished eating a bag of animal crackers that Dean got from the hotel vending machine. Dean would admit that driving the Impala again was as good as sex, but he wished that the chance had been under circumstances. As soon as Dean entered the hotel room, Sam's color had begun to return and Sam woke up soon after. Dean demanded an explanation and Sam promised him one, but only after Dean got him a bag of animal crackers. "Does this happen a lot, Sam?"

Sam shook his head. "I wasn't ready for all of the negative emotions in that room and I haven't slept well since Dad left. Or ate well, for that matter."

Dean sat on Sam's bed and regarded his brother once more. For the first time, Dean realized that Sam was slender under all the layers of clothes he wore. Dean wondered how often Dad remembered to feed Sam; Dean could only guess at how much food that body needed to keep it properly working. Sam waved his arm in front of Deans' face, trying to get his older brother's attention, and this time Dean knew that shadows weren't playing a trick on his eyes. Dean grabbed Sam's arm and blinked at the scars that ran up and down it. "Sammy, what the hell?"

Sam looked at the arm in question before shrugging and yawning. "Remember when I told you how I can't be in hospitals because of what happened the last time? I told you Dad had to stop me from committing suicide. I never mentioned how far I was into the act when Dad came into the room."

Dean paled. "Oh, God… Sammy…"

Sam grinned at his older brother and Dean noted that it was a pale imitation of the one he remembered. Sam just seemed too tried to Dean. "I'm still alive, aren't I? Oh, and hey, you actually touched me. My telekinesis didn't stop you."

"Is that good?" Dean asked, suddenly feeling hopeful about this entire operation.

Sam shrugged. "It took Dad three months before he could touch me without me initiating the contact. My telekinesis wasn't under as much control at the time. It just stopped your hand; it threw him back fifteen feet."

Dean winced. "I bet Dad liked that."

"The telekinesis was the one thing that was unpredictable in the beginning. The visions, well, they're still unpredictable and the empathy just set up shop in my mind and stayed there. Dad couldn't figure out how to train me to tap in to the telekinesis at the right time. He tried everything he could but it was still unpredictable. He took me to so many fakes that I lost count. Finally, we were in the middle of a hunt and a werewolf almost bit Dad. I threw the werewolf off him and then shot him with my gun, all without actually touching anything. After that, I could tap into it whenever I pleased. I still get random outbursts, though."

"With the empathy… You're okay as long as someone is there to ground you?"

"Most of the time. I have to be careful in large crowds or places were people feel intense emotions."

"Like?" Dean couldn't remember needing to pry information out of his baby brother like this before.

"Like hospitals or churches." Sam let out a bone-cracking yawn and Dean smiled at his brother.

"Go to sleep Sammy. I'm not going anywhere. We'll figure out what do about Dr. Homme later."

How to be Dead

Sam sat up with a loud gasp. "Dad!"

Dean had been researching shamen on the internet and nearly dropped the laptop when Sam woke up so abruptly. "What the hell?"

"Vision. Dad is in trouble and it doesn't look good at all." Sam grabbed the keys to the Impala and was almost out the door when Dean's arm shot out and grabbed him. "Dean, let me go. We have to get to Dad!"

"Sammy, stop it. You're exhausted and probably starving. If you walk into that office again, you're going to collapse and I don't even want to think about what Dr. Feelgood would do to you."

"Dean. Let me go. Dad isn't in the office. Let me go before I make you let go." Sam said, pulling on his arm again.

"Sammy, you're in no condition to go anywhere," Dean said, "Tell me where it is, I'll be fine."

Sam couldn't believe that Dean was arguing with him. "Dean, for the last time: let me go. You're out of practice and we're wasting valuable time!"

Dean looked ready to protest again and Sam narrowed his eyes. Dean was thrown back into the bed and Sam ran to the door. Sam shook his head. "You've missed too much, Dean. You can't handle this on your own. I'm sorry."

In some sick, twisted way, Dean was glad that his brother still cared enough to shove him into a bed, rather than the wall. "Fine, you win. Wait for me."

How to be Dead

Dean wasn't sure how his brother could trust something inside his mind. He watched as Sam made turn after turn, going further and further into the back streets of Catawba. "Sam, where are we going?"

"To where Dad is, Dean. Thought we covered this." Sam said, lines of pain etched into his face.

"How do you know where Dad is?"

"I just do."

"How can you trust this "gift" you have?"

If Sam didn't realize how urgent getting to their dad was, he would have stopped the Impala and threw Dean out of it. Instead, he ran his fingers through his hair. "Go screw yourself, Dean. How can you trust your heart to keep beating? You just do. You know, I thought this would be like before you left. I thought you could trust me. I thought that you of all people would be able to look above the freaky-ass thing that I am and see your little brother. But I was wrong. When this is over, I'll drop you off at Virginia Tech, and mark my words, Dean, you will never, ever see me again. I'm sorry that what I am freaks you out, but I'm still Sam."

Dean almost growled. "I'm sorry, Sam, but I'm still getting used to the fact that you suddenly know what I'm feeling. Isn't there an off switch?"

"I wish there was a way to turn it off. At least then I couldn't keep feeling that you're afraid of me." Sam's voice was bleak.

"I was brought up to trust what I could see and be wary of things that I can't. I can't see your "gifts"," and Sam would be damned if Dean just didn't do the air quotation marks around the word 'gift', "so, I don't trust them. Whoever these things reside in doesn't matter."

Sam sighed and pulled into the driveway of an abandoned old house. He popped open the trunk and unlocked the combination lock that hid the weapons compartment. He pulled out a Glock and Dean took a moment to look at the trunk. Everything was neatly organized into compartments. It looked like Martha Stewart had been there.

"Get bored?"

Sam ignored the question and pulled out a different gun and handed it to Dean. "Do you remember how to fire one of these?"

"It's been four years, Sam. Not forty."

Sam took his words as truth and together they approached the house. Sam took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "Dean, don't touch the door." Sam didn't need to open his eyes to know that his brother had a guilty look on his face. "The shaman has to be here. I can feel something empty. I think that Dad is here too… I think that's his determination."

"Well, Psychic Wonder, what next?"

Sam very carefully picked the lock on the door before opening it with telekinesis. He was going to go in first when Dean shot him a nasty look and Sam smirked as Dean entered. "Oh, I forget, Deanie… Ladies first."

How to be Dead

The brothers weren't quite sure what to expect as they made their way down the steps to the cellar. Really, not much surprised Sam (who had long since decided that the motto of his life was "been there, done that, probably saw it happen before it actually did, and the t-shirt was destroyed by a black dog"… oh, and being a psychic helped support that motto), and Dean had seen his fair share of creepies. However, seeing their father pinned to the wall as blood from various cuts dripped into a large container underneath his body was something that neither brother was ready to see. Sam was glad that his vision had only showed John strapped to the wall; Sam could barely stomach the sight once, he was sure that a second time would probably have some terribly long lasting mental damage. Not that he wasn't going to have his fair share of nightmares after this.

Dean tilted his head and looked at his father for the first time in four years. The man seemed less powerful than Dean remembered and Dean wasn't sure why he was so loyal to the man anymore.

Sam took a step towards their father. "Dad!"

John opened and looked at Sam before his eyes settled on Dean. "Oh, Dean…"

"Hey, Dad. Little brother is a good recruiter. You should be proud." Dean said.

John nodded but didn't say a word to either son.

"Let's get you down, Dad. The shaman is…"

"Right here. Hello, precious." The shaman's body gave a violent twitch before it dropped dead to the ground. For the first time since Dean saw his brother again, he saw a real look of panic on Sam's face and he saw John's eyes open in shock. He watched as what looked like little black specs of dust materialize into a body.

Sam was shaking his head and slowly walking backwards. "No. Dad and I killed your sorry ass. You can't still be here, Nyx."

Nyx cracked his neck. "Oh, but I am, precious. I knew you would remember me and I knew you would come if I took Daddy here."

The panic look on Sam's face dissolved in to a look of pure malice. John suddenly dropped from his restraints and then a knife that Dean didn't even know his brother was carrying flew towards the demon.

The demon only tsk'ed at Sam. "If you'd only come with me, precious, I could teach you so much more. You'd have even more control over your telekinesis. Your emotions wouldn't cause it to flare out of control."

Dean knelt down towards John and John smiled. "Good to see you, Dean."

"You too, sir."

Sam spared his father and brother a glance and John tipped his head to greeting and offered his youngest a smile, which Sam easily returned. The demon noticed the exchange and grinned at the boys. "I see you found your brother, precious. Good on you."

"Leave them all alone, Nyx. It's me you want."

Nyx grinned. "So true, precious. So true. However, there's two things standing in my way."

John suddenly let out a gargled scream before blood began to pour out of the hundreds out of little cuts on his body. Dean and Sam watched in horror as the cuts grew larger and larger, slowly growing to meet one another. With one last anguished scream, what was left of John's blood exploded from his body. Nyx smiled in pleasure before the container in which John's blood had been collected appeared in his hands.

"Oh, and now there's only one. Ta, precious. I'll be in touch."

Sam knelt down in his father's blood at the same time that Dean stood up and back away. Sam tried to take his father's listless and lifeless corpse into his arms, but there was no where Sam could find to safely touch him. "Oh, no… Dad. No. You can't go like this. You told me you wouldn't leave me alone, ever. You promised me, Dad."

For some reason, in the back of his mind, Dean was devastated more by the fact that Sam said he would be alone than his father dying. "Sammy… There's nothing we can do… Dad's dead, Sam."

Sam shook his head and for the first time, Dean really saw his little brother instead of a bitter young psychic. "No, Dean. Dad can't be dead. We have jobs left to do. He didn't get to kill the demon that killed Mom. Dad isn't dead. He can't be. He said he'd always be there for me. I didn't see this coming."

Dean pulled Sam out of the blood and hugged his little brother. He felt a few tears escape Sam's eyes and when objects in the room began to shake, Dean found himself, for the first time, not afraid of his brother, but afraid for his brother. "Sammy… Oh, little brother."

Sam suddenly wrested himself out of Dean's hold and the objects slowly stopped shaking. "No. The job… the job isn't done. We need to… salt and… burn him, Dean. It's what he would have wanted. I'm going to go get the salt and lighter fluid from the Impala…"

Dean watched his brother go back up the stairs before looking at his father's corpse. "I don't care what you do to me or yourself, but, you hurt my little brother. Sammy depended on you and you died on him. Damn you, Dad."

Sam came back down the steps and offered Dean some salt. Together, the brothers did the toughest thing ever.

They salted and burned their father's corpse.

How to be Dead

"Sammy, tell me that wasn't the demon that killed mom."

"No, Dean. It wasn't." Sam's voice sounded empty as he got into the Impala.

"What now?" Dean asked, as he slammed the door to the Impala shut.

Sam smiled sadly at Dean. "I'm dropping you off at Virginia Tech, Dean."

"Dad just died, Sammy! What is going on with you? Why are you acting this way?" Dean couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Sam glared at Dean and Dean was suddenly really glad that Sam had control over his telekinesis. Because if he didn't, Dean wasn't sure he'd still be alive. "Dean, I know Dad is dead. Believe me, I know. The one person who never left me, never thought I was a freak, is dead and the one time a premonition would have come in handy, I didn't have one. You weren't there when we'd be on a case and I'd move something with my mind and not even realize I did it. Every single time I did it, you should see the looks people gave me. I wish you could have felt the disgust and fear radiating off of them when they realized that the hunter they trusted had a son that was just like what they called the hunter to get rid of. Dad never, ever stood for it. Ever. Their first look of whatever and he would flat out tell them to get over it or we'd walk out and they could deal with their own problem. And he actually went through with it once. So, yes, Dean, I'm going to act like everything is fine. Cause I don't have clue on how else to act."

Dean blinked at this brother's speech before giving in to Sam's wishes. "What are you going to do, Sammy?"

"I'm going to visit Missouri for a while and recuperate. After that? I don't know."

"You can go to school, Sam. Dad… isn't here anymore to control your life. I'm sure that Stanford would be more than happy to have you."

Sam shook his head. "Finish your education Dean. If I was meant for college, I would have gone."

Dean looked at his brother up and down. "You sure about that? You're prime college material, little brother."

"Dean, I see can the future and college is nowhere in it."

"You going to keep hunting?"

Sam nodded. "It's all I know and really, there's nowhere else I can go. Missouri would love to have me, but as for having a normal life… That's for normal people. I would freak my roommate out whenever I got pissed or have a continuous headache because of all the horny college students."

"How about having a partner as you continue the family business?"

Sam paused as he considered the ramifications of what Dean was saying. "Dean, you have to make sure you want this. I don't want to be blamed for this in three months… three years down the road. Come with me because you want to, not out of some latent feelings of familial guilt."

"I can take a semester off. The scholarship I have lasts for five years." Dean nodded, as if all of the problems of the world had been solved.

Sam shook his head. "No. If you go with me Dean, you go with me permanently. I can't lose you again and I don't want to worry that something I say or something I do will upset you and cause you to leave. All or nothing, Dean. I have one more night at the motel in Wabun. If you're there before I leave tomorrow at noon, great. If not… I wasn't lying when I said I would never see you again, Dean."

"Sam, this isn't fair." Dean's eyes flashed.

The look Sam gave him was all too old. "Neither is life, Dean. I'll drop you off at school."

"Sam, will that freak be coming after you again?"

Sam didn't answer him.

How to be Dead

Dean showed up at the motel in Wabun at exactly 11:59. Sam hoped again hope that Dean wasn't coming just to say goodbye. Sam had heard the tales of what happened to an empath without someone to keep him grounded, but there was no way that Sam was forcing his brother to come along.

"Where's Dad's truck?" Dean asked, not seeing the familiar black truck anywhere. "I thought it would be here."

"I called in a favor… It's in Lawerence. When I get there, I'll go through the weapons and sell the truck. Need all the money I can get."

Dean showed Sam his two duffle bags. "What's all this 'I' talk, Sammy? It's we."

Sam's smile was small, but it was still a real smile.