First Solo Flight
Refer to disclaimers in previous chapters.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read up to this point. This is the last chapter and I hope it ties up everything in a satisfying way. Feel free to let me know – I'll beg. I'm not proud. LOL.
The night passed without incident and the next morning, Christopher left to take Raven home with plans to be at the Winchesters' home that night. John wasn't keen on Dean's idea that he and Sam go home alone in the Impala, but he relented knowing he and Aidan wouldn't be far behind them. Dean seemed to be suffering no lingering physical effects from his ordeal and John always recognized how important it was to the boys to spend time alone together. John also thought it would give him and Aidan time to begin healing their relationship. After breakfast, Sam and Dean headed home while John and Aidan went back to the farm where the men had been held to make sure everything was taken care of.
"Dean?" Sam began after a few miles of comfortable silence.
The older brother glanced at him.
"Don't you think it's weird that neither one of us can remember the same period of time from yesterday?"
"Yeah." Dean said. "I do."
"What do you think that means?"
"I'm not sure, but I think we should talk to Christopher when he gets to the house tonight."
Sam nodded thoughtfully.
"What are you thinking?"
"That somehow I was involved in whatever you don't remember."
Sam shrugged. "I don't know."
More time passed in silence, then Sam said. "I'm pretty pissed at Dad."
"What for?" Dean was surprised.
"For letting you be used at bait."
"No, Dean. It's not right."
"It was my choice."
"He could have ordered you not to do it. I told him he should have." Sam stared out of the window.
"You had a fight, you mean."
Sam nodded. "Yeah."
"This is what we were trained to do."
"Bullshit. We were trained to hunt and fight, not to make ourselves targets."
"Sometimes there's a fine line between those two things."
Sam looked at him. "Don't ever do that again."
Dean had never heard such intensity in his little brother's voice. "Sam –"
"I mean it, Dean. And don't ever lie to me again."
Dean looked at his brother; seeing the same intensity in his eyes that he'd heard in his voice.
"You and Christopher did a good job here." John said, after they'd examined the barn ruins. "You said you found Dean in a cellar?"
Aidan nodded. "Do you want to see it?"
John shook his head. "Look, Aidan –"
"You don't have to be nice to me, John. I screwed up –"
"Maybe, but so did I. I got sloppy and lazy when it my son's life at stake. Besides, if what Christopher suspects is true, it wasn't really your fault."
"I don't understand how this is related to my parents, or how that could have colored what I did." Aidan sounded much younger than his twenty-seven years. John's heart went out to him; he remembered the frightened child he'd found hiding in the house and the years that it took for Aidan to fully trust him.
"Christopher said the servant demons killed your parents." John said gently. "We'll figure out the rest of it."
"What if I don't want to know? I blocked it out for a reason." Aidan wondered quietly.
John put a hand on his shoulder. "You're older and stronger now. Besides, you have me."
Aidan looked at his friend with tears in his eyes.
"Come on, let's get on the road. I don't want Sam and Dean to get too far ahead."
Christopher pulled into Raven's driveway and walked her to the front door of her small house.
"You know what you're going to be walking into at the Winchesters tonight?"
He looked at her questioningly. "Why do you ask that way?"
"Just a feeling I'm getting from you."
"Since when do you get feelings like that?" he grinned.
"Don't play with me, boy. You just keep your head on straight."
"I will, Raven. Don't worry about me."
She laughed. "Someone has to."
Christopher hugged her. "Thanks for helping out."
"It was my pleasure. I'll see you soon."
Christopher started back to the car, then stopped. "Raven?"
"You didn't cause the boys' memory loss, did you?"
"No, I didn't. Though I think it's the best thing that could have happened."
"I don't understand it."
"You know there are a lot of things we just can't explain. Even with everything we know."
He nodded, uncertain. "I guess you're right."
"Drive safely." Raven called to him as he got into his car.
It was late when Christopher pulled up outside the Winchester's home. He saw a light on in the living room and he let himself in. Aidan was asleep on the couch and John was dozing in a chair; he assumed the boys were in their bedroom.
John woke up when he heard the front door open. "You made it."
"Yeah, sorry I'm so late."
"It's okay. Are you hungry?"
"I could use a beer."
"Follow me." John said and led the way to the kitchen. He got two beers from the refrigerator and joined Christopher on the back porch.
"Everyone okay?" he asked.
John nodded, taking a long swallow.
Christopher looked out into the darkness. The small, run-down house was at the end of a street and the back porch overlooked an empty lot.
"Something wrong?" John asked after a few minutes.
"No. I guess not anyway. I just had a lot of time to think on the way here."
"What do you know about those servant demons?"
John shrugged. "They're just that. They end up working for others and apparently aren't picky."
"They're demons." Christopher pointed out.
"I reread the journal entries from Aidan's parents' death. The servants killed them, but I didn't figure out who they were working for. I have no idea why they were targeted."
"I think it was for Aidan."
"What do you mean?"
"He has some pretty interesting abilities. I think maybe they wanted to take him."
"Then why didn't they? He wasn't even there when they got his parents. And he would have been easy to pick off the next day when he came home."
"That's a good point."
"You don't want to read him, do you?"
"Just a feeling I get. But I told him I'd help him, so I will."
"There you go, being sensitive again."
"Fuck you, John." Christopher smiled.
"Hey." Dean said the next morning when he walked into the kitchen. John was at the table, his journal and a cup of coffee in front of him.
"Hey. Sleep okay?"
"I guess." Dean poured a cup of coffee for himself and sat across from his father.
John looked at him. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah. Except I still feel a little weird not being able to remember what happened." Dean paused. "Will you tell me?"
After a brief pause, John went through everything he knew about what Dean had gone through. He told him about Sam's feeling that something was wrong, how he'd passed out in the car on the way to Milton, and Christopher using his psychic abilities to join them in the other world they were in to lead them back to safety.
"Apparently once the demons start feeding on a person, the life force seeps out even then they aren't actively eating."
"And Sammy somehow was connected to me?"
Dean looked at him. "Does that mean he's psychic?"
"I thought so, but since he doesn't remember either –" John shrugged. "maybe it was temporary."
"You think it was temporary?" Dean quietly challenged.
John shook his head. "Not really."
"Okay, but how were we so wrong about the demons? Aidan said they kept their victims and fed over a long period of time."
"That's what Christopher is going to help Aidan figure out."
"Are you going to tell Sammy what you told me? About how he got into where ever I was?"
"I'd rather not."
"I suppose he will."
"I'm not going to lie to him again."
John rubbed his face. "Yeah."
Later in the day, John sent the boys out of the house to give Aidan and Christopher privacy.
"John, will you stay?" Aidan asked, a pleading tone to his voice.
"If you want me to."
The young man nodded and John sat next to him on the couch.
"You ready?" Christopher asked as he settled on a nearby chair.
"I'm kinda not either."
"So let's do it."
Although Christopher was skilled enough to rummage around in people's minds without detection, he made his presence known when he began to read Aidan. The intrusion wasn't painful, but it still made Aidan uncomfortable. He was afraid of whatever memories were locked up in his subconscious and was nervous about what Christopher would find. John saw his young friend's expression change from uncertainty to fear and put a hand on his arm.
The reading didn't take as long as Christopher expected and it wasn't as traumatizing to him as he feared. It was a different story for Aidan. When it was all over and the memories of that long ago time were a part of his consciousness, he collapsed on the couch. He was pale and his hands shook slightly.
John sat on the coffee table in front of the couch, a hand on Aidan's shoulder, speaking to him softly. Christopher had seen John act this way with Sammy after the boy suffered a nightmare, but he'd never witnessed this side of John with anyone else.
Christopher left them alone, returning to the living room later with a beer for each of them, glasses and a bottle of tequila he found in the kitchen. Aidan was now sitting up and looked much calmer than when Christopher left the room. He took the beer gratefully and drank a long swallow.
"Is Aidan okay?" Dean asked after he and Sam returned home. The younger brother was in his room, catching up on the school work he'd missed.
John nodded as he leaned against the porch railing. "He's spent most of the afternoon by himself, but he'll be okay."
"So what happened?"
"He got home from the sleepover and found his parents dead."
John shook his head. "No. He found them in their bedroom, torn to pieces and blood everywhere. Terrified, he ended up hiding in the basement and somehow made himself believe they were coming back."
"But you didn't find the bodies when you got there?"
"No, I found out about this in a newspaper article. The police had been over every inch of that place and they would have found a scared kid in the basement. The article said the house was demolished but deserted. That's what I expected to find when I got there. "
"Where was he when the police were there?"
"The servants took him to the demon his father made a deal with."
"What?" Dean was confused.
"Before Aidan's father even met his wife, he made a deal with a demon. He'd become a successful businessman and give up his firstborn when he turned one year old. It didn't mean anything to him when he made the deal, but it did once he actually had a firstborn to give up." John paused, taking a long look at his oldest son. "He basically negotiated an extension when the demon came for Aidan on his first birthday. He had until Aidan turned fifteen. Demons generally can't be trusted anyway, but when it found out Aidan's father was planning to trap it the next time it came for his son, it took that personally. The demon sent the servants to kill Aidan's parents and take him."
"How did he get back? He was in the basement when you found him."
"Aidan endured three days of torture, but the spirit of Aidan's father traded himself for his son. The demon could kill him, but couldn't have him unless he willingly came." John shrugged. "Apparently it was part of the deal."
"So the demon sent Aidan back to his house where you found him?"
"I still don't understand what that had to do with this job, though."
"The only way Christopher could explain it is that all of the servants are connected, no matter who they work for. Aidan somehow got on the radar of the group in Milton and the information traveled around until the group working for the demon that killed his parents found out. They told the demon and it started manipulating the situation; manipulating him and what he'd research."
Dean shook his head. "Wow. And now he remembers all of that? The torture?"
John nodded again. "Yeah, he remembers. I called Jim and told him. I'm going to take Aidan to him tomorrow."
"Jim will be able to take care of him." Dean said confidently.
"Yeah, he will." John nodded toward Dean. "How are those wrists?"
"I'm fine, Dad." Dean said, looking him in the eye. "I don't remember how they got bruised."
"The important thing is, you're okay. I never should have let you put yourself in danger that way."
"You gave me an out."
"I should have at least done better research. I should never have trusted your safety to someone else."
"I'm not a kid anymore." Dean said earnestly.
"You're my kid. You always will be." John put a hand on his shoulder.
"Christopher?" Sam began when he walked into the living room later. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure, kid, what's up?"
Sam sat next to him on the couch, where Christopher had been reading the newspaper. He wasn't sure where everyone else was.
"Why don't I remember?"
"I don't know, Sam. I think maybe you aren't supposed to remember."
"I think you did something you shouldn't have been able to do yet."
"How did I do it then?"
Christopher put the paper aside. "I don't know for sure, but probably because you and your brother are so close. Somehow you knew something was wrong; you were more worried about him than you'd ever been and you knew your dad wasn't there to make sure things went the right way."
"Should I be scared?"
"Scared? Why would you be scared? It was a good thing that you were able to help Dean."
"Will I be able to do – whatever it was – again?"
Christopher smiled at him. "When it's time, I'm sure you will."
Sam was thoughtful, but he seemed satisfied. "Thanks."
Christopher left the next day, more than likely headed some place where he wouldn't be tempted to be sensitive and caring for a while. John drove Aidan to Pastor Jim's house, with Sam and Dean following in the Impala. The Winchesters planned to spend the weekend with their friend and get back home in time for Sam to go to school on Monday.
Considering the horrible truth that Aidan realized, he was doing pretty well. Before leaving the Winchester house, Aidan made a point of apologizing to Dean even though the younger man didn't blame him for anything. He was glad for the time he was going to spend with Jim and decided he should make it more of a habit.
John added the demon that killed Aidan's parents to his long list of things to hunt, knowing it would be some time before Aidan was ready to help. He also knew that Sam was still mad at him for letting Dean be a part of the job with Aidan, but it was another thing on Sam's own long list. It was also another fight Dean would manage to smooth over. John sometimes wondered what would happen to his relationship with Sam if it weren't for Dean, but he had a lot of things to worry about so he added that one to yet another list.
Satisfied with Christopher's explanation, Sam didn't ask his father, or Dean, about the things that happened during his missing hours and in time managed to push the whole incident from his mind. Even after the dreams and premonitions started when he was in college, the experience with Dean didn't come back to him.
For a reason he couldn't explain, Dean was afraid if Sam remembered it would be the start of very bad things so he was glad for each day that passed without Sam's – or his own - memory returning.
He knew his luck wouldn't continue forever though…