A/N: The title is taken from Trent Tomlinson's song, One Wing In the Fire. I was inspired to write this after I read tigriswolf's incredible fic, sinkin' like a setting sun, which was fifty non linear sentences about Dean. I'd been looking for a way to flesh out this little plot bunny: what if Dean had grown up living with the Benders instead of the Winchesters? After I read tigriswolf's fic, that damn plot bunny started gnawing at me (with those big godawful teeth!), and that was enough to send my already twisted imagination careening away in all the wrong directions.

Dedication: To tigriswolf. She bugged me about expanding this sick puppy; she also beta'd this chapter.

Warnings: Cursing, cannibalism, m/m sex (dubious consent), underage sex (dubious consent), animal abuse, murder. Violence. Missy is a little older than she was in The Benders, but she's still younger than Dean. Dean's been missing for about twenty years. Big John's alive and well. Sam never left for Stanford.

Summary: Dark AU. First posted in 2007. Now updated. Dean Winchester is kidnapped at the age of seven; he grows up in the Bender household instead. John and Sam rescue him years later. Dean's problems are only beginning; the YED wants to claim him as his own.

Pairings in the 'verse: Dean/Lee Bender; Dean/Jerry Bender; Dean/Missy Bender; Dean/OC, Dean/Ellen; Dean/Azazel/John

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. This is for entertainment only, not for profit.


Part 1 - Measure of a Man

I. Dean, Interrupted

It's hot and dark in the trunk of the car, and all he can think about is that at least she didn't get Sammy. His head hurts, and the duct tape around his wrists and ankles is so tight his hands and legs are going numb. Dean can feel himself slipping away. He's more than half dead by the time she stops for the night and opens the trunk, and she takes the duct tape off his mouth, gives him mouth to mouth, and pours water down his throat after he coughs and starts to breathe again, and she's already decided that this little damn blond kid is going to be more fucking trouble than he's worth.

Blood in the corners of his mouth, duct tape too tight around his wrists and mouth but he still backs up when she pushes him forward so she slaps him in the face. Hard. "Heard about your loss, cousins," the woman says to Ma and Pa Bender, twining her fingers tightly in Dean's hair. "Here's a little something I picked up that might make you feel better."

He remembers Dad telling him to hold down the fort while he's gone, hears laughter and sees the church lady singing songs to him and Sammy during the day. He smells blood and sees a shadow standing over the church lady lying quiet and still on the floor at night.

He's slammed face first into the wall so hard everything goes white. Large strong hands grab him by the scruff of his neck and when he tries to fight he's slammed again and goes sliding into blackness.

"Sammy, be quiet. Please, Sammy, you gotta be quiet." The kid's voice sounds just like his did once, but when he wakes up he can never remember who Sammy is.

II. Gabriel, Ascending

He gets these headaches sometimes, and they're always bad. He doesn't know why. Had 'em since he was little, and they don't seem to be getting any better. The pain settles right into the top of his skull, dull and heavy, and he always feels like he wants to close his eyes, curl up in a ball and die.

Happens once or twice a month, at least. He always hides whenever he feels sick like that. Doesn't pay to show weakness around the others, not even Missy. He'd rather have them think he's jacking off somewhere or doing something else disgusting, rather than being sick. So Gabriel hides, sometimes in one of the rusted out cars out back.

He particularly likes this rusty black Mustang that's sitting on four flat tires. When he was younger he'd pretend he could turn the ignition on and just drive away.

Damn pretty boy, Lee thinks to himself. Lee always tries to mark up Gabe's face for some reason, every chance he gets. Gabe's too quick for him, and most of the time Lee's too slow.

Gabriel hears whispers, begging and screaming inside his head, sees shadows bleeding and falling to the ground as he sits there stringing those bones together for the wind chimes.

Sometimes Gabe remembers the woman with the long blonde hair. Remembers how good and clean she smelled, how it felt to have her fingers run through his hair, the sound of her laugh, the way her eyes grew warm whenever she looked at him.

He tries to remember her without all the blood and the flames.

Lee and the others don't dare bother him around Pa, so Gabe hangs around the old man as much as he can.

Missy tells him that he's sick in the head, and she can help him out with that knife she always carries with her. She offers to carve a hole in his forehead to let some of that bad stuff out, and Gabe always politely declines.

Pa sits in that big ol' overstuffed chair in the living room, the one that's seen better days, and he's tired. Gabe can smell the sweat and blood, the dirt on Pa's clothes, the peculiar slick copper smell of that rubber apron he wears sometimes, and that thick, heavy body odor of Pa's, but none of that bothers Gabe. He sits down cross-legged on the floor next to Pa, silent and graceful as a cat, careful not to startle him, and he waits. After a while Pa looks at him sternly, and his face softens a little bit. Gabe very carefully leans his head against the side of the old man's knee and closes his eyes. Pa's thick grimy fingers gently stroke the side of Gabriel's face, and his hand finally settles heavily on the boy's right shoulder. Gabe settles down underneath the touch and lets out the breath he didn't even know he'd been holding inside.

The first time he sees Pa use that meat cleaver of his on what was left of that guy they hunted, Gabriel stands there staring, pretending it doesn't bother him. He pretends he's somewhere else far far away with each chop of the cleaver through the meat into the worn countertop.

Gabe hates it when Missy follows him when he's sick. He can't think straight enough to hide really well when he's like that, and she finds him sometimes. He doesn't always wake up right away when she jabs him in the leg with her knife.

"Gabriel. Come here, pretty boy." Ma looks at him with sad grey eyes, and when she puts her hand out Gabriel shies away, until Pa pushes him forward.

Lee and Jerry are brothers, and Gabriel knows there's no room for a third.

The yellow-eyed man in Gabe's dreams always tells him how disappointed he is that Gabe doesn't use the gift he gave him, doesn't even acknowledge it, and Gabriel is finding it harder and harder to ignore the bastard.

Gabe seems to have eyes in the back of his head and his nerves are always strung way too tight when he's around Lee and the others, and that hyper alertness and cat quickness has saved his ass from serious injury on many an occasion.

When he was younger he'd read the Bible to Ma, and she was impressed that he was able to pronounce those Biblical names correctly.

His earliest memory of Pa is the old man stroking his hair and staring hard at Gabe's face. Pa seems bigger, and Gabriel can't understand why. "I'm gonna name you Gabriel, after my pa's daddy," the old man says, and then the pain in Gabe's head gets really bad and he sleeps for a while.

Pa's only had to beat him really badly twice. The first time was when he accidentally let the boy and the bitch out of the cage.

That field out back is filled with logs and stones and boulders, and Gabe hates it when one of his chores is to haul the stupid freakin' logs out and dig the motherin' stones and boulders out by hand.

Ma dies quietly in her sleep five years after Gabriel arrives.

One time Lee gave him a bottle of water to drink when they were out in the barn. After Gabe drank it his mouth and tongue went numb and he went to sleep. When Gabriel woke up he was lying face down in the hay with Lee on top of him, grunting and pushing into him from behind.

Gabriel's the youngest male in the house. Missy's the little princess. Gets anything she wants: clothes, body parts, jewelry from the people they hunt.

Lee was the first one to die when the hunters showed up. No great loss.

The second time Missy slipped into the bathtub with him Gabriel was so tired he zoned out and he vaguely remembers her hungry mouth and busy fingers on his slick wet freckled skin.

Sometimes in his sleep Gabriel hears a low rumble of a voice, sees a big dark man with heavy stubble dressed in black, smiling at him, the skin crinkling around his eyes when he does.

"Angels are watching over you," the blonde woman told him, but Gabe knows that's not true, because if angels were looking out for him, no offense, they're doing a mighty piss poor job of it.

He knows why Lee doesn't like him, wonders why Jerry and Missy pretend they do.

Ma didn't have much to say about the hunts and what happened to the people; she pretty much accepted it, just like she did Gabriel and everything else.

He's green-eyed, eighteen, and absolutely drop dead gorgeous, and Kathleen blushes a little as he peels off his dirty t shirt. Her hand shakes slightly as she hands him her card with her direct number at the station house in Hibbing and he smiles brightly at her when she tells him to call if he sees anything strange.

When he was younger, Gabe thought about running away. Then he went along on his first hunt with Pa and quickly decided that was a bad bad bad idea.

The first time Missy came at him with a knife Gabriel slapped her hand aside, punched her in the face and knocked her flat on her ass. She looked up at him, grinning.

The second time Lee tried to touch him Gabe grabbed him by the throat and felt his fingertips ghost underneath Lee's skin. Lee turned pale and passed out. Gabriel dreamed of laughing yellow eyes that night.

Ma was Missy's mom and she was Pa's sister. They buried her somewhere on the property. Pa knows where.

"Now, Gabriel," Pa's voice drops to a low rusty purr that rattles Gabe's insides, even as Pa's belt paints white hot stripes on Gabe's bare back with every stroke. "M'doin' this for your own good. Ya got sloppy. Can't afford to have cops comin'out heah."

Lee and the others look at him sometimes, all hungry, like he's a piece of meat, and they'd like nothing better than to tear into him with their hands and teeth. Gabe doesn't like that look. If they ever try to jump him as a group, he ain't backin' down.

Gabriel doesn't even ask what's in that meat stew they eat sometimes. He already knows, and he doesn't want to hear that spoken out loud.

"Such a beautiful boy," the man whispers into Gabriel's ear. He slowly smudges the boy's full lower lip with his thumb and stares hungrily into those wide green eyes as Jerry creeps up behind him with the billy club in hand.

Gabriel never mentioned what happened in the barn with Lee to anybody, but he started carrying a small silver knife in his pocket after that, and he never drank anything that anybody else ever handed him, except Pa.

The bearded older hunter wearing all black went into the barn to have a little "talk" with Pa. When he came back out his clothes had dark stains on them and Gabe caught the scent of Pa's blood on him. He didn't really know how he felt about Pa dying, either, so his mind went completely blank for a while.

Gabe watches the red haired lady cop from Hibbing drive off, and as soon as she's out of sight he feels Pa's big heavy hand drop down on his bare shoulder and squeeze. Gabriel knows he did good. Pa doesn't have to say a word.

The year he turns seventeen Gabe uses his face and body to lure in two people. After the first time his dreams are bad every night for a week. Afterwards he wishes he could stop, but he gets a thrill from it, so he can't.

The only reason Gabriel didn't kill Lee the second time Lee touched him down there was because Gabe knew Pa would be pissed off if he did, so he didn't.

Gabe expected the hunters to shoot him, at the very least, leave him with what was left of the family. Instead they pushed him into the back seat of this big shiny black car and drove off with him before the cops showed up.

During the night Gabriel always wakes up shaking, feeling like he's lost something precious but he doesn't know exactly what, and he wouldn't even know where to begin if he started looking for it.

The first time he fell asleep in the tub he woke up to find that Missy had climbed in with him. She still had her clothes on, but Gabe nearly killed himself trying to get away from her. When she laughed it sounded like she was screaming.

Gabriel killed the first time he actively participated in a hunt because the guy they were hunting jumped him from behind and tried to bash his head in with a rock.

By the end of his first year of hunting at age nine Gabe's gotten pretty good at tracking. He moves silently through the woods like a natural born predator, and from then on he nearly always lets Lee or Jerry make the kill because frankly, he doesn't need any more fucking grief from them.

"Please, don't let them do that to me," the black woman says, and she's broken, pleading. Gabriel gently strokes the side of her smooth brown face with his hand, and when her eyes close as the kiss deepens he doesn't hesitate with the knife, even when he hears Jerry walk up behind them.

When the hunters came for the family there was this older hunter, bearded dude wearing a baseball cap and a sleeveless vest, with this big black and tan dog. Gabriel started to shoot the dog, but he couldn't, so he took a shot at the old man instead, and he got him in the arm before the old guy hit him in the face with the butt of his rifle.

Gabe's second kill during a hunt was intentional. It was a skinny little blonde guy who tried to pretend he was Gabriel's long lost buddy, and Gabe couldn't wait to get the phony bastard out in the woods and snap his neck like a twig.

Missy screamed and sobbed when the hunters handcuffed her to the porch railing. Gabe just stood there, head bowed, his hands cuffed behind his back, and it took him a while to realize that what he was feeling was relief.

"Damn kid's crazy," Lee says, shifting his feet, and he won't look Pa in the eye. "Ah know what's been going on," Pa says sternly, and Lee won't answer.

When he was twelve years old Gabriel found four stray kittens hidden by their mama out back in one of the abandoned cars. Missy found them too, and Gabe snapped the necks of the other three before she could get to them with her knife. Afterwards he felt so bad he felt frozen inside. He couldn't even cry.

"You be good, and do this," Jerry's eyes are hungry, vacant, "and I won't tell Pa what you did," and Gabriel doesn't say a word as he kneels down and Jerry unzips himself.

When he's older Gabe cleans up quite nicely when they go into town to pick someone to hunt. He wears clean, worn jeans and a work shirt, work boots and a pair of round glasses that have plain glass in the lenses.

Gabe knows he's seriously fucked up in the head, and sometimes he thinks that the only cure for what he's got is a bullet in the brain.

Lee thoughtfully rubs the dingy skin of his throat as he stares at Gabe, and Gabriel can hear him think, you fucking freak. Gabriel smirks, because Lee's too scared to lay a hand on him now.

Gabe's a natural born actor when he approaches people on the parking lot.

Even when Pa mixes deer or squirrel meat in with that other white meat, Gabriel can still tell the difference.

"They left you by the side of the road like a piece of trash so we could find you," Missy says in a singsong voice. "If they really loved you, they wouldn't have dumped you in the first place," and even though Gabe knows the first part is a lie, he has to admit he secretly thinks the second part is true.

III. The Space Between

Gabe opens his eyes when he hears his name called. The black guy sitting by his bedside smiles, but the smile doesn't reach his eyes. Gabriel stares at him and sees cop, and doesn't say a word.

Old Yellow Eyes can't understand why the light inside the boy hasn't darkened, even with everything else he's seen and done.

That freakishly tall kid with the shaggy dark brown hair and the hazel eyes and that big dark burly man visit Gabe in the hospital every day. The kid always looks sad, and the man always calls Gabriel by a name he doesn't recognize and never answers to.

He backs up against the side of the Impala when Missouri comes out and stands on her porch. When she looks at him with those sorrowful brown eyes of hers she can see everything he ever did, and she makes him so nervous his insides cramp up.

Gabe just sits there slumped over in the chair, handcuffed, staring blankly into space, while the doctor in white and the bearded hunter in black talk about him. He hears words like "Post Traumatic Stress", "Attachment Disorder", "catatonia", and "possible brain damage" and words don't mean anything to him anymore.

Bobby Singer's Auto Yard reminded him so much of the back yard in the Bender compound that Gabriel went out back searching for that black Mustang. He never found it.

The day he was released from the hospital he stepped out into the bright spring air next to the shaggy haired kid, and the first thing Gabriel thought was that he didn't deserve sunshine or freedom anything else that good and pure.

The first time they put him in that straitjacket it felt good somehow, so he fought the men in white again and they shot him full of drugs, and strapped him down to the bed, and that wasn't so bad either, since it shut up those voices in his head and the shadows stopped screaming.

Gabriel sits there in the grass cross-legged, repeats his new name to himself over and over again, until it doesn't sound so strange to him.

The thought of running away never even occurs to him.

"Did I…hurt somebody in your family?" he asks, and the big man looks sad and shakes his head.

That shaggy kid with the hazel eyes is so tall he's like Sasquatch, and despite the drug-induced haze Gabriel sometimes wonders how it would have been to hunt him.

One day, a day like all the other endless days and nights Gabe can barely remember, the kid with the dark shaggy hair and those sad hazel eyes is sitting by his bedside when Gabe wakes up. Gabriel looks at him sleepily and murmurs, "Sammy."

They tell him his name is Dean Michael Winchester, and he doesn't believe it.

"We never gave you permission to speak with Dean, Agent Hendrickson," the kid says fiercely, looming over him, and when the black guy just shrugs and leaves, Gabriel doesn't know what to think.

He always feels like screaming when he sees her up above his head like that, all pale and bloody, so one night he finally does, and he screams so loud he loses his voice.

The first month after he gets out of the hospital he waits for the other shoe to drop. Waits for the kid and the big dark guy to drop that sharing and caring act of theirs, tie him to a chair, and start working on him with knives and pliers. They never do, and for some reason that makes him even more nervous.

The first time Gabriel sees Dad under the hood of the Impala he goes over helps him replace the transmission. Back in Hibbing Gabriel wanted to make repairs on that old damn truck that growled, but Lee wouldn't let him.

Turns out the other older hunter's name is Bobby Singer, and he looks like he's about to bust out laughing when Gabriel stammers out an apology for shooting him in the arm that day.

Whenever he looks at people he wonders exactly what it would take to bring them down.

IV. Dean, Fractured

He calls the shaggy Sasquatch kid "Sam", and the dark haired older guy "Dad." He slips up one day and calls him "Pa" and he flinches when he thinks the dude's gonna hit him for that. Dad never does.

Dean smells blood in his dreams, and he can't move as the shadow kneels over him. He wakes up, hears someone screaming, smells faint spicy aftershave and Dad's holding onto him for dear life, telling Dean over and over again that it's okay, that he's safe.

He goes for long walks while they stay at the farmhouse, and sometimes Sam follows him. Dean could swear Missy is following too so after the second time he thinks he sees her he carries a small silver knife in his boot, just to be sure.

He's down to one pill a day (for the fucking "anxiety disorder") but it makes him feel dull and spaces him out, so he doesn't tell John or Sam that he just stops taking it cold turkey.

One night, when neither one of them can sleep, Sam asks him if he can remember anything of his life before the Benders took him, and Dean's heart tightens in his chest at the expression on Sam's face when Dean tells him what little he does remember.

Six months into his new life Dean has four good credit cards and six drivers' licenses in six different states.

Dean sits there staring at the faded photos in the cigar box and it's like looking at someone else's life.

If the vengeful spirit of one of his victims ever does come looking for him, Dean's already decided he's not going to fight it. He did everything they said he did, and then some, and he can't pretend he was someone else when he did it. He just can't.

Sam feels guilty about that night, and that's something Dean just doesn't get.

The first time they ate out Dean bit into an undercooked chicken drumstick. He spat the rubbery flesh back out onto his plate, looked at the dark bloody bone in his hand, and the next thing he knew he was on his knees in that dingy bathroom, kneeling in front of the porcelain throne puking his guts out.

Sam tells Dean about his life on the road with Dad, and while Sam sounds blasé about it, Dean envies him; Sam and Dad have been nearly everywhere except Puerto Rico and Alaska. Hibbing county and the Bender compound were Dean's whole world for nearly twenty years.

After the very first time Dean drove the Impala he ran his hands over her sleek black surface so lovingly Sam grinned like an idiot and said he was going to leave the two of them alone for some quality time together.

The first time Dad explained that they "hunt things" Dean feels cold inside and thinks to himself, Not again.

It's like that battered brown leather jacket is calling to him, so he goes over and slips it on, flips the collar up just right, and damn, it's a perfect fit.

He takes long walks at first, then when he decides to run Dean loses himself in the way his body feels when it's in motion.

Despite the fact that he's taller and heavier, Sam loses every sparring match with Dean after the first three times. Sam always sees something dark in his brother's eyes when they spar, but Dean won't let him in, won't tell him what he's thinking or how he's feeling.

When they're on the road and Dean's curled up on the back bench asleep the rumble of the girl's engine soothes him like a lullaby.

Dad stands there smiling, every bit the proud papa, when Dean pulls that silver plated Colt 1911 and bulleyes all ten of those glass bottles sitting on the fence at Bobby Singer's place.

"It bothers him, you know," Sam says slowly, "always did bother him that he couldn't find you sooner."

If he's the older brother then he should be the taller one, not the other way around.

Dean doesn't really understand why, but he agrees to wear the protection amulet Dad gives him, and even swears on a Bible never ever to take the damned thing off.

The first time they spar, Sam pins him three times in a row. The last time Sam pins him face down and when Dean's mind flashes back to Lee on top of him in the barn, pushing him face down in the hay so hard he can't breathe, Dean lashes out backwards with his elbow and nearly breaks Sam's nose.

Crowds bother him. Having all those people around him makes his skin tingle, because there are way too many threats, in every direction, and all it takes is just one careless moment…

Sam sees the faint old scars that Pa Bender put on his back with the belt. Dean bites back a moan when his brother gently touches him. "Dean, what the hell did they do to you?" Sam says softly, and Dean's throat closes up. He shakes his head and can't answer.

V. Dean, Reconstructed

Dean always thought that whoever said "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger" is full of shit. Duh. Obvious much?

Two busted ribs and a broken arm later, Dean's still so doped up he only whimpers, instead of screaming out like Gordon wants him to when Gordon pushes into him from behind.

Pa Bender's female cousin still looks the fucking same as she did after all those years, and the first time Dean sees her again he actually freezes, terrified that she'll recognize him and put him in the trunk of her car again.

The yellow eyed dude called in a favor, so that FBI fingerprint evidence in the Benders case disappeared like a snowball in Hell. Talk about poetic irony.

Dean sometimes stares at himself in the rearview mirror of the Impala, a plate glass window, any large reflective surface. Sam thinks he's being vain, but Dean wonders why all the shit he's seen and done doesn't show up on his face, like Dorian Gray.

Whenever they go on a hunt and there are kids involved that bothers Dean the most.

He stops by the Roadhouse every once in a while to see Ellen, usually around closing time, and Dean doesn't take offense when she clutches at his broad shoulders and calls him "Bill" as he rocks into her, slow and deep.

"It's all right, Dean," Gordon says. "Don't worry about it. I'm going to take my time with you, just like I would've done with my sister."

"Murder. Cannibalism. Obstruction of justice. And that's just for starters. And I think you're good for it. I just have to prove it, Ga-bri-el," Hendrickson says, stretching out the syllables in the name. Dean smiles tightly and tells him he's got the wrong bastard.

"Pretty meat," the succubus purrs as she licks Dean's neck. "So sweet. Light and dark, all in one," and for a moment, just a moment, he thinks about dropping the knife and letting her take him.

"They've got Dad," Sam whispers softly, despite his broken jaw, and he doesn't even have to say who "they" are. Dean already knows.

Lying to people and turning on the charm still comes naturally to Dean, but he's relieved that from now on nobody's going to get hurt or eaten behind it.

"The bitch was running from me," Gordon says evenly. "She didn't want to be a part of our family, so she had to go. I had a chance to save our family's honor and you took that from me, Dean. Or should I call you Gabriel?"

"Dean Winchester," and this time Dean recognizes the voice before he looks up. Hendrickson slides into the booth without being asked, snags a French fry from Dean's plate and eats it, and Dean has to stop himself from stabbing the dude in the hand with his fork.

Dean didn't mean for it to happen, but his lips brushed up against Ellen's and her arms slid around his shoulders and they held onto each other for dear life.

You're fooling yourself, kid, the yellow eyed man said. Think you can just forget all those things you've done, the people you hurt and killed? You're mine, all mine, now and forever. Freaks like you don't get to go to heaven, don't you know that?

Eddie the bartender told the cops later on that he just thought they were two gay guys or something. The way the black guy was holding onto that drunken pretty white boy with the full lips, what else was he gonna think?

The first time he and Sam went to the library to do research Dean decided that if he survived his first fugly hunt he was gonna come back and spend the whole day wandering from department to department, reading as many damn books as he wanted. So he did.

By the time Bobby and the others show up, Dean's unconscious, bruised and bloody, lying in a circle of scorched earth. Sam stays with his brother while Ellen, Caleb and some of the other hunters search the surrounding area for John and the others.

"God forgives you, Dean," Pastor Jim says, "now you have to forgive yourself," and Dean shakes his head, looks away and thinks, Padre, that's not even an option.

The first letter postmarked Palo Alto, California, comes a few days later and that lettering isn't red ink, it's John's blood.

Before they go out hunting Dad makes Dean read through his journal, cover to cover.

Sometimes he gets the urge to disappear, just for a while, just for a few hours. Dean never goes far and sometimes is content to just drive the Impala down a country road, pull over to the side, get out and just sit there on the hood for a while.

"I can't believe you didn't fight him," Sam says angrily. "What, you were just gonna let him kill you, Dean?" and Dean just lowers his head and stares at the floor.

"I don't have any money on me, boy," Pa's cousin snarls when she turns to face him in the alley. "So if you're gonna rob me you'll be wasting your time." Dean looks at her, remembers pain and loss and screaming and his grin is wicked sharp. "That's not what this is about, bitch."

The little old widow that they save from that freaky ass poltergeist hugs John, hugs Sammy, and she hugs Dean too, but she grabs Dean's ass when she hugs him. John and Sam laugh like hell all the way back to the Impala while Dean grumbles and rubs his sore behind. Grabby handed old bitch had a strong grip.

Gordon kicks him in the side, puts him down on his knees as soon as the door closes. The edge of the knife Gordon holds against his throat is razor sharp. Dean doesn't argue, and he doesn't struggle, he just closes his eyes and waits.

"Catch us if you can, Deanie, old boy. We're not gonna kill Daddy. He's gonna be with us for a long time." The Demon grins as he spreads John's arms wide. "First we're gonna give you something to remember us by."

When Dad sits him down and tells him what happened to Mom, Dean feels weird and spaced out in his head the rest of the day.

Dean goes out hunting with Caleb several times. They track a bobcat and a cougar, just for practice, and when they come across a were-panther they nail that sumbitch's ass quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Pa's cousin can't handle a full grown man, only little boys (what, no duct tape this time, bitch? Dean thinks to himself) and later on the tarp he wrapped around her leaked a little so he took the Impala to a self-service car wash and cleaned up the stains and vacuumed the trunk out himself.

The black dog bares its teeth at Dean, and Dean bares his and snarls right back.

After the initial shock passes, he's really not that surprised to find out there are real demons in the world; he just spent nearly twenty years with a family of human ones.

John shoots as soon as Gordon opens the door and slashes at him with the Bowie knife. John walks away; Gordon doesn't.

Dean plays the radio loud when he drives. He discovers heavy metal on the radio, and it's no question from then on: Page and Bonham are fucking gods (although he does think sometimes that Dave Matthews is good too – but he'd never admit that to Sam).

Dean can usually pick the average lock in less than twelve seconds flat; his time hotwiring cars is faster than that.

Sam's got a lot of book sense; he's probably the smartest person Dean knows, next to Dad, and Dean wondered why Sam never went to college and shows no interest in going.

He recognizes most of the spirits standing around him in the circle as the ones he helped hunt when he was a Bender. The others look like the people in the Polaroids Pa would put up on the wall. John stands there, all yellow-eyed and grinning. Dean sinks to his knees in the middle of the circle but they don't close in on him, not yet.

Sam teaches him Latin, and Dean's still a little surprised that it comes naturally to him.

He actually gets a rush from hunting down and killing the damned things, but he won't allow himself to think about what that really says about his mental state or his character.

"Just…just let him go." Dean will fucking plead if he has to. "You got me. What the hell do you need him for?" And the Demon inside Dad laughs out loud.

Libraries, bars, and churches are the three things Dean always looks for when he's driving and they're out on the road.

Sam curses the day his beloved laptop dies. Dean takes the thing apart and fiddles around with it, and later on in the day when he hands it back to Sam and it's working Dean really enjoys seeing that amazed, grateful look on Sam's face.

Dean does research on protection symbols, and all that week he uses holy water and his fingers and draws protection sigils on Sam and John's clothing.

Dean liked Caleb right away; Pastor Jim was a little more intimidating and Dean could feel himself back up a little.

Two plainsclothes FBI agents come into the laundromat and sit around pretending to read magazines as Dean does the laundry. After he loads the clean clothes up in the Impala's back bench Dean strolls over and asks the agents how Special Agent Hendrickson is doing these days.

Dad's eyes gleam all yellow and murky, and that smile on his face is bright and terrible as he draws back his foot and kicks Dean in the ribs.

One morning Dean shows up looking lost and young and vulnerable on Pastor Jim's doorstep in Blue Earth and Dean's confession takes the better part of the day, into night.

"Never should have let me live," Dean snarls to the yellow eyed shadow in his dreams. "Biggest damn mistake you'll ever make."

"Sammy, you don't have to come with me. I can do this by myself," Dean says, and Sam shrugs, looks at him like he's insane. "Well, then, we got work to do," and Dean slams the Impala's trunk shut.