Usual disclaimers apply, along with all mistakes been down to my own stupidity. Real life has been a stinker so my apologies in not getting this up sooner. I know its been a long wait and this is a long chapter too I'm afraid… but it is the final one! Despite my tardiness feedback always appreciated. Rozzy

Growing Pains – Chapter 19: Superglue and a brother's love.

Watching his brother make familiar moves on the pretty waitress Sam smiled despite himself. Dean's devilish grin spoke volumes, that he truly was back fighting fit, all set to literally charm the panties of the red headed girl buckling under his verbal persuasion. The fact that he had been kept him under virtual house arrest since his discharge from hospital was making this even sweeter he guessed for his brother, the warnings of abstaining from doing anything remotely naughty well and truly put on the back burner for the rest of the night he figured.

For his own part his initial reservation at breaking their dad's curfew had evaporated the moment the music was cranked up way too loud in the impala and his brother's snarky mouth went into overdrive. For Sam the journey into town had been a happy reminder of just how much he had missed his brother and all the mental and physical jostling that went with it.

Feeling a little silly at the grin he knew he had on his face Sam looked away and started to mentally chew over a myriad of thoughts stuck in his head as he waited for his brother's return. With Dean well again he could dare to think the timing right to put an end to the lies that had built an uncomfortable wall between them. No matter how painful it might be Sam knew he had to find a way to tell all to all the mistakes he had made. It wasn't going t be easy he figured, guessing that Dean was going to be as mad as hell with him but he hoped deep down inside that he would be forgiven. Its what brothers did he reasoned.

Mind made up Sam looked over to his brother once more only to catch the final moment when Dean cinched his win over the girl as a paper napkin was folded suggestively into his hand. That same instance the truth sunk in that his brother was well on his way to scoring a home run which meant he was going to go home empty handed and he murmured his disquiet, "Oh shit!"

To return to the cabin without his wayward brother seemed almost suicidal. Dad for sure was going to skin him alive. He swallowed back another groan because as much as he wanted things back to normal he really wasn't prepared to have that part of the Winchester family dynamics restored so soon with him and his dad.

Dean returned back to the booth waiving the napkin with a phone number scribbled on it under his brother's nose, "Little brother Charlene is a go!"

"Poor thing need glasses much?" shrugged back Sam, still wondering how he was going survive his dad's anger. The imagery of the man spitting out verbal bullets, with him being the primary target, caused a small judder to run through him.

Sensitive still to his overly cropped hair Dean missed his brother's shiver and instead snapped back, "Hey even on a bad hair day I still got it Sammy. Now whose jealous much?"

Sam merely rolled his eyes keen to avoid getting into a nitpicking argument over something as stupid as his brother's libido. Shrugging his indifference he returned his attention back to his milkshake, letting the wonderful flow of overly thick chocolate milk still a sarcastic response.

As he sat back down Dean's grin intensified as he caught sight of a large burger stacked high on the plate. It glistened with the promise of enough grease to slide down his throat with satisfying ease. Small town pokey or not Baudette it seemed served up the best looking burgers in the western hemisphere along with some pretty hot girls too.

Rubbing his hands in anticipation he was all set for taking his first bite when he caught a glint in his brother's eyes that sent the warning bells clanging loud in his head and he spat out sourly, "You'd better have not touched this when my back was turned you little brat or so help you…"

"What?" responded Sam, almond eyes wide pools of innocence before ducking his head low so that his long bangs covered his face, intent on finishing off his milkshake rather than deal with his brother's accusatory stare.

Still on high alert Dean lifted up the bun for any visual surprises to find none but doubt still lingered and he threw his brother a warning, "If you've messed with my food when my back was turned you'll be tasting the inside of a lavatory bowl for the next month."

Dimples flashed despite his determination to keep a straight face and Sam was forced to shake his head in denial, "You know paranoia isn't an attractive look big brother."

"Seriously you better have not touched my food you little douche bag!" warned Dean again.

Shrugging Sam denied any wrongdoing, "Look the half dead cow on your plate is exactly as it was when dumped on the table. Either eat it or throw it in the trash. Makes no difference to me."

"Now why would I waste a good burger like that?" growled back Dean before ignoring his suspicions to tear out a hefty chunk with one bite. His hard expression melted as his taste buds exploded and through a mouthful of chargrilled meat and toasted bun he moaned out his delight, "Man, this is freaking orgasmic."

Sam groaned at the overt display his brother was making, "Gross, go get a room why don't you. Oh wait you've already booked that with Charlie." When he got only a raised eyebrow he added, "Dad is so going to kill us, me in particular, you know that, right?"

Snorting back his amusement Dean took another huge bite whilst giving him the finger to express his feelings. Words would have been a waste of time and deflected his attention from eating the culinary marvel in his hands he reasoned.

Disgust wrote across Sam's face as he pushed away his plate of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich and growled out bitterly, "I'm going to the head to throw up whatever was left of my appetite. Don't wanna puke over dad's feet when he slowly chokes the life out of me later."

Sam agilely side-stepped the heavy hand aimed at his butt by his brother with a knowing chuckle, because despite everything it was so good to have him back to his normal self again. Still chuckling his amusement his journey to the rest room came to a halt when a decidedly feminine voice called out his name. Turning he was met with a gleaming smile, almost propriety in nature, as the ever-bubbly Trudy Seldon beckoned to him to her.

Stopping was his undoing, as having just escaped his brother's long reach only seconds earlier he wasn't quick enough to evade Trudy's determined grab of him as she snagged his wrist halting any chance of an escape.

Breathlessly she cooed her excitement, "Sam! Oh my god, I was just telling the girls how you did the whole Officer and Gentleman thingy and picked me up when I slid on the ice the other day. Gotta be fate you turning up like this so I can say my thanks properly."

Sam threw Trudy a watery smile and shook his head, "It was no big deal. Anyone else would have done the same I'm sure."

Trudy took his flat denial as a sign of encouragement and patted the empty seat besides here. "Well my poor ankle didn't think so. Come on sit down so I can feed you something sweet to say my thanks."

The other two girls looked on with knowing smiles, eyes darting between the two of them well aware that a hunt was in play and were now left just waiting for the kill.

"No really that's okay…" winced back Sam, still firmly under wrist arrest from the very persistent and surprisingly strong girl.

"If not some dessert now how else can I say my thanks?" asked Trudy, licking her perfectly made up lips suggestively, hoping this might be her much awaited opportunity to get her hooks into Sam. She had managed to wangle a seat next to him in fourth period History but so far, pitiful as it was to admit to, had got absolutely nowhere with him.

A giggle escaped from one of the girls sitting opposite and Trudy threw them both a hard look, "Never mind Verna and Gail, I'm sure they were planning to leave anytime soon Sam."

Using her distraction with her friends as his chance to disentangle himself from her grip Sam said his apologies, "No, really, thanks for the invite but I'm here with my big brother and he isn't fit for company at the best of times." Adding silently, 'Because he's a frigging pig!.'

Trudy's expression fell slightly at the rejection but then she forced another bright smile across her face, persistence ninety-nine percent of her genetic makeup when she wanted something as badly as she wanted the boy in front of her. Leaning forwards, so that her cleavage in her tight top was fully on display she suggested, "Oh well maybe another time then Sam. Next time just you and me, no big brother's or anyone else if you like?"

A blush crept up Sam's long neck and his voice sound lame to his own ears as he tried to extract himself from the sticky situation he found himself in, "Well, umm, I'm kinda busy most nights but thanks anyway. I'll catch up with you in History. Bye."

At break neck speed he took off, feeling the burn of three pairs of predatory female eyes on his back. As he dove into the washroom his thoughts were swirling. Trudy's reputation as a man-eater went before her and the last thing he needed was to have her trying to sit in his lap in History or anywhere else for that matter.

Then a thought hit him and he drew to an abrupt halt letting the door follow through to hit him hard on the backside. Jumping at the contact he shook his head in despair, certain that his big brother would have heard all that had played out with Trudy and her mini harem.

It was ammunition too good not to be used by his brother he reasoned and he groaned out loud. "Shit and double shit."


John hadn't realised he'd been pacing till the phone rang and he had to turn in mid stride to retrieve it from the sofa. Gruffly he barked out, "Dean you reckless sonofagun you'd better have your brother in tow and be on your way back."

"You mislaid them of boys of yours again?" queried Jim Murphy down the line.

Flopping down onto the tatty sofa John admitted, "The slippery little buggers snuck out on me when I was fixing the plumbing in the bathroom a while back."

Stifling another small chuckle Jim teased his friend, "And you still don't know where they are? Must be that your tracking skills are getting rusty with lack of use old man."

Sighing heavily John confessed, "Dean's teaching his brother more bad tricks if you ask me. Damn idiots disabled my truck, took out the spark plugs and I don't have any spares."

There was a high pitched whine as Jim sucked back the need to laugh, nearly strangling his vocal chords in the process. "Murphy it's not funny. Dean is still on medication and going off to chase some local skirt whilst downing a bottle of tequila isn't the smartest of moves."

Wiping the tears from his eyes Jim could understand John's fatherly concern but could guess at the reasons for Dean's need for some freedom. The cabin was too tiny a place for all three Winchesters to be cooped up in at the best of times. "Sounds to me like Dean is making it known that he's fighting fit again, lets just hope he remembers to line his stomach first before he goes into battle with the local female population. "

"Ha freaking funny old man but your forgetting that whatever Dean is planning on doing he'll be dragging Sammy with him? You really think that boy ready to park his naïve butt in some seedy watering hole whilst some bar whore comes on to him?"

Appalled at the idea Jim voiced his disquiet, "I know he's tall for his age but Lord knows the boy doesn't look old enough to drink beer nether mind tequila. You really think Dean will take him into such a place?"

John snorted out his disbelief, "Dean and his downstairs brain are a law unto themselves. Wouldn't put anything past the little punk. You know I could strangle him with my own hands for being such a smart ass and taking off with his brother like this."

"So this is all about you protecting young Samuel and not the fact that your newly recovered oldest son disabled your truck then?"

Sucking in a slow breath John admitted, "You hit low preacher, anyone ever tell you that? A man's wheels should be sacrosanct. Maybe strangling is to quick a punishment after all."

"Yep that's the Daddy Winchester I know and love so well." Murphy paused then found himself asking, "You know with your boys taking off like this could be a good thing as being on neutral ground might loosen things up for them. Help clear the air."

"If you say so," muttered back John a little uncomfortable at the direction the conversation was going and pointedly asked instead, "So you hear from Josh recently?"

"Deflection much man!" laughed Jim softly at his friend's attempt to turn the conversation, "From all accounts Joshua and Birdie are having a great vacation, but you know I didn't ring you to talk about those two reprobates."


"Its too hot," whined Hal, dappling at the sweat beading his forehead whilst hopping from foot to foot. "The stupid sand is giving me second degree burns."

"Told you to put something on your feet," huffed back Joshua. He tipped the bottle of beer back and took a long swig, the cold liquid refreshing in the stifling heat of midday. His sandaled feet offered enough protection against the fiery golden sand to leave him comfortable and he grinned at his friend's discomfort.

"I need another drink," muttered Hal heading back to the wooden shack that offered the promise of some much needed shade.

Joshua bellowed out loudly, "Hey Harry, heads up, Birdie needs another banana daiquiri."

The trio of bikini clad girls draped by the hotel pool all turned to his voice and Hal cringed at the fresh attention, his pink skin darkening as he muttered darkly, "Bitch."

Harry the bartender merely nodded his agreement and muttered softly, "Guess you want the usual?"

"Well of course I do," growled back Bird, bristling under the man's knowing smirk. "A daiquiri would be naked without the umbrella and cherries."

Harry smiled wide at Hal, his gold front tooth glinting brightly in the sunlight before pouring out the golden liquid into a cocktail glass and adding the flourish of a neon pink paper umbrella and fruits, "I like you man, you know what you want and don't let no one stop you from having it."

Hal received his drink with a smile of thanks and slurped noisly, the cold drink refreshing in the hot midday sun. As he munched on the fruit he leant back to the bartender and offered up his empty glass for a refill, "Don't stint on the cherries this time dude. I've earned every single one of them in that jar you hold in your hands."

The bartender chuckled softly at the pinked skinned American and his growing appetite, "Seems like I best be making these by the jug load for you from now on."

"That my friend is a wise decision to be making as I intend to spend the whole week gloriously drunk," advised Hal, already feeling the fuzzy affects of the alcohol pulsing through his veins.

A shadow loomed over at him and Joshua nudged his shoulder and waggled his eyebrows suggestively, "Dude who would have thought it but it seems the daiquiri did the trick as that hotter than hot babe Sally and her girlfriends have asked us to join them for a few drinks."

Hal whipped his head round to see the voluptuous brunette that had ensnared his attention the moment he walked out on to the beach smiling over at him. Eyes going large he took in the sight before tuning back to Harry with a wide grin, "Were gonna need a bigger jug."

"Oh yeah man, better make them daiquiris by the bucket load as them girls look mighty thirsty," agreed Joshua still firmly sticking to his beer. His decidedly heterosexual looking bottle of beer.

Hal grinned, ignoring the sting of his burnt cheeks, and raised his cocktail glass high, "To them Winchester boys and all your pals that come after them. Long may they keep me accustomed to the finer things of life!"

"Jeez your such a fucking pansy," muttered Joshua sourly in return wondering just how deep this little trip and future trips was going to bite into rapidly depleting trust fund.


John sighed, knowing exactly what Jim Murphy had been hinting at and the reason why he had actually called, "Nothings changed since last we spoke Jim. You still waiting to hear that Sam's spilled his guts to Dean about how I fucked up with that bastard Burnett."

"Not exactly how I would have worded it but yes I am wondering why the delay. We really just can't carry on pretending to Dean and the World that nothing happened with his little brother?" When he got only silence Murphy added, "I worry about what this will do to the boys in the long run, especially young Samuel."

Hissing out his own frustration John admitted, "Sam's stronger than you give him credit for so stop heaping the neurosis on him. I'm guessing he'll do things as he sees fit or not at all."

Jim's sucked in a harsh breath as the truth hit home, "You're his dad, you should be encouraging him to get this out in the open and not have it brushed under the carpet like this."

Now that his intentions were laid out John felt decidedly uncomfortable at the damnation coming down the line, "Don't make me to be the villain here, you know this is Sam's choice, you forgetting that?"

"No John, it was a choice the boy made out of fear for his brother's health. Now Dean is better he needs the chance to let them both deal with what happened and not bottle it up like this."

"Deal with it? You forgetting how badly Dean dealt with it first time round; how it nearly tore what was left of my family apart? You must excuse me if I don't wanna push the issue here and risk things disintegrating into open warfare like last time."

"You still worried that Dean will take another pop at you?" Jim snapped back, his blood heating on hearing John's take on things and added scathingly, "Are you that scared of losing his respect that its easier to let his brother's silence act as a protective buffer for you both."

The truth hit hard and John defended himself once again, "Think what you like, but dredging up what happened with Burnett is only going to cause fresh grief again. The man's dead, nothing more than a pile of grey ash, and as I see it is well and truly out of my boys lives forever."

There was a pregnant pause before Jim advised, "You know I wish it was that simple but Sheriff McCall and his team are investigating all the stuff Joshua left with him."

Slowly John asked, "And?"

"Think on it man. Soon enough all of Baudette is going to know what that madman did. How do you think Sam is going to feel then? Especially when he won't have his brother to turn to for support."

"He's got me to sound off against," responded John choosing to ignore the derisive snort that came down the line and added, "Look you know I have a new job lined up in New England and now that Dean seems fit to drive we can up sticks and get the hell out of Wisconsin. In a day or two we'll far enough away to avoid any of the potential Burnett fallout crap you're so worried about and maybe be then life can get back to normal."

"Normal for you John leaves me frankly very worried," hissed back Murphy, his frustration growing at the man's blinkered thinking. "You can run as fast as you like from Wisconsin but the truth is going to follow you regardless. It's going to niggle away like a cancer between you and Sam. Just think of the potential for damage this might do."

"Jim believe me all I can see is the damage already done," admitted John with a resigned sigh. "Burnett literally sat on my doorstep waiting for his chance with Sam. The things that he tried to do, the things he said to my boy… it just makes me sick to my stomach thinking on it."

"He was expert at playing people John. You have to believe that no matter what he might have insinuated to your boy that Sam didn't swallow any of his lies."

Confession spilled out of John, "God Jim, don't you see that some of what Burnett said to Sammy was true, that out of sight was out of mind in my case. He knew that Sam wasn't my number one priority and took great delight in cramming that fact down my boy's throat. Sam knows I dumped and run, how do we ever get past that?"

Remembering how he had colluded with Dean to keep his brother out of the hunt Jim responded, "You forgetting that I was the one insisting you leave Samuel behind. That I should have checked in with Joshua to make sure he was okay."

Bitterly John broke in, "We both know that was my job. I'm his dad for christsake but I let my bad temper stop me from acting like that one time too many. Fucking stupid pride kept up the barricades between us the moment I left him alone, and every single night after that."

Gently Jim responded, "Pride brings down even the strongest of us, just don't let it stop you from telling your son know just how much you love him. You both need that comfort right now."

John found himself sucking back a tremulous breath, the compassion of Murphy's words picking away at his emotional walls, "I came too damn close to losing everything Jim. You can't possibly know how terrifying a feeling that is."

"I think I know something of what your going through as I wake up every night in a cold sweat thinking on what might have happened to the lad…"

A judder ran through John at the unwanted imagery his friend's words evoked and he softly confessed, "I'm scared for him Jim. Sometimes I watch him sleep and I wonder how he is still so much like his mother, how can he still possess such a gentle soul after all that he has been exposed to?"

"Sam's gentle soul has always trusted that with you or his brother around that his world is safe."

"No, not any more. I wasn't there for him Jim and he knows it," whispered John sadly.

"Its still part of his makeup to want to believe in you John. Burnett words can only continue to hold power over you both if you let them. Sam's still just a kid that needs his family, and his cantankerous old man, no matter what."

"You think so? Some days I look at him and wonder how I can keep him Jim. It feels like I'm standing at the edge of a vortex watching my boy being sucked out of my grip and I can't put on the breaks to stop it."

Guessing at the man's fears, the inner demons that drove John to recklessness with his boys, Jim advised, "Talk to him John, don't let the silence build again between the two of you again."

"And say what exactly? That the reason I'm a hard hearted sonofabitch is because its the only way I know to rein him in and keep him safe?"

"Would it really hurt so much just to loosen up just a little with him and tell him some of this? You should have figured it out by now, that he responds better to the positive rather than the negative," whispered back Jim softly, surprised at such a frank confession from the normally tight lipped hunter.

"You know with Dean I have this easy understanding, this connection and things just run so smoothly between us, but with Sammy I just find myself struggling."

"Talk to him John."

"I don't know how," admitted John with a weary sigh. "So yeah call me a coward but its easier to run away from Wisconsin and try and make things right as best I can somewhere else. Gotta believe that in time he'll love me again."

"You fool, he already does, always will."


Dean listened in with a cocked ear, even forgoing another bite of his slowly congealing mess of a burger to avoid missing any of the conversation on the other side of the booth. His interest spiked even more after Sam's hasty departure and the three girls started to voice their opinions on his little brother.

A condemning voice followed soon as Gail voiced her annoyance, "Trudy, you've been holding out on us again. Just when did you start to mix it up with Dimples in History?"

Dimples? Is that how the girls saw his brother? Gonna have to remember that one later he told himself with a smirk.

Trudy answered with a throaty laugh, "Oops - didn't I tell you that I've been sitting with him in History since he got back from being sick?"

Gail shook her head, clearly confused, "But History? You freaking hate history."

"Used too, but now that I get to sit next to Sam for two hours it ain't so bad. Besides you know he gets straight A's just by breathing. I never thought I'd say it but a guy with brains is quite a turn on."

The other girls sitting with Gail knew her friend opposite too well and chirped in, "Come on its not his brain's you want to get your grubby hands on. We've all clocked that tight butt of his…especially now he's put the weight back on. He's looking decidedly edible all over again."

"Its not just his butt Verna," recalled the Gail with a dirty chuckle, "I mean have you seen the size of his hands? Makes you want to do something naughty with them if you know what I mean."

Dean snuffled back a loud snort at the implication behind the girl's words but managed to keep himself seated so that he could continue to listen in. The teen-bitches really did see a side of Sam he just hadn't noticed before and he was literally rooted to the spot wanting to hear more.

"God your such a slut Gail," sniffed back Trudy, "Sam doesn't give the time of day to slutty girls never mind look at them."

A wall of laughter erupted as Verna and Gail blurted out together, "Well that leaves you screwed Trudy."

Indignant Trudy hit back, "You'll be laughing on the other side of your stupid faces when I reel him in."

Gail warned, "Don't think your Ex is gonna like that one little bit. I heard the rumours about what Dimple's did to him and his two gorillas."

Verna nudged Gail, "God yeah he sure as hell sported some pretty impressive shiners for while. Never did swallow the line that it was because of some dodgy football tackle. Did California really rain on his ass?"

Conspiratorially Trudy leant in and answered in a loud whisper, "I'm not supposed to tell anyone as Stuart made me swear to keep it zipped, but if you promise not tell anyone then…."

Gail and Verna both nodded quickly, eager to hear fresh gossip albeit second hand and Trudy's voice deepened. "Remember when Sam first started he seemed real stuck up and some of us wanted to let him know it wasn't appreciated." She waited for agreeing nods before continuing, "Stu went just a little too far one day and, well, Sam wasn't too happy about it."

Dean tensed up at the confession, wondering just what the hell had gone on at the school with his baby brother when by all accounts he had been sunning himself down in Florida.

Trudy continued, "It was stupid really, they were messing around with that dumpy chick Nancy and things just went on from there."

"Nancy?" queried Verna, struggling to put a face to the name.

Gail piped in, "Oh you know, that fat girl two years behind us whose uncle snuffed it not so long ago. Her aunt upped sticks a few weeks back and took them back to Chicago."

Verna nodded, "Yeah she clung to Sam like a limpet till he got sick," Then slipping in the verbal equivalent of a knife between the rib cage she deftly added, "Still now she's out of the picture its gotta make you wonder why you've still got absolutely nowhere with him Trudy."

"Yeah," sneered Gail, "Especially when you're known to hand it out on a plate."

Trudy's lips thinned, "I'm not the one whose phone number is etched into the bleachers saying call if you want a good time. Your not known for being a Friday night easy date for nothing, right?"

"God your such a bitch when you're not getting any," snapped back Gail rankled at the fresh insults coming her way.

Verna stepped in, "Come on girls stop the catfight as I wanna know all about Stu's shiners. What exactly did Sam do?"

A moment of quiet descended over the booth and Dean strained to listen desperate to hear all about his brother's run in with what sounded like the archetypal school bully.

Huffing out a loud resigned sigh Trudy finally confessed, "Like I said they tried using Nancy to give out a warning to Sam, but it backfired when he found her blubbering like a baby. Said something like it wasn't done to make a 'nice girl cry' then beat the crap out of them."

Verna sucked in an amazed breath, "Wow, Stuey isn't exactly a light weight, neither are his buddies. Dimples sure must be fit to take them out like that."

"Yeah apparently he said Sam did some ninja moves right out the movies on the three of them. It was that bad that even after he got sick with pneumonia and came back looking like a ghost Stuey was still to scared to breathe wrong in Sam's direction."

Dean stiffened at hearing this fresh news about his brother, and his jaw set hard. Pneumonia and getting into fights at school left him wondering what else he was going to learn about his brother tonight.

A voice he had come to recognise as Gail's finally insinuated something that sent Dean's blood turn cold, "Well maybe that ex of yours was scared for another thing entirely. Maybe the reason you've gotten nowhere with Dimples is that he and Coach Enders are pretty close. Makes you wonder why Sam never got his ass suspended for beating the crap out them boys like that, don't it?"

A gasp went up of disbelief from Trudy, "No way is that boy is not in any way shape or form gay. Not that mighty fine man flesh. It can't be…."

"Like I said you put it out on plate girlfriend, like sweet peach pie and ice cream, and he hasn't taken a bite. Just gets you thinking, that maybe all the times he got after school detention with the Coach it wasn't just because he didn't have his gym kit is all I'm saying."


"Where the hell have you been?" demanded John Winchester as his oldest traipsed in with a bow headed little brother in his wake. He had expected some sort of apology from Dean but got only an accusoratory glare.

Dean pushed past his glowering dad and snarled out his anger, "Oh you know how it goes, guy goes for a burger, picks up a girl then has his whole night ruined by finding out what his little baby brother has been up to in Wisconsin whilst his brain took a sabbatical."

John's eyebrows knitted together wondering just what truths had been spilled in his absence, "What the hell do you mean, your not making any sense here Dean."

Dean shook his head, eyeing his dad with an assessing look wondering how he could be so oblivious to things when it came to his baby brother, "So you haven't you heard the the rumour going round about Sammy's sexual orientation, about just how close a relationship he has with some fucking sports Coach called Enders?"

John's mouth dropped open all thoughts of chastising Dean forgotten as he shot a look of disbelief at his youngest, "Sam what the hell is your brother going on about here?"

Face blushing furiously Sam shook his head angry in denial, "Don't listen to him dad. None of its true about Coach Enders, all he has done is to help me get fit again. He thinks I've got potential and…"

"Potential my ass!" interrupted Dean harshly, still feeling nauseated at the images the girls back in the diner had left him with. Grabbing his brother's shirt in tight fist he hissed angrily at Sam, "You really that naïve little brother not to know what he meant, what he really wants? You that fucking stupid to have let some creep get his hand down your pants when I was out of commission or down in Florida?"

Sam wanted to voice a denial but all he could see, all he could remember was another man's unwanted hands on him and he froze.

John watched the colour drain from his youngest face and forcibly parted his sons, knowing just how deeply Dean's word had scored a wound on his youngest boy. Holding him back at arms length he warned, "You hold up here Dean and bite your tongue. If your brother said nothing is going on with Enders then I believe him. Like you should."

Dean still incensed spat back, "Sammy's the one who keep digging himself in a hole here. Why is he so fucking tight lipped if he's got nothing to hide? Why all those detentions with the coach after school? Just the two of them, alone, together…I'm gonna go fucking cut his balls off and stuff them down his throat if he touched my brother…."

Remembering the phone messages from the school that he only retrieved later John admitted, "Stop it Dean, your blowing things up way out of proportion here over some stupid gym kit I forgot to buy. Sam got the detentions because of that."

"A missing kit doesn't explain why Sam got away with beating the crap out of three jocks on Enders football squad does it? Jesus since when did my brother go from uber-geek to fucking Bruce Lee?"

"Fighting? Sam, just what the hell don't I know here?" demanded John from his youngest wondering how he had let yet another thing slip under his radar with the boy.

"Yeah Sammy spill it cos I've got to say that in my day that would have earned a pretty tidy spell in the principals office and a suspension. Not time alone with the coach who thinks you've got 'potential' does it?"

Swallowing on a dry mouth Sam answered best he could, fighting back the sting of tears as he looked at his brother who looked scary angry right about now, "I'm not stupid, I knew how to sort them out without getting caught. No one could prove a thing not unless those idiots wanted to rat themselves out for picking on some girl and making her so scared that she cried."

Watching his brother's shake is head in disbelief Sam shot a him a rebellious look, "I don't know why your having such a hissy fit, not as if you didn't split your knuckles on some goons face back in the day."

"There were three of them you idiot. You should have had some back up," Dean paused and sneered out his contempt, "Or perhaps you figured that your special buddy Enders would cover your backside."

Jutting out his chin in defiance Sam hissed back, "The coach is a good honest man and if you think I swing that way them you must be really screwed in the head."

John gasped out surprised at the belligerent tone his youngest had taken with is brother, "Sam, don't."

Sam saw the hurt flash in his brother's eyes and tried to limit the damage, "I'm sorry I didn't mean it to come out like that."

Tapping the side of his head Dean growled back, "I know I have a few potholes inside here still, but the last thing I need is to have them filled in by the likes of Wanna-be-Barbie and her pals."

Sam countered, "You said it Dean, they're just airheads and nothing that comes out their mouths is worth listening to. This whole gay rumour is just those bitches trying to deflect the truth, that I wouldn't touch their skanky asses with a barge pole."

Sighing his relief at his youngest explanation John put a hand on Dean's shoulder, "Come on son calm down. You blowing a gasket over nothing more than some spiteful girls voicing off is going to do no one any good."

Stepping out of father's hand Dean shook his head, confusion still clear on his face, "No dad, those teenage witches managed to fill me in on quite a bit that you didn't tell me about. Like my baby brother having pneumonia and not a little dose of the flu." Locking eyes with his dad he wagged a finger in warning at him, "Don't try pretending that you didn't know about that too old man. You knew how serious this was and didn't say a damn word to me."

In ready defence Sam stepped in, "Hey this isn't dad's fault, I fudged the whole being sick thing as you were real bad for a time and I just wanted you well again. Don't you see that after all that's gone on that this doesn't even measure point one on the Richter scale of things."

John voiced his own agreement, "You weren't up to the knowing Dean when your brother fell ill. Truth be told we were both worried how this would have impacted on your recovery. You near died on us son, we did just what we thought best."

Dean scrunched up his face, still filtering his dad's words and finding no anchor there, "I just don't get why you've kept me in the dark ever since. You think me that fucking fragile?"

John cocked his head and threw his well built son a slight smile, "Look shit happened Dean and we just learnt to deal with it, like we always do. Like we will now. Okay?"

"A bucket load of shit happened by the sounds of things. Anymore surprises coming my way old man?" asked Dean.

Sam shot a quick look at his dad fearing that he was going to add more fuel to the fire by telling him the truth about what happened one rainy night. Dean had gone near berserk on thinking something had gone on with him and the coach, what would happen when he found out what had really happened with Burnett.

He hadn't realised he was holding his breath until he saw John slowly shake his head and gave a deflecting answer, "Look scream as much as you like at me, but at least give Sam a break here. He did what he thought best for you and put the needs of the family first here Dean."

Pulling away Dean shook his head the anger fizzing still away inside of him, eyes travelling back and forth between his grim looking dad and his clearly hurting brother. "You don't get it do you? I've been ragging on Sam's butt about letting a stupid cold keep him down when he's been battling freaking pneumonia. How bad do you think that makes me feel?"

"I'm sorry Dean," offered Sam in apology. "I would have told you, I promise."

Dean sucked in a long breath, wondering not for the first time what his absence this past month had cost his brother. "Look you idiot it's always been my job to look out for you and keeping me in the dark like this was just wrong."

Nodding his head John was forced to agree, "Your right son, looking out for Sam has always been your job but in the same breath you have to learn to let go of them apron strings. You're not going to be able to keep tabs on him all the time from now on. We have jobs to go on and he still wants to finish school so there are going to be days when he has to use his own judgement and look out for himself."

Dean threw a look at his brother, trying to take onboard what his father had said but still only saw his gauche little brother, all skinny arms and legs and no commonsense at all it seemed. His anger evaporated and he reached out to cuff a hand round the back of his neck so that their foreheads touched, "You get that you scared the hell out of me here Sammy, though I guess deep down I know you'd never let some perv touch you, you're a Winchester despite the girly hair after all. So sorry I said all that crap about your coach…."

He wasn't expecting the way his brother tensed up and quickly pulled away from him, eyes glistening suddenly bright with unshed tears. Whacking him gently on the shoulder Dean added, "Come on Sammy, I said I', sorry I got the wrong end of the stick with this Enders's guy." Before adding on a more serious note, "Seriously though next time you try to feed me a line of bull I will seriously kick your ass till its black and blue. You understand me here little brother. ?"

"Yeah Dean. I get it, and I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt you," whispered back Sam in return, relief flooding through him that whatever had played out only minutes ago he had his brother's faith restored in him again.

Feeling reassured that things were falling back into their correct order in the Winchester world of doing things Dean huffed back, "So anymore little secrets you need to spill Sam, cos' believe me any amnesty time is fast running out here brother."

Sam mutely shook, his ability to speak stilled as he caught the closed off look in his dad's eyes. After Dean's reaction to what he thought had gone on with the Coach the last thing he wanted to tell him about was Burnett and his filthy hands and vicious mouth.

Dean took his brother's silence as a yes and added, "Well that's good because I sure as hell don't want to find six months down the line of some underage fugly girl with a bun in the oven wanting you to play the baby's daddy?"

"Dean!" whined back Sam a furious blush spreading across his cheeks.

John's scowl broke into a wide grin and he couldn't stop a laugh from escaping, "I think son that's more in your department. I think we have a few good years before we have to start worrying about your brother here."

Remembering the hot girl his brother had hooked up in Santa Barbara Dean muttered back, "Oh you wish old man. You wish."


Watching as Sam silently ate breakfast, more a bowl of sugary milk than cereal, John knew it was too early in the day to be nagging the boy about his eating habits. As long he kept putting the weight back on he was just happy to let things coast for a while longer.

Watching him finish up he asked, "You have everything packed up, as I'm not hanging for you sort out all the crap in your room after school today."

Sam shrugged slightly his gaze locked on the view outside the window. All the hours he had been forced into chopping wood now seemed redundant and he eyed the stack outside the kitchen door with bitter amusement. At least the rats were going to have somewhere warm to ride out the end of the Wisconsin winter he figured.

"You listening to me or is your head full of cotton wool again?" demanded John impatiently, wondering just what the boy was daydreaming on now.

"Yes sir," answered Sam suddenly keen to be on his way. It was going to be his last day at Lincoln High and apart from a smattering of good teachers he wasn't that sorry to be saying his goodbyes. Tugging on his jacket he muttered, "I'll be a little later than usual. Got something to finish up first."

"Make it snappy as I don't intend to hang around all night while you kiss some skinny assed school girl your goodbye."

Throwing his dad an unreadable look Sam shook his head and headed for the door, "No sir."

John winced as he watched his son swing his backpack on his shoulder and left without any need of a goodbye, a chill settling into his stomach as he heard only the familiar title of 'sir' on his youngest son's tongue once again. It seems the rare moment of calling him with any affection had been lost after Dean's temper fit two nights back.

"Sam?" he called after him softly but he got no reaction, his boy already halfway out of the door and not stopping for anything. The firm click as the door shut made John flinch once more and he wondered whether he should have had the courage to say something more substantial to his son than moan about him being packed and readying to leave. Maybe he should have offered to drive him into school, this being their last chance to clear the air before they left Baudette and all leave all bad memories behind them.

Draining the last of his coffee he went to follow but was waylaid by a half awake Dean who blearily asked, "Geek boy gone already?"

"You just missed him son," answered John, his eyes locked on the closed door over Dean's shoulder.

"He eat breakfast at least?" demanded Dean as he poured himself a cup of coffee before sitting down at the table, nursing the hot brew in his hands as a warming comforter in the still frigid early morning air.

"Yeah, the kid's been fed and watered," murmured back John distractedly, chewing on his bottom lip in thought.

"Good, he's still all skin and bones."

Sighing John let his chance to follow after Sam dissipate and instead allowed Dean to take his attention away from his shortcomings with his youngest. If he wangled it right he would have time to talk to Sam later, maybe get him to travel in the truck with him part way to New England and help break up the icy barrier building up between the two of them once more.

"So Bobby got this job all sussed out then?" queried Dean before a loud yawn escaped and he fisted the sleep from his eyes.

"Seems like it, sooner we get going the better."

Eyeing his dad he could guess where his thoughts were at and Dean asked, "Guess you were just as surprised as I was when the kid didn't throw a hissy fit last night when you told him we were moving on again."

Shrugging his shoulders John admitted, "Sam is just growing up I figure. Bout time…"

Dean nodded slowly, supping carefully at the scolding liquid, "Something you're keen on isn't it old man? I remember you know why you took Sam to this hellhole in the first place. You wanted to knock them soft edges off him and make him into that man you keep harping on about."

Swallowing back an acid tongued retort John shook his head, all too aware of where the last attempts to straighten up the boy had led them all. "I just want him prepared like you were at his age."

"You know it comes at a cost dad. This growing up too fast," responded Dean unable to hide his own bitterness at the enforced loss of his own childhood.

Knowing what his son was hinting at John locked hard eyes with him, "You think that pretending that Sam doesn't need to toughen up will keep him safe? That sort of thinking will end up either killing him or one of us. You know things are out there that will hurt him if they can."

"I know dad, its just…. well its just Sam's always been different from us. He'd sooner jump into a spike filled ditch than step on an ant for christsake."

John threw him a steely look, his lips thinning on thinking on the dangers still out there for his youngest, "Ants can bite Dean. The sooner he learns to squish them the better."

Dean threw him a rueful smile, "You really think if you keep chipping away at him that he's gonna change that much? He still one hundred percent geeky little Sammy under all that growth spurt dad."

"Yeah, but maybe with all those growing pains he's going through it will help straighten his thinking out."

"No matter how much it hurts him?"

John slowly refilled his mug and kept his voice level as his guts twisted inside at his son's poignant observance, "If it keeps him alive Dean, I don't care how much it hurts him."


Knocking on the door Sam realised he wasn't fully prepared for the task ahead when it swung open and he was faced by the well lined face of a homely middle age woman. Fair in colouring and short of stature she eyed Sam with a curious air, not able to place him as any friend of her two youngest children. "Can I help you son?"

Swallowing what little moisture he had in his suddenly dry mouth Sam nodded slightly, "Yes ma'am. If your Mrs Merton I need to pass on a message to you."

The woman frowned, studied the tall teenager in front of her with sudden suspicion. "You're not one of them bible trashing weirdos from the county over next, because I'm telling you now I'm a good god fearing woman who don't need to hear any of that new age crap on my doorstep."

Sam quickly shook his and a smile deepened his dimples for a brief second, "No ma'am, I'm just here to keep a promise to friend who helped me a while back."

Mrs Merton studied him again, saw only soft eyes that she couldn't turn away from. "Okay son, best start spilling as I have a cake in the oven that I don't mean to let burn. You look half frozen so come in and warm up in the kitchen."

Sam hesitated, eyes darting past the woman to see into the comfortable setting inside and his tummy did a small flip-flop. Matt had this life, a mom, a dad, a real complete family that the bastard Burnett had taken from him. Now matter how crazy he might sound in the next five minutes he had at least let his mom know just how much he had treasured it. How much he really had loved them all.

Sam took a long breath efore stepping inside to follow knowing that this one last thing he could do for Matt Merton no matter how painful it might prove to be.


John tapped the glass of his wristwatch impatiently. When Sam had said he'd be a little late after school he had taken it to mean only a few minutes not a full two hours later with still no sign of him.

After the first hour Dean's impatience and growing concern had won out and he had taken off in the impala to go find him. Still another hour later he was missing both sons and they were fast losing daylight.

Mind made up he shrugged on his jacket taking a guess as to where his boy might be and not liking it one little bit, "Damn it Sammy, don't you start up on me here son. We need to keep it together."

After a familiar trek John found his boy by the lake looking utterly lost and his annoyance vanished as his fatherly concerns kicked in. This was the last place his boy should have returned to, "What are you doing here son?"

Startled Sam jerked his head up and spun round sporting a look similar to grief that John never wanted to see on his face. Struggling to keep his own emotional equilibrium John added, "We were supposed to leave for New England remember? Got a long road trip ahead of us and you dawdling like this is putting us behind schedule."

Shaking his head, as if to clear away the cobwebs lingering there, Sam answered, "Sorry sir, I guess I let the time get away from me."

Suspicions arising that maybe his boy's assertion that he had gotten rid of the spirit might be a lie John asked harshly, "What's going on here? Who did you go and see?"

"No one you know. I just kept to a promise is all."

Tensing at the vague answer John snapped back, "Don't get smart with me here boy, give me a name."

For a long moment Sam stared at his father before letting out a shaky breath, "Martha Merton. I made a promise to Matt, a sort of a condition to him passing on. Just making sure I kept it is all."

"Merton, the kid who…." John couldn't finish, aware that he had never taken the time to really ask his boy what had happened that night he had came back here to banish the spirit.

Watching how Sam turned his head away under his glare John's heart lurched and he twisted his fingers into his boy's jacket, "Look…son… I guess a lot happened here that I should have asked you about. I just got so wrapped up in getting you boys well again that I didn't take it in that might want to go over things."

"I don't Sir," responded Sam, pulling away, gently without any sting of anger. He looked wistfully at the lake, grey waters calm in the late afternoon fading light. "Like you said to Dean, shit just happens and we deal with it."

"Yeah, I guess we do." agreed John, "But if you need to talk, well…."

Snorting softly Sam shook his head, "Sounds like as much fun as having teeth pulled. Nothing else to say is there?"


Walking stiffly away Sam threw over his shoulder, "So New England? Sounds as good a place as anywhere to head for after the sunny delights of Wisconsin."

"Son?" pleaded John, not knowing how to break through the armour his boy was freshly sporting. "We good here?"

"Yes Sir. As good as ever," agreed Sam softly with no real fire behind his words. He continued on walking back to the cabin locking mentally and physically away the smarting pain the memories the place gave him. He was dealing with them just like his dad wanted. Just like a Winchester was supposed to do. No all he had to do was deal with facing his brother, smile brightly like expected and keep the pretence on going.


It had taken almost a decade later before Joshua met with a grown up and doped out Sammy Winchester and faced the pent up anger that he had lived with him since Wisconsin. Now days later his jaw ached still from the heavy punch sent his way, the bruising fading but the surrounding tissue still tender. Sipping tiredly on a flat near empty bottle of beer in some seedy bar he sensed killer eyes boring into his back before a fresh bottle landed on the table in front of him. Glancing up he could see the cold expression on Dean's face and swallowed down a gulp of unease.

Softly, too softly, Dean asked, "So big man, something I think you need to fess up to I'm figuring. Something you know about my little brother that no one seems to want to fill me in about."

"It was an age back Dean, and I promised to keep my trap shut. I broke my word once to the boy, I don't intend to do it again. Just let it go. Please."

A dark smile ghosted across Dean's face, his voice a warning as he demanded, "Nah, don't think so. Not this time. Not when it comes to Sammy."

Sam watched in the shadows, sitting at a small unlit table, studying his brother's expression change from disbelief to anger to then utter devastation as he heard the story spill out from the older hunter. After all the years of suppression he didn't know whether he felt any relief as the truth came out, about an episode in his life he had smothered to almost non-existence in trying salvage a relationship with his brother and father that had been so badly fractured. Silently he stood up and left the noise of the bar to drink in the cold night air wondering why life just kept screwing him and his brother over, time and time again.

As he sat on the hood of the impala he knew sooner rather than later he'd have to face the disappointment spill out of his brother but right now all he wanted to do was keep some distance from having to feel such intense emotions, even if it did seem the cowards way out.

For once he just didn't want to feel anything. It didn't work and a few seconds later his heart thumped loud in chest in panic, wondering when to expect his brother's irate appearance.

'Dean will forgive me', he told himself in silent prayer. 'Please god, he has to.'

A sad smile ghosted over his face, tears suddenly too big for his eyes on thinking on his brother and the love and faith that went it. Dean despite everything would always be his own personal superglue; his ability to stick him back together again each time he broke apart sometimes a miracle in itself.

'Yeah.' he told himself again, "Dean will forgive me, might want to knock some sense into my stupid head first but he won't stay angry with me forever.'

Dean was his big brother after all, would always be one step ahead on the road ahead of them, a buffer to the encroaching darkness they both could feel coming their way.

Standing up abruptly Sam found his courage once again, his belief in his brother unshakeable, and he headed back to the bar to have that long awaited talk with his brother. Chick flick moment in the making he guessed, with a wry smile. Go figure.


Well a bit of a long journey to reach the end here folks, and I just hope you had the staying power to stick with it. The final segment of this chapter is a reference to my previous story ' Becoming too visible' and so seemed the perfect way to wrap the storyline arc up. Again huge thanks for having the patience to stick with this and to all the support you have given me. Rozzy