Disclaimer: Not mine. Theirs. Now if only they'd lend 'em to me for a day…that'd be swell.

Beta'd: By the irreplaceable Wysawyg. Seriously, girl, you really are the best.

I played after she beta'd, so as usual any and all remaining errors are mine and mine alone!

Thanks: To everyone who has been reading! Thanks also to the anonymous reviewers I cannot thank personally. I appreciate the feedback.

A big thank you to Muffy Morrigan for helping me set the angst o' meter at a higher level for one section and getting me back on the right track.

Time Line: June, 1998. Dean is nineteen. Sam recently turned fifteen.

AN: I am sorry this last chapter was so long in coming. I can only offer up RL as the reason and my humblest apologies.


A knock at the door catapulted both his brother and his father into immediate action. Dean silently rose from his chair and pulled a gun out of his waistband. Flicking off the safety he aimed the weapon towards the door.

John peered through the peephole and gestured at Dean stow his weapon. Dean obeyed instantly and Sam threw his brother a quizzical look. Dean shrugged his shoulders and they both listened as their dad addressed whoever was on the other side of the door.

"Good morning, what can I do for you officers?"

Sam cocked his head and furrowed his brow, but Dean steadfastly ignored him. That's when he knew: they were in deep shit.

……………………………People Have Only Their Own Kind of Love to Give……………………………

Dean stood frozen in shock, waiting to hear what the police had to say. Maybe his luck was turning and all they wanted to do was ask about a suspicious person in the area or ticket them for a broken taillight. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, Dean knew he could not be that lucky. They were here about Rose.

That thought shot Dean into motion. He did not want Sam to know what had happened in the basement. He pushed past his brother who was edging towards the door. Placing a hand on Sam's chest he gently pushed him back until his knees hit the chair and he was forced to sit. "Wait here, Sammy," he commanded before spinning on his heel and heading for the door. He tossed a grin over his shoulder. "Besides, you're not even dressed, genius."

"But, Dean…" Sam protested, his face reddening.

"Wait here," Dean barked. He waited until Sam nodded in agreement and turned back to the door. He stood listening at the door to his father speaking to the police.

"I'm Detective Hansen and this is my partner Detective Lopez. We need to speak to Sam and Dean Winchester." The older police officer smiled reassuringly, but Dean could tell it wasn't genuine.

"Why do you want to speak to my boys?" John asked gruffly. His father shifted until his body blocked most of Dean's view out the door. He frowned knowing his father had done it intentionally.

"Mr. Winchester," Detective Lopez said, undeterred by John's tone. "We suspect your sons are witnesses in a case we're investigating."

"That so?" John asked. "Mind telling me exactly what you think my sons witnessed?"

"I'm not at liberty to discuss the case with you, Mr. Winchester," Lopez rebutted.

"You're not talking to my sons unless you do," John growled. "I'm not prepared to subject them to questioning unnecessarily."

"You don't really have a choice here," Martin shot back. "Dean is nineteen. He's legally an adult. That means we can question him without his father present."

"And Sam is fifteen," John stated in a low voice. "And they're both my sons. Now tell me what you suspect them of or get the hell out of here."

"Now listen, Winchester," Lopez snarled, puffing his chest and stepping closer to John. "You…"

Dean took a step backwards knowing a confrontation was brewing between his dad and Detective Lopez. He felt a little sorry for Lopez. He didn't stand a chance. He glanced back to check on his brother and furiously waved at Sam to sit back down. Sam crossed his arms and flopped back into the chair with a huff.

"Easy, kid," Detective Hansen said. He tugged on his partner's arm and pulled him away from John. He spun on his heel and addressed John. "Look, all we really want to do is talk to your boys. There was a suicide in Tampa, a Rose Chastain, and we think your boys may have been there when it happened."

"Check my logic, detectives," John replied, his voice dangerously smooth and calm. "You want to question my sons about a woman you know committed suicide because they may have seen something? I don't see a case here."

Dean shifted in the doorway trying to see past his father's hulking form. He glanced back at his little brother. Sam's pensive demeanor convinced Dean he needed to take action before the police lost patience with his father. He stepped outside and shut the door behind him. "I'll talk to you, but you can't talk to Sammy," Dean said.

"Dean, get back inside," John barked, even as he moved closer to the police officers to stand between Hansen and his son. "That's an order."

Dean gritted his teeth and debated his father's command. "Dad…"

"Now, Dean." His dad's tone left no room for argument.

"Yes, sir," Dean acknowledged before spinning on his heel to re-enter the room. He saw movement out of his peripheral vision and twisted slightly to avoid Lopez when he made a grab for his arm. Before he could turn completely around to face the detective, his father was in between them.

"I wouldn't," John cautioned, moving forward to urge Lopez to step back.

"Are you threatening me?" Lopez asked, once again turning to bear on the oldest Winchester.

"Damn it, Martin," Marc chastised. "When did you get so hot-headed? You need to take a step back and relax. If you can't do that, go sit in the car."

"What?" Martin's boyish features plainly conveying his disdain of Hansen's proposal.

"You heard me," Detective Hansen stated. "Now step back."

"Marc," Lopez protested, pulling out a set of handcuffs. "We have every right to arrest him on obstruction of justice."

"No!" Sam shouted from the doorway.

Dean spun on his heel to face his brother. At least he had the sense of mind to pull on a pair of jeans. They hung low on his brother's slight frame, the extra denim flopping over his bare feet. "Sammy, I told you to wait inside."

"I'm not three," Sam snapped. "I want to know what's going on. Why would they want to arrest Dad?"

"Sam, your brother is right, wait inside," John ordered, from over Dean's shoulder.

"But, Dad," Sam started. He stepped farther outside the door and Dean moved to intervene.

"Sam, you need to go inside. I'll take care of this," Dean said. He pushed Sam backwards until his feet were on the inside of the threshold.

"Dean, I need to know. Why are the police here? Is Dad going to jail? What's going on?" Sam braced himself with both hands on the frame of the door and shot the questions at Dean fast and furious. Dean struggled to formulate an answer that would appease his brother.

"Dad's not going to jail," Dean reassured him. Sam's raised eyebrows conveyed his disbelief. "Listen, they're here for me."

"You?!" Sam exclaimed. "Dean, why?"

Dean fixed Sam with a hard stare. "It doesn't matter, Sam. I want you to wait here. Dad and I will figure this out."

Sam's jaw muscles twitched and he moved one hand from the doorframe to tap it on his thigh in agitation. "No," he said, finally, his voice calm. He eyed the handcuffs in Lopez's hands warily. "No, I'm old enough to know what's going on with you…and Dad."

Dean's mouth opened to protest, but Dad beat him to the punch. "Sam, inside. Dean, inside." John turned to face the two police officers. "Wait here. I'm gonna talk to my boys."

Martin moved to intercept before Marc grabbed his arm to hold him back. "That's sounds fair enough, thank you. We appreciate your cooperation, Mr. Winchester."

"Don't thank me yet," John snapped. "I'm talking to my sons first and then I may give you five minutes to talk to Dean. If I don't like your partner's attitude more than I have so far, it'll be even less."

"Understood, sir," Marc replied, with a nod.

Dean stepped back into the room right behind his brother, but he still heard Lopez's mumbling protest about 'Who Mr. Winchester thought he was'. He chuckled to himself. If those cops had any idea who they were dealing with, they would give his dad a wide berth. No one argued with his father and walked away a winner.

He scanned the room quickly for anything that should not be in view of the police and noticed Sam doing the same. Sam picked up the canister of salt and tossed it into an open duffel bag. Dean retrieved the knife from under his pillow and the gun from his waistband and tucked them in by the salt before zipping up the bag.

Sam sat down heavily on the bed, exhaustion oozing from every pore. Dean took a seat next to his brother and offered him what he hoped was a reassuring smile. Sam returned Dean's smile with a weak one of his own before his eyes focused on their father, apprehension clearly visible in the hazel depths.

"It'll be okay, Sam," Dean said quietly. "Just tell Dad what happened."

"I'm not worried about talking to Dad," Sam said, his voice rising. "I'm worried about you talking to the police, Dean. Why do they want to talk to you?"

Dean hesitated and their father rescued him. "Never mind that right now," he interrupted taking a seat across from the boys. "Short version. What happened?"

"I…I screwed up, Dad," Sam confessed, his eyes filling with shame. "I thought Dean forgot his keys and I opened the door without checking."

"Sam, we can assign blame later. I'm sure there's enough to go around," John stated, "And most if it will land firmly on my shoulders. Now, just tell me what happened."

Sam nodded and continued speaking in a subdued voice. "I think Rose used a Taser on me and handcuffed me in her basement. She, uh…" Sam paused and took a shaky breath. Dean knew his brother did not want to confess the next part to their dad and he prepared to jump in if Sam did not continue. "She forced me to take Xanax and I was pretty out of it. I think I remember hearing Dean there, but that's it until I woke up in the Impala."

Dean could feel his father's intense gaze on him and Dean knew he was looking for affirmation. He looked from Sam to his dad and nodded. "Dean's right, son," John stated. "There's not much you can offer the police. Stay here."

"But, Dad…" Sam protested. His eyes begged Dad to reconsider.

"I'm not asking, Sam," John replied firmly. He stood up and tapped Dean on the shoulder in an unspoken command to follow. He turned slightly and pointed a finger at Sam. "Wait here."

"Yes, sir," Sam replied sullenly. He stood up and moved to the bed by the window.

Dean shook his head. Sam could obey the letter of the law if not the spirit. He followed his dad out the door and shut the door firmly behind him. He hung back slightly allowing his father to lead. Talking to the police was something they generally avoided. 'We do what we do and we shut up about it,' was the family mantra.

"Sam can verify Rose kidnapped him and held him against his will at her house if you need him to, but that's all," John stated by way of greeting. "What other questions do you have?"

"Why do you think she took Sam?" Martin asked, leading Dean down the path he wanted him to follow.

"Because she was crazy," Dean replied, flippantly. He shifted his weight so he was no longer partially hidden behind his father. "We were moving and she wanted me to stay in town with her. Somehow, taking Sam made sense to her."

"Did you know Rose abducted Sam?" Marc asked, his blue eyes conveyed concern, but his body language screamed forced behavior. He attempted to appear concerned and friendly, but the set of his shoulders and the tight line of his jaw told Dean he anticipated trouble, probably between his partner and John.

"No. I didn't figure it out until yesterday morning," Dean replied, his words weighted by guilt. He should have figured it out sooner.

"And you went to her house armed, intent on getting your brother back?" Martin interjected. The head tilt and tightening of his lips suggested he knew Dean had gone there intending to find trouble.

"Damn right I did," Dean snapped, his green eyes flashing. He squared his shoulders and moved a step closer to Detective Lopez.

"Dean, that's enough," John interceded. "Anything else, detectives? You did say this was a suicide."

"Was it, Dean?" Marc asked, from his left side. "Did Rose kill herself?"

"You're obviously a couple of smart guys," Dean replied, crossing his arms in front of him. "You tell me."

Martin's brown eyes softened and his smile became more genuine. Dean knew Lopez was working hard at looking approachable and understanding. "I think Rose sat on that mattress in her basement and held Sam in front of her as a human shield. We found Xanax in the basement. Did she use that to keep Sam under control?"

Dean felt the muscles knot in his jaw and he clenched his fists. The image the detective painted was too close to his memory of reality. "Good guess."

"She threatened Sam, didn't she? She had a gun and she threatened to shoot your little brother," Martin theorized. "Is that why you shot her?"

Dean remained silent until his father placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently. "Just tell them, Dean."

"I told her that the moment she involved Sam she and I could never be. She apologized to me and swung the gun from me towards Sam. I didn't know if she was planning to shoot Sam or herself, but I wasn't taking any chances. I swear, I only winged her." He had killed her though, by not being fast enough to stop her. He could live with being responsible for Rose's death unlike if anything had happened to his little brother.

The shrill ring of Detective Hansen's phone interrupted Dean's explanation. Martin held up a finger in a universal gesture to wait and stepped away from the group. "Detective Hansen," he spoke into the phone.

An angry voice from the other side of the line rang out so loudly that Dean could hear most of the words. "Where are you and Lopez?"

"Ocala, Captain," Marc replied, turning away from the Winchesters and his partner. It did not block the voice from booming loud enough to hear.

"Aren't you investigating that suicide? Why would you be all the way in Ocala?"

"We're ascertaining the validity of that theory," Hansen stated. "We may have a witness to the event."

The Captain's next words shot from the phone with enough intensity to vibrate Dean's eardrums and he was standing five feet behind Detective Hansen. "Don't try any of that bullshit with me, Hansen. I'd expect this kind of foolish crap from Lopez, but you – you know better. This is a cut and dry case, there's no reason for you to be traipsing off across the state to satisfy your curiosity."

"Sorry, Captain," Marc replied. He spun back around to give Martin a look of, 'We are in so much trouble.' Dean smirked, recognizing the look as the same one he had shot his little brother on more than one occasion.

"For the record, if you men don't have enough work to do investigating unsolved cases with families waiting for answers, I can add a couple more to your plate."

"That won't be necessary, sir," Marc replied. "We'll be back to the station within three and a half hours."

"See to it."

"Yes, sir." Marc snapped his cell phone closed and turned to address John. "It appears Detective Lopez and I have been called back to Tampa. If we have any additional questions, what is a good number to reach you?"

"The boys don't have phones," John replied. To Dean's practiced eye the twitch of his father's lips demonstrated barely constrained amusement. "You'll have to call me at 785-555-3113."

Dean raised an eyebrow, but did not contradict his father. He had learned over the years, some of it from personal experience, some from watching his brother that while that path occasionally led to answers it almost never led to happiness.

"Very good, Mr. Winchester," Hansen replied with a head nod. "We'll be in touch. Let's go, Martin." He waved his arm at the other detective to usher him towards the car.

"I don't think we're done here," Martin protested falling into step behind Marc.

"You heard the Captain," Marc hissed in a hushed voice. "We're done here alright and if you don't want to be done entirely you'll get your backside into the car now."

"It can't be that bad," Martin insisted. "We'll just stay here and…"

"Do you remember Detective Conners?" Marc asked, squinting against the sun that had crested over the top of the motel.

"Yeah, older guy, worked in the department for years," Martin replied. "Whatever happened to him anyway?"

"He pissed off the Captain," Martin stated. "Bucked him on a major call in front of the district attorney."

"So?" Lopez questioned. "Just because he's the Captain doesn't mean he's always right."

"Nope, but it does mean he's the guy in charge. Conners is still working down in evidence lock up. He's got two more weeks until Michaels gets back from medical leave." Martin tapped a forefinger to his head. "Think about it."

Martin turned to the Winchesters and remarked, "We're done here. We'll call if we have any additional questions."

"You do that," John replied, humor laced his tone. They stood and waited until the police officers climbed back into a nondescript, silver sedan and drove away. John turned to face Dean and asked. "Son, you want to tell me about Rose?"

Dean squirmed. He fidgeted and shifted his weight from one foot to the other before scrubbing a hand through his hair and down his face.

"You might want to pick up the pace, kiddo, before your brother gets impatient and comes outside despite what I told him."

Dean met his father's gaze and saw only concern. The small attempt at humor caused Dean's lips to quirk slightly, but the look of apprehension never left his eyes. "Rose is…was…the waitress at the Iron Skillet. We went out a couple of times."

"How serious were you?" John asked.

"Not at all really, at least I didn't think so," Dean replied. "I mean, we ah, well…"

"You slept with her," John stated. He scrubbed a hand through his beard and waited for Dean to answer.

Dean felt heat rising up the back of his neck. It was one thing to torment Sammy with his relationships, it was quite another to discuss them with his father. "Yeah," he replied. "But I told her it was nothing serious and that I'd be moving."

John shook his head and walked a few feet away before turning back around to face Dean. "Son, I want you to understand I'm not blaming you. Rose was obviously a sick young woman. All that being said, store this in your head for future reference," he stated. He ruffled Dean's short hair to emphasize his point. "Nearly all women view sex as a commitment or connection of some kind. You're going to have to learn when it's time for you to leave - how to leave them happy."

Dean nodded. "Yeah," he replied. He dipped his head unable to look at his father directly. Not only was the guilt over Rose and Sam a heavy weight, but this discussion had gone from uncomfortable to practically unbearable.

"What happened, Dean? I need to know," John said, his rough voice softening. "What did she do?"

Dean's eyes flicked to the motel window. He could not see Sam with the sun shining from that direction, but he knew his little brother would not have left his post by the window. He glanced at his father before returning his gaze to a spot on the ground. "I guess it started before you even left. She was putting something in Sam's food to make him sick."

"What? Why?" John asked, his hands tightening into fists.

"I don't understand why," Dean replied. "I think to get my attention or to be able to help me take care of Sam and gain points with me, I don't know. Dad, she really seemed okay. She was always concerned about Sam. When Sam went missing she offered to help look. She brought me coffee. I…I never suspected her at all."

"It's okay, Dean," John reassured him, once more squeezing his shoulder briefly. "People can be harder to understand than the supernatural. The important thing is you found your brother before she hurt him."

Dean crossed his arms in front of his chest and glanced up at his father again. "That's not really true. I told you, Dad, she drugged him, kept him chained in the dark and played mind games with him." Played mind games with me. "He's had a couple of panic attacks and nightmares bad enough he wakes up swinging…" His voice trailed off and he looked up at his father again. "He doesn't remember most of it and that's only going to make it that much harder, Dad."

John nodded in understanding. "I can see that. Both of you need a little time. That's why we're going to Jim's. He's agreed to let you stay there this summer. We'll all stay there for a week and then I'm leaving to meet up with Caleb in Colorado. You and Sam will stay and help Jim with some repairs around the farm."

Dean narrowed his eyes. "Are you grounding me from hunting? I don't need a break, Dad."

John sighed, opened his mouth to speak and shut it again. When he finally spoke, his voice was low. "I think Sam is going to need you there and whether you want to admit it or not, son, you do need a break. When you back me up, I need your head in the game. You need time to process what happened to Sam…and to you."

Dean crinkled his brow in confusion. "Nothing happened to me, Dad."

"Dean, you shot someone, not a werewolf, not a ghost, not one of a half dozen other supernatural entities, but a person. A person that you thought might be trying to kill your brother," John stated. Dean wrapped his arms tighter around his torso and clenched his fists. "You said she hurt Sam to get closer to you and, as odd as that is, are you really okay with everything that happened?"

Dean's gaze had dropped once more to the ground. He glanced over at the window again and up at his father, but didn't comment. He shifted restlessly and finally whispered, "No."

John clapped Dean on the shoulder and nodded towards the motel door. "That's actually a good thing, son. Come on, let's go back inside."

"I don't want Sam to know," Dean stated, standing his ground. "Not about Rose dying and not about me shooting her."

"Dean, don't you think it would help Sam to know Rose is gone?"

"No," Dean insisted, shaking his head. "Even if it makes him feel safer, I know Sam and somehow he'll turn that into being his fault and it will make things worse. I don't want him to know I shot Rose either. I don't…" Dean hesitated. He didn't want Sam to know he had shot someone and he certainly didn't want Sam to know he had shot someone and still failed to protect him. If Rose had been aiming for Sam – Sam would be dead.

"It's okay, Dean. We don't have to tell him," John agreed. "Come on. I need a shower."

That did cause Dean to smile. Everything was going to be okay. Dad was here, his secret was safe and Sam was back and on the road to recovery. His universe had righted itself. "You do smell like shit, Dad."

"In my defense, your brother hogged the shower," John retorted with a grin.

Dean laughed. "Why do you think I try to beat him into the shower every day? It's the only way I ever get hot water."

John chuckled, clapped Dean on the back and this time, Dean allowed his father to steer him towards the motel room and back to Sam.


Sam drew in a shaky sigh of relief when the police detectives climbed into their car and left. He had been watching the conversation and trying to ascertain what was being said based on body language.

The older detective had been controlled -- almost too controlled -- in his mannerisms. He tried too hard not to give away anything and that spoke loudly of an uncertainty. Of what, Sam didn't know but he assumed it had something to do with his brother.

The younger detective was enthusiastic almost to the point of giddy. He skittered around the others, his hands gesticulating wildly while he faced Dean, leaving Sam fairly certain that for Detective Lopez the thrill of the hunt was as important as the kill. It was a trait he could identify with. Figuring out what was happening, how and why often interested Sam more than hunting it.

When their father had placed a hand on Dean's shoulder and squeezed, Sam thought Dean was about to be arrested. Dad was not exactly known for his overt gestures of affection and it seemed like it had been meant to be comforting which had the opposite affect on Sam. He could think of only one thing that would have the police dogging their tail all the way to Ocala. Dean had done something drastic.

It really did not surprise Sam when he thought about it. Dean would do what it took to get the job done. He had limits and rules of conduct, some of which were complex enough that Sam had not been able to wrap his brain around them yet, but he did have one supreme dictum: protect the family.

He folded his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs in a familiar and comforting gesture. His dad and brother were still outside talking and Sam hoped it was just to give Dean time to tell Dad what had happened. It was obvious that Dean did not want Sam to know and that only caused Sam to worry more. He didn't want Dean to have done anything, not even to protect him, that he might regret.

He looked out the window again and took note of Dean's demeanor. His shoulders were slightly slumped, his head dipped marginally and his eyes periodically flicked from Sam and up towards Dad. His arms were crossed in front of him and his muscles were taut. Sam recognized his brother's defensive mode. He was protecting himself both physically and emotionally.

Sam wanted to know what was being said, but he would not push his brother to share, at least not yet. Pushing Dean places he did not want to go required energy and persistence and Sam did not possess either at the moment. He would have to wait and bide his time. Maybe Dean would surprise him and confess. Sam snorted, knowing that would never happen.

The door opened and Dad and Dean walked back into the room. "Finish getting dressed, Sam," John announced, "We're leaving in ten minutes."

"Yes, sir," Sam replied, easing off the bed. He pulled a pair of socks out of the duffel bag and snagged his shoes. Dean squeezed in next to him and grabbed clean clothes out of the duffel. Sam tried to make eye contact with his brother, but Dean ducked his head and disappeared into the bathroom.

"Leave him," John stated. Sam shot his father a look of surprise. He did not think his father would be able to recognize what he was thinking. "He and I need a shower and then we can hit the road."

Sam nodded. Dad was covering for Dean. It was not unexpected, just – disappointing. He had taken three steps back from hard-earned trust with his dad. It would take a lifetime of dedicated effort to get it back and that thought caused Sam to suddenly feel very weary. He bent over to tie his shoes and the room spun.

Swallowing down the burning sick feeling in his throat, Sam finished tying his shoes and sat up, his head swimming wildly for several seconds. Hands wrapped around his arms and he looked up into the worried face of his father.

"Breathe through it, son," John instructed. His hand rested on Sam's head for a moment before backing away and sitting on the opposite bed. "Sam, I want you to leave this alone."

Sam crinkled his brow. "But, Dad," Sam protested.

"Leave it," John interrupted. "I mean it, Sam. If you can't handle that, you can ride with me to Pastor Jim's."

Sam could not stop the horrified look on his face from appearing. It was not the thought of being alone in the truck with his dad that caused the flutter of anxiety to rise in his chest, but the thought of spending time separated from Dean.

For days he had wanted nothing more than to be back with his brother and he did not want to risk jeopardizing that now. He needed his father here and it made him feel that both he and Dean were safe and that everything would be okay. He just didn't want to be separated from his brother.

"I'll drop it," he mumbled, reluctantly.

"Good enough," John narrowed his eyes and Sam squirmed under the scrutiny. "Do you think you can handle riding in the car for a few hours?"

Sam tried to decide what his dad really meant by that question. Surely Dad did not think he was completely incapacitated? "Yeah, of course," Sam replied. Inwardly, he cringed. Resentment had permeated his response.

"It's not a stupid question, Sam," John snapped. "Dean told me you're having nightmares, he's got a shiner from you waking up with fists flying."

A blush of shame colored his neck and cheeks. "I'll be fine." He would stay awake if he had to, if that is what it took to prove himself. He squashed down any feelings of betrayal he felt over Dean telling their father. Dean had told him that Dad would want to know what happened. His nightmares would certainly fall under that category, but the fact he had missed his brother sporting a bruised eye made him feel worse.

The bathroom door opened sparing Sam from any more conversation with his father. Dean emerged fully dressed and ready to go. Sam got a good look at his brother and noticed the faint purpling bruise around his eye. "Load 'em up, Dean," John announced. "We're burning daylight."

"Yes, sir," Dean replied. He stuffed his dirty clothes into the same duffel as his clean clothes and smiled at Sam. "You're riding with me, right?"

"Yeah," Sam replied. He glanced furtively towards their father and lowered his voice. "Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Dean asked, his face lighting up. He sat down on the bed his father had recently vacated. "Dad's back. You're back. No more cops and a day on the road in my Baby. What more do I need?"

Sam puffed a laugh. "A revenant or two?" he postulated, quirking an eyebrow.

"Oh yeah," Dean replied with a head nod. "That'd be sweet."

"Boys," John stated, interrupting. Twin heads of brown turned to look at their father. "I'm grabbing a Navy shower. Dean, have the car packed and ready to go."

"Will do, but I'm a little surprised it's okay for a Marine to take a Navy shower. I'd have thought they discouraged that sort of thing." Dean's eyes twinkled with amusement.

"Gotta give those Navy guys credit when the deserve it," John smirked. "It isn't as often as a Marine and they get a little sensitive otherwise."

John turned to head into the bathroom and Dean called him up short. "Dad, we need to stop at a convenience store and get a bottle or two of sport's drink. Do you want Sam and I to head out and you can meet up with us down the road?"

"No," John replied sharply. Sam shot Dean a questioning look before their father continued. "I'd like to keep you boys in my rearview mirror this trip, got it?"

"Yes, sir," Dean replied. John nodded and disappeared behind the bathroom door. Dean turned back to Sam. "Looks like Dad is in overprotective mode."

"Don't expect sympathy from me," Sam snorted. "Now you know what it feels like."

"Hey, I'm not that bad," Dean protested. Sam raised an eyebrow and stared at his brother in disbelief. "What? I'm not."

Sam huffed lightly. "Dude, you're worse."

"I take offense to that," Dean shot back. "Or I would, except you're the little brother so your vote doesn't count." Dean stood up and slung the duffel over his shoulder. "I'll be right back."

Sam yawned deeply. "Yeah, okay." His eyes burned from the effort of keeping them open and he wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. He had been awake for several hours now and it was more than he had managed since leaving Rose's. He didn't want to fall asleep because he knew a nightmare would most likely be waiting for him. He needed to prove to his dad that he would be okay.

At some point, Sam realized he had lost the battle to sleep when hushed voices and the familiar sounds of packing reached his ears. He fought to stay adrift here, in that state just before sleep, so he would not have another nightmare. A hand on his shoulder caused him to flinch inwardly, but he didn't allow it to reach his face. He opened his eyes and looked into his father's brown eyes.

"Dean ran to the store to get the sport's drink. Why don't you sit up and take these before he gets back?" John placed three pills in Sam's palm. He waited until Sam had wriggled into a sitting position to hand him a cup filled with juice.

"I thought you didn't want Dean to make a store run," Sam observed.

"No, I didn't want you boys running ahead of me," John countered. "Dean'll be right back."

Sam nodded and turned the pills over in his hand with his finger, carefully examining each one. It wasn't that he didn't trust his dad, but he could not bear the thought of swallowing down pills without knowing exactly what they were. He easily identified the antibiotic and two pain killers. He ignoring the look of concern his father shot him and downed the pills in one gulp.

"You should finish it," John suggested, with a head nod. Sam stopped the motion of placing the cup on the bedside table mid-swing and instead lifted it to his lips again. He looked at his dad over the top of the cup and watched as he pulled supplies out of the first aid kit.

"What are you doing?" Sam asked, quietly. He tossed the now empty cup into the garbage and silently congratulated himself on the successful shot.

"I'm going to take a look at your stitches," John replied. "And the bruises on your back and the bump on your head."

"I'm fine," Sam insisted, pulling back slightly. He did not need to be coddled. He was fine.

"Humor me, son," John replied. He grasped Sam's arm and slowly pulled up his sleeve to look at his wrist. "I'd like to see for myself."

Sam did not reply other than to nod his head, but he did sit quietly while his dad checked his stitches and cleaned and dressed both injuries. His dad's fingers were cold when they lifted his shirt and a whispered curse brushed his hair. He winced when the butterfly strips were pulled off the bump on his head. The Betadine swab was cool and wet on his forehead and three new strips finished the job.

During the entire process his father had not said anything other than the soft curse and Sam wasn't sure what to think. When the Impala engine rumbled in the parking lot, John looked up at Sam. "You're gonna be okay, Sammy," he said, his brown eyes soft and a ghost of a smile on his lips.

Sam knew Dad was not talking about his physical injuries and he attempted a smile of his own. "I know."

John nodded, stood up and ruffled Sam's hair. "Good. That's good."

The door opened and Dean walked in singing the final strains of 'Renegade.' Sam cocked an eyebrow at Dean's choice of music, but his brother just smiled wide in return. "You guys ready?"

"We are," John replied. "Let's go."

Sam followed his family out the door and made himself comfortable in the passenger seat of the Impala. Dean slid into the driver's seat beside him and started the engine. The Styx song Dean had been singing blasted through the speakers and Dean turned off the cassette player.

Pulling out of the parking lot behind their father's rig, Dean said, "You can sleep some more, Sammy. I'll wake you up when we stop."

"Nah, I'm good for awhile," Sam replied.

They rode in comfortable silence for nearly an hour before Sam could no longer stay awake. His eyes drifted shut and he slept.

Rose held him close to her chest, her erratic breathing rocking him closer to the edge of awareness. He could feel the cold metal of a gun pressed under his chin and his brother's angry words before the pressure in his jaw disappeared.

"I'm sorry, Dean," Rose said. "For everything."

"Rose no!" Dean shouted before the gun went off.

Sam gasped and opened his eyes. He looked around frantically and quickly acclimated to his surroundings. He looked over at Dean only to find his brother sneaking a worried glance at him. "What were you dreaming about?" Dean asked.

Sam looked away and out the window. "Nothing," he muttered quietly.

"Yeah, sure," Dean replied.

Sam mulled over the dream in his mind before he could no longer hold back and he finally said, "Dean, tell me the story of what happened."

Dean's eyes flicked in his direction before returning to the road. "Well, once upon a time there was a princess called Sa…"

"Knock it off, Dean, you know what I mean," Sam interrupted. "I want to know what happened with Rose."

"Look, you're my little brother…and I'd die for you," Dean replied matter-of-factly. He glanced at Sam again. Sam winced. He didn't need to hear his brother say things like that, especially when he knew how true it was. "But there're some things I need to keep to myself."

Sam thought about Dean's words for a moment and nodded his head. A big grin spread across his face until dimples appeared. He would definitely be able to use those words against his brother one day. "I'll remember that."

Dean turned his head back to Sam, smiled and a small laugh escaped his lips. "You do that." With a flick of his wrist, music flooded the Impala before Dean stepped on the gas and the Tennessee hills blurred past the windows.


AN: Woot! Woot!

/TraSan dances happy dance in her chair.

I finished it! Thank you all for hanging in there with me when the posting got slow in December. I appreciate all the feedback I received on this little one-shot that could. :D

You guys rock!

AN2: Heathernmg03 has a link on her profile page to show support for the writer's on strike. Please visit her page and send an eLetter on behalf of the Supernatural writers if you want to show your support. She's on my favorites list so she'll be easy to find. BG.

AN3: Well…I had a Supernatural moment the other day at work.

I (with the help of my original converts) have managed to get about 30 percent of my office watching Supernatural on Thursdays.

As a group, we converse about the show on Friday morning, but the best and longest standing tradition is infusing the work place with appropriate and well-placed quotes.

For instance, if one of us did something really hard, accomplishes a seemingly insurmountable task or best yet, manages to get something for the department that no one else was able to, that person may say, "I'm Batman."

I had the opportunity to use a Supernatural quote on Monday, but unfortunately, that's not the one.

I was walking from my car to my office and I saw two of my employees (names changed) Ann and Sue out on a cigarette break. I thought, 'Be careful crossing the tracks. You don't want to fall in front of the girls.'

I delicately stepped over the tracks and mentally congratulated myself on successfully avoiding that pitfall.

The lady that works at the Subway in our break room came out carrying a sack full of garbage. I moved to the side to allow her to pass and never really moved back. So...where the sidewalk curves towards the door I essentially walked off the exposed aggregate sidewalk on one side and fell, headlong onto the other.

I fell in slow motion. I could see Sue thirty feet away, wave her arms and shout (leaving no doubt something was going on)..."Ooooohhhh, myyyyy Ggggooooooddddd!" before my knees skidded along the concrete with my stomach shortly following.

My purse went one direction, my pop the other (a full pop) that exploded into a fountain of Diet Pepsi and ice and all the air in my lungs rushed out in a loud whoosh.

I immediately jumped to my feet and shouted, "TaaDaa!" before grabbing my purse, throwing the pop cup away and running through the door to the building before Sue and Ann could even get to me.

Miraculously, my slacks survived. My knees did not. They were an abraded, red mess.

I walked into the office, pulled my slacks up above my knees and showed them to Shelly (one of the SPN girls).

"Are you okay?" She asked. "What happened?"

I looked down abashedly and said in my best imitation of Sam Winchester, "I lost my shoe."

We laughed about it all afternoon.

Wanted: My pride. If found, please keep it and give it snuggles and warm fuzzy bunnies. I obviously cannot be trusted with it.