A/N: Okay...so here we go. Sorry for the wait, guys. I really do have to cut back on the amount of things I'm trying to juggle at once. LOL Anyway, I hope this was worth the wait? I have big plans for this story and although it was supposed to only be trilogy, things have outgrown that idea...so there will be another story after this one. As always, I owe Tara aka LovinJackson for her tireless efforts of reading this and listening to my insane ideas. You're a legend, mate. I seriously suggest everyone check out Tara's latest vid she has made for this series. You'll find her Youtube link on her profile. I have a new one for this fic, myself. Same deal. Check my profile page for the link...and feel free to leave some love. I'll shut up now...

The title Amen comes from the meaning "So Be It"

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I didn't here you leave,

I wonder how am I still here,

I don't want to move a thing,

It might change my memory

Here With Me - Dido

Denver, Colorado….

The city was a smouldering wreck on the horizon, but it was still a welcome sight for Dean Winchester. His beloved Impala had gotten them there without missing a beat, reliable as ever and as he glanced at the car's sleeping occupants, a brief sad smile twitched up one corner of his mouth.

John was slumped, snoring lightly, his head against the passenger window, arms folded across his chest. It was a sight Dean hadn't seen in a long time and he was warmed by it. Sam was sprawled across his corner of the backseat, one arm draped over Elise as she was curled into his chest, the pair of them looking so young. Like a couple of teens on their way home from a party.

Dean wondered what Sam's reaction would be when he woke up and saw Elise snuggled into him like that? The big jerk might try and deny it all he liked, but Dean knew his brother well enough to know that Sam was attracted to the girl in a big way. It was nice and kinda reminded him of Sarah….Elise had just seemed to click with Sam. Maybe it was the fact they'd both been thrown together and forced to rely on each other? Whatever it was, Dean liked to see his brother like that and hoped Sam had enough brains in that geek head of his to keep Elise close.

Life was too short, too full of pain to screw around when it threw something good your way. Looking over into the backseat at the tiny sleeping figure of Connor, Dean found that truth driven home all the harder. He'd lost so much time with Skye and now he had lost her….she'd been stolen from him by the same damn yellow eyed son of bitch that had been trying to destroy Dean's family since he was four years old.

But Dad was back now…okay, so he was a little more birdman now days. Dean didn't care if it meant he was back. The same applied to Sam and his new found darker side. It had scared the hell out of Dean to see his brother tear those demons apart with his mind back at the church….but it had saved his ass, Dad's too.

After all they had been through, Sammy being a little darker, a little more ready to shoot first and ask questions later, was a small price to pay.

That was what he kept telling himself anyway. Because if he thought too much about the fact that Sam had shot him? That the only reason he was alive, was the demon blood in his veins? Dean would lose his mind.

There was saying Dean recalled hearing once……something about being careful not to turn into the thing you trying to kill…or staring into an abyss and having it stare back at you? Dean couldn't remember it properly now, but the thought behind it had a deeper meaning for him now. He didn't want to become the thing he hunted. He didn't want his family to be destroyed by the fight they had been caught up in all his life.

And he wanted Skye back. That thought had been burning through his mind for the past few hours while everyone else slept.

Exhaustion tugged at him relentlessly now. His back had long since developed a deep seated ache, his arms feeling like lead as they held the wheel. He blinked, feeling the scratchiness in his eyes that told him he was running on reserves alone. But Dean had to. Skye needed him. They were running out of time and Dean wouldn't, couldn't risk Connor losing his mother. Growing up with that gnawing sense of loss all his life.

The outskirts of Denver had slipped past them in the darkness without any fanfare and more importantly, without any trouble.

The city seemed to be deserted. Or at least the streets were. Dean looked around him as they cruised through, ignoring blinking, fading traffic lights and swinging around smoking car ruins. The demons had apparently hit here and hit hard.

For all Dean knew, there were people still here, hiding out in their homes, praying that the demons didn't find them. He hoped that was the case because this whole Omega man deal was really starting to get on his nerves.

"We've hit Denver?"

Dean's gaze slid sideways as the sound of his father's grizzled tones. " Yes, sir. Got in about twenty minutes ago."

"Pull over somewhere." John rubbed a hand across his stubbled chin and blinked a few times to clear his vision as he sat up. "We need to find somewhere to hold up for a few hours."

"We're not that far from Wyoming, Dad. We should keep going."

" And what? End up wrapped around a tree? You look like hell, Dean. You need to rest."

" I'm fine."

John appraised his son with a knowing look. "No, Dean. You're not. You're healing from a bullet wound to the chest and god knows how many other injuries that should have killed you. That blood I gave you might keep you on your feet? But you're not immortal. You need to give your body a chance to rest and recover properly."

"Dad…"

"That's an order, Dean." John growled, fire tipping each word.

"Hey…everything okay?" Sam's sleepy voice was concerned as it drifted over from the back seat.

"Everything's fine, Sammy." Dean ground out with a sigh as he saw the steel in his father's gaze and acquiesced to his order. "We're stopping for the night. Any suggestions of where that should be? I'm guessing we've got the pick of most buildings in Denver by the looks of this place."

Sam squinted his eyes, his arm still curled around Elise as he looked out the window and tried to pick somewhere they could use. He sat forward, trying not to squash Elise as she stirred, his arm pointing over Dean's shoulder. "Dude…what about that?"

"Walmart? Are you kidding me?" Dean gave his brother that echoed his question. " Since when did you get all Natalie Portman on me, Sam?"

" So you're admitting you've seen the movie?" Sam's lips quirked into a smile.

Dean blanched, then looking over at his father to see the man's shoulders shaking with laughter as he tried to look out the window. "What? No! I'm not admitting that!"

"Oh, really? Cause it sure sounds like you are, Dean."

"Shut up, Sam!" Dean barked. He looked at his father. " You gonna help me out here?"

" No…I think you're doing a pretty good job of digging your own grave there, dude." John smirked. "But your brother's suggestion makes sense. We can get food, hopefully top on supplies there too. It's worth a shot."

Dean watched his father for a moment longer, then shrugged. "Fine, whatever….it beats the hell out of staying in another motel room."

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The store was a mess, but not to the extent Dean and Sam had expected it to be. It was as if the looting had started, but then stopped before it got into full swing. What the hell had happened? Had people just given up and ran for their lives? Had the demons overwhelmed the city that fast?

It was a sobering thought. Dean could see a streak of dried blood in one of the checkout aisles and he instinctively looked back through the glass doors to the Impala, where Connor and Elise were sat.

Sam was standing just inside the door with Dean, his eyes scanning the darkened store. " Dean…the traffic lights and street lights are on outside, right?"

" Yeah?"

"Then if we can find the main power switch for the lighting in here? We should have power…" Sam suggested.

"You using that college boy brain again, Sammy." Dean grinned at his brother. "That's some good thinking. We should grab some things from the trunk first, though."

Elise switched on the tape deck as she sat waiting, Connor curled asleep against her. In the darkness of the store, she could just make up the shapes of the boys, talking to each other. Twisting in her seat, Elise could see John standing near Missouri's car, talking to Bobby and Missouri, the conversation becoming heated.

"Dammit, John, will you just listen to me?" Bobby growled in frustration. " We can't deal with this alone! It makes sense to get backup."

"You want me to take my boys to the safe house you sent Ellen and Jo to, Bobby. How the hell do you think they're gonna take to the sight of me, huh? Think they'll be happy to see me? Think all those hunters will be glad I'm back from Hell? Cause I'm thinking just the opposite." John argued. " I'm thinking the only welcome waiting for me and my boys, will be at the end of a smoking barrel. We're not going and that's final."

"So you're planning on facing the demon on your own then, just you and the boys? No back up? It's suicide, John!" Bobby couldn't believe what he was hearing.

John stepped forward into his friend's face. "You know as well as I do, that the word will be out about Sam. Hell, it was before any of this even started. You how word used to spread around the Roadhouse, around the Hunter's circles." He didn't want to fight with Bobby. The man was simply trying to help, trying to get Missouri somewhere safer and John was all for that. But there was no way he was taking his boys anywhere near a hunter safe house anytime soon. Not until he knew they weren't going to be seen as the enemy. Taking a step back, John's gaze was still burning into the man. "Skye's running out of time. Now you want to get Missouri out of here and check on the Harvelles? You go right ahead. We're heading to Wyoming tomorrow."

"You always were a stubborn bastard, John Winchester." Missouri said with a sad smile. You didn't need to be psychic to read the man's mind and know there was no changing it. " We'll be in touch. You watch your back and make sure those boys look after that baby and that girl, you hear me?"

John appraised Missouri for a moment, then stood down, the fight slowly easing out of his muscles as he chuckled. "Yeah, I hear you. You watch you own back."

"Pigheaded son of a bitch…." Bobby muttered softly, shaking his head as he opened his car door.

"Always have been, Singer, you know that." John grinned at the man and waited until Bobby's sour demeanour cracked and a smile finally appeared. " You two watch yourselves."

Missouri started up her small sedan and backed out of the parking lot with a curt wave to John before the pair were on the road, tail-lights fading in the distance.

John headed back towards the Walmart, rolling his shoulders irritably. His shirt was starting to become tight across his shoulders. The itchiness growing more and more. John could see the boys digging through the Impala's trunk, arming themselves.

"Boys?" John gave them a questioning look. "What's the plan here?"

"Dean and I are gonna do a sweep of the place, find the main office and turn on the power." Sam explained as he loaded up the shotgun in his hands.

"No." John said, shaking his head and reaching past Sam into the trunk himself. "Sam, I want you to stay with Elise and Connor. I'll do the sweep with Dean."

"But Dad…"

"Sam, she knows you better than she knows me. Now that's an order."

Sam narrowed his eyes at his father, but held his tongue. It was typical of Dad to just charge in and take control, ordering him around. Dean did the same. It was as if they didn't trust him to do the job properly or something. Some things never seemed to change with his family and Sam wanted to scream in frustration. "Fine…."

He pushed past his father and brother, opening the driver's door and dropping in behind the wheel with a huff. Connor curled into Elise's neck, turning away from Sam.

"You okay?" Elise asked, reaching out to place a hand over Sam's as it rested on his leg.

"Oh I'm just great. Situation normal in the Winchester family." Sam sighed sullenly, glancing down at Elise's hand and finding it soothing to have that contact.

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The Walmart was huge. Dean was pretty sure he'd been in smaller towns in the past. The aisles just seemed to go for miles, carrying everything you could imagine and then some…although a lot of the stores merchandise was missing or scattered across the floor now.

It was eerie and too quiet for Dean's liking. He found himself treading on the balls of his feet to soften his footfalls, moving with a panther-like grace through the shadows, his gun held lightly in his hand, gaze sweeping back and forth catching the slightest movement.

Every so often, a short sharp whistle would cut through the air to his left, alerting Dean to the fact his father was still on the move and safe. Bird calls seemed a little redundant inside a store, somehow.

It felt so right to be hunting with his father again, the pair still attuned to each others movements and skills. Like a finely oiled machine in motion.

When the deep throaty growl rumbled through the air like the throb of a Harley's engine, Dean had his gun sweeping over to cover it before his mind had actually thought about what it was doing, moving purely on a hunter's instincts. His finger was still nestled lightly on the trigger as the source of the growl stalked into view. It was mastiff, build like a small horse with muscles that slid easily under it's coat. The dog eyed Dean cautiously as it growled again, saliva dripping from it's jaws, it's teeth bared menacingly.

"Whoa…easy there, Cujo.." Dean murmured, lowering his gun slightly to try and show the mutt that he wasn't a bad guy. "You here alone?"

The dog continued to growl, taking a slow, aggressive step forward.

Dean frowned a little, knowing he was in trouble if this dog decided he was good enough to go on the menu. Judging by the fact Dean could see several ribs on it's coat and the dog seemed to have what looked suspiciously like blood on it's chest, he didn't want to provoke it at all if he could help it. Becoming puppy chow to some half starved mutt wasn't on his list of things to do, that was for sure. "Come on…give me a break. Go find someone else to harass, will you? I'll bet there's still some dog food in the pet aisle, dude…knock yourself out."

The only answer he received was another step forward. Dean huffed out an impatient breath, wondering if he could back away, then go around the stupid dog. Shooting it seemed kinda cruel. It wasn't the dog's fault it was hungry and for all Dean knew, it had claimed the Walmart as it's territory. "Look, I'll go this way…and you…I don't know, go find a garden setting to take a leak on. How's that sound?"

The mastiff took another step.

Dean rolled his eyes now, his patience wearing thing. "What? Do I smell like milk bones or something? Get the hell out of here, you stupid dog!"

Another step.

"Christo." Dean muttered jokingly, thinking that he might need to signal his father to distract the stupid dog. The last thing he expected, was for it to react to the word, it's eye suddenly flooding over oily black as it's growl deepened, haunches coiling as it prepared to leap.

"Son of bitch…" Dean's eyes widened as the dog leapt for his throat. He had the presence of mind to throw an arm up in time, a roar of pain ripping from him as the dog sank it's teeth in to the bone.

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John's head snapped around as he heard Dean's scream. "Dean!" He had a rough idea of Dean's last position and instantly started running. There was no telling what could have attacked Dean, but he was still healing, his body would be slower to respond.

John wished his wings were fully formed again. He could have used the extra speed right now, not to mention, the ability to get to Dean as the crow flies instead of weaving his way through aisles. It was John's biggest fear, something that had been nearly played out too often since he had become a hunter… that he wouldn't be able to save his sons. That something would take them from him.

John rounded an aisle to see Dean lying on his back, one arm trapped in the jaws of a massive dog, struggling furiously with it as he frantically tried to reach his fallen gun.

"Dad! Shoot the fucking thing! Get it the fuck off me!" Dean bellowed. "Watch your ass…it's possessed."

Possessed? The demons were desperate enough to possess a dog? It the damn thing hadn't been attacking Dean; John might have laughed at the idea. He brought his gun to bear on the animal, hesitating only for a moment as he took into account the movement of it's head as it ripped Dean from side to side.

Dean kept alternating from punching the dog in the head and ribs to trying to reach for his gun, finding it just out of his reach again as the mastiff dragged him away from it with a vicious jerk on his already badly torn arm. "Arrrghhh!! Let go of me you freaky asshole dumb mutt!"

"Dean, I can't get a clean shot at it. I might hit you." John warned, his gun lowering again as he took a step forward, considering trying to pull the dog away and have it turn on him…it was better than watching the damn thing eat his son alive.

With a growl of his own, Dean stabbed the dog in the eye with his thumb, hating the way it popped, but finding his arm suddenly free. Three shots rang out loudly as the dog's head suddenly shattered with a spray of blood as John took the opportunity to take the thing down. Dean scrambled backwards, cradling his bloody and torn arm to his chest, panting from pain and exertion.

A thick column of smoke poured from the dog's body and hovered between Dean and John as the eldest Winchester began reciting the Latin rite needed to send the thing back to Hell. With a strange that sound that was almost a hiss, the demon fled, flying up to the ceiling and through it, disappearing.

Dean watched the last place he had seen it, making sure it wasn't about to come back for round two, before he finally sagged when he was sure the coast was clear. Lying on his back, he felt his father's hands on his wounded arm, checking the damage and pulled his arm away with a hiss of pain. "Oww! Easy, Dad!"

"You'll live…" John informed Dean with a tight smile. "You good to walk? Or do I need to leave you here while I find some bandages?"

"I'm fine. Not the first time I've been some mutt's chew toy. Remember that hunt in Oregon? Those Black dogs were a bitch…literally." Dean chuckled, his voice laced heavily with pain as he struggled to his feet with John's help.

"Yeah, I remember." John nodded, not taking his hands from Dean's shoulder until he was sure that his son wasn't about to collapse on him. "Just stay close. You're not as sharp as you could be. I've warned you before about running yourself down, Dean."

"Oh god, spare me the lecture, Dad. I'm fine. Slap a bandage on it and I'm good to go. How the hell was I supposed to know it was possessed?" Dean sighed; trying to ignore the fact blood was still running through his fingers as he tried to stem the flow, a tremble settling into the limb.

"We can't assume anything anymore." John stated grimly, hating the way Dean's voice had taken on the tired, petulant tone that hadn't been heard since his son had been a teenager. It showed just how very tired and worn out Dean was. "Let's get that cleaned up. We can forget turning the power on tonight. Probably best we don't advertise our whereabouts anymore than we have already. We can finish our sweep and then salt any entrance to this place."

Dean merely nodded, the soldier in him taking over as exhaustion sank deeply into his bones and made him just want to sleep, forgetting all about the pain and how much he missed Skye right now.

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" So…. Dean seems nice."

Sam looked at Elise for a moment, then rolled his eyes and sank back into the driver's seat. It was typical…just typical.

" What? What did I say?" Elise gave him a puzzled look, her hand absently running her finger through Connor's fine blonde hair as he lay asleep in her lap, head lolling back over her other arm, body completely lax and peaceful.

"Nothing." Sam muttered sullenly. "I'm just used to hearing that a lot, that's all. Dean's a hero, Dean's a nice guy…oh my god, is your brother single? He's so hot." His voice had lifted to a high pitched impersonation of a girl's voice.

Elise tried to stifle the giggle that erupted from her, earning a slightly startled and indignant look from Sam. The guy really didn't have a clue and Elise found that sweet. He was utterly clueless to women, that much had become apparent to her in the short time she had been in Sam's company. She'd heard about the girlfriend and while the details were missing….Elise knew enough to know the relationship had ended suddenly and badly, if Sam's reluctance to talk about it was anything to go by.

It intrigued her, because despite the darkness that she had seen in Sam, the rage that burst forth so easily if his family was threatened….or even Elise herself, there was so much tenderness still inside Sam. It was the light that balanced the dark. Two sides of the same coin. It was the softer, tender side of Sam that had kept her close to him. Seeing that shy little boy smile on his lips, or hearing the affection and admiration in his voice as he spoke about his brother and father. No matter how much Sam might be frustrated at being treated as the youngest Winchester, which he was; Elise could see that he loved his family more than anything. It was something she could relate to.

Shaking her head lightly, Elise couldn't help but giggle as Sam twisted in his seat to look at her, his face folding up in confusion. " What?"

"You. Have you heard yourself? Talk about little brother syndrome. Any minute now I'm waiting to hear Bette Midler break out into Wing Beneath My Wings…" Elise teased.

"I'm sorry?"

"You know…it must have been cold there in my shadow…" Elise's voice carried softly as she sang before it collapsed into another fit of giggles.

"Oh ha, ha." Sam gave Elise a withering look, but it was tempered by the soft smile that was twitching up one corner of his mouth. He watched her for a moment, struck by how comfortable he felt with her. It was a nice feeling. One Sam hadn't allowed himself to enjoy for so long, because every time he did, it turned out bad. Jess, Madison….even Ava. They'd all been touched by the Sam Winchester curse and he couldn't let that happen to Elise. She was so full of life, so full of a brightness that he almost felt it could blind him if he stared long enough, drawn to her like a moth to a flame….and well, that never ended well for the moth, did it?

"All I'm saying, Sam…is that Dean's nice. Your Dad too. You seem a pretty close family and it's nice to see, that's all." Elise gave Sam a warm smile that grew as she saw Sam's widen in return. " Of course…if Dean was single…"

The smile faltered slightly before Elise's renewed laughter drew a full blown grin and a chuckle from Sam. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"

" You bet, mate…" Elise grinned, winking at him. She looked towards the doors. " They've been gone a while, do you think everything's okay?"

"Oh yeah…they can handle themselves." Sam nodded, although the tone of his voice showed a little doubt, a tinge of worry for Dean and John as he looked towards the building himself. It was a little nerve wracking, sitting out in the car in the dark. Sam felt exposed and vulnerable, especially with Elise and Connor to watch over. " You know, you could have gone with Bobby and Missouri. They'd have taken you somewhere safe."

"What, I'm not safe with you?"

Sam was caught off guard a little by the question, because he wasn't honestly certain of the answer. He didn't know what he was becoming, how deep the darkness in him ran….and no matter what he felt, what he thought, Sam kept coming back to Jess. He'd loved her so deeply, had planned to marry her and have children…the whole American dream. But that was all just a bitter nightmare now. A reminder of what he wasn't supposed to have because the Yellow Eyed Demon wanted him. Or at least he had. His future was unknown now. Good or evil….Sam didn't know and it scared him. "Maybe…maybe not. You've seen what I can do."

"Yeah, I have. And I'm thinking I'm a lot safer with you, Sam, than with a psychic and a mechanic. No offence to them. But if there's an army of demons roaming around? I'd sooner be standing behind the guy that can smoosh them with his mind." Elise stated it so simply. There was just no reason for her to be anywhere else in her mind.

A figure emerged from within the store, his arm held close to his body in a sling.

"Sam." Elise reached out to squeeze his leg without thinking.

Sam felt a warm flush rush through him for a split second before the sight of Dean, wounded, crashed over him like a bucket of ice water. " Stay here."

He climbed out of the Impala as Dean walked over, moving stiffly, tiredly.

"Grab our duffels, dude, we're setting up for the night." Dean said as he walked towards the car.

"What the hell happened, Dean? You okay?"

Dean nodded. "Came across a possessed dog inside, thought I was a squeaky toy." He paused and shook his head, laughing. "Man, that's never going to sound right. A freaking possessed dog….I mean, what the hell, dude?"

Sam quirked an eyebrow. " You sure you're okay? What the hell was Dad thinking, sending you out here to get us?"

"He didn't. I volunteered. Wanted to check on Connor." Dean stated plainly, his gaze sliding past Sam to the Impala and the tiny figure asleep inside.

Sam swallowed slowly and nodded, rendered mute by the look in his brother's eyes. It seemed that the curse wasn't exclusive to Sam alone. It was a big part of why Dean had always been a player….he hadn't wanted to open himself up to that pain again after Cassie. Because for all the bravado and flashy display, Dean was someone who gave himself completely when he was allowed….and the wound he was carrying now that Skye was missing, went right to Dean's soul.

Then, as if a switched had flipped inside his brother, Dean seemed to straighten a little, an easy smile appearing. "Sammy…our stuff, dude. It ain't going to carry itself."

"What do I look like? A pack mule?"

"I'd never say that about you, Sammy." Dean waited a beat before he went in for the kill. " You more Ogre than donkey, dude…."

Sam replied with a glower as he flipped his brother the bird, sighing at the laugh that Dean was now having at his expense. He loved his brother…he really did. But there were times when Sam just wanted to kick his ass…..

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By the time Sam, Dean, Elise and Connor were inside the Walmart again, Dean carefully checking the salt lines once they'd entered before he shut the main doors and locked them; John had already gotten them a place to sleep for the night.

While the food and electrical goods had been looted, the bedding and furniture department had been left relatively untouched. There was a set of beds on the display floor and nearby, John had set up a small gas barbecue to cook them something eat on. A pot of tinned spaghetti was bubbling gently as Sam dropped the duffel bags and let himself sit down heavily in one of the deck chairs that had been set up. "Anyone else getting a feeling like we're in a George Romero movie?"

"Shut up, Sam." Dean was busy tucking Connor into one of the double beds. He ran his hand over the little boy's head, then walked back to the semi circle of deck chairs, dropping into one tiredly.

John poked at the spaghetti and wrinkled his nose a little at the smell. He found himself gently pushed aside a moment later by Dean as he gave the pit a rapid stir. "Tinned spaghetti's bad enough without you burning it, Dad."

John glowered at his eldest, then shrugged. " Why don't you cut me some slack? It's not like I had much chance to have cooking lessons in Hell."

" You could burn water even before then." Dean grinned.

"You want to watch that attitude, son…" John warned, but his tone held no fire.

The food was served up on plastic picnic plates a few minutes later, a hush falling over the group as they ate, feeling the drain of the trip creeping up on them all. Dean especially. He barely ate half his plate, before he dumped what was left back in the pot, rubbing at his eyes. " I'm hitting the sack….night all."

He crawled into bed beside Connor, careful not pull on his injured arm that was still throbbing and even more careful not to wake the little boy. As his eyes began to slide closed, Dean felt Connor shift beside him, curling into Dean, one little hand locking onto his shirt as a tiny murmur slipped from the boy.

"Shhh, it's okay, Connor. It's okay. I'm here, buddy." Dean whispered softly, feeling Connor relax again beside him. He drifted off to sleep, the soft conversation between Sam, Elise and his father lulling him to sleep.

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Smoke…. He could smell smoke. Was there a fire? Where was Mom? Dad? Dean slipped out of bed, making his way hesitantly towards the room that he knew his brother was in. Hearing the panicked cry of his father.

His heart was pounding in his little chest as he reached the doorway of the nursery and saw a sight that was horrifyingly familiar, yet so alien all at once. His mind had played this out a hundred thousand times in the past. Always the same, just replaying the events. Replaying that night.

But this wasn't the same dream. Dean found himself staring up at the ceiling, seeing not his mother, but Skye there, bleeding, burning. The smell choked him, the sight so terrifying that he would never forget it.

Looking for his father, Dean saw it wasn't John Winchester rushing at him with Sammy bundled up in a blanket, but himself. " Take your brother outside as fast as you can. Now, Connor, go!"

Connor? No….he was Dean. Wasn't he? But how could that be when it was Dean turning back to the nursery, screaming Skye's name desperately.

Dean was suddenly running for the front door, barely reaching the lock on his tip toes as he struggled not to drop his little brother. The door was heavy as he tugged it open, his heart racing so fast in his chest that he thought it would explode. Nothing made sense anymore.

Running onto the grass, feeling it cold and damp beneath his tiny bare feet, Dean looked up at the blazing window of the nursery, waiting for his father to appear and scoop him up. " It's okay, Ethan."

Ethan? Where was Sammy? Dean looked into the bundle of blankets in his arms and saw a face he knew wasn't Sam's, but he recognised all the same…because this was Ethan, Connor's baby brother.

Looking up at the nursery window again, Dean stood and waited for his father to appear….because he had to. It was how it had gone that night. But then, this wasn't that night….this was something else. Dean-- or was that Connor-- knew in that instant that his father wasn't coming. Dean Winchester was dead. He had died trying to save Skye, the pair dying in the flames together.

The windows blew out then as he tried to shield the tiny body in his arms, running from the fire, from the heat and death, tears streaming down his face as he whispered over and over again to his little brother that it would be okay. That he would keep him safe always…..always.

Dean sat up with a gasp, his heart pounding, the smell of smoke and charred flesh still in his mind. As far as nightmare's went? That one had sucked beyond the telling, leaving him fighting for moment to clear his mind and realise that it wasn't real. There was light filtering through the store, telling Dean that it was daylight outside now. How long had he been asleep?

He reached out for Connor, wondering if he had scared the little boy by waking up so suddenly?

His hand found an empty space on the bed beside him and Dean was instantly stumbling out of bed. " Connor!"

Sam sat up sharply on the bed he'd been sleeping in, noticing for the first time that Elise had crept in at some stage during the night, curled up next to him. " Dean? What's wrong?"

John was already getting out of bed, pulling his boots on. " Dean?"

"Connor's gone. Dammit…where the hell could he be?" Dean ran his hand through his hair in frustration.

"Dean, calm down. He can't have gone far. We'll split up. You take that direction, I'll go in this one. Sam, you head for the front of the store. Elise, head for the bathrooms…okay?" John spat out the orders easily, taking command of the situation and seeing a sense of calm come over Dean.

They went their separate ways, each of them calling for the little boy, trying not to think the worst.

Dean wanted to kick himself. How could he have been so damn stupid? Why hadn't he woken up as Connor slipped off the bed? If anything happened to the little boy, Dean would never forgive himself. Hell, Skye wouldn't either. Dean was all Connor had right now. He had to find him, he just had to. That's all there was too it.

Every empty aisle he found, scared Dean more and more. He could recall times when Sam had hidden from him as a kid and how the fear had been electric. How he could taste it, it was so strong. It was the same now. The coppery, metallic taste on his tongue, his stomach knotting up so badly, Dean wanted to vomit, the blood pounding in his ears.

A soft giggle had Dean freezing in his tracks, his head whipping towards the sound. Then he was on the move, sprinting down one aisle and skidding into the next, to find Connor covered head to foot in peanut butter. A jar lay at his feet with the lid off. The thick, gooey substance was all over his hands, his face, and his clothes. But the smile Connor had on his face as he looked up at Dean, hands outstretched, was the best thing Dean had seen ever. " Dee, peanough budder!"

Dean walked forward and scooped Connor up in his arms, not caring that he was getting covered in crunchy peanut butter spread as he held the little boy close, just inhaling his baby scent and thanking whatever god there was, if there was one, that Connor was alright.

"Dee okay?"

Dean pulled back slightly, smiling at the sticky, caramel coloured kid in his arms. "Yeah, dude…I'm okay now. But don't ever run off like that again, okay? You scared me. You can't go doing that. You hear me?"

Connor face dissolved into a sad little pout and he nodded solemnly. "Sowwy…."

" Hey, I know you are, buddy. I know you are. Just…don't scare me again." Dean planted a kiss to Connor's forehead, then grimaced afterward as he found his lips covered in peanut butter. "I think we'd better take you to the bathroom and get you cleaned up, huh?'

"We fine Mommy?"

"Yeah, we'll find her real soon. I promise." Dean assured the little boy, before he started back towards the restrooms. " Dad! Sammy! I found him!"

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A/N 2: Next chapter we'll see how Skye and Andy are doing...as well as check in with Bobby, Missouri and the hunters...