Will have language and possibly graphic violence.

Summary: Sequel to Meddlesome Fools. Major ANGST! John's decisions are weighing heavily on him and nightmares plague his dreams. The demon is still keeping tabs on the boys and making himself know with Dean's migraines. Then there's the new kid…

Disclaimer: I do not own anything Supernatural related, but I wish I did! Enjoy!! Yes I will probably use direct quotes in this story, but I admit it so please don't sue me!!

Warning: Will contain child abuse! If you don't like it, please don't read it!

John glanced up into the rearview once more as he saw Dean start to stir. His heartbeat slowed back down slightly as his son remained asleep against his little brother's shoulder. The eldest Winchester wasn't ready to face what he had done to his children just yet. He was still on edge about the demon getting his hands on his boys in the first place.

It had been close. Too close. He could have lost them both out of sheer stupidity. What had he been thinking, letting the boys go to school with such serious injuries? One small mistake nearly cost him everything. He almost wished he had had enough of Missouri's concoction to wipe his own memory clean, but he knew that he had to learn from his mistakes, and to do so required remembering that they had occurred in the first place.

He would do anything to prevent the past from happening again, but he knew the possibility was there. The demon had gotten away yet again. One more failure to add to John Winchester's growing list. The bastard was going to pay. Of that, there was no doubt. No one messed with a Winchester and got away with it.

Now, his main concern was what Dean had said to him before forcing down the vile drink…

John turned to Dean only to find him clutching the full cup of potion with both hands. He was staring into it as though he were holding a cup full of poison.

"Go on, son. Drink it up," John prodded.

"Dad, please don't make me do this again."

John was completely nonplused. Dean couldn't possibly…

"Again? You…you remember the day your mom died?"

"Yeah. Have for a long time. It just never seemed like the right time to say anything."

"Jeez, Dean… I didn't know this stuff wore off…"

"I don't know if it did. I just always had this feeling that I was missin' something, like there was a void of emptiness when I knew there should have been somethin' there, so I pursued it until eventually bits and pieces started comin' back."

"You know this drink will give you peace of mind? At least, as long as you don't pursue the truth again…"

"I can't… I don't want to feel that void again, dad. Please don't make me drink it this time."

His son's pleading was tearing at John's heartstrings, but he couldn't bear the thought of dealing with Dean's newly acquired emotional pain. It just wasn't in his genes.

"Dean, I… Please, son. Just do as I say."

Dean dropped his gaze to the floor in defeat. After all, he never disobeyed a direct order.

"Yes, sir."

A tear slipped silently down his cheek as he lifted the cup to his lips, then after a slight hesitation, he grimaced as the foul mixture made its way down his throat. Seconds later, he was handing the empty cup to his father.

"Thank you, Dean." John had never been more sincere in his life.

He prayed to God Dean wouldn't pursue these missing memories as well. He had never discovered a backup to Missouri's herbal remedies. If this didn't hold, he didn't know what would.

Dean sat silently in the backseat of the Impala next to Sammy, pretending to be asleep. His mind was working overtime, battling the blanket that had been placed over his most recent memories.

He hated that feeling: the empty void in his soul. He was so sure he hated it, that he realized he must have felt this way before. If only he could remember… Had he purposefully blocked it out, or was it the cause of an injury…? Whatever the reason, Dean was almost positive that with a little persistence, he could crack the walls that hid his recent past from him. His gut was telling him to keep his digging a secret from his father, and his gut was never wrong.

He also had a gut feeling that something terrible had happened during his missing time, giving him a slight sense of foreboding the further he dug. He shifted slightly, leaning his head against his brother's for comfort and support. With Sammy by his side, he knew his little brother was safe, and that thought alone gave him enough strength to continue his pursuit of the truth.

John hadn't made it too far when his own exhaustion that had compiled over the last few days was beginning to take over. Glancing once more at his boys huddled in the back, he decided that they had gone far enough today and they could all use a real bed right now. He cruised for a few more minutes before pulling off onto the next exit that advertised crappy motels. Perfect. Home sweet home. That's the life of a Winchester.

He checked them into a room, then went back to the car to wake up the boys who had yet to stir. It was kind of eerie how still they were, even after John's door had creaked obnoxiously open and then slammed shut again.

John eased Sam's door open, glad they were leaning towards each other and not against the windows where they would fall out. Dean decided his little charade would be a bit too obvious if he didn't wake soon and reluctantly cracked his eyes open. He blinked a few times to really sell it, then turned confused and bleary eyes to his dad.

"Why are we stopping? Where are we?"

"Hey, Bud. Just decided we've gone far enough for one day. We could all use a nice day of rest before we go any further. Can you take the bags in?"

"Yeah, I got 'em."

John gently shook Sam's shoulder. "Hey, kiddo. Rise and shine…"

Sam groaned and turned his head away from the blinding light that was reflecting off a nearby car. In doing so, he rolled off of Dean, allowing his brother to slide out the other side and retrieve their bags from the trunk.

John smiled fondly down at his sleeping boy. Always the stubborn one. He hadn't carried either of his boys since Dean was four and Sammy was old enough to walk, but he figured today he could make an exception. He gently slid his arms under Sam's knees and behind his back, then lifted him from the car. Sam's head lolled perfectly into the crook of his arm where he snuggled comfortably, unaware of his actions.

Dean smiled affectionately from the door as he glanced back and saw the subtle bonding moment between his dad and little brother. Sammy was a lot easier to get along with when he was asleep rather than alert and picking fights with their dad. He entered the room and dropped the bags in front of their designated beds, then plopped heavily down on the one farthest from the door. It was John's rule that the boys shared that one, and he took the one closest to the door so he had a better chance of protecting them.

John nudged the door closed behind him with a booted foot, then placed Sam on the bed next to his brother. Dean took over being the caretaker. He slid off Sammy's over shirt and sneakers, then tucked him in beneath the ratty but warm covers. He purposefully ignored the large, questionable stain on the comforter. You get what you paid for, right?

Their dad moved over to his own bed and sank heavily onto it, wiping a tired hand across his face before lying down on top of the sheets fully clothed. He was out within minutes. Dean slid off his own boots and over shirt to get comfortable, but had no intentions of falling asleep. He was still on a quest: to fill the empty void that was beginning to ache inside of him. The more he thought about it, the more frustrated he became. Dean grumbled in annoyance when he realized all this concentration was starting to bring on a migraine.

He laid down next to his sleeping brother, closed his eyes, and massaged his temples. These damn migraines had been a curse of his since he was little. It was extremely rare he had two in one month though, and he remembered having one not too long ago. Mind you, he wasn't even sure what day it was anymore. I bet it's connected to this void… If only I could remember…

Dean drifted off in spite of himself. He was just too damn worn out to fight his exhaustion any longer. Of the three, only Sammy slept peacefully. John's rest was plagued with nightmares, and Dean's migraine was building even while he was unconscious.

John knew he was dreaming the second he saw her, but it didn't make it feel any less real. She was as beautiful as the day she had been taken from him. She reached out to him, calling softly.

"Come to me, John. I need you. Please, come to me…"

"Mary?" The word came out broken, painful. A shiver ghosted down his spine and he felt goose bumps race up and down his body. This isn't real, this isn't real…

"I love you, John…"

A movement in the shadows of his mind caught John's eyes and he growled as the demon stepped forward into the light, smirking darkly at him.

"You were too late, John. She died because of you."

Mary let out a blood curdling scream as she burst into flames above his head.

"Mary! NO!"

John rolled in one direction on his bed, then the other trying to escape his dream. The demon's cackling filled his ears. It was almost loud enough to mask the soft moans of pain. Almost, but not quite. His hunter's ears picked up the sound and honed in on it, using it to help pull him back to consciousness.

One last time he glanced up at the ceiling and into his once beautiful wife's eyes. They were filled with pain, but not from the fire. It was as though she could sense how much her death was going to affect her perfect family. John reached a hand towards her but she was too far away.

Suddenly her eyes changed from woeful to a bright yellow and she grinned evilly at him.

"Come to me, John!"

John jolted upright, sweating profusely and trying to gain a grip on reality. He couldn't stop his eyes from darting to the ceiling.

"Damn it, John, get a hold of yourself! That was eleven years ago!" he berated himself quietly, making sure he didn't wake the boys. Then he heard the pain-filled moans again and his heart clenched. Now he recognized the sound. It was Dean.

He bolted to his boys' bed to find Dean curled in a ball, grasping his head in his hands as though attempting to keep it from exploding.

"Dean?! What is it?"

Sam woke to his father's frantic tone and turned to his brother, concern and fear blanketing his face the instant he laid eyes on him.

"Dad? What's wrong with him?" Sam sounded scared.

"I dunno yet. Dean? Hey, kiddo… Talk to me, son. Is it another migraine?" John gently gripped Dean's chin and lifted it to find that Dean had scrunched his eyes shut against the pain blazing through his skull. This was one of the worst migraines he could ever remember having. As of now, only John and Bobby knew what the cause of it was. The demon had to be close. He needed to get his boys as far away from here as he possibly could.

John sat down on the bed and gripping him under the arms, pulled Dean up to a sitting position against his chest. He held him tightly, rocking them both and whispering words of comfort in his suffering child's ear. Careful to keep his voice low, he turned to his youngest son.

"Sam, I need you to bring our bags back out to the car. We need to get goin'."

"But dad! He's in a lot of pain! He should just stay here and rest a while!" Sam's concern was growing into anger at his father's lack of concern for Dean.

"Trust me for once in your life, Sam. We have to get as far away from here as possible. It's the best thing for him. Now go." John wanted to shout his commands to get his point across. Between the nightmare and his inability to protect his children, he was a bit frustrated. But he also knew how much pain a migraine could cause and that raising his voice even slightly would increase the torture ten fold. So he managed to keep himself restrained, if just barely. Leave it to the demon to ruin the one time John and Sam hadn't been arguing.

Sam huffed and glared at his father before stalking over to the bags and dragging them out the door towards the Impala.

John focused his attention back on Dean who was writhing in his arms and biting back his cries of pain.

"Hang in there, Dean. I'm gonna make this better. I promise."

He kissed his son on the top of the head and realized how sweaty and clammy his boy really was. Dean was known to battle the worst of pain without giving off the slightest hint to an untrained eye. He could even fool John these days, but never Sammy. Clearly, this pain had gotten the best of him. Even at the school it hadn't been this bad, not that Dean would remember having had a migraine there.

The demon was a lot closer than John would have liked to admit. He berated himself for stopping in the first place. He thought he was helping his boys by letting them rest, not setting them up for more pain.

"Dad?" Dean whimpered out between his gritted teeth. "Make it stop…"

"I will. I will." He glanced up at the door as Sam came storming back in for the last bag, sending a heated gaze to his father. "Almost ready, Sam?"

"Last one. I'll wait in the car." With that, he lugged the bag outside.

John sighed. He knew there was no way Sam could understand his urgency right now. He would put their disagreement on the backburner until Dean was safe again. Sarcastically, he thought, I can't WAIT for Sam to be a teenager…

"Alright, kiddo. Let's get you into the car." He was going to do right by his boys this time. He was going to take them away from the pain. As John moved to slide out from behind his now shaking son, the cell phone in his pocket began to ring.


Like it, hate it? Suggestions? Sorry it took me SOOOOO long to start writing again! I didn't want to keep using the same ideas over and over, and it took forever to find something new! In fact, I owe moutainmomma a huge thanks for the character of Ethan you are going to meet in the next chapter! If anyone can feed my muse, feel free to do so so I can update sooner rather than later!! Thanks a bunch, and I'm glad you've all stuck with me through the lull!