AN: Last chapter...

Chapter Fifty Nine

Dean wakes up slowly. It's a weird feeling. Normally he bolts awake at the slightest noise or jerks out of some nightmare, his body and brain automatically getting ready for fight or flight. But this time his thoughts come to him slowly - is he concussed? Did Edwin beat him till he blacked out? Dean sluggishly moves his hand to his forehead – no blood. Okay. Good. Next thing, check for broken bones. Dean wiggles his toes, bends his ankles and knees and then slowly sits up, happy to note there's no pain in his ribs. It's a luxury to be able to breathe without pain. No sickness either – nice!

Dean smiles a fraction and then freezes as he hears the sound of another person breathing. What the fuck?! The panic rips through him like a gunshot and he finds himself scrambling backwards into the corner, pressing his back into the wall and taking heaving, panting breaths. What the fuck? What the fuck? Where is he? Who is this?

"Huh?"

Dean watches as the man who had been sleeping next to him blinks awake. Oh God, why didn't he control himself and kick shit out of this guy when he had chance?

"Dean?"

The voice is…familiar. This is…. Dean feels his breathing slow down. This is okay…it's okay, it's his brother. He's not with Edwin any more. This is…

"Sammy?"

He's confused. He doesn't remember falling asleep. Doesn't remember much of anything.

"Yeah, it's me," Sammy's looking down at him looking worried and Dean realises how stupid he must look, hiding in the corner. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Dean nods, scrubbing at his eyes as he pulls himself to his feet. "Yeah...I'm good, I'm fine, I'm…I just….I'm good." He can't admit to Sammy how confused he's feeling. Then Sammy will think he's an idiot and how can Dean look after him then?

Sam is rubbing at his forehead and Dean feels himself automatically moving closer to his side. "Sam? You ok?"

"Yeah…" Sam sounds about as convincing as Dean did earlier. "Headache…" Sam admits and Dean nods, he knows that feeling.

"We should go see Dad," Sam suggests and Dean nods. Dad… Another wave of memories hits him, Dad coming to save him, Dad holding him in his arms… Everything's a blur that's slowly coming into focus. Something doesn't feel right but he doesn't know what. But just in case…

"I'll go first," he tells Sam. He notices the way Sammy frowns at him for a second before shrugging and gesturing for him to step through the door.

"Sure."

Dad's standing over the camping stove when they enter the living area. "Hey," his voice sounds gruff, hoarse, tired. Dean's already on edge and he finds himself moving in front of Sammy. Just a little bit. …Just in case.

"Hey," Sammy responds.

"You two good?" Dad asks and Dean risks a little nod.

"Good." Dad nods as well, slow, sluggish. Kinda confused. "You two uh…you sleep okay?"

"Uh…yeah…" Sammy scratches the back of his head as he sits down at the table. "At least I think so."

Dean can't remember a night he's slept without nightmares. But he doesn't say it. Doesn't need to bring that up. He's okay now, he's okay. The longer he looks at Dad the more memories come flooding back to him. Stuff he can't even believe he'd let himself forget.

"I made porridge," Dad explains and Dean can't help but feel hopeful. Dad wouldn't…Dad wouldn't say that and not let him eat. Would he? No. He won't. Any minute now…

"Grab some bowls," Dad orders and Sammy's moving before Dean even lets that sink in. His eyes track every move, watching as Sammy picks out, one, two…three bowls. There's a little smile on his face that he just can't help as Sammy sets one down in front of him.

He was right. Family. His family. Mine, mine, mine. The thought grows in his head from a quiet little whisper in the back of his head to a chant that runs through his blood and fills him with confidence, hope. It's gonna be alright. It might not be easy. But it's gonna be alright.


Months pass. Months Dean knows how to count and spell now. Sort of. Sammy sits with him and teaches him letters and numbers. Dean hates it, hates feeling stupid and hates the thought of Dad seeing him looking so dumb. So they do the lessons in secret and, even though it's hard, Dean's not scared. His memories used to make him flinch and tremble, they used to scream over his thoughts until he couldn't understand anything but those decades of beatings and pain. Now though, those memories are more like a quiet itch in the back of his mind. It's always there, whispering to him, but he has new memories now. Good memories. Memories of Sam and Dad. Memories of Pastor Jim, Missouri, Lily, Rufus, Garth… He's met people now. People who don't see him as Bait. Now he has a lot more people to protect that just Sammy. That's why he works hard to try and make himself smart.

And the months keep passing and passing and slowly, life gets normal. Not back to normal, that was before he was Dean. No, life becomes a new kind of normal. A weird kind of routine where he studies and hunts and learns what it means to be a Winchester.

Sometimes Sam reads Dad's journal to him. He learns about the different monsters out there and how to kill them. And then he put it into practice with Dad. He's stronger now, faster. He eats every day, drinks whenever he wants, and trains as much as he can. The amulet Sammy bought him doesn't bounce against sticking out collar bones now, just sits against the muscle on his chest. It's hard, getting used to not being Bait. Dad gets pissed sometimes when he puts himself in danger, real pissed, and sometimes it's hard to remember that Dad's not going to hurt him. Sometimes he forgets or has to check with Sammy. And then Sam and Dad argue about it and… yeah, like he said all those months ago, standing in their home- it's not easy, but it's alright. It might piss Dad off when he puts himself in danger to save other hunters but the rest of the camp look at him different now, they clap him on the back, wave at him, give him free stuff. And, weirdly, it kind of feels good. Saving people, yeah, he can do that.

The last week or so though, things have been kind of different. Dad's been…different. Sammy's noticed it too and Sammy's never wrong. Dean hears them argue about it, all the time, and sometimes it scares him. His whole identity is based around him being a Winchester. If he's not a Winchester then what is he? He knows. Bait. That can't happen. Somehow he has to keep the family together.

He can hear it now, as he stands outside the front door.

"You meet some weird blonde kid in the street who tells you Bobby Singer is alive and that's it, you just want to leave camp and go looking for him? You don't even know that guy!"

Bobby Singer… the word gives Dean a headache. A bad one. Bobby Singer. What does that even mean? It should mean something. Dean knows it should. But it doesn't. It's not quite….right. What?

"I'm not saying I'm leaving camp, not right now. But I'm not just gonna ignore this Sammy, if Bobby's alive-"

"He's not."

"If Bobby's alive, then I need to find out where he is."

Dean pushes open the front door and the arguing stops. Like always. They don't like fighting in front of him much. So Dean pretends he hasn't heard the fighting and says a quiet "hey" as he enters.

"Hey," Dad answers back, "Good run?"

"Yeah," Dean nods. "Everything okay?" he knows it's not. But for now Dad and Sammy nod and Dean breathes a quiet sigh of relief. His family is together. For at least one more day. And that's what matters. He's come a long way from the four year old Bait chained in a prison cell, this is Dean's life now – saving people, hunting things, family business and, he knows, he's damned good at it.


AN: I don't even know what to say. It was very hard to end this fic. There is SO much I didn't explore, I could have written this fic forever. I didn't want to leave on a super fluffy happy ending, it's not that sort of fic after all. My aim was to sew the seed for John leaving, like in the show and if I write a sequel that's probably the route I'd go down, adapting the earlier episodes of the show into the Baitverse. I'm not sure if I would post it though as, as you all know, my update schedule is awful and quite unfair on you guys. This fic has taken me YEARS - I started writing it when I was in University and since then I've had three jobs, four houses, and some major life changes. But this fic, and you guys have ALWAYS been there for me. Some people have been on board since day one and I'm just so incredibly grateful. All the reviews I've had have been absolutely wonderful! I'm so grateful! I've made some amazing friends through this story and I really, really just can't express my gratitude in words. So I'm going to stop trying and I'm going to cut this short now because I could ramble on forever like this. Thank you. 3

My next fic is probably going to be something much lighter. I think I'm going to do an AU where Mary and John adopt Crowley and Castiel who grow up alongside the brothers and see how the Winchesters cope raising an angel and a demon with their hunter family. Hopefully it will be better than that summary makes it sound haha!

Thank you. So much!

Maz x