Wow, 40 chapters! You guys have been so good to me! Thanks for sticking with me, and I'm looking forward to more chapters to come!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Dean held out a hand beside him, stopping his big little-brother in his tracks, but it was the tone of Dean's voice that got Sam's attention. He followed the track of his big brother's eyes.

Both of them spoke at once, voices full of surprise. "Mom."

The air in Sam's chest didn't want to budge, and the wide-eyed man became a statue. Torn between amazement and horror, his eyes darted to John, and then to Bobby. Had any of them suspected that she could be a shape-shifter, or a revenant? The arm around his father's torso could easily be a death-warrant. Almost out of sight at the back door, Castiel hovered in uncomfortable silence. The warrior of God showed no suspicion whatsoever.

Although no one moved, Sam watched his brother's face. John had known Mary the longest, Bobby was standing so close, and Castiel was an angel… but it was Dean's reaction that held the most merit. And not a finger twitched to Dean's gun, nor to the silver knife at his boot. He remained uncharacteristically still, with mouth hanging open in surprise.

Mary – or fake-Mary – took a small expectant step towards them, her brows raised and expression very smooth. It was a mother's look if Sam ever saw one, not that he had any experience with them. Her mouth was slightly open in shock, an expression that Sam recognized, and he was instantly reminded of Dean. Her eyes darted between the two of them as if studying an abstract drawing. "Boys?" When Mary finally spoke, her voice was just a breath of air. It floated across the room with more velocity than any of theirs could have, and Sam could swear that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard.

Before Sam could question the situation, his brother took a small step forward. A step that meant everything. "Mom?" The statement-turned question propelled the room into motion, and Sam could hear Dean swallow deeply in suspense. How terribly, sadly ironic that a cold-blooded hunter, a hell-raiser, a Dean Winchester, would tremble in his boots at the sight of his own mother.

Mary nodded softly, tilting her head sideways and giving Dean a large grin. "Yeah, honey… it's me." She swallowed tightly, and Sam could see a rim of wetness on her eyelashes. There was understanding in her eyes as she waved Dean forward. "Come here, Dean."

The invitation was all it took for Dean to bolt across the room and pull Mary into his chest, and Mary wrapped her arms around his waist as if she had been doing the motion every day. Sam could hear Dean mumble something into her hair, and she nodded comfortingly in to his shoulder. "I know, sweetie, I know…" To see his big brother so venerable was an off moment that touched Sam just about as much as seeing his mother did, for the rarity of it.

A moment later, after what felt like light-years to Sam, Dean pulled away and held their mother at arm's length. "How…"

"We have your angel-friend here to thank," John explained timidly, interrupting Dean's question.

At the mention of Castiel, who had until now gone mostly un-noticed, Dean's head popped up to the door. "Cas…" His voice was thick with emotion, and Sam couldn't help notice that Castiel seemed to glow a little bit under Dean's attention. The friendship between them had always been apparent to Sam, and the connection continued to amaze him. It was different from the bond that he had with Dean, but still very much there.

"Yes, this was my doing." Castiel smiled crookedly, as if he had just been given permission to do so. It was clear to him that he had done something that would please Dean, which seemed to make him very happy.

Pulling away from the hands on her shoulders, Mary moved towards Sam nervously. She gave him a different kind of smile than Dean had gotten. This one was hopeful, unsure. "…Sammy?"

Sam's heart jumped against his ribs, tempting him to move. It wanted to go to her so bad, but his legs couldn't figure out how to obey. For some reason, Sam felt as if he wasn't allowed to be as excited as Dean and John were. They had known her, held her, and loved her. Sam didn't even remember her. As much as he had tried, all he had grown up with were a few photographs and an imagination. But he had wanted to remember her so badly.

"Y-Yeah…" All of a sudden Sam's mouth felt as dry as the desert. He felt about as awestruck as his father and brother had been before him. Only, he couldn't figure out what to do about it.

It must have been obvious to Mary how hesitant Sam was, although he feared that she credited his behavior to confusion, distance, or worse… disinterest. He wondered what kind of reaction would be appropriate. No, he didn't remember Mary. There was no changing that. But for all the years of dreaming, Sam had wanted and loved the idea of knowing her. He had always felt that he wasn't allowed to regret her passing like Dean had, but had still harbored his own sense of loss. If he held her now like Dean had and celebrated her return, would she understand why?

Luckily, Sam didn't have to be the one to make the decision. There was a flicker of something in Mary's eye, and then all of a sudden her face was buried in his chest. Gratefully Sam hugged her close, reveling in how strong the little woman's arms felt around him. At the sight of her shoulders jumping up and down, he rubbed his hand in circles on her back comfortingly.

"Hey, hey…" Wondering what he did to jumpstart this reaction, Sam winced. "You're alright. It's alright…"

"No, I'm sorry." Mary pulled away shakily, wiping under her eyes with a small laugh. "I just… I'm glad you're okay."

Sam racked his brain to try and figure that one out. "Uh… why wouldn't I be okay?"

At that bluntly outspoken question, Mary's expression changed. He could see the wheels turning as she reevaluated herself. When she spoke again, he knew that she had changed her mind. "Never mind." Forcing on a smile, Mary patted Sam's arm shakily, turning to allow Dean into her line of vision. "You boys… are so handsome." Grinning widely, Mary glimpsed back and forth between them a few times, before giving John a look. "Just like their dad."

John, who had been watching Mary's interaction with her sons with a quiet disposition and small smile, nodded slowly. "I'd say that's more of you, Mary." Although he was clearly trying to hide it, Sam could hear the tears in his voice. Sam was thrilled to have his mother back, and Dean seemed to be walking on air… but he knew that it was John whose world had been completely turned upside-down. He had spent almost 25 years on the hunt for the thing that had killed her, and had never gotten over her death. After everything that John Winchester had been through, he deserved this. Sam was sure of it.

Observing his father closely, Sam saw gratitude. But there was more than that. Somewhere under the proud little grin and the teary eyes was dread, and the cause was clear. How would they hide from Mary what they had been doing all these years? Especially what they would do tonight? The little lines around John's eyes spoke of tension, and Sam found his gaze and held it tightly, hoping his father would understand that someone had his back.

"Sam, why don't you go get your mother settled in? I'm sure Bela will have some clothes she can share for the time being." John gestured upstairs with a wave of his arm, but there was a small nod in his movements that said that he read Sam's body-language. "I'm just going to have a word with our angel-uh… with Castiel here."

"Sure thing, dad." As much as Sam dreaded introducing his mother to Bela Talbot, of all people, he understood his father's need for a little private conversation. Taking Mary's arm gently, he guided her towards the staircase. She followed without protest, linking her arm through his elbow gladly. He couldn't help noticing how small she was compared to the image of her that he had created.

Together they gandered up the staircase in silence, both gleeful and awkward at the same time, and neither spoke first. In the silence, they were more than strangers. Sam heard footsteps behind him, and turned to see Dean trotting after them. Before he got too far John reached out and grabbed his eldest by the coat.

"Wait a minute," Although firm, John's voice was easy. "I want to talk to you too."

Sam knew exactly what his father wanted, and he could see in Dean's eyes that he did as well. Damn curious, Sam had to force himself not to linger.

"So how long've you been… you know… back?" The words felt inappropriate, and Sam stumbled over them like fallen objects. He could sense Mary's hesitation.

"Since earlier today sometime. This morning, I think…" She spoke nervously, but with a sense of sureness in her eyes. "This whole thing is a little overwhelming, to be quite honest. It doesn't feel like any time has passed. Yesterday I could hold you with one arm. And now…" Looking upwards, Mary gave an exasperated sigh. "You're so…" With a nod that seemed more obligatory than honest, Mary stopped at the top of the stairs and let her eyes wander, using her sleeve to wipe at her cheeks.

Grinning crookedly, Sam tilted his head in search for her eyes. "…Tall? Yeah, so I've been told."

Mary blushed at the ease of Sam's reply and shrugged, although there was a new sadness in her eyes. "I'm sorry. It's just… Things have changed. You and Dean grew up a long time ago. You're men now, with your own lives and interests and responsibilities. And John's had so much time to" –

"To what?" Before his mother could continue that potentially dangerous sentence, Sam cut her short. "Mom, dad never went a day without talking about you. He loved you, and still does. And so do we."

"Do you?" Voice lashed with disbelief, she glanced up hopefully. Sam knew that the weight of the world was balanced on his next words. "But honey, you don't even know me. I mean, I would understand if you boys didn't feel" –

"You're our mom, mom." Unsure of what else to say, Sam took both of Mary's small hands in his large ones and shook them a little bit. "That hasn't changed, okay?"

At that Mary's lips pursed together in thought. "Sam… Do you even remember me?"

Oh god. The question. Sam's heart fluttered in a not-so-pleasant way that reminded him terribly of the sensations he felt during a vision, except this time he received no enlightenment. He paused, biting the inside of his cheek, and his hands stilled on hers. "Mom," he responded slowly, careful to gauge his words. "I have been hoping for this my whole life." That phrase was followed with a few seconds of silence, a dramatic pause of sorts, before Sam put a small grin on his cheeks for show. "Besides… we just met downstairs."

The joke must have worked to some extent, because Mary's lips parted in a grin. Before she could reply, however, they were joined by a visitor.

"Sam, is that you out there?" Peeking her head around the corner, Bela strolled out of one of the spare bedrooms with Sam's laptop tucked under her arm. "I hope you don't mind I hacked your ebay account to order a few things, I promise I'll pay you back when the cash comes in. It's not like you have any bills to…" At the sight of Mary at Sam's elbow, Bela stopped mid-sentence. She put on a light smile, resting her free hand on her hip. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that we had company…"

"Yeah, uh…. Bela," Sam interjected, gesturing from one lady to the other mildly and giving Bela a pleading look. Behave, it begged. "This is my mother, Mary."

"Your… Ah." Bela's eyes widened at that, as did her smile. Sam wasn't sure if the glimmer in her eye was deviance or pure shock as she reached out to shake Mary's hand. "Bela, Talbot."

"Nice to meet you, Bela." Mary took Bela's hand tightly, grinning past what must have been overwhelming confusion at meeting more people that she didn't know. She gave Sam a sheepish grin. "So how do you know my boys?'

"We met through work, I suppose." The corners of Bela's mouth twitched in humour. "Well, you must be a brave woman to have put up with the little rascals for so long."

Mary had been putting on a brave face until now, but at Bela's comment she paled. "Well, I…"

"Actually," Sam put an arm around his mother's shoulders comfortingly, and gave Bela a tight look. "She just got here. Castiel just brought her back too."

"Too?"

Bela's mouth parted, although she had nothing to say. "You know, I… Well, I…"

To spare her, Sam explained as simply as he could rather than watch Bela struggle. "I know this is a lot to take in, mom. Trust me, we'll explain soon. Actually, Bela," He looked back up to the other woman who waited nervously for him to speak. "We were wondering if you would mind sharing your wardrobe for a little bit? Just until we get out to a mall or something?"

When it was clear that Sam wasn't going to harass her, Bela visually relaxed. "I could do that."

Once Sam had escorted Mary out of earshot, Dean turned to John patiently. The look of obedience was in his eyes, the one that he had always wore, and John could only look sadly back at him. The things that Dean had done for this family could never be repaid, but John would do everything he could to try. From now on, things would have to change. But after tonight.

"I'll go make some more coffee." Sensing the private moment that was about to take place, Bobby bowed his trucker cap and slipped into the kitchen.

"Castiel…" John spoke deliberately, moving out of character as much as he could to give the angel a respective stance. "You've done so much for these boys, for Mary… for me. And I hope you know how thankful we are for that."

Castiel responded by tilting his down slightly, his expression indicating an understanding of not just the words, but the emotion behind them, and Dean was reminded of the day that he had first met the angel.

"Good things do happen, Dean. What's the matter? You don't think you deserve to be saved…"

"I was not the one who chose to bring you back from the dead," Castiel admitted softly. "The order to bring you and your wife back came from high up the list, John. We believe that you and your sons can continue to save lives, as you've been successful in doing thus far." After a moment's pause, Castiel continued with his typical stoic expression, although it had softened with what could only be described as compassion. "This is the first time we have come down among you in two-thousand years, and in all of our time on earth we have not raised many people from the grave. Take comfort in the fact that you and your loved ones have been considered worthy to fight alongside heaven's armies. Preventing Armageddon is a task more important than anything else you could imagine. Hell on earth is not something that we can allow, and I think you both understand the gravity of what I'm telling you."

Dean spoke first, nodding passionately. "We do."

"Then I will return for you tonight." Castiel turned his back, about to disappear, but Dean jumped forward in protest.

"Cas, Wait!"

Pausing where he stood, Castiel revolved in place to watch Dean quizzically. Unsure of himself, Dean took another step forward. "Look, Cas… Mom doesn't know about us yet. There are some things…" He met his father's eye understandingly. "That she can't find out about. So don't mention hunting or the apocalypse or any of that crap around her, okay? And for God's sakes… don't talk about what we're about to do tonight!"

Castiel's eyebrows met, and he slanted his head sideways in confusion. "Dean, it's always best to be honest" –

"We'll tell her what we need to tell her when the time comes," John assured the angel grimly.

A breath of silence moved between the threesome before Castiel spoke again. "Very well. This is neither here nor there, but if this is what you two need to be prepared for tonight's activities, then so be it."

John stepped closer to the pair, closing the triangle between them. "It is. But I'm thinking…" He glanced at his watch with pinched lips. "It might be best for us to pack up whatever we need and leave now. Mary will get suspicious if you show up later tonight. And the sooner we get this over with, the better."

"You don't need anything. I'll provide the necessary" –

"Wait here for a minute, Cas." Dean waved an arm in the angel's general direction before turning and taking the stairs two at a time. There he met an unsuspecting trio.

"Bela…" Observing the woman dryly, Dean put on a smile for his mother's sake. "I see you've met mom."

Bela met him with an icy grin in return. "Yes, I just heard the news. You boys must be thrilled."

"We are." Dean gave a firm nod, a stubborn protest to the undertone in Bela's eyes, before continuing. "But I'm here for you, this time. Get your stuff ready, because we're leaving. Now."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Thank you for waiting patiently. As it was, this was meant to be posted two weeks ago, but I got sick and my grandmother decided to pay a visit, and as you can guess both things took up most of my time. I was very happy to visit my grandma, and am over my sickness, so now we are back in the game!

I love to hear what you guys are thinking about how the story is going, so please don't hesitate to tell me what you think! I honestly read all of my reviews, and try my darndest to reply to every single one. Your opinion matters, so speak up guys!

(And now for a little shameless self-promotion.)

I've got a "Wayward Legacy" trailer up on youtube now, so please check it out and let me know what you think. This was made to promote the fic (and as a fun experiment), so I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it. Did this get you excited for the fic? Does it represent the first few chapters well? Would you share this video with your friends to tell them about the fic? Let me know what you think!

I can not post links on , but I will give you simple directions on how to find the video!

1) Go to youtube.

2) Search for "Wayward Legacy Trailer".

3) Click on the first video that comes up on the list.

If you are interested in seeing the trailer, I would love some feedback. I'm all ears!