Gah! Hey guys... here's the next chapter! I am so sorry about the lateness, really! My only excuse is that I started to write a new story and got distracted... whoops! It's on livejournal and it's called 'Rough Landings' if any of you want to read it. So, there is only 1 more chapter left in this story! Can you believe it? I can't, wow... easily the longest story I have ever written! And I really do want to thank all of you for reading, reviewing, and just being awesome! You guys rock 3

As for when the last chapter will be added and when I'll update 'Family Matters'... I'm not totally sure but I think it'll be up in the next 2 weeks or so. I was going to try and get it done this past week since I was on spring break but well, this spring break has sucked and I've been busier than I anticipated. Anyways, that's enough of me so I hope all of you enjoy the chapter and hopefully the wait for the next one won't be so long. Thanks again!

Dean was grinning as he walked up the front steps of their house. He'd had an unbelievably awesome day at work and he couldn't wait to share the good news with Sam. What do you know, things are actually looking up for the Winchesters Dean thought to himself, smirking softly. Sam was almost done with the GED program and at the end of the month he would be receiving his high school diploma. Dean felt damn proud of how hard Sam had worked since he'd gone back to school after having the twins. He also hoped that his little announcement would help relax Sam a bit since he was currently stressing out beyond belief, trying to make sure that everything was in order for the end of the school year. Hell, last week Sam had stated that he wanted to wait to celebrate his birthday because according to him, he just had too much work to do at the moment. Well, we'll make sure we do it right Dean promised as he unlocked the front door and stepped inside.

He smiled at the scene that greeted him home. Sam was sitting on the couch with all of his books spread out in front of him on the coffee table while Nick and Abby played with their toys at his feet. "Hey," Dean said as he shrugged out of his jacket and hung it up. Walking into the living room, he took a seat on the floor beside his two munchkins. Nick was sitting up, mouthing at the ear of his little stuffed dog while Abby was lying on her stomach, looking at him with wide eyes.

"Hey," Sam smiled back as he looked up from his book. "How was work?" He asked.

"Awesome," Dean grinned but didn't elaborate.

"Really, you wanna share why?" Sam asked curiously, amused by the smug look on Dean's face.

"Cause of this," Dean reached into his back pocket and pulled out the envelope his boss had handed him before he'd left for the day. Handing it over to Sam, Dean could barely contain his excitement. "Open it."

Sam took the large, white envelope and his eyes widened when he saw that it was a raise for Dean. Dean's pay had been raised from sixteen dollars an hour to twenty-three dollars and thirty cents. "Wow, that's awesome." Sam congratulated. He knew how hard his brother had been working. Dean was more than deserving of it.

Dean nodded proudly. "Yeah, ah Tom said that if I keep it up, he might make me assistant manager." He explained further, smiling a bit more. Over the past year that he'd been working at the hardware store, Dean had come to appreciate what it felt like to hold down a normal job that actually came with a paycheck. At first, he had been surprised to realize that he didn't really miss hunting all that much since that was what his life had become ever since he was four years old but looking at the three people seated in the room with him, he knew exactly why he didn't miss it.

Sam shook his head in amazement at his brother's accomplishment. Assistant manager... that would be huge for them and who knows, maybe by then he'd have a job of his own. Closing the textbook that was on his lap, Sam placed it on the coffee table and then moved to sit beside Dean, leaning into his side. "That's really awesome Dean, I'm proud of you." He smiled sincerely and gave Dean a quick kiss on the cheek.

Dean nodded, gently placing his hand on Sam's knee and squeezing it. Sam was the whole reason he'd taken the job in the first place and he was grateful to his brother for giving him that chance. Being a hunter was rewarding in its own right and the feeling that you got when you knew you had saved someone... it was pretty remarkable but so was making sure that his partner and kids had a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.

"Dean, look." Sam whispered suddenly, drawing Dean from his thoughts.

"What?" Dean asked before he looked at where Sam was pointing. Both he and Sam became frozen to the spot as they watched Abby push herself up on her hands and knees. She was kind of rocking back and forth in place as she looked at her parents.

"Come here sweetheart, come to daddy." Sam called as he moved away from Dean and sat up more, his arms stretched out towards his daughter.

Abby looked at Sam, a small smile on her chubby little face before she plopped back down on her butt causing Dean to laugh as Sam pouted.

"You're getting us all excited over nothing," He shook his head, moving to pull Abby onto his lap. "Oh well, maybe you'll do it next time hunh Abs?" Dean leaned forward to kiss her nose, feeling more content in his life than he ever had since he was four years old.


Later that night, Dean rolled over and woke, pausing unsure of what had woken him. Turning his head to the side, he saw that Sam was sleeping soundly beside him and there weren't any cries coming from the nursery leaving Dean feeling slightly concerned. His head snapped towards the closed bedroom door when he heard the floorboards creak. He knew that it very well could just be their dad coming in from work but he had a weird feeling in his gut. Grabbing the gun that he kept beneath the bed, Dean very carefully climbed out of bed to go investigate. He may not be a hunter anymore but he still trusted those instincts as he headed down the hall. Sneaking into the kitchen, Dean let out a relieved sigh when he saw that it was only his dad but what he didn't understand was why their dad was standing at the kitchen table with a full arsenal spread out in front of him. "What's all this for?" Dean asked, making his dad jump a little.

"Jesus Dean!" John cursed as he looked behind him and saw his oldest son standing by the counter with his gun in his hand. "It's... it's for a hunt." He relented after a few minutes of hesitation.

Dean slowly nodded. "And you didn't care to mention this when Sam and I were awake?" He asked, feeling skeptical of the way his dad was behaving for some reason.

"I didn't want you two to worry." John replied, swiping a hand over his scratchy beard as he looked down the hall.

Dean scoffed. But of course, not seeing you for a few days and having no explanation wouldn't make us worry Dean thought to himself. "What's the hunt?" He asked as he put the safety back on his gun and then placed it on the table now that he knew there wasn't any reason to have it out.

"Not completely sure... possible demon," John answered, continuing to pack his bag. He had been hoping that he would be able to get all of this together without alerting his boys but that obviously, wasn't going to happen.

"Where is it?" Dean asked as he began to help his dad pack the weapons. "Dad?" He asked again when John hadn't said anything.

Taking a seat at the table, John hung his head. "I think... I think it might be here." He answered, pointedly not looking at his son.

Growing more worried with his dad's cryptic answers, Dean glanced out the window. The front porch light was on, illuminating their front yard and the Impala and their dad's truck that was parked in the driveway. "Here? As in, in town here?" Dean asked, reaching to pick his gun up again.

John shook his head as he made a decision. He had always trusted his oldest with what was happening around them and he didn't see any reason to not follow that thinking now. "Sit down, we gotta talk." John instructed, his voice filled with a sense of authority that Dean hadn't heard in months.

"Spill the beans already dad, you're freaking me out here." Dean shot back as he took a seat at the table. He was still in a way considered to be his dad's right hand man but he was now a father of his own too and the two kids down the hall relied on him for every single thing you could think of. And that knowledge made him press his father for information that in the past he would have waited for. "Who the fuck is this demon and what the hell is it doing here?" Dean demanded angrily.

"I think it... I think it might be the thing that killed your mom." John listened as he heard Dean draw in a sharp breath.

No, no, no, no, no Dean chanted to himself repeatedly. It couldn't be, it just couldn't... not now, not when things were finally going well for them and when they finally felt safe. Trying to stop thinking like a terrified father and partner, Dean let his hunter instincts take over. "What makes you think it's a demon?" He asked since his dad had never even mentioned to him before that he had a theory.

"There's signs... I've looked and found the same ones, all near by towns where a woman died in a house fire the night her baby turned six months." John started, his voice void of emotion. "There's a pattern of lightening storms, cattle mutilations and then a few days later..." He drifted off as both of them knew how these stories ended. John didn't know for sure yet if this was indeed the monster that had killed his Mary but at this point in time, it was the best lead he had. John didn't believe in coincidences and the fact that there had been a repeated pattern of this happening to other families, it made him more than sure of his theory. "All that's left behind is a sulfuric residue."

"And you think it's in town?" Dean asked, getting on edge as he looked around and saw Abby and Nick's toys decorating the house. Shit, I thought we were done with this he thought to himself. They had dealt with the angel who had thought he had the right to claim Sam and the twins as his own and now his dad was telling him that there might be some demon out there who wanted the same thing. Plus, hearing that the thing that had killed his mom was now possibly after his children... it sent a fiery rage through him. There was no way in hell that he was going to let that demon, or whatever it was, lay a single finger on either one of his children.

"It's possible, they're going to be six months two days and..." John drifted off, he hadn't wanted to tell Dean knowing that his son wouldn't be able to focus on anything else.

"It's been clear here though... we haven't had a storm in over a week." Dean noted, trying to find some speck of hope that his family wasn't in danger.

John nodded. "I know, that's what I'm confused about it. Look, maybe it's nothing but I just want to be prepared. I'm not letting that thing get to anyone else in this family." John's eyes were as hard as steel and Dean knew that should anything try and get to either Nick or Abby, they would be met by an immensely pissed off John Winchester. And I'll be right there with him Dean thought to himself. Abby and Nick were his children, his to teach and guide, his to love, and his to protect. And he was going to damn well make sure that he did them right. Both John and Dean sat across from each other at the table in silence, both consumed by their worries unaware that their conversation had been overheard.


It was several hours later when Dean finally slipped back into bed, his arms wrapping tight around Sam's waist holding him protectively close. "We're gonna be okay." He promised, pressing a soft kiss to the back of Sam's neck. He had sat in the rocking chair in Nick and Abby's nursery, watching over them as they slept for over an hour. His gaze had kept drifting up to the ceiling as he remembered being four years old and seeing the most important woman in his life pinned to the ceiling and blood dripping down. He hadn't known what was going on, only that his little brother was crying and his daddy was screaming while their house caught fire. Dean felt tears prick his eyes as he snuggled closer to his brother, trying to remind himself that what was left of his world was still in one piece. He didn't like to think about that night and usually when he did, he was already armed with at least one six-pack of beer, usually more.


Waking the next morning, Sam found himself trapped in his brother's embrace. It caused a worried frown to form on his face as he covered Dean's hands with his. He normally felt safe, loved, and really kind of cherished when his brother held him like this but this morning, he felt nervous and worried. He had woken up last night when Dean had climbed out of bed and followed him down the hall only to overhear his brother and dad talking about some demon who may or may not be in town and who may or may not be after his children. And it killed mom? He wondered. Sam wasn't sure what to make of that new information. He didn't want to believe that it was true and that their small family was once again in danger but if his dad thought so then there was a very real chance that it was happening again. Why us? Why do we keep being targeted? He asked himself. Feeling sick with the thought and like he was about to throw up, Sam untangled himself from his brother's arms and hurried out of the room.

Racing down the hall, Sam flung open the door to Nick and Abby's nursery. Tears flooded his eyes when he saw them sleeping peacefully in their cribs, untouched and unharmed. Walking over to Nick's crib, Sam gently traced a finger down his baby soft and chubby cheek memorizing the way his son looked. Swallowing thickly and drying his tears, Sam let his eyes drift to the ceiling and he shook his head. He didn't know why his mom had been killed over his crib all those years ago and now the thought that his children were going to be targeted by the same thing... it made him confused and angry. He heard the sound of a door opening and quickly turned around to see Dean standing in the doorway.

"Everything okay?" Dean asked, looking at Sam curiously.

Sam nodded, pushing down his nerves and worries. "Yeah, just checking on 'em is all." He lied, a fake smile on his face before he headed out of the room.


Later that afternoon, Dean was busy making his way through the small drugstore with Nick and Abby in tow. He had taken them with him to go shopping to try and give Sam some quiet time to study for his finals. His brother had seemed extra tense this morning so a quiet house would hopefully help the geek out. I haven't even told him Dean thought to himself. He had woken up that morning when he'd felt Sam get out of bed and found his brother in the nursery, watching over their children. The scene that had greeted him had only reinforced just how important it was that whatever this demon or thing was didn't succeed. And if he wasn't lying, Dean felt like he needed his children close to him today. After having that discussion with his dad the previous night and knowing that his babies may very well be in danger, he needed to have them in his sight. I'm not going to let anything happen to you guys he promised, gently tickling the bottom of Abby's foot as he stood in the aisle. Nick was sitting in his carrier that Dean had strapped to the shopping cart while Abby was in her pink and gray carrier that he was wearing. Dean could admit that wearing the thing was probably not the manliest thing he'd ever done in his life but he couldn't put both of them in the shopping cart so he'd have to deal with it. Besides, it was a small price to pay for being able to know that his children were currently safe. "What do you guys think? Will daddy like this one?" He asked as he picked out one of the birthday cards from the display rack.

Nick quietly reached towards it while Abby let out a little squeal causing Dean to laugh. "Majority wins, guess we're getting this one." He smirked as he placed it in the cart, out of Nick's reach. The two of them had started to teeth recently and he did not want that card to become Nick's latest victim. "What else should we get daddy?" He asked, continuing with his shopping as he tried to keep himself from worrying to death.


When they arrived back home about an hour later, Dean was surprised and then wasn't surprised to see Bobby's car parked next to their dad's truck. He had figured that their dad would have called the man for back-up by now and it was actually a bit of relief to know that yes, in fact they did have more hands on board. I wonder if he's told Jim Dean thought, knowing that the Pastor would want to know about this. Unstrapping both Nick and Abby from their car seats, Dean climbed the front stairs and let himself inside. "Hey dad, it's us. We're home!" He shouted as he moved to set both babies down on the carpet. He watched as Abby rolled over and then pulled herself to where some of her toys were while Nick remained sitting up and playing with the musical rattle that Dean had handed him. "Yeah, you like that kiddo? That's some pretty good music you've got going on there." He smiled when Nick looked up at him and laughed as he continued to shake the toy.

A moment later, John and Bobby walked out from the kitchen with solemn looks on their faces. Knowing instantly what was on their minds, Dean just nodded back as he watched his children play and interact with each other. They'll get to do this for a long time he thought to himself. He wasn't going to let whatever this thing was cut his children's happy childhoods off like it had done to him.


"Alright, come on guys. You two are coming with me." Dean said as he scooped both Nick and Abby up a few hours later. "Let's go pick daddy up from school." He muttered, mostly to himself as he ignored the look his dad was giving him. He knew that it may look a little irrational, what with him not letting Abby and Nick out of his sight for more than just a few minutes at a time when he had two reliable people right there but he couldn't help it, he needed them today.

John followed his son out to the Impala and helped him get both babies strapped into their car seats. "Dean," He sighed, stopping and leaning on the open passenger door.

"Yeah," Dean asked, not looking at his dad as he finished doing Nick's belt. "There ya go buddy. Hey, you want this to play with?" He asked as he handed his son one of the texture and flip books they had. "Dad, what?" He repeated when his dad hadn't said anything further.

"Drive safe... we'll see you guys back here soon." John responded, changing his mind at the last minute. He knew exactly why Dean had been so adamant all day long about keeping Nick and Abby with him and even though he knew that letting his son worry like this probably wasn't the best thing, he couldn't blame him either. It had taken an incredibly long time for him to let Dean and Sam out of his sight after Mary had died. Nobody's dying tonight he swore to himself.

"Yeah, we'll see ya soon." Dean responded, shutting the car door and then climbing into the driver's seat.

John nodded silently and watched his son drive away, praying that after tonight he'd be able to do so again.


"What's Bobby doing here?" Sam asked, playing dumb when Dean pulled into their driveway and he saw the man's truck. Dean hadn't made any indication at all that there was anything amiss and though Sam didn't like being kept in the dark, he wasn't sure that he wanted to push Dean on this.

"Ah, he's ah... he's helping dad with a hunt." Dean answered after a moment. He hadn't told Sam yet about the possible danger that was out there and he didn't want to nor did he know how to. His brother had spent the last several months worrying over one thing or another and he desperately didn't want to have to add another thing to that list, especially now that in a way they did have the cookie-cutter apple pie lifestyle that Sam had always wanted.

"Hmm," Sam nodded before he sighed. "Dean, I know okay. I... I heard you and dad last night." He finally admitted, his voice tinged with annoyance and anger. He didn't know why Dean had gone all day without mentioning it to him. He had thought they were a partnership, especially when it had to do with their children.

"Shit," Dean muttered to himself as he turned to look out the driver side window.

"What, you weren't going to tell me?" Sam huffed as he pinned his brother with a glare.

Dean at least had the decency to look guilty. "I just... I Jesus Sam, I just didn't want you to have to worry about it." Dean tried to explain though he knew that was a weak argument.

Sam huffed again and he shook his head, causing some of his bangs to fall in his face. "Right so you, dad, and Bobby can silently get prepared for a hunt that may be in our very own home and yet not let me in on a single thing... sounds kind of familiar doesn't it?" Just then, Abby began to cry causing Sam to shake his head once more before he climbed out of the car to get his daughter. "What's the matter baby?" He asked as he gently ran a hand down her back, trying to soothe her. "Shh, it's okay." Without looking at Dean, Sam pushed his way passed his brother and into the house with his crying daughter in his arms.


"So are you still giving me the silent treatment?" Dean asked with his arms crossed as he stood in the doorway of the nursery, watching as Sam changed Nick's diaper. For the first time that day, Abby wasn't with him as John had managed to convince Dean to hand her over for a little while.

Sam was quiet as he finished wiping his son clean and then putting a new diaper on him. "All done," He smiled, helping Nick stand on chubby legs as he pulled up his son's little pair of pajama pants that had Dalmatians, fire trucks, and hydrants on them.

"I'll take that as a yes then," Dean commented after Sam had still not spoken to him. After their fight in the car, Sam had refused to speak to either himself, their dad, or Bobby but Dean knew that it was really him that Sam was pissed at. The two of them had a shared responsibility to not only their children but to each other and if Dean knew Sam as well as he thought he did then he'd guess that Sam was pissed because he'd broken that somehow. "Sam, look I'm sorry okay? I didn't mean to not tell you about it. Hell, I just found out last night... it's not exactly like there's been a good time to..."

"A good time Dean?" Sam interrupted. "There is never going to be a good time to tell me that OUR children are in danger." Sam held Nick on his hip as he stood in front of Dean with an angry glare on his face. "Or did you forget that they belong to the both of us?"

"That's not fair," Dean clenched his jaw shut. "You know that."

"Do I?" Sam asked as he shook his head.

"How many times do I have to say it Sam? I didn't purposefully exclude you and hell, if you wanted to know so bad then why the hell didn't you come out to the kitchen when you heard us talking?" Dean shot back. He didn't like being accused of things he didn't do, especially when it came to their family and their relationship and along with his nerves over what may possibly end up happening, he was in no mood to put up with any kind of anything tonight.

"Yeah well, whose to say you guys would have kept the conversation going if I did try and join you?" Sam asked bitterly. "We both know that you and dad prefer to keep me in the dark when it comes to hunts."

Dean shook his head as he sighed and muttered under his breath. "You're still holding on to that?" He asked, instantly knowing what Sam was talking about.

"You can't hide the fact that there's a lifelong pattern can you?" Sam dropped his eyes and he smiled sadly when Nick looked up at him. "When are guys going to start trusting me with the important things Dean? They're my kids too, you should have told me."

"Sammy," Dean sighed as he dropped his arms and hung his head. He knew his brother had a point but he'd never kept anything from Sam because he didn't trust him. It had always been to protect him and to try and maintain some of his brother's innocence. "Baby, I do trust you. You know that." Dean's voice had softened as he stepped closer to his brother.

"Then tell me these things Dean, let me be a part of it too alright?" Sam asked as he looked up at his brother.

Dean nodded. "I will... I just, you've been so stressed out lately... I didn't want to add to that." He shrugged as he wasn't sure what else to say. Back when the competition had been going on, they hadn't told Sam about it because the kid was just starting to deal with the fact that he'd been raped. It had felt cruel to dump another load of worries and trouble into his brother's lap then. "And I mean, come on you've gotta give me some slack here hunh? I just found out last night. To tell you the truth, I don't think dad really wanted to tell me about it either."

Sam let out a watery laugh as he nodded. "Yeah okay, I'm just... I think I'm always going to worry about them so you can't let that stop you from telling me something." He reprimanded.

"Deal," Dean agreed. "Can I get a kiss now or do you still have me in detention?" Dean joked.

Sam huffed. "Your papa is going to drive me crazy one of these days." Sam muttered to their little son just before he allowed Dean to give him a quick peck on the cheek.

"You're probably right about that." Dean smirked before the two of them became serious again though without the tension between them this time. Looking at the little boy who was currently snuggling against Sam's chest, Dean felt his chest swell with a series of emotions. "You getting sleepy, little guy?" Dean asked as he reached out and placed his hand on Nick's back.

"Yeah, I think he is." Sam agreed. "Um, tonight... can they sleep with us?" Sam asked as he unconsciously clutched Nick just a little tighter.

Dean quirked his brow at his brother as if to say 'duh'. "Sammy, dad had to practically fight me to give him Abby just long enough for me to be able to come and talk to you so ah, yeah the kids are staying with us tonight."

"Good, I don't really want to let him go right now." Sam admitted quietly as he gently brushed a hand over the top of Nick's head.

"You don't have to, ever." Dean promised and with that, the two of them walked out to the living room ready to face whatever it was that was waiting for them as a team.


When Sam and Dean walked out to the living room, it was to find Abby lying on her stomach on a blanket on the floor with their dad and Bobby sitting a few feet away, discussing the hunt. "You guys back on speaking terms?" John asked gruffly. He needed his sons to be getting along and communicating tonight, not having some domestic squabble.

"Yeah," He gently squeezed Sam's hand and then he walked over to where Abby was, picking her up and holding her close to his chest. "So, what do we do? Where do we go from here?" Dean asked, fixing both his dad and Bobby with a stare.

"We prepare," John answered as he moved so he was no longer blocking view of the coffee table. The tabletop was cluttered with guns, knives, flasks which Dean was sure were full of holy water, and their dad's journal with exorcism rituals in it. "Let's say that this thing is a demon, then at least one of these should do the trick."

Dean nodded but as he looked over at Sam, he could see that Sam was absolutely terrified. He didn't blame him. "Come on, let's make up a bed for you guys." He suggested as he walked over to the corner in their living room where they kept extra blankets and such. Shifting Abby to his other arm, Dean grabbed up a pile of several blankets and then headed back towards the middle of the room. Putting Abby in her 'Around the World' play station, Dean quickly made up a bed for Sam and their children. "Here ya guys go." He tried to smile reassuringly as he added some pillows.

"Thanks," Sam whispered after he'd sat down on the bed, positioning Nick to lie on his back since the little boy was starting to fall asleep. "Sleep tight little man," He whispered pressing a kiss to Nick's forehead. "I love you."


As the hours passed, the four hunters had grown more and more anxious. Both John and Bobby were sitting in wing back chairs with their shotguns resting on their laps. Dean was lying on the makeshift bed on one side with Nick and Abby sleeping in between him and Sam. It was currently two in the morning and so far, there had been nothing. No flickering lights, no rotten egg smell, nothing and while they had all been hoping that nothing would happen, it was also a little bit disconcerting. "You can fall asleep if you want. I'm not gonna let anything happen, promise." Dean smiled tenderly when he looked over at his brother and saw that Sam was finally having trouble keeping his eyes open.

"Wake me in an hour, okay?" Sam requested as he turned to lie on his side so that he was facing both his children and Dean.

Dean nodded though he wasn't totally sure he would, not if his brother was conked out and snoozing like a log. Yeah, then you'll get your butt kicked for the second time in as many days he thought to himself ruefully. "Nothing's gonna happen." He repeated firmly.

Sam gave Dean a small, reassuring smile that said he trusted him and then laid his head down on the pillow.

Dean waited until Sam was fast asleep before he turned to his dad and Bobby. "What do you guys think? Is it coming?" He asked worriedly.

John sighed and scrubbed a hand over his bearded face while Bobby removed his ball cap and twisted it in his hands. "I don't know," John offered causing Dean to scoff.

"Thanks dad, that's helpful." He replied sarcastically.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you Dean." John wanted to be hopeful that for whatever reason, this thing had decided to not hit their family twice but he was afraid that if he let his guard down then that was when the thing would strike. "I say we wait until sun-up and if the thing still hasn't shown then maybe..." He drifted off, too nervous to verbally state that they might actually be able to cut a break.

"Yeah, alright," Dean sighed as he flopped back on the blankets, careful not to wake either baby. Dealing with cranky and irritated infants right now was not really on his wish list. At least they're going to be here to be cranky Dean thought to himself knowing that he was lucky that he was able to spend this amount of time with them in a place where they would hopefully get to grow up, always knowing that they were safe.

Hey, so how was the chap? I hope you liked it! Please let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts. I'll try to post the final chapter soon... key word there is try... THANKS AGAIN FOR READING! *HUGS*