Hey guys, well, I wonder what y'all think about this one? It's been rattling around my brain for a few days, and I thought I'd put up the first chapter just to see if there'd be any reaction to it. I don't tend to read looong fics, and so I don't write them either. This'll tie up in three chapters at the most.

It's hard to say when this story could be set – if it was an episode it would definitely be a stand alone. Just suspend reality for a beat while you read it. See what you think.

PS: And hey, much love to the peeps who have taken the time to review my other efforts, and saving my work to their 'faves' and stuff. Much appreciated.

How Long I Have Waited

Dean had already seen the State Trooper on his first pass, and knew he'd be back. He didn't think it would be that quick though. He watched the man step out of his car, watched him pull at his belt and straighten his hat, before walking slowly towards the Impala. Extending his arm, Dean wound down the window.

"Good morning to ya, Sir." The Troopers eyes sketched the inside of the car as he spoke.

"Morning."

"Seen you restin' up a while back. You headin' into town now?" He had a kindly face. More concern than duty.

"Yeah. Suddenly felt tired and thought I should stop and rest. " Dean suppressed a yawn and moved to sit up. "Somewhere up ahead I can get some breakfast?"

The Trooper smiled. "Sure. Margo at Dillinger's Diner'll get you fixed up in no time. She cooks a mean egg and ham wrap and no mistake." The Trooper watched Dean reach for the ignition. "You staying with family in Sunningdale?"

Dean looked up at the officer, searching his expression, his eyes, trying to guage this man's character.

"No, sir. Actually, I'm...I'm looking for someone living near here, perhaps you'd recognise the name?"

"Uh-huh." The Troopers smile faded somewhat.

"Ever heard of a...a Sam Winchester livin' around these parts?" He maintained eye contact with the Trooper, willing him to say that he did. In fact, not only did he know him, he was just speaking to him, why, only five minutes ago, and if Dean just took the first turning on the left, well, Sam would be standing there, just waiting for him. The Trooper's eyes flicked across the dashboard for a beat. And then he scratched his head moving his hat as he did so.

"Well, sure, I know that name. Sam Winchester's well known round this area. " The Trooper wasn't smiling now, in fact he looked troubled. "Um...I gotta say though, he hasn't been himself lately and he doesn't take too kindly to strangers."

Dean heard himself exhaling. Well, whaddaya know. Bobby had been right. His mind fought for control over the hundreds of questions he wanted to ask the Trooper, but he maintained his composure. Just like last time. He cleared his throat.

"Really?" Dean drew his hand back from the ignition. "In...in Sunningdale?"

"Hell, no. He lives up at Carter's Farm. He's been there a while now." The Trooper repositioned his hat, tugged at his belt once more. "I don't mean to pry, son, but...does Sam know you at all?"

Dean grinned up at the Trooper. "Well, that's what I'm looking to find out, officer. " The Trooper half smiled at this, encouraged by Deans sudden enthusiasm, but confused by such an ambiguous reply.

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Dean clamped the phone to his ear.

"I gotta say, Bobby, I nearly swallowed my tongue when he said, yes. " Dean squinted at the sign up ahead. The Troopers car sped off into the distance, the Trooper's hand waving as it did so. Dean lifted his hand off the wheel in reply.

"Did he say how old this Sam Winchester was?" Bobby questioned. "The last one was only 6 weeks old, remember?" Oh, Dean remembered. He remembered his face falling at the sight of Sam Winchester. Muelling and struggling against the blanket his proud father had wrapped him in. His Asian mother looking over the baby with love and pride. All Deans hopes on the floor once more.

"No, I didn't. He did say this Sam had lived up at the farm for a while though. Kinda rules out a juvenile, I reckon."

"Four years is hardly a while, Dean," Bobby stated flatly.

And he was right. It was all subjective though. Four years without Sam had been a while to Dean. An eternity. On the morning Sam had disappeared, he'd left his phone on the bed. There had been definite signs of a struggle, of chaos and fear. A half opened lap top, on it's side. One of Sam's shoes orphaned and lying by the door. And whatever it was that had Sam, was something supernatural and something good at covering its tracks. Over the months Dean and Bobby had fanned out their search from the motel, until nearly four years later, they were now combing the mid west. All the police departments and state offices Dean had approached had Sam's details. None had answers though. Not for Dean. Then Bobby found a spell. Specific and precise. It had to be. Because all they had was his name. Nothing else.

"It's worth a shot though, isn't it?" Dean asked bleakly. He noted the silence from Bobby's end.

"Yeah. Of course it is, son," Bobby finally replied. Said with a dash of encouragement. "Call me as soon as you know," He added.

Dean closed his phone and turned the wheels of the Impala onto the dirt road that lead up to Carter's Farm. Like last time, his mouth had dried and his heart was already thumping an energetic beat. He drew in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. This could be nothing. This could be another nobody. A nobody with Sam Winchester's name.

At last, in the distance, beside an old leathered tree, Dean could see what looked like a farm house. A beautiful sprawling, traditional structure, set in scenic grounds, with chickens pecking and bobbing away from the growl the Impala made as it passed them. A mill pond sat shimmering in the morning light, a black horse lifted it's head to watch the black car make it's way up the gentle incline towards the house. This was a beautiful place to live. Whoever this Sam Winchester was, he was lucky.

The door gave it's accustomed groan as Dean stepped out of the car. He almost regretted closing the door, for the noise it made had surely disturbed the peace and tranquillity of the place. He stood for a moment, collecting himself. An internal meditation fighting his urge to run up the steps of the house and barge his way into the front door. He could do this. He had done it before. This could be nothing, he reminded himself. This could be nothing.

As Dean turned his head to look back down the road, he thought he could hear someone singing. No, humming. A child's humming. An absent minded tune that a child might hum while playing. And then he saw her...a little girl of about 6yrs old, riding a bike and humming to herself. She was beautiful. Bright ginger hair against a pale skin and bright eyes focussing on the road ahead of her front wheel. When she got to Dean, she stopped and raised her head against the bright sunshine that made her squint.

"Hi," she said.

"Hi," Dean smiled. "Um...are your parents home?" Dean glanced up at the house, expecting them to be there, at the window, or on the verandah already. But there was no one.

"Yeah." She answered slowly. "They're with GW," she drawled.

"In the house?"

"Yup," she maneovered the bicycle, jumped onto the pedals again, and pushed herself off from her standing position. Dean watched her pedal past him, the front wheel wobbling under the stones on the dirt path. "Should I just go on up?" he asked after her.

"Yup," she said, her little legs working faster at the pedals.

Dean shook his head, and made his way towards the front door.

Stepping inside, the house already smelt musty with heat. Signs of family life were littered all around the lounge. A modern lounge, in a traditional farm house. The TV was on, but the sound was turned off. No one was watching it. A doll lay, unloved and undressed on the sofa. A pile of children's books piled in a heap by the wall. An old persons walker stood parked by the kitchen door. A woman's cardigan draped over the back of the sofa.

"Hello!" he called. His voice seemed to boom out into the silence of the house. From a back room he could hear some movement. He moved his position to get a better look through to the back hall. Someone was coming. He licked his lips and focussed on the hallway.

"Oh, Hi," she said, " I'm sorry, we didn't hear you knocking,". A woman in her 50's, Dean guessed. A friendly face, homely, cheerful in her demeanor he thought. She approached the sofa and lifted the cardigan. "Are you from the pharmacy?" she asked.

"Uh...no. I'm not." He replied. Her face fell.

"Oh. OK. Then, how can I help you?" She turned to face him.

"Um...State Trooper Oliver gave me this address...I'm... looking for someone, who may live or work here, um..." Dean felt himself wither at her gaze. She seemed to bore right into him, in her quest to find out his reason for being in her house. He realised his normal confidence had gone and he could hear himself almost stutter in his attempts to get the words out. She crossed her arms and turned her head slightly.

"I'm sorry, I don't think you gave me your name...did you?" Dean felt a sudden wave of impatience wash over him now. It wasn't his name that was important...if she'd just let him finish.

"No, I'm...I'm sorry, I didn't. Uh...my name is Dean...and I'm looking for Sam...Sam Winchester? Does anyone with that name live or work on this farm, ma'am?"

The change in her expression was almost immediate, the slight intake of breath audible in the stark silence of the room. She swallowed and appeared to regain her composure, all the while her eyes never leaving Dean's face. Dean could hardly breath with anticipation. She cleared her throat to speak.

"You're name is...Dean?" she almost whispered. "Dean Winchester?"

"Yes," he said. Confidence growing now. His eyes flicked towards the back hall and then back to her face. Willing her to say something else. To explain this reaction she was having. Instead, she approached him. Taking his hand and gently, softly pulling him towards her as she walked towards the back hall way.

"Come with me," she whispered, her eyes almost pleading his presence. His legs working themselves towards the hall way, not knowing where he was going or what he was walking into. His mind screamed a thousand warnings at him. This was insane. Ask more questions, hold back a moment, stop walking, stop allowing this to happen. But none of it, none of it made him pull back from her gentle grasp of his hand as she led him through to a back bedroom.

She opened a door, and led him into a bright, airy bedroom, dominated by a huge wooden king sized bed, it's covers bright and welcoming. In it lay an old man, his family seated beside him. A son, around the same age as the woman, his dark hair greying at each temple. Another man, in his 30's twisted around in his chair to look back at Dean with a saddened expression. A young girl, a teenager, her hand holding the old man's hand, as she stroked his forearm. She too looked back at Dean and the woman. It was a beautiful scene. Like a painting on a wall. An old and sickly man, with his family in attendance. A loving, last embrace of history and family and tradition and...love.

Dean pulled his hand away from the woman. His eyes fixed on the scene before him.

"I'm sorry...I, I can see that this isn't –" Dean began. This was just wrong. He shouldn't be here. It wasn't right. This was a family in crisis, with a sick and old family member, this was no place for a stranger. He had to leave. Leave now.

"Dean," the woman looked back at him. "Dean," she placed a hand on his arm. A gentle touch, making Dean look at her once more. "This is Sam," she said softly, looking back at the old man in the bed. "This is Sam Winchester." Dean swallowed hard.

"I...can see that...and I'm sorry, it's...it's not him, and I should be leaving..." He drew away from her again, attempting to pull his gaze away from the man in the bed and the family beside him. One of the sons rose to his feet. He looked hard at Dean, his mouth open, his expression questioning.

"I'll show myself out..." Dean whispered...his hopes on the floor once more. Another failed mission. And a blundering intrusion to a private family affair. But still, she pulled him back. A gentle insistence that he stay.

"Dean, wait, please, " she asked. Pleaded, almost. She placed a firm hand around his waist and gently guided him towards the bed and towards the old man. A sense of panic seemed to rise in him now. What was she doing? Who did she think he was? He seemed to stumble forward, his eyes resting on the old man's face. His eyes were open, paled and searching. Searching Dean's face, his hair, his height. Everything about him. The family moved back, allowing Dean's presence within the scene, all their eyes focussed on this stranger.

Dean glanced at the old man's face. He had strong features. A kindly face. A Grandfather's face. He was the Grandfather. Grandfather Winchester, no doubt. GW, as the little girl had said. The old man's mouth began to move. He cleared his throat, his steady gaze on Dean's face causing him to break eye contact. This was too much. What did they want from him? And then, he heard it.

"Dean," the old man said. Dean's eyes snapped back to him. To his face. To his eyes. "You're here, at last." He said. Dean stared at him now. Looking at the man, looking at his face. An old face. Weathered and wrinkled. Liver spots and lines. A furrowed brow. His eyes. His hazel eyes.

"Dean, it's me," he said, holding Dean's gaze. "It's Sam. You don't know... how long I have waited."