Hope.

Summary. . . . . . . . . . . He's alone, scared and frightened, taken from his family and left with a man he fears. Beatings and threats keep him here, where all he can do is hope. But is hope enough?

Disclaimer. . . . . . . . . . I own Nothing, Nil, Nada. They belong to Kripke.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . . .So here it is, the final chapter. Thank you all so very much for all the support throughout this fic, with out you guys and gals I couldn't have done it. I can only hope that I don't let you down now. Peanut x

John placed the last few items into one of the boxes he had picked up earlier from the grocery store. He quickly wrote on the top before grabbing the tape and securing it for transport. He stood slowly and moved over to the small pile that was growing next to the front door, placing his package with the others before turning back and glancing around the small room, a small room that now held so many memories. They'd been here close to eight months now, living normally, peacefully without the constant threat of the hunt, or the savage intent of deranged humans; his son's slowly, day by day, mending, pushing through the horrors of the past and remembering how to have fun, and laugh, and not fear the terrors that invaded their nights. Gradually they had learned, Dean more so than Sam, but John knew they would never fully forget.

He could see it in Dean's eyes. A maturity beyond his years. A childhood, he himself had started to break all those years ago, completely shattered. Sure he laughed, and joked, and messed around like all teenagers did, but there was always a wariness about him. His eyes scoured a place intensely before he would ever allow Sam to venture there, his senses always alert for any small thing he felt out of place. He followed his brother's every action, fretted if Sam were out of his eye sight for even a second, unconsciously stood before his sibling if he deemed a new person a threat. His every waking moment was spent with, or at least near, his brother.

In Sam, John saw the difference in other ways. Sam, his usually shy, yet happy go lucky little boy; his twenty questions a minute, inquisitive, baby; the child who would willing help anybody who needed it; had gone completely, never returning with them when they had found him all those months ago, lost forever within the darkness of that cold basement. Sam was now a mere shadow of his former self; jumpy at even the slightest noise, or touch of those he didn't trust; freezing, and shutting down completely if strangers approached him; clinging to Dean, or himself for dear life, whenever a nightmare struck, refusing to let go for hours afterwards, until weariness from too many shed tears sent him into a fitful sleep. He immersed himself in books, something he had done to a lesser extent in the past, but now more so than ever. Shutting himself away and hiding himself in the lives of the heroes he read about. He spoke rarely, most of the time only when spoken too first. He lived, but only enough to exist. The only time that changed was when Sam could see his actions were hurting his family.

John dropped the box back down, and wondered if he was making the right decision to leave, wondered whether they should stay longer. He'd spoken to his children last night about moving on, and it being the right time, Dean agreeing straight away, always the good soldier, Sam more reluctantly so, but now he had to wonder if his youngest was truly ready, had to wonder if Sam had only agreed to make them happy. He ran a hand across his bearded face, the grey within the brown, now more prominent than ever. He looked over at the doorway to the small bedroom the boys shared and remembered his sadness and anger as they witnessed for the first time the true extent of the damage done to Sam; he remembered all the nights after that first one, where he had sat close, but not too close and prayed for his son to fight back; he remembered his joy, and his soaring heart, the night Sam finally took a giant step to recovery and left the room. He didn't think he would ever feel happier.

He turned and looked out through the open front door, and to the corner of the porch swing he could see, and remembered the even greater sense of joy and happiness he felt the day Sam ventured outside, and his small family was once more complete. He remembered the tears that Sam had shed, tears that had fallen frequently since then, and the first soft words that had pierced his heart so. He remembered watching as darkness fell, unable to move for fear it would upset the fragile balance they were teetering on, but in the end having no choice, as the warmth of the day was replaced by the chill of the night. He'd thought that Sam would have wanted to return to the room him and Dean shared, but his youngest had surprised them both by refusing, instead pointing over to the small coach, where he and his brother had spent the rest of the evening watching crappy television, bundled together beneath a thick quilt.

John had thought that would have been the turning point in Sam's recovery, he should have known things would not have been that easy. He struggled each day with tasks that normal children took for granted, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, even eating created problems; Sam unable to grasp that he had to do the first two; and forced down everything that was put in front of him food wise, even if he hated it, his mind still caught back in those horrid days when food was few and far between, but all his efforts resulted in, was him vomiting it all back up as his stomach couldn't hold the vast amounts. Every time he was sick John or Dean was there to comfort him, but there efforts were wasted as Sam withdrew into himself for fear of being hurt.

They'd started limiting his food once they figured out what was happening, supplementing his meals with healthy protein shakes in an effort to replace the weight that he had lost. Slowly as the months drew on, Sam began to learn he wouldn't be punished if he didn't want something, that he could ask for more if he was hungry, the weight slowly returning. The only thing they did notice was Sam's new aversion to meat, only allowing chicken to pass through his lips no matter how hard the two older Winchester's tried to vary. They asked often as to the reason why this was, but Sam refused to answer, clamming up if pushed, so in the end they let it go. It was, after all, a small battle to give in to.

John shook his head to clear his thoughts as they drifted back to other battles they had given in to. How they had backed down the first time they tried to go to town as a family, although with time that reluctance had begun to leave. How they had backed down at Sam's refusal to be seen by any doctor, his fear of hospitals now immense. How they had backed down on his strange habit of multi layering his clothes even though it was fairly mild outside. How they had backed down and allowed Sam space, not pushed him to talk about what happened. They had tried, both him and Dean, to get the youngest member of their family to open up, but Sam refused to utter even one word about his time with Jacob, withdrawing back into his bedroom when pushed, refusing to come out. Every time they tried, the nightmares that assaulted Sam would intensify, so in the end they had stopped. As he stood there now, he wondered if he had made the right choice in that one too? But what could he do? Push and risk alienating Sam altogether?

He turned and headed for the open doorway as the sounds of laughter filtered through, standing in the entrance as he watched his boys. Today must be a good day, he figured, as he watched Dean and Sam play wrestle upon the sandy shore of the lake, smiling to himself as he watched Sam allow himself to relax. He was about to intercede, to break them apart as it seemed Dean was taking things too far, going at it harder than John thought necessary, but he stopped with one foot on the porch as Sam played a move John had never seen before and quickly gained the upper hand, pinning down his older, more experienced, and heavier brother with ease, leaving Dean with no choice but to tap out.

John chuckled to himself before shouting at the boys to start getting ready, ruffling each of their hair as they passed him to go wash up. He looked out over the lake, saying his own goodbye and thank you as his mind was finally made up. He might never know what had truly happened to Sam. Might never find out the horrors he lived through. But that didn't matter, it was in the past, and they had to live for the future, and with both his children by his side, the future to John looked very rosy indeed.

The End.

A.N. . . . . . . . . . .I know, I know, some of you will want a more in depth look at Sam's recovery, but this was always the ending I had envisioned. To answer one question that I think may crop up, just like Kripke has a habit of doing, I killed Jacob off story. Left him to die in the box he tormented Sam with, before Caleb salted and burned him. If you have any other questions please ask, and I'll try to answer. Will now go back and finish When The Past Comes Back To Haunt you, before finally starting a sequel to The Plantation House, catch you later, Peanut x