Sequel to Secure the Blessing. Rated for language, violence, and general shenanigans.

Sam's got some weird mannerisms. For a long time, Dean'd been totally wrapped up in being not crazy, but after a while? Yeah, he'd noticed that Sam does weird things now.

For one thing, Sam has a tendency to fondle his car. It's sort of disturbing to see and he always has this vague urge to slap Sam's hands away and declare that the Impala is his, damnit. For another? Sam does hokey things with his head or his hands, or hell, even his legs now, putting them in weird places when he talks or just... he sleeps weird now too.

Usually, well, usually as in before this whole mess of a wish happened, but whatever, it's usually for him even if it's something on twenty-two years ago. Anyway, usually, sleeping with Sam is kind of like sleeping with a limpet. There's clutching and clinging and uncomfortable drooly spots on his shirts, snuffling noises, and, hey, just for fun, sometimes there's even flailing limbs and nightmares.

That's what he remembers, anyway.

Nowadays, when he's forced to bunk down with Sam in the Impala (which happens less frequently than it did in that other lifetime, mainly because Sam's perfectly willing to hustle pool now that he hasn't had someone else to spoil him), there's still drool. Sammy drool is apparently his gross constant in life. But Sam tends to curl up into himself instead of into Dean, spine a bony curve against Dean's arm or his leg instead of lodged into his chest, and it's just weird.

He really hates what that implies and, because he's not a little girl like Sam is, he doesn't think about it all that often.

See, he can remember every single one of Sam's weird, frequently girlie, motions. The way he walked, the way he talked, the way he tilted his head to the side when he was confused; all of it. He should. Every single thing the Sam in his memories had done was stolen from either him or Dad.

There's not a motion he can't place. Or, at least, there shouldn't be.

He's having a hard time connecting the Sam he's got here to the Sam he's got in his head. Stupid, but true. Also, freakin' obnoxious.

Like, he'll look over at Sam, expecting to see a certain hitch to his shoulders, the characteristic way Sam'd curl into himself to look smaller, and instead he'll get straight shoulders and a loose posture, like this Sam (who's still his Sammy, goddamnit, no matter what) never learned to need to be smaller or never felt too big for his skin. He hasn't asked about it, but it throws Sam's entire body language way the hell off.

It's friggin' hard to read his brother now, and it should be easier than loading a shotgun.

Right now? He can't tell whether Sam's telling him that he thinks their Miss Anastasia (fat, newly widowed, and wearing something Dean doesn't even like seeing on skinny chicks) is lying horrendously about her husband's death which, yeah, he's not dumb, Sammy, or if Sam's just trying not to scratch an embarrassing itch.

He's just about ready to throw his disgusting, weird-ass tea concoction at Sam's stupid face just so he'll make a face he can understand. Bitchface? Always universal.

That is, of course, when Anastasia leans over to afford the both of to wipe her suspiciously crocodile-like tears on the laciest, ugliest handkerchief Dean's ever seen. And when Anastasia leans over, her entire body starts this slow, agonizing glide that Dean can't take his eyes off of. No matter how badly he wishes he could gouge them out with his stirring spoon.

It's only when he sees something that might be a hint of nipple that his brain kicks into gear and his head whips around to stare at the nice, safe, wonderful tear in Sam's jacket. Well, his jacket, he realizes a moment later, recognizing the tear from that little bitch Maggie.

It keeps striking' him how freakin' ludicrous this all is. Sam's smaller than him again, snagging his shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, and, hell, shoes, without so much as a second thought. They both know he'll be wider and taller than Dean, oh, sometime before June of 2001 (because, let's face it, if there is a higher power? It hates Dean), but in the meantime, they've reverted to Winchester style.

Dad had bought them one wardrobe for years; they'd just handed off clothes like the freakin' baton in a race, which meant that Dean always looked like he was waitin' for the floods to come and Sam had a head start on that whole retarded baggy pants thing that kids nowadays were doing. At least until that last six months, were Dad finally had to admit defeat in regards to Sam's ginormous Godzilla height and Dean was raking in enough extra cash to splurge on separate wardrobes.

He focuses on that, trying to keep his horrified mind away from the woman's boobs. She doesn't even seem to notice, he realizes in horror. She's still leaning over, bending down further and further, and Dean gets a full on view of everything as it tumbles right the fuck out.

The last time he'd been this willing to stab out his own eyes, there'd been a supernatural monster involved.

Sam jabs an elbow into his side.

He narrows his eyes back at Sam. "Dude," he mouths when Anastasia looks away from them both to tuck her boobs back into her top, "What?" Sam seriously couldn't think that he'd been iogling/i that woman. He has freakin' taste.

Sam rolls his eyes and blows his hair out of his face.

That's the other thing. So much about his brother'd changed, but Sam's got the exact same stupid freakin' haircut he'd sported for ten years back in… whatever. The other reality, he guesses. He doesn't really know what he should call the thirty years he'd lived before the current twenty-two.

When Anastasia looks back up from her tits, Dean slides a fake smile her way, drains his tea-stuff, and asks for more.

She flutters off happily, babbling about how her tea brings all the boys to the yard, and Dean literally flinches as soon as her backs turned. Sam ducks his head to hide a smile, but Dean doesn't even care.

He pulls a face at his empty glass. Not only is the tea a syrupy mess, but, shit, he recognized that line. Okay, a little modified, but, still.

He'd been hoping some of that crap hadn't made it back into the music industry. Was it too much to ask for that Metallica and Motorhead dominated the music charts for decades? Really, he didn't ask for much. He can't stand new music. Especially when he's had to listen to the "new" shit twice in one (two? Fuck it) life times.

"You look constipated," Sam mutters.

"My tea brings all the boys to the yard," Dean repeats flatly. "Man, are we freakin' done yet? We both know she offed the guy for his life insurance."

His brother's face twitches into a grimace. "Could have been an angry spirit. Or witchcraft. There's a million things that could have done this, Dean."

Dean makes slashes a hand through the air before Sam can go any farther. Yeah, it could have been witchcraft or a spirit, or a million different other things that go bump in the daylight and leave a healthy man dead on his kitchen floor. Or it could be the wife.

Sam twists his lips and the muscle in his jaw ticks once, but he doesn't try to argue. That hasn't changed either. Sam had always hated it when the monsters turned out to be human.

They ditch the house before Anastasia comes back out of the kitchen. Dean's perfectly willing to go through the window if it means he can leave faster, but Sam just rolls his eyes exasperatedly and motions to the door with a sarcastic hand.

"You're not going out the window," Sam hisses. Dean's always been kind of impressed with the way Sam can hiss words that don't have s-sounds in them, and it's just another random thing that makes him go squishy girlie inside.

Sometimes he swears he feels like one of those G.I. Joe action figures Gayle used to steal and use as Barbies whenever she lost hers. Big bad man with guns on the outside, squishy princess on the inside.

There's a meaningful pause from Sam. Dean turns his head a little to squint at him, wondering what the hell his problem is, and Sam just sort of... stares at him. Dean catches himself patting his shoulder for the extra head he's obviously grown.

"Did you just call yourself a squishy princess?" Sam asks slowly.

He wishes he were living back in that other life right about now, back when he could blame all of Sam's freaky powers on the demon and not genetic lottery like it apparently was.

"Jesus, don't tell me you read minds now too, Sammy," he says tightly. There's not a lot he thinks is sacred from Sam, but, fuck, he wants his thoughts to himself.

Seriously. There's got to be an end to this, sometime, right? He's already mostly cool with Sam's telekinesis, the visions that, thank God, don't hurt anymore, and the ability to burn shit comes in downright handy, especially when they're standing on the lip of a grave and Dean's forgotten his lighter in the car. But mind reading? Nuh-huh.

Tin foil hat, maybe, Dean thinks furiously, and watches Sam blink at him.

"Dude, I'm not reading your mind," Sam says. A slow, beatific smile spreads across his face. "You keep blurting stuff out."

Dean scrunches his eyebrows together. "No I don't."

"Trust me, Dean; I don't have the power to read minds. And I saw your mouth move when you said that you felt like a transvestite doll."

"Action figure," Dean corrects immediately. "I can understand how you'd get those confused; what with you loving My Little Ponies so much; but little boy's toys are called action figures, Sammy."

There's a slight pause again, long enough that Dean has time to think back and realize that, whoops, no, Sam probably didn't play with anything this time around, because he's an old man in a little kid's body. He really hopes that Sam never catches wind of all the tea parties Gayle made him endure (before she decided he sucked ass, anyway).

A second later he's slapping a hand over his mouth, in a very manly way, thank you, hoping to hell he didn't blurt that last part out.

"You don't get a lot of toys when you're a foster," Sam's smiling when he says it, dimples and everything, but Dean still gets a strong surge of, "Motherfuckers, gonna kill them all, Sammy should have had toys," anyway.

Sam raises his eyebrows and stuffs his hands in his pockets, rocking back on his heels. "It wasn't that bad, Dean," he says, and he sounds sort of amused.

You never got slugged by an adult when you grew up with us, Dean thinks peevishly. He opens his mouth to say something about how he'd always made sure Sam had plenty of hair clips and dresses growing up, realizes his mouth is already open, and snaps it shut. He glares at Sam, daring him to comment, and of course, like the little bitch he is, Sam does.

"Dude, I had more black eyes growing up the first time around then I did this time." Sam leans back to look at the door they're standing in front of. "Let it go."

Dean snorts. Let it go. Yeah, right.

Sam ignores that too, bless his enormous stolen socks. "The tea?" he asks. "Did you actually drink it?"

Sam, Dean remembers, had taken one sip of it and then done something that Dean once would have sworn he'd never do; he'd leaned over when Anastasia was busy flaunting her cleavage in Dean's face, dumped the tea in the nearest potted plant, and then sat there, politely holding an empty cup for ten minutes. Dude. That was something he'd pull. Not Sam.

And there went his thoughts back to those weird mannerisms again.

"You stand weird," Dean blurts out, still thinking about it. Hey, he figures he's getting better at this shit. He'd actually known his mouth was open that time, right?

"What?" Sam asks slowly. He scratches his eyebrow as he says it, looking at Dean from underneath his bangs, and Dean leaps on that with a mental sigh of relief. Something familiar.

Then he gets an idea.

"You need to cut your hair," he says deliberately. He's sort of hoping Sam'll take it as a subconscious thought, something that should be listened to because Dean's not just saying it to be annoying, but then Sam crosses his arms and gives him a look.

You are so full of shit, that look says, so Dean sighs. "Nothing. Whatever. Truth spell in the tea, remember?"

"Uh-huh," Sam says slowly, like he's figuring something out. Dean twitches. "You just drank about sixteen ounces of truth spell. And now you're babbling about how I stand weird? There's something majorly wrong with your brain, man."

Sam takes a couple of steps back towards the door they'd just come through.

The goddamn tea and that goddamn woman with her big, nasty boobs. Dean winces. "We can just wait for it to wear off, right?" he asks hopefully. "I mean, it's not like she's gonna off some poor bastard after she goes through all the trouble of brewing truth potions, right?"

"Yeah, I guess not," Sam says.

The way he says it, though, Dean knows there's something else coming. He purses his lips and tries not to think about anything in particular, especially not about how much it totally sucked to not have a brother for twenty-two years.

If he says any of that out loud, Sam does him the vague courtesy of pretending he didn't. The suspiciously dewy eyes Sam blinks at him for a few seconds suggest he might have, but hell, Dean's pretty alright with denial, as long as it means no chick flick moments.

Sam clears his throat and looks away. "Ah, anyway, I mean, she'd be pretty pissed if her 'guest' suddenly started blurting out that he thinks she's skanky or something, right?"

"And they'd have a convenient accident like hubby dearest, yeah." Dean scrubs a hand across his face, takes a second to catalogue that particular quirk as being something he'd picked up from Dad, and blows out a breath. "We have to go back in there, don't we?"

He'd rather go after a ghost. Demon, even. Sam doesn't look like he cares.

"I told you she was a witch," Sam says, tone bright and easy. He's got his hand on the doorknob again, ready to lead them back into flowery, widow-filled hell.

Dean reaches out to smack him on the back of his head.

They were so going to see Mom and Dad after this.

Dean's been back in their lives for something like six months now. Long enough that even Abby's grudgingly decided he's there to stay, in a manner of speaking.

He pops in every week or so, dragging the same shaggy-haired, rail thin "Sammy" behind him every time.

John's hope that that was just a phase dies pretty swiftly. Especially when he remembers just how fixated his son was on finding a "Sammy" for pretty much his entire life. Mary's taken to squealing with glee whenever she hears the Impala pull into the driveway; she's adopted that boy, maybe even likes him better than Dean, though she'd castrate John if she heard him say it.

John's still a little unsure about the kid.

Sam's polite as all hell, nothing but "yes, sir," and "yes, ma'am." He's skinnier than a post and John's got no doubts that Dean could take him in a fair fight, but the kid's still one tall mother-fucker, and, aside from his first name, they don't know a good goddamn thing about him.

So he does what any good, self respectin' man does when faced with his son's mysterious lover.

He hires a private detective to dig up dirt on the little bastard.

He also, like a good, self respectin' man, keeps that little fact from his wife. She's a scary woman when she's crossed, and admitting that he's looking into Sam's past is probably akin to telling her that he thinks her favorite black dress makes her look like a hippo. In other words? Castrated. Again.

John's a little fond of those parts.

"Are you brooding about the boys again?" Mary asks.

She's leaning against his shoulder, sitting on the couch with him after forcing him away from the baseball re-run upstairs. Abby's in the armchair ten feet away, making the occasional gagging noise over old people PDA.

John's not really any happier about it than she was; God knows he really doesn't want to watch this travesty of his boyhood hero with her anymore than she wants him watching it. His wife, on the other hand, thinks that watching some teeny-bopper program is going to make him feel closer to his eighteen year old daughter.

Abby's got a crush on the guy who's playing the wussy version of Clark Kent. John thinks he's too pretty, even if he theoretically approves of her liking a corn-fed, all-American superhero more than he likes her crushing on her brother's boytoy.

Mary keeps elbowing him, hissing to keep his damn opinions to himself.

He can't help but think that he'd prefer it, a little at least, if she'd just taken off like Dean did so he could skip this sullen phase.

Then he thinks about the years of barely knowing if his boy was alive, let alone healthy and happy, and he clobbers that thought to death. He prefers the knowing.

"So, that, um, Clark," John says during the next commercial brake, "He's hot stuff, right?"

"Don't ever say 'hot stuff' again, Dad," Abby mutters. She picks at a run in the chair fabric and scowls in the general direction of the television. John sighs soundlessly, not even reacting when Mary pinches his thigh; he really shouldn't even try.

"What's wrong, sweetie," Mary asks, and that's all it takes for Abby to stop picking and look up at the both of them with troubled eyes. Sometimes, he wants to bash his head against the handy coffee table at how easily his wife gets his children.

Abby doesn't say anything for a second, during which they all listen to adults sing about how they're Toys'R'Us kids. Then, "Dean's coming home soon, isn't he?"

"Yeah," John says, slowly. He's not really sure why his youngest wants to skewer his oldest, but he's learned to be weary of her temper in regards to Dean. "Day after tomorrow."

His daughter bites her lip for a second. That's actually learned from Mary, John knows, and it usually precedes a spectacular screaming fit. He winces and tucks one ear against his wife's blonde hair. He needs to save some of his hearing for his customers.

Mary shoots him a quick, sideways grin before her face smoothes back into a sympathetic, listening expression.

"Why does he keep coming back!" Abby explodes, right as the commercials end and Clark Kent comes back on screen, staring through his telescope at the girl next door. John feebly waves to the television in hopes that it'll quiet her down, but she doesn't even notice.

"He was gone for six years," Abby continues, "Why does he keep coming back now? And bringing that guy with him!"

John bites his tongue. Now is not the time to address Abby's crush on Sam; it's not, he tells himself firmly. Not matter how much he wants to point out that she moons over him just fine when he comes around with Dean.

"This is Dean's home too, Abby," Mary says reasonably. She even goes so far as to smile a little bit, her eyes sad and serious. It's an act, John knows, but a damned good one; he's fallen for her puppy eyes more than once. "What do you expect him to do? Not visit? We'd be heartbroken."

Mary says it like it's a given, and John knows that it is, but Abby crosses her arms stubbornly.

"If his precious Sammy was important enough that he could leave us without saying anything, then he should have stayed gone!" she's almost shouting at the end of that, but her eyes are shining and her voice is choking up.

She's his girl and John aches for her. He wants to hold his baby girl and promise that nobody on earth is ever gonna make her cry; he'd kill any man that tries to tell her otherwise, but the only person to blame for her tears is Dean and he's not ready to kill his boy for being stupid.

"He didn't care enough to stay here or to even tell us he was going, except for a stupid-ass note, and now it's all supposed to be okay with him coming back?" Abby's squinting at the both of them, eyes flicking from the couch to them and back again. "I don't want him here!"

John hadn't known that she remembered anything about Dean's feverish mutterings for a boy that didn't exist. Far as he knew, Dean'd never mentioned his imaginary Sammy to her.

"That's enough," Mary says, quiet as a mouse.

She pushes herself away from John's side while, onscreen, Clark Kent bashfully flirts with Lex Luthor. John can't decide if he should be more horrified by the desecration of his childhood idol, or if he should just slump in his seat to avoid getting in the middle of a girl fight.

He can see Abby's point.

Hell, anyone with half a brain can see that his girl's nothing if not jealous and hurt that the big brother she'd idolized for a good ten years had up and let her without a word. Doesn't mean that John doesn't want to shake her a little, maybe rattle her teeth, and ask if driving her brother away would really make her happy.

Damnit, he missed his son enough to not kick up a fuss when he came home draggin' some shaggy-haired hippy behind him. Abby can put a lid on that anger and deal with it.

Abby's still grumbling under her breath a minute later, nothing but incoherent, stuttered, hurt-fueled rage. John sinks a little further down into the couch and wishes they'd done this somewhere he wouldn't have to watch. He hated watching his daughter cry.

"Young lady, you are on very thin ice," Mary's voice drops down low when she's mad. John finds it endearing, when it's not aimed at him.

Abby crosses her arms a little tighter, huddling miserably and childishly in her chair, and blows out a breath the swings her bangs a good two inches away from her face.

For a second, John thinks that'll be the end of it. Abby's good at holding a grudge, but she hates confrontation, would rather seethe quietly than risk being yelled at or corrected. She'd ended up with the worst of both his and Mary's temperaments, without either of their saving graces; she holds onto her hurts for years, nurses the hell out of them, even, and John's still paying for that time he accidentally used a pink and purple ribbon in her hair and made her the laughingstock of the kindergarten playground.

Dean'd done her hair whenever Mary couldn't from that day on. Of course, that meant she'd never been allowed to wear the blue hair ribbons, because Dean refused to put them in. Just something else for her to hate about her brother, John figures.

Onscreen, Clark does a passable job of inviting Luthor to bend him over the desk.

Across the living room, Abby's lips tighten. "Whatever," she says, "He should just take his fucktoy and go already. We don't need him here."

"Watch your mouth," John says, automatic. She might've been a big bad eighteen in her own book, but that didn't mean she was allowed to mouth off anymore than she could of at eight.

"Sam and Dean are always going to be welcome in this house," Mary says right over his own voice. There's steel in her tone, one of the many reasons he married her, and Abby shrinks back a little from it. "And I'd better not hear you say that again, Abigail."

"Fine," Abby says sullenly.

Yeah, John thinks, the upcoming visit? Was going to be buckets of fun.

The phone rings right as Mary's settling back against his side. John jumps at the chance to excuse himself from, a. Mary and Abby's frigid, time of the month silence, b. the horrifically bad acting ability of the cute, vaguely Asian teenie-bopper on screen, and c. the glare Mary sends his way for apparently moving and rendering himself a lousy pillow.

The cordless is farther away than the regular phone, all the way in the sanctuary of the kitchen, so that's the one John goes for. If it means he has to jog out of the room to get to it before it stops ringing, it's not really retreating.

Mary mouth curls into a half-smile that says he's not fooling anyone, but she doesn't attempt to call him back for some more asinine family bonding torture. He preferred it when he and Abby bonded over a mutual disdain for soccer.

"Yeah?" John asks as soon as he's got the phone.

The person on the other end of the line waits a beat for him to introduce himself. John wedges the phone against his shoulder and picks at some grease stuck under his fingernails. It's his damn house, the person on the other end can damn well introduce themselves first.

"Mr. Winchester?" the person on the line finally asks.

"That'd be me," John answers, pleasantly. It'd better not be a fucking telemarketer.

"This is Richard Wilkins."

John waits out the expectant pause with irritation. He doesn't know a Wilkins.

The man sighs. "You hired me to look into your son's lover?" he prompts.

"Just so you know," John says pleasantly into the phone, "If my wife is listening in on the other phone, you're not going to get paid."

There's a slightly longer pause, while John waits to see if Mary comes barging into the kitchen breathing brimstone and fire and the private detective breathes heavily.

When it becomes obvious that Mary either didn't pick up the phone to eavesdrop (or she was gonna wait until John was sleeping to rip his balls off), the detective breathes out and says, "I got your Sam's real name, and his file, in my office right now."

"Sam's not his real name?"

"Nah. Kid's prints say he's one," there's a slight hesitation, the sound of papers rustling, "James Taylor. Last seen at eleven, exiting his sixth grade classroom to use the bathroom. Missing ever since."

"Jesus," John says, "Sixth grade?" A lot could happen to a sixth grader, an eleven or twelve year old by themselves out in the world. John feels his gut clench at the thought of what could have happened to Dean if he'd been that young when he decided to leave.

He'd thought Dean disappearing at sixteen was hard. The thought of his boy out there at eleven was enough to make him sick to his stomach.

"Yeah. Nothing after that. State looked, couldn't find the kid, put out a missing persons. Nada. Kid just disappeared off the face of the earth," Wilkins makes a frustrated noise. "Your boy is damned hard to follow, by the way. Every time I get within a few miles of where your kid and James are staying, they up and disappear in the middle of the night. I've got nothing concrete on the kid except what's in his file."

The phone creaks in John's hand. He carefully loosens his grip before he accidentally presses the button to put it on speaker phone. "So, you're basically telling me that you're useless," he finally says.

Wilkins sighs. "Look, I've got the state file right here. When can you come down and pick it up? I know you don't want your wife accidentally overhearing this."

"Is he dangerous?" John asks instead of answering the question.

If the kid's not dangerous, he doesn't really want to go digging further. He sure as fuck doesn't want to know why a kid who's name is James is going by the name Sam or how Dean had met up with him. He really, really, really doesn't want to fucking think about how codependent and inot right in the head/i someone has to be to agree to be a stranger's "Sammy."

Another, longer pause, while the papers flip again and the Wilkins hesitates over what he finds. "Only record of violence I have here is against a foster-father in jail on 13 counts of child abuse and one of murder."

"My son's bringing him home the day after tomorrow," John says tightly. He can't digest that right now, can't think about some little kid getting the snot beaten out of him by someone who should have been teaching him to throw fast balls, and he sure as hell isn't gonna tell Mary. "I'll see you after they leave."


"You ditch your stalker again?" Dean asks as soon as Sam slides into the booth across from him. He's got a pile of salt in the middle of the table, ostensibly to dunk his fries in after they've been drowned in ketchup, but Sam's willing to bet he's gonna get salt thrown at him at some point in the conversation, just to make sure he's not a possessed.

Subtle, Dean's not.

Sam grimaces. "Yeah." He blows out a breath, looks around to make sure nobody's watching, and then yanks two packets of sugar from the table behind Dean. Dean doesn't even blink when the packets come floating by without a hand on them.

Dean, being Dean, just pokes them hard enough that Sam's got to squint to get them back on course before they ram into his eye.

"What's with your number one fan, anyway?"

"Don't know," Sam says. He hooks a finger in the lip of Dean's coffee mug, pulls it towards him, because it's not like Dean hasn't already downed two or three in the amount of time it took Sam to lose his stupidly ridiculous tail. "He's not a demon, anyway."

"Sure?" Dean asks. He narrows his eyes at the finger invading his coffee and reaches out to hit Sam's hand, one of his own steadying the mug so nothing sloshes over the side. "Keep your gigantic mitts off my coffee, Sam."

Sam knows what demons feel like, knows the way they scrape across your skull in weird ways that normal people equate to a sudden passing breeze. Demons aren't oily or slick or anything else that evil's usually described as; they're dry and they rasp like sand across wood. It's disconcerting.

It's doesn't help that whatever's left of the Yellow-Eyed Demon (he refuses to call it Azazel, even if he's known what its name was for eighteen and a half years now) sometimes sits up and takes notice. He'd exorcised a boy two years ago for no reason other than the fact that his guts had gone hot and tight and glad when he'd walked by him.

He hasn't told Dean about that. He doesn't really plan on it, either.

He can just see that conversation. "Hey, Dean, man, you know how I have all those freaky powers? One of them is sensing demons. Oh, but wait, that's not really because of my powers. That's because I've got demon remains floating around my system. That's awesome, right?"

By that point, the little daydream usually descends into Dean tying him up and performing exorcisms until his voice is hoarse. No thanks.

Dean flicks a few grains of salt onto the hand that's still reaching out for his coffee. There's a teasing light in his eyes, something like, "Geez, pay attention, Sammy," but there's also a tightness around his face that shouldn't really be there.

Sam blinks back at him, pursing his lips a little until Dean's eyes relax into the usual teasing smile. Sometimes he hates that Dean thinks he needs to check and see that he's still ihim/i; that his brother can't just look at him and know.

Then he remembers that Dean's not even really his brother anymore and he deflates a little.

"Unless you feel like throwing holy water on him, you're gonna have to take my word for it, Dean," Sam reaches out for the coffee again, curving his hand around the base of the mug, "The guy's human."

"Oh, so he just thinks you're pretty. Gotcha," Dean says. He grabs the handle of his mug, the fingers of his free hand covering the side protectively. "Of course, he's suffering from a head wound or somethin' if he thinks you're the pretty one, but." Dean shrugs a little bit.

Sam tilts his head to get some of the hair out of his eyes and pries Dean's fingers off the mug without even touching him. "Shut up and give me your coffee. I've got a headache."

Dean mutters something under his breath that sounds a lot like he's whining about little brother's always cheating, one boot coming out to knock into Sam's shin with unerring accuracy. Sam kicks back automatically. "You wouldn't have one if you didn't use your freaky mindshit powers for everything," Dean says.

Which is sort of true, but also not at the same time. He gets headaches all the time now. Dean knows it, which is why he's probably crushed up a couple of pain pills into that coffee. He's just being a pain in the ass about handing it over.

Using the telekinesis isn't as hard on his head as the visions used to be, even if it still hurts. It's worth the pout Dean gets whenever Sam uses something he can't counter.

Sam watches, arms resting on the table top, as Dean's fingers lose their battle and the cup slips from his grip. If anyone were watching now (which they aren't. Sam's not stupid, for one, and Dean's not oblivious enough to let Sam get away with pulling this if another person were paying any attention to them), they'd see the mug slide gently from one side of the table to the other, coming to a rest between Sam's forearms.

His brother watches it go with narrow eyes. "Friggin' cheater," he mutters, and kicks Sam's shoe for good measure.

They're Dean's shoes anyway, Sam thinks, curling his toes in the too-cramped space. He peaceably picks up his newly stolen coffee. If Dean wants to kick them to hell and back, he's welcome to do it, as long as he's not wearing the steel-toed boots while he does it.

"If you're done fondling my drink there, princess," Dean says leadingly. Dean's restless, still a little pissed off that all they'd been able to do with Anastasia was burn her ingredients and spell books, and throw out the last of her unholy tea. "We're kind of on a time table here, Sammy."

Sam takes a sip of his coffee and recognizes the slightly gritty texture that comes from a combination of horrible coffee and his brother slipping him medication in his drinks. He doesn't even bother to comment on it. It's not like Dean doesn't know he knows.

"I'm surprised," he says instead, "No salt?"

"Nah. I'll save it for your to-go mug," Dean says. He taps his fingers against the tabletop, looking out the window. "Your new best friend gonna be able to pick up our tracks if we split soon?"

Considering the man had managed to follow them from Daly, California (which is when both of them are pretty sure was the first time he'd picked up on them) to Lawrence, Kansas, it was pretty likely. "Probably."


Sam swallows another mouthful of coffee and doesn't respond to that. It's not like he needs too; Dean's always going to be jumpy when it comes to him. Part of that's his fault, but most of it is Dad's. A little bit might even be Dean's, because he didn't have to take a four year old's promise that seriously.

He's still contemplating what he thought constituted a promise at four ("promise will take bath tonight, Dean, promise,") when the vision hits.

Without the pain, it takes him a few seconds to recognize that it is a vision. At first, all he sees is a blonde girl, sitting in a booth a lot like the one he's in. She's his age, maybe a little bit younger, big hazel eyes and a sweet smile, sitting in close with another girl.

Gradually, his fuzzy brain points out that Dean's not across from him, that he can't see his arms even if he could have felt them. He lets go of the panic that always accompanies visions, no matter how small and piddly they are without the Yellow-Eyed Demon around to fuck with them, and watches.

The visions about the blonde girl, he knows immediately. He can barely see the other girl's face at all, just the sweep of her chin and the fall of her hair, but the blonde girl... she's in high definition. He can see the pimple forming on her chin and the chicken pox scar on her eyebrow.

"Lily," he says out loud, for Dean's benefit, mostly. He doesn't need to say anything to remember his visions. He never forgets them.

Her name's Lily and she would have been one of the Demon's children. Had been one, in the other life, he's pretty sure. Sam thinks she might have been one of the ones that burned.

She's leaning in closer to the other girl, smiling wider and wider as she says something and laughs. He doesn't get sound in the visions anymore, just snapshots of pictures, things that could happen.

This is how it is now, the vision says, smugly, and then it fast forwards thirty seconds, quickly, and it's like watching a movie in double time, only not. One second, Lily's grinning like she's won the lottery, reaching for the other girl's hand, and the next her mouth's open in a silent scream, only a blur separating the two crystal clear pictures.

Sam hasn't ever been able to describe any of his powers, even to himself.

The girl Lily's with spasms against her side, hand clutched tight in Lily's. Sam watches as she seizes, feeling the sparks of power jerking from Lily's hand to hers and back again, seeing the way Lily can't let go and the girl can't even scream.

It's a lot like Scott's power, he thinks detachedly. If he's not detached, he's going to wake up screaming like he used to, curled up in a ball with Dean hovering and demanding answers.

The girl finishes dying, Lily crying hysterically, silently, over her hair while the rest of the diner stands back and gawks. Sam waits for the vision to end, eyes flicking over the surroundings so he can describe them to Dean.

He knows where it's going to take place. He looks at Lily, hunched over her girlfriend, and he just. Knows. She's an eighteen year old girl in San Diego who's powers have just decided they want to graduate from harmless to deadly. That doesn't mean Dean's not going to want something tangible to cling to in order to make sure.

The vision ends just as quickly as it started up.

Sam's not holding his coffee cup anymore. He figures the only reason it's not in his lap is that Dean'd rescued it from his hands, but he really doesn't know for sure. His head doesn't hurt, but he's still leaning forward with it braced on Dean's shoulder, Dean's hands offering support for his arm and shoulder.

"You back with me," Dean asks tightly. He's clutching at Sam's body hard enough to hurt a little, fingers digging into the borrowed layers of flannel and cotton as he gives Sam a little shake. It's enough to make Sam focus on him again.

Sam thinks, abstractedly, that visions usually don't knock him on his ass like this anymore.

Then he looks into Dean's eyes and throws up all over his flannel shirt.

Dean figures he can maybe forgive Sam for upchucking all over his last clean trio of shirts in, oh, give or take ten years. Jesus. He'd thought he'd missed that particular part of big brotherhood this time around; Gayle, at least, had been capable of keeping her formula, eggs, waffles, and sandwiches to herself. Sammy? Not so much.

Right now, though, he concentrates more on getting Sam back to their motel room before he does it again.

"Thought you said this didn't happen anymore," he says.

Sam tightens the arm Dean's got around his own neck and takes a heavy breath. Dean has to shimmy to the side a little when Sam decides his shoe would be the perfect place to put his own foot.

They both smell like puked up coffee, so that can't be helping to settle Sam's stomach, but there's fuck all Dean can do about it right now. He's got a choice between letting go of his brother long enough to whip off his shirts or hanging on and smelling like vomit.

Guess which one he's more inclined towards.

He's hauling Sammy's deadweight out of the diner, getting seriously bad flashbacks to the last damn time he'd had to take care of Sam in the aftermath of a vision.

The last time he'd had to haul Sam around like this, the kid had been half dead from repeated visions. Sam'd been ten pounds too light after a week of marathon visions, still heavier than he is now, but not by much. He'd also been dehydrated and slightly loopy even when the visions weren't hitting.

The feeling of helpless anger is tempered with the sour terror that something fucking big might be going down and all he's got to go on, at least until Sam pulls his head together from wherever it's decided to go on vacation, is a freakin' flower name. Not even one of those flowers that are useful, like rosemary or pansy, or, hell, foxglove. No. A friggin' lily.

He doesn't realize he's grumbling under his breath about it until Sam stirs a little bit on his shoulder. "Not a lily," Sam mumbles against his jacket. "Lily. Her name."

"Helpful, Sammy," Dean snaps back at him, "I was dying to know your vision chick's name. Really. I'm not trying to get us to the car or anything useful right now. How about you concentrate on putting those gigantic feet somewhere my feet aren't and we'll discuss your choice in girl's names later on, huh?"

The fucker kind of chuckles against Dean's shoulder.

His baby comes into view right then, so Dean doesn't drop Sam like he might have wanted to. Instead, he props his brother against the back door long enough to wrestle the passenger side open, then slides him into the car with a minimal amount of bony elbows in uncomfortable places.

Sam sits with his feet on the pavement, head down between his legs.

Dean lets him breathe down there long enough that he can pull his shirts off and wad them up. He looks down at them, looks at Sam, still a little green around the edges, and grimaces. He wasn't wearing anything that was irreplaceable (Sam would have been on his friggin' own if he'd thrown up on Dad's leather jacket, though), so he half-shrugs, uses the shirts to clean up the little bit of wet that'd managed to seep through, and goes looking for the nearest garbage can.

Sam's got his own legs in the Impala when Dean gets back, because the frickin' trash is way the hell up the street and he'd been stopped twice by teenage girls who'd giggled and stared at his chest. Fun times.

"You gonna be okay to go, or do I need to find something for you to hurl in?" he asks.

Sam tilts his head a little to look at him and he already looks better, more color in his cheeks and hair starting to dry from the sweat slicked mess it'd become. Sammy's hair's always been a good barometer of how he's doin': if it's stringy and sweaty, chances are Sam's having a shitty kind of day.

"I'll be fine," Sam says, softly, like his head is killing him, and Dean regrets that he didn't slip anything stronger into his coffee.

"You sure?" He reaches out to ruffle Sam's hair and Sam's just a little too slow to bat his hand away before he takes it off himself. Reactions still a little off, Dean notes clinically, and pokes some more. "You puke in my car and I'll throw your ass out of it, moving vehicle or not."

This is the language of brothers. Dean had missed that, because if he'd said something like that to Gayle right after she'd finished hurling? She'd just burst into tears.

Sam gives him a slight smile, still a little green around the edges, and shaky to boot, and reaches out to close the car door in his face.

Dean thumps the hood of the car twice, just to see Sam's face twist up into that exact combination of pissy and slightly nauseous that he now can place as something that's inherently Mom. She'd had that exact same expression the last time she'd had the flu.

He's feeling pretty good when he slides behind the wheel of his baby, the earlier helplessness banished.

Sam flicks an eye to take in his lack of shirt and grimaces. "Sorry, man."

"Dude," Dean tells him as he starts the Impala up. His baby purrs like no tomorrow and it soothes whatever frazzled nerves he might have still had. "You owe me so much pie for that. Cherry. None of that vanilla cream shit."

His brother tilts his head back to rest against the seat. "You like vanilla cream. You like any kind of pie," he points out, then, "Even apple."

"Yeah, I love me some apple pie," Dean says, sarcastic. "Where do they sell that really good stuff? Burketsville?"

"They don't have orchards anymore," Sam says peacefully. He's got this beatific look on his face when he says it, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth innocent.

Dean can remember the scorched ground of Burketsville pretty damn clearly. He wants to ruffle Sam's hair for it, but settles for a mental, "that's my boy," and scratches at a healing scab on his chest.

His fingers come away covered with something slightly damp and crusty. "Pie," he says direly.

"You've got all the money right now, man. Buy it yourself. My treat."

Dean just hums out a response, not really paying attention.

He reaches into the backseat of the Impala while he waits for the tape to turn over so he can start driving (he's not driving if he doesn't have a theme track going). There's a clean shirt back there somewhere, or at least one that's clean enough it isn't stinking up the car, and he makes a triumphant noise in the back of his throat when his fingers catch on cloth.

Wiggling into a t-shirt while hampered by the wheel and the seat isn't really his idea of a good time, but he gets the shirt on. No thanks to Sam, who just snickers under his breath when Dean accidentally hits the horn with his elbow.

"You shut up," Dean says as soon as he's got his head through the head-hole.

Sam smiles a little bit, rolling his head against the back of the seat while Dean puts the car into gear.

The motel room's something on fifteen miles away, downtown driving, and Lawrence isn't really all that small anymore. They'd been on their way to Mom and Dad's, stopping both for a bite to eat and because Sam's tail had shown up again.

Fifteen minutes is more than enough time for the Impala to work her magic.

It didn't used to be like this, but Dean's noticed that Sam? Pretty much conks out the minute the car hits her stride. He can be in the middle of a conversation, in the middle of researching through one of the many books Dean's got stashed in the backseat of the car, and he'll still manage to pass out between one blink and the next.

Dean thinks it's kind of cute. From what he's seen, it's only the Impala that does the trick and that's... cute. Squishy princess feeling inducing, even, that Sam feels safe enough in the car to fall asleep no matter what he's doing or that he missed her (and Dean) enough to not want to leave it when he's half-asleep.

Cute, but it doesn't stop him from doodling moustaches and dirty words across Sam's face. No permanent marker, 'cause the one time he did that he woke up the next morning pinned down on the bed with no hands touching him as Sam calmly read on the laptop. His marker, floating in midair, had proceeded to write "I'm a dick," on his face until there wasn't any more room.

So yeah, no markers. Some other stuff sometimes, though.

Right now though, Dean's counting on it to calm Sam down from whatever post-vision low he's floating on. He's gonna have a talk with Sam later on about what does and does not constitute "better" when it comes to getting freaky head pictures.

"We have to go to San Diego," Sam says softly. He's rubbing his head with the fingers of his right hand, not really paying attention to what he's doing, Dean can tell. "Lily's got a few days before her powers go haywire."

"Haywire as in, 'whoops, I killed the cat,' or as in apocalypse haywire?" Dean asks. It doesn't matter if Sam's talking now. He'll still be out by the time they hit the motel.

Dean reaches over and rolls down his window a little bit, gets some fresh air circling, because it still smells like puke and Sam's gonna put his head on his window any second now to have the cold glass on his temple.

"Haywire as in she'll give her girlfriend a heart attack." Sam sits up a little bit, then slouches sideways, one knee almost knocking into Dean's as he settles his head against the window. He closes his eyes with a sigh. "Literally."

"We're supposed to be visiting Mom and Dad," Dean says.

He's already running through the list of excuses he can get away with making to Mom, even before Sam opens his eyes to look at him like a lost, sick puppy. A lost, sick puppy you just want to take home, despite the fact that its feet are humongous and it's gonna turn into a monster dog in a few months.

"What day's she gonna go defib her girl?"

Sam's already started to breathe a little heavier, getting closer to sleep. Dean doesn't care what the lying little bitch says, visions still wear him out. "We've got until June 18th, I think."

Dean sucks on his teeth, trying to think. "If we drop by, say hi, we can leave here tomorrow and still make it," he says.

His brother doesn't answer.

It's a good thing too, because Dean? Really doesn't want to have to choose between his brother's puppy eyes (lethal and registered as such, even if Sam claims he's a dork for hacking into the FBI database to do it) and the wrath of their mother (also lethal). Mom's pretty possessive about the both of them, even if she thinks Sam's Dean's boytoy.

Which was gonna be fun again. Sam basked in the affection, but between Mom and Dad, they went from one extreme to the other, hot then cold, with volatile Gayle in the middle. It made for a freakin' huge headache, and as much as he loved their parents, he was ready and willing to tell them they had plans to leave soon.

He spends the ride to the motel room going over the most believable lies he could think of.

The motel is small, grimy, just the kind of place to make Dean feel at home. Sam snuffles a little bit against the back of his seat when Dean turns the car off, but he doesn't wake up. Fine by Dean. They've only got two duffels at the moment, one full of weapons and one full of clothes, so it's not like it's a pain in the ass to pack.

Money's a little tight right now. Sam's been wearing Dean's clothes for the last five months, with the exception of a pair of jeans and some sneakers that are his. He knows it makes Mom twitch whenever she sees them, because Sam might be around the same height as him (Dean is not acknowledging the inch Sam's already gained on him in the last few months), but he's in that gangly, half-anorexic stage.

You could cut your fingers on Sam's collarbones at the moment and Dean's caught more than one narrow eyed look from a police officer who thinks Sam's maybe a little bit younger than he looks. Whatever. It's not like he starves the gigantor. Sammy's just growing. Again. Fucker.

If he gets one more lecture on the proper way to feed his man, he's gonna go nutso. Women'd always wanted to feed Sammy during a growth spurt.

Sam's awake by the time he gets back out of the motel room. His eyes aren't open, but Dean can see it in his body language (thank God, something that hasn't changed); in the way he's a little tense.

He deliberately throws the duffels in the trunk hard enough to rock the Impala on her shocks. The car settles back down with a familiar creak of metal and Dean slams the trunk closed as soon as she's still again.

By the time Dean's walked around to his side of the car, Sam's slumped over, passed out again. Dean chuckles under his breath as he gets behind the wheel, shaking his head. "Easy," he mutters. And Sam really, really is.


Alright, occasionally. When he's half-asleep and Dean can sympathize with waking up expecting someone next to you and finding yourself alone. Of course, he sort of maybe blames knowing that feeling on Sam and his stupid, martyred stupidity, but, whatever. He can relate.

He's just putting the key into the Impala when the hair on the back of his neck stands up.

Someone's watching them.

Next to him, Sam's eyes snap abruptly open, pupils dilated so wide that Dean can only see black in his eyes. His brother fumbles out with one hand, knee jerking up to slam into the dashboard, and then he slumps over a little.

His heart starts pounding and he knows it's stupid as hell, but he just. Black eyes. Demon. He spends a second fumbling in his coat for the flask of holy water he's got stashed freakin' somewhere in there.

When his fingers close over the flask, he takes a deep breath. He still feels like he's being watched, like there's something about to seriously fuck up his day, but. He consciously makes himself relax, picking out the whites around Sam's eyes.

Not a demon, damnit. Sam's not a demon and if Dean can stop and think for a minute, he'd be able to explain why to himself.

"Dean," Sam says softly. He sounds like he's underwater or something, wavering, and his eyes are tracking something that's just not there. Dean knows what that freakin' means.

Not a possession. Another damn fucking vision.

"Yeah, Sammy," he says back, just as softly. He reaches out to rearrange Sam a little more comfortably, tucking his arm back into his lap instead of thrown halfway over the bench seat. "I got you."

It's taken a couple of the new visions, which Sam has every month or so, to figure out that Sam honestly can't hear him right now, no matter how loud he gets. Can't feel him either, and he doesn't have the guts to ask if it was like that in the other lifetime or if that's a new development too.

So he feels completely and utterly comfortable leaning his head against the Impala's steering wheel. "Still fucking hate these, little brother," he tells Sam, "Even if it is just your freaky brain this time around and not that Yellow-Eyed son of a bitch."

"Abigail," Sam says, voice going tight and horrified, "Dean, God, it's got her."

Dean's head comes up from where it's resting so quickly that his neck screams a complaint. He ignores it, tells it to shut the fuck up, and the Impala's screeching out of the parking lot a second later.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, his head's playing, over and over; igoddamn fucking fuckers/i better not touch his family. He'll kill them all.

"Hurry," Sam says. His voice is still slightly dreamy, not altogether there, but Dean knows that Sam knows he's usually listening when the damn things hit. Sam's talking to him. "Dad's at the house, hurry."

He floors it.