They're more than ready for the demon when it comes. Dean feels like a million bucks when he realizes that, standing shoulder to shoulder with Sam and Dad, Gayle behind them. It feels like fixin' one of the mistakes he'd made, like pulling Sam out of that fire without dropping him.

It's downright awesome is what it is.

Less awesome is the fact that that's Mom's face out there, twisting up in hatred and spewing insults. It doesn't even have the decency to drop the charade; she looks just like Mom, acts just like Mom, and Dean can feel Gayle trembling behind him. It's one of the reasons she's back there, behind all of them.

She hadn't seen herself from the outside. Dad had. Dad knew, now, what had to be done with a demon.

"What's the plan?" Dean asks softly. He knows it, for the most part, 'cause he'd helped Sam put it together in a typical, fly by the seat of your pants fashion, but Dad doesn't know and neither does Gayle. They can't keep them in the dark over this.

"Wait," Sam says. His shoulder tense against Dean's and he exhales noisily. "There's another one coming. Maybe two more. Enough."

"We let her through, it's just gonna make a hole the others can get through, huh?" Dean scratches the back of his neck and watches Mom prowl the driveway.

She stops in front of his car and slides her fingers over the hood. Dean can't help the stab of almost physical pain at the thought of a demon fucking with his baby, but he doesn't move. Thing's crazy if it thinks he's gonna go out there for his car. If it'd been Sammy, maybe.

The Impala? Can totally take care of herself.

"John," Mom calls. She sounds like she's coaxing out a confession. Dean clenches his fists and waits. "Johnny, do you know your sons? Do you?"

Dad takes a deep breath on his other side. Sam's a stone, still, reaching with that big brain of his. He murmurs, "Ten minutes out, give or take," to Dean while Dad's exhaling, while Gayle's hand finds the back of Dean's shirt and starts clutching hard enough that he can feel her nails on his skin.

He reaches back and gently squeezes her hand.

"Few more minutes, kiddo," he tells one of them. He doesn't really know who, though Gayle relaxes her death grip a little bit and Sam nods his head.

"Those aren't our boys in there with you, John," Mom says loudly. She comes close to the window for the first time, pressing her face to the opening where the glass should be and smiling. "You know that, don't you? They're something else. Something bad. Why don't you come out here and we'll fix them?"

Dad clenches his fingers and leans forward, far enough that Sam's got one hand hovering behind Dean's back, ready to grab Dad's neck if he tries to go forward anymore. Salt lines are kind of useless if you've stuck your head on the other side of them.

"You're not my wife," Dad says tightly. "You just shut the hell up."

The demon smiles with Mom's mouth. Dean really hates those freakin' things. He tunes out their banter, because he doesn't need to pay attention to it. It always fucks him up, to hear his loved ones talking like that.

Instead, he turns his body into Sam's a little, changing his hold on Gayle's wrist so that it's cradled across her stomach and she comes up to tuck herself hesitantly against his back. She's lucky he's a nice guy.

"How many can you hold?" Dean asks out of the side of his mouth.

Sam's mouth presses into a thin line. "One if you want me focusing on something else; maybe two of them, I think, if I've got someone to exorcise them, but that's going to take me out of the count for anything else."

That's pretty much what Dean had figured. Sam can only ever do those awe-inspiring acts of psychic creepiness when he was pissed. Since he doesn't really have time to prank Sam right now, he figures he's gonna have to find a way to distract two demons enough that one of 'em'll walk itself into the devil's trap.

While keeping them away from Gayle and Dad, who don't have the slightest clue about what to do with demons. Fun times.

Gayle takes a noisy breath behind him, reminding him of her presence and Dean grimaces. "Don't suppose you have a force field you can put around a couple people, do you?" he asks Sam hopefully. Man, that would be so cool if he did.

"I'm not the Green Lantern, Dean," Sam says softly. He touches the bridge of his nose with two fingers and winces. "Less than five minutes."

"Dad," Dean calls. "Give us a few seconds, then break that salt line, alright?" Dad mumbles something to them, pretty much still fixated on Mom, so Dean turns to Sam and looks at him.

His brother looks like he's ready for the war they never really had that first time around. That'd been more like a massacre. And Dean wouldn't really call this a war, because three demons? Come on, piece of cake. Still.

"Get her into the hallway." With the devil's trap, went unsaid. Anything weird went down, Dean wanted her behind a devil's trap and surrounded by salt. He hadn't made that box back there for nothin'.

Sam gives him a flat look, worried little brother at his best. "Dude, don't do anything stupid," he says with an eye roll.

Dean hands him a shotgun and grins. "Do I ever do anything stupid, Sammy? That's your gig, man."

Gayle looks at him when Sam pulls on her arm. Dean just looks at her right back, not really ready to deal with the tears he can see starting to come up in her eyes, and gently pries her fingers out of his. You'll be all right, he tries to send to her. We've got you.

Sam tucks her under his arm when Dean gets her to let go and looks out the window. There's a strain growing around his eyes; Dean doesn't ask how far out they are right now and he doesn't ask how many there are. He can see Sam's fingers tapping out an uneven, three beat rhythm against his thigh.

Gayle tangles her fingers in the hem of Sam's shirt and lets him lead her away. Dean's struck with something weird before he turns to watch Dad and Mom face off over a line of salt.

She's Sam's little sister too.

He hadn't realized that before now.

Dean had told him to wait a few seconds. John stretches it out to about thirty, mainly because he can't look away from the way the demon inside her is twisting Mary's pretty face into expressions he'd never even known his wife was capable of making.

Then Dean's at his elbow, shotgun primed, and his son swipes his hand through the line of salt like it's nothing. Like he hadn't taken the time to explain to both John and Abby how much evil salt could keep away if only people knew how to use it.

"Thank you, Dean," Mary says, politely, and both he and Dean are flying back like they weigh nothin' at all.

John hits the ground rolling, memories of a lifetime telling him how to tuck just so to make sure he doesn't kill the holy hell out of his shoulder. He manages to twist enough that he lands more or less primed to get back to his feet and face the demon.

Dean lands a few feet from him, damn near flat on his back, but he bounces up within a second and throws a nasty grin his mother's way. "Really friggin' hate that," he mutters.

"Yeah, me too." That's Sam's voice, only not. John had thought it'd gone tight and pissed a few days ago dealing with Abby, but, no, that had just been this tone's weaker cousin. Sam sounds like he's going to rip Mary to shreds.

John's gotta stop himself from putting his body between Sam's and Mary's; Sam's on his side, for one, and for another, he doesn't want to take another flyin' leap at the ground if he doesn't have to. He's not real sure which one of them would send him flying, but he's damned certain that either way he wouldn't stand in the way for long.

"You never got your skull cracked open, Sam," Dean snarks back at him. He's pretty much ignoring the demon, John realizes, and that's just fine, because she's walking towards them now. John purposely does not glance at the ceiling, where the lines of Sam's trap are stark and multi-colored in chalk.

"Had to deal with the afterwards of you, though," Sam says. He moves with Mary, almost snakelike, weaving a little to keep himself between her and the hallway he'd just come out of. John doesn't need to be told that's where they've stashed Abby for this.

"I wasn't around for that particular triumph," Mary says, and her eyes bleed to black. "That must have been something. Heard that you had to hold your brother's brains in, Winchester. I was surprised, to tell you the truth. Didn't think he actually had any."

"Hey!" Dean says, affronted.

"Yeah, well," Sam says softly, "I made sure to pay your dad back for that, didn't I?" He twists, pulls an arm up to his face and makes a show of looking at his wrist. "He says hi, by the way. Whatever's left of him."

Mary's face transforms into a look of such absolute hate that John takes an unknowing step backwards, away from it. He clutches the bottle of water Dean had handed him an hour ago and tries to make it seem like he's even more panicked than he is. One more step, two maybe, and Mary'd be in the devil's trap. They need to get her in there.

When she turns to look more towards Sam, John's stomach plummets a little bit. They hadn't really planned for that.

Dean sees it too. "Sammy, stop baiting the demon," Dean says sweetly, then, "Sweetcheeks, are you really gonna go after my geek brother when I'm over here? Which one of us you think you've got to worry about, huh?"

"Oh, definitely him," Mary says easily. She nods her head at Sam, but takes a step towards Dean. "Thing is, I want him to suffer, so I think we'll start with you, huh?"

She tilts her head, birdlike, the same mannerisms John'd seen in Abby, and says, "Or maybe Johnny. I can call you Johnny, right John? You let me do it all the time, especially when we're—"

"You shut your mouth," John grits out before she can finish that sentence. He doesn't know whether he's mortified at the thought of his son and his whatever (it hadn't escaped his notice that this demon had called Sam "Winchester" again or that it'd referred to Sam and Dean as brothers) or if he's horrified at the knowledge that this demon, this thing, has access to Mary's memories.

"Keep it together," Dean murmurs out of the side of his mouth. He takes a grudging step backwards, away from Mary and Sam both, and that's when Mary smiles and crosses the line into the devil's trap.

She knows it's there almost instantaneously. Her head whips up and back, staring, before it turns to pin Sam with a furious, grimace. "Should have known," she says.

"Demons aren't real up there in the brains department," Dean says back at her.

Sam's just watching. His eyebrows have gone together, to the point where the furrow between them is almost white with tension. "Incoming," he says softly.

Dean makes a noise of acknowledgement and asks, "She good in there?"

Mary smiles at them all. "Yeah, Sammy, am I gonna be a good girl in here?"

"Keep the other demons away from the trap and she can't get out," Sam says. Half of his mouth curls into a little smile when he leans in to look Mary in the face. "You're not as strong as Meg, are you? That's why you weren't there that day."

"Daddy didn't want her, huh?" Dean asks. It's a rhetorical question, because he's already moving away from the devil's trap and towards where the salt line's been broken.

"Just like Daddy never wanted you, huh, Dean?" Mary asks. She smiles her gentle smile and props up one arm on the other, hand resting against her chin.

"Not gonna work this time, sweetheart," Dean says right back. "Gotten kind of sick of demons trying that line on me, you know?"

"They're here," Sam says.

All hell breaks loose.

Sam's been keeping an eye (ear? brain?) out for the rest of the demons. Two of them, he thinks suddenly, there's only two more coming and they're almost here. He hates that he can tap into the "kill kill Winchesters, we'll kill you, fate will be whispered to children in the dark," but sometimes it's really, really useful.

"Dad, can you go keep an eye on Abby?" he asks. "You've got holy water in case anything gets past us, right?"

It feels weird asking Dad to play the non-role in this little unfolding drama, but this Dad doesn't know enough about what's out there to be any kind of help. For all Sam knows, the humans the incoming demons are wearing are psychics who can fry your brains. He can't keep Dean and Dad safe and he doesn't want to choose which one he has to keep an eye on.

Dean would hate being alive because Sam thinks he's more important than Dad. Even thinking it himself, Sam feels like a disgusting human.

Dad's staring at him and Dean is too, the expression on his face clearly saying he's ten different kind so of stupid and not a one of them good. Sam replays what he's just said, finds the problem, and mutters, "Oops. Fuck," out loud. Figures.

"Let's ignore that for right now, huh?" Dean says.

Behind them all, the demon in Mom chuckles and crosses her arms with a swish of cloth. "Oh, have they got a story to tell you, Johnny. It'll be fun. Like being gouged with a rusty spoon."

Sam ignores her without really trying. She's just a nuisance now, not strong enough to break free of the devil's trap without help, and she's trying to distract them.

Won't work, because he can feel the exact instant one of the other demon's sets foot within two feet of the Impala. She's a part of Dean, has been for as long as Sam can remember, and it's not all that weird to get a spike of weirdly felt alarm shrilling across his nerves.

"Hey," he says, just the once. Dean comes up at his back, cocking the shotgun and Dad looks at them both like he can't understand them.

A head pokes through where the salt lines been disrupted. The host's dead, Sam knows immediately, has been for a few days at least, and that means he can let a breath out. He doesn't know if he can kill a demon while it's in someone without killing the person too. He's never really tried.

He managed it on himself, but that was because he was pissed and he had to make sure the demon paid for what it had done to his family. He's not sure he can be that angry again. He doesn't want to be. He may not have a demon whispering to him that he's going to turn this time around, but that doesn't mean he's not keenly aware of the fact that with his powers, he's already treading dangerous water and looks like a feast to pretty much any evil thing that's out there.

"I can do this one," Sam says softly to Dean, out of the corner of his mouth. Dad's still standing there, not moving, because he can't take orders or thinly veiled requests any better than Sam himself can. He hadn't seen what Sam had done to the last demon and Sam really doesn't want him seeing it this time either.

But what he wants and what actually happens are a lot of the time two totally separate things. He hadn't wanted to leave Dean. He hadn't wanted to be the last Winchester standing. And he hadn't wanted anything demonic anywhere near his family.

The minute the thing clears the window sill, Sam's smiling at it, moving forward to draw its attention. It has enough sense of mind to make a suspicious, almost terrified face, and then Sam's locking it into that body like he's got a key for it.

"Come and get me," he tells it.

Dean makes a snorting sound behind him and mutters something that sounds suspiciously like, "No more bad action movies for you, dude."

Sam doesn't point out that Dean's the one who insists on watching those stupid movies anyway. Sam likes to watch the documentaries or the news, and, contrary to Dean's insistence, Congo, Pitch Black, and Sci-Fi originals don't count as documentaries.

The demon hisses at him. Flat out hisses at him. Sam kind of raises his eyebrows and pulls, making the demon skid out of the way so that the next one has to come out of the same hole. It comes at him snarling and pushing, trying to shove him.

He smacks its resistance back without even breaking a sweat and looks at his brother and father. Dean's posed with the holy water, grinning like he's about to win the lottery. Dad's watching him, flicking his eyes between where Mom's still smiling and him, him and Dean. He looks like he wants to say something and doesn't.

Sam's mouth twitches at him, but he turns back to his demon inhabited corpse. His head's starting to pound and the other demon's checking the rest of the house for weaknesses. He needs to get rid of this one. Now.

The next demon that comes through is live, Dean knows. Mostly, he just knows it because Sam gets that pained, dark look in his eyes that always happens when he looks at people that are possessed. Dean wishes, sometimes, that this life had been his little brother's first, that the worst thing that ever happened to him was his foster father hauling off and hitting him in the face.

Then he reminds himself that he's going to go find the guy who smacked his brother and kill him. Dead.

"Hey, you son of a bitch," Dean says cheerfully when the demon peeks over the edge of the window. He grins at it and tosses most of the holy water in his water bottle into its face.

"Shit," Sam suddenly hisses, and Dean's shoved away from the window before he can really process that. It takes a half-beat to realize that shove had been from Sam and another to realize that, hey, that demon? Hadn't flinched away from the holy water Dean'd thrown into its (her? Dean honestly can't tell. Whatever it is, it's fugly) face.

In fact, the damn thing was grinning at him.

"Shit, shit, shit," Sam hisses out some more. He manages not to make Dean careen into the wall, which, honestly, makes Dean all sorts of happy. At least before he remembers the last time they couldn't use holy water on a demon without it just laughing it off.


The demon smiles at them. Sam'd somehow managed to get Dad at the same time as Dean had gone for his little flight, so Dad is at his shoulder all of a sudden, watching the demon advance on all three of them.

Sam's little dead weight demon is pinned to the wall in such a way that it reminds him uncomfortably of spewing his own blood out of every pore in his body. Combine that with the demon smiling in a distinctly familiar way and Dean is very, very, very not happy.

"Fuck," he mutters succinctly.

"I can… maybe hold that one. But not at the same time as this one," Sam says. He nods to each of them, the demon starting to circle around them and the one he's got against the wall.

"Not enough time to do an exorcism," Dean mutters back, and that's when the other demon smiles.

"Well," it says, "I think if you've got a hostage," it motions to Mom, prowling the devil's trap now like some kind of caged carnivore, "I should have one too.

"What'd you think? John or…" it grins and crooks one finger.

Dean starts sliding along the floor. He digs his heels into the ground with a grimace, freakin' pissed that they always go after him when they want something against Sam, and then out of the corner of his eye he sees Dad start to scoot forward too. Well, it's good to know that they don't really pick and choose. Winchester seems to be good enough for them.

Sam's power slams against his chest, holding him in place. It does the same to Dad a second later because Dean hears the sudden intake of breath, surprised and freaked out. Dean's sort of use to it now, and Sam manages to be a hell of a lot more careful than most of the things that have moved Dean via their brains. Or demonic powers.

"How many you think you can hold, Sammy?" the demon asks. It tilts its head in the same motion as the other demons have been using, hell, the same motion he can remember from freakin' Meg, and Dean knows nothin' good is going to come from this.

Dean gets that sinking feeling just as he hears a feminine shriek from the next room and they've forgotten about Gayle, fuck.

She's screaming at the top of her lungs, trying to brace herself even though she's terrified. Dean jerks towards her only to be stopped by freakin' Sam and his freak of nature powers, and then Gayle's slide is stopped so suddenly her arms jerk like a marionette's.

Sam, he knows from experience, tends to just grab the body part with the most weight behind it. He just sort of… grabs the heaviest part of you to stop whatever you're doing. Makes it really damn uncomfortable, but whenever Sam's reduced to giving himself a migraine, Dean's usually not going to complain about a rough grab.

It takes a second for him to realize that Sam's hit his limit on the amount of people he can keep in place. The only reason he figures this out is because the demon, the low level one that'd been so easy it had made him snicker, well, it's now peeling itself away from the wall and approaching them with a nasty little smile.

"So, Winchesters," the strong demon purrs. It steps forward, puts its face near Sam's and smiles. "I think this means you're out gunned. Again. Who dies this time, Sam?"

Dean feels the little, testing pull even through the death grip that Sam's got on his ribcage. He wants to tap Sam's hand and tell him to lighten up on the goddamn pressure, but it's not any part of Sam that Dean can feel that's holding him up right now.

Gayle inches forward a half step or two while Sam's busy keeping him in place. Dean feels the grip loosen when his attention turn towards her instead of him. This shit? Is not gonna last.

He may not be great at his exorcisms, but he's not too terrible either. Sam's too damn busy making sure the demon's don't get a hold of any of them and Dad's useless at hunting now, which he'd never though he'd have to say. What he remembers is gonna have to be good enough.

Mom's the closest demon. That's who he turns his eyes on.

"Exorcizamus te," Dean begins. And then he gets fucking stuck. Mom smiles sweetly at him while the piddly lapdog of a demon laughs like nails on a chalkboard.

"Omnis immundus spiritus," Sam supplies helpfully through his teeth. Dean doesn't look at him, but he knows his face has gone white, that he's probably shaking and about ten minutes away from throwing up ala Linda Blair. Not a pretty sight.

That doesn't mean he remembers enough of the goddamn exorcism to be worthwhile.

He pulls a face (about the only body part he can use without having to battle Sam for control of it first), and purses his mouth.

"Change of plans," he tells Sam. He strains a little against Sam's power, pushing, until Sam relents that slightest bit and the demon closes in on him while Mom licks her lips and watches. He's got some holy water. Let 'em. "You do the exorcism. I keep them busy."

Sam grunts, but it's Dad that says, "Don't you think he's bein' a little bit more useful doing this?"

Dad sounds pissed off and helpless, exactly like he knows Dad hates being, so Dean's willing to cut him a little bit of slack. He doesn't know the goddamn ritual by heart like Sam does and he doesn't have the nifty power of roasting demons even if he did.

They were just gonna have to take care of themselves while Sam takes care of the over powered demon.

"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," the demon says. It tugs on one of them, Dean's not too sure who, but both Gayle and Dad make noises so it might be both. He's glad it's given up on him for the time being.

He keeps his eye on the other demon, who's circling around the edges of the devil's trap with an intense look on its face. Sam hadn't been too worried about it on its own, but, fuck, he does not want to add a third demon to the mix. Just the one up in Sam's personal space is enough for him.

Big kahuna demon tuts at Sam again for a few seconds before it switches places with the lesser demon hovering around Mom. Dean? Does not like the looks of this. He tries to catch Sam's eye, succeeds, and then proceeds to try to outline a twelve step plan that includes, but is not limited to, finding a magical demon killing knife somewhere in the wreckage of the house.

Not happening, Sam's face says right back to him, but his eyebrows rise out of their scowl for a half-beat and that's what Sam was looking for.

"Wait for it," Dad says softly, like he's got any idea what's about to go down. Even back then, Dad usually couldn't figure out the shorthand between him and Sam. It's theirs, always has been, always would be.

The little demon that's right up in Sam's face leans in farther and almost touches him.

Dean tunes out Dad's (fairly good, he admits privately) point in favor of wrenching his arm free of Sam's gentle (relatively speaking) grip to throw holy water on the fucker. Dribble it, actually, since he's using a water bottle with one of those little suck on lids and he hadn't taken the damn cap off before they'd been spectacularly screwed to hell.

Sam rears back as soon as Dean's got the other demon firmly fixated on him and Dean feels more than registers the fact that Sam's just retracted all of his power from them and is instead using it to whip out at the demon who's starting to crack the devil's circle open like an egg.

"Ah-ah," the demon says. It turns to look at Sam, just braces itself against all the power Sam's heaving at it, and its] feet don't so much as move when Sam visibly pushes the thing with something that looks a little like a shimmering heat wave.

Dean stops paying attention to that. He's trusted Sam to watch his back for years and he's got other people to think about. Namely, Dad and Gayle.

Gayle, smart girl, is already trying to head back to where the devil's trap is inlaid in the ground. Little fucker over here isn't strong enough for the whole toss you around without touching you shit; Gayle'd be safe behind the trap.

Dad, slightly less smart, or otherwise just of the opinion that he shouldn't leave his wife with a demon and somebody who can give a demon a run for their money, drops to the floor and starts scrounging around for the book Dean'd dropped earlier. He'd brought an exorcism. He just hadn't really thought to hang onto it when he had Sam to do it for him.

Teach him to think that, now wouldn't it?

The demon in front of him smiles with his eyes gone black and evil, head cocked to the side. "What are you going to do without your brother, Winchester? No exorcism, no baby brother to save your ass. Options?"

He draws his lips back from his teeth a bit, forces something that might look like a smile if somebody was being nice. Mostly, he figures it's one of those looks that Sam always elbows him for after the fact and whispers that he looks like he's ten seconds away from asking for people's babies.

If Sam can keep the strong one occupied for a few seconds, Dean can pin this one down, no problem.

Dean slides between his sister's rapidly retreating back and the demon, putting his back firmly to Gayle, and smiles. "Come on, fugly," he taunts, "Let's see what you got, huh?"

The demon screams like an eight year old girl faced with boy cooties when Dean calmly squirts it in the face with his water bottle. Idiot. He drops the bottle when it's empty, scoops up the shotgun Dad's sliding his way up without breaking the gaze he's got on the demon, and lets it have a face-full of rock salt with his shotgun

Sam'd implied that he wouldn't feel bad burning this one up without exorcising it, Dean reminds himself when the face kind of… melts into itself for a few seconds before the demon pulls it back together, making the flesh stick like it's Playdoh. The person was already dead. All Dean's doing is adding a little aggravation under its skin in the form of rocksalt under the flesh.

The demon howls, scratching at its face even as it pulls itself together again, digging its nails in to try to tear out the rocksalt souvenirs Dean's left in there. It's not gonna be much of a problem for a least a few seconds, so he lets his eyes dart over to Dad, who's got the exorcism book open on his lap, the rock salt bag by his legs.

"You read that?" Dean asks quickly. He cuts his eyes back to his demon, finds it still digging, and looks over at Sam real quick.

Sam's looking even more strained than he already was, like he's just gone ten rounds with one of his monster headaches and lost. Dean keeps a careful eye on that wreck waiting to happen and listens as Dad, faltering, starts to speak the familiar Latin.

His pronunciation is off, which Dean can recognize after years and years of hearing that language in his head and spoken by his brother and Pastor Jim, but it'll do the job.

The demon makes a noise of startled hatred, and pries a chunk of rock salt out of one of its eyes.

Dean's not paying attention to it. He tilts his head to the side, looking over his shoulder, and meets Gayle's gaze. She's not where she's supposed to be and Dean's gonna rip her a new one for it, right after she stops looking like she's gonna burst into tears.

As soon as she sees him looking at her, she stumbles across the room to attach herself to him.

He's not paying attention, which is his first mistake. His second is that he's got Gayle tucked up against his side and he hadn't pushed her away and reminded her that they were on a hunt, there wasn't time for this mushy stuff yet (the same way he hadn't ever done with Sammy and he doesn't have the scars to prove it anymore, but he did once).

"Dean!" Sam shouts, warningly. Too bad it comes just a little too freakin' late to really help.

The demon Sam's been distracting, exorcising, is suddenly right up in Dean's face instead, smiling at him as it says, "Bye, Winchesters," and the ground peels open under him, floorboards disappearing from under his feet.

Fuck, he thinks. Fuck fuck fuck. He shoves at Gayle, trying to get her out of the way, but then whatever little bit of solid had been under his feet is suddenly not there anymore and he's falling. He can't catch himself and the floor's still opening up beneath him, creaking and protesting and fuck fuck fuck. He's got a second to see Sam's white face, to feel something of Sam's attempt to catch him, and then he's falling backwards.

Whoops, Dean thinks, stupidly. Sorry, Sammy.

John's too far away to catch his son as he falls, but he can grab Abby's hand and keep her from plunging in afterwards.

"Daddy," she whimpers, her hand sweat-slicked and slippery, too slippery, oh, God, he's gonna lose her down that hole and how far down did it go? Would Dean still be alive or would he be a broken body at the bottom, would he still have a family when all this was over or would he only have a boy he doesn't know and the empty, demon-filled shell of a wife?

"I'm slippin'!"

"Gotcha girl," John mutters under his breath, clamping his other hand around her bicep.

She's not heavy, but John's got no grip, no traction at all, and she's so damn slippery.

Behind him, something goes off with the force of a miniature sun.

Dean. Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean.

Sam snaps. Again. One second the innocent people the demons are inhabiting are alive, safe in their heads while Sam stutters over the exorcism, the next they're just flash fried, melted together with the demons he's vaporized.

He keeps enough of himself to make sure Mom's still alive, to just draw the demon out of her with a flicker of intent and shove it into the devil's trap he's drawn on the ceiling, the one designed to hold as much power as a demon can generate and ask for more.

Then he lunges towards the hole in the floor, bypassing Dad holding Abby up, and throws himself down without a second thought.

Dean, Dean, Dean.

He catches Abby, absently, on reflex, as Dad's grip falters and she starts to fall, doesn't even think about it. Dean, Dean. She floats, comes to within a few inches of the ground and his power flexes, lets her go without so much as an afterthought, because all of it's taken up with making sure he's not alone again, last Winchester standing, triumphant on a battlefield of blood.

There's no jinniyah this time, though Sam can probably find one if he needs to. Moving heaven and hell's not that hard when you have as much untapped power singing at your fingertips as he does right now, and it's all concentrated on Dean.

Dean's lying on his stomach, no obvious breaks, pool of blood just starting to form around his head. There's a high-pitched noise in the back of his head, one that sounds like a child screaming about how the temple is a fragile place to get hit and how many head injuries has Dean had this time, how many times has he almost died, oh, God, leave his brains in, please please please.

The gibbering sound in his head is replaced by the sickening knowledge that he knows just what Dean's head sounds like as it cracks open and knows what texture his brother's brains are. Please, he thinks disjointedly. Please, no.

This is the second time he couldn't save his brother. The second time. It's not going to happen again.

"Dean?" somebody says, voice too thin, too high, and Sam's so lost in his own head that he doesn't realize it's gotten too close until his sight of Dean's blocked off by blonde hair that's shining even down here.

Not Mom, he reminds himself, and then, Dean.

"Please be alright, please, I'm sorry," the girl mutters hysterically. Sam pays less than half a mind to her, feeling out, reaching, praying, and, yes, there's a heartbeat and there's nothing sliding out of Dean's head to wet his palms or make his power sing in fear.

Sam doesn't sigh, because he can feel something broken in there somewhere, not in Dean's head but in his body, but he does let some of the anger go. The demon inside him, not quite there and not quite gone, mumbles, tries to catch parts of it, and Sam tells it nastily that he just fried its family. It subsides.

The girl (Abby, he recognizes now, just Abby) is still babbling apologies at Dean.

He pushes her aside, just gentle enough not to make her ram into the far wall. "Dean," he says, just once, and sits back on his heels to wait. Dean's never failed to come back to him when he asks, when he just says please, and Sam's abilities are moving down here, slicking through the air like something alive, and he doesn't, he can't…

Abby creeps up beside him, suddenly small and silent, and Sam lifts one arm up for her, not really paying that much attention to her. Dean's breathing. Dean needs to wake up so Sam can stop feeling like he's going to bleed power all over the place.

She doesn't touch him immediately. Sam doesn't care, goes to drop his arm because he could be using it to make sure Dean's alright instead of keeping it in the air, using his telekinesis to do a quick rubdown of his brother's arms and legs. At the last second, she pushes her head under his arm and breathes in this little shuddering breath that sounds exactly like Sam's head feels.

Abby's hair is soft against his neck.

His powers always, always go haywire when Dean's in trouble, let him do things he normally wouldn't be able to do, so he's not really surprised when he murmurs, "Wake up," and Dean's eyes snap open.

He doesn't even think about Andy until much, much later.

Dean's looking at him. His eyes are hazy and not really there, unfocused, but he smiles when he sees Sam's shadow. "Dude," Dean says fuzzily, "You're glowin'. S'cool"

He is? Sam looks down at his palm, resting on Dean's chest, and then the arm he's got around Abby. Her hesitation makes a little more sense now, because, yeah, he really is glowing in the dim basement room, lit up like he's a firefly.

He'll be freaked out about it later. When Dean's sitting in bed and calling him Firefly or Glow Torch.

Dean's head is in one piece. Relatively speaking. He's never really sure if Dean's heads altogether put on right and he's babbling to himself, but Dean's eyes are open and there's three other Winchesters that Sam can feel, alive and breathing and that's just.

If his eyes tear up, he's pretty sure Dean's too out of it to see that closely.

A different voice cuts through his thoughts before they can go even more hysterical than they already are. "Sam?" Dad asks. Abby twitches against his side and Sam's afraid for a second he's going to have to use one of his arms to shove his face up because there's no way he's looking away from Dean right now.

Then Dean closes his eyes and smiles a little, fingers twitching in a shooing motion, and Sam finds he can look up. Dad's head is poking down into the hole in the floor and his face is white. "The demons are…" he says as soon as he sees Sam watching him.

"Gone," Sam supplies. He clears his throat after he says it, because he sounds dangerous, threatening, and that hadn't really been his intention. "Mom's alright?"

"She's…" Dad trails off, rubs a hand across his face and looks to the left a little. "She says she's going to be fine. She doesn't remember anything."

Sam knows how that goes. She'll start remembering at night, in her dreams, screaming and begging and the demon taunting her throughout it all. He'd had Dean to get him through that. She has Dad. She'll be fine.

He lifts his arm up from around Abby and uses his newly freed hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. His other hand he keeps on Dean's chest. He's surprised Dean's not demanding to know what happened, but hell, if he's got a concussion (which Sam's reasonably sure he does and it's not brains leaking out, it's not), he's not going to remember anything for a few minutes anyway.

On cue, Dean stirs a little and says, "We get 'em?"

"Yeah," Sam tells him, "We got them."


There's half a beat of silence, just waiting, where Abby shuffles a little closer to Sam and Sam feels guilty for pulling his arm back. Then Dean opens his eyes again and squints. "You're glowin'," he says.

"I know."

The headache? Is coming on like a freight train. Sam pinches his head harder and tries not to faint, cry, or do anything else that Dean will be forced to make fun of him for the rest of his life.

He's not really sure if he wins that battle.

Dean's kind of really pissed that he doesn't remember anything about that night. No, seriously, anything. Yeah, he kind of has this vague memory of Sam glowing like one of those five dollar Christmas cards by that man everyone hates, but that's about it.

It's not fair, is what it is, because Sam tells him he sort of made up with his sister and Dad keeps looking at him like he said something really, really stupid.


On the other hand, he does wake up in the backseat with Mom sitting next to him, so he's not really sure that should be a problem. He looks at her for a few seconds and his head freakin' hurts (which means he's relatively sure he'd taken a header into something. Again. He's got to look into wearing a helmet when he goes hunting), but she's there and she's alive, and he can see Sam's gigantic, poufy head in the seat in front of him, driving his baby, so.

Not that bad. Maybe.

"We get them?" he asks as soon as he registers he's awake.

He's expecting Sam to answer, or maybe even Dad, but Mom's the one who reaches out to rest one hand against his face and smile.

"We got them, sweetie," she says, then, "Yes, your brother was glowing."


"Concussion," Sam says from the front seat, like he knows that Dean's two seconds away from Christo-ing Mom. Again.

Oh. Concussion would explain the headache and the reason he's in the backseat and not driving his car. "Okay," Dean says slowly, "What happened?"

"Go back to sleep, Dean," Gayle says from his other side.

He hadn't even noticed her. Weird. "Sam?" What the hell had happened?

"You remember the demons?" Sam asks.

Kid sounds dead tired, about two seconds away from passing out on the nearest person or thing, and Dean's got kind of an idea of how it'd gone down if his head was killing him and Sam sounded like he'd gone ten rounds with a poltergeist that had a love of choking. So, like a normal hunt.

"Yeah," Dean says. A little. Maybe. He remembers that Mom was possessed by a demon, and even if he didn't the way she's shrinking a little bit would be a dead give away.

"I took care of it," Sam says simply.

Yeah, kind of no doubt how that one went down. "Thought you weren't a superhero, Sammy. How'd you manage to take down more than one demon?"

Sam doesn't say anything for a long time. Then, "I was pissed."

"Remind me not to piss you off," Dean says lightly.

Mom makes a noise of agreement on his side. Dad, who Dean assumes is riding shotgun, hasn't made a sound during the entire conversation, which means he's going to be in for an earful when he's actually, you know, awake and functioning. Which is an incentive not to be awake any more.

The Impala is cushy and squishy and he's lying out of his ass when he says that, but she's home. He tucks his face into the seat, leans to the side a little when Mom tugs at him, but then he's pretty much ready to get back to sleep.

Sam shifts in the front seat, probably checking his watch to make sure he can wake Dean up in an hour, the fucker.

Note to self: do not piss off the little brother anytime soon. Soon being within the next few hours, until said little brother crashes on the couch, bed, Impala, or other nearby surface he can reach.

He spends a good five minutes thinking he's already asleep, because no way is the car telling him stories, showing him little film reels of when he and Sam were little and Sam was obnoxious enough that Dean threatened to throw him out an open window more than once. For one thing, this is the wrong car, no matter how he claims to love them just the same.

Then Gayle starts talking, softly, next to his ear, just nonsense noise to pass the time and Dean's forced to admit that, hey, maybe he's not really asleep after all.

This? Has got to be Sam's doing. He's going to kill him if he's made his car psychic or some shit now. Kill him.

He's out like a light when whatever it is suddenly starts relaying pictures (Sam's memories? Whatever) of days and days spent driving, sun in his face and a warm brother in the seat next to him. The music's just right, none of that sissy talk show stuff Dad's listening to right now, and Dean falls asleep smiling.

Two days after everything; after he's held Mary in his arms and listened to her cry; after Dean woke up and finally stopped asking if they'd killed the demons; after Sam had managed to get from the guest room to Dean's room after collapsing on the stairs, after all that; that's when John asks his questions.

"Who are you?" is his first question and this time, John's pretty sure Sam's not going to lie.

"Sam Winchester," Sam says, and yeah, John had been expecting that for a few days now, but it still feels like a punch in the gut. He can't. He doesn't know how this kid could be his and he doesn't know how he could be Mary's but he is.

"How?" Mary blurts.

Sam rubs his thumb across one of his eyebrows and looks at Dean.

"Your show, man," Dean says. He props his boots up on the coffee table, then cringes and drops them when Mary raises her eyebrows. "You're the one who made that stupid frickin' wish in the first place."

"Wish?" Mary asks gently.

Sam's giving Dean a dirty look when she says it, but he promptly stops so that he can look over at John's wife. There's a look of almost uncertain adoration in his eyes and John'd be a little more concerned about that if he couldn't pick out traces of Mary's features in the boy's face.

"I… made a wish," Sam finally says.

"He made a fucker of a wish," Dean adds helpfully.

"Language," Mary reminds him before she turns back to Sam and says, "Go on, Sammy."

Sam blushes and ducks his head, peeks up at her through his bangs. "I wished that you hadn't ever died," he says, softly.

John's entire body freezes down cold. "The demon," he asks, blurts out, because he can't think of anything else that would have killed her and maybe that would explain how Sam knew where she was and…

Dean's shaking his head. "Not that demon. Different one. We call him Bob," he adds with a sly grin, shooting a look over to Sam. Sam, for his part, just rolls his eyes and sighs. "Yellow-Eyed son of a bitch killed everyone."

"Including Dean," Sam says.

Over the next five hours, Sam (with Dean's help), proceeds to tell them exactly how him "making a wish" would result in him being a Winchester.