AN: Happy New Year! Here we are at the end and I just wanted to say thank you to those you you who read, commented, alerted or lurked. I appreciate you all. Writing this has been such a learning process for me. I've written my fair share of lab reports and article reviews, but this was a completely different animal. Thanks to LovinJackson for the encouragement and proofreading. Thanks to Ridley, because the Brotherhood AU has been and continues to be a joy to read.

He feels like he's back at the beginning again. Except for today his body aches and there's a warm breeze blowing steadily across Jim's pond, in contrast to the stifling heat that he'd left just days before.


It feels like so much longer than that. He feels so much older than he did when he left the farm. The possession has left him shaky and unsure and he doesn't feel like he'll ever be the same again.

The demon that had possessed him didn't just have darkness within her…she was darkness. She was hatred and malevolence. She was the total absence of humanity, and currently, the object of his latest nightmares. He's had nightmares before, but they were usually about what was after him, what was being done to him. The worst ones were about failure. His dreams would taunt and torture him as he found himself moments too late to save his family.

These are different. Now, he's the monster. He's the one who has blood and death on his hands, startling awake with his own image burnt into his mind, gagging at the sharp taste of sulfur that he swears is still in his mouth. It's not as bad as it was that first day back in the hotel when he'd cycled through vomiting, showering and brushing his teeth for hours. They'd tried to get him to eat but he couldn't manage to keep anything down, water included, which had led to Mac giving him an IV by nightfall.

He'd felt miserable physically and exhausted mentally, but it wasn't enough to deter his father from questioning him the next day. Apparently it hadn't been bad enough that he'd cried himself to sleep in his father's arms like a sissy the night before. He really hadn't been up for a repeat performance so he'd tried to put off answering any questions but apparently thirteen year olds haven't gained any more right to privacy in this time than they'd had in his own time. So in between his bouts of vomiting he had to retell the nightmare.

He'd started with the possession, which he thought might be a lot like having a white hot fire poker rammed down your throat. The demon scorched and seared its way into his body, and then flowed, filling every available space. She'd chuckled at his pain, pushed further, stretching his body beyond capacity. Once she had finished settling into his skin, bones and muscles, the initial intense pain receded but he was still left with a dull ache throughout his body.

He knew, from hearing other hunters talk, that victims of possession usually complained of missing time but he could hear and see nearly everything that happened. She talked incessantly. Mostly rhetorical conversation meant to screw with him.

How do you think we should kill him Dean? We could break his neck. Blow his brain out. Strangle him. Pin him to a ceiling somewhere and light him up.

Like he'd really had a choice in the matter, but that didn't stop him from trying to get her to let George go. He and George were a lot alike, he had thought at the time, both ultimately inconsequential to the big picture, just a means to an end. George, more so at the moment than he. Poor fucking George Creech, in the wrong place at the wrong time and who was doing his best crabwalk away from him. Not a bad guy, he had found out later. Worked as a nutritional aid at a hospital in Texas and got to see his kids every Tuesday night for dinner and every other weekend. He left behind two sons and one daughter, a black lab named Chester and enough friends and family to fill his church to standing room only.

He hadn't known George then, but had begged for her to let him go all the same. For all the good it did the end he was left watching and feeling his own body commit murder. She'd sliced through George's throat with ease and when George fell forward, blood gurgling and spraying from the wound, his arms had caught him, and his hands pulled and separated the gaping hole in George's throat even more and drained the blood into a bowl. He felt his shirt soak up the rest of the blood. It was hot against his skin and he had wanted to throw up. He wanted to do a lot of things. She shoved George's body off to the side and her movements had been smooth, like she'd done this hundreds of times before. Maybe she had.

There's about five liters of blood in an average human body. Did you know that kid? We could have painted the forest with him. Still can. What do you think? Are you into art…oh, no that's more of your BFF's thing isn't it?

He'd told her to shut the fuck up about Caleb and she'd giggled.

Family, I tell you Deano, do you mind if I call you that? Just kidding, I don't give a fuck if you care or not. But family, yeah, family is the other 'f' word. You'll learn that someday.

Then she had pushed him back and away. It wasn't like being unconscious or asleep. He could still think on his own, but he was cut off from any incoming stimuli. He couldn't see, smell, feel, or hear anything from the outside world but, unfortunately, could still feel, taste and smell her noxious sulfuric self.

She let him back out later during the ride. He'd been on a motorcycle before, but only because his dad insisted that he know how to ride on the back in case of an emergency. And that had only been once because his dad hated the things, would hardly go near one voluntarily ever since he broke his femur riding one as a teen. Dean really didn't mind it himself, would probably have enjoyed the ride if he wasn't being ridden himself at the time. But the possession felt a little like flying, that total loss of control that he hated so much. So instead of watching the road in front of him fly by and thinking about the damage she could do to him if she just shifted his weight wrong, he had focused on the oil platforms in the distance and then the waves crashing against the rocky shore.

And he'd been overtaken with homesickness. He missed the soft small beach by Jim's pond, the rusted cars at Bobby's junkyard and the safety of Mac's penthouse apartment. God, had he ever missed the Impala. He wanted to undo what he'd done, unsee what he'd seen, and he most certainly had not wanted to be an unwilling participant in whatever she had planned next. And he was sure that she had something more planned. There had been a definite shift in her mood from before. She'd become a little more focused and a little less flippant.

Still refused to shut the fuck up though.

You should see the things we're going to do together Dean. I'm going to rip you apart, after you watch your family die. Maybe we'll go look in on Sammy before I send you off. Daddy's favorite.

Demon's lie, he'd repeated in his mind, but the statement had still stung.

I'm not lying. He is daddy's favorite. Always has been, always will be.

She parked the motorcycle and moved them inside of a small house. She'd moved from the first floor to the second while he prayed that the house was empty.

He had prayed and she had cried out in pain. He tried to move against her, pushing against the heat but there was no give. So he'd repeated the little bit of the exorcism that he and Sam had been learning. She had lashed back at him. It had been immediate and viscous and this time there was no awareness when he went away.

When he came back he was in the living room, sitting in the middle of the floor. His body was swaying back and forth and it took him a moment to realize that it wasn't his vision that swayed, she was rocking them.

Back with me now, you little fuck? I was going to make this easy on you, just a simple bullet in each of your loved one's brains…but now…now I'm going to take my sweat time. You think George was bad, that was nothing.

She was bluffing and he could feel it. He tried pushing again and there was some give, a little more wiggle room. His left foot kicked out a little and he started the exorcism from the beginning again. She shrieked inside of him and pushed back, hard.

Time to get the gang back together kid.

He was still reeling from her push when she brought out the cell phone.

Let's get John's ass moving a little faster shall we? What's that number now…oh, there it is…four…one…four...

The phone only rang twice before his dad picked up. He struggled against her while hearing his own voice, frantic and scared, begging for his father's help.

Dad…there's a guy after me but I got away…

He pushed harder again, wanting to warn his dad. He rallied up all the strength he could gather and charged her. It was an all-out assault and he hurled the only weapons he had. She fought back in between his christos and broken exorcisms. He heard his dad's voice coming through the receiver, warning him that he wasn't safe.

You have no clue, he'd thought.

Just when he had thought that she was too strong, that he wasn't going to get through, he felt her control slip. It took him a moment to realize that the phone was still in his hand. That moment had cost him. A quick 'dad' was all he was able to get out before she was back. Back and pissed off. He heard himself cry out and glass shatter nearby, then a cutting pain hit him and drifted away from all conscious thought.

Moment passed by before he regained any comprehension. There were things that were happening around him. He was able to see them. Mac and his dad. Then Caleb, Jim, and his dad again. He had nothing left to give though, drained and weak. In pain. They felt so far away, like he was looking at them through a tunnel. The sounds around him were muffled and distorted. He had felt his body move, felt the kick of George's pistol in his hands, felt Mac pin him against the wall, saw blood on Jim's shirt.

But mostly he could feel them both dying. Or at least he had thought that they were dying. She wasn't able to keep her foothold in him much longer. He felt her being ripped from his body and it had hurt just as badly as it had when she'd first possessed him. And after she'd gone, he had felt himself slowing filling in the places that she'd left. The tunnel he had been looking through shrank and the voices around him faded and then finally, he'd slept.

The sound of Caleb and his dad fighting filled his head and the sound was familiar and comforting, like the soft purring of the Impala. It was the sound of home and family, dysfunction and all. And he'd been so happy and relieved to see them, up until he remembered the horror of what had happened to George, Jim's bloodied sleeve, and the words that had driven him to run. He expected condemnation and disappointment from his dad, but he'd received support and understanding instead.

Now, his dad is going to show him everything he knows about demons. The plan is to head out to Bobby's soon and for once he's not going to complain about the bookwork, even though he'd much rather be doing than reading. But he just learned the hard way that he can't expect to do much of anything to a demon without the right kind of knowledge. And Bobby's is the best place for that.

"Hi Dean." Jim's stealth is a legend within their small group. He hadn't even heard the Pastor come up on him, but he is the Guardian after all.

"Hey Jim." He responds as Jim lowers himself down onto the ground beside him.

"I hear you and your father are heading out soon. How do you feel about that?"

Scared, he thinks.

"Bobby knows a lot about demons." He replies instead.

"Robert does have the best library on demons, but that didn't really answer my question. How do you feel about leaving so soon?"

"I feel like anyone could be a demon and I'm scared that I'll miss all the signs again." He admits.

"I could talk your father into staying a little longer. You could spend some more time here at the farm, maybe give your brother a call. There's no shame in that." That doesn't feel true. Shame has become his companion. For George, for Jim and for himself.

"I'll call Sammy. But not yet." His dad had offered up Sam's phone number the day after he'd been possessed. Dean had gladly accepted the number to hold onto until he could store it in a new cell phone, but he hadn't made the call. If he hadn't been ready to burden Sam before the possession, then there was no way he was going to afterwards. And he really wasn't ready to see his brother and start being the little brother. This way, he could hold onto the title of big brother for a little longer.

"And, I'm really sorry I shot you, Jim."

"It was really more of a graze, Dean." Funny, he thinks he remembers his dad saying something like that. It didn't make him feel any better before either.


"You are not responsible for what the demon did, Dean. In fact you saved me…and yourself."

"I didn't do anything though. I couldn't do anything except watch."

"You fought, Dean, for me and your father, Mac and Caleb. That's what saved me. This could have been so much worse."

"We lost an innocent man." After all, that was the point of the Brotherhood, to shield and protect innocent people from evil.

"Sad as that may be, we could have lost you. And I don't believe that any one of us could have bared that loss." Jim shifts on the ground and pulling out a small bag from his pants. He upends the bag and a leather bracelet falls into his palm along with a ring. "These are yours. You don't remember them, but you are almost never without them when you're older."

Dean remembers seeing the bracelet, but had assumed that it didn't belong to him. He cocks an eyebrow at Jim, "I wear bracelets when I'm older huh?"

"Well, far be it for me to comment on the fashion trends of today, but yes, you do."

"Interesting. Does Damien give me shit about it?"

"I believe Caleb gives you grief about anything he can, but I don't think that this is one of them."

He moves the bracelet back and forth between his hands but the object holds no familiarity to it.

"It's got skulls on it at least." Jim looks amused as he digs into his pocket once again.

"I was going to send this Robert's way. They're charms to help protect against possession. I thought that we could attach one onto your bracelet and perhaps that will give you a little peace of mind."

Peace of mind sounds great to him. He may have to do battle inside of his dreams, but the charm would lessen his anxiety about leaving the farm. He takes the charm from Jim, ties it in between two of the skulls and slips it on his wrist. Then he looks at the other object in Jim's hand even though he already knows what that is.

"That's my ring then?" He knows that his older self had received a ring, but it doesn't feel right taking it now.

"It is. And it'll be yours again when you're older. I just wanted you to see it. You grew into…and I'm positive, will grow again, into a competent hunter and an incredible man. I gave you this ring once before and you'll get it again. Don't doubt that, Dean. I don't." Jim hands the ring over and he feels its weight in his palm and the responsibility that comes with it.

He still wants it. He wants to help people. "Saving people, hunting things, the family business. I think I'm ready to go to Bobby's now, Pastor Jim."

End Note: I hope you enjoyed the story. Next one up will be the actual meeting between Dean and Sam.