Hey all! Here's the last chapter of this story! Thanks so much for reading it and for all the wonderful reviews! I may write more for this series, but not immediately (if there is any kind of story or scene or something you want to see, please suggest and I will definitely consider it!). I'm going to tackle the 'After the Nightmare' story next! I was just having a hard time doing both at once since the characters are different in minute little ways. Again, thanks for reading and reviewing! Enjoy!


Dean rolled his shoulders, letting out a calming breath, tossing Sam a light grin. "You ready?"

Sam rolled his eyes. "You're a dork."

Dean faked an offended look. "That...that is just not cool. I am awesome. I am so not a dork. I don't know how you managed it, but I think you got the two of us confused."

Sam shook his head, his reply cut off when John shot him a look that clearly was meant to quiet him. The youngest Winchester ducked his head for just a moment, but he felt Dean nudge him, giving him a reassuring glance, shooting him a small smile, and Sam couldn't help but return it.

It felt good to have Dean on his side again.

...

The three Winchesters moved silently forward, the two boys flanking their father, each holding a bottle of holy water.

Dean really didn't like the plan much. The demons were holing up in a deserted barn of some sort on the edge of town and since it was unlikely that they could successfully and safely lure the demons to them, they were going to the demons. Normally, Dean wouldn't have a problem with this head-on approach. He liked that kind of thing. But when the plan relied on Sam being able to hold the demons still long enough that they could go through a full exorcism. Yeah. Really not liking that.

However, he had been overruled. Sam had been apologetic, but he just hadn't been able to see any other way and his younger brother had always wanted to be useful. It didn't help that he felt he had something to prove to their father...

Dean sighed, forcing his mind back on the present. He'd just have to be careful enough for all of them. We know we're in trouble when I'm the cautious one.

...

John and Dean each took one of the two barn door's handles. They glanced at each, then both glanced at Sam, reassuring everyone was ready.

Sam took a deep breath, then nodded. The two older Winchesters threw open the doors and Sam took a cautious step inside.

Almost immediately, he felt a cold chill enter his mind and he knew that the demons were there.

It was confirmed a mere second later. "Ah, Samuel Winchester. I have to say, you weren't the one we were expecting."

A demon stepped out of the shadows before him. A tall, large man stood there, looking him up and down with a piercing gaze.

"I imagine the other two are around here somewhere?" the demon raised an eyebrow, glancing around a little as if he expected to see the other two Winchesters appear out of thin air at any moment. "Oh, well. Perhaps they need a little bit of encouragement, hmm? Let's test those reflexes of yours, shall we?"

It was the only warning Sam had. Out of pure instinct, he looked up just in time to see the demons dropping down from the rafters, landing on either side of him.

I can't believe I fell for that. I've used that!

The two demons lunged for Sam, who flung an outstretched hand towards the third demon, knocking him back with great force into the wall behind him. His arm was grabbed a moment later, the two demons trying to wrestle him down to the floor.

He had to give the two demons credit. They were stubborn.

He pushed and pushed at them, but they held on with grips of iron and he was sure that if he pushed at them any more, they would fly...and take his arms with them.

Crap! Any time now, guys!

They were supposed to follow him in immediately, but Sam assumed they had hung back when the demon spoke.

"SAM!"

Dean's voice was a welcome reprieve from the hissing and laughing of the two demons who had forced him to his knees and were trying to get him all the way on the ground, despite his efforts otherwise.

It was the opportunity Sam needed.

He used the two demon's sudden distraction against them, flinging both away from him with his mind, then scrambling to his feet. His father and brother moved in on either side of him, Dean laying a hand on his arm.

"You okay?" he sounded concerned.

Sam nodded. "Fine. You could have waited a little longer, I mean, I was having fun."

At least Dean looked embarrassed. "Shut up, Sammy."

"Boys." John's voice was low and sharp, a warning.

Neither of them had needed one. Each was prepared to face the oncoming demons, facing their opponent.

Three Winchesters. Three demons.

Not really fair, is it? They don't have a chance. Sam held back a snort. Sounds like a line from one of Dean's ridiculous movies.

"Ready, Sammy?" Dean murmured.

"Just give the word." Sam replied.

The demons charged, Sam threw out a hand, Dean flung holy water, and John tensed, prepared to start with the latin.

Dean grinned tightly, adrenaline already running through his system.

Sam felt the power in the room shift, more than it should have despite the force of him holding the demons still with his mind.

Something wasn't right.

I wonder if I can read a demon's mind.

There was no time for Sam to fear the consequences of what he was about to try. Time was short.

He opened his mind to the demons.

There was no pain, but Sam had never felt more...unsettled than he felt now. The demons writhed, thrived in the darkness. It penetrated every inch of him, making him shiver and whimper a little.

He felt Dean's eyes on him immediately, but ignored him, even as his older brother reached for him, calling his name softly in concern.

The young psychic probed a little, forcing his way past the darkness, trying to find the reason for the wrong he felt in the air.

One of the demons laughed. "Ah, ah, Sammy. That isn't a good idea."

Sam gritted his teeth.

"Sam, what are you doing?" Dean.

John's eyes were on him as well.

"Something's wrong." Sam grunted.

There. Sam pulled out of the demon's minds, barely managing to keep their hold on them as the light flooded his mind once more.

Sam didn't have time to explain what he had found. "Down!" he shouted at his brother, hoping his father would follow suit.

Dean dropped just in time to avoid a demon's swiping arm from the dark shadows around the edges of the barn that even the light from the windows and open door seemed unable to penetrate.

Sam stretched with his powers, managing to yank two more demons forward into the light where they could be seen.

He wasn't sure how many more he could hold. Despite the miracle that had occurred, the strength he had managed to find somewhere, in order to stop the demon's escaping from ****...Sam wasn't sure he would be as lucky this time. He was tired. It had been a long few weeks and the string of difficult hunts were getting to him, the nights of restless sleep because of injuries, because of worry or stress.

"Dad!" he gasped.

John didn't hesitate, immediately pushing himself to his feet, beginning to recite the latin needed to send all the demons back to ****.

With harsh cries and yells, the demons all crashed into the ground, leaving dark burnt stains where they had hit.

John turned to Sam when it was over, his eyes flashing. "Go sit in the car. Dean and I are going to check and see if any of the hosts are still alive."

His father was livid. Dean reacted instantly, his fists clenching at the tone with which his father spoke to Sam, but Sam just shook his head in Dean's direction and turned, heading back to the car.

This is bad.

...

Sam couldn't find it in him to speak to Dean on the way back. Dean had squeezed his shoulder in support, but hadn't said anything.

It was silent until they got into the motel room.

"WHAT WAS THAT?" John demanded, completely livid. "What are you hiding from me, Sam? You don't go into a hunt with secrets, boy, that's the rule! You don't keep information from me! You hear me? What happened?"

Sam struggled not to flinch. It had been years since he had been frightened of his father, years since the last time he had flinched at his father's approach or when his father raised a hand.

Amazing how fast it could all come back.

To Sam's relief, Dean jumped in immediately. "Hey! Don't talk to him like that! You're one to talk about keeping information back! How many times have you told us to go here or go there without giving us any more information? Perhaps if you tried to, you know, call us or something every once in a while, you would know what's going on!"

Sam was surprised at how mad Dean sounded. Usually, Dean was calmer when it came to their father.

John pursed his lips, looking ticked, but holding his tongue for the moment.

Dean glanced at Sam, questioningly.

Sam knew what he was asking and hesitated, then nodded. He hates me anyway, how much worse could it get? Sam's mind instantly piped up with at least one way it could get worse but he stamped down on the flare of doubt and fear. Dean had his back. Maybe John wouldn't be too mad... Yeah right.

"Sam...Sam can read minds."

The room was silent for a second, the two boys waiting for their father's reaction, John too shocked to speak or even think.

"What?"

The word was low and angry and Sam tensed. Crap. He stood from where he had been sitting on the edge of the bed, taking his position at Dean's shoulder. Dean didn't take his eyes from their father, but Sam could see him relax a little, relax now that he had his partner, his best friend, at his back.

"Sam can read minds. Long story short, this powerful psychic creature attacked him and...crap, how did Castiel explain it?...basically it ripped a wound open in his mind and kinda...opened him to the new power. Sam isn't evil or anything, just more than what the angels originally intended. He can control it, can turn it off or whatever." Dean explained, his voice surprisingly patient and soft considering how irritated he had sounded earlier.

John stared at the two of them, practically vibrating with the force of his rage. "So you...what, opened your mind to those demons? Seriously, Sam? What the heck is wrong with you? And how could you not tell me about something so important? How can I trust you to have my back if you don't tell me what's going on?"

Sam exploded at that. "Oh, like you've ever really trusted me!" He froze. Crap.

John gave him a sharp look. "What the heck is that supposed to mean?"

Dean grabbed Sam's wrist in his hand, quieting his younger brother. "Sam read your mind when we were first walking up to you. We, um...we had just had an argument and Sam was looking...looking for proof. Well..." Dean's eyes hardened. "He found it."

John stiffened. "You had no business crawling though my head, Sam." he barked sharply.

Dean opened his mouth to defend Sam's actions, but John held up a hand.

"I don't want to hear any more excuses." John seemed to struggle for words for a second, then shook his head. "I appreciate your boys help. I have a hunt two states over and it's not going to wait while we have a heart to heart." John glared at Sam, pointing a warning finger at him. "Samuel, you read my mind again, violent my privacy like that..." John trailed off, the threat clear in his tone, his form shaking with his anger. "Well, you've been warned. Don't do it again."

Dean reacted to that immediately, lunging forward and grabbing a surprised John by his shirt. "Don't you dare threaten him." he snarled. He had never been so...enraged with their father. Seems there was a lot of firsts going on today.

John pulled out of Dean's grip, then stalked over to the door, threw it open, then slamming it shut behind him with a harsh crash.

Sam sat heavily on the bed, hiding his face in his hands, his whole body trembling.

Dean was immediately at his side, laying a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Sammy." he said softly. "It...It'll be okay, kiddo. You'll see. He'll come around. He's just freaking out a little right now."

To himself, Dean determined they would avoid their father till he came to his senses. If he didn't...well, that was a sacrifice Dean was prepared to make. He wouldn't let Sam get hurt. Not physically and not emotionally.

Dean wasn't sure he could ever forgive his father for actually threatening Sam.

Dean bumped his shoulder against Sam's gently and Sam looked up at him. Dean felt his heart tug painfully at Sam's tortured expression. Dean pulled him into a hug. "It'll be okay, Sam. You'll see." he paused, then finally. "Let's get outta here, kiddo."

...

It was quiet for hours after they got back on the road. Sam was lost in his thoughts, Dean trying to figure out how to help him.

"Dean." Sam's voice was quiet, rough.

Dean glanced over at him. "Sammy?"

Sam hesitated, looking Dean in the eye after a moment of painful deliberation on his part. "Y-you know...you know I wouldn't...won't read your mind, right? I wouldn't invade your privacy like that. I wouldn't. I-I promise."

Dean paused for a moment. That's what was bothering him. He pulled the car over to the side of the road, wanting to be able to look at Sam for this.

Sam looked nervous now, not able to meet his eyes.

"Sammy." Dean's voice was incredibly soft and the lack of anger drew Sam's gaze up to his older brother's.

"Sam. I trust you. I mean it, kiddo. I trust you."

Sam smiled softly up at his brother after a moment, shy but content. "Thanks, Dean. You know that-that goes both ways right?"

Dean smiled brightly and nodded. "I know."

Knowing the moment was over, Dean turned, pulling the car back out onto the road.

Sam leaned back in the seat. All was right between them. The tension was long gone, any pain or old unpleasant memories were fading into the background. They were okay. We're okay.

Memories of the brother's fight, the mess with the demons, the resulting rage of their father and even the threat his father had unleashed faded away with the knowledge that Dean trusted him, that he wasn't alone. I never was. The revelation hit him. Dean was just a little side-tracked, a little overwhelmed for awhile. I never was alone.

Sam looked over at his big brother. Dean was humming with the music, a content look on his face, his fingers drumming on the wheel. A strong sense of peace filled the youngest Winchester and that's when he knew. I never needed the apple pie life. A safe life. I never needed a house, a large family, or consistent schooling. I never needed to be normal or even have my dad's trust. I needed Dean. I need Dean. This? This is home.

And with that, Sam faced the road ahead, feeling more prepared for whatever may come their way with the surety that Dean would be by his side no matter what happened.

Bring it on, world. I'm ready.

...

I'll be there for you
When the rain starts to pour
I'll be there for you
Like I've been there before
I'll be there for you
'Cuz you're there for me too...

No one could ever know me
Seems you're the only one who knows what it's like to be me
Someone to face the day with
Make it through all the rest with
Someone I'll always laugh with
Even at my worst I'm best with you.

- I'll Be There for You, by the Rembrandts