RUNNING AGAINST THE WIND

Summary: Dean has given up completely and is just going through the motions for Sam's sake. Sam knows his brother needs something to hope for – and needs it soon. Turns out a visit to a strange witch deep in the swamps of Louisiana just might give the broken hunter what he needs to keep going.

Possible spoilers for EVERYTHING in season 7.

Author's note: This was posted as a one-shot but I kept adding to it so it's now 3 chapters instead. Each chapter has its own feel though, since it wasn't originally written as one fluid story. It was written partway through season 7 so the boys didn't know for sure Bobby was a ghost yet.

1st Chapter: Sam's perspective, kind of dark and angsty but with an underlying ray of hope, I think.

2nd Chapter: Bobby and an OC's perspectives of the day before, more light adventure and ghost antics.

3rd Chapter: Dean's perspective of the day after, an entire hunt in one chapter with a little romance thrown in.

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Sam was growing more and more worried about Dean's obsession with Dick Roman. Revenge had always been John's thing, and then Sam's thing, but never Dean's. His brother's every waking hour was now spent glued to his laptop or on the phone to Frank, a man Sam was sure was just one tinfoil-wrapped hat from the nuthouse.

Now Dean's obsessive mission to kill Dick Roman had them making their way deep in the swamps of Louisiana in a cheap, rented motorboat with a swarm of mosquitoes following their every twist and turn. They were on their way to the house of a witch, of all things, who could supposedly show them the future. Dean's argument for going against his decade-long hatred of witches was that if they knew the Leviathan's next move, they could cut them off at the pass and take them down. Sam knew that was Dean-speak for take Dick Roman down, since his brother no longer seemed to care if the world went to Hell in a handbasket as long as Roman got what was coming to him.

"I can't believe you're willing to work with a witch," Sam repeated, frowning at the parchment map in his hand. "You hate witches."

"Well, if she's evil or if she spews any bodily fluids on us, we'll just gank her after we get what we need."

"Turn that way," Sam pointed, seeing a fork in the stagnant water that seemed to match one on his map.

"You sure?" Dean asked, turning the motor slowly to head down the smaller of the murky swamp's watery branches.

"No," Sam admitted with a huff of frustration. "Not really. Why couldn't Joshua just give us GPS coordinates?"

Dean just shrugged. "Hey, maybe we'll run into the cast of Swamp People down here," he sniggered.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Wrong swamp, dude. And even they wouldn't be crazy enough to come this far in."

Two minutes later a house appeared on the left-hand bank. It was old and unpainted, almost camouflaged in the untamed, swampy surroundings. Dreamcatchers and what looked like bones on strings dangled from the eaves all around and even more were strung around the shabby deck rails. Dean steered the boat up to the rickety pier and shut off the motor. They both jumped out, secured the ropes to the wooden pier legs, and stared apprehensively towards the small shack.

"Looks like a place in a movie I saw on HBO last month," Dean commented, taking a step forward.

"What happened to the people in the movie?" Sam ventured, following close behind.

"You don't wanna know."

The door swung open before the elder Winchester could even knock. Dean took an alarmed step backwards, bumping right into his brother's wide chest. A woman stood in the doorway; about thirty and dressed in a loose-fitting but dirt-smeared knee-length dress. Her olive skin was smooth and her hair was woven into tight braids that fell across one shoulder. She narrowed her amber eyes at them.

"Sam and Dean Winchester, I presume?" she snapped.

The brothers simply nodded. She beckoned them to follow and moved inside, leaving the door open behind her. Dean took a nervous step forward before turning his head to whisper to Sam. "She might actually be hot if she had a bath."

Sam groaned. "Spawning a monster baby, remember?" he mumbled back as he peered curiously around the small house. It was one room and the sparse furniture looked homemade. There was a coffee table with blankets on the floor around it and a small bed on the far wall. "Uh, we're here to find out..."

She raised her hand and cut him off. "I know why you're here."

"Lemme guess," Dean said sarcastically. "You had a vision of us coming."

She narrowed her eyes at him once more. "I do not have visions," she said haughtily. "I can see people's futures. That includes my own."

"So what can you tell us about ours?" Sam asked her, preventing his brother from any more rude comments. "Specifically in relation to the Leviathans."

She fixed her gaze back on him. "I can tell you that you might not like everything you discover here. In fact, I would recommend you leave now."

"Well, sweetheart, if you really can tell the future then you know we aren't gonna do that," Dean said, his distaste for witches very thinly veiled at this point.

She gave him another hard look. "You're so lost right now, Dean. It's sad. Finding Dick Roman won't fix you, you know."

"Hey, lady, I don't need fixed," Dean snapped defensively. "What I need is to find Roman – I have a bone to pick with him. Can you help is or not?"

She smirked knowingly, exuding an air of superiority that made Sam uncomfortable. "If Dick's what you want, I can help you find Dick.," she said to Dean, who frowned at her insinuating remark but refrained from making any derogatory comebacks. The Dick puns seemed to be Sam's favorite jokes these days also.

"Let's just get this show on the road, okay?" he huffed, pulling a roll of cash from his pocket and tossing it on the coffee table. "A thousand, right?"

She nodded, not making any move towards the money. Instead she turned to Sam.

"Is he here?"

"Who?" Sam asked, taken aback. She couldn't mean...

"You know who."

Yes, she did mean him. Lucifer. The Devil who had been talking incessantly in Sam's ear for months now, torturing him in a slew of different ways, keeping him awake at night and making him pray and hope beyond hope for just one moment of peace.

"No," he said honestly. "Not right now."

"Good. Try to keep him out of my house."

With that she ordered them to sit down cross-legged on the blanket on one side of the coffee table while she sat on the other. She started mixing a potion together and chalking strange symbols on the surface of the wooden table. Finally she closed her eyes and started chanting in a language foreign to the brothers. The brothers eyed each other nervously and Sam gasped when her eyes rolled back into her head and the eyeballs actually started to quiver in their sockets. Now that was freaky.

A few seconds later, Dean's hand jerked and his eyes did the same, showing full white before he fell back onto the floor. "Dean!" Sam cried, fisting a handful of his brother's shirt and shaking him, trying to snap him out of it. He got no response. Dean fell still but his body remained tense. Sam felt for a pulse and found one but his brother wouldn't wake up. He hollered over the table at the witch but she never even flinched, still sitting there in her own trance-like state.

He swallowed and worked to calm himself. This must be what happens, how she does it. With his fingers still curled in Dean's shirt, he rocked back on his heels, wondering why she hadn't included him and deciding to just wait it out.

It was a long ten minutes before Dean's body relaxed, his eyes finally closing on the wave of a long, slow exhale. Sam shook his brother gently and called his name but still got no response. He glanced over at the witch, however, to see her amber eyes focused on him with a curious look.

"What's wrong with him?" he demanded. "What did you do?"

She shrugged. "I did what he wanted," she said, splaying her hands in a show of innocence. "I showed him his future with the Leviathans."

"And?"

She laughed. It wasn't a wicked laugh but there was no mirth in it. "And it wasn't good," she said.

"What happens?"

"I'll let your brother tell you."

"Do the Leviathans take over? Destroy the planet?"

She sighed. "What he saw is only one possible future. Nothing is written in stone. You two, more than anyone, should know that."

Sam felt a rush of anger boiling up inside him. It was like she was toying with them. With Dean. His brother was hanging on by a thread, a single strand of hope the only thing that was keeping him getting up in the morning. He desperately needed something to live for. He needed to believe there was a chance they could win, that there was a life for him after the Leviathans. He couldn't take any more despair or loss.

"If there are different possible futures, then why didn't you show him a better one?" he demanded hotly.

The witch watched him calmly. "I showed him the one that will occur if he stays on his current path."

Sam's shoulders slumped in defeat. "He doesn't need this," he admitted out loud, though more to himself than to her. "He was better off not knowing." Sam's voice was tired. "He already doesn't care about anything, especially himself."

She took a long look at the hunter passed out on her floor and her expression softened. "There is a possible future beyond the Leviathans," she said quietly. "For him. For you. For both of you." She looked back towards Sam. "He can use what he has seen and perhaps things can turn out differently. If you defeat the Leviathans, you could find peace."

Sam eyed her suspiciously. "What do you mean by that? You mean real peace or peace like dead-in-heaven peace?"

She smiled at him and for the first time, it seemed sincere. "I mean ... well, here, let me show you." She reached up and touched his forehead. He saw her eyes go white but before he could react, he felt himself falling. "Want to see your future, Sam?" her voice sang at him as his awareness faded away.

He was standing in a house. It was an old house with wooden floorboards and high ceilings lined with ornate trim, but it was a warm house. It looked lived in. Homey. Bright and airy. He was in a living room and there was loud music coming from the kitchen. It was Wheel in the Sky by Journey and there was a voice accompanying the music, off-key and definitely female. Curiosity snapped him out of his surprise at the quick shift in his surroundings and he headed towards the walk-through between the two rooms.

He was a little taken back at what he saw and stopped short in the doorway. There was a woman moving around the kitchen with a baby in her arms, dancing and singing. She was an attractive brunette, perhaps thirty or in her early thirties. She continued for a brief moment before a spin turned her to face the tall hunter and she stopped with an embarrassed gasp.

"Sam! You're home!" she exclaimed, reaching to turn the music down. "I thought you had headed to Riverton to help research that walking mummy thing. I didn't expect you back until tonight."

"Uhhhhh," he stammered, not sure what to say. Home? Did he live here? With her? Were they together? Oh crap, was that his baby?

"I came back," he lied.

"Oh, well good," she smiled, working to get the baby, a girl if the pink dress was any indication, into a high chair parked at the table. "That means you get to make breakfast this morning. I would love a stack of your famous pancakes right about now."

"Me? Make pancakes?" His eyes widened. He couldn't remember ever making pancakes. Dean had done what little cooking had been required growing up and Jessica had loved to cook and had practically banned him from the kitchen during his short time with her. Apparently he had learned how – or would learn how.

"Oh yeah, right," she rolled her eyes. "Try pulling that humble act with someone else. You know you're the pancake master. So get moving, big guy," she grinned, pointing towards the stove as she strapped the little girl in. "I got everything already out on the counter."

Sam played along, moving over to the stove to stare at the bowl with milk, eggs, sugar, butter, and flour next to it. This was his future? What was the date? He spotted a cell phone on the counter and picked it up to subtly check out the display screen.

September 2017! Almost six years into the future! He choked back a gasp and proceeded to attempt to make pancakes, dumping the ingredients into the bowl at random ratios as he contemplated his next move. He needed to find out what had happened in the last six years. He figured careful fishing would be easier than trying to explain that he was Sam from the past. He needed to find out how they had taken down the Leviathans.

"So, uh, you know where Dean is?" he asked apprehensively, praying silently that she didn't answer him with a 'What do you mean? You know your brother's dead.'

"Still babysitting in Montana, of course," she answered, giving him a curious look. "You knew that."

"Uh, yeah, yeah, I just forgot for a moment," he covered. "Been a long night."

Suddenly a huge dog came barrelling into the room, barking loudly and being chased by a squealing little boy of about four or five. The boy had dark blond hair and a spattering of freckles across his excited, laughing face. Sam pressed back against the counter in shock at both the sudden chaos and the realization there were two kids.

There was a balloon tied to the massive dog's tail and the freaked-out beast charged under the table trying to escape its clingy attacker. It scooted clumsily past the highchair the baby was in and pleasant shock turned to horror as Sam saw the chair topple over and tumble downwards towards the floor, baby still strapped in it.

He and the brunette both lunged for it but he knew they were too far away. Less than a foot from impact on the floor, however, the chair froze midair before uprighting itself. Sam let out a surprised shout and jumped back, his mind reeling with what he was seeing. Did his child have demon powers? Was this his worst nightmare come true?

The woman cut her cry of panic short with a loud exhale of relief, her heart pressed over her heart.

"Oh God, Bobby," she panted, her eyes directed at the empty space behind the now-steady highchair. "Thank you. Crap that could have been bad!"

Sam shook his head, thinking he mustn't have heard correctly. The shocks just kept coming. "Bobby?" he questioned out loud.

She nodded. "Yeah, he's right there," she pointed. "Good thing too." She turned her attention to the empty space again and smiled. "Okay, since you're the big hero today, I'm gonna play you some of your Joni Mitchell. You know I can't stand her music, but you definitely earned it, old man." She moved to the iPod on the counter and switched the Journey song over to 'Big yellow Taxi' before catching the dog by the collar and pulling the balloon off its tail.

Sam was still staring at the place where Bobby was supposed to be standing. Had Dean been right? Was Bobby's ghost haunting them from beyond? This made no sense. They were hunters. They destroyed ghosts; they didn't have them hanging around their kitchens saving their children, even ghosts of dearly departed father figures. Of course, when had Winchesters ever done anything the way they were supposed to?

"Robbie!" the brunette was scolding the little boy. "How many times do I have to tell you no playing with Gabby in the house! You could have gotten Ellie hurt."

Sam's eyes widened at the names of the kids. Robbie and Ellie? Was that after Bobby and Ellen? Sam smiled; it seemed plausible. He would have definitely agreed to name his kids after them. If Bobby was here, then he would know they had done so, which made it all the more special.

"Okay, sit at the table and behave for your Uncle Sam," the boy's mother commanded, pulling the baby back out of the highchair.

Uncle Sam? Sam's heart lurched for the twelfth time in the two minutes he had been here. So these were Dean's kids. This was Dean's family. As much as he had been warming to the idea of this being his family, Sam couldn't help but feel a surge of happiness that it was actually Dean's. Dean deserved this more than he did. This was all Dean had ever wanted in life.

"I'm gonna go change your sister," the woman was saying to the little boy. "You wait right there until your pancakes are ready."

The boy slumped into a chair with an exaggerated huff and folded his arms across his chest, pouting at his mother as she left the room. The moment she was gone, Sam turned to the empty space where she had addressed Bobby. Why couldn't he see him?

"Bobby?" he ventured. Naturally there was no response.

The boy giggled.

"What's so funny?" Sam smiled sheepishly at his nephew.

"Grandpa call you idjit," the boy snickered.

A grin broke out on the hunter's face at the familiar insult before it was replaced with a look of confusion. "Wait," he frowned at Robbie. "You can see him?"

The boy nodded. "I just like Mommy."

"You see Bobby's ghost?"

The boy nodded again and reached forward to grab his fork, tapping it over and over on the table.

"Do you see other ghosts?"

Another nod.

"And your Mommy sees other ghosts?"

"Uh-huh. But not Ellie. Ellie's like Daddy and can't see the other people."

Sam let this revelation soak in. Dean had hooked up with a girl who could see ghosts? That was surprising, considering Dean's prejudices and distaste for all things supernatural.

The boy giggled once more before dropping his fork back onto the table with a clatter.

"You laughing at me again?" Sam raised an eyebrow.

"Nuh-unh. Grandpa say his head's gonna explode if I bang my fork one more time."

"Oh," he chuckled, remembering Bobby telling a twelve year old Dean the same thing when the fidgety youngster would tap his foot or snap and unsnap his Swiss Army knife carrying case. "You better listen to him then," he smiled before biting his lip and looking around, his eyes scanning the empty space next to the table. This was an opportunity he never thought he'd get.

"Uh, Bobby," he began, a little uncomfortably. "I guess you can hear me. I just want to say, uh, thanks for everything you ever did for me and Dean. You were like a father to us ... uh, you still are, I guess. I mean, what I'm trying to say is...uh..."

"He say he wuvs you too," Robbie interrupted, glancing back around at the invisible ghost and tilting his head as he listened. "He say you better stop being a girl. He say you better make my pamcakes."

"Yeah, alright," Sam chuckled. It seemed little Robbie was used to translating for the resident ghost. "Pancakes. Is there any way Bobby can help out with that?"

"Grandpa's gone again."

"Oh." Sam felt disappointment run through him but curbed it by reminding himself that if Bobby was here now, then Bobby was with him and Dean back in 2012. He turned his attention back to the stove and started trying to make the pancakes.

"Uh, Robbie?"

"What?"

"What's your mommy's name?"

"Mommy."

"No, her grown-up name. What does your daddy call her?"

"Oh. Haley."

"Haley," Sam repeated. "Good to know."

'Haley' returned after a few minutes and smiled at Sam as she entered without the baby, informing him Ellie decided to go back to sleep. She gave him an amused 'what the hell?' look when she saw the mess he was making of breakfast but went to work pouring glasses of orange juice and chopping strawberries. She chatted to her son about snakes and spiders and whatever other absurd topics the talkative boy came out with and by the time she had set the table, Sam had a stack of pitiful-looking pancakes ready to serve.

She gave him a skeptical look but ushered him to a seat and the three of them sat down to eat. It was obviously a familiar routine and Sam could only speculate the empty chair at the head of the table was Dean's regular spot. He couldn't help but notice she had a beautiful smile and found himself liking her already.

It occurred to Sam as they dug in that when he had first shown up, she had called this his home yet she was clearly with Dean. Why then was he living there too? Wasn't that more than a little intrusive? Talk about getting in the way. He decided that would be a good place to start fishing for information before broaching the subject of Leviathans.

"So, Haley," he began.

Her head jerked up. "Haley? Since when did you call me Haley?"

Sam fired a slightly exasperated look at his nephew. "Uh, sorry...don't know why that..."

"That's your name, Mommy," Robbie interceded.

"No, that's just what your daddy calls me coz, well," she laughed, "because he's a jerk like that and he thinks he's funny. Everyone else calls me by my real name, Marisol."

"Grandpa calls you Mari."

"Yes, well that's short for Marisol, just like Robbie is short for Robert."

"Grandpa's name!"

She nodded and poured some syrup on his pancake for him.

"Howcome Daddy calls you Haley?"

"Because there was this actor called Haley Joel Osment and he played a boy who could see the other people, like you and me can. Your daddy, being the jerk that he is, decided to give me a nickname." The fondness was oozing out of her voice in spades, despite her derogatory words. "Like I said, your dad thinks he's funny."

Sam grinned, realizing that sounded exactly like something his dickhead brother would do. "I've been thinking," he tried again, "You and Dean and your family should have your space. Me staying here..."

"Oh no you don't! We've been through this all before and you're not going anywhere, Sam." She gave him a hard stare and he actually flinched. "First of all, you haven't seen you-know-who in almost six months. You know you do better when there's people around."

Lucifer. He hadn't seen Lucifer in six months? Wow. Maybe there was a chance for him to find some peace too.

Marisol was still talking. "The kids love having you around and you know as well as I do that your brother would have freaking motel twin beds set up in our bedroom if he had his way."

Okay, he was fairly sure she was exaggerating with that last comment but knowing Dean... maybe not that much. Dean had always wanted his family around. All of them – all the time. The close quarters of living on the road had never bothered Dean.

"As for me, I've had dead strangers following me around my whole life so privacy is never something I ever had or needed. Besides, I love having you here. You're family, Sam. I know Dean doesn't hunt much anymore but it's nice to have your company when he does."

He nodded, swallowing back a lump in his throat at just how good things could turn out for both him and Dean. His brother had always been there for him - why would now be any different? "So you've seen ghosts your whole life?" he questioned, saying the question out loud without thinking. She narrowed her eyes at him.

"Duh."

"Robbie here wanted to hear the story of how you and his daddy met," Sam smiled, changing the subject and winking at his nephew as if it was all his idea.

Marisol raised an eyebrow at her son. "You did, huh? Well, a few years ago, your Grandpa had a message for your daddy and Uncle Sam but they couldn't see him. Then one day, he bumped into this girl who could talk to ghosts."

"You!" Robbie laughed, his mouth full of pancake.

"That's right," his mother confirmed, talking in an animated voice as if she were reading a tale of heros and dragons to an enraptured kindergarten class. "And Grandpa nagged and nagged and naggedthis girl until she finally agreed to go find these guys and deliver his message."

"Was the message about Leviathans?" Sam blurted.

"Are you alright, Sam?" she frowned at him, her smile fading instantly. "Your hallucinations haven't started up again have they?"

"No," he replied quickly. "I'm good. Better than good, in fact."

"Well, I gotta say, you seem a little off today. Are you forgetting things? You'd tell me if you-know-who came back, wouldn't you?"

"Yeah, of course."

He was rescued just then by her cell phone ringing in her pocket. She pulled it out and a grin spread across her face as she peered at the display screen. She stood up and took a few steps away from the table to answer.

"Hey babe...Morning to you too...Having breakfast with your brother...of course it was pancakes...well, I wish you were here too...when you coming home?...Still stuck babysitting Garth, huh? Well, if the hunt's finished, bring him with you. You know Robbie loves having a grown-up around that he can actually beat at checkers." Sam was sure he saw her blush and her voice suddenly lowered. "Dean! You keep up dirty talk like that and I might just show up at your motel..." She laughed out loud. "Very funny. And just so you know, Garth wouldn't know what hit him...okay, I'll see you in a day or two...I love you too..."

Sam smiled as he listened. Even only hearing Marisol's side of the conversation, his brother sounded happy. He could tell she was wrapping up the conversation when a thought struck him. Dean would remember visiting the witch in Louisiana. He could make this so much simpler by just getting on the phone and explaining to his brother that he was the Sam from the past and needed to know how they stopped the Leviathans so they could do it again.

He reached out his hand and beckoned for the phone. "Can I talk to him?" he mouthed, catching Marisol's eye. She nodded and told Dean to hang on before offering the phone to Sam.

Sam was just placing the phone to his ear when the back door flew open with a loud bang. Before he could even turn around in his chair, he felt himself being flung through the air until he slammed up against the wall. The phone clattered to the floor at his feet, the battery popping out on impact. He pushed against the wall with all his strength and barely managed to turn himself around. He could hear a panicked Marisol calling out to her son, yelling at him to go to the panic room.

Figures Dean would have a panic room. After Lisa and Ben. After everything.

He craned his neck around, fighting the invisible force keeping him in place, and saw the brunette also pinned against the wall just a few feet away. Robbie was still free, standing staring at his mother with a look of absolute terror on his face.

"Robbie, go! Now!" she screamed again and much to Sam's relief, the little boy turned and fled, making it out of the room by the time Sam even set eyes on who had attacked them.

Meg! It was Meg! Wearing the same meatsuit she had been riding the last time he had seen her when she had fled Crowley's torture facility. She was walking towards the pinned pair with that familiar gloating smirk on her face. There was another man a few steps behind her, his arm raised towards Sam and Marisol and eyes solid black.

"Demons!" Marisol hissed. "How did you...?"

"Get past your demon wards?" Meg interrupted. "Oh please. I had a hobo wipe them out for ten bucks and a sandwich." She turned to face Sam, sauntering up to him in an almost seductive manner. "Hey Sammy," she purred. "It's been a while."

"Meg," he ground out. "What do you want?"

The demon actually clucked at him. "Same as I always wanted, Sam. I want you and your ass of a brother to suffer. I've been waiting a long time for this." She glanced over at the brunette and pulled away from him. "It's true that good things come to those who wait. " She moved towards Marisol, drawing a knife. "This is going to be so much more fun than I ever imagined."

"No, wait..." Sam felt the bile rise in his throat. "Meg, no."

Meg placed the tip of the blade against the pinned brunette's stomach and looked back at Sam, practically licking her lips. "Oh don't worry," she taunted. "I won't leave the kids as orphans. I'm not a total monster." She leaned in and looked into Marisol's eyes as she pushed the knife in slowly. "They'll be joining you soon, bitch."

"No! Stop! Meg!" Sam was horrified as he watched, completely helpless.

Marisol made a chortled sound as the blade sank in and there was a gurgle behind her whispered words of mercy. "Please, no. Leave them..."

"No no no. I wouldn't dream of it," Meg sang. "I want Dean to come home and find his whole family gone." She twisted the blade around and grinned at Marisol's scream of pain. Finally she pulled it out only to bring it up to Marisol's throat and swipe it straight across in one sharp motion.

Sam cried out as blood spurted from the neck wound and the mother of Dean's children slumped to the floor, dead. The demon took a step back to gaze down curiously at her handiwork.

"Hmph," she wrinkled up her nose. "Could have been messier, but don't worry Sam." She grinned up at him. "I'll do better with the little ones."

"No!" Sam's voice gave out and he poured every bit of strength he could muster into trying to pull himself free from the wall. "No!"

She pranced towards the hallway door where Robbie had disappeared. "The crib's in the spare room," she taunted over her shoulder at him. "And as for the little rugrat, well he's hiding behind the couch. So much for listening to his mommy."

Sam choked back a strangled sob when she left the room, leaving the male demon behind to keep him pinned firmly in place. He screamed out in panic and frustration when he heard Robbie's terrified scream in the next room. The scream was cut short, silenced midway through and Sam could have sworn a piece of himself died along with it.

He felt himself falling, blackness threatening to swallow him whole from the inside and out. Then Dean's voice was calling him frantically and strong arms were shaking him.

He opened his eyes to find his brother leaning over him, his green eyes full of concern. "Sammy? You alright?"

"Dean," he gulped. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I couldn't..."

"Dude, calm down. Sorry for what?"

He struggled to calm his breathing and looked past his brother's face at his surroundings. The witch's house. He was in the witch's house. He sat up, batting his brother's hands away as his eyes sought out the witch.

She was sitting on the blanket across the coffee table from them, the very picture of calm.

"It's alright, Sam," Dean was saying in a reassuring voice. "It hasn't happened yet. It's a couple of months away still. No Big-Mouths here."

"Okay," he nodded convincingly and struggling to his feet. "I'm good. I'm good."

"You should go now," the witch said bluntly, rising to her feet also.

She ushered them firmly to the entrance, much to Dean's annoyance, ignoring their questions and pushing them outside. Just before she closed the door she looked right at Sam.

"That was just one possible future," she told him pointedly. "Now that you know it, you can change it."

With that, she closed the door firmly in their faces.

Dean grunted his disapproval. "What do you think?" he asked, gesturing towards the knife he always carried in his belt.

Sam shook his head vigorously. "No. Leave her. She's okay. She helped." More than you will ever know, he thought to himself.

Dean grumbled his reply. "Yeah I guess. She's more psychic than witch anyway."

They made their way to the boat and pushed off, Dean once again taking the motor as Sam navigated. The elder Winchester recounted everything he had seen in their future, which had basically involved the brothers and most of the planet dying in a flood of black ooze.

"Things are looking pretty damn bleak, man," Dean sighed, his shoulders slumping even further than usual. Sam was reminded of that scene in the end of the original Terminator movie when the robot's red eye finally flickers and goes out, the last trace of a spark in Dean's disappearing much the same way.

"What did you see?" Dean sighed. "Same thing?"

Sam's heart broke at the utter hopelessness on his brother's face.

"No," he answered. "I saw what happens if we beat them."

Dean raised a skeptical eyebrow, still showing no signs of being open to accepting another possibility.

"I saw you, happy."

A snort.

"I saw you with a family."

A glimmer of hope returned to the green eyes that lifted to look over at him. Sam pounced on it.

"I did, I swear. I had breakfast with them. You had a wife - or a girlfriend I guess coz she didn't have a ring - and you had two kids. Oh, and a dog. Well, it was more of a horse but..."

Dean looked dumfounded.

"And you were right about Bobby. He's totally haunting us."

The stunned look finally gave way to a smirk. "I told you," Dean gloated. "Okay, gimme details."

Sam's heart lifted at the first sign of life he had seen in his brother in a long time. He divulged the particulars, leaving out the part about Meg of course, and enjoyed the restrained smile that kept tugging at his brother's lips as he described the Winchesters' future version of domestic bliss. They fell silent afterwards as Dean soaked it in.

"But that's just one possibility too, right?" Dean stated hesitantly.

"Yeah," Sam conceded. "But the point is you have to have hope, Dean. Things could turn out really good for you."

Dean looked away.

"And me," Sam added. "Seems Lucifer finally fades to black."

"That would be good," Dean said quietly, still averting his eyes. Sam could tell his brother was daring himself to believe.

There was another long silence before Sam ventured a suggestion. "You know, Big Mouths aren't the only enemy. We still need to take out Crowley and those Amazons and ... and Meg." He tried to sound casual about it.

Dean just shook his head. "I've only got eyes for Dick right now." He gave his brother a sharp glare, realizing what he had said. "And if you make even one smart remark about that sentence, I swear, I'll toss you into the swamp." He looked thoughtful before adding "I stop the Leviathans and then I'm out."

Sam let the subject drop, not wanting to argue that last comment. He would kill Meg himself. He would hunt that bitch down and take her out long before Dean's family was even born. She would never get her evil hands anywhere near them. His silent vow felt different than those he had made before it about both Yellow-Eyes and Liith. For once, this wasn't about revenge; no this was a pre-emptive strike. This was about protecting rather than avenging. Dean wouldhave that future - this time with a happy ending.

He smiled to himself at the thought, amazed at how much knowing the possibilities changed the game. With his own internal battle with Lucifer waging twenty-four-seven, he hadn't realized he too had been losing motivation but this future, Dean'sfuture, had given him a renewed sense of purpose.

They were both quiet again, just speaking as was necessary to navigate their way back to the boat rental place. As they tied the boat up and headed back up the pier, Dean nudged Sam's shoulder.

"So is she hot?"

"What? Who?" Sam had been distracted by an open-top Jeep pulling up at the end of the pier next to the Winchesters' stolen Chrysler Newport.

Dean rolled his eyes. "This chick I'm supposed to hook up with, of course."

Sam grinned as he watched a slim brunette hop out of the Jeep and shade her eyes to see down the length of the pier.

"Why don't you judge for yourself?"

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

A/N: I just wanted to write a little something that would give Dean some hope coz he seems so lost these days and we know Sam sees it. This is what came out.