AUTHOR'S NOTES: So I've had this plot bunny for a while and once again, I figured I'd just go with it.

Now just so everyone knows, if there are any of my stories you'd like to take over, let me know. There are some I want to keep for myself so just ask if a particular story is up for grabs.

STORY SUMMARY: When Sam starts losing his hearing, John decides to let the boys stay with Bobby who helps get Sam and Dean enrolled in a local school for the deaf and hard of hearing. While at school, the boys are unknowingly protected by an angel of the lord who wants to change history in a big way.

A/N2: Now I don't have much experience with hearing loss so my facts and details pretty much come from reasearch on Google. As far as later on in the story, when Sam or other characters are using sign language that dialouge will be in bold. Also, since I know ASL often truncates sentences, when I'm writing sign language it will be whatever the characters are saying rather than what they're signing if that makes sense.

If you have any questions, please let me know.


SUPERNATURAL: The Ties That Bind


"Mr. Winchester, your son, Sam, has a moderate hearing loss in both ears."

The doctor's words slammed John Winchester like a brick. "Hearing loss…" he repeated, letting the words sink in. No, this had to be a mistake.

The past few months, John had been noticing that Sam was ignoring him and his older brother, Dean. When the two tried to get Sam's attention, the kid often didn't respond until they were practically shouting.

And then Sam's teachers called John asking for a meeting to talk about Sam's inattentiveness and lack of focus in class.

Once Dean had reported this after talking to Sam's 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brediger, John had wasted no time in making an appointment for the requested meeting. Sam was always an excellent student and had started reading nearly a year sooner that Dean had.

After Mrs. Brediger and the school principal had suggested that Sam be evaluated for attention deficit disorder or some other learning disorder, John had taken his youngest son to the local doctor's office for the recommended tests.

Two hours later, John was taking Sam to the 3rd floor of the building for a hearing test.

Now the audiologist was telling him that Sam was losing his hearing.

"I know this is rough news to take," Dr. Cassandra Nolan said, with a sympathetic look. She looked outside the office where Sam was sitting looking at the book he'd brought with him. Turning back to John, she went on. "It's hard to tell right now—without further evaluation—if Sam's hearing loss will be progressive. What I can tell you is that your son is currently classified as 'hard of hearing'. However, if his hearing deteriorates further, he'll be under the category of 'severely deaf'."

Rubbing his face with one hand, John leaned back in his chair as he thought. "What now? I mean… is there anything we can do?"

Dr. Nolan shook her head, sadly. "I'll need you to bring Sam back next week so we can have him evaluated for hearing aids." Leaning forward, she added, "Sam is going to need help in dealing with this. Any disability is hard for a child but hearing loss tends to make them feel more isolated. You and your son, Dean, need to make sure Sam understands that this isn't a punishment."

John nodded and after a moment he asked, "So with the hearing aids… Sam will be okay? He'll be… normal?"

"Sam's always going to be hard of hearing," Nolan clarified. "He'll have a better range of sounds with the hearing aids, but they're not a permanent fix. And if the deafness gets worse, they may no longer be effective. Which is why Sam will need to learn sign language and non verbal cues."

x

Sam made a show of reading his book, but really he was watching his dad and the doctor talk. Even though he was only 8, he'd always watched people, especially his brother and father—expressions, body language…

And it didn't take long to figure out that everything going on the past few days was because he was having trouble hearing people talk lately.

At first, Sam had figured his ears were just stuffed up from allergies or something. But the stuffiness wouldn't go away and during the hearing test earlier, Sam felt his stomach go squicky when he realized that he couldn't really hear the doctor talking to him.

Feeling someone touch his shoulder, Sam jumped in surprise. Seeing that it was just his dad, he relaxed a bit but he saw that his father's expression was moody. "Dad?"

John said nothing as he looked at his son, but after a while, he knelt down so he and Sam were more level. He felt nervous but after another moment or two, he spoke carefully, making sure Sam could read his lip movements as he tried to make sure his hand signs were exactly as Dr. Nolan had showed him. "You and I are going to go home, Sammy, and we're going to talk about it with Dean. Okay?"

Sam nodded slowly in understanding. He was already pretty good at reading lips—Dean had taught him early on as part of learning to talk—and he could follow his Dad's hand signals well enough. But as the two headed back to the house they were staying in, Sam felt his stomach start knotting up again in anticipation of the discussion to come.

xxxx

The strange thing was that Sam had seemed to accept his situation rather calmly.

After John had laid out the whole thing, explaining as much as possible, Sam had just nodded in understanding before asking if it was okay if he finished his homework and then went to bed.

Once Sam had gone upstairs and John had heard the kid close the door to his room, he looked over at Dean who seemed somewhat shell-shocked by the news that his little brother was going deaf. "How's it going, Ace?" John asked as he started making boxed macaroni and cheese.

"Dad, what are we going to do?" Dean asked, worried. He'd always been afraid for his brother since finding out that the monsters in the closet were real but this was even worse. "Sam's gonna need help and it'll be hard on him if we keep moving around."

That was one thing that John hated thinking about. He had to find the thing that killed Mary but to continue being a hunter meant a lot of moving around and not staying in one spot for more than a month or so. But Dean had a very good point. Sam needed stability right now and moving around wasn't going to give them that. Besides, what if Sam's next school didn't have people who were able to deal with his hearing issues?

Dean finished up making dinner before taking a bowl upstairs, calling over his shoulder to his dad that there was some left in the pot.

Once more, John felt the stab of pain in his heart as he watched Dean disappear into the room he shared with his brother. He didn't deserve these kids. Dean was only 12 but he often acted at least 10 years older.

And Sam… the kid had already been skipped one grade and before this whole situation had started, Sam's teachers had been talking about putting him in the 6th grade.

Hearing the phone ring, John pulled himself from his thoughts as he picked it up and barked, "Yeah?"

"John? You okay?" Bobby Singer's gruff voice asked.

John sigh was one of relief and after a moment, he found himself telling the other hunter everything.

Bobby had been the one to teach John about monsters and hunting and he was practically a second father to Sam and Dean who still called him Uncle Bobby.

"Listen," Bobby said after John had gone through the whole situation. "Bring the boys up here. Y'all can stay long as you need to and the boys can get settled in school."

John quickly agreed, promising be there within the week. After hanging up, he headed upstairs, finding Sam and Dean both finishing their homework. "Just got a call from Bobby," he said as he entered the room.

Sam looked up when Dean nudged him in the arm. Looking at his father, he asked, "What'd you say, Dad?"

But Dean was already writing something down and pushing it at Sam. "How soon are we leaving?" he wanted to know.

John thought for a moment. Tomorrow was Friday and with the weekend it would be the perfect time to pack up. Besides, Bobby's house was only 8 hours away. "Day after tomorrow. We'll get up there, you guys can get settled and start school on Monday."

Both boys acknowledged the news and once their father had left, they finished their school work quickly before getting ready for bed.


School the following day was a nightmare for Sam.

After his dad met with the principal to tell him that Sam would be moving to South Dakota, one of the students in the office overheard that Sam was hard of hearing and by the end of 2nd period, most of the students knew about it and had begun relentlessly teasing him.

By lunch, Sam just wanted to leave school then and there. He hated not being able to hear everything. It was like trying to hear underwater and it was so distracting. One of the school counselors had pulled him aside before lunch, saying he hoped Sam did well at his new school…at least that was what Sam could tell from lip-reading.

When one of the kids in his class tripped him, making him fall on the ground, Sam gave in and started crying. Why couldn't he be normal? Why'd he have to be a freak? Why couldn't he-?

"You leave him alone!"

The girl's voice was loud and angry and as Sam slowly got up, he saw Maxine Davison punching the boy who'd tripped him. She waited until the boy had left before looking at Sam. "Thanks," Sam said with a nod.

Max grinned at him before replying. "You're welcome." She signed as she spoke and after a moment, she took Sam's hand and led him down the hallway and outside near the woods that surrounded the school grounds.

Once they were sitting on the grass, Sam asked, "Why'd you stop Greg?"

Max shrugged and—without saying a word—took Sam's hands in hers. "Copy me," she said before raising her hands and finger-spelling S-A-M.

Sam did so and when Max pointed to him, he said, "That's how I spell my name?"

Max nodded and spelled her own name. After going through a few more basic words, she said, "I heard you're leaving after today." She used basic signs as she spoke, surprised when Sam seemed to understand perfectly.

Sam nodded. "My dad's taking me and my brother to our Uncle Bobby's. He lives up in South Dakota." He looked at Max and he suddenly deeply wished that he wasn't leaving so soon. Changing the subject, he asked, "How do you know how to sign?"

Max shrugged. "My mother used to go… hunting. She'd gone since she was little. But it ruined her hearing."

They stayed outside until the bell rang signaling the end of the school day.

Max spent the time teaching Sam sign language, and by the time school was over, Sam was doing fairly well.

The two stood and Max reached into her backpack and grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. She wrote down her phone number and handed it to Sam. Signing as she spoke, she said, "I will always be your friend, Sam. Even if you're in South Dakota."

Sam hugged her and quickly signed 'thank you' before hurrying off to meet his dad.


Underwood Academy for the Hearing Impaired

Monday morning, Sam stood in front of a boarding school for deaf and hard of hearing kids.

Beside him, Dean looked nervously around, his 'big brother radar' always on alert for any threats.

And behind both boys, John had to admit he was scared. True, the school was highly recommended and had a top-notch curriculum, but what was really scaring him was that Sam would be on his own here. Dean would be in a regular school and very far away from his brother.

"Mr. Winchester?" The school headmaster said as he came out of the school. He was nearly 6 foot and seemed very athletic with short blondish hair and a smile. He spoke with an English accent as he said, "And this must be Sam and Dean." Signing as he looked at Sam, he said, "I'm Headmaster Jared Collins. Welcome to Underwood Academy." Looking at the Winchesters, he added, "Please… Let's go to my office."

Inside, the headmaster led them into a very comfortable office that was almost large enough to be a small apartment.

"Nice office," Dean observed, looking around impressed.

"Well, I sometimes end up staying nights so we took out one of the storage rooms," Collins replied, looking around as he sat behind his desk. Once the others were sitting, he retrieved Sam's file from the stack on his desk and opened it, reading the reports from Sam's audiologist visit back in Montana. "Now, as I understand it," he said, looking up. "Sam has not yet received hearing aids?"

John nodded in confirmation. Bobby had put him in touch with a local audiologist who would set Sam up with the hearing aids in exchange for the two hunters taking care of a poltergeist problem at his office. "Uh, next week he should be getting them," John confirmed. "Although Sam has been learning a little sign language."

"If it's possible for students to use hearing aids," Collins replied. "We do encourage it." Looking at Dean who kept glancing at his dad and then his brother, he added, "Now, I spoke with the school board and since we had higher than usual donations last term we would be able to offer both boys scholarships."

"Dean can hear just fine," John said, even though he knew that Dean had wanted him to ask the question.

But the headmaster waved that off. "Several of our students are only mildly hard of hearing. While we do mostly cater to the deaf community, we are not entirely exclusive. Hearing students—although extremely rare—are welcomed as well. And unlike many boarding schools, we also do not require student uniforms."

Sam seemed to relax at the notion that Dean would be with him and as they followed Headmaster Collins as he gave them a tour of the campus, even Dean didn't seem as on edge about the whole thing.


Two days later—after Sam and Dean's official enrollment at Underwood—Dean sat with his brother while the doctor made the final adjustment to Sam's hearing aids.

The audiologist had asked the same questions everyone else had asked about Sam's hearing loss—any serious illnesses, injuries, listening to loud music or noises? If Dean had had to guess, he blamed his dad playing music too loud in the car and the target practice every weekend.

But then why wasn't Dean the one going deaf? He'd been shooting guns longer than Sammy so why was it his little brother and not him?

"You okay, Sammy?" Dean asked after a while. And suddenly, the twisting in his stomach eased up when Sam grinned and nodded.

"Yeah," Sam said, nodding. "Yeah, I can hear you a lot better." He winced slightly as he caught a split second of feedback from the hearing aids, but it went away just as quickly. Once Dean finished up with the paperwork the nurse at the front desk had given him, he put his arm around Sammy and they headed out of the office and to the Impala to wait for their dad.

As they crossed the parking, an old, beat-up station wagon came tearing around a corner and before either brother could move, both collided with the car and were send flying—Dean being tossed across the front of the car, smashing up the windshield before rolling off the other side of the hood. Sam had been thrown to the side, tumbling as he landed on the asphalt.

x

After finding the poltergeist and killing it, John raced up the stairs and to the doctor's office where Sam and Dean were.

The spirit had been hard to kill and just as John had been ready to torch the remains hidden in the storage closet when the thing appeared with a wicked grin on it's face. "Kill me," the malevolent spirit rasped. "—and you will pay with your children's lives."

Those words echoed in John's head as he opened the door to the office where he'd left his boys but they were gone. Realizing that Sam and Dean must have already left, he hurried outside, stopping dead when he saw his boys lying on the ground, motionless and bloody.


A/N3: Next chapter jumps a couple years ahead when Sam makes a couple friends of the female variety and Dean is having problem as a result of the hit and run.