A/N: This is just a little one shot I wrote during finals week when I should have been studying. I was just stuck on the idea of what it would have been like if Sam hadn't come back from hell and Dean really had to move on. It's not very action heavy but it's not supposed to be.

It's my first fic, so please let me know what you think. I throw myself at your mercy!

Disclaimer: Nope, nobody owning anything over here officer. I don't even know what this 'owning' thing you're talking about is. You clearly have the wrong man.

Supernatural and its characters belong to Kripke and Warner Bros.

"What I am going to teach you, I hope you will never have to use," Dean said. The car was silent except for the rumble of the Impala's engine.

"But one day you may need to protect yourself. You may need to protect your family and the best way to do both of those things is to be prepared."

Dean sighed. He turned to the young man, who was gazing grumpily out of the passenger window.

"You already know there are things out there Ben; things that would give your nightmares bad dreams. Things that would ripe you limb from limb just because they think it's funny. There are monsters out there and they won't care that you're a kid."

"I'm not…" Ben started defiantly, scowling up at the former Hunter.

"You are a kid Ben," Dean said silencing the young man. "You're a kid and they won't care. They will kill you without a second thought. So you gotta be ready, understand? If something is after you, you cannot hesitate. You hesitate and you die. You hesitate and your family dies."

Dean looked the boy in the eyes, unblinking. Ben blanched at that. All the youthful contrariness washed away by fear, which was exactly what had Dean wanted. He wanted the kid to truly understand the seriousness of what he was about to teach him.

Ben was sixteen now and was beginning to look that the man he would one day become. He was nearly Dean's height and it seemed he still had some growing to do. He had put on a little muscle that promised strength but it had yet to become defined. Ben stared at the older man, eyes wide mouth gaping slightly. In that moment he looked more like the little boy Dean had met all those years ago.

Ben quickly regained his resolve though. He nodded gravely and went back to staring out of the window. His mouth firmed into harsh line of concentration, scowl returning. He had asked Dean to teach him how to hunt, how to fight (though begged was really a more accurate term). After months of asking Dean had finally agreed but only after Lisa had cosigned. They had both agreed that he would learn nothing more than basic defense.

Dean did not want Ben in the life, and he was sure as hell that Lisa didn't either. But Ben had been right about one thing: Dean would not always be around to protect him. The best way to keep him safe would be prepare him for trouble and hope that he'd never need it.

It hurt him a little though; to know that he was about to take away what little innocence Ben had left. It was true Ben was mature for his age, and he had experienced some of the things on the spooky side, but never with a full understanding. By giving him this knowledge he was stripping Ben of that last little piece of innocence. Because that was what innocence was after all; not knowing how truly terrible that real world could be.

Dean had had his innocence ripped from him the night he lost his mother. It sickened him to think of taking it from Ben but if it saved his life or Lisa's or little Sam's it would be worth it. It would be worth anything.

Dean looked at himself in the rearview mirror. He had a few more wrinkles around his eyes than he remembered. The eyes themselves were still sharp and observant, and still held a quick mirth. His hair sported a few grey hairs but it lent him gravity and intelligence rather than making him look old. While he had had more to smile about now then earlier in his life to look at him you knew in an instant that this was a man who had lived a hard life.

There were times that face grew grim and those eyes filled with something dark and haunting, something not even the sands of time could wash away. It was the look of a man who had seen Hell.

It had been nearly five years since Dean had been dragged from the Hell. It had nearly been that long since his only bother thrown himself into the Pit. That was the day Sammy had saved the world, and Dean had lost his. In the time since there was not a day Dean did not despair over the loss. Dean had spent his whole life trying to protect his brother. He had once sold his soul in exchange for his brother's life, only to lose him in the end.

If it had not had been for Lisa and the kids he may have never gotten over what was essentially the loss of his entire immediate family. The first year had been the hardest. Dean had nightmares, memories. He would wake in the night screaming in agony. When he woke Lisa would do her best to console him, to comfort him, but he almost always refused. He had taken to drinking instead. There were nights he would sit alone, silence and thought his only companions.

But after the first few months and after the initial shock had passed the old Dean began to shine through the despair. Lisa saw that man who had charmed her all those years ago, her knight in a leather jacket. In those moments he spent with Ben he seemed to fill with a sense of purpose he hadn't known he needed. Dean taught him about cars, good music and how to talk to girls, in exchange Ben looked up to him in that way only young boys can.

What happened in the second year was a surprise to everyone. Lisa had gotten sick with what they all thought was the stomach flu. She had gone to the doctor and discovered that she was pregnant. It was a shock. She had been on birth control and they had never discussed it. Lisa had made it clear that they didn't have to have the baby if he didn't want to. Dean's reaction to that had been so severe it had nearly been violent.

However when he was alone and had time to think Dean wasn't sure how he felt about being a father. While he had suspected at some point that he had been Ben's real father and he had certainly taken on the role, this was different. The thought of having a child that was truly his, blood and bone scared him. His family whole family had been one kind of fucked up or another; cursed. Could he really bring a child into that?

If push came to shove he could have left Lisa and Ben. He loved them even more than he'd like to admit, but if it were safer for them or for him, he could leave. They had survived so far without him; they would survive if he left. Dean knew when he had landed on their doorstep that he would not stay, not matter what he had promised. He knew life on the road would call him back. He was a hunter. He was a killer. It was in his blood. With this in mind he knew he could never take that final step, but that was before the day everything changed.

It was a bleak and rainy day in April when Samantha Elizabeth Braeden-Winchester was born. She had her mother's dark hair and her father's green eyes, though hers eyes were more brown than his. On the day his daughter was born Dean Winchester changed in a million subtle and profound ways.

In some ways it softened him. The moment he saw that little girl smile he was smitten. A wave of joy, pride and happiness washed over him. He felt something he had never felt before. It was a love so pure and all-consuming that he knew in an instant he would do anything to protect her.

His daughter's birth warmed him, made him gentler, but that warmth also sparked a fire inside him. It gave him a new resolve. He had taken down demons, stood against angels, defied gods and he would do all of these things a thousand times over if it meant his daughter's happiness and safety. He would tear apart anyone who even thought to do his little girl harm. He would do it ruthlessly and without regret. No matter the cost.