And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire.- Revelation, 15:2

Author's Note: Thank you everyone who read Grace and provided me with such incredible support! This one's for you (ok, and me too- I was loath to leave the universe I'd created).

If you HAVEN'T read Grace, I'd recommend it but I will of course provide a brief synopsis if you aren't ready for that sort of commitment just yet: John was kidnapped by a demon called Valefour while researching a case. Valefour has stolen an angel's Grace and is now searching for the vessel so that he can wield its power for his own dastardly purposes. Said vessel is a boy named Cas, who is confined in a mental hospital where a certain Winchester is assigned community service. They bond, angst ensues. Bottom line: Valefour shows up at the motel room once he discovers who Cas is. Cas gets his grace back during the fight but loses his humanity (and his feelings for Dean) as a result. He finishes off the demon but then leaves Dean alone with John, who is gravely injured. Dean (17) sells his soul in order to keep the family from falling apart, but doesn't tell anyone. This shit is pretty bare bones, so if you're confused feel free to message me. Or y'know, read it ;D

This chapter was Beta'd by Maddy77. She rocks.

Ten Years left- Together. That's all that mattered. John left the hospital the next day, doctors scratching their heads. Dean happily suffered through endless hours on the road, grueling training, and suspiciously damp sheets. He even rejoiced at the sound of Sam and John sniping at each other. Because they were a family. And they would stay a together as long as Dean would live. A decade wasn't that long, after all.

Nine Years- He celebrated the first year anniversary on a rooftop of another faceless motel with a fifth of stolen Jack and the stars spread out above him. One year since Valefour had taken John, beaten the hell out of Sam and nearly destroyed everything Dean held dear. One year since Cas had left him standing forlornly in the wreckage of a motel room, his father quietly bleeding out in the parking lot. One year since Cas had turned to him with alien eyes devoid of recognition, even after all they'd shared… But he wasn't going to think about that anymore. Dean would never admit it to anyone, but he still prayed, or whatever the hell you call it, to Cas every night. He held the bottle up towards the sky, before smirking to himself and letting a thin stream spill over the edge, tumbling down to splash on the pavement. He imagined the amber liquid seeping into the blacktop, making its way to hell drop by drop. Here's to you, Crowley-darling. The answer to my fucking prayers. Dean paid for it the next morning, hugging the toilet as John cursed him for his indiscretion and Sam frowned in disapproval from the doorway. He didn't mind entirely. I'm still here.

Eight Years- Just looking at Sam made his skin crawl. No amount of plastic surgery (as if we had the cash for that in the first place) could ever disguise the long, tortuous scar that bisected the right side of Sam's cheek. It was a physical reminder of Dean's failure, how he'd let a demon get its fucking paws on his little brother. John felt the same way, Dean could see it in his eyes; the hot flash of anger that swept through him whenever his youngest came into view. Sam said nothing, though in the first week back on the road, the bathroom mirror had mysteriously "fallen" on its own accord. These days he mostly glared back at all the strangers who were caught surreptitiously staring. It'll be alright, Sammy, chicks dig scars. 'Specially a bad boy like that, he'd insisted, throwing and arm around the younger boy's shoulders. He had to at least try to make it better, although the way Sam shrugged him off made Dean suspect that he wasn't convinced either.

Seven Years- The papers stuffed hurriedly under Sam's mattress, a ragged corner peeking out, had been too much temptation for Dean. What smut could be so horrendous that his little brother had to hide it from him, the one with a Guinness World Record's worth of Busty Asian Beauties? He'd yanked them out triumphantly in front of Sam, waving the about his head as his younger brother clawed desperately at his chest and arms, trying to knock him off balance. In a few years (or maybe months at the rate he was growing) "little" Sammy would surpass him in height, so Dean felt it best to use this advantage while he still could. He only stopped when Sam let out a choked sob. Seriously, what was he holding? What could be so dangerous if he found out? Turns out college applications fit the bill. Sam begged and pleaded with him not to tell John, unshed tears balanced precariously on his eyelashes. Please Dean, this might be my only chance. If Dad finds out… Dean should never have promised. The silence was killing him.

Six Years – He almost told them then. When John was bellowing at the top of his lungs, rage peeling the paint off the walls. When Sam was standing in front of the open door, shoulders ramrod-straight, jaw clenched like he was being electrocuted. What right did they have to talk about sacrifice? About family? But neither man was going to budge. They never did. So Sam walked out that door, duffel in hand, on the path to Stanford. The path that led away from me. From us. Dean could've opened his mouth right then, with Sam's hand poised on the doorknob, John still breathing like he'd wrestled a bear. Could've told them both what he'd given up. But he wouldn't put that kind of shit on Sammy, if John didn't outright kill him in the first place, send him to hell a few years early. So he kept his mouth shut and let his best friend walk out of his life.

Five Years- Dean didn't remember much of the next year. He and John stumbled through it in an alcohol-induced haze. John missed Sam like he'd miss an arm that got cut off, but of course he was too stubborn to admit it. Dean spent most of his time playing The Good Son. He stopped praying, too. Clearly no one was home.

Four- For weeks he'd carry on; salt, burn, crash, repeat, until suddenly he'd wake up in the middle of the night with the realization that time was slipping through his fingers. He'd grab his boots and head out, no matter what the hour. He'd drive as fast as he could with the windows down, letting the wind run its chilly fingers through his hair, go find a chick or two to fuck, just to feel alive. He went to visit Sam once. Drove six hours to Paolo Alto, arriving as the sun peeked over the horizon, tinting the campus rose and gold. Waited outside the dorms in the Impala, trying to guess which room housed his brother. Does he have a good roommate? Surely not one as awesome as yours truly. He pictured him, sipping smuggled beers and laughing with some smart, charismatic dude. Talking about girls and classes instead of things that go bump in the night. That thought had been too much. Dean left as quickly as he could, before he tainted Sammy's shot at a real life.

Three- The hunts kept on coming. A Chupacabra in Tucson, poltergeist in Philly, two skinwalkers wreaking havoc in Des Moines… There was a demon in Charlotte that looked him dead in the eye and licked its lips before Dean sent it screaming back to hell. Or maybe he was just imagining it. His dreams were getting darker every day, filled with sulfur and shadow.

Two- After five days had gone by without any word from John, Dean once again made the long trek to Paolo Alto. Damn it was nice to see Sammy again, shaggy-haired and taller than ever (if that was even possible), making strides towards an apple-pie life. His girlfriend looked like a sweetheart, even though she was way too hot for his geek brother. For a weekend it had been just like before, cruising in the Impala, trading barbs back and forth but eventually they finished the job, sans John, and Dean reluctantly delivered Sam back to his apartment. He'd lingered outside for a few minutes, sipping a beer and wondering if Sam and Jess would get married and have a couple kids after he was gone. Better name one after me, Sammy. At least one of us can get out of this mess. Dean realized he was glad for that. Until he smelled smoke and heard Sam's anguished cry pierce the night.

One- Bile rose bitter and harsh in the back of Dean's throat. Dad was dead and it was all his fault. If only you'd told him that insistent, niggling voice in the back of his mind whispered. He never would've sold his soul for some worthless piece of crap that was hellbound in a few years. He would've let you die, sent you down a little early. Now Sammy's gonna be all alone. Sammy, who John had told him to… Dean shuddered, pushing away the nagging worries about the visions that were becoming more frequent and powerful with each passing day. Never. That's one order I just can't obey, dying request or not.

Time's Up- "Nah Sammy, I got it. Had to drive around for about an hour lookin' for the damn thing but hey, a djinn ain't got nothing on me." Dean tried to keep his voice steady, but sweat was pooling in his lower back. He flinched, letting out an involuntary gasp as he heard a long, throaty howl. Closer this time.

"… Are you alright?"

"What?! Uhh yeah, there's just this girl… She's still alive. In pretty bad shape though, I'm gonna swing by the ER, first." Please let me make it that far. "And Sam?"


"Take care." Lame as last words go, but he supposed they were fitting, all things considered.

Sam flipped his phone shut with a soft click, a puzzled frown creasing his face. He wasn't an idiot. He knew that Dean had been waking up shaking at swinging at invisible foes every night for the past few weeks. Something was wrong. Possibly of catastrophic proportions, but as usual, Dean was being a stubborn ass about it. Sam briefly considered hot-wiring a car and going after him, but then his eyes fell on the note tucked unobtrusively under the bedside lamp.