I'm Not Using it THAT Way.

Sam concentrated on the circle around him.  He knew it was forbidden but he was sixteen and his father's ways and ideals sucked sometimes.  Besides, no one could complain about protection spells, right?  He let out a breath, letting the spell wrap its way out of the circle and around his family.  They needed it.  His father was arrogant and angry.  Dean was just plain arrogant.  They'd get hurt and he hated to bandage them after hunts.  He relaxed once it was done, blowing out the candles.

"What the hell, dude?" Dean asked from behind him.

Sam tried hard not to jump.  "It's nothing."

"Uh-huh."  He moved into the clear area.  "Because this nothing is something that you're hiding?  Though I agree on hiding it.  Dad'll kill your ass.  I don't want to spend the next month next to your bed in ICU, Sammy."

Sam stood up, turning to face his older brother.  "It's a protection spell, Dean. To protect your stubborn asses so I don't have to patch you up again!" he said firmly, staring him down.  "Not even our father can complain about a bit of extra protection."

Dean snorted.  "Yeah, right.  Apparently you've been living with a different father for the last few years?"  He looked at the circle.  "Come out."

"Come in," he taunted.  Dean glared.  "It's for *protection*, Dean.  It's not going to eat you!  There's plenty of white witches in the world."

"You're male."

"So?  Male witches are still witches."  He shrugged.  "Male witches who do stupid shit are warlocks."

"Then that's what you are because Dad's fuming looking for you.  This little rebellion thing you've got going?  Hide it, Sammy.  Before we're both cooped up in the hospital for months on end."

"No!"  He stepped outside once he had uncast the circle properly.  "I'm doing good, Dean.  Protecting others."

Dean pulled him closer.  "He won't care.  I don't care.  Stop it."

Sam got free.  "No."  He crossed his arms over his chest, every bit the sulky teenager rebelling from his family's ways.  "No, I'm not."

"Sammy, if he asks, I gotta tell him."

"No you don't and I don't care if you do."  He gathered what he needed, putting it back into his backpack.  He kicked dirt over the symbols, looking at his big brother again.  "It's this or you die on a hunt, Dean.  Suck it up."  He stomped off, heading back to the place their father had rented for the last few months.  "You sent Dean to find me?"

John looked at his son.  "Why do you smell like candles?"

"I was reading in the woods."

"Reading what?"

"Protection rites."

John moaned, standing up to take the backpack and look through.  "Magic, Sam?"  He glared at his younger son.  "This is not acceptable."

"It's protection spells."

"I don't care!" he shouted.

"Then die the next time, Dad."  He took it back.  "You and Dean both.  Because it was my spell that kept your chest from being pierced the last time."  He stomped off to his room.  He kicked the door shut and jammed a chair under the knob.

"Get out here, Samuel.  Your mother would not appreciate this!" John shouted, pounding on the door.

"She'd thank me for protecting you when your stubborn side came out, Dad."  He grabbed his things, long practiced in the art of packing within two minutes.  Then he went out the window.  Sure they'd find him.  Sometime.  Until then, he was going to be just Sam.  Not Sam Winchester.  Not one of the Winchester Hunters.  Just Sam.  It was a great feeling.  He got a ride into town with a guy in a pickup and headed to the bus station.  He had looked this up and knew Dean was going to find him tonight.  The bus was mostly on time.  Within a half-hour of the usual time.  They were probably still checking the woods for him but oh well.   He dropped a postcard into the mailbox on the way to load the bus, letting the driver have his bags.  He got on with his backpack and settled in with his discman for a long ride.  He smiled when the bus passed his father's car on the way out of town.  Yup, his father could handle it without him for a while and he was *free*.  At least for now.  By the time they found him they'd see sense.  Hopefully.


Sam found the coven he wanted to learn with and their commune, going up to the gate.  "May I talk to someone about entry?" he asked politely.

The guard looked at him.  "You practice?"

"I do.  Learned off some ancient texts the Romans wrote."  The guard looked startled at that.  Sam dropped his bags and knelt beside the shack, blowing a bit of growth magic onto a flower there.  He looked up.  "I do practice and I need taught."

"Agreed."  He helped him grab his bags and walked him in to the head of the coven's house.  "Ma'am."

"I felt."  She looked him over.  "You wish to learn the proper methods?"  He pulled out his books to hand over.  She looked at them, then smiled.  "A bit older than the ways we rebuilt, young one."


"Sam then."  She pointed at a seat and he sat.  "You're young."

"I'm very aware my father and brother will find me some day.  Right now, I need tutored.  And I need peace and quiet away from them before we have our next fight where I take a swing at my father."

"Your temper needs worked upon."

"I know."

"Good.  Then you're realistic."

"My family are hunters," he said quietly, staring at her.  She shuddered.  "I do not and will not hunt anything that is not harming another.  They don't most of the time.  I won't promise my father isn't blinded by his quest but my brother doesn't."

"I know of your family then.  You're John's son."  He nodded.  "That's a reasonable saying that they'll find you."


"Not yet."  She smiled.  "Who did you tell where you were going?"

"No one.  I wrote a postcard saying I was going to study something more important than how to die for a while and I'd see them sometime, when they found me again."

"Interesting."  She nodded.  "We can teach you.  Learn what you have to show us and show you our ways."

"I'm interested in things like protection rites and how to protect others with it.  Possibly some minor herb skills."

"Of course you are.  We can handle that."  She got up and led him out, letting him tuck his books back into his bag and carry the duffle out with him.  "This is our main study area."  He nodded at that, putting his bags in the corner.  "We'll find you a cot sometime soon.  You're one of the few males here."

He grinned.  "Unlike Dean, I don't hit on anything with female attributes.  If they're interested, they'll tell me."

"Good boy."  She patted him on the arm, showing him to a woman who was reading.  "Bernice, this is Sam Winchester."  She looked up at him through some thick glasses.  "He's here to study protections and herbal skills."

"Of course he is.  Helping his father?"

"I'd like nothing more than a normal life," he told her.  "I have two years before I can do that though.  I'm realistic.  I want to be able to protect myself to the best of my abilities and if something does come at us, to be able to protect those who need it."

She nodded, smiling some.  "Cocky but sure of yourself and your desires.  We'll find you a bed in my building, Sam.  Sit with me, let's go over what you know and have done."  He got his books and came back to go over them with him.  The head of the commune left them alone.   "How long do you think you have?"

"Within months.  I'd doubt over six."

"That's fine then.  We can teach you much within that time."  She got to work showing him what he needed to learn first.  Protections against demons.  Healing spells.  Those things.  He soaked it up.  Clearly he had been self-taught but he'd do.


Dean looked at his father a month later.  "He's fine, Dad."

"He's not," he growled, slamming the car door.

Dean patted the car in sympathy.  "He is.  He wrote a postcard to Bobby."

John turned to stare at him.  "How do you know?"

"You were off playing pool so I answered the phone.  He said he's studying hard.  He's in a safe place.  He doesn't have to worry about food stuff and he helps in the gardens a lot when he's tired of reading.  There's a preschool wherever and he's helped out in there a few times too.  The card said he's not giving you grandchildren because of that," he finished with a grin.  His father stalked closer.  "I tried to tell you, you told me to shut up."

John backed down at that.  "Sorry, Dean."

"I'm worried too but this is Sammy.  We taught him well how to stay out of trouble."


"Garden.  Preschool.  He's on a commune someplace Bobby thinks."

John looked around.  "We're within two days from there."

"He said he mailed it to General Delivery here for you.  Should be here tomorrow anyway."

"Good.  Any other ideas?"

"It said he double mailed it.  Sent it to a friend to drop into the mailbox."


"Basically.  But we know where the bus was heading.  How many communes are there in today's world?"

"Too many," he snorted.

Dean sighed.  "Dad, think.  How many in that direction?"

"Seventeen that I know of.  All hippie, free love places."

"Sammy won't even kiss on the first date, Dad."

"Good point."  He rubbed a hand over his face.  "You think he's with a coven?"

"Probably.  He was insistent that this is how he's helping us."

"Magical communes," he said.  "We'll have to look it up."

"We can do that.  The local library's wired."

John nodded.  "We'll do that then.  You should've beaten me when you heard."

"You came in drunk and growled yesterday from the hangover.  I like my ass in the configuration it's in," he finished dryly.

John looked at him.  "Too smart for its own good?" he shot back.

Dean grinned.  "Of course."  He patted his car again.  "We should hit the sack tonight."

John nodded.  "We should."  They got into the car and headed back to the motel.  Things were looking up at least.  They had an idea of where Sam was.  Somewhat.  How many communes could there be?


Sam smiled at the women coming out of the celebration, hugging one.  "Happy night."  It was Summer Solstice and they had done the main celebration earlier.  It had been a great three months on the commune.

"Happy night, Sam."  She stroked his cheek.  "Would you celebrate with me?  Join our fires?"

"If you want," he agreed with a goofy grin.  He followed her to her fires out in the woods.  They were going to party, dance around a bit, have some fun.  Fool around.  He was happy and laughing with the girls until a hand grabbed his neck.  He reacted by throwing the person off and jumping up to get into their face.  "Dad."

"You're slacking off on practice, Sammy," Dean said from his other side.  "Ladies, we need to repossess my idiot brother."

"No," the female said.  "You don't.  He's happy here."

Dean looked at her.  "He has a duty to his family."

She glared, getting up to poke him in the chest.  She only came up to his chin but oh well.  "Sam's happy here.  He did his duty to the family legacy of fighting."

"You know about us?" John asked, getting himself up.

"Of course."  She sneered at him.  "Including how you don't discriminate sometimes."  She looked at Dean again.  "He can stay if he wishes."

"Don't," Sam said.  "This is my fight, Sophie."  He smiled and kissed her on the lips then the forehead.  "I'll be back."  She smiled.  "We're going to talk in the woods."  They nodded.  He walked off, heading back toward the commune.  His family followed. He stopped outside the fence marking, looking at them.  "I'm happy here.  There's a good school up the road I can go to.  They said I can stay.  I'm learning a lot about protections and healing."

"This is not the family way, son," John said firmly.

"Neither am I apparently," he shot back with a glare.  "I'm never going to be Dean."

Dean got out of the way.  This was going to be one of those legendary fights where Sam and his dad got down to physical brawling soon.  "Dad, let's let him have one last night?" he suggested calmly.

"No.  It's time for him to come with us."

"I don't want to," Sam said.  "I want a normal life.  I can learn enough here to protect myself.  Finish school and find a real job that gives me a paycheck I can rent a place on.  Settle down.  Give Dean a niece or nephew some year."

"When the demon comes for your kid, what are you going to do, Sammy?" Dean asked.

Sam glared at him and shoved him with magic.  "I don't know, Dean.  Maybe I'll be a bit prepared since I know it could happen."  He looked at his father again, seeing the shocked look.  "I can guarantee myself a life that will make sure I never have to suffer another concussion again.  For that matter, you don't like me hunting because I do everything wrong.  I'm never going to be Dean, Dad.  You don't want me there anyway."

"I do, son.  This is just a rebellion.  There for a bit I did too."  He moved closer.  Sam glared.  "Don't you dare."

Sam snorted.  "Or you'll what?"

"Have the cops come pull you out in cuffs for being a runaway," Dean said.  "That'll get everyone here in trouble."

"I've been in contact with close members of the family so they knew I was all right.  Oh, and by the way, we told the Sheriff.  He knows."  He looked at his father again.  "I'm *happy* here."

"It's not your place."

"Why not?"

"Because you being here could bring the demons down on them," he shot back, getting pissed.  Staying calm and rational wasn't helping.  Sam was too stubborn this time.  "Pack and let's go."


"Now, Sammy," Dean ordered.  He moved closer again.  "You'll only get them hurt."

"They haven't been."

"They will be."

"That's the point of protections," he said dryly, glaring at them.  "I'm not going.  I'm happy here; I'm doing good things.  I'm not even bordering anywhere near black magic."

"No," John said.  "Not good enough."  He grabbed his son.  Sam got free.  "Do not start, Samuel.  Your mother would be ashamed."

"No she wouldn't.  How is me protecting myself and others something bad?"

"Don't be this stupid, Sammy, it's magic," Dean said.  "It's not for hunters."

"Well this one does use it."  He glared at them.  "Beyond that, I'm not going."

"You are," John ordered.  "Go pack or leave it here.  You can leave all your stuff here if you really want to."

Sam glared at him.  "Don't try me."  His father growled and moved to grab him again.  Sam spat something and a shield built between them.  "Just...go."  He walked off to his bunk.  He'd pack, just in case.  He had learned a few handy things.  The head of the coven came in.  "I don't want to leave.  I'll only endanger lives as a hunter."

"That may not be your path but you are too young to formally declare that yet, Samuel."  She sat on the bed, looking at him.  "There are ways around the edict once you're of legal age.  You can come back anytime you want."  Sam hung his head, nodding a bit.  "I do hope that they won't barge in here with guns?"

"If they do, I'm so going to kick their asses," he said with a small smirk.  She swatted him.  "I know, that's not the way of the coven or the commune."  He sighed, leaning down to hold his head, elbows on his knees.  "I don't know what to do."

"Go for now.  Come back when you're of age.  You knew they'd come."

He looked at her.  "They have that 'getting ready to pull a kid out of a cult' look."

"I know.  Your father presented himself to the gate first."  Sam snorted, looking down again.  "It was his attempt at civility."  She stroked over his head.  He looked at her again.  "Your choice is to run or to face them and take it until you can escape again."

"Why is it my duty to pay for the demon killing my mother?"

"Perhaps he thinks the demon wanted you."

"That makes it even more important to be able to protect myself."

"I know."  She smiled.  "You do it very well so far."  She stroked over his head again.  "Even if they suppress the memories somehow, they will come out when you see one of us again."  She kissed him on the temple.  "You have never been a quitter or one to run without a good reason to retreat, Sam.  Is this the battle you want to use that on?"

"No.  He'll hurt others."

"He may without intention."

He nodded, grabbing his stuff.  "I'll head out the front gate.  If the Goddess wills him to find me, then so be it."

"Go with Her blessing, Sam.  You're very strong and stubborn.  She enjoys that from you."  He smiled, giving her a hug before heading out.  She sighed, going to watch the drama.  The goddess truly thought he should have a shot outside the life since they weren't out there.  She found them in the woods, walking out there.  "He's gone.  Are you proud that you keep him from being able to protect any future children?" she asked Dean.  She walked past him.  "He's been gone now for twenty minutes."

John stomped off, heading for the car.  Dean was right behind him.  He'd deal with the commune leaders later for keeping his son from him.  Right now, he had to find his son and beat his ass until he straightened out.  John thought he spotted him walking but it turned out to be a tree in the breeze.

Dean looked behind him then pointed.  "That was him."

"That was a tree."

"That was an illusion, Dad."  John stopped the car and backed them up, looking at the tree.  Dean got out and grabbed Sam by the back of the neck, making him hiss and drop the illusion.  "Nice try, Sammy.  Get into the car."  He tossed his bags into the back seat then forced him into it.  He got into the front and closed his door.  "Okay, we're here, Dad."

John looked back at Sam.  "That was weak."

"I can poison you instead," he said with a sweet smile.  John glared.  "I'll be going back sometime."

"No you won't."  He drove them off, taking him to someone who could force the memories down.  Not one of the hunters or affiliated with any hunter so no one heard about his son's rebellion going toward *magic*.  They all hated it in the hunting community.  It was all evil.


Sam gasped, waking up one morning in college, looking around.  He panted, holding his head.  He pulled back to look at the glow on his hand.  "Huh."  He canceled it with a smile.  "Still got it, Sam."  He got out and took a shower then went to rebuild his altar.  He had some serious getting right with the Goddess to do.   It had taken him until his sophomore year to get unblocked but now that he was, it was better.  He felt peaceful again.  He easily slipped into the meditative focus again.  It helped him reconnect with himself.  His alarm went off a while later so he got up and went to class.  Yes, this was much more healthy for him and now he could protect himself from anything coming at him.  He'd have to check on the commune later on.  When he had some time to get online.


His second month with Dean he got in touch with the old woman at the commune about the visions.  They had never gone over visions during his studies.  She told him how to ease them with drugs or herbs.  He tried the herbs but the drugs worked better.  The herbal sleeping potion he made while Dean was out fleecing someone at the bar helped him finally get some sleep.  It was better.  He sent her an email of thanks and got another book to add to his hidden collection.   The meticulous hunter's nature went well with the rituals he had learned for protections.  Dean had no idea he was doing protections around their rooms each night.  It helped him stay in focus of his goal: get the demon that had killed Jess.  Then they'd see where the world led him.  After it was all over with.

Dean came in while he was doing protections a few nights later, giving him that eyebrow-quirked WTF look.  "What are you doing, Sammy?"

"It's Sam and I'm laying a protection since there's a witch locally who likes to dabble a bit too darkly."

"She evil?"

"No.  Just dabbling with some odd results from what I've heard."  He shrugged and went back to it.  Dean stopped him.  He pulled his hand free.  "A protection does not taint you, Dean."  He glared at his brother.  "I don't care if you don't like it.  Go sleep in the car."  He finished and then went back to reading online.  He had no idea they had so many spell books online these days.  Whole sites devoted to spell work and ritual work.

Dean took the laptop and turned it off, turning to face his brother.  "It's not a good or healthy thing for hunters to do."

Sam looked up at him.  "Do I care what other hunters like?"

"It can bring them here, Sam!" he shouted.

"I'm not doing that sort of anything!  How stupid do you think I am?  That's a nature and earth-based magic.  It's no different than half the teenage girls in this town who watched the last few hot witch movies do every few weeks!"

"Do you think they don't notice that stuff?" Dean countered.

"Why would they see it, Dean?"

"Because most of them can sense it, Sammy."


"Whatever."  He glared at him.  "No more."

"What?  Afraid I'll go to black magic suddenly?  It's been years and I haven't."

"How did you get the memories back?"

"My sophomore year.  They came back out.  Nothing you press down that hard won't eventually come out."  He took his laptop back and went back to his browsing on another site.  "By the way, did the succuba repelling charm work for you finally?  You don't stink like her tonight."  Dean growled.  He grinned at him.  "That way you're not taken out by a flimsy little bitch in lingerie."  He went back to reading.

Dean took the laptop and walked it out the trunk, tossing it in with the weapons before slamming it and walking back inside.  "No more, Sammy.  Ever."

"Bite me."

"You might be tainted," he sneered.

Sam got up and faced down his older brother.  "Say what?"

"Tainted.  Too much magic does that to you, Sammy."

"No, it doesn't!"

"Yeah, it does.  Then the more you use the more you draw and the worse they come for you."

"I'm not doing that sort of magic."

"All sorts are that sort."

"No, they're not."  He walked around him.  "I'm going to sleep in the car."

"No magic on my car," he ordered coldly.  "Or you can stay here."

Sam got his things and got his laptop too, then waved.  "Bye.  I'll get it without you."  He walked off into the night.  He'd give it an hour and then Dean would be hunting him down.  He made it easy for him because he knew Dean.  Sure enough, forty minutes later Dean was stomping into the bar, grabbing him by his collar to drag out of there.  Sam grabbed his bags from behind the bar, getting a nod from the bartender.  Dean slung him at the car.  "Hey!"

"Get in, Sammy," he growled.  "Now."

"Not unless you suddenly become reasonable, Dean."

"No magic," he hissed, glancing around.  "I don't give a shit if you sleep with someone scuzzy or anything like that but I will protect you from this.  It's a short hill to black masses and I will not see you go down that way."

"I'm not going to."

"You will."

He leaned on the roof of the car.  "The darkest rites are blood magic, Dean."

"There's darker."

"Not my point.  We've done blood magic.  The salting and burning?  It comes directly from a banishing rite."  Dean shuddered.  "We've had to do rituals before.  Yes, I learned how to do them better.  Yay me."

"You were rebelling as a teenager," he said hotly.

"No, I was happy."  Dean glared at him.  "I was truly happy there, Dean.  And once the demon's gone I'm not so sure I'm not going to head back there if the commune's still open.  I haven't decided yet and probably won't until that moment.  I can tell you that you're not going to be running my life for me.  I will do what I feel I have to do to protect us both.  If you don't like it, I'll head out on my own."

"You can't do that.  You don't have any gear, a car, anything."

"Give me four months and I can have all that, research on how to summon the stupid thing or kill it, and then do it."

"What about Dad?"

"What about him?  We know he's alive.  He sent coordinates.  He'll show up.  He always does."

Dean glared at him.  "Get in the car.  We'll argue about this at the motel room."

"Not if you're going to be an ass."

"Now, Sam."

Sam stared at him.  "Dean... this is me."

"No, this was teenage rebellion.  Not you.  You're not on that nice little walking path.  Get your gear in the car, now.  With your ass too."

Sam sighed, but put his stuff into the car then climbed into his seat, buckling up.  Dean slid in a moment later.  "It's not that sort of path, Dean.  You make your choices."

"And some day you'll choose to go darker because you think you have a reason."

Sam looked at him.  "Not necessarily.  There's a lot of stuff that's not that dark that I could do instead."

"Not *that* dark?"

"Some healing spells are counted as blood magic, Dean."

"Uh-huh.  Digging your hole deeper, Sammy."  He backed the car out of the parking lot and headed back to the motel room.  The new motel room.  He had them changed over.  He got Sam inside, leaving the laptop in the car on purpose.  "No magic unless it is *absolutely* necessary.  Am I clear?"

"I can leave," he offered.  "Where's my laptop?"

"In the car.  You need sleep anyway."

"I'm fine."

"You don't usually sleep, Sammy."

"I have a herbal sleeping tea that helps now and then when I get that tired."  Dean growled.  "It's all natural, doesn't cost a lot, and I can pick most of it up at the grocery store, Dean.  Chill.  It was used for centuries before we had Sominex."

"No more," he said calmly but a bit coldly too.  "It's time to grow up, Sammy.  That's for teenagers and girls."

Sam looked at him then shrugged.  "Almost none of the women on the commune were teenagers.  We do grow up, Dean."

"Most of them left it I'm sure."

"No."  He laid down on his bed, getting comfortable.  Dean stomped off to take a shower.  Sam built a protection around his own bed and let it lie there.  If Dean didn't want it, he didn't have to take it.  He wasn't going to sleep unshielded but hey, that was Dean's issue.  He was sure they'd run into magic on the hunt.  They seemed to at least a few times a year.

Dean stomped out after his shower, going to bed.  "Night."

"Night."  He stripped down and got into bed, making his nightly prayers.  It wasn't truly something he fully believed in the way some women did but it was a calming part of his nighttime ritual anymore.  Made him feel connected again.  Which he needed since Jess's death had shaken him so badly.  Not like he and Dean were fully reconnected.  They might never be since Dean had decided he was being a rebellious teenager again.


Dean looked up after one of their hunts had needed a protection circle, looking at his little brother, who was packing the car quite efficiently.  "You good?"

Sam frowned at him.  "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You had to pull that out of your butt."

Sam shrugged.  "I do it to my bed every night."

"I thought I said no magic."

Sam grinned.  "I don't do any around you but I'm not going to sleep unshielded, Dean.  If the demon does want me, why present him with an open target?"  He closed the trunk and walked around to look at him.  "I don't do it for you because you object so strongly."  He checked his bandage then smirked.  "You've clotted over.  Ready to go?"

Dean stopped him from moving.  "It's wrong, Sam."

"No, it's not.  It's protective, Dean.  The same as the salt wards are."  He got free and got into the car.  "Am I driving?"

"No."  He got up and grabbed his keys out of his pocket then slid in to drive.  "You haven't done any around me?"

"Around you, on you, around your bed.  No."

"Fine."  He started the car then backed out of the parking spot, heading off into the afternoon.  He found them a good enough place that night and signed them in, then went to play pool while he thought.  He ended up calling an old family friend.  "Hey, it's Dean."  He leaned against the outer wall of the bar.  "No, I'm not okay.  Sammy's been doing that magic shit again," he said quietly, glancing around.  "Every night around his bed.  He said he won't do it around mine or the room because I ordered him not to.  Please," he said at the offer of talking to him.  "I have no idea.  Dad got those memories pushed down but he said he's had them back for a few years and I don't want him to go dark, Bobby."  He nodded, resting his head against the wall too.  "Thanks, man.  Idaho."  He smirked.  "Not intentionally but we were heading for the east coast kinda to see if we can find the old man out there.  You should've seen that fit," he said with a small smirk.  "Thanks, Bobby."  He hung up and took his pool winnings back to the motel.  "Bobby wants to see us."

"New hunt?" Sam asked absently while he read.

"No.  Just some information sharing he said."  He laid down on his bed.  "What's that site?"

"It's an online journal I've been tracking for a few years now.  A friend from school is trying to become a scriptwriter.  He puts some of the lines on here and things asking for advice."  He put in a comment then logged off to look at his brother.  "Whined at him?"


"Whatever."  He found a site he liked better and went back to it.  Someone needed to.  They had some strange stuff on here and they needed experienced people to point out where there were translation errors.  He put in a comment about one thing and then kept going.

"What now?"

"It's someone translating some ancient books from Latin to English."  He grinned.  "They're conjugating funny."  He got back to it, correcting it for the poor person.  Then he sent it and got back to reading.

Dean got up to look over his shoulder.  "Another hunter?"

"Something like that.  Interested in it certainly."

"Uh-huh.  Do they need our help too?"

"They haven't called anything and they're mostly doing some mythology research."  He looked up at Dean.  "They're fine so far and they're around a few different hunters' areas if they run into too much of an issue."

"That's a blessing.  Duffers playing in the wrong playground end up being food and later problems."

"Or they end up there like Dad did.  Not everyone starts out like us, with it being spoon-fed from a young age."

"Good point I guess."  He got comfortable on his bed again.  "Anything like a job?"

"Not that I've seen recently."


Sam smiled but went back to typing.  "It'll come when they come, Dean."  Hopefully Bobby would make Dean calm down.  Because he was tired of this speech.  One of these days he was going to beat Dean with magic when he harped on it.  Accidentally of course.


Bobby came out to look at the boys, staring at the two young men.  "You two don't look that injured."

"We're not.  Just tired of nagging brothers," Sam said with a glare at Dean.

"I heard," Bobby said.

"Figured you had.  What do you want me to do?  Hop in and out of the devil's trap?  Drink a gallon of holy water?  Recite Latin?"

"Holy water to start," Bobby said.  Sam sighed but drank from his flask on the way inside to the devil's trap.  Bobby watched him hop in and out of it.  "Fine."  Sam handed back the flask with a look.  "He's right to worry."

"There *is* white magic, Bobby."

"I know.  It's still easy to slip."

"Protections aren't going to make me slip and some healing spells are counted as blood magic.  I know that."  He walked off shaking his head.  "Calm Dean down, please?  I'm tired of the nagging and I can't promise I won't turn him into a bunny rabbit soon."

"That would be slipping," Bobby called after him.

Sam stopped to turn back and look at him.  "He thinks I'm going to anyway.  Why not prove him right?"  He walked out the back door, letting it slam behind him.

Dean sighed.  "See?  He's totally back into that rebellious teen thing, Bobby."

"Maybe it's because you're harping, Dean.  The more you nag, the more you piss him off and since magic is based on emotional control, you'll be the bunny Dean soon."

Dean shuddered.  "He can't do that, right?"

"Don't know.  How powerful is he?"

"I don't know.  I made him quit doing magic around the motel rooms to add to the protections.  Plenty of demons can track that stuff."

"But they probably won't.  Most of them won't care and that one won't be tracking you that way.  So ease off on it and watch him for doing stupid crap.  Now, let's go find the boy before he hissies himself off into a true accident."

"Fine."  They went out together, tracking Sam into the woods behind Bobby's house.  "Sammy!" he yelled.  "C'mon!"

"Butt out!" Sam yelled.

"Fat chance," Dean said.


Sam huffed off into the woods and found the stream running as the boundary of his property.  He heard Dean yell for him and yelled back.  He followed it for a ways then felt something.  He sped up, finding a young man on the other side.  "Hey," he said quietly, making him jump and look around.  "I'm not going to hurt you.  What are you trying to do?"

"I got hit with some black magic and I need to dump it."

"Okay, so you're doing what?"

"Dumping it," he said, waving a hand around.

"That's not how you do that."  He came over and knelt in front of him, taking his hands.  "With me.  What's your name?"

"Are you some crazed mage or chaos guy?"

"No.  I'm a demon hunter."

The boy slumped.  "Me too.  Vamps mostly."  The other guy grinned.  "Thanks.  Xander."

"I'm Sam."  He took his hands again.  "Close your eyes.  Calm it down.  And let's concentrate while I lead you in the right chant, Xander."

"You studied?  Like Wicca?"

"I spent a good while at a commune that did a lot of protection and herbalism.  Then I learned on top of it."  Xander nodded, closing his eyes.  Sam started the chant.  Xander caught the rhythm on the second pass, letting it go.

"Stop it!" Bobby yelled.

"He's dumping off the stuff that got shot into him," Sam called.  "Stay there."  He went back to it.  The boy was mumbling it.  He smiled as the bad energy drained out.  He worked one to help the power recycle faster and the boy went limp, giving him a hug.  "Now, what the hell happened, dude?"

"Long story."

"Hold it," Bobby ordered, pointing his shotgun at him.

The boy looked back at him.  "A witch hit me with some black magic in her grief.  I had to dump it."

"You came all the way out here to do that?"

"I've been doing that now for almost five months," he said honestly, turning to look at him.  "I was off going to the teacher my witch friend told me about but I was on the road when I felt it going up again.  I got pulled over for speeding and the cop somehow ended up having a heart attack.  I called it in and the ones answering told me I could find a good, *public* place to let some energy go here.  Then Sam found me trying to dump it."

"He was trying to do a 'release the energy and let it go that way' instead of channeling it out," Sam explained.  "So I stepped in to help him."  He stood up and pulled Xander up.  "Beyond that, he does the same thing we do, guys."

"Prove it."

Xander grinned.  "Hi, Xander Harris from Sunnydale, California.  I work with the slayer."  Bobby's gun dropped, staring at him.  "When Willow went off the deep end in grief, she hit me with a few bursts of black magic she had sucked up.  They weeded hers out but I've had to dump mine every few days."  He looked at Sam.  "Is there a way to put a permanent drain?"

"No.  Not that I know of.  Bobby?"

"No.  Not that I know of either."  He walked over to look at the boy.  "Why didn't they take it out of you?"

"They took her to Devon almost immediately.  They apparently didn't think about where she had hit me, had done some other magic, any of that stuff.  When I tried to bring it up, they didn't want to hear about me and magic in the same sentence.  Even when things start to float and other things because I'm backed up and can't dump things at that moment."

Bobby looked at the boy, then sighed.  "There's got to be a way."

"I asked if the magic she blasted me with might leave a taint or might open me to using more magic.  They said it can't do that."

"Bull," Sam snorted.  "We can look, Xander.  There's a few different research sites online."

"I know.  I've seen most of them.  Willow's looking on some now that she's back and I asked her about that.  She put in a desperate call to Devon.  They said it should've already bled out.  Yet I was floating things without conscious thought."

Dean came over.  "What is going on out there?  We've been hearing rumors."

"Lots and lots of bad crap which is why I'm off finding a way to dump it before it becomes a problem."

"We'll do what we can to help," Bobby said.

Xander grinned.  "I think Sam just did.  Now I know how to do it the right way so more empties."  He gave Sam a pat on the arm.  "Thanks, man."

"Welcome.  Are you sure you guys don't need help?"

"It's another apocalypse but I'm hoping we have it.  If not, it'll spread from Sunnydale to LA probably.  That's the most common demon pipeline from our town.  It'll be worse than it could be but I think we have it."

"How certain are you?" Dean asked.

"We're fairly certain that we have it."

"What is going on?"

"The First Evil."  All three hunters gaped.  He shrugged.  "The slayer died.  There was a huge problem coming.  No new one because there's two now because I knew CPR back in tenth grade.  The one it passes through was in jail.  We had to do a resurrection of our slayer.  Willow did what she could but there was an issue and...."

"She came back wrong," Bobby interrupted.  Xander nodded.  "Should've known about that."

"It was that or have the town overrun and then the world.  Right now, they've taken out most of the potentials, the watchers, and we're all gathering in Sunnydale to fight this spring.  But we know what we're doing.  We know how we're doing it.  We can handle it and we should be able to do that as long as I can hold it together long enough to help plan things.  And then, we'll see."  He looked at them. "We have enough potential slayers to handle it.  Really.  I thank you for your help."  He shook their hands.  "If you're out our way after the apocalypse, show up and see if we need help."  He grinned.  "Thanks, Sam.  I needed that help."  He walked off.  "Thank you, guys.  Keep the rest of the world safe and we'll do our little corner of the hellmouth."

Sam blinked then pointed.  "Huh?" he asked quietly once he was gone.

"The hellmouth is like a devil's gate but it goes to multiple hell planes," Bobby said.  "It's a convergence point that's dark.  If he got hit with magic, he's been hit with dark magic.  He lives with dark magic night and day.  The slayer deals with that sort of thing and leaves the rest to our kind."

"I can't imagine going dark in grief," Sam said quietly.  "I mean, I wanted to lash out...."

Dean patted him on the back.  "She's supposed to be mega powerful.  Like destroying whole counties powerful.  We felt it when she went off but apparently they got her help.  She went magic addiction."

Sam glared at him, moving away.  "I'm not going to do that.  I'm not like that, Dean."  He stomped off again.

Bobby sighed.  "At least we're getting exercise today.  Sammy!"  He glared but stopped.  "Get back here.  I know you're not going to.  I'm more worried that you'll pull some boneheaded move trying to save your idiot brother."

"Hey!" Dean complained.

Sam walked back.  "Only if it'd be to protect them."

"That's one use of blood magic," Bobby reminded him.

"I know.  I've done plenty of protections on him and Dad in the past."

"Which we didn't ask for," Dean pointed out.  Bobby swatted him.  "I'm sorry but I don't want to be a neon sign for the demons to come get me!" he complained.

Bobby looked at him.  "They can't track it that way in most cases."  Sam looked smug.  "The one after the family may be able to though."  Dean smirked at his little brother.  "But if he wants Sam anyway, this could make him drool more than he had been."

"If he wants me, he already knew I could and that I've been learning protections," Sam pointed out.  "I don't see any harm in protecting our room better than mere salt can.  Plenty of things can cross salt wards."

"That's true," Bobby agreed.

Dean snorted.  "Not that many."

"A good half of them can," Bobby told him.  Dean groaned.  "Have you been doing it behind his back?"

"On my bed since it creeps him out so much."

"That lets him complain."  He looked at Dean.  "Well?"

"It's freaky and I don't want it around me.  It's a good way to slip down the path to darker magic."

"I'm not going to slip!" Sam shouted, throwing his hands up and stomping off again.  "I'll be back when Dean doesn't think I'm some junkie."

"Sure," Bobby agreed, leading Dean back to the house.  "Be in for dinner or don't eat."

"Whatever," Sam called back.

Dean looked at the older man.  "Am I wrong?"

"It's easy to do but it also depends on the sort of person it is.  Sammy might be stubborn enough to not slip if something tempts him.  His big temptation is going to be doing something to protect you and your stubborn ass of a father."

Dean nodded.  "I know and that's what has me worried."

Bobby nodded.  "It's a good worry but you upsetting him and nagging him is going to make him have an accident and then you'll be the bunny Dean."

"He can't, right?"

"Depends on how powerful he is," he offered with a slight smirk.  Yeah, Sam probably could but better not to have Dean angsting and worrying about that.  He'd go spastic on Sam and Sam would surely slip.  They didn't need this now.  "Think your dad will throw a fit again?"

"He did the last time.  We nearly stormed the commune to get him back.  Then Dad took him to have the memories repressed by some head shrinker with a shiny watch."  He snorted.  "Sammy got 'em back two years ago."

"That happens whenever you mess with a mind that way," Bobby agreed.  "I'd say keep it from your dad, Dean.  He's not going to react pleasantly if he's under stress."

"Sammy said he might find a way to summon the demon so we can kill it?"

"Maybe," he agreed.  "No idea.  You can summon most of them though."  Dean perked up at that.  "That'd still mean you'd have to know how to trap or kill it at that moment."

"But we've been working on that for years.  Dad might even have a clue."

"Could be," he agreed.  They walked up the back porch and into the house, Bobby sending him to the living room while he made some coffee.  Sam came up the back stairs about an hour later.  "You done sulking?"

"Yup.  Is he?"

"He knows you won't turn junkie on the magic, Sam.  It's a worry but you can probably keep from having to do something to save the boy or your father."

Sam sat down, looking at him.  "Then where's Dean?"

"Cleaning his baby."

"Of course," Sam sighed.  He looked outside then at him.  "Is he down off his problem now?"

"Kinda.  Just keep it quiet around him.  Keep it subtle."

"Room protections?"

"Only if you can do it without him knowing."

"The only reason he found out was he came back early."

"Keep it to that.  And don't tell the ass."

"I'm not looking forward to that talk with Dad."  Bobby smirked.  "Any idea on him?"

"Not a clue.  Haven't heard a thing."

"Shoot.  It'd make Dean relax again if he knew."

"I know he's still alive.  Otherwise, not a clue."

"That's something I guess."  He leaned back.  "Need any help around here?"

"Not at the moment.  Unless you want to go play with the old cars?"

"No.  Not my thing.  That's Dean."

"I know."  He reached over to swat him.  "That guy was a bit strange."

"Yeah but after being hit with dark magic that way, I'd be strange too.  The cop he accidentally zapped?"

"Fine according to the news.  They said he had a heart attack while doing a traffic stop.  The kid called help for him."

"Good of him.  Any idea what he was talking about?  It sounded bad."

"Oh, it is.  But slayers are used to that level of bad.  You can try to go out there if you want but I'm very sure Dean and your dad will scream forever if they found you there."

"Are they going to need help?"

"I hope not but watch the new out from around LA this spring."  Sam nodded at that.  Dean walked in with a grin.  "You done fondling your car?"

"No, but I'll go back to it later.  Sammy, you done with your fit?"

"Depends, are you done thinking I'm going to turn into a magical addict?"

"I guess."

"Are you going to let me do protections on the motel rooms?"


"Then screw yourself, Dean."  Dean gaped.  Sam gave him a long look.  "I don't need this stress too."

"Whatever, dude.  You're ruining my good mood."

"I can go now."

"You move from this house and I'll kick your ass."

Sam laughed.  "Yeah, right."  He looked at Bobby.  "Can I help with dinner?"

"Sure.  Go peel potatoes."  Sam nodded, going to do that.  "Dean," he warned.  He made hopping bunny motions.  Dean sat on the couch and slumped, shrugging some.  "You're acting like a pair of teenage boys.  Stop it.  I didn't like you in this phase the first time."

"Yeah, whatever," he mumbled.

Bobby sighed.  "Go pet your car some more."

"She's clean.  I even detailed her."

"Then do the inside."  Dean went to do that.  "Sam."

"I tried."

"Not that hard."  He shot him a dirty look.  "I know it's a gift and all...."

Sam shrugged.  "I think so.  I also think it's damn handy at keeping them both alive.  You should've seen it when they pulled me away from my teacher by force.  They treated me like I was in a cult.  They had someone force down the memories, Bobby.  I can't forgive that."

"I know.  I heard."

"They came out but I'm not sure what else they pushed down.  Did I have a girlfriend back then?"

"Not that I heard.  I have your postcards."  He got up to get them, handing them over.  "Maybe some friends on the commune."

Sam read them over and smiled.  "Yeah, Beth and Sophie.  Sweet girls.  They wanted to open a herb store.  They were sweet and helped me with my pronunciation when I got stuck for a bit.  Sophie was a whiz at making up symbols for any ritual on about any medium.  Felt on silk, drawn, whatever."

"But she was sweet?" Bobby teased.

"Oh, very."

"You three date?"

"Yup."  He handed them back then leaned back again.  "We went on simple dates, just out around town.  They were together and the town was a bit provincial back in those days."

"I can see how that is.  Two lesbians around here would raise eyebrows too.  Of course, with them being on the commune they probably thought they were a bit strange anyway."

"Yeah but Sophie nearly got jumped by some drunk guy one night."  He shifted.  "I jumped in and he went begging to the cops about how we beat him up."

Bobby laughed.  "Guess that really bit his pride in the butt.  Beaten by a few witches?"

Sam smirked.  "Yes he was.  Very well.  Sophie got him in the jaw when he was down.  She wasn't happy with being grabbed by some guy like Dean."  Bobby laughed louder at that. "Anyway."  He closed his eyes.  "I know I'm still missing stuff.  My senior year I got a lot of 'you should've learned that already' from the teachers in history class."

"You probably have them all back now, Sam."

"How would I know?"

"Good point.  If not, it was probably nothing too important."

Sam shrugged.  "It happens I guess."  He looked outside then at the kitchen.  "I should check the ones I put on to bake."  Bobby got up with him to finish dinner.  They were boys who were nearly bottomless pits.  They'd eat a lot.  He had to be ready for that.


Sam watched his father walk out of the shadows, staring at him.  He was upset.  Really upset.  He was conflicted too.  He wasn't sure if he wanted to hit him or hug him.  He pushed down the 'hit him' reflex for now.  He could hit him later.  Hopefully.  Dean gave his father a hug then stepped to look at him. "Son," John said, looking at Sam.

"Dad."  He gave him a hug for now.  He looked around.  "Did you handle it?"

"No, not yet."  They moved to get to work.  John watched his younger son.  "I heard.  I'm sorry."

Sam nodded. "Not your fault."  They moved on.  Later that night, Sam got faced down by his father.  "What?"

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine."

John stared at him.  "Dean told me you've gotten your memories back."

"Some.  There's some I'm still missing I think."  John grimaced.  "You do know I hate you for that?  That was so heinous I could never forgive anyone for that."

"It's not good...."

"Stop now," he ordered quietly.  John shut up, staring at him.  "It's just fine for me to do white magic and protections.  Not all of us turn into junkies.  So just drop it."

John swallowed.  "You're still practicing?"

"Yeah.  Protections and things."

John groaned.  "I don't like that hobby."

"I don't care."

"That could be what draws it," John said quietly.

Sam looked at him.  "It's not me doing things.  It's me, Dad."  John nodded at that.  "He targeted Jess because of me.  I don't know why it likes me but it has for a long time.  Long before then."

"The ability could be why it likes you," John pointed out.

"Then it's better that I learn all I can about protections, huh?"  He walked off.  "I'm going to bed."

"Night."  He watched him go.  He looked around, spotting Dean.  "You okay with that?"

"No."  Dean walked over.  "But he's sure it doesn't hurt him.  Then again, we saw a hunter that got hit with some black magic."  John shuddered.  "He's fine.  He was dumping it near Bobby's.  He's been trying to find a way to do that before going back to the spring apocalypse."

John stared at him.  "Harris?  He's still got some after Rosenburg went off the deep end?"

"Yeah.  Sam helped him dump it.  He was on the way to find someone who was a better source."

"What's this spring?"

"He said something about the First Evil.  A botched resurrection."

John shuddered.  "I'll listen to the news near LA starting in February."

"Us too."  He looked at their motel room door then at his father.  "Was it worth it?"

"It kept you safe."

"Not really."

"Beyond his girl."

"Not really.  We've had a lot of crap while finding you."  He punched him on the arm.  Then he walked off again.  "I'm going to play some pool."

"Sure," John agreed, going to his own room, sighing in displeasure.  He had to make this right with his sons somehow.  He had to protect Sam too.  Even if his younger one wouldn't agree.  He had to be protected from the demon.


Later that month, Sam looked at the man in the bed, then at his father.  He got a sudden flash and grabbed his father's arm.  "Don't you even think about summoning him to make a deal," he ordered coldly but trying to keep it quiet so no one else overheard.  John stared at him.  "Yes, I'm still getting flashes."

"If that's what saves him...."

Sam growled and moved closer.  "There's other ways that'll help more."

"He's in a coma.  He could die."

"I know that.  You will die and the demon will you use to torture us some more."  John flinched at that.  "So no.  Just...don't.  Let me look something up because I think I can help more than that."

"No magic.  Dean wouldn't want that."

"He'd want you dead?" he countered.  John slumped.  "Just...don't."  He walked off, going to get his laptop so he could find what he needed.  He came back an hour later and found his father in there talking to him.  He handed it to him.  "Still on the light side."  He leaned down to fuss over Dean's blankets.  "You've got a choice, Dean.  Wake up or I'm making you wake up," he said in his ear.  "One way or another."  The brain waves picked up for a few heartbeats then went back down.  He looked over at his father.

"This could hurt you, Sammy."

"No it won't.  Not like I'm not skilled."

"You can't.  Dean wouldn't..."  Sam poured something over Dean's face, rubbing it in.  "What was that?" he hissed.

"Healing elixir.  Like we used on the road more than once."  He stared at his father then at the monitors.  "It's helping."  He looked down at Dean again.  "Next time I'll make you drink it and I'll make it taste like frog parts if you don't wake up soon, Dean."  He took his laptop back.  "I can get everything I need by tomorrow.  The store in the next town can deliver it for a healing spell."

"I can't let you..."

Sam gave him a hard shove.  "As opposed to dying to save him?  Would Dean really want that?"  John glared.  "It won't work."

"Bound me?"

"I'm not that mean," he said dryly.  "If I have to, I will."  John stomped off.  Sam sat, looking over the ritual again.  He pulled the things he had taken off John when he had shoved him, putting them back after a minute.  "Okay, Dean.  Gotta get up, dude.  It's long past time for this nap to quit happening."  He did more research on comas and what could be keeping him down.  Something clearly was.


Sam got finished and flopped down, blinking up at the stars overhead.  "I hope it helped," he said, sending up a desperate plea.  He cleaned up after himself and went back to the hospital, finding his brother still down but better it looked like.  He leaned down.  "Dean, you're in a dream state.  You can summon whatever you need to help you," he whispered.  He looked up as his father walked in.  "He's closer."

"What are you telling him?"

"There's something suppressing him.  He's in something like a dream plane."

John nodded.  "A reaper?  I've been hearing rumors in the last few days."  Sam nodded.  "You sure?"

"Fairly so."  He swallowed.  "The thing about dream states is that Dean can summon whatever he needs if he wants it bad enough."

"So he has to think about it?"

"Or we have to find a way to tell him that.  Know anyone who can dream walk?"

John considered it.  "No."  He looked at his son.  "Any of your contacts?"

"No.  I can look it up.  It's said to be a form of meditation.  That there has to be some sort of link.  Blood is still the strongest linking medium."

"I don't like this trend," John warned.

"It's not magic."  He settled in to read up on that subject.  He found what he needed.  "Give me the colt please?"  John went to get it.  It was wrapped up but Sam put the wrapped bundle in his lap while he worked his way down and through their shared blood.  He found Dean in a hospital setting, frowning at it.  "This is worse than the real one."  Dean spun, staring at him.  "You're in a coma thanks to a Reaper."

"Knew that, dumbass."

"You're in what's basically a dream state, Dean.  You can summon whatever you need to help you if you want it enough or if someone brings it to you."  He held out the bundle's image.

"How do I know you're not her?"

Sam smirked.  "Because I know in detail how you got that scar on the inside left cheek of your ass?"

Dean grimaced, coughing a bit.  "She probably wouldn't know that but she's in my head, Sammy."

Sam moved closer.  Then he popped him on the forehead with the heel of his hand.  "Blood calls to blood, Dean.  The healing spell worked wonders and Dad didn't summon the demon to have him in exchange for you."  He held out the gun bundle again.  Dean took it.  "Wake up soon.  He's going insane and edging toward it anyway."  He made himself wake up, gasping a bit.  He blinked, looking around.  He muttered, finding his father in the basement of the hospital.  The gun was still in his lap.  He checked, it was the colt.  He wrapped it back up and put it into his bag with his laptop then moved to Dean's side.  He called his father from the room phone.  "Found him, got it to him, it won't work anyway, Dad."  He hung up, moving to poke Dean until he woke up and told him to stop it.  Dean swatted him about ten minutes later, mumbling something.  Sam got him some water to sip.  He blinked at him.  He looked around then back at him.  "Basement pacing."

Dean nodded slowly then shook his head.  John stormed in.  He looked at him.  "Son," John said, giving him a hug.  "You'll be fine."

Dean nodded.  "Course," he whispered.  Sam let him have some more water.  "Pretty nurses?"  John shook his head.  "Pity."  He let himself drift off again.

John looked at Sam.  "Thank you, son."

"Not a problem.  I don't want Dean to be like that either, Dad."  He sat again.  "He answer?"

"No."  He glared at his son.  "Bound me after all?"

"No."  He smirked and got comfortable to wait on Dean to wake up again.  They'd get to go home soon he hoped.  He hated hospitals.  Too much violent blood spilled here.


Dean stopped Sam on the way out, letting their father get them a cab.  "Just because it helped...."

"Welcome," Sam said with a grin.

"No more, Sammy."

Sam smacked him on the head.  "I'm not your dog, Dean.  Would you rather he summoned the demon to have him in exchange for you?"


"Then suck it up this time.  We'll discuss it beforehand next time."

"There had better not be a next time."

"Then quit getting hit on the head, jerk."

"Bitch, it wasn't my fault."  Sam stared at him and he grimaced.  "Fine.  Just no more.  On the motel rooms or anything for a while."

"Whatever."  He walked Dean out to the cab, helping him in then getting into the front.  They headed off to Bobby's, starting a long, complaining journey.   Dean still didn't feel great.  John was uneasy.  Dean was worried about his car so he wouldn't have to worry about them openly.  Sam was keeping himself calm.  Because his father constantly checking him over was going to drive him nuts.  So when they got to Bobby's, it was wonderful.  He got out of the cab on that end, stretching up and out.  John paid while Sam got Dean out.  John got their bags. Bobby came out of the house, letting them all smile at him.

"Boys, you look like hell," Bobby said.

"Nearly there," Dean quipped with a grimace.  "Is my lady here?"

"Out back waiting on you, Dean.  Hit the couch or the bed."

"Thanks, man.  Dad's aftershave is giving me a headache."  He walked that way, making sure Bobby saw him walking through the devil's trap.  Sam and John carried in the bags.  "No fussing," Dean ordered when Sam started to check his bandages.

"Sammy, can you put on coffee?" Bobby asked.  Sam smirked at him but went to do that.  John shook his head with a moan.  "What happened?"

"I got possessed by the demon.  Then it made a last ditch effort to get us by slamming a possessed semi into the car," John said.

Bobby nodded once.  "And the reason that you guys keep watching Sammy's butt?"

"I did a healing spell and dream walked to help Dean," Sam called from the kitchen.  "It kept *someone* from making a demonic deal to heal Dean."

Bobby leaned back to look at him.  "Blood magic?"

"A bit of mine to bind the spell."  He grinned.  "Still light magic."

"Yes it is, usually," Bobby agreed patiently.  Sam beamed at him.  Well, that explained that.  "Dean, didn't we have a talk about bunny rabbits the last time?"

"I want him to lay off it for a while.  We're safe here."

"I shouldn't need to do more than a general protection around the car so you can work on it and any demons or creatures can't get to it while you're working on it and the usual marks carved into it are twisted and not working."  He brought out coffee for them.  "Not on the car, on the ground around it."  Dean gave him an odd look.  "With the way the frame is twisted slightly where you put those protection marks after the Lady in White, it's twisted some of them probably.  This'll mean nothing can get into the trunk or try to infect the car."

"That I might not mind.  Simple rune protections?" Dean demanded.

"Of course.  We can do a protection circle around it," Sam promised with a grin.  "Would that bother you, Bobby?"

"No, I think it's a smart idea.  There's no telling what might come after you three."  John grimaced but took his coffee to cover it.  "Don't you dare disappear either, John.  The boys need you right now."  He got up.  "Show me what you're going to do?"  Sam got his notebooks out to show him.  "Why not the Norse version?"

"This is based closer to Native American rites."  He grinned.  "Native magic for the native soil but it's got runes from everywhere else woven in for extra protection.  That's a Norse rune, there's an Egyptian one.  A Greek one."  Bobby nodded at that.  "The rest are either Native or Wiccan."

"That'll work.  We can do that later."  Sam put his book up and moved the bag back into the corner.  "Dream walked?"

"The reaper had Dean on a dream plane."

"He dream walked to tell me I could summon the colt," Dean told him.

John nodded.  "Scared the crap outta me."

Bobby smiled.  "Sam's careful to stay on the light, John."

"Still dangerous."

"So's the water in half the motels we stay at," Sam quipped.  "Bobby, can I help with dinner while Dean and Dad gripe and laze around?"

"I am not," John snarled.

"You have a broken arm, sit there," Dean snapped.  John gave him an odd look.  "Another reason for the headache."

"You got bashed pretty good on it, Dean.  It should hurt," Bobby said.  He got him a blanket.  "I'll make up the usual guest room.  Sammy, can you start on dinner and we'll finish it in a bit?"

"Sure, I can do that."  He went to work in the kitchen so Dean and his father could have a mini argument.  Probably about him or magic but oh well.  Bobby came back a few minutes later so he leaned closer.  "Which part are they arguing about?"

"John thinks you should be going home," he said quietly.

Sam snorted, shaking his head.  "Once it's gone for good."  He handed him the bag of rolls.  "There's ten left.  I left the full package in the freezer."

"That's fine."  He laid them out to thaw so they could be baked then got to work on the rest of the day's tasks.  Once dinner was baking, they went to scratch protections around the car before something got a bright idea up its tail.  John came out a while later.  Bobby looked at him, wincing mentally at the bad look on John's face.  "Don't you dare start one of those Epic Winchester Battles on my porch, John Winchester."

"I'm not planning on it."

Sam looked at him.  "If you're thinking about telling me you and Dean can handle it for me and avenge Jess, yes you are," Sam assured him with a sweet smile.  John backed up at that look.  "I doubt Bobby wants to have to call the cops to pull me off your ass for it either."

"I'm your father," John started.

Sam snorted.  "You're more a DI than a father, Dad.  I'm going to avenge my fiancee and then we'll talk about me going back to finish my last semester and then to law school."  He finished his last mark and looked, carving a few lines deeper before stepping out.  "Did I forget any?"

"That's still a strange Norse marking," Bobby said.  Sam got the book to reference and he found he had forgotten a line.  It got put in and they were done.  Bobby nodded.  "That's nice.  Which one are you doing on the motel rooms?"

"Simple protections on the walls if they're thin or the windows and all the doors in case something uses a door as a gateway."

"Makes a lot of sense to me," Bobby decided.  He looked at John.  "Would you have let someone like me hunt down the damn demon after it got Mary?"  John shook his head, pursing his lips into a scowl.  "Your son's a lot like you.  Deal with it."  He walked off to check on dinner, finding Dean doing it.  "You, on the couch."

"Do I need to find the first aid kit?"

"Not yet.  You knew it wasn't going to work."

"I told him not to try."  Bobby looked at him.  "I did.  He's being stubborn."  Someone out there yelped.  "That's Sammy."  He walked out as fast as he could.  "Sammy?"

"A snake tried to bite me," he said, stomping on the thing's head.  He tossed it into a trash barrel then looked at his brother.  "You feel the same way?"

"It's good to have you in the car with me, Sammy, but I still can't stand the magic shit."

"I don't do it every day, Dean.  It's not like I'm even in sight of junkie levels.  Doing a protection on the motel rooms is practical.  Like the salt wards that come down from magical origins too."

John flinched at that.  "We don't hold to the ritual behind it, Samuel."

"Duh," he said, staring him down.  "I know that."  He stared him down.  "Quit treating me like I'm stupid."

His father backed off in the look in his son's eyes.  Sam was going to have a go at him again if he didn't.  Bobby would not like to take them both to the ER tonight.  "I know you're not dumb, son, but you wanted out of the life.  Remember.  You know Dean and I will get this demon."

Sam stared at him.  "The demon clearly wants me for some reason.  I don't know why.  I'm not sure I care why.  I do know that you hadn't heard a thing about it while I was at college."  John sighed when that truth hit him.  "I also know that the demon will eventually come for me.  Wherever I am isn't going to be safe for anyone around me.  It's better if I'm actively fighting it.  Then we'll see what happens.  After it's dead I might go back to school."  He saw Dean watching.  "I don't know yet, Dean.  We'll figure that out later."  He looked at his father again.  "As I told him, the more you nag, the easier it'll be for me to be self-conscious about any gifts I might have and make a mistake that'll mean a family of Winchester Bunnies."   John glared.  Sam stared back.  "It does depend on emotional stability.  Making me pissed, paranoid, or that emo is going to create a problem and someone will have a bunny tail.  Probably whoever was nagging me at that time."  John backed off at that.  "Doing protections is not wrong.  Even by hunter's standards.  Plenty of us use it without the ritual and it only works half the time because we don't.  Including the salting and burning, Dad.  So hop off it.  I'm not using it for every little thing.  Nor am I planning on going dark unless it's a situation like you nearly caused when you thought about calling the damn demon down to save Dean's life."  He walked off, going into the woods.

"Dinner's in an hour, Sam.  You know there won't be leftovers," Bobby called.

"I'll be back in a few."

"Okay."  He let him huff off, glaring at John.  "Do you really want to be called cute and cuddly by the teenage girl he'll give you away to as their new pet?"  John shuddered at that.  "Then get inside and figure out how to start apologizing.  The more you make him upset, the worse the slip'll be if it comes.  Dean, could've sworn I said to hit the couch."  Dean went back there.  Bobby looked up then shook his head.  He got a book and tossed it at John's head, making him catch it before it broke his nose.  "Read."  He went back to fussing over dinner.  Sam came in ten minutes later as quietly as he could, getting a smile for that.  "You tried," he said in his ear.  Sam nodded.  "Rolls?"  Sam smiled, putting them into the oven to warm up.  Bobby went to check over the injuries.  They all had stitches and Dean's head had to be monitored for a while longer.  Like any concussion.  Sam set the table and then went back to cooking.  Bobby got the boys in for dinner and they decided to have a mostly quiet, polite dinner for a change.  It was a nice one too.


Sam got the bad vision that he was going to be taken and had Dean stop, panting his way through it.  "It's time," he said when he came down, looking at Dean.  Dean gave him a clueless look.  "The demon's going to try to snatch me soon."

"Any idea to where?"

"Not yet."  He frowned, looking at himself.  "But I've got to do something."  Dean opened his mouth.  "Shut it, Dean."  He got up with a slight groan.  "Let's hit the town."

"Protection circle?"

"Directly on me.  If he snatches me, he'll kill a lot of people around me at the time."

"Dude, that's ...."

Sam stopped him.  "Shut up, Dean.  I'm not going to let him kill others to get me.  There's ways I can protect myself if he does get me and ways to make sure he doesn't take anyone else either."

"So what's the plan?"

"First, I need to get a few things."  He got into their ready cash stash and nodded, heading to drive.

"Oh, no."   He gave him a shove.  "Get in."  Sam walked back around and got in, letting Dean drive them into town.  This was not good.  He called his father's phone since he was off somewhere again.  "It's me and Sammy.  The demon's going to try for him soon, Dad."  He hung up and sped up a bit.  Whatever they needed, they needed sooner instead of later.   When they got there, Dean parked.

Sam looked at him.  "Rest," he said quietly, casting the spell.  He got out and headed for the trunk to get the book he needed, then to the local tattoo shop.  He walked in flipping open the book.  "I need six marks done."  The guy nodded, letting him show him which ones.  "I need them basically around my heart."

"How big?"

"However big you want them to be but they don't have to cover everything."

"Any particular order?"  Sam drew them out for him.  "I can do that.  It'll be about seventy bucks."  Sam handed it over and took off his shirt, taking the book with him.  "That's some fancy older script."

Sam grinned.  "It's protection against heathen girls who want to pet me since I'm still grieving."

The artist laughed.  "If you say so, buddy."  He made the transfer for it and sat down to shave Sam's chest.  It was applied and Sam had him move one over somewhat then he got to work on them.  The guy didn't flinch that much and it was easily done.  The kid got gelled, paid for them, then left with the book to find something else he needed.

Sam came back to the car to find Dean still napping and there was an officer writing a ticket.  "Sorry, Officer.  I got tired of his whining at me."  The officer looked at him. "He's my big brother and he's a nag."

"Sleeping pills?"

"Huffed off."

"That's fine then."  He made it a warning, handing it over.  "You guys passing through?"

"Stopped to visit the tattoo place but we're going camping in the desert."  That got a nod and the officer walked off.  He got in and nudged Dean, waking him.  "Let's go camping."


"In the desert.  That way no one else gets hurt when it comes."  They shared a look.

"Why do you smell like incense?"

"The herb shop was trying out a new batch."

"You already went?"  He looked at his watch then at him.  "What did you do?"

"Let you nap off some stress so we'll both be in good form later."  He stared then grinned.  "Unless you wanted to be tired and huffy later?"

"No," he ground out.  "Do not do that again, Sammy."

"Uh-huh.  Better than being a bunny."  Dean growled but started the car, heading out into the desert for the night.  They were both expert campers.  They knew how to do everything they needed.  Dean set up the tent for them while Sam got the fire started and then warded the tent.  "Before you say it, yes I must do that."

"I can see why this time."  He watched him.  "Why are you moving funny?"

"More protections."  He went back to work, mumbling the chants over and over while he worked.  He finally got done and looked at it, nodding some.  He sat down to write a note out and put it in his laptop, which went into the tent.  Then he knocked Dean out again.  He put him into his sleeping bag and made sure the protections were around him.  Then he came out and found the demon staring at him.  "Yes?" he asked his current body.  "Problem?"

"You are one, Samuel."

"It's Sam."

"Sam then."  He smirked and moved closer.  "This will not protect you."

"It's not meant to protect me."  He stepped outside of it.  "You want me, you take me; you don't hurt Dean."  Dean would come for him later, when he let him wake up.  The demon grabbed him and took him off.  Sam snapped the spells on Dean to wake him up and left it there.  He found the others hiding and told them what was going on.  They were wary of his explanation but then a body turned up.


Dean woke up, looking around.  "What the hell?" he complained.  "I said no more doing that, Sammy!"  He didn't hear anything so he got up and went to look.  No Sammy.  No note from Sammy.  He went back into the tent, finding the laptop laying in the open.  He opened it and found a practical note that wouldn't require batteries to be run down.  "Cold Oak," he muttered.  "What the hell did you do this time, Sammy?"  He grabbed it and the other things, undoing the camp quickly so he could repack the car.  Not that they had unpacked most things.  He called his father once he was in to drive.  "The demon took Sammy.  They're in Cold Oak.  I'm about ten hours away."  He hung up and headed that way.  He was *so* going to beat Sammy's ass for this!  How dare he give himself up to save him!


Sam heard a voice and the demon turned to sneer.  Sam did something and it shoved the demon at his father, letting him shoot it.  The shot went a bit wide but Sam caught the bullet magically and shoved it into the demon's head.  It screamed and thrashed.  "Dad!  Again!"  John shot it again.  It went down.   He jogged over.  "There's a devil's gate that he's going to use that to open."


"Devil's gate, Dad."  Dean ran over.  "There's a devil's gate."

"Heard that from Bobby and Ellen."  He looked at the gun.  "We'll need that."

"He'll need that.  It's the key.  His little minion was saying so."  They groaned.  "Change the gun.  It's the key."  John sat to take off the sight and do something else so the barrel wasn't the same as it was.  Sam got moved by Dean when the panicking person tried to stab him.  Sam panted, looking back at him.  "Go.  Now."  He ran off.

Dean checked him over.  "Barely scratched.  Which is good since I'm going to knock your ass out, Sammy."

"Later," John ordered.  He let Sammy have the gun.  "It'll still fire but not the same way."

Sam looked at it then nodded. "Okay.  Let's go to that one.  Before Dean ends up making a deal."  He walked off, heading for the truck.

"What?" Dean demanded.

Sam turned to look at him.  "If I had just been stabbed, you'd be making a deal right about now, Dean.  And yes, before you can ask, I do hate the visions."  He turned around and jogged off.   He could get to his father's truck before he realized that's where he was heading.  John and Dean could ride together this time.  He slid in and locked the door then hot wired the truck, backing out so he could hit the devil's gate.  On the way he called Bobby.  "It's me.  It's changed subtly but there's a keyhole and he needs a champion, Bobby.  Exactly.  I had Dad change it some.  Will us crossing into it activate it?"  He nodded at that wisdom.  "No.  Dad got it."  He listened then nodded, hanging up.  He'd miss the colt but it was apparently necessary.  He got there at dark, getting out to meet with Bobby and Ellen.  "They still arguing about who's going to drive?"

"Took them ten minutes but Dean won," Bobby admitted. "You okay?"

"I'm fine."  He handed him the gun. "We've got to destroy the opening or the keyhole."

"The keyhole would be easiest," Ellen admitted.  "Ash said it's on a gravestone."

Sam nodded, taking the stuff Bobby had packed.  "Stay here.  Use it and guard it."  He headed across, walking carefully toward the cemetery.  He found the gravestone they needed and frowned.  "Now if only I had explosives," he muttered.

A demon appeared, looking at him.  "It won't save you."

Sam looked up at him.  "Didn't we kill you?"

"Not fully.  Banished me that time.  You interfered."

"Of course I did.  Dad's shot went wide."  He looked at the hole again, then up at the demon.  "Won't help you any.  The colt won't fit in the hole."

"I will win."

"No, you won't."

"Yes, I will be."

"No, sorry.  Over your dead body or mine."

"That can be arranged, Sam."

"Bring it," he offered.  The demon lunged at him.  Sam moved and picked up the small hand pickaxe that had been in the bag, using it on the keyhole.

"That won't save you or your pitiful kind."

"Need the key to open the hole, don't you?"  The demon growled and moved closer.  Sam took another swing.  This one was a bit low.  "Huh, cute protections."  The demon tried to hit him with some magic, shoving him back, but the protections on him held.  "Really?  Feel better now?"  He did it again.  The demon howled and tried to stop him.  "Keep it up.  After all, I'm only a pawn."

"Your father was the pawn.  You could be my chosen, have anything you want."

Sam laughed.  "I have what I want."

"I could bring your girlfriend back to life."

Sam shook his head.  "Why do we want to see another First Evil battle?  By the way, did they solve that?"


"Pity for your side, guess the good guys won again."  He took another swing.  It howled and tried to hit him again.  One of the marks burned.  Sam pulled up his skills to protect himself and did it again.  The headstone the keyhole was on cracked.


"Yes, bitch, just like that," Dean said, shooting the demon this time.  It died in a flash of light.  "Sammy?" he called, moving closer.

"Hold on.  Got a protection up."  He let it lower and sighed, looking at his family.  "Thanks for playing."

"Are you possessed?" Dean demanded, moving closer.

"No."  He stood up, wobbling some.  "Just really tired."  He looked at the colt then put it down and used the axe to break it.  "There, now it can't happen next time."  He pointed.  "We need to get that one gone."  He looked at his father.  "Hi, Dad."  He passed out.

"I'd say someone got banged up," Bobby said, coming over to check him over.  "He killed the gun?"

Dean nodded.  "Yeah.  Said to destroy the hole."

"Do that," Bobby ordered.  Dean picked up the axe to finish taking down the keyhole.  He and John moved Bobby outside of the devil's trap.  He didn't even flinch which was a good sign.  They saw the marks on his chest and Bobby winced at the new burn marks.  "That demon wasn't happy."

"No, he wasn't," John agreed.  "Should we get him to the ER?"

"No, not yet.  They're fairly superficial.  Get me your first aid kit."  John ran to get it while Bobby finished checking Sam over.  Dean got there with Ellen.  "He should be fine.  Looks like the demon tried really hard but Sammy used his brains."  John got there with his first aid kit.  "Burn creme.  Bandages, some water."  John handed over the tube of cream and bandages, plus some baby wipes.  "Those'll work," he decided, cleaning off the area.

"Did the demon do that?" Ellen asked.

"No, the idiot there did it to himself," Dean told her.  "It's probably new tattoos."

"Looks like it.  Barely scabbed over," Bobby agreed.  "They're all protection marks, Ellen."  She grimaced.  "It kept the demon from killing him."

"Still strange.  Sammy doesn't do that stuff."

Dean looked at her.  "Dad had to have him pulled from a coven he ran away to as a teenager, Ellen."  She gave him a horrified look.  "He was doing protections back then and we caught him."

"Oh.  So the demon wanted him because of that?"

"He needed a champion to open the gateway and lead his army when he took over," Sam said quietly.  "Bobby, that hurts."

"Shut up, Sammy.  You might be stubborn enough to get around that demon to take him out, but not me."

"There should be some paddling going on," John agreed.  "You stole my truck?"

"He wanted me and I'll be damned if he was going to take out anyone else to get me."  He tried to sit up but Bobby pushed him back down.  "Hey," he said weakly.

"Hush.  Now, Sammy."  He finished up with his chest.  "Any other injuries?"

"No, just a sore back."  He got up with help, looking at the pissed people.  "I wasn't about to let him kill Dean while taking me.  Or you guys to get me."

"You're so grounded," Dean ordered.

Sam frowned at him.  "Dean, we don't have a house and I'm an adult.  You can't ground me any more."

"I can sure as hell paddle you," John assured him.

Sam shook his head, looking at Ellen.  Then at Bobby.  "I'm going to do something and go heal in peace without people who want me to turn them into bunnies."   He grabbed something out of his pocket while they spluttered then walked off while they rubbed the flare's light out of their eyes.

"Sammy, don't you dare!" Dean shouted.  He jogged off, not finding him.  "How did he do that?  He can't teleport, right?"

"No, son.  That takes a lot more magic than Sam would be capable of."  He looked at their cars.  The Impala's trunk was open.  "Close that.  He probably hitchhiked back to someone's house."

"Uh-huh."  He looked then closed it.  "His laptop and clothes bag is gone."  He shut the trunk and looked at his father.  "We can beat him, right?"

"Yes we can.  For quite a long time."

"I've got a good tree you can tie him to," Bobby offered.  "Some extra chains and that stuff."

Ellen nodded.  "I'd paddle him but my arm might break before his stubborn nature.  Which I'm sure he gets naturally," she said, glaring at John.

"I told him no magic.  He didn't listen."

"It looks like this time it was helpful," Bobby said.  "It kept him from dying, us from having a major apocalypse."  A familiar guy appeared and looked up then at them.  "Harris.  Need to dump that extra energy again?"

"No.  Messenger duty this time.  The American version of the Devon Coven has him to heal him.  The Devon witches sent me."  All the hunters stared at him.  He shrugged.  "They said it's better not to give the demons massing here the negative energy to feed off of?"

"Shit," John muttered.  "Where are they?"

"Hell if I know."  He shrugged.  "I barely know where the Devon Coven is, guys.  All I know is they're major white witches with a 'tude about this stuff.  They'll send him somewhere when he's debriefed, healed, all that stuff."

"If you hear from them, tell them to send him to Bobby's?" Dean asked.

"They don't like hunters."  They all groaned.  "I'm guessing they're not fully counting him as one since they're checking up on him.  I know they won't be sending him to a hunter.  To another witch possibly and they might send him on.  I do know cellphones work there though."  He grinned.  "They wanted to chew on Willow last week."  He wiggled his fingers and disappeared.

"Where are they?" John asked Bobby.

"Washington State somewhere."

"We can go look," Dean decided.

"They might send him back to the coven he liked," Bobby offered.

"They might," Ellen agreed.  "Though I think that would get them burned down by John."

"I nearly did the last time," he complained.  She stared at him.  "He ran away."

"You and Sammy did have a troubled teenage time with him," she agreed.  She looked back.  "What are we doing about this mess?"

"Leave it," Bobby said.  "The devil's trap holds."  She nodded and they went to the Roadhouse to see if they could find those witches.  It was John's right to beat his son before they did.  He was his father.  Parents before nosy white light witches.


Sam appeared in front of a familiar gate, looking up.  "Thank you, ladies."  He looked at the gate guard.  "Is Bernice still here?"

"Still being cranky too," he admitted. "In the library, sir."

"Thank you."  He walked through the gates, inhaling and relaxing again.  He walked up to the library, tapping before entering her usual study room.  "I always wondered if they glued you to that chair when I wasn't looking."

"Sam!" she shouted, getting up to hug him.  "Oh, my boy.  How are you?"  She pushed him back to look at him.  "The nosy brats had you?"

"For two weeks, but they did help my burns heal."  He let her see his chest.  "The demon after me was not happy with me having those."

"I'd suppose not."  She stroked over one.  "Not bad for a mundane doing them."

"I had to act fast.  The demon was going to snatch me to get me to be his champion."  She cackled.  "Yeah, not happy when I said no.   But he's gone and I'm back."

"Your family?"

"Probably still trying to figure out where the other coven was since they stole me."

"Poor witches."  She took him back to her house, settling him in a spare room.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm good.  It's time to take back up my education and make some decisions.  I've always felt peace here."

"Good boy."  She patted his head.  "Come on.  We have a new coven head."

"I heard she was possessed."  They went that way and sure enough she was.  Fortunately Sam knew exorcisms.  She blinked up at him once the spirit was gone.  "My lady."

"Samuel."  She blinked at him.  "That was rude."

"The ones that saved me from Dad the last time told me you needed unpossessed."

"Those nosy bitches," she said dryly.  Bernice laughed.  "Are you back?"

"I need to make some decisions on where I'm going and I should learn from here some more if I'm going to keep hunting."

She nodded.  "That's reasonable.  Go rest.  I'm sure they tired you out."

"A lot," he agreed.  "Thank you."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "From your mom."  He grinned and walked off.

"I should beat my mother but she probably saved him from his family beating him," she muttered, going to write her mother an email and complain she didn't need to be exorcized.


Six months later, Dean pulled up to the front gate of the coven.  "Is my idiot brother still here?" he asked calmly.

"He's at the revel, preparing for it, sir.  I'll have him brought down."

Dean parked and got out, heading inside.  "No need.  He'd try to hide."

"Sir, we do live in peace."

"That's why it's me and not our father, dude."  He waved as he walked.  He found the girls trooping out toward the woods.  "At least they're pretty," he said when he found Sammy among them.  He pulled him off by his ear, giving him a shove.  "Dad's not amused, Sammy."

"I don't care, Dean."

"Uh-huh.  Are you done with the hippie love in stuff?"

"It's not like that."


"It's not."  He walked him off by pulling on his arm.  "C'mon.  We're going to a bonding tonight.  Two of the coven members are getting married.  You can be my date," he said with a wicked smirk.

"That'd be incest."

"Not all dates turn out to be for sex, Dean."

"Mine do," he complained.

"Then someday you're going to give me a niece or nephew," he said dryly.  He nodded at Bernice. "This is my big brother, Bernice.  Coven Mother."

"Hey," Dean said.

"It's nice, your father isn't huffing around here thinking about burning us."

"I sent him to New England while I dragged Sammy out of here again," he told her.

"That is his decision.  He is an adult now, Dean."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Behave or I'll use you as a blood sacrifice to hype their union's potential for talented children."  He backed up.  "Good boy.  Come along.  Sam's one wife's honor guard."  Sam jogged off.  She walked him that way, settling him where Sam would be later.  A few of them gave him odd looks.  "Samuel's brother was worried about him."

"As long as he's polite, he's fine," Bernice agreed.  They settled in to do their parts.  The girls were walked in by their guards and joined in front of the altar.  Sam finally got to sit when his part was done and grinned at Dean when he did.  The wedding went off flawlessly.  The happy couple started the revel to celebrate and the whole coven went to eat and party with them.

"Nicer than some receptions I've seen on tv," Dean said finally when most everyone was trailing back to their beds.  Sam grinned.  "You still belong in the Impala, Sammy."

"Here I'm just Sam, Dean.  Not John's son.  Not a hunter, just Sam.  They appreciate me because of it."

"Uh-huh.  Dad's livid."

He scratched the back of his head.  "We heard when he found the ones that saved me.  The Coven Mother's mother is up there."  Dean nodded once at that.  "Come stay on my floor, Dean.  It's a nice, decent, happy place.  You can talk to me tomorrow.  I'm exhausted with all the dancing and partying."  He made sure the fire was out and walked him back to his room.  Dean got his spare blanket and pillow then Sam curled up once he was down to his briefs.  "Night."

"Night."  He laid down, listening to what was going on.  You could clearly hear the honeymooning couple giggling up in their room upstairs.  Along with a few other couples going at it.  "Fertility rite?" he muttered, wondering about it.

"Happiness, Dean.  Not that sort of rite.  Happiness is special and magical in its own way," Sam said quietly.

Dean looked up at him.  "You really want to stay?"

Sam shrugged.  "I don't know.  We'll talk tomorrow."  Dean nodded, seeing it as a good sign. Sam yawned.  "You know, I could be with a few of them right now but you showed up."

"Sorry to rob you of the cuddling, Sammy.  If you want, go ahead."

"Nah, not necessary."  He flipped onto his other side, falling asleep.

Dean listened as slowly everyone else fell asleep.  It was calm and peaceful feeling here.  He didn't feel any sort of threat, and he did everywhere else these days.


Six days later, Dean and Sam joined their father in upper Pennsylvania.  "Hey," Dean said, sitting across from him.

"What took you so long?"

"I spent a few days talking to Sammy about what he was thinking about."  His father scowled.  "The day I got there, Sammy was helping two of the girls marry."

"They are adorable together," Sam agreed, sitting next to him.

"Going back?" John asked dryly.

"When I need to."  His father glared at him.  "It's peaceful there, Dad.  No threats get through the gates."  His father slumped.  "Even Dean needed the rest.  He got a full night's sleep finally.  Plus we worked out the room protection details."

"I don't like you doing magic."

"Dad, I'm an adult," Sam said firmly.  "Jump off your horse."  He stared him down.

"I asked one of the senior witches there, she did say turning us into bunny rabbits isn't that bad of an idea since you nearly burned her for doing a love charm on the boy she was marrying anyway so she could sleep with him, Dad."

"I did?"

"Way back when," Sam agreed dryly.  "She still ended up getting him.  He babied her very well and she went to the altar pregnant.  Like she wanted.  She said the goddess subcontracted you to do her work that time."  He laughed at the disgusted look his father gave him.  "Accept me or not, Dad.  I might be mad, but I don't care at the moment."  He looked at Dean.  "Where are we heading?"

"No clue.  Kansas?"

"We can do that."  He looked at his father.  "You off your high horse now?"

"I still don't like magic."

"Yay you.  I'm not you or Dean.  I'm Sam.  I know I should tattoo my name across my forehead so you remember it, but I'm told facial tattoos hurt."  John growled.  "Setting a rule, Dad.  It's not drawing me away from the hunting.   Actually, it drew me closer to the hunting.  So jump off."  He looked at Dean again.  "What did you think about that idea I got given?"

"I think it'd keep you from being bored," he admitted.  "Especially on the long driving days."  Sam nodded.  "If you want to do the distance learning thing, go for it, Sammy."  Sam smiled at that.  "It can't hurt and maybe you'll use it to pick up chicks.  You look like you could use laid again.  I really did expect you to get more since you were surrounded by women."

"It's not that sort of commune, Dean.  If it was, you'd be an uncle by now since most of them don't believe in birth control."  He looked at his father.  "We're apparently heading for Kansas.  Going with us, Dad?"

"I can do that."

"Good.  That way Dean quits worrying and stressing."  He stood up.  "I'm starved, let's get dinner, Dean?"

"As long as it's not a salad.  I don't know how you stood all the leafy green things at the commune, Sammy."  He looked at his father.  "Dinner, Dad?"

"Sure.  I could eat."  He followed the boys back to the vehicles and got in to follow them back to town.  Someday he and his son would have to have another fight about that magic shit but until then.....  He stopped thinking when he turned into a salt and pepper-colored bunny.

Sam looked then up.  "That was mean," he called quietly.  He looked at Dean.  "The lead coven's witches getting him back for busting in on their happies."  He got out of the Impala, walking back to the truck so he could pick the bunny up to look at it.  "It's going to take me days to change you back, Dad.  Let me get your spare truck keys."  He took the bunny that way.

Dean looked up.  "I was polite and nice," he offered.  "Please don't make us all Winchester bunnies?" he begged.

Sam's phone rang and he answered it then laughed.  "No problem, Dean, but that one girl still wants to know if you'd go out with her.  No strings or leashes needed if you say no."

"She was cute.  If we run into her, have her ask."  He went to the Impala to call Bobby and let him know what had happened.  His cackle ended long after Dean hung up on it.

Sam looked at the bunny.  "Could be worse.  Could be a lizard and have to eat bugs."  He climbed into the truck and drove them to the motel first.  That way he could start researching how to turn his father back from a pet.  His father was one grumpy rabbit.  He'd never heard one growl that way.

The End.