Perdition
Texas

It was dark by the time Sam and Tony reached Perdition, but the unobtrusive driveway, which could easily have been missed even in daylight, gave Sam the odd feeling that this was – as Tony kept calling it – a sanctuary. It just felt right in some odd way. Whether it was Tony's influence or something else was beyond him.

He was tired after the long drive, after the concern for Dean and the headache that had now been suspended. He had learned a little bit along the way about his visions and how to control them and a tentative attempt at provoking one had given him the insight that he could actually have visions about nothing in particular.

Tony had told him that visions were the most common of the abilities among the other special kids and that every generation had at least two of them. There was only one of the special kids at present who had an ability nobody else had. Tony hadn't been able or willing to talk too much about it and Sam was of the impression that the girl he had mentioned, Kyra, was more dangerous than the rest of them. He just didn't know why.

Tony pulled the car up in front of what appeared to be the main building, an old colonial-style house, which was framed by several barrack-like buildings, and most of the windows were lit. There were people outside, some sitting around, some out walking, and Sam took a moment to just watch them before he got out of the car and stretched, arching his back lightly.

A few trailed closer, curiosity obviously guiding their steps, and Tony greeted a few of them before waving Sam toward the doors of the main building. "Come on. George is dying to meet you," he said and climbed the steps up to the porch.

Sam slammed the door of the car and followed Tony up the stairs. Tony opened the door without knocking and stepped inside and Sam hesitated for a second and glanced back out over the grounds. Whatever this place was, it breathed tranquility and it made him wonder what was in store for them here.

The house inside was brightly lit and there was a lot going on everywhere. There were people left and right, ranging in age from early twenties to late forties and the atmosphere was relaxed. Sam glanced around for a moment. The hardwood floors were worn but clean, there were paintings and mirrors on the walls and everything seemed well-kept but old. The furniture was well used and the den to the right and the dining room to the left were teeming with activity.

"This way," Tony said and led the way past a central wide staircase going up to a landing that branched out left and right and curved around to create a balcony-like corridor with doors leading off in all directions. On either side of the staircase, corridors led to the back of the house and judging by the length of the corridors and the amount of doors on either side, Sam assumed the house was a hell of a lot longer than it appeared from the front.

Tony led him all the way to the back of the house, where he opened a door into what looked like a library. The walls were lined with books and the shelving was only broken by a fireplace and two windows. Every remaining inch was covered with books. A closer glance revealed that the majority of the books were ancient spell books. "Are these ...?" he began, but trailed off when his gaze settled on the man standing at the other end of the room, an open book in one hand.

"Tony," the man said and smiled warmly. Sam liked him immediately. "You're back. How was the drive?"

"Long," Tony confessed with a tired smile.

"Well, it's good to have you back," the man said with a smile of his own and shook hands with Tony, then clapped him on the shoulder before turning his attention toward Sam.

"George, this is Sam," Tony said.

Sam met George's eyes and couldn't help a smile. The man literally emanated calmness. So when George held out his hand, Sam took it without reservations.

"Sam, it's good to finally meet you," George said and squeezed his hand.

"Thanks," Sam countered. "Uh ... I don't mean to sound rude or anything, but I'd really like to see Dean," he added.

"Of course," George said and waved toward the door. "He's still bed-ridden, but should be up and about tomorrow. With Tony's help," he added and winked at Tony, who grinned.

"I'll give it my best shot," Tony promised.

Sam glanced from one to the other and was almost overwhelmed by the odd sensation that he'd come home. He'd never really had one, after all, apart from the years he's spent with Jess and those still stood out as the best years of his life. With a tired sigh, he followed George out of the room and upstairs.

George knocked on one of the doors, then opened it and stepped aside. "Go on in," he said. "Tony will show you where you can sleep later."

Sam nodded his thanks and stepped into the room.

Dean struggled to sit up and groaned lightly under his breath.

"Dude, stay down," Sam exclaimed and rushed over to the bed.

Dean fortunately gave up on trying to sit up and gave him a tired, pale grin instead. "Hey Sammy," he said.

The door clicked shut and Sam briefly glanced over at it before settling down on the edge of the bed. "Man, you had me worried," he said and eyed Dean for a moment. Dean was pale, but looked fairly okay. "You don't look as bad as I expected," he added, a bit surprised.

Dean gave him a dark glare. "Sorry," he growled. "I'll try to get more banged up next time."

"That's not what I meant," Sam shot back and rolled his eyes when Dean grinned. "Jerk," he growled.

"Bitch," Dean countered and swatted him on the arm. "Dude, what took you so long? And why didn't you call? I was waiting for you to call, man."

"What are you, five?" Sam asked. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I've been beaten to hell," Dean countered and gingerly rubbed a hand over his chest. "Which, incidentally, I have been. But ... I kinda guess that those who did this to me won't be doing it to anyone else ever again. Seems like they have another Ava around here."

Sam made a face. "Don't remind me," he muttered. "Have they been treating you alright?"

Dean arched both brows. "What do you think this is? A prison in Yemen? Give me a break, dude. These people saved my freaking ass while you were messing around with your damned laptop. I was fully expecting you to come charging in to save my hide, man. What kept you?"

It was obvious by both his tone and his expression that he meant nothing by it, but Sam couldn't help taking it to heart anyway. "Sorry," he muttered, grimaced and glanced away.

"Hey, man, come on. Don't take it so hard. Chances are they would have blown you away if you'd turned up anyway. And I'm still around, right? Those bastards didn't kill me. And they paid the ultimate price too. And we're surrounded by a whole damned town of super-freaks just like you. You must feel right at home here." Dean smirked and shifted a little.

"Yeah, well, they all seem to have useful abilities. What the hell does it help that I have visions if they can't even help me find you when you're in trouble?" Sam couldn't help being upset. It had been hiding under the surface ever since Dean had disappeared and Sam had become aware of it. At the same time Sam was a bit anxious that Tony would tell Dean about his tempter tantrum and the wrecked motel room. The last thing Sam wanted to happen in this world was for his brother to look at him differently. He just couldn't stand the thought of it.

Dean eyed him thoughtfully for a moment. "Where'd that come from?" he asked. "Sam, don't you start blaming yourself for this. I messed up. I should have been more careful. This is not your fault, okay?"

Sam made a face and shifted a little. "Sorry. I'm tired," he muttered.

"Did you sleep at all last night?" Dean asked, smoothly slipping into parental mode without so much as batting an eyelash.

"No, not really," Sam admitted. "I just wanted to get here as fast as I could. Tony drove all the way, but ..."

"Sam, stop the guilt-tripping. Right now! I don't wanna hear you blaming yourself for something that's out of your control. I'm gonna be fine. They've got healers here, dude. This kid, no older than you, just put her damned hand on my leg and the fracture was gone just like that," Dean said and snapped his fingers. "Pretty damned amazing what you guys can do."

The obvious admiration in Dean's voice made Sam uncomfortable. Dean wasn't usually too obvious about how he felt and for him to offer any sort of compliment usually implied that something was wrong. With a quick glance over one shoulder at the door, Sam leaned a little closer. "Are you okay?" he asked quietly.

Dean's expression didn't change much. "No, not really. My chest is killing me," he replied in the same quiet tone.

Sam frowned. "Dean ..."

Dean cut him off, though. "Chill, dude. I've got a good feeling about this place. This George guy seems like a stand-up kinda guy. I've got no issues with these people. Okay?"

To Sam it mostly sounded like Dean was putting on a show for the gallery, but the look in his eyes was deeply serious, which confused Sam by a mile. "Uh ... okay," he said, not too sure it was okay.

"Don't worry your pretty little head over this, Samantha. Just go get some sleep," Dean said with a contended smirk that dissolved into a grimace when he shifted again and aggravated his broken ribs.

"Fine. It'll be nice to sleep in my own room for once," Sam countered and got up. "At least I won't have to listen to your snoring for one more night."

"I don't snore," Dean growled.

"Yeah, you do. See you in the morning," Sam said, grinned and left the room again to let his brother catch some sleep.

Tony was leaning against the banister outside, waiting for him. "How's he doing?"

"He'll be fine. He's just as snarky as ever," Sam countered and smirked.

"We've got an extra guest room that's not in use right now. You can sleep there tonight. Tomorrow you'll have to figure out if you wanna stay here or not. If you do, we'll find accommodations for the two of you somewhere on the property."

"Looked to me like pretty much everything's occupied," Sam countered with a doubtful expression.

Tony chuckled. "There's plenty of room here. There are about eight barracks out back that aren't in use. They're all equipped with a kitchenette and a bathroom. Two habitations for each barrack," he said. "Don't worry about space. And if you need privacy, the last barrack is the place to stay. It's separate from the others and in the woods. Nice and cozy. We've had some couples staying there."

Sam glanced at Tony, briefly wondering if there was a hint at something there, but Tony looked perfectly innocent. Sam was convinced that if they had been more familiar with each other, Tony's humor would be just as biting as Dean's. Yup, they were definitely alike, those two.

***

The following morning

Dean woke up fairly early because his chest was hurting badly. He shifted, tried to push himself up and froze at the stab of excruciating pain, which ripped through him. "Shit," he wheezed and tried to readjust himself to take whatever pressure there was off his broken ribs, but no rearrangement worked.

"Aw man," he rasped. On account of the pain his breathing became shallow and pretty soon dark spots started forming in his field of vision.

Before he could consider what to do, though, the door opened and a tall guy stepped in. He looked a little bleary-eyed, but Dean didn't have much sympathy right now. The guy settled down on the edge of his bed. "Try to relax. It'll be easier if you relax," he said and placed a hand on Dean's chest.

Dean sucked in a breath, expecting the same escalation of the pain as he had felt when Sarah had healed his leg, but there was no change at first. And then the pain began to ebb while his broken ribs healed. The worst part, however, was not the pain; it was listening to and feeling the crackling of his bones mending. It sent a shiver through him, almost making him nauseous. On account of that, he clawed his fingers into the mattress and held his breath.

As if in response to his tensing up, the guy placed his other hand on his chest as well and narrowed his eyes before closing them. "Stop fighting me," he pressed out.

"I'm not," Dean countered just as tensely, but tried to relax just the same.

The guy's expression evened out again and moments later he removed his hands and sighed. "Promise me one thing, okay?" he said.

Dean prodded his chest, amazed at this strangeness that was definitely shifting his view on the world. "What?" he asked and glanced at the blonde guy.

"Don't get beaten up this severely again. It takes a lot out of me to heal injuries like this," the guy said and smiled to take the edge off his words. "I'm Tony, in case you don't remember."

Dean eyed him for a moment. "You drove Sammy here?" he asked.

Tony nodded. "Yup, that would be me. And don't worry. Your car is in good shape. Beautiful machine."

"Thanks," Dean countered and briefly considered what to say. "Uh ... thanks for taking care of Sam, by the way. He's ... not doing so well right now. And it kinda threw me when those bastards grabbed me."

"No need to apologize," Tony said. "Sam's a good kid. A little high-strung, but I guess that's understandable. He's got some pretty hefty self-worth issues."

Dean frowned lightly and sat up when Tony rose. "What do you mean?"

"Well, for one he apparently doesn't think your father is very proud of him," Tony said and made a face. "Don't really know if I should tell you this, by the way."

"Was," Dean corrected him, to which Tony frowned.

"What?" he asked.

"Sam doesn't think our dad was very proud of him. Our father's dead. He's been dead for over a year now," Dean said. Inside, he cringed. Inside, he wanted to allow himself to tear up and rage against the unfairness of life. On the outside, though, he didn't even twitch.

"Oh," Tony said, his expression suddenly sad. "I'm sorry to hear that. I've heard he was a good man."

"He was," Dean agreed. "And Sam has had issues with the guy since he hit his pre-teens. So don't take what he says too hard. Our dad did what he could with what he had and he did a damned good job of it too."

Tony nodded. "Yeah, that stuff happens," he said. "Anyway, if you'll excuse me, I'll go hit the shower and get a start on the day. When you're ready for breakfast, just come downstairs. It's to the right," he added.

"Hey, thanks, man. I owe you," Dean said while rubbing his chest.

"You don't owe me anything, Dean. Just try to stay out of trouble," Tony countered and left.

Dean eyed the door for a moment, then sighed. "Fat chance of that happening, dude," he muttered and got up. It was very liberating to be able to move without being in pain and he hadn't yet tested his leg, which turned out to be as good as new. "Damned amazing if you ask me," he muttered.

Before he could make any conscious decision on what to do next, the door opened again and Sam stepped in. His little brother stopped short, his expression one of surprise. "Should you be up?" he asked.

"Yeah," Dean countered and grinned. "And good morning to you too, sunshine," he added.

"You're okay," Sam said, a little stunned. "You look better than last night."

"I feel a hell of a lot better too," Dean admitted. "Damn, it's nice to be able to move without fear of puncturing a lung or something." To demonstrate, he arched his back and rolled his shoulders. "Damned good."

Sam arched an eyebrow. "You seem happy," he stated.

"I'm doing great, man. Let's go hit the breakfast. I'm starving," Dean countered, then glanced down himself. "Maybe I should put something on," he added, reflecting over the fact that he was only wearing his boxers and nothing else, and sent a look around the room. "If I had anything, that is."

"It's in the car, man," Sam countered, somehow managing to sound a little miffed and amused at the same time.

Dean spread out his arms. "You think I should go down there like this?" he asked. He generally felt like he needed a couple of showers on top of everything else.

"I'll get your stuff. You can hit the shower in the meantime. It's down the hall to the left," Sam said, shook his head lightly and left the room.

"Sounds like a plan to me," Dean muttered to himself and went in search of the bathroom.

***

By the time he stepped out of the shower, his duffle bag was sitting just inside the door and he got dressed quickly because he really was starving. Having the crap beaten out of him always did that to him. Of course, the fact that he hadn't eaten in a couple of days probably had a lot to do with it as well.

Feeling more human again, he stepped out of the bathroom and found Sam waiting for him. "I feel so much better now," he said with a grin for Sam's benefit. Sure, physically he did feel better. But now that he didn't have the injuries to fret about, the previous melancholy threatened to overwhelm him again. He needed to keep his game face in place, though, like always; if for nothing other than keeping Sam placid.

"Well, that's good to hear." Sam didn't sound convinced, but he wasn't nagging either, which was a definite advantage.

Together they headed downstairs and stepped into the biggest damned dining room Dean had ever seen. The table could seat at least thirty and from the looks of it, more than half of the seats had been occupied. A few were left, still having breakfast, and they all looked comfortable and relaxed. Dean's immediate thought that this place resembled a religious cult of some sort was losing power with every turn.

"Hi," one of the girls said. "Pull out a chair. Sit down. Betty's whipping up some breakfast."

Dean arched both brows and pulled out a chair next to her. "Hi," he said and sat down. Sam settled down next to him, keeping quite for now. "I'm Dean."

She grinned. She looked to be about his age and was very spunky. "I'm Lisa," she countered, then glanced at Sam. "And you must be Sam."

Sam nodded and gave her a vague sort of smile.

"Welcome to Perdition," Lisa said.

One of the guys sitting on the other side opened his mouth to say something, but was rudely interrupted by a startled cry from the kitchen. "Oh shit. Not again," a female voice yelped. "TONY!"

Dean glanced at Sam, who was staring at the doorway that obviously led out into to the kitchen. Without a word, they both rose and followed the others over to the door.

A somewhat heavyset woman was standing at the counter and had obviously been chopping something there. And in the process, she had managed to chop half her index finger off.

Dean flinched. "Ouch," he muttered and Sam nodded in agreement. What made him wonder was that nobody offered to help her. At the same time he wondered why she didn't seem more upset about losing her finger.

Tony barged into the kitchen through another door, looking a little flustered. "Damn it, Betty," he sighed with exasperation, grabbed the chopped-off digit and pushed it back in place before wrapping his hand around her blood-stained fingers. A few seconds later, he released her hand again and she wiggled her fingers appreciatively, then blushed deeply. "How many times do we have to do this, Betty?" Tony demanded, sounding a little annoyed.

"I'm sorry," she muttered. "I swear I don't do it on purpose."

"I know you don't, but ... damn it, Betty ... how many times do you think you can do that before your fingers won't reattach? You have to be more careful," Tony chastised. "Besides, Sarah can't reattach limps yet and if I'm not here when this happens again, you lose that finger."

"I know, I know," she muttered and shifted uncomfortably.

Tony glanced at the assembled in the doorway. "What are you all staring at? It's not like this hasn't happened before. Go back to your breakfast," he said sternly and everybody apart from Dean and Sam withdrew. Tony's expression mellowed a little as he turned back to face Betty. "Just … clean this up and … throw that away," he said, motioning toward the cutting board that was covered with blood.

"Sure," Betty was quick to say.

"And keep away from the knives from now on. I know you love to cook, but this is ridiculous," Tony added.

Betty didn't look happy about it, but said nothing.

"Sorry, guys. Breakfast will be a bit delayed," Tony said and motioned for Sam and Dean to get back into the dining room.

Dean stepped aside to let him through. "No sweat. We can wait a bit," he said.

Sam sent another glance into the kitchen before Tony closed the door behind him. "Does that happen a lot?" he asked, a little stunned.

"Yeah, on a regular basis," Tony said. "Betty loves to cook, but she's a klutz when it comes to sharp objects."

"There's a limit to how many times you can reattach something?" Sam asked.

Dean made a face. In his humble opinion, this did not make for good breakfast conversation, but he said nothing when Tony nodded.

"Yeah, but I don't know what the limit is. If Betty keeps this up, though, I'll find out," he said.

"So ... she just ... accidentally chops off a finger at random?" Sam asked, obviously wanting to know more. Dean considered it morbid curiosity, but said nothing.

Tony eyed Sam for a moment and Dean got the impression that the other man felt the same way. "Well ... not really. She's telekinetic, but she's not very good at handling it. George keeps trying to teach her, but she doesn't take well to the lessons, if you know what I mean," he said.

Sam nodded, suddenly looking a little self-conscious, and Dean wondered what the hell was up with him. His behavior was off key most of the time and had been ever since he'd come back from the dead.

"Well, is there at least some coffee?" Dean asked.

"Yeah, sure, over there," Tony said and nodded toward a sideboard which housed all the trimmings of a spectacular breakfast apart from the warm dishes. Cold cuts, bread and more were just waiting to be devoured and Dean eyed the display hungrily.

Dean had already decided that he liked this place a hell of a lot better than any damned motel they'd been in. "Cool," he said and went over to grab a cup of coffee and whatever else he could think of stuffing himself with, leaving Sam behind with Tony.

He chanced a glance back at his little brother and noted how Sam and Tony started talking quietly the second he was out of earshot. It bothered him a bit, he had to admit, but not enough for him to raise a stink about it. Not yet, anyway. If Sam's behavior continued to bother him, though, he would definitely have to force Sam into one of those conversations he himself always dreaded. As long as he wasn't on the receiving end of it, though, he was okay with having a heart-to-heart.

***

When Dean went to get coffee, Sam grabbed the chance to ask Tony for his support. "You didn't tell Dean about the motel room, did you?" he asked quietly.

Tony eyed him thoughtfully. "No, I didn't. I take it you don't want me to, huh?" he countered.

"I'd like to avoid it. He's got enough to worry about as it is," Sam agreed, briefly wondering if Dean's present predicament was something he should share. They hadn't really discussed it yet and he decided to wait until they'd had the chance to talk about it before he told others.

"Okay. It's your call," Tony said.

"Thanks," Sam countered and glanced over at Dean, who pretended not to notice that Sam was whispering with Tony. He knew how curious Dean was in general. He hated being left out of the loop.

"George would like to talk to you later if you feel up to it," Tony added just as quietly. "It's not mandatory or anything, but he's better at filling people in on the rules around here than me, so ..."

"No problem. I'll catch up with him later," Sam agreed and followed Dean's example.

His brother plopped down next to Lisa and immediately engaged her in conversation and Sam could already see where this was heading. Lisa was charmed and for Dean, she was easy prey.

With a quiet sigh he shook his head and sat down across from Dean instead. The guy sitting next to him glanced at him. "So, you're the new kid, huh?" he asked.

Sam pursed his lips. "I guess," he countered.

"I'm Bill," the guy introduced himself and stuck a hand out to Sam.

"Sam," he countered and shook hands with Bill.

"So, Sam. What can you do?" Bill asked with obvious curiosity.

"Well, so far I've been having visions," Sam countered and eyed the other guy. "What about you?"

Bill chuckled. "Me too," he said. "We're almost considered the norm around here. I'd kill for a more extensive ability, but hey. At least we don't blow things up or electrocute people, right?"

"Right," Sam agreed a little hesitantly and glanced over at Dean, who was deeply engaged in conversation with Lisa. If they were going to spend any length of time in this place, they needed to talk about it first. Time was ticking by too quickly for Sam's liking and he was still no closer to a solution to Dean's problem than he had been at the time when he had realized what Dean had done. 'You idiot,' he thought sadly and glanced down at his plate, what little hunger he'd felt gone by now. He couldn't stand the thought of losing Dean, but to lose him over something like this ...

"Hey man. You okay?" Bill suddenly asked, sounding a tad worried.

Sam glanced at him with a slight frown. "Yeah, I'm fine," he lied and tried a tentative smile, which obviously put the other guy at ease. "I'm just not very hungry," he added and pushed the plate away and settled for the coffee instead.

"No sweat. You can always get something later. The kitchen's open twenty-four-seven," Bill said with a grin and dug into the remains of his own breakfast.

Sam glanced over at Dean again and found him staring at him with worry in his eyes. Sam rolled his eyes and shook his head lightly, picked up his cup and leaned back on the chair. Dean's eyes narrowed briefly, then he shrugged lightly and returned his attention to the lovely Lisa.

***