It was kind of weird in a sense. Dean had never consciously considered what it would feel like to hit the ground from the fifth floor, but if he'd had to make a bet on how it felt, painful like hell would have been the first thing to spring to mind. But the shock of the impact alone had numbed him. He felt like he'd been dunked in a vat of icy cold water. It knocked the air out of his lungs and made him black out for a moment. The pain came after and it was one hell of a kick in the pants.

The only sensation he could compare it to was that he had been made entirely out of glass and that everything inside him had shattered on impact. His legs tingled with waves of low-key pain and he couldn't have moved them if he'd wanted to. He could feel every vertebra in his spine from the base of his neck to his butt and it felt like every single one had been realigned wrongly, like a kid had tried to put a puzzle together in the wrong way.

There was no doubt about that he was broken inside. His breathing felt wet, painful and labored. He could feel things sticking out where they shouldn't be sticking out and his right shoulder was definitely either broken or badly dislocated. The thick, heavy feeling in the joint and the splintering pain that ripped through him when he even thought of moving it was more than proof enough of that.

But all that didn't really matter. All that he could live with – or as the case was, die with – but the look in Sam's eyes when the spook had hammered him backwards through the window ... that wasn't something he would cherish for the rest of eternity. The total indifference, the near glee, made his flesh crawl more than the sensation of his ribs sticking out of his sides.

Angelina and Sean at least still gave a damn, which helped, but why the kid couldn't heal his injuries was beyond him. Sean had tried and it had helped a little, but when Sam had dragged him off the steps and into the car, it was more than evident that he was far from out of the woods on this one. And Sam's driving left much to be desired right now.

Dean gritted his teeth against every bump they hit, every corner taken too sharply, and Angelina's attempts at keeping him on the seat didn't make his broken body feel any better.

After what felt like forever and a day, the car finally came to a stop and didn't start up again with a jerk. The engine idled for a moment, then Sam shut it off. "We'll stay here tonight," he growled and got out.

It took a moment before Angelina responded and even though she was as careful as she could be, it still hurt like a bitch when she slid out from under his head and he swore he could feel every vertebra realigning itself once more. It wasn't until Sam opened the backdoor on the other side, reached in and grabbed the front of his t-shirt that Dean decided it was time to pass out. All he could think of was that it hurt so goddamn awful much that he just couldn't stand it before darkness descended on him with the blow of a virtual sledge hammer to the head.


Sam deposited his now unconscious brother on one of the beds in the motel room and briefly glanced around. It was as good as any of the dumps they had stayed in over the course of his life and it made him sneer with unsettling resentment.

He left it to Angelina to drag in the duffles while he found himself in a weird state of indecision. Up until now, it had been fairly easy for him to decide what to do. Actually, he had gone against what he considered his better judgment and had lugged all three of them with him.

But now ... now he wasn't so sure about what to do any more. The anger was subsiding, the rage was tapering off, and it left him in a weird state of flux where anything could happen and nothing did.

Uncertain all of a sudden, he sank down on the edge of a chair, rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. He listened to the rustle of movement, the almost whispered conversation between mother and child, while he tried to will himself to react, to come up with a response of some kind. Inability to act, no matter in what situation, had always been a secret fear of his, to be frozen, incapable, unable. It fueled his anger as well as his fears and right now, those two emotions were on a teeter-toter, which could go either way.


Angelina's voice broke through his self-imposed silence after a while and he finally let his hands drop and looked up at her. "What?" he asked. He couldn't muster much of a tone right now and was still pretty unclear on where he stood emotionally.

To his surprise it had gotten dark outside in the meantime. Sean was sitting on the bed furthest from the door, a pillow clutched to his chest, while he stared at Sam with wide eyes. Dean was awake and in obvious pain if his breathing was anything to go by.

"Sean is too scared to help Dean right now. We need to get him to a hospital," Angelina said, her tone full of caution and something else Sam couldn't get a grip on right now. "He's in a lot of pain." She stayed well away from Sam, keeping her distance, and for a moment he had no idea why she would behave like that.

And then the reality of what had happened began to settle on him, provoking a reaction that was as slow as molasses on a cold winter morning. He felt vaguely nauseous all of a sudden and found it almost impossible to convince himself to even glance in Dean's direction.

"Sam, please," Angelina tried again and took a tentative step toward him. She looked mostly like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. "He needs help."

Sam stared at her for a second longer, then suddenly rose, which drove her back a step. He brushed all ten fingers through his hair while trying to clear his mind so he could damned well snap out of it and decide on a course of action that wouldn't leave his brother dead or dying. Emotions that felt more true than the hatred and anger rose in him and he had to fight to keep them down, to keep a lid on the fact that he felt like crying his damned eyes out. His inability to fight off the anger, the influence of that damned ghost, had nearly gotten Dean killed and from the looks of it the risk of his brother's premature demise was still a very real option.

"Hospital, right," he agreed, pulled his cell out of his pocket and flipped it open.

"No," Dean rasped.

Sam froze and met Dean's eyes. He had never felt more like running for the hills than he did right now. "You're badly injured, Dean. You need ..." he began, but his brother cut him off with a hissed no.

"Can't ... risk it," Dean pressed out and glanced at Angelina, who looked almost physically ill at this point. "Too ... risky."

Sam knew what Dean was aiming at and a part of him agreed, but the majority so wanted to dial 911 and call for help. "Dammit, Dean, you're ..."

"No," Dean persisted. "Get ... the morphine."

"Dean, you're hurting. We need ..."

"Get ... the damned ... morphine."

Sam had no doubts about that Dean would have reared up and grabbed him by the shirtfront if he'd been able to, which in Sam's book meant his brother was beyond hurting. He was in agony. "Right," he muttered, grabbed his duffle and routed through it until he came up with that special kit he kept hidden most of the time.

"Morphine? You can't possibly think ..." Angelina began, but Sam silenced her with a glance.

"Dean's right. It's too risky. There might still be other hunters out there, and one place they'll keep an eye on is the hospitals," he said, unable to keep his tone steady. He knew he sounded angry when in truth he was terrified right now.

Angelina backed down and Sam gave Dean a shot of the morphine without further interruption.

The minute the drug hit his system, Dean started to relax. "That's the stuff," he muttered a second before he passed into blissful oblivion.

Sam, who had hunkered down next to the bed, sat back on his heels and stared at Dean for a moment. He needed to be alone more than anything right now, but knew it wasn't in the books. He couldn't leave Dean alone and he most certainly couldn't leave Angelina and Sean either.

He glanced in the direction of mother and child and flinched. There was no doubt about what he had done, how he had behaved. He remembered it all. It was just a change in attitude that had shifted him from raging anger at everything and everybody to mortifying fear. Fear for his brother's life, mortification for how he had to look in the eyes of Angelina and her son.

"Shit," he whispered and slowly got to his feet. He put away the kit again, stowed it deep in his duffle, before he turned around to properly face both of them. "I'm sorry," he said and tried a tentative little smile.

Angelina, who had found it so hard to trust them at first, who really wasn't trusting them a whole lot on any scale, just eyed him. She had settled next to her son, pulled him close against her, keeping her body between Sean and Sam. There was no doubt in Sam's mind that she would give her life to protect her son, which raised a whole new bushel of guilt in him.

"I can't say that I don't know what came over me. I just ... had no control. As I said ... I'm one of the special kids and ... that's a weakness in some cases," he tried, unsure of how to approach this without sounding both defensive and lame at the same time.

Angelina's expression was subtle, but very readable as well, and there was no doubt in Sam's mind what was going through hers right now. "Why wasn't Sean affected then?" she finally asked.

Her question surprised him a little. He had expected an angry retort, maybe even a complete lack of trust, but not this. "Uh ..." Sam turned his attention to Sean, who shrank against his mother in fear, and then quickly glanced away. It was not common that kids feared him and it hurt on some level, even though he could completely understand. "If I had to make a guess ... I'd say that he's special in a different way."

"A different way?" Angelina asked. Despite herself, she seemed curious about what he had to say. Maybe she was just concerned he would do something to hurt them and she felt the need to placate him.

Sam considered briefly what he had told her so far about his own background, which was fairly little. And he didn't really know much about Sean's background apart from the fact that the kid had been born like this and was able to use his ability full scale despite his young age. "Well ... I don't think I was born with my abilities for one," he said and made a face, then sank down on the edge of the chair furthest away from them. "They were ... given to me."

Angelina frowned lightly. "Given to you? How the hell can ..." She trailed off. "You ... had an experience?" she asked quietly.

Now it was Sam's turn to frown. "An experience?" he countered. "What do you mean, an experience?"

She blinked and pulled back a little while tightening her hold on her son. "Never mind. So, your abilities and Sean's are different. Why should that leave him immune to the influence of that ... evil?"

Sam wrecked his brain for a moment to come up with an answer and could settle on only one thing. "It must have targeted me for some reason. Probably because I'm older," he said. It sounded good enough and would suffice for now, but he was convinced that wasn't everything. Some part of him was convinced that if he had that part right, then the ghost had targeted him because of his connection to the demon, because of his potential to go dark-side. He had the anger issues and had a lot more experience with anger than a five-year old kid like Sean. Young children were, after all, considered to be pure and Sean was young. "The ghost ... the second one we met ... I'm fairly confident that it's Peter Haskell. He was the owner of that place and I guess it's safe to assume he doesn't want it destroyed."

"So ... now that you're away from there ... you're no longer influenced?" Angelina asked.

"It would seem so," Sam agreed and glanced at Dean before slumping back in the chair. "Dammit," he whispered and scrubbed a hand over his face. "I just stood by and ..." He stopped, not expecting any consoling words from Angelina. He wasn't entirely sure she understood the situation just yet. Hell, he didn't understand the situation completely.

"If the ghost was responsible for your reactions, Sam, you couldn't help it," she said after a moment, proving him wrong. She understood more than he thought. "Dean knows that," she added.

"I know, but ..." He stopped again, now haunted by the way he had carelessly dragged his injured brother into the car, not caring one way or another if he hurt him severely. "Man, how am I gonna ..."

Suddenly, the motel room seemed too small for him, too tight. He felt boxed in, unable to draw a decent breath. He couldn't leave, but he could go outside, give Angelina and her son some space so he didn't continue to scare the crap out of the kid by being a literal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Without further ado, he rose, grabbed his jacket and stepped up to the door. "I ... just need some air," he said without looking back at them, opened the door and stepped outside. He closed the door quietly behind him, shrugged into his jacket and slipped his hands into the pockets.

There was nobody around, everything was quiet, the sky was clear, the stars were out and it should have been a pleasant night. It wasn't chilly at all, but he still struggled to suppress the shiver rippling through him. The thing that kept coming back to him, kept intruding on his thoughts was the fear that he couldn't be saved, that this destiny that dad wanted Dean to protect him from would end with his death. But the way things were going, the way he kept getting sucked in by all the evil they ran across, would put his brother in the grave long before it all got to him, and for the first time, Sam started wishing that Gordon Walker had actually managed to kill him.


Angelina stared at the closed door for a moment, then glanced at her watch and decided to tug Sean in. "Time to get some sleep, kiddo," she whispered and glanced down at her son.

Sean looked up at her. "Mom?" he whispered back. "Is Sam gonna hurt us?"

She felt like closing her eyes for a moment, but didn't. Instead she put on her best smile, slipped off the bed and pulled the cover off so Sean could slip under them. "No, baby. He was just a little ... confused. That place didn't make him feel very good. He got a little angry. But he's fine now."

Sean sniffed and glanced over at Dean, obvious regret in his eyes. "I can't make him better, mom. Why can't I make him better?"

"Because you're scared, sweety. You know that. You can't focus when you're scared. And you're too tired now. You can try again in the morning, okay? Dean's fine for now. Sam gave him an injection to take away the pain and he's sleeping. Just like you should be," she said, pulled Sean's sneakers off and tugged him in.

Sean eyed her for a moment, then glanced toward the door. "Is he coming back tonight?" he whispered.

Angelina sent a quick glance toward the door. "Yes, sweety, but he's fine. I promise. And I'll be right here all the time, looking after you like I always do. Okay?"

It took another moment before Sean nodded and settled down. She tugged the covers tighter around him and sat down on the edge of the bed to watch over her son until he fell asleep. She brushed his bangs off his forehead, then leaned down to kiss his brow lightly. "You're my special little guy and I will never ever let anything happen to you. Mommy's right here, all the time, protecting you," she whispered. It was almost a litany by now, her quiet promises to protect him no matter what. She knew he was asleep by now, but she also knew that he heard her, that he took her promises with him into his dreams. And Sean had never had a nightmare in his life, because he knew his mom stood between him and any monsters that might come after him. He was as confident about that in sleep as he was awake.


The night air was almost soft, yet somehow felt bitterly cold to him as he sat there on the stoop of the cabin and tried to put things right in his head. It scared him more than anything that his inaction had nearly caused Dean to die, that Dean would have died if Sean hadn't been around.

The part that had been so overtly affected by the anger still stirred inside him, spitting up venom whenever it could, blaming Dean for this 'mishap', but Sam was not going to blame his brother for being thrown out of a window five floors up. No way, no how.

Not only had he himself stood by and watched indifferently while a ghost of all things had thrown his brother out that window – a fact that sent cold shivers through him at regular intervals and upset his stomach to the point where he wanted to throw up – he had also scared the crap out of a five-year old kid and his mother, whom he had promised to protect. How was he different from those deranged hunters who had come after Angelina and Sean if he couldn't even keep his own anger in check and allowed himself to be taken over so easily?


So engrossed was he in his thoughts that he hadn't even heard the door behind him open and the first thing that snapped into his mind was that dad would have reamed his hide for being that preoccupied. He gritted his teeth, made a valiant effort to subdue his concerns, then finally glanced up at her. "Everything okay in there?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said and watched him with unreadable eyes. "Are you going to stay out here all night?"

Sam shrugged. What was the point in going inside if he scared all of them anyway by being such a putz. "Might as well," he muttered, folded his arms on top of his knees and settled his chin on them.

For a moment, Angelina just stood there. Then she closed the door behind her and sat down next to him. "Over the course of these two years running, I've become a fair judge of character. I'm paranoid like hell, but I still think I'm able to see through most facades that people choose to put up to protect or hide themselves. And I know you're not evil, Sam. I won't even pretend to understand what's going on here, why this ... ghost seems so set on turning you against your brother, but I do know that you're a decent guy and ... we owe you our lives already."

He smiled vaguely. He had always been able to count on praise from total strangers over family members and it did warm him a little that she said this, but it still didn't change the facts of the more than rocky foundation his life rested on. "Thanks. I appreciate you saying that," he said. "It doesn't change the fact that I nearly got my brother killed and scared the hell out of your son."

She remained silent for a moment and just looked up at the sky. "Maybe not," she finally consented, her tone carefully balanced. "Sean will get over it. And when he does, Dean will be fine again. It won't take that little miracle guy of mine long to put him right once he's got his fear back under control. And he'll learn to trust you again. I'm sure of that. But ... whatever 'gigs' you boys feel you have to do while we're with you ... please don't involve us in them anymore. We'll hole up somewhere, hide, stay out of sight or something."

Sam nodded. "Yeah ... then again, it might be best if you didn't come with us at all. I mean ... maybe we can find somewhere where you can be safe. You might have to change your name and Sean wouldn't be able to ... heal people in public anymore."

She glanced at him. "Sort of like a witness protection deal?" she asked and couldn't help a vague smile at the idea.

Sam wanted to smile in reply, but couldn't really find the right expression to go with it. "I don't know. Something like that," he agreed. "We've got a friend. He knows people. He might be able to help in some way. We can call him tomorrow."

"And you trust him?" Angelina asked, the caution back in her voice.

Sam nodded. "Explicitly. He's been like a father to us both since our own father died. Even before that, actually," he agreed. "I'd trust him with my life."

"Does Dean trust him too?" Angelina asked.

That, in turn, did make Sam smile vaguely. "As much as I do, if not more," he said and finally met her eyes. "Let's just call him in the morning and see what he says."

She held his gaze for a moment, then looked away. "Okay," she said quietly and rose again. "There are four beds in there, Sam. And you look like you could use some decent sleep. So stop being a brat and come inside," she added and gave him a small smirk.

Sam considered it for a second, then shrugged once more and rose. "When you put it like that ..."

He knew that the next few days would be tough, depending on when Sean would regain enough confidence to heal Dean completely, and he figured he had a lot of atoning to do. This was going to weigh him down for a while and it would no doubt annoy the crap out of Dean for the duration. But this wasn't something he would be able to let go of easily.


The motel was in a secluded place and the light from the parking lot outside wasn't strong enough to penetrate the floral pattern of the heavy curtains to give away details of the room. He wasn't used to four-bed rooms. The stretch had always been two beds and a cot. Most times it had just been two beds and dad had slept on the floor or he and Dean had shared a bed.

Sam lay there on his back, wide awake, and felt irrationally lonely on the other side of the room. Angelina had picked the bed next to Dean, the one that was normally his, and he had therefore been banned to the twin beds on the other side of the room. Not that he felt he deserved any better after what he had done, what he had allowed to happen, but it still made him incapable of falling asleep while the rational part of his mind kept chiding him for feeling lonely when all he had to do was raise his head to see Dean. A quick glance at his watch told him it was ten past three in the morning. Frustrated, he pressed both hands over his face and tried not to sigh loudly. He would have to engage in that 'yoga-crap' – as Dean called it – to calm himself down enough to fall asleep.

And still the guilt kept churning around in him, kept chewing him up inside, while he anxiously tried to find some kind of justification that would let him sleep. Angelina's words had made a small difference, but Sam knew he should have been stronger, should have anticipated the ghost's influence and fought against it harder. The way he saw it right now, he might as well have thrown Dean out of that window himself. And at the time he had wanted to, which was what kept him awake now. Sure, Dean could be a pain in the neck at times, but he was his brother and despite all the bravado and sarcasm, Sam knew Dean cared about him and that should count for something. Hell, that should count for everything.

For some reason, this presently frustrating situation brought to mind a memory he had long since forgotten all about. He had been five, maybe six, and times had been rough. A kid at the school he had been in had seen fit to pick on him because he didn't have a mother. The term 'poor little orphan boy' had stuck with him for as long as they had stayed in that town, but he had never told either Dean or dad about it. It had hurt like hell and he had been hard pressed to keep from bawling his eyes out at the time. So he withdrew into himself and became morose and angry. And Dean hadn't had a clue and he had picked on him even more than usual, which had aggravated the situation beyond the tolerable. It was the only time that Sam could consciously remember that dad had been one step ahead of Dean in anything that concerned Sam.


"Hey champ. What's up with you today?" John eyed his youngest with some measure of concern. Dean hadn't said anything about any trouble and he had been over the top annoying over the past few days, which had resulted in the timeout he was getting right now. John had generally thrown him out of the apartment, told him to walk it off and not come back until he could behave himself.

Sam made a face and aggressively wiped the back of his hand against his nose to hide the fact that he had cried. It was unusual that Dean picked on Sam so much that the kid actually cried, but it had happened and John had fortunately been around to stomp it out before it escalated into something more. "Nothing," Sam grumbled and turned away.

John caught his arm and propelled him back to face him, then hunkered down in front of him. "Don't give me nothing, young man. It's obvious you're upset about something. So spill."

Sam's expression scrunched up for a moment and his eyes were on anything other than John. "It's nothing," he stated firmly yet in a quaky voice.

"Sam," John warned, well aware that his youngest was hard to get through to if he didn't want to talk. Usually, Dean dealt with Sam's moods, but today he couldn't be counted on to do that. "This is not nothing. You got trouble at school?"

The magic word produced new tears and Sam pulled violently back, trying to get out of John's grip. "I said it's nothing," he snapped and yanked angrily at his arm.

John merely tightened his grip and refused to let go. Getting angry with Sam would get him nothing right now, so he chose to just wait out the temper tantrum and then hopefully get to the core of this when Sam calmed down again.

After a moment Sam stopped tugging and dropped his head.

"You ready to talk to me now?" John asked.

Sam made a face. "There's this kid at school. He ... keeps calling me names," he muttered under his breath.

"And what have I told you about listening to bullies?" John asked.

"Not to?" Sam asked back and briefly glanced up at him before dropping his gaze to the floor in front of his feet again.

"Damned straight. So why are you listening to this kid?" John asked.

"Because he's mean," Sam muttered.

"And where's Dean when this is going on?" John asked.

Sam looked up then, his expression a mixture of caution and concern. "Dennis always makes sure not to pick on me when he's around," Sam said quickly.

"Have you told Dean about this?" John eyed him closely for a moment.

Sam instantly looked away and shook his head mutely.

"Why not? I've told you time and time again, if there's any trouble, you let Dean deal with it if he can," John said.

"He's been stupid lately," Sam grumbled.

Point taken, John thought and sighed. "Okay," he said, rose, picked Sam up and deposited him on the worn couch. Then he sat down next to him and just sat there for a moment. "Why do you care about what this bully says to you?" he finally asked. "You're smarter than that, Sammy. Why is this so different?"

Sam sat there for a moment and stared ahead of himself. Then he glanced up and John saw renewed tears in his eyes. "He says I'm weird because I don't have a mom," he finally confessed and sniffed. "He calls me poor little orphan boy."

John stared at him for a moment. "That just goes to show that he's an idiot, Sam. You're not an orphan," he finally said, not sure how to handle this situation.

"I know that," Sam grumbled. "But it still hurts."

Now that John consciously considered it, it was actually rather surprising that this hadn't come up before. For the past six years, John had managed to somehow avoid the topic of Mary when Sam was around and now that it came up, it was like a damned slap in the face. Especially because some moronic kid at school was teasing Sam with it. He could vividly imagine how Dean would respond to this, too, which might account for why Sam hadn't told him about it. In Dean's opinion, his mother had been a saint and nothing and nobody was allowed to sully her memory in any way. John was completely in favor of that sentiment, but Sam had been too young. He didn't remember his mother.

"Yeah," he agreed quietly. "I'm sure it does. And I guess you haven't told Dean because you know he'd pulverize Dennis for that, huh?"

Sam nodded.

John considered his options, considered the job he had been so engulfed in for the better part of two months now, and realized once more that he was neglecting his boys. "Okay, tell you what," he said. "I'll stay here tonight. We'll order pizza and watch old movies. And when Dean gets back, we'll tell him about this kid," John said and smirked when Sam made a face. He could look upset all he wanted. The gleam in his eyes was unmistakable. "Does that sound good?"

Sam nodded and huddled up against John, who slipped an arm around him and pulled him tight. "You think Dean's gonna kill Dennis?"

"No, because Dean knows it's wrong to kill people, Sammy," John countered. "But I'm sure he'll convince Dennis to back off," he added.

"For good?" Sam asked hopefully.

John tightened his grip a little. "Yeah, for good. We won't be here that long. Another few days and I'm done here. And then we can find another town with a better school and nicer class mates, okay?"

Sam nodded. "Okay," he muttered.


Sam let his arm drop away and stared up into the darkness. Now that he remembered it, that night was one of the best in his life. Dad had stayed, as he had promised, and they had eaten pizza and played cards and watched television and the following day, Dean had pulverized Dennis in front of the whole school and everybody had laughed and nobody had called Sam names after that.

It was one of the few nights that Sam could remember where his father had shown his human side. It hadn't happened very often and obviously Sam had suppressed those few times in favor of the anger and resentment. He had spent his life hating his father for never keeping promises and never being there when it counted, but that wasn't entirely true, now was it?

The realization that his father hadn't been nearly as inhuman as Sam had always thought him to be gave him some peace of mind and he finally managed to fall asleep.