Demons? Grace shook her head and returned her attention to the white outdoors. They were talking about demons. She wrecked her brain for a moment to consider what she knew about demons, what she believed about demons. "I don't believe in demons," she muttered and closed her eyes briefly. "What the hell are you doing to me, Johnny? You send your boys to me and they tell me this? How the hell am I supposed to handle that, huh? What am I supposed to do with that?" She scrubbed a hand over her lips. "Dean's good at lying. Is that you're doing?"

The heavy snowfall outside was going to prevent any long walks and Grace really felt like taking one. But not in this. Pursing her lips, she just stood there for a moment longer, her thoughts on her brother and on that clash of titans that had sent him out of her life.


"I'm going and there's nothing you can do to change that," John roared. There was anger in his voice, deep-seated anger, but also quite a bit of hurt. Grace could hear it even when their father couldn't. And even if the old man could hear it, Grace knew he didn't care.

"You are not leaving this house, John. You are not going to join some stupid war and deprive this family of its only real heir." Jonathan Winchester was a hard man, a cold man, and the fact alone that he said this while his older daughter was listening was enough to prove to Grace that she didn't matter in his equation.

"Grace is better at all this shit than I am. And I am going to become a Marine. And you know why? Because it gets me out of this fucking house!" John glared at his father, but Grace could see the tears there too.

"Johnny, please," she begged. She knew he needed to get out, knew that their father was suffocating him, killing his forward momentum just by being a tyrant, but Grace couldn't stand the thought of losing her baby brother and she knew he would be lost to her if he left. Father knew best, after all, and the man was going to throw up all the shutters and cut all the ties if John carried through with this.

"Don't you start on me," John snapped, but his tone had mellowed a little. He wasn't angry with her. He was angry with their father.

Their mother stood by, arms crossed over her chest, her expression tight. She was upset about it, but she would never go against her husband's wishes.

"John, if you walk out that door, don't bother coming back," their father said, his tone stoic. "You will not have a home any more if you leave here."

John stood there, hands fisted at his sides, a little out of breath from all the shouting. "This has never been a home," he snarled. "If it hadn't been for Grace, I would have left years ago." He grabbed his duffle, then focused on their mother. "Mom?"

She looked away, refused to meet his eyes. "You heard your father."

The tears became more evident. He was being cut off from his family, being told he was no longer a part of this, and it burned him, but not enough to change his mind. He shifted his gaze to Grace. "Gracie?"

She pushed past her father and rushed over to hug him. "You be safe, you hear me?" she whispered, the pain of his imminent departure tearing into her like nothing else could.

He hugged her back, long and hard. "I will. You too. And get out of here as soon as you can, Gracie."

She leaned back and regarded him solemnly. "Stay in touch."

He nodded once, then took a step back. "Sir?"

"You leave now, you're gone. That's it, John. No second chances," their father said, his tone hard.

"Fine," John growled, turned and left the house. He slammed the front door hard enough to rattle it in its frame.

Grace turned to face her father and she could define this as the moment when she really, truly began to hate him. "How could you?" She snarled the words out, anger and hatred vying for control inside her.

"He made his choice. End of story. You no longer have a brother, Grace. Martha, empty his room and burn everything. I want no reminders of that ungrateful boy. We will never speak of him again," he said, turned around and withdrew to his study.

"Mom?" Grace eyed her mother with pleading eyes and all she got back was a harsh look.

"You heard your father," she said and disappeared upstairs to carry out the order.

Grace shed bitter tears over the loss of her brother and she cursed her father and vowed she would leave this house as soon as possible.


She sighed and sank down on the couch in the TV-room, the memory of that day still with her as strongly as if it had happened yesterday. And the realization that her brother was gone, that she would never be able to speak to him again or hug him or laugh at his silly jokes, finally caught up with her. The tears ran thick and heavy down her face while she stared into the darkness of her memories and remembered that moment in time where she had gotten the closest to throttling her mother with her bare hands.


She went to visit the old crone, dutifully the good daughter, and dropped a bag of apples on the table in the hall. "Mom?" she called.

"In the den," her mother's rusty voice responded.

Grace trailed through the house to the den and found her mother standing there, working on one of her damned flowers. It was the only things she'd ever been able to care about. "Hi mom," Grace said. "I brought you some apples."

"Not the same as last time, are they?" Martha countered and gave her a steely glance. "They were far too sour. You know I like them sweet."

"They're sweet, mom," Grace countered and sank down on the edge of the ornament couch, which wasn't for sitting, only for looking at.

"Grace!" Martha snapped disapprovingly.

Obediently, Grace rose again. "I don't get why you have this damned couch in here if nobody's allowed to sit on it," she said, a complaint she had uttered many times before.

"I don't want it damaged. You know that," Martha countered indifferently.

Grace rubbed her brow, then trailed through the den and eyed all the outstanding and price-winning flowers her mother tended to here. Her flowers thrived better than her children ever had. "Mom," she said and trailed to a stop, then turned to face her mother, who continued to prune one of her priced babies. "I know this is a hands-off topic, but ... it's been thirty years and Dad isn't around anymore to call the shots. I need to know if you've heard from John."

Martha's movements never slowed or faltered. She kept doing what she did. "He called," she finally said.

Grace's jaw almost hit the floor. "What?! Why didn't you tell me?"

"Oh, it was ... back in 1973, I think," Martha said. "He called, said he'd gotten home alright." She sounded almost bored, like it was nothing.

"And you never thought about telling me?" Grace asked, her mind reeling at the cruelty her mother was capable of.

"Of course not. Your father was still alive," Martha said, her tone still smacking of indifference. "He called again in '79. Said he'd gotten married and had a son," she added and glanced at Grace.

"A son?" Grace staggered. "How the hell could you not tell me that, mom?"

Martha sighed and rolled her eyes. "Because your father was still alive," she repeated, now decidedly annoyed.

"Mom, dammit," Grace snapped. "Where is he? How can I get in touch with him?"

"I don't know, do I? I honor your father's wishes. I didn't ask him where he was. I hung up on him," Martha said, her tone cold and flat. "And watch your language. Ladies do not speak like that."

Blistering mad at this point, Grace took a step back. "Well it's a good thing I'm not a lady then, is it?" she snapped. "You bitch. You know how much I want to find John." With that, she turned and strode out, intent on never seeing that old hag again. She was through with her, through with her puppet-on-a-string attitude.


Grace scrubbed both hands over her face, then pushed all ten fingers through her hair, smoothing it back against her skull. She hadn't seen her mother much after that and the old hag had never spoken of the incident again. "I should have tried harder," she muttered, then let her hands drop, rose and walked into the bathroom to remove the signs of her distress.

She met her own eyes in the mirror over the sink and stared at her face, lined by years of worry and too much damned sorrow. And downstairs was the only tie she had left to her brother and she would be damned if she would lose that again. She couldn't have John back, but at least she could have his boys and there was no way her lack of faith in what they told her was going to undermine that. She would stick with them like glue, make sure they were as safe as she could make them.

That decided, she splashed some water on her face, inspected the damage done and decided it wasn't so bad. Then she headed back downstairs.


Sam looked up when he heard Grace coming back downstairs and raised a finger to his lips the second he got eye contact with her, shushing her into silence. She glanced at Dean, nodded once and motioned toward the kitchen.

Sam got up and followed her and she closed the door behind them. "He should be in bed," she said.

"Yeah, I know, but keeping him in bed is harder than tackling a sack full of flees," he said and couldn't help a smirk at that odd analogy. He had no idea where that came from.

Grace smirked. "You want some tea or coffee?"

"A cup of coffee would be great," he said and sank down on a chair by the kitchen table. "Grace, I'm sorry about this whole thing. I mean ..."

"Don't," she said while she put the coffee on and then put the kettle on the stove. "You've got nothing to be sorry about, Sam. I'd rather know everything at once and not be in for any more surprises." She turned around and leaned against the kitchen counter. "I'm not, am I?"

How did he respond to that other than truthfully? He had already more or less decided that he was going to tell her the truth about everything from now on. She deserved to know and the more she knew, the safer she would be. "We've been in this business pretty much since I was born, Grace, and we still get surprised every now and then. There's a lot going on out there that even we don't know about," Sam countered and shifted a little in his seat, then made a face when that hurt his broken arm.

"Is your arm bothering you?" Grace asked while eying him closely.

"A little," he admitted. "It's not too bad. I just shouldn't move it."

"Which is kind of hard," she said. "I'll tell Lucy to bring some more plaster tomorrow. You need that arm in a cast as much as Dean needs his leg in one." She glanced at the door and pursed her lips. "He's not going to like it."

With a slight frown, Sam glanced at the door too. "Actually, he's looking forward to it. He's going to be able to move better with it on."

Grace grimaced. "Not really," she said. "His whole leg is going to be encased. He has a break in the upper part of the tibia. To keep the pressure of it and give it time to heal, a cast up to the knee isn't going to do it. That won't offer enough support."

Sam actually paled a little. "Oh man," he muttered. "Oh, he's so not gonna like that."

"I figured as much," Grace agreed and sat down on a chair across from him. "Sam ..." She trailed off and just stared ahead of herself for a moment. Then she focused on him. "Demons?" she asked. "Really?"

It was kind of eerie how much she sounded like Dean right now. It was the way Dean would have asked a question like that. He chomped down on his lower lip and nodded. "Yeah, really," he agreed.

"Like in ... the movies? Scaly and slimy and ..." Again she trailed off and regarded him intently, a frown furrowing her brow.

"No, they're smoke until they possess someone," he said. "It's ... I don't know ... it's kinda hard to explain, really."

"So, Hell is real?" she asked.

"Yeah," he agreed with a light nod.

"By default, doesn't that make Heaven real too?" She wiped her hand over her lips in classic Winchester-fashion.

"I don't know. I guess there's somewhere people go to after they die, but ... we haven't had any contact with that side. All we ever see is what comes straight from Hell," he explained. "Ghosts ... when they finally pass on ... I don't know where they go. I just know that ... they leave."

"Ghosts? You're telling me ghosts are real?" she asked and he nodded again.

"So are werewolves, vampires and various other incarnations of evil," he elaborated.

She sighed and rubbed her brow with the tips of her fingers for a moment. "I'm getting a headache," she confessed. "I need something to eat. Are you hungry?"

"Not really," he said. "Dean might be when he wakes up, though. Oh ... and don't tell him about the cast. He'll find a way to get out of it if you do."

"I'll tie him to the damned couch if I have to. He's getting that cast on tomorrow whether he wants to or not," Grace countered and rose to prepare something edible. "And you should eat."

Sam watched her for a bit and marveled at the fact that he had accepted her without much question. Granted, the similarity to dad was overwhelming and that in general was probably the bit that should have raise suspicion. No siblings were exactly alike unless they were conjoint twins, but obviously some things were part of the general genetic makeup and Grace, although not physically like dad, had a lot of his mannerisms. She was also quick to dishing out orders and Sam at least felt the instant need to obey when she told him to do something. In that she differed from dad. Grace commanded respect just by raising her voice. Dad had commanded nothing but obstinacy from Sam by doing the same.

"Was your father really that bad?" he asked.

"Bad? No, I don't think he was bad. He was hard and cold. He had his own ideas about how things should be. He was very supportive and appreciative if you did things his way. If you strayed from the path, that's when the shit hit the fan, so to speak. Jonathan Winchester was not a forgiving man. He never forgave John for walking out on him and that was that. The very minute John had left, he ordered our mother to clear out his room and burn everything he'd ever owned. He wanted nothing around to remind him. All his photos were removed. I managed to salvage a few of them, but our mother was pretty ... thorough."

The memory of that day when Sam had taken off for Stanford reminded him painfully of her little story. He picked idly at the edge of the bandage on his left arm for a moment, then glanced up to meet her eyes. "Dad kinda did the same thing with me," he said.

"What?" Grace stared at him, taken aback.

"I decided I didn't want to hunt, I wanted to go to school, make something of myself. You know? Live like a normal human being," he said. He had no idea why he told her this now. Maybe it was because he'd never really had the chance to talk it over with anyone. Dean didn't want to hear it and he had never told Jess about it. He had hinted at it, but never told her the specifics. "I enrolled in college and got in. Full ride and all. And I decided to go. But ... dad wasn't ... happy. We had a shouting match the day I left. He told me if I walked out that door, I should stay gone. So I did." He swallowed. "I heard from Dean a few times, but dad never called me."

Grace's expression had darkened. "Are you telling me that John did exactly the same thing to you that our father did to him?" she asked, her voice a little raw now.

"Until ... he didn't ... it didn't last. Something happened and ... Dean came by and picked me up and when we finally found dad again ... he'd gone missing ... he was glad to see me." He grimaced, struggled with the memory and the feelings that always accompanied it.

She looked a little stricken. "Good grief," she muttered. "And as the stubborn ass he could be, I assume he didn't contact you at any point, did he?"

"No, he didn't. But Dean told me that they swung by California several times during the years I was there." Sam almost thought it was funny that he was trying to justify dad's actions right now. Almost, but not quite.

"Yeah, well, he never contacted me either, that bastard," she growled, the food preparations forgotten for the time being. "I swear to God, if he was here, I would slap him upside the head. He was a damned mule, that man."

Sam said nothing, but he agreed wholeheartedly. He rolled his head to one side, gingerly stretching the muscles in his left shoulder and couldn't subdue a hiss at the tenseness there.

"Sore?" Grace asked and he nodded tightly.

She got up and for a second he thought she was going to get him something for the pain, but then she stepped up behind him, grabbed his shoulders and began to massage them. For a second he was totally stunned by her response, but it just felt so damned good that he didn't even think of commenting on it. Instead he let his head drop forward and just soaked up the attention while his shoulders slowly relaxed.


The following day

Lucy the nurse arrived with everything necessary to stabilize both breaks and Grace had insisted they use the kitchen for the messy job. Lucy unwrapped Dean's leg, felt over the break which earned her a few expletives she obviously hadn't heard in a while if the arched eyebrow was anything to go by, and then she glanced up at Grace. "That's a full cast," she said.

Dean glanced at Grace, then down at his leg.

"I kinda figured that," Grace agreed and eyed Dean closely for a moment. "Do you know what a full cast means?" she asked, directing that question to him.

Something told him he wasn't going to like what she had to say. "Over the knee?" he asked back.

Lucy chuckled. "Way over the knee," she said and eyed his sweats. "They'll have to come off before we can put the cast on," she added.

Dean stared at her. "What?" he asked.

"I can't put a cast on your leg while you're wearing your sweats. So, either I cut them open up to your hip or you take them off," Lucy said, her tone bordering on the annoyed.

Dean blinked, glanced up at Grace, then back at Lucy and then tried to spot Sam, who was nowhere in sight. "Uh ..." He arched an eyebrow and flinched when that stung his still sore brow. "I don't have a busted knee. I have a broken shin. I can't possibly need a cast ... that long."

Lucy tilted her head to the right and eyed him with a serious expression. "Are you a doctor?" she asked.

"No," he countered.

"Then what do you know about it?" she demanded.

Grace grabbed her shoulder. "Does it have to be all the way?" she asked.

"Grace, you of all people should know how important it is to stabilize a break like that," Lucy countered and glanced up at her.

"The splint didn't go further than to my knee," Dean inserted.

"That's because you can't walk on a splint. This is a walking cast. And it has to go all the way up or you might as well not wear it at all," Lucy said.

Dean glared at her and shifted uncomfortably on the hard chair. "Fine. Then I won't wear it. Put the splint back on," he shot back.

Grace stepped up behind him and grabbed his shoulders. "Do you want to walk on that leg again anytime soon?" she asked.

He tilted his head back and looked up at her.

"Then you let Lucy put that cast on you and you wear it for the duration. With a walking cast on, you'll be able to retrain your leg and make it far easier to start walking once it's off again," she said. She smiled vaguely and there was something in her eyes that made him refrain from bitching about it.

For a moment he just looked up at her, then he sighed. "Okay, fine," he said. "Where's Sam, that little coward?" he asked.

Grace chuckled. "He's somewhere around," she said. "I'll find him," she added and left the kitchen.

Dean gave Lucy his most charming grin. "Let's get on with it, Lucy," he said.

Lucy eyed him for a moment, then nodded in agreement and smirked. "I don't get to say this that often to a guy like you," she said and winked. "Drop your pants."

Despite the discomfort he was in, he couldn't help a chuckle. "You should be so lucky," he countered.