There were some things in life that Grace had long since given up on understanding. The death of her husband had been the most prominent. But this, this was right up there beside that. She blinked, glanced from Dean to Sam and back again before dropping her gaze to the photo again. It had been taken a few months before John had left and they had both looked like geeky teenagers. Well, John had basically been a teenager then. She stared at the photo for a moment, unsure of how to respond, unsure of how to react, then looked up to meet Dean's eyes again. "Excuse me?" she asked.

Sam still looked apprehensive, like he was afraid she'd blow up and start yelling at them, but the look in Dean's eyes was almost challenging. He was pale, granted, and looked a little shaken too, but he had a good grip on himself. "That's our dad in that photo," he repeated.

Grace blinked rapidly a few times, then brushed a hand over her lips. "And ... what is your dad's name?" she asked. In part she already believed them. There were little signs, things she remembered about John that Dean especially copied, but in essence they were strangers to her. She didn't even know their last name. And as such that could generally mean that this was some sort of scam, although she couldn't for the life of her understand for what.

Dean blinked, then glanced at Sam while his expression remained painfully unreadable. "John Winchester," he finally said and shifted his gaze back to meet hers.

Grace knew that she could match his unreadable expression and was doing so right now, but it didn't really put a lid on her already boiling mind. She drew in a deep breath, held it for a moment, then let it out slowly and stepped over to the mantelpiece to return the frame to its rightful place. Then she turned back to face the boys. "That would be my brother, yes," she finally said.

Again Dean glanced at Sam, who looked a little green around the gills right now. He swallowed, then sank down on the armchair across from his brother. Sam wasn't so good at hiding what he felt. Dean was an expert, though. "So, that makes you our aunt," he said, his tone carefully controlled.

"That would be the right assumption," Grace agreed. The idea made her reel inside. For the past six years, she and her mother had been the only members of her family left. There were distant cousins somewhere, but Grace had no contact with them. And she wasn't exactly on good terms with her mother either. The old crone clung to life with everything she had in her and Grace wouldn't be surprised if she outlived all of them just from sheer stubbornness. The only member of her family she had ever really cared about had been her brother. And now she had these two boys in her house, telling her that they were John's boys? The odds of that happening were staggering, impossible, outrageous. And yet she imagined she could see her brother in them. Sam looked more like John than Dean did, but Dean on the other hand had a lot of her brother's mannerisms. "John's boys, huh?" Pensively, she rubbed the back of her neck, then smoothed a hand over her hair. "What are the odds?"

"Wildly improbable," Sam muttered and glanced at his brother, the look in his eyes almost pleading. For what Grace didn't know and Dean didn't respond to it. He just kept staring at Grace.

"What is your father's middle name?" she asked. She knew it sounded paranoid, knew that she was risking alienating them if they truly were John's kids, but she was not going to get emotionally attached to them only to find out later she had been scammed.

"He doesn't have one," Dean countered, stoically maintaining his grip on himself.

"Why did he leave home?" she asked on.

The first flicker of uncertainty rippled through Dean's expression. He was still pale and Grace began to suspect that it was more the pain he was in than anything else that caused that. "I ... don't know," he admitted. "He never told us about this. He never ... said he had a sister."

The idea of a scam became ever more distant. Sam's reaction underlined this where Dean's did not, because he wasn't really reacting yet. He was keeping his cards close to his vest and Grace got the distinct impression that he was a bit of a player, that he was good at scamming others. She glanced at Sam, who was watching Dean, and she got a lot more out of reading him than Dean.

"He never mentioned me?" She could not suppress the dull ache in her voice at that realization. Not only had John stormed out of the house all those years ago, he had obviously decided to forget all about everybody in the same heartbeat. And Grace had to admit that it hurt; at least to herself.

"No," Dean agreed. "Never a word. Not to us, at least." He didn't sound apologetic or upset. He sounded more ... angry.

Grace couldn't really understand his reaction. If anyone had a right to be angry here, it would be her. But she figured there was more here than met the eye. Something was going on here that they hadn't told her yet. "So, where is your father now?" she asked.

The boys glanced at each other and the ripple of uncertainty in Dean transformed into something different, something she couldn't get a grasp on at first; not until he returned his attention to her and she saw her own burning grief reflected back at her. "He's dead," Dean said. His voice was a bit husky, his tone lower than before. He was fighting internally to maintain the grip. She could almost see it in his eyes.

In part she had expected it. A part of her had withdrawn into a dark corner of her mind the second they had revealed that they were John's sons, because she couldn't imagine that her brother would let his sons go on a dangerous assignment like this without being with them. They were grown men, no doubt about it, but parents had a tendency to ignore that fact. And her brother had not exactly been the toughest of guys. Also the fact that they had not called him immediately supported that notion. "When?" She was actually amazed at how steady her voice was. For thirty-two years she had tried to find her brother again, tried to track him down at regular intervals, and a few times she had gotten close, but then he had disappeared and she had actually resigned herself to the worst-case scenario. Having it confirmed, though, was not something that made her feel better. She had never been able to deny the smoldering hope that one day he would turn up on her doorstep. Now she knew he never would.

"Two years ago," Dean said and cleared his throat. He might have a good grip on himself, but his father's death did not rest easy on his shoulders. Sam looked sad at the thought, but in a way she would have expected. Dean's tone and expression hid something deeper, something darker.

Grace nodded once, a barely perceivable jerk of the head. "How?" she asked quietly.

Again the boys glanced at each other and Grace began to suspect that these two had something close to non-verbal communication going on, which in turn meant they'd spent far more time together than brothers usually did. "Heart attack," Dean said.

Through her many years as a paramedic, she had dealt with all sorts of people and she had learned to read the subtle nuances in voices and faces. Dean was lying. She knew that without the shadow of a doubt and it immediately spurred on her imagination. She shut it down before it could come up with insane scenarios. "That's ... odd," she said.

Dean blinked, then frowned and flinched in one go before touching the healing gash on his brow. "Why is that odd? A lot of people die of heart attacks every year," he said. Sam looked worried, nervous even, and it proved to Grace that Dean wasn't being truthful. Dean was the more skilled liar of the two. Sam struck her as being the type who preferred to shut up rather than tell an outright lie where Dean probably didn't have such qualms.

"The Winchesters have always had strong hearts," Grace said. "Not something John would have died of under normal circumstances."

Sam's nervousness grew. He kept his gaze fixed on his brother, stubbornly avoiding Grace's eyes.

Dean shrugged. "What can I say? That's what the doctors said," he said. He shifted a little and grimaced. Sam was quick to respond to his unspoken plea and helped Dean get his right leg up on the coffee table. "Aren't I supposed to be in a cast by now?" he asked.

"As soon as the snow lets up a little. Until then, you'll have to settle for the brace," Grace said. "Let me get this straight. You two," she added and glanced from Dean to Sam and back again, "are my nephews. My brother died of a heart attack two years ago and you two ... do what for a living?"

Again that glance between them. Sam seemed more inclined to tell her the truth. Dean disagreed and she immediately knew what this was about. He didn't trust her, didn't believe she was related to their father. It was probably hard to grasp, considering that John hadn't told his sons about his sister. At least she figured that was the case.

"We do all sorts of things," Dean said, once again taking the lead. "Freelance news reporters, insurance investigators. You name it, we've done it."

'Liar,' she thought, but didn't call him on it. "Uh-huh," she muttered and folded her arms over her chest. "Does that pay well?" she asked.

Sam grimaced, but once again Dean took the lead. "Not really. But it's a living," he said and gave her a lopsided grin that nearly knocked the air out of her. He looked too damned much like her brother right then. A little rattled, she glanced away, regrouped and then looked at him again.

"Why should I believe any of this?" she asked.

"We can show you our birth certificates," Dean said.

"Not right now we can't," Sam inserted. He looked a little flushed. "They're in the car," he added when Dean sent him a confused glance.

"Oh yeah. That's right," Dean agreed and sighed. "You didn't seen a Chevy Impala somewhere when you ... were looking for me, did you?"

Grace eyed him. "I don't know the first thing about car brands," she countered. "I did see a big black car parked out by Lorn Baker's field. That's close to the forest where I found you. Would that be it?"

Dean nodded. "Yeah," he said, his tone almost mournful. "I really don't like that she's sitting out there, covered by a mile of snow."

Another something he seemed to have in common with her brother; a love for all things mechanical. "I take it you boys have a mother out there somewhere?" she asked. Another enigma. If they did, why hadn't they called her? Or was their relationship with their mother as dysfunctional as hers was?

The cockiness oozed right out of Dean and his expression darkened a little. "Our mother is dead too," Sam supplied. "She died when I was six months old."

Grace eyed him for a second and read nothing but truth in his eyes. "I'm sorry," she said. That both their parents were dead was obvious. Their reactions to the mention of both underlined that big time. But the rest Grace was a little dubious about. A sudden idea popped into her head and she strode out into the hallway and grabbed the cordless phone, dialed Lorn's number and waited. "Hi Lorn, it's Grace," she said.

"Mrs. Alden," Lorn croaked. The guy was somewhere between eighty and dead and insisted on formalities like nobody's business. That didn't mean he expected it from others as well. "Bit of weather we're having, eh?"

"That's putting it mildly. Listen, Lorn, is there a car parked out by your field?" she asked.

"Indeed there is. Or was. Real beauty of a car, that one. When the snow started coming down, I whipped out the old tractor and towed it into my barn. Why are you asking, sweetheart?"

Grace arched an eyebrow. Lorn had obviously had a bit too much brandy today. Not that she blamed him. "Because the owner of the car is staying with me right now and he was worried about it," she said.

"Don't blame him. I can get it to you if you'd like? It's not snowing right now and my tractor can easily tow it out your way." Like always, Lorn sounded very pleased with himself and Grace couldn't help a smile.

"That would be very nice of you," she said.

"Alrighty then. I'll be there in a bit then," Lorn said.

"Thank you, Lorn," Grace replied and hung up again, then turned back to face the boys. "Your car is in safe hands. Lorn will tow it over here within the next hour."

The gesture obviously meant something to Dean, because he looked a little perplexed. "Uh ... thanks," he said.

Grace stepped over to the chest of drawers, pulled one out and searched through her papers until she found her birth certificate, which she then handed to Dean. "Just to prove to you that I am who I claim to be," she said.

He eyed it for a moment, then handed it to Sam, who just stared at it for a second before handing it back to her. "What I don't get," Dean said, attracting her attention again, "is why dad never mentioned you."

There it was. The proof that she had not even existed in their lives. She sighed lightly. "Probably because of the manner in which we parted ways," she said. "Although I had hoped that he wouldn't blame me for it," she added thoughtfully.

"What happened?" Sam asked. He wasn't pretending to be interested, he really was interested.

Grace considered the option of telling them her story, of what might happen if they weren't who they claimed to be, and she figured it really wasn't a secret that her family had always been dysfunctional. "Long story short, John had a falling out with our father, who disowned him and forbad the rest of us to ever mention him again," she said. It wasn't much of a story, really, but she wasn't much for reliving it either.

"That must have been one hell of a falling-out," Dean said, his expression bland, but she could see something in his eyes that she didn't really know how to interpret.

"Yeah, well, our father wasn't a forgiving soul," she said and couldn't help the sneer that slipped over her lips. Even now, six years after the old bastard had finally giving up his claim on life, she still resented him.

"What did dad do? Talk back to him?" Sam asked. There was a bitter streak in his voice coupled with sadness that made Grace eye him closely. Something had happened between Sam and John. That much was clear.

"In a sense," she agreed. "John wanted to pursue his own goals. But that did not fit into the plans Jonathan Winchester had for his only son. John was supposed to join the family business. It got ugly."

"Ugly? Like how?" Dean asked, watching her intently.

There were things about their father they obviously didn't know, which made Grace wonder how much of this she would have told her own child. She pursed her lips and sent a brief glanced toward the photos on the mantelpiece, the last one especially. It wasn't something she liked to think about. It always made her angry when she thought about that showdown all those years ago. Thirty-two years and it still stood out clearly in her mind whenever she allowed herself to think of it. "Harsh words were said. A lot of bitterness was spilled. And most of it could never be mopped up again. You can't unsay things you've said. John got rid of a lot of frustrations, but to no avail. The old man didn't listen. In his mind there was no other law than his." She briefly closed her eyes, then returned her birth certificate to the drawer and closed it again. "John wanted to join the Marines. Our father didn't want him to. They had a shouting match that lasted an hour and then John stormed out of the house. And that was the last time I saw him. Our father cut him off, cut him out of his will, and the rest of us, my mother and myself, were not allowed to ever mention him again."

She turned back to face the boys and was a little startled by the look they exchanged. It was so close to being verbal that she almost understood what they were saying to each other. Sam's expression lingered on the angry with a pinch of regret mixed into it. The look Dean sent his brother was both a warning and a consolation.

Before she could respond to it, though, the sound of the tractor reached her ears. "Your car's here," she said, turned and strode out to open the front door. The heavy blanket of snow covering the path to the sidewalk reminded her that she needed to get out there and shovel a bit. Instead, she pulled her Wellingtons on and plowed her way out to the curb, where Lorn's old tractor skittered to a stop.

"Got here as fast as I could," he proclaimed proudly. "Where do you want it?"

Grace glanced toward the driveway to the garage, which was impassable and sighed. "Leave it right there. That's fine, Lorn. Thank you very much. You didn't have to do that," she said.

Lorn smiled his perfect smile, the hectic red blotches on his cheeks telling her that he'd had more than a little brandy today. "Oh, it's nothing, sweetheart. It's always good to get out of the house. Even on a day like this," he said and glanced up toward the heavy, steel grey sky. "There's more snow coming," he added.

"I think you're right. We'll be snowed in for a bit longer," she agreed.

"Well, I won't keep you. Too cold to stand around and chitchat. Besides, the Misses might think I'm stepping out on her or something. What with a hot little number like you," Lorn said and chuckled delightedly while he disengaged the tow-chain from the black car and put it away securely.

"Thank you again, Lorn. And tell Myra hello and I promise not to steal her man," Grace countered.

Lorn blushed even more, pleased by her words, and climbed back into the cab of his tractor. "Tooteloo," he said, waved a hand at her and drove on.

Grace sighed. "Crazy old coot," she muttered, then turned back toward the house only to find Sam standing there. Granted, they had their clothes back, but his shoes were not what she would suggest he wore in this weather. "Don't you have any boots?" she asked.

Sam glanced down at his feet and shook his head. "No," he said, then eyed the snow for a moment with obvious distaste.

"Do you have the key for the car? I can get whatever you need, since I doubt you'll be able to fit into my boots," she said.

Sam held out the key to her. "Thanks. There's a silver box in the trunk. It's got all our papers in it," he said.

She nodded, took the key and stepped around the black car. It looked like something John would have liked. She made a face, opened the trunk and eyed the open duffle sitting in it for a moment. Then she spotted the box and grabbed it. By pulling it out of the trunk, she shifted the flaps of the duffle and exposed its contents. And it caught her by surprise. She stared at the weapons littering the duffle for a moment, then glanced at Sam, who was hugging himself against the cold and waiting for her to find the box.

Unsure of what to think of the arsenal in the trunk, Grace closed the lid again and walked back to the front door. Sam stepped aside to let her in and took the box when she handed it to him. "Thanks," he said. He was obviously unaware of that she had seen the weapons.

This was a day of revelations, it would seem, and certain things she didn't want to know about; at least not yet.

Sam handed the box over to his brother, who routed through it for a moment, then produced two birth certificates, which he held out to Grace. She studied them for a moment, then handed them back to Dean, who returned them to the box and closed the lid.

There was no doubt that these two were John's boys now, but it didn't change the fact, though, that this was one hell of a coincidence. It was so far out that it couldn't be a coincidence. "Did you know where to find me?" she asked and glanced from Dean to Sam and back again.

"We didn't even know you existed," Dean countered, his expression a little dark. "Like you didn't know we existed."

"True," she agreed. "All this thinking is making me hungry," she added. "I think better on a full stomach."

Dean nodded. "Me too," he said.

"Except you're never full," Sam inserted and gave Dean a saying look.

"What are you talking about? I don't eat that much," Dean shot back, mock-offended.

Sam arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, right," he muttered.

Dean made a face and rubbed his brow. "I feel useless here," he growled. "I can't do anything."

"You can do a hell of a lot more than most people would be able to in your condition," Grace disagreed. "Either your pain threshold is way higher than most people's or you're far better at hiding that you hurt. The fact alone that you're up and moving on crutches despite broken ribs and two busted legs says a hell of a lot more about your stamina than anything else."

He gave her a look that might look like displeasure to others, but she could tell that he was pleased about the praise.

"That said, I think you should both stay here," she said and sent Sam a stern look. "You are moving around too much. You have a concussion and a broken arm. So sit down!"

Sam obeyed immediately, a brief look of discomfort flitting over his face.

"And you, you need to rest. With that concussion you've got and your leg and your ribs, you need all the rest you can get," she said, turning her attention toward Dean. "It's all nice and good that you want to get moving as fast as possible, but you're not doing yourself any favors by overdoing it."

"What? You find out you're our aunt and suddenly you get to boss us around?" Dean countered and flinched again. His concussion was obviously causing him trouble.

"You better believe it," she agreed. "And I would still be telling you off if I wasn't your aunt. You're under my roof right now, so my rules go. And anything I say is for your benefit and not because I want to be in charge. You got that?"

Dean blinked. "Yes ma'am," he said. It was obviously supposed to be sarcastic, but it didn't come out that way and he knew it too. He was responding to her commando tone as if he'd been doing it all his life and that made Grace frown.

Grace decided to let it slide for now. "So, what can I get you two to eat?" she asked. "Sandwiches and omelets aside, you need something with a little more gust to it." She considered the contents of her fridge for a moment, then decided on a meal that would satisfy the pickiest person in the world. Without another word, she turned and headed into the kitchen to start preparing a decent meal for those two while her mind ran a mile a minute. She would need to take some time out to digest all of this properly. There was a lot of information to assimilate. She needed more once she had gotten used to the idea that not only did she have two nephews currently depending on her, but her brother was dead.

She stopped short and stared down at the lettuce she had just pulled out of the fridge while that realization slowly sank in. Her baby brother was gone. She closed her eyes and drove those emotions down into a deep, dark hole where they couldn't harm her for now and decided to deal with them later. She couldn't afford a breakdown right now, no matter how small it might be. "Pull yourself together," she muttered, grabbed the big knife and started slicing the lettuce.