What is to Come

By Ridley C. James & Tidia, 2010

Beta: Tidia

Disclaimer: Nothing Supernatural belongs to me.

Words: 39.723 words

Summary: T.S. Eliot once said that a life burns in every moment. The Winchesters are about to discover how true that is as they face losing not only the battle between good an evil, but risk the one thing that means the most to them-Brotherhood.

Notes: We are to the final tale in our Pentalogy. This is Sam's chapter, but we believe it reflects the story of The Brotherhood. In the time line this picks up after episode 5.20 and we have tweaked the ending. In our AU, the season finale did not take place as in Kripke land. There are only slight spoilers. Thank you to all our readers, and those who have commented and took the time to share the last four years with us! This one is for you.


If the family were a container, it would be a nest, an enduring nest, loosely woven, expansive, and open. If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable—each segment distinct. If the family were a boat, it would be a canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles. If the family were a sport, it would be baseball: a long, slow, nonviolent game that is never over until the last out. If the family were a building, it would be an old but solid structure that contains human history, and appeals to those who see the carved moldings under all the plaster, the wide plank floors under the linoleum, the possibilities.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin


Sam skipped another rock across the silver water. The moon was full, providing enough light that he could easily track Boo as the dog splashed into the pond to chase after the bouncing pebble. Boo had followed Sam on his midnight stroll from the farmhouse, insisting on providing company, though Sam had wanted none. Sam craved fresh air and space, something he'd been denied cramped up in the Impala with Caleb and Dean. Their combined guilt was palpable, practically a fourth invisible entity along for the ride.

Benjamin Mosley's funeral had been awful, wore on them. The former Advisor was another casualty in the long line of people that had died due to their involvement with the Winchesters.

The ride from South Carolina where the old man had lived added to the exhaustion and the emotional toll. Sam felt bad they returned to the farm right after the morning funeral service, as The Triad their action would be frowned upon, but in light of what was going on around them it was excusable and understandable. As it was, there weren't many hunters to notice. Hunting took priority over grieving, and Benjamin's long absence from their circle was evident in the amount of civilians in attendance. Those of The Brotherhood in attendance were there in deference to Missouri, rather than out of obligation to a fallen brother.

Joshua and Carolyn had left early, but their excuse of finalizing their impending wedding was more polite and believable than Caleb's sudden headache. The Knight was unwilling to spend anymore time in Missouri's presence than necessary, despite Mackland's efforts to speed his son's forgiveness of the former Advisor.

Sam hadn't liked Benjamin Mosley, but he cared for Missouri. He hated she was suffering the loss of her father, in spite of how she had handled the situation with them and Joshua. He took solace she was in the capable hands of Esme and Mackland. They would offer more comfort than Dean, Sam and Caleb could, considering she blamed them for playing a part in her father's murder. She hadn't come out and said as much. ,Sam sensed her feelings with ease, which meant she wasn't trying to hide them, but broadcasting loud and clear.

Sam knew she was justified. They may not have pulled the trigger, but they might have well used red paint to draw a bull's eye on his chest. For Sam, working with Malachi Harris had been a mistake, a gross repeat of his error with Ruby.

Sam's knees were weak under the weight of what had transpired the last few days. He dropped the remaining stones he was holding much to Boo's disappointment and sat on the ground. A headache had picked up tempo behind his eyes, the intensity leaving him dizzy. Maybe he, like Caleb, was feeling the psychic backwash of the mayhem taking place around them. Sam could feel a trickle of sweat making its way from his brow, down the side of his neck. Boo shook water from his coat, showering Sam with cold, fishy water. Despite the smell, the dousing was refreshing in the unusually warm night.

Sam reached out and rubbed Boo's head, not minding when the dog curled its damp body next to his legs. The spring night was alive with frogs and cicadas, the stars peppering the sky in rare form. Sam's vision blurred as he searched for his favorite constellation, the thumping in his head kicking up a notch. He lay back in the grass, closing his eyes for a moment. The couple of beers he'd shared with Caleb weren't sitting well on his empty stomach, or he was more exhausted than he thought.

Boo's incessant yelps sent minute shock waves of agony through his skull. He registered the cold, damp ground beneath him, his hands fisting in dew-covered grass. Had he fallen asleep? The warm touch that settled on his forehead was unexpected, forcing him to push his way through the mental fog and open his eyes. His sudden intake of breath was loud to his ears, but the barking thankfully stopped.

"Take it easy, are you okay?"

"What?" Sam blinked. There was a young man with short, dark blond hair, a baseball hat set backwards, hovering above him. Worried green eyes met his.

"Can you hear me? Max, get Ben."

"What's going on?" Sam made it to sitting with the stranger's help.

"You tell me. You didn't come back to the farm then Athos started barking. I came looking for you."

"Athos?" Sam could see the familiar pond beyond them, lapping water and the chirping of crickets deafening to his pounding head. There was a small campfire crackling nearby, tossing burning embers into the air. Sam didn't remember building a fire. "Who are you?"

The hold on his shoulders tightened. "Your brother."

"You're not my brother." Sam shook off the grip, scrambling to his knees. He made a sweep of the area, noting the long dock jutting into the water, strands of twinkling lights strung along its rails. The pond didn't have a dock, but Pastor Jim's old boat was moored there, along with another newer model, and a couple of canoes. "Where the hell am I?"

"Who are you?" The guy moved with Sam, his voice insistent, but gentle with concern. "Are you Samuel?"

"Yes." Sam stood, backing towards the tree line that would give him access to the path to the farmhouse. A whine drew his attention to the dog he assumed was Boo. A large Golden Retriever greeted him instead. "How do you know that?"

"I'm Jonathan Winchester, JT."

"JT?" It had to be some sort of bizarre dream. Worse, the angels were messing with him. Another man stepped from the shadows, increasing Sam's confusion. Him, Sam recognized.

"What's happened?"



"I think the spell might have worked after all," JT said. "He was just coming to when I got here."

Sam was more confused. He narrowed his gaze as his Advisor inclined his head, moving into the light. The posture and stance were the same, and Sam recognized the distrustful look in Joshua's blue eyes. Everything else was different. Joshua's hair was more white than blond, his face reflecting an age closer to that of Pastor Jim's when he died, rather than the much younger Joshua Sam had seen earlier in the day at Benjamin Mosley's funeral. "Why do you look older? What happened?"

"How does he know your name?" JT turned to look at Joshua. "Is it James trying to get through to us?"

"What the hell is going on?" Sam demanded. "Who's James?"

"The medium channeling your spirit," Joshua said as if that should explain everything. He pointed at Sam. "In your time such a person might have been known as a medicine man or a conjurer-one with the ability to give a voice to the dead."

"What do you mean in my time?" Sam frowned, knowing if a distortion in time was involved; the work of angels must be at hand. "Did I die again? But why are you here? And these people?"

The sound of pounding feet tearing through the woods behind them stole any chance for this older Joshua to reply. Sam turned so his back was to the fire, just as two other men emerged from the trail leading to the farmhouse.

"Is Jimmy alright?" The taller one stepped next to JT. He looked close in age to the blond, early twenties, but his hair was lighter, longer and pulled into a low ponytail.

"Maybe. He knew Joshua's name."

"James?" The other guy moved towards Sam. He was older than the other two strangers, dark brown hair cropped short with a slight beard that looked more the result of days without the luxury of shaving than a grooming choice. "Can you hear me?"

Sam inched back, the fire hot against his legs. The whole situation was spiraling out of control. He searched out Joshua for some sort of explanation to the madness. "Joshua?"

"Ben, give him a moment," Joshua said, stepping nearer to Sam.

"I'm a doctor." Ben ignored Joshua's command, coming closer to Sam. "I just want to make sure you're alright, that my brother is alright. Your-his nose- is bleeding. You don't look well. Just let me check you out."

Sam reached up and touched his face, noting the sticky wetness under his nose. "I'm not your brother." Sam's thoughts went to Dean, wishing his brother and Caleb would suddenly appear from the forest as well. "You're not touching me."

"This gun says differently. You know all about guns, right? This one isn't like your six shooter, but trust me when I say it can get the job done." Ponytail was pointing a gun at him. "Let the doctor check on our friend."

"Max." JT pulled the hat off; Sam made out the Red Sox insignia.

"What? You want to wrestle him into submission, JT? We're wasting time. Time the Triad doesn't have."

"Triad?" Sam looked at the men facing him. His gaze went from their faces to their hands. They were all wearing identical silver bands. They were hunters.

"You remember your Triad, Samuel? Your Guardian and Knight?" Joshua moved beside Ben, the doctor. "Daniel and Cole?"

Sam licked his lips, wondering if this was some kind of test, like a password. "Dean and Caleb."

"What did you say?"

"You heard me, Josh." Sam was growing tired of the games. "I said Dean Winchester and Caleb Reaves are Guardian and Knight of my Triad. You know that because you're our Advisor, at least younger you is. What did you do? Where are my brother and Caleb?"

"Oh my God," Joshua reached for Sam's arm, his weathered face paling, but becoming more animated as realization dawned. "Sam?"

"Yes." Sam smiled, a wash of relief flooding over him as this Joshua, aged or not, seemed to finally recognize him for who he was. "Who did you think I was?"

"Samuel Colt." Joshua let him go, looking as if he might collapse. "I was expecting Samuel Colt."

"Dad?" Max lowered the gun, placing a hand on Joshua's shoulder.

"Dad?" Sam looked from Joshua to the younger man by his side. Some of the puzzle started to click together in a way that had Sam's stomach knotting. Max was Joshua's son. He moved his gaze back to JT. Jonathan Winchester. The features were there. Sam's chest tightened at the idea that this man could be his son.

"Uncle Sam?" Ben's touched startled him from his thoughts. "Is that really you?"

Sam moved his gaze to the dark haired doctor. Dean's Lisa had a son named Ben. "You're Ben Braeden?"

"It's Ben Winchester- for a long time now." He gave a small smile and Sam could see the little boy he had met.

"You're Dean's son."


"Oh my God." Sam ran his hand through his hair, his eyes going back to JT. "Then you're…"

"I'm JT. Dean's my dad, too." He twisted the Red Sox hat in his hands, then as if catching the nervous habit, placed it back on his head.

Sam could see it now. How he'd missed it from the beginning was the big question. JT looked just like Dean. Sam felt the sudden need to sit down. "What's going on?"

"Here, sit." Ben took one arm, guided him to an Adirondack chair by the fire. The Golden Retriever followed them over, sitting by Sam's chair with a contented sigh. "Let me check you over."

"If Sam's here, then where the hell is Jimmy?" Max asked, kicking the ground, causing some dirt to spray forward. "He usually manages to keep control when he channels."

"That's a very good question." Ben looked at JT. "I told you these spells never work."

"Who's Jimmy?" Everyone was staring at Sam, including the dog.

"Our brother, James Murphy. He doesn't like Jimmy."

"There's another one?" Sam's head swam; he lowered it between his legs, hoping to fight the sudden urge to throw up.

"Yes, you're in his body."

Sam lifted his head enough to look at his hands. They looked similar; he studied as much of this body as he could. The clothes he was wearing looked like they could have come from Joshua's closet, most definitely not out of Sam's duffel. He patted a hand over his face. It felt different, his hair was shorter. It was like the Gary incident all over, except these people knew a body swap had taken place. Such was the state of his life that swapping bodies with another person from the future paled in comparison to the stranger possibility of his brother having children. "Dean has three kids?"

"Yes. Are you sure James isn't in there with you? Can you check?" JT adjusted his hat.

"Check?" Sam looked at JT. "No one's here but me. If this is anything like the last time this happened to me, then James should be in my body."

"That's not what we expected. James is a medium, and we thought he would channel Samuel Colt, but the spell didn't appear to work." Joshua was holding the Vangelo. He brought it to his chest with a sigh. "Such has been the case with some of the more powerful spells."

"Which is why I didn't want you doing this." Ben pressed his fingers along Sam's neck, watching the second hands of his watch.

JT looked to Joshua. "How are we going to get Jimmy back?"

"Dad?" Max prompted his father.

"Why did you bring me here?" Sam looked at Joshua. "Why were you trying to have James channel Samuel Colt?"

Joshua shook his head at the garnered attention. "Malachi Harris has put us in a very compromising position. We were hoping Samuel Colt would have some insight on the subject considering he knew Malachi best and created the gun that could kill anything."

"What about Dean and Caleb?" Sam asked. "In my time Malachi Harris just killed Benjamin Mosley. Then there's the whole apocalypse…" Sam stopped, staring at the boys again. "Wait, we survive? We win?"

"I think we shouldn't discuss exact details of the past," Joshua dismissed Sam's question. "It's probably better that we focus on the moment at hand."

"Meaning something very bad happens?" Sam demanded. He patted his current body, looking for any clues. He was surprised to feel a necklace around his neck, assumed it was Dean's amulet until he lifted it to see it was a silver dragon. It provided no clue, except he noticed one shining around JT's neck, visible with the first few buttons on his shirt open.

"Something very bad is taking place as we speak," Joshua replied.

"You all made it through together. You, Dad, and Uncle Caleb. That's the most important part," JT said. "Just like you all are going to make it through this. There is no other option." JT's head was lifted high with a voice of authority, the opposite of his laid back appearance.

Sam looked at his nephew, his chest tightening at the eerily familiar green eyes. "What kind of trouble are we in now?"

"Malachi Harris put you under some kind of spell." Max slid the gun into his holster worn visibly over his black t-shirt. Sam could see Caleb's influence.

"Spells can be broken."

"Not this one. It put the three of you in a comatose state," Ben explained, a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Nothing has worked to wake you up."

"Joshua?" Sam looked to his Advisor.

"This is like nothing I've seen. Alchemistic genius. It's as if Malachi used his very essence as the mercurial agent. The bind is unyielding." Joshua crossed his arms, the Vangelo kept close.

"What if you kill him?" Sam shifted away from Ben's medical scrutiny, making the connection with a strange pride that one of his nephews had become a doctor. It made him want to find out more instead of focusing on the problem at hand.

"Tell me how to do that and I'll jump right on it," Max shook his head, mimicking his father's crossed arms. "It's hard to kill a spirit when there's no body to burn."

"A spirit? Malachi Harris is a demon."

"He was a demon," Joshua said. "We killed him. I have no idea what he is now."

"We, as in my Triad, killed him?" Sam knew that was the general plan, but he, Dean and Caleb hadn't gotten to the logistics considering their first priority was to secure the last two rings of the horsemen.

"Yes," Joshua replied, ignoring his son's frustrated sigh. "After he killed Mosley, you, Dean and Caleb tracked him down and used The Colt."

"Then how is he here now?"

"That's a good question." Joshua ran a hand through his white hair. "He first showed up when the boys were teenagers, trapped by a poltergeist when they used a Triad spell to protect themselves. We assumed Malachi was drawn to the power. It was the first we were alerted that he wasn't destroyed, and the last we've seen of him until he showed up a couple of weeks ago."

"Why now? That doesn't make sense?" Sam fingered the dragon amulet around his neck.

"Joshua thinks it has to do with the Triad ceremony," JT answered. "Max, James and I are set to become the new Triad next week."

"Wow." Sam ran a hand down his mouth, overwhelmed by the giant leaps in understanding he was being forced to make. He was just getting used to being The Scholar, and now in this time he was abdicating the position. On the other hand, he could not be Lucifer and The Scholar. It was good news. "Just…wow."

"I believe Malachi made his move now because he had plans of his own for the positions. His ties to our Triad are the strongest, and our Triad has proven to be the most atypical." Joshua stepped closer to Sam. "I believe he intended to restore his former Triad in the boys' stead."

"Only we interrupted his private ceremony," Max said with an affirming glance to JT. "We got there in time to keep him from sealing the deal."

"But not before he hurt you, Uncle Caleb and Dad," JT finished. "We screwed up."

"I'm sure you did the best you could." Sam recognized the look on JT's face. He had seen it on his brother's far too often. No one did self-recrimination like the Winchesters.

"It wasn't enough," JT said, taking off the hat once more, bending the brim.

"I guess some things never change." Sam rubbed his neck, frustrated that history truly did appear to repeat itself. They were cursed.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Max took a step, placing himself between JT and Sam.

"Max, I do not like that tone," Joshua reprimanded his son. This was a novelty for Sam to see Joshua being a parent of a grown man. "This is Sam Winchester."

"Not the Sam Winchester I know." Max returned to folding his arms over his chest with a scowl.

"Let me guess-your son is the next Knight?" The body he was in was probably the next Scholar, which left JT as the next Guardian.


Sam found some amusement in the situation. First, Dean had sons, three of them, and now Joshua had raised Caleb's successor. That had to be ironically painful for their Advisor. "God, I'm lucky I did not have children."

"You have Mary, our cousin," JT said, a hint of dimple flashing. "Sorry, but Dad says having one daughter is worse than a house full of boys."

"I have a daughter?" Sam's throat constricted, his heart picking up pace again. Did that mean he was married? After what happened with Jess and Madison, his unsure fate, Sam didn't imagine that would be an option for him.

"What happened to not telling him too much?" Ben placed a hand on Sam's knee. "It's okay, Uncle Sam. Just take a couple of deep breaths. Mary's safe."

Joshua knelt beside him. "You said you came from the time when Benjamin Mosley had recently been murdered?"

Sam tried to move past the most recent revelation. He never intended to have children, terrified of passing along a demonic heritage. He couldn't imagine what would have changed his mind. "Yes. Last week."

"That means Jimmy will be in danger," JT said. "We have to get him back here. Now."

"Why? What happens?" Sam's dismay at his future was suddenly overrun by concerns with his present. "How are you going to send me back?"

"That could be a problem. The spell we used was cast on James. It will have to be reversed on James." Joshua rubbed his chin.

"Does James know that?" Ben seemed content Sam was physically fine. He turned his gaze on Joshua. "Will the you in the past even know how to do that?"

"Jimmy will figure it out," Max said with a glance to JT. "So will Dad."

Sam stood, noticing that this body was tall, but not as tall as JT. He wondered if James was the younger brother, if JT's reactions were an indication, he would guess yes. Sam recognized older brother protective mode anywhere. Dean would appreciate the younger brother being shorter this time around. "Dean and Caleb are going to freak out. There's no telling what they might do when they realize I'm gone."

"We need a way of communicating with Jimmy," JT said, pacing a few steps.

"Again, he will have to communicate with us," Joshua said, placing himself in JT's path.

"How do you expect him to communicate with us? And if he does, we can't answer him back." Ben looked from Joshua to Sam to JT.

"No offense, Dad, but that plan sucks," Max placed a hand on his forehead.

"I have to agree with your son." Sam gestured with his head towards Max.

Joshua sighed. He was being placed in an awkward position. "There's not a lot else we can do."

"Why?" Sam asked, missing the action that usually happened in The Triad.

"What is taking place now has not happened in the time where James is. Theoretically, this situation does not exist yet. Nothing we do to intervene will reach him," Joshua explained

"The time continuum won't allow it." Sam had loved Back to the Future as a kid. Only now did he appreciate the frustration Michael J. Fox's character endured. "But what James does in the future could affect us."

"Yes," Joshua confirmed, his eyes roaming to the future Triad.

"That's freaking scary," Max wiped his hand down his face. "The farm might end up as a spread of condos, or worse, the planet could literally go to Hell in a hand basket."

"Max." JT said softly.

Sam realized Max might have inherited Joshua's ability to say the worst thing with the best of intentions. His stomach twisted at the implications. They didn't want James in his body. "What aren't you telling me?"

"All that matters now is dealing with the situation at hand the best way we can." Joshua gestured towards the path behind them. "And of course finding a way to stop what Malachi has planned."

"The spells always work out the way they do for a reason," JT said. "Dad says Triad Power isn't faulty, it just has a mind of its own. Sometimes it knows better than we do."

"It's as temperamental as a woman," Max huffed.

"What possible benefit could come from James being in the past or Uncle Sam being here?" Ben moved closer to his younger brother. "Dad wouldn't want either of them put in jeopardy."

"Dad's not here," JT's voice was deep with unquestionable authority.

"Guys," Sam held up his hands. It was an odd sensation being in a different body, like wearing a new pair of shoes that weren't quite right. He felt awkward and constrained. "How about we just focus on the situation we can control. If JT's right, and the magic worked the way it was supposed to, then maybe destroying Malachi will switch James and me back."

"That's a highly unlikely result," Joshua said, then caught himself, "but I do believe pursuing it may be our most prudent recourse at the moment."

Sam clapped his hands together, feeling as though they were making some headway. "You said we killed Malachi. Did we burn his body?"

Joshua nodded. "He was inside the mansion when it went up."

Sam's eyebrows shot up. "Mansion?" He could not think of a situation where they would burn a mansion with Malachi in it.

"The Barnwell Mansion."

"The Barnwell Mansion in Cooperstown, New York? The Barnwell Mansion where you and Caroline are getting married in two weeks?" Sam rubbed his head, getting more confused. He didn't dare ask if Carolyn was Max's mother.

"That never happened."

"I'm sorry." Sam ran a hand over his mouth. "How did Carolyn take that?"

"She still agreed to marry me." Joshua pinched the bridge of his nose. "She rallied in light of the fact we almost lost much more than a venue."

Sam didn't want to know. He was buying into JT's justification they all survived. "If Malachi's returned as a spirit, there must have been something left of him."

"I promise you there were no remains. He was dead before the building came down."

"Maybe you missed something? Did they rebuild?"

"Eventually, with a substantial donation from the Ames Fund. It's a museum now."

"Mac?" The mention of Mac's name had Sam realizing the former Scholar's absence for the first time. "Is he here?"

There was a long silence, the foreboding kind that never prefaced a happy reply. Ben was the one to answer. The grief in his voice was raw and pain filled. "We lost him a couple of months ago. He went peacefully in his sleep."

Sam felt the sharp pang of loss; even if in his reality it was decades away. "Bobby?"

"I think we should…" Joshua started, taking a step towards the house.

"No, Josh." Sam reached out to his Advisor. "I want to know. I need to know."

"Bobby is gone." Joshua's face hardened. "My grandmother, my mother, all gone. Time can be almost as cruel a villain as tragedy."

"We won't lose anyone else," JT said, corralling everyone to force them towards the house. "You, Dad and Caleb are coming out of this alive. This isn't over by a long shot."

Sam agreed wholeheartedly with his nephew. If this was a future, and they were all happy, then they needed to save it. "Then I guess we should go to Cooperstown. It's the last place Malachi was seen."

"I'm not leaving Dad." Ben stopped walking.

"You should stay," JT reached to touch his brother's shoulder. "I'll have Micah increase the security detail just in case."

"What about Lisa, your mom?" Sam asked, wondering if she would be with Dean.

JT squeezed his brother's shoulder as Ben answered. "My mom died a while ago. Juliet is JT and Jimmy's mom."

"Juliet and Mom are away at a spa courtesy of Dad," Max bumped his father's arm. "They left before this happened, and we figure everything will be back to normal before they come home."

Sam had a lump in his throat at Ben's loss. "Can I see them?" Sam whispered, following Ben's line of sight. The prospect of being near his brother too tempting, even if it was a version of Dean he had no clue about.

"I don't think that would be wise," Joshua said, his voice husky with emotion.

Sam turned back to Joshua, an argument already stirring on his tongue. The look on his friend's face, his friend's aged face, specifically had him changing his mind. It was probably best to leave some things to his imagination. "When do we leave?"


"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people." –Thich nhat Hanh


James hadn't intended to stay outside staring into the fire. He should be inside with his brothers, trying to find a way to help his dad and uncles. It was hard to face the farm when it was so quiet. The house was usually alive with voices, laughter that permeated the memories of his childhood. Things had changed since Mac's death, matters getting immeasurably worse after the latest incident with Malachi Harris. New York felt more like home, or at least it was bearable. James refused to consider the possibility he might lose his father and his uncles. He wanted everything back to the way it was, or at least as close as they could get with his grandmother and grandfather gone.

James had been willing to take the risk to try to channel Samuel Colt. He would do anything to save his family. Ben had been against it, the scientist in him always rallying against using psychic abilities and crafting, especially if it put one of his brothers in harm's way. They had no choice and Ben was not part of The Triad, ultimately JT made the decision, they tried Joshua's spell and nothing happened except a residual headache.

He didn't want to complain about it because Ben would hover over him, JT would be worried and Max would tell him to stop whining like a girl. He sat down; the earth was damp, seeping through his jeans. Athos came over, licking his face in greeting before running off toward the dock to fetch his ball. The dog would make it there, then turn around, come back hoping James would take him up on a game of fetch.

He blinked a few times, the warmth of the fire sapping his energy until he closed his eyes to rest just a few moments, more drained by the spell than he had realized. James was surprised to find himself staring up at the star filled sky, Ursa Major winking down at him. He wished Athos would be quiet, he must have done his circuit to the dock, each yelp sent a fiery pain through his cortex.

Lifting his head, looking past his feet, he saw the silvery pool of water beyond him. His vision swam in and out of focus, as the world seemed to be spinning. The darkness was the first clue that something was wrong. There was no campfire; the lights on the dock were out, relying only on the moon for illumination. On closer look there didn't appear to be a dock, just Dad's fishing boat, staked and bobbing at the water's edge.

"Hey, are you okay?" In the darkness he thought he heard JT, but the person who slid in next to him was not his brother.

"What? Where is everybody?" James shoved to his elbows, turning his attention to the source of the loud barking, intent on telling Athos to hush. Only it wasn't Athos. It was Boo Radley. He recognized him instantly. James was used to the ghost of his father's dog hanging around the pond, but spirit Boo wasn't prone to a threatening bark and defensive posturing.

"Boo, hush." The dog stopped barking, circling to the shadowy person's side where it sat on its haunches and whined.

"Boo?" James blinked at seeing the flesh and bone dog in front of him.

"Sam? You alright? You passed out at the pond."

"What?" James looked at him then roughly rubbed his eyes. He had to be dreaming. "D…Dad?"

"No. Try again." Dean reached out and attempted to help James to sitting. "You sure you're awake, Sammy?"

"Sammy?" James looked down at his hands, noting the slight differences from his own. The jeans, over shirt and jacket were definitely not in his wardrobe, nor were the muddied boots. His personal style was khaki pants and polo shirts, easier to transition from work to school. He brought his hand to his chest. His dragon pendant was gone. He never took it off.

"Deuce?" A voice called from the darkness of the wooded path.

James glanced to the tree line where he could see the bouncing glow from a flashlight approaching them.

"Over here." Dean gripped James's forearm reclaiming his attention. James looked up, recognizing familiar concern hidden behind the half grin. "I told you and Caleb to go easy on the beer, Pansy Ass."

"Holy shit." James scrambled to his feet with his father's or Dean's assistance. It wasn't a dream, which left only one possible explanation-the spell. He kept his eyes on the younger version of his dad, not knowing what to say, but leaning towards the less said the better in this case until he figured out when he had landed.

James had no idea how he had ended up in his uncle's body. Channeling did not work that way. The spell Joshua cast was only supposed to amp his reach, help him pinpoint the spirit they were hoping to contact to connect him with a former Triad Scholar. Samuel Colt, not Samuel Winchester.

He searched within his uncle's body to see what he could sense. There was an impression of Sam, similar to when he channeled a spirit, but different in that he'd never been transported to another person's body. The opposite usually occurred with him hosting another's conscience, never mind the fact Sam was still alive. James was used to dealing with the dead. It had taken some getting used to, but it had become second nature. This aspect was brand new.

"Take it easy, man." Dean had gripped a hand on his forearm. "Your nose is bleeding. Is it your abilities? Tell me we're not going to have two psychics on the fritz."

"What?" James reached up and felt the sticky wetness beneath his nose. When he'd first started using his abilities his impatience had pushed him to go past his reasonable limits to gain control. He'd experienced migraines and nosebleeds, but that was years ago. It was more proof that something had gone terribly wrong.

"What's going on? Did you find out what Boo was barking at?" Caleb made it to the clearing, holding the light out in front of him.

"Caleb?" James forgot about his current condition, startled by his uncle's appearance. He did not remember this Caleb, mostly recalling the older one in his time. It was a good sign they were all on the farm, but he needed more information to make sure this was pre-Lucifer. He reached out psychically, despite all indications he had taxed his healthy limit. Reading minds wasn't his gift, but he'd had good teachers and could pick up strong emotions, especially from those he was close to.

Caleb dropped the flashlight, his left hand going to his head as he doubled over slightly with an intake of breath. "What the hell, Sam?"

"Damien?" His father looked torn between staying with him and checking on Caleb. "You alright?"

"That's not Sam." Caleb straightened, and drew his gun so quickly James didn't have time to realize the mistake he'd made.

Sam could read thoughts. He and Caleb shared a strong link. James's bumbling attempts at search and recon would draw attention- easily give him away as an impostor. Any hopes of him pulling off a good imitation of Sam until he could assess the situation were dashed as he caught the backwash of his uncle's anger before Caleb's blocks slammed in place at the unfamiliar intrusion.

"What?" Dean hissed, tightening his grip so much that James winced. "What the hell do you mean it's not Sam?"

"Step away from him." Caleb strode forward, the gun leveled at James's head. "Move, Deuce. Now!"

"Whoa, whoa…" James pulled away from his father's grip, backed up, raising his hands in surrender. "Just take it easy."

"Whatever is inside his body, in his head, is not Sam." Caleb moved forward. "Some kind of psychic. It tried to read me."

Dean didn't move, staying between James and Caleb. "Damien, I hate to point this out, but you're not exactly on top of your game these days. Maybe all the visions and nightmares have tripped a breaker. I think you should put the gun down. We're at the farm. Sam's wearing his ring."

"My abilities might be a little fucked at this point, but I know Sam when I see him." Dean stared at Caleb. "You know what I mean, damnit."

"He's right," James confessed, letting his uncle off the hook as he saw the similar dynamic he had with JT and Max play out. He wondered what type of greeting his uncle was getting. "I'm not Sam, at least not on the inside."

His father ignored Caleb's warning, stepping closer to James. "What the fuck does that mean? Where's my brother?"

James swallowed at being at the wrong end of his father's wrath. He'd only seen his dad's face like this when they were on a hunt. "Theoretically, he should be in my body."

"More body-swapping?" Dean stared into James's eyes as if he looked hard enough he could discover the charlatan taking refuge inside his brother. "Gary? I swear to God if you've done something to Sam…"

"No. It's not like that." James ran a hand through his hair, his uncle's longer and unkempt style foreign to his fingers. He still didn't have a good reading for what year it was. His father and Caleb were obviously much younger, but there were no telling details of what had transpired, and more importantly, what hadn't. This was not a good sign. "No one wanted to hurt Sam."

"Is this some kind of angel crap?" Dean stepped closer to James. "Where's Sam?"

"Damnit, Deuce." Caleb moved shoulder to shoulder with him. "This isn't an angel. Getting a read on Castiel's mind is like catching wind in your hand. It's not a shape shifter either."

"I'm human. I swear." James looked down at Boo, hoping the dog could at least be on his side. Instead he got a growl.

"Forgive me if we're not inclined to believe you." Dean pointed a finger at James. "Humans don't usually have the ability to jump bodies."

"I think he might be telling the truth." Caleb cocked his head to the side.

Dean looked at Caleb. "Then it is some sort of body swapping?"

"I don't know, but his mind feels human. He's got strong blocks, but with a little time I can tear through them."

"You're right. I'm psychic." If James understood anything about time distortions, it wouldn't be a good idea for his uncle to have complete access to his thoughts and memories. "It won't be so easy to bypass my blocks, especially considering you taught me everything I know."

"Funny, you think a guy would remember something like that."

"Well, it hasn't happened yet." James took a step back as his father and Caleb closed in on him. He was garnering a new appreciation for their intimidation factor.

Caleb glanced at Dean. "That make any sense to you, Deuce?"

Dean shook his head. "I think this sonofabitch wants us to believe he's from the future."

"Is it really that far of a reach, Da…Dean?" James dropped his hands, frustration wearing through his caution. This was his family, after all. They could threaten all they wanted, but he knew better than anyone that Caleb or his father wasn't going to do anything that might hurt Sam. "You've traveled back in time and to the future."

"Put your hands back up." Caleb growled.

"How do you know that? How do you know me?" Dean narrowed his gaze. "What have you done with my brother?"

"I'm a hunter. Actually, I'm The Scholar of The Brotherhood, at least I will be." James raised his hands back into the air. "After your Triad retires."

"That won't be happening anytime soon."

"Don't worry, Caleb, you guys are the longest running Triad so far." James was sure his uncle would have held out for a few more years if they hadn't lost Mac.

"Told you so, Deuce."

"So we live and we win?" James watched his father's face change, some of the tension easing from his shoulders. Boo remained by him, more passive.

James smiled. "You win, so to speak." It hadn't been pretty, but the eventual outcome was worth it.

"That's great, and I want to know how, but are you saying that my brother's in the future? Are you sure he's not in there with you?" Dean pointed to Sam's torso.

"I'm sure no one's here but me." James patted his uncle's body.


"I'm not sensing Sam." Caleb sighed, but he didn't lower the gun he had pointed at James. "It's like when you guys did the astral traveling, and when the angels fuck around with you. I can't connect with him."

"How do I know my brother's in your body in the future?" Dean rubbed a hand down his face. "It doesn't even make sense."

"You're going to have to trust me." James knew it was a long shot, but the softening around his father's eyes told him he'd gained some ground.

"If you're a hunter, and you think you know me, then you know that doesn't come easy."

"I know you very well-both of you." James looked from his father to Caleb. JT was more the cup half full optimist of the family, but James could see the opportunity he was being offered. He had no problem recognizing possibility and taking advantage of it. James was getting a glimpse of how his father's Triad came to be the most famous in Brotherhood history.

Caleb lowered the gun slightly. "So it won't come as a big surprise when I find a way to kill you if do anything to risk The Guardian or The Scholar."

"If it makes you feel better my Triad is going to be flipping out too." James could only imagine how his brothers were dealing with him being gone and Sam showing up in his body, especially in light of the trouble they already had on their plate. He hoped JT kept Max on a short leash.

"No, not really."

James gave his father the best pleading look he could muster. "Can I at least put my hands down now?"

"What do you say, Damien?"

"Fine." Caleb lowered his gun the rest of the way, but James noted he didn't holster the weapon. One of the first things the Knight drilled into them was to never let their guard down.

James took full advantage of the rare gesture of trust. He flipped over a discarded white feed bucket to use it for a makeshift chair. He was still feeling the effects of the spell.

His father stepped into his personal space. "What the hell should I call you, because I'm not calling you Sam?"

James hesitated, unsure if being completely honest with his father was the best policy in this scenario. He didn't know what repercussions could come from his actions, but figured disclosing a simple name would unlikely wipe him from existence. "James. You can call me James."

"Okay, Jimmy, let's say we believe you, why are you here?"

"James," he repeated, disliking the nickname even when his dad said it. He looked from his father to Caleb, searching for a way to explain. "I was hoping to channel the spirit of Samuel Colt."

"So you're a medium-that's your ability?

"Medium has a negative connotation to it." James felt a pang of grief as he thought about his Grandfather Mac. He always worked so hard at reframing James's gift, wanting to encourage his pseudo grandson to rise to his full potential. "I'm clairvoyant and clairaudient. It's an optimal talent for a hunter."

"You see dead people?"

James smiled at his father. "Yahtzee," using one of his dad's expressions.

"Do you see any dead people now?" Dean moved around slightly, Boo giving his owner a perplexed look.

"You're totally standing on Atticus Finch." James never tired of torturing his brother with the spirit of Pastor Jim's dog. His father's reaction was just as classic.

"He's messing with you, Deuce."

James grinned, knowing Caleb never did fall for his bullshit. He chalked it up to his uncle's keen Winchester expertise.

"So you're a smartass?" Dean snorted.

"It runs in my family," James replied, stretching out his legs. This body was bigger than his own. His uncle was taller than his father, whereas he was shorter than JT. Life was unfair. James would have loved to have had the height advantage.

"Why Samuel Colt?" Caleb asked with raised brows.

"Malachi Harris is causing problems." James would skip the part about his father's Triad being in a coma. "Long story short - my Triad used a spell hoping Samuel Colt could help us with how to get rid of him."

"Harris killed Benjamin Mosley," Dean said. "Do you know who that is?"

"Former Advisor to Julian Smith's Triad." He had read Sam's journal entries about Missouri's father. He had also heard her version of his story. Caleb accused her of revisionist history, but James understood wanting to believe only the best about your family. "Have you killed Malachi yet?"

"No, not yet," Dean said slowly. "That's part of the plan, but we have more important issues at the moment-issues you just made a whole hell of a lot worse by booting Sammy out of his body."

James felt relieved. Knowing his father's Triad hadn't taken out Malachi helped him pinpoint the year. They hadn't faced Lucifer in Detroit, but it had to be close. "Good. That's good."

"Wait." Caleb held up his hand. "You said 'yet' as if we kill Harris."

James licked his lips. "Harris dies soon."

"Then why is he still running amuck in the future?" Caleb stepped forward.

James's eyes were adjusting to the darkness; he could see his uncle's rougher appearance. It reminded him of how Caleb looked after Mac's funeral. "That's part of the problem."

"Isn't there a time continuum you should be worrying about?" Dean gestured to James. "Have you seen Back to the Future?"

"So you believe me now?"

"Nope, but I'll play along until I get my brother back." Dean glanced at Caleb briefly. "So if you are not worried about the time continuum, then what happens in the future?"

"You're right in that I can't tell you specifics – it might change everything and I kinda like the way things turn out." James knew how lucky he and his brothers were, Max too. They had lived blessed lives, full of family and happy memories. He knew his father's Triad had not been so lucky. James refused to believe their story would end badly. A business deal could be executed beautifully and still fall apart in the end. He was a details kind of guy, all about the bottom line.

His dad frowned. "Do I like the way things turn out?"

"I think so." James was older before he recognized some of the cracks in his father's armor; the happy life he'd managed in spite of his past didn't completely heal his wounds. His dad had only talked about his time in Hell once, the war with Lucifer and Michael on rare occasion if it was relevant. One glimpse of the scars was enough for James, who preferred to see his father as invincible.

"Deuce, we need to call in back up." Caleb interrupted the uncomfortable situation.

"Mac and Bobby?" James was hopeful. He wouldn't pass up a chance to see his honorary grandfathers.

"I was thinking Joshua." Dean looked at James. "You know him right?"

"Yes." James stood, a brief smile touching his lips as he thought of the current Advisor. Joshua would no doubt be confounded over the latest mix-up. "He's the one who got us into this."


"There's no vocabulary for love within a family, love that's lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, the love within which All other love finds speech. This love is silent."
-T.S. Eliot

Sam was sleeping, but came alert with the soft click of the door and the tippy toe footsteps across the wood floor. Their flight to New York had landed early, at nearly four in the morning. Joshua was taking a later flight, leaving Sam alone with his eerily quiet nephew and Max. Sam suspected Joshua and Ben instructed them not to 'overwhelm' Sam. They had erred on the extreme side of caution.

He had been surprised when the taxi dropped them at Caleb's old building in Greenwich Village, but neither boy offered an insight as they entered the much lived-in townhouse, which was a blaring contrast from when Caleb lived there. Gone were the boxes of someone in transition, the decorations showed permanence.

Sam hadn't expected to get much sleep after JT led him to James's room. The realization he had indeed succumbed to his weariness had him rising with a start, afraid of what surprise lay in store for him now.

A tall, willowy, girl with long dark hair was beside the bed unbuttoning her shirt. A few buttons and she decided to pull it off, leaving her in a lace bra and jeans. He could see she had a mark of a coven above the band of her low riding jeans. She was a witch. She smiled at him.

"Good morning."

Sam cleared his throat. "Good morning."

"We don't have much time, and we need to be quiet. Okay?" She didn't give Sam a chance to respond, climbing onto the bed with him where swift fingers began tugging at his t-shirt. She slung a jean-clad leg over his hips, pinning him to the mattress, her hands on his abs. As much as his body was enjoying the attention, he did not know this girl, but she apparently knew James. Sam couldn't take advantage of this situation or her.

He grabbed her arms, "Wait, slow down."

"That's new." She laughed, eyebrow arching up. "If it's Max you're worried about, I'm guessing he's out for his run, or he didn't come home last night. Mary will make sure and give us the usual signal if he shows up."

"Mary is here?" Sam remembered being told he had a daughter. He hadn't expected to meet her. He held his assailant's arms. "Where?"

"In the kitchen with her nose in a book. She's fine."

There was a sharp whistle, then a quick rap on the door. JT entered, his eyes meeting Sam's before giving a shake of his head. He bent down to pick up the girl's shirt in a swoop, handing it out as he covered his face. "Put it on, Josie."

"JT, what are you doing?" She looked over her shoulder, still engaged with Sam, dismissing the interruption. "Didn't Mary tell you…?"

"I told him." Another girl entered the room on JT's heels. She was clutching a book to her chest. She looked to be the same age as James's friend, her blonde hair shorter and a tumble of curls around her face. Sam's heart pounded in his chest as her dark eyes rested on him. "Sorry, guys."

"You suck, JT." The dark haired girl rolled off of Sam, falling onto the mattress beside him.

"Your father's here," JT announced.

Father? Sam thought for a moment, his gaze going to the brunette. Despite the dark hair, he could see the resemblance. This was Joshua's daughter. He scooted away, bringing the sheet up to him.

"In the city?" She sat up taking the shirt from JT. She pulled it over her head, then buttoned it more than it had been buttoned before she walked in. "Why is he here?"

"Business," JT replied curtly. "Why don't you and Mary wait for us in the kitchen? I went out for food. Max and Joshua will be here soon and we can all sit down and have breakfast together."

"We have early classes," Mary said. Sam didn't miss the pointed look she gave her friend. "No time to catch up today. Maybe over the weekend. Brunch at Sawyer's."

"We'll just take a bagel and some juice on our way out," Josie added. She grabbed Mary's hand, sending Sam a quick grin over her shoulder. She blew him a kiss as she walked out the door.

JT closed the door and rested against it. "That was close." He looked at Sam, giving a heavy sigh. "Josie and Jimmy are having a secret relationship-ever since Grandpa Mac died."

Sam brought his legs over the side of the bed, searching for his jeans. Dean's son and Joshua's daughter were having an affair. Sam felt bad for his brother. "Secret from whom?"

"Everybody." JT ran a hand through his hair. "Including Max."

"That can't be good for you." Sam found his clothes, or James's clothes, just where he'd discarded them the night before. Secrets never worked, especially in close knit groups that depended on each other for survival. His Triad had learned that the hard way.

"You have no idea." JT pushed away from the door.

"I think I'd rather not know." Sam erased the images from his thoughts and finished dressing. Joshua was right. Knowing too many details about the future could warp a person's mind.

"Join the club." JT brought Sam his shoes, taking a seat beside him on the bed. "It'll end in bloodshed, with Max and Jimmy it always does."

"But, Mary, my daughter-that was her?" Sam had been overwhelmed by the previous day's events, but meeting his daughter in a roundabout way was mind-numbing. He couldn't process it, yet he wished he'd gotten a chance to talk to her. "She's beautiful."

"Yeah. Her and Josie go to Vassar. It's their first year. Don't let Josie give you the wrong impression. She can seem a little wild, but they're smart girls, with good heads on their shoulders. Dad gives them the 'anyone can be chopped up and thrown in a dumpster' speech regularly. Micah keeps a security detail close by."

Sam nodded as he slipped on the Italian loafers, happy his daughter was well looked after. "Does she like school?"

"She loves it." JT nodded. "She's an English Lit major."

Sam stood slowly, unsure how steady his legs would be. "The girls aren't involved in The Brotherhood?" Sam understood Dean's sons being brought up in the hunting world, but he felt a sudden urgency his own child not be exposed, especially now that she had been made real to him by their albeit impromptu and embarrassing meeting.

"Josie has aspirations to govern the coven, so the more distance she seemingly puts between herself and The Brotherhood, the better."

"And Mary?"

"Mary really likes research. She's been helping Carolyn with Geek Squad stuff since she was in high school."

"Great." Sam rubbed a hand through his hair. "At least she's not a witch."

"Actually…" JT gestured to the door. "How about we eat without Josh and Max. Talking about breakfast has me starving."

Sam glanced at his reflection in the dresser mirror. He ran a hand through his hair, not used to the shorter style. "He looks like me."

JT snorted. "And he uses that to his advantage."

Sam followed after his nephew down the hall into the open kitchen. "What does that mean?"

"It means my brother can be devious when it comes to getting what he wants."

"Winchesters are determined."

"We're definitely stubborn."

"What about Mary's mom? My wife?" Sam was afraid to ask, but having been robbed of a relationship with his own mother, it seemed extremely important he know his daughter had not suffered the same fate.

"She lives in Europe." JT grabbed a couple of bags from the counter, bringing them over to the island. He placed them next to the toaster. "Have a seat."

"I guess divorced is better than dead." The look on his face must have tipped his nephew to the irrational disappointment he was feeling.

"It's not a big deal. I mean Mary's cool with it. It's all she's ever known and besides, she has you." JT unpacked the food, dropping a sliced bagel into the toaster.

"So we're close?" Sam took one of the stools, picking up the worn leather book discarded on the counter. It was the one Mary had been holding when she burst into the bedroom, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Sam hoped she didn't need it for class. A faded receipt from Magnolia's bakery marked a spot near the end.

"You're a great dad, Uncle Sam." JT put a steaming cup of coffee in front of him, along with a bottle of water. He went back to the bagel.

"That's hard to believe. All of this is hard to believe." Sam put the book down, glancing around the space. The appliances were all different, everything stainless steel, and modern. Some of the appliances Sam didn't recognize. Caleb never used the kitchen, but this one could have belonged to a celebrity chef.

"I'm sure." JT placed the bagel in front of him. He had made it just the way Sam liked, extra crispy with peanut butter. "I just hope Dad's buying into whatever story Jimmy's come up with."

Sam was surprised when his stomach growled at the smell of the warm bread. He took a bite, taking a moment to chew before replying to JT's concerns. "You know you're dad."

"That's what worries me." JT turned for his own bagel and glass of milk. He took the stool across from Sam. "Shoot first, ask questions later."

Sam smiled. JT did know his dad. "He's good at reading people. As long as James is on the up and up, they'll figure it out."

"Dad would never admit it, but James is his favorite. Like I said my brother knows how to manipulate things in his favor."

"So James is the baby?" Sam took another bite, studying JT. If his brother was any indication, it was programmed in older siblings to believe they had it harder. Sam knew better.

"Yeah." JT swallowed. "By a couple of years."

"But you're taller." JT laughed in response, Sam knew his brother was thrilled the older brother rightfully got the extra height. Sam licked the peanut butter that had oozed to his fingers. "Being the youngest doesn't automatically make you the favored son. I think it's the other way around."

JT snorted, reminding Sam so much of Dean it hurt. "You would say that wouldn't you."

"Hey. You can't believe everything your dad has told you." Sam took the last bite of one half of his bagel.

"What about Uncle Caleb? He's more about sharing the stories." JT grinned. "He has lots of them."

"Caleb is biased. He's conditioned to take Dean's side." Sam started on the other half of his breakfast.

"That's what you always say. Jimmy accuses Max of the same thing-a Guardian and Knight unholy alliance." JT took a drink of his milk, wiping his mouth with the back of his left hand. "Besides, James being Dad's favorite has nothing to do with him being the youngest."

"No?" The ring his nephew was wearing caught his eye. At first he thought it might be a class ring, but then Sam saw the insignia.

"It's because James reminds him of you." JT chewed slowly. "Like you said, he looks like you."

"What?" Sam glanced up, surprised.

"Yeah. Jimmy inherited what we call the 'Sammy stare'. It's like Dad's kryptonite."

Sam shook his head. It was no stretch of the imagination to figure out who had coined that term- Caleb. "If that ring your wearing is for real, there is no doubt in my mind Dean has more than one favorite."

JT looked down at his left ring finger, running his thumb over the ruby red B, standing out in sharp contrast against the sapphire and diamond studded background. "Dad and Ben bond over cars, but baseball has always been our thing."

"Is that a World Series ring?" Sam did not hide the awe.

JT nodded. "Dad put a bat in my hand before I could walk. I got drafted into the Minors my first year at LSU, a season there and I scored a major break. Playing for the Sox was a dream."

"Like father, like son." Sam took a drink of his coffee. Dean had been scouted in high school by LSU. In John Winchester's world there was no room for dreams to come true. "You still play?"

"No." JT looked down, moved the bagel around on his plate.

Sam did not know if it was because JT was missing his father or baseball. "Why not?"

"Because saving people is more important than baseball." JT lifted his right hand, the silver of his hunter's band catching the light. "This means more to me than a hundred World Championship rings."

Sam picked up his coffee. "I see baseball isn't the only thing you and Dean have in common."

"Dad didn't want me to quit, but in the end it was my decision. He's always been about choices. Being in The Brotherhood, being The Guardian, was my choice." JT shoved his plate away.

Sam wanted to believe his nephew. He hoped that Dean would have learned from their own lives, given his children a chance at something different. But knowing what was happening in their present, Sam couldn't help to wonder if it was all pre-ordained, destiny for their bloodlines to be cursed. He was surprised he went along with it in the future. "What about James, Ben and Max? Did they have choices?"

"Ben hunts when he needs to. He's always there to back us up, but we butt heads about The Triad. He thinks it's too dangerous."

"He's right." Sam put the remaining bagel down, pushing it away like JT.

JT brought his plate to the sink, as if he'd learned walking away from the particular point was easier. "Max owns a restaurant in Manhattan called Sawyer's. It's big with the Upper East Side crowd. Jimmy's still at NYU finishing up his MBA. He's an intern at Ames Industries and according to him, on his way to becoming CEO."

Sam ran a hand through his hair trying to find some level ground with his nephew, his connection to Dean. "Cullen finally got the heir he wanted."

"That's what Grandpa Mac always said." JT smiled.

"You three live here?" Sam looked around again, taking more in, like the pictures scattered about of family he did not know yet, and those he did.

"Caleb gave this place to Max when he graduated high school. Jimmy moved in when he started college. When I'm working here, I crash with them," JT replied while his eyes wandered around the room. A painting caught his attention.

"Is work something besides hunting?" Sam asked, satisfied it was Caleb's painting, and far from the dark ones he had seen before in this home.

"Photography." JT motioned to a black bag sitting on the far side of the counter. "I have a studio in North Carolina, but I also do freelance work for some of the magazines in the city."

"North Carolina?" It seemed an odd choice, but then Sam remembered Caleb's parent's home. "You live in Caleb's old beach house?"

"I love the water." JT returned to the kitchen island, wiping his hands on a towel. "Caleb said Isaac built the place for an artist, one should live there."

"Wow." Sam was impressed on how everything worked well in the future, except for Malachi Harris being a continuing thorn.

"Are you satisfied, Uncle Sam?" JT's brows were raised awaiting an answer.

"Satisfied?" Sam was caught off guard.

"You're all about balance, making sure we all kept hunting in perspective."

Sam wanted to groan. It sounded like him, reminiscent of Mac, too. "You know me really well."

JT leaned in. "James might be Dad's favorite, but I'm pretty sure I'm your favorite."

Sam shook his head. JT really did look like Dean. "Somehow, I can believe that."

They heard the door open downstairs, and Max came bounding up the stairs stopping short when he saw them in the kitchen. "What'd I miss?"

"Breakfast," JT replied, holding up the bag of bagels. "But I saved you some."

Max grimaced. "You know I would have cooked something better than bagels and peanut butter." He grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. "Who serves cardboard and paste to guests?"

"That sucking up only works with Uncle Caleb and my dad," JT answered.

"A little fettuccini Bolognese and they are putty in my hands," Max said, picking one of the bagels from the bag and taking a bite without toasting it first. "The secret's in the sauce."

"What's the secret?" Sam asked out of curiosity.

"It's magic." Max did a slight of hand and the bagel disappeared.

"He's serious." JT handed Max the bagel back. Max rolled his eyes, taking another ferocious bite. "He used his crafting knowledge and added it to food. Cooking and unique pick-up schemes are the only time Max breaks out his bag of tricks."

"I don't need any help picking up women. That would be you who works around beautiful models light headed from starvation all day and never lands a date." Max bumped JT's shoulder. "Grandmother said using magic with my food was genius. She was right and my devoted customers agree."

"But, you're not a witch?" Max was reminiscent of Caleb with his playfulness, but Sam had caught a glimpse last night of the unyielding protective side it veiled, a Knight's true virtue.

Max cut his gaze to JT who gave a knowing smile. "I don't wear the brand of the coven if that's what you're worried about."

Sam had a feeling his prejudices about witches had carried over into his work as The Scholar, and JT wasn't the only one who seemed to know him well. He wanted to ask more, but a doorbell interrupted his chance. Max went to the wall, and brought up a screen which showed Joshua was waiting outside. Max pressed a button, Joshua disappeared from sight and could be heard coming up the stairs.

"I received a text from Malachi Harris," Joshua stated as he joined them. The mood became heavy once more, a reminder that his, Dean, Caleb lives in this time were hanging in the balance.

"What did it say?" Max and JT came around from behind the island.

Joshua placed his messenger bag on the counter beside Mary's book. "More of his typical taunting. We can't hide The Triad forever, nor can we sustain them unless the spell he cast is either completed or reversed by him."

"If he's offering to reverse it, he wants something impossible in return." Sam knew enough about the demon to understand the creature did nothing without an ulterior motive of self-promotion.

"He's willing to accept the position of Advisor in the future Triad."

"Over my dead body," Max growled.

"He's trying to shake you," Sam said to calm the future Knight. "Rattling your cage."

"It is most definitely his style," Joshua answered showing he dismissed the demon's comment. He looked to JT. "You need to call your brother."

JT gave a curt nod and excused himself to go into another room for privacy.

Joshua eyed his son, who seemed to understand he needed to disappear for awhile. Sam was mystified by the silent parental directive and seeing Joshua in this role.

"I'm going to get cleaned up." Max pulled the sweaty t-shirt away from his skin, turned to go the bathroom.

Joshua got a coffee cup from the counter, poured himself a cup and took a sip. "Max did not make the coffee." He grimaced.

Sam nodded his agreement, a chef, he would hope, would make a better cup of coffee. "What do you think Malachi is really after?"

"I think you're right in that he wants to reclaim something impossible-his past."

Sam could empathize with that to some level. Who didn't wish they could go back and right their greatest wrongs. "Why would he believe his Triad would welcome him even if he were able to bring them back? Samuel Colt killed him the first time around."

"Malachi claimed that was not the case when we confronted him in the past." Joshua looked over the coffee mug. "His story contradicted with the history we understood about Daniel Wilmington and Cole Tanner's demise."

"Demons lie."

"Yes, they do." Joshua exhaled sharply, but seemed to be stifling a yawn.

"You look tired." Sam wondered why Joshua was shouldering all the responsibility. "Where is the next Advisor?"

Joshua took another drink, then poured the rest down the drain. "Ryker, Adam's son, is still in the Army on his last tour. He's free in a few months."

"A soldier as an Advisor?" Sam had only known Missouri and Joshua, not counting their brief association with Benjamin Mosley, but it seemed an odd fit.

"He's also a talented crafter, and very loyal to The Brotherhood." Joshua placed the mug in the dishwasher after a quick rinse. "Most importantly, he's loyal to the boys."

"Are you retired from working?" Out of all them Joshua had attained what Sam wanted—balance in reality and the supernatural.

"Not quite, I maintain a few clients that you know- the painter Caleb Ames, my son's restaurant and JT's photography." Joshua eased into the seat next to Sam with a sigh. "But, that's not the question you want to ask me."

"How do we win against Lucifer?" Sam tapped his glass against the counter. "I need to know, Joshua. What happens to me?"

"I thought about whether to tell you or not." Joshua wiped his hands on his pants. "I decided not to- what you go through helps you become the man you become. It helps with all this." Joshua gestured. "We've marked time together— a lot has happened, births of all them, deaths too. I can't risk it. I can't risk what you've been to all of us. I've already taken too many chances."

"What do you mean?"

Joshua ran a hand through his hair. It was shorter than it was in the past. "I knew the spell was going to work the way that it did."

"What?" Sam gripped the counter to ground himself.

"I knew James would end up in the past, because I was there when it happened when he was trapped in your body." Joshua rubbed his forehead. "I didn't realize it at first of course. It had been over twenty years, I never knew James was Dean's son, but when Malachi showed up again and James suggested channeling the spirit of Samuel Colt it all fell into place for me. I realized what was about to happen and the part I must play in it."

"And you didn't warn JT, Max and James." Sam's trepidation grew as Joshua hesitated, his eyes growing brighter. "You lied to them. You risked Dean's son."

"I did what I had to." Joshua's eyes drifted to the bathroom door. "You should understand that."

"Why? Why wouldn't you tell them?" It was a lie of omission, but still.

"Because James is the one who kills Malachi." Joshua lowered his voice, glancing towards the hallway. "He saves Dean's life..."

Sam's head hurt. It was all so simple, yet so complex when the past and future intermingled.

"Now you understand why I couldn't stop them, why I had to play along. I had no idea what I might cause if I didn't. I was afraid I would change everything in the past, thus losing everything we have in the future."

Sam understood that Joshua had taken a huge risk, but was doing so to try to protect their own. They seemed to have all made a good life, and Sam knew he could not take that away from them, but he was scared about what he would be facing. Knowing he had to go through it still did not allay his fears. He wiped his hand across his forehead. It was too late to change things now. They had to move forward. "What now?"

"We pray that James figures it all out. That things work as they should here in the now with as little interference from me as possible. I have faith in our Triad and in theirs."

Sam nodded. He could accept this- for the benefit of the future. "You're son reminds me of Caleb."

"So everyone says." Joshua's mouth twitched, some of the stress and fatigue fading. "If I didn't know my wife so well…"

Sam smiled. This older Joshua's sense of humor was on par with the Joshua that Sam was getting to know in the present. "The boys seem close?"

"They are a traditional Triad. I envy the friendship, brotherhood, Max and JT share so much like Dean and Caleb, although my son does look like me." Joshua grinned with pride. "Our daughters are practically sisters, in fact Carolyn considers Mary like her daughter. . . You live nearby us in Louisville."

Sam did not mention he had met Joshua's daughter in a compromising position. He thought it was best to remain silent. "Sounds like we have a solid friendship. You'll tell me all that, but not about Lucifer?"

"You have all this to look forward to." Joshua patted Sam's shoulder. Sam could not recall anytime where Joshua had made physical contact with him. He tried to imagine them as friends, making the type of connection that weathered a lifetime, sharing the ups and downs of growing older. Sam had Dean, and a brother in Caleb, but it had been a long time since he had a friend.

Sam picked at his thumbnail- it was his habit though, not James's. "It's like they are the best of us-the possibility of what we could have been without the trauma. I see Dean in JT and Caleb in Max."

"And you in James." Joshua pointed to Sam in James's body. "He's extremely intelligent, curious and ambitious; all the things Jim Murphy praised you for. You'll get there, you'll see."

Joshua was trying to paint their present lives to strengthen Sam's resolve. It had the ring of a coach's rallying last quarter spiel, but did nothing to instill hope. Sam had a feeling he would say yes to Lucifer as much as he did not want to do so. He did not have any time to consider it further. JT burst back into the room gripping a small, thin phone in his hand.

"Their vitals are dropping. Ben says it doesn't look good. Maybe we should go back to the farm."

The bathroom door opened with JT's outburst. Max came out with a towel tied over his hips, his hair still wet. "Dude, take it easy."

"The Triad is dying! My family! I don't have the luxury of taking it easy."

Max fisted one hand at the side of his towel, his jaw clenching. Sam caught the moment of hesitation, the quick glance tainted with doubt he shot his father before his determination returned, and he focused completely on JT. "J, you said it yourself. Those spells get turned around for a reason. It's going to work out."

"Max, I don't even know if James is safe." JT shook his head. "My brother could be anywhere."

"You would know if Jimmy were in trouble."

"We're not the official Triad yet," JT lifted his hand with his hunter's band. "It doesn't work that way."

"I wasn't talking about the Triad connection." Max stepped forward, touching his friend's shoulder. "Jimmy knows you; he would try to get a message to you. We just need to know where to look."

Sam had watched so many similar desperate situations like this one play out in his time. Seeing it mirrored in Dean and Joshua's children gave him the little push Joshua had tried to impart with his attempt at a pep talk. He met his Advisor's gaze, and Joshua nodded. This was a future worth fighting for. Sam needed to stop feeling sorry for himself and start acting like The Scholar.

"What's something in the past that you would have in the present?" Sam asked, trying to think what he would do, what Mac would do. He saw The Vangelo peeking out from Joshua's messenger bag. Books were a constant theme between scholars. "The journals. Do you have the journals? My journals?"

"They're in his room," JT answered and immediately connected the dots, running into James's room. They all followed. "I should have thought of it right away."

Sam watched as his nephew went to one of the tall, overstuffed bookshelves in the corner. "You gave James all of Mac's journals after the funeral. You added your old ones because the ceremony was coming up." JT pulled a stack of volumes bringing them to the bed. He met Sam's gaze. "I think you were hoping it would take his mind off things."

"Nothing zones the geek out like Brotherhood history." Max took a pair of sweats from the bureau, stepping into them before discarding the towel. "Granddad taught James how to read with these stories. He's fanatic about details, loves recanting all the major stuff."

"If James thinks to make a change in one of them while in your time, it should show up in ours. The past reflects the future instantaneously," Joshua said. "It is only a matter of finding the right one."

Sam thought of his current journal tucked away in the bottom of his duffel. It was one he'd picked up off a Barnes & Nobles clearance table not long after he'd gone back on the road with Dean after Jess's death. At the time he never imagined his thoughts would be part of Brotherhood posterity. From the looks of it he became choosier about journals and more prolific after becoming The Scholar. Most of the tomes were leather bound, filled with his sweeping script. It didn't take long to spot the one he was looking for.

"This is the one from the time I came from." Sam flipped through the yellowed pages, searching for anything that didn't fit. The crude rendition of the dragon caught his eye immediately. Caleb might have drawn him dragons when he was a boy, but Sam was never a doodler. It was obvious his younger nephew was not an artist like his brother. The poorly sketched beast grinned at them from inside the back cover. "Here!"

JT, Max and Josh gathered around to read the small, neat print beneath the picture-'going to kill Malachi. I'm fine. Don't worry.'

"Jimmy." JT sighed, both hands going through his hair.

"Idiot." Max let out a laugh, punching JT's arm. "Told you so."

"Thank God," Joshua took the journal from Sam. "Caleb didn't kill the boy."

Sam wondered if Joshua was continuing to play his part, or was truly worried the past would not be played out the way he remembered.

"Way to show your faith, Dad." Max frowned at his father.

"I know your uncle."

"So what now?" JT looked at Sam.

Sam ran his fingers over the black ink, amazed that James had actually mimicked his thoughts. He could feel Max's and Joshua's gazes as well. They were all looking to him, The Scholar, for their next move. Sam would take a cue from his nephew and Triad. "I say we go to Cooperstown and find a way to kill Malachi Harris."


The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.
~Erma Bombeck


The smell of bacon greeted Dean as he walked into the kitchen. Sam was at the stove, spatula in hand. Boo sat in anticipation at his feet. For a moment Dean wondered if last night was all a weird dream, but then his brother turned and smiled at him. The genuine grin was both painfully familiar and completely wrong. It was as if years had dropped away, leaving a pod version of Sam before all the tragedy. It was James, their visitor from the future.

"Morning, Dean."

Dean ignored him. Caleb was sitting at the table, his head in his hands, a cup of coffee steaming in front of him. Dean found it worrisome his friend didn't look up as he took the chair beside him. Harper Lee's tale thumped, giving away his favored location under the table. "Dude, you trust him to cook for us?" Caleb didn't look up. "Damien?"

"The kid didn't try to kill us in our sleep." Caleb carefully lifted his head, but one hand stayed poised by his temple as he squinted at Dean. "I figure we'll make him eat first."

"You look like shit."

Caleb gave a halfhearted attempt at his usual smirk of disdain as he dropped his hand to the table. "It's no wonder none of your dates stay through the night, Deuce. Your limited charm definitely dwindles with the sunlight."

"You were supposed to wake me for my shift, ass munch. We agreed to switch off." Sam was MIA; Damien was looking like death warmed over. It pissed Dean off.

"Sorry for being considerate."

"You were being stubborn." Dean reached up and flipped the light switch, turning off the overhead light above the table. It was late when they finally crashed, sequestering James in the downstairs guest room instead of tying him up like Damien suggested. Caleb had insisted on taking the couch in the living room so he would know if their guest attempted to venture out. By the looks of it, The Knight had kept watch instead of sleeping.

"No need for both of us to be awake."

Dean felt the knot of worry unfurl further, curling around his gut with a vice grip. Caleb had grown more distant since finding Benjamin Mosley's body. "You're going to have to sleep sometime, man."

"Tell that to all the demons wreaking havoc in anticipation of their great leader's takeover." Caleb took a drink of his coffee. "It's like my visions are on instant messenger and every damn monster around is tweeting me. I can't keep them all straight."

"All the more reason to listen to what Mac says."

James saved Caleb from continuing the argument by bringing their breakfast. "Should I break out the candles?" James slid what looked like Dean's favorite omelet in front of him. "I never thought of breakfast as a romantic meal, but hey, whatever works for you."

"I'd dial it back a notch if I were you, Jimmy." Dean had went against his better judgment, letting the self-proclaimed time traveler move about freely, but he wasn't about to let him get too comfortable. "You can always go down in the cellar until Joshua gets here."

"It's James." The kid's confidence seemed to grow with some sleep. He put two pieces of dry toast beside Caleb before going back to the stove for his plate. Boo followed him to the table. "And if there's a good stash of Pastor Jim's home brew down there, I might not mind it so much."

Dean exchanged a look with Caleb, who'd gone a little green at the prospect of food. "You know about Jim's brew?"

"It's sparse in the future, though you've kept a few bottles hidden for special occasions." James took the seat next to Caleb. Dean noticed his plate was piled with scrambled eggs covered with cheese and bacon, which he proceeded to drown in ketchup. Sam would not have approved of what his body would be consuming, or the outfit James had picked out. Dean wondered if Mac had left some clothes in the downstairs closet. He was trying to remember if he recognized the red polo when he caught a glint of silver lying against the kid's shirt. It was his amulet, the one he'd tossed in the trash after his and Sam's express trip to Heaven.

"Where the hell did you get that?" Dean pointed his fork to the necklace Sam had given him.

James couldn't hide the guilty look. It was the same as Sam's. "I know it's yours, but I found it in Sam's things." He touched the pendant. "It's a habit…"

"Theft is a habit for you?" Caleb leaned forward.

"No." James looked shaken for the first time. Dean had a sudden pang of empathy for the kid as he reached to take the pendant off.

Dean shook his head. "Keep it."

James hesitated for only a moment, before giving him a nod, the easy smile sliding back in place. He didn't miss a beat, picking the conversation up where they had left off. "I was really looking forward to Jim's brew at the coming ceremony."

"Of course," Dean looked down at his breakfast of ham, cheese, green peppers, red onions-hold the mushrooms. It was unsettling that someone he didn't know obviously knew him.

"Are you even old enough to drink?" Caleb pushed his plate away, glancing to James.

James had just shoveled a heaping spoon of eggs in, but he let his face reflect the insult, mumbling something that sounded like 'dude'.

"What year was it exactly you said you came from?" Dean cut into his omelet, smelling the food before putting it in his mouth.

James swallowed, giving another smile. "I didn't."

"Right. The time continuum." Dean took another bite of the eggs, despite the pleased look it brought to his brother's face. He couldn't remember the last time Sam had made him breakfast, if ever. He found it strange he actually missed his brother's scowling.

"Are you going to tell us how we kill Malachi Harris?"

James looked at Caleb, gave a small shrug. "About how you imagine."

"That tells me nothing." Caleb slammed his hand down on the table.

Boo and Harper Lee whined. James flinched.

"Damien." Dean watched his friend. It was easy to see the small fissures the stress was causing. Caleb had been off his game for weeks. Dean could trace it back to his and Sam being murdered by Walt and Roy, then Missouri's reveal about her father. The fact the apocalypse seemed now to be in full swing didn't help matters, but he suspected Damien's emotional state was taking more of a toll than the visions. Benjamin Mosley's murder had pushed him closer to the edge.

"What, Deuce? We don't even know if he's on the up and up. We don't know if Sam is safe. We don't know jack shit!"

"You don't think I know that? You don't think I'm worried?" Dean raised his voice, then lowered it. He did not like his commitment to his brother being questioned.

"I'm not trying to be coy," James said with an attempt at the voice of reason. "I have a Triad in the future. I imagine they're just as upset about all this as you are."

"Then you should stop acting like you're enjoying your little trip to the past, and give us something we can go on." Caleb wiped his forehead.

James crumpled his napkin. "All I know is that Malachi texts Joshua his location, hoping to lead you all into a trap, force your hand. You go there, he dies."

"And we just willingly show up? Why?" Caleb was yelling, making Dean wince.

James waved his fork. "I'm not exactly sure of the details surrounding it. I know he's killed with Ruby's knife, but I don't have yours or Dean's journals. We've never had a reason to talk about it until now, and you all haven't exactly been available."

"What about Sammy's journals? You have them?" Dean knew his brother was as methodical as their father, keeping notes on all their hunts.

"I just finished reading through all of Un…Sam's journals. He didn't write much about killing Malachi, only a strange note on the back cover." James face changed, he put his fork down. "Holy shit."

"What are you thinking?" Dean had an idea, but he'd rather the kid say it out loud because it seemed ridiculous to even think it.

"I'm thinking that maybe Sam didn't write about it because he wasn't here to write about it?" James ran his hands through his hair. "I was here. I mean, I am here. I'm the one with you when Malachi dies."

"You two are making my head hurt worse." Caleb groaned, rubbing his temples as he sat back in his chair.

"It makes sense, Damien." Dean looked at James. "Wait a minute…what did Joshua tell you about Harris's death?"

James met his eyes. He suddenly looked much more Sam-like as a frown etched his forehead, his dark eyes narrowing. "Not a lot. He was coy about the details, only stressing that Malachi died."

Dean clenched his fists. "Meaning the sonofabitch knew, he fucking knew what was going to happen when he cast that spell."

"Wait…wait a minute." Caleb slid his chair back. "You're telling me that the Future Joshua does this on purpose?"

"That sonofabitch…" Dean stood with a growl. Joshua had risked Sam, and this kid, the future Scholar of The Triad. "Looks like our Advisor may have picked up a few bad habits from Malachi Harris after all." Dean had no one to blame but himself. He had set the precedent of doing anything to protect their own.

"Hold up." James stood, too. "Joshua had to have his reasons. You don't know the whole story. You guys are in a bad way in the future. He must have seen this as his only option. He's the only one who knows how this all plays out."

Boo started barking, alerting them to the fact they had company. Harper Lee joined in.

"Speak of the devil." Caleb stood, facing the door. "The great sorcerer is here."

Joshua gave a brief rap on the door before entering. He dropped his bag at the entrance giving his usual dour frown at having been called away without a proper explanation. Dean hadn't exactly given him the details, merely ordered him to drop everything to get to Kentucky ASAP. "Do you three have any idea how hard it is to get a flight out of D.C. at a moment's notice? Or the difficulty it is to fit 250 guests in a banquet hall equipped to hold at the most 175? The wedding is only two weeks away. Carolyn and I were quite busy."

It was as if Joshua had forgotten the apocalypse, which had precedent over everything. Dean crossed his arms over his chest, frowning at his Advisor. "I imagine it can't be any harder than finding a way to swap two consciences into bodies living decades apart. That seemed easy enough for you."

"Excuse me?" Joshua took off his coat, hanging it beside Jim's old barn coat on the peg behind the door.

"I wouldn't worry so much about the banquet hall," James said. "It really is a moot point, trust me." Dean glared at James, the kid shrugged. "Well, it is."

"Have you three been drinking?" Joshua took them all in.

"No, but a stiff belt sounds good about now," Caleb said with a hand rubbing his temple.

"I'll go get a bottle of Jim's stash." James made a move towards the door, but Dean caught his arm.

"Hold up there Marty McFly," Dean referenced Back to the Future. James was a little too happy about the situation. Although it gave Dean more reassurance that Sam was safe in the future.

"What?" James cast a skittish glance towards Joshua. "I think this conversation will go down better with some booze, don't you?"

Dean let him go. The kid was right. "I guess you know where it is?"

"In the Tomb, in the safe, behind the portrait of one of our greatest Scholars, Abraham Lincoln, of course." James snorted.

"Of course." Dean released him.

"I need to get Sam's journal, too."

"Why?" Dean understood James's need to keep some secrets, but he needed answers, too.

"I just figured out how I let my Triad know I'm alright. That odd note I found in Sam's journal proves I'm even smarter than I thought I was."

By the end of James's tale, Joshua was holding the Mason jar of ice to his forehead, having consumed the whiskey in one shot. Dean almost felt sorry for him.

"Let me get this straight, sometime in the distant future I cast a Triad spell using the Vangelo sending this James person back in time into Sam's body."

"You were actually trying to help me channel Samuel Colt." Dean noticed that James stayed on the far side of the kitchen, not coming close to Joshua. He fingered the amulet around his neck. "At least, that's what you led me to believe."

"And why would I do such a thing?"

"That's a good question." Dean leveled his gaze on The Advisor.

"Surely you are not angry with me for something I supposedly do twenty odd years in the future?"

"You want to bet," Caleb said. "Note that Sam is not here."

"Is this how it's going to be? Anytime something with Triad Power goes wrong I'm to be blamed?" Joshua looked into the glass, but Dean was not about to give him more whiskey. He needed a clear head on his team.

"Yes," James answered before Caleb or Dean could. "I'm just saying…" James cleared his throat. "But you guys are tight, really, friends even."

Dean lifted his brows towards James who seemed to shrivel with embarrassment, before going back to Joshua. "Did you bring Malachi's journal?"

"Of course. You do realize if I did cast such a spell on this James, then I will have to reverse it on him in this time."

"I bet Future Joshua is freaking out," Caleb said.

"If Future Joshua is being treated in a similar manner as I, then I don't blame him." Joshua went for the bag he had set on the kitchen table. "Can I have a moment?"

"Sure, set up shop in The Tomb, but you better come back with a way to fix this," Dean threatened. If Joshua in the future had gotten them into this mess, then The Guardian of the present was going to make sure he took care of it.

James moved away from Joshua as he passed by, then his attention was diverted to the sound of a car pulling up. He looked out the window. "Does Mac still have a Land Rover?"

"Yeah," Caleb answered, and James was out the door. The Knight looked at Dean. "What the hell is Mac doing here? Shit, Mac!" Caleb bolted after James.

Dean was close on his friend's heels. He knew what Caleb was thinking, but didn't believe this was all some sort of hit on the former Scholar. Still, Dean wasn't willing to take a chance that Mac could be hurt.

They made it out in time to watch as James flung himself at Mac. But his attack took the form of an over the top, chick-flick hug that left Dean feeling embarrassed on his brother's behalf. Mac had just stepped from the Land Rover and was nearly bowled over by Sam's 6'4 frame.

"Samuel?" Mac looked over James's shoulder, appearing puzzled and relieved when he saw The Knight and Guardian. Dean imagined the doctor had feared the worse considering Sam's greeting. Sam was their father's son when it came to physical contact, or lack thereof. "What's the matter?"

"That's not Sam," Caleb jogged over to the SUV.

"It's James." Dean joined them, meeting Mac's concerned gaze. "He's a hunter from the future pulling a Freaky Friday with Sam's body."

"What? Are you boys all right?" Mac pushed James's away, breaking the hug. It was testament to their strange lives that Mac accepted their revelation with ease. "You're not Sam."

"Nope, I'm James." James stepped closer, backing Mac against the Land Rover. Dean noticed the Golden Retriever smile was back in place, and the kid was staring at the doctor like Mac was his long lost boy.

"And you're from the future?" Mac tilted his head, studying Sam's face; obviously as unaccustomed to the grin as Dean "I'm sure you have an interesting story to share."

"Yes, sir." James grabbed Mac's bags. "Here, let me carry those for you."

"He's harmless." Dean reached out and tugged James out of Mac's personal space, giving him a small shove towards the house. He was still worried about Sam, which he always did when Sam was out of sight, but had decided that James wasn't a threat. Damien wasn't so sure.

"Maybe," Caleb corrected. "I'm not completely convinced. What are you doing here, Dad?"

"I was on my way back from South Carolina. Esme decided to stay on with Missouri to help with the closing of her father's store. I thought I would stop to check in on you boys."

"Why isn't Silas with you?" Dean asked, looking for the extra protection.

"I think I can manage a return trip to New York without a convoy. All the hunters we have are needed in the field now." Mac focused his attention on Caleb. "How are the headaches?"

"Same." Caleb evaded his father's touch. "I'm handling it."

Mac lowered the hand he had reached out to his son. "I brought those prescriptions that helped the last time, and a new one. . ."

"I can't." Caleb shook his head. "I won't. I rather suffer a few migraines than miss a vision that could be important."

"Dude, you can't keep blaming yourself for Mosley." Dean knew a part of Caleb believed he might have been able to prevent what happened to Missouri's father. She hadn't helped by pinpointing Caleb's anger at her as a possible reason for the lack of vision on what the demon was planning.

"There's no way for us to know now, is there? I never should have been taking the meds," Caleb turned from his stride. James was waiting on the porch.

"But, Son…" Mac reached out once again, and Dean knew it was too soon to try again. Caleb felt backed in a corner. He was going to lash out.

"Enough, Dad," Caleb yelled at Mac, turning his back on his father.

"Hey." James dropped Mac's bag, reaching out to grab Caleb's arm. "Don't talk to him like that."

Dean started forward just as Caleb shoved the kid away from him.

"Stay out of my face."

Mac was closer, placing an intervening arm between them. "Thank you, James, but Caleb isn't himself."

"He should try vacationing in somebody else's body." James crossed his arms over his chest.

"I'm sure it's not a joy trip for Sam either." Caleb mimicked the kid's action, adding his most menacing glower.

"Josh is in The Tomb, looking into a way to fix all this," Dean moved beside the doctor. "Maybe you two could whip up one of his teas to help with Damien's headaches." Dean cut off Caleb's protest with a look. His best friend's bad ass routine didn't work on him. "Just something to take the edge off, that's an order."

"That sounds like a suiting compromise." Mac patted his son on the back, gesturing to the door. "What do you say, Son?"

"I'd say it doesn't look like I have much of a choice."

"We'll see you inside." Mac nodded to Dean, giving James a brief smile.

"Who knew Caleb could be such a dick."

It was said under his breath, but Dean didn't miss the pouting inflection, more hurt feelings than anger. "Watch your mouth. That's The Knight you're talking about."

"Believe me, I know who he is. He trained me, helped make me the hunter- the man- I am today." James remained staring after Caleb's wake. "I've never been on the receiving end of his bad moods."

"His abilities are acting up. You're a psychic; you know what that's like. Considering you've also been privy to what happened to Benjamin Mosley and our general situation at hand, I'd think you could understand his reaction. You should show some respect." Dean put his finger in James's chest to get his attention again.

"I respect him more than I can say, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything he says or does. You taught me that. As for the psychic stuff, Joshua can make a mojo bag to help block residual telepathic energy. More supernatural entities in the area, demon and angel activity- is probably what's giving him the headache, not the visions." James bent down to pick up Mac's bag.

Dean watched James turn it over in his hands. He leaned against the porch railing, the morning sun warm on his shoulders. "So how long has Mac been dead?"

James looked up, the grief on his face real, and more powerful because it was reflected from Sam's image. "A couple of months."

"Damn." Dean looked towards the screen door Mac had just disappeared through. "How's Damien holding up?"

"Like the rest of us." James hugged the bag to his chest. "He's wrecked, but you've got his back."

"You and Mac were close?"

"I loved him." James hand went to Dean's amulet around his neck. "I miss him."

"Have you seen him?" Dean made an awkward gesture with his hand.

James must have understood he was asking about his abilities. He shook his head. "I tried- nothing. Maybe it's all too fresh, or I'm too close to the situation. But, I think it means that he's happy with Esme and Cullen, even his old Triad." James shrugged. "Maybe some day."

Dean thought of the chances he had been given to see his mother and father again. He would always wish for more. Dean cleared his throat.

"Are you Caleb's kid?" Dean could think of a couple of possible explanations for all the things James knew, for his behavior. A son would buck against his father. It was normal, although not something Dean had done on a regular basis with his dad.

"No." James shook his head. "You know how he feels about that."

"Yeah." Dean hoped that might change in the future, but deep down he understood his friend's resolve, even agreed it might be for the best. That left one possibility. James was Sam's son.

"My turn to ask a question." James pulled him from his thoughts.

"Okay." Dean relaxed a hip against the porch.

"Why did Sam have this?" James brought his hand back to the amulet. "You always wear it."

"It's a piece of jewelry, kid. Nothing more," Dean quickly dismissed James's ponderings. He had given up the amulet for a reason and had not suspected Sam had recovered it from the trash.

"That's not true. I have one similar that Bobby gave me. It reminds me of my family-of all the things that are important-that family is the most important thing."

Dean cleared his throat; he wasn't going to give James an answer. "So what's with you and Joshua?"

James sighed in disappointment of Dean's lack of answer. "Did you miss the part where the guy lied to me?"

"That's not it. You're nervous around him." Dean watched James's face. "You need to chill- what are you having sex with his daughter?"

"What? No! Am I having sex with his daughter? That's ridiculous." James shifted Mac's bag to one hand, his other dismissing Dean's accusation. "How do you even know he has a daughter? And I mean do I look like an idiot to you? That would be a huge mistake-huge-because Josh could change me into a frog if he wanted to, or zap me a couple of decades into the past for even thinking about touching his daughter, I mean, if he had one, which I'm not saying he does."

Dean snorted at the exaggerated denial. Sam's kid was nailing Josh's daughter. It would suck to be Sam, who as a kid had also considered Joshua's magic a great threat. Like father, like son. "He's not going to change you into a frog, Jimmy. Grow up."

"I am grown up. I happen to have a grown up name as proof." The kid rolled his shoulders. "It's James."

"Right, James. What was that last name again?" Dean couldn't believe it. This kid was most definitely a chip off Sam's block.

"It's McFly. Remember?" Sam's face contorted. Dean couldn't remember when Sam was this carefree.

He laughed. The Winchester attitude was definitely an enduring trait, but the moment of levity was fleeting.

"We've got a problem," Caleb appeared at the screen door. "Get in here, Deuce."

Dean watched him disappear again, gave a long groan. "I hate it when he says that."

James followed him into the house. "I thought you liked being called Deuce. Nobody escapes nicknames."

"I'm talking about 'the we've got a problem part'." Dean held the door open for James.

"You really should be used to that by now, too." James passed him by, the irksome grin back in place. "Old man."

In the Tomb, Caleb was nursing a drink while Mac stood behind Joshua with a hand on his shoulder. "He's gotten a text from Malachi Harris."

Dean looked at James. "We were expecting that."

Joshua held the phone in his hand. "The Barnwell Mansion is lovely this time of year." Joshua rubbed a hand down his face. "That's where Carolyn and I are getting married."

"There are other places that are better than some mansion to get married." James made his way to Mac's other side.

"You need to shut up, Kid," Caleb said lifting his drink towards James.

"I guess someone hasn't had their tea yet," James muttered. "What's the big deal? There's nothing in Cooperstown but the Baseball Hall of Fame."

"That place is awesome." Dean perked up recalling a good memory. "Damien and I took a side trip there during a hunt."

"I've been." James sighed. "A few times."

"What? You don't like baseball?" This had to be Sam's kid. He probably liked books and would rather hang out in a moldy library reading than get fresh air.

"It's not my thing, but I appreciate the sport."

"That's too bad." Dean hoped he might have more in common with a nephew, that maybe he passed along his vast knowledge of the ball and glove.

"And completely irrelevant at this point," Joshua said. "If you've failed to notice Malachi Harris is obviously taunting us, revealing his location at a moment when it should be his utmost concern that we not know his whereabouts." Joshua held up his phone as evidence, pointing to the Blackberry screen.

"The time traveler here says it's a trap." Caleb jerked his thumb towards James.

"He doesn't want to kill you," James replied, but he looked to Mackland for support. "He wants to make a deal with you."

"And that would be?" Dean asked, snapping his fingers so James would stop looking with puppy adoration at the former Scholar. He understood the fascination, could appreciate the gift of getting an unexpected second chance with a lost loved one, but he didn't have time to indulge the kid.

"To take over the position of Advisor," James explained with a nod of his head.

"Over my dead body," Caleb growled.

"Actually, that would be my dead body," Joshua quipped twisting his silver band. "What happened to being my mentor?"

"That's just his foot in the door," James said. "The end game is your job."

Dean's anger flared. No more deaths—Ellen and Jo had been enough with his direct involvement. "You didn't tell us this before."

"I told you I needed to be careful," James replied, nodding to Mackland.

"James is right," Mac said. Dean's chest tightened at the look that rushed over his brother's face at the doctor's praise. "Revealing any specific details about what takes place now could cause catastrophic changes in the future. James might not recognize the home he returns to."

"Speaking of which," Caleb sent a pointed look to Joshua. "When can we expect to get Sammy back?"

"Any moment now because the five minutes I had on my own was an excess of time to find the spell, translate it, and procure all the ingredients I would need to restore James to the future and return our time-traveling Scholar to his rightful place."

Dean now found himself wincing because Joshua was yelling. Caleb seemed to be rubbing everyone wrong. "So, you have no idea what to do."

"I haven't had enough time to even hazard a guess where to look in the Vangelo."

All eyes went to James. "I honestly don't know."

"Why should we believe you?" Caleb demanded.

"Because I have a brother in the future, two in fact." He pointed a finger at Caleb. "And a best friend. They're all in danger from Malachi Harris. I would like nothing better than to be there so I could watch their backs."

Dean stared at James. Sam had three sons. The idea had his throat tightening. He blinked away the burning in his eyes, suddenly understanding why they were willing to walk into a trap. "Malachi would know the spell," he said with a look to Joshua for confirmation.

"Most likely." Joshua thumbed through the book. "I'm sure he would have knowledge of where to begin."

"Damien, I guess that answers your question about why we agree to go meet him."

"I hate fucking demons." Caleb sat in one of the chairs, holding his head in his hands. "Why do we keep working with them?"

"Son…" Mac started forward, but Dean waved him off.

"Joshua can make you a mojo bag. It helped me adjust to the influx of telepathic energy when I first came online. It helped me keep the spirits away until I could handle their presence." James reached to touch the Vangelo before Joshua pulled it away.

"I'm not a medium," Caleb snarled. "It's not the same."

"James's is clairaudient and voyant," Dean said for Mac's benefit. The kid looked proud that Dean had remembered not to use the negative term for his abilities.

"Specific abilities are not the point." Mac had his doctor's game face on. He scratched his chin. "I hadn't thought that all the telepathic energy from the extraordinary supernatural activity could be causing a spike in psychic waves. Fascinating."

"Exactly," James said.

Dean sighed. "Why don't you have James fix you one of his omelets while you do some Scholarly brainstorming? The kid can cook a whole hell of a lot better than Sam."

"That actually sounds wonderful. I haven't eaten since dinner last night."

"Full on veggie, egg whites only."

"That's correct, per Esme's orders," Mackland's eyes grew wide, but he seemed pleasantly surprised.

James gave a curt nod. "She tries to take care of you."

"Joshua, are you coming?" Mac asked as he followed James out, under his spell.

"I think I should get started on the research, seeing as how it seems Malachi no longer considers me a worthy student."

"You'll have time on the trip to New York," Dean met Joshua's gaze, offering a reprieve. He had been hard on The Advisor. "Go grab some breakfast with Mac."

Dean moved to his best friend's side, straddling the chair next to him. Caleb lifted his head. "Dude, are all Scholars a bunch of fucking geeks?"

Dean smirked. "No more than Knights are predestined to be a bunch of stubborn sonsofbitches."

Caleb looked at the ceiling, pulling in a long breath. "Point taken."

"Damien, are you alright?"

"No." The laugh Caleb let loose was broken. "I am most definitely not alright."

"I need you to hold it together, man. We have to get Sam back."

"Then what? We have to kill Malachi? Then get the rest of the rings? Oh yeah, not to mention stopping Lucifer and Michael from becoming up close and personal with you and Sam. We're running out of options, no game plan in the final quarter."

"We've got each other. That's always been enough." Dean crossed his arms over the back of the chair. James's revelation had convinced him of their purpose. Sam had a family; they all got a second chance. It was a better destiny than he could have ever hoped for.

"Not always." Caleb glanced away.

"You can't change the past, Damien." Dean knew Caleb was thinking about Dean's time in Hell, Sam's trip down the dark side with Ruby. "That kid is the future, he may be important to you someday."

"You and Sam are important to me. I have to focus everything on saving you both. I can't get sidetracked by possibilities and make believe."

"What happened to all that faith and hope bullshit you like to parrot from Jim?" Dean needed Caleb to keep believing, even if he had doubts.

"I don't know, man. Maybe it up and left the building, just like God." Caleb twisted his hunter's ring. "All fathers fucking flake at the end."

"I know one Dad who's still around, still watching his son's back."

Caleb sighed. "First Joshua, now James, the Scholar groupie. I really need to clean up my act before I'm disinherited."

Dean squeezed Caleb's shoulder. "Let Mac give you a couple of Tylenol and Joshua make you one of those mojo bags to clear your head. All will be forgiven."

"No mojo bag is going to keep him out."

"Who? Lucifer?" Dean kept his hand on Caleb's shoulder tightening his grip.

"Malachi Harris. He's been in my mind, Deuce. He knows how to get past my blocks, use stuff against me." Caleb's voice wavered. "He scares the shit out of me, and that makes me a liability. A Knight is supposed to protect, not need protection. I opened myself up when I used Seaver's necklace to release that bastard from Hell, and now I don't know how to keep him out, or even if that's possible."

They all paid the price for their past indiscretions, playing with the amulet had cost Caleb. "Dude, we got each other's backs. Sammy didn't want me to say yes to Michael because he knew we could count on all of this, on The Brotherhood."

"It was your decision, Deuce, especially as The Guardian. You were trying to minimize damage, find a way to save the most people you could. I'm beginning to wonder if you saying yes to Michael might not have been the smarter plan."

"That's because you have my back as The Knight; you trust me to make the right decision for everyone." Caleb backed Dean against Bobby and Sam when they didn't want him to take Michael up on his offer. He'd also busted Castiel in the mouth for the beating he'd given Dean. He was grateful Castiel chose to adopt the turn the other cheek attitude, and not tear Caleb limb from limb. "And I trust you Damien- fucked up abilities and all."

"I don't know if you should." Caleb rubbed his temple.

"Last night I lost Sam and got a kid from the future that makes me think we might have a chance after all." It affirmed to Dean they had made the right choices in the end. Sam would survive, they all would.

"Deuce, we don't know him."

"Only one way to change that. Dad always said the best way to get a read on a man's character was to go into battle with him. Let's see how good of a job you did in training the grunts, Damien."

"If I trained him we've got nothing to worry about."

Dean stood up, giving Caleb's shoulder one last squeeze. He was happy for the cocky reply. "Get your shit together. We're going to Cooperstown."


"Grief is the price we pay for love."-Elizabeth II


They drove by Doubleday Field on the way through Cooperstown Village. The quaint Main Street reminded Sam of New Haven. There was a huge Presbyterian church on one corner with stained glass windows. He thought of Pastor Jim as JT pointed to the field, barely visible in the silvery light of dusk.

"Doubleday doesn't have any lighting. All the games are played during the day, including The Hall of Fame Classic every year on Father's Day Weekend." His nephew was sitting in the back of the SUV with him, Max driving, Joshua riding shotgun. JT was looking out the window, but Sam wondered if they were seeing the same things as the scenery shot past.

"Sounds like something Dean would like." Sam thought about the last time he watched Dean play ball, before his deal came due when they were in the town that disappeared every twenty years. It made him miss his brother; he imagined JT was sharing his sentiment, if not the same memories.

"He loves it," JT looked at him. "Old major leaguers come to play. They sign autographs, there's always a parade. Dad used to bring us when we were kids, but we haven't been in a while."

"Don't forget the fireworks," Max added from the front. "We loved the fireworks."

"It was a rare treat," Joshua explained. "After you and Caleb set the back forty on fire one Fourth of July, Dean stopped having fireworks on the farm."

"That's too bad." Sam recalled the firework display his brother had put on for him when he was ten. He had loved it, too, until their father found out what they had done.

"Where would you like to begin now that we are here?" Joshua asked, shifting in his seat to make eye contact with Sam.

In his mind Sam planned what he wanted to achieve at the mansion. If JT was right and the spells worked the way they did for a reason. Sam was meant to be in the future at this moment. Malachi Harris left something behind, and they would find it there. It was waiting for Sam to find it. "I guess we start where the mansion was, work our way out from there."

"The Barnwell Museum is on the south side of Ostego Lake, on the same private estate as the mansion. It's much more commercialized these days, some small shops and such. Convention gatherings, seminars, even some of the local proms are held there. Weddings are still common in the adjacent gardens." Joshua flashed him a picture of the museum, which was on his phone. He passed it to Sam. JT reached over to show him how to view the images.

"Will we have trouble getting in?" Sam asked, returning the phone to Joshua.

"It's Monday night," JT answered, then glanced to his watch. "I doubt if the museum or the meeting rooms are a hub of activity considering it's almost nine."

"I did some recon online before we left," Max said from the driver's seat. "The security system is modern, no manpower. I can take it out when we get within a five hundred yard radius."

"Take it out?" Sam looked to JT, wondering how that would be achieved with minimal noise. Caleb had been into weaponry and explosions too; in this case finesse was needed.

"Ryker has some friends in covert ops," his nephew explained, picking up a small black backpack in the backseat near JT's feet. "He brings toys home."

"Okay." Sam didn't need to know. The future looked similar to his time on the surface. It was only when one tried to make a phone call, turn on the television or use the shower the differences made themselves known. Sam had not only nearly scalded himself in the bathroom, but had stumbled across some very disturbing three dimensional video when trying to access James's cell phone.

"What are we supposed to be looking for when we do get in?" Max asked, his eyes going to the rearview mirror to hold the conversation with those in the backseat. "I don't see anything of Malachi's being in an art museum."

"The ashes were cleared and the grounds consecrated before the building was erected," Joshua said as the navigational system alerted them of the upcoming turn. "Tri-Corp was responsible for the re-building. You can imagine it was a very thorough job."

"That rules out the building itself being a source." JT turned to Sam, cleared his throat before continuing, "Max has a point about The Wilmington Ranch being a more likely spot."

JT had been placed in an awkward situation, he was not The Guardian yet, and he was used to working in a dynamic with Max. Sam was trying to be sensitive, but also assert himself. "You said our Triad had the same thought-that's why your dad, Caleb and I went to The Wilmington Ranch in the first place, where Malachi cast the spell."

JT nodded his confirmation. "Malachi sent Dad the coordinates."

"I doubt Harris would have risked bringing them to the ranch if there was something there that could destroy him." Sam knew how demons thought. He had spent enough getting inside their heads, and vice versa to consider himself somewhat of an expert. "Did you search the place after you recovered our bodies?"

JT winced at the term bodies. He looked past Sam to the window and passing evening darkness. "We had other things on our mind."

"Like saving your lives," Max said tersely.

"Maxim," Joshua admonished his son.

"It's true." Max took his eyes off the road long enough to shoot his father a look. "Our priority was to get the Triad out and to help."

"I understand that." Sam didn't mean to imply the future Triad was lacking. "I'm trying to help them now."

"By taking over and giving us orders?" Max returned his gaze to the road, but Sam could make out the white-knuckled grip he had on the steering wheel. It seemed Max had also inherited Caleb's temper.

"I thought we were in agreement?" It was his job to be the voice of reason, logic to the Knight's impulsiveness and Guardian's heart.

"I didn't catch you asking us our opinion." Max held Sam's gaze in the rearview mirror.

"Max, Uncle Sam is following protocol." JT stretched forward toward his friend. "He's still the Scholar."

Max turned toward JT. "Yeah, well, Uncle Sam isn't exactly our uncle yet." He brought his attention back to the road, one hand on the steering wheel, the other hand going through his hair, loosening the neat ponytail. "He's sounding a whole hell of a lot like the Sam who got my dad stabbed by a demon witch and The Scholar who let…"

"Maxim! That's enough."

There was an uncomfortable silence in the SUV. JT shifted in nervousness, probably seeking something to say, however Sam knew it was up to him to intervene. "Are you always such a hard ass with me?" Sam met Max's gaze in the rearview mirror. He and Caleb butted heads, but Sam had a feeling Max's stubbornness was coming from somewhere else. Max was loyal to his father, a testament to Joshua, but foreboding to Sam. He was not going to have an easy time of making it to the 'uncle' status with Joshua's son.

"Like I said, you're not the Sam I know-not by a long shot."

"I didn't ask for this detour." Sam didn't know Max either, but he understood Knights very well. Caleb was motivated by protecting those in his circle. He was fierce when letting people in. "I want to get back to my Triad as much as you want James here. You have to trust that what I'm doing is going to be the best for all of us." He always felt what he was doing was for the best.

"We trust you, Uncle Sam." JT leaned forward, resting his arm against the back of his friend's seat. "Right, Max?"

"I'm here aren't I?" Max lowered his voice. "Just remember we're not little kids. You were part of our training, and this is not the way we go into a situation, especially with you." He glanced at his father, Joshua gave a curt nod.

"Please keep your eyes on the road, Max," Joshua added.

"You're saying I'm anal."

"Max thinks hunting with you is boring." JT tried for a smile. "Your caution takes some of the fun out of it."

"Then he should be excited by this prospect." Sam pulled at James's dragon amulet. He had an idea. "Joshua, is there any spell you can do that will alert us to something Malachi left behind? Sort of like how we scryed for Noah Seaver's amulet?"

Joshua rubbed his chin, his silver band winking at Sam. "Perhaps, but it would have to be one small area at a time."

"Let's go with that, if that is okay with the rest of you?" Sam wanted to make sure he was not overstepping his boundaries. He was appreciating the dynamic he had with his Triad. "It does sound like a plan we can work with."

They agreed to Sam's plan. It seemed to be going well with the alarm disarmed with the little gadget. As they walked to the mansion, leaving the SUV hidden off the main road, Sam realized this was the first time he was seeing the manor. "Is this how it looked before it was destroyed?"

"Yes, the same square footage, but energy efficient according to Caleb," Joshua replied.

Max picked open the large lock and JT pushed the door open. The lights went on when they sensed a presence, illuminating a long hallway with dark blue walls. The hall was filled with paintings of a familiar style. Sam got up close to one of them as Joshua asked Max's assistance for the spell. "Are these all Amelia Reaves's paintings?"

JT stood by him, admiring the paintings for a moment. "Yes. Grandpa Mac said that they should be shared with everyone. Uncle Caleb still has a few, but the rest are in this hall."

Max walked down the long corridor, sprinkling some dust as he went. He carefully checked for wards or other signs Malachi had tampered with the building as his father instructed. They followed him to the end of the hall, which led to a larger room. Joshua was the last to join them, and as Sam looked up, he saw some of the dust had risen and was holding steadily in the air.

"Is that a good sign or a bad sign?" JT asked, backing up into the ballroom.

Joshua was quiet with a puzzled look.

"Dad?" Max prompted.

"There is something here."

Sam wanted to say, 'I told you so,' but tried to remain mature. He knew he had been right. "Are you going to do the same spell in here?"

"Yes, but what are you hoping to find?" He waved to the particles hanging in the air. "This cannot be destroyed."

They crossed the threshold into the formal ballroom. Sam's feet sank in the plush crimson carpet. The dome shaped ceiling lit with a huge crystal chandelier lit up a fresco of angels above them. It was beautiful, and it brought clarity that Sam would not see it in its original form. "I want to get back to my brother and bring James back to you. There has to be something tangible that we can destroy to get rid of Malachi. This brings us closer to it."

Joshua placed the Vangelo on a podium near the door. Sam watched him search the room carefully before sprinkling more of the powder about the area as the boys gathered around Sam in the center. Max pulled his gun. "That sounds like the best idea you've had so far."

The same reaction occurred only this time the dust took on a luminescent glow, swirling around them before lifting high in the air towards the ceiling.

"That's new," Max said, stepping in front of JT.


"I'm not sure." Joshua turned to his son. "Max, bring my bag in from the hallway."

Max made it to the threshold, drawing up short as he was pushed back by an unseen force, stumbling slightly before righting himself. "What the hell…"

"Max?" JT moved towards his friend.

"I can't get through." Max put out a hand to stop JT. He looked to his father. "It's like a brick wall."

Sam and Joshua shared a look, both of them rushing towards the door. "No. No. No." Joshua passed his son and JT, easily stepping to the other side, out into the hallway. "Not again!"

"What did you do?" Sam growled as he to found himself unable to leave the room. There was a wall there, stopping him.

Joshua tried to return to them, unable to he placed his hand on the wall. It flared up in a green phosphorescent light.

"He did what you told him to do!" Max snapped; he hit the wall with the palm of his hand. "Shit. It's a fucking Triad trap."

"One The Advisor so generously helped me create. Again."

Sam did not recognize the man at first. He was tall, dark wavy hair with white interspersed, graying sides and a salt and pepper beard. He wore a black suit. This was Malachi Harris, the original, in the hallway with Joshua. Sam gathered closer to his nephew.

Joshua closed his eyes for a moment, opened them to connect to his son, then turned to face the demon. "The great witch couldn't perform one yourself? Your great grandmother would be so disappointed."

Malachi pulled the sleeves of his jacket. "I'm not as powerful from the spiritual plane, I'm afraid. It was why my spell with your Triad failed at The Wilmington Ranch, failed to work as I intended. I expected you to be there, to use what I taught you."

"You did intend on bringing your Triad back."

"Yes. I still do. I needed to be corporeal to make it happen, but you've remedied that now. As soon as you performed a spell from the Vangelo using Triad magic within my presence I was restored-my magic was restored." He lifted his hand and one of Amelia's paintings fell from the wall. There were markings behind it, one of which was The Triad symbol. "I made sure to hide my traces more carefully this time, afraid you might have learned your lesson from the last time we met here."

Joshua shook his head. "You have never given up the quest to reclaim your position as Advisor."

Malachi raised his hands, stretching catlike. "Do you blame me? You've felt their power, wielded it. I will be unstoppable when my Triad is restored in your Triad's stead. Dean forced my hand when he decided to step down, but it all has worked out better in the end. It gives me a chance to dispatch the future generation in one fell swoop."

"You will have to go through me first." Joshua positioned himself in front of the invisible wall.

"Why not wait until the exchange of power?" Sam asked, hoping to take Malachi's focus from Joshua. He gestured to JT and Max. "You usually prefer young and good-looking."

"True." Malachi paced in front of Joshua. "Josh and his boys aren't what they used to be, but in this case it's really what's on the inside that counts. I need my Triad to retain the connection to Dean Winchester's Triad. They are truly the most powerful Triad to have come through in centuries."

"You said the spells didn't work right because they were tainted. Dean's time in Hell, Sam and Caleb's ties to demons. . ." Joshua said, pulling a knife Sam recognized as the knife Missouri had given to him at the Triad ceremony.

Malachi seemed to be considering this for a moment. "The spells worked the way they were supposed to. Your Triad is an anomaly, yes, but also a gift. One I plan on claiming for myself."

Sam watched JT grab hold of Max's arm, preventing him from making a reckless move. "Get away from my father, you sonofabitch." Max pounded against the invisible wall with his free hand.

"Your father has been of great service to me, Maxim." Malachi smiled, enjoying schooling the younger man. "He helped me get my ring back, warned me when The Triad found my services no longer useful, and kept my little light shining after I was brutally murdered by his Triad. He considered us friends, you know."

Sam swallowed, his mouth going dry. He had formed a bond with Ruby, and had warned Joshua of what could happen with Malachi.

"I helped my Triad destroy you." Joshua moved closer to Max, blade pointing towards Malachi. "Just as I will help theirs do the same."

Malachi lowered his voice, "You've been my keeper, Josh, and I appreciate it, but I no longer need your services. I'm afraid I'm not as inclined to loyalty as you are."

It happened so quickly, Joshua was picked up off the ground, slammed one, two, three times against the unseen wall and then dropped to the ground in a heap with JT, Sam and Max yelling a cacophony of "Joshua!" and "Dad!"

Malachi had snapped Joshua's neck.

"Dad?" Max flung himself at the door, but the block held, bouncing him back like a force field. He fell to his knees, trying to get closer to his father's head. Unable to, he lifted his gun, emptying his clip into the grinning demon as the bullets passed through the green phosphorescent wall, but had no effect on Harris. Malachi's smile grew.

"Such emotional creatures you humans." Malachi toed Joshua's body, moved it away from the threshold. "And fragile."

Sam swallowed the bile that had risen to his throat. He couldn't take his eyes from Joshua's vacant blue gaze. It was just like Benjamin Mosley. There was no regard for the person Joshua was, for the incredible value he was to others. He was a husband, father, a friend; a person Sam had known practically his entire life. Things Malachi Harris or no other demon could ever understand. To Malachi, Joshua was an obstacle in his path, just as Mosley had been. Sam should have known that, he should have realized. He wiped his hands roughly under his eyes.

"Max, stop it!"

Sam's attention was drawn by the urgency in his nephew's voice. Max was continuing to try and plow through the door, JT had discarded his weapon, wrapping his arms around his friend, struggling to pull him away from the horrible scene. They returned to the middle of the room, Max fighting to make his way back.

Malachi came close to the wall, but did not crossover. "Knights are stubborn, emotional and hard to control." Malachi crossed his arms over his chest. "I've never cared for them, but Scholars, Scholars have always been my cup of tea. Refined, logical. They're smart, so brilliant that they sometimes outsmart themselves. Isn't that right, Jimmy?" Malachi didn't realize who he was. "I have a hunch it was your plan to come here?"

Sam was going to use it to their advantage to save JT and Max. "Joshua deserved better, you sonofabitch."

"Temper. Temper." Malachi waved a finger back in forth. "That was your uncle's downfall you know. Don't get me wrong, I like the fiery bad boy side, but I'd stick with your logic, leave all the drama to your buddy Max."

"You're not getting out of here alive." Max had stopped bucking against JT's hold, tears streaked his face. "I'm going to tear you apart, you bastard."

"What do you want?" Sam demanded. Harris was right. He needed to keep his head if he was going to get them through this. Sam still believed he was here for a reason,

"Just what belongs to me. The Vangelo. Joshua won't be needing it anymore."

"That's how you did it," Sam said, taking a step closer to Malachi. "You said you needed Joshua to cast a Triad spell with the Vangelo in your spirit's presence. It would restore you to form, like Dean restored your ring when he let you cast that spell with him. You're tied to this book."

Malachi looked at JT and Max. "Genius, isn't it! Joshua fell for it twice-restored me. He thought I was giving him a gift, but it was he that was doing me the favor all along, ensuring my immortality by guarding The Vangelo. It was a brilliant insurance policy. I am The Vangelo. The Vangelo is me."

Sam looked at the journal Joshua had left on the podium. Malachi had left it in Joshua's care decades before. Joshua believed it was the key to opening The Triad power completely, a way to tame it to their benefit. That's what Malachi had wanted him to think. "But you'll need an Advisor for your Triad. You just ruined your complete set by killing Joshua."

Malachi shrugged his shoulders. "An Advisor is not paramount to a Triad. They aren't connected like the three." He paced back and forth. "We don't create the power, only benefit from it. As you said, I like them young and hot." Malachi looked back to Joshua's broken body. "In his day Josh was something, but I'll take the future Advisor's form. Their Ryker is worthy to house my soul when the conversion is complete. He's quite yummy."

"You'll never get away with this," JT growled, still with a hold on Max, but more for comfort than restraint.

Malachi ignored the future Guardian. "Give me the book, Scholar."

"Or what?"

Malachi lifted his hand. The curtains in the ballroom caught ablaze. "Or I let you and your Triad burn to death."

"Come and get it yourself." Sam hoped for a state of the art anti-fire system considering what had happened to the building in the past, but if there was one, it had also been disarmed by Max's gadget. They were on their own. He motioned for Malachi to come in. Sam had Ruby's knife in the sheath at his side. If Malachi was corporeal again, he could be killed, which would break the Triad trap. Sam had been surprised when he found the magical blade with James's things. JT told Sam that James had taken it when they found the stricken Triad at The Wilmington Ranch. Sam should have considered Max might have shared the same idea.

"You think I can't? You really are an arrogant one." Malachi straightened his tie. "Fine. Have it your way." Malachi appeared behind Sam. "You're not going to like what happens next." He was between Sam and the boys.

Max broke from JT's loose grasp, silver flashed. Sam recognized the Dragon's Talon as The Knight charged. "Max! No!" JT called out.

Malachi met the future Knight, their bodies close. Sam thought Max had succeeded because vindicating his father was giving him strength- he had seen it happen before. But Max dropped to his knees. Harris pulled Joshua's son by his hair, unbound from its ponytail. The Dragon's Talon was buried in Max's stomach.

Sam barely managed to restrain his nephew. "Max! No!"

Max's hands fumbled for the hilt, blood bubbled from his lips, his eyes found JT. He spat at Harris. Malachi licked the blood with a wicked grin as he placed his hand on the hilt, shifting it up before pulling it out. In one effortless motion Malachi slid the blade neatly across Max's neck, ending the future Knight's struggles, nearly severing his head.

JT's cry of outrage and pain echoed in the great room. He was able to pull Sam a few steps closer until Sam shook him from his path.

"No worries, Guardian. It was a death befitting a Knight; a true warrior would choose to go out in battle." Malachi wiped the blade against his suit. "My Knight would have preferred such a quick end."

With a primitive yell JT pulled Samuel Colt's gun from beneath his coat and aimed it at Malachi's head. It seemed all the boys had taken a weapon from their counterparts. Harris lifted his hand, sending JT flying across the room to land in a heap on the floor, the gun clattering out of his hand.

Malachi came towards Sam, the Talon held out in front of him. "Now for you, Scholar."

Sam backed up, feeling the heat of the draperies as they fell to ground, licking the carpeted floor. Smoke was permeating the room, burning his throat and eyes. "If you kill me, you ruin any chance of getting your hands on The Triad."

"Oh, really. Why is that?"

"Because I'm not James." Sam opened his arms wide. "I'm Samuel Winchester, and if you kill me, then my Triad no longer exists as it is now." Sam caught movement out of the corner of his eye. JT was slowly getting to his feet. He needed to keep Malachi distracted.

Harris hesitated, his head tilting. Sam felt the intrusion, lowered his blocks. "Surprise."

"So, I see Joshua was a better student than I had thought. I'm impressed." Malachi's perplexed look shifted to his typical grin. "But you've miscalculated. That whole outsmarting yourself thing I mentioned earlier. Once I kill you and we are done here you will go back and Jimmy will return to nothing because his body will be dead. Your present Sam is ensnared in my spell, awaiting for my Samuel to enter. I'll be kind so that you will forget everything." Malachi lunged for Sam with the knife, just as JT plowed into him in with a tackle.

The blade skidded out of Malachi's grip. Sam dove for it, using his nephew's distraction to its best advantage. The Vangelo was still there resting on the podium. He raced for it, sparing JT a glance, noting that JT was pounding Malachi, and reached for The Vangelo holding it in his grasp.

Sam turned to see Malachi force his hand around JT's throat, keeping him at bay. "All you Guardians are the same," Malachi's other hand rested on JT's chest, "all heart."

"NO!" Sam yelled out as Malachi's fingers pierced through JT's chest and his nephew arched back with a gasp, blood coated Malachi's fingers as he removed his hand.

"You demented sonofabitch! This is what you want!" Sam lifted The Vangelo. He'd figured it out all too late, but there was still time to finish Malachi.

"Give it to me." Malachi had the audacity to try to hide the bloodied hand. "Do it and I will fix everything for you, Sam. Everything."

The fire was burning through the ballroom. Joshua was crumpled behind him, Max was in a pool of his blood and his nephew was unmoving. There was James to think about, Dean and Caleb and himself. Sam knew what he had to do. He brought the Dragon's Talon up and stabbed the book viciously, repeatedly.

"Stop!" Malachi ordered, blinking in and out, coming closer each time until he was in solid form, aging rapidly in front of Sam. His body turned into ash just as The Vangelo crumbled in Sam's hand.

Sam wiped the last traces of the book on his jeans. He could feel the tears uncontrolled on his cheeks. His vision was cloudy, not just from emotion, but from smoke filled room as the flames spread, destroying everything in their path. There wasn't much time.

He ran to JT, his nephew's eyes were open, and he was taking wheezing breaths. Sam picked him up, the adrenaline and anger ensuring he could lift someone of larger size.

Outside in the pitch darkness, Sam's load became too heavy, and he fell to his knees, buffering JT as best he could. Still his nephew cried out in pain, hands grasping for his chest.

Sam pillowed JT's head in his lap, watching as the building seemed to glow as the windows bulged, popping and breaking from the heat. He stripped out of his jacket, placing it over the wound to stem the flow of blood. Sam clasped JT's hands into one of his own to still them.

"Max?" JT licked his lips, blood splattered as he spoke. "We have to get Max."

"He's gone. I'm sorry, he's with his dad," Sam choked out, feeling his nephew's warm blood soaking through his jacket.

"Uncle Sam…he's dead." JT cried out, his struggling waned.

Sam moved one hand to his nephew's forehead. "You're going to be okay, you just have to hold on." Sam could see he was losing JT; he pulled his nephew closer to him.

JT blinked slowly up at him. "Jimmy?"

Sam stopped applying pressure on the mortal wound, instead holding JT's hand in both his, bringing it to his cheek. "Yeah. I'm here, JT. I'm okay."

"Take care of them-Dad, Mom, Ben- okay?" JT's eyes were wide; he looked to be waiting for a confirmation.

"Okay, JT." Sam closed his eyes. JT's fingers were cold against his face. This was Dean's son dying in his arms.

"I love you, little brother." JT sighed, then shuddered. Sam felt him let go.

"I love you, too." He hugged his nephew's body close, burying his head on JT's shoulder. The fire was growing hotter behind him, even as JT's body grew cold in his arms. It roared mockingly, victoriously consuming the Barnwell Museum. Sam didn't care.

It was the sudden, sharp pain in his head that captured his attention, had him looking up searching the darkness for further threat. Sam eased JT to the ground, gasping when sparks exploded behind his eyes. He reached out to steady himself against the dew covered grass when the ground shifted beneath him. His first thought was that the building had exploded, the ringing in his ears making it a plausible theory. It was the roll of nausea in his stomach and the blurred vision that helped him realize what was happening.

"Oh God…the spell." Sam looked down at JT, the devastation of what he had done spreading over him like frost covering a field. James would come back to this, to his dead brother, the smoldering remains of the life he had entrusted with Sam.

". No. Not now…not yet." Sam clasped a hand over his nephew's bloodied chest, as if he could tether himself to this time. He had to fix it. Nothing was right. Sam could not leave things the way they were. He would not sentence his nephew, his family to this cruel fate of death and destruction. Family was sacred. It had taken a long time for Sam to realize the value of his family, and now he needed to fight for it.


"In every conceivable manner the family is a link to our past, the bridge to our future."
-Alex Haley


"Cooperstown. The home of baseball."

James recognized the excitement in his father's voice as they turned onto Main Street in Cooperstown Village. He smiled inwardly. "It's also the home of James Fenimore Cooper, hence the name-Cooperstown. He's one of America's most celebrated authors' and scholars', you know. James is obviously a predictor of intelligence."

"In my opinion they should have named it after Colonel Doubleday." James met his father's gaze in the rearview mirror. His dad winked at him. "Abner –now there's a name a father could proudly give his son."

"If he wanted said son to never get laid." James grimaced, imagining going through life named after another of his father's heroes. It was popular myth that Colonel Abner Doubleday invented baseball, winning him Dean Winchester's admiration. James Murphy was by far the better choice for many reasons, the least of which was his ability to score hot chicks.

"Perhaps a little less talk about baseball, a little more discussion of our plan for Malachi Harris, seeing as how we are nearing our destination."

"Look, Mama's Boy," his dad ignored Joshua's suggestion, pointing out Doubleday Field. "Right there is where they play the Hall of Fame Classic."

Joshua didn't appear impressed. He kept his gaze on his notes and The Vangelo. "The only venue I'm concerned with in this town is my wedding, which is supposed to take place in two weeks."

"It's held every year on Father's Day weekend," James said of The Classic, picking up Joshua's slack in the conversation. James thought if all The Advisor was going to do was research he could have easily taken his spot in the back with Caleb, who slept the entire drive. Instead, Joshua scored shotgun by flipping Caleb for it. They didn't even let James in on the action, dooming him to the backseat. His only reprieve was that he had been allowed to travel with Mac as far as Manhattan where the former Scholar had been ordered to stay put by The Guardian. "They have a parade and everything."


He was pleased when his father caught his eye again with a look of surprise. His dad sounded genuinely curious. James didn't think it would hurt to throw him a bone. "I might like soccer better than baseball, but I've gone a few times. My family used to come here when I was a kid."

"Lucky you."

James nodded, though he knew his father's gaze had returned to the road. He hadn't always considered himself lucky, especially after his abilities kicked in and dead people started popping up everywhere. James could barely make out the ball field in the fading light. The brick wall in the distance called forth memories- the smell of hotdogs, popcorn, the echo of a cheering crowd. He suddenly felt homesick and wondered how his brothers and Max were handling things on their end- if his father and uncles were still holding on. "I always liked the fireworks."

"Your old man a baseball fan?"

The unexpected question caught James off guard. He looked up to find the car stopped, his dad once more staring at him in the rearview mirror. They were stalled by the one red light in town. "Sort of." He returned his gaze to the window, gazing at the familiar storefronts. "Not much around here has changed."

"Or maybe your memory really sucks." Caleb chose that moment to join the conversation. "You don't remember anything on how we get into the place? Where we found Malachi? What happens?"

James sighed. He had already told them everything he knew about the gig-mostly. "I assume you break-in, and then there's a fire. The end."

"There's a fire?" Joshua turned quickly so he was facing the backseat passengers. "What do you mean there's a fire?"

"It all works out. You guys must think of a plan." He squirmed, bumping legs with Caleb. Sam's body was hard to maneuver, especially in tight quarters.

"Stay on your side of the car, Kid," Caleb groused.

"Sorry." James glanced at his uncle. Caleb was sprawled, taking more than his fair share of the vehicle. He had his sunglasses on despite the fact night was descending around them. The mojo bag Joshua had made was lying against his chest, and although Caleb hadn't said, James noticed the pinched lines of pain had faded from his uncle's face.

"Don't make me turn this vehicle around." His dad pulled the car forward again, turning onto the street Joshua instructed with a gesture of his hand.

James had heard that line more than once. He went with his standard reply, "He started it."

"Keep your hands to yourself, Damien."

Caleb shifted up, no longer trying to sleep. "My hands aren't the problem, Deuce. The future Scholar is having issues with steering Sam's body. I'm guessing he's a midget in his real life."

"I'm not short." James flared at the irrational sting. It didn't help that Max and JT were both freakishly tall. "I'm six feet, six-one when I'm wearing shoes."

"Sure, you are." Caleb looked over the rim of his sunglasses. "What other fairytales do you want to tell us?"

"I've told the truth- as much as I can." It was tempting to tell them who he was, to make them understand he was truly on their side. The risk was too great. "You need to lose the attitude, Obi Wan."

"Attitude? Really?" Caleb leaned into his space. "I have a job to protect The Guardian and Scholar. You're not helping."

James glared at Caleb, willing himself not to back down. "I like future you a lot better."

"Damien, you must mellow in your old age," his father quipped with a glance at Joshua.

Caleb rested back against his seat. "Maybe the kid just doesn't know me as well as he thinks he does."

"You're definitely not living up to the image I have, that's for sure." The Caleb that James knew was always in his corner. He was hard on the future Triad when it came to training, but no one said or thought anything negative about The Knight. James wasn't used to being on the wrong side of his uncle's protective streak.

"It's part of the Knight's job to be a hardass, or is your Triad's Knight some kind of wuss?"

"I can say a lot of things about him, but that's not one of them." It was suddenly clear why Uncle Sam often said Max could have sprung from Caleb's head. James didn't know this version of Caleb. He'd never thought the things that needled him about Max, were inherent in the current Knight.

"Maybe we can squeeze in a trip to The Hall of Fame and the wax museum on our way out of town," his father said, doing his best to break the tension. JT usually kept he and Max from coming to blows when they butted heads. He never noticed the fragile balance until it was suddenly missing.

"Maybe we should rid ourselves of Malachi Harris before we begin making celebratory plans." Joshua put his notes down, turning in his seat so he was facing Dean.

"I'm all for that," Dean replied. "As soon as we have Sammy back, and James tucked safely in his time."

"I don't think it will be a problem for us to get in," Caleb added. "But getting Malachi to tell us the spell that will bring Sammy back is going to be an entirely different issue."

"As long as there are no explosions involved," Joshua replied, his head bent down as he tied his journal. "Take heed of James's warning. Repairs to the estate could be costly and time consuming."

"You have no idea." James avoided Joshua's gaze, preferring to look at the back of his father's head.

Joshua sighed, rubbing a hand down his mouth. "Let me handle the negotiations with Malachi."

Dean gestured with his chin to get Caleb's attention as it had been focused on Joshua. "Will you be able to sense him, Damien?"

Caleb snorted. "Not even on a good day. His cloaking ability puts him off the charts, major stealth mode." He shifted on the leather seat. "You going to be of any help, Ghost Whisperer?"

James shook his head, ignoring the obscure reference to a stupid TV show. "If the place is haunted, maybe," James felt uncomfortable trying to explain his abilities to his family. "Malachi's technically dead, but like Caleb said, he's far from your run of the mill spirit."

"Is there a spell you can do to let us know if he is around?" Dean turned to Joshua. "Or at least one that will let us know when he's getting close?"

Joshua thought for a moment before answering. "Perhaps, if it's a small enough area I can use one of the Triad defensive spells Benjamin Mosley and I were working on."

"Sounds like we have a plan." James watched his father's face in the rearview mirror. The smile wasn't quite convincing, slipping with the mention of Mosley. His dad recovered quickly, attempting to mask the upcoming task as a run of the mill hunt along with all the other challenges he was facing. They had yet to face Lucifer, and in some way when that happened his father would change, "One step closer to The Hall of Fame and visiting my good buddies, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb."

"No wax museum, Deuce." Caleb protested. James understood what his uncle was doing. The Knight's job might be as the enforcer, but his main priority was to backup The Guardian, even if it meant playing along with subterfuge. James couldn't stay mad at his uncle for protecting his dad anymore than he could really get pissed at Max when he sided with JT. "That place is just…"

"Crazy creepy," James finished for his uncle. Sometimes with Max it helped if they ganged up on JT when he was worrying. "Right?"

"Definitely crazy creepy." Caleb briefly met his gaze and for the first time his gold eyes held something besides mistrust. James hoped it was a truce, but decided not to push his luck. He would try to be patient and understanding, neither his trademarks. He saw how Uncle Caleb and Uncle Sam worked together in his future, so in time there would be less acrimony between him and Max if the present was any measure. That was of course as long as Max never found out James was sleeping with his sister.

His father's plan seemed to be going well, Caleb made sure there was no one in the vicinity of the mansion. They hid the Impala in some nearby trees, then Joshua led the way to the mansion since he was familiar with the site. Caleb picked the lock, and his dad, with gun drawn, moved in first. James held a flashlight, zooming it around the area until Joshua located the light switch that turned on the lights in the hallway.

Dean took point, Caleb covering Joshua as he unpacked materials from his bag. James noticed Caleb looking at the prints on the walls as The Advisor worked.

"Those are James Fenimore Cooper's novel covers. The originals are in the Fenimore Art Museum in town." He and his uncle had discovered the art exhibit by accident on one of their family trips to The Hall of Fame Classic.

"You're into art?" Caleb gave him a doubtful look.

James shrugged. "My godfather's a big fan. He taught me to appreciate beauty when I see it."

"Your godfather sounds like a real pansy, probably reads poetry in his spare time." Caleb looked him up and down once more.

"He is an artist." James shot Caleb a grin. "What do you expect?"

"I expect you two to get your head in the game." Dean pointed his finger at James and Caleb. "Save your sightseeing for the wedding."

"Who's the hardass now?" Caleb muttered, stepping a few feet away from James so he had a view of the door.

James pulled his weapon, chagrined by his father's reprimand. His dad was all business on a hunt. James tightened his hold on Uncle Sam's magical knife. As a kid James was fascinated by the power it held, enchanted with the mystery surrounding it. He'd only recently discovered the truth behind how Sam inherited it in one of his uncle's journals. Ruby might have been a demon witch, but James was practical. A blade was neither good nor evil, and there were few weapons available that were suited to a face off with demons.

Joshua brought out his wand, threw a mixture of herbs on the floor and then drew the point of the wand through them. "I need to repeat this further down the hallway."

James followed The Advisor and his father. The bright flash behind James had him spinning on his heel to meet Caleb's gaze. The Knight was standing by the first symbol Joshua had completed. The flare had faded; the pile of herbs was softly glowing.

"Tell me that's not the Bat Signal." His father clenched his fist, stepping shoulder to shoulder with James.

"He's close." Joshua finished the second mark. "Let's move into the ballroom. It's better suited for the protection circle."

They backed up into the grand chamber. James felt his feet sink into the plush carpet, his eyes drawn to the chandelier hanging from the dome ceiling, the heavy crimson curtains covering the windows. The intricate mural above them with its angels and their gold leaf wings bathed the room in a heavenly aura. James knew enough about this particular hunt not to be lulled into a false sense of security. He also had witnessed Malachi's work first hand at The Wilmington Ranch when he, JT and Max interrupted the demon's spell. Joshua's muttered curse was the first sign of trouble.

"What?" James watched his dad step closer to his Advisor. "I don't like that look, Josh."

Joshua kneeled over another symbol; he traced the outline again with his wand. This one James recognized as the mark of The Triad.

"I don't understand. It's not working. I performed the incantation. The circles should be silver now." Joshua looked around them, then down at his supplies. "I need my bag from the other room."

"I'll get it." Caleb rushed towards the doorway only to stumble backwards when he attempted to cross the threshold. He caught himself on one knee, rebounding to his feet with a heated, "Sonofa…"


"Stay back!" Caleb looked from Dean to James before reaching out towards the doorway again. Electricity sparked the air, but the lock held. It was like Caleb was pushing against a solid wall.

"Josh!" James jumped at the snap in his father's voice. "What did you do?"

"Nothing." Joshua moved forward with a shake of his head. "Nothing that should have locked us in. The spell locks out evil."

Caleb didn't reach out to stop Joshua as he approached the doorway. James saw the surprise and the panic register on his uncle's features as The Advisor easily slipped through. Caleb reached out to grab him, but was prevented from doing so by the unseen barricade. "Josh!"

"That can't be good," James said, trying to seek out the edges of the barrier.

Joshua seemed to be thinking the same thing as he turned, attempted to come back into the room. He was met with the same shield Caleb encountered when he tried to exit.

"No!" He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, his hands coming to grip his hair. "Damn him!"

James had not witnessed The Advisor's anger very often. Joshua was reserved, self-composed. The look of fury in his blue eyes as he realized not only was his Triad locked in the room, but he was locked out was a little scary. It was more than enough reason for James to consider keeping his affair with Josie perpetually secret.

"Don't be too hard on yourself, Josh. It was a rookie mistake." Malachi Harris appeared behind Joshua in the corridor. He was in a form James didn't recognize from his two encounters, but still the typical male model host the demon was inclined to choose. James took a step closer as the monster that had attacked his father and uncles in the future circled Joshua.

"Mosley should have warned you." Malachi gave an over exaggerated sigh. "When casting a defensive protection spell, one should always make sure to look for counter wards." Malachi pointed to a place above the doorway. James couldn't see what was on Joshua's side, but guessed it was similar to the red markings over their side of the door. They looked Gaelic. "It's like an automatic reverse switch. If you're not careful, you just might help your enemy cast one hell of a Triad trap."

"What the hell are you thinking, Harris?" James watched his father move to stand beside Caleb. "First you kill Mosley, and now you attack The Triad?"

"I'll admit I disposed of that twit Mosley, but I have done nothing but try to assist your Triad."

"By putting us in a fucking box?" Caleb pounded his fist against the barrier.

"Now you'll know to be more careful." Malachi glanced at Joshua. "I daresay your Advisor will never make the same mistake again."

Joshua turned to face off with Malachi, pointing the wand he was still holding at the demon. "You are nothing but a detriment."

"That wasn't the song you were singing a couple of months ago when I gave you The Vangelo. I thought we had something special." Malachi pointed to The Vangelo. "I see you keep it with you."

Joshua touched his coat pocket. "A tool is a tool."

"Spoken like a wise crafter." Malachi withdrew his own wand, taking up a defensive stance. His smug grin stayed in place. "Shall we duel this out like true witches? To the victor goes your Triad."

"Enough of your silly games." Joshua lowered his wand. "Let them out, Malachi. Now!"

"Or what? You won't be my friend anymore? Take me off your Facebook page?" Harris laughed, his wand disappearing into thin air. It reminded James of Max's parlor tricks, but he knew from experience Harris was capable of far more powerful things. "I think you made yourself quite clear by not answering any of my texts. The final blow was your slight in not inviting me to the wedding."

"Fine, you're invited. You can sit with Drew." Joshua gestured behind him to the doorway, having regained his composure. "Let them out and we can talk. If you're willing to assist us in a small matter, The Guardian might choose to let you live to pilfer another future Calvin Klein underwear ad."

"Too little too late." Malachi pouted. "I have my pride you know, and I just might hook up with some hot rebounding celebrity and live off them for awhile."

"What do you want?" Dean growled.

"I think the more important question is what you want, Dean." Malachi paced in front of Joshua. "I thought my little disposal of Benjamin Mosley and my threat to the lovely Barnwell Mansion might get your attention, but I believe there is another agenda that had you scrambling to get to New York in the midst of full on Armageddon. Could it involve the remaining horsemen, perhaps? Your plans to stop Lucifer?"

"We're not discussing anything until you let us out of here." The Guardian left no room for bargaining. James stood by his father in a united front.

"Fine. I'll put my cards on the table first as an act of good faith. I want to help you, train Joshua as The Advisor should be trained with the full support of The Triad." Malachi continued. "Agree to those terms and I'll release you, and will be more than willing to assist you in anything that you might need."

"You killed Mosley so you could regain your role as mentor?" Joshua shook his head. "He was a human being. He had a family."

Malachi rolled his eyes. "He was spoiling everything I began with you. Even with The Vangelo, you would have been greatly lacking. Someday you'll thank me."

"Don't hold your breath," Joshua replied in agitation.

"If you think I'm ever going to trust you, you're delusional." James watched his father move around Caleb to stand as close to Joshua as he could, barring the unseen shield between them.

"You have to get two rings from the remaining Horsemen," Malachi raised his silver banded hand, "then find a way to lure Lucifer into your little trap. And you think you can do that without some assistance? I believe you are the one fooling yourself, Guardian."

"You're never going to be a part of this team," Caleb replied, while James swallowed the knowledge of exactly how his family got the final rings and lured Lucifer. The price had been high. "Especially after what you did to your Triad."

"Lies, misquotes." James watched Malachi wave away The Knight's accusations. He had read the history of Daniel Wilmington's Triad. James studied Samuel Colt's journal thoroughly before trying to channel the former Scholar's ghost. Colt was haunted by his Triad's death.

"Daniel and Cole were tortured for days, staked in the desert, and eviscerated. You tried to blame the indigenous Indian tribes, but Samuel Colt saw through your cover story." James had taken the story personally. It was a trend within The Brotherhood that Knight and Guardian died before Scholar. James would not entertain the possibility of something happening to JT or Max.

"You speak out of turn, Scholar," Malachi gave a stern warning. "Tanner and Wilmington were leading The Brotherhood astray. Hunters were beginning to talk of an overthrow. Things got out of hand. I was trying to teach them a lesson, not harm them."

Dean struck at the shield. "One of your warped teachable moments gone awry."

"They weren't supposed to die!" For the first time Malachi looked shaken. He brought his hands up, the silver on his ring finger flashing brightly. "I was their Advisor. They were making a mockery of me, of The Brotherhood. Cole followed his foolhardy passion, trying to save Noah Seaver's harlot of a wife. I thought framing him for stealing the amulet would show Daniel the error of his ways that his judgment was being clouded by their friendship."

Malachi paced back and forth. Joshua shifted at the ready in response, but was as rapt with attention to the story as James. "Daniel didn't respond accordingly. Being a true Guardian, he let his heart rule his head. Samuel was left with no choice but to side with his brothers during the fall out from Seaver's actions. For the first time he questioned my guidance, wouldn't listen to my reason. I only meant to prove a point by enlisting the other hunters. In the end, I was forced to chose sides, or look as guilty as Cole and Daniel."

"So you stood by and let them murder your Triad. Colt killed you for what you did." James spent hours considering his own actions in such a situation. In his mind he planned his retribution as he would a business deal. Every detail touched upon, even the amount of time he'd let his enemy suffer.

"All you Scholars think you're so smart." Malachi rubbed a hand down the shadow of a beard. "Samuel didn't kill me. I took my own life to spare him what he felt honor bound to do. I loved him."

"If you took the coward's way out you did it for yourself so you wouldn't have to face the consequences of your actions. That kind of escape has nothing to do with love." Caleb hit his hand against the wall, it flared with electricity.

"Don't confuse me with your father, Knight!" Malachi hissed. "I did it out of loyalty to my Triad."

"You know nothing of loyalty, Harris. You are unworthy to bear the mark of a coven, the ring of The Brotherhood, let alone serve in any capacity as The Advisor to The Triad." Joshua met Dean's gaze, then glanced to James. "I'm sorry, but we'll find another way."

"Who cares what you think?" Malachi raised a hand. Joshua was lifted into the air slammed, once, twice against the shield, before being tossed aside.

"I'm going to tear you apart." Caleb rammed the barrier again with a growl of frustration.

Dean bent down to check if Joshua was breathing; James hoped his father could see because he couldn't tell. He was getting a sickening feeling this was not going as it was supposed to. "He's breathing, Damien." James watched his father tug The Knight a few steps away. He refocused his attention Malachi. "That was strike three, Harris."

James didn't understand what was happening until Malachi held his hand up, his face contorting with rage as the silver band on his right ring finger began to glow. It morphed from solid silver to shapeless water that dripped from his fingertips, falling to the floor like a fat tear.

"No! You can't do that!" Malachi accentuated each word.

"It seems the powers that be see things differently than you." The rings were still such a mystery. Even having The Guardian for a dad had not offered any unfair illumination. James realized his father wasn't merely doling out just punishment to Malachi, but drawing the demon away from the fallen and luring him into their fold.

With a howl of rage Malachi disappeared. James felt the instant the demon reappeared in the room with them. His father and Caleb turned; Harris had placed himself by the windows. The demon raised his arms, the curtains behind him bursting into flames like an elaborate stage illusion. Smoke boiled, a wall of heat battered the room. Fire alarms started to wail. Caleb pulled The Dragon's Talon, rushing forward in front of The Guardian.

"Ever the brave Knight." Harris chuckled. "Too bad I know exactly where your armor is weakest."

Caleb dropped to his knees with a cry of pain, his blade clattering to the floor in front of him.


James breath caught as a fiery wave vibrated through the ring on his right hand, Sam's ring, tingled across his chest with an echo of Caleb's misery as The Triad connection snapped into place. He watched in a stupefied daze as his father pulled The Colt, aiming it at Malachi.

Harris lashed out at The Guardian with both hands raised, sending a pulse wave of psychic energy that smashed into Dean, lifting him off his feet as if he'd been plowed by The Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line. James was rocked by the wake of raw telekinetic force, bowled to his feet as he desperately put up blocks to buffer himself from the psychic backlash.

When he blinked his eyes open a moment later, he was lying on his back, sparks fell like fiery rain from the chandelier above. The angels were now lit only by the growing blaze climbing up the walls. Heaven was falling.

James shoved to his knees. His uncle was curled on the floor, rocking under Malachi's assault. Harris had moved to stand over The Guardian. James watched his father, unmoving at the demon's feet. He couldn't tell if his dad was still breathing. Rage flared hotter than the inferno around them.

Malachi's hand hovered. "I had such high hopes for your Triad, Guardian. If you refuse to let me in, I have no choice but to take you out."

James gripped Sam's blade in his hand taking full advantage of Harris's distracted state. He lunged forward driving the blade into Malachi's back. Energy surged as the knife worked its magic. The demon screamed, arched violently. James pulled the blade up and out, letting Malachi's body fall. Revenge did not feel as he had expected.


"To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, and yet not become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime." –Emily Dickinson


"Deuce…" Caleb coughed, lifting his head as the vice grip around his skull was loosened, he no longer felt like his brain was being liquefied. The room was filled with smoke, the heat of flames easily felt through his clothes. He couldn't see Dean, barely made out Sam, or rather James, standing two feet in front of him. Caleb ignored the blinding agony in his head, opening himself up to search for his connection to The Guardian. It was there, but weak.

"Shit!" Dean was down, crumpled at James's feet. Malachi Harris's body was half on top of him, blocking Caleb's view. He shoved to his knees, crawling his way to his best friend's side. "Dean!"

Caleb pulled at Harris, while James dropped to his knees, coughing, looking pale and half out of it.

"There's something wrong."

With Malachi pushed to the side, Caleb laid his hand over Dean's chest, glaring at James. "What the hell happened?"

"I killed him. I killed Malachi."

"To Dean, James. What happened to Dean?" Caleb could see the kid was trying to process all that had occurred, the fact he was the one to kill the demon. It made sense, neither he nor Dean wrote about Malachi's death in their journals. They didn't witness it.

"Malachi hit him with some sort of ball of psychic energy. I've never felt anything like it."

"Fuck!" Caleb remembered wielding Harris's telekinetic ability when they stormed Rose's fortress. He'd used it to kill anything in his path. Dean's chest wasn't moving. "He's not breathing."

"What?" James placed his fingers against Dean's throat. "Oh, God. I can't find his pulse. Dad!" James shook Dean's shoulder. "Dad!"

"Dad?" Caleb blinked at James.

"Do something!" James met his gaze, Sam's eyes reflecting sheer panic. "Don't just sit there!" James started compressions.

Caleb tilted Dean's head back, pinched his nose and was about to start mouth to mouth when Dean started to cough. With the mansion burning down around them, he grabbed Dean's arm. "We've got to get out of here. Get his feet."


"No buts, Kid. This place is coming down around us." Caleb needed to get to a safe place to help Dean. It would do no good if they all ended up under a pile of smoldering rubble. He hoped the Triad trap was broken when Malachi was killed. If not, it would be a very short trip. Joshua was struggling to his feet when they barreled unimpeded into the corridor. The smoke was already filling the hallway,

"Thank God." He coughed, squinting. "I thought…"

"Get a move on." Caleb confirmed Joshua could move on his own, then hefted The Guardian's body higher. "Dean's hurt."

The night air was cool and sweet after choking on hot ash. Caleb stumbled down the mansion's front porch, out into the yard where he and James lowered Dean gently to the ground.

"Uncle Caleb, please, he's got to be okay."

Caleb's chest tightened at the title, the tone in Sam's voice one he'd never heard. "He's not going anywhere."

"Caleb?" Joshua knelt beside them.

"Malachi stopped his heart." Caleb placed his cheek near Dean's mouth and could feel the weak exhale of breath. "Come on, Deuce. Don't you dare think of running out just when things are getting interesting. Open your eyes." He rubbed his knuckles down Dean's sternum hoping for a response.

Dean's body jerked, he pulled in one heaving gasp, then another. His eyes opened wide, searching out Caleb's gaze. "Easy, kiddo. You're alright. Just keep breathing." Caleb slid a hand through his hair, watching as Dean grimaced, his eyes fluttering before they closed again.

"No!" James grabbed Dean's hand, bringing it to his chest. "Don't go."

"It's alright, Jimmy." Caleb met James's gaze. He tapped his head, pointing to Dean's chest which now rose and fell. "He's back with us."

Joshua exhaled a heavy breath. "I'll call 911."

"We need to be gone before they get here." Caleb rested a hand on Dean's arm. "Get the Impala, pull it as close as you can get. Call the hospital. Tell them we have a blunt trauma victim."

Joshua nodded. "I'll be back." He stumbled off to the direction of the car.

"Is he going to be okay?" James held on to Dean's hand.

Caleb wanted to make contact, to get past James's blocks. "You know your old man. He's tough."

"What?" James blinked up at him with Sam's most innocent gaze.

Caleb leaned in closer, just in case Dean woke up to overhear them. "You called him Dad. I heard you."

James shook his head, dropped Dean's hand suddenly, then tucked it so it rested on Dean's chest. "I was upset…you were upset. It was loud."

He had a nephew, Dean had a son. Caleb felt pride, and awe for his friend and in the possibilities of the future. "You called me Uncle Caleb."

"You're mistaken." James eyes grew brighter. "I could ruin everything."

"You're Dean's son." Caleb reached out grasping James's wrist. He kept his other hand on Dean. The similar thread was undeniable. Even with his abilities hampered from Malachi's attack he could feel the truth. "My God, Deuce has a kid. You said you had brothers. There are more of you."

"Caleb…" James pulled his wrist away, rubbing it.

Faith, which had been so elusive to him of late, was being restored by James, who he would lay money, had been named after Pastor Jim. "I mean I hoped, but after all that's happened I started to believe we were all cursed."

"You're not cursed." James looked at Dean, placing a hand on Dean's chest. "He's not cursed. Dean Winchester is the best Guardian The Brotherhood has ever known. He's an even better Dad."

"I bet he is." Caleb gave a watery laugh. "He raised one hell of smartass."

James coughed out a laugh. "He blames that on my godfather."

Caleb swallowed the lump in his throat, his grip on Dean tightening. "Your godfather the artist?"

"He's also The Knight." James held Caleb's gaze, and Caleb could see something other than Sam. "Go figure."

Caleb cupped the side of James's face. "I'll be damned."

"Only if you give up." James reached up, laying his fingers over Caleb's. "We're definitely one possibility, but you guys have to keep fighting. Nothing is guaranteed-that whole time continuum thing. You can't lose hope. You can't let Dad and Uncle Sam lose hope either. They're going to need you now more than ever."

Caleb could hear the roar of the Impala. It was time to go. "Help me with your father."

James went to Dean's feet, but instead of picking up Dean, he put his hands on his head. "Uncle Caleb?" He groaned in pain.

Caleb reached out just as James's eyes rolled back and he slumped to the ground out of Caleb's grasp.

Joshua opened the door, his hand to the back of his head. "What happened now?"

"James passed out," Caleb explained, leaving Dean's side to check on what had happened to James.

Joshua brought his hand to Sam's neck, and was taken aback when his wrist was gripped by Sam.


"Sammy?" Caleb immediately sensed the difference. Sam was back in his body; James was gone, hopefully returned safely to his time.

Sam's hands went to his hair, almost ripping it with intensity. "Oh God. What did I do? What did I do?" he sobbed. "Dean?" He moved his head around to find his brother laid out, still. He crawled to Dean's side. "I'm so sorry, Dean. I'm sorry."

"He's okay, Sammy. He's hurt, but we're going to get him fixed up." Caleb tried to calm him, imagining how confusing it was to travel in time. The mansion was burning brightly, and although set back, the fire department would be getting to them soon.

"You don't understand…you don't know what I sent James back to." Sam's crazed gaze met Caleb's. "The book? Where's the damn book?" Sam asked, wildly lurching at Joshua. "I know you have it. You always have it." Sam removed it from Joshua's coat pocket and wrapped his arms around The Vangelo.

Caleb grabbed Sam's shoulders. In that moment of contact he saw too much-Joshua's death, a blonde man's brutal murder, another man bleeding to death in the arms of another as a fire roared behind them. Dean's other sons. It would explain Sam's hysteria. Caleb quickly dropped the connection.

Joshua was trying to pry Sam's fingers from the book. "That book could be the key to The Triad Power. You're not in your right mind."

"Nothing good comes from this book." Sam had found his knife. "Every choice we make now changes what's to come."

Caleb placed an arm in front of Joshua in order to protect him, and allow Sam to finish his task.

"What if we need it in the future…" The Advisor demanded.

"I'm doing this for our future." Sam stabbed the book, and at the point of contact it erupted into a blue flame, which quickly burned into cinders.


Caleb watched Sam dust the ashes from his hand. He looked from his blade to Dean's still form. "I hope it was enough…"

Caleb caught him as he fell forward. For a second he closed his eyes, holding the younger hunter to him. He was thankful Sam was back, praying James and their future were safe. "Me too, Runt. Me too."

Somehow they managed to make it away from the mansion to the hospital avoiding the fire department as they came up the main road to get to the mansion. Sam had regained consciousness, but Joshua and Caleb suggested he get checked out just in case.

Dean was admitted, severe bruising to his sternum but no hemorrhaging. He'd be staying a couple of nights for observation and tests to ensure no complications arose from the force of the injury. Sam had taken the uncomfortable green chair by his brother's bed, head bent. Joshua pulled up another chair, forgoing being treated for the mild concussion while Caleb sat on the edge of Dean's bed.

"So James went back to his time?" Dean was awake, but groggy from the pain medication. He rubbed his chest.

"I don't know. I don't know who James is." Sam lifted his head. "Caleb told me he was in my body, like Gary, but claimed he was from the future."

"That's right," Dean confirmed.

"And you believed him?" Sam still had a look of confusion. Caleb wondered when he would lose it.

Dean looked at Caleb. "Damien?"

"Sam doesn't remember his little trip into the future. Joshua and I explained what happened on the ride here. He feels a little betrayed that we let someone use his shell as temporary living quarters," Caleb explained, adding a snort at the end. They did not have a choice but to let James stay in Sam's body.

"You really don't remember any of it?" Dean pushed the button to raise his bed. Caleb didn't bother with a reprimand, knowing his friend wouldn't get the rest he needed until he had the answers he wanted.

Sam shook his head. "The last thing I remember is going to the pond after Benjamin Mosley's funeral. I woke up in the backseat of the Impala."

"You sure they checked his head?"

"The doctor gave him the all clear, Deuce." Caleb rubbed his neck, the last of the adrenaline leaving him tired, and more than a little ready to ask Joshua for some of his miracle tea. Now that everyone was safe, Caleb was ready to crash. He'd take the recliner in the corner, certain he might even squeeze in a few hours nightmare free.

"What did this James say about the future? What about Lucifer? Do we get the rings?" Sam was becoming agitated, scooting forward on the chair.

"No specifics, something about the space, time continuum," Dean answered, echoing his frustration in the lack of answers.

But Caleb still had hope. "He said everything turns out okay. We all make it."

Sam relaxed back in the chair, momentarily assuaged. "I guess the fact there is a future is good."

"You need to fill in the missing blanks for both of us." Dean brought a hand to his chest with a wince.

Caleb touched the mojo bag around his neck, thinking of James. "Future Scholar saved our asses, iced Malachi like a pro." He winked at Dean. "Obviously, thanks to the current Knight, he was well trained. He helped me haul you out of the fire."

"And?" Dean rolled his hand.

Caleb chose to look at Sam instead of his best friend. Dean was the more likely of the two to realize he was editing. He would take his cue from his godson and leave some of the details out, just in case. Caleb now understood why James was so reticent to risk changing anything. "Next thing I know he passed out, and Sammy was back. He called James's name when he came to, said some stuff that didn't make much sense."

"Don't leave out the part where he was acting like a crazy person, a man possessed. Sam destroyed The Vangelo. It's gone." Joshua scooted his chair closer to the bed, his brow furrowing when the movement against the floor made a grinding noise that must have been a bitch with the headache he was bound to have. Caleb noted his stepbrother was quick to point the finger of blame to someone else for a change. "Your brother stabbed it with Ruby's knife."

"What the hell, Sam?" Dean leveled his gaze at his brother, then glared at Caleb. "Why didn't you stop him? You know what we went through to get that. Benjamin Mosley paid the ultimate price in the end."

"Which is why the runt must have had one hell of a reason to get rid of it." Caleb folded his arms over his chest, nodding his head at Sam. The images he'd read from The Scholar were strong, violent and gory like most of his visions. Knowing the people involved most likely were Dean's sons made the impact staggering. It was that breath stealing realization combined with Sam's reaction, the echo of grief and disbelief rolling off him that staggered Caleb. It was too much like the time when Dean died. He had to trust Sam to do the right thing for all of them. Maybe the fact Sam didn't remember was evidence they had prevented the worst from happening.

Dean arched a brow, his narrowed gaze shifting from Caleb to Sam. "Why do I get the feeling you know something you're not telling me?"

"Because you're paranoid and on drugs." Caleb patted his friend's leg. "In a few minutes you'll be as loopy as Sammy."

"Maybe I did it to stop the spell from being cast?" Sam's suggestion had all eyes focusing on him.

"What are you talking about?" Joshua rubbed a spot on the back of his head, squinting as if the lights were too bright.

"If I destroyed the Vangelo, then there was not a spell for you to learn to cast, or even a need for you to cast it to send this James person here and me wherever I went. Malachi no longer exists in the future. I changed that."

"He has a point. This was your fault," Caleb added, his stepbrother narrowing his eyes in response. Caleb corrected himself, not wanting to risk his best man title being taken away. "Future you's fault. Now maybe you won't screw up."

"Thank you for that grand gesture of confidence." Joshua rubbed a hand on his temple.

Dean looked at Caleb. "You sure that bastard Harris is gone?"

"James killed him with Ruby's knife. Anything left of Malachi went up in that fire." Caleb replied.

"What fire?" Sam sat up straighter.

"The fire that burned down the mansion," Caleb said. He forgot that Sam had been so out of it that he didn't notice that the building was on fire. "I told you why we all smelled like charcoal."

Sam picked at his shirt again. "You said there was a fire, not that we burned down a mansion. What mansion?"

"The Barnwell Mansion," Joshua answered with a sigh, he was rubbing his forehead so much he was getting a red spot. "Where Carolyn and I were to be married in 14 days, 18 hours and thirty four minutes. The wedding won't be taking place now."

"You're not getting married?" Dean looked as distraught as Joshua.

"Believe it or not Carolyn's going to go through with it." Caleb snorted. "Josh gave her the sob story about how you almost died. She still feels guilty for giving you attitude before your last untimely demise. You should have heard his spin."

Joshua crossed his arms. "It was not a spin, and you shouldn't be eavesdropping on other's conversations."

"The curtains in the examination area aren't sound proof, genius." Caleb reached out and kicked Joshua's shin playfully.

Joshua ignored Caleb, turning his gaze to Dean. "She will rally. I'm sure there are other appropriate venues in the area, in the height of wedding season, with only two weeks to spare."

"I know a place." Dean grinned. "How about the farm? I mean it's not a mansion, but it's home."

Josh was taken aback. It was uncommon for The Advisor to show genuine surprise. "That's very generous of you."

Dean gave a nod. "The least I could do seeing as how I burned down Carolyn's dream location. Besides, it will be nice to make some good memories at the place again-that is if we survive Lucifer."

"James said we all live." Caleb knew he was witnessing a moment where the future was developing before his eyes. "Too bad the kid couldn't have stayed for the festivities."

"Hello," Sam waved a hand, looking more with it. "I'm the body he hijacked. I would think you all would have been a little more concerned about where I was-that you would be glad I'm back."

"We were concerned," Dean was relaxing into the pillows as the drugs were taking effect.

"Deuce liked him better." Caleb was going to enjoy Sam's discomfort, gladly grasping for the temporary normalcy. "I think he might have been okay with the swap on a more permanent basis."

"Thanks a lot."

Caleb smirked at Sam's jealousy because Sam was not one to value his family. His family, The Brotherhood, had always been secondary with Sam's concerns first. He may not have remembered what happened to him, but the events had obviously had some effect. Caleb thought it would help them in the final showdown.

Dean smiled at his brother. "He was a damn good cook-made me breakfast and everything."

"I found him odd," Joshua replied, returning to rubbing the back of his neck. "A little standoffish."

"Not someone you'd pick to date your daughter, Mama's Boy?" Dean asked, and Caleb wondered what his best friend was alluding to.

Joshua gestured to Dean. "What is it with you and your obsession with my prodigy?"

"Your daughter could do a hell of a lot worse than James." Caleb suddenly felt defensive, which was ridiculous because James, nor Joshua's imaginary daughter, existed.

"I didn't think you liked the kid, Damien?" Dean stared at him. "You're singing a new tune."

"Just listening to The Guardian, Deuce." Caleb smiled. "That kid is our future. Someday he may be important to me." Caleb reached up and touched the mojo bag around his neck. Nothing was more important to Caleb than family.


"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." –T.S. Eliot


Caleb lightly rapped his fork against his crystal glass of champagne. The laughter and buzz of conversation dwindled as he stood.

They were all gathered beneath the gauzy white tent in the meadow behind the farm. It was filled with linen covered tables, centerpieces spilling over with daisies and tulips, and a chandeliercrystal chandelier of Swavorski crystals. Mac had spared no expense in all the trimmings for Joshua's wedding, having convinced Carolyn to let him treat after the fiasco with Barnwell Mansion. The guest list was scaled back to mostly close family, some members of The Brotherhood, and the coven. Mother Nature complied, providing them with a warm, clear spring evening, a breeze showering the event with apple and cherry blossoms from the neighboring fields. It was the perfect way to celebrate their victory over Lucifer.

The reception was grand, complete with silk draped chairs, a champagne fountainn of champagne, and a gazebo for the big band dancing orchestra included. Mac even sprung for LED lights to illuminate Pastor Jim's flower garden. Miss Emma's roses bloomed early, stealing the spotlight, looking as if Mac had also hired landscapers for the event. Caleb believed they were of a higher power, Jim's own special blessing.

He waited for the crowd to grow completely quiet. Dean gave him an exaggerated thumbs up sign from where he sat with Sam, a few chairs down. Joshua shifted in his chair at the head of the table, Carolyn covering his hand with hers as she smiled at Caleb in moral support. He winked at the bride.

"I know Joshua was afraid I'd try and pen some verse of my own for this best man's toast. He even went so far as to call in The Scholar to assist me."

His revelation was met with laughter and a pointed look from Sam.

"The thing about Scholars is they think they know everything about everything, but rarely do they know anything about passion. That's where the great artists come in."

"Voices like Millay, Eliot, Emerson, and Dickinson are far better sources, but it wasn't any of their verses that sprung to mind. It was the voice of Pastor Jim Murphy which rang the clearest. Despite not being a great poet, he was one of the men who taught me the meaning of true love."

Caleb paused, scanning the crowd. He saw the faces of his family. - Mac, Esme, Cullen, Jocelyn, Bobby, Dean and Sam. But also those who had weaved small threads into their lives over the years, making a world so much richer and more vibrant for their presence - . Elijah, Ethan, Riley, Kathleen and Bradley along with . Naomi and her adopted son, Fisher. Jessup had even made a special appearance,presence and Buzz surprised them all by showing up in a tux, with Missouri on his arm. Their house was abundantly full.

"Pastor Jim had one hell of a way with words, a gift that allowed him to speak from his heart and not just when he was on the pulpit. I heard him talk about love many times in his sermons, but it was when he spoke of his family, of Miss Emma, that his words took on a life of their own."

"I asked him once how he could still have such faith in love after all the things he'd seen - war, suffering, losing his wife. I'll never forget his answer. Real love doesn't have a happy ending because it is never ending. It endures all things, including loss and sorrow. It forgives all trespasses, forgets every sin. It is the possibility of what is to come."

"I'm sure wherever the pastor isis;; he and Miss Emma would agree that Joshua and Carolyn have a future ahead of them blessed with amazing possibility." Caleb raised his glass to the happy couple. "To love and its never ending possibilities."

There was an echo of congratulations. Esme's eyes were watery, and she brought her cheek close to Mac. Carolyn was crying, Joshua gently wiped away her tears before kissing her. A hoot went up in reaction.

On Caleb's return to his seat, Missouri grabbed his hand in passing, and gave a small smile of forgiveness. Caleb returned it with a nod. He could get past what had happened- there had been too much loss already, and he was unwilling to lose Missouri. After a few bites of filet mignon he was assaulted by Carolyn's aunt, who wanted to dance. Bobby, on the floor with Jocelyn, gave him a wink, encouraging the woman as he passed by. After the third time of removing her hand from his ass, Caleb grabbed Sam, pulling him away from his conversation with Alison, Eli, Riley and Bradley before Carolyn's aunt corralled him. Deuce had quickly fingered the old lady as a groper, ducking out after the bride's dance with her father. He had plans to follow The Guardian's lead.

"Didn't you need me for something, Sammy?"

Sam looked from the blue-haired aunt to Caleb, giving him a smile he hadn't seen since James had inhabited The Scholar's body. "I don't think so."

Caleb gave him the telepathic equivalent of a slap on the head. "You needed help with something at the house. I'm sure Riley, Eli and Bradley can hold up your end of the conversation."

"Right." Sam rubbed his temple, his smile now a twisted grimace.

Caleb smiled at Carolyn's aunt, pointing across the room to where Ethan was getting seconds of wedding cake. "That guy over there is my understudy. He'll be glad to fill in."

"Ethan's going to be pissed," Sam said out of the side of his mouth.

"He owes me."

Caleb escorted Sam to the house, finding Mac encamped in the library, Harper Lee snoring at his feet and Dean not to be found in the house. After two weeks, there was still a lot of energy in the Triad connection. Sam's plan had been doomed to failure. Using the dark side of the force to bring about anything good was not going to work.

"That was a wonderful toast, Son." Mackland was all about touching his son- pats on the back, a squeeze of the shoulder, to make sure he was still there- war weary, but alive. He did the same to Dean and Sam. They all knew how close the end had been, for Sam especially.

Dean pulled a Luke Skywalker at the last minute, his belief in The Brotherhood, in The Triad, in Sam, allowed Dean to become Michael's vessel, yet still retain control. The prophecy of the righteous man had been fulfilled. The switch up was enough of a distraction for Sam to be pushed into the prison as Lucifer while Caleb used Triad Power to call forth a lost Triad member. At least one of Malachi's spells had been useful. Sam was returned safe with Lucifer locked up for all eternity.

"I did it for Carolyn. Think I'll be godfather to their firstborn?" Caleb grinned at his Dad, touching the secret panel that would reveal the door to The Tomb. He wanted to forget the past, especially the last year, and move ahead. The future looked much brighter. "It had to score me some points."

"Perhaps," Mac glanced at Sam. "Surely you boys aren't thinking of researching a new hunt after all that's happened. I imagine a vacation is called for."

Sam shook his head with a full smile. "Caleb's pilfering some of Jim's brew from the safe."

Mackland looked over the rim of his glasses. "Because the open bar and champagne fountain was insufficient?"

"I heard that," Caleb called from inside. He slid Abe's picture away, making easy work of the combination. He grabbed a bottle of the stash and returned in time to catch Sam discussing vacation destinations.

"So Vegas, perhaps?" Mackland had gone from sitting to standing next to Sam.

"Vegas would be awesome," Caleb answered. He was all for carrying on the festivities.

Sam hitched a hip on the desk. "Actually, Mac, since all that has happened, I was thinking maybe I could spend some time with you?" Sam briefly looked away; Caleb could sense Sam's humbleness coming though. It was new to Sam to accept he had a lot to learn and needed to be a willing pupil. Caleb suspected it wasn't just what had happened with Lucifer, but something in his trip to the future as well. Sam was seeking some kind of equilibrium, what Mac had always wanted for them.

"I want to learn how to be The Scholar that Pastor Jim expected me to be."

Mac reached out, hand on Sam's shoulder. "I would like that, Sam."

Sam picked up a book from a stack that had been gathering dust for years. "I figured I could check out Columbia too, maybe some other schools."

Caleb thought it was a good idea. They all needed a distraction, some time to heal. "You're going to stay at my place, I hope. Three's a crowd," Caleb quipped. His father and Esme earned some time as a married couple without all the outside pressures of impending doom.

"Yeah, that would be great." Sam turned the book in his hand, a frown marring his brow as he read the spine. "Where are you going to be after Vegas?"

"Maybe I can convince Deuce to hit the road with me, check out Cooperstown for real this time. There's always the haunted brothel in Reno to investigate, too. Maybe find Bigfoot- Bobby's been pushing for that." It had always been Bobby's dream hunt, but placed on the backburner with high level demons running about.

"I think The Guardian is due a vacation before he assumes his rudimentary duties." Mac looked from Sam to Caleb. "The former Scholar can look after things. Go convince him by plying him with Pastor Jim's cure for all that ails. He's out by the pond."

Caleb had already sensed Dean was seeking some solace by the water. "Sounds like a brilliant plan." Caleb held up the bottle, arching a brow at Sam as he realized what book Sam had. "Unless Sammy wants to stay here and get his Austen fix? Northanger Abbey is definitely a girl's book."

"Shut up." Sam started to put the book down, but reconsidered and took it with him. "I'll need something to entertain me after you and Dean become sloppy drunks."

Mac shifted some of the books in the pile. They were all Austen novels. Caleb should have realized Pastor Jim was a fan, although they may have belonged to Miss Emma. "Austen is a brilliant author. That story is about a girl in love with Gothic novels who goes to stay with a family that wants to set up a marriage between her and their son." He picked up Sense and Sensibility. The books had probably been sitting there since Pastor Jim died. "Of course it is also the intricacies of society and the maturation of teenagers."

"Yeah, like I said- its chick lit, although the teenagers maturing thing is something the runt might be able to relate to." Caleb would not admit he had read three of Jane Austen's books, having taken an Austen Literature course in college. It was filled with female students, and worked asfor an English elective.

Even with Caleb's disparaging remarks, Sam seemed compelled and took the book with him. They found Dean skipping rocks over the calm pond with Boo by his side. The full moon reflected off the water, illuminating the whole area in a silver glow. The bow tie that had been placed around Boo's neck in honor of the ceremony had disappeared. His owner was still wearing a suit, but his tie was loosened and his shirt unbuttoned.

There was an empty plate near a log. Caleb had seen Dean leave the festivities, figuring he wanted some alone time. Sam, on the other hand, had gone in the opposite direction and surrounded himself with people. Both were trying to come to grips with what had happened to them in their own way. Too much alone time for Dean had his mind thinking about people in his life asking him to make promises, and how no one kept the promises they made to him.

"I thought some of Jim's brew could wash down that steak." Caleb held out the bottle.

Dean grabbed it with a wistful smile. "That it would."

"Caleb's hiding from Carolyn's aunt." Sam pulled the feed bucket over and used it as a chair. Boo threaded through The Scholar's legs. "He threw Ethan to the wolves."

"More like cougars. I had her figured as a grabber in one minute." Dean joined him on the log, shoving Caleb with his shoulder to take more than his fair share of room. "I'm surprised she went after you, usually Sammy gets the seniors."

Caleb did not want to talk about Carolyn's aunt. He had more important matters. "Did you hear my speech?"

Dean used his teeth to remove the cork. "Course I did- a hundred times, because you held me hostage to practice it."

He had been a bit nervous about making a speech that didn't involve building specs, sparring or training. There was a lot of pressure to get the toast right, especially from Joshua. "If this Knight thing gets old, I could always work for Hallmark."

Dean choked on the drink he'd taken. "Yeah, because no one does sentimental chick-flick moments like you, Damien."

Caleb looked at the two Winchester brothers, thinking of what they had put him through. "I happen to be the most emotionally accessible of The Triad."

Sam stole the bottle before Caleb could get it. "That's like saying you're the driest grain of sand in the desert. Not much merit."

"He does make people cry a lot, especially women." Dean gave his best friend another shove. "I think I saw some tears when Castiel was saying his goodbyes."

"I was just beginning to like human Cas. He had to go and get his wings back." Although the fallen Castiel made it evident that humanity had a fragile psyche. It was a reminder of their weakness, and how much humans needed to overcome.

"He earned them." Dean stole the bottle back from his brother, yet again bypassing Caleb. "I have a feeling he'll be keeping an eye on us."

"Speaking of…" Caleb looked at his friend, and forcefully took the bottle. "Mac thinks we all have paid our dues and deserve a break."

"A vacation?" Dean looked past Caleb to his brother, looking for confirmation. "We've only been The Triad a few months. I don't know if we need to be slacking. With the Lucifer and Michael gigs gone, Sammy and I need to keep our day jobs."

"More like a breather," Caleb clarified, making designs in the dirt with the heel of his shoe.

Sam beckoned for Caleb to hand over the bottle. "I'd like to work with Mac some, maybe check out some schools, see if it's possible to get my scholarship back."

"Who needs a scholarship when you're freaking rich?" Caleb smiled. When he had sold the majority interest in Tri-Corp, he wanted to pay back his mentor for his initial investment. That money was still in the bank, held in trust for John's sons.

Sam shook his head, handing the bottle back to Caleb. "I appreciate the offer, Dude, but this is something I need to do on my own."

"I meant you, Runt." Caleb gestured with the bottle in a mock toast. "You and Deuce. Both of you are rich."

Dean raised one of his eyebrows, and Boo looked at his owner in confusion. "Are you trying for sentimental again, Damien? Is this your attempt at metaphor?"

"No." Caleb took a gulp. The brew was quickly being diminished. "This is me telling you when I sold Tri-Corp, Johnny's initial investment grew to quite a bit, and I set up accounts for both of you." John may have left them many things –hunting skills, the Impala and a place in The Brotherhood, but not money. "Your inheritance."

Dean scratched his chin. "Dad made us rich."

"My hard work, talent, and charisma made you rich." Caleb laughed, giving The Guardian the last bit of booze. "Johnny just cashed in on it."

"Wow." Sam rubbed Boo's ears, the dog giving a whine of rapture.

Dean was still assimilating there was a bank account with his name on it, and also that his brother would be leaving. They needed the break after five years of consistency. It would make them appreciate their similarities and differences, yet still be family. "So what are you planning on doing while Samantha cruises the college campuses?"

Caleb never thought there would be any question. He was sticking by his best friend with the occasional bowling trip with Sam. "I thought I'd hang out with you. Help you spend some of your money since you've been mooching off of me all these years."

"Caleb wants company for Cooperstown," Sam replied.

"Cooperstown?" Dean set the empty bottle down on the ground. "What's left for us in Cooperstown?"

"The Hall of Fame Classic," Caleb recalled the conversation in the Impala. "Father's Day weekend is coming up. We could even swing by Bean Town; see a few Sox games."

"You don't like baseball," Dean sounded suspicious.

Caleb understood his friend did not want anyone to believe he could not handle being on his own. "I'll suffer through in the name of brotherhood and all." This wasn't about Dean being alone, but about Caleb wanting to reconnect, prepare for the future.

Dean snorted. "Don't play me. You have a side trip up your sleeve, something involving women."

"This is me we're talking about." Caleb thought about the haunted brothel—it was a dream hunt for him and Deuce. "You'll never know for sure if you don't come." Caleb grabbed a nearby stick, breaking it down. "Besides, you're the one who told me if you ever got the chance you'd want to do more of the normal stuff. Hang out."

"He wants his buddy all to himself," Sam said with a confirming nod. Hhe had picked that up from Caleb's mind. "I don't mind giving up shotgun for awhile. In fact, I think I might enjoy the peace and quiet."

"You'll miss me within a week." Dean patted his leg to reclaim his dog. Boo sauntered over, leaning in for an ear scratch.

"Yeah, and we know you'll be crushed without me." Sam stuck his hand in his pants pocket pulling something from inside that he handed to his brother. "That's why I think you should take this so it's like I'm there."

Dean accepted the offering with a frown, unfolding his hand to find his protection amulet.

"You don't have to wear it if you don't want to, but I hope you'll keep it." Sam smiled at his brother. "It would mean a lot to me to know you have it-that it still means something to you."

"It means something, Sammy." Dean closed his fingers around the necklace.

"It means Sammy has to get half lit to verge into chick-flick territory." Caleb would never admit he'd missed the damn pendant. It seemed wrong for Dean not to wear it, and Caleb hated its absence represented the faith his best friend had lost in family. Maybe some healing would find it a familiar presence again.

"Sorry, I'm not the emotional conduit that you are." Sam rolled his eyes.

"Like I was saying." Caleb cleared his throat. "We've earned this break. We did head off the apocalypse."

Dean smirked. "And defeated the devil."

"We saved mankind." Sam grinned. "Even Dad would have given us credit on that one."

Time was doing what it was supposed to, softening the memories of John. "At best Johnny would let us have a day off with no training."

"I think he would have been proud." Dean looked out at the pond. He sighed. "Just like Pastor Jim."

"The old man never gave up on us no matter what anyone said," Caleb looked up at the stars. Orion was twinkling down at them. "Never let us give up on ourselves either."

"He saw what was possible in each of us," Sam agreed, unbuttoning his shirt. He had left the jacket in the tent, the wedding being blessed by a comfortable night.

"He still does." They turned at the unexpected voice. Caleb squinted as the shadow of the trees seem to take a shape, the leaves bowing and shaking, forming a human form until he recognized it was Pastor Jim. Boo ran to greet him as if they were old friends.

"Jim?" Caleb and Dean stood, Sam moved quickly to their side.

"Hello, my boys." Jim's voice was softer than Caleb remembered, like wind brushing over the wheat fields.

"My God…" Caleb stepped forward, his mind reeling as he felt the familiar link, realized the pastor was indeed in front of them in a solid, corporeal form. "It's really you."

"Don't looked so surprised, Caleb. I'm always here. I'm always with you." The pastor moved closer to them. He was wearing his fishing clothes, the fly-covered hat perched on his head. "Dean knows that."

"You planning some late night fishing, Skin Horse?" Caleb glanced at his friend, who did not seem shocked. Deuce's eyes were bright, his voice thick, "They should be biting."

"I have plenty of time for fishing these days." The pastor placed a hand on Dean's face; there was a glow in the contact, his smile going to Caleb and Sam. "Tonight is all about family."

Caleb's chest clenched, he took a small step forward, wanting to renew the connection to remove the last image he had of Jim dead by Meg's hand. "I still can't believe it."

"Believe it, my boy." Jim didn't give him a chance to respond, pulling him into a hard embrace, patting his back. "Believe."

Caleb didn't want to let go as he felt enraptured by a sense of peace he could never remember ever having. He reluctantly stepped out of the embrace when he sensed Sam hovering by them. He had to share this precious time, the gift they were being given.

Jim went to The Scholar, grasping him in a warm embrace. "I'm proud of you, Samuel." He pulled back; cupping the back of Sam's neck, again there was a dim light at the spot of contact. "You are growing into the man I hoped you would be."

"Thank you," Sam's voice cracked, barely above a whisper. "I'm trying."

"That's all anyone can ask." Jim stepped back, taking the three of them in. "You have given me so much more than I ever dreamed."

"We'll never forget you," Dean said, licking his lips. "We'll keep making you proud."

"I never doubted it."

Several loud bangs shook the night air. Caleb, Sam and Dean looked to the sky as a myriad of bright colors exploded against the midnight backdrop, outshining the stars. When they looked back after the distraction, Jim was gone, Boo was circling his wake.

The trees were being lit up by the overhead fireworks that Mac had arranged, and Caleb tried to seek out the image of Jim's smiling face once more. "He's gone."

"We got fireworks," Dean said, wiping his face with back of his hand.

"I love fireworks," Sam echoed his brother, sounding husky.

"What guy doesn't?" Caleb pulled his gaze from the sky. "Merlin and his magic."

They closed their ranks as a bright white light cascade down, looking as if it were going to touch the pond with its tendrils. Laughter carried on the air, along with the tingling of wind chimes from the farm.

"Do you think he'll be back?"

"I think anything's possible, Sammy." Dean tossed an arm around his brother's shoulder. "Where there's love, there is always hope. Or didn't you pay attention to Damien's girly speech?"

"Smartass." Caleb grabbed Dean in a headlock. "You really should build a dock out here, Deuce. Maybe put in some lights."

"Because you're going to make this our new hang out spot?" Dean escaped, punching Sam in the shoulder for not helping him. Sam moved with a snort, still watching the fireworks display.


"You hate the water." Dean met his gaze.

"Things change. People change." That had been a hard lesson for Caleb to accept. He wanted things to stay the same. A glimpse into the future provided reasons to keep his heart open to all possibilities. "It's not always a bad thing."

Dean extended his arm to The Knight with a grin. "Maybe my best friend and my brother will help me."

"This is you we're talking about, Deuce." Caleb returned the fierce grip. "I'd do anything for you."

"Count me in, too," Sam said, his attention diverted from the fireworks by the pending plan. "It would be fun to build something that's going to last awhile."

"Then it's a job for The Triad." Dean lifted Jim's empty bottle of brew in mock salute. "We'll make it one of Damien's one for all and all for one moments."

Caleb grinned. Deep in The Three Musketeers there was a quote, "all human wisdom is summed up in these two words: Wait and hope." Pastor Jim couldn't have said it better. "When do you want to start?"



Between Family: a missing scene

A/N: Because so many wanted a glimpse of what happened when James returned to his time, we offer this tiny missing scene. Want to see what happens when Max finds out James's secret? Tidia's new story A Creation of His Own is up, at the new Legacy Series Page as well as a little question and answer session about the future of The Brotherhood.


"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." -Thornton Wilder


There was a pounding behind my eyes when I woke, a sharp splitting pain like when I'd pushed my abilities too far, or had gone on one hell of a bender. I wanted to throw up. Instead, I focused on the solid feel of the wet ground beneath me to keep the bile I could feel creeping up the back of my throat at bay. What the hell happened?

For a moment I entertained the notion that I had gotten drunk, partied with some of the guys from the mailroom at Ames. It wouldn't be the first time I'd gotten smashed and wound up walking home from Willies, the bar down the street. It didn't explain the fact I hurt all over, was having a hard time blinking let alone getting to my feet. Maybe I'd been taken out by a garbage truck.

The most I could hope for was that Max would find me when he brought out the trash. If I was lucky he'd take pity, help me upstairs without using it as a photo opportunity. The smell of smoke erased any hopes my condition was caused by a Friday night with shitty friends.

Memories of the spell hit me with all the force of that two ton sanitation vehicle. My other senses kicked in and a world of pain consumed me.


The fact I'd missed the intense heat saturating the air around me was a testament to my condition. It was hot enough to curl the hairs on my arm, smoke so thick I could barely see my hands in front of me. I choked, understanding why it was so hard to breathe. The sound of the fire was deafening, like Godzilla taking on Japan.

One glance over my shoulder confirmed that the Barnwell Mansion was now a roaring inferno behind me, the structure unrecognizable. From the way I was sprawled, the ache of bruised ribs in my torso, there must have been one spectacular explosion. The thought gave me clarity and the adrenaline I needed to move. I had to find Dad and Caleb.

The flames cast a red glow on everything, long dark shadows danced over the ground around me. The waves of rolling black smoke made the effect dizzying. It was difficult to scramble to my knees. My last memory was of talking with Uncle Caleb, Dad unconscious between us as Joshua went for the car-then a sensation like a spike being nailed through my skull. There were no signs of my uncle now, but I spotted a body just a few feet away. In the morose flickering light I almost mistook it for Dad. The build was right, but the hair was slightly longer, and a little too blond. The clothes were different. I'd recognize JT's ratty LSU Tigers shirt anywhere.

I brought my hand to my chest, clasping the amulet hanging from my neck. The familiar shape of my silver dragon not that of my father's protection amulet, gave resurgence to the bile I'd managed to hold down. The spell had been reversed. I was back in my own time, my own body and JT was hurt.

Swallowing hard, I crawled to my brother. Maybe my killing Malachi had reversed the spell. It explained the splitting pain in my head before I blacked out, but not why the world was burning around me. Why was JT at Barnwell Mansion, why was he down and alone? If the demon had done this to him, I'd kill the bastard again, only much slower this time.

Reaching JT's side, all questions on my part were forgotten. For once I didn't give a shit about the answers. Everything narrowed, he became my sole focus, or rather the blood soaking the menacing tiger mascot on the front of his chest did. He'd gotten it the day he signed with Louisiana and had worn it for three days straight before mom finally wrangled it off him and into the washer.

JT wore it the day before his first game in the minors, before every big game he played with the Sox, including the World Series. Only I knew he wore it the night he asked Sydney Mathews to marry him. The fact she shot him down had not only eradicated all illusions I had about her goddess stature, but destroyed my naïve belief in the shirt's power. JT donned it for important gigs, still swearing it brought him luck. With his streak on hunts it was hard not to believe him-until now.

"JT!" He didn't move at the sound of his name, or when I grasped his shoulders. He didn't respond to the panic I could hear in my voice when I shouted at him to wake up. I brought one hand to his throat, knowing what I'd find even before his cool skin met mine. I didn't need my abilities to know the gaping feeling of loss. There was no pulse, no heartbeat. My brother wasn't breathing. He was dead.

"NO!" Rage unfurled inside me, its intensity unrivaled by the fire beyond us. This could not be happening. My brother could not be dead. He was invincible, untouchable.

All my life I'd been aware that JT was painfully good, practically a goddamn saint. He instinctively seemed to know the right thing to do in any given situation, and did it whether it played out well for him or not. I, on the other hand, tended to do what was best for me and mine. The two philosophies could diverge greatly, but somehow JT always seemed to end up on my side whether I deserved it or not.

"Wake up, JT! Wake up, damn it! You can't do this. You can't leave me."

My throat and eyes burned. I didn't know if it was the smoke overtaking me, or the depth of emotion I had never experienced. I willed the fire to come for me, to take away the agony; in that instant I understood completely why my father made the deal for his soul.

When Dad first told us the story of him going to Hell, I'd thought it was some kind of metaphor. Your Uncle Sam died and I went to Hell, boys. Yeah, that made sense. Only when he gave the briefest of details about his time in the pit, the four months more a forty year sentence, did I doubt my dad. How could my father, The Guardian have done such a thing, make a wager with the enemy, abandon his post? Later when we were alone, I'd asked him, argued I didn't understand what made him do it. He didn't give me an explanation but I will never forget the look on his face. 'I pray you never understand, Son.'

But I did understand. I understood perfectly. JT was dead, cold and empty in my arms. I would do anything to undo it, to bring him back. If that meant spending forty years being sliced and diced by a demon so fucking be it. I could not live without him. I refused to even entertain the idea.

The amount of blood congealing between us, his head lolling limply from my shoulder told another story. I'd only seen him seriously hurt a handful of times, and each time it had sent me reeling. Seeing him this way was a hundred times worse.

Outwardly, I had always bucked JT's coddling-made fun of him for his Boy Scout ways, especially where I was concerned. There were times I hated being his little brother because he could seem so fucking perfect, larger than life. I didn't keep it a secret either. I gave him hell. Never once did he hold it against me, which only served to further my attempts to rattle him. He was famous for trying to protect me, not only from Ben and Max when my mouth ran ahead of my brain, but also from myself when my teenage years almost got out of hand. Secretly, I basked in his attention, counted on his vigilance-his unyielding belief in me. It sounded so lame, but JT was my hero, and now he was gone.

I had the childish desire to scream for my Dad, knowing in this time he was helpless to come to our aid, as were Caleb and Sam. Ben's face flooded into my mind. I wanted my older brother to fix this. I needed him to be there to take care of JT. Ben always took care of us. Where the hell was he? Where the hell was Max?

My brother's best friend was nothing if not loyal and stalwart. Max would die before he let anything like this happen to JT. That undeniable truth had my chest tightening further, threatening to rob me of what little breath I had left. "Oh, God."

I tightened my hold on JT, turning my gaze behind us to the fire. Pain thundered across my chest like a stampede of bulls through the streets of Barcelona. I knew where Max was, and understood with stone certainty he would not be picking me up off the ground anytime soon. He had not saved JT because he had not been saved. I had not been there to save either of them.

"I'm sorry." I hugged JT harder. "I'm so damn sorry."

I felt the sense of movement, not a physical shifting, but something just as tangible. Hope flared from that same dark place the anger had sprung from. I pulled back, looking down at my brother. I expected to see his familiar moss green eyes staring up at me. I'd take ghost JT over nothing.

His body shimmered unlike any spirit I had encountered before. The weight of him lifted, leaving me trying to clutch his broken body closer. I might as well have tried to hold onto the wind. One moment he was there, the next he was gone like one of Max's damn magic tricks. Silence filled the night.

I turned to stare where the burning Barnwell Mansion had been, but stood magnificently untouched in all its rebuilt glory. Blackness crowded my peripheral vision and before I could think about what any of it could mean, I found myself unable to think at all.

I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. There was a blinding light before me.

"That's what you get for day dreaming, douche bag!"

I had no idea where I was, what the hell was going on, but I recognized Max's smack talk when I heard it. "Sonofa…" I croaked.

JT's grinning face appeared above me, blocking out the solar flare that was the sun. He was holding a football, his LSU t-shirt darkened with sweat. "You alright, little brother?"

"What…?" I could feel cool grass beneath me, the warmth of the day on my clammy skin. I wanted to throw up.

"I asked if you were alright? You look like you're about to lose the steak and two pieces of pie you had for dinner." He reached out to help me up.

"Are you alright?" I latched onto his hand, not letting go even after he hauled me to my feet. I wasn't sure why, but I felt an overwhelming desire to hug him, one I fought off as Max continued to smirk at me.

"Me?" JT laughed, and I felt tears sting my eyes. "I wasn't the one who was just on the receiving end of Max's dirty tackle."

"All's fair in love and flag football." Max snorted. "God, it looks like he's going to cry."

I stared at Max, unable to find it in me to tell my roommate to fuck off. Usually it was no problem; I could tell him in three different languages, including Mandarin Chinese and my favorite hand signal. Today, I was too relieved to see him, to hear his voice. I had no idea what was wrong with me.

"Shake it off, Baby Winchester." Max rammed his shoulder against mine. He snatched the ball from JT. "Ben's going to be pissed if he has to play doctor. It's his day off. Besides, if one of us actually gets hurt, Uncle Caleb's going to have us running until we hurl."

I watched Max jog towards the other end of the field. "Uncle Caleb's here? Where are Dad and Uncle Sam?"

"Did you hit your head?"

I touched my temple where a faint pounding resided. "I don't think so."

JT didn't look convinced. "Everybody is here at the farm. We came in for Joshua and Carolyn's anniversary party. Remember?"

I didn't remember, but found myself nodding to assuage my brother. "Sure." I looked at the group of men in the distance. I followed his line of vision and felt an unexplainable sense of relief. Dad and Caleb were huddled with Max. Joshua was pointing to his son; Max was going to get reprimanded by his father for the contact, in a sport that was supposed to be contact free. Sam and Ben were off to the side engrossed in conversation. I imagined it was the same one they had often, debating why the concept of flag football was so hard for grown men to grasp.

"You should have seen that run coming from a mile away." JT was looking at me, and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to shake off his touch. "What were you thinking about? Is it Grandpa Mac?"

I opened my mouth, closed it. The answer had been right on the tip of my tongue, only now it wasn't. "I have no idea."

He raised a brow, moved his hand to my shoulder. I was surprised when I leaned into his touch. Maybe the heat was getting to me. JT brought his head closer to mind, lowering his voice. "I was hoping maybe you were trying to come up with a way to tell Max about you and Josie, then maybe tell the rest of the family."

Despite my confusion the thoughts of explaining to Max that I was sleeping with his kid sister after he had just pummeled me all in the name of good fun brought me swiftly back to reality, allowing me the clarity I needed. Self-preservation was always a good motivator for me.

"Right." I rubbed my aching ribs. "Like that's going to happen."

"It's the right thing to do, Jimmy." He frowned at me.

JT had rarely done a bad thing in his life; actually I was hard-pressed to remember the few times JT had actually gotten drunk. "James." I corrected. "And it might be the right thing to do, Boy Scout, but it is most definitely not in my best interest." Josie and I were having fun. No reason for it all to end in bloodshed, especially if it was my blood involved.

"He's going to find out, and I might not be there to help you sort it all out."

"Don't say that." The idea of him not being there brought another wave of the foreign feeling I couldn't quite put my finger on. Maybe JT was right, maybe I was thinking of Mac because the echo of grief hung in the air between us. I didn't like it. Not one bit. "You'll always be here, JT. You have to be."

JT tilted his head. "Maybe we should get Ben to take a look at you."

The flash of concern in his green eyes had me pushing my own irrational fear away. "Dude, I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"This is me we're talking about-future Scholar of The Brotherhood, next CEO of The Ames Corporation."

JT rolled his eyes. "Don't forget pain in the ass little brother making me lie to my best friend."

"I couldn't forget that. Being a brother is the best part." I wasn't one to talk about my feelings, if anyone in our family emoted it was JT, but I felt the urgent overwhelming need to set the record straight-just in case. "You and Ben are great big brothers. Max isn't half bad either."

"Okay, now I know you're hurt." He yelled at Ben before I could stop him. All conversations halted. I saw my father's eagle eyes zoom in on us, felt Caleb's presence as he brushed across my mind. Max started back towards us, followed by Uncle Sam and Ben. I groaned, which JT must have mistook for physical pain because his hand returned to my shoulder. I'd have my entire family hovering around me all day. For reasons I could not begin to fathom that didn't seem like such a bad thing.



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