Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural.

Author's Note: Wow! Thank you so much for all the reviews! They really prompted me to finish this tonight! And yes, it is finished. This is the last chapter... I warned you guys not to get your hopes up! ;-)

I really hope you enjoy this. I may have gotten a tad carried away with the angst at the end, but shrugs I love the angst almost as much as I love HurtDean. Hee.

"You. Are. Late." Jess said when she opened the door and found two of her wayward friends on the doorstep.

"You're getting married!" Kerrie cried, throwing her arms around Jess's neck and squeezing.

Jess laughed, as she accepted the hug; moving aside so Doug could walk in. "You RSVP'd," she admonished, even as she pulled back with a grin on her face.

"We meant to come." Doug stated, "Really… jeez, Kerrie, I wanna hug her too." He grouched, grinning as he pulled Jess from girl, "Congratulations!" He said, happily, pulling the small woman into an embrace.

"Meaning to come is not the purpose of RSVP-ing," Jess continued, when Doug released her, then her grin widened, "And thank you." She acknowledged, then scowled again, "We missed you."

Doug laughed, "Whoa girl, I can only do one set of emoticons a minute…" he teased, "Smile, scowl, smile, scowl—pick one…"

Jess rolled her eyes, and opened her mouth to speak, but someone beat her to it.

"Well, look who decided to show up."

"Lacey!" Kerrie gasped, staring at the woman a moment, before giving a happy shriek and running over to her friend.

"Lacey RSVP'd— and actually came." Jess stated, watching as they all greeted each other, "Imagine that?" she added dryly.

"Mike and I are staying the weekend." Lacey told Kerrie and Doug, grinning as she and Kerrie walked over to the sofa.

"Mike's here?" Doug asked, looking around.

Jess landed a light punch to his shoulder, "Mike RSVP'd." she stated.

"You guys made it!" Jake cried, as he entered the room, "Better late than never I guess." He added, grinning as he too welcomed his friends.

"Oh they're not late, they're right in time— for clean-up," Sam stated wryly as he walked into the living room with Mike by his side.

Kerrie launched herself off the sofa and wrapped her arms around Sam's middle, "Congratulations, Einstein." She murmured.

Sam laughed, accepting the hug, "Thanks."

"We were actually hoping you'd feed us." Doug said cheekily, after he too congratulated Sam.

Sam rolled his eyes, "Leftovers in the kitchen." He told the man.

"They shouldn't get food—the party's over." Jess grouched, but her blue eyes twinkled as Sam reached her and sat down beside her.

"Sam gave a speech, guys…" Mike teased, "It was all mushy…"

"That's 'cause Sam is mush," Jake quipped, sitting on the arm of sofa.

Sam scowled, "Asshole."

"He's just callin like it is," Mike continued, grinning.

"Just because Sam is capable of expressing sentiment, doesn't mean he's a mush," Lacey interjected, then pinned Mike with a glare, "It means he's worthy of getting married."

Mike rolled his eyes, "I express sentiment." He grouched.

"Uh-huh," Lacey murmured.

Jess looked around and grinned, "I'm glad you guys made it…" she murmured, looking at Kerrie and Doug, "… even if you are super late… it makes the night complete and all…" she continued, reaching over and grasping one ofSam's hands, "This night was about all the people we love."

Sam tensed slightly, his smile dimming an iota, but no one noticed. His friends were all buzzed from simply being in the same room.

"You two are so much in love it sorta sickens me," Jake quipped.

They all rolled their eyes, before Lacey looked around and gushed with the thought that was running through all their heads, "It's great that we're all together again..."

"Hey you and Mike are the ones that moved away." Jake added.

"Let's not start the, who-broke-up-the-gang-first-talk, okay." Kerrie interrupted, "Last time you two—" she pointed at Doug and Mike, "… yelled so loudly we got kicked out of that bar, it was embarrassing." The two men grinned sheepishly at her and Kerrie rolled her eyes, transferring her gaze to Sam and Jess, "So have you picked a date?"

Jess shrugged, "We haven't decided yet…"

The conversation flowed among the friends. They all took perches around the living room; catching up on their lives since graduation, on the plans they were putting into action, the plans that were still in the making.

Doug got up and went to the kitchen, he returned with leftovers for all— which were promptly consumed even though everyone had already eaten. It was comfortable and familiar and the last remnants of Sam's earlier unease melted away.

This is where he belonged; this was the world he knew, the world he wanted…

They were discussing the possibility of taking a ski trip together in January when suddenly Doug bolted upright from the sofa, "Oh shit!" he cried, glancing quickly at the clock.

"Shit, shit, shit," he repeated, getting up, "Jeez, Kerrie we completely forgot!" He told her, "It's been almost an hour…"

Kerrie suddenly looked chagrined too, "Aw man… you think he's still there?"

"Where else would he go?" Doug said heading for the front door.

"Whoa, whoa! Where you rushing off to?"

"What's going?"

The questions zipped out of the group and Doug paused, turning to look back at them, it was Kerrie that answered though, she too was getting up, "There's this guy a few blocks away who's car died, we told him we'd give him a boost on our way back…"


"Jeez, I thought you'd left the stove on or something…"

"You stay here Ker, I'll go with him," Jake offered.

Doug grinned suddenly, "Actually, Mike… dude, you should come with me… this guy's car…" he make kissing sound, "… perfection."

Mike's eyes brightened, "Really?"

"Chevy, Impala, cherry black, great condition… seriously, gorgeous."

"Think he'd sell?" Mike asked eagerly, standing.

"No way," Kerrie cut in with a laugh, before Doug could answer, "He called it baby and referred to it as a 'she.'"

"Sam you okay?" Jess asked, her tone suddenly worried, she'd glanced up at him smiling only to find him very pale, his dark eyes wider then usual.

He blinked a little, drawing a slow breath—

… trying to reign in his thoughts… thoughts that had exploded into a myriad of memories when Doug had said the words, Chevy and Impala.

It wasn't him, Sam told himself, it wasn't Dean—it couldn't be… it wasn't… Dean wouldn't be here… Dean was somewhere else… there was more than one cherry-black Impala out there in the world…

"Sam?" Jess asked, squeezing his hand, but he ignored her.

His eyes went to Doug, "Wha-what year?" he croaked out, his heart beating unusually fast, "What year is the Impala?"

Doug frowned, "Dude you okay? You look like you're gonna pass out of something?"

"What year?" he snapped.

"'67." Doug answered, still frowning.

There was more than one cherry-black 1967 Chevy Impala in the world, he told himself again, pulling away from Jess as he stood and turned his back on his friends.

He needed to calm down… to gain perspective. Dean was not the only person on the planet that owned that kind of car, he wasn't the only person on the planet who would refer to it as his baby or as a "she," he wasn't the only person on the planet that would drive it in this neighborhood…

… god, Dean…

It was his brother… he knew it, felt it, sensed it…

"Sam?" Jess's voice was hesitant now; he could sense the tension in the room, "What's wrong?"

His brother had been here, he thought suddenly, the words almost slipping past his lips; but he clamped down on them. Held them inside—they would lead to questions; questions he couldn't answer.

His brother had been here.

The appropriate word being, had; because there was no doubt in his mind that wherever Doug and Kerrie had left his brother— Dean wasn't there anymore.

"Sam, you're scaring me…" Jess's voice was soft, right behind him and he felt her warm hand on his back. He turned slowly and studied her, her eyes were concerned, brow furrowed, her lips pursed.

He couldn't tell her. Not ever. Dean was part of that life—and he would never show Jess that life. Not ever.

"Sorry…" he murmured, pulling up a small smirk onto his face, "… just kinda got overwhelmed suddenly…" he murmured.

"By needing to know the year of this guys' Chevy?" Doug chirped.

"Dean." Kerrie stated and Sam visibly started. Jolting in place, his eyes zeroing in on her with the sharpness and intensity of the hunter she didn't know he was.

"What?" he asked, his question dangerously soft and everyone in the room sat up a little straighter, studied him a bit closer—

Kerrie frowned a little, "His name's Dean—the guy. He told us." She said, "Sam you okay?" she asked.

He nodded, swallowing hard, drawing in a deep breath—willing himself to turn the images off…

"Sam!" Jess hissed, her voice alarmed.

"I'm fine… I just…" he stuttered, feeling almost disoriented.

"Just what?" Doug asked, staring at him.

Sam shrugged, locking eyes with his friend, "I like cars too." He offered lamely, knowing how absolutely inadequate that explanation sounded.

They were all looking at him like he was about to pass out, like he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, like they didn't know him at all…

"Uh, okay, then…" Doug drawled, "Lot's of liquor served at this party, huh?" he joked.

"Shut-up," Kerrie hissed at him, then transferred her worried gaze back to Sam, "Are you sure you're fine?"

"Yeah?" Jess added, her hand on his arm, "You've been acting weird all day…"

"I'm fine." Sam repeated, "I'm getting a… a headache…" he added, swallowing hard again. Swallowing past the emotion building up in his throat…

Dean had been here.

The thought was swirling around in his head and he suddenly… suddenly just… missed his brother…

"I'm going," Doug stated, drawing his gaze away from Sam.

"I'm going with you," Mike stated, "Maybe I can talk this Dean-guy into selling…"

The idea of Dean selling the Impala made a burst of hysterical laughter rise up in Sam's throat—he didn't release it, but he could feel it there nonetheless.

Not that they were going to find Dean, he knew…

… but if they did, and they offered—his brother's look would be priceless; a cross between are-you-fuckin-crazy and ­yeah-she's-that-gorgeous.

"Let's go then," Doug stated, "Poor guy's been out there long enough."

Sam's instinct to say, don't bother, was strong, but he knew he wouldn't be able to justify that response. So he watched as the three guys sidled up to the door…

"This uh, poor guy," he heard himself asking, even though he hadn't processed the thought, "… he uh, he look… okay?"

"He's hot if that's what you mean?" Kerrie quipped, her worried look melting into a grin, "Delicious, even." She murmured,

Doug scowled in her direction, "He was not."

"Was too… all that leather and that smile… and those eyes… whoa," she said winking at the Jess and Lacey, "Now that I think about it… maybe the three of us should go too… it'd be treat… gold eyes, I swear…" she purred, "… gold…".

Sam couldn't help the smirk that lit his face; Dean would love to know he'd been described as delicious.

But the smirk faded as he met Doug's eyes again, "Tha-that's not what I mean…" he prodded.

Doug shrugged, "Don't worry man… he didn't seem the serial killer type." He joked, figuring Sam was concerned because his friends were meeting a stranger at night, "… seemed nice, not really in a hurry; like he didn't have anywhere to be…"

Lacey sighed, "Sounds nice…" she commented.

Mike nodded, "Yeah, no where to be…"

Jake chuckled, "… no deadlines to meet…"

"Lucky guy…" Jess murmured.

"Who's probably bored," Doug stated, "We should go..." he said, then looked around and grinned, "Sam… you uh, wanna stay behind with the woman?" he teased.

Sam blinked, realizing that both Jake and Mike were heading out with Doug.

His stomach flipped—go with them? To where Dean was?

Dean's gone.

A voice whispered, a voice that knew his brother… knew that no way in hell would Dean sit around and wait for strangers to get back to help him.

Jake rolled his eyes, "Dude, she'll still be here when you get back." He stated, mock disgust in his voice, figuring Sam didn't want to leave Jess.

Jess chuckled, "Go on. The girls and I have stuff to discuss anyway…"

"Yeah," Lacey purred, "Golden and delicious stuff."

Mike scowled. The others laughed and suddenly Sam found himself heading down the front steps, the guys around him, shoving and teasing each other like they were still at school; like nothing had changed, like they'd known each other forever and would know each other forever…

Except they didn't…

They didn't know him. They would never know him.

They were on the street then, walking down the block. Mike asking how much he should offer guy, Doug saying that Kerrie was probably right, Jake saying maybe they could talk the guy into it …

"Sam you got any input, here?" Mike asked, as they neared the corner, "You are the genius after all." He teased.

"Yeah, impart some of that psychological knowledge you gained from Prof. White… anything we can do to get this guy to sell?" Jake asked, grinning, teasing.

Professor Albert White had taught Sam's first psychology class. Sam had been fascinated during it— fascinated by the insights it gave him into his father, into Dean, into himself. He knew as he read articles and books and watched films that the three of them would be a dream case study—one only he had access to, one that he could never reveal…

Prof. White had encouraged his interest, had guided him, mentored him…

Sam swallowed hard, "Um, well…" he stammered, trying to pull himself back into the role… but it just… it wasn't working.

His steps slowed as they approached the corner, his heart pounding in his ears.

"Dude? You sure you're okay?" Jake asked.

"'Course he's okay." Mike answered, "He's got a scholarship to one of the best law school's in the country, a hot fiancée, and the three of us as his best friends… what more could he possibly want?" he asked.

"That is true," Doug answered, "Although I bet he could do without you." He added, shoving the other man in the shoulder.

"I know I could," Jake added.

"You all would lost without me!"

"More like we'd be sober more often…"

Sam felt as if he were somehow detached from the scene playing out before him. A surreal feeling that he was observing them, but not a part of them… never really a part of them…

They rounded the corner.

They would never really know him…

"Where the hell did he go?" Doug asked, staring at the spot where the Impala should be.

"Are you sure it wasn't in the other direction?" Mike asked.

"Dude, it's not like I'm not drunk!" Doug scowled, walking faster and looking up and down the block as if the Impala were hiding, "He was right here…"

"Aw man, I was really excited about seeing it too…"

"I thought you said the car was dead?"

Doug frowned, "It was. He said he might go to the 7-11 and call for a tow, but… the car would still be here…"

"He's gone." Sam whispered, the first coherent words he'd said since leaving the apartment.

The three men shifted to stare at him—they were a silent a moment, before nodding and erupting into theories of where "he" could have gone and how he'd gotten the car to start again and how much Mike had wanted to see it…

Sam barely heard them; their words fading as he turned towards the street; shifting his body so he could see down the road.

He was gone. Sam had known he would be gone. So he didn't understand the grief that was welling up inside him, didn't understand the stinging behind his eyes, or the tightness of his throat. He didn't understand the urge to run down the street and scream his brother's name and demand that Dean get the fuck back here right this fuckin second…

No, you don't want that.

The rational part of him corrected. The part of him that was Sam Winchester: Average-All-American-Ivy-Leaguer. The part of him that knew Dean's presence in his life would provoke questions—questions he wouldn't want to answer and problems—problems he didn't want…

That part of Sam told him that no, he didn't want his brother back here right this fuckin second—he just thought he did.

He just thought that he would trade all the condescending, knowing smiles bestowed him on him tonight by his professors for one of Dean's patented all-knowing, smart-ass smirks.

He just thought that he would trade the streams of praise he'd received from Jess and all their friends tonight for the three little words from Dean that had always meant the world to him: you did good.

He just thought that he would trade tonight's dinner party with all the polite, praising words and proud, hearty handshakes it had brought with it, for one chuckle from Dean as his older brother swatted the back of his head and handed him a beer.

He didn't really want these—he couldn't want these things… because these things were just a part of something bigger—of a world he wasn't ever going to re-join…

"Sam? You coming?" Doug asked, his friend was suddenly at his side, his hand on Sam's shoulder.

Sam jumped a little, startled out of his thoughts, "Yeah, yea… you guys… just go on ahead… I need a little… space…" he finished, "Time to clear my head."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll be right there." He added, forcing himself to sound carefree as he turned to face the other two. They were eyeing him with concern.

"Too bad 'bout the car, Mike," he said, trying to sound sympathetic, to sound like the "Sam"they'd come to know, the "Sam"they were friends with… the "Sam"they knew…

Mike shrugged, and said something that made the others laugh, so Sam smiled, even though his brain didn't register exactly what it was Mike had said. A few moments later they were moving back towards the apartment and Sam was free to let the smile melt off his face.

He didn't feel much like smiling right now. He didn't feel much like Sam Winchester: Average-All-American-Ivy-Leaguer either. Right now, he was feeling much more like Sammy… and Sammy wanted his big brother… now.

He swallowed hard and clenched his fists, closing his eyes against the rush of emotion that was threatening to overwhelm him.

It would take a few seconds, maybe even a few minutes… but "Sammy" would be pushed away, relegated to the part of himself that still noticed and tensed when something moved in the shadows, the part of him that still heard and could distinguish between the soft steps of a child, woman, or man; the part of himself that still dreamt of screaming, of blood, of fire…

The part of himself that he ignored.

Slowly he opened his eyes, drawing in a deep breath, and releasing it with a loud sigh.

Dean was the only person who could possibly understand how amazing it was that he was here… that he'd done this. That he was on his way to becoming a lawyer… to "normal."

In the darkness that surrounded him, in the stillness… without Jess's laughter or the teasing of his friends, Sam could admit that tonight had been a bust for him. He could admit that he could celebrate his accomplishments to high heaven and never feel the joy that Jess expected from, not until he got that swat on the back of the head and that beer...

Admit that no matter how many people, that no matter who expressed their delight at his choices, at his achievements; it would never mean as much as that one smirk and those three words…

But his brother's smirks and laughter, his teasing and gruff affection— they came with a price. The price of the supernatural— and Sam wasn't willing to pay it. Even now, even as he admitted to himself how much he wanted to see his brother, how much he missed him… he still wouldn't pay it.

He turned slowly, away from the road, and headed back up the street; his eyes still stinging and his throat burning with unshed tears.

He took another shaky breath, released another long sigh, and felt as Sammy's hold lessened; felt himself regain control.

But as he entered the building and went up the stairs, Sammy reached one last finger outwards and stroked a ripple of longing through Sam… longing that tonight… his phone would ring with an out-of-state-area code.

-- The End --

Please Review!