Title: Chipping Away

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em.

Summary: And the rain came down….

A/N: Last chapter. Hope you like it. Hope you've enjoyed the ride. I know I did.

Ta to all the regular readers and reviewers who have made this story so much fun for me to write. Even if you didn't review (and I wish you had) ta for at least reading! I look forward to seeing your names in my e-mail. I hope to keep seeing them as I post other stories and as I read the stories you post. This was a part of my life I didn't even realize was missing. Until next time…

Alone Dreaming rules. I dedicate this story to her tireless efforts to knock punctuation into me.

John took a deep breath and sat back, rubbing his eyes. His mind had not been on his research, but was running circles around whatever it was Dean had been awkwardly trying to tell him. Something was definitely up but he wasn't sure he really wanted to know what. Like it or not, everything that happened between John and Sam always put Dean smack in the middle. He checked his watch. Sam would be home anytime. Tomorrow was Saturday and John really needed to run business related errands some distance away. Sam would be home so John could safely entrust him to keep an eye on Dean.

Dean had not reappeared after John sent him to rest. Time to check up on him. John rose from the table, knees popping and grabbed Sam's diploma. Passing the couch he also grabbed up Dean's jacket intending to leave both items in their room.

Going back to their bedroom, he pushed the half-closed door open slowly. Dean was lying on Sam's bed, curled into himself. His face still looked flushed but his breathing didn't sound too bad so John didn't disturb him. He tossed Sam's diploma on the dresser and started to drape Dean's jacket across the back of a chair. The sleeve was turned inside out and he stopped to pull it free. As he pulled it back through, an envelope slipped out of the jacket and fluttered to the floor.

"Shit," John sighed, threw the jacket across the back of the chair and leaned down to pick up the envelope. He frowned at the dried, brown-red blotches and smears that were scattered over it. He threw a glance at Dean's sleeping form then turned the envelope over, his breath deepening as he read the return address. Another glance at Dean and he jerked the letter out of the envelope and started to read, eyes darting over the words, face gradually setting into stone.

Sam slammed the car door as he got out of the old chevy, waving his thanks to Jorge, the driver, as he sped out of the yard. It was later than he was supposed to be home and it was getting dark but it meant a little extra money so hopefully Dad wouldn't be too pissed. Light spilled out of the windows of the house and it actually looked…..homey. He ran through he rain and up onto the porch, anxious to check on Dean. He was tired but the cash from the days work was a comfortable bulge in his pocket.

He shoved open the door and shook the rain off his clothes. Stripping off his wet jacket and brushing the hair out of his eyes. When he was finished, he caught sight of his dad sitting at the kitchen table watching him, a black look on his face. Sam caught his breath. Shit, what now?.

"Dad? What's wrong?" Sam eyes darted to the door of his and Dean's room. "Is Dean all ri- "

John's hand lifted and he held up a paper that even from across the room, Sam could see was covered with dark splatters.

Realization his Sam like a physical blow and he thought he might pass out as the blood left his head in a rush. He had to put his hand on the wall to hold himself up. "Dad-" he choked out.

John got up and kicked back his chair. It fell over and hit the wall. "Go on, Sam!" John snarled, advancing on his son slowly. "Explain what the fucking hell this is! And when you were gonna find time to let me in on your little secret!" Sam had no choice but to back up as John approached, fury pouring from his body.

"Where did you find that?" Sam's voice came out strangled. Even with all the crap going on he couldn't believe he had forgotten that fucking letter!

"It fell out of Dean's jacket!" The fist holding the letter smacked Sam in the chest, knocking him up against the wall. "God dammit, Sam! How dare you go behind my back and pull a chicken shit thing like this!"

"I didn't want to go behind your back!" Sam yelled. His own anger overtaking his fear. "I didn't have any choice! It's not like I haven't tried to talk to you-"

Enlightenment suddenly widened John's eyes. "Jesus! My God, of course! This is why Dean's been so upset! Dean knew about this, didn't he?" John hollered. "This is his blood all over it, isn't it? When did you tell him about this?" John's temper soared as he thought about the effect this had had on Dean.

"The night he got sick," Sam murmured, unable to meet his father's eyes.

"What?" John barked, stepping closer.

"I told him the night he got sick, the last time I tried to talk to you!" Sam shot back, voice rising again. He straightened up and pushed away from the wall. "I would have told you but we never get that far with our little talks !" Sam was shaking with anger, "Anyone else would be proud that their son made it into Stanford! With a full ride, Dad! They even have a job lined up and a place for me to live!"

John's head snapped up, when he spoke his voice was low and intense. "We aren't anyone else, Sam! You know that. We have a job to do—"

Sam's furious gesture cut John off. "Jesus Christ, Dad! We have the job you forced us to do! When did I ever get a choice? This is all I've ever known. This is all Dean knows. Don't you think he might want something more than this? That I might want to make something more out of my life?" Sam head reeled as he heard the words he and John had screamed at each other again and again to no avail. Dean was right, no one was listening.

"Is this what Mom dreamed of for us?" Sam saw his father's face darken but he no longer cared. "One rat infested hole after another, getting the shit kicked out of us, bloody, beaten, searching for some dream demon that we're never going to find!" Sam was standing toe to toe with his father, screaming in his face.

John's hand cracked across Sam's face like a gunshot. The letter sailed across the room.

Sam fell back, grabbing his face, as shocked by the deed itself as the pain. His head rang dizzily. "Is that how it's gonna be?" Sam sneered, spitting blood out of his mouth. "You gonna hit me until I do what you want?" Daring him.

Rage fired John as he grabbed Sam by the shirt front, pulling him forward. "God dammit-"

Suddenly two arms rammed between them and Dean was there desperately trying to push them apart. "Stop it!" he cried hoarsely. "Don't do this!" John and Sam were too far gone at that point and Dean felt himself being shoved roughly away. Fabric tore as he clutched Sam's shirt. In his weakened state, the push sent him staggering into the wall, cracking his head soundly against the drywall. He cried out and slumped to the floor, coughing helplessly. Blood stained the wall where he had struck and was dripping from under his ear.

John released Sam so quickly Sam staggered back. John rushed over to Dean. "Dean! Jesus-" John lifted Deans head to see the damage. Dean kept coughing, unable to catch his breath.

When Sam tried to go to Dean, John stopped him with an arm extended like a sword. "If you want out of this family so badly, Sam, get your shit and get out! Right now! Walk out on us! Go to Stanford and your new home and your new job, but I'm telling you—if you do walk out that door—" John's voice fell to a low hiss. "Don't plan on coming back." John turned to Dean, trying to help him up and over to the table. Dean curled his aching head into his arms, still coughing from deep in his chest.

Sam stood there, breathing in smothered gasps, shaking uncontrollably, so enraged by John's ultimatum he couldn't think straight. Even his concern for Dean couldn't override it. His hands fisted at his sides. "Have it your way," he spat.

Dean heard the words, heard Sam storm down the hall and finally got his voice working again.

"NO!" he cried, clutching John. "Dad, no! Don't let him go!" He tried to get up, to go to their room and talk sense with Sam, but his legs wouldn't support him. John, breathing heavily and grim faced, was trying to wipe the blood from Dean's face.

"He made his choice, Dean." John replied, voice tight through his teeth. "Sit still. You're hurt."

Hurt? Jesus Christ Almighty, Sam's leaving! I'm not hurt, I'm dying…

In a very short time, Sam was back, red faced with blood shot eyes. His duffel bag was crammed full and he paused only briefly as he stalked through the room to the front door. The door slammed hard as he stomped out into the rain.

Dean suddenly pushed his father away, marveling at the strength that came when you needed it and scrambled to his feet after Sam. Caught by surprise, John fell back to the floor, yelling Dean's name.

"Sam, no!" Dean cried, blasting through the door after Sam. The chilling rain soaked him instantly as he stumbled barefooted through the mud. Sam heard him yell and stopped as Dean staggered up to him, coughing and shaking. "Sam, please…..for God's sake!"

Sam grabbed Dean's arms to keep him from falling. "Dean, go back in the house!" Sam yelled. "Don't be stupid! You'll end up back in the hospital!"

"Sam. Don't go! Dad didn't mean what he said!…please, God…don't leave …not like this!"

Dean's voice was panic stricken and his shaking hands caught Sam's ripped shirt.

Sam stared into Dean's frantic eyes. He shook his head gently. There was no coming back from this. "I don't have any choice," His voice was hollow. He couldn't look at Dean's face, the pain in his eyes. He pulled Dean to him in a crushing hug, feeling Dean shaking as he held him, drinking in his brother's scent, one more time. He could smell it, even in the rain.

"Sammy, no…" Dean begged. God, please don't do this….

"I have to go." he whispered into Dean's ear, his lips brushed Dean's burning forehead. He pulled Dean's hands loose from his shirt and stepped away. "Please, go back inside." He turned and walked into the darkness, his figure quickly swallowed up by the rain.

Dean staggered a few steps after him, but his strength failed him and he splashed to his knees on the muddy ground. He could hear John calling to him from the house.

Dean's wide green eyes stared at the lights from the distance, blinking as the rain gathered on his lashes and ran slowly down his face. He could no longer make out the words being shouted. He didn't realize he had wandered so far from the house. God, he was freezing and his joints ached. All wanted now was for the war to be over…

And then he realized, the war was over. He had lost. He had lost Sam.

From his knees it was a short trip to the ground. He lay on his back in the rain, shivering, choking. Heat rolled over him like a wave and he willingly let his mind go dancing after it as it swept through him. His eyes closed against the rain.

He was amazed to discover that it was possible for a heart that was already shattered to break.

He barely felt the desperate hands that he knew were John's trying to pull him to his feet. The only thing he felt was the unbearable pain as the last little piece of his wounded soul chipped away.

This is the end.

Review please if you're not too pissed…or I guess even if you are.