This is it! I'm kind of said to see this part of the story end, but I've decided to extend the talein other stories. I had the end of "The Long Way Around" planned out months ago, so I took the way it coincides with a few of the scenes in "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" as a good omen. Hehe. I hope you like the way I wrap this up and please review. Last time. Sniff, sniff.
The lyrics are excerpted from Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You". I'm really not a big fan, but, eh, I thought they fit.
People have been so gracious with the reviews and have had so many wonderful things to say that it made writing this story a pleasure. I hope you will read my other work as I write it. Thank you to
Thru Terry's Eyes
L'ensomnie des etoiles
Nate and Jake
K Hanna Korossey
"What? Where is he?" Sam asked.
John's hands tightened on the steering wheel as he drove.
"He's with your mother," John whispered weakly, as if all the air had been pushed out of his lungs.
San stared at his father and he swallowed painfully. No matter how much his brother idolized their father and how much he took after him, Dean was a mama's boy through and through and Mary Winchester had been a chink in Dean's armor for as long as Sam could remember.
"Why?" Sam asked. "Why now?"
"Because I told him to go somewhere safe. And that's always been with your mother." John smiled. "I paid more attention to you boys growing up than you think."
Sam sat back and stared out the window. His family hadn't been together at Mary's grave since the cold November day they buried her. He and his father had visited when he was a child and he had loved to bring his mom flowers and trace her name with his small fingers while John knelt beside him and helped him position the bouquet.
But Dean had never been there with them.
The only time Dean ever refused his father anything was when it concerned Mary or Lawrence and John had never pressed the issue.
"The way a man grieves," he had once told Sam, "that's personal. And your brother's got a lot to grieve for. Let him do it his way."
And Sam had. He had watched his brother grow from distant child to troubled teen to irreverent adult. A lot of Dean's "criminal tendencies" as one guidance counselor had put it, stemmed form an unchecked, strong willed personality that probably would have shown itself in colorful ways even if he had had a stable upbringing, but Sam couldn't help but wonder what kind of man his brother would be had their mother been there.
Dean had always been a sensitive person despite all his bluster and two years with Missouri and Natalie hadn't softened him, but…gentled him. They had needed a woman's touch growing up, Dean even more so. John had done his best and both boys loved him for it and had grown up to be decent men that their mother would certainly have been proud of, but there was a piece of their souls that their father could never reach.
Maybe that was why Dean had never visited his mother. He hated to look back, to regret, to be anything but the stoic soldier he thought his dad wanted him to be, and yet he had carried around a burden for years in the form of Mary Winchester. He had never been able to lay down his mother's memory and he hated himself for it, for having such a weakness. The headstone stood as testament to everything he'd had, lost, and would never be. Facing his mother would be facing himself.
"Dad I don't know if I can do this," Sam whispered. His revelation brought into focus everything that Dean was. It had colored everything he had ever done since he was four years old. The weight of it all hit Sam like a cheap shot in the stomach and he gripped the door handle, nauseated.
John kept his eyes on the road. "Sam, we have to."
"I can't see Dean like that."
That got the youngest Winchester's attention.
"Sam, did you know your brother didn't talk for months after your mom died?" John asked. "Completely mute."
"Like after the accident?"
John nodded. "Yeah, like that."
"What made him start talking again?"
John nodded ahead at the windshield. "This stretch of road right here. He realized we were going to see your mother and started screaming at the top of his lungs." He swallowed before going on. "I never forced him after that. He started talking again, but…" He grinned. "Sam, he used to be able to talk the hind leg off a dog. After, I don't know, it just wasn't the same. Mike thought he needed to see someone. Hell, Mike thought I needed to see someone, but, I knew it would just take time."
Sam closed his eyes and remembered the soft way Dean had whispered, "Mom" when they had seen her spirit in the living room of their former home. "She was exactly the way I remember her looking that night," Dean had said absently as they drove away from Lawrence. I remembered the nightgown because it was silk and I always like the way it felt. But everything else was hazy." His face had been closed off and his tone casual, but Sam would never forget that moment when Dean had gazed at their mother with love and utter longing.
"He needed Mom," Sam whispered.
"I know," John said haggardly. "That's why I let Missouri bring him here. He was barely twenty-nine and older and more weary than the most beaten down soldier I'd seen in Nam. He needed to be home. Near your mother."
They saw the black Wrangler parked at the cemetery gates and Sam had the Impala's passenger door open and his feet on the pavement before John turned the engine off. He jogged over to the gates and grasped the bars and looked through them trying to see into the darkness.
"How the hell did Dean manage to haul his ass over?" Sam muttered when John caught up with him.
"You know your brother," John said wryly looking up at the eight foot climb. "A bum leg doesn't mean much. Did I ever tell you about that gig in upstate New York? He was missing for five hours and I finally found him limping along the highway." He grinned broadly. "He had walked six miles with a broken ankle and he was growling about the mud on his jacket."
Sam smirked and started shinnying up the bars. "You gonna make it?"
John grunted and started up. "I was trespassing in this cemetery before I was old enough for bigger crimes."
"You telling me that you used to get your kicks from hanging out in cemeteries as a kid?" Sam asked swinging over the other side. He dropped to the ground and looked up at his father. "No wonder we're so freakin' weird."
John landed next his son and shrugged. "Just remember this is also where you got your dark good looks."
Sam rolled his eyes and started walking. He hadn't been here in years but he knew the way blindfolded. The heart never forgot some things. Neither he nor John said a word as they crossed the dark, immaculate lawn amidst the stones.
"Oh dear God," John breathed when they came within sight of his wife's grave. "Oh Mary, you kept him safe."
Sam stayed silent, unable to form words around the painful lump that had formed in his throat. His eyes burned, but his limbs refused to move so he could wipe away the tears. Through blurred vision he could make out his brother's dark form lying face down in front of his mother's stone and clutching at the ground like he was trying to hug it to himself.
They crept to his side, not knowing how to break the silence in a moment where Dean was only aware of his mother and her comfort. Hesitantly, John bent over and reached out and touched his son's shoulder. Dean immediately jumped and spun his upper body around. He relaxed slightly when he saw his brother and father, but said nothing. His eyes were red but dry and his gaze never left his father's face.
"It's okay," John murmured in a soothing tone Dean and Sam hadn't heard in years. He reached out again and grasped Dean's shoulder and then moved his hand to cradle the back of his neck so he could stroke the side his face with his thumb. "You're safe now."
Dean dropped his gaze guiltily, like a child who'd just been caught doing something he knew was wrong. He looked at Mary's headstone and then his father. "I didn't have anywhere else to go," he offered in a small voice.
John knelt suddenly and enveloped his son in his arms and cradled his head to his chest. Dean brought his arms around his father and fisted the material of his shirt desperately. "I didn't have anywhere else to go," he sobbed over and over again while John murmured unintelligible words of comfort in his ear.
Rivers of tears ran freely down Sam's cheeks and neck and into the collar of his shirt, but he made no effort to wipe them away. He remained standing, guarding over his father and brother while they clung to each other for comfort in a way that neither one had allowed in over two decades.
None of them would remember how long they stayed like that, but for the first time since November 2, 1983, the Winchester family was together as a whole again.
It was close to two 'o clock in the morning before the Winchesters made it back to the Anderson place. John, who had driven the Wrangler, pulled in behind the Impala and walked over to his boys who had gotten out of the car and were leaning against the hood.
"Why don't you stay out here?" he suggested. "It'd be better. I'll take care of it."
Dean nodded compliantly and concentrated on the scuff marks on his boots. He hadn't said a word on the drive back and Sam knew he was feeling embarrassed about the scene in the cemetery. His brother wasn't the man he used to be, but he still found emotional situations uncomfortable. But he was still emotionally drained at the moment, and he wasn't feeling up round two with the man who hated him enough to want to kill him.
John nodded and Missouri threw open the front screen door. The porch light silhouetted her briefly before she hurried down the steps as quickly as her body allowed. She threw her arms around Dean wordlessly and he grunted from the pressure on his abused ribs, but he didn't withdraw. Rather, he leaned against her, absolutely exhausted.
John began to walk to the house, but Missouri grabbed his arm. "I'm going too," she growled. "It took everything I had not to pull a Darth Vader on that weasel, he ain't getting away without a good tongue lashing from me."
Dean smiled faintly as they disappeared into the house but said nothing. A long moment of silence followed until Sam found it uncomfortable. It seemed like that was all there was now of a relationship that had gone deeper than that of brothers. The intense bond was still there, just pulled taut over the gulf that still existed between them.
Where to begin.
Sam sighed heavily. "Dean…"
"Sam, you don't have to say anything."
"Yeah I do. I spent two years not talking and look what we have to show."
"Words have never been important between us" Dean said finally looking at him. "We never needed them. I know you're sorry for tossing me out that window."
"It's nice to hear an apology every once and awhile though," Sam insisted. "And I am sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen."
"I know what you meant. That's why I never had to forgive you. I was never angry at you." Dean gave him a smile and shrugged. "You were trying to protect me and it backfired. People make mistakes." He returned his gaze to the ground. "You didn't deliberately cripple me, Sam. But you did deliberately run out on me. That's what hurt."
"God, seeing you in that bed knowing I had put you there…." Sam shuddered. "It took me two years of wandering around like a lost child to get past it all, and I still don't think I'll ever get past the guilt completely."
"Aw Sammy, you weren't lost, you just took the long way around," Dean said giving him a lopsided grin. "I knew you'd make it back eventually. You're just a stubborn ass sometimes."
Sam raised an eyebrow and chuckled. "You know that's the first time you've called me Sammy since I got here?"
Dean shrugged. "I guess you're starting to grow on me again."
It was an hour before anyone emerged from the house again. Dean had to eventually sit on the hood because of the abuse his leg and entire body had endured, but he quickly slid down onto his feet when the screen door opened again.
Paul was grudgingly led down the steps by Jason with John following close behind. The man glared daggers at Dean but said nothing. Jason opened the Wrangler's door and John gave Paul the keys.
"Now," John said to him. "Just go home to your family. The cops buried Dean Winchester years ago and will send you off to the funny farm. Besides, you really don't want to get caught up in explaining how you were planning to murder a man in cold blood. Show your face around here again, and you won't get to drive away." He gave him a rough shove against the vehicle. "Don't blow it."
Actual fear showed in Paul Mitchell's eyes and he gave Dean only one more withering look before climbing in his vehicle and slamming the door. Missouri and Natalie watched from the porch and John and Jason stood in the driveway while he drove back drove back to the main road.
"That man absolutely hates me," Dean whispered watching the headlights disappear. "And I can't blame him. He's no different than us."
"Except you're innocent," Sam said gently. "We knew the Demon was to blame."
"Yeah, but I can't exactly proclaim "I didn't do it", can I?" Dean kicked at the gravel. "A serial killer stole my face and my name. I should've known it was too good to be true, that life just doesn't work out for guys like me." He shrugged carelessly. "I guess there are worse burdens to carry."
Sam didn't say anything. How could he? Dean had lived freely for two and a half years in the one place where he should have been safe, but his past had still managed to find him out. He deserved to be able to walk down the street and use his God given name without having to look over his shoulder, but life just wasn't fair and Dean wasn't the kind of man to sit and pout.
But it still didn't take away the heartache of having a life ripped away from him just as it had been within his grasp.
"I'm going to have to leave," he whispered.
Dawn was beginning to break when Dean slammed the trunk on the Impala. "I think I got everything," he said to Jason.
He held out his hand to one of the few men he could call a truly good man. Jason had opened his home Dean and didn't question anything about the night before. He simply trusted Dean and willingly helped him because he thought of him as a friend. "Thank you," Dean said sincerely. "For everything."
Jason nodded. "You're always welcome here, you know."
Dean smiled and nodded. "I know. You'll see me again."
Jason nodded again and then turned and walked back up to the porch and sat down beside John on the steps. He knew Dean and Natalie had a special relationship and left them alone so they could say goodbye. He trusted both of them and it made Dean feel like crap and he knew Natalie had chosen the better man.
She approached him from where she had been standing a few yards back and they gazed at each other for a long time before she wiped the tears that had slid down her cheeks away with the back of her hand. "You're special to me, you know that don't you?" she whispered. "I want you to know that."
Dean's heart broke just a little.
She smiled weakly through her tears. "You have given me so much, and I've given you nothing."
"Nat, don't. You have no idea." He grasped both her hands and drew them to his chest. "You-" he stopped, trying to control the emotions that raged inside him. "You saved me," he whispered. "You made me a better man."
Natalie choked a little and looked down at their joined hands. "You're going to find someone, Dean," she said nodding. She looked back up at him with clear eyes. "Someday you are going to find someone and you're going to be so happy, just like I am with Jason. And I'm not going to be able help being a little jealous, because she's going to be everything to you that I couldn't be."
Dean drew her into a hug and held her tightly. "I wanted to be everything to you. I wish I loved you."
"I wish I loved you too," she said into his neck. She swallowed the rest of her sobs and drew back so she could see his face and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips. "You'll always have a piece of my heart," she whispered into his ear.
He pressed his forehead to hers affectionately and released her. He gave her a genuine smile. "Good luck with everything. I mean it."
She laid a hand on her belly and smiled radiantly. Then without another word she walked back to Jason. He knew that their goodbye would be the most permanent one he said that day.
"You sure about the Impala?" he asked Sam as his brother and Missouri walked over.
Sam nodded. "She was never mine. With me and Dad sticking around for awhile, I don't need her."
Dean nodded. It helped to have some part of his identity back. "Thanks."
Missouri grabbed him and pulled him into a hug. "I'm losing my baby."
Dean smiled fondly at the feisty woman. They had a rough beginning, and there were still moments where they wanted to kill each other. And though no one would ever replace Mary Winchester, Missouri had become the closest thing to a mother he would ever have.
"I ain't saying goodbye because you're terrible at 'em," she said affectionately patting his cheek. "You'll always have a home with me. It maybe only half a house right now, but it'll always be there for you."
"I hate leaving you like this."
Missouri snorted. "It was just a tornado."
Sam hugged his brother and clapped his back. "What are you going to do?"
Dean really didn't know. There was no way he could hunt anymore, and even if he could it would never be the same. After experiencing the beauty of a real home it would make his heart sick to return to that lonely life. Not that he would ever tell Sam that. Sober anyway.
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "We'll see."
Sam nodded and looked down at his brother's side where Obadiah sat beside his master faithfully and patiently. He knew it was childish, but he couldn't help but feel that he was competing against the dog for his brother's affection. "I feel like I'm being replaced," he blurted out.
Dean busted out laughing. He scratched Obadiah's ear but gave Sam a smile that he had only ever reserved for him. "You're my brother and my best friend. Nothing will change that."
Sam smiled wryly and gave him a final hug. Things weren't completely healed between them, but he knew they'd be okay in time. "Keep in touch and we'll see you soon."
Dean nodded and went the driver's side and opened the door and patted the seat for Obie to jump in. He looked at his dad over the top of the car where he sat on the porch step. John just looked at him and raised his coffee mug. They didn't need to say anything else to each other. They had worked everything out between them the night before.
With a final wave, he tore revved the engine and tore down the driveway. He paused at the end of the driveway and debated, but then turned right.
"Where's he going?" Jason asked. "The interstate's the other way."
"He's got one more goodbye to make," John said softly.
Obadiah watched with wise eyes From the Driver's side window as Dean approached his mother's grave solemnly, his grip on the wildflowers he held so tight it nearly snapped the bouquet in half. He knew he had to do this, but the broken hearted child that still existed in him wanted to run. It was a part of him that didn't want this kind of closure so he could continue to believe that what had happened wasn't real and that she would come back some day.
Of all the things that I believed in
I just want to get it over with
Tears form behind my eyes
But I do not cry
Counting the days that pass me by
He knelt and touched the engraving softly tracing her name. "Hey Mama," he whispered. "Sorry it took me so long to come back. There were some things I needed to work out first." He wiped his nose with his sleeve. "People kept telling me that I needed to move on, but they couldn't understand. I couldn't leave you behind."
I've been searching deep down in my soul
Words that I'm hearing
Are starting to get old
Feels like I'm starting all over again
The last three years were just pretend
"I remember I always brought you flowers that grew along the fence at the field I used to play T-ball at," he murmured laying the flowers against the stone reverently. "I remember you so much that it's like you never went away, and then there are days that it seems like I'm losing you and it hurts so much that I don't think I can stand it. It's not fair that you got taken away from us because we still need you so much."
The next sentence caused such a pain in his chest he thought he wouldn't be able to get it out. "But things are the way they are and I can't live my life like this. I know you don't want me to."
But it I still get lost in your eyes
And it seems like I can't live a day without you
Closing my eyes and you chase my thoughts away
To a place where
I am blinded by the light
But it's not right
"I still want you here with me so much, but I don't know what else to do except say goodbye."
And it hurts to want everything and nothing at
The same time
I want what's yours
And I want what's mine
I want you
But I'm not giving in this time
"I'll never forget you," Dean said with conviction, rising slowly back to his feet. "And I'll always love you." He kissed his fingertips and then pressed them to his mother's name like it was sacred. "Goodbye Mama."
Goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything that I knew
You were the one I loved
The one thing that I tried to hold on to
Feeling like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, he walked back to the car pausing only once to look back.
It's the end so reviews would be treasured!