A/N: The final chapter!
The evening sun lit up the lake like it was on fire, and Sam thought he'd never felt so relaxed in his life.
After composing themselves in the Impala, Dean had decreed the next week an official vacation from hunting and they had driven here, to Solomon Lake, West Virginia. For $100 they had rented a remote cabin by the lake, as well as the use of the wooden dock and questionable looking rowboat.
They were currently sitting in lawn chairs on the dock, beers in hand and fishing lines drifting lazily in the water.
"You know, this really is more of a pond than a lake…" Dean said from beside him. But it was more of an observation than a complaint, and Sam smiled.
"Yeah, but we haven't seen another human being in three days – I think I love it here." He sighed, stretching his arms over his head contentedly.
"I wouldn't mind some fish in this 'lake', though…" Dean sighed, tugging halfheartedly at his fishing pole. "Not a single fuckin' nibble all day…"
"Why don't you try scenting your lure with your special 'musk of manliness'? You're smelling a little ripe, and by your logic, that should draw all the female fish within two miles, right?" Sam grinned mischievously and took a swig of beer.
"Fuckin' weasel.." Dean laughed, flicking his bottle cap at him. "I save your sanity and your life, and this is the thanks I get? Next time, you're on your own, bitch."
"No, I don't think so." Sam said softly. "You'll always have my back."
"Okay," Dean sighed dramatically, "Fine – I'll always have your back. Jesus, can you stop being a girl for like, two seconds? You've destroyed a perfectly good bit of verbal sparring with your estrogen-soaked sentiments."
Sam grinned and turned back to watching the sun sink towards the horizon. The water was calm and smooth. Birdsong burst from several trees around the clearing, loud and clear in the face of the approaching dusk. He wished he could stay here forever.
Dean watched his brother watching the water, his face bathed in a golden glow. He felt fresh relief flood through his belly, as it had every time he had looked at Sam in the last three days. He wondered vaguely how long it would be before that went away, or if it ever would.
All he knew was that his brother, sitting beside him relaxed, happy, and free of possession, was a gift. Sam still flinched a little when he touched unfamiliar things, like he was bracing himself to see something horrible. Once the runes had bled through his skin and been scrubbed away by Dean, the visions had stopped. Still, it would be a while before the memory of all that pain faded.
"This is my favorite time of the day," Sam sighed, staring at a loon drifting sedately in the middle of the cove. "The gloaming."
"Gloaming. It's what the Scottish call twilight. It's from Old English glomung, or 'dusk'."
"You are such a geek…" Dean said in a stage whisper.
"Hey, you asked, man."
"Old English…. Doesn't sound like English to me at all…"
"It's-" Sam cut himself off, pressing his lips together and shaking his head. "Forget it. You're deliberately playing ignorant to goad me, and I won't be drawn into your immature games."
"I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!" Dean taunted, making a grotesque face.
"Oh, stunningly mature..." Sam chuckled, waving a dismissing hand at him.
"I.know.you.are.but.what.am.i?" Dean said faintly under his breath.
"Dean, that doesn't even make sense!"
"Doesn't it, though?" Dean stroked his chin, trying to look mysterious, and apparently failing, as Sam doubled over with mirth.
Dean watched his brother laughing in the peaceful evening, letting the fading glow of the sun warm him. For the moment, they were safe, they were happy, and they were together. That was enough. That was all he needed.
"You're an ass, you know that?" Sam choked, grinning and wiping at his streaming eyes.
" Yeah, Sam." He smiled. I love you too.
A/N: Ta da! It's done! Thanks to everyone for the incredibly kind and thoughtful reviews. They made it possible for me to stay motivated to finish the story. And to start my current project, Oubliette. (Please forgive the shameless, self-promoting plug:)