This is the last chapter in this story! Thanks to all those who reviewed Chapter 2, namely chocolate rules, wcfan, SilverStorm06, Anora, Winchesters-Shadow, zefian, Storm Silverhand, L'insomnie des etoiles and Sam666.

I have to warn you though, this chapter is pretty OC and mushy, uncharacteristic of the Winchesters. Pretty hard chapter to write but I finished it… I forgot to ask for suggestions in the last chapter so I was stuck to my own devices…hope you enjoy and please review!

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. Boohoo.

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"Sam?"

"Hey Dad," Sam gave John a small smile hesitantly, the one that only lifted one side of his mouth and didn't reach his eyes. To Dean, it spoke volumes of how unsure and how scared Sam was of being there. If Dean was honest to himself, he was wondering the same thing.

Sam's hazel eyes flickered from John to Dean. "Hey Dean," Sam's smile grew just a little now, some of the happiness finally reaching his eyes.

Dean smiled and nodded. No matter what their Dad had said the last time they were together, Dean could clearly see that there was no way Sam was just going to bend down and refuse to see his family again.

"That's my boy." Dean thought proudly. "Now if only those two can work things out like civilized human beings," he thought wryly, almost certain that there was no possible way for that to happen. Those two were equally hot-headed, stubborn and unrelenting. Despite their best intentions, they never seemed to get along, which was probably the understatement of the year. Hopefully, the two years apart had given them some time to cool down and to think.

"Come in Sam." John said softly, nodded his head in the general direction of the room. His voice was unreadable but Dean took the fact that Dad wasn't throwing Sam out as a good sign.

Sam nodded silently, his face equally unreadable, and stepped inside the room. As he entered, he saw the sheer amount of weaponry lying on every single available space in the room. Dean had expected him to scowl or show any form of regret or maybe he would get to see Sam's I-hate-my-family-because-they-hunt-the-supernatural-and-aren't-normal face which he hadn't seen in some time. After all, wasn't that one of the main reasons Sam left in the first place? He want to hunt anymore and he wanted a normal life.

Then suddenly, Sam did something that Dean really, really did not see coming.

He grinned.

Widely.

"You guys are cleaning the weapons aren't you?" Sam chuckled, "Okay never mind stupid question it's pretty obvious what you're doing anyway." Sam muttered under his breath, causing his father and brother to smile. "I haven't done that in a long time. Mind if I help?" he asked, a slightly eager tone to his voice. Dean couldn't remember the last time his baby brother had actually offered to help with the hunting chores. He had always tried to get out of it when they were younger, citing homework or projects or heck even drama

class as excuses. Dean supposed it was kind of a peace offering, Sam hoping that Dad would see how sorry he was and how much he wanted to fix things. After all, in the Winchester family, no one really shared their feelings to one another or told them what they really meant. They hid it in gestures and other words, knowing that the other would understand.

The problem with that was that sometimes, those gestures and other words were misunderstood. When they were younger, there were times when Dean had mistaken Sam cooking him some chicken soup for his colds as pity and sympathy which he didn't want when what Sam had really meant was that he simply wanted his big brother to feel better. Or there had been a time that Sam had mistaken the gleam in Dean's eyes and his wide smile for amusement and mockery after his school play instead of the pride and happiness that Dean had felt. Or those times the boys had mistaken John going hunting and leaving them home alone as a sign that he didn't care, when in reality, he was just trying to make the world just a little bit safer and better for his boys.

Dean figured that misunderstandings like those would definitely not help the situation.

Dean suddenly walked toward his bed, grabbing his leather jacket and putting it on while Sam and John turned to look at him, wondering what he was doing and where he was going.

"Relax guys, I'll just be in that bar we passed going into town. Let you work things out." Dean said, anticipating the words that John was about to utter. They really did need to talk and it was just between the two of them. It would be better for them to do it without Dean around. Besides, Dean wasn't sure if he could handle the chick flick moment that he was sure was going to occur.

"Besides," he added as an afterthought in order to lift the tense atmosphere. "I think there's a hot blonde chick waiting for me there anyway."

This made them smile a little and they nodded.

"I'll see you later okay man?" Dean said to Sam, seeking reassurance in those familiar brown depths. He didn't know what the outcome of this would be but no matter what happened, he was going to see Sammy and nothing was going to stop him. Not even John.

Because when it came down to it, he would choose Sammy any day.

"Of course," Sam replied easily. Dean could sense the eagerness of Sammy to spend time with his big brother. He expected it but what made him smile was the way the emotion rolled over Sam in waves. He could almost see a puppy dog with its tongue lolling out of its mouth and waging its tail, eager to please. Dean chuckled softly at the image.

John simply looked at Dean and gave him a straightforward, "Be careful."

Dean bobbed his head once. Even if he seemed like he was reckless to the rest of the world, he was always careful. He always knew of what was happening and what could happen. Sometimes, it was really useful to be raised as a hunter.

Dean took one last look a them before walking out the door and closing it with a quiet click. Hopefully, when he got back, everything would be alright.

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When Sam finally heard the familiar roar of the Impala's engine fade away, he turned to face his Dad. He wondered what his father was thinking. Was he angry at Sam for disobeying him? Was he happy that Sam was back?

"So..." John's deep voice broke the silence and startled Sam. For the first time, he heard uneasiness and hesitation in John's voice, which was usually so sure, calm and decisive. Sam looked and saw that he was leaning against the wall, the one spot where there were no weapons littered around. Sam walked over and leaned against the doorframe of the bathroom, directly opposite John and put his hands in the pockets of his pants.

Sam turned to face him directly. Sam was grateful and somewhat surprised that John had taken the first step. The least he could do was give him his full attention.

"So," John began again, a little more certainty in his voice, "how's college working out for you?"

Sam was once again surprised by John. Asking about college, of all things? Wasn't that the very thing that tore them apart?

Sam noticed that John was still looking at him expectantly for an answer. "It's um... doing great actually. The lessons are interesting, the professors love me and I'm getting pretty good grades." he replied. "Stupid answer," he thought to himself furiously, "How boring can you get? 'The professors love me'? 'The lessons are interesting'?"

John nodded. "That's good." Despite the opening John had given him, Sam could still feel the distance and awkwardness between them. Not only because of the fight they had had before, not only because of the time they spent apart, but also because of the fact that they both knew there were more important things to be talked about and they didn't know how to start or how to express their emotions.

They were Winchesters; it was simply not done.

He had no idea of what to say. Before he knew it, he was speaking already, saying things he didn't mean and was sure to lead to another explosive argument.

"You didn't understand why I wanted to go to college!" he blurted out suddenly.

John shook his head and ran his hand through his hair exasperatedly. "I did Sam. You wanted normal. You wanted to stop hunting. I get it."

"Then why didn't you let me go?' Sam asked indignantly, his eyes begging for answers.

"Because I wanted to make sure you were safe!" roared John, his temper getting the best of him.

"Why did you tell me not to come back?" Sam shouted right back. He was getting his answers and he was getting them now.

"I don't know," John whispered brokenly, the change of temperament slightly startling Sam.

"'I don't know?' 'I don't know?' Are you telling me I was away from my family for two years because of you, when you don't even know why you did it?" Sam said incredulously.

"It just came out alright!" John said defensively. "I didn't mean it. It just came out. I never wanted you to leave and I tried to make you stay with that choice but by the time I said it, I already knew what you would choose." he continued softly, most of the anger

that had been coursing through his body now faded away.

Silence.

After a few minutes, when the two had finally calmed down, John sighed. "Are you happy now?" he asked softly.

Sam nodded silently. It was just like what Pete said. Dad wanted him to be safe. He had gotten his answer, sure. That didn't mean he was leaving. He had to apologize to his dad for all the things he had done wrong, all the things he had said that day he hadn't meant and deeply regretted. If it meant putting himself out there, fine. No sense in traveling for 12 hours and leaving without saying what he wanted to say. If it meant embarrassing himself completely, then so be it. So long as he got it out in the open.

Apparently John was thinking the same thing.

"Listen Dad, last time we were together---"

"Listen son, last time we were together---"

The two began to speak at the exact same time and when they realized this, they stopped and looked at each other uncertainly.

"You go first," John told his son, giving him the chance to speak first.

Sam took a deep breath. Part of him was still hesitant and afraid, but he had to say it. Had to say everything, before he lost his nerve.

"Okay," Sam began, "The last time we were together, we had a huge fight." John nodded in agreement. "And I said a lot of things I didn't mean."

John smiled. "Me too son, me too."

Sam nodded. "I didn't mean it when I said that I hated this family. I don't," Sam smiled and looked at the carpet. All of a sudden it looked so interesting. "I love this family. I just didn't want to hunt anymore. I didn't want to see you and Dean get hurt anymore. I didn't want to see you die because of some pissed off spirit or whatever. I don't think I could handle losing either of you. Through out everything, it's always been the three of us against everything and it would kill me to lose either of you."

"I know," John replied softly. "It would kill me to lose either one of you too, and it always hurt me, to see you and or you brother injured."

Sam paused, just in case John wanted to say something else. John shook his head and motioned for Sam to go on.

"I didn't mean it when I said that it didn't matter if we found the Demon. It does matter. It would mean that you guys can stop hunting and can, I dunno, go back to normal. It would mean that you won't have to go thirsting for revenge and risk life and limb for this... crusade to find it."

"You were right about that one son." John said, ignoring the surprised look on Sam's face. "In a way, it would matter if we found that demon. It would be the end of this long journey. But it won't bring Mary back." John uttered softly.

Sam didn't say anything, simply went on.

"I didn't mean it when I said that I hated you and that you were a lousy father. You're not the best father, but I know that you did everything you could to make sure that Dean and I grew up properly. Grew up safe. Even if you never showed it when we were growing up, we know that you care. A lot. And I don't hate you Dad, I really don't," Sam smiled ruefully and looked around the room again, trying to focus on something else besides the man standing in front of him. "When I was at college, I heard a lot of my friends complain about their parents. Dean and I, we could have had worse. So, I guess, what I'm trying to say is that, despite everything, we were lucky to have you."

John smiled and said gratefully. "Thanks son."

Sam simply nodded and continued. "I'm sorry for leaving, I'm sorry that I always challenged you and always fought with you, especially when I was growing up. I'm sorry for not understanding, for not even trying to understand. I'm sorry I said that I hated this family and you. I'm sorry I said that it didn't matter if we found the Demon, because it does. I'm sorry I abandoned you and Dean," At this point, Sam's voice began to become more emotional and he began to whisper, as if he were on the verge of crying and letting everything out.

John shook his head firmly. "First of all, you did not abandon us. You were just leaving for college, for crissakes. Secondly, I'm glad you left."

Sam looked at him, shock written all over his features. "You were?"

"In a way. I hated that you were away from me, but your leaving showed me that I can't always make you do what I want. You're a grownup and you can make your own decisions and I should respect them. I understand why you challenged me, growing up." John smiled nostalgically. "In the Marines, I hated it when they told me to do things simply because they said so. I left because I couldn't put up with it. Why should you? You had every right to challenge me and even if it led to some pretty bad fights, it's fine. I understand."

Sam smiled, happy that his father understood his point of view. It wasn't as difficult as he thought it would be. The years apart had given them time to think, to process, to understand.

"I'm sorry for being selfish and putting my wants before the family. I'm sorry it took this long for me to come back. I'm sorry for not working things out, I really am. I get it now, I really do. You just wanted to make sure I was okay, wanted to make sure I was safe. I didn't get it then and I'm sorry." Sam looked at his father and silently begged him to understand. He was letting his emotions get the best of him, was making himself look weak. It didn't matter anymore. He had already said everything that he had wanted to say

and now all he could do was wait for his Dad to respond to it. He had no idea what was going to happen now, except for the fact that if Dean ever found out about this, he was forever going to be labeled a drama queen.

"It's fine Sam," John said softly, "You weren't being selfish. You just wanted a chance to fulfill your dreams. I'm glad you understand, but you don't have to be sorry for everything. It was partly my fault too."

Sam now looked at John. He was finished explaining. It was John's turn now.

Now John looked down. Much like his youngest, he wanted to avoid those hazel eyes while he spoke.

"I didn't mean it when I told you to forget about college. It was your dream, I knew that. I shouldn't have told you to put aside your aspirations just for the sake of this family. You deserved better than that. It's only fair that you have a life aside from hunting."

"I get it Dad," the youngest Winchester said quietly. "You wanted to keep me safe. It was unfair but I understand why you did it."

Sam's lips quirked. "Even if it didn't work."

John laughed. "Apparently, since this is the firs time I've seen you face to face in two years."

Sam's eyebrows furrowed. "Face to face?" he asked questioningly.

John nodded. "Sometimes, I would visit Stanford. Just... to check on you. To make sure you were okay. I never showed myself to you though. I didn't want to get into another argument." he explained.

"Yeah, we probably would have," Sam agreed. "I never stopped taking precautions though. Rock salt and cat's eye shells around the door and the windows. I had a gun loaded with rock salt and another one with silver bullets in the back of my closet, as well as some holy water, a collection of knives and those exorcism books you gave me for my twelfth birthday."

John shook his head. "I'm a father Sam. Those things don't stop me from worrying." he said wryly.

John paused, gathering his thoughts and his words so that he would finally be able to say what he meant. "I didn't mean it when I said that you didn't understand what it was like for Mary to be gone. You might not remember her, but you never had a mother and I'm sure that because of not remembering her, because of not having her around growing up, you knew what it was like for her to be gone." John said in a rush, hoping his son would understand.

"True, but I couldn't remember her as much as you and Dean did. Even if she wasn't around growing up, I still don't know exactly, what it was like to lose her. I wish I did though." Sam said ruefully.

"No you don't," John said firmly. "It hurt like hell losing Mary and I'm just glad that you didn't have to go through all that."

"If it weren't for pictures and Dean's stories, I wouldn't even know her." Sam whispered sadly. He had always felt like an outsider when it came to his Dad and Dean. Their drive to hunt came from losing a wife and a mother. Sam didn't understand that, which was probably why he also didn't share their passion for the hunt.

"You will always know her," John reassured him. "She's your mother, and she is and will always be a part of you."

Sam smiled. "Thanks Dad."

Silence reigned once again.

"I'm sorry I wasn't the best dad. I'm sorry I wasn't able to give you normal. I'm sorry I wasn't able to show that I cared. I wasn't able to help you with your homework, bring you to baseball games, do all sorts of fatherly things. I was blinded by the Demon and your mother's death and I couldn't see past that. You and Dean deserved better." He blurted out.

"Like I said, you did your best Dad. Mom's death was a heck of a lot to deal with and you still had two kids to look after. Baseball games and things like that don't matter. What matters is that you looked after us and made sure we were okay and that we grew up alright. I mean, you didn't do so bad a job if Dean and I ended up like this. Well, Dean could use a little more work," Sam tried to inject some humor into the conversation and succeeded and getting a smile from his dad. "But we turned out okay. We're not in jail, we're not dead. We're fine, which means you did something right."

"But..."

"No buts Dad. Yeah, we deserved better, yeah, you didn't show how much you cared, yeah, it wasn't enough. Fine. But you did your best and that's what matters."

"I'm also sorry I made you choose." John continued from where he left off. "I should never have made you choose between us and school. What is this, the Middle Ages?" Sam laughed at that. "Everyone gets both. Well mostly everyone. Why shouldn't you?"

Sam laughed and sighed amusedly. "We've been over this Dad. You did it to keep me safe. Anything else you want to say?"

"I'm proud of you."

Sam's expression went from amused to shocked to mildly surprised to happy. It was something he had wanted to hear for a long time.

"I'm proud of you," John repeated. "I'm sorry I never got to tell you that. I wanted to be the one to bring you to Stanford. I wanted to be the one to help you move in. I wanted to embarrass you in front of all his new neighbors, classmates and maybe even some professors." Sam grinned. "I want to be there when you graduate, top of you class. I want you to get your diploma onstage wearing a funny looking graduation outfit. I want to be there."

"You will be." Sam replied simply.

John took a few steps toward Sam. Sam thought he was just going to shake his hand or go to the bathroom or something like that.

Never did it once cross his mind that John Winchester would hug him.

Which he did.

Then Dean opened the door.

"So, did I miss anything?"

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As the sounds of AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell' blasted through the stereos, Sam thought about the last two weeks. After the long conversation he and Dad had had, he was glad that they finally understood each other and though he knew they wouldn't always see eye to eye, at least he knew what his dad really meant and at least Dad knew what he really felt.

Afterwards, Dean had come back and they had resumed cleaning the weapons. Dean began to catch up on the things happening in his baby brother's life. Everything from professors to school to the cars around town to his friends to the girls in his life. John and Dean had had a good time grilling him about his love life. Dean was pleased to know that more than half the female population was smitten by him ("Sammy's got the mojo!" Dean had announced proudly.) and at the same time, was ashamed that Dean Winchester's (lady killer extraordinaire, according to him) baby brother didn't have a girl yet. Despite their closeness, Sam hadn't told Dean about Jessica Moore, a girl he had met in one of his classes whom he liked. Gorgeous, funny and intelligent. He liked her very much.

It was up to Dean to figure that out all on his own.

They had then packed up their things and had gone to the nearby diner to celebrate Sam's return. It wasn't the best food but it was good to be around his family all the same. That night, Dean and Sam slept on the beds while John slept on the couch.

For the next two weeks, they traveled from town to town, wherever there was a spirit or anything seemingly supernatural. They had exorcised two vengeful spirits, killed a wendigo and had gone to another town where they thought that the thing that was killing many of the chickens in that area as something exciting or dangerous. Supernatural at least.

Turned out to be a wild and very smart tiger that was killing them off. Why, they had no idea. How it even got loose was just as big a mystery.

Exciting, yes.

Dangerous, of course.

Supernatural? Ah, not so much.

Even if Sam had kept in shape while in Stanford, it took a few days for him to get used to hunting again. However, with John and Dean to back him up, no injuries occurred, save for a few scratches from the wendigo.

Oh, and Christmas Day?

Dad had treated them to breakfast at Denny's, something he used to do, even when they were young.

Of course, that came after the gifts.

There was the usual gift of knives and all sorts of weaponry. Dean and Sam had given John two knives that Sam had found at an antique store at Palo Alto which head impulsively bought and restored. John had also given them weaponry, making a few antique guns he had found as their Christmas gift. Dean had given Sam the film 'The Devil's Advocate' so as to remind him exactly what career he was getting into. It had made them all laugh and Sam promised to watch as soon as he could. Sam had given Dean a protective charm on a strong thread so that it wouldn't get lost. It was to protect him from all the things they hunted. Even though Dean complained about the fact that it was a necklace, for heaven's sakes, Sam knew he was grateful.

Oh yeah, that was probably because Sam had also gotten him a six pack of Budweiser to go along with it.

Somehow Sam had managed to buy it. Not too difficult really. They did have a million fake ID's after all.

Now, as the Impala whizzed by the sign that read 'Palo Alto', Sam felt a pang of sadness. It would be some time before he saw either one of them again, even though they promised to visit as soon and as much as possible. He would especially miss Dean. He had really missed his brother for the last two years and spending time with him again, if only for a short while, was great. He had gotten used to his brother's old habits again, the ones he had always missed during those two years at Stanford.

His possessiveness over the Impala.

His over protectiveness.

His love of fast food, which was greasy and oily and slowly killed you.

His charm and his cocky grin and his womanizing ways.

His big brother.

Before he knew it, they were in front of his apartment building, the one he had left just two weeks ago.

How fast time flies.

Sam would have invited him in but he knew that they had to get going. Another day, another evil creature ruining someone's life, another thing the Winchesters had to hunt.

"So you take care of yourself alright?" Dean said as they alighted the car.

"Yeah I will." Sam replied, sighing internally. They were going to be reminding him of different things now. Funny, they didn't do it the first time he left for college.

"Don't forget to call often."

"Don't stay out too late. Vampires are still around you know."

"Study well."

"Don't forget to take some time off."

"Don't forget all the supernatural precautions."

"Don't forget to party, enjoy yourself and get laid. Oh and getting a girl would be great too."

The last one came from Dean and it made them all laugh, although John had slapped the back of Dean's head lightly for the last comment.

"Seriously though Sammy," Dean's voice had taken a no-nonsense-you-had-better-listen-to-your-older-brother-because-he-knows-best tone. 'Look after yourself baby brother. Call if you need anything."

Sam nodded. "I will," he grinned. "Now go! Stop mother-henning me!"

Dean scowled amusedly. "I am not mother-henning you. Just making sure you'll be okay."

"I made it alright for two years. I think I'll be okay." Sam reassured, grinning at his brother's denial.

Dean simply nodded then ruffled Sammy's hair. It was so good to see his brother again. He had missed him so much.

"I'll be seeing you bitch."

"Absolutely jerk."

The brothers smiled. They might not say it but they knew; they would miss each other.

No matter. They'd be seeing each other soon.

Then Dean walked towards the Impala, giving Sam and John time to say their goodbyes.

"At least this is a much better good bye than the one last time." John smiled, something that was becoming more frequent since Sam had come back.

"Yeah."

"I'll see you soon Sam. Take care of yourself."

Sam smiled. It was good to be able to say goodbye to Dad without fighting. "I will. You and Dean take care too." he replied.

John nodded, smiled, then turned around and walked towards his truck.

As the two vehicles began to drive away, Sam saw Dean fling his arm out the window and wave in his direction. Sam knew Dean could see him through the rearview window. Sam grinned and waved back.

Sam watched the two people he cared about most in the world drive away for a few minutes before a loud voice cut into his thoughts.

"Sam! Hey Sam!'

Sam turned around and saw Pete running out of the apartment towards him, grinning. Sam smiled too, waved and waited for Pete to reach him.

"Hey man!" he said breathlessly, "Did you do what I told you to do?"

"Yeah."

"And?"

Sam shrugged. "You were right."

Pete grinned, a smug smirk overcoming his features not soon after. "Of course I was right. So everything's okay now?"

"Yup. Thanks for the advice man. You would make for an excellent Dr. Phil." Sam teased, knowing how much Pete resented him and his so-called 'do-gooder' ways.

"Yeah right man. Come one, lemme tell you all about my break. See, first of all, my sister? Turns out she's getting married. So..."

As they walked across the grassy lawn towards their apartment, Pete talked about his break. While Sam liked listening to his stories, he tuned him out and just took in everything that had happened in the last two weeks.

Stanford.

His friends.

His family.

"Hey man, are you even listening to me?"

fin

Note:

1. Dr. Phil – no offense to those who like him. He's a great guy and he's really great at helping people with their problems, etc.

2. the tiger thing – had no idea on what to put… hopefully you'll just accept that one! (sorry if it really sucked… like I said, I had no idea on what to put!)

3. vampires – I know that in Dead Man's Blood, John said they were extinct, but I just wanted to put that since they're usually the creatures that attack people in the middle of the night. Let's just say that Elkins and the other hunters made them extinct a year later, okay?

4. Their Christmas gifts – I had no idea what to get them so I just got them weapons. The charm Sam gave Dean is the one he currently wears. 'The Devil's Advocate' is not mine and I just thought of giving Sam that, seeing as I gave it to my brother who is also in college studying to be a lawyer. Once again, I forgot to ask for suggestions… sigh…

I hope you enjoyed and once again, thanks for all the reviews! You guys really motivated me to finish this story! Thanks again and don't forget to press that purple button down there to review!