"I know what I said earlier and I should have phrased it better. Because I didn't mean it the way it came out. I was so caught up in the idea we might actually be getting close to the Demon I didn't really think about what I was saying" said Sam earnestly.

Dean frowned but true to his word he said nothing, just waiting to see what Sam said next.

"I meant what I said about not wanting things to be the way they were. But that doesn't mean I want us to split up, Dean. Yes, I want to go back to College and yes, I want to give up hunting – at least on a full time basis – but whatever I do I want you to be a part of it. I had this idea see, about what we can do once it's all over" he said. "I want us to get a home together. I want you to do something you actually want to do, maybe even go to College or get a job doing something you love. I'm not saying you have to give up hunting completely, because I know you won't do that, but maybe that could be something you do only now and then. Hell, I'll even help you with it when you do - I don't want you hunting alone. But whatever it is you choose then I want to be a part of that. Because I can't go through the last two years again"

As he said the last part Sam looked away, swallowing as he blinked back the tears that were suddenly welling again.

He turned round again when he felt Dean's hand on his arm, and he saw his brother was looking at him questioningly, compassion clear in his eyes.

"What do you mean you can't go through the last two years again?" he said softly.

"I mean that leaving you behind, not talking to you – it was the hardest thing I've ever done. I told you that before, and I still mean it. I can't do that again, I just can't. The idea of you being out there alone, no one to watch your back? I mean what am I supposed to do Dean? Just sit there and wait for the phone call one day that tells me you finally ran out of luck?"

Sam's voice broke a little at the end and Dean went to speak but Sam cut him off, shaking his head.

"No Dean! I know what you're gonna say, about you being the older one and you don't need anyone watching out for you, but guess what? You're not invincible and you're not Superman! What if I hadn't found you out there tonight? You could have bled to death right there in the car! Is that what you want huh? You want to end up checking out in some middle-of-nowhere town, without anyone even being there?"

Dean paled and Sam felt a pang of guilt. He knew being alone was Dean's worst fear, but he also knew he needed to make Dean understand that he didn't have to handle everything by himself. And if a few moments of pain could achieve that then he would do it, however hard it was.

Dean looked away from Sam, struggling to keep his composure. The resolve he'd gathered to enable him to let his brother go was crumbling with every word. His mind was swirling with emotions and he could feel the walls he was always so careful to keep in place eroding more and more every minute.

Sam put his hand on Dean's shoulder. "Dean please – look at me" he said softly, and finally Dean looked up meeting his gaze. Sam's heart clenched at the pain he saw there.

"Dean, I just want to be there for you – the way you always are for me. Is that so hard to understand? I don't want to leave you behind, I want us to stick together. Please – don't do this ok?" he said, almost pleading.

Dean shook his head "I just want you to be happy Sam" he said, his voice barely a whisper.

"Then don't do this. All I want is for us to face whatever is coming together Dean" said Sam simply.

Dean held Sam's gaze, desperately trying to see if what he was saying was true. And it was – he could see that clearly.

The ache he had felt, caused by Sam's words earlier about letting him go, was swept away by Sam's plans for their future. And in it's place was something different – hope. That everything would be ok. That he might actually get that home he'd always dreamt of. That his brother still needed him in his life however old – and annoyingly tall – he got.

Dean managed a smile "Ok, Sammy. If that's really what you want. We'll do it your way" he said, his voice trembling just a little.

Sam's face split into a relieved smile. What Dean had been prepared to do for him meant more than he would ever tell him. But every word he'd just said had been the truth. He couldn't handle them going their separate ways again, not now, not ever.

He knew Dean would never indulge in a 'chick-flick moment', not without there being near death involved somewhere along the line, but Sam needed contact with his brother right now if only to reassure himself that he was still there.

Leaning forward he rested his forehead against Dean's, and to his surprise, Dean let him. It was not a hug, Winchester's did not indulge in spontaneous hugging, but for a moment Sam felt like perhaps he was taking some of the weight from his brother. Even if just for a moment.

Dean sat there, leaning against Sam, and felt the tension draining from his body. He was just resting for a moment, that's all. And he definitely was not welling up. No way. He just had something in his eye. As did Sam as well apparently, when he finally sat back and met Dean's gaze with a smile.

Sitting back against the headboard, Dean closed his eyes for a second feeling a wave of tiredness wash over him.

"Hey, do you remember when you had appendicitis when you were 12?" said Sam suddenly. Dean opened his eyes, and looked at Sam with raised eyebrows.

"Ok, random?" he said and Sam shrugged.

"I was thinking about it earlier. Even back then you were so stubborn about admitting you needed anything. And you almost died because of it. Do you remember when I saw you, at the hospital after?"

Dean smirked "Course I remember Sammy – you had a total meltdown. Yelled at me for twenty minutes and then stood there bawling"

Sam rolled his eyes and whacked Dean's leg with his hand. "I did not 'meltdown' Dean" he said and Dean just chuckled.

"Dude – you so did. I thought you were gonna hyperventilate"

"Yeah well, you almost died. And I was the one who found you like that" said Sam seriously.

Dean's chuckles faded and he looked guilty "I know Sam, and I said I was sorry" he said softly and Sam shook his head.

"I wasn't saying it to make you feel guilty Dean. I was trying to say you need to remember. Even though I'm not a kid anymore, I still feel exactly the same about my big brother as I did back then" he said softly.

Dean stared at Sam. Hearing his brother say that meant more to him than he could ever have put into words. Not trusting his voice, he simply nodded and Sam smiled, his face flushing a little with embarrassment.

Realising that they had more than reached their limit for the emotional stuff, Sam got up.

"I don't know about you but I could sleep for a week" he said.

"I'm with you there" said Dean, yawning widely as he slid down the bed to lie down properly.

Things weren't perfect. The big fight was still coming, and John was still out there somewhere by himself, but they'd cleared up a lot of the issues that had been hanging over them for the last few months and both of them felt lighter for it.

Sam quickly changed and got into the other bed, turning the light out first. The moonlight from outside came through the window at an angle, bathing the room in a soft glow.

Sam had almost dropped off already when he heard Dean's voice.

"Hey Sammy?" he said quietly.

"Yeah?"

"Thanks. You know, for what you said. And for coming after me. And everything."

Dean tailed off, his face glowing with embarrassment and feeling eternally grateful that Sam couldn't see him right now.

Sam knew it was hard for Dean to talk about stuff like this, so he kept it simple. They'd been deep enough for a lifetime tonight.

"You're welcome" he said softly and Dean smiled.

Suddenly a thought occurred to him. Cursing himself for not having asked before he lifted his head again.

"Hey Sam – the car is alright isn't it?" he said, concern flooding his voice.

On the other side of the room Sam smiled. He knew it was wicked, but perhaps he could get some payback for the fear he'd felt finding the room empty earlier. Pulling the covers further up to his head, he said nothing and closed his eyes.

"Come on Sam, I'm serious! She's ok right? Sam? Sammy!"