Summary: Well if you're still reading this you should sure know what's going on by now!
Here you have it, all wrapped up with a nice bow. And for those of you who feared some sort of Grand Canyon sized rift between our heroes… Oh ye of little faith…
Dean picked his way through the wreckage of the lobby, all the while trying to ignore the fact that his hip felt like it wasn't properly attached to his body. He could sense Sam hovering close behind him should he fall and nearly laughed at the absurdity of it. Sam was only a gentle nudge away from collapsing himself. If Dean fell on him, he'd probably pass out.
Finally making it past the rubble, they emerged from the building into the fresh night air and Dean stopped dead in his tracks. He automatically put out a hand to stop Sam behind him so that he was shielded as well as possible.
"Officer Avery," Dean nodded coolly. Ben, the ever-dour and threatening member of the clan, was standing ten feet away at the end of the sidewalk, leaning against the side of his police cruiser. He was watching them warily and his hand was resting on his gun. Dean instinctively tightened his grip on Marigold, but fought the urge to bring her to bear. Time enough for that later if this all went south.
"Did you need something, Ben?" Dean kept his voice nice and level. Sam would be so proud.
"You want to tell me what just happened in there?" the policeman asked.
"Nope," Dean answered simply. Sam moved to stand beside him and this time Dean acquiesced, a gentle reminder to the cop that he was outnumbered, outgunned and one of his opponents was a giant. "I'm thinking a 'don't ask don't tell' policy is going to work best on this one."
"You…" Ben's expression crumbled for just a second before reforming into its blank mask. "Did you take care of it? Whatever it was?"
"And then some," Dean sighed.
"What's that supposed to mean?" the officer asked, warning in his tone.
"It means yes," Sam said more soothingly. "One of the inmates who died here in the riot had a bone to pick with a guard. Your brother, Nick, just got caught in the crossfire."
"But whatever killed him… It's dead? Permanently?"
"Yes," Sam answered with conviction.
Ben sighed as if a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders and he sagged against the car, his hand falling away from his gun. "Good," he nodded, his voice slightly broken, "good." His eyes moved from Sam back to Dean. "Thank you."
Slightly embarrassed, Dean cleared his throat and was immediately sorry for it. Freaking ghost had never laid a hand on him, but it felt like he'd been throttled. He bent forward coughing and his hip protested immediately. He felt Sam set a hand against his back and Dean drew in a shallow, shaky breath.
"You ok?" the policeman asked. Dean looked up to see that the man already had a hand raised to his radio to request an ambulance.
Dean straightened and fought down the urge to cough again. "Fine. Sam here's the one who got hit in the head with a shovel."
"I'm fine, too," Sam said quickly. "Nothing that hasn't happened before."
"You've been hit in the head with a shovel?" Dean raised an eyebrow.
Dean smiled involuntarily. "Oh, yeah. The deranged yak looking thing."
"Glad to see you're just as sympathetic now as you were then," Sam said, pursing his lips.
Ben cleared his throat to draw their attention back. "I thought I saw the mayor," he said. "Is he still here?"
Dean shifted uncomfortably and he and Sam shared a quick look.
"He, uhhh…" Sam trailed off.
"Congratulations. Your sister's just been promoted," Dean finished for him.
"Oh?" Ben said, as if it were the simplest thing in the world.
"Yeah." Dean shared another uneasy glance with Sam.
Suddenly Ben gave a chagrinned huff that might have been a chuckle. "As if that woman needed help being any more hoity-toity. She'll make us all call her Madam Mayor. I still remember when we called her Peanut."
"They go off to college and get all uppity," Dean commiserated.
"Dean…" Sam growled.
"See what I mean?"
The policeman snorted.
"So," Dean said, straightening, Marigold still firmly in his grip, "you going to cart us away or are we going to get to drive off into the sunset?"
"This is what you two do?" Ben asked instead of answering. "All the time?"
"Not as glamorous as you were expecting, is it," Dean stated. "And just so you know… the rumor about Sam and his hairdresser… So not true."
Ben pushed away from the car and opened the driver's side door. "I'll tell my dad that you took care of it. I know he'll be grateful, my brothers as well. Even Tabitha…"
"But?" Dean knew it was coming. The beauty of law enforcement was that if nothing else, it was predictable.
"But you two are fugitives. I don't want to see you here again."
"Understood," Sam said before Dean could answer.
"Good." Ben got into the cruiser and pulled away without a second glance.
Dean looked at Sam and smiled. "I think we're growing on him. Remind me to send him a friendship bracelet for Christmas."
"Shut up, Dean." Sam shook his head and Dean had to grab him when he started to sway.
"You stay upright, you hear me?" Dean ordered. "Thanks to Pete, I've got the hip of an eighty year old woman. I don't need to be hauling your sorry carcass around."
"Sure," Sam answered groggily. "Where's the car?"
"Twenty feet to your right. Can you make it?" Sam didn't answer and Dean kept a hand on his arm as they walked.
"You know…" Sam said softly, "what Pete said…"
"Don't worry about it," Dean said quickly.
"No, Dean. I…"
"You weren't even listening to what I said to Pete, were you?" Dean asked, irritation sneaking into his voice.
"I told him I already knew how you felt," Dean reminded him. "And I do. I'm your brother. You think I don't know you better than a ghost with issues the size of Texas?"
Sam stopped walking and looked at him, his eyes clear again. "I was afraid…"
"That you think I'm an amoral thug?" Dean shrugged. "You do. Sometimes," he added a moment later.
Sam's eyes widened. "Surely…"
"And sometimes I think you're a preachy, self-righteous, uptight virgin. Maybe sometimes you need to be… to get the job done… or to keep me in line… whatever."
Sam was silent just staring at him, his face unreadable.
"And, dude, don't call me Shirley."
Sam's relief was visible. Dean could see something in him relax and then Sam grabbed his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"If you try to hug me, I'll go find that shovel," Dean warned. "I've had years of training. I'll show the politicians how to get a job done." He physically turned Sam toward the car and pointed. "Now get in before you fall down."
Sam settled into the passenger seat, closing his eyes against the throbbing pain in his head. He kept them closed as Dean got in and started the car. The rumble of the engine was a soothing massage and Sam allowed it to seep into his tired muscles.
After several moments, however, it finally dawned on Sam that they weren't moving. He opened his eyes and turned toward Dean. His expression was troubled, looking through the windshield at the old jail.
"What is it?" Sam asked.
Dean looked startled and reached to put the car in gear, but Sam blocked his hand. Dean shot him an uneasy glance, then quickly looked away, locking down the distress that had shown on his face. He pursed his lips and Sam could see him thinking furiously, trying to work through something in his mind.
"Dean, what is it?"
Dean continued looking at the jail until finally Sam thought he wasn't going to answer.
"Dean," Sam coaxed gently.
"He killed his brother." The words were quiet, troubled. They hung in the air, painful and bringing up so much more than the just-finished hunt. Sam felt like he'd been sucker-punched. It was everything that they'd been worrying about and fighting over and fighting against for months now.
"We weren't there. Maybe it was… necessary," Sam answered through a suddenly constricted throat. "Pete, he'd lost his way. He was dangerous."
"No," Dean said vehemently. "No."
"Sometimes it has to be done."
Dean looked at him then. Anger, fear, belligerence, denial, but also a silent and often repeated vow, to serve and protect. It all swept across Dean's face in only a few seconds, freezing Sam's breath in chest. He knew he was right about what he'd said to the ghost. Dean wasn't afraid of him. Dean was afraid for him.
Then it all passed, gone as quickly as it had appeared, replaced by Dean's patented nothing-can-bother-me smirk. "Well, remind me not to get possessed anytime soon." He put the car in gear. "Apparently, you'll just shoot me."
"Dean!" Sam said, horrified.
"Just kidding, Sam. Lighten up," Dean raised an eyebrow. "I'm sure you'd do your best to just wing me."
Sam blinked, stunned. Amazed, as always, by how quickly Dean could go from being nearly beaten down by worry to brushing it off and laughing at the disaster that was their lives.
"I'd appreciate it if you'd leave off the shoulder for a bit. It's still tender," Dean suggested off-handedly.
Fighting the urge to strangle his ever-sensitive brother, Sam sighed heavily. "You're an ass. You know that?"
"And apparently, I'm uncouth, whatever that is. I think I should put it on my business cards. Sounds cool."
"You do that," Sam said, settling back down into the seat.
As they pulled away, Dean turned on the radio and Sam groaned. "Please, man. Enough with the Boston. I can't take any more."
"Sam, you know the rules. You honor the fallen."
"Dude, it wasn't the Kennedy assassination," Sam said in exasperation. "The band's lead singer died."
"He sang for truth, justice and stadium rock everywhere," Dean shot back.
"Yeah, Dean. Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and Brad Delp. That makes perfect sense."
"Sammy…" Dean said, as if despairing of his brother ever understanding. "It's all in how you look at it. Gotta see these things from the right angle."
"And what does that mean?"
"Means I'm just looking for some 'Peace of Mind'," Dean answered, only half-joking. "Brad understood that. That's why this is Boston Memorial Week." He shifted his weight as they pulled out of the jail parking lot and hissed involuntarily, holding a hand to his hip.
"Yeah, well we're both a wreck," Sam said. "We need some rest first and then we can worry about peace of mind." As soon as he said it, Sam wondered if it were even possible. Peace of mind. Peace of any kind, really. They were Winchesters, soldiers. They were at war. What if no matter what angle they took it from, no matter how they looked at what was ahead, there was no way to win? What if there was no peace of mind to be had, not for them?
Dean shook his head. "Hey, Mr. Doom and Gloom?"
"I can practically see steam coming out of your ears, man. Will you turn your brain off?" Dean gave him a sidelong glance. "It's had a rough night already."
"Yeah, yeah." Sam looked out the window as the countryside flew by and realized just how fast they were going. Dean was apparently on a mission to get them as far away from the jail as fast as he could. "Man, you better slow down or you're gonna get a ticket."
"It's ok," Dean gave him a wide, white-toothed grin, pushing the pedal to the floor. "I know the new mayor. She loves me."
And there you have it. Hope it kept you amused for a day or two. Pardon the Boston moment at the end. When I saw the story on the news, I knew Dean would have noted it as well.