After too much waiting, here it is, the final chapter. I have loved every moment of writing this and adored every one of your reviews. Thank you for wasting your free time reading this stuff, I really do appreciate it. I hope this is okay and I don't make any enemies…it is the only way I saw for this to end. You guys rock…now go on and read…
Five years, seven months, and twelve days. One hundred and sixty two angry spirits, eleven black dogs, eighty-six vampires, four chupacabras, nine wendigos, thirty-five water rafes, two hundred and six demons, and twenty-one skin walkers. Thirteen concussions, eight broken bones, two hundred and two stitches, thirty one cracked and bruised ribs, and seven weeks of hospital stays. They had Bobby and Jefferson and Father Courville and Dwight and Joshua. But more than that, they had each other.
They were Will and Henry from time to time and Emerson and Jack when they needed to be. But when they stopped for the night, locked the door, laid the salt lines, and readied the guns, they were Sam and Dean. Sammy got a gig writing articles for an online magazine and stuck with it till the editor started digging into Emerson Paige's academic records. Dean was in a train accident when he was twenty-nine, the angry spirit of a rail man, and broke his hip. No planes, no trains. Just automobiles from now on. He walked with a barely noticeable limp after that.
On that twelfth day, of that seventh month, in that fifth year, the sun crept over the horizon and found Dean sitting on the trunk of the impala sipping coffee from a paper cup. The steam from the brew wafted from the cup and bloomed in the frigid air. He had been up most of the night, just like every other night in the past two weeks. Something was off and he didn't know what exactly. Something had burrowed into his chest and stayed there, convincing him something was wrong. It ate at him and kept him awake, it snuck up on him while he was working and distracted him from the job, it sunk into his stomach when they stopped for food and ran off his appetite. At first it was this annoying something in the back of his mind, did I close the garage, is the oven on, did I turn off the coffee pot? But as the days stretched on and Sam began taking notice and it started scaring the younger man, Dean started to worry it was some kind of brother radar telling him that things were coming to a head and he'd have to save Sammy soon. Or kill him.
He swallowed his fears and chased them with some coffee before returning to the warm confines of the latest in a long string of no-tell-motels. He closed the door quietly behind him, making sure he didn't wake his brother who was still fast asleep under a pile of blankets, size fourteen, sock covered feet hanging off the end.
He put his boots up on the table and leaned back in his chair, flipping through a pile of newspaper clippings Sam had collected. He was getting into an article in the Canton Gazette about a string of mysterious deaths when his phone lit up and started buzzing.
"Dean, how you boys doing?" Bobby's gruff voice came clearly over the line.
"Well, I'm getting older and Sam's getting smarter", Dean chuckled a little, feeling the rumble in bones that felt more than thirty-two years old. "How about you?"
"I could complain, but I won't." Bobby hesitated for a moment, "Listen, where are you boys about now?"
Dean picked up the take out menu on the table in front of him and scanned for a name. "Pete's Foot, Montana".
"Pete's Foot? Where the hell is that?"
"Too far north. Too damn cold. Why what's up?" Bobby called them from time to time, checking in on them like a good father would and giving them leads on hunts like a good friend would.
"I need you two to come over here. Got something I need you to see about." Bobby never gave sensitive information over the phone, he always waited till the boys were in his line of sight to explain.
"Well, it's gonna take us about a day to get there. Can it wait that long?" Dean asked, already standing to pack his duffel.
"Yeah, but don't go screwing around, come straight here", Bobby warned.
"Alright Bobby, we'll see you tomorrow", Dean closed.
"You boys be careful". And Bobby hung up. He always told them to be careful, weather they were going out to grab chow or driving cross country, he always felt it needed to be said.
Dean stared at Sam for a minute, wishing he could sleep that peacefully. He remembered a time when Sam didn't sleep at all, constantly dreaming of Jessica's death. He was lying on his stomach, head turned to the left, arms buried under his pillow. He looked so serene, dead to the world, completely lost to sleep and comfort.
"I can fix that", Dean said to the open room.
The seasoned hunter in him made stealthy moves across the room, right next to Sam's bed. He dropped his weight slowly on to the bed, the old frame squeaked and a coil in the mattress popped. Dean stopped and waited for a sign that Sam had woken up, then continued when his brother said nothing.
But Sam had woken, one eye popping open when he felt the dip of the mattress and heard the squeak of the frame. He held still where he was, uncertain what Dean was doing, but pretty sure it was something stupid. He closed his eye and waited.
Dean reached across Sam's body and tickled the back of his neck. Sam held his tongue and twitched a little, but never let on his was awake.
Dean sighed at the lack of response and moved on. He reached for Sam's ear lobe and gave it a little tug, but again, Sam didn't move, only grunted a little. How the hell was he supposed to get any sleep with Dean screwing around?
Wedgies, whoopee cushions, and 'pull my finger', Dean had grown out of. Wet-willies he had not. He stuck his index finger in his mouth and pulled it out with an audible pop. Sam knew what was coming now, and there was no way he was going to let that happen. As Dean inched just close enough to Sam's ear to follow through with his plan, Sam came through with a threat of his own.
"You touch me again, and I'll break both of your thumbs." That was it, no movement, no lashing out, just a simple threat Dean couldn't be sure he wouldn't follow through with. So he stood up and retrieved Sam's discarded jeans from the floor.
"Time to get up, Freak", Dean announced, "Bobby's got something for us so we need to head out soon."
Sam growled at the idea of leaving his warm cocoon on the bed.
Dean threw the jeans at his brother where they landed on his head in a pile, "Get up sweetheart, car's leaving in thirty minutes with or without you."
It was the same ride they had take a million times before: straight up the interstate, turn off at exit number 187, make a left onto Firethorn Road, and follow it till it turns to gravel. Dean had taken his baby down that stretch so many times, he was sure she knew the way on her own.
When they finally crossed the iron gates of 'Singer's Salvage' it was late afternoon and both Winchesters were exhausted. Dean parked it right in front, behind Bobby's rig.
Sam climbed out of the car, stretching his legs and raising his arms over his head, as Bobby slipped out of the screen door. All two hundred and something pounds of Cletus came barreling toward Sam, but the animal stopped abruptly when his chain ran short. Sam walked over to the beast and scratched him behind the ears while rubbing his belly with the other hand.
"How was the drive?" Bobby asked.
"Long." Dean closed the back door and slung his bag over his shoulder before extending his hand to Bobby.
Singer took the hand and shook it firmly before pulling Dean into a brief hug.
"What about you?"
Bobby lifted the filthy ball cap from his head and scratched at his scalp. It was his tell, Dean had seen it before. What ever was going on, Bobby wasn't a willing participant and it made him uncomfortable. He dodged the question, anxious to get things moving along.
"Let's head on into the house and out of this cold. I'll get you two some coffee." He didn't wait for the brothers reaction, just turned his back and headed for the house.
"What's this hunt?" Dean questioned as they walked up the drive.
Bobby stopped cold in his tracks and his blue eyes pierced Dean. "Not a hunt boys."
Dean dropped his bags and looked at Sam then back to Bobby. "What are you talking about?"
"Come on in the house. You'll understand." The old man ate up the few feet to the door and slipped inside before either of the boys could make any protestations.
of windows in every room, but a lack of light. It wasn't that Bobby kept the shades drawn to keep sunlight out, it was the books that piled up to the ceiling that blocked it out. They lined every wall in every room, up against the windows, in front of chairs, and blocking any clear path.
Today was the same, bright outside, dark inside. When Sam stepped through the door first he followed Bobby into the kitchen, eyes straight ahead. Dean brought up the rear, dropping his bag near the entryway, stopping dead in his tracks when he saw the form of a man in the recliner near the front window. It was dark enough that Dean couldn't see who the man was, so he stepped softly toward the man.
"Shit", Bobby sputtered when he saw Dean moving.
When Dean got close enough he could see his fathers face. His skin was tinted yellow and he was easily thirty pounds lighter than he had been the last time he'd seen him. "Dad?" Dean stepped closer.
John turned his head and opened his eyes, glossed with pain. There was a thin sheen of sweat on his brow and his breathing was labored and ragged. He smiled at the sight of his oldest son. "Dean."
Dean caught himself as his knees buckled. "What's wrong Dad? Are you hurt?" John's skin was cold and clammy when Dean touched him.
"Dean", Bobby interrupted. "Come in the kitchen and I'll explain."
Dean patted his father's hand and nodded to Bobby. "Yeah, okay."
In the kitchen Bobby asked both boys to sit down. Sam had seen his father and watched his and Dean's brief exchange. He was more than willing to sit, his head swimming a little from a sighting of the Great John Winchester. Dean opted to stand, no way he could plant himself anywhere.
"Your Daddy came here a few weeks ago." Bobby was leaning against the sink clearly searching for the right words. "He's on his last leg boys. About a year ago some white coat told him he had cirrhosis and a few months back it changed to liver failure."
Sam couldn't help it. "Holy shit", slipped past his lips.
"He showed up looking for a place to rest. Told me when it got bad he wanted me to call you two. He wants to make some kind of peace with you before he goes."
"I…I don't understand", Sam stuttered. Dean was completely silent, hands shoved in his pockets.
"Since the day your Mama died, the only curves your Daddy has had his hands on belonged to the bottle. Been hitting it harder these last few years." Bobby looked away in the direction of the den where John was, "I guess Jim and Jack and Jose finally caught up to him."
"How long?" Sam asked.
"Don't know for sure. It's been getting worse everyday. He's conscious a few minutes a day, coming to long enough to ask for painkillers, then he passes out again. I'm sorry. It shouldn't be long."
Dean hadn't moved since the conversation started but now he was moving, rushing out the door and ignoring the way Sam called him name.
He made it to the gravel drive and dropped down, desperation and anguish drawing him out of the confines of the house and away from the issue.
When Sam made it out of the door he immediately saw Dean and heard him mumbling. He crossed the drive and stopped behind Dean. He was squatting in the gravel, his head between his knees, and his hands on the back of his neck. He was chanting over and over again, "not like this, it's not time yet, he can't go."
"Hey, hey", Sam was whispering and grabbing Dean's shoulder.
Dean shot up at the touch, spinning around in time to see Sam stand up again.
"Shit, I can't do this man. I knew this was coming, ya know? I've had this horrible feeling for weeks now. This is what it was." Dean was pacing, his hands running from his hair to his chin to his hips, then back to his hair.
"Not eating, not sleeping", Sam was putting the pieces together, "I knew something was bothering you."
"Yeah", Dean scoffed. "So what do we do now?"
Sam stepped in front of Dean to stop him. He looked him in the eye, "We go back in there and talk to him. Say what's got to be said."
Dean closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Together?"
"Well, I'm not gonna hold your hand", Sam laughed softly and tried to lighten the mood, "But yeah, we'll do it together."
A dull yellow and muted green blanket was draped across his legs and torso, doing what little it could to protect his failing body from the bitter cold that crept up through the floor boards. He was aware that the end was coming, but it didn't bother him. He knew that this was his chance to see his sons again and tell them all the things he never said. And he knew that once he drew his last breath he'd see his own father again and get the chance to kiss his mothers soft cheek and finally, finally hold Mary close to him again.
When he opened his eyes, Dean was sitting on top of a pile of books to his right and Sam was in a chair on his left. Dean was holding his hand, his own so cold and Dean's so warm and soft.
"Hey Dad", Dean whispered. "How you feeling?"
"Do you need anything?" Sam piped in.
John smiled, his lips stretching weakly across his teeth. "Not bad", he drew a ragged breath. "Got what I need."
Dean kept going, he knew if he stopped now he'd never do this. "Bobby told us what's going on Dad, about the liver failure. Why…" Dean gave himself a second to catch his breath, "Why didn't you call us?"
"I wanted to give you boys time. Get past what happened all those years ago." Every word John said floated on raspy breaths.
"But you're sick Dad. We could have been there, taken care of you," Sam pressed.
John smiled again and shook his head slowly, "Needed you out on the road saving people, not sitting on your hands watching an old man die."
Sam held his tongue. He wanted to tell his father that it should have been his choice, not John's. But he knew that now was not the time and any heated words spoken would only be a waste of time and breath.
"Listen boys," John licked his lips, "I want you to know that no matter how things appeared or what happened I always did what I thought was best. I never meant to hurt you two. I only wanted to raise you right and protect you. Because I love you."
"Dad," Dean mumbled in protest.
"No son, let me…" he closed his eyes and took deep breaths, clearly in pain. "Let me finish saying what I need to say to you."
"I'm sorry you had to be the parent all those years Dean. I'm sorry you had to take care of your brother and I and that you never got to be a kid. I'm sorry for all the things I've asked you to do over the years that I had no right to ask. I am so proud of you for being the man you are, you are so much more than this old man deserves."
Dean squeezed his fathers hand and looked him in the eye, "You made me this way Dad. I wouldn't be this man if it weren't for you."
John smiled at his oldest son before he turned to Sam. "And Sammy. Every time I look at you I see your mother. She had the same eyes and the same stubborn streak. You're smart like her Sammy. And that heart of yours, you got it from her too. There are so many things that I wanted you to have when you were growing up, but I was too stubborn to give them to you. I remember after Mary died you'd cry and cry and cry. One night you looked at me and said 'Mama'. I didn't know what to do, so I handed you to your brother and I drank a bottle of whiskey. After that it was always 'Dean' when you were upset. I was never there for you. I never gave you a home or a real life. I never saw you for who you really were Sam and I'm sorry."
Sam sniffled and brushed John's hair from his sweaty brow. "It took me a lot of years to understand you Dad. Looking back on things I can see that you were trying. I know it wasn't easy after mom died. When Jessica died I had Dean to lean on. When mom died you had nowhere to lean, you just had us leaning on you. No one can get through that alone, but somehow you did. And you don't have to apologize for anything that I didn't get growing up. My home has always been where you two took me and I never needed more than that."
John's eye were shinning with tears and pain as he looked at his son's, more pride and love in his chest than he'd ever felt before. He had his son's and that was all he needed now.
"We love you Dad and we're gonna stay here with you as long as we need to." Dean gave his father the best smile he had and settled in for the long haul.
"Thank you", John whispered as his eyes closed and he slipped off to sleep.
In the end, it was three days. Three days of sitting at their father's side, drinking gallons of coffee and never sleeping for fear of missing any moment they had left. Three days of blankets and painkillers and holding hands. Three days of talking about life on the road and the memories they all shared. Three days of talking about being more than hunters, of being Winchesters. Three days of being the best kind of family they knew how to be.
And late on a Tuesday afternoon, with his final breath, John whispered "Mary" and slipped away from this world.
Dean locked himself in the back bedroom for two hours and Sam cried on Bobby's shoulder. When Dean did finally come out Bobby silently took his keys and left the brothers alone to try and make some peace with what had happened. They hugged and told each other that things would be okay as long as they stuck together. They told their father good-bye for the last time and covered his body.
The next afternoon they built a funeral pyre and burned the shell that had carried their father for so many years. His soul was gone now to a better place where he could finally be with the woman he loved, away from the pain and the demons and the fight.
Their father had two dog tags, one for each son. Dean hung his on his key chain and Sam kept his in his wallet. Constant reminders of who their father was.
Sam gave Dean the space he thought he needed, never asking him questions, just watching him sulk and brood. By the end of the week he knew it was time for them to move on, so he asked the question that would decide their plan of action. He was in the kitchen cleaning his gun for the hundredth time when Sam approached him. He didn't sugar coat it or beat around the bush, he just asked.
"Are you okay?" Hazel eyes shinning with emotion.
Dean put the gun and the towel down on the table and looked up at Sam. "No. But I will be."
Like Jesse and Frank James they rode off into the sunset to wage another battle and stir up a little more trouble. In the years to come they would fight to save Sam and strive to live a happy life. They would lose more friends and more family down the road. They eventually killed the yellow eyed demon and ended a lifetime of fighting. They carried on, destroying evil and saving innocent people, never forgetting what their father taught them.
No matter where life took them or who they claimed to be or where the abandoned roads and back highways led, they were just two bothers fighting the good fight. Two Winchesters. Sam and Dean.
Can you believe it's over? I am so sad to end this story. I looked back and I have been writing for almost six months. I have received more than 450 reviews, not one of them anything but love and praise. I wish I could do the same for all of you, you have truly inflated my ego at times. A lot of times writing this story took me away from the pressures of work and real life, at others it was something I didn't think I could do. Thank you all so much for taking this ride with me, thank you for reading my story and praising it's ups and downs. From the first chapter you guys cheered me on and made writing this so much fun! You are the greatest group of readers and may I say, not for the first time and hopefully not for the last, YOU ROCK MY SOX! 'He Don't Need No Hoodoo Mojo' is complete.
All that said, my new fiction should start soon. It will be titled 'Grown Up Orphans'. I know you will all love it, so please keep an eye out for it.
NOW…I need peach pie and ice cream. Heather, I know that schmoopy mess earned me both. So go forth and review, prove that you really love me.