This is the final chapter, and many, many thanks to all who've been reading. All the great comments mean so much to me! I have the third in this series in the works, still trying to come up with a title, so far the choices are Eye Wall, Landfall or Storm Surge...any thoughts? And yes, Craven is here to stay! Special thanks to msnancydrew for her help and hard work as Beta.

Laura


Michael Sheridan hadn't been a doctor long, but he'd been one long enough to know what deep down bone-weary tired was. He felt it most days now. Another two years and he'd be done with his residency. Provided he'd live another two years and didn't drop dead from exhaustion. So when he got the page he had a phone call, right at the end of his shift no less he seriously thought about pretending he didn't hear and walk out the door. Problem was Michael Sheridan was also an honest man, he couldn't do that. Turned out it was fantastic he didn't.

"This is Dr. Sheridan." He took the phone, twisted away from the nurses' station so they wouldn't be disturbed by his conversation.

"Hi, you probably don't remember me, my name is Dean. I was in your hospital a while back, in a car wreck with my dad and kid brother. I was in a coma for a few days, but my dad ended up not making it."

Sheridan searched his memory, how many crash victims did they see? This guy was probably pissed his father died, and now was going to sue his ass from here to the next galaxy. He fumbled for a pen, found some paper in his lab coat pocket, the hospital legal office would want any information he could give. "Um, car wreck, unfortunately we get a lot of those—"

"Yeah, I figured. We were hit by a semi, it was almost two years ago. Anyway my kid brother, it was hard on him, and we've really only been able to talk about it recently."

His mind clicked, and he remembered them, or thought he did. It was the way this voice said 'kid brother' how it filled Sheridan's chest with warmth. He remembered the kid, tall with shaggy hair, the kid who refused to believe his brother might die, refused to believe his brother was even capable of dying. "Sam, your brother's name is Sam?"

The sheer love that came through the phone with this Dean's next statement had Sheridan leaning against the counter for support. "That's him, my brother, Sam." There was a deep breath drawn, a plunge about to be taken. "He told me about you, what you did for him while I was…while I was out. Our mom died when he was a baby, dad worked most the time. We really always just had each other, it was hard on him, those few days. And I wanted to thank you for what you did for him, it helped him a lot, not telling him to give up, let go. Sammy, he told me how you explained everything to him, all the medical stuff, said you were a cool guy. Sammy hardly says anyone is cool…" A short, quick laugh, "Well except for me. I would have called sooner to thank you, but it took me a bit to track you down, I was sort of out of it then. Didn't get a lot of names."

It took a few seconds for him to realize this caller didn't want to sue him, this guy thought he'd done something extraordinary by explaining a few medical terms to an upset, grief stricken brother.

"You there?"

Sheridan chuckled softly, "Yeah, sorry, man, I was expecting to hear you were going to sue me or something. You caught me a bit off guard."

Now it was the caller's turn to chuckle, "Sue you? Dude, anyone who takes care of my little brother like you did for me…well you call me if anyone tries to sue you and they can tell it to me."

Laughing out right now, why did Sheridan get the feeling this Dean guy would change anyone's mind with a mere look? Then he remembered he was a doctor and this man had once been his patient. "So how are you? How's your brother?"

"Aww, great, we're great. Thanks. You helped the kid a lot. I wanted you to know that."

He suddenly had an overwhelming urge to give something back to his man, his mind spun in circles, what could he offer? Our mom died when he was a baby…always just had each other…It clicked together, this man he barely remembered had raised his little brother who if Sheridan was remembering correctly wasn't so little. This little brother was much more than a brother to this caller, he was a bright, shining star in this man's world. "Your brother's a great kid, you raised him very well."

There was no missing or mistaking the absolute glow that seemed to emanate from the phone at the man's next statement. "He is, thanks, thanks a lot. For everything."

"Hey, if you two ever get back this way, stop by, say hello."

"We will, that'd be great. I'd better let you go. Take care."

"You too. Thanks for calling." He slowly replaced the receiver, rubbing the back of his head with his other hand. That right there, that was it. He was about a million dollars in debt from years of school. He worked thirty-hour shifts, had no life outside this hospital, spent endless hours worrying over every decision he made…and that right there was what made it all worth it. Calls from people like this Dean made it all more than worthwhile. Made him glad and proud he'd become a doctor.


Dean folded the phone closed, leaned back against the steps, closed his eyes and soaked in the late fall sun. Long legs stretched in front of him he barely cracked one eye open when he heard footsteps coming from the house behind him. Sam walked down the few steps at the back of Craven's house, settling next to Dean, elbow nudging his side gently before letting his shoulder rest against Dean's. Sometimes it seemed Sam had some sort of sixth sense about Dean's moods, knew exactly when he should stick close enough for Dean to touch, feel his presence, and never seemed unwilling to do so.

"I should have planted more bulbs over on that side of the house." Dean pointed to the far right corner.

"We can go get some, do it before we leave."

Arching one eyebrow, growling a bit before snorting a short laugh Dean gave his brother a bogus serious glare. "What's this we shit Sammy? The only thing you planted while we were here was your ass on these steps while you told me I needed to measure the distance between the shrubs before planting them. Which by the way is so anal."

"Hey, I was working." Sam protested, then grinned when Dean growled at him again. He was really going to have to work on that growl since it impressed absolutely no one and always made Sam smile. He reached over, taking the object Craven had given them from Dean's knees. "This is really cool. That was nice, him giving this to you."

"He gave to us both." Dean shoved his elbows behind him, propping himself up, watching Sam turn the small spotting scope over in his hands. Maybe a foot in length, it had a copper finish and the constellation Orion etched along its length. The finish was well worn and warm to the touch, lighter in the middle, the soft sheen darkening toward ends that were nearly black. Dean could only guess how many years of use it had, or how old it was. But he'd tried it already, focusing first on some clouds and then cars down the street. It worked perfectly. He couldn't wait to try it out at night. Even though he suspected the true purpose of the gift, it was a thoughtful gesture. The scope would not be left idle, it would be used.

"Concha gave me an astronomy program for the laptop so we can find the constellations better, plot the stars…" Sam's words were cut off when Dean whapped him across the chest. "Dude?!"

"Only you would want to use a computer to look at stars."

"Actually no, lots of people do. NASA does." The last words were singsong, a taunt.

Dean just laughed, "Not with one of these scopes you don't. This one gets used the old fashioned way."

"Hummm…like how you play tapes in the car and not CD's?"

"Exactly Sammy."

Sam huffed a sigh, but remained otherwise silent. Another few minutes passed in comfortable silence before Dean's hand smacked Sam's knee, "Whadya say kiddo, ready to hit the road? Get after things that go bump in the night again?"

"Dean, things don't go bump in the night around you, they go crash, they go bang and they explode, they do not go bump!"

"Keeps you on your toes Sammy."

"I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that thing." Sam's voice was soft, his eyes shifted to focused down at some point on the steps.

Dean's fingers wound around the back of Sam's neck, giving a squeeze before he stood, stretched. "I know Sammy." Holding out his hand for Sam to pull up on. "Me neither, but we'll get through it together." Dean knew what he was asking scared Sam, but his brother would do what he always did, had always done, have faith Dean would watch out for him. He'd follow Dean simply because Dean asked. Secure in the knowledge it was the right thing to do because Dean said it was so, and trusted all would eventually be ok, because Dean said it was so. Whatever it was Dean did to deserve what Sam always freely offered he wasn'tsure, but he hoped to keep right on doing it. He was blessed, having Sam, and couldn't imagine life without his brother. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Sam in their lives.


Craven waited until the boys, he'd come to think of them as the boys, or the brothers, were well away from Ithaca, on the road to their next destination before he stepped into his circle and once again faced John Winchester. This time the obstinate man didn't try to leave the circle, contended himself with pacing around inside it.

They stood considering one another for a few minutes before John raised his hands in a 'what now?' motion and smirked at Craven. At least Craven knew where the boys got these things from.

"Do they know?" John finally spoke.

Craven's eyebrows shot up, "Do they know? Hell, I don't even know yet, so how could I possibly tell either of them? What I do know, what I can tell you is I think Dean's greatest fears have been put to rest. Sam won't be alone, neither of them will be. They love each other more than they're afraid of any evil, and that really is enough. As for the rest, when, if the time comes, I'll tell them what needs to be done. For now, they've got things to do."

Now it was John's turn to sport a surprised expression. "You'll tell Sam what to do?" He stepped closer to Craven, a hand on each of Craven's shoulders, patting lightly. "Good luck with that, you'll have to lemme know how it works out for you."

"They'll do just fine." He moved so his mouth was close to John's ear, dropped his voice to be low, menacing like he hadn't done in…well in a really long time. "You see, your boys, not the only ones raised to be hunters, not the only ones whose father was a hunter. Don't think for one minute I don't know what I'm doing.'

Before John could comment further Craven waved one hand and was alone in the room again. He could only take that man in small doses and wondered yet again how Dean and Sam turned out how they did. But, he really did know the answer to that question, had all along since he'd first met them. If John Winchester reminded Craven of his own grandfather, obsessed, driven, seeing a narrow world hampered by self imposed blinders, then Dean reminded Craven of his own father. Craven had been born later in his father's life, but he supposed in his younger days his father was much like the man he saw in Dean Winchester now. The Dean Craven knew now was well on his way to becoming much like the father Craven knew, the man his father had become. Dean had already completed one of his purposes, he'd raised Sam and raised him well. However, there was still the matter of Dean being The Hunter, and the boys being two parts of The Elements. Only time would tell how that all panned out.

Craven could see the past back to the age of the dinosaurs if he so wished, but the future was as much a mystery to him as it was to anyone else. His guess was just as good as the four children whose care had been entrusted to him a millennia before their births. Would Sam, when the time came, follow Craven, become what he was? Craven had no clue. What he did know with no uncertainty that Sam would only chose to do so if Dean came along with him. That thought made him laugh, wouldn't the spirit world just tip sideways with one Dean Winchester let loose in it? Hopefully Craven wouldn't need answers to those questions, that chapter wouldn't be written for many decades to come. For now they had more pressing battles to win. Craven could only hope he'd see the four of them through in one piece.

His instincts about Dean had been spot on, and he'd been right about that boy. It was confirmed when he'd given the boys the small spotting scope. Sam had been mildly interested in the instrument, probably because it was old and historical. Dean had been another matter all together. He was sure Dean suspected all along Craven was attached to them, as only a spirit could be, but he needed something else to home in on if he was to travel outside this house. Dean had, after all formed more of a bond with Craven than Sam, who was his actual student. Merely another method Dean used to protect his brother. It made Craven smile. The look Dean gave him when Craven handed him the gift, a mixture of gratitude, pleasure and something else. Understanding, that's what it was. In the brief time his eyes and Dean's locked before saying their good-byes for now Craven saw, Dean Winchester understood.


Dean's cell phone jangled again. Fishing it from his pocket with one hand, while holding the gas pump up to his car with the other, he glanced at the station store, could easily see Sam's head as he wandered the aisles. Flipping his phone open he wasted no time in answering when he saw it was Dante's number. "Where the hell you been man, we've been worried about you two. Things go ok? You both Ok?"

A cynical chuckle, "I ever tell you that you can talk faster than Concha, quite a feat."

Dean groaned inwardly when he heard the slight slur. "Are you both all right?"

"Well neither one of us is hur…wound…yeah, we're fine, or will be. No blood or broken bones or gunshot holes in either of us. We'll be ok." The last three words were spoken softly, almost a whisper. Dean knew that tone and its meaning all too well. He took comfort in the fact when he said the same thing the same way he'd always meant it and made it be truth. "But all taken care of, they won't be making phone calls or sending emails."

"I don't even know how to begin to thank you, doing that for Sam, for us." For me. Dean didn't need the details spelled out, he read between the lines just fine. Those men, those hunters after Sam, they'd hunted their last hunt.

"Hey, don't worry about it, it's what we do. You guys headed south?"

"Yeah, we should be there in a day or two. Call us if you need anything."

"Oh I will. And you too."

Dean laughed, he really did like that man. Catching sight of Sam sauntering at him, arms loaded with pop and snacks Dean said, "Later, take it easy for a few days, ok?"

"Sure thing. Bye."

Closing his phone carefully he smiled at Sam, relieved him of the offered can of pop.

"Who was that?" Sam leaned against the car beside him, snapping his pop can open with a fizz.

"Dante."

"Oh." Sam's eyebrows disappeared under his bangs. "They ok?"

"They're fine. Found those guys."

"I wonder what tale they spun for the local law this time."

Dean sipped his pop, "He didn't say. Just said not to worry about them."

"Did he mention if they were anywhere near those fires we saw on the news? They were in Illinois somewhere."

"No, he didn't say. I forgot to ask." Setting his pop on the roof of the car so he could replace the gas pump and cap, Dean just couldn't resist. Reaching up he wound one arm around Sam's neck, pulled him against his side and rubbed the knuckles of his other hand not too gently over the top of his brother's head.

"Ouuuuwww….dude! My pop." Sam held one hand, can of pop secure in his fist away, then twisted from Dean's grip. "What was that for?"

Dean had to laugh. Sam really did look silly when he tried to look angry and indignant. "You need a hair cut."

"According to you I've needed a hair cut for the last fifteen years." Sam grumbled and retaliated with a solid punch to Dean's shoulder before ducking away to the passenger side of the car.

"Well," Dean slid into the driver's side seat, "Maybe one day you'll take the hint."

"Doubt that."

"Get chips?"

"Yeah, I got your chips right here." Sam shook the bag at him in mock fury as Dean fired up the Impala and pulled onto the road. Sam's head didn't move fast enough to avoid being pinged by Dean's finger, and he smiled sideways at his brother when Dean tugged a chunk of his hair and growled.

They'd have to drive the back roads, the main highways were only open going north. The south eastern sea board was about to be pummeled by one hurricane called Willa and everyone was heading out, evacuating north. Maps spread out across his lap Sam navigated as Dean drove a fairly straight shot south.

While thousands of cars headed north out of the storm, one lone black Impala sped south, traveling straight into the coming storm.


Oh I've been traveling on a boat and a plane In a car on a bike with a bus and a train

But oh Lord we pay the price with a Spin of a wheel - with a roll of a dice Ah yeah you pay your fare
And if you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there

And I've been traveling through the dirt and the grime From the past to the future through the space and the time
Traveling deep beneath the waves – in watery grottoes and mountainous caves

But oh Lord we've got to fight With the thoughts in the head with the dark and the light No use to stop and stare
And if you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there

You may not known where you came from May not know who you are
May not have even wondered how you got this far

I've been traveling on a wing and a prayer By the skin of my teeth by the breath of a hair Traveling where the four winds blow
With the sun on my face - in the ice and the snow

But oooeeee it's a game Sometimes you're cool, sometimes you're lame Ah yeah it's somewhere
And if you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there

But oh Lord we pay the price With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice Ah yeah, you pay your fare
And if you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there

I keep traveling around the bend There was no beginning, there is no end It wasn't born and never dies There are no edges, there is no sides
Oh yeah, you just don't win It's so far out - the way out is in Bow to God and call him Sir But if you don't know where you're going Any road will take you there

Any road will take you there

'Any Road'— by George Harrison

End