AN: hey everyone!! sorry for the delay, work's been killing me...literally...there was this knife...haha! just kidding!

Thanks, as usual for all the reading and reviewing! it's dear to my heart to read them! I try to reply as much i can, but as the knives at work can atest, there be not much time!!

blah blah blah, i don't own anything...really, i'm broke. no joke. but i don't own the characters, much to my chagrin.

Anyway, here is the final installment of my little angsty fic, hope you enjoy!

With time the child draws in

This whipping boy done wrong

Deprived of all his thoughts

The young man struggles on and on he's known

A vow unto his own

That never from this day

His will they'll take away

"The Unforgiven"- Metallica

The bruises faded, his fingernails grew back, but still he did not heal. As the Band-Aids hid his damaged digits, Sam hid his thoughts from Dean. Sure, they talked about what happened, but not really. Sure, Dean imagined new ways to torture and kill Gordon as Sam described his experience in a hollow, detached voice. As Dean fed Gordon's own appendages to him in his mind's eye, Sam stared off at the rug, telling his older brother about the primal instinct that took over.

That was two days ago. Now they barely spoke, but not for lack of trying on Dean's part. He suggested they move on. Sam shrugged. He suggested they continue the hunt they were working on before. Sam shrugged. Dean even went so far as to suggest a camping trip, hoping for the scoff and raised eyebrow that came with such an idea.

"whatever," the dull non-Sam voice replied. "I'm going out." Sam opened the door and was gone before Dean could counter.

Dean leaned forward in his chair, elbows on knees and hands coving the length of his face. He wasn't used to this. He, Dean, was supposed to be the closed off, cagey one. Sam was supposed to pester him for information, get him to delve into his inner chick-flick. His consternation reached a crescendo as he slammed a fist into the table to his left.

"Dammit!" Dean could mend bones, bandage cuts, get ice packs to set against bruised skin. But this? He was no brain professor. He couldn't even know what Sam was going through. HE knew his little brother was hiding, both himself and parts of his ordeal. This routine continued the past two days, Sam despondent and Dean steaming mad at, alternatively, Gordon, that foul box, and even Sam. The last was unwarranted, but goddammitt, this was-

"ARGH!" Dean kicked the bed, only succeeding in knocking the mattress to the ground.

Not that it mattered, because Sam never slept anyway. No, that's not right. Sam never laid down. He either sat or stood, never once ever reclined. Dean caught him sleeping once. Leaning against the headboard, lanky limbs bent at the joints, Sam's features twitched and contorted He muttered incoherently and finally let out a yell. His eyes, now cold with indifference, snapped open and Dean shut his own, feigning sleep. It was tradition to let the other brother get his space, find his own two feet; unless lives were involved, of course. Seconds later, the door slammed, and Sam's wandering once again took him places unknown.

Dean's reverie was interrupted by none other than Sam.

"Hey." The older brother tried to be light-hearted, but Sam just grunted in response. He crossed the room to his duffel and started throwing clothes out haphazardly.

"Looking for something?"

"Yeah." Sam plunked a small object from the depths of his bag.

"What's that?" Silence was killing him.

"Nothing." Sam walked right back out the door, leaving a wake of discord.

A minute later, pounding bass came from outside. Assuming it was a bunch of pimply teenaged kids, Dean tried to concentrate on the laptop. That last about one song, as he recognized the beat of the next tune. Figuring he needed fresh air anyway, Dean was surprised to find the heavy beats coming from his own baby, his brother sitting in the passenger seat, head back and eyes closed. Queen's "Death on Two Legs" blasted out of the Impala's speakers.

Dean walked over and got into his seat, just shut the door and got in.

Sam's eyes opened, "What?" he asked, a tired wariness in his voice.

"Nuthin." Dean leaned back in the seat to mirror his brother's position. "Just enjoyin' the music. Good song. Describes me well." He threw a grin Sam's way.

"Whatever." His eyes closed again, but his hands never stopped, tapping out an imaginary rhythm too fast for the song.

They sat that way for a few songs, Dean hiding his surprise behind closed lids. Sam's music usually held to the acoustic, ballad side. This stuff was pure mullet rock. Queen, Styx, even Metallica. But Dean had to say something as Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People" came on and Sam started nodding along to the beat.

"Dude, what the hell?" Dean reached for the dial so he could be heard over Manson's lyrics and heavy guitar. "Not that I'm complaining 'bout the upgrade in musical tastes, but seriously? Marilyn?"

Sam too reached for the dial, most likely to drown out his brother's concern, but Dean knocked his hand away.

"No, we're gonna talk about this." Dean twisted in the seat, "C'mon, I'm bendin' my rule for ya man, gotta return the favor."

"Dean, I can't..." The misery evident in Sam's face nearly made Dean flinch. "I can' don't understand."

"Alright, let's start easy. What's the mix? Not exactly 'The Sammy Mix'"

"Jess." Sam looked out the open window, "she made it. For finals. Said the rock calmed me down."

Dean let that sink in fully for a moment. Sam always called it his music, Dean's. "Oh. Well at least her taste in music was good."

A shadow of a grin flitted across Sam's face.

"AH! It's Aliiive!" Jokes were Dean's speciality, he prayed they didn't fail them now.

"It's just..." Sam shifted uneasily, "God, you don't wanna hear my shit Dean. It's all-" He made air quotes "-chick flicky. Just give me some time, 'kay?" he looked over, bangs covering his eyes and making him look all the more like a puppy dog.

Anger boiled in Dean's stomach. Anger at himself for being such a bastard, and anger at Sam for thinking he needed to take him so damn seriously. "Dude, c'mon! You've been through some terrible crap, because that bastard has it out for you. And you've barely said a word for two days. I know I'm entertaining, but really now!"

Dean was rewarded his small tirade with a huff, but was mollified by the darkened expression crossing his brother's face. crap.

"Hey, look." Dean took a deep breath. He know some shit was gonna hit the fan. "I can't pretend to know what that bastard put you through, but ya know, maybe it would help..." He made a wide sweeping gesture.

A shuddering breath went through Sam. "When I started...running out-" he stopped, "I hallucinated. About Jess." He stole a glance at Dean then looked at his hands. "I thought I had put her behind, laid her to rest." He frowned, lost in thought. "I guess, subconsciously, that with the demon dead, she'd be there. Like she was just waiting for me."

"But Sam-"

"I know!" He shock his head irritably, "Ya know, in the beginning, when I started hunting with you, I would catch myself thinking 'after this, I can go back to her.' Then I'd have to tell myself that I couldn't." He took another breath, this one more stable than the last, "I made peace eventually, you know. Tried other girls...Sarah...Maddie. But her ghost was there, along with the demon. Now it's dead. She should be there. I did it for her, for our family. Well, you're still here, why can't she? Why can't mom and dad?"

Den just sat there, knowing the questions couldn't be answered, and that his brother wasn't done yet.

"Well, in the- dream, everything was alright. Then the phone rang and I heard your voice. 'Don't die on me Sammy,' you said, and she vanished. I couldn't move, couldn't breath. Because instead of living, I was dying in that box. Nothing, no one. And everything, everyone...was gone." He looked at Dean, uncertainty and apprehension playing on his features, certain only that he had crossed the line on sharing.

But the eldest Winchester just sat there, looking pained, "God Sammy, that's, no! Never. Never will be there no one." He grinned slowly, "How many times do I have to tell you, I ain't goin nowhere. Can't get rid of me that easily." His smile reach full wattage.

"What about a year from now?"

"I've got a plan on that one." He winked.

"Really? Wanna share?" Sam asked dubiously

"Nope, I'm workin' on it."

"Riiight." And for the first time in four days, Dean was over-joyed to hear his brother's laugh. "Thanks Dean, for, uhhh, everything."

"Move over Dr. Laura, Dr. Dean is on his way in!" They shared a chuckle at that incredulity. "Hey, wanna call Betsy?"

"Dude! She's like 18!"

"Very bubbly though. Bet she's a rabbit in the sack."

Sam huffed and rolled his eyes. Dean smiled, glad to have his bitch of a brother back.

Thanks so, so incredibly much for reading!! this was entire story was a test to write, you're reviews and support make it all worth it!! catch y'all on the flipside ;)