To The End.

S s S s S

They spent the whole year searching, at least Sam did. Dean never did mention the demon's words about what would happen if he tried to weasel out of the deal. Sam seemed to understand anyway. He searched, he researched, he stayed up long nights checking and cross checking. He told Dean not to worry, because nobody was going take his big brother away from him.

And they hunted. They sought out demons, exorcised ghosts and salted and burned their way back and forth across the country. Each step of the way, the clock ticking in their ears.

Dean remained resolutely upbeat. Sometimes he hovered a little to close to Sam, monitored his eating habits and his sleep. Sam said nothing; he rarely mentioned his short stint to the other side of wherever and was to Dean, the same little brother he had always known and loved.

At the ten-month mark, Sam quietly started marking down the days and began to apologize on a daily basis to Dean, for not finding a way to save his soul from eternal damnation.

Dean would shrug and tell him it had all been worth it. He heard Sam's tears in the night more often now, but never shed his own. What's done is done, he told himself and his brother.

As the days began to dwindle, Sam became quieter and more withdrawn, staying close to Dean and looking lost, his eyes full of fear. He no longer scoured ancient texts, or dragged Dean to out of the way museums or dusty old antique shops, looking for something, anything that would help.

They spent the last week in Kansas. They didn't talk much; they sat together, had a few beers, and raised a glass to their parents.

On the day, at Sam's insistence, they drove out to the countryside, following an old dirt road and sat beneath the branches of a huge old oak tree.

It was dusk, the sky smeared with pink and gold, when Dean turned to his brother.

"They're here."

A figure was walking from behind the Impala. A dark haired beauty with a welcoming smile. Dean slowly got to his feet.

"Dean Winchester. I thought I would do this one personally. I call my hounds off; don't want to scare your baby brother." The crossroad's demon stood beneath the tree.

Sam looked at her and cocked his head. "That's okay. Don't mind me."

The demon swung around to stare at him. "You can see me? My, how talented you are."

Sam smiled and ducked his head. "You have no idea." He stood up.

The air around the tree shimmered and the branches shook. The demon glanced around and suddenly gasped, her face contorting in agony. Howls of pain from the unseen creatures echoed around the tree.

Dark jagged lines appeared on the demon's face and arms, long cracks split open across her skin, spilling black dust onto the ground, where it burned in the dirt.

Dean backed up, sheltering against the tree.

The demon screamed, her voice from the depths of hell itself and then she was gone, an implosion of sound and smoke, leaving only a rough patch of scorched earth.

Dean stared and looked over at his brother. Sam met his eyes and for a moment, Dean was sure that they shone with a harsh yellow light.

Sam smiled sheepishly and shrugged. "I told you, nobody takes my big brother away from me."

S s S s S

A/N: This has been buzzing around in my head since the finale and I had to tell someone.