Hello everybody! I know, I know, I haven't written any more of my multi chapter fic for like, months, which isn't like me and I really do apologise. My plot bunnies have all run away! I'm finding it so hard to write lately! That is, until yesterday when I watched the season finale (BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT...once again proof of just how amzingly talented Jensen and Jared are...I was in tears for almost the entire episode). Anyway it inspired me to write this little tag and I sat down and bang! wrote it all out in about an hour. So here you go, thought I'd share, and looking forward to talking to you all again soon! Oh, by the way, major spoilers for the finale in here...so don't read if you haven't seen! xoxox

The air that Dean Winchester breathed had never felt so thick.

Only an hour ago, he had killed the yellow-eyed demon that had plagued him and his brother their whole lives. The demon that had killed their mother and Sam's girlfriend, that had turned their father from a devoted, happy family man into an obsessed demon hunter, and had eventually claimed both his life and his soul.

He should have been happy. He should have been ecstatic.

There was a certain sense of relief in the air, in the space between him and his silent younger brother in the Impala. But the relief was muted and smothered by all the other emotions that lingered between them.

Grief, fear, misery, desperation, exhaustion and even despair.

The fight had come to an end, but another one had just begun.

Not only had the demon managed to release hundreds of other demons and souls from Hell in the showdown, but Dean had been forced to reveal to Sam the deal he had made to save his life.

A deal that, in one year from now, would cost Dean both his own life and his soul.

Dean had seen the anguish and despair in Sam's eyes, the frustration and the hopelessness. These were emotions that he had not only expected, but even understood. After all, Dean himself was only alive because of a deal his father had made with the same yellow-eyed demon that his sons had finally destroyed.

He'd brushed Sam's emotions aside, pleading with his brother to not be angry with him, to not do that now. And Sam had complied; he'd taken the whole thing better than Dean had thought he would.

But they'd been driving now for well over an hour, on their way back to Bobby's place, following their old family friend and Ellen who led the way in Bobby's beat up old truck. An hour for the events of the night to sink in; and the more time passed the heavier the air grew and the more Sam suffered.

Dean could read his brother like an open book. Sam was brooding silently as he drove; Dean could tell by his clenched jaw and the expression on his face.

To break the silence and to try and distract Sam from his own thoughts, Dean spoke up from the passenger seat.

"How's your back feeling, Sammy?"

His brother flicked a quick gaze his way, but drew his eyes away from Dean almost immediately to stare ahead again.

"Fine." Sam's voice was hoarser than usual, but Dean chose to ignore that.

"I could take a turn at driving for a while, if you want."

Sam shook his head tightly, almost imperceptibly. "We're not that far away now. And I already told you, you're not driving with that head wound, Dean."

"It's just a scratch." Dean said automatically, although he knew it really wasn't.

A soft patter of rain started up outside, and Sam reached to turn the windscreen wipers on, their metallic whispering slide loud in the silence.

"So we'll rest up at Bobby's for a while, yeah?" Dean peered out into the gloom, looking through the beads of rain patterning his window. "We could both do with some recovery time."

Sam didn't answer, only kept his eyes fixed on the road, the yellow glow of the headlights illuminating rapidly forming puddles of murky water.

Dean leant his head back against the leather seat, trying to relax his too tight muscles, and giving up on drawing his brother out of his emotional shell.

A moment later Sam spoke. "Dean?"

Dean turned his head towards the younger Winchester, but Sam had his eyes fixed ahead still. The way Sam had spoken his name told Dean that something was wrong; the tone was full of suppressed need and in the dim light Sam looked young and vulnerable.

"Yeah, Sammy." Dean's voice was soft when he spoke; a habit he'd gotten into over the last few days, starting when he'd cradled his dying brother in his arms.

"Can we…do you think we could not stay at Bobby's? I'd rather…I'd rather it was just you and me for a while, you know?"

And Dean thought that was a pretty small thing to ask, after everything, and he was already reaching for his phone to let Bobby know that they'd be going their own way, for a while. Because he'd do anything for Sam, and this little favour was nothing in the scheme of things.

"Sure, kiddo." He agreed softly, and Sam blinked hard and forced himself to focus on the road, to not fall apart at the love and care in his brother's quiet voice and the thought that in a year's time he might not hear that voice ever again.

The motel room was nicer than most they stayed in; Dean had thought what the hell and splurged a little. Why not? He figured they deserved it.

He gently bullied Sam into taking first shower, and unloaded the car himself while he listened to the sound of running water. It was hard, having Sam out of his sight; after everything that had happened he had to resist the urge to call out to his brother and make sure he was still inside the bathroom, that he hadn't disappeared somewhere while Dean wasn't watching. He refrained because he knew that to do so would make Sam cut his shower short; and Dean hoped that the hot water was helping his brother to relax; to recharge after the draining last few days.

When Sam emerged twenty minutes later Dean had salted the entrances and laid out a clean change of clothes for them both, and Sam gave wordless thanks with a small nod.

The older Winchester took his turn under the steaming spray, and the water washed away the blood from his head wound and started the job of relaxing his tense muscles.

He didn't stay in the shower as long as he would have like to; the closed door between him and his brother made him uneasy, although he knew he probably had no reason to be. Still, when he stepped out, dripping, onto the tiles, a cold faint fear grew in his gut at the silence from the other room. Why couldn't he hear Sam moving around out there? Why was it so quiet?

His hands trembled slightly as he wrapped a thick white towel around his waist; as he thought of the many demons and tortured souls that had escaped through the Hell Gate, as he imagined finding the room beyond empty and silent, or worse.

Dean threw the door open and all but leapt into the motel room. For a heart wrenching, world stopping second fear consumed him as his eyes found no tall, gangly figure in the room, and then his eyes fell on the bed nearest the bathroom, where Sam lay curled up on his side facing the door and Dean, his eyes weary and questioning as he looked up at his big brother.

Dean couldn't stop himself, he crossed the distance between himself and his younger brother quickly, stopping just short of the bed, looking down at Sam.

"Are you all right?" He asked, a little huskily, and if Sam thought that was a strange question he didn't show it, only nodded slowly, his movements sluggish and drained of energy or strength.

"Yeah, Dean. I'm okay." He said, his voice more of a whisper, and it only took Dean a second to put two and two together, to recognize that Sam was lying facing the bathroom, that he was curled up protectively; that the emotion in his eyes when they fell on Dean was relief.

Dean wasn't the only one who didn't like losing sight of his brother at the moment.

He reached down and let his fingers brush through Sam's hair, lightly guiding the stray pieces away from his little brother's face.

Sam swallowed, hard, and shut his eyes tightly, and after a second he turned his head slightly to press into Dean's touch.

The vulnerability and the need and the pain that Dean could read in Sam's eyes and from his body language tore at the older brother's heart, and he was filled with the need to make it better, to tell Sam that it was all going to be okay.

"Sammy, give me a second, okay? I'm just gonna get some clothes on." His voice was gentle, and Sam nodded weakly against his hand.

Dean left his side; went back to the bathroom to dress in dry, clean clothes, but he left the door just a little ajar, for both their sakes.

When he came back out Sam had shifted over on the bed, and his wet brown eyes met Dean's in an unnecessary plea. Dean crossed to his own bed only long enough to pull off the blankets; because Sam was lying on top of his and Dean didn't want to make him move.

Relief and gratitude shone through in Sam's expression as Dean sat down on the bed with him, settling his back against the headboard and covering Sam with the extra blankets, drawing them up and settling them in around his brother's shoulders.

Sam gave a soft little sigh, his breath warm against Dean's leg, even through the material of his shorts, and Dean let his hand rest on his younger brother's head, his fingers tangling in the too long locks.

Outside the rain beat softly against the windows of the motel room, and every now and then lightning would bathe the room and its' two silent, still occupants in white light.

Their breathing was soft and slow, and gradually they both started to relax; warmed by the blankets and eachother's bodies, soothed by the soft rain fall noises and the closeness of their brother.

Sam's hair was dry when Dean spoke again, spurred by the lightning catching Sam's eyes and proving that they were open; that the younger Winchester was still awake.

"You should try and get some sleep." His voice was a soft rumble, almost unreal in the dark and the warmth.

"I'm not tired." Sam's voice came back, the words belied by the weariness of his whisper.

Dean stroked a hand over his brother's hair, smoothing it back towards the pillow. "You're exhausted."

Sam didn't answer, but pressed his forehead a little closer to Dean's side.

"I'll be here when you wake up." Dean's voice was gentle, a caress in the dark, and Sam made a soft noise that could have been a whimper or a sigh, and his older brother felt dampness on his shirt.

"I'll be here when you wake up, Sammy." He said again, firmly, and Sam nodded weakly. Dean felt his movements rather than saw them; felt his brother's face rub up and down against his side.

"Do you promise?" Sam sounded young, so young and so scared, and Dean stroked his hand down his neck and to the spot between his shoulder blades, rubbing circles there softly just as he had for the child Sam had once been.

"Sammy. I promise." Only three words, and yet they held so much. So many emotions, and so much meaning. So much strength, and so much comfort. He could almost feel Sam's gratitude, his love, and Dean wondered if Sam knew that the road ran two ways, wondered if Sam knew how much strength his older brother drew from his little brother's presence, from his very existence. Wondered if Sam had any idea how Dean had felt as he cradled a dying Sam in his arms; as he felt the life leave his body.

He would never forget the way he felt when his brother died; the hopelessness, the utter and abject despair. He knew how it felt, and he would do anything to save his baby brother from ever feeling anything like that.

He had a year to make sure that Sam never did, and his words were a promise that he would do everything in his power to protect Sam from that kind of suffering.

He wondered if Sam knew that; or if he had to put it all into words. He was searching for the right thing to say when Sam spoke again, his voice muffled by fabric and tears.

"Thank you, Dean." It was a whisper, and only two words, but in true Winchester fashion it was much more. It was an acknowledgement, an understanding, an expression of gratitude for all that had come before and all that was still to come. It was appreciation for the sacrifices that had been made; and for the love that was unconditionally bestowed.

"You're welcome, little brother." Even if we can't find a way to change it, I won't…can't…ever regret what I did for you. I did it for me, too.

Another nod against him, slightly stronger this time. So few words spoken, but such great understanding gleaned. It would do, for now, for tonight.

The tension lifted, the air cleared, and there was only warmth and love. Their little family was complete, alive, safe, and had achieved something wonderful tonight. They both relaxed, and Sam's head grew heavier against Dean as his tense muscles loosened.

Dean drew the blankets tighter around them both, tucked Sam in against him, his little brother's head cradled safely between his side and his arm, which was curled loosely around Sam.

"Go to sleep, tiger." He said softly, his own voice husky with impending slumber, and a small smile played loosely over his lips as Sam burrowed against him compliantly.

Dean tilted his own head back against the headboard, his eyes closing as warmth and satisfaction enveloped him.

Outside the rain kept falling, and the air was cool and crisp and new, and silvery with starlight.