Disclaimer: refer to chapter one

NOTE TO READERS: I'm posting a couple days early, but I didn't think you'd mind. This is the final chapter and I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to review and/or comment on the previous chapters. I appreciate you taking the time. I hope you enjoy this last installment. It's around 11 pages long.

Many thanks for reading this story and my others!

Side Note: Gloaming or 'The Gloaming' is that moment when day and night meet, it's a half-light of sorts when all is illuminated in a muted golden light before twilight happens and then it is gone. I've always thought of it as a moment of meeting and goodbye.

Chapter Five

The Gloaming

By Dawn Nyberg

"This is what I brought you. This you can keep… You may forget me. I promise to depart just promise one thing. Kiss my eyes and lay me to sleep…" excerpt by AFI, Prelude 12/21

December 20, 2003, Pastor Jim's House

"Hey Sammy!" Dean called as he walked down the long hallway toward Jim's library. Dean always knew where to find his little brother when books could be found. Jim had made a late lunch and Dean wanted to sink his teeth into a homemade cheeseburger, but they were waiting for his wayward brother to show up. "Geez, what are you waitin' for…" Dean's voice dropped off instantly when he saw Sam stretched out and asleep on Jim's over sized leather couch. There was a thick book open and across his stomach. Dean smiled softly at the sight.

"Sammy?" Dean spoke softly. He was still debating on whether to wake him or not. "Sam?" Dean ruffled his brother's hair gently. Sam stirred. "Hey sleeping beauty," Dean raised his voice just a bit when he saw his sibling was close to waking. Sam scrunched his face and opened his eyes.

"Yeah?" His voice was sleep inflected.

"Pastor Jim has grub on the table. Come on bean pole," Dean slapped his brother's thigh playfully. "We still gotta put some weight back on you. You okay?"

"Yeah, why?" Sam rubbed a hand across his face.

"Well, taking naps in the middle of the day isn't your thing and this is the fourth time I've found you asleep in the last couple weeks."

"I think of them as little vacations. I'm fine."

"You sure? 'Cause if you're not feeling good then…" Sam could see the concern in Dean's eyes although he knew his big brother was trying to be nonchalant about his worry.

"Dean, believe me, okay … I'm fine. It was just a nap." Sam wasn't lying, he felt pretty good, he just fell asleep, plain and simple.

Sam started to push himself up off the couch and Dean gave him a hand and pulled him up.

"You shouldn't be doin' that," Sam commented.

"Oh, please," Dean groused. "Your light weight bean pole ass hardly weighs anything."

"Hey, I've gained fifteen pounds back since leaving the hospital, so cut me some slack. Anyway, once I can start working out again I'll gain some muscle back. Once I get back to school … I'll gain some more," Sam replied absently as he walked out of the room. He didn't see the look of disappointment on Dean's face. The topic of school had been a touchy subject with John and Dean. They were both trying to convince Sam to stay with them and go back to hunting once they were both able to return after they recovered. Dean hadn't been as vocal as their father, but he admittedly wanted his little brother with him … where he knew he was safe and protected.

Sam had already spoken to his counselor and had arranged for his registration for Winter Session and would return to his dorm room.

"Boys," John said with a warm smile as the walked into the kitchen. "Jim and I thought we were going to have to send Barnaby on a search and rescue mission for the two of you." Barnaby, Jim's orange and white spotted Blood Hound was splayed on the kitchen floor chewing a piece of rawhide.

"Yeah," Dean snorted as he eyed the dog. "I'm sure he would have got right on that search and rescue mission as soon as he finished with that," Dean inclined his head toward the rawhide. John and Jim chuckled.

"You have a point Dean," Jim commented lightly. "Old Barnaby has his priorities in his old age. Come on boys, have a seat." John looked over both his of his sons as they sat. He could see the remnants of sleep waxing away from his youngest.

"You okay Sammy?" John asked as he kept his eyes on his youngest.

"Yeah, I'm good," he replied as he reached for the bowl of potato salad.

"Sleeping beauty was takin' a nap," Dean jumped in and Sam threw him a warning glare and Dean shrugged in response, "Well, you were."

"It was just a nap Dad," Sam assured. "It's not some medical crisis … I wanted to close my eyes and I did. I took a nap. It's not the end of the world. Anyway, once I get back to school … the word nap won't exist in my vocabulary."

"Very true," Jim injected quickly in an attempt to get through dinner without the tension that the subject of Stanford brought up. He relaxed when he saw John simply nod and not bring up the issue of school.

"You'd tell us if you weren't feeling good wouldn't you? Even a little…" Sam looked at his father for a moment and the rest of the table.

"I really am okay Dad; promise… it was just a nap." John saw the truth in his son's eyes and nodded with a soft smile and returned to preparing his plate to eat.

Christmas Day 2003

"I can't live this life forever!" Sam shouted in the parlor. "I'm going back to school," Sam waved his hands in frustration.

"You're abandoning your family," John's voice was dark. "We're not good enough for you is that it?"

"Dad," Dean tried to mediate. So, much for a quiet family holiday, he thought to himself.

"You're a horses ass you know that, God … why does it always have to be black and white with you, huh?" Sam was livid.

"Because there are no shades of grey Samuel not in this life!" John barked back.

"No Dad! Not in your life or hunting! I'm not like that and I don't wanna be. I'm getting on that plane New Years Day and I'm going back to Palo Alto."

"Sammy…" Dean spoke gently.

"What? You on his side now?" Sam spun and looked at his brother.

"I'm not on anyone's side okay … its … just maybe you should stay a while longer, you know finish healing." Dean suggested trying to keep his voice neutral.

"I am healed … enough to go back to school. I can't do this. I want a life a life that doesn't include hunting… can't you understand that?" His eyes were pleading.

"Sam," John's voice broke into his son's conversation. "I can't support this decision. You belong here with me and your brother. You belong in the family business." Sam gave his father an incredulous look.

"Family business… you've got to be kidding me," the sarcasm literally dripped from his mouth. "We hunt supernatural stuff … I wish to hell I didn't even know what was out there in the dark. This is a family nightmare not a business." John stepped forward and grabbed Sam by the scruff of his shirt. Dean tensed but before he could say anything Jim intervened.

"John! Let the boy go!" John let go with a small shove.

"Go," John hissed. "You think everything your brother and I do … what you used to do is a nightmare that we aren't doing something meaningful than we don't need you in this fight."

"So, we're right back where we left off months ago when I first left?" Sam question was really more of a statement to his father, a declaration. "If I want to go … go … and don't come back," he hedged. John glared at his son for a moment.

"Take it however you want … you're the one betraying your family. Your place is with us… hunting evil and saving lives." John stormed out of the room and they heard the front door slam. Shortly after John's truck roared to life and kicked up snow and gravel on the way down the driveway.

"Your father will calm down Sam and come to his senses," Jim offered.

"No he won't … 'cause he's never wrong in his mind," Sam grumbled and turned to walk down the hallway.

"Now where are you going?" Dean asked and Sam kept walking.

"Give him a few minutes Dean," Jim encouraged.

"Boy, things kinds went up the creek quick, huh?" Dean rubbed a frustrated hand over his face.

"How about a piece of pie, huh? We'll let your father cool off and Sam will simmer down. We'll work it out," Jim tried to comfort.

"Pie? What is it the new fix all?"

"Hell no," Jim said with an honest smile and low laugh. Dean raised an eyebrow at the religious man's response. "But, I'm hungry for pie and we have some time to wait things out."

"Yeah, I guess. Far be it for me to turn down a piece of pie." Dean knew the situation was bad, but Jim was right he had to give Sam some time and hopefully his father would come back and at least try to smooth things over.

Thirty-Minutes Later

Dean and Jim heard the bedroom door open and footsteps in the hallway. "See, I told you he'd calm down." Dean offered a tentative smile that was short lived when he saw Sam enter the kitchen with his large duffel bag and backpack.

"What's this crap?" Dean asked as he stood up.

"I called the airlines and they put me on stand-by. I'm leaving for Palo Alto today."

"Sammy come on man, Dad didn't mean what he said," Dean offered.

"Sure he did … come on Dean we grew up with the same man, he meant what he said, every damn word."

"It's Christmas Day Sammy, you'll never get a seat," Dean countered.

"They already said it looked good for an empty seat. I'm leaving … why delay the inevitable? I was always gonna leave. I'm not staying."

"Yeah, I know," Dean grumbled. "You've made that pretty clear."

"You too, huh?" Sam looked hurt as he turned to leave.

"No, Sammy, wait, okay," Dean reached out and grabbed his brother's arm. "Stay until New Year's."

"No."

"You can't leave things like this with Dad."

"Screw him," Sam spat. "I'm tired of his my way or the highway crap!" Sam pushed a button on Dean and he snapped.

"You're a selfish bastard you know that! Dad has done everything he could for us. Hunting is saving lives Sam … it means something. What's Stanford mean? You can lie to yourself all you want, but you are who you are …"

"Oh yeah, and who's that?"

"You're one of us," Dean countered with a level, matter of fact face.

"Like hell! I'm not one of you and I'm never gonna be."

"Where do you think you're going?" Dean called after his brother. "I got the keys to the car and I'm not taking you to the airport ... you don't have to leave now." Dean tried to reason.

"Yeah, I do," Sam replied softly. "Anyway, you don't have to take me I called a cab when I finished with the airlines," Sam looked out the window. "And, it just pulled up." Sam looked at his brother and offered him a small lopsided smile, it was thin with stress. "Take care of yourself Dean," Dean met his brother's expressive eyes. "I mean it you know. Look out for yourself and don't forget to take your meds and stuff. Go to your appointments … don't miss any." He looked at his brother with wide dark eyes and Dean just wanted to grab him and hold him in a crushing bear hug, but he didn't and he suspected it would be a regret he'd harbor for a long time.

"You too kiddo," he said quietly. "Don't forget to see Dr. Bloom when you get in town."

"I won't." The taxi honked its horn and Sam opened the door and waved at him to wait. "Thanks Pastor Jim for everything."

"You're welcome. If you ever need…" Jim knew better than to try and make Sam stay even though he knew the chasm between father and son would only grow until it hit a tipping point. Sam was a Winchester and usually when a Winchester mind was made up it was set.

"I know," Sam smiled at Jim. "I gotta go Dean."

"Yeah, I know. Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"About being selfish I…"

"Yeah, I know." He assured with a soft smile. "Bye Dean." Sam ducked his head and dropped his eyes slightly before leaving out the door. It made Dean ache.

"Bye Sammy." Dean stood transfixed in his spot. He could hear the taxi door close and heard the engine rev and pull away. He wanted to run out there but it wouldn't change anything … Sam was gone, and Dean knew he wasn't coming back anytime soon, maybe ever. He felt Jim's hand on his shoulder and nodded at the man.

Two Hours Later

John walked in through the kitchen and saw Jim sitting at the table drinking a tall mug of coffee. The house was quiet and John sat heavily down in a chair joining his old friend. "You finally blow off that head of steam?" Jim commented as he took a long drink of coffee. John let out a sigh and leaned forward on an elbow he placed on the table. He glanced toward the other room.

"The boys are quiet," he commented. "Sammy calm down?"

"I think resigned would better suit Sam's demeanor the last time I saw him," Jim was deliberately being cryptic.

"Look … I'm sorry the way it all came out, okay? I mean, I know this was almost an exact repeat of the last time. I screwed up," John offered softly. "But, he does belong with me and his brother. It's safer for him … he's not out there alone. I can't say I'm supportive when I want him here. This is where he belongs with us and this life."

"Second chances are rare John," Jim began. "And, you blew yours royally."

"I'll talk to him … make him understand," John offered.

"He's not here John and even if he were you'd only end up telling him he's betraying his family all over again." Jim's voice held a hint of anger.

"Where'd he go? Dean go with him?" John knew the car was still here because he had parked next to it. The boys were prone to taking walks on Jim's vast property for exercise.

"He's gone," Jim replied flatly. "Dean is down the hall in his and Sam's room."

"Gone? Gone where?"

"Where do you think?"

"Sonofabitch," John hissed under his breath. He stood up abruptly. "How long ago? I'm dragging his ass back from the airport."

"John … he got a standby seat and I already checked … he got a seat and the plane took off over an hour ago, Sam's gone." John stood there and said nothing. His youngest was gone and he'd left on the heels of a huge fight … ultimatums … and suddenly John realized how fractured his family was and there was no quick fix.

John walked down the hall and leaned in the doorway to Dean and Sam's room. Dean was propped up against his headboard reading a Motor Trend magazine. "Hey sport," John offered casually.

"Sammy's gone," Dean answered without looking up from his reading material.

"I know, Jim told me son, I'm…"

"What? Sorry?" Dean looked at John now and his father could see the anger and hurt in his firstborn's eyes.

"Dean," he started.

"No, save it, okay? He's gone and that's that. I don't' want to talk about it anymore." John offered a small nod and left his son alone and it wasn't mentioned again.

Four Months Later, April 2004, Stanford University

Sam and Zach crossed the quad together toward the library. "You talk to your family at all dude?"

"No. Leave it alone Zach," Sam warned. Sam hadn't spoken about his family since his return other than to say it ended just like the last time and there wasn't anything more to say. He'd gone to Dr. Bloom and was given a clean bill of health to return to classes and only asked to see him once more in May for a last final check before allowing Sam to return to all of his previous activities. They walked toward the library to meet Zach's older sister Rebecca and they spotted her sitting at a round table shaded by an umbrella. "Who's that with Becky?" Sam asked changing the subject from his family. Sam couldn't ignore the beautiful blonde girl he'd never seen before that was sitting a talking to Becky. He saw the girl's talking and he watched the unknown girl laughing and smiling. She took his breath away.

"Not sure," Zach answered. "Becca's got so many chick friends I can't keep up."

"Sam!" Rebecca called out. She hugged him. "How are you doing?" Sam rolled his eyes. She had been a mother hen since his return whenever she was around him.

"I'm fine Becky," he said with a sheepish smile. He looked at the mystery girl that stood by Rebecca.

"Oh, Sam, this is my friend, Jessica Moore … Jessica this is Sam Winchester." Both Jessica and Sam looked at each other and smiled. It was that nervous, I'm attracted to you way more than I should be smile. She extended a hand.

"Hey, Sam," she smiled and Sam couldn't help but notice the California sun dance in her hair.

"Hey Jess," he replied and blushed. "I mean Jessica, sorry…" she laughed.

"Jess is fine. So, you're pre-law, huh?"

"Yeah," Sam answered with a smile and sat at the table to talk.

Meanwhile, Across the Quad

A tall black truck sat at a parking meter and John Winchester watched his youngest son from a distance. Dean was still mending at Jim's and couldn't hunt yet, but John had agreed to help Caleb with a hunt nearby that would only take him away from Dean for three to four days, plus it was a hunt in California, so he took a moment to sneak to campus and check on his child as he'd already done a couple of other times since he'd returned to school. Dean never came only asked if he saw Sammy and if he looked good … if he looked happy. He knew it was too hard for Dean to see his little brother without wanting to actually talk to him. He watched Sam smile and laugh. He looked good, he looked healthy and the petite blonde his son was talking to looked feisty and she reminded him of Mary when she was that age. He could see Sam leaning toward her as he talked and knew his son was attracted to her. He smiled but couldn't ignore the empty place in his chest that seemed to fill for a short while when he looked at his baby boy. He hoped that one day they'd find their way back to one another. His cell phone rang and he looked at the caller ID and flipped it open.

"Yeah son? No, I'm on my way back. The hunt was a quick in and out. No trouble. Yeah, everything is okay. No, I'm sure. He looks good. You doing okay? Good, I'll see you tomorrow some time." The call ended and John snapped his phone closed. He started up his truck and took one last look at his smiling and laughing son from a distance.

"Take care of yourself Sammy," he said quietly. He put the truck in reverse and backed up. He watched Stanford disappear into his rear view.

The sign on the side of the road was large and always made John hesitate, Thanks for Visiting. You're now leaving Palo Alto, come again soon. The sign always leached away the fullness he felt after seeing Sam. The empty place inside left by his youngest always returned when he left the city.

The truck turned onto an interstate ramp and John looked into the distance, the black ribbon of asphalt highway disappearing into the mountains he put his mind on his other son in Blue Earth and researching leads on the demon that killed Mary. He hadn't told Dean he'd found out it was a demon. He needed to know more before he said anything; he needed to know the truth.

Palo Alto was now a distant blur in the rear view, Love you Sammy, John thought silently to himself. Someday he'd make things right, but he just didn't know when that someday would come.

Almost Two Years Later, October 31, 2005, Palo Alto, California, Late Evening

"Whoa, easy tiger," Dean smirked as he hunched over his little brother while pinning him by his neck to the floor. Sam stared wide-eyed up at his brother from the floor.

"Dean?! You scared the crap outta me." Sam blurted in frustration and surprise. Dean grinned.

" 'Cause you're out of practice," he replied. Sam countered quickly and knocked his brother down and just as quickly Sam was now in the stance of control looking down at his big brother, the big brother he hadn't seen or talked to since he left Pastor Jim's that cold Christmas day.

"Or not," Dean offered a bemused smile. "Get off me," he grumbled. Sam relented and they stood.

"Dean, what in the hell are you doin' here?"

"I was lookin' for a beer," Dean joked as he clapped each hand against his brother's shoulders quickly.

"What in the hell are you doing here?" Sam asked again looking at his older sibling.

"Okay," Dean replied. "We need to talk," Dean offered casually as if his stopping by for midnight visits was common place as if he saw his little brother every day. Sam looked at Dean slightly taken aback at his presence in his apartment and couldn't believe his big brother was standing in front of him. It had been a long time … too long.

The End

Well, we all know what happens from that point on … I wanted to write a pre-series, story that would eventually meet up with the series at some point, so I chose to have it meet the series at the beginning when Sam and Dean begin their journey again as brothers after their lengthy separation. I wanted all the same emotional baggage to arrive at the doorstep, so I hope you enjoyed the story and at least you know what happens from here on out … we get to see it on TV. Also, I wanted to note credit to the pilot episode 1.01 for the end dialogue of this story.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the conclusion of the story. I have some more ideas for stories, but alas, time isn't my best friend for extended writing projects right now, so no promises as to when I'll post another story on FFnet. I appreciate every comment; review and PM I have received during this story, thanks!

Until next time…