A/N: Okay, so here it is, the final chapter. I won't even begin to try and explain the long list of reasons it took me so long to finish. Just apologize profusely. I'm Sorry:(

I can only hope someone is still interested in reading the end. And if you do, I would appreciate the kindness of letting me know what you thought. Even though I'm sure you all probably completely lost where this story even left off it's been so long.

But I do appreciate all of you reading, and an any reviews! Thank you all so very much:)

Chapter 9:

Dean forced his eyes open, even though his head loudly protested even the meager light that he was hit with. He looked around the barn and saw that he was still alone. He wasn't sure how long he'd been in there. He wasn't even sure if he had imagined the phone call from Sam. One thing he was sure of, is that even if you can't choke yourself to death, you could choke yourself into passing out.

When Dean had first came to in the barn he found himself sitting up, back flat against the wall, legs stretched out in front of him. When he tried to move he found that his arms were pinned against the wall and his hands were tied. It was simple rope that was wrapped around his wrists. It would have given him rope burn, possibly some good cuts, but nothing he couldn't have eventually worked his way out of. That was until he started trying to move. He quickly discovered that not only did the rope hold his hands down, but that it was somehow connected to his other hand through something in the wall. And then the kicker was, it was also connected around his neck. Every time his tried to wiggle his hands free, he tightened the rope around his neck.

Even so, Dean had valiantly tried to escape. He figured he must of made himself pass out at least a couple of times by now. Surely long enough for Sam to arrive. Of course, that was if the phone call was real. He just couldn't get his mind to get the details of the last couple of hours right. He remembered his phone going off and wiggling his fingers just enough to hit a button on it. He was pretty sure it was Sam's voice that he heard, but he just couldn't be sure.

Trying to take a deep breath, and not succeeding thanks to the sharp pain that radiated through his ribs and chest, not to mention back, he conceded to taking a small one. He had to keep trying to get free. He had to get to his brother. He couldn't actually remember where Sam was, but he remembered that the spirit had trapped him somewhere. So Dean went back to wiggling his hands. By now his wrists were pretty raw, and the rope was doing a good job of giving him ring around the collar. His neck was gonna look real pretty after this. A giggle made him pause.

We're going to play hide and seek now Karen said as she appeared before Dean.

Dean raised his eyebrows. "Oh yeah, good for you."

Karen smiled Sam's coming. He's looking for you cause he thinks I hid you. But that's not what I hid.

Dean blinked his heavy lidded eyes. He couldn't believe he had gotten himself into this mess. That this stupid spirit, a little girl, had gotten the better of him. Oh he couldn't wait to fry her.

Guess what! Karen said, enthusiasm flowing in her voice, I have a surprise for Sam when he get's here. I'm going to make sure he has to stay and be my friend.

Dean watched in horror as from somewhere from the side a large pitchfork, an actual pitchfork!, came floating towards the door. It turned itself until the spikes were pointed at the door waist height. Sam's waist height.

"Oh hell no!" Dean roared, ignoring the pain raising his voice caused. He frantically began trying to untie himself. "That won't work Karen. It won't make him stay." Dean tried to reason.

It will. He's special like me and when he dies too, then we can be friends because we're the same.

"You're not the same!" Dean yelled. "Sam isn't evil." Dean pleaded.

But I'm not evil either. Karen said and then disappeared.

snsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsn

Sam had been frantically searching the basement for something to break the window with, since he found that it wasn't the kind that actually opened. Who the hell would put in a window that didn't open? His hands were sore and his fingers still bled, his back hurt from hitting the ground so damn hard, and he was sure he had sprained at least one of his ankles. But he couldn't stop to take a breath. Dean hadn't sounded good and they had been apart too long. Karen could have done anything to his brother by now.

Finally, Sam found a small old four legged table in the corner of the attic. He turned it over and kicked and kicked until one of the legs busted off. He used that the break the window. Pulling off his jacket, he wrapped it around his arm and cleared away the remaining jagged edged of glass. Finally freedom was in his grasp.

"I'm coming Dean." he said aloud.

Slowly and carefully he went out the window, working hard to keep his balance on the slanted roof. He couldn't help the feelings of 'hurry' and 'faster' that coursed through him. But his brain kept reminding him that not only did Dean need him to get there in one piece, but he needed him period. So, he grit his teeth and took his time. Sending up prayer after prayer that his brother was still alive.

It took him about ten minutes to finally scale down to the first story roof and then carefully lower himself over the side and drop down into some bushes. He had slipped a few times, and was sure there were some splinters in unmentionable places. Not that he would tell Dean that. But he'd made it down without incident.

Ignoring his aches, he pushed himself ahead at a run, keeping an eye out for any obstacles. A few feet from the barn he skidded to a halt when he heard his brother's raised, although obviously strained, voice. Ignoring the urge to rush into the barn and to his brother's rescue, he let his father's training take over. Instead he slowed his pace and crept towards the door. There were no cracks he could peek through, but he put his ear to the wall and strained to hear what was happening on the other side. Relief flooded through him when he could clearly make out Dean's voice, alive. Probably not well, but alive. From what he could make out it was obvious Karen was planning something for him that Dean didn't like. When silence fell again, Sam took a deep breath and began his cautious entrance.

He fully expected something to blocking his way, or an object to be thrown at him. But he didn't expect a freaking pitchfork to come sailing towards him as soon as he entered.

"Sammy, watch out!" Dean yelled as soon as he saw his brother's foot come through the door.

Sam's eyes met Dean's terrified ones and he immediately tried to dodge the flying spear. He was mostly successful. However, when he turned his body and fell to the floor one of the spikes managed to hit him, slicing his side. He cried out at the sharp bite, his hands quickly covering the wound.

"Sammy!" Dean cried out, trying with all of his might to pull at the ropes, only causing himself to choke and cough. He could only watch helplessly as his brother sat on his knees, hunched over and holding his right side. "Sammy?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah." He took a deep breath and looked up at his brother. "I"m good Dean. Just gimmie a minute."

With a small amount of dread Sam pulled his jacket back to look at his wound. Although it hurt like hell, throbbing and burning, he was happy and surprised to see that the spike had only given him a good slice, not the deep gouge he was expecting. That had been so close.

"Sammy?" Dean asked, his voice raspy. Dean wasn't that far from his brother, but with his blurry eyes he couldn't make out how badly Sam was hurt.

"It's all right Dean. Just a scratch." Sam said, trying to give his brother a reassuring smile. He quickly ripped his jacket off and tied it tight around his waist to stop the blood flow. He was fine. But looking up and really seeing the situation his brother was in, Sam could see Dean was not all right.

Sam quickly made his way to Dean, his eyes scanning the obvious injuries. He really didn't like the glazed look his brother was giving him, nor did he like the rope around his brother's neck, and the small lines of blood that were weeping from beneath.

"Oh God Dean." Sam managed.

"Just hurry up and untie me Sam." Dean said, trying to struggle again.

Sam immediately saw the rope around Dean's neck tighten as he moved. "Stay still!" Sam reached out and held his brother in place, not liking how easy it was to do. "Don't move. Let me get this off you."

"Hurry up. She could be back any minute."

Sam paused, "I think we have time. I don't feel anything right now."

Sam quickly and carefully freed his brother. Anger thrummed through him as he gave Dean a quick once over. "Geez Dean what the hell happened?"

Dean coughed a little and sagged slightly as he was released from the ropes. "Well, first I fell down the damn stairs, woke up in here, and I think I've probably made myself pass out about a half a dozen times." He gave his brother a quick smirk. "Nothing out of the ordinary."

Sam winced at Dean's raspy voice. "Yeah, a completely normal night for the Winchesters." His brother's honesty about his injuries telling him without a doubt that Dean probably had a concussion. Dean was never so open about what was wrong.

"Yeah, just an all around fun night." Dean said, closing his eyes for a moment as dizziness stole his balance.

"Well, I've got good news for once." Sam said.

Dean's eyebrows rose. "Don't keep me in suspense little brother."

Sam smiled. "Bobby's daughter might have found something that belonged to Karen." Sam motioned to the loft above them. "Hid it up there. It's some kind of trinket box with a locket. If that's it, all we have to do is burn it, and we're done man."

Dean held out his hand for Sam to help him up. "Then what are we waiting for?"

"Well, I kinda thought I'd maybe make sure my big brother wasn't going to pass out as soon as I walk away..."

"Sam, I'm fine." Dean interrupted.

Sam snorted. "Yeah, that's what I was just about to say. Just sit tight. I'll go up and get it."

Sam straightened and turned, the feeling hitting him instantly. The entire room buzzed with the return of Karen.

"Sam?" Dean asked. He saw his brother hesitate, and then even he felt the atmosphere change. "Don't tell me," Dean groaned, "She's back."

Sam stepped in front of his brother who was still on the ground. "Yeah."

"Help me up." Dean said.

"Stay there." Sam hissed, his eyes scanning for the spirit.

"Damn it Sam." Dean cursed, struggling to stand himself.

"Dean!" Sam yelled. "Just stay down and out of the way."

But Dean was determined. Without Sam's help he managed to pull himself, albeit slowly, to his unsteady feet. "Don't think so dude. You're gonna need help." Dean looked down and saw his shotgun laying a few feet away, but knew he would never be able to bend over and pick it up without falling completely over.

"Hand me my gun Sam." Dean said.

Sam glared at his brother but did as asked. Dean was in no shape to fight, but he didn't want his brother to sit there completely helpless. Quickly Sam handed it to him. "Just stay behind me."

Dean rolled his eyes, regretting it instantly but not letting on. "Look. I may not be psychic boy but even I can feel that we don't have much time here. We gotta get that box."

"Yeah we do." Sam gave his brother a once over. Dean was very much less than steady on his feet. Sam quickly ushered him back against the wall to give him support. "You gonna pass out?"

"I'm fine." Dean snapped. Taking a quick shallow breath he said, "You do know she isn't just going to stand by and let you up there right?" Sam nodded. "Classic dodge and distract then. We've got to keep her busy."

Before Sam could respond, one of the few light bulbs overhead blew out and the door slammed shut. Dean shoved at Sam and pushed away from the wall. "I'd say we're outta time. Gotta get that box."

That's when everything went wild. It seemed as those every object in the barn took on a life of it's own. Tools, work boots, rope, gardening items, buckets, and everything else started flying across the barn. Some things headed straight at them, others just knocking off of walls. A manufactured wind shot up, stirring up the dirt beneath their feet, making a haze.

"I'm on it!" Sam shouted and headed toward the ladder.

"Whoa! What are you doing!" Dean said.

Sam stopped, turning to his brother. "Look out!" He shouted.

Dean ducked just enough for the bucket that was flying by to go over his head. "I thought we were doing the dodge and distract thing?"

"We are. I'm going up and you're distracting." Sam said.

"Since when?" Dean said, ignoring the whirlwind going on around them. "You always distract. That's the way we always do it. I'll get the box."

Sam gave Dean a 'what the hell' look. "Are you seriously arguing about this right now?"

"I'm just pointing out that you aren't doing it right." Dean said, dodging another flying item.

Sam however, didn't dodge in time and was struck in the shoulder by a surprisingly heavy water pail. "Ow! Son of a..." Sam shook it off. "Thanks Dean! You're supposed to distract the spirit, not me!"

"Well if you were doing you're job right it wouldn't have happened!"

Sam paused. He looked at Dean and could see it was taking everything he had to stay upright. He was in no shape to make it up the ladder. Not that he was really in any shape to keep the spirit occupied, but Sam had a sudden thought about his brother falling off the ladder or out of the loft and falling to the ground. Either way, Dean was in no shape to fight. But following their usual routine was out of the question right now.

"You can't make it up the ladder Dean." Sam tried to reason. "Now can we stop arguing about this and get the job done?"

Dean clenched his jaw. He'd cut off a finger before he admitted Sam was right. "Whatever. But remember when I said we were out of synch?" He pointed a finger at Sam. "That's why. You keep forgetting who's captain around here."

Sam had to laugh at his brother's logic. "Whatever. You good for a minute while I go up now, or do we need to keep having arguments over who's the alpha male."

Dean squinted his eyes at Sam, trying to give a menacing glare. "Whatever you freak. Only you would come up with a line like that. Hurry up then, climb monkey boy." Dean said, motioning with his hand to the ladder.

Sam bit back his retort. They had wasted enough time and he was sure Karen would make her presence known any minute. He headed up, glancing back to see Dean fending off the flying shoes. It would have been a funny sight if the situation wasn't so damn serious.

Sam emerged in the loft. It was scattered with a few boxes. He quickly started tearing through everything looking for the small box. Below he could hear everything still flying around and the curses of his big brother.

"Think you could hurry up Sam?" Dean called out.

Sam sped up. "I'm trying!" He shouted.

Just as Sam was about to make his way to the last corner he hadn't checked she appeared.

Hi Sam, Karen said with a smile, as if she were alive and everything was normal.

"Karen." Sam said, immediately reaching into his jacket for the salt. "Karen, please stop this." He tried once more to plead with her. "Let me help you move on."

You won't find it. I hid it real good. But I could give you clues.

Sam's face fell. "Karen, you have to move on either way."

Suddenly Karen's smile left. I won't let you burn me! You know what the fire is like!

Sam felt a sudden pain shoot through his head, causing him to fall to his knees. "Ahh!" he cried out.

Beneath his closed eyes Sam was assaulted with visions of fire. Things from his past. His mother burning, Jess burning, his father's body burning. Then he was slammed with the fires of Karen's past. He could feel the heat, the sting of the flames. He could feel the losses all over again, and all of the pain. "Please stop." He managed to croak out.

I won't let you burn me!

Sam was doubled over now. The sensations overwhelming him. He tried to fight past the vision and move his hand to find the salt, but his body would not obey him. He was in agony and could do nothing about it.

Dean had staggered up the ladder the instant he heard his brother cry out. It took him way too long to make it up, his body protesting and trying to make him give up with each step, but he refused and fought. The sight that greeted him when he reached the top pushed him even harder. He could be missing limbs, but he'd fly before he watched his brother writhe in pain any longer. With a loud shout of anger he doused the spirit with a half a flask of holy water, sending her away with her own shout of pain.

Instantly Dean dropped down next to his brother. "Sammy? Sammy, come on man, are you okay?"

Sam was panting hard, as if he'd just run for miles. Breathlessly he replied, "That little bitch is giving me the mother of all headaches."

Dean smirked. Sometimes Sam couldn't help it. The Winchester just came out in him. "What was it this time?"

"Nothing that helps. She's just messing with me." Sam said.

Dean patted his brother on the back. "Okay, take a minute. I'll look around for the box."

Sam nodded. He knew he should get up and help his brother, but he felt so exhausted at the moment. Raising his head he watched as Dean tried to hobble around the loft. Sam couldn't believe his brother had managed to drag himself up that ladder. If Dean's sheer will and determination was something that could be bottled up, they could make a fortune.

"Anything?" Sam asked, forcing himself up off the floor.

"She hid it." Dean said.

"What?" Sam asked.

"Before you showed up, she told me she hid it." Dean explained.

Tired of watching his brother struggle, Sam forced himself on. With renewed strength he began to search. He stopped when he suddenly no longer heard Dean moving around. He spun, expecting something bad, but saw Dean just staring at him.

"What?" Sam asked, his eyes wide with confusion.

"I have an idea." Dean said.

Sam rolled his eyes. Dean's ideas were never good for their health. "I'm afraid to ask."

Dean shrugged. "My ideas always work Sam." Before his brother could respond Dean continued, "but I'm not thinking anything crazy here. Well...actually I am, but not like usual. I'm thinking that this spirit somehow is able to get into your head, right?"

"Yeah..." Sam replied cautiously.

"Why don't you try to turn the tables on her."

"How?" Sam asked.

Dean sighed. "Come on Sam. Neither one of us wants to admit it, but you two have some kind of connection. So why not try to turn that psychic mojo around on her. You get into to her head. See if you can find where she hid the box."

"I can't do that!" Sam exclaimed.

"Why not? You said yourself your abilities have gone up a notch. You've been all amped up psychic boy since we got here. Why not try?"

"I wouldn't know where to begin." Sam said. Dean was right about the whole connection thing, and his idea didn't actually sound that crazy. But Sam wouldn't even have a clue of where to start.

Dean motioned to Sam and then to the ground. "I don't know. Sit down and like...meditate or something. Relax and open your mind. Just try Sammy." Dean almost pleaded. He was tired and his body was just about to the point of giving up the fight. He didn't know how much longer he could back Sam up, and this was their last hope, save for taking however much time it would take to find the box.

Sam could read Dean almost as if he was reading his mind. His brother was done. Any more attacks and Dean just couldn't take it. And the only way to keep his brother completely safe would be to get him to leave. And Sam knew that miracle would never happen. He sighed and decided to give it a try.

"Okay. Just...I don't know...be quiet for a minute. Let me concentrate." Sam sat down on the ground Indian style, closed his eyes and forced himself to relax. He blocked out everything around him and concentrated only on Karen. Meditating wasn't something new to him, and it wasn't long before he was completely relaxed and focused. He wasn't sure how much time had passed, but he was just about ready to give up when it hit. Not like his usual visions. No pain, no blinding light. Just the thinly veiled image of the loft. And of Karen, her small spirit hand holding a small gold box. And then placing that box behind a hidden panel of the far wall. With a smile he opened his eyes. Dean was standing, more like swaying, before him, an expectant look on his face.

Sam smiled. "Got it."

Dean gave him a 'no shit?' look. "You're kidding. It actually worked?"

"I think so." Sam said, a little surprised himself. He pushed up and got to his feet. "It's over here. A hidden panel."

"Damn Sammy. You little freak," Dean said, affection coating his harsh words, "that's gonna come in real handy dude."

"I guess." Sam muttered. He was still way more than uncomfortable with his powers, and he wasn't quite sure how he felt about them growing. But right now, it helped, and he was thankful for that.

Quickly Sam found the hidden panel and pulled it aside. In triumph he reached inside and retrieved the small trinket box. "Got it!" He exclaimed happily, showing it to his brother.

Dean smiled and was just about to congratulate Sam when she it. This time there was no warning to her presence, just the sheer rock solid force that slammed into Sam. Shoving him across the loft and right over the side, not even giving Sam time to cry out.

"Sammy!" Dean screamed, feeling as if he was moving in slow motion as he dove forward, landing hard on his belly, his hand reaching out and just barely grabbing hold of the sleeve of Sam's jacket.

"Dean!" Sam shouted, his head turning to look down at the fall he would surely take if Dean let go.

"Grab onto me Sam!" Dean said, trying desperately to keep himself from scooting more toward the edge. His body was screaming in protest, his grip barely strong enough to hold onto Sam, and Sam's weight was pulling him along. But he would not let go.

Sam dropped the box and reached with both hands, latching onto Dean's wrist. He knew it was probably killing his brother to hold onto him. Dean was in no shape to support his weight. "Just get my hands to the edge Dean. I can pull myself up." Sam said, trying to keep his body still.

"I'm...trying Sammy...almost...almost...there." Dean grunted as he pushed himself backwards. His grip kept slipping his arms were so weak and his hands sweaty. Sam had moved his hand to wrap around Dean's arm.

"Dean, it's okay man." Sam started to say, knowing that his brother wasn't going to be able to pull him up. "It's okay..."

"Shut up!" Dean shouted. "Just...hold on."

With one last hard tug and a shout, Dean managed to pull Sam far enough that he could grab onto the edge of the loft. But even then he didn't let go. He continued to hold on and to pull until his little brother lay on the floor next to him.

Dean groaned and curled up, his ribs were screaming in pain. He was panting and his vision was swimming. His head felt like it was about to explode and his chest was tight.

"Dean? Dean? Oh God." Sam said, crawling up next to his brother. "I'm sorry Dean. Are you okay?" Of course not, Sam thought to himself. He placed a hand gently on Dean's shoulder. "I'm sorry man. Just take it easy. I'll get you out of here in a minute. I'm sorry."

"Would you shut up." Dean hissed between breaths. "It wasn't your fault. Just give me a minute."

Sam nodded, even though Dean wasn't looking at him. "Yeah...okay. Just...just stay right here. I'm gonna burn that box and get this over with. I'll be back in just a minute for you."

Dean wanted nothing more than to get off the floor and help his brother. Keep him covered so he could light up the box. But he didn't think he could manage even sitting up right now. He was pissed as hell that this spirit had kicked his ass so good. But he didn't want Sam to have to worry about him and getting to the box at the same time. So he just nodded to his brother, signaling him that it was okay to go. Not like Dean was going anywhere. "Be careful." He said.

Sam snorted. "Always. I'll be right back. Do not try to move all right. I'll help you down."

"Yeah, yeah...just go Sam. Fry the little bitch."

Sam smiled, "Done."

Taking a deep breath, Sam forced himself away from his brother. Before he could do anything to help Dean, he had to finish the job. And he didn't think he'd ever been so happy to burn something in his life. He may have felt sorry for Karen at first, but now he was just as ready as Dean to watch her fry.

He moved as quickly as he could. Not wanting to give Karen another chance to stop him. When he reached the ground he pulled the salt out of his pocket and doused the box. He pulled out the light and lit it up. Just as he was about to drop it he heard her.

Please, please don't burn me.

Sam looked up. Karen stood there, looking very much like a frightened child.

Please Sam. I'm sorry. Don't burn me

For a split second, Sam was almost taken in by the pleading of the little girl. He almost wanted to reach out once more to try and help her. But then his thoughts turned to his brother, who was laying above him, suffering. And this time he didn't care.

"Not this time. It's over." Sam said.

Sam put his hand out, intent on dropping the flame.

No! Karen shouted.

Sam found himself falling backwards again. The lighter dropping, but not on the box. He had to take a second to get his breath back. He was about to push up, fight his way to the box when all of a sudden the barn door flew open.

"Sam!"

Sam was stunned to see his friend Bobby appear. He turned his head to see Karen coming at him, obviously intent on making sure Sam couldn't get up again. He didn't have much time.

"Bobby! Get the lighter. Light that box on fire! Now!"

Sam was surprised and pleased that his friend did not hesitate. Bobby didn't even take the time to be shocked by the appearance of the spirit. Instead, he quickly followed Sam's orders, placing the flame right onto the box. It lit up quickly, a ball of flame shooting out from it.

Sam watched as Karen screamed and hissed and then suddenly just vanished. He let out a sigh and let his head fall back. It was over.

"Sam? Are you okay? What the hell just happened? What was that?" Bobby began asking all at once.

"What are you doing here?" Sam asked instead of replying, looking up at his wide eyed friend.

"You didn't sound good on the phone call, so I just wanted to make sure you were all right."

Sam smiled. "We are now. You just saved our lives man."

Bobby said nothing. Just helped Sam up, looking completely bewildered.

snsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsnsn

Five days, lots of sleep and home cooked meals later, they were finally saying good bye to Bobby and his family. They had been kind enough to let Sam and Dean stay at the house to recuperate. And Bobby's wife made sure she took care of both them, waiting on them hand and foot, ignoring both of their protests.

Sam was feeling one hundred percent better by the fifth day. The first night, after he made sure Dean was going to recover, he had slept almost fourteen hours straight. Between that and the food he felt like a new man. Dean however, was another story. While the forced rest did wonders for him, he still wasn't at top shape. But neither of them wanted to wear out their welcome, and Dean was at least well enough to get on the road.

"Thanks again. You guys have been wonderful." Sam said, giving Bobby's wife a good bye hug.

"Are you kidding, we owe you two more than we could ever repay." Bobby said, shaking Sam's hand. "And I mean that. So like I told your brother," Bobby said motioning to Dean who was already in the passenger seat of the car, "I'll give you whatever help you need in a year from now."

"Excuse me?" Sam said, caught off guard.

Bobby looked a little confused. "Your brother, he said that in a year from now you'll be ready to get back to the civilian life. His words not mine. He asked if I'd help you out with school and stuff. And I'm more than happy to Sam. You just keep my number and call when you're ready."

Sam, at a complete loss for words, simply nodded and shook Bobby's hand. "Yeah, thanks. We'll keep in touch. Call if you need anything."

Bobby's wife gave him one last hug and handed him a plate of brownies. "A little treat for the road."

Sam smiled. "Thanks again." He waved his final good bye as he got into the car.

He glanced at Dean who he had forced into the passenger seat and bundled with a blanket. Sam's jaw clenched and he wanted nothing more than to jump at Dean for taking it upon himself to plan for Sam's future after he was gone. He wanted to scream at him for not trusting him to get him out of the deal. He wanted to be angry at him for thinking that Sam could just jump back into his old life like his brother meant nothing. But one look at Dean, still battered and tired, Sam held back. He couldn't be mad at Dean for trying to help. That didn't mean he was letting it go, but this time, he wasn't letting it lead to an argument.

Instead, he thrust the plate of brownies to him. "Want one?"

Dean smiled. "Oh yeah!" He shoved one his mouth, and then with mouth still full he said, "Man she's an awesome baker."

Sam laughed. "I think you need to go easy on those man. The way you've been eating the last few days, man you're gonna get fatter."

"Excuse me? Fatter? Are you implying Sam, that I am fat now?"

"Well, I am the one who had to haul your ass over my shoulder and down that ladder. And I gotta Say Dean, I think all of those m&m's are catching up man. Your ass is heavy." Sam said, turning his face away so Dean couldn't see his smile.

"Screw you. Just because you're a freakin' bean pole. It's all muscle man."

"Yeah. Just keep telling yourself that man." Sam laughed, starting up the car and pulling away.

They drove for almost an hour in silence. Sam thought's going over the last couple of months. He knew it was probably going to get him nowhere, but he needed to talk to Dean.

"Dean? So, are we okay?"

Dean's brows furrowed. "Whatdya mean?"

"I mean, how you kept saying we're like out of synch and how we keep fighting. I don't want to fight anymore man. And I'm sorry if I keep screwing up."

Dean sighed. "Sam, you haven't screwed up all right. Look...I know things have been kind of...tense. And I know I'm not helping much either. But man...I just want this year to be like old times ya know? I just want to do our job, have some fun, spend time with you. And I know you want to help me. I know you can't help it. So I'll try to just back off okay?"

"And I'll try to loosen up." Sam compromised.

Dean reached out and patted Sam's leg. "That's my boy. You do that. That and just keep remembering who's in charge here, and we'll be just fine."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah yeah captain. You're the big boss, big alpha dog. Got it."

Dean laughed, his arm wrapping around his middle as his ribs protested. "That's my geek boy."

"But you have to compromise something too." Sam said.

Dean deflated. "What now?"

"You've got to stop making plans for my life in a year from now."

Dean smirked. "Busted. Man, I thought I made it clear your friend was supposed to keep his mouth shut."

"Yeah well. Look, I'm not starting a fight here Dean. Just...just quit doing man. Quit acting like I'll just hop right back into that old life like it's no big deal. I could never do that. And quit acting like you won't be here. We're going to find a way to fix this Dean. I promise."

Dean was silent for a minute, then finally said. "And my little brother never breaks a promise." He said, basically repeating what Sam would always say about his big brother when they were little.

Sam smiled, remembering too. And he always remembered what Dean would say back, "Damn straight!"

The End