This is it. The last chapter… thank you all for continuing to read and review this story. I really appreciate you continued interest. And thanks especially for your patience- I appreciate it.

IheartSam: Glad you liked it! And hopefully you'll like this one too, at least you'll find out about Dean and John.

Renniespice: Thanks! Glad you're still interested! Here it is!

Lauriena: I'm happy you liked all the fear- and that you noticed how Sam's worked through his. The poor boy really did try- it was like what Dean told him, if his family was in danger, he could push his fears aside and be brave.

Sica: Chapter 16

Sam ignored the shooting pains through his neck as he tightened the pressure to his brother's shoulder. On the other end of the field, Trevor's bones were almost completely revealed. Somehow, his dad was still working, his strength never wavering, despite the amount of blood present on the back of his jacket.

Off to his right, the practically decapitated fat man laid in a bloody heap. Sam stared at the once fearsome creature, studying it, wondering how it had ended up haunting his dreams. It hadn't been his first encounter with evil…although truth be told, most of those encounters had ended up haunting his dreams. But still, Chubby had had the biggest effect on him and as Sam looked back on his behavior over the past week, he couldn't help but feel embarrassed. He had acted like a frightened child and he didn't know if he should be appreciative or insulted that his family had allowed him to…

As Sam stared blankly at the fat man, he noticed the creature's bloodied neck seem to move. Sam straightened his posture, moving into a kneeling position to get a better look. Sure enough, the fat man's neck was moving, seeming to be stitching itself back together. Frantically, Sam looked around for Trevor.

Unfortunately, from his position on the ground, he didn't have a very good view. "Dean, can you stand? I think Trevor's drawing again and I need to find him, but I have to keep pressure on your wound."

For a moment, there seemed to be no response; Dean was just staring blankly at a tree. Then, slowly, he moved, using his good arm to try and push himself up. He made it into a kneeling position before his eyes rolled back and he became limp- falling into Sam.

With a grunt, Sam caught his brother and in the process, lost his grip on the wound. He sighed, annoyed with himself. He never should've asked Dean to stand. He was bleeding. The number one rule to treating blood loss was to have the person lying down with their legs elevated. How the hell could he have forgotten that? Dean was depending on him!

Carefully, he laid his brother back down on the grass and resumed the pressure. His father's voice rang out and Sam jumped. "What's wrong, Sammy?"

Sam looked up and rather than explain what was going on with Dean, he nodded to Chubby. His dad followed his eyeline and with an annoyed grumble, pulled a pistol from his jacket. Walking up to the dead creature, John fired 18 rounds of his semi-automatic into the tulpa's head and heart. Then he pocketed the gun and began pouring lighter fluid on the bones.

Sam raised his brows at the way his dad seemed to just take the fat man's attempted re-animation in stride. Then he laughed…poor Trevor…this was turning out to be quite a bad day for him. On some level, he really did feel bad for the ghost- and he did believe Trevor when he had said that Sam had been his only friend. Every encounter that he had had with Trevor had been filled with the dead boy's fear, but at least now, he'd be put to rest…provided he didn't end up in Hell. Sam stopped laughing- poor Trevor.

With a whumph of sound, Trevor's bones caught and a terrified, pained, scream echoed through the forest. Sadly, Sam hung his head. In the center of the field, the ghost's tulpa slowly dissolved into the air leaving no trace of its existence, other than the violence it had caused.

Sam looked up as his dad knelt next to him. "How's your neck?" He knew the man was speaking to him, despite the fact that he was carefully examining Dean as he spoke.

Sam shrugged, grating out his answer. "Okay." Then he tried to assess his father. "Dad…you were stabbed…"

His dad pushed his hands off his brother's wound and tore open Dean's shirt. "No, he just sliced me. Same as Dean's throat." The man shook his head. "My guess is Dean's throat and my stabs were Chubby's idea and not Trevor's- that's why he couldn't fully carry them out."

Sam nodded. "You think if you didn't cover Dean, he would've stabbed through him more?"

Grimly his dad nodded. Slowly, with a moan, Dean began to turn his head and his father put a hand to the side of his face. "Easy, Dean, easy …"

Dean stilled his movements and blinked opened his eyes. Once again, the normally bright eyes were dulled. His father let out a shaky breath and turned to Sam. "Pack up our gear. We need to get him to a hospital. Then I'm gonna need you to stitch my back for me."

Sam nodded and began following his father's orders.


Dean viewed the world through hazy eyes. Every thing seemed dulled. Voices, touches, sights…they were all muted. He had thought he would be able to pull it together, but once he tried to stand…well, now he had no idea what had happened, except that he felt a lot worse.

Suddenly, an intense pain ripped through his shoulder, and nothing was dull anymore. Vainly, Dean bit on his tongue in an attempt to stifle his scream. Above him, his father apologized. "Sorry, Dean. I need to get this bleeding stopped."

When Dean reopened his wet eyes, he noticed his father had packed his wound with bandages and was now squeezing down on it- hard. Sammy had done a good job of keeping pressure on it, but it was nothing compared to the strength his father was using. Based on the tingling in his arm, Dean was fairly sure that no blood was getting passed his shoulder.

A crashing through the trees on the edge of the meadow had all three Winchesters looking up. Dean could literally feel the tension in the air mount as the three Gervichs entered the field.

Picking up the last pack, Sam slowly backed his way toward his family, his glare never leaving Dennis' face.

For a moment, nobody spoke as the two families sized each other up. Finally, it was Doug who broke the silence with a smirk. "Well, you guys seem a little worse for wear…"

Behind him, Keith rolled his eyes. Dennis stepped forward. "You finish it?"

Gritting his teeth, John nodded.

Dennis' expression gave away nothing and Dean wondered if the man was glad or annoyed that they had eliminated the ghost. Dennis nodded in his direction. "Dean looks like he's pretty bad off."

Above, his father stiffened. "He is…"

His dad was feeling them out; he could tell. Under normal circumstances, his father probably wouldn't have given them a second glance. Harsh words would've been exchanged, guns would've been drawn, and then they would've left. But these weren't normal circumstances. He was hurt- and based on what he had overheard Sam say, his dad was hurt too. As it stood now, Dean knew he wouldn't be able to walk out of this forest. He would be lucky to make it to standing- much less walking. The only question was: would the Gervichs help?

Dennis smirked down at them. "I'd give you a hand with him, John, but you made it quite clear last time we met that you don't need or want any help when it concerns your kids. So, we'll do you a favor and leave you to it."

The eldest Gervich went to leave, but then stopped and turned back around. "Jim's been staying a while at our place. How many friends you got left, John? You keep it up- in a few years, you will've driven away everyone, your kids included." Dennis sneered. "You got no one. And when you die? I guarantee you, you'll be alone."

Dean grimaced through the pain as his father's hold became unbearably tight in response to Dennis' rambling. Unable to stop himself, Dean moaned and his father immediately relaxed his grip to painful pressure. Turning his head, Dean watched Dennis leave the field, followed closely by Doug and Keith. However, just before Keith disappeared into the trees, he turned, smiled, winked at Sam, and dropped a cell phone onto the floor. With one more step, he was gone.

Sam raised his brows and turned to their dad. Keith had left them a way to call for help- provided there was cell service in Sica Hollow. The only problem was- who would they call?

Dean blinked as his brother began pushing buttons on the discarded phone. He may not have known who to call, but evidently, Sam did. Above him, his father went to move, but then realizing that he couldn't move and keep pressure on Dean's shoulder, he sat back down. "Sammy, bring me the phone."

"It's Sam," was absentmindedly croaked out as his brother held the phone to his ear with a pointer finger held up in the air. Despite his condition, Dean's eyes widened. Did his brother just ignore his father and tell him to wait? He grimaced as his father growled and increased the pressure on his shoulder. It seemed that Sammy…Sam was feeling better.

Before his dad could respond, Sam began talking into the phone. "It's Sam Winchester…yes…kind of…we're in Sica Hollow and we need help. Dean's hurt really bad and my dad's been cut up…okay…thanks." And with that, Sam hung up the phone and brought it over to his father.

Removing one of his hands from Dean's shoulder, an angry John ripped the phone out of Sam's hands. "Who did you call?"

Sam bit his lip and their dad's eyes narrowed in response. "Sam…who…"

Sam looked sheepishly at the grass. "Pastor Jim."

Dean sucked in a breath, very glad that only one of his father's hands was on him at the moment. His dad was clearly enraged, a hint of betrayal coming through as well. Sam would've known their father wouldn't want Pastor Jim involved, and yet, he called him anyway. Before their father regained his wits, Sam tried to explain. "We're all hurt, dad, and I know it's bad because you were even willing to get help from Dennis before he turned his back on us. Dennis said himself that Pastor Jim's been staying in town…and he said he'd be here right away."

John shook his head. "I don't know if you're blind, but Dennis was pretty clear about how willing he was to help. Jim's been staying with him for a week. What are the chances you think he's really gonna show? You're too Goddamn naive. The only people you can really trust are your family, me and Dean- that's it. These other people would just as soon kill you as help you, Sammy. If they believed for one second that you were a threat to them in any way, they'd come up from behind you and slit your throat. So the next time you're in a forest and you need help, you either find it from me or Dean, or you get out on your own. 'Cause calling anyone else is only gonna add to the danger."

Sam stood silent, picking the grass with his toe, the expression on his face clearly disagreeing with his father's speech.

John picked up on his son's difference of opinion and stood up, towering over the teen. "You get that, Sam? Did I make myself clear?!"

Sam jumped at the raised volume and lifted his head, surprise flickering over his features. Then the teen nodded. "Yes, sir."

Still pissed, John nodded his approval and looked down at Dean. "Time to get the hell out of here…"

Roughly, Dean felt his father lifting him into a standing position and before he could think, everything went black.


"Hold here, Sam."

Dean blinked his way into consciousness slowly, the smell of sweat and tequila filling his nostrils. As he opened his eyes, he noticed that his father's bloody denim jacket was only inches from his face. Blinking again, Dean turned his head to the left and noticed that his father was holding him…that didn't make sense. He was eighteen.

"Wrap it around one more time." His father's chest vibrated as he spoke.

Vaguely, he felt movement around his throbbing shoulder. From what he could tell though, his father was no longer squeezing down on it.

"I think he's awake, dad."

Suddenly, Dean found his head being tipped back and his father's concerned face came into view. "Sorry, Dean."

Dean just stared back in confusion, unsure of what the man was sorry for. Regardless, Dean nodded in forgiveness. His father smiled back and gently placed him onto the forest floor.

Sam bounced on his toes, shooting him a shit-eating grin. "I stitched your neck."

Dean narrowed his eyes. "What?"

Sam's grin went even bigger and Dean lifted a shaking hand to his neck. Sure enough, it was bandaged and beneath the bandages, he could feel multiple upraised stitches. Was that what his dad was apologizing for? If so, he took back his forgiveness…his neck was a part of him that was visible to the world.

His father continued to smile. "He did a great job. I wouldn't have been able to do it better myself."

Sam nodded and became grave. "You were bleeding too much there and dad tried to stitch you but he's bleeding too much, so his hands were shaking…"

Dean looked sharply at his father, scrutinizing him for any weakness. His dad looked at Sam seriously. "Don't exaggerate it- most hunts come with injuries, it's part of the territory. I'm fine; you needed the practice."

Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw Sam look at him and shake his head. Clearly, Sam believed his father was worse off than he would admit.

Sam spoke again. "I still have to stitch dad's back, but he wants me to wait till we get back to the motel."

That was then Dean noticed that they were still in the forest. Apparently, it hadn't been part of his father's plan for him to pass out. Dean mumbled out his concerns. "'Stitches are okay? 'Not gonna scar are they? 'Cause, you know, it's m' neck…gets a lot of up close and personal action…"

This time, both his brother and his father rolled their eyes. His father answered him. "The stitches are fine. No one'll be seeing anything. Your sex life will remain intact."

Dean smiled and looked appraisingly at his brother through half-lidded eyes. "'Glad you had to stitch the pig."

Sam said nothing, but crossed his arms and glared down at him.

Suddenly, a loud noise was heard and a man stumbled out of the bushes. All three Winchesters turned to look and Dean noted how both his father and Sam drew their guns at the newcomer.

For a moment, the silence was deafening as the two Winchesters stared down the man with his hands raised in the air. Then, taking a breath, the visitor spoke. "I always preferred Luke's version of that story to John's…"

The hunting family simply stared in response to the seemingly random statement, so the man continued. "Luke 5:22… 'When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, rise, take up your bed, and walk- your sins are forgiven.'"

With an exhale of annoyance, John lowered his weapon and Sam followed in suit. Then John spoke. "Everything just relates back to the Bible with you doesn't it?"

The Pastor looked serious. "Yes."

John shook his head as he slipped his weapon into the back of his pants. "I agree though, Luke's version does seem to cover a lot more."

Pastor Jim smiled and walked towards the trio, crouching down next to Dean as he reached them. Gently, he cupped the side of Dean's face and Dean felt himself relax at the touch. "Should I assume all this blood that I'm sitting in belongs to you?"

Dean grinned. "'Don't assume, 'know what they say…some of it's m' dad's."

Immediately, the minister's eyes jumped to John and looked him over. Then the man sighed and turned to Sam. "Are you bleeding as well?"

With a small smile, Sam shook his head.

Placing his hands on his knees, the clergyman pushed himself into a standing position. Then, he brushed a hand over the back of Sam's head. "You have no idea how good it was to hear your voice."

Sam smiled and their father scoffed, pushing himself into a standing position as well. "Spend the day with him and see if you still feel that way…"

Sam's eyes narrowed and Dean laughed. "'Day? 'Spend a car ride with 'im."

The Pastor tried to hide his amusement as Sam crossed his arms in protest. Then the teen pointed a finger at his injured brother. "That's not true. I was annoying you in the car without saying anything…"

Dean just shook his head. That was true. You didn't need a working voice to clap in front of somebody's face.

The minister spoke to his father. "What do you need?"

Wearily, John rubbed a hand over his face. "Just some help getting to a motel…I thought we might need a hospital for Dean, but we've got the wound packed and the bleeding's stopped. He's still conscious…but his head goes much higher than his heart and he loses it. I'd probably go back to where we were. This way, hospital's next door if we need."

Jim clapped a supportive hand on John's shoulder and nodded. "I'll keep nearby once you're there. There'll be less questions if I bring him in."

John agreed and threw the cell phone to Jim. "Make sure this gets back to Keith."

The Pastor raised his brows in surprise as he accepted the phone. Then he looked down to Sam. "You think you don't fit? Try being Keith and living with Dennis."

John growled his protest of the minister discussing Sam's 'not fitting' and Jim dropped the topic. Instead, he smiled down at Dean. "Well, looks like you're gonna need to move- and with the way your daddy's bleedin', looks like I get the joy of carrying you." Before Dean could make a snappy comeback, the man bent down, threw Dean over his shoulder and stood back up. Upside down, Dean found himself wondering at how smoothly the minister seemed to do that and do it without having him pass out.

Dean grimaced at the pain in his shoulder and neck as his carrier began to walk. It was more than a little frustrating and humiliating being helplessly thrown over someone's back, hanging upside down, and watching that person's ass cheeks flex alternately as they walked. He really hadn't ever wanted to get so personal with the pastor's ass. He hoped the man hadn't had any beans today…

Behind him, Sammy's hoarse voice rang out. "Hey dad, if Dean's gotta lie down, can I sit up front?"

A voice up front responded. "I want you back there with him in case his wounds reopen. We need to know that right away."

Dean groaned. More sharing the backseat with Sammy…sometimes, life just sucked.

-------------------------------one week later-------------------------------

Dean grimaced as he tried to find a comfortable position in the passenger seat of the car. Unfortunately though, no matter what direction he turned, he ended up putting pressure on his shoulder. He had been out of the hospital for five days and now that the painkillers were gone, his shoulder hurt like hell. Pastor Jim had stayed until he'd been released, using his status as clergyman to dissuade any suspicions on the part of the medical personal. But after his release, everything was all on his dad, not that all that much had to be done, but still, Dean felt bad to be the burden.

He remembered his father's reaction to when Sammy had been strangled and it had stayed with him. And Dennis' words were also still ringing in his head. His dad had nobody. Sammy, he always had Dean. No matter what- no matter anything, Dean would always be there, because whether Sam was aware of it or not, he needed someone to fall back on…everyone did. And most of the time, although he'd unwillingly admit not all of the time, Dean had his dad to fall back on. It was true, he tried to handle as much as he could on his own, but if he ever needed someone, his dad was there. But who did his dad have?

There used to be mom, but she was dead…then there were all the family friends, but this past week had shown how much they could be depended on. If it had been up to his father alone, without Sam there, Pastor Jim would never have been called. His dad went through 'friends' like people on diahretics went through toilet paper.

Dean could remember the few times when the world had been on his shoulders and there was no one there to help him support it. Did his dad feel like that all the time? Dean shook his head and watched his father as he drove. He'd put an end to it now. From now on, his dad would be able to lean on him. It was like his father had told Sammy in Sica Hollow- the only people you can depend on are your family. So that'd be it. From now on, he'd be there for his dad, and he'd help his father carry any burdens that needed to be carried. Someone had to be there and Dean would do it. He'd make sure his dad never felt overburdened or alone again- and there'd be no way in hell his dad would be alone when he died- not if he had something to say about it.


Sam tried not to be bored as he sat in the backseat of the car…his permanent place. Dean wasn't even comfortable up in the front, and with his blood still replenishing its volume, he should've been lying down, which meant he should've been in the backseat. But was he? No. Not that Sam hadn't suggested it…but the two definitive 'no's that he received in response hadn't left much room for argument.

"So where to?"

Sam looked up with interest as his father addressed his brother. Sam desperately wanted to answer that question with a great big 'Baltimore,' but as usually, his opinion was unwanted.

For his part, Dean didn't even seem to understand the question. Instead, he just squinted back at his father in confusion. With a sigh, their father tried again. "Where you wanna graduate from, Dean?"

Finally, understanding, Dean answered with an uninterested half-shrug.

Sam looked on in frustration as their father tried to muster up some of Dean's enthusiasm. "I thought we'd go west. You seemed to like Bluffdale when we were there."

Sam made a face. Bluffdale, Utah had been okay, but of all the places they had been over the past five years, Bluffdale wasn't even in the top ten. Sure he had had some friends, but nothing like he'd had in Baltimore.

Dean smiled slightly and then shook his head. "Nah. Sammy hated it there." Dean stretched his muscles with a grimace. "I don't really care. School's not my thing anyway. Sammy's the one who's all into it. Let him pick."

Sam grinned and his father's smiling eyes moved to the rearview mirror. "Okay, Sammy, it's up to you. Should I make the turn east then?"

Sam bounced in his seat and was about to blurt out his town of choice, when he stopped himself. He really, really, really wanted to go back to Baltimore. He had a lot of friends there, he had had a lot of fun there, and he wanted to go back. But then he looked at his brother. Dean had been miserable there…and there dad was right, it was Dean's graduation year.

Sam pushed himself back in his seat, his feelings warring within him. Dean didn't want to go back to Baltimore; he knew that. And Dean had left the choice up to Sam so that he'd be happy. Sam shook his head. He had spent all this time trying to prove that he was an adult, that he wasn't a little kid…and he knew what the right thing to do here was. Dean deserved to graduate from a school that he liked.

Sam bit his thumbnail as he looked out the window. He really, really, really wanted to go back to Baltimore. All he had to do was say, 'Baltimore' and he'd get what he wanted. It was right there. And if they didn't go back now, he'd never be able to reconnect with his friends again…

Sam looked back over at Dean…

"Sammy, I need to know where I'm headed."

Sam scooted up to look out the windshield to see the signs for Rt. 80 approaching. Making a quick decision, Sam blurted out his answer. "Go west."

His father followed the direction and Sam once again, moved back in his seat. Dean looked back at him, confused. Sam shrugged. "Looks like you'll be graduating from Bluffdale…"

A startled look crossed Dean's face- obviously, his brother hadn't been expecting that- but then it was replaced by an appearance of serious gratitude. "Thanks, Sam."

Sam was completely taken aback by the genuine expression on his brother's face. Dean really had wanted to go back to Bluffdale. As Dean turned back in his seat, Sam began to feel guilty. He had been so close to saying 'Baltimore', completely unaware of what Dean had wanted. All he had been thinking of was himself and yet, Dean had been thinking of him.

"Hey dad…you think Kelly Pearsen has a date for the prom yet?"

Sam watched his brother's rarely insecure face as their father answered. "That the girl you dated while we were there?"

Dean nodded. "It was two years ago, but she said if I came back, she'd go to the prom with me…she probably forgot about me by now…"

Their dad shook his head. "Weren't you her first?"

Dean nodded. "It was mutual."

Their father smiled. "Then trust me, she didn't forget you. You wanna call her when we stop for gas? Let her know you're comin'?"

Dean shrugged and picked at the balls of fuzz on his sweater. "She was hot, she's probably got a date already."

Their dad checked his blindspot as he moved into the left lane. "Never know unless you try. I've been told there's only one senior prom…"

At that, Dean smiled. "Yeah, I guess. At least I could tell her I'm coming back. I think I still have her number in the trunk…I could talk to her brother Mike too, I had a shitload of fun with that crowd…"

Sam looked out the window feeling somewhat ashamed and yet proud at the same time. Dean still had their number? And yet, when given the chance to go back there, Dean hadn't taken it? A few weeks ago, Sam would never have understood that…hell, a few weeks ago, he'd never have believed that. But now, now he understood completely, because he had just done it himself. And given how much his brother was now looking forward to returning to Bluffdale, Sam was grateful that he had somehow pushed his own feelings aside and made the right choice. Sometimes, another person's happiness was more important than your own. But now he was left wondering, how many other times had Dean given up what he really wanted just to make Sam happy?


Sam was shaken from his thoughts by his brother's voice.

"You want red or blue?"

Sam looked out the car window before choosing. "Black."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Dude, you can't pick black. Black always wins."

Sam crossed his arms. "Fine. My black versus your red and blue."

Dean agreed. "You're on. We got ten minutes and no cheating this time."

Sam shook his head and returned to the window. "That's you, Dean."


Sam laughed and began counting the black cars as they passed. It was going to be a long drive to Bluffdale, but he was healthy, his dad was healthy, Dean was healthy enough to count cars with him, and when it came down to it- he really didn't give a shit what school he was in, as long as he was in some school and his family was okay. Right now, life didn't get much better than that.

Once again, thank you to everyone who stuck with this story despite the incredibly slow updates. I've appreciated your continued support and feedback more than you could ever know. And if you enjoyed the story, please leave a review and let me know- you'll make my day! Thanks!