Disclaimer:I do not own "Supernatural" or these complexly broken boys.
Author's Note: Last chapter guys! I appreciate all your reviews and PM's so much! Thank you for all your comments and suggestions! And all the great insights you've shared with me!
Loads of thanks to Lembas7 for practicing her beta'fu on this story, you're awesome hun! Any remaining errors are all mine.
"Okay, okay, it's time now!" Jill said, breathless from a laugh, eyes bright from a sugar high.
Jess nodded and Kerrie groaned. Mrs. Moore laughed and her husband rolled his eyes.
"Time for Thanksgiving rule #1!" Jill finished.
Sam joined Mr. Moore in the eye rolling.
"Dean has no idea what you're babbling about, Jilly," Mrs. Moore pointed out.
Dean smirked, "And I'm always fascinated by what you have to say, Jilly."
Jill was sugared up enough and it was late enough that she just grinned at Dean. "Thanksgiving Rule #1: you must say two things you're thankful for - but there are rules--"
Dean's eyebrows arched. "Rules to the rule?"
Jill rolled her eyes. "Shut-up," she said lightly. Then, she began listing, "You must not be obvious, you must not repeat anything that's already been said, you must be brief and you must be sincere!"
"Obvious is family, friends and health - that's all a given, so they're not allowed," Jess continued the explanation. "And it has to be current, this year!" she added.
"And you can't qualify it; you can't say I'm thankful for my new car this year except that it's a pain to find windshield wipers for," Jill finished.
Dean watched one sister and then the other, amused. "That doesn't leave a lot."
"Sure it does. It leaves the simple things that you're thankful for this year - things that made you happy in uncomplicated ways."
His lips quirked a little at Jess's explanation. "Okay, and you don't say why -"
"Exactly! No qualification!" Jess finished for him, then her eyes widened. "EXCEPT if you really want to! But only if it's good - not if it's bad -"
"See my previous example," Jill interrupted.
Jess didn't miss a beat, "No negativity allowed. It's all about the thankful and the silly and the happy!"
"Julia came up with this when the girls were young," Mr. Moore murmured, wry amusement in his tone.
Mrs. Moore nodded. "They loved it. They were such sweet girls," she added teasingly, looking at them with mock sadness.
"We're still sweet girls, Mom!"
Their mother sighed, a laugh in her eyes. "I suppose you have your moments."
"Why two?" Dean asked.
"Two daughters," Mr. Moore answered quickly, shooting Dean a grin. "Two's the magic number."
"Okay, I want to go first!" Jill cried, grinning. "Me first!"
"So would you like to go first, dear?" Mr. Moore asked Jill, eyes amused.
Jill nodded, "Okay. I'm thankful that I broke up with Kris before Thanksgiving."
"Amen," Jess piped up.
Kerrie nodded, "Seconded."
Jill took a moment to frown. "You never even met him."
"Hearsay." Kerrie nodded towards Jess.
"What else are you thankful for?" Sam asked, cutting off Jill's response.
"Yeah, could we not get into another guy-discussion please," Jake begged. "I still have nightmares from the last one I was present for." He gave a fake shudder.
"Do I even want to know?" Mrs. Moore asked archly.
Mr. Moore looked over at her and reached out to pat her hand. "Of course not, dear. You know dating meansgood friends and by Kris Jilly means Katie."
The Moore women rolled their eyes and Jill continued, "And I'm thankful that Jess and Sam are finally married, because it's nice to have living, breathing proof that there are some people out there made for each other."
The entire table paused and shifted to look at Jill, surprised looks on their faces. Her cheeks tinged pink, but she proceeded without missing beat, turning to face her father. "Okay, Daddy, your turn." Her father was watching her with a fond smile on his face as she prodded him.
He reached out and patted her gently on the back. "I'm thankful Sam and Jess opened up their home to us this Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for the ace I made at the SCGA last week."
"No more golf at the table," she huffed.
"Jess?" Kerrie offered. "What areyou thankful for?" she asked, grinning.
Jess rolled her eyes. Then sighed, meeting Sam's gaze across the table, "I'm thankful for my wedding day." Then her eyes slid over to Dean and then back to Sam. "I'm thankful for all things Sam."
Sam felt a flush start up his neck when Doug and Jake groaned emphatically.
"How long does the honeymoon phase last?"
Mrs. Moore tsked. "Shush you two!" Then, looking at her daughter, "That was a beautiful sentiment, honey."
Jess nodded, then stuck her tongue out Jake and Doug. "It's Thanksgiving, I'm allowed!"
"Mom, you go."
And that was when Sam began to panic. When he realized that he was three people away from having to say what he was thankful for this year. He knew what he was thankful for. It was a no-brainer. He also knew that it would be a somewhat bad idea to say it out loud. Dean would react badly to the truth. He wouldn't want Sam to say it, to tell him and everyone at the table that Sam was thankful for him, thankful that Dean had come today, that Dean had been willing to open the door, to find middle ground.
Saying those words didn't fit with the roles they were both donning today. The words acknowledged an issue that Dean had locked away, one his brother didn't discuss under the best of circumstances, and one that he wouldn't address tonight. Tonight Dean was under lockdown, walls up almost as high as they went. Tonight, Dean was delivering exactly what Sam had wanted. Normal.
Dean had been just as charming and polite during desert as he'd been during dinner. There were no cracks in the performance, no wavers. Dean had answered questions and teased and been attentive all night long - the perfect in-law, the perfect guest, the perfect friend.
Except that now that Sam was paying attention, he noted that conversion never actually flowed directly from Dean to Kerrie, Jake, or Doug. It flowed from one, through one of the other five people at the table, and then back again; but they weren't actually talking to each other. Doug was sitting directly across from Dean and Sam now doubted if the two had made eye contact all night. He realized that Kerrie hadn't directly flirted with Dean at all, that she'd barely sent a glance his way, and when she did, it was tentative, careful.
Dean was right; they were treating him like a feral cat.
And Sam had no idea why. He'd been trying to go over the last time they'd all done something together, without seeming distracted to the others, and he just couldn't find a connection. It had been over a month since Dean had even hung out here, maybe even two. There was wedding, of course, but other than that he couldn't recall a single time that Dean had had a chance to even see everyone - they'd barely even looked at each at the park -
His thoughts stuttered then stopped as abruptly things came together with startling clarity.
Dean had left abruptly, hadn't said goodbye; hadn't even tried. No one had questions about the park, at all. He had a little over two hours of lost time with them from when they'd left the park to the time he and Jess had met them at the Bed and Breakfast.
Jess's we didn't tell him in the kitchen . . .
Sam's jaw clenched. Dean, wondering if he was the pet project of the month. Dean wearing his role so well, so tightly that Sam couldn't see through it, could only see it crack.
"Sam? Dude! Your turn!" Doug shoved him in the arm, the other man's voice full of laughter.
It was his turn.
The eyes he fastened on Doug made the man lean back, smile dimming.
"Yeah, man, what are you thankful for?" Jake pressed, a knowing tone in his voice, having missed the look Doug just witnessed.
Sam didn't have to look to know that everyone was pretty much snickering; counting on the fact that they knew what he was thankful for. They were right.
He straightened in his chair, his gaze encompassing everyone and then shifting to Dean. Dean was waiting for the look. His brother met Sam's gaze with a frozen smile and a warning in his eyes.
Sam looked back at the table. It was his turn.
"Sam, come on!" Jill encouraged, more through exasperation than any enthusiasm. "What are you thankful for?"
He took a moment to reign it all in, the sudden anger and building frustration that were mixing together in a way he knew would end badly. He kept his gaze down as he drew in a deep breath; and when he looked up he delivered a smile chock full of the charm Dean had been showering them with all evening. "Oh, I think it's fairly obvious what I'm thankful for," he offered.
Smiles became wider. Across from him Jess's lips quirked in a cute little smirk -and next to him he felt Dean unclench.
"I'm thankful that we got here," he continued. "I'm thankful that she said yes."
He saw Mrs. Moore squeeze her husband's hand, and the fond look he gave her in return. The older man turned those same affection-filled eyes to Sam and Sam felt a sliver of sense touch the roiling mix of toxins inside him. Jess had told him tonight was not the night; Dean was playing the role perfectly, eyes warning him away.
But Jess was hiding something and Dean was nothing but a mirror tonight; nothing but the reflection of what a good friend and in-law should be. Sam suddenly needed to smash through that mirror.
"I'm thankful that I have friends who care about me."
Kerrie giggled and Jill rolled her eyes. "Only two, dude. Your turn's over."
"Dean, you go now, sweetie," Mrs. Moore offered.
Sam continued, his voice dropping a level. "I'm thankful that my friends care about me so much that not only do they go to extreme, possibly invasive measures to try and help me, they then omit this news from any conversation, in what I can only assume is a misguided effort to spare me any upset."
There were no comments during this pause.
"However, I don't think you, Dean, are as thankful that I have such concerned friends, since their concern and prerequisite friendship then extends to you - and you certainly would hate being treated like the pet project of the month, right?"
"Sam!" Jess's startled cry didn't even faze him.
Dean's face tightened almost imperceptibly, but his smile didn't falter and he didn't say a word.
"I mean why would you take any concern shown to you as a genuine gesture of affection when it can't obviously be anything but an insult to your ability to handleshit, right? Why would you take a moment to slow down and talk to your brother? Talk to him and tell him what the hell is going on in that freaky head of yours that you would take off and practically shut down communication rather than let him the hell in."
Jess slammed a palm on the table. "Sam. Stop it!"
"You don't want to know what's going on in my head," Dean warned, voice pitched as low as Sam's.
The silence at the table, in the room, told Sam that their hushed voices had been heard by all.
"Of course I don't," Sam drawled, ignoring his better judgment, barreling forward even as brain cells screamed at him to shut-up. "Why would I want to understand you at all? Right. Why would I give a crap?!"
"SAM!" Jess's angry voice started off a chain reaction.
Mr. Moore pushed his chair back, ready to stand, "Sam, kiddo, you gotta calm down -"
Mrs. Moore interrupted, "I'm sure whatever the problem is -"
"Have some water," Jill cut in.
Jake nodded. "Just chill out, you two always -"
"We don't want things to escalate," Kerrie added before Jake could finish. "I'm sure Dean -"
At the sound of their voices Sam felt the last grip he had on reason slip. He fastened dark, angry eyes on Kerrie. "I'm sure you know nothing," he spat, eyes burning with intensity as they slipped from her to his other friends. "But I'll get to y'all later."
Dean stood suddenly, the sound of his chair scraping the floor and jolting everyone. "Enough," he growled and reached for Sam, grabbing his little brother's forearm with one hand and the neck of his collar with the other, then Dean hauled him up and out of the chair. "Outside."
Sam's chair tilted and crashed to the floor from the abrupt movement. Dean shoved Sam towards the front door, as gasps went up behind them.
Sam shifted, using his height to break Dean's hold on him and whirling around to face him, ignoring the shocked faces at the table behind Dean.
"EXCEPT that maybe I'm THANKFUL for you! Maybe despite any RATIONALITY that I might have, I want you in my life, I'm THANKFUL that you're in my life; that maybe I want you talk to me and show up and be here because I actually CARE about you, that maybe I -"
"Maybe you need to shut the fuck up," Dean snarled.
Sam came up short, words dying on his tongue; Dean's tone snapping him out of his angry haze and into their reality.
The apartment was deathly silent and Sam felt nauseous suddenly, the Thanksgiving dinner feeling like it was drowning him from the inside out.
"Well." Mrs. Moore released the word on a breath several moments, a statement all its own.
Even Jill couldn't diffuse the sudden tension surrounding them. It was too thick, too explosive. It was Dean that was an expert at this, at diffusing a situation about to teeter off into irredeemable.
Sam and their Dad had taught him how.
"Quite a show, huh?" Dean offered the silent room, voice deprecating and apologetic. "Nothing like a little spat to make Thanksgiving memorable."
There wasn't anything in Dean's words to account for why Sam felt his teeth clench automatically, for the way he had to fist his hands, for the desire to do something truly memorable - like maybe slamming his brother against a wall and demanding that he take the goddamned role off; demanding that he stop being so charming and happy and fake.
"I'm not having a spat," he argued, "I'm -"
Dean met his gaze, cutting off his words. "Aren't you?"
He scowled, "NO. I'm not. I'm trying to -"
Jess stood. "Sam, maybe you should -"
"STAY out of it!" The words were out before he could stop them, roared in a way that couldn't be misinterpreted. They didn't mean just right now, this argument, they meant always, forever - stay out of it.
Jess blinked shocked, hurt.
Dean's tone sliced through him; when he'd been eight and ten and fourteen that voice had sent shivers down his spine, made the hairs on his neck stand up, made his palms start sweating.
Jess's wide eyes were in sharp focus suddenly - so was Mrs. Moore's pale face and the hard set to Mr. Moore's jaw; so were Kerrie and Jake studying the table with startling intensity and Doug's eyes focused on spot on the far wall and Jill's eyes blazing with anger.
A shaky breath escaped him suddenly, a hand rose up to pass through his hair before he forced out words that he knew couldn't fix this. "I didn't - Jess, I didn't - "
She nodded, offered him half a smile that didn't come close to reaching her eyes, and whispered, "Yeah. I know."
He doubted anyone else would be as quick to forgive.
"Out. Side." Dean's voice was low, commanding and disapproving, Sam's head ducked almost of its own accord.
He headed for the door without looking at anyone else, left it open knowing that Dean would follow him. There was nothing else he could do.
Sam's departure did exactly what Dean had known it would, plunged the room into deeper silence. He cleared his throat a little. "So, extra memorable, this one, huh?"
Mrs. Moore stood up. "What in Heaven's name just happened?"
"No, Jess, Mom is right, what the hell was that?!"
"Language, Jill." Mr. Moore's voice was calm, but Dean heard the steel it was lined with; the eyes that met Dean's were frosted over, no sign of geniality shown earlier. "An explanation would be nice."
Jess answered for him, voice straining to be calm. "It was nothing."
"It was something," her mother corrected, eyeing Dean reproachfully.
He pulled his gaze from the older man, bristling a little at her Mrs. Moore's voice. Her tone rubbed him the wrong way. "Yeah, it was," he admitted, restraining the desire to restate Sam's stay out of it command; one of them had to be the rational one tonight.
He didn't like the curt tilt to her voice though - too parental, too involved, too knowing when she didn't know anything.
He'd rather deal with the Dad's anger than the Mom's concerned disapproval.
She didn't get to disapprove of Sam.
Still, he'd sent Sammy out of the room so he could fix this; the kid had never been good at keeping emotions under wraps. Dean needed to smooth things over for him, it's what he did, and his Dad had taught him well - when things were this far to hell there was only one way to fix it.
First to Jess, "He didn't mean to--"
She nodded, but there was still surprise and maybe a little hurt on face, "I know," she interrupted before he could finish, "I understand."
"I don't know and I don't understand." Her father stated, eyes fastened on Dean, "There's a reason I should understand that display towards my daughter?"
Jess placed a hand on her father's arm, "Dad, don't--"
He looked over at her, "Why not?"
Dean drew in a slow breath and spoke, "It's a long story, but I can guarantee you that Sam didn't mean to— he just slipped. I have to go talk to him. We need to, uh, talk about– this time of year, it's -" another breath, because the truth, in theory was easier than practice. "Holiday's… they're hard," he told Mr. Moore, gaze moving to his wife after a moment. Then he motioned towards the door. "We just need a minute."
"You know, it's getting late; we should probably be goi-"
Dean shook his head at Doug's words, shifting to look at him. "It's not about you," he interrupted before the other man could move to stand. "Don't go."
"He's mad at us," Kerrie corrected, obviously a little shaken.
"He's mad at me," he corrected softly, then offered her a smile because she looked like maybe she hadn't been treating him like a feral cat on account of him, maybe it had been on account of herself. "We'll be back. I just gotta talk to him. And no bloodshed this time, promise."
She released a breathy laugh, Jake and Doug exchanged looks, relaxing back into their chairs. Jess rolled her eyes a little, her lips quirking a bit. Jill - well, she glared at him, but he hadn't really expected anything less.
Dean turned around, headed for the door. The Moore's hadn't smiled though. They needed a little more sincerity, a little less humor – they needed the kind of truth he didn't usually give out.
But this was for Sam.
He stopped at the doorway and turned around, gaze skimming Mr. Moore's still frosty eyes and coming to rest on Mrs. Moore's concerned blue ones. "For the record," he murmured, "I'm thankful that Sam has all of you." He swallowed hard past a sudden lump in his throat, shrugging his shoulders a little, "Everything else is obvious."
He didn't stick around to see the reaction to that one, he had nothing else to offer if it didn't melt the ice he'd seen forming.
What he did have was a little brother to sort out.
Sam was sitting on the curb when Dean stepped onto the street. Elbows on his knees, hunched forward – he'd sit like that when Dad would take a teenaged Dean on a hunt and leave Sam with Pastor Jim; dejected.
Dean sat down next to him and released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. It was dark out here, street lamps spread out in this area, the stars visible overhead and a November coolness filling the air.
There was quiet out here, no one talking or laughing, the street was still, the breeze rustling leaves overhead. He felt himself unwind a little.
Sam's head was ducked down, facing the ground. Dean waited, studying the empty street.
"They mad in there?"
Sam's voice was quiet, hoarse; a mean word or two away from tears.
"More like confused."
"I keep yelling at Jess." The confession sounded like maybe there had been tears already and Dean tried to duck his head and get a view of Sam's face. It was too dark though, so he went back staring at the empty street.
"I'm sure she'd yell back if she wanted to."
"I told her Mom was killed when we were kids." The sentence was rushed, childlike in its rawness and Dean couldn't stop the arch of his eyebrows. It surprised him. He and Sam had already had the truth argument. Sam didn't plan to share, ever. So this development was surprising, so surprising that anything he said could very well start the entire argument over again.
He went with humor, they could use some humor. "One small step for mankind, one gigantic leap for Sasquatch."
It got him a small chuckle from Sam, a little release of tension between them. They sat in silence for a few more minutes.
Then he took a deep breath and opened with, "So, we're even then?"
The question got Sam to lift his head a little and shoot Dean a look. No tears, Dean noted, but eyes that were too sad for his liking.
"I give you a bloody nose you make me talk golf for nothing – even, right?"
Sam didn't say anything; instead he shifted his gaze to the street. They were both studying the empty street now.
"So let's talk," Dean offered, because Sam needed him to talk and it always came down to that, didn't it? "What happened up there?" he asked, when Sam didn't jump in to fill the silence.
His question was met with silence and Dean felt a fissure of anger run across his control. He hadn't wanted to come to this in the first place, had known it was a bad idea from the start. If you didn't want two worlds to mix, the best and most obvious solution was tostop mixing them.
Mixing them while trying to keep them separate was exhausting and futile - impossible and for a guy who'd run from his past because he'd claimed it had been those very things, Sam was too eager to create an impossible situation of his very own.
"I don't know."
Dean released a slow breath and focused on Sam's words. "You do. You want to talk, so talk," he prodded.
Sam was silent for a long moment, then spoke just as Dean was about to. "Just because I'm mad at Dad doesn't mean I'm mad at you."
The words made Dean grit his teeth and clenched his fists instinctively. He forced himself to stay calm though, because Sam was emotional enough for the both of them. "You have no reason -"
"YES. I do," Sam interrupted, head lifting and hands coming out in front of him. "He's just disappeared! He left you to hunt alone! That's completely -"
"NO. You don't get to do that!" Dean yelled, scowling at his younger brother. "You don't get to be mad at him because of me! That's not how it's gonna work!"
Sam scowled back. "Why the hell not!?"
"Because that's something YOU need to stay out of!"
Sam looked sucker punched, but Dean felt just as winded; eyes wide, both equally surprised Dean had gone there.
It was Sam who looked away, ducking his head.
They never talked about the four years. They only accepted that they existed.
Dean wasn't sure how long it took for him to catch his breath, for his heart to stop pounding against his ribcage, for control to reassert itself. When it did, he leaned to the side a little and nudged Sam's shoulder with his own. "And dude, I've been hunting on my own since I was twenty-one."
He'd made sure to keep the tone amused, the words light; Sam's lack of reaction told him it hadn't mattered.
He released a long breath, not caring that it ending on a frustrated growl. "What is it youwant from me, Sam? Huh? I come out here - I'm wearing slacksfor christsake; I let that man talk to me about golf! I complimented and agreed and lightly teased and charmed till I could barely see straight anymore and then you go and mess the whole thing up!"
He was switching the issue, changing the game because they didn't know how to play the four years game. The only thing they knew about that game was that neither one could win it.
Sam's head lifted, eyes telling Dean he noticed the switch even as he dove right into the subject Dean opened up. "I just want you to be YOU." Sam practically pleaded.
Dean almost snorted. "No, Sam, you don't. I would have told Jess's Dad the only use a golf club has is to smash the worthless piece of imported crap he drove here tonight into smithereens."
A surprised laugh escaped from Sam as the image formed in his mind. "Yeah, you would've," he admitted, throwing his head back, eyes fixed on the stars.
"Damn straight I would've, and how well do you think that would have gone over?"
Sam answered with his head still tilted back. "About as well as me cursing, tipping over chairs and yelling at Jess."
Sam straightened and looked over at him with arched eyebrows, eyes getting brighter, a smile tilting his lips. "You're supposed to be making me feel better!"
Dean arched his own eyebrows. "Says who?"
"The Little Brother Guide To Screwing It Up, page 4 - Big Brother Always Fixes It."
Dean smirked. "Oh I can fix it, just gotta rub your nose it if first. You don't want me to be me with them, Sam. Hell, you're barelyyou."
Sam frowned, "That's not--"
"Dude. If I had the charm on, you had the sincere on like it was nobody's business."
"They're the parents,Sam!" Dean cried. "Everybody's gonna be a little different – better behaved and all. Jill was practically nice to me!" He laughed suddenly. "And ya know, for once I'll be the good brother!"
Sam shook his head. "I can't believe I did that."
Dean chuckled. "Neither can I."
"Dude! Nose. Rubbed! Fix now!"
Dean laughed. "Relax. Just turn the super-dooper-emo-puppy-eyes on and you'll be fine."
Dean rolled his eyes, "Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about."
Sam stared at him in a surprise for another beat before a smile cracked over his face, the first full, real one Dean had seen tonight. He felt himself smile back, big and just as real.
"You know -"
"Here it comes," he muttered before Sam could say another word.
Sam for his part paused only briefly before continuing, "What I said in there - even though I was little -"
"Off your rocker?"
"Upset," Sam continued. "I meant it. I am thankful that you're -"
Sam's smile turned a little tender at the exasperation in Dean's tone.
"I told them we'd be back up."
The affectionate smile widened. "Makes sense, we live there."
He let Sam stand and brush off his pants and offer him a hand up before he looked up and spoke. It had to be said, pointed out. Sam needed to understand it.
"You," Dean said it gently. He didn't want this to hurt. "You live there."
Sam's hand faltered and Dean saw emotions flicker across his little brother's face, before one settled down on across his features – defiance.
The hand was held out again.
Dean stared at it for a beat, then took Sam's hand up. He stared into his brother's steady eyes and marveled at how much the kid could look like their Dad when he wasn't trying.
"You live there tonight." Sam's words were as steady as his gaze.
Dean swallowed hard and nodded a little, dropping that gaze. "No argument here," he offered lightly.
Then turned around and headed for the building.
He knew that look on Sam's face, knew it in all its incarnations. Sam wasn't accepting what he didn't want to, simply because he didn't want to. He'd rather they both play roles, play this game, than face what was looming before them.
Sam had to feel it too; Dean knew that. Knew his brother had noticed the way the arguments came faster these days; the way things - lies, hunts, Dad - were getting more difficult to smooth over.
Sam talked about ties and bonds as if he couldn't feel them unfurling at all.
Sam's call stopped him and he turned around, met Sam's gaze steadily; eyes unable to hide what he'd just been thinking. Things were getting murkier these days, it was getting harder to agree to disagree, harder to let things go—to pretend.
Sam looked terrified for a moment, seeing that truth in Dean's eyes, but an instant later defiance chased it away.
A genuine if forced smile took up residence on Sam's lips. "You never said what you were thankful for!" he complained, catching up to Dean at the building door.
As much a part of the Winchester genetics as stubbornness.
Dean smiled, maybe it was a bit sad, but it was just as genuine as Sam's.
"It's completely obvious isn't it?" he asked, as he opened the door for Sam to walk through.
"Nothing is ever obvious with you."
Dean grinned at him, "My baby of course."
Sam paused, so Dean could see him roll his eyes, before sliding past him into the building. "Figures it'd be the Impala," he muttered, a smile spreading on his face.
Dean paused to make sure the door closed properly behind them.
"Never said it was the Impala, Sammy," he whispered, watching as his brother took the steps two at a time.
It wasn't his fault if Sam didn't hear it.
Author's Notes #2: 'tis the end. Epilogue will be forthcoming.Thank you all so much for your encouraging words. :D
P.S. The Impala was covered under everything else is obvious, she's family. ;)