Epilogue - In which the sun sets.

"-can't! He's getting better-"

"- decide for himself. It's not ethical -"

"I take care of him. No -"

"-safety of others."

Sam swam up through the murky waters of sleep, catching fragments of the argument raging by his bedside. They interwove with the horrors of his dream until all meaning was leached from the words. The shifting labyrinth of hell twisted around him, glistening like diseased flesh.

Waking up screaming probably hadn't been the best way to contradict the doctor's diagnosis of 'dangerously delusional'.

Dean had eschewed tactical lying in favour of the shouting match, 'no-one puts Sam in a straitjacket', confrontational form of negotiation. Which was heart-warmingly fraternal, but possibly, maybe, a little bit -

"- completely idiotic. Just calm down and shut up!"

And so there they were, walking out of the back exit of the hospital at sunset, having picked only one rather simple Yale lock. Casually checking around for security guards, Dean grabbed Sam's arm and made for the parking lot. Sam swatted him away.

"Dude, personal space?" Dean hovered close by as Sam made his way slowly towards the car.

Outside in the dying light of the setting sun his emaciation and dead white skin made him seem almost translucent, a fragile being who could be blown over by the next gust of wind. Dean held his breath as Sam approached that difficult obstacle, the kerb.

"Dean, what's with you? I can walk, I've been walking round the ward for weeks. Go open up the car or something."

"You're such a klutz, you might fall over. And you're as pale as a fish's belly."

"Fuck you, freckles." Sam said without heat.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"If they put me on anti-psychotics, I'll really lose it. Didn't come back to be driven insane."

As always with Sam's little moments of honesty, Dean was thrown off balance.

"Well, okay then. Just - do me a favour?" He looked away from Sam, staring into the middle distance like it owed him money.

"What?"

"Talk to someone. Not necessarily me, I know it's a bit... claustrophobic between us sometimes already. Maybe there's some stuff you don't want me to know, and I'm okay with that. But to someone."

"About Hell."

"Yeah."

"You know why I can't tell you? You'll take it to heart, every single second of pain. It's like watching you cut yourself."

"I can toughen up. Or we can go to Bobby, or Ellen."

"Okay. Consider it done." Dean grinned and started making eye contact again. Moment over.

"Come on. For one night only, you can pick the music."

"Um... do you still have Kansas?"

"Yeah. I thought you hated them?"

"Hell changes people, Dean."

"For the better, apparently..."

Is driving off into the sunset too much of a cliche? So be it. Life is made of cliches, and this one's a good one.

AN: Sorry for the hiatus, and thank you to all the nice reviewers.