"How is he today?" Ellen asked, hearing all the commotion.

"Just a bed of roses," Steve replied.

"Steve…"

"The same as yesterday, not happy."

"How much longer does he have to go through this? He seems fine to me."

"That's what I'm about to find out." Steve entered the bedroom, greeting the Xinesi and his son with a nod. Sam wouldn't look at him, still seething.

"I'm fine, now let me go," Sam said with anger.

"Yeah, I got that the first hundred times you said it," Steve replied. "We need to be sure."

"Actually, he's free to go," The Xinesi said. "It's been three days, he's passed our tests."

"Are you sure?" Steve asked, not very convinced. Of course, he wasn't exactly sure what would convince him. He'd never seen anything like this before.

"The silver knife wound from his protector drove away the evil spirit," The Xinesi's son said. "He still has the sign of the cross. Only the benevolent spirit has remained."

"He is pure," The Xinesi pronounced.

"All I know is that Dean's out there thinking I'm dead!" Sam yelled angrily. "Let me go or so help me-"

"That don't sound too benevolent to me," Steve said jokingly. He got blank stares from the Xinesi and his son in response, and one very pissed off look from Sam. "Don't worry, Bobby is closing in. He called me an hour ago."

"He's been saying that for three days. No one knows Dean like I do."

"Fantastic. So where are you gonna find him?"

Sam didn't respond, just reacting with another defiant glare.

Steve looked at the Xinesi and his son for final assurance. When they nodded he pulled the bowie knife out of his pocket and sliced through both pieces of rope that bound Sam to the chair.

Sam fired another pissed off look at Steve before getting up and moving toward the door.

"Sam, if you need anything-" Steve said.

"I won't be calling you." Sam walked away and entered the main part of the roadhouse.

"Don't you need a car?" Ellen asked, watching Sam open the front door.

Sam shrugged. "I figured I'd find something."

Ellen frowned, picturing someone getting all angry over their car being stolen. She reached behind the bar and threw a set of keys at Sam. "Out back. It still runs I think."

Sam gave her a weary smile. "Thanks."

Ellen moved closer, examining Sam carefully to make sure he was okay. "Just be careful. I'm sure Dean's okay. He just doesn't want to be found. And don't be a stranger."

"I'll bring back the car." Sam stepped through the door, stopped and turned around. "Thanks Ellen, for everything."

He left, leaving Ellen to worry about those two. Their troubles were far from over. Dean's deal was still looming, and precious time had been wasted. "Good luck Sam."

--

Sam's head started to hurt, probably because he'd been thinking too hard. He had driven aimlessly for hours, waiting for an idea or an instinct to kick in and tell him where to go. Nothing hit him.

Sam worried about Dean's frame of mind. He didn't blame him for wanting to retreat. He didn't think he could do the same thing if the situation was reversed and was very proud of Dean for doing what he did. He sacrificed the most important thing in the world to him to protect others, but any pride Sam felt wasn't helping Dean much right now. Dean was alone out there somewhere with no one to help him deal with the complete horror of having to kill his brother. He had to let Dean know it was all okay.

Sam didn't even know what state he was in. Thoughts of all what happened swirled in his head, and clear thought had long since passed him. He didn't want to stop, didn't want to rest, or eat, or do anything. He was shaken from his wandering thoughts by his cell phone going off.

"Hey Bobby…Where?...No, I don't know where I am." Sam looked up in time to find a road sign that told him. "I'm twenty miles from the state line. I'll be there in an hour."

--

There she was, that old black beauty never looked so magnificent. Relief overwhelmed Sam the second he spotted the Impala in the motel parking lot. Sam checked around carefully to make sure there was nothing suspicious around. There was no credible threat but he was trained to always be cautious. He went up to room number five and pounded on the door.

The door flung open within seconds, and Dean stood in shock on the opposite side, turning pale white, looking like he'd seen a ghost. He backed away in fright.

"I'm so glad you're okay," Sam said with a relieved soft voice. "I've been worried sick trying to find you." He took a step toward Dean, but he backed away further, tears pooling in his eyes.

"Who are you?" Dean asked, very shaken.

"Dean, it's me. Don't worry, I didn't come back evil. I'm okay."

"The stab in the heart was supposed to prevent you from coming back. You're supposed to be dead."

Sam closed the door behind him and held his hands out in an attempt calm his emotional brother, although they were shaking nervously, as well as his voice. "Dean, it's not what you think, I'm okay."

Dean stared at him with silent caution. Sam could tell Dean wanted to believe him, but remained unconvinced. He slowly reached up to his shirt collar and pulled it away from his neck. "Look at this," he said, showing Dean the red mark.

Dean took two weary steps toward him, and leaned forward to check it out. His eyebrows raised when he saw the symbol. "It's different."

"It's a Caddo sun cross."

Dean still glared at him confused.

"It symbolizes light Dean. Benevolence."

Dean stared at Sam bewildered, taking a good look into those sincere puppy dog eyes of his. Dean's lip quivered the further he examined, for he saw his brother in there. He lunged forward and flung his arms around Sam, who returned the hug with his own tight grasp. "It's really you," Dean said, still hanging on.

"Yeah," Sam said, only able to muster that one word as his emotions got to him as well. They clung onto each other for dear life, both too overcome to do or say anything else.

Eventually they broke their grasp, and Sam broke the silence. "We've been trying to find you for days now. Bobby found your cell off the side of the road near Ellen's."

"I've been here, trying to figure out what to do next." Dean went over to the bed, and sank onto the edge, wiping away the tears on his face. Sam smiled when he took a good look at the messy room.

"What?" Dean asked, curious as to what made Sam so happy.

"You got two beds."

Dean shrugged. "Old habit I guess."

Sam nodded, understanding the habit completely. He went over to the opposite bed and sat down. "Why'd you come back to Lawrence? I figured this was the last place you'd want to be."

"My entire family was gone. It was the only place I could think of that reminded me of what used to be."

Sam was surprised. "You wanted to relive those memories? I always thought they were too painful."

"Yeah, well, if the latest experience has taught me anything, it's that I shouldn't forget who I am, or where I came from." Dean took in a deep breath, and then realized there was far more to talk about. "Enough about that. What the hell happened to you?"

"I failed a test."

"A test? Wait, did this test involve a big fight in a field?"

"Yeah, how did you know that?"

"I saw you Sam, in the river. You were fighting, and you were pure evil. Then I was given my mission. I had to stab you in the heart, to kill that evil inside of you. If I didn't, you'd come back and kill us all."

Sam's insides turned, for he wished Dean didn't have to witness such a disturbing scene. He was disturbed just thinking about it. "The vision was right Dean. I would have come back a monster."

"Then how-?"

Sam went on with his explanation. "I spent some time with the Xinesi in Shreveport and his son. They figured out the only way I could have come back normal was if I was sacrificed by my protector, the one responsible for rising me up. As soon as my protector let go, I was able to fall back down. The knife prevented the evil spirit from returning, but not the benevolent one."

"I'm sorry Sam. I didn't want to do it, but the vision was clear it had to be me Sam and only me."

"You don't need to apologize. I'm grateful Dean. What you did, you saved a lot of people. It sounds like you actually passed your test." Sam paused to collect himself, for he had to finish telling Dean the truth. He owed him that much. "The truth is, whether I want to accept it or not, I'm a demon. I maybe only a part blooded demon, but I'm capable of horrible things. My spirit might be benevolent, but my blood is still evil. That didn't change."

Dean wasn't unnerved. "But you're okay right now."

"For now, yeah."

"Then that's good enough for me."

"You aren't the least bit worried? You saw what I can become."

Dean vehemently shook his head. "You aren't like that Sam, and as long as I'm around, I'm not letting you get that way." Sam relaxed a little at Dean's assurance. He always knew how to make things seem better.

"What did they mean by protector?" Dean asked with curiosity. "The person who's been looking out for you your entire life?"

"Yeah, something like that." Sam felt Dean's stare, sensing he knew there was more to it. "They were talking about my guardian angel."

Dean's eyes shot wide open. "You believed that crap?"

Sam shrugged. "It made sense to me."

"Do you see any wings on me?"

Sam chuckled slightly. "No, I suppose not."

"Besides, angels don't go to Hell."

Sam frowned, for he didn't want to think about that reality yet. "You never know, that might be what ends up saving you."

Dean couldn't argue with that. "Clayton did say an answer will come. I'm hoping it's the right one." He saw how the mention of the deal saddened Sam, making it time to change the subject. "How about for right now, we stay away from spirit guide chicks and dudes in a river."

Sam smiled. "Deal."

Dean slapped his thighs and got up. "I'm hungry. What's say we go out and get something to eat?"

Sam gave a quick nod in agreement, even though he still couldn't eat a bite. He got up and they both headed toward the door.

Dean stopped and turned toward Sam before they headed outside. "You know Sam, if you think about it, 'No Quarter' should be our anthem. Walking side by side with death, the devil mocks their every step. They carry news that must get through, to build a dream for me and you.That's our everyday lives."

Sam cracked a small, crooked smile. "They choose the path that no one goes."

Dean gave Sam a wide grin. "Zeppelin rules." He opened the door, letting his smiling baby brother lead the way.

The End