A/N this is the final chapter. Dedicated as always to L, my own personal Sammy. Thanks and love to Merisha as always for being the best beta a newb writer could have, and a special thanks to Sushi Chi for always being willing to comment on whatever it is I'm writing, and for all the long conversations.

This doesn't have to be the final end. If anyone is interested, leave a review to tell me that you'd like to see the other "deleted scenes" from the fic that run through my head, but were cut out in order to streamline the fic and keep the plot on track. There might even be a few alternate chapters I would type up and post, if anyone is interested.

That aside, thanks to every single one of you who reviewed, alerted, or favourited this story. Your interest meant the world to me and kept me writing, encouraging me to the point I posted up some other fics. I hope you enjoyed it. It was a hell of a long road. - And finally:thanks to all the songwriters whose song titles I borrowed to make chapter titles.

Chapter 18: Goodbye to You

The Impala pulled into Lawrence, sliding to a gentle stop in front of a two story house with an old tree in front. The grass was green and there was a small garden near the side of the house –daffodils. Clearly it was being taken care of. Judging from the toys in the yard, a tricycle, a swing on the tree, and what looked like a sprinkler, there were kids there. Perhaps the same family Dean and Sam had managed to save a handful of years before. Sam stared for a while trying to remember anything about his old home and all he could see was his mother softly saying his and his brother's names, "You, get out of my house and let go of my son." Glancing at his brother, he wished he could see what Dean saw, but he was lucky he couldn't. Dean saw flames licking up and eating at the house, saw his father running down the steps and across the lawn shouting felt himself being heaved up into the air as the glass exploded outwards, heard the sirens wailing and shrieking and the sound of water spraying and hissing into the flames. Saw his mother on the ceiling…just a nightmare he'd had after hearing his father's descriptions, not a true memory of his own, but all the same it would haunt him until the day he died. Again. "Think they're home?" Dean whispered, his throat pulsing as he fought to keep himself under control. The backyard was one of his stronger memories. Exiting the car, he figured that Jenny and her kids would recognize him and Sam if they were, and hopefully leave them alone. It didn't look like anyone was, the lights were out and there weren't any cars in the driveway. Walking around and through the fence he froze, paused in the entrance, Sam almost walking into him. Dad, Daaad, look! What Dean? Your mother and I are a little busy. The flowers can wait, look! Mom, come look, it's so cool, look! Mary and John had moved away from the garden they were trying to get planted and came over to Dean who had found a chrysalis under a leaf on one of the bushes. Isn't it cool? I told you so! Mary smiled, lightly ruffling his hair. That is pretty cool, what'd you say you run inside and get the football so you boys can play, I think I'm gonna head in. Is Sammy kicking again, Mom? Can I feel? He always stops when I try and feel it, Dad gets to, Dean huffed. His touch was calming on his brother, always had been, always would be. Mary lightly took his hands and placed them gently on her stomach, I can feel him Mom, Dean whispered, before his face fell. He stopped, Dean complained. But he stopped hurting me, Mary pointed out, relieved. You and your dad go play, I need to lie down. Dean nodded, running to the door to go get the football. If he starts kicking again, come get me, he always calms down for me. I know sweetie, I know. Now hurry up, before your dad figures out what we're up to! She smiled and winked, Dean grinned in the innocent way children have of smiling with absolute faith, and disappeared into the house. When he emerged, John was facing him, but not seeing. Think fast, Dad! John barely had time to catch the ball, thrown in a perfect spiral, he'd noted with pride. For all it was smaller than a normal football, Dean was currently smaller than the average football player.

"Sorry," Dean said quietly, moving into the yard, his booted feet silent on the grass. Glancing around again, he just saw the house. He'd never seen it from the back so the flames didn't leap into his memories engulfing them and burning them away. Sam just watched his brother, watched the way Dean's eyes filled with tears and overflowed, and realized Dean was oblivious, so caught up in whatever he was seeing. Dean looked back at him. "We…a rat got into the house. Not living in it, got into it. Like, through a door the way birds do sometimes," he grinned a little weakly. Sam figured whatever this story led up to, it was probably why his brother hated rats so much. "I don't remember a lot of it beyond a lot of yelling and screaming. I think I was the one screaming, and Dad was yelling, I think Mom was the calm one, or maybe she was laughing at us. I thought it was a really big spider at first, and then it grabbed my teddy bear and started to drag it away," Dean shuddered a little. He'd never been overly attached to the stuffed animal, but when you're all of three feet tall and the bear is at least a third your height, some animal dragging it away isn't exactly comforting. "And I was freaking out because the thing was ugly and it smelled, kinda the way you smell when your hair gets wet before you've showered," Dean added with a forced grin. "And Dad was gonna come stomp on it, because I said 'spider' instead of 'rat', so he was getting his boots on, and then saw it was a friggin' rat, right? So he was gonna get his gun, and Mom…she mighta been laughing, but I think she just wanted to open the door and herd it out…until it ran under the fridge. My teddy bear didn't fit, but…the rat sure did. Took the bear's arm right off," he added. Choosing to not name the stuffed friend in question, he didn't think he could handle Sam making fun of him. He couldn't say 'bear' when he'd been that little, and it had come out 'bayur' …which had become the bear's name, even when he got older. Considering the teddy bear went up in smoke along with the house, it hadn't been around very long, so it didn't matter what Dean had called it. "And, we couldn't get it out of there, and I wouldn't go into the kitchen, and Mom wanted to try luring it out with meat, and Dad wanted to try cheese," Dean frowned for a moment. "Did you know mice'll eat candle wax? You put cheese and candle wax and depending on the scent, the stupid thing'll go for the wax," Dean sighed. "But anyway, it eventually just died back there, and stunk up everything," he muttered, annoyed. "And when Mom and Dad finally got the fridge moved and everything, it was gross."

"Why'd you think it was a spider?" Sam asked, Dean knew the difference fairly well. And he wasn't stupid, and hadn't been. If anything he would have been smarter, considering all the head trauma hadn't happened yet.

"Well, wolf spiders…I think they are? The big hairy ones that aren't tarantulas…they click. Their…their legs click on the damn wood floors. Or tile, or linoleum. So, you hear click-a click-a," Dean used his mouth, teeth touching and his tongue pulling away from the roof of his mouth to make the sounds. Not the clucking styled noise where the mouth is open, a more controlled obvious clicking. He would have drummed his nails on a countertop, but that wasn't an option. "And maybe they're wood spiders, but they're big, okay? Big enough you can see their mouths, and night lights make 'em take up the whole wall…Dad told me about how one time Mom was rocking you to sleep, and she saw the shadow and wigged. He was drunk, so he was in a sharing mood…you know how he was sometimes," Dean mumbled. Sometimes a happy drunk, sometimes a pissed off one. Depended. "But, um, she was running away from it, holding me, and she'd climbed onto the coffee table. It was coming after her, clicking. Dad found some bug spray, Raid, or something, and he was spraying it and running backwards and the damn thing was chasing him, wanting more. He ended up on the coffee table with us. We never found it again, and it didn't rot or stink anything up. But I ended up sleeping up against Mom's back every night for a week. Funny thing is, I don't remember it, I just remember Dad talking about it." Sam smiled, trying to curb the bitterness he was feeling. Even if all Dean had was the story, he at least the knew the people in it. Hell, he was in the story, too. Sam wasn't in any family stories. He wasn't part of the family Dean remembered before the fire, not really. And sometimes it hurt more than he could begin to cope with. Other times he knew that Dean was his family, and that was enough. Dean looked up at him, green eyes filled with the echoes of his childhood, marred by flames. "I miss her so much, Sam," he whispered.

"I know," Sam said quietly.

"And I just…Dad's gone, too. That's not supposed to happen. Your parents are supposed to get old, right? And then you're supposed to have kids, and they spoil and love those kids. Then, then they can die. Not that Dad woulda ever babysitted. Hell, if we'd had kids, we'd never let Dad near 'em…" Sam looked up at Dean, before realizing that he agreed entirely. Not with the obsession with hunting. If he'd managed to escape it, with Jess, Dean might have been allowed around the children, because he wouldn't try and spread hunting. John? Who knew, and Sam would never have been willing to take that chance. Something in that cut him, but at the same time, Dean admitting it freed him a little. Let some of his resentment float away. Glancing at Dean, Sam lightly let his fingertips touch his brother's shoulder.

"Let's go man."

"Yeah."

"But, uh, Dean," Sam said anxiously. "There's something I've gotta do, alright? I just, I can't come here and not leave something on Mom's grave, okay? I won't forget her. I can say goodbye, and you're right, it's stupid because there's nothing there, but Dean… there's a headstone, and it marks the fact that she lived. And as long as it's standing there, marking her memory, I'll be damned if I don't respect that."

--

I look at Sam. "Yeah, okay. Just please, dude, don't expect me to come with you." He opens his mouth, and I'm afraid of what he's going to say. Condemn me for not being able to handle it. "I just, I can't Sam. I don't…I don't want to think of her as a headstone, okay? I'd rather have the nightmares about her being on the ceiling than think of her as a piece of cold stone."

"Dean, you know I don't see Mom like that, right?" his voice is hurt. I wasn't trying to hurt him.

"Yeah, you see her like I do. An angel. A big smile, open arms. You see her the way she was when she fought off that poltergeist for us. Beautiful. Strong. That's our Mom, though, Sammy. And that's…I'm just…I'm not strong enough, okay Sam? I can't do it. I can't I can't handle the idea of her being dead and gone, and that's what a tombstone means, it means she's left us, and I can't…I can't handle the finality of it, alright dude? So don't ask me to, please, don't ask me to." Dunno why I'm telling Sam that. Not sure I can handle the idea of him being disappointed in me. But, he made me promise to stop… what did he say? Stop killing myself on the inside all the time? I made fun of him, because what else could I do about that, but…I can try. And I don't want him to think I'm a coward or that I'm weak. I just want him to understand. And, I think, I think he does, a little.

--

I see Dean's eyes water a little, the way his lip trembles just the slightest bit, and I know what he's looking for in my face. The same thing I've searched for on his I don't know how many times. Understanding. Acknowledgement. And knowing it doesn't change anything. It's okay. I nod a little, blinking a few times. It's okay Dean. I get it, and I'm not asking you to come. But I can't say that out loud. It'd ruin everything. The peace we've found. It's good to have my brother back. Funny to sometimes see him in the back seat with that Thomas blanket tossed over his shoulders, but still. Good to have him back. It's like this weight's been tugged off my shoulders. And he's still dead set on protecting me, but…he's sharing a little. And I need that, because I need to be able to talk it out, sometimes. Need to understand and know. And I've learned to back off, now that Dean's been gone. Give him time to tell me what he needs to say. Because forcing it always made things worse between us. Funny that it takes him dying for me to really be able to accept him for who he is, now that he's so different. But it's easier. He's not as dead set on keeping everything inside until it destroys him. We've learned how that works, and it's always managed to end in tears. No more, I think.

--

I settle into the driver's seat. "You wanna pick up some flowers?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know if that florist is still around, but we can check. Dad took me there once to get lilies for Mom. Or at least the white ones with the yellow thing in the middle."

"Calla Lilies?"

"How the hell should I know?"

"You were there?"

"I was four." Or younger. Honestly, after hell, my memories are clearer than they've ever been, like brand new. But, sometimes I think the stories Dad told me when he was drunk off his ass have merged into my memories. I don't think it matters, anymore, at this point. It shouldn't. I just remember Dad going into the florist's, dragging me along, and pointing out these white flowers with yellow stem-like things in the middle. They were real pretty. I guess. I just kinda figure all flowers are 'pretty' and that's the end of it. Pulling around a corner, I glance at the left side of the road, my side. "Shit," I mutter, having to pull up in front of a butcher's shop because I can't pull a u-turn.

"What the hell Dean?"

"I haven't lived here since I was four!" I snap, looking at the little 'meat shop' in front of me. I stare for a few minutes, until Sam pokes me. My hand snaps up, grabbing his finger, hard.

"Dude?"

"Sorry," I mutter. "You head on into the flower shop, you'll fit right in." I brighten. "Hey, you might even find a special friend." Sam pulls his hand free, uses it to lightly hit me upside the head, and then shoots out of the car before I can get him back. With a slight smile I contemplate the shop in front of me. Tempted to pick up some entrails or something to stow in his duffel, it'd still stink up my car. And we're going to Mom's grave, well he is, and I'll be in the car, hopefully where I can't see it, and Sam? I just I don't want to do something like that…not now. Maybe later. Next motel we stop at, little dude is screwed.

Fish sign on the door.

Salmon candy. I check my wallet, then walk in. Got enough to get a lot, I don't want a lot. Just a stick of it. It's basically smoked salmon. I hate fish. Fish sticks are different. Fish and chips are not fish. I hate fish. But this stuff? It's amazing. Maybe Sam'll like it. After he gets done staring at me like I'm someone he's never seen before. But I'm sick of playing the tough callous one. Sure, I'm tough. And I always will be. But, I want some damn smoked salmon, and I don't need Sam judging me over it. But, he's changed a lot, too. Funny, that now that he's finally willing to let me be that smart mouthed jackass I played at being, I'm ready to be someone else. I buy just a stick of the stuff. Don't want a lot. Don't really remember it that much, just remember it being something Dad mentioned once. It's familiar. I just want to decide who I want to be, and there's no one here to make me be something I'm not, not anymore. Heard Bobby and Sam talking, at one point. Whether or not I should hunt anymore. God things are shot to hell. I walked in on them. On purpose. Said that there wasn't anyone making me hunt, but that I'd given my whole life to it. I was legally dead, a murderer, too. Wasn't anyone left for me to be but a hunter. But, I'm okay with that. Not like before, when I used to think about how I'd wanted to be a firefighter. I don't have dreams about having a family of my own anymore. I don't want to. Sam and I, we'll hunt until we die. And then it'll end with us. There isn't anyone else who deserves to have a broken man as a father. And Sam and me? We're busted to hell. There's a line in some song, about being bound by the life 'you' left behind. Whoever 'you' is, honestly, I tend not to listen to music like that. But, that line stuck with me a long time.

I'm not bound by anything. Dad's gone. And I had a choice this time. My body wasn't up to soldiering, hunting. I've been training it. Sam laughed when I could only do fifty pushups. I laughed, too, my arms shaky and limp. Hadn't been that weak since I was in grade school when I first started training. But this time I chose it. Told Sam that I wasn't doing this for Dad. For me. Lotta things in hell, and there are a lotta things that should be, and I was gonna do my part to see them back. And then it's over. Bobby's been working on finding a way to amplify a normal exorcism. Maybe we could clear out demons state by state. Wouldn't get all the bogies, too, but…that'd help a lot. Sam and I, we're gonna end every single one of those sons of bitches, or die trying.

Exchanging money for fish, I wander into the flower shop, having broken off a piece of the salmon and popped it into my mouth. Does taste good. Another thing that tastes good? Mushrooms with ranch dressing. Swear to god, Sam's gonna hurt himself, but why the hell can't I like mushrooms? I still like burgers with extra onions. Still like pie. Mm, pie. We should get some. After we leave Kansas. Hard to get fish in Kansas, but hell, musta been imported from Washington or Oregon. Still isn't as expensive as getting it in those states, for whatever reason. Don't know if California exports fish. They have a coast line.

Texas has catfish. By the way? Ew. "Want some?" I ask Sam, not realizing that he's flirting with the hot chick behind the counter.

"What is it?"

"It's not jerky, it's not freeze dried. Hell, it's even fresh." Rolling my eyes a little, I offer him the bag. He breaks off a chunk about two inches long, and takes a cautious bite. I've been known to give him things not so edible in the past. Not poisonous but not edible, either. Like tree bark. I think I actually got spanked for that one. Deserved it, too.

"It's good. But Dean, you don't like fish."

"I know, weird, huh? I'm full of surprises." I look at the girl. Not too tall, not too short. Not super skinny, not overly buff. Pretty big blue eyes, wavy hair, loose messy bun. Glasses, but not nerdy ones, wisps of hair all around her face. I want to reach out and tuck some of it behind her ear. Full lips, naturally red I can tell. She's not even wearing mascara. Nice eyelashes. I glance at Sam. He shrugs at me. "Didn't know it took so long to buy some flowers," I say. She smiles.

"Depends on what you want." I grin.

"A coupla lilies."

"How many?"

"Enough to look nice." I'm good at this. Being annoying. But this is fun. I like the look in her eyes. Sam got here first, but I get to have fun, too.

"Well, what're they looking nice for? Anniversary maybe?"

"Something like that." Not for me and Sam, but she's hinting it. She knows he's not gay –he was staring at her boobs the whole time he was talking to her. Says he's an ass man, and what does he always stare at? Boobs. Seriously kid. Even Eva, surprised she never noticed. Maybe she did, explained why she tried to kill him. Poor Andy. I liked Andy.

"For a man or a woman?"

"You really have to ask that?"

"Older or younger?"

"Older."

"Hmm, a mother maybe?"

"Something like that," I mumble. Don't wanna ruin the mood, but looks like I'm not gonna have a choice. "Anniversary of…her moving on to a better place," I grin.

"Oh," she says, mouth a perfect 'o'. "I'm-"

"No it's okay," Sam intervenes. "It was a long time ago. We're just not planning on coming back to Kansas again…" he looks at me, and I nod. I'm done here. Nothing here left for me. Just a lotta baggage, and I'm willing to let it stay. He pulls out his wallet and she goes and comes back with the flowers I was talking about. Sam knows what calla lilies are just by description? God we need to talk about some things. "Thanks," he says, not trying to flirt anymore. I didn't mean to screw things up for him.

"Want more fish?" I ask, feeling pretty useless. Which isn't all that different from usual, but still.

"Sure. You wanna stop anywhere for lunch?"

"Not really, and dude, it's dinner time."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah, looks like it took a while finding this place. Or maybe I was just in the yard longer than I thought," I mumble. Time passes funny for me now. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing things before they've really happened, because they don't feel real until the moment's done and gone. Other times I ask Sam about Dad or Jim or Caleb. He just stares at me, and after few seconds I catch up again. It hasn't messed me up in any way that matters so far. If anything, I've been more helpful with hunting. Not that we've been on another one since we left Angela and Tommy. Sam's still trying to get me to work on that reading thing. Seriously get headaches from it. I keep telling him that the pages look like a kicked up ants nest to me, and now that I can figure the letters when they're alone, it still doesn't do me any good when I can't focus on them when they're forming a word. It's just scribbles. Sam wants to have my vision checked. I don't think so. I see better than before. He says maybe I'm just farsighted. I asked Bobby about it, and Bobby took my side. He never does that. No one ever does. Just Sam against Dad, and Dad's gone. Sam figured if he cut a hole in a note card I could slide it along and go word by word. It's worked well enough that he's thrilled. Looks like I still get to help with research, and searching for hunts.

--

Both men slipped quietly into the Impala, at a loss for words. Sometimes words weren't necessary. Other times there weren't enough. By unspoken agreement, they didn't stop to eat, just drove straight to the cemetery. It was dark out by the time they'd gotten there, Dean took one or two wrong turns, and Sam wasn't sure if it was on purpose or if his brother really was lost. Dean never got lost, but all the same he'd never been more lost in his whole life. Dean watched Sam quietly get out of the car, unable to meet his brother's eyes, not that Sam was able to even look at Dean. He understood his brother's choice, and respected it in a way he couldn't before. But, he wasn't sure what Dean would see in his eyes, so he didn't look up. He looked back at the car, feeling a little lost.

"Hey Mom. Guess this is goodbye. Not like we'll forget you. I mean, I won't forget the pictures, or the stories. Or what you were like in those coupla seconds when you saved us. I just…" Sam gently put the flowers down at the base of the headstone. He stood there, not sure what to say, but not able to leave, either.

When it started to rain, Dean groaned, and looked into the gloom, trying to find Sam, or some sign his brother was coming back to the car. Hesitantly, he let his fingertips rest on the handle of the door, slipping the keys easily from the ignition and slipping them into his jacket pocket. It was the grayish blue one with the weird straps on the shoulders –the whole reason he'd picked it, he thought they looked cool. With a sigh, he opened the door, closing his eyes at the soft creak and the gentle sound of the rain. One boot stepping into the road with a soft splash. Not a puddle, but enough water rested on the road that Dean would have a hard time walking silently. Closing his door he made sure it was locked. Hesitantly, his foot moved up onto the curb, before the other sank wetly into soggy grass. He didn't notice the rain picking up. Didn't notice it soaking into his clothes, causing his skin to break out in goose bumps, or the way his clothes pulled and stuck to his body. Mind completely blank, his heart thudded in his chest; a rising rhythm to his panic.

--

"Sam?" I call softly. Speeding up into a light jog, I grimace at the soggy wet sounds my shoes make as they pull away from the wet grass and slam down into it again. "Sam?" I ask more urgently. I see him. Head bowed. "Mom…"

--

The whisper makes no impact against the darkness. Dean moves forward, his movements jerky and broken, coming to pull even with his brother, glancing at the stone, a wet grey color in the dark rain. Two fingers splay out, the thumb and other two more loose as his fingers lightly trace "M-a-r-y W-i-n-c-h-e-s-t-e-r" feeling the grit of the stone under his fingertips. Sam watches. And more importantly, Sam understands. Dean's sorting out the anthill, making sense of the scrambling and running letters, so he'll never lose their mother's name. He can just barely hear his brother's whispered words, starting out in a sick parody of his own.

"Bye, Mom. Stupid, huh? Talking to a headstone. I never got that in books. Or movies. Sam'd laugh if he knew I've actually read some books. A lot, actually. Used to hide them under my mattress, wrapped up in dirty jeans. Anything to keep them private and mine. And he thought he was the only one. Dad just…didn't get it, he never did, huh Mom? I'm talking to a rock. You told me once you'd had a pet rock. Not that you're like a pet rock! I just…well, if…if there's…if you're, if you're still there, then, then you know what I mean. I hope. I don't…I just wanted to be a good son. A good brother. And Sam says I didn't kill you. Says that you're still there somewhere, souls don't just burn up like that. Think he doesn't want me to beat myself up too much. Stupid, huh? I'm the strong one, right?" He wasn't sure if it was rain or tears on his cheeks. "But, I've got…I won't forget you. You know that, wherever you are, right? I won't ever forget you. But, I can't keep doing this. Like what Dad did. Can't keep this hate…this anger burning in my heart all the time. It hurts too much, and it'll kill me the same way it did him. And I can't do that to Sam. I got a second chance, Mom. And hell, I paid for it in spades, but, I'm not gonna screw this up.

"So, I've got…I gotta let go. Gotta let you go." His voice broke, fingertips still tracing the letters compulsively. "I won't…they say that you don't die just as long as you're not forgotten. I will always remember you. Always. You know that, right? I love you, I just…goodbye. I gotta say goodbye. Because…Dad couldn't. And I don't want to be Dad. I used to think that I should be, and if I could be, then maybe he'd accept me. Funny thing was I think I just made it worse, trying too hard. You used to tell me that was my biggest problem, I tried to hard, got frustrated and would have breakdowns. Well, I grew up a little. Stopped with the whole crying thing." He runs a hand through rain soaked hair, hand stopping to rest on the back of his neck. "Guess I screwed up though, recently. But I promised myself I'd never come here. Because if I did, I'd admit you were gone. Stupid, huh? You're never really gone. At least I can't believe that. I gotta, I gotta believe that you're…some of you is in me, in Sam. In our blood. In our hearts. God I hope he can't hear me. But, you…it's you I wanted to be, not Dad. I would try so hard to be good for Sam. Try and love him the way you would have. Like some idiot kid knows how a mother should feel, or a father. But, I'm the one who fed him. Made sure he had a bottle, clean diapers. God, I was four. Five. Six. And I was still taking care of him, and Dad never stepped up. Sounds like I'm just raggin' on him, huh? He took care of us. We had money, we had food. And he made some of the most loyal friends…

"They died for us. I still don't know why, sometimes.

"I tried so hard Mom, I tried so hard to be brave every day for you. To keep loving because some teacher told me once that when you stop loving, you stop living. And I had to keep living, because if I stopped, I'd kill you. And hell, maybe I killed you anyway. And I'm sorry. But I've tried so hard. He said, live, learn, and most of all, love. Love's what makes the world go 'round. And I wrote him off. But I've had so much time to think. And maybe he was right, huh? 'Cause when Dad died, it hurt, and I went dead inside, and Sam and I, we did…so bad. And it hurt so much to love him again, and to keep loving Dad, and love hurts so bad. I love you so much. I miss you. I miss…I miss a lot. But I get it.

"Not my life, not supposed to be. I don't believe in fate, but I can believe in the past. I lived it, right? It's over. And this road I'm on? I'll see it through. And what kills me the most is that there won't be anyone after me'n Sam. No more Winchesters. No one to carry on, with your blood in their veins. Unless Dad…he wouldn't have. And I didn't. No one should ever raise a kid on their own. And I don't know what to do. Because… this life isn't right, Mom. But I'm choosing it, okay? And I…I'm not gonna love it every second of every day, because sometimes it just sucks ass but I just…I'm picking it okay? Not Dad, not Sam, not anyone. And, it's not about revenge. Maybe I've got a hero complex," he forces a bitter smile. "But that whole 'with great power' bit…well, it's true isn't it? Sam and I, we know what's out there, and we can stop those sons of bitches from hurting anyone else. We can stop it. And so, I'm choosing it. And I wanted you to know that, just so you won't be mad at Dad or anything. He can be real pig headed…but, hell, I've heard you were stubborn, too," he chokes. "But, he did his best. And I don't think he messed up or anything.

"And Sam says I can't keep blaming myself for everything." He runs a hand through his hair again, before rubbing at his jaw and knuckling his eyes.

"Says not everything's my fault. But what's he know about anything? Don't think I can ever forgive myself for letting him die, Mom. Maybe one day, huh? If we live that long. God I don't know how to do this. I just, I needed you, y'know? I needed Dad, I don't know how to do this. I'm so lost right now, and I'm trying so hard to keep it together for Sammy, but he knows I'm barely doing it, and I don't want to let him down. I can't let everyone down, Mom. I'm sick of letting down the people I love. There aren't enough of them, and for me to keep doing it…

"Bobby asked me if I was that screwed in the head. I'm not, I'm not am I? Of course that's the guy standing here talking to a rock…I guess I'm doing just great, aren't I? Fuck, I can't do this. Probably shouldn't swear around you, right? That's what? A spanking and a time out? That first time I said 'son of a bitch' I'll never forget. Dad was fixing the car, and he closed the hood on his hand. I learned so many new words that day. And you, you wanted to know where I'd learned 'em, and I didn't have anyone to blame it on, so I had to say 'Dad' and you were so pissed at him. I remember you made him sleep on the couch, because he asked if he could come sleep with me, and you caught him, and you…you 'banished' him to the couch. I got upset, so you had me come sleep with you. And I cried, and I was so sorry, and you knew I was sorry, and Dad was sorry, too. So, next night, the three of us stayed up late and curled up together. I don't really remember it, but Dad says I'm not making it up.

"But, I guess…I'm here to say goodbye. I have to let go, and I don't know how," he whispers, falling to his knees, sending a spike of alarm through Sam before he calms. Dean's dealing. It takes everything in him to stay back and give his brother space while Dean cries himself out for what Sam hopes is the last time. Dean's hoping it, too, he thinks it is. There's nothing left to cry about. But he never got a chance to grieve for his mother. Maybe it's about time. Maybe now he can finally let go. Maybe it's over. Finally. Maybe everything'll be okay, and he can just…live a little. For himself. Without having to feel like a selfish bastard. Without having to feel like he's failing his father. Or his brother. Or his mother. Or Jim, or Caleb, or Bobby. But Bobby said he could never fail him. And Dean believes that, because he has to. Sam says the same, not with his words, but with his eyes, with his love.

The rain goes through the night. Dean doesn't move the whole time, even after he stops crying. He just settles back onto his haunches, waiting. When the sun comes up again, he nods, rubbing at his damp hair before standing up, and straightening his clothes. Sam sat down in the mud, for all he knew he'd have to wait for it to dry before being allowed into the Impala. Dean nods once, then twice, slapping at his clothes to brush them off, turning away from the gravestone, only to look at it again over his shoulder. Sniffing once, he swallowed hard, and nodded. "Goodbye," he whispered, eyebrows contracted, blinking away tears. Goodbye. Sam followed him, making a face at the squelching sucking sounds made by their footsteps. In a few hours, it would be so hot the ground would be like dust, and he sighed. He looked at Dean, and smiled. Things were gonna be rough. But they'd be okay. He'd help Dean deal with the 'anthill' and they'd hunt, and save people, and kill as many evil sons of bitches as they possibly could.

Things are hard. They've been hard.

But we're doing better now. We're finally brothers again.