Then…

"Demons. I can feel them," Sam whispered. "They'll want me back, unable to accept that this is over."

Sure enough something dashed in front of the car and Dean hit it without flinching. He quickly corrected the car after it swerved on impact. Nothing was stopping him now from getting his brother away from them.

"Let 'em try," Dean muttered as he swerved around more demons that dashed around the Impala. Soon he reached the highway and raced away. He glanced in the rearview mirror and saw about ten white robed figures fill the highway behind him, but they did not follow.

"We did it, Sammy," Dean said. "They're gone, right?"

Sam sighed but didn't answer, instead resting his head against the window and closed his eyes.

Three hours had passed and still Sam had his eyes closed. Dean knew his brother well enough to know he wasn't sleeping, but it was obvious he didn't want to talk. Dean clenched his jaw muscles and kept driving.

Another five hours passed and after Dean fell asleep for a moment, he knew he had to stop driving. Dean pulled into the next motel he saw and turned off the car. Still Sam didn't open his eyes

"Sammy? I wanted to head straight for Bobby's, but I got to stop driving, dude. Let's call it a night," Dean said.

"What?" Sam said as he opened his eyes and then blinked.

For a moment, Dean could have sworn they were black before Sam blinked. No, Dean decided, it was his exhausted eyes playing tricks on him.

Now…

Chapter 7

Two days later…

Dean pulled Sam along behind him as they wearily trudged up to walk to Bobby's front door. It was 1 AM, but Dean hadn't forgotten the promise he made to the older man that Bobby would be the first one they would see after it was all over. When they reached the door, even though he was exhausted as hell, Dean took a second to compose himself and put a smile on his face. This was a happy time, right? He didn't need to mention that Sam wouldn't look at him, much less talk about what happened, and seemed more and more withdrawn with each passing day.

Dean knocked hard and a light inside brightened the front windows behind the curtains a few moments later. Bobby threw open the door, an expression of anger at the interruption of his sleep, until it registered in his mind who was standing there in front of him. Bobby's expression softened into shock and relief, and a smile spread across his face.

"My God! Come in!" Bobby exclaimed as he excitedly pulled the pair inside. "I don't believe it! Is it really over? You boys did it?"

Dean nodded.

"Both our asses are safe. Check. Avoided the apocalypse. Check. Lilith is dead. Check," Dean joked.

Dean watched as Bobby glanced from him to Sam. After tears filled Bobby's eyes, tears filled Dean's eyes as well at the witnessing of their reunion. Bobby pulled Sam into a strong hug. Silent tears slipped down Sam's cheeks as he put his arms loosely around the older man.

"Boy, didn't they let you eat?" Bobby asked gently as they pulled away from each other.

Dean had had the same shocking first impression after Sam removed the white billowy robe. He had to focus not to let it show on his face to Sam when he did.

"I'm okay, Bobby," Sam said to the man, the same thing he had been telling Dean for the past few hours.

Yeah right, Dean thought, and he knew Bobby wouldn't accept that answer on face value either.

"Let me look at you," Bobby said and as Dean had done, Bobby took Sam's head in his hands and looked him in the eyes before running his hands lightly over his neck, arms, and torso. Sam flinched repeatedly, and tears filled Dean's eyes again.

"You got some cracked ribs," Bobby noted. "But I'm sure you know that already. And your back? Can I look at it?"

Sam closed his eyes again but nodded. Dean watched as Bobby slowly pulled up Sam's shirt, unable to tear his eyes away from a sight that he was sure would stay burned in his mind forever. Dean and Bobby both gasped at the multiple whip lashes and bruises across Sam's back, some old, some new. Dean felt bile rise in his throat and anger coursed through him.

"Son of a bitch! I'll kill them all! Every last one of them!" Dean yelled.

"Dean," Sam said quietly. "Does it really matter anymore? And we've both had worse and you know it. You were in hell for crying out loud, or did you forget that?"

Bobby dropped Sam's shirt.

"I'll be in the kitchen when you're ready to get patched up," he said to Sam before leaving the two Winchesters alone.

Sam made a motion to follow, but Dean grabbed his arm.

"Hold on, Sammy. So…what you're saying is since I was in hell, its okay that you were beat to hell?" Dean asked.

"All I'm saying is this was hard on everyone, but it's over. Done. My body will heal," Sam said as he took a seat in a nearby chair.

"What about what they did to you in there?" Dean said as he pointed to Sam's temple.

"Like hell was a cakewalk for your psyche?" Sam asked.

Dean sighed.

"To tell you the truth, I don't remember my time in hell," Dean admitted. "But I know you remember the past few months with the demons. What you said to me in the clearing! It was so unlike you-."

"You…you don't remember hell? Anything?" Sam asked in disbelief.

Dean could hear the relief in his voice.

"No. Nothing. I used to wake up from nightmares, but I never remember what they were about," Dean explained.

"Thank God," Sam said with relief.

"Enough about me already! We just got you back and I need to know everything that happened to you-," Dean asserted.

"Like I said in the car, the answer is no," Sam said firmly as he stood up and began to walk to the kitchen.

"Sammy-," Dean began to protest.

"I SAID NO!" Sam yelled before he closed his eyes and visibly regained control.

"Why not? What are you afraid of?" Dean asked.

Sam didn't answer, and a moment later disappeared from sight into the kitchen.

Three hours later…

"Can't sleep, kid?" Bobby asked with a smile as he walked into the living room to where Dean had remained planted on the couch since they got back.

Bobby had with two mugs of steaming liquid in his hands and handed one to Dean.

"What…My couch ain't comfortable enough for you all of the sudden?" Bobby joked.

"It's not your couch, Bobby, it's…it's everything else," Dean explained before he tasted the coffee and grimaced.

"I know. It's got me all jacked up too. Hence the decaf tea. Can I sit?" Bobby asked.

Dean nodded and put the cup down on the coffee table.

"Go on," Bobby prompted as he took a sip of the hot liquid.

"It's just…well…Sam's back with us, I'm out of hell permanently, Lilith's dead…but it still doesn't seem right. Sam still doesn't seem right," Dean said

"Give it time," Bobby advised. "I mean, I'm no shrink, but I know that when you're in the thick of it, there's no time to process what's happening. You push it deep down inside you. I mean, his physical wounds will heal quickly, we'll get the pounds back on him, but his mind? Now, believe it or not, may be the hardest time for him yet."

"But he won't even talk to me about it!" Dean reminded him helplessly.

"Just give it time," Bobby repeated.

Dean sighed for what he guessed must be the millionth time that day.

"It's important to give yourself some time too. This has been hard on all of us. Just take it slow. And you boys can stay here as long as you like," Bobby said.

"Thanks," Dean said. "But I've never been one to take it slow."

The next morning…

Dean was roused awake by a soft creaking of floor boards and the front door opening and then clicking closed. He ran a hand over his stubble and then over his sore back. He hadn't slept well, unable to ignore Sam's screams off and on from nightmares the past few hours. Dean never went in his room though, as much as he wanted too. He hadn't wanted to embarrass Sam.

Dean sat up, squinting from the light now spilling into the living room, and pulled on his t-shirt. He swiveled to look out the window to see Sam slowly walking across the grassy yard to sit on the curb in front of the house. Dean startled for a moment at Sam's appearance until his mind caught up with him and reminded him what had happened.

Dean grabbed his jeans off of the floor and pulled them on over his black boxer briefs as he yawned. A quick glance at his watch told him it was barely 6:30 AM. After putting his feet into his shoes he walked outside to join his brother.

"Sammy?" Dean called to his brother as to not startle him. "What are you doing out here?"

Sam turned around from his spot on the curb and Dean had to force himself not to gasp at his brother's face. He had forgotten about his haunted eyes too.

"You forgot to tie your shoes," Sam noted before turning back around.

Dean sat down next to him.

"Don't…don't ask me again to talk about it, please," Sam pleaded. "I've…I've had a rough night, okay?"

Dean clenched his jaw muscles while he pondered his answer.

"I'm not going to ask you. Not today anyway…and not tomorrow. But someday, I will ask…and I hope that when I do…you'll answer because I can tell you from experience that if you don't deal with this kind of stuff, it will come back and bite you in the ass. Remember how I was after dad died? When I insisted I was okay?" Dean asked.

"I remember," Sam said with a nod of his head. "But this is different."

"This is different, I know. How about for now… I tell you about what's happened to me since you were gone?" Dean asked gently.

"Not gonna change my mind," Sam reminded him.

"Like I said, Sammy. Not today. But me? I need to talk to someone…and my someone has always been you. Unless you rather I talk to Bobby instead-." Dean replied.

"Talk," Sam said.

Dean nodded and for the next two hours relayed the events that had happened since Sam left.

"Wow," Sam said as he shook his head. "I'm sorry that you went through all of that."

"An apology is not why I told you about all of that, Sammy!" Dean exclaimed.

"I know…but I'm sorry, okay?" Sam said.

"Okay," Dean said softly.

As he watched Sam flick a piece of grass with his finger, he hoped he had somehow made a little progress. Only time would tell.

Two weeks later...

"I don't know how much longer I can do this, Bobby," Dean said into the dark living room where he and the older man were watching a football game. As usual, Sam wasn't with them, again deciding to read in his room alone.

"Do what? Watch my team get there asses whooped?" Bobby asked as he took a chug of beer from the can.

"Stand by and do nothing about Sam!" Dean exclaimed.

After he put his beer down, Bobby sighed and hit the mute button on the remote.

"How long do I have to ignore the elephant in the room? Pretend that I don't hear him waking up screaming from nightmares every night?!" Dean continued.

"You mean like I did with you those first few weeks?" Bobby asked.

Dean's words got lost in his throat as he processed the man's words.

"What?" he asked.

"I didn't comment on your nightmares night after night after you came back from hell because you said you didn't want to talk about it," Bobby clarified.

"I…I didn't know they were so…loud," Dean said softly because he couldn't think of anything else to say.

"And you don't seem to have them anymore. At least not the ones that wake you up screaming. I left you alone like you wanted and you're doing allright now. You should do the same with Sam," Bobby said before turning back to the screen and clicking back on the volume.

Dean nodded.

One and a half month later…

"Well, Sam looks a hell of a lot better," Bobby said as he worked under the hood of his latest "wreck."

Dean knew it would only be a matter of time before the truck would be restored back to its former glory. Dean had nothing on Bobby in that department.

"Yeah, on the outside. If you didn't see him before, you wouldn't even notice. But inside? Bobby, he's still not talking about what the demons did to him. It's not like him. I've tried it your way. It's not getting us anywhere."

"If you ask me, and I think you are, we just have to keep on waiting. Now hand me that wrench," Bobby said as he held out his hand.

Dean sighed and did as his friend asked.

One week later…

"That's it, Sammy!" Dean declared as he stormed into Sam's makeshift bedroom.

Sam, who had been folding his recently laundered clothes, looked up in surprise.

"What?" he asked.

"What? What?!" Dean echoed. "Bobby's a smart guy…the smartest we know…but I can't follow his advice anymore. I just…I just can't. Not about this."

"What advice?" Sam asked in confusion.

"To give you space. Time to come to me about what happened," Dean continued.

"Dean, don't," Sam warned as he turned back around and returned to folding his laundry.

"No. Today is the day. I'm asking. What happened? I need to know as much as I know you need to tell me!" Dean implored.

Dean watched as Sam paused in his folding.

"Not…today," Sam repeated slowly as if trying to stay in control of his emotions.

"Today is the perfect day," Dean declared as he grabbed Sam's arm and spun him around.

"Don't…don't touch me," Sam ordered through tight lips.

"I can't seem to get you to talk to me unless I do! You have been doing nothing but the bare minimum of existing! That can't be enough for you and it's certainly not enough for me!" Dean insisted.

"Well, too…damn…bad!" Sam replied with disdain. "So sorry I've been bringing you down."

"Just talk to me about what it was like with the demons. That's all I ask! You'll feel better-," Dean said before Sam cut him off.

"Really?" Sam asked, obviously angry now. "How will I feel better telling you how they beat me senseless every single night? Tied me to the wall with chains so I would stay upright even when my legs would no longer hold me up? Will it also make me feel better to describe how I even started begging them to just…let…up…a little bit?! That toward the end I begged them to let me die?! How they wouldn't let me eat, sleep, or drink until I repeated the crap they told me? That I started to believe it...still believe a lot of it even though I know in my heart that it's not true? HOW IS THAT GOING TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER?!"

Dean was speechless for a moment before finding his voice again.

"Know that no one else would have been able to hold up like you did. And you beat Lilith at her own game. I'm so proud of you. Bobby is too. You did it, Sammy. I am sorry that you had to go through that alone. But you're not alone anymore. Just please let us help you through this. I don't want Lilith to win in the end by destroying who you are."

"She already did, Dean," Sam said quietly.

"What?" Dean asked, his turn to be confused.

"Just ask Bobby," Sam said.

"Ask Bobby what?" Dean asked.

"No more," Sam said before he walked out of the room. "I'm going to take a shower."

"Damn it!" Dean yelled as he slammed his fist against the wall before storming out.

"Bobby?" Dean asked the older man when he finally found him organizing some tools and weapons in the shed in the back of his house.

"Yeah?" Bobby asked.

"Sam told me to ask you something. I'm not sure what…something about what happened with the demons or how he's changed?" Dean guessed.

Bobby's arms froze and he carefully put down the tool in his hand before turning back around.

"I ain't getting in the middle of this," Bobby declared cryptically before turning back to his task.

"If you know something about Sam that you're not telling me-," Dean began.

"Like I said, I AIN'T getting in the middle," Bobby reiterated without stopping. "You can ask me all you want. My answer is NOT going to change."

"Will no one talk to me?!" Dean yelled.

Two days later…

Dean was roused awake by whispering coming from the kitchen. When he glanced at his watch, he saw that it was 3AM. He quickly reached for his sawed off when the voices, louder now, were suddenly recognizable to him as Bobby and Sam. He quietly got up from the couch and moved a little closer to the doorway to listen.

"What are you doing, Sammy?" Bobby asked.

"Leaving," Sam said quietly a few moments later.

Dean's jaw dropped and his stomach tightened, but he decided to not interrupt the pair just yet.

"I see that. Forgot to say goodbye, did ya?" Bobby asked sarcastically.

"Bobby-," Sam began before Bobby cut him off.

"Don't you Bobby me, boy. I can't believe you're going to do this again! You really gonna leave without at least saying goodbye to your brother? Just like you tried to do when you made the deal with Lilith?" Bobby asked in disbelief.

Dean listened as Sam sighed before continuing.

"You know why I have to leave," Sam responded so softly that Dean almost didn't hear him. "I can't forget it."

It was Bobby's turn to sigh now.

"It was an accident," Bobby reminded him.

"An accident that shouldn't have happened! I could have seriously hurt you! I'm dangerous, Bobby! I'm not fit to be around you two anymore. And you know as good as I do that Dean is not going to let up about wanting to know the truth! " Sam implored.

"So tell him! We can help you learn to control it-," Bobby said.

"I can't! You of all people know that first hand! And it's only a matter of time before it all goes down. I know it!" Sam implored.

"What do you mean?" Bobby asked, confused.

"The less you and Dean know, the better off you'll both be. No one can help me anyway," the younger man answered.

"You know I disagree!" Bobby insisted. "Just stop and think this through-."

Dean shook his head in disbelief at what he was hearing. The fear at what Sam was hiding from him gripped at him so tightly that it suddenly felt difficult to breathe.

"Bobby, if I talk to Dean, he may convince me to stay for a while, sure...but nothing will change. I will still be this thing that I am now. I will still be something…something that deserves to be hunted. And when it comes to that…when it gets out what I am, and it may already have…I don't want you two caught in the crossfire," Sam explained.

For the next few moments, Dean heard nothing but silence. He could take no more and stepped into the doorway. As Dean looked at Sam's shocked expression, Bobby walked around him and out of the kitchen without another word. A moment later, Dean heard the front door open and slam closed.

"So…you're going to pull a Houdini because you're some big bad monster?" Dean asked. "Is that it?"

Sam shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

"How much did you hear?" Sam asked quietly.

"Enough," Dean replied. "Now you tell me what you can do," Dean ordered as he jabbed a finger in Sam's direction.

"The less you know the better," Sam repeated.

"BULL!" Dean yelled before he charged at Sam and pinned him against the wall, causing Sam's duffle bag to crash to the floor.

"Please, just let me go," Sam begged, tears in his eyes now.

Dean let go of Sam's shirt and shook his head in disbelief.

"Let you go?!" Dean asked angrily. "You…YOU are all I've been trying to get back for the past few months! And I've been trying hard, Sammy! I really have! Giving you space to come around and all that crap that Bobby suggested! And now you want to take even more space by leaving? Maybe you want me to just forget about you all together?"

Sam leaned down, picked up the strap of his bag, and put it back over his shoulder.

"That would be best," Sam said as a tear slipped down his cheek.

Dean shook his head again.

"I was being sarcastic, Sammy! You tell me what the hell is going on and we'll deal with it. Together. Simple as that! Stronger as a family! You told that to dad once, or don't you remember?" Dean asked.

"Of course I remember, Dean," Sam said. "But I also remember that dad said if you couldn't save me, you'd have to kill me."

"I already saved you! You and the rest of the damned world is safe from Lilith and the apocalypse!" Dean reminded him furiously.

"No, you didn't," Sam said quietly and he obviously struggled not to get further upset.

"I didn't what?" Dean asked in confusion.

"Save me," Sam whispered.

"Come again?" Dean asked.

"No more. I have to go," Sam insisted as he rushed past Dean and into the leaving room as he headed for the front door.

Dean grabbed Sam's arm and spun him around before he got far.

"No more running, Sammy, no more avoiding the truth! You are NOT going to get off the hook that easy! You owe me that much!" Dean insisted.

"No, I owe you more than that!" Sam said. "And my leaving is going to give that to you! Everything you never had! With no more looming apocalypse and me out of the picture, you can finally be who you always wanted to be, but never could! You…you could have a family and a normal job…friends!"

"You're my family, Sammy! And I never said I needed any of that other stuff!" Dean yelled.

"That's because you never could imagine it as a possibility! Our reality never allowed you to have any dreams! Now you can," Sam decided as he again turned for the door.

"At least tell me if you always planned to say 'no' to Lilith and Lucifer at the end?" Dean asked, hoping the question would stall his brother to talk further.

Sam paused for a moment to laugh before resuming his walk to the door.

Dean watched Sam freeze after he heard him cock his gun.

"I swear to God, I will shoot out both your kneecaps unless you stop and talk to me once and for all," Dean promised as he steadied his sawed off at one of Sam's knees.

"No, you won't," Sam said with a suddenly firm voice as he turned around.

Suddenly, without explanation, Dean's mind was filled with such anguish that he could barely stand, much less hold up a gun. He fell to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably for no reason that he could understand. He struggled to stand, but was then hit with such grief that he was again lowered to the floor. Horrible images flashed through his mind that he could barely keep it together, much less concentrate on stopping Sam.

"That, Dean," Dean heard Sam say from only inches from his ear. "Is what I can do. I can manipulate emotions like demons manipulate bodies and minds. I can make anyone feel anything that I want at any time. Believe me, I know. The demons had me try it over and over on the innocent people they brought to me day after day. I guess I should amend my statement to say I don't have control over all emotions though, just the bad ones like hatred, pain, anguish, grief, rage, envy...you get the picture. I can make anyone vulnerable to possession this way or simply do anything I want while begging for mercy. I guess that was my part to play with Lucifer. I set 'em up so he could take them down. I'm sorry, so sorry, but you just wouldn't trust me on this without making me show you. Now you know why I'm dangerous. Why I have to leave and never come back. Why soon….if not already…hunters everywhere will be looking for me. The demons will make sure of that to have their revenge on me in the end."

"Sammy," Dean sobbed, unable to mutter much else through the emotional pain that continued to slam into him with tsunami-like force.

"I could make you want to kill me, but it would just tear you up to know what you did when the feeling wore off. You might then do something crazy again like the first time I died and make another deal. So…when you finally realize how dangerous I am...that my demon blood does make me a monster and that I do need to die like dad said...I'll be waiting for you. And I do hope it's you who will kill me and not some other hunter, Dean. I wish you would grant me that much. But until then? Watch your back...and tell Bobby to do the same. Hunters are probably going to do anything to get to me," Sam said before Dean heard him walk away and out the door.

"Stronger…as…a..family!" Dean managed to yell out through his sobbing.

Dean watched as Sam paused a moment before turning back around.

"What the hell am I doing?!" Sam exclaimed a moment before the terrific sadness finally released it's vice grip on Dean.

Dean, still quite drained from the emotional episode, was unable to move yet, but he could hear Sam's words easily enough.

"What kind of life will it be for us to not only fight off demons, but fight off hunters as well?!" Sam implored as his eyes teared up.

"I guess," Dean said as he wiped the tears from his face and shakily stood up. "I guess it will be OUR life."

Sam stared at Dean, still looking as if he might bolt any minute. Dean waited, hoping to God that his little brother would make the right choice.

"What if I lose control like I did with Bobby? The things I can do," Sam whispered, tears in his eyes.

"Anyone can lose control, Sammy. Anyone can be dangerous or deadly. You know that. What matters is if you want to hurt other people," Dean said.

"I don't!" Sam implored.

"Exactly. And that's the difference. You didn't want to hurt anyone when you were with the demons. You did it because of the deal, because of me, because you were in pain, their brainwashing you…but you didn't want to do it. Not then and not now," Dean explained.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Sam nodded in agreement.

Dean walked over to his brother and grabbed him into a hug, feeling like for the first time in a long time, he might just have a chance in hell at saving his brother after all.

Two hours later…

"You sure you won't come with us, Bobby?" Dean asked at the doorway as Sam stood behind him.

"And leave my palace? Hell, you know I can handle demons and I sure as hell can handle a few fired up hunters," Bobby answered.

"It will be more than a few," Sam reminded him.

"Eh, let 'em come," Bobby said in dismissal.

"Well, then…I guess the only thing left to say is thanks…for everything," Dean said.

"Bobby, there's no way I can make up for-," Sam began to add.

"Just stay alive, you idigits," Bobby said as he pulled Dean in for a hug and then Sam.

The boys nodded and walked out of Bobby's house, both knowing it may be the last time they saw their friend for a long time…maybe ever.

Once their bags were tossed in the trunk and Dean and Sam took their respective seats in the Impala, Dean smiled.

"What?" Sam asked, a small smile on his face now too.

"It's good to have you back to your old self and back in the passenger seat again," Dean said. "I've missed my burger and pie fetcher."

"Very funny," Sam said before Dean saw the smile leave his face. "So what do we do now?" Sam asked after a moment.

"Our job. Bobby gave me a case," Dean answered as motioned toward a manila folder on the back seat. "And if the demons get in the way…well, we'll just take care of them like we always do."

"And the hunters?" Sam asked softly.

"We'll…we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Dean answered after a moment of pondering that scenario.

"I guess I could always use my new…ability if I have to-," Sam thought out loud.

"NO! No!" Dean insisted. "You won't. Never again. We can stay alive and do our jobs without ANYTHING you learned from Lilith and the other demons. You got that?"

"Okay. Okay! Well, let me just say that if this all goes bad-," Sam began.

"Shut up, Sammy," Dean said as he turned the key in the ignition, not interested in hearing Sam remind him again that their dad said Dean may have to kill him.

"Just, just hear me out. I just wanted to say that if this all goes bad, I want you to know that you did it after all," Sam said.

"Did what?" Dean asked in confusion.

"Saved me," Sam answered.

Dean nodded and a little bit more of the weight lifted from his shoulders. Sam took out the GPS as Dean pulled the car away from Bobby's house.

THE END

Thanks everyone for reading and sticking with this story! Hope you all enjoyed it!