"Well that's good, but…" Sam replied, a combination of relief and worry in his voice.

Missouri met his gaze. "Don't worry, Sam. Dean's still here."

Sam nodded his head and gave her a half-smile. "We better get out of here."

Sam closed the lids on the coffins and began to bury them again. Missouri relinquished her hold on Dean, and laid him gently onto the ground. Then she got up and began helping Sam fill in the graves.

He gave her a surprised look, said "Thanks," and kept on shoveling.

They were just finishing up when Dean began to stir, his head moving slowly back and forth as a quiet groan escaped his lips. Sam and Missouri immediately dropped their shovels and knelt by his side.

"Dean?" Sam called gently, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder.

"Sam?" Dean's voice was gravelly. "They gone?"

"You tell me," Sam replied.

Dean looked to Missouri for reassurance.

"I don't feel them anymore," Missouri told him, repeating her earlier words to Sam.

"Help me up," Dean said, grabbing onto Sam and pulling.

Sam grabbed onto Dean and got him to his feet; held onto him a moment longer as Dean got his bearings. Then Dean pushed him away and took a step toward the brothers' graves.

"You may want to turn your back, Missouri," he warned.


"Gotta piss," Dean replied. "All that water goes through a guy, you know?"

"Dean!" Missouri scolded, halting him mid-zip. "You just don't do that! No matter whose grave it is!"

Dean counted to two before responding tiredly, "These assholes will probably try to come after me no matter what I do or don't do, Missouri. This'll make me feel better. And besides, I don't think I'll make it to the woods, if you get my drift…"

Missouri quickly looked away, as did Sam, who just gave her a shrug as his own comment.

When they'd gotten back to the Impala in the cemetery parking lot, Dean had automatically reached for the case of water they'd had.

Missouri stopped him, though, saying, "Maybe you should lay off the holy water for a while, Dean."

"What?" Dean balked.

"Until we know for sure," she replied.

There was an uneasy tone to her voice, but he understood.

"Gotta detox again," Sam put in.

Dean shook his head saying, "How crazy is that? Hell, we'll make it easy this time. Just grab me a case of Molsons and I'll be good to go."

Sam smiled. "Why don't we start with some soda for starters? Maybe hit the Mickey Dee's we passed on the way here," he suggested.

"I'll buy," Missouri offered.

The drive back to Missouri's was uneventful. Sam had driven. Dean never-the-less had felt uncomfortable under Missouri and Sam's constant scrutiny. And, he had to admit later, that he had felt fidgety – he did want to drink one of the bottles of water… Out of habit; out of fear.

"You're doing just fine, Dean," Missouri whispered to him more than once, leaning up toward him from the back seat. "I still don't feel them," she'd kept repeating, patting his shoulder each time.

She'd offered to let them stay with her again and despite Dean's protests, Sam, the voice of reason, agreed. "She'll know, Dean. She'll let us know if they're still with you," he'd said.

That thought stayed in Dean's mind, even as he kept pacing the length of the porch at Missouri's house, at three the next morning, looking at the Impala parked in the driveway, wanting to open the trunk, open a bottle of the blessed water he knew it contained…

He hadn't been able to sleep; memories of the pain, of the voices, as the brothers tormented him, over and over again, as they cursed him and all he lived for as they burned in that graveyard. He remembered them as they spoke through that little girl…

He was startled as the front door opened and Sam walked out.

"Here," Sam spoke softly, handing him a bottle of beer.

Dean nodded gratefully as he took the bottle. He gulped down a few sips and wiped the sweat from his brow and upper lip onto his sleeve.

"You're doing fine, Dean," Sam told him.

"Thank you, Doctor Friedman," Dean replied sarcastically, but between Sam's presence, the cool calm the beer gave him or both, Dean felt himself relax. He leaned against one of the porch's support posts and said, "Sorry."

Sam nodded. "It's been over twelve hours, Dean. When's the last time you lasted that long?" He was trying to put a positive spin on things.

When Dean looked down, then to his left, away from Sam, though he thought he'd made things worse. He was just about to press him further, wanting Dean to see his point of view, when his brother finally answered.

"A month ago, maybe. When I was drinking, it was about a bottle a day. Then, shooting up… at first it lasted a few days, almost a week. When we hooked back up, once a day…" He saw the look in Sam's eyes and shook his head. "Sound like a goddamned junkie, don't I? You gonna make me start going to NA meetings?"

Sam laughed a little. "Nah." He took a sip of his own beer. "But I'm not gonna let this happen again, Dean."

"Sam…" Dean started, rolling his eyes, ready to tell Sam that this was not his fault; that he wasn't even around at the time…

"Dean," Sam interrupted. "I never even noticed! I had no idea that there was something wrong! We've been living on the road together, sharing the car, the motel rooms… We've been in each other's faces for months. How could I have not seen this?"

"You've had your own demons to deal with, Sam," Dean replied, recalling his own memory of Jessica's death, and how it had consumed his brother in grief.

"You've both been busy looking in other directions, for other things," Missouri told them, her silent approach startling both brothers. She ignored their irritation at her interruption though, and took a seat on the porch swing. She had a mug of tea in her hand. "Trust me on this," she added and took a sip.

By now both Winchesters knew not to try to argue with the woman. They just nodded to her and took another sip of their respective beers.

"They're gone, Dean. Truly," she said after a few moments.

Dean nodded and smiled to her and took another swig of his beer, not comfortable with her scrutiny. He wanted to believe her. He did believe her. Yet…

He felt her hand on his right shoulder, turning him. He found himself in an uncomfortable, yet warming embrace. "They'll always be with you, in your memories, Dean. But they can't hurt you anymore," Missouri whispered to him. She pulled back a bit, forced him to meet her gaze and added, "And they can't hurt Sam."

He felt a hand on his left shoulder then, a gentle squeeze; reassurance: Sam.

"We're in it for the long haul, Dean," he said. "Finding Dad, finding the thing that killed Mom and Jessica… No more secrets, though. No more fighting alone."

Dean nodded. "Sure," he said.

A slight shiver went through Dean as he touched the top of his beer bottle to Sam's and then to Missouri's mug of tea. He thought he heard laughter in the air, but shook it off to his body's former addiction, however weird it was.

The End

A/N: OMG! Did I just write "The End"? Finally! Thank you to ALL of you faithful readers and reviewers out there in fanfic land! This has truly been a hell of a fic to write – I don't know how many times I wanted to give up on it, so cookies to all who have kept at me. Especially to November's Guest and shywalk – who got the original drafts way back when, and later got the emails from me, after the show had Dean torturing the demon with holy water, saying, "No! I thought of it first!" or something like that… Sigh…