The First Cut is the Deepest Ch. 21

Disclaimer: Kripke and the CW owns the Winchesters and everything recognizable in this story. I only wish I were making a profit from writing it!

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Previously: "Damn, I sure hope you're right Bobby. I don't think my nose can handle much more of these noxious fumes." John stated as he started peeling off his clothing right there outside. He wanted to keep as much of the smell out of the cabin as possible.

After the incident with the skunk, things just got continuously better with the Winchesters over the next few weeks. Sammy had finally gained back some weight and was almost back to his normal self. Even the nightmares had finally started fading some. Instead of Sammy waking up screaming two and three times a night, it was now down to once every other night or so. He was also starting to join into the conversations with others without having to be prodded too. But the thing that made John most happy, was the fact that Sammy sought out his attention.

Just last week, Sam had asked him to take him fishing, just the two of them. But this time he wanted to use the boat and take it out in the middle of the lake. As they fished, Sam finally opened up about his feeling and how shattered he had felt thinking that his dad didn't love him. Turns out he had always worried that he wasn't good enough in his father's eyes and that he thought John had considered him a failure even before the curse. It broke John's heart to hear the words and he knew he had to make a better effort from now on to let his son know he was loved and that he was proud of him. Dropping his drill sergeant mode, he had pulled his youngest into his arms and hugged him like there was no tomorrow.

Sitting on the porch and watching over Sammy as he swung back and forth on the tire swing that Bobby had put up, John couldn't help but regret that they didn't have more carefree moments like this, times when his boys could just be boys. He knew the life his boys lived was a hard one with all the traveling they did, but it had to be done if he was ever going to find and kill the thing that took away his Mary, the boys mother. Hearing the sounds of laughter, John looked over to see Dean pushing Sammy higher on the tire swing. "Careful boys" he shouted out wanting to make sure Dean didn't go too overboard in his quest to make Sammy laugh.

John sighed as he thought about the conversation that he, Bobby and Luke had had the previous night while Dean and Sammy had sat on the porch stargazing. Bobby had got a phone call from Caleb needing some help with research for a case he was working on, bringing them crashing back to the real world. He was worried about telling his boys, afraid that they might not take the news so well. They planned on telling the boys later tonight as they grilled hamburgers and steaks for dinner.

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As Dean pushed Sam on the tire swing, he noticed the somber look on his dad's face. It was obvious that he was feeling a little worried about something and Dean knew without a doubt that his dad was getting ready to go back to the hunt. He couldn't really blame him since they had been at the cabin for over a month now. He honestly couldn't believe that his dad had lasted this long. He wondered if Sammy noticed the change in their father's mood since last night. He couldn't take the chance of Sammy being caught unawares about going back to the hunt so he decided to prepare him for it as best he could.

"Hey Sammy, what do you say we go for a walk down by the lake kiddo, just you and me. I have something I want to talk to you about." Dean said as he slowed the tire swing down to a stop.

"Yeah, sure Dean." Sam replied as he hopped of the swing and got ready to go.

"Hey Dad, Sammy and I are going for a walk down by the lake. We won't be gone long." Dean informed his dad with a shout.

"Just make sure you're back by dinnertime." John answered as he watched his boys walk away. He saw Dean give a wave with his hand indicating that he had heard before walking inside to see what Bobby and Luke were up to.

As they neared the lake, Dean tried to figure out how to break the news to his brother easily. He hated being the bearer of bad news, but better him than anybody else as far as he was concerned. At least he would be ready to handle any emotional fallout that came from hearing the news.

"Uh Sammy, I think we need to talk about, um…" Dean started to say as he fumbled over his words trying to say things just right.

"What, that we need to talk about going back to the hunt Dean?" Sam questioned as he turned to face his obviously surprised brother.

"Yeah, how did..?"

"Hell Dean, I'm surprised dad waited this long. I figured he would have dragged us back into the hunt a couple of weeks ago. Don't worry about me, I'm okay with it." Sam informed his big brother.

"Are you sure Sammy? I mean if you're not ready, I can always get dad to drop us off at Pastor Jim's or something. I don't want you pushed into something you're not ready for dude. Just say the word, and I'll talk to dad."

"Thanks Dean, but I'm ready. Yeah, I know it will be tough and I'm a little worried, but I've got to get started back sometime right. Besides, you and dad have catered to me long enough, it's time I start giving back to the two of you. I know how much you and dad want to find the thing that took mom from us, I do too. But we're never going to find it by sitting around on our asses are we?"

"I guess you're right there Sammy. I keep forgetting how scary smart you are little brother." Dean said as he threw an arm around Sam's shoulders and started guiding them back towards the cabin.

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Later that evening as they all sat around the picnic table munching on either burgers or steaks, Sammy glanced around at all those sitting at the table thinking about how much of their lives had been set aside while he recuperated. He knew Bobby had given up a lot of money with his salvage business since he wasn't there to work on the cars, but he didn't seem to be too worried about it. As for Luke, he had been there for him when he needed him most and then he supported him throughout the rest of his horrible ordeal. He honestly didn't think he would have survived on the streets had it not been for Luke taking him under his wings and taking care of him.

He smiled as he caught Dean watching him out of the side of his eyes. If it wasn't for Dean, he knew he would have fell over that precipice he was standing on in his dreams and never came back. Without his brother's support and encouragement, he surely would have died. There were so many times that he felt like giving up, and he would have if Dean's voice hadn't brought him back from the edge and given him a reason for living. He knew without a doubt that Dean would always be his foundation to fall back on, that his brother would always have his back no matter what.

The last person that he focused his attention on was his dad. He could tell that his dad was nervous even though he tried to hide it by laughing and joking with Bobby about what kind of hunter Luke would make. His dad pretended to huff as Bobby mentioned having him take Luke under his wings and teaching him a little about the hunting world. Sam had no doubts that his dad would be more than willing to teach Luke what he knew, it would be a way for his dad to payback all the others who had helped him out when he first started hunting. Still watching his dad, he noticed that he was starting to play with his food. Knowing his dad was trying to find an easy way to bring up the hunt just like Dean had, Sammy said, "Hey dad, I was wondering when we're going to go back to the hunt? I mean I'm doing much better now and…"

"What? What did you just s-say Sammy?" John questioned with disbelief as he looked his youngest in the eyes.

"I said I wanna know when we're going back to the hunt. I know that you've all been worried about me, but I'm much better now. I think it's time we start hunting again." Sam replied with a smile at the way his dad's jaw dropped open more with each word he said.

"Are you sure kiddo, I mean if you need more time…" John trailed off as he tried to give Sam the opportunity to have second thoughts. Yes, he was itching to get back to the hunt with a need he hadn't felt in years, but he also needed to be one hundred percent sure that Sammy was ready.

"I'm sure dad, now what do you say we all finish up here and get a good night's sleep so we'll be ready to hit the road in the morning." Sam replied

"That's my boy." said Dean as he pulled Sam in and gave him a noogie.

"Dean stop!" ordered Sam through the giggles he was unable to hold back.

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Early the next morning found the Winchesters all packed and ready to go with Bobby and Luke following right behind them. As much as they enjoyed being out at the cabin, they were all eager to hit the road. As John stood on the porch and watched his sons packing their gear in the trunk of the Impala, he thanked his lucky stars that he had earned back Sam's love and that both of his boys were healthy once again. He shuddered for just a moment as he thought about how close he had come to losing everything that meant anything in his world.

"Hey dad, you waiting on Christmas?" Dean called out as he saw his dad watching them from the porch with a wistful look on his face.

"Yeah, you got a problem with that?" John laughingly asked as he walked down the steps and out to the Impala. Turning around to glance at the cabin once more, he sighed and then climbed into the driver's seat. "Hey Sammy, you've got shotgun, Dean can ride in the back." he stated knowing how happy that would make his youngest.

"Cool, thanks dad." Sam said as he stuck his tongue out at Dean causing his brother to roll his eyes in return. He made the obligatory grumbles though he didn't mind being relegated to the backseat at least this one time. He stretched out his legs as his dad started the engine and pulled out behind Bobby, none of them noticing the small black cat that watched them leave with it's glowing, evil eyes.

The End I just wanted to say thanks for all the wonderful support you have given me with this story and seeing it through to the end. I can't tell you how much it meant to read your kind words of encouragement and the wonderful reviews you left. I'm still amazed that a story of mine actually went over 600 reviews.