Back For Good Chapter 10

And epilogue


'There are monsters and there are heroes, but most of us are ordinary mortals caught up in events too turbulent for any of us.

Perhaps one day all we will inherit are the ashes of a once beautiful land.'

-Wilbur Smith.


Slight recap from Dean's POV as we slouch ever onwards...

Dean's heart went from fast to hyper speed. Any faster and it was either going into orbit around the Earth, or more likely end up being ripped apart by the Earth's gravitation pull.


He raced back down the hall to his brother's room and body-slammed the door when the handle refused to budge.

I don't remember it being locked!

"Sam!" He charged the heavy door again and again, uncaring of the pain, finally hearing the lock give way and the heavy wood splinter in its hinges. One more shove, this time with Bobby's help when he caught up and the door gave way, flying back to collide with a loud bang against the wall.

Dean's eyes widened fearfully. "Sammy!"

His little brother hung limp and lifeless in Darcy's one handed grip on his throat, though judging by his eyes it certainly wasn't Darcy anymore. Dean could just about see Sam's face in profile and it was turning a frightening shade of purple, eyes half closed, and even in those few terrible seconds he heard his brother's last desperate squeaks of air before his eyes slid shut altogether.


The demon was talking but Dean paid no heed, anxious eyes fixed on his brother's slack face, willing him to wake up. C'mon Sammy please...

"Hey Dean..." Meg grinned in triumph when she finally caught and held his attention.

Then the room was full of black smoke.

Dean barely registered the dull thud as Darcy's body hit the floor, too intent on watching the demon possess his injured brother. He felt Bobby tense up beside him and shoved the older man back out in the hall.

"Start reading but don't let it see you!" He whispered harshly without taking his eyes off Sam.

The demon forced Sam's body to stand on his bandaged feet with a little more force than necessary it seemed to Dean, and he bit down on his anger, a silent reminder that Sam needed him not his fury.

"…wanna see Sam kill himself?" Black eyes regarded Dean with evil distain, the eerie smile that didn't quite belong to Sam widening with glee. "Ya go to hell for that ya know."

"NOOOO!" Dean heard himself screaming when the needle jammed into his brother's neck, watched the toxin enter Sam's bloodstream. The demon dropped the empty syringe, rolled Sam's neck, let out a sigh of satisfaction and seemed to almost slither across the floor towards Dean and he fought the urge to step back.

"Gotta love suicide huh Dean? It's a mortal sin." Meg hissed through Sam's mouth. "Little Sammy'll burn for it."

Dean gritted his teeth. "No he won't. You…"

Meg tilted Sam's head in a sharp jerky movement. "You think because he was possessed they'll let 'im into heaven?" A quick shake of the head and a smug grin made Dean clench his fists. "Nuhuh. Doesn't work that way big brother. Your ever so merciful God aint quite so merciful these days. Hasn't been for millions of years as I found out the hard way, so don't expect him to change now!"

"What you want me to do? Cry for ya? Aint gonna happen. And I aint your big brother!" Dean ground out. "You're not Sam."

"Makes no difference. Sam's dying, Dean, by his own hand. Those are the rules." Meg leaned in close, smelling so much like Sam that Dean had to fight back tears. "I can feel him inside, struggling against the poison. He's crying, in so much pain…dya know how much he hates you right now for letting this happen?"

Dean flinched, his back pressed against the wall, hadn't even realised he'd moved up until then. "Demons lie."

Sam-Meg lifted an eyebrow, pretending to consider that one. "Maybe, maybe not." It replied in a sing-song voice. "And by the way, that little nursery rhyme your friend Bobby's singing to me out there in the hall, can you ask him to speak up? I can barely hear 'im!" She pressed Sam's mouth to Dean's ear. "Just think, if it works you send me back to hell, Sam dies anyway…and I just know you'll follow on soon enough. It's in your heart, it's in your head brighter than a beacon, Dean. You know it; I know it….Sam knows it."

Dean's facial muscles bunched up in disgust, desperate to take a swing but not wanting to hurt his brother. And while he knew demons lied to mess with your head, he also knew this time he couldn't deny its truth; he would follow Sam, no matter what that entailed, no matter where it led him. It was his job, his privilege.

Bobby's voice grew louder and though Dean could've ordered him to stop, there was no way he was leaving his little brother like this. Unless they got her out Meg would stay inside Sam until the poison took hold and the damage became irreversible, if it wasn't already. Kathy hadn't been entirely certain on that one.

He was quite literally between the devil and the deep blue sea, but the exorcism carried the least risk to Sam, and this way there was a chance to save his life.

The demon took a sudden step back swinging Sam's arms out and twirling excitedly like a child.

"And that's what' about all this Dean! Don't you see it?" Sam's face was twisted in a parody of grim pleasure.

Not Sam...

"See what exactly?" Dean spat out in reply.

That smug grin again, the kind the school bully always wore before stealing your lunch money and shoving your head down the toilet. She flexed Sam's right hand at a medicine cabinet, its door flinging open. A scalpel unsheathed itself with a small crinkle of sterile wrapping and shot across the room, impaling Dean's shoulder and pinning him to the wall, eliciting a strangled growl of pain from his mouth.

"Feel that Dean?" Meg studied his face rather like a scientist studying bacteria under a microscope. "That's just a tickle compared to what awaits you downstairs."

"Sonofabitch!" Dean yanked on what little was showing of the scalpel hilt, trying unsuccessfully to free himself. "Bobby keep reading!" He yelled out when Bobby's voice faltered for a moment.

Sam's face twisted into that smile again and Dean's scalpel turned in unison. He bit off an agonised howl and did his best to listen in case there was something he could learn, something useful to help his brother.

"So I get sent back to hell, been there done that…" Meg shrugged casually, Sam's head playfully tipping from side to side. "But you boys will be with me….every…step…of the way…and whilst you're stuck there in perpetual torment…I can always find another way out." She laughed with Sam's vocal cords and Dean winced. "Ya Daddy says 'Hi' by the way. Says he can't wait to see you burning alongside him for all eternity like the useless little shits you really are."

She grinned at Dean's loud angry growl, loving how the blood drained from his face at the mention of his father.

Meg spread Sam's arms triumphantly in mock surrender. "See? I won't even fight you." Sam's eyebrows rose in amusement. "'Cos I win every time, Dean. Every godamned time!"

Bobby was practically shouting the final lines of the text when the demon waggled Sam's fingers at Dean.

"Say goodbye to little Sammy. For now." Sam's head jerked back, mouth snapped open as Meg was forced from his frail body, screaming in abject pain and misery, and as soon as she was out the black smoke was sucked into nothingness, disappearing right before Dean's eyes.

Back to hell.

The deadening silence that followed saw Dean leaping forward, finally wrenching his injured shoulder away from the wall, catching Sam in his arms and cradling him close. Bobby appeared in the doorway, dazed and weary, watching the tears roll slowly down Dean's face as rested his chin on his little brother's head.

"I'm so sorry kiddo..."

For the first few moments life was like a silent movie in slow motion, all black and white, the picture grainy, the film slowly jerking round the reel…

…until Dean discovered Sam's heart beat, his warmth, the slight hitched rise and fall of his chest as the kid fought to pull air through his ruined throat.

Dean pulled back and peered intently at Sam's face, once again turning purple from lack of oxygen. But his little brother was still fighting.

"Bobby get the doc in here now!" Dean laid Sam down on the floor, tilting his head back to ease his struggle. "That's it Sammy, you keep on fighting for me…don't give up. Don't let the bitch win this one!"


Turned out Kathy had been keeping a crash cart in Sam's room long after he even needed one. It sat dormant and long forgotten in the corner by the window gathering dust.

Until this moment, until it was needed again.

Kathy was already barking out questions before her knees even hit the floor beside the unconscious Winchester.

"How long…?" Bobby had filled her in about the syringe as they hurried together along the hallway and Dean understood the question without even looking at her, his eyes only for Sam.

"Just a few minutes, ten at most."

Kathy nodded to the nurse who accompanied her, and got to work. "We've got time; if I can get him on haemodialysis…" her voice trailed off as she examined her patient, movements becoming frantic when her hands encountered the immediate problem. "He's not breathing."

Spotting the dark blue bruises forming round Sam's neck she was already reaching for a sterile scalpel. "His larynx has swollen shut, she choked him?"

Still not looking at each other, Dean replied tightly "Yep, 'till he turned purple."

"Bitch!" Both Bobby and Dean did stare at her then, amazed at the vehemence in her tone and exchanged surprised glances.

"What can you do?" Dean's brief amusement gave way to Sam's plight.

"Tracheotomy." The doc answered shortly, and to the shock of his brother and Bobby proceeded to slit Sam's throat. Her gloved fingers worked gently but quickly at cutting a curvilinear incision between the sternal notch and cricoid cartilage, explaining what she was doing every step of the way. Dean shuddered at the sounds, hearing the wet sucking noises of blood slipping against flesh, hoping like hell Sam couldn't feel it.

'Cos that's gotta hurt like a bitch.

But he stayed with it, watching the procedure in full unable to leave his brother for a moment, not even in his own head. Finally Kathy was inserting the tracheotomy tube, inflating the cuff to open Sam's airway, and the nurse was tightly securing the whole contraption by winding medical tape round the kid's neck.

Sam remained still and pale, lips blue, slack and parted slightly as though still trying to breathe normally through his mouth.

Dean and Bobby waited anxiously while the doc hooked the protruding tube to the ventilator on the crash cart and as soon as Sam's chest started rising and falling easily, taking in a full lungful of air, she gave them no time to feel relieved, reminded them there was still too much to go wrong.

"Let's get to him to the renal unit." She uttered urgently. With Dean and Bobby helping, the nurse and Doc Grey hoisted Sam back onto his bed, raising the guard rails and fixing his torn IVs back in place.

It was only as they were hurriedly wheeling his little brother from the room that for the first time Dean acknowledged the young male doctor and nurse working on Darcy's still form. The old guy's lips were blue, face ashen, body lifeless. The medals on his unmoving chest gleamed dully in the bedroom light. Dean turned sadly and ran after his brother without looking back.

Poor guy risked his life, fought in every kind of war imaginable and this is the thanks he gets?

No wonder Dad was a cynical bastard.

Medals mean nothing when you've lost everything.


"Here ya go kid." Bobby handed Dean his coffee. Kathy had given him his own special mug after Sam's first few weeks at the home, claiming he might as well have something a little more permanent.

It bore the legend: Big Brother Means Big Trouble.

It was a stupid joke that made him laugh at the time when Sam was slowly recovering, but now it wasn't quite so funny.

"Thanks Bobby," Dean whispered tiredly, rubbing an eye and stifling a yawn.

"Any news?" He felt the older man sit down beside him.

"Nah, s'only been six hours. They're still monitoring him." Dean bit his lip and breathed in a shaky breath, wondering when the hell this was all going to end. "He, uh…he had a little trouble with his vent, but I think its ok now. They've managed to remove seventy percent of the drug, now we're just waiting for the rest, see if there was any permanent damage…" His voice trailed off, feeling hopeless.

Kathy and the nurse in place of Nora, who Dean now knew as Toni, had stayed with Sam throughout the entire dialysis in case of complications. It meant there was no room for Sam's brother but Dean found he couldn't really object. The two people most qualified in the world to keep Sam alive weren't giving up on him, weren't leaving. That was all he could ask for.

Bobby nodded, not knowing quite what to say. Dean wearily put his coffee mug down on the floor by the chair, then leaned forward, burying his face in both hands.

Looking away to afford dignity, but gently squeezing the kid's shoulder in comfort at the sound of quiet, desperately muffled sobs, Bobby remained silent waiting for the older brother to compose himself.

"Bitch knew what she was doin', I gotta hand to 'er." Dean finally muttered through clenched teeth, and he sniffed angrily. "Chokin' 'im, making sure we couldn't save 'im even if we got her out in time to stop the drug." He swiped viciously at his tears.

"Didn't work though Dean; Kathy acted quickly, knew what she was doin'." Bobby offered quietly, voice strong nonetheless. "And Sam's a tough kid with a stubborn-ass big brother who didn't let him give up…" He shrugged as if that answered everything. "Aint no way Meg was gonna win up against that."

Nodding slowly, mouth gradually turning up at the corners, Dean was about to answer him when Kathy appeared in the doorway to the dialysis unit and he got to his feet instead, anxiously awaiting the verdict.

C'mon Sammy…

In reply to his silent question, she smiled warmly, kind eyes crinkling at the edges.

Dean triumphantly punched the air with his fist, eyes glowing, grin genuine. The only thing that stopped him whooping loudly and running up and down the corridor like a lunatic was the thought of disturbing the other patients.

That and...well…it just wasn't cool.


Dean gently pushed open the door and slipped into the room. To his surprise Sam was awake, bleary eyes staring at the ceiling, looking rather dazed.

"Hey. Why aren't you sleeping little bro?" Dean shifted his backside onto Sam's bed, right knee hooked on the edge, left leg dangling. "You should be resting."

Sam turned his head slightly, mouth twitching up into a tired smile as he opened his mouth and froze. Dean watched frightened confusion cross his brother's face, swiftly followed by defeat when he remembered the trach tube and the hole in his throat. Instead Sam nodded slowly and grimaced in discomfort.

Dean let it slip by for his brother's sake.

"Ya know, we only got half way round Wildheath. And your canine pal's been asking after ya." One of Dean's hands was suddenly encased in one of Sam's, squeezing gently. "You wanna go back finish off our visit some day?"

Another nod, smile a little more enthusiastic.

"We owe that mutt a doggy treat at least huh?" The smirk on Dean's face faded into something more serious and reached out to stroke Sam's scalp. "We owe 'im hell of a lot more than that."

Sam's eyes, already red-rimmed and sore, filled with tears.

"God Sammy I'm so sorry. I can't believe I left you in there with her." His older brother's voice shook with remorse. "And I fucking told her how to get to you, to get to Darcy. Why the hell wasn't I more careful?"

Sam let go Dean's hand to place it on his shoulder, not knowing how else to comfort him. His eyes widened when Dean suddenly hissed in pain and Sam started scrabbling at his brother's shirt, pushing aside the material, until his fingers finally brushed against the thick bandaging. Staring, eyes swivelling between the injured shoulder and Dean's face, he started slowly shaking his head, tears spilling over.

"I 'member...I h-huurrtt y-you," Sam whispered painfully. How in hell he managed it Dean would never figure out but it had to hurt him. He could sense the kid withdrawing; closing himself off into a world filled with guilt.

"No! Sammy don't think that!" He grabbed Sam's chin. "Hey! Look at me...look at me damnit!"

Sam turned his troubled gaze on him at last and Dean sighed with worry.

"Now you listen to me ok? It wasn't you." He pointed to his shoulder. "That wasn't you. It was Meg. You had no say in it, ya hear me? So stop it. Stop blaming yaself."


"And no trying to talk either," Dean finished softly. "Sound like ya gotta damn spike stuck down there." He shuddered dramatically. "You tryin' to freak me out? 'Cos that's just wrong dude!"


The day of the funeral was hard on everyone. For the sake of the patients and staff still working their shifts a memorial service was held on the grounds, right outside Sam's room. He was still way too sick to attend the ceremonies and Dean really regretted that. The kid needed some kind of closure.

So Dean stayed in Sam's room that day, leaving the windows open and out of respect lit a few candles. He spoke the Lord's Prayer, hoped no would blame him for thinking only of his brother, for being thankful he survived. And Dean was yet again reminded of his brother's persistence and determination as Sam fought like hell to hold back his tears.

So damn proud of you...

The memorial service was way too emotional and if he was honest, Dean thought it was the biggest load of crap since The Waltons, but there was something about it all that day in particular.

Sam needed this and for once Dean felt something...

His brother survived.

"You ok Sammy?"

Sam remained still for a long moment, face turned to the service outside the open French windows. Honest, scared eyes met Dean's. "We still got each other right?" he whispered, the trach tube shaking a little.

Dean knew what he was asking and couldn't blame him after everything had happened. He really didn't want to do this, but no matter how hard he tried to avoid it he couldn't deny his little brother deserved a chick flick moment.

Dean's hand landed on his for a brief moment, the other reaching over to wipe away a stray tear from Sam's face.

"Yeah kiddo. We got each other and no one gets in the way of that."

Music wound gently through the open French windows in memorial of the young chef and nurse, innocents who'd lost their lives protecting the Winchesters. Not to Dean's taste but...

...when he glanced out the window, people were laying roses on a memorial post...white and red...and he just couldn't stop his heart...feeling....

There's nothing I could say to make you try and feel ok
And nothing you could do to stop me feeling the way I do
And if the chance should happen that I never see you again
Just remember that I'll always love you.

I'd be a better person on the other side I'm sure
You'd find a way to help yourself
Then find another door
So shrug off minor incidents
Make us both feel proud
I just wish I could be there to see u through

You always were the one to make us stand out in the crowd
Though every once upon a while your head was in a cloud
There's nothing u could never do to ever let me down
And remember that I'll always love you

( - Badly Drawn Boy.)

Exchanging a quick glance with his brother, Dean knew Sam got it. He didn't have to say another word.

War's coming and Dad's not here to fight it...

But I'm right here with ya bro...

We fight together, we go down together.

"So...there's some serious porn on TV tonight, and Trent's swinging buy for some Blackjack, some beer, made your favourite cheesecake...."

And Sam chuckled in a rough whisper, just in relief, and Dean tried not to wince at the painful rasping.

"Don't worry Sammy, I'll save you a piece."

Just glad things had a chance of getting back to normal.

For a little while.

For however long a little while lasted.


The good news was that Andrew Darcy was tougher than anyone gave him credit for. He was the first to attend the funerals of trainee chef Christina Morrison and Nurse Nora Calvert. The old guy had made it through somehow, but his now permanently bent head and slumped shoulders told Dean it wouldn't be long for him. Darcy had been put through too much and he'd had enough.

Sam wasn't fairing much better but the kid was young and strong, and Dean didn't care what it took or how long they would have to wait until his little brother was up and about. The tracheotomy wound looked uncomfortable as hell and Sam was clearly pissed at being fed through a gastric tube in his stomach. Dean barely slept, unable to lose the adrenaline pump that set up home in his bloodstream from when Sam first went missing. His brother was still acutely sick from Meg's drugs and underwent dialysis several times a week to help clear his system; Kathy kept him dosed up on morphine to fight the pain and the poor kid was groggy and emotionally fragile most of the time.

Once Sam was finally taken off the vent the first thing he did was ask to speak to Andrew Darcy. Dean didn't know what transpired in that conversation and didn't ask, but Sam seemed lighter somehow as though a weight had been lifted. But the old man appeared so frail these days, the events of the possession having taken its toll and the guilt he felt over the deaths of Tina and Nora were more than likely responsible for the new dark shadows under his eyes. Both Sam and Darcy felt guilty for daring to survive what two women had lost their lives to and Dean barely bit back a snort of derision at the sheer craziness of that one.

It was sad, Dean reflected quietly. Darcy sought comfort by talking to Sam and vice versa but it didn't halt the old war-hero's steady decline and he passed away peacefully a few months later, leaving an extremely bereft Sam.

His little brother was making slow progress however, the drug's effects gradually filtering out, and his feet continued to heal nicely all things considered. Dean sat with him, talking quietly and making sure Sam didn't have to use his voice too much while the surgical wound in his throat was closing up.

Bobby, Kathy and Trent, along with some of the other residents became regular visitors and as time moved on, the healing continued and laughter could often be heard echoing down the hallway from Sam's room, and eventually the youngest Winchester was able to indulge in his love for Blackberry cheesecake.

"Here ya go mate," Trent announced one evening, not long after the vent came out. "One blackberry cheesecake of your very own." And placed it on Sam's tray.

Eyes gleaming with appreciation, Sam took a long deep sniff and raised an eyebrow. "What's that extra ingredient?" He raised it up to his nose and took another sniff. "Wow! Smells great!"

Trent folded him arms and nodded, please with the response. "Blackberry liqueur with a hint of orange."

Dean scratched his chin. "I'm not sure Sam should be eating that if there's alcohol involved. He's still on some heavy duty medication." He reached out to remove the cheesecake and chortled loudly when Sam slapped his hand away, scowling and protecting his favourite dessert with both arms.

"As of now," Sam growled in retort. "You so much as look at it without asking..."

"Ok ok!" Dean raised both hand in supplication, still laughing. He was quite content with the cherry and cinnamon pie the head chef brought by earlier but it was always fun to rile his little brother. "I'll leave you and your cheesecake in peace. So Trent! What're we playing tonight?"

The young chef pulled out a dog-eared pack of playing cards and began shuffling, winking at Sam who continued to eye his brother with suspicion. "How 'bout poker? Jim and the others'll be along soon." Sam was the newest member of the Saturday night club, since he could now actually speak and stay awake for longer periods. The kitchen crew had willingly moved the venue from the restaurant to the younger Winchester's room so he could join in the fun. Sam still tired easily but he was at least comfortable, could take a nap whenever he needed, and Dean just felt happier keeping him close by.

The Saturday games night, along with other various clubs throughout the home, had suspended activity for quite some weeks after the death of Tina and Nora, mainly out of respect but partly because no one was in the mood. But later it was seen as an essential morale boost, a tribute to the women who died, and the middle finger to Meg. On the run up to his death even Darcy had attended a few nights with Kathy at the old guy's side, keeping a close eye on him.

All were determined the enemy wouldn't win, that life would carry on.


It would be a long while before Sam was well enough to visit Wildheath again but that didn't stop his brother from pulling some ludicrous stunts...

"Hey Sam? Got another visitor."

"Huh?" Sam glanced up from his laptop when Dean poked his head round the door, large innate grin stretching across his face. Sam cleared his throat, smiling back. "Who?" he croaked loudly, throat still rather sore these days.

"Keep your voice down Kermit!" Dean hissed back loudly, flapping a hand at him. "Kathy doesn't know about him so..."

Suddenly the door was pushed open and a large black glistening nose appeared followed by beseeching eyes, long hairy body and an extremely waggy tail.

Any attempts Dean made to keep the visit under wraps went straight out the window when the huge Belgian Shepherd caught sight of Sam and let out a loud joyful "WWWoooffff!"

And bounced playfully across the room. Paws the size of dinner plates landed on Sam's comforter as the gentle giant leapt up eagerly, the entire bed shaking from the impact.

Dean studied his brother with amused interest. An honest to God fully grown man giggling like a girl at the fur ball's antics, which included burying his nose in Sam's neck or swiping its tongue over the kid's cheek.

"Ya know Sammy I think Rabble's been fed on steroids?" Dean sat down in his usual spot by Sam's bed, and reached over to scratch the shepherd's ears, who promptly swooned in delight, small growls and snuffles of appreciation filling the room. "It can't be natural for a dog to be that damn huge."

"'His name's Rabble? Huh. Suits 'im." Sam grinned happily. "Anyhow, Newfoundlands are bigger, and then there's Great Dane's." He shrugged.

"Hmm." Dean raised an eyebrow in consideration. "Scooby Doo does come up to Shaggy's waist..." then smirked at Sam, "you two make a great couple!" He started chortling away. "You even look alike."

"Gee thanks." Sam replied sarcastically. "Feel good does it? Making fun of your sick brother? Shame on you."

Rabble gave another deep woof of agreement and appeared to turn his long nose up at Dean, trampled the bed space next to Sam in a large circle several times and flopped down, panting softly, long legs dangling over the edge of the bed.

"Comfortable are we?" An amused voice from the doorway made all three glance over, Sam and Dean somewhat sheepishly and Rabble a little triumphantly. The dog's wide grin suggested that here he was and here he was going to stay, and just you try getting rid of me!

Kathy tried her best to look annoyed but it was an impossible task. Sam looked happy and contented with the over-sized ball of fluff lying next to him, chuckling like a little boy, his eyes gleaming as he stroked the dog's soft coat. Dean just looked happy that Sam was happy, like that was all he cared about in the entire world.

Probably is! Kathy thought with amusement as she pushed away from the doorframe and sauntered on over.

"You really shouldn't be here puppy-face," She announced softly, grabbing the big dog's long muzzle and looking deep into his big soft eyes. "Oh God! Shouldn't have done that. That's it, I'm a gonna." She glared at Sam accusingly. "He's worse than you!"

Sam's mouth dropped open in surprise. "What did I do?"

Dean snorted something that sounded like "puppyeyes" under his breath, earning a glare from his younger brother.

"Boys you better hide that damn dog before the doc..." Bobby skidded to a halt just inside the door, his mouth slamming shut. "Uh...ahem." He touched the peak of his cap to Kathy, face a little red and guilty looking. "M'am." He said slowly and respectfully, feet shifting nervously.

"Might've known there was an accomplice." Kathy muttered, trying her hardest to keep a straight face. "I suppose he can stay, provided'" she held out a finger pointing it at the shepherd, who merely took that as an invitation to lavish large kisses all over her hand with his huge tongue, "he behaves himself, no running round the place, barking loudly and annoying the other residents....stop that!" And promptly let out a squealed giggle when the dog got to its feet on Sam's bed and started washing her face.

"Pfffttt!" Sam spat out dog hairs when a tail like a giant feather duster smothered his face as Rabble turned round again, "plf cn u gt ou ma fce..."

Dean smirked and leaned forward, hand cupped to his ear. "What? Didn't catch that."

Finally batting the dog's tail away, Sam glared at him. "I said...Never mind!" Then grinned when Rabble shifted again and Dean was subjected to the same torment.

"Hey lads!" Trent shuffled into the room, pulling a heavily laden food trolley with him. "You ready for lunch? Roast lamb in mint and ros...aghhhh!" he screamed out and found himself on his back gazing up into a hairy face with a long nose; he wondered why everyone was laughing instead of helping when he was being attacked by a monster. "Er..." Its mouth opened to reveal a set of sharp fangs "Guys?" a huge tongue descended "a little help here?" and swiped a wet, drooling trail up the side of his face. "Eeewwww!"

"I think Rabble smelt the food and got a bit over excited..." Sam began, but Rabble, clearly dissatisfied with licking the human to death showed some mercy, and began pulling at the cloth on the trolley, teeth clamped down and tossing his head from side to side, whilst Trent just lay there staring at the huge hungry dog, too petrified to move. Dean couldn't stop laughing and just sat back in his chair, snorting along with his brother; and Kathy and Bobby were making a move to intercept and save the food when the unthinkable happened.

Rabble finally got his way with one final tug, metal clanged and rattled as the roasting dish complete with lid overturned and the roasted leg of lamb didn't even have time to hit the floor. The dog caught it artfully in his teeth, adjusted to get a firm grip and trotted from the room with the Aussie chef chasing after him, threatening all kinds of retribution if he didn't drop it now!

"Trent!" Kathy yelled out as she darted after him, dragging Bobby with her. "Don't let 'im out for God sake, it'll be havoc out there!"

Suddenly Dean wasn't laughing, brows pulled down into a furious scowl. "That damn dog just made off with our lunch!" his stomach gave a loud grumble in protest "sonfoabitch!"

Sam shook his head, still laughing his ass off. "I'm sure there's plenty left Dean."

"Not the point," his brother mumbled irritably. "Wasting good food on a mutt..."

"A mutt that saved my life Dean." Sam made his meaningful face.

"Yeah..." Dean sighed and nodded slowly. "Guess I can live with that."

The brother's smiled at each other just as Rabble bounded back on by the doorway, grinning happily around his ill gotten prize with Trent following on waving his arms and swearing, Bobby and Kathy in hot pursuit. By this time several of the more mobile residents had joined in the fun and appeared to be enjoying themselves for the first time in years. It was like watching a Benny Hill sketch minus the scantily clad women as dog and humans raced back and forth, and the boys just caught glimpses through the open door.

The brother's could still hear angry shouts and loud joyful barks as the chase finally continued along the hall, into the next wing and out into the gardens.

"Well there's always potatoes," Sam commented hopefully, hungry eyes fixed on the trolley. "Roast and mash knowing Trent."

Distantly, through the open window, they heard Kathy yell out "No...not the bloody rose garden!" She was answered by a deep"woof woof woof" and it sounded like the dog was laughing at her...

Dean appeared to consider that. "Yeah," he moved across the room to peer under the next cloth. There was another large roasting dish under a metal lid. "Hey! We got some warm beef here." He sniffed. "Smells like honey and mustard; he was trying that out last week."

"You little bastard when I get hold of you I'll turn you into hot dogs!" Trent, tenacious chef that he was, still hadn't given up trying to retrieve the leg of lamb. Nearby could be heard pounding feet and Bobby Singer grumbling, wondering how in hell he got dragged into this in the first place...

"Sounds like they're having fun out there huh?" Sam muttered round a mouthful of green beans and Dean generously poured some gravy on to his brother's mash potatoes.

"Yep and getting some exercise," Dean grinned, sat back to enjoy their feast and grabbed the TV remote, "Ah! Diagnosis Murder....a classic!"

"Hey I know this one!" Sam replied enthusiastically, "This is the one where..."

"Don't tell me!"Dean scowled. "I aint seen it yet bitch!"

More pounding feet and "oh no! Don't you dare!"

Sam frowned and glanced out the window but couldn't see what was happening. "What's going on out there?"

Dean shrugged, totally engrossed in his food and Dick Van Dyke. "Who cares? Eat up Sammy before it gets cold."

Sam smiled...

It sounded like a standoff.

"Rabble? Good doggy, that's it..." Kathy was using her reasonable voice, mistakenly thinking it would work on a two hundred pound canine with a mischievous streak a mile wide. "That's it...there's a good dog...nononondon'tyoudaredigholesinmygarden..."

Woof, woof woof!!!

The boys grinned at each other.


Weeks seemed to swim by. Bobby had been disappearing off for days at a time and the boys wondered if he was hunting, but it soon became apparent what he'd been up to when he turned up on their last day in his tow truck, the Impala restored to its former glory secured on the back.

Dean had shamelessly blubbed his gratitude and Sam smirked when his brother damn near made out with the car, breathing in the scent of fresh paint and leather upholstery like a glue sniffer.

"Dude," and Sam shook just his head laughing, not knowing what else to say.

It was time to leave and the brothers felt completely ambivalent about it. This place had become a home to them both, but they had work to do.

There were the inevitable sad goodbyes from Trent and his staff, the nurses and retired hunters, and Dean expected that. But what really got to him, was Sam.

He'd found him by the memorial stone in the garden, now with Andrew Darcy's name carved below the others. Something told him the list wouldn't end there.

There would be more names joining them soon.

"The nature of war." Sam uttered without turning and Dean was no longer surprised he sensed his presence. "That's what Darcy told me. We don't get to choose when we fight. We just have to fight if we want to survive. Guess Dad had a point huh?"

Dean stayed quiet for a long moment as his brother wept silently and wished like hell for what could never be. Eventually he stepped forward to stand beside Sam.

He couldn't feel guilty for his selfishness; his needs were simple. Sam was alive, strong and healthy. Again.

He was back for good.

"Yeah he had a point Sammy," he replied softly, hand on the younger man's shoulders in support. "But he didn't always go the right ways 'bout provin' it."

Sam just nodded and the brothers had stood there together in respectful silence, feeling overwhelmed at all they'd learned during their stay.

But one important fact rose above all others:

They weren't alone in this and, as it turned out, never had been.

Sixty years had proved that.


"You got everything you need?" Doc Grey stared up into Dean's face worriedly. She didn't bother telling him they could always come back. It was a given.

Stretching an arm along her shoulders, pulling her into his chest and pressing an affectionate kiss on the side of her head, Dean softly replied "Yeah."

And that was it.

Bobby cleared his throat. "I've upgraded the protection round here, should last for a while..." his voice trailed off in sadness. "I'm sorry. Just don't know..." he hung his head. It felt like a betrayal to leave them.

But the doc stood brave, strong and determined.

"We've stood for sixty years and we might stand for sixty more, but it's a war in the making. Once it's here there's no stopping it and my grandfather's legacy will fall. This place...the Sanctuary... will no longer be a safe haven." Kathy gazed at them with sudden sadness, "nowhere will be safe for hunters. It's inevitable and we all knew that. Right from the start."

Dean watched as his little brother nodded sadly, gratefully enfolding the doc in a big bear hug.

Kathy stepped back, eyes turned to that hard professional gleam for the first time in months. "I won't tell you to look out for each other. You've already done that."

Then she was watching as the newly restored Impala growled to life, and slunk off the premises for the last time, Bobby's truck following on.

Stay safe...survive.


Author's notes:

Not quite sure I got the quote exactly right from one of Wilbur Smith's novels 'cos I read it a long time ago as a teenager, but I hope it was close.

The ending to this one isn't my usual cheery style but I thought I'd try something different, and I hope the Benny Hill style scene with Rabble made up for it.

Sad to see this end but now I can really get stuck into my other project. Its Top Secret so don't ask!

Many thanks to all who reviewed, anonymous or otherwise. Your support is greatly appreciated and means so much to me.

Kind regards,

ST xxx