A/N: RL is still a bit nuts, but after this is posted I'll be able to start tackling all of the notes I owe to people. Thank you so much for all of your words of encouragement throughout the story.

And a side note. When this first started I said that I would try to show how each character perceived themselves and perceived each other. And to show that none of the three was ever completely right or completely wrong. I hope I've achieved that. Along those same lines, I should say that if Sam's reasoning for thinking about college seems a bit too altruistic and selfless, remember that this is how he perceives himself. I'm sure there were some elements of selfishness involved, even if he couldn't admit that to himself. Don't get me wrong—I'm one of those people who admires Sam for sticking to guns. Okay, I admit, I love the guy. But I don't think he was a saint. It would be pretty boring if he was.

Now that the show seems to be revealing a bit more about John, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they don't come out with something that blows my version out of the water.

Warning: Wait…let me think…oh yeah. Cursing. And defamation of mythological creatures.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. The incredible fun of playing with them is the only profit I receive from the story

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From Chapter 21:

The possibilities of thinking outside of the box were endless. Who's to say they couldn't have a home and still hunt? Who's to say he couldn't coerce Dean into picking up a couple of college courses? Who's to say he and Dean couldn't stand shoulder to shoulder with Dad as partners instead of his 'good little soldiers'?

Yeah, this was a future he could definitely live with.

Eric had gone back to quietly munching on his cookie and sipping his coffee after dropping his little bombshell of an idea into Sam's lap, but he looked up at the sound of Sam's soft laughter. His eyebrows shot up when he took in Sam's expression. "Yo, dude! Somebody slip some happy juice into your coffee? Where'd Captain Emo go?"

Sam's smile broadened, dimples biting deep into his cheeks. "I kicked his sorry ass out of here. Hurry up and finish your food. I want to head back to your house and talk to your dad about a couple of things."

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Epilogue: Side By Side

The screen door smacked against its frame with a solid bang behind him as Sam leapt off of the porch.

"SAM!"

Dean's roar blasted out of the cabin, the harsh sound splitting the calm afternoon.

"SORRY!" Sam yelled over his shoulder, holding in a laugh. "I'M OUTTA HERE BEFORE HE SAYS GIMPY HAS TO COME WITH ME!"

He barely caught the sound of John's laughter as he sprinted down the long dirt driveway. His muscles warmed, pulled into a delicious stretch as he began to push his pace, his feet hitting a hard rhythm against the ground.

The hell with taking it slow to warm up. It just felt too damn good to be outside, running on his own again. Tying on his running shoes had been like greeting an old friend, the long muscles of his legs jumping with anticipation, a slow thrum of excitement speeding his breath.

He'd run with Dean at his side the day before, but that was different. It was tough to lose yourself in the run when your brother spent most of the distance crowding close to you so he could make sure you were breathing okay. The highlight had definitely been when Dean was too focused on Sam to notice the small vine that managed to hook his own foot, sending him flying into a spectacular belly flop onto the soft earth of the trail. Sam had been laughing so hard at his brother's outraged splutters that he'd almost missed the quick yip of laughter that came from the woods next to the trail.

Dean had paid a little more attention to the trail and less to Sam after that, and Sam had finished the run with a smile pulling constantly at the corner of his mouth. The small bruises on both of Dean's knees had Dean whining and moving in an exaggerated hobble for the rest of the day. And the first half of the next day. The guy could fight off a pissed off poltergeist with a hole in his shoulder and blood running down his face without a single whimper. But put a black and blue on his knee and he turned into a two year old.

Sam must have passed the Dean spirometer test, because today John had given the green light for Sam to start running alone again. With certain precautions. The small fanny pack anchored above his tail bone was loaded. Cell phone, albuterol inhaler, a new folding iron knife. He knew he wouldn't need any of the items, but if it made both of his moms feel better than he had no problem with wearing it. He was just glad the two other men hadn't figured out a way to stick a container of chicken soup into it.

His pace ate up the ground along the side of the road. It was a straight stretch, the packed earth a smooth surface, and he closed his eyes as he ran. He tilted his head back slightly and the sunshine was warm and soft, washing over his face and the skin of his chest and shoulders revealed by his tank top. A slow smile grew and he latched on to it, stretching his arms out to the side for just a second as though he was embracing the magnificent afternoon and the way it made him feel.

The smile grew fierce and he looked forward again, blowing out a quick breath and pouring it on. His muscles responded to the command and he was flying down the road, his body straining as he pushed himself. The all out sprint ended as he veered onto the side path through the trees and he slowed to an easier pace as the shade enveloped him, welcoming him into its fragrant coolness.

The afternoon came to life around him, the breeze stirring the leaves and the birds flitting through the branches. He slowed as he neared the spot where the almost hidden trail to the fae glade branched off. It had been inaccessible when he passed with Dean the day before, the underbrush an unbroken line of thorny vines. With a small jolt of surprise he'd finally understood just how wide the fae had opened the door for him on the day he followed the deer.

Any doubts he might have had about his welcome on that trail today were dispelled when a small form darted across his path, just a blur of reddish orange that disappeared into the newly reformed opening. But not before a flip of the luxurious tail offered a challenge and Sam's smile broke wide again.

The opening was wide and inviting, the usually concealed path stretching away from it broad and uncluttered. There was no sign of the thorny vines or stubby roots that had made his first trip down it a challenge. His stride lengthened and he flew around the corner, his eyes picking out the movement of a sleek form on his right. The fox raced next to him, dodging trees and undergrowth with ease, and Sam picked up speed.

He knew that it was a mock competition, the fox could leave him in the dust if he wanted. But he didn't want. He seemed to be enjoying the shared run as much as Sam was.

They reached the point where the undergrowth fell away and they were racing through the forest cathedral, the domed roof supported by sturdy wooden trunks and the choir's song provided by the birds and insects. The canopy fractured the hazy light like stained glass and the damp earth and flowers were incense in the air.

He could see his companion more clearly now as the creature flew over the open areas of soft moss and vining flowers. The fox's mouth was open as it ran, the corners arcing upwards in an obvious grin. The pointed face turned his way, and silver eyes locked with his as the fairy's smile curved higher. Sam let the feelings wash over him. The beauty of the world around him, pride at the strength he could feel in his own straining body, a fierce sense of freedom, it was a heady mix and a joy that rivaled the fox's filled Sam's chest. It burst from him in a loud whoop and the fox began to intersperse his steady run with wild leaps in his own display of high spirits.

Sprite's eyes narrowed and he dodged suddenly to the left, darting across the path directly in front of Sam. The teenager launched himself into a graceful leap, clearing the furry form easily and saving himself from an embarrassing swan dive. His burst of laughter was matched by the fae's delighted yips. It was as though the outright play opened the door into another realm. Gentle laughter was carried on the breeze that whispered past them and scattered soft chimes sounded around him as seemingly empty spots of air began to glow in the filtered sunlight. The stream rushing on his right provided a music all its own and he could faintly hear lilting voices singing in the watery notes.

He recognized the gift that was being given to him, the thank you being offered, and he slowed to a sedate pace as he neared the glade holding the oak, ash, and thorn. He would not burst into the Queen's presence like an out of control child. She deserved greater respect from him. He could do nothing about his sweaty and slightly disheveled state, but it was an honest sweat that grew out of a profound joy to be alive, and he knew she would not be offended.

The trail opened into the magical glade and Sam halted at the edge of the small clearing. Titaniea stood next to the hawthorn tree that Sam firmly believed was the one brought from Ireland by James Chatsworth almost one hundred years before. The finery that she had worn to accept tributes on Oiche Fheile Eoin was gone, the simple green dress in its place. Her eyes settled on him, the green gaze sparking a rush of warmth that was fed by her slow smile.

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The boy stopped at the edge of the clearing and Titaniea could not help the pleasure that filled her. Her love of mortals was well known, written of in lore and legend. But this beautiful boy pulled at her heart even more than most.

She cocked her head to the side and examined him. No, no longer a boy. The weight of responsibility sat well on his broad shoulders. He had grown into a man. So like her Geroid, a comely form and a heart that loved to laugh, a quick wit and controlled strength.

She missed her son with a pain that gnawed at her.

Sprite circled once around her feet before settling on his haunches next to her, his thick tail wrapping around to cover his front paws. The man…Sam Winchester…watched from his place at the edge of the clearing, the corners of his mouth tilting upward. His great youth reemerged when he smiled, an innocence that he would no doubt be shocked to learn he still possessed. She sighed softly because there lay the chasm between this newly minted man and her own son. Her Geroid no longer harbored such carefree innocence. He knew what they faced.

"You are well?" she asked softly, motioning towards one of the large rocks next to the stream. She settled herself onto one of the others as he approached so that he would not be shy about sitting in her presence.

He moved with a grace that was unusual among mortals, although she had seen the same beauty of movement displayed by his father and brother. "I'm fine," he said as he sank down onto his stone seat.

A small gust of laughter burst from her at the sly wit in his eyes as he delivered that much bemoaned reply. "Yes, this time I believe that you are."

Sam fixed her with a steady stare and she warmed under it. They were in an age where the fae kept their own counsel and mainly avoided the sons of Mil, and it was a rare and pleasant experience to be in the company of one who showed respect but not fear. "I think I would be even better if you could tell me exactly what is going on around here."

Respect left part of his comment unspoken, but it shone in his eyes. He had proven himself in myriad ways, and had earned the right to the knowledge she held. She was well aware of just how much he deserved her trust. The fae had been watching his family in their lonely cabin since the father's youth. They'd seen the difficulty that filled the father's life on his visits, the same harsh acts he in turn visited upon his own sons as the cycle repeated.

She knew of the closeness between the brothers before she ever met them, of their skills and intelligence. Of their great courage. And she knew of the pain that knowledge of the fae had brought into their lives. She knew of the arguments, the brutal words, the narrow minded teachings that had been forced upon both brothers. Sam Winchester's brother accepted and believed his father's false wisdom, as was the proper response of the eldest son. But her beautiful young man properly filled the role of the youngest, questioning and rebelling, forming his own judgments.

It was not an easy path that he had set himself upon, but it was the path that was meant to be.

Mortals were quick to be awed by the appearance of the fae, by their natural powers. But occasionally there were mortals who sparked the same awe in her. This youth was one of them. As was the brother who had fought against everything he believed because of his love and responsibility for his younger sibling.

This young man did deserve to know the truth that threatened his mortal realm. At least as much of it as she could share.

May his gods protect him.

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Titaniea broke her long silence with a soft sigh and anticipation clenched his gut.

"On the night that you fought those foul creatures at our side you spoke of two paths that the future might have followed, both involving betrayal. You never spoke of the third path. That you might tell the truth to your father and my kind retreat from this place and into our own realm, out of his reach until any threat from him had passed. Even if it meant withdrawing from this world until your father's time in it was done, in our realm we could have arranged it so that it was little more than a blink of the eye to us." She tilted her head and gave him a gentle smile. "You know that I favor you and would have done anything in my power to spare you the depth of unearned pain that your solution brought to you. And yet you did not ask me to follow that third path. Can you tell me why?"

Confusion stole his breath as Sam's mind sought the answer to her simple question. Yeah, he'd thought of that third possibility, but it had never entered his mind to request that of her. Somehow, some part of him, had sensed that the fae's presence in this time and in this place was essential. "I d—don't know," he stammered slightly. His eyes narrowed at a sudden thought. "Something made me believe that you were supposed to be here, that it was important that I not do anything to disturb that."

She laughed at the suspicion on his face. "Those beliefs were not our doing. I give my word that through all of this we have never influenced you in that manner."

A slow blush crept up his face. He believed her.

"You have great intuition inside of you…perhaps even more that that." Her last words were a soft murmur but she continued before he could question them. "You have much knowledge of the old legends, I will not repeat detail that could fill many volumes. The answers you seek will be found in the bits that I tell you."

Sam nodded. He'd been back working at the Jacobs' house since his confinement at the cabin had been lifted. He'd combined his own personal research with the work for the professor, buffing up his knowledge of the major legends.

"In the history of my kind there came a time when we found a land that was most pleasing to us…a place in this realm where we were meant to be. Our offer to share with those who occupied the land was turned away and so we fought to claim it, much as they had fought to take it from others who had come before them. My people have many of the same failings as mortals, the same weaknesses. We were victorious but our king was injured in the struggle and we foolishly put another in his place. Our new king shared a part of his heritage with a darker race that had long held our new home in a tight grip, demanding tributes."

Apparently the tendency to see history in a light most flattering to your own kind was a trait the fae shared with mere mortals. Sam had read many of the old accounts, some very convincing texts stating that Titaniea's people were actually allied for a time with that 'darker race', and that the placement of the king was a political move that backfired.

"The tributes were increased. Our new king would enslave our people, bankrupt our land, serving his greater loyalty to those dark creatures," she spat out, her green eyes flashing. "Our rightful king was restored and the tyrant fled to those loathsome creatures to raise an army against us." Her demeanor grew somber and a chill went down Sam's back. "The battle was long and hard. We lost many. So many of our champions. Our king. All lost…" Her silvery voice trailed off and Sprite lowered himself to lie at her feet, his snout resting on his paws.

Sam sat quietly. He was familiar with Cath Tánaiste Maige Tuired, the tale of the battle that she described. His heart thundered in his chest and his skin alternated between flashes of hot and cold. He thought of how Professor J would be in tears if he was sitting here. To have one of the central elements of centuries of lore confirmed by a fae queen… Student or experienced academic, it didn't matter. This was the stuff of dreams. He wanted to ask her of the names so long attached to the stories, learn the truth behind them. Dagda, Lugh, Balor and Bres, Ogma and Eriu… Were they all real?

"We drove them away, drove their hideous darkness from this realm." She took a deep breath and her gaze swept over his face. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"

The blankness only lasted for a second, but once it shattered Sam wished he could call it back. "You didn't destroy them, you were only able to banish them to their own realm. They could come back," he whispered.

"The Fomorii are hideous creatures, evil. They are demons with a lust for the pain of others." Her beautiful face twisted, ugly in its disgust. "They push against the door between this realm and their own, but we still manage to hold it closed."

The word 'evil' coming from the fae queen's lips woke a special terror in Sam's chest. It was not a term that she used lightly, insisting that it was a mortal concept. There was some dispute in the legends of the Fomorii, but many accounts matched the queen's assessment of them. They might not be demons in the literal sense, but they were dangerously dark and powerful creatures. The idea of them being released back into the world scared the hell out of him. He took a deep breath to steady his voice. "Will you be able to keep holding them back?"

"We try, but the struggle is complicated. They have allies in this realm. My dark cousins would revel in a world where those misshapen demons roam free. I told you before that we have established a balance between ourselves and our dark cousins in this world, a truce. You seemed angered by our arrangement. But now you must see that the truce is not merely a matter of convenience, it is essential. An outright battle against the dark elves would weaken us. It would distract us and pull us away from the passageways that we guard. It would ease the way for the Fomorii to return."

"But you said the truce has been weakening…" When she had first told him that, he'd had no idea of the full importance of the truce.

"We have reached an age where the bounds are constantly being tested. Members of the dark court prod each other into greater and greater provocations. They want the doorway opened to admit the demon Fomorii back into this world, but my dark cousins still fear an open battle against us. And so we are balanced on a knife's edge. They push and push, but they are too cowardly to openly call for the battle. But eventually we will be forced to retaliate directly against a cousin of stature, and then we will be sounding a battle cry for them. It will push them past their fears and rally them against us."

"That's why you couldn't get rid of the hags yourself."

She nodded her head. "We are not ready to face our dark cousins in open battle, not if we are to guard the doorway against the Fomorii as well. You and your family have been our champions. You have bought us more time."

"But you think it's inevitable? A battle against the dark fae?" The look on her face was answer enough and Sam fisted his hands to prevent them from trembling. "You think the time is coming soon, don't you."

Titaniea's gaze swept the glade around them. She stilled and tilted her head as though searching the quiet for something out of place. The chimes of the pixies and the voices in the stream had faded to silence as the mood of the clearing grew somber. "Even protected in this space, it is best to take care in the words that can be carried on the breeze." She leaned forward slightly and lowered her voice to barely a whisper. "Dark forces stir. Not just here, but through much of this world."

Sam froze at the look of naked worry that crossed her face. This just kept getting better and better.

"We do not know who causes it or what it means, but it calls to the banished creatures and makes them restless, it bids them to come forth and join in the destruction that threatens this realm. This cold and nameless force excites the dark elves, as well. It pushes them to take their part in its plans, to open the door so that the ancient evil that we confine can join its ranks."

Sam scrubbed his hand over his face and looked at the ground for a second. He didn't want to ask the next question. He wasn't sure if this was information that he wanted to know. They weren't kidding when they said ignorance is bliss.

"If they do get loose…you defeated the Fomorii and banished them long ago. Couldn't you defeat them again?"

There was no warmth in the smile she aimed at him, it was too bitter to allow any more comforting emotions. "The Fomorii are very powerful, the battle was difficult. And that was when we were a nation united. We may be even greater in number now than we were in that ancient past, but the sons of Mil have fractured us. Many of my kind withdrew to our own realm when the age of man began, unwilling to share this world with such a blind and greedy race. Others of my kind stayed, but their hatred for mortals has twisted them into the dark fae. And those of us who remain are scattered to the ends of this earth. It will take time to gather them, and we cannot even begin to call them together until we know which doorway will be besieged. You ask if we can defeat the Fomorii again? It would be far far better for our forces to prevent that door from even being opened."

"Wait…you don't know 'which doorway'? There's more than one?" He was thankful for the inhaler in his pack when the truth slammed into him, because if stress was going to trigger another attack, this should do it. "There's a doorway here, isn't there? That's why you couldn't leave for even a little while? That's why the hags came here, and the spriggans have been heading this way…you think it's going to happen here, don't you?"

Her gaze assessed him, measured and weighed him as though she was trying to decide if he could handle the truth. Finally she gave a slight nod. "There are no certainties, but there are signs."

"Do you know when?" He could barely get a whisper past his lips, but she heard him and gave a delicate shrug.

"There is no way of knowing. The wait may be long or short, it may be measured as the fae measure the passage of time, or as mortals do. But I believe the danger is not immediate."

His chest loosened with those words. 'Not immediate' to a fae could translate into fifty mortal years, or a hundred, or more. Hell, 'immediate' to them could mean months or years away. They didn't exactly walk around with Timex's on their wrists. The measurement of time into defined units didn't really seem to be a concept they embraced. His heart rate slowed and his brain slipped back into gear. There was time. Maybe a lot of time. But at a minimum there was time to think things through, to do what he could to help. He straightened his posture and was rewarded with a proud smile from the fae queen. "If there is any way that I can be of assistance in your preparations, I am willing to help. But I would like you to make me a promise."

Her head lifted, the long column of her throat slim and beautiful in her regal pose. "What pledge would you exact from me?" she asked, her voice gentle.

"When the time comes that the battle is near, or when you have any idea about the timing, I'd like you to tell me. I will need time to explain things to my family, to make sure that we are ready. We might be able to gather some resources to help you." John and some of his hunter buddies might be narrow minded and stubborn SOBs, but surely they would be able to put their prejudices aside if the situation became critical.

Assuming he was even still on the earth when the time came. And less than ninety years old.

"I so pledge," she said solemnly. A twinkle came to her eye and her grin had a hint of mischief to it. "You are aware that you must now share your proper name with me, are you not? I will need it if I am to find you and fulfill my pledge. I believe a message sent out to 'Sasquatch' might go astray, and I have no confidence that 'Sam Winchester' is complete or proper."

He had the sudden urge to say 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours' and his smile beamed out, full force. "Does that mean that if I sent a message to 'Titaniea' it wouldn't get very far?"

She threw her head back, her laughter deep and rich. The glade had remained quiet and dark as they talked, the mood weighing on all of the creatures around them. The musical sound of her joy brought it back to life, fireflies sparkling in the trees and the voices in the water singing once again.

"Well, if ye must know, ye can just call me Ane's Sprite and word will reach me ears." The high pitched voice came from the fox and Sam's eyes widened. Talking animals was just…wrong. The fox sniffed delicately and raised its nose into the air haughtily. "I'm a creature of some renown."

Titaniea rose to her feet and Sam stood to face her. He stuck his hand out on impulse. "My proper name is Samuel Winchester."

Her smile was warm when she clasped his hand in her own. Power, warmth, affection…they all flowed through her touch. "I am known as Ainé of Knockaine."

She did not let go of his hand but laughed merrily as his legs went wobbly and he sank down onto the large stone next to him. His mouth opened and closed a couple of times but nothing intelligent seemed interested in gracing his tongue.

"I can see why yer so taken with him, m'lady," Sprite snorted. "He's quite the eloquent lad."

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Ainé. Ainé of the Light. Ainé N'Chliar. Leanan Sidhe. The Sweetheart of the Sidhe. The 'besthearted woman that ever lived' according to many. So many damn names because she was so well known, so well loved. Renowned for her beauty, her kind and generous nature.

And known to destroy some who hurt her.

Sam was still in shock. He figured that even with the things he'd seen in his life, shock was an acceptable reaction when a legend came to life in front of you.

Sweat clung to his body, cooling him as he neared the end of the shade. The afternoon sun beckoned beyond the final fringe of trees, bright on the blacktop. He'd begun running again after he left the clearing, the simple physical strain giving his mind a chance to settle.

He shook his head with a bemused smile. God, he'd be such a disappointment to his brother if Dean knew. He's in the unbelievable position of growing close to a fae queen who some called a goddess, comparing her sometimes to Diana, sometimes to Venus. Known not just for her love of mortals…but also for her affairs with mortal men.

And how does she see him? He reminds her of her half mortal son.

It was the supernatural equivalent of a beautiful woman stating 'I like you too much as a friend to mess around' or 'I love you like a brother'. Yeah, Dean would have a field day mocking him for that one.

And Sam would relish every moment of being the butt of his brother's jokes. A wave of longing went through him, the desire to share everything with his brother so strong that it was almost a physical pain. He took a deep breath, pushing it down. Reminding himself that it wasn't that simple. He'd just walked that road, he'd seen what it did to his brother.

Speak of the devil… He stepped to the side of the road and squinted against the bright sun, his eyes seeking the source of the low rumble crawling towards him. The Impala was a sleek black beast, emerging from the glare. It ground to a stop in front of him and Dean leaned across the front seat, talking through the open passenger window. "Get your stinky ass in the car. I want ice cream."

The solid door pulled open with a groan of heavy hinges and Sam slid into his spot next to his brother, sliding the fanny pack so that it rested over his hip instead of digging into the small of his back. Dean looked him over through narrowed eyes and grimaced slightly as he accelerated back onto the road. "Try not to get too much sweat on the seat."

"Dude!" Sam laughed. "It was your idea to pick me up!"

Dean shrugged. Sometimes logic didn't interest him. "You're wiping everything down when we get back."

Sam settled back in his seat and closed his eyes with a contented sigh. The air rushing in the open window pushed his bangs from his face, drying them.

"So…" Dean eased into it and Sam hid his smirk. "How was your run?" Sam didn't have to open his eyes to know that Dean would be shooting him little glances, reassuring himself that his brother really was back to full health. He didn't have the heart to torture his brother by keeping him waiting for an answer. The guy's ability to worry would put an army of overprotective mothers to shame.

He opened his eyes and shifted to face Dean, letting his pleasure at the feel of the breeze hitting his sweaty back show in his expression. "It was a good run. No…" he corrected himself "it was a great run. Absolutely no trouble breathing. No pain in my back."

"Good," Dean grunted as though he had expected nothing less. Sam couldn't hold his smirk in any longer. His big bad brother truly sucked at hiding his worry sometimes. His tense posture behind the wheel had practically melted into a relieved puddle at Sam's words.

"So…" Sam drawled, mimicking his brother. "Ice cream, huh? That's your excuse for acting like some creepy stalker? Trolling the edge of the woods waiting to pick me up?"

"I want ice cream," Dean insisted.

"There's a half gallon in the freezer. Admit it, you're just a big worried girl."

"We don't have pie! I want ala mode!" Dean snapped back. "You're the one wearing a purse, but I'm the girl?" he grumbled.

Sam unhooked the fanny pack and let it drop to the seat next to him. "A big worried girl. I'll bet Dad didn't even send you."

"I need you to get a discount from your girlfriend!"

Sam leaned back with a small smile and let the matter slide. Might as well leave the guy with some dignity. He looked out the side window and let his smile spread for just a second. It felt pretty damn good to know his brother was there to look after him like that. He'd bust Dean's balls about it because that was what Dean expected. The love was hard and deep and fierce, but for some reason his brother found the outward trappings of it embarrassing. That was okay, because Sam knew it was there.

He'd had his doubts… But that was the past. They'd all hurt each other. Dad was right, reliving mistakes accomplished nothing. You learn from them and move on.

He wasn't gonna live in the past, and he sure as hell wasn't gonna let all the threats that loomed over them in the future bring him down. There were too many damn things that could end up biting them on the ass. Especially him. Dwelling on it was a game for losers. It sure as hell wasn't the Winchester way.

He'd do what he could to get ready for whatever was coming. He'd make sure his family was ready. Side by side they could stand against whatever got thrown at them.

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Sounded good to him. And today he was at his brother's side, exactly where he wanted to be. It didn't matter how many times life knocked them away from each other, knocked them off course. He had a feeling that if they wanted it enough they would always find their way back to each other.

"I'm not cleaning the seat off," he muttered.

"You get it skeevy, you wash it down. And since I'm nice enough to take your ass for ice cream you can wash the rest of the car too."

Sam snorted. "You're just taking me because you want my discount."

"That, and for the free entertainment while I eat. Watching you trip over your tongue when you're near your girlfriend is funnier than the Simpsons."

"You are such a jerk," Sam sighed.

Dean's smile was so brilliant that Sam's breath hitched. "Only with you, Sammy. And you know you love it, bitch."

Yeah, he did.

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The Queen of Light took her bow, and then she turned to go,
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom, and walked the night alone.

Oh, dance in the dark of night, Sing to the morning light.
The dark Lord rides in force tonight, And time will tell us all.

Oh, throw down your plow and hoe, Rest not to lock your homes.

Side by side we wait the might of the darkest of them all.

The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin

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Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero— "seize the day and place no trust in tomorrow"

A/N: First a quick story. On one of our little trips over the past couple of weeks my husband and I found ourselves in a wildlife refuge, on a dirt road between two impoundments. A group of people were stopped taking pictures, and we saw that it was a red fox that had caught their attention. So of course we stopped also. The fox was very entertaining, foraging by the edge of the water, crossing back and forth over the dirt road, running off for a bit and then returning. People came and went but we lingered, my husband busy with his camera and me walking along the road, just enjoying the afternoon with my binoculars. I lost track of how many times I looked up to find the fox close to me. Standing or sitting, watching me. Trotting back and forth in a loose pattern centered around me. Disappearing, and then returning to within ten feet of me.

I thought it was just my imagination. Until a complete stranger who had been watching the fox and taking pictures finally commented when the fox returned after one of its little jaunts. "Hey! Your buddy is back!" And I swear, I almost called the animal Sprite.

A/N2: Yes, there will be a sequel. It might not be the next thing I write though…I'm kind of tempted to do a little something with the boys involved with a fire company first. LOL

The sequel will most likely be set during Season 2, after Bloodlust. The boys will be dealing with John's loss and Dean will be struggling to accept that there are shades of gray in the supernatural world. When Sam is summoned to Whitethorn they will once again be thrown into the fae world, and Dean's lost memories will be forced to the surface.

And there may be some Whitethorn one shots in there at some point to.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you for sharing this story with me.