Okay, so it's a little short--more of a tag than another chapter, but it is what it is. I'm so sad to see this story finished! I'm ecstatic, and also sad. Sigh. Oh well. I'm so glad you all enjoyed it, and please do tell me what you think of this final chapter. Thanks so much to all of you for reading!
I'll post the last chapter of Flashbacks tomorrow before I leave for my church retreat this weekend, and when I get back I'll work on finishing Time's lessons, and then I'll start my GG fic!
I don't know if I mentioned it, but I made a video for this fic! Search Don't Let Go on youtube, and throw supernatural or christiangatefan1 (my youtube name) in the search line, and you should find it. It's with the Flyleaf song "Sorrow" and I hope ya'll like it! Don't forget to leave a comment there so I know if ya'll like it and if there's any point in my making any more SPN videos or fic vids in the future, lol. Thanks again so much, all of you!
Ohio looked the same. A little warmer than last time, but essentially the same—except for the hordes of people swarming Cedarville University for its 2007 commencement ceremony.
"Dude..." Dean whistled. He pulled into the last parking space at the back of the parking lot at the gas station across the street. "Looks like a friggin' zoo over there."
Sam checked his watch yet again. "And we'll be late for the main attraction if we don't get over there," he said, quickly climbing out of the Impala. It must have been a little too quickly, because he hissed and leaned on the car.
"Sam?" Dean asked sharply.
He let out a breath and pulled up his left leg to massage his calf for a moment. "It's nothing, Dean."
"That leg still bothering you?" he asked warily, getting out himself and coming around to his brother.
"Just sometimes; it's fine." He set the leg back on the ground and seemed fine.
Because he was fine. Sam was fine.
Dean looked at his brother for a moment, and finally sighed and glanced back out at the school across the road. "How the hell are we gonna find her in that?"
"We'll find her, but we don't have to worry about that until after the ceremony. First we have to get there; come on."
"Hey, who's the oldest here?" he smirked, falling in beside his brother as they headed for the university. They managed to make it across the rural highway that was actually busy for once, and followed what of the crowd was still outdoors toward the building at the center of campus that apparently had the largest auditorium.
Normally, walking through a crowd with his ridiculously tall brother would have carried the same slightly annoying note it always had, but today Dean didn't mind at all. It felt good to have Sam beside him again, healthy and walking tall.
He was beginning to accept that it was all real.
Dean blinked out of his reverie. "What?"
Sam was looking toward the door. "I was afraid of that. They're taking tickets."
"Tickets? To a graduation?"
"It's pretty common, actually—at high schools and colleges. I guess it's a space issue." He looked around quickly. "Come on."
"What, you wanna sneak in?"
"We have to get in somehow."
Dean followed Sam as he ducked out of view of the main doors and went around the building, but he wasn't so sure about this. "Breaking in, sneaking in, blending in—all things that aren't so hard for us; but if it's a space issue, how is getting in there gonna change anything?"
Sam shrugged. "We'll stand up."
"Oh yeah, and that won't look suspicious at all." His brother shot him a look and he shrugged. "What?"
"Look, we've never been in this building, so no, I don't know how this is going to work. But we have to try."
"You have to try."
Another look. "You're the one who insisted on coming with me."
"Well, you know; Abby's a nice chick...I might as well come with to see her graduate and all..."
Sam rolled his eyes as they came to an unmonitored side door. "You just didn't want me out of your sight. I was surprised when you didn't come over to the church with me a few days ago."
"I really did not want to do that whole church thing again if there was no food..."
"You're changing the subject."
Of course he was—because Sam was right. He still want his brother away from him. As grateful as he was that Sam was all right, church just wasn't his thing. But he'd regretted not going simply because it had been painful to not have Sam nearby.
Sam huffed and turned his attention to the door. He tried it, but it was locked. There didn't appear to be an alarm, but it was locked. Not that that would stop them.
"You do realize this is insane, right?" Dean whispered once they were in. It was a back hallway, undistinguished and unoccupied. It looked like smaller, extra classrooms. "Committing a felony in the interest of ganking a ghost makes sense; the fact that we have to do it to get into a completely normal function is just crazy."
"That did cross my mind," Sam answered dryly.
Dean shrugged. "Just saying. One day we have seriously got to take a step back and ask ourselves when crazy is too crazy," he muttered.
Luckily, the auditorium was an unconventional design, with wings and plenty of dark entrances that lent themselves well to staying hidden in the shadows while still giving a halfway-decent view of the stage. The brother were able to slip in one of the back doors unobserved, and stay there.
"Great. Now we just have to stand for two hours," Dean grumbled.
"There's a floor there."
"Nah; that's just tacky." With that he crossed his arms and leaned against the wall.
The ceremony had already begun, and Sam smirked and turned his attention back to the front of the auditorium to watch.
Dean just smiled at his brother's back, glad to have him there.
After two years away from school, it was harder than Sam had thought it would be to watch the graduation ceremony. Though he supposed the dream would always be in the back of his mind, he thought he'd moved on.
Maybe he wasn't quite there yet.
Still, it was easy to grin when Abby walked across the stage. He'd called her as soon as he'd had a free moment back at the motel in\Taylorsville, and she knew he was all right. He hadn't really been able to explain quite how, but she knew he was alive—and that he was going to stay that way.
She looked happy. Young, and happy, and capable—she would have everything he'd only gotten a glimpse of having. Sam envied her, in some ways, but he didn't begrudge her for it. All he could want would be for her to be happy.
He and Dean slipped out just before everything was over, and Dean headed back for the car while Sam waited near the sidewalk outside of Abby's dorm. He assumed she would have to come back at some point. If it wasn't soon he could always try a little later. She would have to move everything out of her dorm room eventually.
But he didn't have to wait long. Soon she was coming up the sidewalk by the road, already changed out of her robe and weaving in an out between the crowds that still littered the campus. There were enough people that she wasn't really looking at any of them, but for those that called out goodbyes. She'd been waving to someone in the parking lot across the street and was past him and hadn't noticed a thing before he smirked and called after her.
"What, you're just gonna walk right past me?"
He hadn't called her name, but Abby stopped at the voice and twisted. "Sam?"
"Sam!" She ran back to him, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him for a short moment before pulling back halfway and wincing a little in embarrasment.
"I did it again."
"It's okay," Sam grinned. He pulled her closer, arms around her.
"What are you doing here?" she protested, hands against his chest but not pushing. "You called, and I got that you're okay, but I don't know how, and you never said you were coming here...What happened? You're really all right? Why didn't you tell me you were coming! I—"
"I wanted this part to be surprise."
She crossed her arms. "Congratulations; you succeeded there." He kissed her again, and whatever annoyance she still held melted away. "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to see you graduate."
"You were there?"
"I was there," he assured her. He reluctantly let go of her and looked back down the sidewalk in the direction she'd come. "So what are you...?"
"I uh...came back to put the finishing touches on the packing. My parents are down in the lot on the other side trying to get the van over here; goodness knows how long that'll take."
Sam sighed. "But they will get here eventually."
"I don't think you should have to hide from my parents..."
He winced. "I'm not sure how you'd explain me' you can't exactly tell them about the shapeshifter."
"Well, no..." She trailed off and looked at him for a long moment. "You can't stay, can you?" she asked quietly.
"You're not staying either. You're going home. You'll get a real job, get back in touch with old high school friends, keep in touch with the college friends, and make new ones...you'll have a life." He pushed her hair back from her face. "It'll be a good one. Maybe one of those new friends'll be the one you spend the rest of it with."
Abby tightened her crossed arms and looked away, biting her lip. "So you only came to say goodbye again?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't know. It might not be goodbye. This time we know I'll still be around, anyway. We might run into each other." She still looked a little upset, and he frowned. "I'm sorry...should I not have come...?"
"No," she said quickly, arms falling to her sides again. "I'm glad you're here; I wanted to see you again. When I thought you were going to—" She stopped and grimaced. "I mean, I'm...I'm glad you're all right. I'm glad I got to see that you're all right."
"Good," she nodded, forcing a smile. After a moment it became a little more natural. "It was some kind of miracle, wasn't it? Somehow I just know it. I think I felt it...before you called. Somehow I knew you were all right."
Sam just stared at her at first. "I'm not sure...I guess it was. It had a lot more to do with a ghost, but I guess you could see it that way."
"Ghost?"He opened his mouth to answer, but she cut him off. "Never mind. I don't want to know."
He grinned. "No, you don't."
"You're going to be fine, and that's all that matters," she sighed. Her cell phone buzzed in the pocket of the light sweater she wore over her dress, and she tugged it out and frowned at the display. "My parents are really getting into this whole texting thing; it's weird," she said, tapping the button to read the message. She pulled a face at it.
"They finally got out of the lot down there; there on their way over here." She shoved the device away and gave him a helpless look. "Are you sure you want to avoid my parents? Aren't you supposed to be good at making up cover stories for anything? Do that. We have a hotel room, and we're not leaving until in the morning since we have such a long way to go. You could stay until then..."
Sam let out a breath. "You know I shouldn't." He looked at her, and finally she swallowed and looked away again.
"No...you probably shouldn't. I suppose you're going to remind that your job is out there?" She made a general sweeping motion.
"I don't know how long it'll be that way, but for now it is."
Abby nodded quickly. "I know, I know. Just..." She took a minute. "Keep that promise to keep in touch when you can, okay?"
"I'll do my best."
She smiled again. "And look me up whenever your job description changes."
He smiled briefly in affirmative, and they both fell silent. Then Sam leaned in to gently kiss her once more, and pulled her into a long embrace.
"Knock 'em dead."
"Hey, you're the one that kills stuff," Abby smirked against his shoulder.
It was hard to walk away, but it was easier when he turned once he was down the hill, and saw her parents approach and hug her again in congratulations. She had a family, and friends, and a career to start. She would be fine.
Whether he would be was a different story entirely.
Dean was waiting in the Impala when Sam climbed in. He didn't say anything as he cranked the car and pulled out onto the highway. He seemed to know that his little brother just wanted to be alone in his thoughts for a little while.
It lasted all of half an hour, but Sam hadn't been expecting what Dean said when he finally spoke.
"I would have come back, you know."
Sam blinked out of his stupor and looked over at his brother. "What?"
Dean cleared his throat a little, still staring out at the road. "What I said the other night a couple months ago...about the whole thing with the djinn. You know I was just pissed off, right?"
"I guess...why?" he frowned.
He shrugged. "I just, you know...wanted to make sure you knew I didn't mean it. I uh, still would've come back—even if I'd known all this crap was gonna happen, I mean."
"Well everything turned out okay, I guess."
Dean shook his head and really looked at Sam now. "No, I mean...even if it hadn't, and I'd known it wouldn't, or whatever...I still would've come back."
I would've come back for you—to be here for you—even if you hadn't made it. I wouldn't have left you. It wasn't what he said out loud, but it was what he meant.
Sam stared at his brother, and a slow smile crept across his face. "I know."
He was going to be fine.