Author's Chapter Notes:
Well, this is it! The final chapter. *does a little dance*
This is just my way of tying it into the Pilot episode so I hope you like.
I had an eleventh hour idea that could take this on from S5 so the story might be finished but there may still be a little of the tale to tell. If I do decide to write a sequel you guys will be the first to know!
On This Road Forever More
John sighed as he closed the phone on his friend. Thomas Walker was a hunter that had helped John on more than a few occasions in the past and now he was looking for John's help, right as he had gotten a possible lead on the demon. He tapped the phone on the table weighing up his options. He had to go, he had a debt to repay the man but this lead would be cold by the time that he and Dean got to New Orleans and back.
Dean chose that moment to open the motel room door and draw his father's attention, the thought gaining life in John's head even as he smiled at his son.
"What?" Dean asked suspiciously as he opened the bag of food that he had been carrying and dropped his dad's meal onto the table, then extracted his own cheeseburger.
"Nothing, just wondered if you fancied a road trip?" John took the offered food and spread it out in front of him.
"Road trip? Where?"
"New Orleans." Dean's ears picked up.
"New Orleans? I could do that. What's the gig?"
"Friend of mine, ex-hunter. He needs a hand with a spirit that's been making a nuisance of itself at a family member's house. He thinks that it's been raised on purpose."
John shrugged. "He's not sure."
"Sounds ok, when did you want to leave?" Dean bit into his food but stopped chewing as his dad didn't answer. "Dad?" he muttered round the mouthful.
"I've got a gig in a place called Jericho, a two lane stretch of blacktop and a guy that's gone missing. Looked into it and there's a pattern. Though I'd check it out before something else happens." He shoved the papers over for his son to look at.
"You want me to go hunt this thing on my own?" John could hear the wheels turning in his son's head. Dean narrowed his eyes as stared at his father. "Are you trying to get rid of me?"
"No. I just thought we could spilt up, no point in wasting gas with both of us trailing down there. It'd let us get this done quicker and then get back to hunting down the demon."
Dean scowled at him but didn't raise the fact that they were near enough to Jim's to leave the Impala there. "So why don't I take this," he waved the paperwork at his dad, "and you can go check on your friend?"
"No." The reply was a little too abrupt and John breathed once and toned it down. "This thing is hunting single guys, the other gig is safer." He didn't mention that it was one town over from where his lead for the demon was, knowing that if he told Dean there would be no way that he would leave him on his own. "If you don't think that you can manage it, or you don't want to….."
"What? Don't want to get to go to New Orleans on my own without Papa Bear breathing down my neck?"
John frowned. "It's a hunt Dean, not a licence to party."
"I know, but all work and no play." A smile creased his face.
His father just shook his head. "What am I going to do with you."
"You're gonna call me this time when you're finished, that's what you're gonna do." Dean sat back and crossed his arms. "Are we clear?"
"I'll call." John didn't make eye contact.
He looked up. "What? I'll call."
"And you'll of course keep your phone on at all times?" Dean enquired sweetly.
"Dean," John growled.
"Fine. When do I have to leave?" He balled the paper from his burger and lobbed it into the bin. "
In the morning."
Dean fetched a couple of beers from the fridge. "You said ex-hunter. How do you become an ex-hunter? Doesn't that just mean that you're dead?"
John snorted at that. "Thomas is a cripple. Got his leg ran over with his own car out hunting a poltergeist."
"Ouch." Dean took a sip of his drink, and John watched him get lost in his thoughts for a moment before he called him back by speaking.
"You gonna be alright on this hunt on your own?"
"I've hunted on my own before, remember?" Dean stated quietly. "I'll cope. Will I need to do any research before I head down or will this guy be able to bring me up to speed? Is he just looking for some muscle to dig the grave for him?"
"Tomb rob actually."
"Gig gets better and better, no digging up the corpse, got to love a place that buries it's dead above ground. A little salt'n'burn and some down time in New Orleans. Go Team Dean."
"I'll call and tell Thomas it's a yeah then." John laughed at the smile on Dean's face.
"Tell him it's a hell yeah."
Sam sat up, the scream dying on his lips as he did. Jess stirred beside him in the bed and he waited until she had settled again before he quietly slipped out of the bed and into the bathroom. Filling the sink with water he splashed his face.
The nightmare had been so real, more intense even than last time and he was beginning to worry that it was more than just his insecurities over going to ask Jess to marry him that were causing them. He could feel the blood on his face, the heat of the flames; the smell of the smoke.
He wandered back through and into the kitchen, pulling a bottle of beer from the fridge and then sat down, popping the top and taking a long, chilling drink. His phone was almost calling to him from the table. If you need me, call me. Dean's voice spiralled through his thoughts. I can't. Not after all this time. Besides, he'll think I'm nuts. I mean what are these except stupid dreams?
He downed the rest of the bottle and slipped back into bed, snuggling into Jess' side and letting the comfort of the feel of her in his arms drag him back down to sleep.
Dean woke with a start not sure for the moment exactly where he was. The remnants of the dream that he'd been having still clung to him as he shifted round to check the time. He had been dreaming about Sam. Dreaming of fire. He wiped at his face and pushed the last little dregs of misgivings away for now. Maybe it was time to go visit, maybe it's guilt for avoiding him for so long?
"Shut up," he chided his little inner voice.
Turning he took in the mop of black hair that was lying on the pillow beside him and he grinned, switching his mind to happier thoughts. Yeah, New Orleans was definitely his kind of town, hot food and even hotter woman. He trawled quickly for her name as she opened her eyes and smiled at him. "Hey Giselle."
"Hey yourself." She pulled herself up onto an elbow. "So last night was fun, I got to go to work but maybe we can met up again later?"
Dean grinned his approval and then enjoyed the view as she got out the bed and made her way over to the bathroom.
How long are you in town for?" Her voice floated out to him over the sound of running water as she switched on the shower.
"Few more days. Just finished up some business, waiting for my dad to call and tell me where he is."
She stuck her head back round the door. "Your dad?"
"We work together normally, I was just down her doing some work for a friend of his." Dean reached over and snagged his jeans from the floor.
"What kind of work did you say you did again?"
"I didn't. "He slipped his t-shirt on over his head. "We do loss adjusting for an insurance company. Boring but it pays the bills and you get to meet the nicest of people." The smile slid onto his face.
"I bet you do."
Giselle closed the door and Dean finished dressing quickly, pulling his phone and calling his dad, rolling one eye as it switched to voicemail. "So much for keeping the damn thing on, where are you? If I don't hear from you by tonight I'm heading to Jericho in the morning." He snapped it shut and lifted his jacket from the bottom of the bed, pulling it on just as the bathroom door swung back open.
"So, call me?" Giselle crossed the room and pulled him down into a kiss.
"O-k," he replied, once he had freed himself from her lips.
"I'll see you tonight then."
With that he headed out and down to the little café on the corner where he'd had breakfast for the last three days. The waitress greeted him with a warm smile and a cup of coffee. "Usual?"
"Please." His phone vibrated in his pocket but by the time he stood and freed it, it has switched to voicemail. "Son of a…." He called the service and hit the button to listen to the new messages.
John's voice sounded worried. "Dean... something big is starting to happen... I need to try and figure out what's going on. It may... Be very careful, Dean. We're all in danger." His dream of his brother popped back into is head and did nothing to ease his growing sense of forboding.
"Maybe it is time to go pay my brother a little visit." He smiled at the waitress as she walked over. "Honey, can you do me a favour? Can you make that to go?"
It was the next night that he pulled into his brother's new street in Palo Alto, quickly finding the address that Sam had sent him about six months ago when Jess and him had moved. He brought the car to a halt up the street a bit and looked round.
The feeling of being watched was eating at him, he just couldn't see who or what it was that was keeping tabs on him. Shrugging it off he got out and made his way back to his brother's apartment, stopping to look round the windows as he did. He smiled as he saw the catch on one wasn't shut all the way home. "Sloppy little brother, very sloppy."
He was up and inside in less than a minute, walking through quietly to the bedroom and pausing for a second as he took in the sleeping forms of his brother and his girl. Doubts that he should have come for Sam filled his head, but he had called his dad almost every hour since he'd left that message and there still had been no reply. Sure he could go hunt John down on his own but he didn't want to and the little nagging doubt that his brother wasn't safe here on his own still tugged at him. He walked into the kitchen and kicked the bin over before he could change his mind, moving through to met his brother as he heard Sam cut round him.
He blocked a few of his brother's blows and then pinned Sam to the floor, grinning as he did. "Whoa, easy, tiger."
"Dean? You scared the crap out of me!"
"That's 'cause you're out of practice."
Sam lashed out quickly, flipping them over and pinning his brother down.
"Or not. Get off me."
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"I was looking for a beer."
"What. The hell. Are you doing here?"
"Okay. All right. We gotta talk."
The hunt had gone well, and Dean had almost forgotten how much he'd missed working with his brother. Almost. His sense of loss was back now, increasing even as Sam walked round the car. He stuck his game face securely on as his brother leant in the open window to talk to him.
"Call me if you find him?"
Dean nodded, waiting for his brother to throw him even the smallest of bones. Sam read his mind.
"And maybe I'll hook up with you later, huh?"
Dean gave a half-smile at the lie. "Yeah, all right." He watched as his brother walked away. Couldn't stop himself calling out to him and delaying the inevitable a moment longer. "Sam? You know, we made a hell of a team back there."
"Yeah." Sam smiled softly and then watched as Dean drove off before he turned and headed inside. He had enjoyed seeing and spending time with his brother, even without finding dad, but this was were his life was now and his future was just on the other side of his front door. He unlocked it and stepped inside.
Dean was less than a mile away when he realised that his watch had stopped. A fleeting memory of his dad standing with the clock from Sam's nursery in his hands had him turning the car and heading back to his brother's at double the speed that he had driven from it.
Without stopping to lock the car or even pull the keys from it, he ran up and kicked the front door in, stepping into his own personal nightmare of flames and his family burning in them. He screamed his brother's name as he rounded the doorframe and took in the sight before him.
Looking up the image of Jess burning on the ceiling was burnt into his brain but it didn't stop him moving, didn't stop him pulling his resistant brother from the flames that threatened to engulf them both.
Sam was still screaming her name as Dean dragged him outside.
Dean made the call as he watched the firemen dampen down the last of the flames. If he hadn't come for his brother would Jess still be alive or would his brother be dead now as well?
The feeling of being watched was now making his skin crawl. He cast a look as the gathered figures but none of them seemed to be the source of his discomfort. The phone connecting pulled his attention.
"Well, long time no hear. What prompted this call? Take it that it's not a sociable call at one thirty in the morning?" Agnes sat back and pushed her glasses up her nose, actually pleased to hear from Dean, to know that he was ok. She didn't let him know that though.
He got straight to the point. "The thing that killed my mom, it went after Sam's girl at college."
Agnes sat up, giving him her full attention now. "Dean I'm sorry Are you sure? Is she ok?"
"No. It killed her the same way it did my mother."
She could hear the tremble in his voice and asked the question that she was almost afraid to. "And Sam? Is he ok?"
Dean looked to were his brother was standing, watching the scene with dispassionate eyes. "No." His voice did break a little then but he got it together quickly. " But he'll get through it. I'll makes sure that he gets through it." The I've been there before went unsaid but Agnes heard it just the same.
"So why are you calling me? Do you need my help?"
"If it went after Jess because of Sam, I was worried about Julie-Anne."
It had been two years since Dean had seen or contact her daughter but his first thought was still for her. That made Agnes smile and feel sad at the same.
"Dean, Julie-Anne isn't your girlfriend. She hasn't been for a while now. Why would it go after her?"
There was an edge to his voice as he made his little confession to her. "I know, but if it knows how I feel about her." He paused. "Can I speak to her? Please?"
"Dean…." It was Agnes' turn to hesitate. "Julie-Anne isn't here."
"Where is she? Can you get hold of her, see she's alright. Maybe I should go check?"
She wasn't sure quite how to break the news to him. "Woah there Dean. She's fine. I'm sure of it." Agnes cleared her throat.
"What aren't you telling?" he questioned.
"Julie-Anne is on her honeymoon Dean. She got married a few months ago. This is them just getting the chance to go away."
He didn't talk for so long that she thought the call had dropped.
"Julie-Anne got married? Your daughter, that Julie-Anne?" There was incredulity in his voice that she had felt herself when her daughter had announced her intentions to her.
"Yes Dean. My daughter got married, strange as that might seem."
"To whom?" He felt the numbness creeping through him at the loss he knew that he had no right to feel.
"Paul. They've been working pretty closely since you guys left here. They've been dating for over a year."
Dean recovered himself. "I'm glad." He didn't sound it Agnes thought. "Paul's a good guy."
"Yeah, he is."
There was another long pause before he spoke again, quietly asking something that Agnes didn't have the answer to but could only hope for. "Is she happy? Does she love him?"
Agnes wiped at the tears that the barely hidden pain in his voice caused. "I'm afraid you can't ask me that Dean. You don't get to ask that. Besides, I can't speak for my daughter even if I wanted to."
"I'm sorry. That was kinda rude. I'm sorry. Look can you just check that she's alright, warn her to keep a look out for anything strange?"
"I will. Will you and Sam be safe? Where's John?"
"He's on a hunt. I've got co-ordinates. I'm gonna take Sam and we'll go look for him."
"Be careful Dean. This thing is very powerful. Do not cross it path unless you absolutely have to."
"I will and I won't. It'll be ok once we find dad."
Agnes cursed Dean's faith in the man just for one last time. "You can call me if you need my help." She knew he wouldn't even as she offered, that he wouldn't want to drag her back into this.
"Thanks. I need to go. Sam's waiting. He needs me."
"Take care Dean."
"You too Agnes."
He hung up and stood with the crowd for a bit, trying to get his own feelings under control before he went to speak to his sibling. Still, he kept a watchful eye on Sam as his brother walked over to the Impala.
Dean cast a glance over the activity around him and tried not to think off how similar the scene was to the night his mother had died. Finally he walked back towards the car and his brother, rounding the back end and stopping beside Sam who was loading up a shotgun.
Moving to stand beside him Dean looked down at the trunk, steeling himself for whatever was to come only looking up as his brother sighed. Sam's face was set in a mask of desperate anger, so like John's had been for so long that it broke Dean's heart. Another deep sigh ripped from Sam as he tossed the shotgun into the trunk.
"We got work to do."
Across the street a shadow moved in the bushes as John Winchester watched his two sons get into the car and drive away. He knew where they were going but he couldn't follow them now. He has something more pressing to attend to.
He had to hunt down and kill the thing that was threatening them.
He didn't see that he too was being watched, yellow eyes gleaming softly in the streetlights as he got into his truck and followed the Impala out at a safe distance.
The demon in the shadows laughed softly. "Should have let him burn Dean."
Then it blinked it's eyes and was gone.
Chapter End Notes:
I just want to say a big thank you and give hugs to everyone that has read, and especially to everyone that has reviewed, this story.
It was never supposed to be this long! Thank you for your patience, support and sticking with it even when it strayed off with a life of it's own. There are bits I love - chapter 10 springs to mind, and bits that I am not so sure of, but still I have enjoyed the ride. Hope you have too!