Author's Note: Well, here it is...the last chapter. I've gotta be honest, I'm sad about finishing this story; I had a great time writing it! Actually, it's been the only story I've been able to write. I just wanted to thank each and every person who's read this story...and thank you to each and every person that took the time to either leave a review or send me an e-mail. For someone who still gets nervous about posting, there's no nicer feeling than getting a nice message full of support and encouragement. So thank you! :) I hope you like the chapter.
Disclaimer: Eric Kripke owns Sammy and Dean...I'm jealous.
Dean once again found himself down in the parking lot, his upper body leaning precariously through the open driver's door of his much-loved Chevy.
It was early afternoon—nearly two o'clock—and the ball had started rolling on Sam's release papers earlier that day.
It had been a short, but serious, discussion between the brothers and Sam's doctor; Hogarth saying that he couldn't find a medical reason to keep Sam in the hospital…and Sam promising that he was well enough to leave and get back on the road.
Which is why Dean was currently grunting awkwardly, reaching across to the passenger side and trying desperately not to crack his head on the roof of the car.
Dean Winchester's smile never failed.
By using the charming smile he knew he had, he'd managed to wheedle pillows and blankets from one of the nurses, using them to create as comfortable a place for Sam in the passenger seat as he could. Dean could practically picture Sam rolling his eyes, but he didn't care; he wasn't making a stink about Sam's early release, so the little punk would have to just suck it up and deal with his big brother's mother-bear protectiveness.
Even though Dean hadn't wanted to say it out loud, the truth was he couldn't wait to get back on the road.
It was usual for him to feel cabin fever after being in the same town for more than a few days and Boston wasn't any different. Throughout his travels, he had always favored the larger towns and the bigger cities— there was more to do, more people to explore, and the crappy motels were actually pretty decent. But Boston, a town that he'd always enjoyed, was different to him now.
All it had taken was the prospect of leaving Boston without Sam, and his view of the city had changed all together.
It was the city where he'd almost had to let go of his little brother.
He suppressed a shudder.
Dean wanted to go back to small town diners with bad food. He could practically hear a soggy sandwich calling to him from across the state.
Sam was sitting on his bed fully dressed—sweats, a t-shirt and socks—when Dean eventually made his way back into the room. He was leaning back heavily against his mountain of pillows, one leg out-stretched and the other bent at the knee.
Dean stripped off his leather jacket and gently draped it across the end of the bed. "Feelin' ok?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Starting to feel antsy, though."
"Well the car's all ready. Just waitin' on your papers."
"Then we're finally outta here."
Dean nodded, crossing his arms and leaning his hip against the edge of the bed. "That's the rumor."
Sam studied his older brother silently for a moment and then in a quiet voice, he said, "You're still not happy about this, are you?"
The truth was Dean was completely torn down the middle when it came to his brother's release from the hospital. On one hand he was ecstatic, because he was just as bored—maybe even more so—then Sam was, and just the thought of hitting the road again made his stomach settle. He'd get to hunt and drive his car; thinking about the rumble of Impala's engine nearly gave him goosebumps.
On the other hand, it was hardwired into his big brother psyche that Sam always came first—especially before Dean's own wants and comforts. He couldn't shake the feeling that they were going to leave Boston, check into a motel ten thousand miles away from any kind of medical help and Sam would fall ill again.
Stitches, bruises and bumps he could handle. He could set minor breaks and pop a dislocated shoulder back into place without even batting an eyelash.
But seizures, and all the other wonderful things that came along with brain injuries? That was way beyond him.
When it came to Sam, he wasn't willing to take risks. He'd been that way since he was six; as soon as he was old enough to realize and accept the responsibilities that came with being a big brother.
Taking a deep breath, Dean raised one shoulder in a non-committal shrug. "Mixed feelings, I guess."
"Y'know what? Forget it." He sent his little brother a small smile. "The mad scientist says it's ok, your test results are good…just…for Christ sake, take it easy."
Sam couldn't help but return the tiny smile, nodding his head.
The borrowed pen practically flew across the page as Sam signed on the dotted line, indicating his desire to sign out 'against medical advice'. Dean stood off to the side with his arms crossed and Hogarth sighed as he took possession of the freshly signed paperwork.
"Well, as you gentlemen mentioned earlier, you know the drill-" He smiled at them.
Sam grinned and extended a hand; there was absolutely no hesitation from the doctor when he shook it. "Thank you for everything."
Dean copied the gesture, shaking the doctor's hand as well. "Yeah, thanks, doc."
"You're very welcome. I just have one request?"
"All I ask in parting is that you take care of yourselves, the both of you." He raised his eyebrows. "I honestly never heard the complete story of what happened at that warehouse, just please, for the love of God, don't do it again."
Sam chuckled quietly. "We'll do our best."
Letting out a tired breath, Hogarth reached into the breast pocket of his white lab coat and pulled out a business card; he handed it to Dean, gesturing towards the phone number on it. "That's my personal phone number." Dean's eyes widened slightly. "You mentioned that you travel, so I'm not too sure how much help I can continue to be to you…but if anything comes up, anything at all…feel free to call me."
The older Winchester found himself ridiculously swallowing hard as he held the stiff little business card in his fingers.
He was so annoyed with his overly exposed emotions, it wasn't even funny.
"Thank you." Dean's voice cracked embarrassingly and he cleared his throat. "That's uh…that's really good of you."
It was obvious that Hogarth, too, was feeling emotional. He looked over to Sam. "You're our own little success story, Sam. Give yourself time to heal properly and you'll be running marathons in no time."
After placing a fatherly pat on Dean's shoulder, the doctor turned and left the room, pulling the door closed quietly behind him.
"I'm not doin' it, Dean-"
"Sam, sit down."
"Sit your ass in the chair-"
The disgust that took over Sam's face as they stood in front of the wheelchair was absolutely priceless, and Dean might've laughed if he hadn't been so determined to get his way.
"It's two floors down in the elevator, I'll be fine."
"Look man, you got a choice. Ok?" Dean narrowed his eyes and pointed enthusiastically towards the wheelchair. "It's either the chair or I throw you over my shoulder like a four-year-old."
"You wanna bet money on that?"
"I kinda do, yeah."
Dean narrowed his eyes even more and started to roll up his sleeves, as if in preparation, daring Sam to not take his threat seriously.
As the two looked at each other, Sam's shoulders dismally dropped and Dean instantly knew he'd won the stand down.
He was only proven correct when Sam, looking purely miserable, carefully set himself down into the seat of the wheelchair.
Dean tried hard not to smirk in sheer smugness as he bent over and grabbed both of their duffel bags, tossing the straps over the same shoulder. And then, conveying as much pride into the movement as he could, he gently started pushing Sam's chair towards the closest elevator.
After a few minutes of companionable silence, Sam cleared his throat. "So…where we headed?"
The rumble of the Impala vibrated up through Dean's seat as it tore down the back road, and for the life of him he couldn't stop smiling.
Life, at that moment, was pretty good—Sam was alive and healthy, sitting beside him…the sun was shining brightly through the open window, comfortably warming his bare arms…and he felt relaxed and at ease, truly, for the first time in nearly two weeks.
Pushing his sunglasses to rest further up his nose, he glanced over at Sam—who was barricaded into his seat by pillows—and just kept on smiling. "Right now? How's nowhere sound?"
"I figured we'd drive for a couple hours, see how you were feelin'."
"I thought you wanted to crash and then look into those leads in Cambridge and Southie?"
Dean shrugged one shoulder, relaxing further into his seat. "I did."
"And you don't anymore?"
He hesitated for a moment and took a deep breath. "Actually…uh…I thought we could take a break from working."
"What kind of break?"
"Y'know, a vacation."
Sam chuckled quietly. "Dude, not once—in our whole lives—have you ever wanted to take a vacation."
"That's not true. When you had the chicken pox, I wanted to take a vacation then-"
"Yeah, only because you wouldn't ride in the car with me. You thought I was contagious, remember?"
Dean snorted in spite of himself.
"But a vacation? Where are we going to go?"
"So we don't have a plan?"
"Hey, man, I don't know about you? But just bein' outside that damn hospital is makin' me feel better." Dean glanced over quickly. "So takin' a line from Hogarth; let's just go with the flow and see where we end up."
Sam couldn't help but make a face. "Y'know, whenever you're involved in a plan like that, Dean, it never turns out well."
The older man laughed. "Oh come on, Sammy. Have a little faith."
"Oh, I've got faith. You know another thing I've got? Experience."
"Experience with what?"
"Experience with you."
The corner of Dean's mouth pulled up into one of his trademark smirks. "Yeah, whatever."
Even though neither man said it out loud, the truth was it didn't matter one bit where they went. A vacation, by Winchester definition, meant time spent together that didn't involve hunting, hustling, researching or being thrown around by invisible entities. They could have a vacation together just sitting in the car, moving from town to town and spending every waking moment in each other's company.
Of course, if asked about it, either brother would say that spending every waking moment together was more of a hassle then anything—when in reality, they didn't think there was any other acceptable way of life.
It was their routine and they were used to it.
And Dean knew at that very moment that it didn't matter how annoyed they got with each other. It didn't matter if Sam complained or turned into 'Sammy, Mr. Emo geekboy'. He'd known what it was like to think he'd lost the one person in his world that made his world worth having—he'd known what it was like watching the man he'd raised practically waste away to nothing.
And no amount of complaining, or emotional geekboy-ness would ever erase the memory of how painful that void had been, or how dark the prospect was of having to live with it.
He was suddenly thanking God it was sunny enough to wear sunglasses.
Dean knew that one day Sam would ask. He could practically feel the questions and curiousness wafting in their atmosphere; questions about the poltergeist, what had happened, what had gone on while he'd been unconscious. It was inevitable. Sam couldn't not ask.
And Dean would cross that bridge when he got there. He didn't know if he'd want to talk about it or even if he'd be able to. But for the time being, he was happy where he was.
As he'd told Bobby days before, he and Sam were going to be just fine.
They couldn't not be.
Looking up from his magazine, Dean's eyes fell on his little brother. "Yeah."
The little guy was standing there awkwardly, shifting from foot to foot as if he didn't quite know what to do with himself. After a few agonizing seconds of silence, Dean furrowed his brow. "What's wrong with you? If you need to take a leak, dude, go to the bathroom-"
"Can I wear your leather jacket?"
The question burst from Sammy's lips as if the kid had been waiting to ask that single question for days. Dean, for his part, sat there stymied at first. It was unexpected…but manageable.
Sammy bit his lip and nodded nervously. "Yeah."
Dean's recently inherited leather jacket was hanging majestically on the back of the wooden chair near the window. He'd seen his kid brother eyeing it for days but had never thought much of it.
The barely contained excitement Dean saw in Sam at that moment was heartwarming, though he'd never dream of admitting it.
Tossing aside his magazine, Dean stood from the bed and crossed the room; he didn't need to look to know that Sam was tagging along closely behind him, probably biting his lip in anticipation.
Dean gripped the leather gently and pulled the jacket away from the chair. He knew without even thinking about it that the nine-year-old would swim in it, but it didn't matter—two Winchesters had worn it, it was about time for the third to have a go.
Sending a nod to Sam, Dean carefully slid the jacket onto the younger boy's shoulders, helping him adjust it as he stuck his too short arms into the too long sleeves.
Swimming in it was a slight understatement.
The arms were long to the point of being comical and if Sam were only a few inches shorter, it would have ended up being a leather jacket dress.
But none of that mattered, because the smile that broke out on Sam's face outshined everything else.
Sammy was smiling because of Dean and his leather jacket.
Big brother mission accomplished.