So here is the Epilogue. Special thanks to Hot Show for coming up with this Bunny and requesting for me to write it. I hope you are okay with how it turned out. Also thanks for all your loyalty throughout this story.
Dean Winchester couldn't understand what was happening. All he knew was that his brother, his dead brother, was no longer dead. At first he really didn't want to believe it, thought his mind was playing a cruel trick on him, that he just imagined Sam talking. Even when he heard the "owe" coming from his mouth he still thought it was too good to be true. But when he grabbed and hugged him, he not just heard the cough, he also felt the struggle for breath…Struggle for breath? Dean jerked up releasing the hold he had on his sibling ever so slightly, giving the younger man more room to breathe.
"Sorry kiddo!" He whispered, as he put his hand behind Sam's neck and gently let his body fall back until it was almost flat on the bed, cradling his head in his arm, unwilling to completely relinquish the close contact.
Able to breathe easier now, the younger Winchester looked up at the concerned face above him, his vision slightly blurry, but getting clearer by the second. Confusion lined his features, as he took in the smile on Dean's face.
Now it was Dean's turn to be confused, "You're kiddin' right?" His voice was filled with disbelief, "Because if you're not, then you must have lost your mind. You are the one, who died and now you're asking me if I'm alright."
"I'm…dead?" Sam's hazel eyes widened with astonishment
"No silly," Dean laughed, "You're very much alive, at least as far as I can tell."
"But you just said I died? How can I be …?"
"…alive? I can't answer that, I was actually hoping you could clear that up for me little brother."
"Okay Dean, why don't you give Sam a break. I don't think he is up to answer your questions just now." It was Bobby's voice, who decided to intervene.
He leant over the bed until he was within the youngest Winchester's field of vision. Stroking some loose strands of hair out of his face, he smiled down on the young man, who he thought lost until just a few moments ago.
"Bobby? What happened?" Sam's voice was quivering with exhaustion, his lids already on half mast as he fought against the pull of sleep.
"You've been sick, that's all you need to know right now." The older hunter assured him, "Now get some rest and don't worry about anything."
For a moment it looked like Sam was going to follow his advice, as his eyes closed and his body seemed to relax, yet it lasted only for a second before his eyes popped open again.
"Dean…he is in pain. Please, I have to help him." His breathing increased until he almost hyperventilated.
The older brother exchanged a worried glance with his friend, before he lifted his arm, which still supported his sibling; just enough so he was face to face with him.
"Sammy calm down, I'm right here. Remember, I'm the one, who is okay." He smiled, this time no questions or teasing, just honest concern and comfort in his words.
"You are!" The statement was said, as if this really was the first time he saw his brother since he woke.
"Yes, now rest, we can talk about this later, after you get some decent sleep."
"It's alright; just go to sleep, Sammy!" Dean smiled again, when he saw the younger man's lids finally closed and his breathing evened out in sleep.
Taking in air, the young hunter looked at Bobby, his expression becoming worried again, "This was so weird, in the beginning he seemed okay and then suddenly he was totally out of it. You think he is going to be alright?"
John, who purposefully stayed quiet as to not add to his youngest' confusion, looked at his firstborn with determination, "Don't even go there. Sam is going to be just fine now."
"How'd you know?" Dean asked, his voice sounding almost angry, "You didn't even talk to him."
"He was confused, I didn't want to add to it, after all, he had no idea I came." The Winchester patriarch defended himself.
"Yeah that's because you were never here in the past when he needed you." The young hunter spit out, now really angry.
"I had a job to do!"
"Oh yeah, abandon your son?"
"Stop it!" The quiet, yet steady voice of Bobby interrupted there quarrel, "Look at each other. You almost lost Sam; you are stressed out and overtired. For goodness sake, get some sleep before you totally loose it."
For a moment father and son stood there quietly, then John said, "Sorry."
"No, I'm sorry, I really didn't mean it."
"Well, you are at least in part right; I wasn't always there when you guys needed me."
"It's okay; I know we have to find whatever killed mom." Dean carefully removed his arm from underneath his brother and stood up. Hugging his father, he turned back to the bed and carefully settled down beside his Sam. There was no way he was going to get any sleep right now, but at least he could lie down for a while, making sure Sammy would be okay. Putting his arm on his kid brother's chest, his body relaxed and he was asleep before he was aware of it.
John couldn't believe it, because suddenly he felt like deja vue. He remembered living the same scene before, only at that time Dean had only been eight. After Sammy got sick out of his head with fever, the older brother had spent all night at his bed, helping John cool his little brother down, refusing to go to bed. When morning had come and the little guys fever had broke, he still had refused to go to bed, finally agreeing to at least lie down. He had climbed in bed with his brother and put his arm on him, asleep before he had settled all the way into the pillow.
Taking the comforter from the other bed, he spread it over his sons. Enjoying the peacefulness of the moment, he stood there, making a mental picture of his two serenely sleeping boys. This was why he fought and would continue to fight, no matter what the cost, even if it was his life. With this thought he lay down on the other bed and closed his eyes. He had no doubt, today he would sleep without worry, even if it was only for a few hours.
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The next time Sam woke, it was to almost complete silence. The shadows from the lights outside left the room in a twilight that made it difficult to see anything. There were several noises surrounding him, which after listening for a while, he finally identified as the soft snoring of his brother and the raspier on he was used to from Bobby. But there was another breathing pattern in the room, which sounded familiar, but was unidentifiable to him at the moment.
Trying to turn to towards the noise, he found himself trapped by something lying on his chest. For a moment panic started to creep up in him and his respirations picked up. Only when he reached for whatever it was, did he become aware that it was a hand attached to a sleeved arm. Rotating his head, he found his brother sleeping peacefully beside him.
A smile appeared on his face, as he took in the relaxed features of his sibling. No longer worried about the other person in the room, if Dean could sleep like this, then there was no danger, he gave in to his needs and let himself slip back into sleep again. Just before going under all the way, he felt the weight on his chest shift. Unconsciously he moved with it, turning into his brother's comforting embrace.
This was how Bobby and John found both of them several hours later, when their internal clocks went off almost exactly at the same time. Smiling at the gigantic younger man curled up so his head rested underneath his older siblings chin, Dean's arm still wrapped around him, they exchanged some relieved looks. They had their boys back, no question about it.
As if sensing the eyes watching him, Dean startled from his sleep. Sitting up, he brought Sam up with it and only his quick response prevented the younger man from falling backwards and out of the bed.
"Damn it guys, you scared the crap out of me." He looked at Sam, who by now was down on the pillow again, "You alright?"
"Yeah, what happened," a still blurry-eyed Sam answered him.
"The two old guys here decided to wake me by staring at me."
"Watch who you're calling old here!" John responded, "I'm not too old yet to kick your butt."
"Yeah boy, show some respect for your elders" Bobby agreed.
Sitting up, Dean smirked, "Go ahead try it."
"Oh you think I'm scared of you?" John laughed.
"That's exactly what I think."
"Alright, bring it on!" John made a motion for him to get up and attack him.
For a moment everyone had forgotten about their youngest, who now was standing on wobbly legs beside the bed, staring at his father in disbelief. John opened his mouth but closed it again, when he saw Sam's eyes roll back in his head. Taking a few rushed steps forward, he grabbed his son just in time to prevent him from face planting on the floor. Holding his son around his waist, the kid's head lolling loosely on his neck, he pulled him up and close to him until Sam's cheek rested on his shoulder, then put his hand underneath his knees and lifted him up.
For several seconds he hesitated, as his youngest snuggled against him, reminding him of better times, but at last he laid him down on the bed. Dean put the covers over him, anxiety radiating off him with every move. Almost tenderly John stroked his hand over his youngest mob, before he turned to his firstborn with a reassuring smile, "It's alright Dean, he just got up so fast, matter of fact he shouldn't have gotten up at all after almost dying. His blood pressure just dropped, that's why he passed out. He should come around shortly."
As if Sam heard him, his lids started to fluttered and finally opened, revealing confused hazels. There was just no way, what he was seeing could be true. He had to be hallucinating, because he was seeing his dad and that was impossible.
John noticed his son's eyes staring up at him and he returned the look with a smirk on his face.
"It's really me Sammy." He said, picking the younger man's hand up and lifting it to his face, "See, I'm real."
"You…are…real!" Sam stated, his eyes wide.
"Yeah, I had to come, kiddo, I was scared I would loose you."
For a moment the lastborn Winchester searched his father's eyes for any falsehood, yet all he could find was honest love.
"Dad…" A single tear made its way down his cheek, as for the first time in years Sam felt close to his father.
Dean and Bobby watched quietly, their faces almost exploding from the smiles that were appearing on them. This was something they've waited for way too long.
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John Winchester looked up from the lab top when he heard the voices of his sons coming from the bed. A smile appeared on his lips upon seeing Dean trying to stuff a fork full of pancake into his protesting brother's mouth, dripping syrup all over Sam's face and clothes in the process.
"I would let you eat by yourself, if what you're doing could be called eating." The older sibling scolded.
"Hey, I'm eating as much as I can." Sam complaint
"Yeah, but only if you're a baby bird."
"You know Dean," The oldest Winchester interrupted, "baby birds eat many times their body weight every day."
"Sure, now you're turning into geek boy too and together you gang up on me." Now the older brother was the one complaining, although the smirk on his face gave his true feelings away.
"Seriously though, you really need to eat Sam." John walked over to the bed and sat down, "You've been pretty sick and I know you need time, but at least try. No one expects you to stuff your face like Dean here does."
"Hey, I'm a growing boy."
"Sure, just keep telling yourself that, some girls like to hold on to love handles, so they don't fall over." Sam teased.
Dean gave his brother a seemingly upset gaze, yet on the inside he rejoiced, the old Sam was starting to reappear. He gave his father and Bobby, who was still sitting at the table, quietly observing a relieved look.
John ruffled his youngest thick mop, "It's good to have you back."
"Yeah, you really gave us a good scare." Dean's smile had been replaced with a more serious expression, "We just didn't know how to bring you back. Louisa really didn't leave us anything to work with."
"About this…" Sam bit his lip, suddenly finding one of the syrup stains on his t-shirt very interesting, "…Louisa, she…, I mean…, ahem, it wasn't…"He abruptly became quiet, unable to bring himself to say what he needed to.
Hoping their youngest would find the words to tell them what happened; neither of the three other men said anything, allowing the silence in the room to gather like ants in a honey bowl.
In the end it was Dean, who broke the quiet, "Okay kiddo, I know this wasn't a walk in the park for you either. So whatever happened, you really need to talk about it."
Lifting his head for just a moment, the younger man fixed his eyes on his brother so that Dean could see the tears standing in them. Averting his gaze again, the older sibling was afraid Sam would close down totally, when the words started to bubble out of him without prior warning.
"It wasn't Louisa, it was Jess. I just couldn't see it in the beginning, because I didn't want to. I…I wanted to stay with her and she tried everything to convince me not to, but I just needed to be with her and I…I just didn't want to come back, because I thought you were better off without me and I always hurt you and make things worse…" Exhausted he sacked back and buried his head into the pillow.
The three men exchanged glances, unsure of what to say. This was a lot to swallow in such a short time. Sam had been able to talk people's ears off ever since he started to talk but this was a record even for him.
After a moment Dean opened his mouth but received a look from his father telling him to let the older man handle this. John leaned over and gently moved the pillow away from Sam's face. Taking his thumb, he wiped a few tears away from his face.
"Sammy, listen to me. You've been through a lot lately. I know, because I've been there. It hurts like crazy to loose the woman you love. I don't know how many times I was ready to put a bullet into my brain, just because it felt like I couldn't do this without her anymore."
The younger man's hazel orbs suddenly opened, staring at his father in disbelief, "Why didn't you?"
"I wish I could say it was because of you two, but it wasn't, at least not totally. It was because of your mother. I knew she wouldn't want me to give up. There were many occasions, when I had conversations with her. Okay, I know that sounds odd, but sometimes I just starred at her picture and talked to her and it was like I could hear her voice in my head, telling me that you boys needed me and that there was so much for me to do." He paused for a moment then continued, "So instead of putting a bullet in my head, I hunted. Probably not the best solution either."
Throughout John's speech Sam stared at the older man, hanging on his every word. Now he swallowed hard, before he finally started to speak, "That's exactly what Jess told me too. I just didn't want to listen, I'm sorry for hurting you."
"You came back, that's all that matters, kiddo." John assured him, "I'm sorry you felt like we were better off without you, I guess I'm not totally guiltless in you feeling that way. You need to understand, no matter what happened between us, I never really wanted you to leave." Tears were making their way into the Winchester patriarch's eyes and he took a moment to regroup before continuing, "I know I hurt you, there is no excuse for that, but I hope you can forgive me."
Sam looked at his father, moisture welling up in his suddenly almost mossy green eyes. He bit down on his lip, trying to hide the emotions, which threatened to break through.
Finally he said, "I already have dad. I'm sorry to, especially for all the arguing and for not listening, when I should have." He paused for a moment, thinking about how to state the next words so they wouldn't be misunderstood, "I know I shouldn't have left the way I did, but there is no way I'll ever be sorry for going to Stanford."
His eyes crossed with John's for just a split second, before he dropped his head, expecting the worse. Even more did it come as a surprise, when he felt his dad's calloused fingers underneath his chin, lifting it up until he once again gained eye contact with him.
"Sam, I never should have made you choose. You are smart; you needed to go to college and I also think you need to go back." Seeing the doubt written on his son's face, he smiled, "Honestly, I've forgotten a long time ago how it feels to have a real home, don't even have the desire for one anymore, maybe because your mother is what made our house a home. But I keep forgetting that you never even knew your mom and never had a home."
"No dad, I really understand something now that I never did before. It doesn't really matter where you are, it matters who you're with. What made Stanford a home was Jess. With her gone, it won't be the same. Maybe I will go back…one day, but right now I belong right here, with Dean", he paused, before continuing, "…and you, whenever you can be around."
Before John could respond, Dean reached over and slapped his brother on the shoulder, "Dude, better quit before you turn dad into emo girl."
He moved back, expecting his brother to retaliate and ran right into John's waiting fist, punching his arm lightly.
"Hey, what's that for?" he objected.
The Winchester patriarch grinned "Didn't think Sam was up to defending himself quite yet."
"Yeah, maybe you're right, I guess I'll give him a break,…for now." The older brother waggled his eyes brows knowingly at his brother.
"Hey, I think we should give Sam a chance to clean up. He might want to take a bath, now that he is feeling a little better." Without warning Bobby's voice rang into the conversation.
The older hunter, who had enjoyed listening to the exchange between Sam and John and now to the friendly banter between Dean and his father, felt it was time to move on.
"You think he's up to it?" John gave the his a questioning look.
"He better," Dean turned his head toward his brother and sniffed the air, "Because he sure needs one." He grinned.
"It might make him feel better, but I'll stay with him, don't wanna take a risk." John was still reluctant, after all, he'd never come that close to loosing his son.
"Na, dad, I'll do it, has been my job forever to give the squirt a bath."
"Hey…" the voice of protest came from the bed, "Anyone going to ask me, what I want? You guys act like I'm not even here."
There was a quick exchange between all three men, before they faced the youngest of their group. It was John, who finally spoke for all of them, "We know you're here, and believe us, we are glad for it."
"Yeah, me too!" Sam's answer was honest and without hesitation.
"Alright then, why don't you let Dean help you with that bath? Bobby and I have some things to talk about."
The two older men went back to take a seat at the table while Dean carefully helped his brother sit up.
"Dean," Sam held on to his brother's arm, waiting until the other man's green orbs locked with his hazels, "Thanks for being here, for not giving up, for waiting for me."
"Hey, I'll always be there, no matter how long it takes." Shaking off the dreaded chick flick moment, he continued, "Now little brother, let's get you into the bath tub, so we can wash the stink off you."
A smirk on his face, he helped Sam up, steadying his brother with every step he took. The younger Winchester leaned heavily on him, still weak from his close encounter with death. He thought of Jess and a smile appeared on his face, he missed her, yet he finally found peace in knowing she didn't blame him and one day they would be back together. In the meantime he knew he had made the right decision, his place was here, with Dean. No matter how much he loved Jessica, Dean would always be the most important person in his life. He was the ying to his yang, the white to his black, the heaven to his hell. Only together they were complete.
Okay, this is it, I hope you are not disappointed, especially not with the ending. I know this story was quite emo and that certainly isn't everyone's business but I just needed to express some emotions here. Please let me know what you think, I really would appreciate it, especially also from those of you, who never dropped me a note. I will be back with new stories. I am researching one that was another request from Hot Show. I already have something in mind for the story line, just have to put it together. I'm also righting my part of the Round Robin for the 'Writers Guild' right now and waiting for my turn in the Round Robin at 'CWESS'. Besides that I'm working on a One Shot for the 'Winchester Single Shots'. So you see, I'm busy. Hope to see you soon. Hugs, Vonnie