Greetings everyone! It's the final chapter. Sorry it's taken so long to get to you all. I just wanted to make sure it was really good. Plus it's really long (my longest yet and I know you're probably tired of hearing that, but it sure makes me happy to know I can write chapters this long :~P). It also took forever to edit. I hope you like it and I hope it answers your questions and keeps you hooked for the sequel :D

Just to try and avert any confusion that might be had while reading this chapter, remember the episode "In the beginning" (Season 4 episode 3) where Dean was sent back in time? This chapter works like that with the whole time loop thing. Just as in the episode, where Dean had to go back in time for certain things to happen, so too does Sam. I hope this explanation doesn't confuse you and put you off from going nay further. If you're still confused after reading the chapter, just PM me and I'll do my best to help you understand.

And finally, with that out of the way, on with the story.


Chapter 23

Somewhere over the rainbow


Lookin at the hand of the time we've been given here
This is all we got and we gotta start pickin it
Every second counts on a clock that's tickin'
Gotta live like we're dying
We only got 86 400 seconds in a day to
Turn it all around or throw it all away…

Live like we're dying, Kris Allen

As soon as he had heard the gun shot, Sam scrunched his eyes closed and put his hands to his ears. Screaming bloody murder, Sam shook his head in denial. How could Dean do this? Why didn't Dean understand his decision? Why was he being so selfish? A life was not something to give up so easily. Sam knew this first hand. Why had Dean thrown away Sam's gift so carelessly?

He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't realize that he eyes were still shut. Opening them, he found that he was no longer in Bobby's salvage yard. Instead, he was back in the room where this whole life and death nightmare had begun. He was sitting on his knees on the floor of what he could only think had been his room all those years ago in Kansas.

It was happening. He was back at the beginning again. Soon he would be back in that small town walking home alone from school. Sam sighed deeply. He could only hope that the impact of what he saw would only wear off the more he saw it. Maybe there would even come a time where what he saw wouldn't even affect him. He could only hope.

"Oh Sammy," a soft voice said.

Sam's head snapped up only to behold the most beautiful and pure looking woman he had ever laid eyes on. It the woman from his dreams, the one he had only seen in pictures.

"Mom?" he asked hesitantly.

She nodded and walked into the room. She knelt in front of Sam and took him in her arms. It was a wonderful feeling to receive the comfort she offered. He hardly knew her, but sitting there in her warm embrace felt so right.

"I've missed you so much honey," his mother soothed.

"I've missed you too," Sam sniffled before pulling out of her embrace. "Is this real?"

He had to know if this was just another figment of his imagination.

Mary tilted her head and shook it.

"This is all created by your mind," she explained.

"You?" Sam asked, the tiny hope that had risen fading the more she revealed.

She shook her head again.

"I'm just a guest here," she said.

Sam sighed and looked around.

"I've messed up so badly mom," he said. "And Dean…" He stopped speaking.

"Look at me Sam," he mother ordered softly. Sam frowned and did as she asked. "It's not too late."

Sam's frown grew deeper.

"But he already-"

She put a silencing finger on his lips.

"Dean was but the messenger," she explained. "He doesn't hold the keys to unlock this door you've placed between him and you. You do."

"So Dean still can be…"

Mary nodded.

Sam looked at the floor. Mary reached out and cupped his face in her hands, bringing up his gaze until he was looking directly into her eyes.

"I know what you're thinking, what you fear," she said, understanding shining in her eyes. "I won't say that it will be easy or that everything will be okay if you go, but I will say that if you go, Dean will live and you will live and you will have the chance to make things right mo matter how long it takes and that is so much more than you can do here."

Sam sniffled and nodded slowly, her reasoning resonating within his mind, telling him what he already had figured out.

"Can I just stay here for a few more minutes?" he said, his voice hitching. "With you?"

Mary tilted her head and nodded sadly.

"Of course," she said softly, taking him into her warm embrace for one last time, "What ever you need."

As he sat in her arms, tears fell down his cheeks, tears for himself, tears for Dean, and most all, tears for his mother who had been taken from them much too soon.

John stood somberly in a forest, the light of a brightly burning fire lighting his tired face. The smell of burning flesh hung in the air, but he didn't seem to notice. His mind was in another place.

After a short drive away from the graveyard, further away from Spokane and deeper into the surrounding forests, he had stopped. It had taken a good while to gather wood and carry the bodies in, but here he was now, watching them burn. There wasn't any satisfaction in his eyes as he watched the two demons burn. Maybe if things hadn't turned out the way they did, he would be watching them burn with a sense of justice having been dealt.

But things hadn't turned out the way they needed to for that to happen and now here he was, his small family minus one, and most likely fractured beyond repair. These two demons had done that to him. Yet, like he had thought before, there was no satisfaction at their deaths. Instead there was burning hole within him, a hole that Sam, now dead, had once filled. Thinking of Sam only made him think of what he had to do next.

Tearing himself away from the blaze, he dragged himself back his truck for the last body.

As he walked through the trees, he couldn't help but think of Sam and the things Sam had done while under the yellow eyed demon's control. Of course, he still loved his son, but the things he had done…

The moon above was suddenly revealed as the cloud covering it drifted on. It cast an eerie glow on the surrounding area making his journey seem so much more ominous than it already was.

If he was being honest with himself, he would have to admit that he was glad Sammy was dead. It would have been too hard to deal with the aftermath of everything with Sam still alive. It would have been too hard to look Sam in the eye after everything he had done to the boy. He knew he had played a major role in pushing Sam toward the demon. This was better, he had convinced himself. Dean would call him a coward, but Dean would never know his reasons.

The snow crunched beneath his feet as he walked on toward where his truck was parked somewhere in the darkness ahead. Thinking of his truck and who lay within brought Sam's angelic face to his mind's eye.

This was his boy, his little Sammy, and now he was dead, all because he had been left alone at a time when he never should have been abandoned. Some father he was. He thought back to the graveyard. He had tried to shoot Sam. He had meant to kill him. If he had succeeded, then Sam never would have been able to incapacitate the demon and he would never have had the opening to shoot the demon. Even after Sam had proven himself, he still had pointed his gun at Sam.

Oh what Sam must have thought about him then, if he didn't already think it. Sam was the most forgiving person he knew, but he had done too much this time to be forgiven by Sam or to even want forgiveness. He wasn't even sure if he could have forgiven Sam for what he had done if he had lived. It definitely was better this way.

Up ahead, he could make out the outline of his truck. Sighing deeply, John closed the distance between him and his truck within minutes. He had laid Sam in the passenger seat, meaning to experience one last ride with his boy at his side.

He shook his head. He had to stop being so sentimental. He had a job to do and it was time he did it.

When Sam opened his eyes next it was to find himself surrounded by darkness. With the aid of the dim moonlight, he realized that he was sitting inside of a vehicle. With a quick glance around, he realized that not only was he in a vehicle, but it was his fathers truck. Thoughts of the last time he had seen his dad filled his mind. The glint of the gun as his dad had pointed at him with intent to kill sent shivers down his spine. He had to get out of here.

Throwing the door open, Sam burst out of the truck and ran into the forest, hiding behind a particularly large tree, just out of view from the truck. As he stopped and caught his breath, he peered around the tree and across the road to the other side. There was a faint glow in the distance. Thinking quickly of what had probably happened after he had left this world, for lack of a better term, he figured that someone, most likely his dad judging from the truck, had to burn the bodies of the two demons.

The crunch of snow and a twig braking, alerted Sam to a figure approaching in the darkness. Sam barely dared to breathe as he watched the person come closer through the forest on the other side of the road. Said person walked around the truck and opened the passenger side. He stood there for a moment before getting in, reaching around, and then getting out and looking down the road frantically as If he was looking for something that should have been right there in that seat.

It was his father and his father was looking for him. Sam knew this because of the way in which his father had reacted and the way in which he moved; that and the truck were big clues that this was his father. Sam watched as his father looked around one last time, his eyes searching the tree line around him, before dashing to the other side of the truck and getting in. The engine was on in seconds and within a minute he was out of sight. Sam sighed in relief and then frowned. Had his dad meant to burn him too? He had gone directly to the passenger side instead of the driver's side; all clues pointed to it. Sam could hit himself on the head. Of course his father would do that. He was all but dead and it was common practice to burn bodies as he had previously been thinking earlier. It was a close call. What if he had come back after his dad had retrieved him; Or worse, after his father set him on fire?

He shook his head. It probably was no mere coincidence.

Alone in the darkness and relatively safe from any current danger, the reality of his situation finally came back to him. He was back. On Earth. A place where he had royally messed up. A place where he had not been happy in the best of times, at least from what his fractured mind would let him remember. He shook his head. He couldn't think of that, he had a mission.

He had to save Dean. But how?

He thought of Dean and where Dean had been when he had put the gun to his head. He had been in Bobby's salvage yard. Judging by the trees and the burning demons somewhere within the drakness on the other side of the road, he still had to be in Washington. Whenever they had had to burn a body, they never waited long to do it, let alone crossed state borders.

Knowing his dad, he would have gone and done it right after the demons had "died." That meant that he was near the graveyard and that what had happened there had happened not too long ago. That meant that Dean was still here too. Maybe he could reach Dean before they left for Bobby's place. Maybe he could stop the whole thing before Dean even thought of it.

But then again, he was alone. Alone in a rather large forest and vehicle-less. From the way his dad was driving, he would no doubt be halfway back to the motel they were staying at, that is if they had stayed there after his little visit. Weaving his way through the trees, Sam walked back to the road and then stopped.

Remembering the direction that his dad had gone in, Sam took off running. There was nothing else he could think of to get him there other than walking and that was just too slow for him. He thought nothing of the tiredness he felt. His only goal was to reach his brother and stop that fatal bullet.

John burst into the motel room without hesitation. He didn't even stop to register how his actions would be received by Bobby who was already on edge as it was. Not even half way through the door, John found himself being pushed to the ground and a knife being held to his throat. He should have known that was how Bobby would react, but he didn't care. He had one thing on his mind and that was getting his remaining son out of this god forsaken city. Sam's body was gone meaning either he wasn't as dead as they thought or other demons had gotten a hold of him. Neither of these options bode very well for them. Pushing Bobby off with a grunt, John stood up and looked to Dean. He was sleeping.

"Damn it John, you idjit," Bobby said, picking himself up of the ground.

John ignored him for the moment and went to Dean. He shook him to wake him. They had to leave right away. Who knew what was going on with Sam if anything at all, but it was better to be safe than sorry. All thoughts of Sam being anything but bad had left his mind the moment he had found Sam missing from his truck.

"Dean, son," John said, still shaking him. Dean wasn't responding. "We gotta get out of here."

"What are you doing?" Bobby said walking over to him. "Why now?"

John turned to Bobby frustratedly.

"I don't have time to explain," He turned back to Dean, who still had not stirred from his slumber. "How long has he been out?"

"Only about an hour," Bobby said quickly, his tone clipped. He was obviously angry at John for the way he was acting.

"We don't have time," John said. He bent over and took Dean in his arms. Putting him over his shoulder he turned to Bobby. "Open the door."

Bobby just stood there.

"Bobby," John said. "Just do it."

"Where do you get off ordering me around?" Bobby said obstinately. "What's got you all fired up?"

John only shook his head and went to the door.

"Did something go wrong-"

His only answer was the door being thrown open forcefully. John walked out into the darkness and went toward where Bobby's truck was parked. Just as he hoped, Bobby came out of the motel room hot on his heels.

"What are you doing?!" Bobby asked forcefully.

"We're leaving," John said. "It's not safe here anymore."

"What do you mean?" Bobby asked angrily. "You burned-"

"Just open the door Bobby," John said tiredly.

Bobby huffed.

"Why isn't he going with you?" he asked.

John shook his head.

"He's better off with you, especially once he wakes up," he said. There was no emotion in his voice as he spoke the words. "I'm not exactly on his good side right now."

Bobby nodded reluctantly.

"Where do you have in mind for our destination?" Bobby asked.

John was glad that Bobby was finally coming around.

"Your place," John answered.

Bobby sighed and for a moment John wasn't sure if Bobby liked the idea.

"Fine," he said reaching into his pocket for his keys, "But when we get there, you owe me a full explanation for all of this."

John shrugged non-committedly as he watched Bobby put the key into the lock and open the door. As he got Dean settled in, Bobby asked him another question, one that was far from his mind.

"What are you going to do about the car?" Bobby asked. "Dean will kill you if he wakes up and his car's not there."

Fastening Dean's seatbelt, he turned back to Bobby.

"I'll work something out," he answered. Truthfully, he didn't have a clue what he was going to do about that, but in the whole scheme of things, a car, no matter how cherished, was low on his priorities. "Stay here," he told Bobby. He didn't want to leave Dean alone, especially with what had happened to Sam when he had been left alone. Bobby nodded his acceptance.

Walking back into the motel room, he quickly gathered his and Dean's things and then went back out. Putting the things in his truck, he relieved Bobby from his watch to allow him to get his things together and do one final sweep of the room.

Just minutes later, Bobby was back. John was very appreciative toward Bobby for his speed.

"I checked us out too," Bobby said, putting his stuff in the back of the truck. "If we drive straight, we should be at my place early tomorrow morning.'

John nodded and went to his truck. Starting it up he pulled out and waited for Bobby to take the lead. He would be following, though he had been there so many times before. It was Bobby's place after all and Bobby knew the way better than he ever would.

It was somber two car procession that never broke formation through the many hours they drove toward South Dakota, only stopping to refuel.

Sam stopped out of breath in front of the motel sign. The Spokane Street Motel sign glowed in the night and flashed in and out several times as he caught his breath. It felt like hours since he had found himself in his father's truck. The sun had barely started to rise, but he was anything but ready for a new day. If anything, he wanted to drop right where he stood and not wake up until the next millennium.

He had ran until he reached a more populated stretch of road where some kind stranger who was just stepping out of his house on his way to work, offered him a ride into the city. From there he managed to get himself thoroughly turned around and more than lost before thinking to look at the yellow pages for any motel with a name that rung a bell within his memories. After asking a few passing people for directions to the motel he had seemed most drawn to, he finally managed to get himself going in the right direction. Now here he was, early morning, at a small motel that he could only hope still housed his family.

As he walked past the sign and down the sidewalk that lined the rooms, he looked out into the small parking lot. His heart was falling fast as he failed to see any vehicles he was familiar with. Just as he was ready to give up on finding any outside evidence of his family's presence, he saw it; Dean's precious car. It was parked behind a tall monster of an SUV, the reason why he couldn't see it at first. There was still hope.

Searching through memories he would rather forget, Sam struggled to remember what Room Dean had come running out of the last and only time he had been at this place. Having a vague sense of which room it was, Sam looked around the parking lot for something he could use to pick the lock. Finding a small bobby pin laying on the ground, Sam rushed back to the door he had decided was the right one and started working his magic on the old lock. It was a trick that Dean had taught him years ago.

Seconds later the lock clicked. He opened the door and cautiously walked in, ready for whatever awaited him inside. However, he was not prepared to find an absolutely empty room. He was sure that this was the room. Searching the room, he found nothing that indicated that anyone had been here recently. Just how long ago had they left? Maybe they had left the motel right after he had showed up and shot that other hunter. He cringed at the memory. They must have, but then why was the Implala still out front?

He left the room went to the Impala. It was Dean's alright. The license plate was a match and inside he could see Dean's tapes. Why was it still here? Had they abandoned it? He thought hard.

He couldn't go to the office and ask if and/or when they had checked out. He didn't know what name they had used to sign in and asking for the names of who had been in this room would sound suspicious. A crazy idea popped into his head. It was worth trying. He had nothing else to do and time was ticking. If they had already left, they had a few hours head start already, no matter where they had left from.

Leaving briefly, Sam returned with a hanger from a nearby dumpster and began to break into the Impala. It took a fine bit of haggling and maneuvering, but eventually he was able to open the door and get inside. Once inside, he got to work at hotwiring the car. This particular talent had been taught to him by his father, who had wanted him to have another route of escape should the situation call for it. It was ironic that he was using knowledge given to him by his father to effectively steal his brothers car, but now was not the time admire that irony. Some minutes later, the car engine finally roared to life.

Sam was in business.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** A day and a night later, they finally arrived at their destination. The lonely hours had been willed away silently. He had turned off the radio and in the silence had only thought of the many possibilities surrounding the disappearance of Sam's body. He had been so sure that Sam was dead. Obviously, he had either been wrong, or a demon had taken over. Why was Sam such a target? Why were demons so easily attracted to his son, even in death?

He had to find Sam. He had to find him and make sure that no one could use him again. Sam had been used, he knew that. But he still was confused about everything that had happened and what was real and what was fake. He still didn't understand what Sam had done of his own free will and what he had been tricked or forced into doing. It the inability to distinguish between these things that kept him confused about where Sam stood and where he stood with Sam.

Coming to a stop behind Bobby's truck, John turned off his truck and got out. He saw that Bobby had already gotten out of his truck and was leaning halfway inside his truck. Probably talking to Dean, he thought.

He had barely finished that thought before Bobby started walking toward him.

"What now?" Bobby asked. "Dean woke up, but he's not speaking a word."

"I figured as much," John said. "Listen Bobby, I have to go."

Bobby's mouth dropped open.

"Now?" he said stunned, "Why now?"

"It's Sam-"

"What about Dean?" Bobby interrupted. "You're not thinking of leaving him here are you?"

Bobby had the look of someone hoping that he was hearing something the wrong way. When John didn't say anything, Bobby took that as his answer.

"What are you thinking John?" Bobby asked. His voice was getting louder the more he spoke. "You can't just leave him here like that."

John sighed.

"You don't understand Bobby, I have to go," his dad said. "I can't take Dean with me, I don't want to."

"What do you mean you don't want to take me?!" Dean yelled, startling him. He had not noticed Dean getting out of Bobby's truck. "You got rid of Sammy now you're gonna get rid of me too? Just what kind of father are you?!"

The words seared themselves into his brain. Just what type of father was he?

"I didn't mean it-"

"Oh yes you did," Dean interrupted. Once Dean got started on something he felt passionate about nothing would stop him. "You didn't even think of the possibility that I wouldn't even want to go with you did you? You just assumed that I would."

He had thought about that in fact. It was one of the reasons why he was leaving Dean here. A small reason in comparison to the other ones, but a reason none the less.


"Don't Dean me," Dean said pointing a finger. "You could go off and kill yourself for all I care after how badly you messed up with Sammy!"

He frowned, a deep feeling of hopelessness settling over him. His own son didn't care if he lived or not. It was the worst form of insult that a child could give to a parent let alone another human being. He didn't want to anger Dean any further than he already had. If Dean didn't want him around and didn't care about him at all, then he would leave no matter how much it hurt him to do so under such circumstances. It was obvious Dean wouldn't get any better with him around, even if he could afford to stay a while. He would give Dean this last wish and hope that Dean would be able to move on with his life and find the sense of normalcy that he craved.

He turned away quickly, not wanting to see the anger on Dean's face that was directed at him any longer. Getting back into his truck, he shut the door, effectively cutting himself off from his son and ending any hope he had of reconciling. As he drove away, he couldn't help himself from looking in the rear view mirror to get one last glance at his son. What he saw made him sigh sadly. Dean was running after him, his fists raised high in the air.

"I'll always love you Dean" he whispered. "And I'll make sure that Sammy is at peace before I leave this world."

I promise you that.

Sam was on a caffeine high. He had drank so much that he was shaking, on edge, his eyes darting about him, seemingly looking everywhere but at the road. He had driven straight through the day, only stopping to fill up the gas tank and get more caffeine. He could not remember the last time he had slept and he didn't dare give in now. He supposed he was probably overdoing it with the caffeine, but his mind was far beyond coherent thinking. He only had one goal in mind and that was getting to Dean in time. It was all that kept him going; it was the only rational thing on his mind.

Relying on the map book that Dean always kept in the back, Bobby's address which he had found in the glove compartment, and one of Dean's scammed credit cards, Sam had made his way across 5 different states in his effort to reach Dean. Now the sun was barely just starting to rise, along with his fears. Dean was in trouble; he could feel it. He wasn't gonna make it.

Pushing the petal hard, Sam felt the engines rev and saw the speedometer rise.

He was close. Just a little bit farther…

The chilly air hit him full on as soon as he left the warmth of Bobby's house. Bobby had gone for what he presumed was a bathroom break. It had been the opportunity he had been waiting for. Quickly, he made his way deeper into Bobby's salvage yard, If this didn't work, then he didn't want to be found so easily. He almost thought that Bobby would never leave him alone, when finally Bobby had left for the bathroom. During the hour that Dean had been bidding his time, he had thought of many things but most of all he thought of how he could reach Sam one last time.

If this didn't work, then at least he wouldn't have to worry about facing the world without Sam at his side.

Now well beyond the view of the house, Dean stopped. He was standing behind a particularly large beat up semi tractor. He took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be easy. Hell, it was downright stupid, but he was desperate and desperate times called for desperate measures.

"Sam," Dean said, looking for all the world that he was talking to himself like some crazy person in a mental institution. "If you can hear me, or whatever, I'm giving you this final chance to come back."

Silently, he berated himself when there was no reply. If Sam was really out there watching then it seemed that it would take much more than a simple plea to get him to show up.

"If you really care about me, you'll come back right now before I blow my head off."

It was a huge leap to make, but he had to trust that Sam would come back if he presented this option to him. Sam hadn't been able to let him die before and he hoped that that hadn't changed since then.

"I really mean it Sam," Dean said seriously. "I'm gonna blow my brains all over this place if you don't stop me."

Vaguely he could feel anger start to permeate the air around him.

"Please Sam," Dean said, his voice faltering. "Don't make me do this."

The sound of continued silence was ominous and oppressing to Dean. This wasn't working and he was so tired. This wasn't a physical tiredness as much as it was emotional. The longer the silence and lack of Sam's miraculous appearance lasted, the closer Dean was to death. This was because, as Bobby had stood guard over him, he had promised himself that if he couldn't save Sam, the he would end it all and give up no matter where he ended up. Heaven, hell, the middle of nowhere; elsewhere seemed better than being alone here.

"Look Sam," Dean said. "I don't have much time before Bobby comes looking for me. You leave me no choice. I will not continue on as if nothing happened like you want me to. I can't live without you Sam."

"It's too hard."

He heard the sound of a car passing by, but didn't think anything of it.

He was here.

Parking so that he couldn't be seen from the front door of Bobby's house, he quickly shut off the Impala and got out. He didn't need to be found out by Bobby's and held up before he could get to Dean. Weaving his way through the yard as quietly as he could, he searched for the large semi tractor that he remembered seeing when he had watched Dean put the gun to his head before.

He was so tired right now yet so alert.

"I can't do this Sam," Sam could faintly hear Dean speaking. "I can't live this life alone."

He had found the semi but how to get around it to Dean. He didn't want to shout out in case he surprised Dean and inadvertently made him pull the trigger. That and he feared that Bobby was out here somewhere. There was no way that Bobby would lose track of Dean so easily.

"I can't take it anymore Sam," He heard dean whisper. He was so close. If only he could find a way around the cars that were stacked up against the semi. "It's too much to bare."

Please don't do it Dean, Sam pleaded internally.


He was almost there. Pushing himself through a small opening near the ground, he was able to get past the cars.

"I'm not strong like you are." Dean said. He could hear Dean's voice as if he were standing right next to him, but he wasn't quite there. On the other side of the pile of cars, was a pile of scrap metal. He had to push himself onto the trunk of a wreck of a car to get over it. Only then did he see the path that Dean had taken to get to where he was. He followed it, his heart pounding as he pushed himself onward. "At least this way, if you won't come to me, I'll come to you."

Sam's breath hitched in his throat. Right in front of him was Dean standing there, his back to him, the gun raised and poised to fire the fatal shot. Doing the only thing his over caffeinated mind could think of, he took off toward Dean and tackled him from behind.

Bobby had barely stepped back into the front room, when he noticed that Dean was no longer laying on the couch.

"Crap," he muttered, setting his coffee on the table next to the couch. He rushed to the bathroom and found it empty. None of his other rooms were occupied or disturbed. That only left the front door. Rushing to the front of the house, he threw open the door and rushed outside.

Taking the steps two at a time, Bobby couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. His truck was still parked where he left it. There were no other working vehicles in the yard and he couldn't see anyone walking down the road. Where had Dean gotten off to?

The sudden sound of a gunshot broke the morning silence.

"Damn," Bobby said rushing forward. His worst fear had seemingly come true.

The shot had gone off just as he had tackled Dean. He couldn't tell if the shot had met any target. The moment he had collided with Dean and sent them both to the ground, Dean had started struggling with him, not knowing who had knocked him down. The gun had been thrown from Dean's grasp and lay just feet away.

Suddenly, Dean was able to buck him off like a bull and his rider, sending Sam forcefully into the side of the semi. Sam's head hit the hard metal with a thud and he saw stars. Momentarily dazed, it was all it took for Dean to get a good look at him and realize just who had come to stop him.

"Sam?" he said, his eyes lighting up. "Sammy?!"

His acknowledgment was enough to send Sam over the edge. Now that Dean was not putting a gun to his own head, Sam had a moment to think about his current situation and what lay ahead for him now that the one and only goal he had in mind had been accomplished. Anger rose in his heart and mind. How dare Dean do this to him; how dare he play with his emotions like this. How dare he pull a stunt like this to get him back, especially when he didn't want to be back on this hell hole of a world.

The anger overwhelmed him and with the bounding energy from his caffeine binge needing an outlet, he charged Dean. Within moments they were both on the ground again, fists and snow flying. All the pent up anger welled deep within him fueled his efforts. He could tell Dean was confused and slightly worried, but beyond that he didn't take any time to consider what Dean was feeling. It seemed to him that Dean had not thought of what he, Sam, was feeling when he had forced his hand in coming back. It was only fair.

"Sammy stop!" Dean said trying and failing to grasp Sam within his arms.

Sam landed a particularly hard punch before he found himself being pushed backward into the side of the semi, his head hitting the metal hard enough to cause stars to flash in front of him. Dazed, he just stood there for a moment.

"Sammy,' Dean said, "Let's just calm down here and talk this over."

Dean had backed away as far as he could within the constricted space so as to give Sam some space. His hands were raised non-threateningly. Sam didn't take any of it in the spirit it was offered, though. He didn't feel like saying anything about it either. The anger was ever present, but now his energy level was falling fast as the caffeine high faded away and the epic tiredness he had been running from was rapidly catching up to him.

"Sam?" Dean asked.

Sam could tell that he was confused by the sudden lack of action. He didn't say anything though. He didn't think anything he could say would be able to convey the depth of emotion he was feeling right now. That and he suddenly wasn't feeling too good.

"Sammy." Dean said taking a step toward him worriedly. "Please say something, anything."

Sam only shook his head and tried to step away from Dean, instead stumbling and tripping over his own feet. He was more than just tired. It was as if his body was shutting down. Before he could hit the ground though, Dean had somehow rushed to his side and caught him in his arms. Still stubborn as ever, he pushed Dean away and got up, somewhat awkwardly, on his own. He started to limp away from Dean; not quite understanding why his body wasn't obeying him, but didn't get very far as Bobby suddenly appeared in front of him.

He looked at Bobby then back at Dean who was still sitting on the ground where he had pushed him away.

"Sam?" Bobby said disbelievingly, his eyes wide in shock.

The last of Sam's strength faded away as he collapsed, falling to the ground, his eyes rolling back in his head. No one made a move to stop his decent, one not able to get there in time, the other still too shocked to make a move.

Dean was the first to reach Sam. His hand went straight for Sam's neck. He needed to know that Sam was still alive. Not as strong as he would have like it, but not enough to worry about, Dean found Sam's pulse. For a moment he had feared that Sam had given up once again never to return.

"He seems exhausted," Bobby commented, his stupor broken by Dean's actions.

Dena sighed and stared at Sam. Even in unconsciousness, he still looked troubled.

"Dean," Bobby started. "Is he really…Sam?"

Dean looked up and nodded.

"It looks like it," he said sadly.

The way Sam had reacted to him worried him immensely. It seemed that Sam hadn't moved past the guilt and hurt he was carrying. It had been foolish of him to hope that once Sam came back everything would be just fine, that he and Sam would be back to normal. Too much had happened to let that be.

"We better get him inside," Bobby said, seemingly looking right through him. Dean looked at him questioningly for a moment and then nodded.

Working together, they were able to get Sam inside in no time. Laying him on the couch and placing a blanket over him, Dean sat on the floor next to Sam and brushed the hair away from Sam's face.

Bobby left momentarily, returning with a cup of water. Dipping his hand in the water, Bobby sprinkled the water on Sam's face. When nothing happened, Dean breathed a small sigh of relief. Though he felt that this really was Sam, it was good to be sure after all. Holy water was an easy test to see if someone was possessed or not. But then again, Sam hadn't been a demon when he had done all those awful things. That meant that they wouldn't be able to be sure about him until he woke up.

For the moment at least, Bobby seemed satisfied as he set the cup on the end table and took a seat in his recliner. Judging from the way Bobby sat staring at him intently, something was on his mind. It wouldn't stay there for long though.

"I heard a gunshot out there," Bobby said.

Dean looked down at the floor.

"You didn't go out there and do what I think you did, did you?" Bobby asked sternly.

Dean sighed and looked up from the floor.

"I only did it to get Sam back," Dean replied.

"And just how would shooting your brains all over the place get him back?" Bobby asked frustratedly. Dean could tell that his admission was eating the other man up.

"It's a long story," Dean said.

"I have time," Bobby stated.

Dean nodded reluctantly. This was very personal to him, but Bobby did have a valid reason to know. They were practically living with him now that his dad had effectively skipped town on them. That and he was practically a second father to him. It was a tense next hour in which Dean filled Bobby in on everything he had seen and done. He didn't hold anything back including his own reactions. Truthfully, it felt good to let it all out and have someone to talk to about it all.

Bobby was silent as he took everything in and struggled to understand it.

"So you, in all your know how, decide that attempting suicide is the best way to get your kid brother to take the leap and come back to the land of the living?" Bobby finally said.

Dean tilted his head sheepishly.

"Of all the things…" Bobby muttered. "What if it hadn't worked?"

Dean didn't look him in the eye and Bobby didn't say anything more. They both knew the answer to that question.

"No wonder Sam tried to beat you into a bloody pulp." Bobby said.

"What do you mean? Dean said, not comprehending what Bobby meant by that.

"Well," Bobby started. "He obviously had his reasons for not wanting to come back."

"Stupid reasons," Dean muttered.

"Reasons that were very valid to him at least," Bobby said ignoring what his words. "And here you are acting for what it's worth like a selfish toddler, demanding that he come back or else, not caring one bit about why he is choosing not to come back."

"How can you say that?" Dean said getting angry.

Bobby raised his hands in surrender.

"I'm not saying that you had bad motives behind what you did," Bobby said. "But you have to try and see this from his point of view."

Dean thought for a moment. Bobby was right.

"How am I supposed to convince him that this is all worth it then?" Dean asked helplessly. "What if he wakes up and decides that he doesn't want to be here anymore? What if he decides to do what I almost did?"

Bobby sighed.

"We'll just have to keep a close eye on him," Bobby answered. "It won't be easy and it won't be quick, but with us here, he will just have to get better won't he?"

Dean smiled slightly. Leave it to Bobby to turn even the bleakest of situations into something that actually stood a chance of improving. He turned to Sam and ran a hand through his overgrown hair. Sam, even while sleeping, looked as if he had the whole world on his shoulders.

"We have to tell John about this," Bobby said, breaking through his thoughts.

"No!" Dean said sharply, instantly regretting the loudness of his voice and his close proximity to Sam. "No way are we telling him. He'll only come back and want to torch him."

He could tell that Bobby wasn't happy with his choice of words.

"He's your father, he has a right to know," Bobby added, "No matter what you may think of him right now."

Dean shook his head.

"He lost that right the moment he stepped back into his truck and drove off," Dean said. Surely Bobby couldn't deny that.

"Even with that," Bobby said. "There's more to him leaving than just not being able to handle it all."

Dean turned to Bobby curiously, his anger rising. Did Bobby know something more that would explain his father behavior than simple cowardice? If that was so, then that would mean that he wasn't a coward and Dean had been totally out of line in calling him one.

"The night we left Spokane, when you were still sleeping," Bobby said. "He came back from the salt and burn all flustered and anxious. He wouldn't say what had happened if anything at all, but I'm sure it had to do with Sam."

Dean got thinking. If his dad had burned Sam, then how was Sam laying on the couch next to him? The easy explanation would be that whoever had had the power to send him back had had the power to give him a new body as well. But somehow, and he didn't know how he knew, he felt that that hadn't been the case. Why would his dad act as flustered and anxious as Bobby had said, if it had been as simple as salting and burning three dead bodies? Salt and burns were old hat for them, nothing to get riled up about, even if it was someone close to them. Sad yes, suicidal maybe, but anxious?

"He acted as if something was hot on our heels," Bobby continued. "And then last night, he brought up Sam again, but never got the chance to explain."

Dean looked at the floor. He most likely was the reason why his father hadn't had the chance to voice his concerns about whatever it was he was worried about. Dean had simply taken his dad's words without waiting for any explanation and tore into his father like a hellhound claiming a soul. It was obvious the man had made more than his fair share of mistakes and still was of a mind to make more, but surely even he deserved a chance to explain himself?

"Do you have any clue where he would go?" Dean asked suddenly feeling guilty.

Bobby only shook his head.

"With the way he's been acting these past few days it seems as if I never knew the man half as well as I thought I did," Bobby said.

Dean sighed. He knew calling his dad wasn't much of an option. He probably wouldn't bother answering let alone listening to a voice mail message, that is, if he still had his phone. He knew his dad thought that cell phone were useless half the time anyway. They never seemed to have reception when you needed it the most. He was getting off topic here though.

"So all we know is that we have one misguided dad off on something about Sam," Dean said. "Not much."

Bobby took off his hat and ran a hand through his graying hair.

"Call it a gut feeling," Bobby said. "But I think John's suicidal as well."

"Great," Dean said throwing his hands into the air.

This just kept getting better and better. He had thought that maybe things would be able to settle down finally, that his dad would go off and live his own life and that he and Sam would be able to fix things between themselves and live their own life. Simple right? Now he was facing two possibly suicidal family members who were both misguided souls running on false assumptions. His hands were already full enough with Sam and all his problems. Now he had been burdened with his father's issues.

Why couldn't anything be easy in his life? Why was he expected to be the sane one through thick and thin; to take whatever the fates decided to throw at him without complaint? If there was a God out there, he sure had a sick sense of humor.

How had things come to this point? When he had revealed everything that had gone on between him and Sam he had expected things to only get better from there. He had not planned on Bobby revealing an equally huge bomb on him. Everything that Bobby had said had torn apart the lines that had been drawn in the sand between him and his dad. Things weren't so black and white any more. His father wasn't so wrong and he wasn't as justified in his treatment of his father as he had thought.

Things weren't as they seemed. He should have learned that after the weeks of torture they had been through, but after the demon had been dealt with, he had let his guard down and thought that the worst of it all was over. How wrong he had been.

"What should I do?" Dean asked Bobby.

"What should you do?" Bobby asked leaning forward in his recliner. "You think you're alone in this? What am I?"

Dean tilted his head and shook it.

"I can't ask you to-"

"You're not asking," Bobby interrupted. "I'm insisting."

Dean looked at the floor. Though he didn't want to drag Bobby deeper into this whole mess, he had to admit that he was having a hard time as it was keeping himself together let alone thinking about trying to put back together two other broken people. He would never tell anyone else that though.

"I guess if you're insisting, then I can't refuse," Dean said in response.

It was amazing what could happen in just a few weeks; how in such a short time, people could be destroyed so easily and families torn apart ruthlessly. It was also amazing how long it could take to fix something that had happened over such a short period of time. It was funny how things worked out that way. Dean thought of the challenges ahead. It was an uphill battle, but at least he had Sam at his side.

That was all that mattered.

All that Sam had seen, the future that he had missed out on, it was nothing to him. Sure he could have been happy had things turned out that way. But he wouldn't trade Sam in for the world, even to have his mother back. He was happy with the way they were. Their experiences had made him into the person he was today and he was grateful for that. If only Sam had known that from the beginning then maybe he wouldn't have been so vulnerable; maybe the demon wouldn't have been able to find a way to get under Sam's skin and play with his mind so easily. If only Sam had known. Dean didn't need his mother, or the perfect apple pie life Sam had seen to be happy.

All he needed was Sam.

And there you have it.

Please let me know what you thought about it! I've loved hearing from all of you and I can't thank you enough for caring enough to leave your reviews. They mean a lot to me and keep me writing. But review or not, thanks for just reading my story in the first place. Thanks so much for all of your support!!! As for the sequel, as soon as I get far enough ahead in my writing i'll start posting. Right now I only have the vaguest of outlines about where this story will go from here, so if you have any suggestions or requests about anything you would like to have happen, I would be more than willing to hear you out.

Hope you all are having a wonderful start to the new year! Thanks again for everything!