I did it. The last chapter.
Still don't own them, in case you've been wondering.
There's never an easy way to finish a story, so I'm just going to barge ahead before I change my mind.
Crows in the Wheatfield
Staring at the ceiling
Making friends with shadows on my wall
Hearing voices telling me
That I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for something
I'm feeling like I'm headed for a breakdown
And I don't know why
- Unwell by Matchbox Twenty
The house was far too quiet.
The TV had died two days ago.
Since then the silence had turned thick, palpable, consuming – and utterly crushing in its intensity.
Dean had always thought he was good at fixing thing, but it turned out TV sets weren't his specialty. Or maybe he'd just not found it in him, had been too preoccupied to really set his mind to it because he'd known that no movie or TV-show in the whole world would be able to fill that aching hollowness in his heart, or silence the raging storm inside his head.
The absence of sound in house left Dean floating in a void he was everything but comfortable with. Left him with too much time to think how he'd messed this all up so royally, from start to finish. Starting with the hunt, going on with letting Sam leave right when he'd finally gotten him in his grasp again. And then letting Dad leave, too, as if he wasn't so damn afraid of being alone it almost killed him to even think about it.
Dean was seriously starting to doubt his sanity, his capability to find back to some kind of inner peace anymore. His sense of self-preservation was way off, considering how he managed to push away the only two people he'd needed the most right now - always had.
Dad was gone for more than a week and already Dean was close to going insane.
He'd caught himself talking – to nobody but himself, because there simply wasn't anybody there but him.
He'd read through every single one of the ratty paperbacks he'd found on the moldy shelve above the living room sofa. Sam would have gone giddy with excitement if he'd caught his brother reading the Lord of the Rings – at least volume 2 and 3 of the trilogy. The first part had been missing, but Dean had been able to figure out the missing pieces by himself. He was never going to admit it, but he'd kinda liked the damn books, even though it had taken him a while to ease into the weird way they were written. They were currently stored underneath the Impala's backseat, out of sight but still close by in case Dean ever found that first volume at a thrift shop or one of those library sales Sam used to love going to. Dean figured he might want to have the other two parts handy then, could maybe read them again – see if he'd missed something the first time around.
But, more likely, he would throw them out a couple of weeks from now, when he was back to normal again – back in the game.
And for now he was done reading. He was done sitting around, doing nothing.
If it wasn't for his leg, still fucked up and weak – most definitely not ready to carry him through a hunt, especially on his own, Dean would have been long gone already. Ever since getting the cast removed a couple of days ago, and coming back here armed with an armload of brochures on PT and muscle strengthening therapy which he had disposed of immediately, he was starting to itch again.
That famous itch one couldn't scratch.
It was the simple fact that he didn't know where to go that kept him from getting up and moving now.
It had never struck him as much as it did right now, that he actually had nowhere to go.
There was Bobby, of course, but again – since the fallout with Dad they hadn't been at the junkyard anymore – had grown distant. Dean knew that, most likely, Bobby would welcome him back with open arms, should he show up at the man's door, would let him stay for as long as he liked as long as John Winchester wasn't part of the deal. But it didn't feel right, somehow, felt like a betrayal to go there now, behind his father's back.
Then there was Pastor Jim, of course, but Dean didn't think he was up to Jim's well-meant yet unnerving way to look at Dean, talking to him in those gentle tones, trying to analyze his every action or word. Dean was done thinking, done talking. He wanted nothing more but to not talk about what happened, and with Jim he would no doubt have to do just that.
Or he could pay Sam a visit.
It actually sounded pretty damn enticing – right up to the point where Dean didn't know what he'd do once he was there. He went insane with claustrophobia just thinking of spending even more time than he already had stuck in one and the same place, no real purpose, nothing to hunt. The upside of the whole scenario – being with Sam – was easily outweighed by the fact that Dean simply didn't belong there. It hurt to realized that, as much as he needed Sam, maybe the kid didn't need Dean the same way. Maybe it was a growing-up thing, a boy needing to break free and all that. And maybe Dean just needed to accept that, let the kid move on.
Just like Dean needed to move.
And he needed to focus here, see past the paralyzing need to keep both his brother and his father happy, do right by both of them.
The way he saw it, there was only one out of two ways to handle this. It was a decision he should have made more than one and a half years ago already, Dean knew that.
He could pack the car, go to California, take Sam up on the offer of a free room and board for a couple of weeks, see if he somehow could settle down and find some peace in the life his brother so obviously thrived at.
Or he could go with his father, once and for all, leave Sam behind. A clean cut – as clean as it got. He'd still drop by every once in a while, of course, unbeknownst to his little brother, make sure that the kid was alright. No matter what, Dean still was the big brother here. There was no possible way of carving that out of him, no matter how sharp the knife or how determined the surgeon.
But right now he had no idea what he would do – what he should do. He had no clue what would be the smart thing to do - what would make sense and what would just make everything worse.
Ever since Dad had left, Dean had pushed the inevitable decision away from him, delaying it for a day and then another and before he knew it, here he was– his body almost healed.
Not that he was up to running yet – he couldn't even walk without a goddamn limp that made him look like that hunchback from the Disney movie. But he was walking, and his shoulder felt almost like new.
So he'd have to start and get back to at least a semblance of a routine again, soon. Maybe another couple of days, just to make sure that Dad really wasn't coming back…
Till then he'd wait – here – sitting on the porch like an old man, watching the world pass him by, waiting for his phone to ring with news from his father.
He'd given up waiting on Sam, though.
The kid had finally stopped calling. Had taken him long enough – and still not nearly long enough at all.
And now the silence was complete – no phone, no TV…not even his father to keep him company. With the walls slowly closing in on him, Dean had started to spent most of his days outside. He'd been walking around the yard a little, visiting places he remembered from his childhood – which seemed like more than a lifetime ago. He'd been to the tree-house Dad had built for them, had found the remnants of the tire-swing Dean himself had put up when he and Sam had stayed here alone, once. Sam had spent days on that damn swing, pestering Dean to push him for hours on end, squealing in delight when Dean had pushed him higher and higher.
The rope had long since rotted away, leaving the tire laying abandoned in the dry grass at the edge of the forest.
It had been good times – good memories. Dean cherished those more than anything else nowadays.
But the past couple of days it had rained almost constantly and he'd been confined to the house for almost four days. It hadn't sat well with him – at all.
Now, for the first day the wind wasn't rattling the house, pelting its back-porch with rain and making it impossible for Dean to sit outside, in his favorite spot – wedged into the corner where the railing met the back wall of the house.
Today, it was nice out, warm, the air still smelling faintly of rain and wet earth, a unfamiliar smell that, more than anything, made Dean feel out of place. He hardly remembered times in his past where he'd let himself just sit and feel - smell –enjoy the sunlight on his skin. His life had been constant motion, even when he hadn't actively moved, but still his mind had always been on edge…
Dean shifted, rearranged his body in order to keep the sun on his face, following its lazy path across the sky. He closed his eyes, head tilted back, relaxing his body as far as possible. If it wasn't for the odd twinge in his leg every now and then, the flashes of memories still chasing through his brain every once in a while he'd almost feel normal. He hardly ever was entirely free of pain anyways, always a bruise here or a cut there marring his movements and reminding him that he did what he did, was who he was - and that he was damn lucky to have made it this far.
While the sun was pretty intense there was a light breeze tickling his skin, making the temperature bearable. Still he knew he'd probably burn if he didn't get inside soon. Dean's skin didn't react too nicely to direct sunlight, not at all like his brother or even father who tanned effortlessly, it seemed. But Dean didn't really care. He felt like he'd been too cold, inside and out, for far too long to not revel in the feeling of warmth seeping into his skin and bones.
Soon he'd be leaving again, probably never to come back again, and then these moments of inactivity would be nonexistent and probably longed for. He'd be on the road again, never time to just stop and close his eyes every once in a while, never time to just lay back and give his body time to heal...
He wasn't complaining – this was the life he'd chosen, after all. Still didn't mean that one couldn't savor the perks of an otherwise pretty stressful job every once in a while.
He was ripped out of his musings so suddenly, it took him a moment to catch up with what had disturbed him in the first place.
And then he felt it again, the light brush of a new breeze over his cheeks, different than the cooling wind of before, his body going tense as he felt more than heard the stroke of wings as they stirred the air into tiny turbulences against his heated skin.
For a second, then another, he stayed completely still, not breathing even, not wanting to know if he'd been right…
When he opened his eyes, it was right there.
Sitting perched atop the wooden banister, dry flakes of peeling off-white paint chipping off from underneath its claws was the crow. The crow.
It probably looked like hundreds and thousands of others from its species, but there was doubt in Dean's mind. No doubt whatsoever.
Scrambling backwards as far away as he could go Dean pushed himself upright, his back ramrod straight against the wall, using the sturdy wooden structure as support. Within the beat of a second, his heart-rate sped up to seemingly impossible levels, his breathing becoming so fast he thought he might start to hyperventilate.
"Oh hell no, you got to be kidding me…"
His hand automatically reached for his gun, fingers working frantically on getting between his back and the wall he was pressed against, fighting to tug the weapon free from its confined position.
The bird just cocked its head, curiously seizing up the human before it, beady black eyes following every one of Dean's movements.
It wasn't until Dean finally had his gun freed, had it grasped in his hand, the safety released, that he suddenly realized the futility of his actions.
Wasn't as if killing the bird would change anything, even if it actually was a real, alive, breathing animal. Which Dean still wasn't sure about.
Had the bird ever been real to begin with? John had mentioned seeing a crow in the field when looking for Dean, but still it could have only been an illusion, appearing before John to save Dean, right?
And even if it wasn't real, was just some kind of hallucination sneaking behind the paper-thin walls of Dean's sanity, what effect would killing it actually have? Would shooting it full of rock salt or silver alter the future or change whatever it had been planning to show Dean – would change Dean's destiny?
Because, theoretically speaking, the damn bird itself had never been a threat to him so far, had it? It had proven to be nothing but helpful, as a matter of fact, had saved John's life - Dean's too. Dean should be thankful, actually, shouldn't attempt to kill it for its efforts to keep him and his family safe…
It was simply the fact that it was there – was something that Dean couldn't explain, couldn't control - couldn't kill, that made him feel on edge around the creature. It wasn't like his usual jobs, not something Dean knew how to deal with. Usually it was all about finding the creature that had been harming people and kill it. Black and white.
The bird – albeit sporting a pitch-black plumage, somehow didn't fit in Dean's all too handy color-scheme, though.
And here was another thing Dean had learned from his father. If you're not sure, you need to make sure. No room for mistakes.
So Dean forced himself to relax.
It was an effort, and Dean was almost shaking with the pure force it took to ease his cramped muscles, opening his body along with his mind for what was about to come. But he kept the gun tightly in his grip, just to be sure. It was the only thing tethering him to the last remnants of sanity, it seemed, gave him at least a semblance of control. And he wasn't going to let his guard down again. Not until he was absolutely sure.
Keeping one eye on the bird, Dean looked around for a second, taking in the by now all too familiar surrounding.
Doing this he realized that the air was too…sweet, too calm, smelling faintly of some kind of flower he'd never been aware of before, the colors once again superimposed and far too bright. The sky was dipped in the deepest, brightest cerulean blue, the faraway clouds that had been there before now gone. The house, in reality off-white with chipped and flaked off pieces of paint revealing the aged wooden planks underneath was now picture perfect, bright white with not a speck of dirt marring its walls or railing. The grass in the yard, formerly a dull, grayish-gold now presented itself in the most intense green Dean had ever seen, a few scattered daisies the only dots of color in the ocean of green. It even looked as if the lawn had been mowed recently, the fresh scent of cut grass permeating Dean's nostrils, tickling his nose almost pleasantly.
Another vision. And he was once again stuck in the middle of it.
Dean stomach fluttered and flipped, muscles in his belly twitching as he prepared himself – for what exactly he didn't know. He wasn't sure if he should be happy or concerned, wished he could just close his eyes and make it all go away. But, as the problem with visions was, you couldn't make them go away – you couldn't just close your eyes in a dream, right?
The crow started walking towards him, sharp claws making small squealing noises against the white paint as it side-hopped a couple of steps till it was stopped by one of the porch's vertical support beams that held up the slightly tilting roof. Dean followed the bird's every movement, levering his body so he remained facing the animal. His back was pressed smug against the wall, his bad leg stretched out in front of him, the other bent at the knee, foot solidly planted against the floor.
He barely had time to realize that his left leg was not hurting anymore, didn't have the time nor the leisure to revel in the fact that, for the moment at least, the vision granted him a moment free of pain, at least of the physical kind.
"What is it you want from me? There's nothing…nothing I've got left to give anymore,"
The bird gave a small cackling sound, sounding so much like a snicker, Dean couldn't help but frown at the sound, the almost human quality to the animal's behavior in general. And he couldn't help but peer at the bird's eyes, unconsciously checking the beady black orbs for any transformation, waiting for that momentary flash of yellow that he'd remembered seeing back in the field.
Everything else the bird had done so far Dean was able to allocate to something Sam had told him about – the foresight thing – warning Dean of something bad to happen, giving him clues – protecting him. The eyes were the only thing Dean hadn't been able to figure out – and the only thing that still scared the holy shit out of him.
The crow gave another muttering croak, turning its head and peering up at the support-beam, seemingly annoyed at finding its pathway blocked. It took only a moment to halt in its movement though before slightly spreading its wings and hopping off of its perch, landing a mere couple of inches away from Dean's outstretched leg.
Dean forced himself to stay still, to not drag the leg away – or kick out at the animal. He kept his hands in his lap, fingers wrapped around the handle yet had the weapon neither cocked nor pointed. Lore had it that in order to wake up from a dream you had to actually kill yourself – in the dream. Dean would hold on to the gun in case he felt the need to use it, but there certainly was no use pointing it at the one creature, supernatural or not, that had saved his life more than once, so far.
For a full minute, all they did was stare at each other, Dean finding himself mesmerized by the seemingly bottomless depth of the crow's black orbs, felt as if being sucked into the animal's very being. He was sure his jaw would creak with the pressure he put of his jaw, grinding his teeth, trying his hardest to look away, to escape the animal's strange, yet not entirely uncomfortable pull.
Then the bird cocked its head, tipping it in the other direction and opening its beak to give a hoarse shout.
Dean flinched, instinctively gripping the gun a little tighter. The muscles in his arm jumped, trembled, but the weapon stayed where it was.
"We're going to have a real hard time here if we don't find a way to communicate so we both understand each other, Tweety." He taunted, trying to cover up the tremor sneaking into his voice, the insecurity that screamed loud and clear from every word he uttered.
As if in response, the crow again croaked a hoarse, wailing sound that made Dean flinch once more.
"Yeah…uhm…problem is, I don't really speak…crow-ian. So…you wanna try that again in English?"
Another sharp croak was the only answer to Dean's quip, and the bird moved to the side a little, ruffling out the shining black feathers covering its chest and neck, its tail and wings fanning out to brush against the wooden floor.
"Yeah, that sure clears it up…" Dean huffed, watching in fascinated amusement as the crow shook itself, smoothing out its plumage until once again its inky black feathers were sleek and glistening as the sun's rays reflected off it.
It really was beautiful – kinda. If you liked that kind of bird, that was. If you liked birds, period.
"So, we going to sit here all day, getting to know each other or are there any more revelations you want to share with me? You didn't come all this way from…wherever it is you're coming from just to spent some quality time with me – in my dreams, right? You know of some new catastrophe bearing down on me, something I should know about? Come on, you can tell me – it's just between the two of us…"
Internally, Dean rolled his eyes at himself, thrown by the fact that - here he was, Dean Winchester, talking to a damn bird. If that wasn't proof of how goddamn lonely he was, Dean didn't know what would be.
"Right, of course. Of all the birds to choose as my damn spirit animal or whatever the hell it is that you are, I have to choose a crow. Not, say, one of those talking parrots at least. With those I could at least communicate, skipping that annoying guessing game. I've never been a fan of interpreting signs or doing riddles, you know. You've picked the wrong brother for this little game of yours,"
The crow just stared at him, and slowly but surely Dean felt the last of his tension slip off him, felt the immediate unease he'd felt at the birds presence drain out of him. He couldn't really explain it, but nothing about this bird suggested danger – not the tiniest sense of a threat surrounding it.
This was ridiculous – wrong on so many levels. But Sammy was right – they'd certainly heard of stranger things.
Most definitely heard of stranger things.
"You don't come with a handbook, by any chance? Or an interpreter, maybe, someone who can translate your weird ass signs for me?"
The bird cocked its head to the side in the universal gesture of curiosity.
Dean sighed heavily.
"Yeah, didn't think so."
Slowly, he pried his sweaty fingers away from his gun, ran the hand over his face and rubbing slightly trembling fingers over his eyes for a second before dropping it back into his lap.
He flicked his tongue our to wet his bottom lip before rolling it in between his teeth, momentarily averting his gaze and shaking his head, trying to summon the courage to do what he knew he should do, by all means.
If it wasn't so damn ridiculous…
But there was nobody there to see it, nobody to witness.
And it was all inside his own head anyways.
The head-shake turned into a nod, a reinforcement.
He'd certainly done weirder things in his life than this.
"OK, so…I guess I need to…I should definitely…"
Dean snorted a laugh.
"Man, Sammy would have a blast - would never let me live this down…"
He once again met the animal's eyes, seeing his own reflection in the jet-black orbs, wincing at the pale gauntness of his face, the haunted expression looking back at him from his own eyes.
Was this what he really looked like? He hadn't exactly paid a lot of attention to the mirror, lately, seeing as he hadn't been in public – safe for his hospital visits, since the accident.
"I guess I owe you…owe you a lot, actually. For…I don't know… If you hadn't been there, in the field, keeping me conscious and on the right path…" he paused, swallowed as the memories pushed again his composure, trying to make him remember – relive what should have been long forgotten, safely buried underneath so many layers of self-preserving walls there should be no possible way out anymore. But he was stronger now, almost his old self again. He could push past this…
And he could definitely pull this off.
"I…thanks, you know, for saving my Dad's life,"
Dean broke off, trying to sort out his thoughts.
"I don't know why you did what you did, why you chose me of all people, but…I'm going to go with Sam's theory here and believe that there's a bigger picture, somehow, that there was a reason for all this. You saved my ass…"
Dean bit off the rest of the sentence, forbidding himself to go on.
He wasn't good at saying thank you, apparently, wasn't good at voicing his thoughts. But if the bird was a spirit animal, it would know, right? Dean certainly wouldn't need to spell it out for it.
And then, as if the damn animal had understood, Dean could have sworn that the crow nodded its head, or tipped it in acknowledgement, before parting its wings. The porch's width made it hard to spread its wings completely so it took a few hopping steps to the side, clearing Dean's legs and moving closer to the steps that let down into the yard. It had to jump a couple of times, flapping its strong appendages hard once, twice, before it managed to take off, propelling its big body onto the top of the railing once more.
There it sat still for a second, body facing away from Dean, looking out over the vastness of grass and forest spreading out behind the house. Then it turned its head back. The sun was behind its body now, and Dean had to squint against the light, hardly able to make out any details anymore.
Somehow, it felt like a goodbye.
Dean knew a thing or two about good-byes.
This one now, while it definitely should feel less like a punch in the guts, it still tasted an awful lot like a betrayal.
Dean swallowed down the bitterness that started to rise from his belly, cleared his throat.
"Hey, I got one last question for you…one last…look into your crystal ball, or whatever you wanna call it."
He pulled himself up a little more, straightening his back and dipping his head low to let his lashes shield his eyes from the sun – maybe from the all too knowing eyes of the bird. Even though he could hardly see it, he somehow had the feeling that the bird could see him all too well.
"I just…if you know everything and all…I just…you can take another little peek into the future and tell me if this…" he bit his lip so hard, he tasted blood, fingers once again tight around his gun's handle, finger resting against the trigger even though the safety was still on.
Taking another deep breath and letting it out slowly, he went on.
"I need to know if this is it…if I'm on my own again for good now…"
It was a stupid question, one that Dean wasn't entirely sure he wanted an answer to, because he wasn't sure he was prepared for the truth. He wasn't sure what he'd do if it turned out to be the end as he'd always feared it would come.
Of course, the crow didn't answer, didn't give a sign or anything. Maybe Dean should have stuck to questions with 'yes' or 'no' answers…
Another second at the most later the bird suddenly turned its head back around and lunged forward, its huge body seemingly falling, disappearing out of sight before a powerful stroke of wings lifted it upwards, carrying it away.
And maybe that was Dean's answer right there. Not even so goddamn hard to figure out, was it?
There was no logical explanation for it, but the minute the bird left, Dean knew that this time it would stay gone for good. The bird's departure was final, felt almost like the teeth of the black dog, tearing into his side. Dean's chin snapped back in irritated pain, surprised at the harshness of the bird's actions, the emotions it stirred inside of him. As if he'd actually expected anything else.
It took almost physical force to turn his head, tearing his eyes away from that tiny dot of black in the far distance that probably wasn't the crow anymore but still remained in Dean's line of sight.
"Fine. You're all mysterious. I get it," He muttered, unclenching his fingers from around the hilt of his gun.
The inside of his palm carried the deep imprints of the pearl-handle's outlines and Dean stared at it for a moment, watching the indentations slowly smooth out again until his skin was once again only marred by the faint scars and callused skin that had been there all along.
The silence once again closed in around him…consuming him, filling him from the inside before seeping out of his pores. This was what it felt like to be drowning, Dean thought as the blackness filled every last crevice of his body – his being. At first, he did nothing, sitting there and fighting down the urge to panic as his body seemingly locked up, intent on pulling his mind right along with it.
Reality didn't return with a bang. There was no explosion of light, no tilting edges or tumbling falls. He didn't wake with a gasp, a sharp intake of air, a scream of terror on his lips like he had the last couple of times he'd woken after one of his dreams.
The next time he simply blinked, he was back.
The world had faded back to its grayish colors, the sun still warm but less bright, the wind less soothing.
For an eternity he just sat there, just breathing.
And then, suddenly, Dean decided that it was enough.
He'd bend to his body's demands for weeks now, taking a step back in order to give himself time to heal. But now came the time to find back to his old self again. He was done waiting for somebody else to make the decisions for him.
The crow – it had to have been a sign. Just like Sam had said. A portent, carrier of truth and future. A protector. It had stayed with Dean when he'd been at the most lonely in his life, had kept him company and led him the way when he'd been lost. It had guided him out of his darkest moment, had shown him that there was still something worth fighting for – for himself and his father, for Sammy's freedom.
It had left now because it was time for Dean to get his life back into his own hands again.
Dean had no doubt that, this time, its departure was a permanent one.
Time to move on – for both of them.
It was probably looking for another lost soul to save right this moment.
It wouldn't come back.
Pulling himself to his feet Dean tried to figure out if the knowledge that he was once again free to do whatever he wanted was a relief or the burden it somehow felt like.
For weeks now he'd been paralyzed by the need to wait for someone to come back to him, waiting for what he actually knew would never happen. Sam and Dad - the two suns he'd been revolving around all his life.
He knew – and still he'd waited. And hoped. But that was over now.
He walked back inside the house with newfound resolve, only stopping at the door for a mere second, dreading the ever deepening shadows that greeted him beyond the screen door. But for the first time in months he thought that he could face them now.
Inside, the shadows were like living beings, devouring every last ounce of light that found its way inside – as if the house itself wanted to give Dean that final push, that last reason to move on. He'd stayed here out of necessity, out of convenience. He'd stayed because, at first, he hadn't been able to leave – physically speaking. And then, when he'd healed enough, he'd stayed out of fear. Stayed out of fear that, if he left and Dad came back to get him, he wouldn't be here anymore.
Which was nonsense, Dean didn't need anyone to spell it out to him.
Dad wouldn't come back.
Not that he wouldn't come back to Dean , period. Of course he would, eventually, but he wouldn't come back here. The house, it seemed, was a constant reminder – to both of them, of weakness and pain and a family-reunion that was too short lived to heal the ache in both John's and Dean's hearts.
Time to move on.
Dean started packing. He didn't have many things he wanted to bring, never had had many possessions he'd cherished enough to keep. One, of course, was the amulet Sam had given him all those years ago – another one the leather jacket John had handed down to Dean on his sixteenth birthday. Other than that everything Dean wanted to remember, wanted to keep, he kept inside his head – or his heart.
He'd leave behind everything that reminded him of what had happened here – like the hilarious pair of pants his Dad had bought him, for example, or the hated crutches, even though he still felt a bit uneasy about completely abandoning their support. But he was all about clean cuts now.
Once he'd loaded everything he owned into his car, he was momentarily lost again.
Silence – his biggest enemy.
His biggest weakness.
It was starting to get late already, but he'd still be able to make it a couple of town away, if he got to moving right now…
He made one last round of the house – just to make sure he'd gotten everything he'd need, relinquished every last proof that he'd ever been here – save for the clothes and the crutches, that was, but those things wouldn't be brought in connection with either him or his father.
He stopped at the table, briefly, fingers brushing over the etched in words of childish hope from his brother, the only evidence of them ever staying here, but neither he nor obviously his Dad had found the courage to remove them.
'Sam + Dean W.'
Here, at least, they would be united for eternity.
And then Dean left.
He didn't bother leaving behind any note to his father, telling him that he'd gone, where'd he'd be. He knew he'd be meeting up with his father again when John saw it fit. A couple of weeks from now Dean's phone would ring, his Dad being all business, that slightly distracted tone of voice suggesting that he was working on something as he spoke with his son, giving him some coordinates to meet up at.
Most likely, John wouldn't even ask if Dean was alright again.
It wasn't because he didn't care – but Dean had never given his father reason to not trust him. He'd told his father he'd be fine, so he'd be fine. John wouldn't have to worry about him on top of everything else.
The first steps away from the house felt like he was walking through molasses, his legs carrying him onwards with apparent reluctance. But every step got easier. By the time he'd reached the Impala, he thought he detected a spring to his steps, despite the still prominent limp, a lightness that had been strangely absent for far too long now.
The moment he slipped behind the wheel of his car, he shed the last bit of doubt that he was doing the right thing here.
Back on the road, moving forward.
It was the only life Dean consciously remembered. It was the only way he knew how to be.
Sam was safest where he was right now, tucked away from the hunt, right where he'd always wanted to be.
And Dean was sure that he himself was right where he needed to be. Dad would call, and Dean would be there, ready to find his place once more.
Maybe, one day, it would turn out to be enough.
The words of a certain prophet kept repeating themselves inside my head all through writing this last chapter:
Endings are hard
Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning
But endings are impossible
You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can
The fans are always gonna bitch
There's always gonna be holes
And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something – I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass
No doubt, endings are hard
But then again, nothing ever really ends, does it?
I can't believe this is over. God, it's been a long, long road.
Thank you all so, so much for travelling it with me. I've been a pain, I know, my insecurities are sickening - and because of that I'm all the more thankful that you guys didn't give up on me.
I don't know if this ending is what you expected, or wanted – or if it's any good at all. What I do know is, that I've never worked harder for a story, invested more of myself.. I'm already very proud of it, even though I still dread the reactions….
I want to thank all those who read, who alerted and favorited (yeah, I know that's not a word…). Special thanks to all those who reviewed and sent me PMs and special special thanks to a couple of you who jumped in as impromptu therapists when I lost my way a couple of times (you know who you are!). The support here is awesome – what a wonderful, great fandom. I'm very proud to be a part of it.
Reviews, of course, are much appreciated…just keep in mind that I'm not a native speaker, so some weird wording or phrasing is not because I'm weird (which, ok, I still might be) but because I simply don't know any better. I can assure you that i do spell-check and grammar-check all of my chapters to the best of my knowledge, though, so please keep in mind that I do not intent to make misakes, and that I certainly don't post anything here lightly. If you want to tell me about something that bothers you, please be kind enough to do it in a 'nice' way.
I you read this in the near or far future and you want to leave me a note I would still very much appreciate what you thought. No matter when. So feel free to tell me, it's always nice to get responses, even long after finishing a story!
I still can't get over the fact how well this story has been received – and I still fear, more than anything to fail now – or fall now…because this has been way too good to be true. I just hope you guys don't figure out now of all times that this wasn't what you've been expecting, after all.
There's another story I have finished already – written it before Crows, as a matter of fact. It's probably not very good, but maybe I'll find the courage to post it in a little while.
Wish you all the best – hope you enjoy the new season – and definitely hope to hear from you again!