Dean hung the sign over the doorway and stepped back, eyes on the bright red lettering.
"Do you think he'll like it Bobby?" He asked, head on one side, wondering if the Welcome Home Sam was even enough and large enough.
"Sure," Bobby blew up the last of the balloons, face red, "he'll love it."
"I can't wait to have him back," Dean grinned happily as he surveyed their handiwork. The sign, enough balloons to last for years, sandwiches, soda, chips and salad – all the things Sam liked. "He is getting so much better Bobby, you wait and see."
Bobby shook his head and smiled.
"Sure will be good to have him back," he said, finally, "you two boys have been like family to me and – to be frank with ya – I missed the pair of you something awful when you were away."
"We ain't goin' anywhere again," Dean gave Bobby a swift grin, "We have given so much – too much – and I figure we deserve to rest now – soon as Sammy feels up to it we are gonna go on a road trip that doesn't involve monsters, ghosts or spirits – just me and Sam and my baby – seeing some of the things we have always wanted to see – hey," he gave Bobby a wink, "you could come too old man – room in the trunk for a fold down wheelchair and two strong men – strong enough to push an elderly hunter around anyhow."
"Enough of the old and the elderly," Bobby pretended to bristle with anger but the good humour on his face gave him away, "we'll see Dean – let's just get Sam home and settled – then we can all make plans."
Sam was waiting for him by the door of the clinic, his duffle at his feet, Ted tucked into his pocket for safety. As soon as the Impala pulled into the drive, Sam began to wave eagerly, his eyes bright and alive with joy and happiness. Dean squealed to a stop and opened the passenger door.
"You ready to roll Sammy?" He said, winking at the nurse who was waiting with his brother and getting a wink in return.
"Yeah Dean – please – take me home," Sam was – virtually – vibrating with excitement, "I can go home now can't I?" He looked at the nurse as if she might change her mind, "please."
"Of course Sam – you can go home – now remember – remember all we have learnt the last few weeks. Try to read a few pages of your book a day, go out for a walk with your brother, eat all the things that are good for you and be honest with Dean – if you don't remember anything or know anything – you be sure to tell him."
Sam nodded and Dean grinned as his brother threw the duffle in the back of the car and slipped into the passenger seat, long fingers curling around the dashboard, stroking his baby like she was the most precious thing in the world.
"Let's go," Sam said and he sounded more like Sam than he had in months, making Dean swallow hard so that his eyes were clear enough to drive.
"Yeah Sammy," he said with a smile, "Lets hit the road," and he put his foot on the gas and floored it….
Dean watched – with keen interest – as Sam fired up the laptop and moved his fingers over the keys. Sam looked healthy – happy – and in need of a really good hair cut and Dean couldn't stop looking at his brother, watching Sam for signs of distress – of confusion – but there were none and Sam seemed so much better, able to wash, dress and feed himself, able to read a little and even use his laptop again.
"What are you lookin' for Sam?" Dean crouched at his brother's side, "we are done with hunting – you remember?"
"Wanted to find places to visit on our road trip," Sam grinned at Dean, all white teeth and dimples, "I – um – I wanted to go to Disneyland and – um – Bobby wanted to visit the Everglades – then – well I know you wanted to go to the Grand Canyon right?"
"You – you remember that?" Dean could barely believe it – it had been years since that time in River Grove – the day he thought he was going to lose Sam – the demon virus and the nurse who made Sam bleed. Yet now – now Sam remembered and it was nothing short of a miracle.
"Yeah – you were – scared – I was scared too – but you wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and now we can go," Sam's logic was simple and childlike – but Dean didn't care – his brother was talking to him, his brother was remembering and his brother was getting better – it was everything he had wanted and more and he wasn't gonna push it by wanting anything else.
"We are going to have the best trip ever," Dean said, rising to his feet and stretching out his arms and legs, his heart leaping in his chest as Sam smiled at him, hazel eyes clear and bright, no misery or confusion, just hope and happiness and love…
The weather was clear and hot, the sky as blue as sapphires, not a cloud to mar its beauty.
Dean pulled the Impala into one of the free parking spots and pulled Bobby's chair from out of the trunk. Beside him, Sam shouldered out of his flannel, his bare arms muscular and brown in the grey tee-shirt that he wore, his long hair fluffing out across his shoulders, his whole body straight and strong.
"This is awesome," Sam breathed as he stood at the edge of the canyon, "I never – never imagined it to be so big."
Dean had no words; he was overcome with the beauty of it all, the wildness, the sheer size. He had imagined this moment so often in his dreams but reality was even better – to be here – alive – with Sam and Bobby by his side – it was heaven on earth and Dean looked to the heavens – wondering if – for once – God was actually smiling down on them.
"I like your bear," a little girl, no older than five, pulled at Sam's jeans. Ted poked out of the back pocket as patchy and as threadbare as ever – still as ugly as the day Dean had brought him and still as loved.
Sam cocked his head to one side and Dean saw the sudden light in those soft hazel eyes. Sam would never be his geek boy brother again – he was better but he would never be completely cured. Sam was still innocent in so many ways – still more like the young boy Dean remembered caring for all those years ago – but still Sammy – still Sam.
Sam paused for a moment and pulled the bear out of his pocket. He hunkered down and handed the creature over to the little girl, his mouth curving into a gentle smile.
"This is Ted," he said, softly, the voice he had often used to comfort the people they saved, "he has been my best friend in the world – but – but I don't need him anymore and he wants a good home – do you – do you want to look after him?"
Dean gulped and he lifted a hand.
"Sam…," he began but his brother shook his head, smiling as the little girl took Ted and hugged him to her, her eyes bright and happy, her fingers curling into sparse fur.
"It's ok," Sam said, his expression so SAM that it made Dean's heart ache, "we – we are together forever right? No more monsters – no more running – no more hunting. I have you and I have Bobby – I don't want – or need – anything else."
Dean watched as Sam waved goodbye to Ted and then he went up to his brother and threw an arm around his shoulders, the two of them watching the sun shine bright over the canyon, their whole world stretching in front of them – endless and vast.
They had been holding on for long enough – now it was time for them to let go and look to the future…..