Chapter 23 – EPILOGUE

The cool morning air felt good in his lungs. They still hurt with every breath he drew in, were still healing and caused him to flinch in pain when he inhaled too sharply. One of many painful reminders of another occasion he had escaped alive.

Taking a sip from the water bottle and grimacing even before the stale liquid entered his mouth, Dean shifted, his butt getting numb from sitting on the wooden stairs too long. He watched the sunrise, blinked when the first rays of light hit his face, welcomed the chills that ran through his body due to the cold beginning of the day.

Behind him, the Roadhouse was still asleep, Sam and the others having allowed themselves the luxury of a small celebration over the successful hunt the night before. Lucky for them, they had been able to indulge in booze, which had been refused to Dean due to the antibiotics he still needed to take. The same damn reason he wasn't allowed to drink coffee right now.

Dean fumbled with the bottle top of his water one-handed, his left arm resting on his knee, the cast being heavy and uncomfortable. They had released him from hospital yesterday morning, the first time he could remember that he had actually been released and hadn't signed out AMA the minute he had been able to get out of bed under his own steam.

Truth to be told, he had had no real intention to get out of the hospital. He couldn't march into the next bar and hustle some locals or get a proper drink thanks to the meds he needed to take and the huge cast that held his bones in place. Not even a new hunt was waiting for him. Not even Sam would wait much longer.

The sting of unwelcome tears caused Dean to wipe at his eyes angrily, painful memories of the conversations and fights he and his brother had had before Dean had gone missing pulling him back down to earth with a bang. He had thought that he was over it. Had believed that walking away from Sam and dive headfirst into a new hunt would cure him, would make things easier, would help him to accept Sam's decision.

And then he had screwed up. Had become a victim. Had experienced firsthand how fast everything could go south without someone having your back. Had learned the hard way that he wasn't as good on his own as he was with Sam by his side.

Taking another angry sip from the bottle Dean's gaze wandered over to the Impala. The muscle car stood where Dean had left her weeks ago, the black paintwork having lost the normally shiny quality thanks to dust and weather. Sliding tired eyes down to the cast, Dean considered how long it would take him to wash and polish his baby with only one hand before he dismissed the idea.

At least he could drive. He could just get behind the wheel, put a gear in, no need to use his left for all that stuff, and just drive. No painful goodbyes to Sam, spare them a rerun of the awkward moments weeks ago. He didn't know why Sam was still here anyway. After Dean had woken up in the hospital, he had spent another two weeks in there, and Sam had stayed although he could have taken his bags and travel off to California as he had intended to do before all this had happened.

But he didn't.

He had visited Dean every day, had filled him in about that evening when Seth had stumbled into the Roadhouse, about Hel and him searching for Dean in the woods, how they found Patrick and their encounters with the Thunderbird's powers.

Not once had Sam pulled Dean's leg about the fact that the little brother had had to come to the rescue. Not once did Sam ask him what he had been thinking by marching through the forest alone and hurt. And no matter how grateful Dean was about Sam's casualness or sensitivity, it bothered him to no end that he had fucked up, his pride wounded, his self esteem gutted.

At this very moment everything Dean wanted to do was take his stuff, get into his car and just drive off.

"Mind if I join you?" a voice from behind startled Dean and he dropped the water bottle. It was Patrick who stepped down the stairs and gingerly bend down, grabbing the wayward plastic bottle and handed it back to Dean, who nodded a thanks.

"Nah", he replied, shifting a little to make room for the slightly hobbling kid although the stairs were broad enough for five men their size, "how are you doing there? Back okay?"

Lowering himself slowly beside the older Winchester and landing carefully on his butt with a sigh, Patrick shook his head. "It's not entirely my back that gives me a hard fight right now." He looked at Dean before he let out a short burst of laughter.

"Ah, I see. So Hel should teach you how to hold your liquor first." Dean smiled at the young hunter before he slid his gaze back over the parking lot.

"Hey, did you see how much I had? That was...come many beers? It was a lot!"

"Transitory teetotaler, remember?" Dean wiggled the water bottle, causing the liquid to dabble, "I totally know how many drinks either of you had, even if you don't remember and trust me, you hadn't much, kiddo."

The enraged expression on Patrick's face was enough to make Dean snort but when the kid leaned forward, gripping his head with both hands and mumbling something like "Gosh, it sure feels like it had been a whole beer barrel..." Dean couldn't help but chuckle. It sucked out loud to sit in a bar sipping soda water all night long while all the others had one beer after another, followed by whiskey and scotch. But watching them struggle with their killer hangovers the next morning was totally worth the forced abstinence.

"Man, I hope Hel's better off than me", Patrick groaned, his voice muffled while his head still hung low between his knees. "He really hadn't much..." He stopped abruptly, raised his head slowly and looked at Dean, who met his tired gaze with a pair of raised eyebrows and a tilted head. "Awww, maaaaan, guess we need a taxi then...", was the younger man's answer when he dropped his head again.

The two men sat in silence for a while, the peaceful quiet occasionally interrupted by a groan from Patrick.

"So", Dean cleared his throat, "the two of you head out today?"

Raising his head again and focusing on something solid in the distance, Patrick frowned as if Dean had asked him to solve a difficult math problem. "Yeah. Sometime after breakfast, I guess."

"Okay. Good." Another short pause before Dean added, "I'm glad the two of you will stick together. I think you make a great team."

"I'm grateful. I had a lot of time to think about how I go on, lying around in the hospital. Continue hunting? Get a job? Enroll at a university?" The younger man sighed and began to fidget with his fingernails, "Jason was the one who introduced me into the whole hunting thing. And I kinda enjoy it. Now that he's gone I feel it's my purpose to continue, you know? But I know I have a lot to learn and I also know that I wouldn't survive five minutes alone. So, when Hel asked me if I might wanna go with him, hunt with him, it was...well...there wasn't much to think about. I believe Hel is the right one to pursue what Jason had begun."

Dean could only nod although Patrick's words felt like someone was slamming a knife into him and twisting it, a lump lodging itself in his throat.

Is it such a great feeling to wake up in a different motel room every day, to risk your life every day?

I want a life, Dean. Without traveling around, without killing things, without fearing to lose exactly this family I have left. I caught a glimpse of normal when I was with Jessica and I loved it. I want it back. As I told you before, I'm not going to do this for the rest of my life.

Sam's words echoed in his ears. And all of a sudden Dean felt a surge of anger rising up in him, a slight feeling of unfairness causing him to tighten his grip on the bottle.

There sat Patrick, a kid he barely knew, had spent a few days with, days that hadn't even been the most heroical ones in his life, talking in a way Dean wished his own brother would have ever talked like. Would have felt for the so called family business the way Patrick did. Glowing. Proud. Excited.

Swallowing hard Dean cleared his throat again. "Will you be okay?"

"I will", Patrick replied, suddenly really awake and somber, "Not tomorrow. Not next week. But anytime soon. Time is a great healer and that stuff, right?" Dean felt the kid's eyes on him. "Will you?"


"Be okay? I mean, with Sam leaving and you hunting alone...maybe you could join us, too? Hey, I bet we'll kill so many evil dicks it will go down in history!" The enthusiasm causing Patrick's face to brighten up cajoled Dean and he had to smirk. God, he loved that kid. He would miss him.

"I'm good on my own", the Winchester replied and frowned the second the words left his mouth, "Well, normally I am. When no oversized legends try to turn me into one of them."

Patrick snorted and fumbled with his jacket pocket, pulling a pen and a napkin from it. "This is my cell phone number", he said and wrote some scrawly numbers down, "A brand new one, fits perfectly to the brand new cell phone I got, so call me." He held the crumpled napkin out to Dean who took it with a questioning look.

"Are you hitting on me?"

"You're a jerk" Patrick replied, rolling his eyes, "It's just...well, I'd like to stay in contact, that's all. So, give me a call from time to time, okay? Let me know how you're doing. And in case you change your mind about the lonely cowboy stuff..."

"...I call you, I get it."

Patrick put the pen back with a satisfied nod and the two of them lapsed into silence again, letting the rays of the morning sun warm their faces.

Dean wasn't sure if he was good. Didn't quite trust the confidence he tried to emanate. But he would try. He just had to.

Ellen had insisted to dish a breakfast that would have made a famed chef blush. Her comment to the men's 'Jesus, Ellen, that wouldn't have been necessary!' had simply been 'I don't have people here often I feel the need to lay my mother hen side on, especially when there so many of them worth the trouble.'

At the sight of the bountiful table that had greeted Sam this morning in the seating area of the Roadhouse after he had stumbled from the spare room Dean and he shared his heart and mind had leaped for joy while his stomach had raised an objection immediately. He had noticed his mistake the moment the whiskey had entered his mouth and had taken the same way the five or six beers had gone last night, had known that he would absolutely regret this in the morning hours. But the mind was easy to outvote and hush with the friendly help from Jack and Jim, so now he had to cope with the aftermath.

And fortunately, Ellen's breakfast had included a dose of Aspirin for everyone who was in the need of it.

The atmosphere had been cheerful albeit a bit sleepy due to the hangovers Sam, Patrick and Ellen were handling and although Hel had his fair share of beer and bourbon he was eerily fit and well rested this morning. Therefore he had had no problems to join Dean and Bobby, who had decided to refrain from drinking too much last night because of his plans to check into a new hunt near the Roadhouse right after breakfast, in wolfing down the scrambled eggs with bacon, buns and pies.

Now, Sam was nibbling on a dry bun he had snatched about half an hour ago and watched his new friends, his old friends and his brother talk, eat and laugh together.

He was still a bit shaken from waking up today only to find Dean's bed empty. The sight had sent spikes of fear and concern through him, and only with difficulty had he been able to calm down again, reminding himself that his brother was a big boy, regardless of what had happened. But only when he had found Dean sitting on the stairs outside chatting with Patrick he had been able to relax completely.

He couldn't help but notice the change in Dean's behavior since he had been released from the hospital. The walls were up and in place again, seemed to be stronger and even thicker then before. And though Dean talked to him like he had always done, Sam had the feeling that his sibling was avoiding him, was trying to keep his distance in a somehow subtle way.

So Sam had decided to have his meager breakfast alone at the counter, laptop in front of his nose, but not paying attention to the contents of the websites he was scrolling through. A part of him was mocking him, teasing him for being a girl, for seating himself away from the others only to check out if Dean would maybe notice his brooding and come over. The other part was delighted to have a chunk of space and time on his own, apart from the little crowd. So he had some more time to think what his plans would be. How his future would look. Where his next step would lead him.

Bobby was the first to set out. As planned he left the Roadhouse after he had inhaled his last piece of pie and had said his goodbyes, not without letting 'his idjits' know that they owed him. Again.

Ellen had excused herself and had headed out to do some groceries, leaving the Winchesters to watch over the Roadhouse until she would be back.

Some time around noon Hel announced his departure and Patrick was a bit disappointed to abandon Dean's tutorial about the Impala and the missed opportunity to get behind the muscle car's wheel himself.

Watching Hel as he threw the last bag into the Cherokee's trunk, Sam leaned against the black truck's hood, his hands in his pockets. The Indian slapped his hands together and looked around.

"Okay, where are the kids?" he asked, his voice high-pitched in a mock-female tone.

Sam snorted, "Leave it Hel, the soccer mum style doesn't suit you."

"Yeah, I know. Just always wanted to say that." Hel went silent and Sam noticed that he began to fidget with his hands. A gesture he hadn't ever witnessed on his companion until now. "So, you think you'll ever get into touch with us or is this a disappear, never to be seen again thing?"

"No. Yeah. Of course I'll keep in touch. Always comes handy to have a native American in the circle of friends and acquaintances, right?" The chuckle the young Winchester added held a painful quiver.

"You bet."

The playful banter ebbed away, the inevitable parting dampening the mood. Finding friends in their kind of business was hard enough, with all the distrust and caution hunters faced each other. And after you found one, it was too easy to lose him again, be it to death or just distance.

"Listen..." Sam took a breath, "I...there are no words...hell, there's nothing in the world that could possibly prove how thankful I am. How thankful we both are. I mean, if it hadn't been for you I don't know how far I would have come. I..."

"Sam", Hel held a hand up, "It's okay. Really. I'm sure a lot of people would have helped you. I just happened to be there when you needed someone to ground and guide you. It was my pleasure."

The emotions bubbling up, Sam nodded jerkily, his lips a thin line. What Hel said wasn't true. The Roadhouse could have been bursting at the seams the night Seth had arrived there, he was sure he would have gone alone if Hel hadn't been there.

"And I must say, it was worth it. Dean's a nice guy. I would have been disappointed if it had turned out that he's an ass. Maybe I would have stated accounts." Hel laughed, but in his dark eyes Sam saw the glistening of tears.

"You sure you met him?" Sam asked soberly before his face broke into a smile and he swallowed around the lump in his throat. "Anyway...thank you. Whenever you need know how to find us, okay?"

The older hunter gripped Sam's shoulder, "I'll find you. And that's a threat. Seriously."

"We like threats, nothing new for us."

Hel let go of Sam's shoulder and looked around again, the same understanding expression appearing on his face that had helped and calmed Sam so often. Following the older man's gaze he saw Patrick and Dean stepping from the Roadhouse, his brother carrying a heavy looking bag in his good hand while the kid struggled with two equally heavy looking ones and a backpack.

The two men stopped just below the stairs and faced each other, and Sam nearly flinched at the painful expression he caught on Dean's face. His older brother's mask was in place, and Sam was sure neither Patrick nor anyone else would notice the raw emotion that flashed over Dean's features but for Sam his brother's emotions were patently obvious.

A bond had arisen between those two. Similar to the one that held him and Dean together. A big-and-kid-brother kind of bond. Maybe because of the worries, fears and pain the two had shared in those woods. Maybe because Patrick had lost his significant other, a special, precious person, a situation Dean was unfortunately used to. Maybe because the kid still was exactly that – a kid. And Dean was a protector all his life, his charge running away, leaving behind a gap that was impossible or rather hard to fill.

It was that tiny glimpse of Dean's true feelings, that little, narrow crack in his sturdy wall that shook Sam awake. That told him why Dean avoided him. Why he escaped his little brother's proximity, his closeness. Why he tried to protect himself this time, from letting Sam too close again after he had been forced to let him go.

And it nearly tore Sam apart.

"You got everything?" Dean asked, surprised at the lump building up in his throat. He readjusted his grip on the bag before he decided to put it on the ground, the pull of the heavy thing tearing at his healing shoulder.

"Yeah, got it." Patrick seemed to have come to the same conclusion, dropping the bags and sliding the backpack from his arms. He eyed his baggage and snorted. "This is weird."

"What's weird?"

"This...atmosphere. It was the same with Jason...every time when he left for a hunt and he told me to take care of myself, to call if the cereals were was like this, you know. This mood reminding you of the possibility that the person in front of you might not return."

Dean watched while the young man poked at a piece of wood with the tip of his toe. He couldn't remember this kind of fear when it had come to his Dad, because to him it had been out of the question that his father would come back. Period. Only with Sam had he felt that anxiety, every time they had split up on a hunt. The day he had left for Stanford. The day he had left the second time.

Pushing the thoughts back Dean put some nonchalance to his tone. "You'll be fine with Hel. He's a good hunter, he'll take care of the two of you..."

"I wasn't talking about me. I was talking about you."

The honesty left the Winchester speechless and he blinked owlishly at Patrick.

"So, I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Jason every time he left", Patrick continued, "Promise me to be careful, promise me to return in one piece."

Dean just nodded, his mouth desert dry. He didn't know how to respond. How it was so important for that kid he barely knew that he was okay, would be okay.

Before Dean could get his bearings again he found himself in a bear hug, momentarily startled and surprised over the sign of affection, but then returning Patrick's embrace.

Only when the younger hunter squeezed him tightly for good measure, causing his ribs to cry out in protest, Dean pulled away slightly. "Woah, easy there", he exclaimed, his voice muffled due to half of his face being buried in Patrick's shoulder before the kid let go of him.

"Uh…sorry, didn't mean to hurt you", Patrick breathed, the shock on his face almost comical, "You okay? I'm sorry. Man, I'm sorry!"

"No problem, just…gimme…a sec." Cradling his ribs with his cast, Dean bent over, bracing himself on his knees with his good right and breathed the pain out, relieved when the dizziness subsided quickly. He wasn't surprised when Sam's concerned voice erupted right beside him.


"I'm good, Sam...everything's…peachy…" Straightening himself gingerly Dean was met with three sets of concerned eyes staring at him. "Really. M'fine", he stated, dropping the cast from his throbbing ribs.

Hel broke into a laugh and slapped Patrick's shoulder blade, causing the young man to stumble forward a bit, "Come on, let's hit the road before you hurt somebody." He grabbed the bag at Dean's feet and the backpack and walked over to the Cherokee, followed by Patrick, who still looked like a deer in the headlights, Sam, who eyed his brother with a mixture of worry and uncertainty and Dean, who couldn't help but chuckle at the whole scene.

Once again, first Dean then Sam offered a thank you Hel didn't want to hear. Once again, a hug was exchanged, this time between Hel and Sam. Once again, Dean was able to make a spooked Patrick laugh once more with a cheeky remark and his trademark smirk.

"Don't be strangers!" Hel said after he got behind the wheel of his truck, "if you two need help, give us a call. We'll do the same." He pulled his door closed and waited for Patrick to get in before he fired the engine up and put the Cherokee in first gear, letting the heavy car roll from the Roadhouse parking lot. Both men waved goodbye one last time before Hel floored it and the Winchesters watched them disappear behind a piece of woodlands.

With the rumble of Hel's truck fading there fell a deep silence between the brothers, the only remaining sound being the chirping birds and the soft wailing of the wind.

Dropping his gaze to the ground, a small stone to his feet suddenly attracted Dean's interest and he pushed it around before kicking it away. He tried to remember when it had gotten so awkward to be alone with Sam.

"Think they will get along?" Sam's voice cutting through the quiet startled Dean and he just barely kept himself from jerking his head up.

"Guess so, yeah", he replied and turned on his heel, trudging back toward the building. He felt his brother's eyes on him, but didn't bother to stop or turn around. Reaching the stairs, Dean sat down on the topmost step, resuming the same position he had had in the morning and started to pull at a tiny thread that hung from the edge of his cast.

The crunching of the gravel signaled Sam's approach and soon a tall shadow fell on the older Winchester, the sudden absence of sunlight making Dean shiver.

"Mind if we talk?" Sam's tone held a tight quality to it and he dropped beside Dean, scrutinizing his older brother.

"Sure. Shoot."

"What's going on in that head of yours lately?"

Dean raised his eyebrows at Sam and on his face appeared one of the dirtiest grins he could muster, "I don't think you wanna know, Sammy…"

"Drop it, okay? I'm serious." Sam's tone changed from patient to pissed in the blink of an eye and Dean watched his brother jump to his feet and begin to pace. "What's gotten into you lately?"

Dean's grin vanished, seemed to drop from his face even faster then Sam's tone had changed and he looked at the other man with a stony expression.

"Okay, let's hear it", Dean stated in a dangerously low growl that made Sam interrupt his pacing.


"The 'Happy now?' speech. The moment where you tease me about being reckless and that I'm only causing trouble because of that habit, the moment were you tell me that I'm absolutely useless without you, that I can't even handle a doter with a bird complex on my own, come on, I'm all ears."

Sam still stood, mouth agape, blinking. Dean felt a blanket of satisfaction wrapping around him, at the same time the urge to go on, to rant further, to let it all out was so incredibly strong he was sure he would burst if he would hold back.

"That's not what I meant", Sam spoke up, "Yes, you're reckless and I lost count of how many times it got us into trouble but no one says anything about you being useless without me or that you're not able to handle anything."

"So what do you want to hear, Sam? What's this interrogation all about?"

"The way you're acting lately. Since you're out of the hospital you're all but ignoring me, you're keeping your distance and I can't comprehend why."

Letting out a mirthless laugh Dean rubbed his eyes. So Sam had noticed. Of course he had, the kid had such keen antennas it was almost unnatural for a guy.

"You're afraid of letting me close again, aren't you."


"No. No, I get it. I deserve it. I pushed you away and now I'm here whining over your behavior. I turned my back on you, again, and it almost got you killed."

"This has nothing to do with me getting killed…"

"Then talk to me, Dean. Let's solve this problem before it tears us apart."

Dean closed his eyes, Sam's intimidating stare and the way he was currently towering over him constricting him in a way that made him want to lash out. And not only verbally.

"When I saw you out there…" he began, already hating the way his voice trembled ever so slightly, "I was trapped in that cabin and I heard your voice, I looked out of the window and saw you walk by and I thought…I was so happy to see you I…" Dean swallowed, it almost hurt in his throat. "And in the hospital, having you there, every day…at some point I realized that those days were over, that you were there because of my condition, and that the day I would get released, you would leave."

He looked up, a part of him wanting to avert his eyes, to keep them glued to the ground, while the other part searched in Sam's face for understanding, for acceptance. The next sentence didn't come easy from Dean's lips, his pride and his aversion against laying his soul bare tearing and pulling at his insides.

"I didn't want you to get too close again because I knew I couldn't handle to let you go a third time."

Dean's voice cracked on the last word and a wave of emotions washed over him, the sight of Sam's expression amplifying the sorrow, the anger, the unfairness tenfold. He felt the frustration boil up in his guts and let his steely greens bore into Sam's glassy ones.

"Tell me why I should receive you with open arms? Huh? Give me one fucking reason why I should not get up right now, get my things and drive off? Leave you standing here so you can get on your damn bus to Stanford tonight, no longer bother with your sibling's needy self."

He stared at his little brother, nearly shattering into millions of pieces as he watched a single tear rolling down Sam's cheek. He waited for an answer, waited for anything Sam had to say. And then he would do exactly what he had just suggested. Grab his stuff and bail.

"Because I won't."

Dumbfounded, Dean felt the icy grip holding his heart hostage melt away. He frowned at his little brother. "What?"

"I won't. I won't go back, Dean."

All of a sudden Dean forgot how to breathe. How to think straight. He felt his jaw drop and if he were a character in a comic he was sure it would slam right to the ground. He still stared at his sibling, Sam's face being a mixture of the Cheshire Cat and a professional mourner, tears glistening on his cheeks and in his eyes while his lips were pulled up in a smile.

"What do you mean, you won't..."

"We'll get OUR stuff and we'll head out TOGETHER. Find US a new hunt." Sam stressed the words as if talking to an idiot. The way he looked at Dean, expectantly, waiting for him to say something, was nearly heartbreaking.

His smile faded when Dean slowly shook his head. "We talked about this. God damn, we fought about it, hours, days. And now you change your mind all of a sudden? Just like this? What happened to 'I want a life, Dean'?"

He couldn't believe his own words. He heard himself saying them, wounded pride helping to form them, rage pushing them from his lips while love and the longing for a home he had in Sam tried to pull them back, tried to make them unspoken. The look on his kid brother's face making him want to leap to his feet and grab him, pull him close and cling to him.

Sam's shoulders sagged, the smile wiped away from his features, making way for an expression of shock and defeat.

"I know how this sounds, Dean", he said, quietly, calm, voice quivering, "And I know I'm not fair to you, the way I treat you...I just...I guess I don't know how to handle this, I'm not ready to drop the idea of a normal life yet..." He paused at Dean's huffed "Surprise" before he went on, "Maybe I need more time. But when I was confronted with the possibility of you being dead...the second time in months...when we weren't able to find you, when I dragged you from that burning house, the paramedics were trying to revive you, your comatose state in the hospital...what I want to say is...after this hunt with you almost dying – again – I realized that there's one thing worse than our current life. And that's leaving my only remaining family and live every day with the possibility of this only family getting killed."

A long silence ensued. Dean hadn't looked up at Sam during his speech but he felt his brother's eyes drill holes into his scull. All this he had just learned, had listened to, sounded too good to be true. The fears Dean had silently processed over the last weeks, the plans he had tried to make but had failed to think through to the end due to his inability and indignation to think of a future as a hunter that doesn't include Sam...everything turned into a black void, spiraling away from him. Problem was, if he wouldn't be able to hold on to something, it would take him with it.


Sam's voice pulled him from his dark thoughts, like it always did. Always had done. Looking up Dean's blurry eyes met Sam's.

"I can't promise you that I will always be happy. I'm sure there will be times and situations we're going to fight over this again, times where I want to leave and you'd be happy to personally kick my ass to Palo Alto yourself."

The twitch of Dean's mouth encouraged Sam to go on.

"But I'm willing to try. I'm going to find my place, Dean. Give me another chance."

Dean didn't know what it was he was clinging to. What kept him from drowning in the black void that threatened to swallow him whole. If it was Sam's confidence. His hope. His pleading eyes that begged him to listen to him. He couldn't put his finger on it. And it didn't matter. Everything that mattered was the fact that he stayed while his anger and fear were washed away.

"Dean? Waiting for a reaction here."

Schooling his features, Dean cleared his throat and glared at Sam, who pulled back a bit, seeming to prepare himself for another round.

"Dude. When our next hunt involves anything near poultry or Indians, I swear the day I kick your ass to Palo Alto is closer then you've thought."

It took Sam a few seconds to let the words sink in and the older Winchester saw his brother's cogs fall into place. Sam's face lit up like a christmas tree, and Dean could see he was fighting with tears again, this time tears of relief.

"Okay", he choked out, "Cross my heart."


The brothers chuckled and lapsed into silence again, watching the cars pass the Roadhouse side by side, Sam having dropped beside Dean on the topmost step. It might take some time for them to get in sync again. The things that had happened having torn furrows in their relationship of different depths and shapes. But they had handled other problems and situations in the past. And this was just another banana skin on the already bumpy road that was the Winchester's life.

"Think we can grab lunch from Ellen before we head out?" Dean spoke up, his stomach still filled from breakfast but the idea of lunch making itself known in his mind.

"Don't know. Would that be polite? Scrounging again?" Sam glanced at his brother with a questioning look.

"Any other ideas then?"

"Kentucky Fried Chicken?"

The look on Dean's face was priceless. "Hell no."

The End

Author's notes:


This is it.

My first story ever is finally completed. I'm kinda speechless, I guess.

I started this story about three years ago. In between the pages and chapters you've read I had my ups and downs of life everbody has, I took a break from my job, I gave birth to a child, I travelled, I got back to my job...and all the time this story was accompanying me – for three whole years.

So, writing "The End" under those pages filled with my ramblings, completely with mistakes and typos and grammatical torturing for all the english native speakers out there, I get a bit melancholic.

I want to thank all of you who borrowed me their time and read this story, shared the thrill with me, wrote me their feelings and opinions. If it hadn't been for you, this would be my first and last story. And I'm not sure if it would have been completed, if it weren't for you. Because if you know someone's out there waiting for your brain farts, it boosts you. So, once again, THANKS! YOU GUYS ROCK!

And here's the literary hug for my lovely Beta: Honeypie! We did it! And if you're still with me, we're in for some hundred stories more! Sister in mind, you're the best!

Okay. And now, before these notes are getting longer then the story itself, I'm going to shut up and open my OpenOffice to work on the next story.

What? Curious?