Ummm...I've never been stabbed so I don't actually know how long it would take to recover. Probably more than a week, even for Sam Winchester? Sorry if I got that wrong!

Also, I do realise that the chapter title is extremely corny...it just seemed to fit!

Chapter 12: A Sort of Home

Sam stood leaning against the school gates, waiting for the bell to signal the beginning of the day. Dean was just round the corner in his car; since Sam had almost died by Lisa's knife eight days before he had barely left his brother alone for a second. Sam had only been released from hospital yesterday, by which time he had already been going insane at his confinement.

Alec had been to see him, nervous and tentative, on the fourth day, when Sam's condition had been stable enough for the doctors to allow other visitors. His friend looked as if he was afraid for his sanity, but his words were important.

"They asked me if you'd done it to yourself," he had told Sam uncertainly. "They, uh...don't get mad, but they asked if you could've had anything to do with Eva and Mr Hughes' deaths...I told them no way."

"Did they accept that?" Sam had asked.

Alec shrugged. "I told them there'd been another man. Wearing a hood to hide his face, who stabbed you and took off. I guess they're still searching for him in connection to the other deaths as well."

"Wow," Sam said with a grin. "Some story."

Alec took a deep breath. "The truth is scarier."

They had stared at each other in dead silence.

"Sam," Alec had whispered at last. "Can you swear to me that I'm not going crazy, that it all really happened?"

Sam had not known what to say. Tell Alec he was mad, and...tear him to the core. Or tell the truth, which, as his friend had pointed out, was much scarier. At last he looked up.

"You're not crazy," he said quietly. "But you don't need to worry any more. She won't come back. You have to move on with your life."

Alec nodded, eyes determined. "I don't think I want to know the rest, do I?"

Sam shook his head. Alec gave him a weak smile.

"You saved my life, Sam, and you nearly died for it. Uh...thank you?"

"It's nothing," Sam answered, a little embarrassed. "Just...try and forget what happened, okay?"

Alec had left quickly after that, and Sam had not seen him since. It must be a lot to take in, even not knowing the full truth-he must have guessed that it had been Lisa's ghost that had almost killed him and Sam himself, and he was just a normal person, not a hunter accustomed to life-or-death struggles. Maybe Sam had that to be grateful for in his life-he knew, for better or worse, how to save lives.

But I won't be doing this forever. I can't. There's more to life than this...

John had made the decision to remain here for another month; Sam wasn't sure if it was to give him time to recover fully, to scotch any police rumours or just because he thought he had found something to hunt in a small town two hours drive away. He did not really care. Sure, he'd be dragged along on this hunt too, no doubt, and maybe they would make him sit in the car again but he was not taking it for granted. If his father had told the truth when he had said, that he really was proud of what his youngest son had done...

Sam knew that what he had done had been stupid and reckless to an extreme, and he had nearly gotten himself killed to prove it. But he had banished the spirit, and he had completed the hunt, and for that John had to see his capabilities. Maybe he hadn't proved that he wasn't a danger magnet-he did know himself that he could be a hunter. And knowing that he could meant, somehow, that he did not have to.

He breathed in the cool morning air deeply as he looked up into the pale, clouded sky. He did not know what the future would bring. Things might change; then again maybe they wouldn't. Right now he was just glad to be staying here where he had made a sort of home. Dean had not wanted him to return to school yet, but Sam was going to get the most out of this extra month in Fareville as he could with regard to his studies. This was an important year for him, and he had already missed enough. Dean would leave, hopefully, after he went inside. He was ridiculously early, but right now anything was better than another minute of Dean's fussing.

At that moment he heard a car door slam and sighed as his brother came striding round the corner, eyes fixed on Sam. He stood up straight, feeling the still-tender, healing scar on his side stretch with the movement, and folded his arms.

"Dean, nothing is going to happen to me between now and the school being opened in three minutes. Trust me and go home, okay?"

"I don't think so, Sammy," Dean answered with a smirk, taking up a position leaning against the wall beside him. "I'm staying right here to make sure nothing happens to ya. And there is nothing you can do about it."

"Dean-"

"Sammy..." Suddenly his brother turned to him, face deadly serious. "You know it wasn't your fault those people died, right?"

Sam turned away to hide his expression. Of course it was. "Where'd that come from?"

"I just know you've been thinking about it. And those photos you saw at the house."

"Dean, it's fine-"

"No, it's not!" Dean came around to face him. "Sam, it was Lisa killed them, all right? You can't blame yourself!"

"How do you know I am?"

Dean was stuck for an answer, momentarily. It sounded too much like a chick-flick moment to say that he could just tell somehow when his little brother was hurting, and because he knew him so well, he could usually guess why.

"I'm your big brother," he said flippantly. "I know everything. You hear me, though? This is not your fault. You did the best you could. Except for not telling Dad and me. That was just plain stupid and I sure as hell hope you never pull something like that again."

"That's what it is," Sam sighed. "If I'd told you those people wouldn't be dead." His face was lowered and the breeze ruffled his floppy chestnut hair. He's only sixteen, Dean thought with a twinge of desolation. He shouldn't have to deal with this sorta crap...

"That's not true," he said softly. "When me and Dad hunt people get killed, Sammy. We try not to, dammit we try really hard, but sometimes it happens and we can't do anything about it. Sometimes it is our fault. But you have to remember-what we do is about trying to save lives. Get it? Probably no-one could've saved those people, not the best hunter in the world. You have to understand that it isn't your fault!"

Sam grinned suddenly. "Wow, Dean," he said. "You're getting all philosophical in your old age."

"Yeah, that's right, Sammy, laugh it up..."

"Hey. My name's Sam."

"Yeah, yeah. Sure it is...I have no idea why you're so desperate to get back to school, geek, you know that?"

"Shouldn't you be at work right now anyway?"

Dean looked momentarily alarmed, then shook his head.

"Don't know what you're talking about, Sammy." He shook his head and leaned back, allowing the faint sunlight to fall on his face. Sam watched for a moment, and then mirrored him.

"If you're ever as tall as me you'll understand these things better," Dean was saying vaguely. Sam raised his eyebrows.

"What, so height goes with maturity? I'll remind you of that when I'm towering over you."

"Now that," Dean said emphatically, narrowing his eyes, "Is one thing that is never going to happen."

THE END

Thank you so much all reviewers for encouraging me throughout this story and for pointing out my mistakes, and I hope you all enjoyed it! I certainly enjoyed writing it and reading your reviews! You made this worthwhile

I'm going to post chapter 1 of another Supernatural fanfic very soon, called Dreaming True, in case anyone is interested...

Once again, thank you for everything and goodbye!

Ani