Finally, the last chapter is complete! Hoo boy, didn't think I'd ever get there :D I know it's taken a looong time, and there have been some really long waits between chapters, but you guys stuck with me and for that I am forever grateful! I won't bore you with anymore of my ramblings so why don't you read the final chapter and then you can let me know what you think! Love you all 3

Cindy

The afternoon was warm, the sun shining brightly as it moved across the pale blue sky. Dean was seated on a bench outside his family's motel room, his legs stretched out before him, head leaned back against the wall, his eyes closed. He and his father would be leaving soon, leaving Palo Alto and Sam behind once again. A hunt was calling across the border in Nevada and in any case, Sam was itching to get back to classes and had been a brooding pain in the butt since the day he waved goodbye to Ritu as she'd boarded a bus that would take her to the other side of the country. She'd be finishing her year in the States at a different college and Dean knew that Sam's eagerness to return to class had just as much to do with keeping himself busy in order to keep from thinking about what he'd lost as it had to do with catching up on all of his missed work. Dean sighed as he remembered the tears Sam had tried to hide as the bus pulled away. He hadn't let on that he'd seen and had actually drawn John and Bobby's attention away from his brother until the kid had been able to pull himself together. Sam had been sad and moody ever since and as much as Dean and his father understood why, he was still beginning to get on their nerves so when the call had come for help in Nevada, John had jumped on it. They were nervous to leave the kid, but at the same time, they knew that the best way to get him back on his feet was to give him his independence back.

A slamming door brought Dean out of his musings and he glanced over to see Roger loading his bag into his truck. Dean was still mad, but not so much at Roger anymore as with the demon who wouldn't leave his family alone. He found himself actually liking the guy, admiring how even though the danger had passed, Roger still stuck around to make sure Sam was okay. He was heading out to his own hunt, but Dean had overheard him tell Bobby he'd find his way to Palo Alto every chance he could to check on Sam. Part of Dean was resentful of the idea, it was his job afterall to watch out for Sam, but the more reasonable part of him was thankful that there would be yet another ally to help them keep the youngest Winchester safe. Dean had yet to speak to the man and from the looks of it, it was now or never. He groaned as he pushed to his feet and walked over to Roger's truck.

"Uh, hey, Roger…getting ready to head out?" Dean asked as he stepped up behind the older hunter.

Roger hesitated before turning around to meet Dean's gaze. "Well, I…um…yeah I am. Gotta be in Kentucky day after tomorrow at the latest. Thought I'd head out now and drive all night when traffic is lighter," he answered in his deep, slight drawl.

"So, do you think we can talk for a few minutes…if you have time?" Dean asked.

"Um…yeah, sure," Roger replied hesitantly, the man unsure of Dean's intentions.

Dean nodded then turned and walked toward the small grassy area across the parking lot. Roger followed and sat down opposite Dean at the small picnic table in the center of the lawn. Dean had his eyes down, seemingly finding something very interesting about his clasped hands that lay atop the table. Roger watched him, warily, then finally cleared his throat when the silence became too heavy for him. Dean looked up, but still didn't speak.

"Look, Dean…I understand why you hate…" Roger started only to be cut off when Dean raised his hand to stop him.

Dean sighed as he cast a quick glance toward the motel where Sam was now standing in the open doorway of their room, looking their way with a worried expression on his face. Dean gave him a quick nod before turning back to Roger. "I don't hate you. I was really, really pissed at you…like murderously pissed, but…I finally realized that the one I was truly pissed at was myself. I wasn't here to keep Sammy safe. I promised him he could always count on me to be there for him and I wasn't. I lied to him and, well, I had to take it out on someone. You were the perfect target. I'm…I'm sorry I was such a dick to you, Roger," he said, holding his hand up again mid apology when Roger opened his mouth to protest.

Roger brushed a hand through his hair and let out a shaky breath then met Dean's gaze. "You had every right to be mad at me, kid. Still do. I was supposed to keep that demon away from your brother and I didn't. I let Sam ditch me and that bastard got to him. I'm responsible. I'm…"

"See, that's where you're wrong. You're not responsible for Sam's safety…my dad and me are. You came here to fulfill a debt you owed Bobby. You didn't know Sammy or me or Dad from iota, yet, when the shit hit the fan, you didn't run. You put your life on the line to try and save my brother…you protected him and his girl as best as you could and when things still went south and Sammy was hurt, you stuck around. You could have high tailed it out of here, but you didn't. You knew Bobby would be pissed…and you knew that Dad and I would be homicidal even though you'd never met us, yet you stuck around anyway. You stuck around because you felt responsible and because you truly care about my brother…I can see that. I should have been thanking you, but instead I treated you like garbage." Dean looked away, back toward the motel. Sam was no longer standing in the doorway, but Dean knew he was still watching them, worried that at any moment his big brother was going to start throwing punches. Dean smiled at the thought then turned his attention back to the conversation at hand. "I owe you a debt of gratitude and I'm sorry it's taken me this long to tell you," he said with a heavy sigh.

"You don't owe me anything, Dean. We're hunters, and if we're good hunters, we watch out for each other whenever we can. And I may have come here to settle a debt with Bobby, but once I met Sam, I just knew somehow… I knew he wasn't just some hunter's spoiled kid. I could see straight off that he was special so you're right, I do care about him. I don't know what that demon wants with him, but I can tell you this…I'll help in any way I can to find out. All you guys have to do is holler. That boy in there doesn't deserve what's going on…none of you do. I'm just glad that something good came out of all of this…that Sam got his sight back," Roger said as he watched Dean intently.

"Yeah, that is a plus…I'm just scared about the reason why that son of a bitch gave him back his sight, but I can worry about that later. I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry and that I really appreciate what you've done for Sam. I don't want to hold you up any longer so I'll just shut up now," Dean said with a slight chuckle.

Roger stood and reached his hand across the table. Dean stood too and took the offered hand in his then gave it a strong shake. "Like I said, you don't owe me anything…but, I can see how important it is for you so, apology accepted," Roger said before pulling his hand back and turning toward the motel.

The two hunters made their way across the parking lot then stopped beside Roger's truck. The door to the Winchester's motel room opened and Sam stepped hesitantly out into the sunlight. He lifted a hand to shield his still sensitive eyes then turned to look at the two men. "Um, is everything okay out here?" he asked tentatively.

Dean smiled as he walked up to his brother and patted his shoulder. "We're good, Sammy," he said before disappearing into the motel room. Sam watched Dean over his shoulder and once the door shut he turned to face Roger. "So, it looks like you're leaving?" he asked softly.

Roger nodded and took a step toward the teen. "Yeah, gotta hit the road, kid," he answered with a smile.

"Well then, I guess this is goodbye. Thanks for everything, Roger," Sam said.

"It ain't goodbye, Sam. We'll see each other again. Now, you take care of yourself, you hear?" Roger replied.

Sam smiled, dimples on full display, before darting forward and wrapping his arms around the surprised hunters back. Roger stood motionless for a moment, but it only took seconds before he too had the teenager in a strong embrace. The two pulled away, both hunter's cheeks flushed with embarrassment, but both wearing fond smiles on their faces. "You take care too, Roger," Sam said as he stepped backward toward the room door.

"I will, kid," Roger said. He walked slowly around his truck, opened the door and slipped behind the wheel. A few moments later Sam was watching him pull out onto the street and once the truck had disappeared from sight, Sam turned and walked back to his family's motel room. He opened the door and disappeared into the dimly lit room, his heart heavy as yet another friend left him. He knew that by the next day, he would be all alone as his father and brother were planning an early morning departure for Nevada and Bobby would be heading back to South Dakota. He himself would be returning to classes come Monday and hopefully things would return to normal, at least to as normal as things could possibly be for the youngest Winchester. His thoughts turned to Ritu as he walked across the room and plopped down on the bed farthest from the door. He missed her so much and wondered how she was doing, if she had arrived safely in Boston. She had told him before she boarded the bus that she wouldn't be calling him, that it would be too hard so he could only hope and pray that she was safe.

"She'll be fine, Sammy," Dean's voice called softly, causing Sam to jump as he was pulled from his thoughts.

Sam turned and watched as Dean walked out of the bathroom and around the two beds. The elder brother sat down on the edge of the other bed and faced Sam. "I know you're thinking about her and I know this is hard, but she's fine and you are too," Dean said.

Sam sighed as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed and sat, just as Dean was sitting, facing his brother. "I know she'll be fine…it just hurts, you know?" he said, softly.

Dean reached over and patted Sam's knee, a sad, comforting smile on his face. "I know it does, kiddo and I wish I could do something about that, but I can't. It'll get easier, I promise," he said.

Sam nodded then looked up as the door to the room opened and John and Bobby stepped inside. "Hey," he said as the two hunters walked up to the end of the beds.

"You two ready to go get some chow?" Bobby asked as he plopped down on a wooden chair that sat next to the small table by the door.

"I could eat," Dean answered with a wide grin.

"When couldn't you eat?" Sam asked with an even wider grin.

Dean turned to him and eyed him incredulously. "Hey! I can't eat when I'm sleeping!" he cried with a huff.

"If you could figure out a way you would!" Sam shot back, the young man chuckling as he slapped Dean on the knee.

Dean pursed his lips then slowly nodded his head. "Yeah, you're right. Now, let's go eat!" he quipped before jumping to his feet, patting his belly and rushing to the door.

Sam shook his head and smiled as he pushed to his feet and followed his brother to the door. He turned and smiled up at John as he passed him then stepped out into the sunlight behind Dean. John grinned as he looked over at Bobby then followed his sons outside. Bobby groaned as he stood, the old man shaking his head as he listened to the sound of the two brothers rough housing outside. "Idjits," he said fondly as he stepped out the door and shut it firmly behind him.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Early morning dawned, the night sky giving way to just the faintest hint of blue as the sun began its slow ascent. A man sat silently on a bench in the center of a small park, his presence hidden by the deep shadows of waning dark. Across the small park, a family of three said their goodbyes. The man watched as two of the three climbed reluctantly into their sleek, black car and after hand waves and soft commands to stay safe, the car pulled away from the curb leaving the tall, slender, dark haired young man watching silently after it. The man smiled as the young man finally turned, a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, and walked to the multi-storied dorm building across the way. The young man stopped just outside the door and turned his head in the man's direction, his head cocked as if he sensed someone watching him. Finally, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. He inserted the key in the door then pulled it open. With one last look behind him, he stepped inside and disappeared from view.

The man on the park bench stood and looked up to one window. He smiled as the light came on in the window and watched as the young man appeared, his large eyes peering out before he grasped the curtains and pulled them shut.

"Don't worry, young Sam. I'll be here, watching, and when I can't be, there'll be others to watch for me. You'll eventually forget about me…you and the others. You'll go to your classes, meet a new girl, fall in love. Your life will go on, but when the time comes, I'll come for you because you belong to me. Enjoy your life while you can," the man whispered into the cool morning air. With one last look at the window above, he turned and walked away then disappeared as if he'd never been there at all.

THE END