I'll Always Be With You

Epilogue

Singer Salvage Yard, 1 month later:

"Are you sure…"

"Yes, I'm sure."

"Y'know, now would be the perfect time to…"

Head buried in the engine, Dean Winchester felt like snapping but his mood was still too good to give in to what he knew was his brother's intentional way of annoying him. "Sam, I don't care what time it is you are not replacing my cassette deck with anything digital," he growled, keeping his voice hard but smiled when he heard the laugh from inside the car.

It had taken several days of Bobby harping, yelling, and lecturing before Dean was willing to allow Sam out of his sight or before he was even willing to allow Sam to do anything even remotely strenuous. Even a month since waking up again with all his memories, Dean was careful to keep an eye on what Sam did and had managed to keep him from asking or talking about things…so far.

"Dean?" Sam debated with himself on bringing this up as he sat in the interior of the Impala to try to figure out the electronics but hoped his brother was distracted enough not to avoid it.

Checking to be sure all the wires were reattached, Dean had just moved to give the wrench a final twist when the tone in his brother's voice made him pause. "Yeah?" he called back warily, suspecting what would be coming next and hoping he was wrong.

"Is that really what happened?" Sam asked quietly, trying to keep his eyes focused on the wires when his hands shook at the memory in question and he dropped the wire cutters.

"Is what really what happened?" leaning into the car, Dean picked up the cutters and noticed his brother's shaking hands so he decided to set the tool aside in favor of checking out the wiring himself. "I don't have your memories so…"

The next sound he heard reminded him of when Sam was a kid and pissed off at some comment Dean made so it didn't come as a surprise when he saw the typical bitch face aimed at him. "Sam…"

"Is that why you avoided talking to me about your time in Hell?" Sam demanded, seeing the way Dean had tensed which was more of an answer than any spoken one. "I know why you wouldn't have talked to me about a couple of those things but…you gave in to him after thirty years because he…"

Skimming some protective coating off the wiring so he could twist them together, Dean didn't want this talk. He had never wanted his little brother to ever know what exactly he'd endured in Hell with Alastair and his demons much less the truth of what had finally made him break.

"Dean…I have to accept what happened in Hell. I need to learn to deal with these memories but to do that I need to know if what they said was true," Sam wanted to reach out to touch, to comfort but he suspected that his brother wouldn't be receptive of that so he was a little shocked when a hand shot out to grasp his arm before he could ease out of the car.

"I told you that I'd be there for you while we got you over this," Dean began quietly, going back to work on the radio for a couple more moments before leaning back to watch Sam and smiling enough to ease the younger man's fears. "I'll always do that and I'll answer the questions that I can when I can but Sammy, I need you to understand that I'm still not ready to talk to you about everything that happened."

Replacing the front of the radio with an easy touch, Dean's eyes took on a dark look as he remembered his own memories of Hell. "As you probably could tell, Alastair wasn't used to being refused for very long so when I kept telling him where to stick his offers he had to get creative," he let his eyes move to glance at where Sam's hand hovered just over his arm. "After thirty years of doing his worst he finally hit the one leverage that I couldn't fight against. He threatened you, Sammy and I refused to let that bastard touch you so I…gave in."

Dean was quick to grab for his brother because he knew this kid and knew how he'd react to this bit of news. "Sam, it was my choice and I didn't regret protecting you. I didn't like what happened, or what I did down there but I will never regret doing it to keep you safe."

"Dean, Alastair couldn't have…" Sam began when he caught the way Dean's face had tightened in a way he recalled and felt his stomach flip as realization dawned on him. "Ruby."

"You wonder why I despised that bitch, Sam? Alastair was only too happy to brag at how Ruby had you wrapped around her little finger and how easy it would be for her to deliver you to him and I wasn't letting that happen," Dean replied, tightening his grip just enough to keep Sam's eyes on him. "I didn't want you to know because I knew how you'd react but I want you to let go of what they told you about me because those are my issues and we'll cope with them as they come. I want you to focus on healing from what they put you through."

It was still those memories that sent Sam waking up in the middle of the night screaming and despite his brother's reassurance that eventually the bad dreams would ease Sam had his doubts and wished he would stop waking Dean and Bobby up but he couldn't stop the burning images that would awaken him.

Sam remembered the first few nights were the worst because he couldn't wake up fully and the images and pain were still so real to him that he fought against Dean even as he tried to wake him up and keep him from hurting himself as he thrashed. "I'm sorry for hitting you the other night."

"Nah, don't worry about it," Dean smiled, shrugging it off while reaching into his denim jacket to hold something out. "You want to put this back in?"

Staring at the plastic Army man, Sam's hand slowly reached out to take it from his brother. "Sure you want it back in?"

"So long as I'm the one fixing this car everything stares the same in it," Dean replied firmly, eyeing the Army man before letting his eyes slide to the rear ashtray. "The legos, that guy, the old cassettes that drive you nuts…it's what helps make her home," he shrugged, coughing to cover his unease. "It's a part of us so it goes back in and since you're the one who jammed him in there in the first place I guess you should do it again."

Chuckling, Sam seemed to relax more at that and sat in the backseat to consider how to best put the little plastic toy back in so that he'd stay put when he noticed that Dean had turned in the front seat to watch him. "What do we do next?" he asked curiously, wiggling the toy a few times before he seemed pleased that it would stay. "I mean, Cas is sort of…"

"Off the deep end of the pool," Dean finished with a familiar eyeroll, scowling as he also thought of the future. "I'm hoping he stays focused on Heaven for awhile until we get a better grip on how things are down here because it's going to take a little work to figure out how to depower him."

Only having Dean and Bobby's description on what happened toward the end of things, Sam wasn't certain if they could deal with the former Angel but accepted that he and Dean probably had other issues to cope with first. The biggest, he knew, was his ability to cope with memories he could do without and knowing that Dean had clues to things in his past that he was honestly surprised his brother wasn't jumping for answers on yet.

"Dean?" Sam had climbed out of the car to see that most of the trunk was still sitting on the tables under the lean-to where the car had been parked. "Umm, how much did you see in my mind?" he asked quietly, nudging a dreamcatcher with his finger when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Well, I didn't see any wild parties with co-eds if that's what you mean," came the quick and easy reply even though Dean was fully aware of what his brother was asking and sighed. "I mostly saw things with us and Dad," he admitted, fighting with himself not to ask the one thing he wanted to when it was taken out of his hands.

"I know he told you, Dean."

The murmur was soft which was a sure sign that Sam was uneasy and he wanted to forget this whole thing except he knew that he couldn't expect his brother to ever open up to him if he wasn't willing to at least try to do the same thing. "I know he told you about Rhonda and what happened the night of the party."

"Yeah, he did and you can forget the next words that I know'll be coming," Dean laid both hands on Sam's shoulders to turn him fully toward him but had to remove one in order to use it to cup his brother's chin firmly in order to make him meet his own eyes. "First, if I had gotten your call I would've been there as fast as this car could've made it and someone would've died. It wasn't your fault, Sammy and he just used it as a way to hurt you again."

Dean made it a point to keep his gaze locked on Sam's while squeezing gently on the shoulder he still had a grip on. "This ain't gonna be easy for us and yeah, I know the no chick-flick rule is being suspended for the next few months but…don't ever say I didn't do anything for you…bitch."

"Jerk," Sam's reply was instant and automatic and slowly as he watched his brother's slow smirk form he smiled more. While it wasn't a fully Sammy-smile like Dean would want it was a start and both Winchesters knew that. "You risked a lot by what you did, Dean."

"No, I did want I needed to, little brother," Dean returned, stepping away to sit in the car again with the keys in his hand. "There wasn't any risk too big since I had no plan on letting you go that easily…though you are so grounded by that stunt you pulled."

Figuring he deserved that since he'd guessed that Dean wouldn't be happy when he figured out why he had nudged him out of his mind, Sam remained silent on that as he eased down into the passenger seat and was surprised at how much he'd missed this. "I never lost my grip on your amulet," he whispered, knowing that Dean had questions on how he'd gotten it back in reality and not even Sam had that answer. "It was in my hand when I woke up."

"Well, we'll just chalk that up to another one of those endless mysteries that remain unsolved," Dean had a hunch he might know how his brother had come to have it but really didn't want to focus on that yet as he slipped the key into the ignition to turn the engine over and felt himself relax fully at Sam's laugh when the Impala started on the first try and sounded smooth except for a couple little things that only Dean's ears picked up. "Toss me a cassette and we'll see if you messed it up too badly."

Sam shot him a typical bitch face but reached into the box with unerring fingers to find the one tape that he almost always grabbed while running his tongue over his teeth. "Y'know, you seriously have got to update your cassette tape collection."

Fingers nearly fumbling as he went to slide the tape into the player, Dean shot his younger brother a look that was part warning and part amusement. "Why?" he deadpanned, keeping himself from putting the tape in fully just yet as he watched a full smile come to Sam's face.

"Well, for one, they're cassette tapes and second, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Motorhead? It's the greatest hits of mullet rock," Sam quoted a line that he was surprised came back so easily but he was also surprised by his brother's full laugh since normally it took a lot to get Dean to give that.

"House rules, Sammy," Dean smiled, shoving the tape in before reaching over to grab his brother around the neck to pull him closer and messing up his hair all in one motion. "Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole…or is Sammy still a chubby twelve-year old?"

Understanding what was being asked and also catching the emotion in Dean's voice that he was trying to hide, Sam slowly swallowed his own emotions as he reached out to grip onto his brother's arm. "Normally," he began slowly, lifting his eyes as he went on. "Except to my big brother since I think I'll probably always be Sammy to you and…that's what I want. I'm not asking for full time over protectiveness but I also don't want to be on my own again either. I want us to be the way we were."

"The whole over protective thing is up for debate until I know for sure you're alright but…" Dean nodded after a moment, flipping the volume up with a smile. "The rest of that I can live with…Sammy."

Sam smiled even as the radio blared 'Back In Black' from the newly installed speakers and things finally began to feel right to him for the first time in a long time.

Watching as his brother fiddled with some other wires to adjust the sound, Sam knew that things wouldn't be easy on them but he accepted that so long as he had his brother and Bobby with him that he'd continue to get better day by day and would always watch Dean's back since he knew from that moment on it would be just them against the evil in the world.

Just the way it had always been meant.

"I still think we should've upgraded to the I-Pod," he teased, laughing at Dean growled something under his breath about over his dead body and he leaned back to close his eyes, unaware of when the music was turned down and something soft and leathery was laid over him as he slept.

"Get some sleep, Sammy," Dean whispered, having laid his old leather jacket over his brother before going back to repack the trunk with increasing interest in what the future held for them but was confident that they'd handle it as it came. "Unless Bobby kills us for giving him a stroke," he muttered to himself.

THE END

A/N: Well, this is it…the end. I'm sorry it took so long and I hope everyone who read this story enjoyed it. Now, it's back to work on Mirror Images and maybe a Father's day story,lol.