Happy Fourth of July to all my readers who are American like me! I went to a parade today and a potluck and it was awesome! School off, whoot!

To those of you who aren't American, I still hope you had a good day. :)

Here's the last chapter of this story. Don't know what's next yet. Thanks for all the reviews! :)

They both had a lot of healing to do.

It was something Dean had realized and tried to accept, sitting in the hospital for the next few days as his little brother slept, peacefully this time, waking up periodically for food and to check that his older brother was there.

It wasn't just physical healing. Sam's injuries were severe and recovery would really suck. That much Dean knew. Healing lungs, several surgeries, severe blood loss, multiple deep gashes, broken wrist and a broken leg and that was just what Dean understood.

However, he could see now that Sam had emotional healing to do as well.

They both did.

As soon as he can. We'll have to talk. Dean shuddered at the thought, but considering the heck of the last few months, he was willing to endure a chick flick moment.

He was pretty sure neither of them would live long if they didn't get some things cleared up first.


Dean knew, as much as he hated it, that it was time to leave. Their fake insurance could only hold up so long and they'd been here a very long time already.

This was what led to the rather painful experience of sneaking a weak Sam out of the hospital. The youngest Winchester couldn't stand by himself and every moment seemed to be painful for him. The pitiful whimpers that fell from him as they whisked him through the parking lot to the Impala each left a gaping hole in Dean's soul and made him want to cut his own ears off just so he would never have to hear his brother make such horrible sounds again.

The knowledge that it was all his fault only made it worse.

Finally, though, the hunters got Sam to the car. With much difficulty and more agony, they got Sam situated in the back seat, laid out as comfortable as possible. Dean gave him some morphine he had borrowed from the hospital the second Sam was in the car.

Sam's eyes drifted shut right after the drugs took effect and Dean took that as permission to start the journey to Bobby's house.


Sam's recovery was long and hard, probably the hardest the Winchesters had ever endured.

The kid was greatly restricted in movement, in agony most of the time. He couldn't do much for himself, which led to some very awkward and quite embarrassing moments for the two boys.

They were never going to mention the bathroom incident again.

Eating was a whole different adventure, as Sam alternated between too nauseous to eat and absolutely ravenous but unable to find the energy to feed himself.

Dean was a solid rock throughout it all, pushing aside all emotional issues for later, knowing that Sam needed him. He made it his own personal mission to make sure Sam was fed, slept well, was as comfortable as possible, and was well-entertained.

He even read to his little brother when Sam didn't really have the energy to move much. Dean was pretty sure he had read more in the last few weeks that he had in his entire life.

Nightmares were a big issue almost from the beginning. Sam woke up screaming at least once a night, sometimes more, and Dean would leap out of his own bed, carefully gathering his fragile brother in his arms and soothing him back to sleep. More often than not, Dean didn't leave the bed again afterwards, choosing to stay there in case his brother woke up from another nightmare or needed him for anything else.

Things improved slowly, finally reaching the point where Sam could mostly walk around on his own.

The youngest Winchester would always walk with a limp and this was something Dean would never forgive himself for. It would be a constant reminder to the older brother that he had failed, he had let his sibling suffer. Sam didn't seem to care all that much, but Dean cared enough for the both of them and more.


This wasn't a conversation Dean wanted to have. However, he needed to have it and Dean was in one of those states of mind that he could acknowledge it.

"What happened to you, Sam?"

They hadn't talked yet, about anything, but Dean knew it was time. Sam's nightmares were getting bad, and Dean's weren't easing up either. There was a huge pink elephant dancing in a tutu in the room and it was going to bring down the house if they didn't get rid of it.

Sam tensed where he sat on the couch, then melted acceptingly, relaxing a fraction as Dean came to sit next to him.

"I paid an information's dealer to start looking for ways to break the deal. I figured the more eyes the better. He told me about this powerful witch who might have a way. After...After our fight-" Sam glanced at Dean, pain flashing in his eyes at the memory of the nasty argument. "he called me and said he knew where she was. I went and talked to her. She had what I needed. A spell that would confuse the hellhounds. Because of the details of your deal, if I got hurt, if they messed up or it looked like they did, you would be free."

Dean was tense and strained, a picture of those hellhounds ripping into his brother flashing across his mind's eye. Oh gosh.

"Why did you disappear? Where were you?"

Sam winced, gazing down at his lap. "She would only cast the spell if I did her a favor. Her sister made a deal for her family and if I took the hellhounds for her too, then we would be even. I disappeared beforehand because the witch didn't want me telling you too much, didn't want you interefering." Sam threw Dean a desperate, pleading look. "You have to believe me, Dean, I never wanted you to not know where I was. I thought I was going to be able to at least leave you some sort of message, tell you I was okay, that I was alive. She refused. She knew how you could be when I was in trouble."

Dean's lips twitched at that.

She's right about that at least.

"It's okay, Sammy. I believe you."

It's not like I didn't deserve those months of agony, after what I did to you.

Dean took a deep breath. It was his turn.

"I'm sorry, Sam. I...I should have helped you or at least not given you such a hard time about the deal. I don't...I can't regret making the deal, because you're alive, but I am sorry about the attitude I took up. You just...I didn't realize how big a deal it would be, I guess. I didn't think you really needed me-"

"What?" Sam's shocked and suddenly angry voice broke through.

Shoot. That didn't come out the way I wanted it to.

Sam turned to fully face Dean, grabbing his brother's shirt and jerking him forward, forcing him to look at him.

"You think I don't need you?"

Dean stared at his younger brother, surprised at the tone.

Sam exploded when he was angry, yelling and arm waving usually involved. But now...now Sam's voice was soft, yet full of power, firm, furious and determined.

"You think you're the only Winchester who needs his brother? You're all I have left, Dean. I need you, Dean. I've seen what I become without you, when I try to live without you. It's frightening, Dean, because there is no me.Sammy dies with you, Dean, and Samuel replaces him. Hard, cold murderer. Kills anything that crosses his path, patches himself up and doesn't flinch at pain. Does whatever he has to to survive. Whatever he has to. I don't want to be that, Dean. I'm going to say this as clearly as humanly possible and I don't want to ever hear you say that again, so you better listen."

Dean met the watering eyes of his baby brother and nodded. While he had had some realizations in Sam's absence, some deep part of him needed to hear this out loud. Some part of him couldn't accept, couldn't understand, that Sam needed him just as much as he needed Sam.

"You're my big brother, Dean. You made me what I am, you raised me. I need you to joke with me, I need you to patch me up after a hunt goes bad, I need you to be there to keep my spirits up, to worry about me when I'm hurt or closed off, to make sure I eat by teasing me. I need you to be there to watch my back, to make sure I don't do something stupid. To pull me out of my own head every once in a while, to keep me from drowning in my own thoughts, my guilt and pain. I need my partner, my best friend, my brother by my side. I love you, Dean, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure you stay with me. You think I can't protect you? You think I can't keep you safe? Watch me."

Dean stared at Sam, stunned, unaware of the tears that were running down his cheeks.

Finally, Sam's face softened and he gently pulled his big brother into a hug.

"You finally get the message, dude?" he teased lightly.

Dean snorted. "Thick skull, Sammy. You aren't the only stubborn one in the family."

Sam chuckled. "Don't I know it."

Sam released Dean, pulling back a little, flashing Dean a small embarrassed smile.

After a few minutes of quiet thinking, Dean finally spoke softly. "I really am sorry, Sam."

Sam grabbed his older brother's shoulders. "I forgive you, Dean. And I get it. I do. But we just...we can't do this to each other. We can't."

Sam sucked in a deep breath. "We do it together or we do it never, Dean. Got it?"

Dean nodded, firmly, then decided that enough was enough and they had used up their click flick credits for the rest of their lives.

A smirk appeared on his face. "Alright, Samantha. Stop being a girl and let's go eat. I'm starved."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Jerk."


Yeah, things were finally back the way they belonged with the Winchester brothers. Not the same as they had been before, but better. They were stronger, more united than ever, and ready to face the world once more.

They had nothing to fear, because they had each other and it would always be that way. Nothing could stand up to the Winchesters when they were united and neither brother would ever forget that again.

They were brothers and there was no force on earth or off that was more powerful than that.