Well, here it is...the end of the story. Can't tell you all how much I appreciate the support I've received on this one...the comments have been awesome and the ones from the last chapter actually brought me to tears. I don't know what I'd do if I ever had to give all of this up. Thanks to all of the readers and reviewers. So...on with the story.
Chapter 8 – Epilogue - On the Road Again
Dean hurried around the Impala and slid into the driver's seat, his gaze immediately going to the passenger in the seat beside him. Sam's legs were tucked under a blanket borrowed from Bobby, the teen huffing at the indignity of it all. Dean chuckled lightly and reached across the seat and good naturedly gave him a soft punch to the shoulder. Sam turned and glared, but the slight smile on his face stripped all seriousness away from the irritation he was trying to portray.
"Don't be so crabby, Sammy…you know I just don't want you to catch a cold or anything," Dean chirped before turning his gaze past Sam and through the open window to where his father and Bobby stood talking a good ten feet away.
"I'm not a child, Dean…I don't need a blanket. You don't catch a cold from getting cold anyway," Sam huffed half heartedly as he too turned to watch the two older hunters converse.
"Just humor your big brother why don't ya. You know you're still not fully recovered," Dean said as he turned his attention back to Sam.
Sam shook his head and sighed. "Yeah, I know. I just want to be done with all of this. It sucks," he replied apologetically.
"I know it does, Sammy…but you've come a long way this past month. You'll be up and around like nothing ever happened before you know it," Dean said. He leaned across the seat when he saw his father and Bobby walking toward the car.
John leaned down and glanced from Sam to Dean. "So, we all ready to move? Sammy, you doing good?" he asked as his dark gaze returned to Sam.
"I'm fine, Dad," Sam answered, the patented eye roll once again making an appearance.
John chuckled and reached up and gave Sam's hair a good ruffle before looking over at Dean. Sam huffed and mumbled under his breath about not being a baby, but John ignored him as he met Dean's eyes. "Okay…so we'll go about 400 miles today. I think that'll be more than enough riding in the car for Sammy and…"
"Dad…I can sit in a car and do nothing just as easily as I can sit on Bobby's couch and do nothing and I basically do that all day long. We can go farther than 400 miles," Sam protested.
Both John and Dean turned amused eyes on Sam and smiled. "How about we play it by…oh…let's say, Dean's eyes and ears, okay?" John said. "If he thinks you look as though you can go further, then we'll keep going, but if he thinks you need to rest, then we'll stop."
Sam shook his head and gave an exasperated sigh. "Oh, great," he grumbled. "We won't make it past Bobby's driveway if you leave it up to him," he continued grouchily.
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy…who fed you crabby flakes today?" Dean asked with a grin.
Sam looked over at his brother and cocked his head. "I just don't want to be treated like I'm gonna break or like I'm some fragile piece of china. I'm fine to travel way more than 400 miles is all I'm saying," he said indignantly.
"Well, we'll see how it goes. Maybe I won't want to go further today. It's been awhile since we've driven any kind of distance. Maybe I'll get tired before you do," Dean offered with a raise of one eyebrow.
Sam chuckled as he smacked Dean lightly on the arm. "Yeah…right. If I was one hundred percent, you'd be driving well into tomorrow morning, Dean, and you know it," he said softly.
"Yeah, you're probably right, but the fact is…you're not one hundred percent yet. You will be, but for right now, we have to consider that you're still healing…right, Dad?"
"Dean's right, kiddo. I know you want to go back to the way things were, but it's going to take time to get there. Just be patient with your old man and overprotective big brother okay?" John answered as he gazed fondly at his youngest son.
Sam sighed and leaned back in his seat. "Yeah…okay. I'm sorry…I know you're both just looking out for me."
"We know it's frustrating for you, Sam. We've both been laid up before so we know what you're feeling. Just give it a little more time," John said.
Sam nodded and watched as John pushed back from the window and stepped aside so Bobby could say his goodbyes. Bobby leaned down and glanced over at Dean. "You don't be mean to your brother, you got it, boy?" he said with a stern look.
Dean gasped and looked at Bobby with mock hurt in his green eyes. "I'm offended, old man. I am never mean to this sweet, adorable child and the fact that you would even say that just hurts me like you wouldn't believe."
"Yeah…uh huh," Bobby murmured before turning his attention to Sam. He chuckled at the look of disgust on Sam's face then he reached in and gently patted the teen's shoulder. "You take care of yourself, kid. The next time I see you at my doorstep, I want you to be walking of your own accord, not being carried in okay?" he said with a concerned tone.
Sam smiled warmly and nodded. "'kay, Bobby. Thanks for everything," he said in reply.
"No need for thanks, kid…just keep yourself and your family all in one piece."
Bobby glanced over at Dean and nodded then pulled back from the window. He waved to John then turned and walked back to his porch. He mounted the stairs then watched as the Winchesters drove away. He knew it was wishful thinking, but he hoped that the next time he saw the family it would be under happier circumstances. He knew the line of work they were all in didn't leave much room for happy circumstances, but he could hope anyway. With that thought in mind he turned and entered his house and began to clean up all of the evidence that reminded him of just how close they all had come to losing their youngest family member.
x x x x x x x x x x x x x
It was two hours into their drive from Bobby's house and Sam had been sleeping for half of it. Dean glanced over and smiled softly. Whether Sam wanted to admit it or not, he was fragile right now. His injuries had been life threatening and the kid just didn't understand, or wouldn't admit that it took time to bounce back from that kind of serious injury. Dean understood how frustrating it must be for his brother…feeling helpless and needing help to do the most mundane of things, but it wouldn't be forever. Sam just needed to be patient. Dean had backed off a bit on his mother henning, allowing his brother to do some things for himself…just as long as there wasn't any danger of further hurting himself. The flashbacks of that horrible night almost two months prior had tapered off, but they hadn't stopped completely and Dean was pretty certain they never would. How could he ever truly forget what he'd done under the witch's control? The few occasions when he'd allowed himself to think about it, all of the images had come back to him and he'd been left sobbing uncontrollably. Luckily, each time he'd been alone to let his sorrows out in privacy. Now, the only time he had trouble keeping the memories of that night at bay were the nights when Sam would have nightmares and would cry out for his brother to stop hurting him. Dean knew Sam was dreaming of the attack, but when he'd awaken, the kid couldn't remember anything about the dream. Thank God for small favors Dean would always think afterwards.
There were things that Dean wondered about, but was afraid to bring up to his brother. He remembered all of the things that Jenny had told them. That Sam had to make a decision that would determine whether he returned to them or died. He wondered if Sam remembered anything from when he was in the coma…if he recalled dreaming…if he heard his brother's voice. Many times Dean had wanted to ask, but had stopped himself. He wasn't sure how Sam would react and the kid had been so weak and ill that Dean didn't want to take any chance with his health. A soft moan from the passenger seat brought Dean out of his thoughts and he glanced over and smiled as sleepy hazel eyes opened and immediately looked his way.
"Hey, kiddo. You have a nice nap?" Dean asked.
"Uh…yeah. How long did I sleep?" Sam replied softly.
"Just about an hour or so. You should try to go back to sleep," Dean answered.
"No…I'm okay. 'm not tired," Sam said as he straightened himself in the seat.
Dean chuckled as he cast another quick glance over at his brother. "Okay…you want to listen to some music?" he asked.
"Uh…no, I'm good. You can if you want to though," Sam answered.
Dean considered it then shook his head. "Nah…kinda like the quiet right now," he said.
"Oh…okay," Sam said, his gaze moving to the scenery outside his window.
They drove in silence for a while then Dean looked over at Sam and cleared his throat. When Sam glanced at him he smiled slightly. "Hey, Sammy…can I ask you something?" he asked finally.
Sam looked over and shrugged his shoulders. "Sure…what do you want to ask me?" he replied.
"Um…do you remember anything from…uh…from when you were in the coma?"
Sam ducked his head and seemed to consider the question quite seriously. Finally, he looked over at Dean. "I don't remember anything after I...um...after I passed out. Why?" he answered nervously.
Dean glanced over and pursed his lips before returning his eyes to the road. "I'm sorry…we don't need to talk about this," Dean said apologetically.
"No, it's okay, Dean. I just…I don't remember anything…no matter how hard I try to," Sam said.
"So…you don't remember if you dreamed anything?"
"No…nothing. I remember the motel room and Dad left…you were asleep, but then you started having a bad nightmare so I woke you up. The rest...well...you know. I'm sorry, Dean...I..."
"It's okay, Sammy. I know I had no control. Believe me, I wish you didn't remember. I wish I didn't remember. I was just curious if you remembered any dream you may have had is all."
Sam looked over curiously and cocked his head. "Why? Should I remember anything?"
Dean glanced over and shook his head. "Uh…no…I was just wondering is all. I've read that sometimes when people are in comas or close to death that they have dreams or something like that and I just wondered if you did."
"Dean…what's going on? Why are you really asking me this?"
Dean sighed and cursed himself under his breath. He should have never brought this up. He should have known that Sam would see right through him and know there was something behind his question. He glanced over and sighed. "When you were in the hospital your nurse, Jenny…she…uh…she told us some things," he reluctantly said.
"What things?" Sam asked.
"She knew about the witch, Sammy. She knew what happened…she's the one who told us that it was a curse," Dean answered as he nervously ran his tongue over his lower lip.
"What? What do you mean she knew?"
"She said she can see things. She knew what happened and she said…she…"
"She what, Dean?"
"She said that you had to make a decision. When you were in your coma."
"A decision on whether to come back to Dad and I or to stay where you were…wherever that was." Dean glanced uncomfortably over at his brother and immediately became concerned as he noticed how pale Sam's face had gotten. "Sammy…"
"I'm fine, Dean…I'm just trying to understand this," Sam interrupted.
"I know…I still don't understand, but you made the right decision 'cause here you are," Dean said.
"But, what if I wouldn't have made the right decision?"
"Uh…it doesn't matter…you did so how about we drop it."
"You started this, Dean. What would have happened? Would I have died?"
"Sammy…I don't...I…yes…she said you would've died," Dean answered, a knot forming in his stomach at the thought of his brother dying.
Sam sat back turned his gaze out the front window. "So," he spoke softly, his voice barely above a whisper. "Where was I that I had to decide to come back from? Did she say?"
Dean shook his head and swallowed deeply before answering. "No…she just said that you were somewhere between the living world and the other side…I guess that's what she meant anyway."
"Oh," Sam said before falling silent. Dean glanced over and could see that the conversation had left his brother distressed even though the teen was obviously fighting to keep his distress hidden.
"Sammy…it all worked out. You came back to us. Jenny said to talk to you as much as possible so that you would possibly hear and know that we wanted you back so badly," Dean said. "I was so worried because of what happened…I thought maybe you'd think that I didn't want you because of how badly I'd hurt you and…I was even afraid that if you heard my voice you wouldn't come back either, but you did…that's all that matters. You came back to us."
Sam looked over smiled sadly. "Dean, can I ask you something?" he softly asked.
"Yeah…sure, kiddo…what is it?" Dean answered.
"Wh-what would you have done if…if I didn't come back? If I had died?"
Dean sucked in a startled breath then let it out slowly. He glanced over at his brother and shook his head slightly. "I wouldn't have been far behind you, Sammy," he said in a tone so sad it brought tears to Sam's eyes.
"No, Dean…don't say that. You can't mean that," Sam said around the lump that had formed in his throat.
"I do mean it. You don't get it do you? If you had died, nobody would've been able to convince me that I hadn't been the one to kill you. I would never be able to live with the guilt, Sam. I'd never be able to live without you, no matter what. You are the most important thing in my life…nothing is more important, not even Dad, and if you…if I had lost you…well, there wouldn't have been much reason for me to stick around," Dean said emphatically as his fingers curled around the steering wheel of the Impala in a death grip.
"There's no me without you, Sammy…it's you and me, kiddo…get used to it."
Sam couldn't help the smile that formed on his lips as the glanced over at his brother. "'kay, Dean…you and me. I guess that means I better stick around huh?"
Dean chuckled, happy to be seeing a shift in the tension that had been tightening his shoulders. "You bet your ass you better stick around 'cause if you don't, I'll come after you and kick your ass from here to next Christmas! And if you ever mention what I just said to anybody I'll…I'll kick your ass for that too!"
"Got it…my lips are sealed," Sam said with a grin.
"There's no me without you."
"You just wait you little bitch…I'm so kicking your ass once you're all healed up."
"Yeah you will," Sam chuckled, his laughter filling the car and the heart of the brother would die for him.
Dean smiled to himself, the sound of his brother's laughter lifting the weight that had been firmly planted on his shoulders and leaving him feeling as though finally the tides had really turned in their favor, at least for the time being. He glanced over and soon he was laughing too and at that moment nothing else mattered except the bond between two brothers…a bond that may be bent and battered at times, but never, ever broken.
Well, that's it folks. I really hope you enjoyed the ending. Time to finish the stories I'm still working on and guess what...I already have an idea for another story...but, that will be a ways down the line. I won't start it until the other two are done. Love to you all :D