Well, sadly we have reached the conclusion. I tried to make sure everything was nicely wrapped up. It's been an incredible ride and I thank you all for your wonderful support, whether you reviewed or not.
Also, review replies are going at the top this time because my computer is throwing a temper tantrum.
PS: Textus? Several of you have asked what it means. Textus is Latin for web (or to weave as a verb)
To any of you who follow me as an author: It may be a while before I get anything new up because 1-I want to get stuff written down before I start posting 2-I'm working on some original pieces and 3- I really need to focus on school for now.
Warnings: see chap 1
Disclaimer: See chap 1
Beta: None, all mistakes are my own
Word Count: 2,500
Chapter: Final (how sad is that?)
Lizzieten: Aw, thanks! Same here, sad it's ending but I'm eager to get started with something else.
Sarah: Sorry in the delay last time, RL can be so annoying! Anyway, thanks, glad you liked Sam and John.
Nyx Ro: I know! That's just how Winchesters do it. They like to leave a lot unsaid. But the message is still there.
Fledgingfeathers: Same here! John is one of the most controversially written characters in my opinion. You get stories where he abuses (emotionally, physically, I've even read sexually) one or both boys then you get a story where he steps up to the 'father' plate. I think the most realistic ones are where he's not at either extreme. But that's just me.
Supernaturalrenegade: I'll PM more response later, but just had to say this: THANK YOU! That is exactly how I feel. Brilliantly said.
Raven: Don't worry, it's all good. I've done that type of thing a few times myself, just kinda get caught up in the moment's emotions. But anyway, thanks!
Cartoon Cow: I'll have Dean on standby in case of tear-shed ;)
Tripoli: Well I do so love to surprise you all. Thanks!
Judyann: Aww, thanks! You'll get your kickass Dean in just a few paragraphs, I promise.
Casammy: I am too. Family conquers all. Winchesters are living proof of that (well sort of living as I suppose they're not technically real) Same here, I'm still a teen and I still get those moments of hatred towards my parents, but they never last. Thanks for your long and detailed reviews again and again, always gives me joy!
Hummingfox: That's John for you. Caring in a strange, roundabout way! I thought having the emotional fallout be between John and Sam instead of Dean and Sam like usual was a nice way to shake it up (got to keep you readers on your toes) You'll get the explanation of the dog in a few paragraphs, I assure you ;)
Loucheena: Thanks for reading, even if you didn't review. Glad you agree with Sammy. Exactly, sometimes you've got to fight your own battles. Sam is stronger, more so than he realizes.
Caz21, Sparkiebunny, supernaturalmad: Thanks for reviewing, again and again, you guys are incredible.
Chapter 21: Retributive Justice
So far away from knowing where I am going
I am trying hard to find out who I am
They all say that I don't know what I am doing
I say they don't hardly understand
Why can't they remember
What I will never forget
How these dreams come undone
When you're young
You give what you give cause they make you
Trapped inside a place that won't take you
And they want you to be what they make you
It's already over and done
When you're young
~When You're Young - 3 Doors Down
Dean leaned up against the telephone pole, waiting for his prey.
The school bell rang and students immediately poured from the double doors, but Dean didn't even move an inch. He was a hunter, and hunters had the patience to out-stare a wall if need be.
Finally the one person Dean was waiting for came into view. Like a lion hiding in the brush, Dean waited still. His prey came to him, not the other way around. After a minute or two, the three boys came down the sidewalk and crossed in front of Dean. They were going to be in for quite a shock.
With a combination of grace, swiftness, and silence only a hunter could achieve, Dean leapt forward.
With two swift punches, Dean felled the two boys Sam had deemed Blondie and Stubble. Blood leaked from their now broken noses as well as from the back of their heads from where they hit the unforgiving sidewalk.
That left a very shocked Mike standing there.
"What the hell, man?" he stammered, eyes roving over his fallen friends. Dean leapt forward and pushed him up against the telephone pole.
"Oh, this?" Dean said casually, while gesturing a head at the two unconscious boys. "This is revenge."
"B-but we never did nothing to you!"
"Never said you did," Dean hissed. He yanked some rope from his pocket and, after forcing Mike's arms around to the other side of the pole, looped it around the struggling teens wrists.
"W-what are you doing?" he shouted as Dean slid back into his view. He bent down and slipped the boys skateboard sneakers off and looped the laces together. Over the wire they went.
Next the socks. And then came his baggy jeans. They were pulled off in one quick motion while Mike howled like a wounded cat. They too went over the wire. Mike had fallen from power in less than a minute and he wasn't going to fight it, he was going to cry about it. A smirk crossed the hunters face as Mike began to stammer and his eyes watered up.
As much as Dean would love to draw it out, he had to hurry. He had to get back to Sammy and besides, a teacher could come along at any moment. He was only just outside the school parking lot.
Dean leaned forward so his nose was only an inch or so from Mike's. There were wet tears sliding down Mike's cheek and small whimpers slipping between his lips. The surrounding students cheered.
In a deadly quiet voice that only Mike would be able to hear, Dean whispered, "Be thankful for my mercy. If I find out you've fucked with anyone else you'll be dead before you hit the ground. Am I clear?"
Mike's eyes had gone as round as saucers and he nodded frantically, more tears spilling down his face.
"Good," Dean said before standing up. He turned to go, but Mike finally spoke up.
"Wait, aren't you gonna let me go?"
Still facing away, but turning his head ever slightly, Dean said, "Why? You didn't let Sam go, now did you?"
And with that he left.
"Oh, and Sam?" John asked right before leaving Sam's room.
"We'll be staying until Sunday, just so you know."
"Why?" Sam asked, rather hesitantly. It couldn't be…John couldn't know…
John pulled something out of his pocket and extended the orange paper to Sam.
"There's an art show I want to go to on Saturday."
Sam's jaw completely dropped.
"T-there is?" John was actually going to let him? Sam waited for John to leap back and declare it a joke.
"Yeah, there's one artist in particular that I'm really interesting in seeing."
"And what if you don't like the artist's work?" Sam couldn't help but ask.
"That's not possible. Over the years this artist has made me proud again and again just as I'm sure he'll do in this."
John gave Sam a quick wink before slipping out of the door.
A huge smile slid onto Sam's face and he stood there grinning stupidly at the closed door for almost five minutes. It was true he didn't have a very long time to get his piece for the art show done, but he had no doubt he'd be able to do it.
But first there was some other unfinished business he needed to attend to.
Sam reached under the bead and pulled out his sketchpad. There was a faint dust across the cover, but Sam just blew it off. He wouldn't let it happen again.
He flipped open the front cover and froze.
There it was. But how?
The picture of Sam and Dean at Sam's tenth birthday. The very same picture Sam had ripped up that night that seemed eons ago. It was taped together on the back so the tape didn't show on the front then slipped into a paper protector to keep it from falling apart further.
Sam didn't dwell on it - he needed to get to work - and got back to the task at hand.
Opening up to a page in the middle, Sam began. Without so much as a pause, Sam put pencil to paper and didn't stop until he was done.
Nearly half and hour later, he sat back to admire his work.
It was perfect.
"Sammy?" Dean called shortly before the front door shut. Dean was back with perfect timing.
Sam swung his legs over the side of the bed eagerly and, sketchpad in hand, walked down the hallway. There was a faint spring in his step that had too long been absent.
"Hey, Dean, can I show you something?"
"Sure, kid, shoot," Dean said, as he tossed his leather jacket onto the coat rack.
"Here." Sam lifted the sketchpad up for Dean's inspection.
"Holy crap, man, this is awesome! Really realistic! That Monet guy hasn't got anything on you!"
"Monet was an impressionist, Dean, that's an entirely different style of art."
"Yeah, well whatever, he hasn't got anything on you," Dean said with a shrug before grabbing a beer from the fridge.
"Oh, and Dean?" Sam asked right before leaving.
"The picture at my birthday…did you-"
"Found it in the trash and thought you might want it back."
"Oh. Well, Dean? Thanks." Sam said before exiting. As he walked down the hall he looked down happily at the picture of a brown scruffy dog lying casually on some soft grass.
It was finally done.
Now he just had to figure out his 'Best Memory' and he'd be all set. He sat down on his bed and tried to brainstorm a few ideas, but none of them seemed right. They were good, but not the best…
"Hey, Sam," Dean called as he knocked and entered before Sam had time to reply.
"Guess what? Dad's actually taking us out to dinner!"
"Seriously?" Sam asked, immediately perking up. Dinner? Out? Were the pigs flying?
"Yeah! He wants to know where we want to go, as long as it's not too expensive. So what do you want for dinner, little bro?" Dean sat down next to him, giving him a look like that of a reporter interviewing a huge star.
"Something light, I don't know, maybe a salad."
Dean rolled his eyes.
"A salad? Really? You could have, like, some fancy-smancy pasta dish or hell, even breakfast for dinner and you choose a salad?"
"What? It's good for you and good tasting."
"Right, Sam, whatever you say. But real men eat burgers. You're such a girl." Dean seemed to hesitate for a moment, unsure if he'd said too much. Sam smiled causing relief to slide onto Dean's face. Sam didn't want them to have to censor themselves around him. He just wanted things to go back to how they used to be.
"Don't be a jerk."
"Bitc-wait, what? No, no, no, you can't do that!"
"You say jerk and I say bitch or vice versa, there are no don't be's here."
"it's jerk, not don't be a jerk."
"Dean, relax, it's not that big of a-"
"Geesh, Sam get your line right," Dean said before walking out of the room. Sam followed Dean with his eyes, mouth hanging open, incredulity written all of his face.
Outside the window, watching the Winchester boys, was a large, scruffy dog. If a dog could smile, then he would have been.
It certainly hadn't been easy. Sam Winchester was a stubborn one. It had put his skills to the test. But in the end, in his most creative plan yet, he'd managed to get the boy to open up by jumping in front of that large car of theirs.
He wasn't sure what it was that had drawn to the youngster. Normally he only offered help when a person came to The Garden and prayed for help from one of the Guardians.
But when he'd laid eyes on the young one walking home, he'd known that young Sam was in for an adventure and would need a little guidance along the way. And finally, almost three weeks later he'd managed to get Sam to open up to his family and let them in, even if it wasn't exactly willingly.
With that wonderful feeling that could only come with success, the Guardian disappeared in a light yellow glow.
"Dude, chill," Dean said as he peeked over the back of the passenger seat to see Sam's leg tapping out some staccato rhythm. "You'll be fine."
"What if it's bad? What if they don't like it?" Sam said, voice pitching every slightly.
"Well I'm sure it's fine, but I couldn't say for sure since you refused to show me!"
"I wanted it to be a surprise, Dean."
"Boys! Sam, it'll be fine, I'm sure it looks great and, Dean, leave Sam alone. If he wants it to be a surprise, then it's up to him."
"Yes Sir," they both replied. Dean turned back to face out the front window while Sam looked out the side window. He shifted the drawing under his arm. John had even taken him out to buy a sheet of the larger, good quality paper. Sam had it covered so no one would see it until the show. He wanted it to be a surprise for Dean and John. Particularly Dean, who Sam knew was dying to see what Sam had chosen as his best memory.
They were en route to the art show at the moment and Sam was a bundle of nerves. He wasn't sure why, he really had no reason to be. The piece of art was one of, if not his best. And it definitely represented one of his best memories, as silly and trivial it seemed.
"What the hell?" John said suddenly.
Sam jerked his head to look out the front window and his jaw dropped at the sight.
Hanging from an electrical wire was not only a pair of shoes, but two socks and a pair of jeans. And the shoes looked vaguely familiar…
John gave a small shake of his head, and after tutting, said, "Kids of today have no respect for anything. Who'd want to do something like that?"
Dean peeked over his shoulder and slipped a sly wink to Sam. And just like that Sam understood exactly what had happened; what Dean had done for him. As much as he should feel slightly guilty for Mike's humiliation – after all, no matter how bad it was, he'd never wish it on anyone else - he really didn't. In fact, he actually got a tiny sliver of satisfaction.
"Yeah, who indeed?" Dean said.
Dean and John came up behind Sam just as he finished tacking up the little card with his name, age and school next to his picture. Sam hurried to stand in front of it to block their view.
"Hey," Dean said with a smile, "you know, this place is actually pretty cool, there's some serious awesomeness here."
"Um, glad you're enjoying yourself?"
"So can we see this masterpiece of yours?" Dean asked.
Taking a deep breath, Sam stepped aside.
John and Dean's jaws dropped in perfect unison.
Sam had spent a long time debating his best memory. He eliminated all hunt related memories immediately. And which was better: a memory with just him and Dean or a memory with him, Dean and John in one of his rare moments of being a father.
Finally he'd picked one.
It was in the kitchen of some previously rented house from when Sam was eleven or so. It was Thanksgiving, the first one in a long time John had been with them to celebrate. The Winchesters weren't exactly rolling in money, so they'd decided to make blueberry muffins. Not exactly traditional, but when had Winchesters ever gone by the book?
Simple you say? Not with the Winchesters.
Shortly after starting, a batter fight had broken out resulting in muffin batter with small specks of blueberry coating almost everything. In the midst of the fight, Dean had lunged forward and pulled Sam onto his back in a piggyback. Sam had squealed with joy, happily shouting at Dean that he was cheating. Dean had spun around a few times, making Sam dizzier and dizzier. John had slipped away, found their disposable camera and captured the moment.
Both brothers were facing the camera, eyes alight with joy and mouths cracked open in laughter. Sam was still on Dean's back, though Dean was bent forward so they were both clearly seen. They also both had strings of batter in their hair and splattered across their face. Even the tan wall and blue backsplash had spatters of un-baked muffin on it.
It wasn't the most symbolic and it wasn't the most mushy-chick-flick-moment. It was just fun. It was just family. It was just the small moments in life.
But those were the best moments in his life.
They were being a family, doing normal family things – well as close to normal as they would ever come.
And Sam had learned to cherish the small moments.
John and Dean stood frozen and Sam started to worry that they didn't like it and just didn't know how to tell him.
"I-I know it's not-"
"It's amazing," Dean said, sounding truly in awe.
"I remember that day," John said with a trace of a smile gracing his lips.
Dean's eyes traveled from the picture over to Sam. In one swift movement, Dean came forward and pulled Sam into a tight embrace.
"Great job, Sammy, I'm so proud of you, little bro."
And finally, finally, Sam could remember who he had been.
"What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,"
~Sir Walter Scott