EPILOGUE

A low growl ghosted through the trees.

Gun in hand, Dean turned in a slow circle, scanning for the monster, but the moon had gone behind a cloud and he could see nothing.

Another growl, off to the right. With a taunting smile, Dean let out a series of short, sharp whistles.

"Here, Rover!"

"Fido!"

"Spot!"

An angry, hacking cough, this time to the left.

"Hey! Fluffy! Come on out, you little bitch!"

The werewolf broke out of the trees behind him, a silent blur of teeth and claws. Dean twisted away from it, throwing himself to the side. Gun leveled at the snarling face, he pulled the trigger just before he hit the ground and his bullet struck the monster between the eyes. It fell to the ground at the hunter's feet without another sound.

Before Dean could get to his feet, a second, much larger, monster exploded out of the darkness, shrieking with rage.

Dean began to swing his gun around, knowing he was too slow, too late, too close - shit shit shit - !

Crack!

The second wolf fell to the ground, growling and snapping savagely at the air. A second later Sam stood over the corpse, sending a second silver bullet into the massive creature.

After checking both monsters to make sure they were dead, Sam reached down and hauled Dean to his feet. "Fluffy? Really?"

Dean grinned cockily. "Worked, didn't it?"

"If you call pissing off an already rabid werewolf working, no, make that two werewolves, then yeah, I guess it did." Sam shook his head, looking over at the second wolf, which was shifting. "Good thing I hung back while you played bait."

Dean grinned. "Knew they couldn't resist this sweet ass." He stared down at the larger wolf, which had finished changing back to human. "Hey, look at that. You were right. It was the deputy."

"Dean. Oh, God, Dean."

Dean turned quickly. His brother had moved to stand over the corpse of the second, smaller, wolf, which had completed its shift. It was a young boy. He couldn't have been more than twelve years old.

"Oh, hell." Dean stared down at the boy, grimacing. "Must be his son."

White-faced, Sam nodded. He took in a shaky breath, but couldn't manage to speak. Tears shone in his eyes.

Dean laid a hand on Sam's arm. "We didn't have any choice. They would've kept on killing

Sam nodded. "I know," he choked. A few tears escaping, he turned away. "I'll get some wood." He only made it a few steps before his stomach rebelled and he fell to his knees and was violently ill.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The drive back to the motel was quiet. The aftermath of the hunt tonight had been horrific, to say the least. Dean sent a wary glance across to where his brother sat slumped in the passenger seat. "You all right, Sammy?"

"No, I'm not," Sam answered wearily. "Are you?"

"No, but – " Dean shrugged. "It's not the first time I've had to take out a kid."

"Are you telling me it gets easier?" Sam asked in disbelief.

"No" Dean admitted. "I'm just saying you learn how to handle it. Sammy, tonight sucked, but that kid - "

"He wasn't a kid," Sam interrupted. "I get it. He was a monster, from the minute he killed his first human."

They drove on through the night in silence.

"If you want, we can stop," Dean ventured, a couple of minutes later. "We could both use some rest."

Sam looked at him, confused. "Why? It's better if we get out of Missouri, right?"

When Dean nodded reluctantly, Sam said, a little impatient, "Stop worrying about me! I'm fine. We had a choice. Kill them or let them keep on killing innocent people. I'm fine."

Another few minutes of silence.

"But you know what –" Sam said in a low voice, staring into the darkness of the passing countryside - "It just sucks that the only real option we had was to kill a freaking kid."

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

They finally stopped at a small motel in the middle of Nowhere, Iowa.

"Why don't you take the first shower?" Dean suggested, tossing his jacket onto the bed. "I'm gonna have a beer, order some pizza. Maybe give Bobby a call."

Sam nodded and hooked some sweats and a t-shirt out of his duffel. "Tell him I said hey."

Dean nodded, already looking through the local phone book for pizza delivery.

Once inside the bathroom, door locked behind him, Sam gave up all pretense of "fine". Dropping his clothing to the floor, he tore off his clothing and started the shower, stepping in and thrusting his face into the stream of water.

After a couple of minutes, he turned off the hot water and turned the cold on full. Shuddering, shaking with cold and guilt, he forced himself to stay under the frigid water, trying to drive the dead boy's face out of his head.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

"He seems okay," Dean said. "But Sam's pretty good at hiding stuff."

Bobby snorted. "Sounds like someone else I know."

Dean managed a small laugh. "I guess."

The two men were silent, knowing there really was nothing more to say on the subject. That boy hadn't deserved to die; neither had his father. They hadn't chosen what happened to them.

But then, neither had Sam.

Simply put, sometimes life sucked. You mourned, then got on with it. And, God knew, they'd all had a lot of practice at that.

"I've got news," Bobby said abruptly. "About the demon."

"What?" Dean's eyes were intent. "Bobby, what?"

"I've been talking to the friend of a friend. With what we've got on the bastard so far – "

The bathroom door opened.

"Hold on, Sam's here. I'm gonna put you on speaker." Dean looked over at Sam, dressed in clean clothes, but shivering a little as he rubbed a towel through his still damp hair. "Bobby's got something on the demon."

Sam's hazel eyes widened as he sank down on the bed next to his brother. "Bobby? What do you have?"

"There's this guy named Ash, friend of a friend," Bobby began again. "He's some kinda computer genius, went to MIT before he got kicked out for fighting. Anyway, you remember, from your dad's journal, when the demon shows up, there are usually signs – cattle mutilations, lightning strikes, other weather anomalies – "

"Yeah, we know, Bobby ," Dean interrupted impatiently. "What of it?"

"Ash programmed his computer to keep watch for those signs all across the country. Well, more exactly, he's got it watching for those signs to all show up in the same place at the same time."

The boys stared blankly at the cell phone.

Bobby sighed, guessing from the silence that the boys were clueless. "Idjits. If we get enough warning, we can get to wherever he is before he leaves, and kill the bastard!"

A very short silence.

"Son of a bitch!" Dean whooped. "We've got him!"

"Not yet," Bobby cautioned them. "But we're a hell of a lot closer than we've ever been before."

Sam sat quietly, listening as the other two men talked. He could tell from Bobby's voice and the exhilaration on Dean's face, that he should probably feel a lot happier than he did about this development. But, truthfully, he was a little afraid to let himself believe that this would, could, ever happen. It just seemed like such a long shot.

First, that this guy Ash's plan would work. Second, that they could get to where the demon was before he left. And third, that they could actually kill the bastard. This thing had killed their mom, their dad, and how many other thousands over the centuries? Who were they to think they could end him? It all seemed pretty impossible.

Lost in his own thoughts, he didn't realize that the phone call had ended until Dean nudged him. "Hey, you awake?"

Sam flushed. "Oh, sure. Just thinking." He tried a grin. "Pretty big news, huh."

"Pretty damned big!" Not fooled for a second, Dean let it go, not up for any more drama tonight. "You leave me any hot water, Princess?"

A little embarrassed by his cold water shower – what, did he think that would absolve him of guilt in the boy's death? – Sam said jokingly, "Not a drop. Guess you're gonna have to wait until morning unless you don't mind cold water."

"You'd better be kidding," Dean said threateningly, shaking his fist. "Or I'll kick your butt all across Iowa - "

There was a loud knock at the door.

"Pizza!" Dean said happily. "Man, I'm freaking starving!"

What about your shower?" Sam wrinkled his nose. "Cold water or not, it's getting pretty ripe in here."

Outraged, Dean took a swipe at him. "Don't eat all the pizza, Sammy, or you're gonna be going out to get me another pie!" Jumping up, he strode quickly to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. "And make sure you leave me some beer, you lush!"

Chuckling, Sam went to the door, checking through the curtained window before he opened the door. Paying off the pizza man, he locked up and dropped the pizza box onto the table.

"Better hurry up, Dean!" he called through the bathroom door. "I'm pretty hungry! This pie won't last long!"

At a strangled curse from his brother, Sam laughed, then grabbed a beer from the fridge and flipped on the television, flipping through the channels and listening to the shower run.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Dean sighed at the sound of his brother turning over in bed.

Again!

Third time in five minutes!

"Damn it, Sam," he growled, raising up on his elbow and glaring at the other bed. "How am I supposed to sleep with you rockin' and rolling over there!"

"Sorry, Dean," Sam said contritely.

Grumbling loudly, Dean punched his pillow into shape and lay down again. "Just go to sleep already!"

"Sorry, Dean. Night."

Sam lasted about five minutes. Then, moving slowly, carefully, he eased over onto his other side.

Dead silence for a few seconds, then Dean sat up and turned on the bedside light. "Okay, what's going on?"

Sam flinched away from the light and his brother's accusing tone. "Nothing!"

"Sam," Dean said warningly. "I'm tired. We've got to be on the road in six hours. Now what the hell is wrong?"

Sam stayed silent for a long minute. "I was thinking about that kid," he said reluctantly.

Dean blew out a short breath. "Should've figured." He waggled his fingers at Sam. "C'mon. Talk."

"I know we had to kill him. It's just, it got me thinking. Me and him are kind of alike and I –" Sam trailed off at the look on Dean's face, then tried again. "Dean, I need you to promise me something."

"What?" Dean said suspiciously.

"No matter what happens, promise you won't let me hurt anyone."

Dean groaned. "Damn it, Sam!"

"That kid didn't ask for what he turned into, any more than I asked that demon to feed me his blood!"

Dean glared at him but Sam plowed on determinedly. "I'm not saying I think anything is going to happen. I just need to know that you're gonna have my back on this, if anything should happen."

"Sam –"

"I don't want to hurt anyone," Sam insisted. "Not you, not Bobby, not anyone."

"Damn it, we're gonna get on top of this. You don't have to worry about this," Dean said heatedly.

"Then it shouldn't be a problem for you to promise," Sam said flatly. Looking at Dean's unhappy face, he tried to lighten the mood. "Jeez, what's the big deal? It's not like I'm asking you to kill me or something."

Dean flinched. "That's not funny."

"Oh, come on, it's a little bit funny." Sam shifted position nervously, nowhere near comfortable with this conversation, but absolutely determined to finish it. "Dean, I'm not planning to go dark side. But we don't know the whole story behind the demon blood yet and you can be damned sure there's more going on than what I got out of that vision. I have to be sure you won't let me hurt anyo—"

"Damn it, Sam, stop!" Dean said agitatedly. "Just stop!"

The two brothers stared at each other. The eldest frightened by the implications of the promise; the other terrified by the absence of it.

"Okay," Dean said finally. "Okay, Sammy. I promise."

Relieved, Sam smiled. "Thanks, Dean. Thanks." Having gotten what he wanted, needed, he snuggled back into bed. In a few minutes, his breathing had evened out and he was sleeping soundly.

It took Dean a lot longer to settle down. Brain fevered with dread and possibilities, he lay still, watching his brother sleep.

At last, he sank into exhausted slumber. His last words, a soft whisper, filled the silence of the room.

"I'm gonna save you, Sammy. If it's the last thing I do, I'm gonna save you."

END

OOOOOOOOOO

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Every time I come to the end of a story, I remember what Chuck said about endings being bitches. I so totally agree with him. I hope this ending worked. Let me know what you think, if you are so inclined.