A/N: Alright ff-buds, this is it - the final chapter in this series (which is now about 400,000 words in total!) so congrats and a HUGE thank you to all of you still reading. I know the first story was definitely the most popular in the series (probably because of the 4 over-the-top sex scenes, lol) but I have to admit, my fave was Can't Catch Me because I had so much fun writing little Winchesters and because Sam got to be the hero. I am feeling kind of sad and nostalgic now that it's all coming to an end :(

I have had such an awesome time writing these and I have to say THANK-YOU for the faves and alerts and reviews on all 4 stories in the series. I hope you like the ending - not much action this last chap, I'm afraid but plenty of Winchester love. It turned out way longer than I expected though so hopefully it's not too boring!

Warning: Some naked naughtiness ahead - just sayin' - you've been warned!

Thanks Kissacazador for your help with that tricky scene! In the end, I had a really hard time making it sound real enough to fit into such a serious story and kept having to remove the funniest lines, but hopefully it still turns out alright.

Previously: Eve shows up and they take her down. Cas takes his grace back from her but it's damaged and he is a bit messed up by it. He doesn't find Sam's soul in Eve before he passes out so Dean thinks he is going to have to kill his brother but Cas finally wakes up and realizes Sam's soul has been inside him the whole time, safe and sound.

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

CHAPTER 23 - WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE

Apparently having your soul shoved back into you by an inexperienced angel running on half-mojo is quite an exhausting affair because Sam slept for two whole days afterwards. He had screamed in pain as it went in then his eyes shot wide and he started gasping and mumbling incoherently, the occasional "Oh God, I'm sorry!" aimed at nobody in particular floating out between the gibberish. Cas was merciful and quickly sent him to sleep with a light touch, telling the others that sleep would allow the young hunter's body to recover so he could better deal with the emotional repercussions that would surely come later.

During that long two days, Sam was never left alone. He was still laid out on the cot in the wine cellar because basement or not, the digs were far more comfortable than many Sam had experienced growing up. It was also quiet down there and Dean didn't want to disturb him with the daytime noise upstairs. Sam's face in slumber always looked so innocent and peaceful. Let him sleep. And when he woke up, Dean would have his brother back.

It was now the second evening and Dean and Cas were taking their turn in the bedside vigil. Sam stirred, tossing his head and murmuring an almost frantic sound causing Dean's brows to pull into a frown. "He will be Sam again, right?" he asked nervously.

The re-graced angel looked up from where he was sitting quietly on a wooden chair at the edge of the room. He had donned his trench coat again, its stained front instantly becoming clean and its recent rips and tears instantly mending themselves. He had regained some of angelic his powers but at a much lesser scale than before and many others were lost altogether. As far as Cas could tell, he was still immortal, still officially an angel, but he feared the lost powers would never return.

He didn't say no to Dean's question but he didn't exactly nod his head either. "He will have a hard time dealing with some of the things he did while soulless," Cas said slowly.

"Yeah, that's my Sammy - Mr. Sensitive," Dean snorted fondly.

Cas nodded. "You know, Dean," he continued. "After I pulled you from Hell, you were my charge. Just you, not both Winchester brothers. And I admit, I didn't pay much attention to Sam. I made no effort to get to know him. He was... tainted with demon blood and I thought less of him for that." He turned to gaze at the sleeping figure on the cot. "But having his soul inside me, even though I was only aware of it for a few moments, I have seen Sam for what he really is."

"What he really is?"

"A good man. His soul is pure and decent; there is an incredible amount of goodness in him. Far more than most, despite the demon blood. And as for you..." He lifted his head to meet Dean's eyes. "How he feels about you..."

Dean swallowed but let the angel continue.

"You don't feel worthy enough to understand that he loves you every bit as much as you love him. That he always has, even when he left you to go to school. That was never about leaving you. He would do anything for you to find happiness and peace. In fact, he wants it much more for you than for himself."

A warmth spread through Dean's insides. He knew this, he thought. All of this. Well maybe, sort of... with doubts. Always with doubts. So it was nice to hear it from someone with such certainty who had first-hand knowledge.

"I want that for him too," he admitted. "But is he gonna be okay?" Cas still hadn't answered his original question.

Cas sighed and pursed his lips before giving Dean a reply. "Yes," he said finally. "There is a tremendous reserve of strength in him also."

There was another stir on the bed and Sam again grew restless, tossing his head from side to side. Dean was next to him in a flash, perching on the edge of the bed. Sam's chest started heaving and his eyes sprang open. "Oh God," he gasped. "Oh God, what did I do? Why did I...?" He frowned and squeezed his eyes shut, as if trying to force a bad memory out of his head. "I'm sorry, Dean," he murmured. "I'm so sorry."

"Hey, time for that later," Dean assured him, laying a comforting hand on his brother's shoulder. "Important thing is you're back." There was a pause. "You are back, right?"

Sam nodded, his eyes still clamped firmly shut. "Yeah, it's me." His words were slurred and Dean felt Sam's muscles relax under his hand. "I let that thing... " He started to drift off. "Succubus... you... Tash... so sorry... " His breathing evened out once more and his head lolled sideways.

Dean let out a deep breath and slumped back into the chair next to the cot. "S'okay little brother. Welcome back."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Sam woke all the way up the next morning. He joined them upstairs but remained very quiet and wasn't sharing much of how he was feeling. He was certainly avoiding any serious eye contact with everybody so they knew he remembered most, if not all, of what the robot version of himself had done but nobody wanted to push him into talking about things just yet, so the questions remained unasked.

"Just give the boy some space," Bobby chided, grabbing Dean's arm to stop him from following when Sam quietly announced that he was going to go for a walk to get some fresh air.

Dean huffed but reluctantly sat back down. "This isn't like Sam," he groused. "I bottle things up. That's my M.O. Sam's supposed to talk about shit and talk about shit and talk about shit 'til you're begging him to shut up."

"Give it time, y'idjit. You've got about as much patience as a five year old in Sunday school. You'll be beggin' fer him to stop yammerin' touchy-feely apologies soon enough."

As much as he had always avoided said 'chick-flick moments', Dean could only hope Bobby was right because in the past, when Sam wasn't spouting all his emo-crap after something big had gone down, it meant he was taking off. Chasing his brother across the country begging him to come back again was not high on his wish-list right now.

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

The following afternoon found them back at Bobby's salvage yard. Crowley had removed them from his hit list and called off his dogs like he had promised in the deal they had made with him so the group felt it was safe to return. After all, Crowley had known where they were for days at the cabin and had left them alone. After everything they had been through in the past few weeks, everybody was glad to be back in familiar surroundings.

Thankful for some space after a week in the close quarters of the cabin, Tasha went for a walk through the sprawling expanse of Bobby's yard, ending up in the Winchester childhood clubhouse at the edge of the property. Dean had taken off somewhere, in her car, mysteriously refusing to say where he was going or when he'd be back. She figured his disappearance was Sam-related but she let him be, fairly confident he would let her in if something was wrong. After all, they were in a good place right now, she and Dean.

It had been a long drive back with only the 'new Cas' for company. When he hadn't been spaced out and wincing in pain from whatever his damaged grace was doing to him, he had talked non-stop about feelings and emotions and how different it was being human and how much he had hated it at the time and how much he missed it now. She had listened and sympatized because she truly considered him a friend now, but it was exhausting and she was tired. She took advantage of the alone time to curl up on the old leather carseat in the clubhouse and take a nap.

She woke up to the vibrations of someone coming up the ladder and wiped her eyes, sitting up groggily and smiling as the trapdoor in the floor swung open. "Hey babe," she greeted sleepily, expecting to see Dean's face.

"Actually it's me," announced Sam with an anxious smile. He stopped with only his shoulders inside, not wanting to venture any further until he knew she was comfortable. He didn't miss her eyes widen and her jaw clench a little at the surprise identity of her visitor and his heart sank a little. Not that he blamed her. "You mind if I come in?" he asked politely.

The fleeting nervousness passed from her features quickly and she was quite convincing when she waved him up. "Course," she said. "It's your clubhouse, after all."

He chuckled, his eyes taking in the child's writing on the wall behind her. Domus Winchester. Fuck he was such a geek. He dragged his large frame up through the small hole, grunting at the awkwardness as he rose to his feet inside, hunched over uncomfortably to fit. "Funny, I remember this place being bigger," he commented.

"That's coz you were a runt back then, from what I hear," Tasha teased good naturedly. She scooted to one end of the seat to make room for him.

Sam shook his head, choosing instead to sit on the floor across the small room from her with his back against the wall and his feet stretched out before him. He didn't want to make her feel any more uncomfortable than she probably already did.

"I remember everything I did while I had no soul," he blurted, getting right to the point. Her body stiffened slightly but she didn't say anything, just nodded slowly. He took a deep breath. "I'm so sorry, Tasha. I don't even know what to say, what I did..."

"It wasn't you."

"Well I remember it like it was and, Jesus, I just can't believe I did that to you." He leaned forward and pinched the bridge of his nose, hating himself more with every word said aloud.

"I guess I should apologize too," she chuckled, clearly trying to cut short the awkwardness of his apology. "For trashing your car."

A snort escaped the hunter. "I deserved a lot worse than that."

"It wasn't you, Sam. I'm just glad to have you back."

Sam wasn't going to let himself off so easily. "No, I have to say this, Tash. First I let Dean get turned by a succubus and then I let him almost kill you. I mean, I actually set you up. I was waiting for him to do it. I...I..." He floundered in his apology, no words seeming like they would be enough. When he looked up at her, he could tell she hadn't been aware of the level of his involvement in the succubus incident, for shock registered in her brown eyes. "Honestly, you guys probably should have killed me way back then," he finished.

He saw the lump move down her throat as she swallowed. "Well then we wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation, would we?" she said. "As friends. With all that put behind us already."

Sam was grateful for her efforts to let him off the hook but he needed to get the rest off his chest. "About the other thing..."

"Don't worry about it, Sam. Already forgotten."

Her words were too forced, spoken too quickly. Of all the ways he had wronged Dean's girlfriend during his soulless stint, trying to force himself on her tore at him the most. If he hadn't been so gung-ho to find that shifter Alpha, he would have finished what he had started that night and even the thought of that sickened him. She was brushing it off but he knew her past, he knew she had troubling memories of foster home number six, of being fifteen having to deal with an abusive caregiver all alone, with nobody to believe her and nobody to turn to.

Crap, Sam realized. She hadn't told Dean. It was still bothering her, probably more than she was admitting even to herself, but she didn't want to come between him and Dean.

"It's not forgotten," he said softly. "I don't expect you to ever forgive me, Hell, I know I'll never forgive myself, but I just wanted you to know that I am sorry. That it was completely my soulless hormonal self trying to take what I wanted at any cost and you did nothing wrong and nothing to encourage it or give me the impression that you wanted it or..." He frowned and tipped his head back against the wall, not knowing enough about these things to even guess what feelings could be going through her head. "I know it still bothers you, Tash. I know you well enough to know that. I just want..." He gave her a pleading look. "I want you to feel safe around me."

Her eyebrows arched into a look of sympathy and she climbed off the seat, taking the few steps over to him before sinking to her knees and wrapping her arms around his neck. "I do," she breathed, her words muffled into his neck. "I know that wasn't you. I admit I'm still dealing with it but I don't think of it as you. I mean, yeah, it happened but it was someone else that did it."

She sat back up and gave him a sheepish smile. "So we done with the schmoopy talk now? We good?"

He grinned. "Yeah, we're good." The tension in the room dissipated and he felt the familiar easiness that they had always shared fall back into place. "But seriously," he ventured, giving her a crooked smile. "I can't believe you tossed my car into a ravine. That thing was worth thirty five grand, easy."

She laughed, shifting to sit down on the floor next to him. "That was a pretty sweet ride, too," she agreed. "If you hadda thrown a couple of racing stripes over the top, fuck, that would have been a nice car."

"Would have been being the operative words," Sam retorted. "Remind me never to piss you off again."

She punched him playfully. "Oh, I don't think you'll need another reminder."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Sam was feeling less burdened after his conversation with Tasha and he headed back to the house. There was still plenty of guilt weighing on him though and he took the long way to prolong the walk, building up his nerve for the next apology. As he was passing Bobby's detached mechanic shop, he heard a noise inside. Slowly swinging the door open, he stepped in to investigate and found Dean dressed in coveralls, applying tape to the roof of Tasha's Challenger.

"What are you doing in here?" he greeted his brother, who jumped in surprise at the unexpected intrusion.

"Crap, Tash isn't with you, is she?"

"Uh, no."

"Good. I asked Jo to keep her occupied."

"Oh, well Jo lost her then," Sam laughed. "Tash must have given her the slip because she's in the clubhouse on the old water tower right now."

Dean nodded, seeming satisfied with the reply.

"Do I dare ask what you're doing to her car?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?" Dean scoffed, going back to applying lines of tape on the Dodge's red roof.

Sam had no idea but didn't really feel like giving his brother a chance to make fun of his ignorance so he didn't press the issue. He was actually glad Dean hadn't gone into town like he had thought because he had been looking for a chance to talk to him. Alone out here in the shop seemed as good a place as any.

"So, Dean," he opened the conversation.

"Yeah?" His brother never took his eyes off his work with the tape.

"I need to say I'm sorry."

Dean's head whipped around and he gave Sam a long, hard stare before standing up straight and pulling off his gloves one at a time. "Well, I figured this conversation was coming at some point," he said with a nod. "And Sam, you need to know it's fine. You had no soul. Everything you did - none of it was really you. I know that."

"Everyone's so quick to let me off the hook," Sam huffed. "But I knew what I was doing the whole time – I just didn't care. I can't forget that."

"Honestly, you soulless was kinda bad-ass," Dean grudgingly admitted. "You saved our necks more than once, even if you were a total dick."

"You have no idea just how much of a dick I was."

Dean snorted. "Oh trust me, I know you were a dick. You fed me to a succubus, remember?"

Sam closed his eyes, hearing his recent actions out loud stinging his newly-regained conscience. "That's not even close to the worst I did."

The last trace of mirth slipped from Dean's face and he turned and leaned against the Challenger. "I guessed there was more than we know about."

Sam took a deep breath. "I tried to rape Tash," he blurted.

Dean's whole body froze, his face fixed in an unreadable expression. After a long moment, his fingers curled into fists at his sides and his jawbone flexed as he gritted his teeth. He moved to speak a couple of times but clamped his mouth shut before any sound came out. Eventually he turned away, rubbing his hand down across his face with his back turned. Sam knew his brother was struggling with how to feel about the admission and fighting to control his reaction.

Proof of a fact that until now, only Sam seemed to have realized; that he couldn't get real and complete forgiveness from everybody with a simple apology and a handshake.

"I didn't," he continued, speaking to his brother's back. "But only because the hunt got in the way, or I would have. I know she didn't tell you."

Dean turned around. "Why are you telling me?" His voice was strained.

"Why do you think? Because it's eating at her and she's too worried about coming in between me and you to talk to you about it."

Dean pressed his lips together, nodding his head. "You know, I'm glad she didn't tell me."

"Because you wouldn't have waited until Cas woke up and realized he had my soul in him?"

Dean snorted a humorless huff of laughter. "Probably not."

"You would have been right to do it," Sam told him honestly. "To kill me. You couldn't have let me live like that. I was a monster. The things I did..."

"We're all going to have to let those things go, Sam. That includes you."

"I'm trying. Trust me, I'm trying. Nobody hates soulless me more than me. I wish I didn't remember everything I did, Dean. I wish I didn't remember the way I rationalized and justified it all."

Dean's expression softened and Sam recognized the familiar 'big brother won't say it but he loves you' look. It spurred him on.

"You want to know the worst thing I did?" he asked rhetorically. "The thing that bothers me the most of all the terrible things? More than killing that old lady, more than attacking Tash? It was leaving you in that fire." Sam felt his throat constricting but kept talking. "I saw you. I still had the mask and after I got the ashes, I saw you lying there and I just left. I thought to myself, 'he's not worth the risk'. I mean, the first time you saved my life, Dean, you were five years old and you carried me out of a fire and I just left you there to die in one."

He choked a little on the last words and paused to compose himself. Dean remained silent.

"God, how could I just leave you there?"

"You didn't," Dean said evenly. "That wasn't you. You were in Cas that whole time, remember? And Cas did come in to save me. I can't help but think that was your doing too."

Sam swallowed, unable to shed his guilt just yet. "I'm not so sure. Cas would do anything for you, including run into a burning building; you know that. I still had my memories, Dean. I just don't understand how I could not care with all those memories of you caring about me floating around in there, everything we've been through together. That should have meant something, soul or no soul." Sam knew his eyes were beginning to water but he didn't care.

Dean took three brisk strides over to him and gripped his arm.

"Listen to me, Sam, coz you need to understand this. Your soul is who you are, not your body and not your memories. I know this. I know this because I was in Hell. That was really me down there. For forty years I suffered and I burned and I... well, you know what else I did - I broke. That was me. My body was just rotting away in that grave up here. I..." He jammed his finger into his chest to get his point across, "I was in Hell with my soul."

Sam just nodded, his fingers absently fisting back in Dean's coverall sleeve.

"Nobody in this house holds you accountable for what you did, you got that? That was some other guy." Dean gave him a long, hard look. "Do you understand me?"

Sam nodded again, the tightness in his chest loosening slightly as another ball of twisted guilt unfurled itself within him. His big brother was certainly convincing.

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Dean had always taken pride in his handiwork. Bent over the Challenger's hood, he was so completely engrossed in what he was doing that he didn't even hear the shop door open behind him a second time. He was applying the second coat of white paint to the open lines between the tape when he heard a gasp and spun around to see Tasha standing a few feet away, her mouth gaping open in shocked confusion. He released the trigger of the paint spray gun in his hand and tried to move his bulk in front of the car, realizing belatedly how futile the gesture was.

"Crap, Tash, what are you doing here?" he blurted, laying down the spray gun.

"I was out for a walk and heard a noise," she stammered, staring past him at the taped-up mess her car was in. "What the Hell did you do to my car?"

He let out a defeated groan and his shoulders slumped. "It was supposed to be a surprise," he told her, taking off his gloves. "Jo was supposed to be keeping you busy."

She walked forward, her forehead still scrunched up in confusion. "Is that why she was being so clingy? She was weirding me out so I ditched her." Tash was standing next to Dean now, by the hood of the car and she let out another gasp and grabbed his forearm. "Oh my God! You're painting racing stripes!"

Dean grinned at the expression of pure joy on her face as she figured it out. "Happy Birthday, babe."

She quirked an eyebrow at him. "Huh?"

He laughed. "Please tell me you remember it's your birthday tomorrow."

She looked genuinely surprised. "Oh. Well, yeah. Wow, you got me a birthday present."

"Isn't that what boyfriends are supposed to do?" He slid his hands around her waist and pulled her up against him.

Her face tilted up to meet his. "I suppose. I don't know," she answered sheepishly. "I haven't had a boyfriend on my birthday since uhh... ever. I've always been alone. The last birthday present I got was a hairdryer from Fostermom Number Seven when I was sixteen." She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly before pulling away and actually giggling as she turned her attention back to the car. "How did you know I'd want racing stripes?"

Dean snorted. "You only mentioned it every time we passed some old Mustang that had them or those new fruity yellow Camaros that look like the frigging Transformer."

"Hey, Bumblebee's hot," Tasha laughed, turning back towards him with a seductive looking smirk. "I'll tell you what else is hot," she purred, running a hand up the front of his coveralls. "You, in this outfit."

Dean pulled her back against him and stole a kiss. "So you like your present?"

"I love my present," she answered back as she tugged the front zipper down from his neck to his waist and pushed the coveralls back off his shoulders so they bunched around his hips.

"Why do I feel like I'm the thing getting unwrapped here?" he snickered.

"Because I want to show you how much I love my present," she said, her voice sultry and full of promise. Her deft hands were already working on his belt and before he could insist he was the one who should be doing the giving, she was tugging the denim down past his hips. She dropped to her knees slowly, her tongue playing with each of his nipples through the fabric of his tee-shirt before licking a strip along the elastic waist of his boxers. A low groan escaped Dean as she pulled him free and peppered soft kisses along his length.

"Unh," he groaned, one hand automatically fisting in her hair as his head tipped back and he let her do her thing. She licked the length of him, her hand expertly following her tongue up and down as she got him nice and wet. She teased the head with the tip of her tongue, here eyes turned upwards to fix on Dean's as she did so, before wrapping her lips around him and taking him in slowly, inch by inch.

Another groan escaped Dean. Good God, did he deserve this? He had always believed he had a shitty life, that no good luck ever came his way. Well, that theory had been blown to Hell the day Tasha had told hims he loved him. Somehow, through all the pain and the death and the loss and the shit, he had come out of it with the love of an amazing woman who, on top of it all – oh fuck! that felt good – who gave the best head… ever. Talk about the proverbial cherry on top.

"Oh, babe, just like that," he encouraged, guiding her head back and forth with his hand in her hair as she sucked him hard and deep, drawing him in and out of her hot, wet mouth.

She moaned around him and he groaned at the added vibrations, then gasped when she shifted her jaw and dragged her teeth lightly up the underside of his hard length. Crap, this was too much. He was getting too close. He reached down and cupped her face, pulling her upwards.

"No way, Tash," he panted. "It's your birthday. Birthday girls first."

She stood up, pressing her chest against him, her eyes dancing with anticipation. "Oh, is that how it is?"

He nodded and gripped the hem of her t-shirt. "You have too many clothes on."

She lifted her arms in the air, allowing him to pull the clothing off over her head. He tossed it on the floor and immediately brought his hands up to cup her breasts, running his thumbs over her nipples, which were already hardening beneath the stiff lace of her bra. He tugged the fabric aside and dipped his head down, taking the left one in his mouth.

She moaned loudly, her hand finally stopping its slow pumping of his hard length and moving up to pull his head further into her chest. "Unnnhhh, Dean," she whispered, her voice thick with need. "Wh-what if someone comes in?"

"They won't," he assured her absently, moving his attention to her other breast. Frankly, he didn't care if anyone came in; he had no intention of stopping. One hand undid the clasp of her bra in a millisecond and he tossed the garment aside, moving right along to the button and fly of her jeans. He managed to pull them and her underwear down and off without ever allowing his mouth to leave her breasts, alternating between teeth and tongue as he tortured the puckered nipples.

He grinned at the lustful noises now coming from her and she was completely pliant in his arms as he picked her up, spun her around, and set her on the hood of her car.

"The p-paint job," she said breathlessly.

"I'll fix it later," he growled, his hands roaming everywhere and his mouth moving in to toy with the sensitive spot on her throat. She clung to him as she parted her knees and rested her feet on the bumper, spreading her thighs enough to pull him closer in between them.

He felt her hands on his length again, tugging gently, running up and down and he groaned. He wasn't going to last if she kept that up. He pulled her away gently, shaking his head and giving her a mischievous grin as he sank to his knees on the garage floor in front of her. "Birthday girls first, remember."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Sam entered Bobby's dusty, cluttered study to find Cas sitting at the older hunter's desk reading. It actually looked like he was flipping through the book giving each page a cursory glance but Sam knew that with his angel mojo back, Cas was in fact, reading every word. Curious, he glanced around at the title of the book, wondering what texts on the supernatural would contain things Cas didn't already know.

Classics of French Poetry.

Okay, not what Sam was expecting. But then again, Dean had mentioned that Cas seemed... different. Not that their angel friend was normal before, but since regaining his grace, he seemed more distracted, preoccupied, even spaced-out, and more 'Oprah'. Dean had rolled his eyes at the last one. It could be the turmoil Cas's damaged grace was wreaking inside him, though Cas had insisted he was figuring out how to 'adjust' and that he would learn to deal with it, but Sam thought there may be more to it than that.

He hadn't spent much time with the angel since waking up from being soulless, but had sought him out today since he seemed to be on a roll. This conversation, however, wasn't to be so much an apology as a thank-you. After all, he owed Cas everything. Cas had saved him in more ways than one, saved him in both body and soul.

"Hey Cas," Sam greeted him, lowering his tall frame into one of Bobby's uncomfortable wooden chairs.

Cas looked up, his blue eyes sparkling and a smile spreading across his face. "Hello, Sam. I am glad to see you. You should know everyone is in far better spirits now that you have your soul back."

"Yeah, about that," Sam acknowledged. "I'd like to say thanks."

Cas tilted his head, his smile still there. "You're welcome."

Sam wasn't content to leave it at that. "You know, I remember what happened in Purgatory and it makes a lot more sense now," he ventured. Cas didn't reply but folded his hands on top of the table, giving Sam his undivided attention. Sam continued. "Way I see it, that pain I felt was those shadow things ripping my soul out. Then when you showed up, you jumped in and you must have taken it from them, maybe jammed it in you for safekeeping but then they ripped your grace out and I hurled us back through the gate."

"I liked having you inside me," Cas said simply, his face solemn and pensive.

Sam ignored the awkwardness of the angel's words. "Dean told me your grace is damaged from being in Eve," he said. "And he said that my soul would have probably been complete toast if it had been in her too. Or worse if still in Purgatory. So thanks."

Cas nodded. "You definitely would prefer being inside me than inside Eve."

A small giggle came from the direction of the living room and Sam glanced over to see Jo standing in the doorway, her slim silhouette outlined from the well-lit room behind her. He gave her a sheepish roll of the eyes but said nothing as Cas kept talking.

"Human souls are very fragile," Cas continued. "I hope I didn't hurt you by thrusting you inside me so recklessly."

Another snicker from the doorway. Sam felt a flush in his cheeks.

"And I was worried also when I put it back inside you, for I am inexperienced at such things. I've never touched one before."

"Uh no, Cas, I'm sure you were gentle. I feel fine."

"That is fortunate. You have a good soul, Sam. It is brave, warm, and caring. I am sorry I ever doubted that. The truth is, when I was first assigned to your brother, I was too taken with him and his righteous complexity to really notice you for what you are. Having spent a few weeks together with you in such an intimate manner, I must say, I am honored to be your friend."

"Uh, thanks, I guess." Sam raised an eyebrow across the desk. "You seem different, Cas. Is everything alright with you?"

Cas nodded. "I'll be fine. Thank-you. My damaged grace is a little uncomfortable but I will learn to manage that. I have lost some of my powers and my link with Heaven is weak, but... but the hardest part is dealing with this emptiness I feel not having you inside me anymore."

Sam gave Jo a quick glance but she had her hand over her mouth, stifling her laugh.

"But you are right that I am different now," the angel kept talking. "Perhaps having a soul inside me with real feelings for a while has changed me. Perhaps having you inside me has somehow altered my perspective on things."

The blonde's snickering returned. Cas remained completely ignorant.

"Everything is different experiencing it with emotions," he babbled. "Everything felt more intense, more vivid, more fulfilling while I had you inside me."

Jo giggled again and Sam grew more flustered, his embarrassment leaving him at a loss for words. "You don't, uh, feel those uh, things now?"

"Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated," was Cas's cryptic reply.

"Uhh...I'm not sure I get that, Cas."

Cas smiled and held up the book of poetry in his hands. "De Lamartine," he said in way of explanation.

"He's saying he misses you," Jo chimed in, finally coming into the room to join them. "And he wished he could have you, you know, thrust inside him again. Filling him up, giving him that sensational feeling..."

"Indeed," Cas nodded, still completely oblivious. "Sam, I hope we can maintain our bond now that I'm no longer human."

"So you don't have feelings as an angel?" the blonde inquired, clearly enjoying Sam's discomfort.

"I do," Cas sighed. "But not as intensely. I do not feel Sam inside me anymore or the more powerful sensations having him there brought me."

Jo lost it at that, he shoulders shaking in her attempt to refrain from full-out bursting into laughter. Sam shot her a glare and cleared his throat. "Aren't you supposed to be watching Tasha?" he accused.

She shrugged. "Yeah, I was but she just disappeared."

"Last I saw her she was in the old clubhouse," Sam pressed. "What if she catches Dean?"

The blonde's smirk disappeared and she stood up. "Oh, I'd better go check on her."

Sam rose to his feet also. "Uh, I'll come with you." He gave Cas a quick smile. "See you later, Cas. Take care, man."

He and Jo hurried out the door, leaving the angel to his poetry.

"Maybe you should stay with him," Jo suggested with a smirk. "Work on maintaining that new bond of yours." She turned and walked backwards in front of him and mimicked Cas's deep raspy voice. "I wish I knew how to quit you, Sam Winchester."

Sam shook his head, an embarrassed smile still on his lips. "He's adjusting," he defended.

"Yeah, to not having you up inside him anymore."

"Shut up."

"I think it's sweet."

"Shut up."

"He's got a man-crush."

"Geez, you're worse than Dean."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

"Oh God! Dean!" Tasha cried out, her thighs clenching on either side of Dean's face and her hands clasping in the short strands of his hair. "Fuck!"

Dean grinned, all the while never stopping the thrusting of his tongue in and out of her dripping heat. He looked up to see her back arching upwards and her head thrown back. Oh fuck, what a sight. It spurred him on and he added a finger to the mix, sliding it in and out slowly and curling it to hit just the right spot.

It only took half a minute more until she flew over the edge. Her heels dug into his back as she screamed and quivered around him, her toes curling and his name spilling from her lips over and over. He kept going, licking and probing and sucking gently through the throes of her orgasm until she came down. He watched her, enjoying the familiar satisfied exhale and the way she licked her lips before opening her eyes to search his out.

He met her gaze with a smug smirk and rose to his feet. "That was nice," he said, his voice low. "But don't think I'm finished with you yet." He grabbed her face and pulled it up to his, kissing her hard. She returned it with equal vigor, releasing those barely perceptible breathy moans into his mouth that drove him so crazy.

He reached a hand down and shoved at his jeans and boxers, pushing them down to his knees along with the twisted up coveralls. Not wasting any more time, he wrapped a hand around his length and pressed it back and forth along her wetness. A desperate moan escaped her lips as he teased her and she bucked her hips forward, trying to get him to push inside her. He was far too horny at this point to tease her for long and he gave in quickly, ramming in to the hilt with one hard thrust.

She cried out, her hands slamming onto the hood behind her, into the wet, white paint of the new racing stripe. He set a hard, fast pace, sliding in and out easily with the juices from her recent orgasm. She was swollen and tight and so damn hot he kept increasing his speed, pulling her thighs up around his waist to get a better angle.

She was moaning loudly with every plunge and her hands moved farther apart to brace herself against his ever-increasing thrust, smearing white paint on the untouched red hood behind her. The sound of skin slapping on skin filled the garage, competing with Tasha's lustful cries and Dean's groans of pleasure. He kept going, loving the sight of her spread out and panting beneath him, loving that he could bring her the level of pleasure he was seeing on her face right now, and loving the pressure that was building up inside of him. God, he could never get enough of this. He bent down over her to take a nipple in his mouth again, sucking gently and giving her a soft sensation in direct contrast with the almost frantic way he was drilling into her. She went into overload, not knowing whether to moan or scream and the sounds that came out of her were a strangled combination of the two, broken occasionally by a breathy "Dean!"

He kept up the momentum, one arm curled behind the small of her back, pulling her onto him with every forward thrust, and one hand fisted in her hair, tilting her head sideways as he sucked on her neck. "I hope you're close," he panted, knowing he wasn't going to last much longer.

"Uh-huh!" was all she could voice in reply and he grinned again, slamming himself into her even harder.

"Oh fuck! Tash!" he said through clenched teeth, trying to hold out until she came again. "Fuck!" He grabbed her ankles and pulled them up over his shoulders, never slowing his pace. The new angle had her screaming with the first thrust and he pounded but a few strokes into her before she burst, arching her back and screaming his name into the shed at the top of her lungs. Two more thrusts and Dean exploded also, his fingers digging into her hips as he tipped his head back and released, pumping in and out a few more times slowly as he emptied himself into her.

"Oh fuck, oh fuck," he panted, bending over her to bring is face close to hers.

She smiled at him through heavy breaths, bringing her arms around his neck to hold herself up. "Y-you're gonna have qu-quite the mess to clean up on my c-car," she told him.

He glanced behind her at the white smudges on the red paint and shrugged. "Definitely worth it," he laughed, pulling her up against him. She slid off the hood onto her feet, still clutching him tightly for support. When she finally let her hands drop, she snickered at the white smudges on his neck and t-shirt.

"Not just the car," she teased him.

He smirked, stepping back to pull up his coveralls. "You haven't seen your ass yet," he told her, laughing as she gasped and twisted around trying to get a glimpse of how much white paint was on her back side.

"That's gonna be Hell to get off," she bitched.

He handed the brunette her t-shirt. "Let's get into the shower before it dries too much," he said with a lewd arching of the eyebrows. "I'll get that paint off."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Sam and Jo reached the clubhouse to find Tasha was no longer there.

"Crap. Think she found Dean?" Jo frowned as she climbed back down the ladder to a waiting Sam.

"Better go check," the tall hunter grimaced.

The two headed over to the shop to find it empty also. "So where do you think Dean went?" Jo wondered out loud, staring at the half-painted Challenger.

"Maybe she didn't catch him," Sam shrugged, looking around. "Maybe he went for supplies or .. oh God," he cut himself off when his eyes fell on the hood of the car.

Jo raised an eyebrow at him. "What?"

"Uhhh," Sam chuckled. "What does that look like to you?" he asked, pointing.

Jo followed his finger with a curious expression. "What are you...oh my God." Her hand came up to cover her mouth. "Is that a butt print?"

Sam snorted a short burst of laughter and nodded. "That's what I was thinking."

"And those are hand prints," Jo continued, studying the wet paint smudges on the hood and pointing a little farther up. She chuckled and splayed her hands out behind her, mimicking the pose the evidence was displaying. "Yup, that's about right. Geez! They'll do it anywhere."

"Seems that way," Sam laughed along with her for a moment, glad the humor of the situation was overriding the tension that had been hovering between them since he had regained his soul. The laughter finally faded, a few last chuckles escaping into the shop before he pursed his lips and gave Jo a serious look.

He had been making his way down a list and Jo was next. Now seemed like a good time.

"Listen, Jo, about what happened when I was soulless..."

Her shoulders stiffened slightly at the turn in conversation but she quickly waved a dismissive hand in the air. "We don't need to get into that."

"No, seriously," he persisted. "That was low and insensitive and you really didn't deserve to be treated that way. I'm sorry."

"Sorry we did it or sorry you were such a dick afterwards?"

Sam was caught off guard by the question and stammered for a second before answering. "Um, the second part," he said hesitantly. "Definitely the second part... just."

The blonde smirked then gave her shoulders a little shrug. "I knew what I was doing, you know. I'm not a little kid anymore Sam."

The tall hunter got up the nerve to pull on a sly smile. After all, he did still have the memories of that night with her. Vivid memories of her lithe, sweat-soaked body arching and bucking towards him, her head tilted back as breathless pants made her chest heave, her lean legs wrapped around his hips pulling him deeper inside her, her own hand clamped over her mouth to quieten her moans. "No, you're definitely not that," he added, clearing his throat right after for effect.

She thumped him on the shoulder, hard. "Sam Winchester, don't you be turning into another Dean."

He laughed and pointed to the Challenger's smudged hood. "I will never be that bad."

"No, probably not," she acquiesced.

"So, friends?" He extended a hand.

She nodded and grasped it, giving it a firm shake. Sam was too relieved to notice the pang of disappointment hidden beneath the smile she gave him. "Friends," she answered simply.

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Ellen was washing dishes when Bobby stepped up behind her and began to nuzzle her neck. "Have I told you lately how much I like havin' you around this old house?"

She grinned, tilting her head to give him better access. "Yeah, but feel free to say it again."

"I like havin' you around," he repeated. "And I was thinkin' we should maybe make it a more permanent thing."

Ellen's hands stopped scrubbing the blackened bottom of Bobby's well-worn frying pan and dropped it back into the sudsy water. She spun around to face him, mouth hanging slightly agape in her surprise. "You mean me move in here? Are you sure you're ready for that?" she questioned.

Bobby shrugged. "Why in the Hell not?"

"Well we'd have to tell the kids for one," Ellen stammered.

A snort escaped the bearded hunter and his hands moved to her waist. "Ain't like they haven't figured it out yet." He raised an eyebrow at her. "And you do know they're full grown adults, right? Every one of 'em seen more shit than most people will in ten lifetimes."

He jumped back as the back door burst open and Dean and Tasha came in, giggling and covered in paint. They gave the older pair sheepish grins as they passed quickly through the kitchen and headed upstairs, mumbling something about a paint can spilling.

Ellen shook her head. "Grown-ups?" she snorted. "That there looked like a pair of love-struck teenagers to me."

Bobby chuckled. "You got a point." He slid his hands back into the curve of her waist. "Speaking of love-struck…"

This time Ellen responded and brought her wet hands up to cup his face fondly. "You ol' charmer you." She leaned forward and kissed him, the dishes forgotten.

The pair only got to enjoy each other for a few minutes before they were interrupted once more, this time by Sam and Jo. The two young hunters barged in, giggling and chuckling over some private joke and not even noticing the parental pair over by the sink as they made their way through to the living room.

Ellen watched them with a frown. "You see what I'm seein'?" she questioned Bobby. "Now, I ain't sure I like that any more than I did when she had a thing for Dean. No offence to your boys."

Bobby snorted, entirely unoffended. "This is Sam we're talking about, hon. He's got his soul back, remember? It'll take him six years to make a first move and by then she'll be married off to some other tool with little rugrats tuggin' at her apron strings."

Ellen snorted and gave him a friendly slap on the chest. "That's not helping."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

Dean lay on his back, his arm curled around a naked Tasha who was tracing lazy circles around the tattoo on his chest. The couple had stayed in the shower until the water had turned cold then moved things right along into the bedroom, both still wanting more of each other. Now, thoroughly sated and even more thoroughly spent, Dean relaxed and enjoyed one of his favorite things, an unguarded, intimate moment with the woman he loved.

"I think my ass is going to be red for days," Tasha bitched, even though the ends of her lips were curled up in a contended smile.

"Hey, I got the paint off, didn't I?" Dean chuckled.

"Yeah and I think you enjoyed it a little too much," she berated teasingly.

"It was either that or I got out the paint thinner." He leaned over and kissed her temple. "Don't worry. I'll make your ass feel better," he promised, reaching a hand down to give it a gentle caress. "Just give me a few minutes to recharge. I'm not as young as I used to be."

He felt her laugh reverberate through his chest. "If this is you getting old, I hate to think what you were like at twenty. I think you would have killed me."

"I got some juice left in me, babe. I'm not geriatric yet."

She let out a sigh of pure pleasure. "I could die right now and be happy."

He kissed her again, this time on her lips, his index finger lifting her chin towards him. They made out lazily, her naked body pressed up against the full length of his, their legs entwined. Finally he pulled back for air, cupping her face and giving her an intense look. "I can't wait to grow old with you," he said, his voice low.

He didn't give her a chance to respond before he twisted around, reaching for his jeans on the floor behind him and fumbling for the pocket. His fingers curled around what he was looking for and he turned back to face her.

"This wasn't meant to be a birthday present," he told her, his fist still closed around the tiny object. "I was going to give it to you a while back but I got sidetracked by all the crazy shit that went down and I didn't get it finished until last night. Cas helped me out with the translations and the final polishing."

The look she was giving him was starting to resemble weirded out so he hurried to his point. "It's just a little something to show you… um, I wanted you to know how much you mean to me and I wanted to do something nice for you so…" He opened his clenched fist, revealing the silver ring he had made.

Her eyes widened and she gasped. "Woah, Dean, uh…"

"It's not a wedding ring," he explained quickly. "I mean, I'd marry you in a second but it's not like it would be legal anyway because I'm wanted by the FBI and you don't even have a legal name and fuck legal anyways, we don't need that." He stopped babbling and gave her a nervous look.

She was quiet as she took the ring gingerly from him and twirled it around with the tips of her fingers. It was a silver band with tiny Enokian symbols etched all the way around. She recognized the symbol for love and the one for family, the rest a mystery she looked forward to unravelling. "You made it yourself," she breathed, her voice soft with stunned delight as she slipped it onto the fourth finger of her right hand.

Dean nodded. "Yeah, just like…"

"Like my dad did for my mom," she finished, her eyes fixing back on his. "Dean, it's beautiful."

"So are you," he grinned, leaning in for another kiss. She returned it with renewed fervor and the two were soon lost in each other again, lips moving against one another's and fingers twisting in each other's hair. When they finally pulled apart they were breathing heavily, lying facing each other on the same pillow. They lay smiling at each other in comfortable silence, Dean's fingers lightly running up and down the bare curve of her hips and Tasha twirling her new ring on her finger.

She finally sighed and gave him a thoughtful look. "So what do we do now?" she asked.

Dean gave her a lewd look.

"Not right now," she scoffed, rolling her eyes. "I mean, do we start hunting again? Sam's gonna be fine and I doubt we can just hang out at Bobby's for the rest of our lives. I know you want to cut down on hunting when the twins come but that's like two years from now. So what do you want to do? Me, you, Sam...?"

Dean pursed his lips. He was fairly sure he could never completely walk away from hunting. He had been in the life since he was a child, as had Tasha. Neither of them could do normal, at least not cold turkey. Sam had tried it and failed so he was most likely still in the game. Dean was determined not to raise his kids in the hunting life; he just hadn't figured out how to make that transition yet.

"Well, Crowley's Purgatory plan may have been shot to Hell but he's way too dangerous to leave running loose," he told her. "I want him taken care of before the kids come."

"I'm with you on that one," Tasha agreed. "That fucker shot you."

"And locked you up for three days," Dean pointed out. "And threw Sam into Purgatory."

"Okay, so we go after Crowley," she said with a decisive nod. "But we deserve a vacation first. Just the two of us."

"Huh?"

"A vacation."

Dean gave her a blank look.

"Vaay-caay-tionnn," she repeated more slowly.

"You mean like a concert or taking a break for a week?" That was all the vacation Dean had ever had.

Tasha groaned. "No, dummy. I mean go somewhere warm and lie on the beach and take in the sights and hike in the mountains..."

Dean's expression was not overly eager.

"Make love in the sand..." Tasha continued.

That got his attention and his eyes brightened. "Okay, now I'm listening. Florida? Miami's got beaches. I haven't screwed you in Florida yet."

She laughed, slapping him playfully. "You jackass; always the gentleman, huh? No, I was thinking south of the border. Maybe visit some of the places I grew up."

Dean wrinkled his nose in trepidation. "Uh, borders are tricky for me and the Impala," he explained. "Always feds sniffing around at the crossings and I'm on a few lists."

"So we fly there."

"On a plane?!" His eyes shot open. "No way. I've been on two planes in my life and both times they almost crashed."

"You're afraid of flying? You? Big bad Dean Winchester afraid of an airplane?"

"Yeah yeah, don't rub it in."

She let him off the hook. "Alright, don't sweat it coz I have some contacts on fishing trawlers who don't mind stowaways for a small amount of cash. That's usually how I get there."

"Huh? On a boat? That's worse than a plane!"

Tasha rolled her eyes. "Jeez, well good thing our resident angel still has some mojo then. He can zap us there."

Dean laughed, his muscles relaxing now that air and sea travel were off the table. "Alright, I'll go with you. But I'm not wearing shorts; I don't do shorts."

Tasha cut him off with a delighted squeal. "Thank-you!" She grabbed his face and kissed him hard. "Thank you."

Dean grinned at her reaction. How bad could Mexico be? His sexy senorita in a bikini and all-you-can-drink Tequila? He might actually enjoy it. Sam was doing well and Cas was... well, Cas was a little off but he would be fine. Another apocalypse had been averted and things seemed peaceful. Maybe Dean Winchester could afford to take a vacation for once.

"Anything to make you happy, babe." He leaned over and kissed her softly again. "I love seeing you happy."

"You know, for someone who hates chick flick moments, you sure are good at them," she purred. "Did I ever tell you how much I love it when you open up to me?"

Dean decided that was enough of an estrogen display for one day. He rolled fully on top of her, nudging her thighs apart with his knee. "Oh yeah?" he said, his voice deep and husky. "Well, I think it's your turn to open up to me." He began nibbling at her neck, grinding his hips against hers.

She giggled, growing breathless from his touch already. "Okay, there's the real Dean back."

"Yup, and he's raring and ready to go..."

~x~x~x~x~x~x~

A/N: OK, I ended the first 2 fics in this series with Dean and Tasha having sex so I figured why break tradition, right? This marks the end of the Tasha series. If I ever want to dabble in it again, I may do a short adventure of their "vacation" down south if anyone is interested, but the saga is complete for now. A million thanks to those of you who alerted, faved, and reviewed (and those who will review after this LAST and FINAL chapter - lol, hint hint). Seriously though, I love you guys for taking the time to give me so much encouragement and hope you stick with me for my next fic, which is a season 2 story with equal parts Sam and Dean. :-)