Author's Note: Final chapter! Thanks so much for reading this story. I really loved hearing all the feedback and I'm so happy that this little story got so much love. Thank you so much for sticking by me! Please enjoy!

It had been close—too damn close for Dean's comfort.

According to the doctor, Sam had flat lined once more before they had been able to stabilize him enough to remove the bullet and treat the blood loss. In the end, Sam had received countless transfusions and he was now resting in the ICU. Bobby had taken care of the paperwork—even used some legit insurance—leaving Dean to sit beside Sam's bedside. His brother appeared so pale, almost like a corpse—

"Any change?" Bobby asked softly, stepping into the room. Dean's gaze remained rooted on his sleeping brother. How had it come to this? This hunt was supposed to have been easy! They had a plan! How had it gone so sideways that it had resulted in Sam possibly not lasting it through the night?

"No." It was hard to speak, through the knot of emotion that attempted to consume him. Sam wasn't supposed to be fighting for his life. This hadn't been what Dean had wanted for him when he had gotten him from Stanford. He had just wanted his brother back by his side, but if it came at this high of a price, then it was better for him to be alone. Sure, he had missed Sam like hell, but at least at Stanford Sam had been safe.

"Doctor say anything?" Bobby pulled up a chair and sat on Sam's other side. The gruff hunter frowned slightly as he observed for himself how bad Sam's condition was.

I'm going to sugarcoat this for you. Your brother lost too much blood tonight. I'm not sure if he'll survive the night, let alone wake up.

"Just that we have to wait and see." Dean replied shakily, forcing his voice to remain steady. He shook his head, clearing his mind of the woman's words. That doctor didn't know Sam, though. She didn't know that Sam was a fighter and came from a line of stubborn men who refused to give up and accept defeat. Sam had to be okay—if he died . . . what would there be left to fight for? Their father was still MIA and the older Winchester brother doubted that John would even deign to grace his dying son with his presence.

"He'll pull through," Bobby muttered, almost as if to reassure himself, rather than Dean. "Sam's a strong kid."

"He lost so much blood, Bobby." Dean mumbled, mind racing back to when he had come across Sam's limp form. Blood had practically redecorated the carpet. Sam had already died twice tonight; maybe the third time would finally make it stick—

"Did he ever tell you about when he was hospitalized when he was at Stanford?" Bobby began almost conversationally.

"What?" Dean questioned, unsure of what he had just heard. Sam had never been sick while he was at Stanford! Dean had made sure when he had visited—except for those two years where they weren't speaking. Dean hadn't checked in on Sam at all during that time because he'd been too busy hunting and keeping Dad alive while Sam had been too busy trying to live his apple-pie life. "Sam never told me—"

"He didn't want you to know," Bobby replied. "The only reason I found out was because I was the only person listed on his emergency card." Bobby sighed and Dean anxiously waited to hear the rest of this story.

"And?" He prompted.

"He looked like a lot like this," The older hunter said with a sigh. "And it was pretty touch and go, but Sam pulled through." He smiled softly at Dean, reassuring the concerned older brother. "Just like he'll make it through this."

"What happened to him?"

"Honestly? I never got the full story," He answered with a shrug. "I think he was hunting."

"At Stanford?" Dean echoed.

"Yeah," Bobby confirmed. "Course, when he woke up, Sam wasn't really into talkin' about what happened and I didn't press it."

"You should've—!" Dean snapped, rage blinding him.

"Why?" Bobby pressed. "I hadn't seen the kid in, hell, four years? I wasn't about to go get involved in somethin' that Sam didn't want me to know about. Honestly Dean, I was just glad that he was talking to me again."

"What do you mean?" He asked, anger slowly fading away by the second.

"You weren't the only one who lost Sam the night he left." Bobby answered, a hint of sadness in his eyes. Dean frowned slightly as the implication of the gruff hunter's words hit him. He had never realized that when John had cut Sam out of his life that he had also inadvertently cut Sam out of everyone else's lives. Maybe Sam had thought that friends like Bobby and Pastor Jim were no longer his family because they had been acquaintances with John first. Dean grimaced. Sam must've felt so alone. And what had Dean been doing while Sam had been busy getting himself hurt hunting by himself? He had been too busy being angry and putting off calling his little brother because he was too damn stubborn. Sam had needed him and he hadn't been there—

"Stop." Bobby eyed him, clearly concerned. "He wouldn't want you to beat yourself up over it. It's in the past now."

"I could've done something—" Dean protested.

"He told me not to tell you about it," Bobby started, continuing on as if Dean had never spoke. "He said that you were busy and there was no point in telling you since he was better."

"Then, why are you telling me now?"

"Because I was sure that Sam was going to die that night," Bobby informed him shakily. "The injuries were so severe and the doctors were telling me that they had done all they could, but somehow, Sam beat the odds." The older hunter smiled proudly as he squeezed Sam's hand. "Just like he'll do now. We just need to be patient."



"Thank you." Dean's eyes shone brightly as he fought vainly against the tears that wanted to consume him. He had always hated being helpless, especially when it came to Sam. Sitting here and waiting, not being able to do anything to save his baby brother-it was his worst nightmare brought to life.

"Idjit." Bobby mumbled affectionately under his breath and Dean chuckled.

They both waited, the beeping and whirring of the machines filling the silence.

Awareness is a process.

It starts off gradually—a twitch of a finger, movement under the eyelids, a sudden deep breath—and it finally leads to full blown consciousness. It's a process that Dean has memorized by heart and has learned to recognize.

"Sammy?" He called, noticing the movement under Sam's eyelids. He smiled, clearly relieved as his brother struggled to awake. "C'mon, Sam, open those eyes for me, okay?" On the other side, Bobby remained silent, knowing that it wasn't his place to help Sam return to the land of the living—that was Dean's job and heaven forbid that Bobby try to get in-between Dean and his little brother. He shuddered just thinking about what kind of hell Dean could unleash given enough motivation and Sam was pretty damn good motivation.

"D'n?" Sam slurred, opening his eyes. He blinked a few times, as if he was trying to clear the blurriness out of his mind.

"Hey there, Sam," Dena greeted, beaming. "How you feeling?"

"Tired," The youngest Winchester mumbled, eyes shutting once more. "S'okay now?"

"Yeah," Dean assured him. "Everything's going to be okay now."


"No, I'm good, Sammy," Bobby smirked slightly. Leave it to Sam to worry exclusively about his big brother when he was the one in the hospital for blood loss. "You go back to sleep, okay?"



"Dad?" Bobby's heart fell and instantly he glanced over at the eldest Winchester.

"He's not here, Sam," Dean replied and Bobby wondered just how many times he had said that exact same thing to a younger Sam. "But I've got you, okay? We're gonna be just fine, you hear me?"

"Okay." With that, Sam slid back to the realm of sleep and Dean slid back in his chair and ran a hand through his hair.

"You hear from—"

"No." Dean interjected, voice deadly.

Bobby let it drop.

A week later, Sam was discharged.

The doctors and nurses were calling it nothing short of a miracle, but Dean had scoffed at that. Truth was, Sam was just as stubborn as the rest of the Winchesters. He wouldn't be going down without one hell of a fight. Still, that didn't mean that Dean wouldn't be watching him like a hawk for the next few weeks. Yeah, Sam had recovered enough to be released, but he was still weak and a bit unsteady on his feet. Bobby had insisted the two come to stay with him until Sam was completely better and while they both had politely refused at first, they soon found themselves back in the spare bedroom they had shared so many times together as a child.

So, here they were—alive and on vacation. Their days were spent watching melodramatic Spanish soap operas, though sometimes Sam slept through them and Dean secretly watched General Hospital. Their nights were spent helping Bobby research and cleaning up after his failed attempts at home cooking. Last night, for example, Bobby had tried to make some grilled chicken and needless to say, that plan quickly flew out the window after he had set it on fire somehow. They stuck to TV dinners now.

It was on their third night there, while watching the end of a cheesy monster movie that Dean mentioned it.

"Were you hunting at Stanford?"

Sam's response was to choke on his popcorn and stare at Dean like he had grown another head.


"Bobby told me that you got hurt—" Sam waved him off and sighed, acknowledging that there would be no point in denying this.

"I did one hunt," Sam told him quietly. "There was a vengeful spirit going after women in the dorms. I couldn't just ignore it—"

"Why the hell didn't you call for help then?" Dean growled, fury rising to the surface. "You don't go after spirits alone, Sam! Especially when you've been out of practice—"

"I thought you wanted nothing to do with me." It was whispered so softly that Dean had almost missed it.


"I didn't call you because I thought you wanted me out of your life."

That admission stunned Dean to no end. His mouth fell open, almost in comedic shock. He couldn't believe he was hearing this—Sam had thought he had wanted nothing to do with him? What the hell was this?

"Who the hell gave you that idea?" Dean growled, ready to knock some sense into his baby brother and then go dish out some revenge on whoever was responsible for this.


Stunned silence.

"Come again?"

"I, uh, called your phone," Sam explained, running a hand through his hair, almost as if he was admitting to doing something wrong. "And he answered. Told me that you never wanted to speak to me again. Then, he hung up."


"And, I know, I should've just ignored him, but I hadn't heard from you in awhile and I thought . . ." His voice trailed off. "I don't know, I thought that maybe Dad had been right."

"And then you did the hunt." Dean completed, forcing his voice to be calm. Rage wouldn't do any good right now. It wouldn't solve anything.

"Yeah," Sam replied. "And it got the drop on me. I was able to salt and burn it though, but I don't remember much after that." He shrugged slightly. "The next thing I remember is waking up at the hospital with Bobby being there." Dean absorbed his brother's words and controlled his anger. Sam was okay now—that was what mattered. Dad . . . they would deal with him later. Dean was definitely going to get that straightened out. For now, Sam was alive and Sam was with him. That's what mattered.

"Listen," Dean began, meeting Sam's gaze. "I will always be there to help you out, okay? Promise me you'll remember that."


"Promise, Sammy."

Sam chuckled softly. This reminded him of their childhood—Promise me that you'll stay by my side, Sammy. Promise that you'll call me if you need me, Sam. Promise—and it made the youngest Winchester smile.

"I promise." Dean shot him a grin and then they turned their focus back to the TV.

"And dude, next time, we're going with my plan." His older brother informed him.

"What plan?" Sam questioned. "Run in, ask questions later?"

"Exactly." Dean assured him.

And Sam laughed for the first time in a long time. Yeah, his girlfriend had been killed by a demon, their father was missing, and he might have weird visions, but for this one second—this brief moment in time—nothing else mattered aside from him and Dean.

As long as he had Dean by his side, Sam knew they could handle anything.

Anything at all.

Author's Note: The end! I hope you all enjoyed! Thank you so much for everything! Just a quick note, the hunt that Sam did at Stanford will probably be getting its own story soon, so please be on the lookout for that. Anyways, I'd love to hear what you thought of the final chapter. Please review!