Author's Note: Here we are, the very last chapter. Wow. When I began this, I thought this would be a fun little story to do to spread some Holiday Cheer and fulfill people's prompts. It turned into a full blown, updated daily, amazing story. Thanks are in order to everyone who reviewed and gave me support. Some days, I would be so exhausted and not want to write, but your support and kind words helped keep me going. To everyone who submitted a prompt, thank you so much for trusting me with them. They were all so amazing and they all forced me to challenge myself, which is something I really needed to do. To everyone who favorite/followed this story, thank you! It was nice knowing that there were people out there who enjoyed reading my work as much as I enjoyed writing it. And to anyone who just happen to stumble upon this story and read it, thank you!
As I've said before, I will be doing another story like this in May or June. I will post more info on my profile once I've decided. I've also decided to make this holiday-themed version an annual thing. So, come December this year, I will do another version of this and accept holiday prompts once again.
So, please enjoy the final chapter. I had a blast writing it. There's a bit of spoilers for season 8 at the end of this chapter, so you've been warned. Please enjoy!
"You keep running for another place
To find that saving grace."
—Tom Petty, "Saving Grace"
September 20th, 1983
"Mommy!" Mary's eyes flashed open as she gazed at four-year-old son. He stood beside her bed, jumping up and down and pulling on her hand. John was at work, leaving Mary to take care of their two children. "Sammy is crying." She suppressed a groan and forced herself into a sitting position.
"Dean," She chided gently, soft smile on her lips. "Sometimes, babies just need to cry." She had explained this concept numerous times, but Dean had rejected it each time. He couldn't fathom how crying was a good thing and refused to stand by and let his little brother wail. He had even tried to handle the situation himself, but luckily, John had moved the stepping stool outside so now Dean wasn't tall enough to reach into the crib.
"Mommy," If she didn't know better, Mary would say that her youngest just rolled his eyes at her. "Sammy is sick."
"He's fine, Dean." She assured him.
"He's sick!" Dean exclaimed, tugging on Mary's hand once more. "Mommy, come on!" She followed her eldest son to Sam's nursery, not surprised to hear Sam wailing at the top of his lungs. Dean had been a relatively quiet baby once he had learned that crying wouldn't always get you attention. Sam didn't seem to be catching onto this lesson as well as his big brother. Picking up the baby, she frowned as she felt the unnatural heat coming off her youngest son's body.
Dean had been right.
"He is sick," She confirmed, voice shaking a bit because how had she missed this and not Dean? "Let me call the doctor."
"Can I hold him?" Without another thought, she placed Sam in his brother's arms.
And that's when Sam stopped crying. Mary froze, eyes widening. Dean had made Sam stop crying. No one could make Sam stop crying.
"Shh, Sammy." Dean soothed, rocking him gently.
"Dean?" Her eldest looked at her. "You're a great big brother."
He beamed and then Mary vanished into the other room, determined to get an appointment for her almost six-month-old son.
March 15th, 1995
John put his drink down and faced his moody, younger son. The gruff hunter braced himself for whatever rebellion Sam would try to start tonight. A week ago, Sam had refused to move until he was done with a school report. Last month, he stopped training just so he could run to meet up with a study group. Sam just didn't seem to care about becoming a hunter.
"Son?" He waited, promising himself that he would not shout this time, no matter what it was. The last time he and Sam had fought, they had both left the room after screaming at each other.
"I think I, um," He fidgeted and John felt nervousness course through his system. He wished, not for the first time, that Dean hadn't gone to Bobby's to help retrieve a book the hunter's library. Dean always knew what was wrong with Sam, even before Sam did. "I . . . my hand . . ." His voice trailed off and he held out his hand for his father to see. It was swollen and bruised, clearly fractured. How had he not noticed this?
"Grab your coat," John instructed. This wasn't something he could fix, not on his own. "Let's go see a doctor, okay kiddo?"
"Yeah." Sam mumbled, voice teeming with an undercurrent of pain.
Dean would've noticed. Dean would've handled the situation. What had John done? He had made his son so afraid of talking to him that even when he was hurting, Sam would rather avoid him than tell him what was going on. That needed to change.
"When is Dean coming home?" Sam murmured, as he slipped into the backseat of the Impala.
"Soon." John promised and Sam grinned, pain momentarily forgotten. John started the ignition and began to speed down the road towards the local hospital. One thought nagged him as he drove.
When had Dean become a better caretaker than John?
May 5th, 2002
"D'n?" Sam slurred as he tossed in the hospital bed. Jess grimaced, noticing how the monitors were beeping out warnings again. It was supposed to be just a normal cold—that's what Sam had told her it was—and now, Sam was lying in the hospital, hooked up to about 200 medicines that promised to lower his fever before his brain fried. "D'n."
She didn't know who "D'n" was. She and Sam had never discussed his family. Whenever it came up, Sam had just dismissed it with a shrug and the topic had been dropped. Now though . . .
"It's okay, Sam," She soothed, running a hand through his hair. His bangs clung to his forehead, drenched in sweat. While that was a reassuring sign, the fever refused to break, which worried, Jess more than she let on. "I've got you." Sam's response was to toss and turn once more.
"Sammy?" She spun around to see a man standing in the doorway. He was haggard in his appearance—his clothes disheveled, his hair askew, his eyes blood shot—and she wondered if he had been travelling for a long time.
"Are you Dean?" Now, she wasn't proud of this, but as soon as Sam had been admitted, Jessica had gone through his phone. She had attempted to call his father only to get a message saying the phone had been disconnected. The only other contact she hadn't recognized had been "D" and she had called and left a message. She had never received a response and figured that maybe Sam's family had abandoned him or something. "Well, are you?"
"Yeah," His eyes met her for the first time and it was as if he had forgotten that she was there. "What's wrong with him?" He came to stand by Sam's side and Jessica rose from her chair and offered it to him. He gripped Sam's hand within his own.
"High fever," She replied. "It just won't break. He was calling for you and I . . ." She wasn't sure what she had wanted.
"I'm here, Sammy." Dean swore and Jessica smiled as she saw Sam's head lean towards his brother. Sensing that she needed to give them their privacy, she left the room and headed back to her own room to get some rest and take a shower.
When she returned later that evening, Sam's fever had broken and Dean was gone.
She never told Sam what had occurred, but she always believed that it was his brother that had made Sam well.
February 8th, 2007
"Sam, you want some ice?" Bobby asked quietly as he glanced at the youngest Winchester sitting on the couch. He didn't respond and Bobby sighed. Being possessed could really do a number on you, but seeing Sam like this—silent and full of guilt—made Bobby almost wish for the possessed version of Sam. At least that one talked and didn't act like a zombie. "Sam?"
"No, thanks." He murmured. Dean was out, making sure it was safe for the two brothers to leave. Bobby hadn't gotten the full story, but apparently possessed Sam went and killed another hunter and now that hunter's friends were out looking for blood. Bobby wondered if Sam wanted to be found and killed by them. He grimaced as he realized that yes, Sam probably would.
"You gotta take something," Bobby attempted once more. "You're in pain."
"Bullshit." He cursed and Sam didn't deign to offer a response. "Look, Sam, it wasn't—"
"Bobby," He interjected sharply. "Stop." The front door opened and Dean bristled in, shaking a bit from the cold night air.
"Anything?" Bobby asked.
"They found a skin walker," Dean reported. "They're sure that it killed the hunter. So, we're good." He glanced at Sam and frowned. "How is he?"
"Not good," The gruff family friend reported. "He's feeling guilty as all hell."
"Yeah," Dean smirked. "That's Sam for you." The eldest Winchester stepped into the other room and turned off the TV. His youngest brother didn't do so much as flinch.
"What?" Sam whispered, sounding exhausted now.
"It wasn't your fault." Dean told him sharply.
"No," Dean interrupted, voice deadly. "You were possessed, Sam. What you did, it wasn't you—!"
"But it could be!" Sam shouted, rising from his seat, voice shaking. "God, Dean, I could've killed you tonight!"
"And what happens when I do go dark side, huh? What happens when it's me that's evil and not some demon?" Sam was dangerously on the verge of tears and Bobby wondered what exactly had happened tonight.
"That will never happen—" Dean swore.
"You promised Dad, Dean!" Sam yelled, a tear snaking down his cheek. "You have to do it—"
And then, Dean reached out and pulled his brother in a hug. Sam didn't resist and dissolved into tears in his older brother's arms. Bobby turned away, not willing to pry during a clearly vulnerable moment. He headed upstairs and wondered and resolved to do some research on how to prevent possessions in the long term.
The next morning, Sam was smiling again and Bobby knew that it was Dean that had managed to pull his brother out of his guilt.
Time flowed differently here than on Earth. Sam had no idea how long he had been down here. All he knew was pain—the slow, torturous pain of Lucifer and the white-hot fury of Michael—and sometimes, Sam thought he would break. It was his penance to be here. He had doomed the world and now he was paying for his crime by suffering in eternal torture. There were never any breaks and Sam had forgotten was his skin looked like without it being covered in blood.
One thing kept him from losing his mind.
He pictured Dean, sitting on the hood of the Impala a beer in one hand and the other on Sam's shoulder as they both stared upwards at the starry sky. He saw Dean teaching him how to shoot and then boasting to Dad about how proud he was of his little brother. He watched in his mind's eye as Dean enjoyed his new life with Lisa. His brother was whole and alive—that gave Sam solace.
Dean kept him from falling to pieces.
January 16th, 2013
As the two of them drank beer as they watched TV, Sam felt a sense of peace wash over him. His life with Amelia was over and he knew that it was the right choice. He had loved Amelia, yes, but he had always felt like something was missing whenever he had been with her. It was better for to be with Don—at least he was safe.
He sneezed and Dean's eyes were instantly trained on him.
"You sick?" His older brother asked and Sam shook his head and opened his mouth to reply, when another sneeze cut him off. Dean smirked and rose from his seat before heading to his duffel. Fishing out two pills, he returned to Sam's side and handed his little brother the medicine. "Take it. Whenever you get sick, you always get a fever and if we catch it early, maybe you'll be good." Sam popped the pills in his mouth and swallowed.
And there, that was what he had missed in his life—he and his brother sitting in front of the TV, just enjoying each other's company. Amelia had saved him yes, but only Dean could put him back together again. Dean had once remarked that they were each other's Achilles' heels, but Sam knew better.
They were each other's saving grace.
"Nothing." Sam replied, letting his eyes return to the TV. Dean stared at him for a few more seconds, before finally following his gaze and returning to whatever crappy movie they were watching.
Author's Note: And that's all! Thank you again so much for everything! Please review if you have a second. I'd love to know what you thought! Thank you again for your support!