A/N- And so it ends. I just want to take the time to thank all the readers and those who continuously reviewed, followed and listed as their "favorite". I'm just blown away by the response to this story, I truly mean that. So thank you to: Aecoris, judyann, sarah, AshleyMarie84, SPN Mum, murphy9202, Ginnylove9990, mandancie, nupinoop296, Marrow365 and everybody else I didn't list! The reviews kept me going, kept me writing, these last few months and they all mean so much to me! So without further ado, here's the final chapter! Enjoy and until next time…which will be coming soon!
"Well, if it isn't the birthday boy!"
Sam's face flushed a bright red as he felt Sheriff Mills pull him in tightly for a hug as he stood in the doorway of her home in Sioux Falls. Handing Riot's leash without hesitation to Dean, he wrapped his arms around his friend and returned the hug just as tightly,
"My birthday isn't until later this week, Jody-"
"Hush, you," She interrupted, squeezing him just before she reached over and laid a kiss on his cheek,
"I haven't seen you boys in a couple of months, so I think I have the right to wish you a happy birthday."
"She's right, Sammy," Dean chimed in, allowing Jody to hug him as well,
"You don't want her using her 'Mom' voice on you now, do you?"
"Shut up," Sam mumbled, although his voice held no heat. He accepted Riot's leash back and stepped into Jody's home,
"She's already used her 'Mom' voice with me more times then I can count."
Jody stepped aside as the Winchester brothers entered her home and she nodded towards the living room,
"I didn't tell you over the phone, but you boys have another visitor waiting for you in there…" She nodded to the figure sitting on her couch as they entered the room.
Dean's eyebrows arched upward as he watched the familiar figure rise to his feet, almost nervously,
"Garth?" Sam repeated, turning his head towards his brother and back again,
"I'll be damned."
"Sam, Dean," The scrawny, younger hunter smiled his usual bright smile, but kept a safe distance as he saw the look on Dean's face,
"It's so good to see you guys." He looked over at Sam and watched as a smile crossed his own face,
"I hear you're doing a lot better, Sam."
"What are you doing here, Garth?" Dean gruffly demanded, not giving Sam a chance to answer the other hunter.
Garth sighed and lowered his head,
"I heard you two were dropping by and I wanted to come by and apologize to you. Especially to you, Sam."
"Apologize for what?" Sam broke in before his brother could speak,
"You didn't do anything wrong, Garth; you helped save my life…"
"For Michael Harper, that's what," The younger hunter replied quickly, wanting to get this over with. He was feeling horrible about what had happened; he had nearly gotten his friends killed,
"If I had known, Dean, I never would have thrown you to the wolves like that…" Awkward silence filled the room,
"So I hope you two can forgive me." He lifted his head and seriousness shone in his eyes,
"I'm glad you're doing better, Sam. If it's my place to say so, you two are more then lucky to have each other."
"We know," Dean replied, his voice softer as he glanced over at his little brother in time to see him nod his head,
"And we are." He sucked in a deep breath and let it out. The older brother knew that he had been holding a grudge against this kid ever since the Leviathans chose not to leave them alone; he never spoke about it, but he knew that it was there. After all, his brother nearly got himself killed again because of Garth. But the younger hunter didn't know; he believed he was doing them a favor after all. Besides that, he and Sam never would have found their way to the bunker in the first place if he didn't happen; they actually had a place they could call "home" now,
"Apology accepted." He grinned and soon rolled his eyes to the ceiling as the scrawny hunter soon pounced on him and threw his arms around him in a bone-crushing hug,
"Okay. Okay, Garth." He patted his back briefly before pulling away,
"You can let go now."
Dean was unable to hold back a smile as he listened to his brother laugh beside him,
"Oh come on, Dean, you love hugs."
"Shut it, Sammy," Dean groaned and smiled right then as he watched Garth now pounce on his brother, wrapping his arms around Sam just as tightly now,
"You know the drill just as well as I do. Garth will not allow you to go anywhere without hugging you."
Sam smiled and shook his head, reaching up with the hand that wasn't holding onto Riot to hug his friend back,
"Thanks, Garth." Feeling the younger hunter release him, he continued,
"We know it wasn't your fault." Before either brother could continue, the sound of a cell phone going off interrupted them and Garth pulled his phone out of his pocket, checking the message he had just received.
"Well, I've gotta make this short; looks like I got a vengeful ghost that needs to be taken care of right now," He tucked his phone back into his pocket and grinned back at the Winchester's as he headed towards Jody's front door,
"Don't be strangers, you two." Waving at Jody, who was standing in the doorway to the living room, Garth exited the house and as soon as Dean heard the sound of a car roaring to life, he shook his head.
"I don't know if I will ever get used to that kid."
"I'm so happy you two chose to come and visit, even if you're only staying for the night," Jody smiled as she took a seat across from Dean at the kitchen table and shoved a bottle of beer his way,
"Sam's doing so much better it appears; it looks like the prosthetics and the Guide dog were all a good idea then?"
"More then you realize, Jody," Dean shook his head in amazement as he opened the bottle and took a swig,
"Except for the fact that the kid can't see, he's basically back to his old self again. Besides the occasional nightmare…" He sighed as he recalled those few times in the last few months when he woke up to his brother tossing and turning; but unlike before, when it would take Sam hours to get past it, it now only took a few minutes, a few tears and he'd fall right back to sleep like it never happened,
"I never thought I would hear myself say this, but Riot…he's definitely useful and he's been a good friend to Sam."
"But the dog isn't you, Dean, you know that."
"I know," Dean replied with a nod of his head,
"And I'm not going anywhere. Sammy still needs me, there's still things he's learning how to do, but he's getting there. He's really getting there. I mean…" He leaned forward in the chair, shooting a glance to the spare room down the hall where Sam was sleeping,
"Sam would get embarrassed if he heard me talking about him like this; his hearing seems to have sharpened ever since he lost his eyesight," He chuckled at the thought, that his little brother now had better hearing then him even,
"But…I'm blown away by how he did a complete 180 ever since he got that dog and those prosthetics. Even the laptop was a miracle if I've ever seen one. He grasped onto that new life of his and he rode it out like he's always done and…I'm proud of that kid, Sheriff; he's even learning how to cook again. He's made my bed plenty of times and he has even willingly talked about being blind in front of strangers like it was no big deal." He took a deep breath, knowing he was pouring his heart out on the table in front of his friend, but knowing he could trust her with this information, he continued,
"I don't know if I'd have been able to do that."
"You went through your own personal experience of Hell, Dean," Jody jumped in, reaching across the table and placing her hands over the younger man's,
"Now, I don't know what went down when you got sent to Purgatory, I really don't; that's between you and Sam. But you've put aside all of your own burdens, all your own terrors to take care of that brother of yours in the other room. That right there shows that you would be able to do what Sam has done if you were in his shoes. And I know that Sam would believe it, too."
Seeing that the older Winchester was starting to get uncomfortable with the direction this conversation was going, Jody released his hands and leaned back in her chair,
"So what are your plans for his birthday?"
"I've got something up my sleeve that I've been planning these last couple of months," Dean winked at her,
"I got to admit, with the direction our lives have taken…now that we're not hunting anymore…I'm actually kind of enjoying it; I never thought I would, you know?"
"Well, know that you boys can come to me anytime if you need any help," Jody replied,
"Whether it be financially or if Sam needs help with that laptop, I'm here. I may not be Bobby, but-"
"Yeah, I know," Dean smiled,
"You were with Sammy that entire year and took care of him as best you could. So because of that, we trust you." He met his friend's eyes and his own green eyes turned mischievous,
"Just tell me one thing though."
"Please tell me you at least have some leftover pie for the ride?"
Nearly thirty-six hours later, with a large box of leftover pie safely in his hand, the two brothers entered their rooms once again at the Men of Letters bunker. Dean took a seat on Sam's bed and patted the spot beside him, placing the pie box on his other side,
"Okay, Sammy, I think it's time we get those prosthetics cleaned up a bit, alright?"
Taking a seat next to his brother and unclipping Riot's leash, Sam set it on the night table beside him and turned to where his older brother was sitting,
"I'd like to give it a try this time; you know, taking them out?"
"I'm sure," Sam replied with a nod of his head,
"I remember how you did it."
"I can feel it," Sam answered,
"My other senses seemed to have heightened a bit with the loss of sight."
"Yeah, I noticed," Dean joked back,
"I can't even take a piss in the middle of the night without you knowing what kind of dump I was taking!"
Sam sent his brother a full bitch-face in return,
Dean shrugged in return and grinned,
"It's true, Sam. I mean, you're hearing seems to have gotten better the longer you have to rely on it," The older Winchester kept talking even as he watched his little brother turn his back on him for a few moments.
"Yeah?" Dean shut up for a few moments and watched as Sam turned back towards him, prosthetics in his lap and his hands lifting his eyelids up to reveal nothing there. Cringing slightly, Dean scowled at his brother and shoved his shoulder,
"Gross, Sam. Enough of that…"
"Now we're even," Sam replied with a wicked grin as he handed the hazel prosthetics over to his brother, who grabbed them with a mumble.
"Happy birthday, Sammy."
Sam awoke in surprise, feeling a gentle shake of his shoulder and his brother's voice in his ear. Sitting up in bed, he ran a hand through his long hair as he felt the dip in the bed as Dean took a seat next to him,
"Dean…what are you doing? We never celebrate birthdays anymore-"
"We do now, kiddo," Dean replied with a bright smile as he squeezed Sam's arm,
"Things are different now, Sam; and as long as we're living here, we're gonna celebrate our birthdays whether you want to or not, so get over it."
Sam laughed quietly and ran a hand over his face,
With another squeeze of his little brother's arm, Dean rose to his feet and headed towards the bedroom door,
"Get your robe on and meet me in the library, alright?"
"Uh, okay," Sam raised an eyebrow in confusion and felt Riot nudge his hand as if he was urging him out of bed as well,
"But I have to ask something first though, Dean."
"Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?"
Dean rolled his green eyes even though he knew Sam couldn't see it and shook his head, keeping one hand on the door knob,
"Just do it, Sammy."
A few minutes later, Dean looked up from where he was sitting at the table at the familiar sound of his brother and the dog coming down the hall. Making sure everything was in place for Sam-including the birthday cake for later and the pie he had made for himself-Dean rose to his feet just as his brother entered the room,
"C'mon, kiddo, over here." He hooked his arm through Sam's and without warning, took Riot's leash from Sam's hand,
"You won't need that for a while."
"Dean, what the heck?" Sam was getting more confused by the minute as he allowed his brother to take Riot's leash and for the first time in months, allowed Dean to be the one to lead him over to the table,
"You know I can get there myself, right? With the dog?"
"It's not the dog's birthday, Sam," Dean replied as he gently pushed his brother down into the chair beside his,
"So Riot's gonna have to live with it today."
Sam chortled and ran a hand through his tangled hair,
"What're you planning? You've got something up your sleeve, I can sense it. You don't act like this on a regular basis," He sniffed the air and leaned closer,
"Is that a cake I smell?"
"Yup," Dean grinned proudly,
"That's right," The older Winchester replied, already wanting to chow down on that apple pie, but he knew it would have to wait till later,
"Oh don't worry, Sammy, the pie's for me."
"I never knew that," Sam sarcastically retorted with a smirk of his own,
"Seriously though, what's up?"
"I have a little something for you," Dean leaned down and grabbed the bag underneath the table, lifting it up and placing it in Sam's lap,
"Happy birthday, Sammy."
"What is it?" Sam reached into the bag and pulled out a large box. Rattling it, he lifted an eyebrow at his brother,
"Did you just give me all your Metallica cassette tapes, Dean?"
"You wish!" He then turned serious and pointed back to the bag,
"No, smart ass. Keep digging."
Reaching back into the bag, Sam felt along the bottom and soon pulled out what felt like a cassette player,
"Uh, Dean, what is this?" Feeling a set of earphones attached to the player, Sam placed it on the table and reached back for the box which he had set in his lap,
"What did you do?" Greeted with silence, Sam opened the box and grabbed the first cassette tape that was resting on top. Immediately feeling his brother's hand closing around his, Sam allowed Dean to flip the tape over and place it into the player.
"You're gonna need these, little brother," Sam could hear the smile in his older brother's voice as he placed the headphones in his ears and felt around for the Play button.
Silence greeted him for a few moments except for the sounds of static until a familiar voice spoke into his ears.
"Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Damn it, this thing hates me…I can't believe I'm doing this…" Sam was unable to hold back a laugh at his brother's confusion on the tape and continued listening.
"Well, Sammy, if you're listening to this, then it's the day of your 31st birthday and I'm doing this for you because you deserve it. You deserve to have this part of your life given back to you, so without further ado, I'm about to embarrass myself totally." The younger Winchester listened as he heard pages being turned in the background and more static sounded in his ears before his brother's voice came back.
"Before you listen to these, I just wanted to say that I'm going to be reading your entire Harry Potter book series to you; I'm recording it on tape. I've snuck behind your back either while you've been sleeping or out with the dog, so I know you have no clue this is what I'm doing, little brother. You will find I'm reading all 7 books out loud to you-yes, all 7, Sammy, and stop laughing, damnit!" Sam couldn't resist a snort of laughter even as he felt tears start to fall down his face as he realized what it was Dean had done for him.
"One more thing, though, before you start listening to the sound of my voice. Make sure you listen to each message at the beginning and end of each tape; there's something I want to say to you on each tape. I'll just start by saying, I love you, Sammy. Always have, always will, baby brother." Sam listened as he heard Dean's voice slightly crack before the gruffness returned,
"Okay, enough chick-flick moments; I've had enough of those this last year to last me the rest of my life. Chapter One…"
Sam's cheeks were streaked with tears as he pushed the off button and took the headphones off,
"Dean, did you really…"
"Yes, Sam," Dean replied back, watching Sam's expression,
"I've only done that series so far…Man, I'm telling you, some of those deaths that author described…We so could have kicked ass!" He laughed as he rolled his eyes to the high ceiling,
"I managed to get a hold of all of the books you always liked to read once we moved into this joint and I've been reading through them since. I'll do your Lord of the Rings series next-" His words were suddenly cut off as he felt his brother's arms wrap tightly around his neck,
"You like it?"
Sam sniffed and nodded his head silently against his brother's shoulder, unable to find coherent words to speak. Finally pulling away but keeping a hand on Dean's shoulder, Sam's face took on a look of utmost relief and seriousness,
"It's nothing, kiddo-"
"No, Dean," Sam interrupted with a shake of his head,
"Thank you." He squeezed his brother's shoulder this time and lowered his head,
"These last few months since you found me…well, they weren't exactly what you would call easy. They were the hardest times of my life, but…you helped me through it and didn't give up on me even when I wanted to give up on myself."
"No, Dean," Sam interrupted again. He needed to say this and his brother needed to hear it,
"I'm alive because of you. And I'm not just talking about Missy Bender and the Leviathans. I'm talking about afterwards…I'm alive and I've healed because of you. I don't know if you realize what exactly you've done for me…what you continue to do for me…"
"You would've done the same for me, Sam," Dean seriously replied, allowing his little brother to have this moment,
"You have done the same for me…"
"Not in the way you have, Dean," Sam interjected,
"You didn't have to stay up with me all those countless nights. You didn't have to continue to have patience with me during my spouts of anger. Hell, you could have just sent me away and put me in some home to have them take care of me! But you didn't. You didn't and…Well, I almost feel like myself again and now you went and did this for me…? Dean…"
"Your welcome, Sam."
"Dean…" Sam repeated, sucking in a trembling breath,
"I love you, too. You should know that. I never repeated it all those months ago because I was too overwhelmed with everything going on; but you need to hear it and believe it, because it's true."
Forcing himself to hold back his own tears that were threatening his eyes, Dean nodded his head in silence and grasped the back of his brother's neck and pulled him back into his arms, wrapping his arms around Sam's shoulders.
Yes, they really were going to be alright from here on out.