Notes: Last installment! Thank you to everyone who read, and doubly so to everyone who reviewed/favorite. Your feedback and encouragement mean a lot to me. I hope you've enjoyed this story as much as I have, and if you have, I hope you'll let me know!
Bobby rolled up to the cabin a couple days after the time travel incident to the sight of Sam sitting on the porch. His expression was hard to read in the dying light, but his shoulders were hunched broodingly and he didn't glance up as Bobby approached.
"You alright there, Sam?"
Sam did look up then, his clear eyes and tight smile answering one set of questions and raising a whole host of others. He was holding the amulet, Bobby noticed with a surge of frustrated exasperation.
Sam and Dean would let the world burn for each other – hell, they'd light the match themselves – but he'd take it as another portent of the apocalypse if he ever saw them suck it up and say what needed to be said. Dean wasn't going to make that speech again, never mind that the Sam he'd given it to hadn't been the one who needed to hear it. And Sam was going to keep that amulet buried in his bag, never mind that it would just eat away at both of them all the same.
"I thought –" Sam began, and then stopped. Bobby waited, watching him finger the amulet like a rosary.
He wondered if the boy still prayed.
"I thought maybe I could change something," said Sam at last, his gaze dropping to the pendent. "I thought maybe if I told Dad about the Colt and Azazel and everything – maybe he could stop it. I had to try, anyway." He shook his head, his mouth twisting bitterly and his hand closing into a fist around the amulet. "I guess I failed. Everything's exactly the same."
"I don't know about that," said Bobby carefully, and Sam's head jerked up.
"What do you mean?" he asked. There was a sheen in his eyes which might have been hope, or desperation. Then again, it might have just been the moonlight.
"D'you remember gettin' zapped to the future when you were fourteen?" Bobby asked. Sam's forehead creased with confusion.
". . . no," he said at last, a little uncertainly.
"An' Dean don't remember meeting this you when he was eighteen," Bobby informed him. "So sounds to me like you changed something, even if it ain't exactly what you were aimin' for."
Sam stared at him, realization creeping over his face, and Bobby nodded in satisfaction as he stepped into the house. It wouldn't have been enough for Dean, or for Bobby himself, but Sam always had been a deep little bastard. He would take comfort in thinking that somewhere, somewhen, he had managed to change the crash-course of their lives.
Bobby just hoped he hadn't been lying to the boy.
John lowered the smoking Colt. He felt strangely numb.
A small, choked sound made him look up. His boys were standing together at his shoulder. Dean's gaze was fixed on Yellow-Eyes' corpse Sam, sixteen now and almost taller than John, stared at him with wide, haunted eyes.
"Is it true?" he managed, his voice wavering. "What he said about my – my blood? Am I even –?"
John silenced him with a hand on his face, more gentle a touch than he had allowed himself in a long time.
"Demons lie. You're human, Sam. My son, and Mary's. Dean's brother. A Winchester through and through."
Dean was listing a little, hazy from more than just the sluggishly bleeding cut on his forehead. He leaned on John on the way back to the Impala, and when he finally spoke it was laced with something like wonder, almost a question.
John stopped in front of the Impala and pulled his boys close. Sam was trembling minutely. Dean was barely standing. But they were alive. They were whole.
They were damn well going to stay that way.
"Yeah," John agreed, a vow and a reassurance. "It's over."