Disclaimer: Not mine

Author's Notes: Pre-Season 9 Fic. Spoilers through to 8.23. Thanks to Jedi Sapphire for the beta

Summary: Sam isn't himself and Dean knows whatever is bothering him is a secret long-kept and somehow connected to a fellow hunters death.

o0o

Epilogue: Turn Around...And You're Home

When Dean opened the motel room door he saw evidence Sam had been there, the open duffel, his dress jacket and tie lying crumpled on the bed. But no Sam.

Knowing how his brother liked to take walks to clear his head Dean headed back outside and began scouting the perimeter of the motel looking for any sign of Sam. When Dean reached the back of the building he spotted at its distant border a small park with a children's playground and a few picnic tables scattered about which had seen better days. He spotted someone of adult size sitting in the sling of the only swing left on the neglected set and moving closer Dean knew those slumped shoulders and lanky legs belonged to his brother.

Dean made enough noise to be heard approaching and he knew Sam saw him but his brother didn't raise his head or give any acknowledgement of his presence. Perhaps upset with how things were left between them but more so that Dean now knew the secret Sam never had any intention of telling him.

Leaning against the metal pole of the swing set Dean soaked in the image of his brother sitting in the swing, head down, the hair tumbling in his face and all he wanted to do was to go to him and hold him and to say how sorry he was for failing to protect him.

The guilt Dean felt was immense. But it was his anger at Hooper's betrayal having trusted him to keep Sam safe that Dean had trouble handling and leaving his little brother alone as a small child to fend off a sexual predator had Dean experiencing rage he never knew before.

Breaking things or punching some one wasn't going to cut it. What Dean needed and wanted to do was hunt and kill evil until he was bloody, beat up and so exhausted he could no longer feel how much it hurt knowing this happened to Sam.

But Dean had to push all of this aside as this wasn't about him and he couldn't make it about him. This was about Sam, his Sam and doing what's best for him , and if Sam wanted to bury this, that's exactly what Dean intended to do.

But he needed to talk to Sam first but was having trouble finding the right words. So Dean took Frankie's advice and spoke from his heart.

"I don't know if you remember this Sammy but when you were really little the swings were the first thing you'd run to at the park," Dean smiled at the memory. "Always wanting me to push you higher and higher, making sure I watched because you were flying or going to touch the sky."

"I know about Hooper," Dean put it out there. "What he did to you and to those other boys and I'm so sorry. I know this was something you wanted to keep to yourself. But if you ever want to talk Sammy I'm here always for you. But I was thinking how about we just let this stay buried with the dead okay? That I give Frankie a call, tell her we'll get together soon and we head for home?"

Sam raised his head and for the first time since he bolted from Frankies he looked at Dean and with eyes full of gratitude, love and tears that threatened to spill over, Sam nodded that burying this and going home is exactly what he wanted to do. "Okay, " Dean acknowledged warmly holding on to his brother's gaze as he spoke "Then that's what we'll do. So why don't you start packing Sammy, while I give Frankie a call."

Pulling out his cell Dean paced a little then sat on the top of the closest picnic table to talk to Frankie. Not only to tell her they'd be leaving and that they would get together soon but to keep his promise to let her know how Sam was.

But to Dean's surprise he found Sam sitting next to him. "I do remember you taking me to the park," Sam said softly. "And making sure I had a Christmas and my love of books I discovered because you read to me. I had a childhood because of you Dean. Because you cared enough to give me some normalcy. I don't think of him often but when I do it's what you gave me that I lean on." Sam gently kissed Dean on the cheek and was up and on his way to start packing.

What Sam said and his gentle gesture of affection had left Dean unable to move watching his brother cross the distance to the motel. The sun was starting to set, casting its last remaining light across the field, over Sam. Seemingly over the both of them with this long kept secret finally put to rest.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing and burying this was like Frankie said one of the hardest things Dean would ever have to do but he knew it was the right thing as standing there now he never felt closer to Sam.