A/N: Well, here it is, the final chapter. Thank you to everybody who's stuck with me till the end, and thank you so much for your support during my first foray into the land of fanfiction writing! A special thank you goes to my wonderful beta MuffyMorrigan who started the bunnies in my head and who has helped keep them running when all they wanted to do was sit down and eat carrots.

I'm currently planning and working on some other stories, among them a sequel in which John learns about what really happened during the hunt, and also another hurtSam story, so I hope to be back soon with more. If you have comments, criticism, suggestions, requests or anything else you want to contact me about, please feel free to review or drop me a PM, I live to improve, and every piece of feedback helps me develop my ideas and writing skills.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings - on with the chapter. :D

Hitting Walls and Getting Scars



Later that evening, Dean and Sam were sitting together in the motel room, eating pizza and watching a movie. Sam, realising that Dean might need to work off some of the pent-up emotions he was experiencing, had suggested that they go for a run, but Dean had steadfastly refused on account of Sam's bruised ribs. In the end, Sam had relented, knowing there was no arguing with Dean in his mother-hen mode and secretly relieved since his ribs and other bruises, not least his throat, were giving him enough trouble already.

Instead, they had rented a couple of movies, bought a six-pack of beer for Dean and soda for Sam ('Not going to let you drink beer, Sam, I know how you get on a cocktail of painkillers and beer, and it's not pretty. Not to mention you might scare our neighbours with all your singing.' Sam had huffed, replying with 'I was sixteen, Dean!', but had given in, not really feeling up to drinking anyway).

When the second movie ended, Dean started flicking through channels, not really finding anything interesting but not wanting to turn the set off and break the companionable moment. He ended up on some kind of history show that seemed to catch Sam's attention. He was relieved that his brother seemed to have calmed down after their talk earlier that day, apparently he had managed to get through to him and make him understand that he wanted him around. I never thought he believed we didn't want to talk to him. How stupid that we wasted all those years… But we won't waste anymore. We're going to find Dad and be together again, the three of us. I guess it'll take a little work from both of them to learn to get along, but since I know now that they both want to, hopefully I can get them to work together at least. He felt a thrill of excitement at the thought of the three of them hunting together again, and he felt a smile tugging at his lips.

I wonder what Dad will say when he finds out that Sam was really there that night… Or, rather, those days. That he actually saved both our assess. Not bad, little brother. Not bad at all. But Sam, if you ever pull a stunt like that again, ever sew up a wound like that again, I'll kill you. He looked over at his brother sitting on the other bed, smiling at something in the TV show. I can't believe how close I… we… were to losing him back then, and we didn't even know it. Not going to let you out of my sight any time soon, Sammy. And I hope I can help you find yourself again. I know you're hurting right now, because of a lot of things, but I hope you'll let me help you.

'Hey, Sam?' he asked hesitatingly.

'Yeah?' Sam looked at him, the smile still on his face.

Dean almost regretted asking when he saw Sam's relaxed face, but he had already gotten Sam's attention and knew if he backed down, Sam would pursue him anyway until he told him what he was thinking about. I can't ask him that one question right now, though. I'll have to ask him something else first…

'Didn't Zach question about that morning? I mean when you saw us drive away?' Dean kept his tone light, not wanting to force Sam into reliving more painful memories from those days, but still curious as to how Sam had managed to explain his behaviour.

'Yeah, he did. But he already knew – or thought he knew – that things weren't good between us. And I told him that things were even worse between me and Dad. Which was true, you know. I told him that I'd heard from a friend that you were in the area and that you had been sick and admitted, but that I didn't want to worry you with my own condition when you were already ill. And…' Sam looked down for a moment. 'I told him that Dad might not let me see you.'

'You said that?' Dean kept his voice even, although he was a little shocked by that revelation.

'Yeah. I had to convince him to let it go, you know? And I couldn't tell him the truth… And anyway, I'm not sure it wasn't the truth, you know. After what he said…'

'Sam… No matter what, Dad would never have kept us apart if he'd known you were there.'

Sam shrugged.

I better not go into that now, he's got enough on his mind right now. We'll take that discussion some other time. 'So I guess that was why you were so sure that Zach hadn't killed his girlfriend?'

Sam nodded. 'Yes. I'd trust him with my life. Actually, come to think of it, he probably saved mine back then. If it hadn't been for him and Becky… Anyway. I couldn't really not help them, could I?'

Dean shook his head. 'No, of course not. And I'm glad we helped them, even though that whole being wanted for murder thing sucked out loud.' Not to mention that the thing almost killed you, Sam. I'd never have forgiven them for dragging us into this if that had happened. He took a deep breath and spoke again before Sam turned his attention back to the TV. 'Sam… Can I ask you something else?'

Sam looked at him curiously, but Dean could see apprehension creeping into his body with a minute tensing of his shoulders. He's so damn perceptive, I can't ever catch him off guard! But I guess that's an advantage in our line of business… 'Sam… You know you can tell me anything, right? That no matter what you tell me, no matter what you may have done or not done, it doesn't change anything. Right?'

Where's this going, Dean? What… Oh my God, Dean, please don't ask me that, please don't… Trying to hide his apprehension, Sam nodded.

Dean took a deep breath before speaking again, trying to figure out how to approach the subject. I can't ask him straight out, he'll just stonewall me like he did in Toledo… 'Sam… Did you hunt other things while you were at Stanford?'

Sam, taken aback by the unexpected question, looked at Dean blankly before his muddled thoughts produced an answer. 'Er…' And how's that for an intelligent answer? I might as well have written a huge sign saying YES and hung it around my neck.

'Sam? Please tell me.' Dean used his no-nonsense-from-you-little-brother voice.

'Uh… Yes?' Please, Dean, I don't really want to talk about this right now.

'Sam, for a college boy you're amazingly quiet sometimes. Which often means that you've got quite a lot to tell but don't want to do it. So. Spill.'

'Yes, I hunted. A few times. Until…' He swallowed. 'Until I moved in with Jess. Then I stopped and just let Pastor Jim know if there was any supernatural activity in the area.' Please leave it at that, Dean, ok?

Dean looked at him for a minute. Oh, God, Sam, is that… is that your secret? That you hunted something, and someone died? But Sam, that wouldn't be your fault, just like nothing that happened to me and Dad was your fault… 'Sam…' He stopped, unsure how to phrase the question. 'Did… Is that… I mean, was that what you meant, about having to keep some things to yourself? Did something happen on a hunt?' Sammy, if that is the answer, then please don't blame yourself. Bad things happen, sometimes you just can't prevent them. You said so yourself.

The surprised look on Sam's face soon told Dean that that was not the answer. 'No, nothing like that, Dean.' Dammit, maybe I should have just told him a believable story and let it go at that. Not very fast thinking there. But he would have seen through it at once anyway. I could never lie to him. I may be able to keep the truth hidden, but I've never been able to lie. Guess he has some kind of instinctive lie detector gene that tells him when I try to do so. Maybe all big brothers are like that. But Dean… I'm sorry, but this is one thing that I can never tell you. You'd… and Dad… You'd think of me like I was some kind of freak… I know how you feel about anything supernatural, hell, I think about those things in the same way… And now… No, Dean, I can't ever tell you that. I can't risk… I can't live with you looking at me like that. I'm sorry.

'Dean… I'm sorry, but I have to keep this to myself, ok?' He looked at his brother, the pleading that didn't quite get out in his voice very evident in his eyes.

Dean sighed. Guess there are limits to even his openness. I'll let it pass for now, little brother, but some day I'm going to know what you're hiding, because it's clearly a painful issue for you. He nodded. 'Ok, Sam. But if it turns out your big bad secret is that you had a little quality time with your date on prom night, I already know that.' He grinned when Sam actually blushed a little, but he grew serious when he saw the brief flicker of pain that also passed across Sam's face. He cleared his throat, turning towards the TV. 'So, you want to tell me what's so fascinating and funny about some historical show?'

He was relieved when Sam actually laughed before answering. 'Dude, it's 'Blackadder', it isn't a documentary. Although you might actually be able to expand your actual historical knowledge from watching it, seeing as it isn't very developed at the moment.' I know what you're doing, Dean, and I'm grateful for it. I'm not sure I can take any more revelations today or for many days to come.

Yeah, I know what it is, Sam. And because I managed to make you laugh, I'm going to forgive you for that comment. You're going to be alright, Sammy, I'll make sure of that. But I think my knowing that secret is necessary. I guess you'll tell me in time, though. Whether when you need to or when I manage to weasel it out of you. Be sure of that, little brother.

They settled down to watch 'Blackadder', Dean muttering under his breath at times and then laughing out loud at Blackadder's trial for witchcraft. 'Fathered a poodle? Dude, how evil is that?!' Dean shook his head, a huge grin on his face. Sam laughed with him.

Later, when the show had ended, they went to bed, both feeling more at peace than they had for a long time, reassured by the knowledge that the gap that had existed between them for years was slowly closing, now that they knew it was based mostly on a lot of misunderstandings rather than on the terrible, painful thoughts that they had believed for so long. Even more, what gave them this peace of mind was the knowledge that whatever they might have to face on the search for their father, they were going to face it together.

Four hours later, Dean woke up to the sound of his brother screaming Jessica's name in his sleep.

The End