Ohhhkay - finally ff seems to be working again - I hope. I couldn't post saturday or sunday, hence the delay - hope y'all forgive me!

Anyways, here's the next chapter, if you want to read!

From this dark room

Chapter 17

It always took Dean so much longer to settle in than Sam. Whenever the boys arrived, either brought by their dad when they were still kids, or later when hunting alone, it would always be the same.

Sam would come, step inside the house and be there, be at home and at ease.

He'd be slumped in a chair or on one of the old stuffed sofas, sometimes even crouched on the floor, back against the wall, some book or other perched on his knees, immersed in research or simply pleasure. Sam would be able to gear down within minutes, find his new rhythm, settle down. He'd read, watch some TV or simply roam around the house or the yard, keeping Bobby company whenever he didn't find anything else to do, or he thought he owed it to the seasoned hunter…

When they were still kids, on the couple of occasions that John didn't just drop the boys off and be on his way, but actually stayed along with them for a couple of days, once even weeks, John would get upset with Sam on a regular basis. He'd search for his youngest, call out for him, not getting an answer for the kid would be too immersed in his own world.

While it annoyed John to no end, Bobby couldn't have been happier. He never had kids, sure as hell was not going to have any of his own anymore - that train had long since left the station. The Winchester boys were the closest he got to family. It warmed his heart to see Sam come in the door and instantly feel at home at his place, filled him with a longing he'd never had before he'd met those boys.

It made Bobby regret never having tackled that project when there had still been time. Or he thought that there was, at least- but then again, whatever would have come of a kid with the life he was leading now…close to a hermit it was, Sam and Dean about the only ones dragging his ass out of here anymore.

Well, he wasn't going to go there.

But as easy as it had been with Sam - it had always been different with Dean.

When the boys arrived, both would first settle into their room and put away their meagre belongings. They had a closet and even their own little bathroom and a table and chairs. Sam had once put up a poster on the wall next to the door and Bobby had never bothered to take it down again.

This was the closest they got to having a home, the one constant place in their lives – apart from each other.

While Sam embraced that, Dean withdrew.

The first couple of days he'd spent as little time as possible in the house. While Sam took over the whole damn household, Dean would roam the yard, hardly ever stopping, it seemed. He'd pick at some of the old carcasses of various cars stranded around the property, pick up tools and put them places that Bobby would never think to look. Sometimes, days or weeks after the boys had left, the house silent and lonely again, Bobby'd find a wrench underneath a pile of old rags in the laundry room, a hammer underneath Dean's bed, a couple of nuts and bolts in the cupboard next to the refrigerator.

Dean would spent hours with the dogs, watchdogs they were supposed to be but after a couple of days spent with the middle Winchester they'd drop to lie on their backs, legs sticking into the air, demanding with noisy grunts and groans to be scratched on their bellies whenever anyone passed them by.

They'd follow Dean around everywhere, even inside the house. One time Dean had actually taken them off their chains to take them onto the street for a walk - which had promptly led to a fierce and bloody dogfight when they encountered another dog on their way. Dean had had to get about 15 stitches in his right arm back then, for he had thought it necessary to try to break up the fight between two raging Rottweilers, trying to protect Bobby's dog who probably would have won the fight anyway.

When the weather had been bad and Bobby had actually succeeded in getting Dean inside, it had been even worse. The kid hardly ever sat still, picking up books, leaving them open on whichever available surface he could find, forgotten within minutes. He'd turn on music, his music, way too loud until both Sam and Bobby complained long and loud enough for Dean to turn it off, grumbling and bitching under his breath, going off to find something else to do.

By day two, three the latest, Bobby would be close to grabbing the kid and forcefully restrain him, shackle him to the damn table, knock him unconscious and sedate him for a while.

Bobby'd find things to do for Dean, gave him tasks to tackle, something, anything to help him settle down, find some peace. He'd let him fix one of the cars, teaching him how to do it in the first place, letting Dean work on one himself later on. Bobby would have Dean clean and put away the tools, stack the tires, polish the chrome bumpers of his old truck until they sparkled.

He'd have Dean rearrange the whole tool-shed during one visit, had him clean out the garage, wash all the dirty oil-rags, even but Dean never complained once. He'd even cleaned up the kitchen, cooked for them a couple of times, did their laundry. Things he'd never do under normal circumstances, not without much bitching and protesting and whining, at least.

Bobby knew it had nothing to do with Dean not wanting to be here, knew it didn't mean he didn't love it, even. He knew that to Dean, this was as much of a home as it was to Sam.

He just had a harder time accepting it.

It broke Bobby's heart to see Dean like this, the strong, confident young man he usually was reduced to an insecure, nervous kid, unable to sit still, even in sleep jittery and jumpy, his legs bouncing almost imperceptibly whenever he was forced to sit still.

Bobby knew that Dean liked him, loved him even, accepted him as a second father, almost. Dean trusted Bobby, completely and with all his heart. He would do anything for him, would drive across the whole damn country to help Bobby on the simplest of hunts. Next to Sam and his father, Bobby was the most important person in Dean's life.

Bobby knew all that.

The problem was, that to Dean, accepting any place as home felt like betrayal. It was too hard for him to accept it, to let himself feel at home and comfortable and safe here because in his eyes that would have been as if accepting the fact that he'd moved on. As if he stabbed his mom in the back somehow by accepting this…feeling of home anywhere else but where it rightfully belonged.

Because most of his life, Dean hadn't had a home, not a permanent one. No one beyond his father, his brother. His home being the only two people that had been a constant throughout everything. He'd had four years, four years of a real family, of home, before it had all been taken away. Since then, life had been a constant struggle, had been a life on the move, on the run even.

As much as Dean wanted to let go, wanted to let his guard down and delve into the warmth and safety Bobby provided him with, it took everything out of the young hunter to make himself accept it.

Contrary to his brother, Dean still remembered. Still remembered life before the fire. Life as it should have been, should still be. At the same time that Sam greedily took this feeling of home and made it his own, craving the normalcy he'd never really known, Dean fought the urge to get up and run away from the life he wanted more than anything but had spent an eternity trying to forget. He'd spent twenty-something years on the road now, never staying anywhere longer than a couple of months at the most. He never allowed himself to get settled in, to make friends even. It would be too painful to let it all go again. And Dean knew that he would have to let go, eventually.

Since their dad had died, Dean fought even harder. Fought harder to fit in while at the same time had an even harder time doing it, apparently. Maybe now he felt like he was not only betraying his mom, but his dad as well… but if anything, John's death had brought the boys even closer than before. They'd always been inseparable, but now they were tuned into each other to an extend that left Bobby speechless at times.

And finally Sam seemed to pick up on his brother's difficulties as well.

Bobby was glad for the support because now they could both work on making Dean feel welcome, making him feel right.

Now more than ever it was important for Dean to feel safe and cared for.

They needed to regroup and find their rhythm again, a place where they could let their guards down and open up to each other without risking exposure to anything else - without having to constantly watch their backs.

Bobby knew that they needed to make Dean talk, even though it was more than clear that the kid would fight them with his usual stoicism and attempted nonchalance. But it was so fucking obvious that he was everything but alright – even to Dean himself - that he wouldn't be able to pretend for long.

Sam and Bobby just had to be careful how to persuade Dean, how to coax him out of his shell.

But in the end Dean stood no chance against his little brother – and Bobby suspected that Dean was more aware of this than he'd ever be willing to admit.

xxxXXXxxxXXXxxxXXXxxx

Bobby came back from the junkyard sometime in the afternoon, his eyes automatically scanning the cars he passed on his way to the house, then the front porch when he didn't catch sight of either Dean or Sam anywhere. While he half expected Sam to be somewhere inside, most likely the office/living room/library, he was pretty sure that Dean was out here somewhere. If he needed any more proof than his gut feeling, he was almost sure as soon as he spotted the dog's chain abandoned on the ground. The animal most likely lay sprawled on it's back somewhere, getting scratched into dog-heaven, completely abandoning it's job as a watch-dog in favour of the no doubt much more appealing massage Dean would have to offer.

In the two days that they'd been back home now Dean had pretty much followed his usual pattern, only a little bit reduced in intensity, due to his physical condition most likely. He only went through lengths to appear calm and nonchalant while clearly being anything but, avoiding eye-contact whenever possible, his jokes and teasing banter cut down to a bare minimum. It seemed a bit forced, to say the least, as if he tried but wasn't really into it, not with all his heart. And Bobby could see that it was starting to get to Sam. While at first the young man had seemingly accepted his brother's need for distance and space and quiet he now started to slowly but surely spin himself in circles till he'd be so sprung that he was ready to snap. It was just a matter of time anymore.

He finally found Sam at the kitchen table, one elbow propped onto the worn wooden surface while worrying the already bitten nail to the core of his right thumb. He was staring out the kitchen window, seemingly having forgotten all about the book that lay open in front of him.

Bobby waited a second for the younger man to acknowledge his presence but Sam was so lost in thought that he didn't seem to notice him at all. So Bobby did the only thing proper in a situation like this. He slammed the door shut full force, watching Sam jump with a carefully hidden smile that would have made Dean oh so proud of him, head lowered so just the bill of his ball cap would hide the slightly wicked gleam in his eyes. He might have been an old man compared to those two - still didn't mean he couldn't have some fun every once in a while.

Sam basically fell off the chair, the foot he'd propped up on the chair next to him slipping off the furniture and disappearing underneath the table as he guiltily straightened the seat. He sat up straight as a rod and unconsciously smoothed the light shirt he was wearing over his chest and abs, looking so caught in the act it made startling him like this just a hundred more times worth it.

The older hunter could practically see the bird's leg sticking out of the corner of Sam's mouth while his eyes tried to relay all the innocence of that well-behaved house cat that had just massacred the family's favourite canary while trying to appear nonchalant.

Bobby thought he saw the appeal in playing with Sam's head just a bit at that moment…he'd have to make sure to tell Dean, maybe, re-establish some kind of rapport with him.

God, how he wished the older Winchester would have been here to see it. That would at least have brought some kind of emotion other than carefully crafted neutral to his face for once.

But then, it wasn't really fair. The young man in front of him was probably not all that much better off than Dean, the strain of the past days, over a week now, as a matter of fact, wearing on him, the worry and fear and more worry still. And then, as if all that hadn't been enough, the still constant worry about Dean, about the brother that would usually be roaming the house like a caged tiger by now, demanding to be let out, to be able to hunt again. The guy taking over the TV and radio, tearing apart some poor car's carcass, building an EMF meter out of an old toaster, constantly bickering and teasing and bugging Sam whenever he got a chance. The brother that now stayed out of eye- and earshot most of the day, avoiding real physical contact as well as any other kind, keeping himself locked away even more than ever before. Which was hard to believe, but apparently Dean could take it to extents both of them hadn't thought possible.

To say it simply, Sam looked like shit. Warmed over. And then some.

Bobby's wicked smile immediately softened as he moved as casually as possible into the kitchen, placing a dirty screwdriver into the sink without further thought. He placed the towel he'd carried it in next to the freshly washed dishes on the counter before trying to rid his hands of the oily residue of a couple of hours of work on one of the gutted cars out back.

He gave Sam the opportunity to pull himself back together and collect his thoughts and emotions. It wasn't fair that Dean should be the only one being allowed to built up his walls when exposed too much. Sam deserved it just as much.

"What are you reading?" Bobby asked casually, drying his hands on a reasonably clean towel before turning around, glad to find Sam slightly more relaxed and not quite as shaken as just a minute ago. He was still sitting at the table, eyes now on the book in front of him. Two books, as a matter of fact, a big, heavy one and a smaller, tattered bound journal. The smaller one Bobby didn't know, the bigger one he recognized instantly.

It was the book Bobby had gotten from his friend, the one containing the exorcism.

He furrowed his brows a little but stayed at his space at the counter, still not imposing.

Sam shrugged, pushed the heavy volume aside, flipping through the smaller one before looking up, straight at Bobby. There was the one big difference between those two, Bobby realized. Dean shielded his feelings off while Sam just dished them out, willing somebody to see, to understand. Sometimes it was hard to determine which method was the preferred one, at least for Bobby. Both were damn hard to deal with.

"Just going through the books again…trying to cover all the bases, make sense of it all."

"That one right there, that the one you found at the library?" Bobby dipped his chin towards the little volume in Sam's large hands. Sam nodded a quick yes. He'd told him about it on the phone, hadn't showed it to him, though. They'd been kind of preoccupied…

"Can I see it?"

Sam handed the journal over, settling back in his chair and waited until Bobby had flipped through the pages, not really reading but skimming the handwritten paragraphs loosely. Bobby knew that there was nothing much of interest, nothing that they didn't already know. Sam would have made damn sure to have everything covered thoroughly before calling Bobby for help.

"What are you hoping to find here, Sam? We did it…we ended it. And not the way this book told us was the only way. We saved him. So what are you looking for still?"

As if he didn't know.

Again Sam shrugged, turning pages in the big book randomly, smoothing them almost gently.

"I don't know…just some answers, I guess. Just something…we should collect it all in one volume, you know…write it down and spread it. Make sure everyone knows."

"Who's everyone?"

"Every other hunter out there. Anyone you can think of that knows about this stuff…make sure that…make sure that we can help, that this was not for nothing. It could happen again – anytime, anywhere - you know that."

That made Bobby frown.

"How would it be for nothing, Sam? We stopped it, this…thing. We found a way to not only destroy it but save the host, too. I think that pretty much qualifies for one hell of a good job. But I do agree, we should file it all together, spread the word…other hunters need to know about this. You did one hell of a good job on this."

Sam leaned back in his chair, arms folded defiantly over his chest, laughing low but bitterly.

"Yeah, one hell of a good job we did… I wonder if Mark, or better yet, Mark's family would agree with you..."

Ah hell, so this was what this was all about. Only that Bobby had this feeling that it wasn't the whole story. But first things first.

"You know that there was nothing we could have done. When you found out how to beat this, Mark already was not only possessed, but he had killed already, had already given in to the Ragazara's demands. There is no way to know if we would have been able to help him anymore…"

"Yeah, but we should have at least tried."

"Well, we did try, Sam. We went there to check up on him, see how we could help him, right? Problem was, even if he'd still been alive, how the hell would we have been able to perform an exorcism in a locked up mental facility, can you tell me that? And then, even if we'd somehow been able to spring him and persuade him to let us tie him up and carve some weird-ass symbol into his chest, burn down some incence and candles all around him and practically choke him with herbal tea…there is no way to tell, Sam, no way to be sure that it would have worked."

Sam's eyes were blazing and he winced visibly as Bobby recounted of the harrowing actions they'd been forced to pull off not too long ago, that they'd been forced to subject Dean to.

"We should have at least tried…"

Hell, stubborn, much? But that was Sam for you, all of the ten year old that refused to accept that he had to stay behind at Bobby's while his father and brother went out on a hunt. The ten year old that didn't want to accept that he couldn't go after said father and brother himself, alone, when they'd failed to show up again after the promised two day period. The same kid that Bobby almost had to lock into his room to keep him from barrelling after his family by himself.

"We did try, Sam." Bobby said, quietly.

It was times like this when he envied Dean's unrelenting stoicism when it came to his little brother, at least when they'd still been younger. It had changed a bit over the years, but all in all their roles hadn't changed really, save for some small alterations.

"Well, then we didn't try hard enough." Sam jutted his lower jaw out, teeth clenched.

Bobby sighed, tugged at the brim of his cap irritatedly, trying to figure out how to handle this properly.

This was the time when he figured that, maybe, having kids wasn't all that easy to begin with. For all the times he'd reprimanded John, had thought he'd known so much better when it came to handling those two knuckleheads there…maybe he really had been wrong, on one or two occasions. Maybe the tough-love approach really was the only way to go at times.

"You are shitting me, right? I mean come on…we didn't try hard enough? Have you been there? Have you seen what I've seen? Because I think we tried one hell of a lot…and we saved your brother, Sam. We saved your brother. And, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day, Dean still is my priority over any other guy. I know that is selfish and wrong, but that's the way it is. We saved him. And we didn't just up and leave after, we went back to try and help that guy, Mark. We tried, Sam. There was no way for us to know that we would be too late…"

The look of defeat crossing Sam's face was heartbreaking and Bobby knew where it was coming from. God, he hated this, he honestly did. Because as sure as anything, he felt almost as bad as Sam for being too late to help Mark Bowers, who'd been nothing more than an innocent victim himself. His only mishap being, that he didn't have a brother willing to try everything, give everything to save him. His downfall the fact that he didn't know what was out there, about the darkness creeping and crowding around the edges of light.

He simply hadn't been strong enough in the end. Not strong enough to leave and not come back for his wife. Because, as much as the love the hosts were feeling would intensify the hatred many times over, in the end it had been that love and devotion that had kept Dean from lashing out with all the force he'd clearly wanted to. And while even Dean would not have been able to keep himself in check forever, he'd held on much longer than Bobby would have thought possible, knowing the fuel that kid was running on.

They'd returned to the facility Mark had been held in on their way out of town, out of state. Dean had been so deep in fever-induced sleep that he hadn't been aware, thankfully. Bobby wasn't sure if they should tell him, not right now at least. He was having a hard enough time dealing with everything that happened as it was, why add to his self-doubts just now? Maybe later, once he was doing better…

Sam had gone in alone, they'd had no plan whatsoever, had decided to play it by chance to see what evolved and then act accordingly.

They'd had no idea how Mark Bowers would be doing at the time…there was no reported case of any host ever surviving the Ragazara's possession, especially not after he'd given in and killed in order to satisfy it's needs. They'd had no idea if the need to commit suicide after would go away with time, if the spell or residue or whatever it was that the Ragazara left behind would ever wane off or relinquish its hold on the host.

It had turned out that at least in Mark's case, he hadn't been strong enough, hadn't known enough to beat it. When Sam had come out of the hospital again, Bobby had known that it hadn't gone well.

It had turned out that Mark had managed to sneak away undetected, had somehow managed to find a knife. The guards had found him a couple of hours later, pretty much bled out, in one of the toilet stalls of the basement bathroom. How he'd managed to actually cut both his arms with the pretty blunt kitchen knife remained a miracle, the hospital staff informed Sam. But he'd managed, some weird kind of rage they called it having driven him, apparently.

They'd been too late.

But then again. How were they supposed to have known? And it wasn't as if they'd been sitting on their thumbs all this time. Still it weighed heavily on both Sam's and Bobby's mind, the drive from there on a rather quiet one. Bobby had tried to be the voice of reason, to Sam as well as himself, but he hadn't quite succeeded. Dean probably the only reason they hadn't snapped eventually.

Because, as much as Sam and Bobby blamed themselves, Dean wouldn't do any less. He'd definitely blame himself for what happened to Mark, would blame himself for getting infected and keeping them from doing their job the way he thought was proper. And he'd blame them for choosing him over Mark, which was ridiculous and wrong and unreasonable, but that would be the only way he'd allow himself to think.

Bobby honestly didn't know who was more fucked up in their weird little family here.

Sam still sat at the table, as still as a statue, eyes locked onto the page of the book that lay open before him, not reading but merely fighting for calm, for reason. Sam had to know that Bobby was right. He had to know.

Bobby finally went over to the table, pulled out the chair across from the younger Winchester and sat down, angling himself back a little to give Sam time and space until he was ready to look at him again.

"You do know that it wasn't our fault, right?" he asked very gently.

Finally, Sam nodded. Not entirely convinced, Bobby knew that, but he could also see that Sam knew, deep down, that he just had a hard time pushing past the guilt. But he was working on it.

"Just, you know, let's do this the right way - like when you guys were still kids and all and let me hear you say it, Sam. You always had that way of telling me off later, saying that you never agreed to something I asked of you because you'd just nodded instead of telling me yes…"

That made Sam smile.

"I must have been a pain in the ass…"

"Yeah, well…" Bobby shrugged but chuckled good-heartedly. Truth was, they were two of the best boys he'd ever laid his eyes on. Seeing friends and neighbours struggle with their kids, those two boys were well within the lines of reason…most of the time. Considering the world they lived in. Only, when they actually did cross that line, they crossed it for good – no looking back.

Sam shifted forward, fingers tracing the edges of the page open in front of him, smiling still, albeit a little painful.

"Alright…I know, OK, I know. Just might take me a little while to be all nonchalant about it, alright?"

Bobby nodded curtly.

"Good enough for me."

The faint smile on his lips disappeared as Sam again started to chew on his bottom lip, flipping the pages back and forth a little. Bobby couldn't shake the feeling that there was something else plaguing Sam and he decided that he was going to wait him out, that he was not going to give in and up and leave.

Only, Sam could be about as stubborn as Dean, no, even more so when he chose to. And right now he didn't seem to be able to bring himself to actively open up and tell Bobby. With a heavy sigh the older hunter decided to once again give in and just ask. At least he knew that Sam was going to answer him. Contrary to Dean the younger man usually was willing to spill his guts - Dean had always made sure that he always had someone to talk to, no matter what about, no matter the time.

"Alright, what else? I'm gonna take your word for it and trust you to not beat yourself up over Mark anymore, but I can see those wheels turning, Sam, hell, I can hear them do it. So, you either tell me or I'll just sit here and stare at you till you give it up willingly."

This time, Sam didn't smile.

He stayed quiet for so long that Bobby thought he actually was in for a long afternoon, because he was fully prepared to make good of his threat. Just when he was about to make himself comfortable, maybe get a beer out of the fridge to shorten the wait, Sam suddenly burst.

"How do we know, Bobby…how do we know that Dean…that he's alright? I mean, we know that the Ragazara leaves something behind when it leaves its host, right? It latches onto someone else usually, leaves behind something, an essence or whatever and…you know the lore, hell, we've seen it happen first hand. Look at…all the others before him…look at what Mark did, even after all this time… OK, so we exorcised it, banished it, killed it - whatever. But how can we be sure, I mean 100 percent sure, that he's alright? This thing leaves something behind that makes the host want to kill himself, it takes so much with it, too, when it leaves. How do we know that it didn't…take away a part of him…something vital? I don't…have you seen him? Have you taken a good look at him? Because I can do nothing but look at him, watch him, listen to him breathe at night and watch him walk around like some kind of zombie! He's not himself anymore, Bobby. He can't even look me in the eyes anymore, he barely talks to me. I mean, yeah, he eats and walks and talks, but he's not talking to me. He can't wait to get up and outside, stay away most of the day. He gets better, physically and all, but I just…I wonder…I'm afraid that…"

Sam had leaned across the table, closing in on Bobby, his eyes on fire, close to grabbing Bobby and shaking him, the hunter was afraid. All of a sudden Sam was at a loss for words, or awash with too many. It was hard to tell with him, at times.

Bobby had a hard time figuring out how to react. Because, truth be told, he had been thinking the same thing. Fleetingly. Just once. Or twice. But he couldn't really let Sam know. Or rather, he needed to make sure Sam figured this out on his own. He couldn't give up on his brother. Dean would do the same for him, anytime.

"You're afraid that he's not entirely…himself anymore?"

The guilt that swept over Sam's eyes made Bobby feel terrible instantly. Before the young man could retreat from him again, Bobby charged on.

"Sam, I can't…give you any absolute reassurance, you know that, but I can tell you one thing. If there's one thing I know about Dean, it's that he'll fight this…just the way he's fought it so far, he's going to keep fighting. He might seem a bit…besides himself but I think that its just because he's still trying to get to terms with all that's happened. You know him a thousand times better than I do, but you know he's beating himself up…and even though he's not aware of it himself, I think all he needs is some time and, you know, maybe some help from us…some nudge in the right direction. He'll be alright…he'll get better. I'm sure of it."

Sam held his eyes, needing the connection, the reassurance.

"You nudge him, then… I don't think I want to be receiver of his wrath if I start the nudging and prodding. He's pretty set on that…he's the one doing all of that, I'm only allowed to be on the receiving end," Sam said quietly, but Bobby saw him tug the right side of his mouth into a reluctant smile, albeit still all but convinced.

"Yeah, well. He's still not completely up to par physically. So I'd say, you do some nudging, then take off running. Right now he probably won't be able to catch up. Might serve as a training-technique, because the way he's sitting around my yard, denting in the hoods of the cars, spoiling the dog senseless, he's not going to be getting back in shape any faster, I tell you…!"

That finally cracked Sam up. It wasn't true, they both knew that. Dean still needed time for his body to heal and pushing himself was alright up to a certain point but not of much use if he overdid it. He was doing alright, more than that, considering. But teasing him a bit, even if it was only to give Sam back his smile, was alright, Bobby figured.

Damn, he would be ready to write a parent's counselling book or something by the time those two left him again. He had a whole lot of experience in that department by now. Could probably make a whole bunch of money out of it.

"What are you smiling at?" Sam asked, incredulously.

Bobby shook himself, managed to not burst out and tell Sam about his new business idea. Some things he should probably keep to himself. He'd just make sure to get those two a signed copy of the book once it was published.

"Nothing, just thinking about something. Doesn't matter. Just give him time, Sam. He'll come around, he always does. And if he doesn't, we'll take a more direct approach. Till then, you guys can stay here for as long as you like, you know that."

Sam nodded, his eyes thanking Bobby loud and clear. The kid knew that they always had a home here, no matter what.

"Only thing you need to get me is a new watch dog after you leave. Ares is going to be regressed beyond hope if Dean keeps pampering him for another day or two…"

"And I was always the one whining about wanting a dog when we were younger…" Sam mused quietly.

"I think that brother of yours just enjoys working against me here. Always has. Takes weeks of work to get the dogs back on track again after he leaves."

Sam chuckled and leaned back in his chair again, willing himself to relax. His hands unclenching, the book finally forgotten in front of him.

Bobby nodded, collected himself and got up, opening the fridge to take out a pair of cellophane-wrapped sandwiches. He took one and flung the other one onto the table before grabbing a six-pack of beer-bottles, tearing that open as well and taking out three, again leaving two on the table for Sam to take. He saluted with his own bottle as he made his way back out towards the front door.

"I'm guessing Dean's out by the old tire pile out back…maybe you could go check that he didn't set it on fire or something…?! I'll be back in for dinner. Make sure you get him back in by then."

And with that he left.

Sam would know what to do with the information given.

The kid was about as good about taking care of his brother as Dean the other way around. Sam just didn't get the chance to live it out in the open a much as his big brother did.

Bobby was only halfway down the front porch when he heard the back door creak open, then slam closed again.

He sighed heavily, shook his head but rolled his eyes at the same time.

Those boys could be stealthy as hell when it came to stalking demons and ghouls, but doors they didn't seem to know how to close quietly…

Bobby smiled to himself and went back to work.

xxxXXXxxxXXXxxxXXXxxx

tbc

AN:

So…looks like we're nearing the end – only one more chapter to go…

I'm not yet sure how I feel about it…wrapping something up that I've been working on for such a long time…

About the first part – being at Bobby's…I know it's a bit "over the top", probably, but I couldn't figure out a way to tone it done and still get everything said that I wanted to…so you're stuck with the long and way too emotional version…sorry about that.

I'll blame it on lack of vocabulary from my part…you know...english not being my first language and all, so I have huge holes in both vocabulary and grammar, most likely. Sorry I couldn't do better. I hope you'll like it anyways, or at least not hate it too much!

So, please, if you like and find the time, leave a review – it always has and always will mean a lot to me, more than it probably should!

You're all great. wonderful, awesome. Seriously. I cherish every single review and all the silent support as well!

So, if you're up for the last chapter, I hope I'll get it done and posted in time.

Thanks for everything and take care!