Leaving the family business was something Sam had never lied about. He really hadn’t wanted to be trapped into the life their father had been trapped in. So after four long years on the road together, after the thing that had killed their mother was toast, and their father had been laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Sam had left. Maybe Dean had understood and maybe he hadn’t--Sam would never know.
He’d returned to upstate New York and when Sarah Blake opened the door, dark eyes filled with shocked tears, he never regretted it. They married that first year right before Sam returned to college where he’d gotten that law degree he’d always intended to get with a BA in art history. He worked for her father in the warehouse of his gallery when he wasn’t attending school.
Sarah was happy and so was he even though his father-in-law was a hard sell in the beginning.
Six years after he’d left Dean, he and Sarah, opened their own estate gallery just as they celebrated their fifth anniversary in the small town of Apple Gate, New York. He always found it amusing he’d settled in a town called Apple Gate since Dean had teased him unmercifully about wanting an ‘apple pie’ life. They turned a profit within the first year and bought a Victorian cottage at the edge of the mountains. Of course nothing is ever easy, at least not for the Winchesters, Sam had to exorcise the damn house and for the first time he was glad he’d had the childhood he did.
Every once and awhile Dean would call, leave a message, or on occasion he’d actually catch Sam on the ride in between work and home. The times they talked they never spoke of what they’d shared on the road all those years ago, long nights, quiet moments wrapped around one another in the silence of shadows, praying their dad wouldn’t find out. It was their way of surviving for four years with only each other for support. It was their way of showing their love and protective nature to one another.
A secret only they shared.
Sam told Dean about the birth of he and Sarah’s daughter Jessica Marie when he was thirty-three, a year after he and Sarah had opened the gallery. A year later he told Dean about the birth of their son John. Dean had chuckled and told Sam as he always did ‘you’re still a big ol’ girl Sammy’.
When Sam asked about Dean’s life it was always tales of spirits and demons, small town bars, and wild nights with every flavor girl in the rainbow. He’d pop a beer, sit, and talk to Dean into the wee hours of the morning, and then Sarah would let him sleep in knowing her husband was feeling better having heard from his family.
Right after Sam’s thirty-sixth birthday, Sarah was killed by a drunk driver on her way back from an estate auction in New York City. His world was shattered with one phone call from the state highway patrol in the middle of the night. She’d been killed instantly they told him as he sat there on the edge of the bed he and Sarah had shared for almost ten years. Sam wanted to crumple like ash and blow away, but he had their daughter and son to think about.
He called Dean’s cell as he sat in the antique rocker in his children’s nursery, his two year old daughter curled up in his arms and his one year old son asleep in his crib. When Dean answered he lost all composure and began crying while Dean was just there, breathing soft on the other end of phone. There was no need for words that night, as there’d been no need for them all those years ago in the shadowy hotel rooms they shared.
When his sobs faded at last he heard Dean say two words.
The following morning as the sun rose above the mountains the familiar ’67 Impala pulled into the driveway behind Sam’s SUV. She had a coat of dust and mud on her, but other than that she hadn’t changed much.
Sam was sitting on the porch steps when Dean arrived wearing a thin tee-shirt and a pair of sweat pants against the sharp chill of the spring mountain air, feet bare, and hair standing on end. Sam looked pretty much the same as he had the day Dean had dropped him off at the bus station in San Jose, just a few more laugh lines around his eyes and mouth. Almost ten years with Sarah had been kind to Sam, one night without her though had been harder, Dean thought, as he took in the hollow smudges beneath his huge wet eyes.
Dean was Dean, Sam had thought as he watched his brother slide from the car. He was a bit rougher around the edges. Hunting did that to a man, he’d seen it in his father and now he saw it in Dean. His hair was a bit longer and now the dark blonde was streaked with silver at his temples, maybe the grey came faster with seeing the evil of the world. He still dressed the same, faded jeans and biker boots, even wore the same leather coat he’d worn at twenty-six. There were a couple of things different though, a couple that stood out and made Sam take pause.
When Dean was completely out of the car, he saw the brace on his right leg, all metal and leather straps. He walked easily in it so Sam imagined he’d had it for a while, although he'd never mentioned being hurt that badly in any of their phone calls. The second wasn’t obvious until he was standing in front of Sam and slipped off his sunglasses. A fading scar ran from his brow across the corner of his eye and along his jaw. It wasn’t the scar though that caused Sam to swallow. They both had plenty of those. Dean was blind in his left eye, the once gorgeous green flecked hazel now covered with a milky sheen.
He grinned that familiar grin that had annoyed Sam to no end when they were on the road together and cleared his throat. "Banshee outside Charleston three years ago. Bitch had some wicked claws."
Sam opened his mouth to say he was sorry, but nothing came. Taking a step closer Dean’s good eye focused on Sam’s face and before he even realized it he was in his arms. He still smelled the same; cheap hotel soap, spicy after shave, and that one thing uniquely Dean. He inhaled and relished it all for the first time in almost a decade, and it was like coming home. As his tears spilled onto the worn leather Dean stroked his back with a calloused hand.
It was all he had to say.
Dean stayed for almost a month.
Of course Sam didn’t care. He needed his brother in a way he’d needed few people in his thirty six years. Dean still had a way with the kids and the ladies. To be honest Sam was deeply grateful for his wicked charm. He cleaned up nicely when he wanted to and he kept Sarah’s friends distracted when they came by to give their condolences. Dean even dealt with the funeral director and the police with a grace that little resembled the Dean he remembered.
The day of the funeral Dean took care of the kids while Sam went through the motions in stoic silence. He selected his best suit, charcoal double-breasted Armani, a cream shirt, and Sarah’s favorite tie--a deep green she’d claimed brought out the green in his eyes. He’d stood in front of the mirror staring at a man he barely recognized, eyes haunted by the loss of the second women he’d loved in fifteen years.
"Cursed." He whispered.
The night after the funeral, Sarah’s father had offered to take the kids for one night.
At first he’d cared very little for Sam, but over the years he’d bowed before the knowledge Sam loved his daughter deeply and he made her happy. They’d become fairly close after ten years and though he’d lost his daughter he understood Sam’s grief. He’d lost his own wife almost fifteen years before and he knew what it felt like. At least for him his child had been grown, a young woman, Sam’s were not and he knew it was going to be far more difficult. Sam was still a young man with a thriving business to run and two babies to raise on his own.
The house was far too silent for Sam’s taste when they returned. The refrigerator filled with Tupperware from all the friends who’d came calling, each container labeled in Dean’s lazy scrawl--name of friend and dish. There was a second when Sam wondered when Dean had become so damn domesticated. Staring at the neat stacks, his face washed out and sickly in the glow of the refrigerator’s light, Sam’s thoughts drifted back through the years to that first year on the road with Dean. He recalled Max, one of the few they’d been unable to save, and his sarcastic words after his uncle’s funeral.
Nothing says sorry like a tuna casserole.
Nothing says sorry like a tuna casserole.
Why people brought food Sam would never know, because frankly the last thing he wanted to do was eat. Pulling out two beers, he headed out to the back porch where Dean sat in one of the dark cherry wood chairs Sarah had picked out. He and Sarah would set out here in the evening watching the sunset when they managed to get home on time, share a beer, and each other’s day. He swallowed back the grief rising in his chest as his gaze alighted on his brother.
Dean had removed his suit coat, shirt sleeves rolled up and tie removed. Most of his face was in shadow as he leaned forward to remove the brace on his leg. His fingers were still nimble and the silver ring was still on his right ring finger. Somethings never changed, he thought, sometimes all they did was change.
"You never told me what happened."
Glancing up Dean flashed a smirk as Sam handed him one of the beers. "Ghost car…outside Detroit." He took a deep drink of his beer and sighed. "Luckily I wasn’t driving the Impala or I would have been grieving something awful, man. I was driving a rental and let’s just say that damn ghost wanted to claim another victim. Wrecked the car, shattered my leg in five places…have some nerve damage." His gaze drifted out across the manicured stretch of lawn to where the gnarled apple trees were dripping with pink and white blossoms.
Sam took a swig from his own beer and began picking at the bottle's label. "It hurt bad?"
"Like a son of a bitch, dude." Dean chuckled.
Sam couldn’t sleep that night, even with the beers, and the pizza Dean had insisted on ordering despite the refrigerator full of food. He lay on his side curled around Sarah’s pillow, nose buried in the soft cotton her scent still strong. When he closed his eyes he could almost imagine she wasn’t gone. But she was and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do to change that.
Slipping from the bed he trudged down the hall to the nursery where his children lay sleeping. Jessica had her mother’s dark hair, but Sam’s eyes--doe eyes Sarah had called them. Her dark lush lashes lay spread across her chubby cheeks, one thumb tucked between her cupie bow lips, and her free hand tangled in the fur of her favorite stuffed animal; a shaggy dog, she’d named Dean. Sam smiled as he reached down and pushed her dark curls out of her face, brushing a kiss against her rosy cheek.
He’d never spoke of Dean in front of her, yet of all the names she could have said, she’d chose Dean. That was when he realized Jessica more than likely had inherited his abilities and for some reason that hadn’t worried him in the least.
Checking on John, he chuckled at the way the little guy lay on his back, his legs and arms sprawled, covers up to his chin. "Just like your uncle big guy." He ran his fingertips through his son’s downy blonde curls, leaning in and placing a soft kiss on his brow before he left.
He didn’t head back to his room, but found himself standing in the doorway of the guest room. Without a word he crawled beneath the covers and Dean rolled over pulling Sam into his arms. Head resting on Dean’s bare chest, Sam wept for all he’d lost, and all his children had lost. If there were intimate caresses that night, bittersweet kisses meant to comfort, neither man spoke of it the next morning. There was no need to do so.
For the month Dean had stayed each night Sam would start out in his bed, but he would always end up in Dean’s. They never went any further than a few kisses and caresses, swathed in shadows and hidden from the world that had never really understood. It wasn’t something either of them spoke of in the daylight either. It had always been a secret hidden in the darkness.
Then the final night things changed.
Sam had slipped into Dean’s bed and this time he wanted more. He needed more than he’d been willing to admit. As his lips had met Dean’s he deepened the kiss, hand sliding down Dean’s hip, beneath the worn cotton of his boxer briefs, and fingers curling around the weight of Dean’s cock.
The kiss ended in a gasp of air and Dean drew back studying Sam from beneath sleep heavy lids. "You okay kiddo?"
"Yeah…" he began to stroke Dean’s flesh, eyes never straying from Dean’s scarred, but familiar face, "…I just need…"
Dean leaned into Sam, silencing him with a soft kiss, and then pulled back. "I know."
That night Sam was in control which was what he needed more than anything. He stripped off Dean’s briefs in record time and they were soon joined by his sweats and tee-shirt in a twisted pile of shadow and light on the hardwood floor.
Sam started at Dean’s feet, gentle kisses, pressed against calloused slender feet that had logged far too many miles in their time. He took in the network of pale scars that traced the honey-gold skin of Dean’s right leg, where pins and plates had been placed to hold his bones together. Each scar was smooth, waxy beneath his trembling lips and a part of him wanted to take on the blame for those scars. If he hadn’t left Dean maybe he wouldn’t have been damaged like this.
Lifting his head he glanced up into Dean’s eyes, one blind and the other all seeing, and Dean smiled at him. Not a smirk, but a genuine smile that made his heart ache. "No blame, Sammy." Dean whispered. "We just had to follow our own paths."
A huge weight lifted from Sam’s heart then and all he could do was sigh in relief, damp salty tears dripping down his face. "Dean I…"
Straddling Dean’s hips Sam whimpered as Dean’s hands guided his hips down as if they’d never left them. His head fell back with a muffled groan as the head of Dean’s cock pressed through the tight ring of muscle and he was sliding down, being filled, and it felt so damn right. He’d never felt like this with anyone else and the faint pain of this guilty pleasure had always meant home to him.
Dean’s hands were settled, warm and rough, on his hips as he began slowly riding him, thumbs rubbing gentle circles along the slim curve of bone. His brother’s breathes became quicker as he began twisting on each down stroke, head of his cock stroking against Sam’s prostate, and soon Dean’s groans joined Sam’s.
He needed this like he needed air, water, or food. Dean was his constant the one person in his life he’d always been able to count on. The feel of his cock stretching him open and filling all the emptiness inside him was something they both understood. No words were needed to express the power of their bodies, joining one another, filling each other, with a power they could only give one another.
Hair falling in his face, perspiration slick on his skin, Sam leaned forward as Dean lifted up on his elbows. Their mouths met, clash of desperate flesh and even more desperate hearts, teeth and tongues demanding and promising in one breath. Pulling back Sam’s eyes shimmered with unshed tears, breath coming out in soft pants, as he began riding Dean harder. He wanted the pain to go away so bad and only Dean had ever been able to do that.
Dean reached up and pulled Sam closer again, whispering against his lips. "Let it go, Sammy…let it go…"
When Sam did let go it was with the last of his tears and the first of his anger, and it was released in a choked off scream of desire and need. Back arching Sam threw back his head and bit his lip, tears streaking his face as Dean moaned beneath him. When they’d both given into the need to come, Sam fell forward, uncaring of the stickiness between their bellies, and buried his face in the sweat dampened vee of Dean’s neck. They lay there quiet in one another’s arms, the sound of their breathing loud in one another’s ears. As the seconds ticked by Sam slowly slid from Dean with a hiss and curled next to him, tugging the sheets up over them.
No more was said, but in the morning Dean was gone.
Neither of them spoke of that night, which of course was standard issue Winchester. Winchester’s were about action, they never spoke, they just knew.
The next ten years went by far easier than Sam imagined. Dean would come by three or four times a year. Sam found it amusing to be honest whenever he saw that old Impala come gliding up the road and he knew the seasons were changing. Jessica and John were always tickled to see their Uncle Dean because no matter the time of year he always came bearing gifts. The gifts weren’t just for the kids, but for Sam as well. Despite all the bemoaning Sam had done as a young man he truly enjoyed learning and studying the supernatural. So Dean being Dean always brought Sam rare volumes and protective charms from his travels. Sam would tease Dean and tell him he’d probably been to every town between New York and Los Angeles five times over, but Dean always disagreed.
"Doesn’t matter how many miles she chews up, Sammy. There’s always one more podunk town to discover. One more secret to uncover. " His one good eye sparkled with something Sam wasn’t sure was as if Dean was trying to let him know a secret all his own.
Sam could never figure out what that secret might be though.
Dean would never stay more than a day or two and those nights were the nights that Sam looked forward, too.
Nights where the scent of leather and spicy after shave, the scent of his brother strong in nostrils, and covering his skin eased the loneliness. Legs and arms tangled in sweaty sheets and rough fingertips stroking sensitive flesh that screamed for more than either of them were willing to give. There was an empty spot deep inside him only Dean’s touch could fill. If he were only allowed that moment, that fulfillment, a handful of nights in a year, then he could accept that.
A part of him still thought about how other people might see this situation he had with his brother. Some people might not understand, but for Sam it was enough to have Dean if only for a short time. There were times though he wondered about Dean’s life when he wasn’t here, spending time with his niece and nephew, spending time making Sam feel connected to the world in that special way Dean had. As he would watch the Impala vanish in a cloud of dust, John on his hip, and Jessica clinging to his pant leg, he would think one simple thing.
Who keeps you feeling connected when I’m not there?
There were so many young women in town who sighed when Sam walked by. Some of them young enough to be his daughter as he grew older, but he never noticed them. That was when the whispering began. Small towns were like that, gossip mongers galore, but Sam didn’t care. On Sundays in the church, the withered old ladies in their flower bedecked hats, would whisper in the dark wood pews. They told stories that were part truth and part exaggeration feed by their wild and fertile imaginations. Sam had been an assassin in his youth and his partner, his lover, had died in an explosion. That’s when he’d traveled to New York and fallen in love with his now deceased wife. The man who came to see Sam wasn’t his brother, but was a covert soldier from his days as an assassin. A friend who was constantly checking up on Sam and trying to convince him to return to the fold.
None would have guessed how close and yet how far they were from the truth. A soldier was what Sam had been and what Dean remained. His lover had died in a fiery blast though how those little old ladies could possibly know that was beyond him. Fire had always been a huge part of the Winchester’s life, their destiny. Mary, Jess, Max, and then that final battle between them and that bastard demon who’d made them who they were. So it was fitting when the call came from the Pennsylvania State police to let him know his brother was in a Philadelphia hospital burn ward.
One of Sarah’s cousins had offered to watch the children, but Sam believed his children had a right to say their good-byes to their Uncle Dean. Fifteen years had passed since Sarah had died and his children were close to being adults themselves. He believed that they had earned the right to be treated as adults.
Jessica or Jess, as she liked to be called now, was tall and willowy like her father at seventeen. Almost but not quite six feet with dark hair like her mother’s that fell in a cascade of loose waves down her back and her father’s hazel eyes. She had Dean’s quick temper, his casual recklessness, and her mother’s intelligence. John looked more like his long dead grandmother at sixteen with his loose blonde curls which he insisted on having cut and styled like his Uncle Dean’s because after all he didn’t want to look like a girl. He had his mother’s dark eyes and his father’s tendency to brood quietly, his nose in a book most days. These were Sam’s children, his legacy, and soon they would be leaving him for the adult world. He’d never sheltered them from the truth, well not all of it, and, he thought, he couldn’t this time either as he loaded the car.
Dean was dying.
The next seventy-two hours were an emotional rollercoaster for Sam’s family.
The state police had told Sam there’d been a hit and run accident along the interstate late one night and the car left behind had a mother and two kids trapped inside. As the mother told it Dean came out of no where pulling her kids one by one out of the burning car and then he’d pulled her free. The car had exploded before they’d gotten very far and Dean had used his own body to shield her from the blast.
When Sam walked into ICU for the first time, he’d swallowed a choked breath. Dean lay on his stomach thick bandages covering his back. His head and part of his face was swathed in bandages as well and tubes ran in and out of his body, feeding it pain killers, and liquids. Dean was nothing but a raw chunk of meat and the sight of it made Sam sick to his stomach. He doubted Dean would ever regain consciousness
He should have known after all these years never to doubt Dean nor his stubbornness.
It was on the third day that Sam was woken by Dean’s fingers curling weakly around his and his eyes flew open. He wanted to touch Dean, to tell him everything would be fine, but he saw in Dean’s face the knowledge he would deny himself.
"Don’t have much time, Sammy."
Sam wanted to deny Dean’s words, but he couldn’t. Smiling weakly up at him Dean asked for Jess and John. There was such pain and sadness in his voice, but there was also resolve. He smiled at his niece and nephew as they knelt at his bedside. They’d always knew what their Uncle Dean did and Sam was grateful Sarah had told him when they were born that what his family had done and was still doing was important. He could still hear her soft voice.
Sam you make sure that no matter what these children know where they come from.
Sam you make sure that no matter what these children know where they come from.
He listened as Dean told them he loved them, which wasn’t like Dean at all, and they needed to take care of their girl of a father.
"You know how he is kids. Couldn’t tie his shoes without help."
Each of the kids took their turn saying their good-byes and then Sam found himself alone with his brother. Dean glanced at him and flashed that annoying smirk he’d worn since he was ten years old and Sam felt his throat closing up.
"You know all I ever wanted was to keep you safe and make you happy."
Sam had nodded, tears spilling down his cheeks. He knelt next to the bed his fingers caressing the tiny bit of skin that wasn’t blistered away. Just a few more minutes, Sam had prayed, just a few more minutes before you take him home, Mom and Dad. The only thing he could say was the simplest thing.
Dean had smiled and whispered three final words.
Dean had smiled and whispered three final words.
Afterwards the doctors told him that it wasn’t uncommon for people in deep shock and dying to hallucinate. Sometimes the nerves in their brains misfired at that last moment so things they said made no sense.
Sam knew in his gut it was more than that.
The day of the funeral was a bright mid-autumn day, sky that crisp surreal blue you saw no where else in nature. It was still warm and Sam thought how very ‘Dean’ of the weather. Normally it would have been cold, but not on the day Dean Winchester was laid to rest. Who cared if it was god damn October in New England let’s have eighty five degrees and a crisp breeze out of the south. Sam swallowed back the laugh that rose in his throat. After all it wouldn’t do to have the deceased’s brother cracking up this early.
One thing that surprised Sam was the turn out. The pastor at the local church had almost had a heart attack when the cars had began rolling in at five pm the previous night and the hotels and bed & breakfast’s were filling up in record time. Men, women, and children from every corner of the country found their way to Apple Gate that day. Sam had to wonder how the hell they’d all known the final warrior had fallen. Flowers and religious medallions appeared along with so many faces the local police had to play honor guards at the church and later at the cemetery. Tears were shed and salutes given by unfamiliar faces and Sam’s heart swelled with pride. He’d always been afraid Dean was alone, but he’d never truly been alone.
Jess and John had stood on either side of their father, their arms wrapped around one another, supporting and strengthening Sam far more than he’d ever thought possible. When suddenly a man of around forty approached him.
"I doubt you’ll remember me because it’s been over twenty-five years, but I remember you." He smiled sadly. "Fitchburg…Wisconsin."
A memory rose to the surface and Sam squinted against the bright sun. "Michael. You’re mom ran the motel we stayed at there. Your little brother was a victim of the…"
"Striga." Michael smiled. "If it wasn’t for you guys my brother would have died."
He nodded towards another man who was standing a few yards away his arm wrapped around a woman’s shoulders, and Sam noted the round fullness of her belly. "Your brother and his wife?"
"Yeah, Asher and Lisa. They’re expecting their first baby in about a month." Michael ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. "We…me and Asher…we wanted to pay our respects."
"Thank you." Sam whispered, shaking Michael’s hand.
Michael nodded quickly and then slipped away into the crowd. As Sam stood there watching him walk away he wondered how many of these young adults were the children he and Dean had saved or Dean had saved alone. As his thoughts drifted Sam glanced up and his gaze settled on the one thing that couldn’t possibly be there.
Setting on the hillside overlooking the cemetery, parked beneath a cluster of oaks, was Dean’s beloved Impala, engine idling. Sam swallowed hard and stepped away from Jess and John. His heart thundering in his chest as he wandered through the crowd of mourners.
"Dad? You okay?"
Jess’ soft voice, so like her mother’s, pierced the fog in Sam’s brain. "Yeah," he whispered, reaching into his pocket, pulling out his keys, and tossing them to Jess. "Take your brother home, Jess." Without another word Sam started off through the cemetery, gaze locked on the Impala.
The highway patrol had said there were no other cars on the road when Dean had rescued the woman and her kids. Sam had asked them specifically about his brother’s car, but there’d been no sign of the Impala. Now here the car was waiting for Sam as he approached it with caution, a shiver traveling up his spine. As he reached the crest of the hill, the engine died, and the driver’s side door swung open and a figure stepped from the car. Sam caught a glimpse of a familiar leather coat and blinked back tears.
"Dean?" He whispered as he drew closer, wind stirring the golden leaves, and sending the shadows dancing.
The figure stepped forward and to his shock it was a young woman, perhaps twenty-five or thirty. As she stepped into the light it sparked off the dark, golden brown curls, that brushed her shoulders. Sam held his breath as he took a few more steps and he noted her moss green eyes.
She smiled. "I think you know…Sam."
Her voice held a hint of the south as she came closer. She was tall, at least six feet, and her slender body was all muscle. Sam swallowed back the shock and studied her face with disbelieving eyes. She had her father’s eyes and her mother’s caramel skin, her father’s full soft mouth and her mother’s curls. Suddenly what Dean had said in the hospital as he took his last breath made sense.
"Lily." Sam sighed.
"Prefer Lil, but then pops always did give me shit about that." Her lips curled into a smirk that made Sam’s heart ache.
"Couldn’t deal with having a freak for a daughter. Seems I inherited a bit of the freak from my Uncle Sammy." She pulled her hand from her pocket and held it out. A ball point slowly lifted and began to spin in her palm. "Got the shining, too." She chuckled and then the pen dropped back to her palm.
"Cassie?" Sam questioned though he knew the answer.
"I was born on January 15th 2007." Her voice was soft. "After you left dad he received a message from my mom to meet her outside St. Louis. She left me in my car seat on his hotel doorstep. He tried to find her, but he never could."
Sam shook his head, tears shining on his weathered face. "Why didn’t he tell me? Call me?"
Glancing up Lily snorted, her green eyes flashing with amusement. "Come on Sam. You know what dad was like--stubborn, willful, basically a pain in the ass."
His lips curled into a broad smile, dimples deeper now with age. "Yeah, he was."
"I came to tell you something, Sam." She moved closer looking up at Sam with those far to familiar eyes. "I knew about you and Dad after I got older. Kind of figured it out. I wanted to meet you then…I was fifteen, you’d just lost your wife. Dad said what the two of you had was something no one would understand."
Sam nodded. "He was right."
"No…" Lily cleared his throat, "…he was wrong, Sam. He didn’t want to destroy what you had left and he suffered for it. My father loved you far more than any brother could love another. He loved you enough he was willing to let you go."
He let her words sink in and he felt his throat begin to close up. Sam had always known he loved Dean far more than he should have. That had been part of the reason he’d left to go to college. He inhaled through his nose gaze drifting back over his shoulder at where the last of the mourners were dispersing.
"You hunted with him." He whispered.
"It was who he was…who I am, Sam. He started training me as soon as I could hold a gun."
Eyes drifting shut Sam sighed. "Stay. Stay here with me and the kids."
"I can’t, Sam. We both know that. You also know that your daughter…"
He turned, eyes drifting open. "No, Jess isn’t…"
"Sam." Lily’s tone was firm as she stepped into Sam’s space. She grabbed his hand and dropped a card in his upturned palm. "That’s my number." She released his hand and turned away. When she reached the car she paused and let out another soft breath, and then reached beneath her tee shirt to pull something out and over her head.
"Yeah?" Sam lifted his head.
Turning she tossed the object towards Sam and he caught it one handed. Opening his fingers he gazed down at the protective charm Dean had worn his entire adult life. Sam met Lily’s eyes across the few feet that separated them. She licked her lips nervously and Sam thought how much like Dean she was in that moment.
"He loved you and I tried to get him to go to you, but he never could allow himself to do that." She released a breath, and turned back to the car. "He would have wanted you to have that at least."
Without another word she climbed into the Impala and started the engine. Sam watched with sad eyes as Lily drove away and he finally understood. He understood why Dean had never stayed more than a couple of days and why he'd seemed so domesticated during that dark time when he’d lost Sarah. He also understood why Dean had gotten even better with kids.
Dean had been a father.
He slipped the charm around his neck and turned to see his own daughter standing a few feet away. Sighing Sam shook his head. "Didn’t I tell you to take your brother…"
"That was Uncle Dean’s daughter--wasn’t it?" Jess questioned.
"You knew?" Sam’s brows knitted together.
Jess scuffed the ground with her toe. "No…not really, but I remember her from my dreams. When I was little…she’d talk to me in my dreams."
Nodding Sam wrapped his arm around Jess’ shoulders and they started down the hillside. "So you want to tell me about those dreams?" Maybe being a hunter hadn’t been the worst thing in the world, Sam thought. Dean had done a great deal of good in his fifty-five years and he’d died a hero. His daughter was continuing the work her grandfather had started so damn long ago. Sam slipped Lily’s card into his coat pocket and tightened his arm further around Jess. "Cause you know I used to have dreams when I was young, too."
"No shit, dad?"
Sam chuckled at the look on his daughter’s face. "No shit, kiddo."