Even though it had only been a little over a week; to Dean it had felt like years since he had sat in his baby, listening to the rumble of her engine, feeling her gentle vibrations soothing his restless spirit. She was home and all that mattered to him, besides Sam of course. Dean cast a sideways glance at his younger brother, who much to his chagrin had passed him in height and could no longer be called little, and felt his pride grow for the man he had become.
Sam fidgeted under the weight of his brother's scrutiny. "What," Sam asked, afraid that Dean was going to say something about his driving.
"Nothing," Dean answered, a small smile gracing his lips, "It's just I'm so damn proud of you."
Sam cut a look in Dean's direction at the tone his brother's voice had taken He noticed the way Dean's jaw had tensed and the way he was staring at his hands as they picked at a loose thread on his jacket. Sam gripped the steering wheel tighter when Dean began to chew on his bottom lip having read his older siblings telltale signs that something heavy was coming.
Dean nervously cleared his throat before he continued. "Hey, uh, look Sammy," Dean stammered. "You would tell me if you were planning on leaving, wouldn't you," Dean asked his fear of the answer evident in the tone and manner, in which he spoke, "It's just I got this feeling that there's something you've been wanting to tell me, but just don't know how."
Sam let out a heavy sigh, how did Dean do it? How could Dean read him so well? He wanted to tell Dean about Stanford, but he couldn't not yet, he had to wait until the time to leave was closer. He feared that if he told Dean now that Dean would tell their dad and that he would find a way to ruin it for him. So Sam did the only thing he could, he lied, "No, Dean, I'm not thinking of leaving and no there's nothing I want to tell you."
Dean could tell Sam wasn't being honest, but because this was Sam's big day he decided to let it go. They pulled into the parking space outside the apartment they had been staying at and Sam let out an exhale of surprise. The normally lay low, don't draw any attention to us, hunters had decorated the balcony railing outside their apartment with graduation streamers and a big sign congratulating Sam on his accomplishment.
They had set up a grill on the balcony and had started grilling steak and shrimp, the aroma causing Sam's stomach to growl in anticipation. Sam got of the car and went around the passenger side to help Dean. Dean waved him off and told him to head upstairs. "Just wait to go inside until I'm there. Please" Dean asked.
Smiling like a kid at Christmas, Sam turned and took the stairs two at a time. Bobby and Caleb, who met him out by the grill, couldn't help but laugh at the way Sam's stomach had taken to letting them know he was hungry and that dinner smelled good.
Dean slowly made his way up the stairs and to the balcony, his side starting to thrum out a steady beat of pain. A thin sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead and his breathing had become light and shallow. However, all that was forgotten as soon as he saw his brother and the way he was joking around with Caleb and Bobby. To Dean his brother's smile had been and would always be the best medicine.
"Hey, Sam, leave 'em alone," Dean softly said when he saw his brother harassing the two older men, "I told them to stop you from going in. I wanted to see your face when you walked in. So, do me a favor here geek boy, give me a sec to get inside, get settled and then you can come in, alright?"
Sam gave Dean his best puppy dog eyes, but nodded that he would wait. Sam could barely contain his excitement. What was beyond that door had to be good, really good, if Dean was this excited about it? He let Dean go inside, counted to fifty, and then he entered the apartment.
"Surprise," the word slammed into Sam like a warm hug and he felt the warmth throughout his entire being because the best surprise was standing in front of him. Sam looked to Dean than back to the others and without warning he ran into the welcoming embrace of the one woman he had come to think of as a surrogate mother, Marta Williams.
Sam felt a strong pat on his back and turned to embrace the man who had come up behind him. Sam felt tears of happiness build and he let them fall without shame. Mr. Williams pulled Sam in tighter and held him until he managed to get his emotions in check.
"Congrats, nerd," Sam heard a voice say from behind Marta and then he heard another voice say in admonishment, "Max, what did I tell you?"
Sam's smile grew even bigger and he made his way to where the owners of the two new voices had been sitting. Dean had sat quietly watching all this unfold, he felt Pastor Jim step up next to him and both the men watched in a contented silence as Sam greeted his guests.
"Max? Elena? Mr. and Mrs. Williams? Wow, I don't know…I mean wow," Sam stopped as he tried to get his excitement under control; when he felt it was he continued, "Wow, this is a great surprise. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but you didn't have to travel all this way. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you did, but, wow…"
Marta giggled at Sam; she always got a kick out of his boyish exuberance. She pulled him into another tight embrace and whispered, "Wouldn't have missed this for the world. Wanted to be at your graduation but our flight had gotten delayed and we didn't land until about a half hour ago. Dean promised us he would keep you away until things had been settled here, we wanted to surprise you."
"Well, you sure did," Sam said and he turned to Dean,
"Thanks man, I owe you one."
Dean smiled at Sam and his obvious state of happiness. "I won't forget you said that," he replied, letting out a hearty chuckle when Sam groaned at the thought of Dean not forgetting, "But, right now whatchya say we eat? I'm starving and the way those steaks smell I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to hold out much longer."
This had to be without doubt the best day in Sam's life. He had graduated from High School, while his brother looked on; and, the Williams had come to help him celebrate. He felt a small tug in his heart when he thought about his dad, but he refused to let that get to him. Today was going to be a good day and nothing or no one was going to ruin it for him.
The tiny makeshift family ate and told stories about the past year and all were having a good time. Dean had stepped out on the balcony to get some fresh air when he noticed his father walking towards their apartment from across the parking lot.
"Shit, no, not now," Dean mumbled as he headed back inside. Dean motioned for Caleb to follow him outside. When both men were on the balcony Dean pointed to his dad and Caleb. "I got this," Caleb said to his worried friend, "Your dad won't ruin this night. I promise."
Caleb met John in the parking lot and pulled him in the opposite direction. John pulled his arm out of Caleb's grip and stared the younger man down. "What the hell," John hissed his frustration at being treated this way barely contained.
"My question to you," Caleb snapped back, "What the hell John. You didn't come to the ceremony but you'll come to the party? You know he missed you? You do know that?"
"Don't get your panties in a twist, Caleb, I just came to let Dean know that everything is set up at Job's and we will be heading over there tomorrow. I also wanted to check up on Dean, make sure he's taking it easy. We only have the place for the summer and Dean needs to be back, fully, on his feet before we have to vacate."
"Yeah, well we're watching him and he's fine. I'll pass the message on. We'll be happy to help the boys get ready for the move," Caleb crossed his arms over his chest and lowered his voice to a dangerous growl, "But, for now Squirt is going to enjoy his day and no one is going to ruin it for him. Understood?"
"Yeah, I get it. Make sure the boys are ready early in the morning. The landlord gave us until 10:00 to be out. If they're even a minute over we'll be charged for the full month," John turned on his heel and left his friend standing there watching after him in bewildered amusement.
"You sure can be an ass; can't ya John," Caleb mused as he headed back to the party.
The party wrapped up not to long after John's visit and Sam was saddened to see everyone leave. Dean pulled Caleb aside and asked about his dad while Sam walked the Williams' to their car.
"He just wanted to make sure you're taking it easy and that you knew to be out by 10:00 tomorrow morning. I told him not to worry about it and that we'll take care of it."
"Thanks, Caleb. No I really mean it. Thanks man. I don't want anything to spoil this for Sam," Dean scratched the back of his neck, "Uh, Caleb, man I hate to ask…"
Caleb clasped the younger man's shoulder and smiled, "Don't worry, Dean. I promise we'll keep your dad out of Sam's hair tomorrow so he can go into Chicago with the Williams'."
"Thanks, man. Uh, hey I'm gonna turn in, feeling a little tired. I'm all packed and set for tomorrow. See ya in the morning."
"No problem. I'll check up on Sam see if he needs anything then Bobby, Jim and I will get this place ready for you two to leave in the morning. We cleared our schedules and we'll be able to stay on for a week or two," Caleb couldn't help but smile at the look of relief that washed over his younger friends face, "You're welcome. You just focus on getting better; we'll take care of your dad."