Ever since he left the Boy's Home, Robin and Sonny two years ago, Dean was getting into more and more trouble.
He never told anybody about his time there. Sam didn't even know why he was gone for those two months, and John, well... John was the reason he had to leave.
He wanted to stay. Even now, two years later, he missed it. He missed Robin and Sonny and the other boys. He missed not having everyone's life on his shoulders. Ever since then, he felt even more overwhelmed by the immensity of his responsibilities than he had in a long time.
Since getting back, he had started to drink. He started to experiment with drugs and girls and sex. He was careful not to bring anything home near Sam- he didn't want him to know anything about it. But at school and at friends houses, he started to "branch out."
Out of all the changes, he never thought the drinking would happen. He knew what alcohol did to his dad, and he never wanted that to happen to him. But he started taking his dad's beer, and eventually got himself a fake ID so he could buy his own.
Sam figured it out, of course. The kid was with him everyday, it was hard to keep anything like that a secret. At first he would just make passive-aggressive comments on it, but eventually he started to outright complain.
"You're only 18, Dean. You're not allowed to drink yet. You're going to destroy your liver."
You're only 18. He had been eighteen for a few months now, and that opened up a whole new door of possibilities.
He could leave.
He was legally an adult, now. He could just walk out of this house, and this life and no one could stop him. His father officially gave him the Impala for his birthday. It was his now. He had a car. He had a stash of cash in his duffel bag. He could drive off right now and live the life he wanted to live, not the one his dad forced him to.
A few years ago he never would have gone through with it. Now... he wasn't so sure. When Sammy was younger Dean knew what his role was. He took care of Sam. He looked out for him. He was more of a parental figure than his dad ever was. But now, everything was different. Sam was 14 now, and he was a teenager. He had already run away a few years ago, and while he never tried that stunt again, he still continued his rebellious stage (or at least what Dean hoped was just a stage.) He didn't need Dean anymore. Not really. He could do most everything himself, and he certainly didn't want any help.
So what was Dean's role now? His father had already started sending him out on solo hunts, but nothing big. He still didn't trust Dean to get the job done on the bigger hunts. So he wasn't able to hunt by himself, he wasn't as good at research as John or Sam, and he didn't need to be big brother-extraordinaire anymore. Hell, he didn't even graduate. At the rate Sam was going, he'd be at the top of his class. Meanwhile all Dean had to show for years of education was a GED. He didn't know what he was anymore. He wasn't anything. He was useless.
Sam came home late from school, slamming the door behind him. Dean was on the couch, watching TV, drinking a beer. He jumped at the sound of the door banging into the frame. "Sammy, what the hell?"
Sam rolled his eyes, passing by Dean and dropping his bag on the floor next to the couch. "It's Sam."
"Sorry. Sam, what the hell? You're like an hour late, ya know."
"Yeah, I know. I'll be in the room." Sam replied, dismissively, once again slamming the door as he left into his bedroom.
Dean sighed. Sam had been moody lately, just like any other teenager, but this was different. Something was wrong.
Dean knocked twice on Sam's door, to which he got not reply. Luckily the bedrooms of the apartment couldn't be locked, so he just walked right in.
Sam was on his bed, his knees pulled into his chest, and his head laying on top of them. His face was red. "Dean, leave me alone."
Dean folded his arms. "I'm not going anywhere, kiddo. What's wrong?"
Sam sighed, unfolding himself. "Nothing... it's just, this girl..."
Dean couldn't stop the smile that was spreading on his face. "What? Shut up. Sammy's got himself a girlfriend?" Dean sat down beside him, and Dean realized how comfortablethis was. How normal. Sitting next to Sam, helping him through whatever. It reminded him of so many different nights growing up, when he would sit up all night, talking to Sam. He could do this for the rest of his life.
"Oh, shut up. Besides... I don't have one anymore."
They talked for an hour about Sam's no-longer-girlfriend, Lexie, and then Dean promised to take him out for dinner.
Sitting in the diner across from Sam, Dean had the best night he'd had in a long time. Sam seemed happy for once, and didn't spend the whole meal complaining about John.
When they got back home, and Sam went to bed, Dean started to think about earlier in the day, when he had actually considered leaving.
He couldn't leave. He could never leave Sam. Sam was his brother, and he loved him more than he loved himself. There was no way he was leaving.