The day Sam turned 18, Dean started to worry.
Sam had never liked this life. Not since he found out about the things that go bump in the night all those years ago. He'd always been ready to leave. He'd always been waiting for the right time. And now he was officially and adult. Even when Dean turned 18 he considered taking off. But Sam didn't really have anything to tie him down to this family. Not like Dean did.
Dean considered their conversation from more than a year ago. He started to wonder if Sam would ask him to go with him again. He wondered if he would come home one day and fine all of their stuff packed up, and Sam waiting for him, ready to go.
He didn't just want Sam to stay. He wanted him to want to stay. He wanted him to be happy where he was. He just wished that he was enough for Sam. But Sam wanted more. He didn't just want a family, he wanted a life.
And Dean couldn't really blame Sam for wanting that. He couldn't blame him for wanting to go to college and get a real job. For wanting to meet a girl and get married. Maybe Sam wanted kids and grand-kids. You can't have that kind of stuff as a hunter. If you do, you end up like John.
Every time Sam left the motel, Dean thought it would be the last time he saw him. He was sure that every goodbye would be their last. He wondered if Sam would call, and let them know that he was alright. That he had made it to wherever he wanted so desperately to be.
Dean knew that John was worried, too.
He knew that because John was being too nice to Sam. Like he wanted him to like it here. Throughout most of his life, John was hard on Sam. Not as hard as he was on Dean, but still. He pushed him to be the hunter John knew he could be. But for the last few years, things had changed.
Instead of yelling at him for not wanting to go on hunts, John would simply put Sam on research duty to make him happy. When Sam was in a particularly crappy mood, John would let him skip training, given that he finished his homework instead.
John was being nice, because he wanted Sam to be happy. He wanted him to be happy so that he would stay. But Dean could tell it wasn't working.
Sam was arguing more and more with John. He complained more and more about his hunting, about his drinking, about his parenting.
"You're always off hunting some stupid monster! You can't think about anything else! Not me, not Dean. Nobody!"
"Whenever you're home, you're drunk. You can't even think straight. If a Wendigo doesn't kill you, the alcohol sure will!"
"Dean's always taken care of me. You haven't done shit for me! I don't have any good memories of you from when I was little. Just you being gone all the time!"
Sam was arguing with Dean too.
"You just follow him blindly, Dean. Can't you ever think for yourself?"
Dean had never felt more hopeless. He didn't know what he could do to make Sam happy. Not without making his father pissed. He was caught in between them, and he felt stuck.
So one day, when John was gone and Sam was at a friends house, Dean got drunk.
He went to the nearest bar around and drank. He wanted to forget about Sam and about John and about his life, and had hoped that the alcohol would help with that. Instead, it only intensified his feelings.
He only left when the bartender refused to serve him anymore. He drove back to the motel, and it was a miracle he didn't crash his poor Impala on he way back. By the time he got there it had long been dark outside, although he had no idea what time it was. He didn't care.
Sam was already back, and had been for a few hours. He had expected Dean to come home late and probably drunk, but not like this. "Dean, what the hell? Are you okay?" He stood as his brother stumbled into the room.
"'m fine..." Dean waved him off. "Jus' need to puke..." Dean made his way to the bathroom, and Sam waited outside the door until he was done.
"Jesus Christ, Dean. Did you drive like that? You're gonna get yourself killed!" Sam tried to help Dean to the bed, but Dean pushed hm away with surprising force, causing Sam to stumble back and almost fall right over.
"I'm fine, dammit!" Dean's voice was overly loud, and Sam was worried. Dean drank quite a bit, especially once he was legal, but he never drank this much at once. He knew how dangerous and stupid it was, especially for a hunter, and he thought Dean knew better.
"Dean, what's going on? Why did you...?"
Dean plopped onto the bed closest to the door. He looked at Sam lazily, not quite meeting his eyes. "When are you going to do it, Sammy?"
Sam stared at him. "Do what?"
"Leave." Sam didn't say anything, so Dean continued. "I know it's gunna happen. I'm surprised you haven't already."
"I'm not leaving, Dean-"
"Yes, you are." Dean slurred. "Don't... don't do that. Don't lie to me. You owe me that."
Sam ran his fingers through his hair. He looked away from Dean. "I don't know. Not until I finish school."
Dean nodded. "Please, Sammy... just do me a favor. Don't just take off again..." Sam cringed, thinking about Flagstaff. "Don't just run off without a goodbye."
Sam sat down beside Dean, cupping his brothers face in his hands. "I won't Dean. Not this time. I'm so sorry."
Dean closed his eyes. "You got nothin' to be sorry 'bout, little brother..."
Dean passed out almost as soon as he laid his head down. Sam silently prayed that Dean would be too drunk to remember this conversation in the morning. His prayer was answered.
"Oh, God, my head..." Dean sat up, holding his head in his hands. "What the hell happened?"
Sam sat down on the bed across from him, handing him a glass of water and an aspirin. "You don't remember? You were wasted, dude."
Dean accepted the drink, taking a sip of it with the pill. "No. I don't remember anything."
Sam smiled. It was going to be hard to leave Dean. But he had to. He had to.