This was it. This was the night.
Dean was out getting groceries when the fight started. He had no idea what he would be coming back to.
As soon as he pulled up to the house, he could hear the yelling. They didn't have any neighbors, so no one else would hear. Dean couldn't hear what they were saying yet, but he knew it couldn't be good. He didn't even imagine how bad it would be.
"What, you think you're just gonna leave us behind?"
"You think you can really keep me here?"
"I have protected you your whole life Sam! Don't you forget that!"
"No you haven't! You've been hunting my whole life! You haven't done shit for me! Dean's the only one actually looking out for me!"
"You don't know what your talking about, boy."
Dean left the groceries at the front door, right next to where Sam's bags were left, and ran to find them in the living room.
"You can't control me anymore, Dad. I'm leaving! Stanford is offering me a full ride, and I'm taking it!"
Dean's heart sank. This was it. Sam was leaving. This would be the fight to end all fights. Sam was leaving him. "Guys! Whoa, whoa, what's going on?"
Neither man even looked at Dean.
"You're not going anywhere, you hear me? You're staying right here with your brother and me."
"No. You can't make me. Maybe Dean does whatever the fuck you tell him to, but I do not! You can't just push me around!"
"Sam, we have a job to do. Winchesters are not fucking quitters!"
"No, we don't have a job. We have a vendetta! And it's not ours, it's yours. Mom's dead! She's not coming back, and killing some damn demon won't do anything!"
Dean knew Sam had crossed a line talking about Mary like that. In all the arguments they had (and there were a lot of them,) Sam knew not to mention her. But he didn't care anymore.
John reached out, grabbing Sam by the lapels of his shirt and dragging him towards him. Who knows what he was about to do before Dean ran up to stop him. "Dad! Let him go!" Dean had to pry his hands off of Sam, and then pulled Sam away.
"Let go of me, Dean." Sam shrugged him off when he tried to check him over. "Stay out of this. This is between me and Dad."
"Sammy, please," Dean knew his dad was fuming, and so was Sam. They were both at their peaks and they were ready to explode. This argument was going to turn physical if Dean didn't stop it now. "Don't do this right now. We can talk about this."
"Listen to your brother, Sam." John's voice was full of anger, and Dean knew it would only piss Sam off more.
"Why don't you?" Sam shot back, trying to step closer to John, but Dean still in the middle of the two. "You know, you could really learn a lot from him if you actually listened to him rather than push him around like you try to do to me."
"Don't bring your brother into this Sam. This is about you being selfish. Not about him."
"This is about him! Partly, anyway. He's the only reason I've stayed this long. But I can't take it anymore. I can't stand the way you treat me like a little kid, and how you treat Dean like a soldier. I have a chance, Dad. A chance in the real world. And I'm taking it. With or without your blessing."
That was the moment it all became real to Dean. Sam was most certainly leaving. There was no doubt about it. Before he had been waiting for him to give up like he usually did when they fought, and storm off to his room. He was waiting for Sam to see that he couldn't leave them. That he couldn't leave Dean.
But now it was too late. This was really happening.
"Sam, I swear to God. If you walk out that door, don't you ever come back."
Both boys were stunned into silence at those words. Neither could believe that John had actually said that.
"Fine. If that's the way you want it." Sam's voice was terse, and Dean could hear the hurt in it.
Sam turned to leave, but Dean grabbed his arm, desperately. "No, Sam, wait. Sammy, please! You can't just go!" Dean was ashamed at how pathetic he sounded, but he couldn't help it.
Sam turned to look him in the eyes. Dean thought back to Sam as a baby. To the first time Sam stood up, the first time he walked. His first word- Dean's name. He thought back to all the staring contests they had, and the imagining game Sam used to love. He remembered all those nights he would stay up, playing with Sam, even though he had school in the morning. He remembered Sam's first girlfriend and his first beer. He was there for every significant moment in Sam's life, including his graduation. He didn't want that to be the last he was there for.
And then he remembered the last time Sam seriously considered leaving. He wanted Dean to come with him. Maybe he still did. Maybe Sam was going to ask him to come. Ask him to leave the life Dean had secretly wanted to leave the whole time. His dad would be pissed... he would hate him. But they were both adults now. There was nothing he could do. They could do this... together. All Sam had to do was ask.
But he didn't. "I'm sorry, Dean. I love you, you know I do. But... I can't stay here. I have to do this. I have to do this for me."
And then he left.
He picked up his bags on the way out, and never looked back.
John threw a bottle at the wall in anger, and it shattered into a million pieces on the floor. Dean didn't even flinch. "God dammit! I always knew this was going to happen. I knew that kid was going to bolt the first chance he got."
Dean turned to his father, who he had barely looked at since he got here. "Dad... how could you do that?"
"Do what? I didn't make him leave!"
"How could you tell him not to come back!"
"He's abandoning us, Dean! He left! That was his choice, not mine! He can go wherever the fuck he wants. He can go to Hell, that's where he can go."
"But Dad, we still could have seen him! He could have come home for the holidays, and hunted with us. He could've been like a normal kid! But now he's gone, and he's gone for good!" Dean gaped at his fathers apathy. He just kicked his own son out of the house. How could he do that?
"He's never going to be normal, Dean! What the hell's the matter with you, talking to me like that? He's my own damn kid. I raised him. I'll say what I like to him."
Before Dean could even comprehend what he was doing, he had John pinned against the wall. "Raised him? Are you kidding me?" Dean couldn't help the dry laugh behind his words. "You didn't raise him! I did! You don't even deserve to call him your son! You were never there, I was! I'm the one who made sure he brushed his teeth before bed, and made sure he ate three meals a day! I was the one who taught him how to deal with bullies and how to talk to girls! I was there and you weren't!"
John grabbed his arms and twisted them, causing Dean to let go of his jacket. "I had to be gone! I was hunting! There is a war going on, and I am part of it! If I could've been there for Sam more I would have!" He pushed Dean backwards and Dean fell onto his ass.
"You had a choice, Dad, and you chose wrong!" Dean was crying now. He felt so lost and miserable he didn't know how to handle it.
John stormed over and picked Dean up with one hand. Dean felt his fist slam into his face, over and over again. He paused, only to yell. "How dare you call me a terrible father! I have done everything for you, Dean. You and your brother."
John went to hit him again, but this time Dean dodged it, pulling away from his fathers grasp. "You did it for you. No wonder Sam left. This is your fault!"
Dean felt himself go through the wall when John slammed him into it. "He didn't just leave me, Dean. He left you too. He left us both. Maybe if you had been a better brother, he would have stayed. This isn't all my fault, you know."
John dropped him, and Dean fell into a lump on the ground. "Sam was right, Dean. Mary's never coming back. But neither is Sam. He doesn't need us anymore, and he made his choice. I made my choice a long time ago, the night of the fire. And I think you did, too."
John grabbed his keys and left. He wouldn't be back until he couldn't remember Sam's name.
Dean lied on the ground, and curled in on himself in pain. When he stopped crying, he carried himself into the bathroom to try and clean himself up.
He thought about what his dad had said, and he knew it was true.
Sam made his choice, right then and there. He spent his whole life being looked after, and now he wanted to look after himself.
John made his choice the moment he saw Mary, up on the ceiling. From the moment she died, he knew he was out to get revenge, and nothing else.
And Dean, he made his choice the moment he took Sam into his arms that night. He made the choice to devote his life to Sam. He wanted Sam to be happy. And even though it was the most painful choice he had ever made in his life, Dean knew that if Sam wanted to be left alone, then Dean would leave him alone.
This was the story of a little boy.
It was a long, sad story, but a good one.
It was about love and loss. Family and sacrifice.
It was about fathers and sons. It was about brothers.
This is a story about Dean Winchester.
But it's not over yet.
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