Today was the ten year anniversary of Mary's death.
There were only two days of the year that John spoke about Mary. Today, and their anniversary.
John never hunted on this day. He always made sure he was home. And the only thing he did all day was drink.
Dean, of course, was fully aware of what day it was. He tried not to think about his mom all that much. It was too painful, even now. He knew it was hard on his dad, too. And he knew that on a day like today, even looking at the kids reminded John of Mary, so it was best to leave him be.
Dean figured the best thing to do was take Sammy out somewhere after school. They'd make a day of it. Normally, John would be dead set against it, but right now he'd be too drunk to care.
Dean made sure Sam was dressed and ready to go. He stuffed some of his personal "emergency" cash in his wallet and shuffled him out the door. John was sitting in the living room, already with a beer in his hands. He glanced over at the boys as they passed him, but only offered a weak, "Where are boys goin'?"
"To school, sir. We, uh, we might see a movie afterwords. We'll be back soon, though." Dean lied. It was only a partial lie. Maybe they'd go to a movie, maybe not. But they wouldn't be back for a while.
After school let out, Sam was ecstatic. It wasn't too often Dean offered to take him out wherever he wanted to go. As soon as they were out the door he was practically bouncing off the walls. "Where to first, Sammy?"
They took the car, even though Dean didn't have a license yet. As soon as he was old enough, he would get one, but even now he was a good driver. He'd been driving his dad around for years when he was either too drunk, or too hurt.
First they went bowling. The bowling alley was practically empty even at 4pm except for the pretty girl at the cash register. She must have been 16, with curly blonde locks and bright blue eyes. She found Sam absolutely adorable, and got them both free sodas.
Sam had never been bowling before, but Dean had gone a couple times in the past with some school friends, so he showed Sam how to play. The first game they played, Sam did pretty badly. Dean bowled an 88 but Sam only got a 36. "Not bad for your first game, Sammy. Wanna play again?"
The second round was much better for both of them. Dean ended with an 113, and Sam went all the way up to an 80. "There ya go! You've got the hang of it now!" Dean congratulated him.
They had dinner at the bowling alley. Chicken fingers and fries for Sam, and a burger for Dean. "This is so much fun, Dean. We have to come back later and play again." Sam grinned, shoving a couple fries in his mouth.
Dean smiled and nodded, but knew that it was unlikely. Maybe next time John went hunting without them, Dean could save up a bit and find a bowling alley nearby wherever they were. They could make a tradition out of it. Sammy would love that. "Where to next? It's only six. We still got some daylight hours."
Sam thought about it, and answered, "Let's see a movie. You told Dad we were going to, anyway."
They went to see What's Eating Gilbert Grape at Sam's request. Sam loved it, and afterwords they snuck into Jurassic Park just because they could, and because Dean said he was in mighty need of man-eating dinosaurs.
It was just before midnight that Sam finally asked to go home so he could get some sleep before school tomorrow.
When they got home, they stayed quiet as to not wake up John, who was passed out on the couch. Dean made sure Sam brushed his teeth and got dressed, and sent him to bed. "'Night, Sammy. See you in the morning." Dean bent down and kissed his forehead.
"Are you staying up?"
Dean nodded. "I got to take care of somethings real quick. Go to sleep, okay?"
Dean tip-toed over to his father. There were empty bottles from beer and liquor all around him, telling Dean that he had been there all day. The TV was on, but at a low volume, and turned to a nature channel. Dean cleared up the bottles and tossed them in the trash. Then he came back to wake John up.
"Hey, hey, Dad. Wake up." Dean whispered, shaking his dads arm. "Come on, you gotta wake up. Dad. John." Finally, John awoke, but he was dazed and confused.
"What the hell-" He sat up, pushing Dean away from him. Dean stumbled backwards a bit, but managed to catch his balance before falling over.
"Dad, shh! Sammy's asleep in the other room!" The apartment they were in at the moment was small, and only had two bedrooms. Dean and Sam shared one, and John had the other. While John was out hunting, Dean sometimes used his room, but Sam usually preferred to share. "Come on, Dad. You gotta go to bed."
John groaned. He leaned over, holding his head. "Where the hell have you two been?" He was slurring his words, but also making a conscious attempt to be quieter.
"I told you, we went out to a movie."
"What, for six hours?"
Dean bit his bottom lip. "Well, we did some other stuff. It doesn't matter. Let's get you to bed." Dean felt like he was dealing with Sam at age 4 again. It was like trying to take care of a little kid, who couldn't do anything for himself except cry and complain.
John allowed Dean to help him stand up, and lead him into his bedroom. Dean plopped him down on the bed, and turned to leave. "G'night, Dad..."
Before he could leave, he felt John grab his arm, yanking him back. Dean turned to see his father, who was sitting up in the bed, now. "I'm so sorry, Dean," His voice was hoarse. "This is all my fault."
Dean swallowed hard. "Dad, you're drunk. You need to sleep. Let me go," He tried to pull away from his grasp, but even intoxicated, John was much stronger than him.
"Ever since your mother died, I... I just wanted to keep you boys safe," Tears were streaming down John's face, and Dean wanted nothing more than to leave. "But I... I can't. I've failed... I'm so sorry..."
He relaxed his grip, and Dean pulled his arm away. He was free to go, but he couldn't. Instead, he sat down beside his father, putting his hand on his shoulder. "It's okay, Dad. Really. You're doing the best you can." He wasn't sure that he really believed that, but what other choice did he have? "We're going to be fine, Dad. You, Sammy, and me. We're gonna make it through this." I'm going to get us through this, if it's the last thing I do.
John closed his eyes, nodding. "You're right... you're right..." He slowly laid back down, falling asleep almost instantly. Dean wondered whether John had nightmares like he did, or like Sammy used to.
Dean left, shutting the door behind him, and cried.
It had been such a long time since Dean cried, he almost couldn't remember the last time.
He cried because his dad was never here, and when he was he was drunk or working. Because the only praise he ever got from him was hunting related. Because Sammy just wanted to be a normal kid who went bowling with his big brother. Because it was 11:59pm, ten years since the day his mother died.
Dean wanted to die, he did. He wanted to be with his mother, wherever she was. He wanted to be free of the responsibilities he had, and the lives that rested on his shoulders. He was tired, and he was done.
But then who would go bowling with Sam? Who would look out for him and make sure he was okay? Who else would take him to school and pick him up, and help him with his homework? Who would try and make his life as normal as possible?
And John? Who would be there for him every November 2nd, when he got stone-cold drunk and passed out? Who would put their hand on his shoulder after every bad hunt, and tell him everything was going to be okay, even though it wasn't?
His family needed him, much more than his mother did. Wherever she was, she was happy, or at least he hoped. But Sam and John? They needed him here. They needed him sharp.
So he went to bed. He decided against the bedroom, and laid down on the couch. It took him a long time to fall asleep, unlike his dad. And he had nightmares. But even so, in the morning, he still woke up and made Sam breakfast. He still got up and did his job. Because they needed him, and they always would.