Title: Chipping Away Ch. 1

Summary: Dean's POV at 22ish, It's been a long day and Sam and Dad are fighting again.

A/N: Thanks to the people who have reviewed my stuff so far. You're a smashing lot and I won't lie and say I don't crave more. I'll get some longer stuff up but I need to do some research so this is just another dark corner of Dean's mind.

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Wanta own 'em, but willing to settle for sharing.

The chill air roughened Dean's bare arms into gooseflesh and he rubbed them to keep warm. It had rained earlier and as evening had descended the temperature had dropped considerably. He couldn't believe it was the end of May and it was still so cold. Weather where they currently lived was totally screwed. He hadn't thought to grab a jacket before he had come outside, his main thought had been to just get out and now that he was out he had no intention of going back in.

The fight had started at dinner, almost from the moment he had walked in the door, tired from the job he had taken loading boxes at a local warehouse to help bring in some much needed cash and had been going on for at least an hour. He sat on the steps of the shabby rent house, elbows on his knees, chin resting on his arms and listened to the shouting coming from behind him. He'd had a headache all day and the achy sensation that had settled on him in the last few hours told him he was sure as shit coming down with something. The short circuiting sensation in his head told him he was developing a fever. Figured, everyone else at the warehouse had the flu, why not him. What a perfect end to this fucking day. He sighed and closed his eyes, flinching as a crash told him someone, probably Sam, had knocked over a chair to emphasize a point. John Winchester's voice rose in response.

"You have responsibility to this family, Sam! Are you gonna just forget I exist? That Dean exists? Is that how you want it!"

Dean groaned inwardly at being used, again, as a weapon of guilt, flung God only knew how many times at Sam only to be deflected once more by Sam's determination to escape the life he had been born into.

"No, of course not!" Sam screamed back. "I just can't do this anymore…this isn't what I want, it's what you want! Hell, I guess it's what Dean must want to, cause he sure never argues about it. You must love that, at least one of your fucking soldiers turned out right!"

That pushed Dean to his feet, his own anger bringing heat to his face. Dammit! Sam had no right to say that stuff…. his fists clenched and then relaxed just as suddenly. He rubbed his hand over his eyes and took a deep breath. He knew Sam didn't mean it, he was just looking for something to strike back at their father with, but Sam had no idea which target he was really hitting.

Nerves endings jangling, Dean shoved his hands in his pockets and moved farther away, into the darkness, grateful the house was fairly secluded and there would be no nosy neighbors trying to find out what was going on.

Sam and Dad seemed to be fighting more and more lately. They had never really seen eye to eye after Sam had reached a certain age and had started questioning….everything. He still researched for them, accompanied them on their hunting trips, acted as backup and front man. Without fear, Dean gave Sam his back and never doubted he'd be there for him. But when the hunt was over he knew Sam didn't feel the thrill of the battle, the sensation of fighting against an enemy almost no one else was aware existed. He saw only the bruises, the torn flesh, their bodies beaten down to the ground. The constant fear that sometime one of them would go down and never get up again. All in what had become to him an empty, endless search for something had burned 20 years of their lives away with still nothing to show for it.

When the fighting had first started Dean had tried to step in and keep things calm, and for a while it had worked. He never knew what was going to set Sam and his Dad off, the wrong word said the wrong way. His Dad finding the college catalogs Sam had forgotten to hide. Sam's constant criticism of their way of life. Dean's quick wit and sense of humor had often doused the flames of anger before the fire had gotten to hot. But as time passed, more and more he was pushed away as the younger and older man fought for control. He had tried talking to Sam, tried to understand this need of Sam's but they had ended up arguing as well because Dean couldn't understand it and didn't want it. Not because he was his father's perfect soldier, but because he believed in what they were doing, that they were doing the right thing, no matter how many wrong things they had to do to accomplish it.

It hurt him to realize Sam wanted to be free of them, wanted his own life, like everyone else. It was important for Dean to know Sam was happy and even though the thought of it killed him he was willing to let him go to keep from losing him forever if it came to that. No matter what Dean thought, Sam was not happy and it was getting worse. Speaking of this to his father had only thrown more fuel on the fire and put Dean in line for more verbal target practice.

After a while, he finally had to walk away and leave them to the fight. He couldn't handle being forced to take sides anymore or listen to the words father and son threw at each other. Always the same argument even if the words were different. The pressure was too much and he would have to get away until it was over. Always fearing the words that would end it one way or the other and take his world with it….

And so he stood alone in the darkness, on a street corner, a different porch, a fire escape, the places changed but didn't matter, listening to his family rip itself apart trying to find a way to stay together.

A misty rain began to softly patter against his face, pushed along by the freshening wind. He sighed and shook his head, shivering uncontrollably. His t-shirt was quickly soaked by the fine moisture and he could feel his jeans dragging against his legs as they also soaked up the rain. His wide green eyes stared at the lights from the distance, blinking as the rain gathered on his lashes and ran slowly down his face. He could no longer make out the words being shouted, he didn't realize he had wandered so far from the house. God, he was freezing and his joints ached. All wanted now was for the war to be over so he could choke down some aspirin and go to bed. Tomorrow Sam and John would be speaking again but another section of rocky road would have been built between them.

For a moment he thought about turning his face to the sky, opening his mouth and just letting himself drown. He didn't though. Finding thoughts like that moving across his mind scared him. The concept of the act did not scare him, but the appeal of blessed release teased and tantalized him sometimes and that did scare him. Boarded up in his mind, along with so many other broken pieces of him, where no one would ever find it, was the memory of the taste of an oiled gun barrel against his tongue and the feel of the tension in a trigger he had wanted at the time, so desperately to pull.

He growled at himself to chase the unwanted thoughts away and blew into his wet hands, glancing back at the house as the front door opened in a sudden rectangle of light spilling across the rickety porch and into the front yard. He was beyond its reaches and stayed where he was, arms hugging his soggy t-shirt to his body, shivering harder now. A figure stomped out of the doorway, crossed the porch and jumped into the black truck parked next to the house. The truck door slammed shut loudly, the headlights flared on and the truck blasted out of the yard in a spray of dirt and gravel. Well, he thought, at least that's over for tonight. The front door stayed open.

Dean wiped his face off with a shaking hand, even though the rain re-wet it almost instantly. He could hear his teeth rattling together and couldn't control their chattering. Reluctantly, he knew he needed to get in the house and get some dry clothes on. As this thought wandered across his mind another figure stepped into the doorway and was framed by the light. Dean paused, curious. The short circuiting sensation hit his brain again and he shook his head, scattering water from his short brown hair.

"Dean! Are you out there?" Sam called. He walked to the end of the porch and saw Dean's beloved Impala sitting in the grass. Sam walked to the rail and looked out into the darkness.

"Dean?" He finally made out Dean's hunched figure near the trees. "What the hell are you doing out there?" He sounded irritated and Dean wasn't really in the mood to be the second act of the evening's performance. He stayed put.

Sam jumped off the porch and jogged through the feathery rain to where Dean was standing.

"What are you doing, man? It's raining and you don't even have a jacket!"

Dean shrugged. "Just getting some fresh air." He replied, forcing the words out without stuttering. "I didn't want to interrupt you and D-dad." He couldn't keep the sarcasm out of his voice or the shake this time.

Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, Dad went to town to see Jack and Johnny." He didn't even try to hide his contempt and anger. "I don't think he'll be back for a while. Come on." He reached out toward Dean. Dean stepped away rubbing his wet arms. He was cold as hell but couldn't make himself walk toward the house with Sam.

"Maybe if you'd lay off he wouldn't have to d-do that." Dean replied tightly, unable to stop himself.

Sam snorted and tossed his long and now wet hair back. "Gimme a break, Dean, I didn't say squat to him tonight…"

"Well, something started it! And it d-damn sure wasn't m-me." Dean snapped.

"No, it's never you!" Sam yelled back to Dean's surprise. "You always manage to disappear when I could use some support from you!"

Dean jerked back as though Sam had struck him. "What do you expect me to do?" he cried, "Pick a side? Fine, Sammy, whose side should I pick!" Dean raised his hands and made fists. "I am so g-goddamn tired of you and Dad using me like a rope in some stupid game of t-tug of war!" Dean started coughing, "I can't stand there and listen to this shit anymore. ok!" Dean was gagging now. Sam stood there staring at him while Dean tried to get himself under control. "Standing out here in the rain is b-better than hearing you and D-dad go at each other every fucking n-night!" he gasped out finally, bent over, hands braced against his thighs.

Sam opened his mouth and closed it again. Dean's unexpected gush of raw honesty had left Sam feeling hollow and guilty. He watched as Dean mopped the water off his face again. "What's wrong with you?" Sam asked suddenly, in a much softer voice. "Jesus Christ, Dean, how long have you been out here?" Sam was freezing his ass off and he had a coat on.

Dean shrugged and straightened slowly, suddenly very unsteady on his feet. "I dunno…"

Sam grabbed his arm, shocked at how it shook under hand. "Come in the house for God's sake, Dean! You need to get into some dry clothes, you're gonna get sick."

Dean laughed a little crazily finally letting Sam pull him, stumbling, to the house. "Too late…" he mumbled.

Review please...I'm flipping addicted to it……