They were at it again. The insensate arguing over and over. Dean couldn't tell what it was about this time but it didn't matter, it always ended the same way. Both of them wanting him to take a side. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. It didn't really matter who won because Dean always lost. Always he was the one who always ended up feeling like a Judas. Always the one feeling torn apart. Always the one feeling battered after the storm.
Not again. Don't make me choose.
On hunts Dean was his same old self. Fearless and ready to take on whatever they were hunting. It was only during a hunt that he truly felt alive, that what he did mattered. Once they went back to the motel room however it became a different matter. He felt like a third wheel, useless and unwanted. He couldn't solve what ever was between his father and his brother and it tore him apart. Now when he heard them argue he just retreated deeper into himself. Locked in their motel room he would draw back a little more each time they started up and neither one of them ever really noticed. Weeks turned into months and Dean retreated more and more. It was winter now, he barely ate anything, but his weight loss went unnoticed as they all wore bulking sweaters and jackets half the time. The dark circles under his eyes, Sam attributed to the long hours and late nights spent on hunts and didn't give it another thought.
Spring time came and Sam started acting suspiciously. Letters arrived and were quickly hidden. One night when John was gone Sam confided in Dean about the letters. They were his acceptance letters to Stanford, and paperwork needed to be filled out. At first Dean was against it. The mere thought of his brother being anywhere away from him was a terrifying prospect. Sam begged him not to say a word to their father but not before he asked Dean to help fill out the paperwork and sign John's name on the approval forms. Torture. It was torture to help his brother leave him but Dean did it anyway.
How can you make me help you leave Sammy?
As the weeks went on and Sam looked so happy planning his new life it was hard for Dean to stay against it. All he ever wanted for his brother was to be happy and safe and Stanford was a way for his brother to be both. Now when John was around Sam played the dutiful son, all fired up about training and hunting. Dean knew it was all a charade to fool his father but went along to keep their fragile peace.
John got word of a Wendigo in the Ozarks and they headed up that way. It was a stormy night when they arrive at the coordinates. John came up with a plan and assumed the boys would follow it without conflict. He was wrong. From the get go Sam disagreed with the plan and the strategy his father had come up with. After all he and Dean had gone after a Wendigo in Colorado and knew its weakness and strengths. Sam spoke of a different strategy which John shot down as fool hardy and dangerous. Before Sam had a chance to argue back Dean mediated and offered a compromise to which they both reluctantly agreed.
Without a word John set off down a trail and assumed Dean and Sam were right behind him, doing what he wanted to do in the first place. Once Sam saw John take off he turned to Dean and told him to follow his plan with him and he turned around and headed in different direction. So lost in their determination to prove each other wrong they never noticed that Dean wasn't with either one of them. Dean knew his father had a good assault plan and he knew his brothers was valid as well. If they had only listened to him he wouldn't have found himself alone in the woods with the Wendigo getting ready to attack him.
Son of a bitch.
The creature was quick but Dean was prepared as lightning illuminated it before it struck. Leaping to the side Dean managed to escape the long claws for the most part. It caught his jacket as he rolled away and pulled out his flare gun. His shot echoed through the woods but was covered up by a loud clap of thunder. The rain poured heavily now as Dean watched the creature disintegrate in front of him. Further in the woods John stopped as he thought he heard the echo of a gunshot. Looking up he dismissed it as thunder. Turning around he cursed that neither of his sons were behind him. Soaked to the skin he walked back down the trail and spotted Sam leaning up against the locked car, having already given up his pursuit. His anger at being disobeyed only fueled the fire between them. Their argument renewed, neither of them noticed that Dean wasn't at the car with them when they climbed inside to get out of the storm.
Dean himself was heading back to the car when he was shocked to see it driving off without him. He picked up his cell phone to call his brother, but being so far up in the mountains, he couldn't get a good signal. As he stood there in the rain watching them drive off in the distance, Dean felt like he'd been suckered punched.
What the hell? How could they leave without me?
His legs felt like rubber and he sat down in the mud wondering what he was going to do next. Shivering he drew his legs up and tucked his head behind his arms as rain dripped down his collar. A few minutes later the Impala sped to a halt in front of him and his father and brother jumped out of the car and ran over to him. Shrugging off their explanations and apologies he crawled in the back seat and sat shivering ignoring both of them. Soon they were back at the motel and Dean headed to the shower without a word to either one of them. All arguments were on hold as they realized what they had done. A tenuous peace. Dean grasped it like gold but he knew it wouldn't last.
Dad wants to leave. Sammy wants to leave. I want them to stay. How come they get what they want, and I don't?
Things came to a head one night when by accident John found Sam's bus ticket to Stanford tucked away in Dean's duffel bag while trying to find a clean shirt for Sam. Laundry hadn't been done in days and Sam's last clean shirt was being peeled off his back after a witch hunt went bad. At first Dean claimed it was his much to his brother's surprise. Sam knew how much it hurt Dean to lie to his father. John got up in his face and demanded an explanation to which Dean just shrugged his shoulders. Not wanting to get Dean in further trouble Sam told his father everything and things went badly from that point on.
Jesus Christ not now. Sammy just shut up I can handle this.
John launched at Sam, and Sam launched at John, and Dean launched at the two of them. Words were spoken, threats were made, and in the middle of the altercation Dean was thrown head first into a dresser. Landing in an unconscious heap the sound of his head hitting the dresser was enough to stop the combatants in their tracks. Rushing to his side they tried to wake him up but he stayed unconscious until long after they reached the hospital. 24 hours later he showed no signs of waking up much to the dismay of his doctors and family. Subsequent MRI's show no brain damage and no logical reasoning behind his unresponsiveness.
By the third day, tensions between John and Sam were back on high alert and they bickered openly in front of a still unconscious Dean. Walking in, in the middle of one of their arguments, Dean's Doctor noted his heart rate went dangerously high as the two men argued. Calming the men down he pointed out to them that perhaps the reason Dean was staying unconscious was so he wouldn't have to deal with what ever was going on between the two most important people in his life. He suggested family counseling to which John explain it would be a "cold day in hell when any of his family would talked to a shrink." But John did listen to the Doctor. He'd been watching Dean for months wondering what was going on in that head of his. On a hunt everything seemed to be fine but afterwards. The weight loss, the dark circles under his eyes, the general loss of his cocky smile and sense of humor, John couldn't help but notice.
In light of this new situation with Sammy going on it was all starting to make sense. Sammy had made Dean part of the conspiracy and it had come at a high price. John had already accepted his perceived betrayal from Sam regarding his abandonment of his family. It was Dean's readiness to help his brother that he wasn't prepared for. Dean was his right hand man, his next in command, and that Dean would even think about going against John for any reason was a shock to him. What had gotten into his sons? Didn't they know catching the thing that killed their mother was the most important thing in their lives right now, more important than anything else? Until that end all else was on hold as far as John was concerned.
He gave Sam the ultimatum; it was his way or the highway and once Sam left there would be no turning back. Sam hesitated for a moment before making his decision. There was really only one consideration and that was his brother. Leaving Dean would be the hardest thing he'd ever had to do but his heart told him to follow his dream. He went back to the motel room and packed up his things. Waiting and watching for John to leave the hospital Sam crept into Dean's room and sat with him in the dark.
Hours later Dean started to stir. He opened his eyes and found Sam sitting next to him without his father. One look told him what was happening. The one day he had dreaded was finally here. Sam tried to apologize but Dean just silently waved him off.
If you're going then maybe you should just go.
Together they sat there in silence afraid to say how they really felt. Finally Sam looked at the clock and realized if he didn't get going he would still be there when John came back. If he left now he would spare his brother from further drama and that was the least he could do. Reluctantly he said goodbye and was met by a painfully silent response. Dean wouldn't acknowledge him. Dean couldn't, it hurt too much. One look would acknowledge all the pain of losing his brother and Dean wasn't ready to deal with that yet. No it was better that he just stayed quiet.
Sam understood his brother response. Really there was only one thing left to say.
"I'm sorry." He said, his voice barely above a whisper. Still no response.
"Damn it Dean, say something!"
Sam waited. He waited for what seemed like an eternity. He was moments from changing his mind and throwing himself at his brother and begging forgiveness for ever hurting him but one word, one word changed his world forever.
Sam was staggered. That one word cut through him like a knife. That one word cut the last tie that was keeping him. That one word set him free and with that one word Dean knew he had said too much. There was no going back now. Sam nodded, slowly turned away, and headed for the door.
Dean watched Sam turn and walk away. As he got closer to the door Dean so wanted to scream. He so wanted beg. He wanted to do anything it would take to keep his brother by his side. Instead he watched his little brother slide his duffle bag over his shoulder and walk out the door.
Authors note: This is the angsty piece I wrote the other day but couldn't bring myself to post. I fiddled with it some more and decided what the hell I'll go ahead and run with it. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you liked it.