Runaway (You'll Understand When You're Older)

1991

"Dean? What are you doing?"

"Packing, Sam. I'm leaving. I can't take this anymore… Dad got back home last night at three in the morning. I woke up when I heard him come in. His clothes were covered in blood. He wouldn't say a word about where he'd been, or what happened. Just yelled at me to go back to bed."

"He was probably just tired, Dean."

"Maybe. But then it hit me. As long as we're living like this, nothing's ever going to change. We spend nights with aunts, uncles, friends you and I have never met, even strangers sometimes. When we're lucky… More often, we're just alone."

"So you're leaving me alone? Don't go Dean. I need you."

"I figure once I'm gone, Dad'll have to pay more attention to you, Sammy. It's better for the both of us… Don't worry little brother. I'll find you again someday."

It wasn't really better for the two of them. Dean knew that his father wouldn't be home for a while and Sam would be alone for couple following days. But Dean also knew that he needed the extra time in order to get as far away from his family as possible, so they wouldn't be able to find him again.

Then again, if Dean was found maybe it would convince his father that he needed to stay home more often… show him that he needed to be there for him and Sammy…

No. This was the best way.

His father would be forced to stay with Sam and be his father, not just a man who drove them from place to place and taught them weapons-training and hand-to-hand combat maneuvers. And this way Dean too, would be able to settle down, find a nice family to live with, actually have time to study and do homework as opposed to playing Dad for Sam.

Dean could feel Sam's wide brown eyes boring into his back as he headed towards the front doors. Sam had been crying, crying, but Dean hardened his will and told himself that he couldn't turn back from this. This way the only way to teach his father…

Only way for Sam to have a father.

"Dean…" the eight-year-old whimpered.

"You'll understand this when you're older Sammy," Dean whispered under his breath. It was so low that he could barely hear himself, but he heard his father saying it to him in his head.

Dean closed the front door, looking back at it mournfully before shrugging his duffle bag farther up his shoulder. It contained most of his stuff… couple of t-shirts, a flashlight with extra batteries, flint and tinder, a blanket and a pillow, two pairs of jeans, a picture of Sammy, John, and Mary… one or two knives.

He didn't know exactly where to go. He didn't know where they were half the time anyway. So he set out down the dimly lit road. Dean was surprised that Sam had yet to follow him, not that he wanted the eight-year-old to be running after him, but it would've meant a lot to the older sibling.

Dean reckoned he had walked almost six miles by the time it grew dark. Thankfully, the Winchester family had been in an area of Virginia when Dean decided to run away, luckily for him any which direction he went he was bound to find some form of civilization by way of small towns.

He meandered into a dilapidated art deco style diner, where the grey-haired waitress greeted him warmly.

"Hello honey! What is a handsome young man like yourself doing here alone at this time of night? Are your parents parking the car while you get a seat for them?" She asked, sickeningly sweet.

Dean just smiled at the woman, "No, my parents are dead, I'm running away from the child molester axe murderer who kidnapped me."

The woman took a step back, uncertain of how to respond.

Before the lady could recover Dean continued, "I'm joking ma'am. I just want a sandwich to go and two bottles of water. Whatever you have that's cheap." Dean had lifted one hundred fifty dollars from his father's duffle earlier, giving Sam forty to order pizza with if he ran out of food before Dad came back. He would need whatever money he could get, so he wanted to conserve it wisely.

"Well of course hun," she replied. "Why don't you grab a seat at the bar and I'll see what I can cook up for you. On the house, dear."

The woman walked behind the swinging kitchen door and Dean sourly crawled up on one of the bar stools. He hadn't planned on eating their at the diner, and he only wanted the sandwich to eat later… but then again… he was rather hungry, and he hadn't eaten earlier in the day, wishing to keep the shelves stocked for Sammy.

A warm meal would do him some good. Put bounce in his step so to say. And he would be able to walk further before settling down to sleep.

The very thought of sleeping caused Dean to shake nervously, the idea scared him more than he imagined back at the motel with his brother. He'd have to sleep outside, in the cold.

Alone.

No matter what John had put them through, he always kept Sam and Dean under a roof and clothed. Sometimes they didn't have enough food to fill their bellies, but John always provided shelter and the things necessary for survival.

He just hadn't provided the attention that Dean craved for him and his brother.

When the woman returned she brought out a steaming bowl of soup, a cup of hot cocoa, and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. "Here sweetey, special from the kitchen just for you."

Dean eyed the lady, she was plump, and old enough to be his grandmother… acted like a grandmother too. He hated how her eyes looked at him, with that recognizable pity that he often received wherever the small family went.

Something's not right with that father, to let his boys look that way.

I wonder what happened to the kid's parents.

Just look at that child.

Oh that poor boy.

Nevertheless, he wasn't ashamed to wolf down a free meal. He'd have to tell Sam this trick next time Dad left town. Just go in looking sorry for yourself and…

Dean shook his head. No, there was no next time. He wouldn't be able to teach Sammy this and with luck he wouldn't have to.

"Are you going to tell me what you're doing out here this late at night, sweetheart?"

The middle Winchester considered outright telling the woman no, but that would've been rude. "I'm just coming home from the library," he lied, "I didn't realize what time it was, and I missed lunch, so I was planning on eating on the way. Mom wouldn't have had leftovers, because of my brothers and sisters. She always says if you're not home in time for dinner then you ain't getting any. Or something like that." Dean shrugged.

"Well don't worry about paying for that for a second dear. And I'll get you a couple of sandwiches for your family. No sense being hungry during the break. Just go ahead and throw them in your refrigerator and they'll last a few days."

"No really ma'am," Dean shook his head no, "That's really not necessary. I don't need more than one."

"Nonsense child, I would've had to throw them out anyway. How many siblings do you have? I'll pack you one for each of them."

Dean surrendered, "It's just Momma and my two brothers and two sisters and me. But the girls are babies, they don't need sandwiches." The woman bundled up in a brown bag four roast beef sandwiches with provolone and lettuce. Dean hadn't wanted to carry the sandwiches, it only meant more weight for him to carry, plus they wouldn't last more than a day without refrigeration.

However, it was only a little over 50 degrees Fahrenheit and in would only get colder as the night progressed. Maybe the sandwiches could tie him over two days or so before going bad.

"You just finish up that soup and sandwich. Holler if you need anything else, dear."

Dean was nibbling on the sandwich when another patron clicked on a television over the bar. The news was on, something about an eleven-year-old boy going missing in a nearby down. He watched warily as fleeting glances from around the diner encircled him… the people were comparing him in their minds to that other little boy.

He wanted to turn around, yell at all of them that that child wasn't him. That kid could've been kidnapped! Or killed! I'm doing this on my own! Don't put me in the same boat as he is!

Dean dipped the sandwich in the warm tomato soup nonchalantly, as if the news report didn't disturb him in the least. After all, he was just a happy kid on his way home to his mom after researching a school project… nothing more suspicious than that.

He unzipped his duffle and stuffed the sandwiches inside before anyone noticed the wad of clothes in it. He smiled at the waitress, and pushed his very empty plate and bowl toward her. "Thank you very much for the sandwiches ma'am. I'm sure Byron and Brent will love them."

"Here's the water bottles too," she added winking. "Come back soon child, we loved having you join us this evening."

He grinned and placed the water bottles in the side pocket of the duffle. Dean waved goodbye to the woman with a big fake smile plastered on his face and exited the diner. He'd have to make sure to go another good couple miles now, with a full stomach and energy to match.

Pulling his jacket tighter around him, Dean shivered at the prospect that he had left Sam nearly five hours earlier. It felt like much longer than that. It must be terrifying to Sam, Dean thought grimly, he's probably going stir crazy waiting for Dad to come back.

Dean paused… Sam wouldn't wait for their father to come back.

No, if there was ever an emergency both boys had been taught (trained, Dean added dourly) to call either Bobby or Pastor Jim. Sam surely would've called one of the two by that point, and they would've contacted John.

Dean started to panic, his breaths getting shallower and more rapid. No, he couldn't be found… that would ruin everything he planned for Sammy. He had to keep going, no stopping for breaks, no sleeping… not until he was sure that John couldn't find him. People… people were witnesses, and Dean was certain that his father would speak to the lady at the diner.

The world seemed to swirl around Dean like an angry hurricane.

He needed to be away from people, at least for a little while. Dean looked up ahead and saw the sign for the interstate in little under than three miles. From there Dean would be able to travel faster and farther, sure he wouldn't be near any form of shelter, and there would be speeding cars but…

But he would be able to break away from this vagabond lifestyle that was his childhood.

He walked faster, reaching the exit in an hour from when he left the diner. It was roughly ten o'clock in the evening, and headlights still flooded the road with light. Dean could feel his limbs grow slower, he was exhausted from all the walking but he kept going.

In another two hours he walked another eight miles along a straight path south down the highway, keeping clear of the road yet far enough away from the trees lining the way. It amazed Dean how far he could travel, even being only twelve, but his small body was reaching it's stopping point, and Dean knew he had to stop sooner or later.

Dean dropped the duffle.

And he was so tired he couldn't bend over to pick it back up on his shoulder.

So instead, Dean dragged the duffle down into the ravine near the forest, out of sight of the cars on the soft grass. He pulled out his extra jacket with the hood and sat down, laying out the blanket and pillow for sleeping.

"Goodnight Sammy, goodnight Dad," he whispered into the darkness as his lids closed into a welcoming sleep.

To Be Continued

Author's Note: This little piece of fiction is based entirely on the Wildstorm comic series. The italicized portion at the beginning that starts the fiction is the "prologue" of volume 3.

As for me, while I do enjoy the notion that the boys knew about hunting, it's a very different take and very romantic idea that neither Sammy nor Dean knew their fathers crusade until later.

Disclaimer: I don't in anyway own Supernatural nor its affiliated comics.

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