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

1991

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.

The next morning, Dean woke up stiff and still tired. He rummaged through his duffle bag, taking out a water bottle and one of the sandwiches. He took a big gulp of the water and ate through half the sandwich before sealing it back up with the plastic bag it was held in.

He groggily sat up and stretched, yawning as he did so. The twelve-year-old hadn't been found, nor had any animals assaulted him during the night. In Dean's opinion, this qualified for a good night's sleep under his circumstances.

Dean would have to be careful at this part. More cars on the highway also meant more police cruisers, so Dean would have to travel closer to, if not in, the woods. It would make his journey, no, his escape, more tedious as well as it would take longer than if he was walking on the straight grass.

But that was no big task, he thought about his brother, and what this would mean for him in the long run. It kept him going and all hesitation and trepidation Dean had felt last night vanished as he was bathed in the new day's sun.

He supposed he could continue south until he ran out of food and water, when he would stop to get some more. Dean laughed, he'd probably be pretty rank by then and some nameless waitress would toss him in the dishwasher to clean him up.

By that point, Dean would continue to travel making his way as far as he could and as fast as he could, while he still had funds. When those dried up he would pretend to cry and be put up in some orphanage to be taken to a foster family. Dad wouldn't know where to look first, and have to give up on finding Dean.

Better for both of us, Dean remembered telling his brother.

The mid-December air curled around him, and he kept the jacket on from the night before, packing his blanket back into the blue duffle bag. He'd head south again, hopefully keep himself warm and make good distance before stopping to rest again.

Dean was puzzled, he thought that it would've gotten warmer as the day progressed and his walk lengthened, however, he was shocked and scared to feel the temperature dropping hour by hour. He silently wished he brought another jacket; he was freezing as he was with two.

The news would've mentioned if there was going to a nor'easter on the way, but Dean probably disregarded it. This had been the premier opportunity to sneak away undetected by his father. Dean smiled, if the blizzard didn't cause him to turn into a Winchester popsicle on the side of the highway then it would cover any tracks he might have left behind.

Sure enough, as the middle Winchester thought that, a snowflake landed on his nose and he looked at it cross-eyed, "Think that's funny? Dontcha bitch?" More and more began to fall and soon enough the whole ravine which he had been walking was dusted with a thin blanket of whiteness.

The weather was nasty, lashing through the trees with fierce gusts of wind and heavy snowfall beat against Dean, who was huddling and trying to keep warm in a little hovel near the highway. The young boy shivered uncontrollably… it hadn't been that bad the night before, he hated the north and its changing weather.

Dean tried to ignore the cold, reasoning that it couldn't last very long, storms pass, weather changes at drop of a dime.

The passing cars started to slow as the snow built up, and Dean realized if he moved from his location that he would be easily spotted. Dean scooted himself farther into the side of the earth, tightening his jacket around him. He placed his bag close to his chest for extra warmth and his blanket around his legs. He knew from training that he had to keep his chest warm… otherwise he'd be in worse trouble.

His hood up around his face, Dean watched the snow gather up around him, and he became just another mound on the side of the road. The boy's eyelids drooped and Dean was losing a fight with himself to stay awake. There was so much snow… everything was white and fluffy and so cold.

Dean's concentration drifted away to the other times he had been in the cold, he had usually been with Sam, only on a few occasions he was by himself. When Sam had been four he was in bed with a fever, Dean went outside their motel window and made Sam a snowman. When he went back inside Dean showed Sam the snowman and taught him the "Frosty the Snowman" jingle.

Sam had sung it, albeit off-key, for the rest of the winter, it finally took John telling him that Frosty needed a break and teaching him the Twelve Days of Christmas, the kid would never remember all of them anyway.

Frosty… in fact… heh… he showed Sam the Snowman… Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer would be on tonight. Sam would probably watch it, even though he pretended not to. Dean teased him about Sam the Snowman… wondering if he would sing "Holly Jolly Christmas" with Burl Ives.

Part of Dean wanted to meet an abominable snow monster.

When Dean woke up again this time he was just relieved that he woke up at all. He found himself buried in the snow and the weather had gotten exponentially worse. He had to move, get his blood working… warm up.

He tried to get up but Dean found his legs were entirely asleep still, and they weren't waking up. Dean panicked, and the reality of the situation started to sink in…

He was going to die.

There wasn't anyone to rescue him.

He left behind the two people he trusted and depended on to be there for him.

Oh God.

Dean could feel tears fall down his cheek but even they were cold.

It amazed Dean, and terrified him about how he was going to die – his mother died by fire, and there he was, all of twelve years old, and he was going to die from ice. His mother had Dad with her when she passed – Dean had the company of passing cars.

No, Dean couldn't die this way; he wanted to protect Sammy and his dad from any more pain and loneliness. Dean fell onto his chest and began to crawl out to the open, with any luck he could motion for a car to stop and…

It was taking longer than he wanted, so Dean abandoned dragging his bag with him. He made it to the middle of the ditch before collapsing face first into the ground. He simply couldn't go any further. And he wouldn't be found. And he'd never get to see his father and Sammy again.

A loud screeching noise came from the highway and Dean dimly heard it through his cold-induced depression. Dean instinctively found the strength to curl up into a ball on his side as a large object flew over his head and crashed into the trees near him.

Dean let loose a guttural scream not daring to look at the accident which had happened. Instead, he turned away from the accident and shut his eyes tightly. In doing so he shut out the world entirely so the young man missed most of the chaos that followed.

What he did notice was a man shouting something, although it was muted at first, and in a moment of panic Dean tightened his hands over his ears to block out the man's voice. "No!" Dean shouted, even though the highway was only at a dull roar. "Leave me alone!" Dean protested once again.

"Oh my God," the man said, then he called out, "I've got a kid here!" He reached out and touched Dean's shoulder, "You okay son? Anything hurt?"

"No…" he stuttered, "I… I wasn't in th… the car."

The man gave Dean a look over and, deciding that he was alright to move, hoisted Dean up against his chest, wrapping his arms around the boy.

Dean didn't care that a stranger was holding him, nor did he care about being found. What he comforted in, was that the man reminded him of his father – and that he was warm. The young Winchester shivered once and so the man held him tighter.

"Allie! Get those blankets from the car."

"It's rea… really cold…" Dean stammered quietly, his voice barely a whisper over cracked and cold lips. By this point Dean stopped shaking and shivering entirely, it wasn't helping anyway, and the little voice in his head told him that this was terribly, terribly bad.

"What is it Frank?" Came the concerned voice of a female as Dean was wrapped in something. The boy couldn't tell what it was, but it was bluish or green – it didn't matter.

"The boy said he wasn't in the accident," the man replied.

Dean could hear the woman dimly run somewhere and return with a mug. "You don't think this boy's been out here in the storm do you?" He felt warm flesh press against his forehead. "This boy is freezing!"

"I know, give me the coffee for him. Call 911."

Dean couldn't focus any longer on the couple – the man attempted to open Dean's mouth and force Dean to sip the bitter coffee. Dean shut his mouth tightly and shook his head mumbling a weak protest.

"Yes… 95… just outside …. No, we don't … severe hypoth…"

Dean thought of the snowman he made for Sam years ago.

How it waved at them nice and warm inside their motel room.

And he hoped Sam and Dad were warm – because right now he was the snowman.

The man closed Dean's mouth for him and watch as the boy's eyes rolled back into his head. He held the side of Dean's head with his gloved hand and pressed it against his breast, looking to the woman anxiously and whispering, "tell them to hurry."

Dean felt consciousness return to him, but his mind was still in a fog. He groggily opened up his eyes halfway and noticed two differences from the last time he fell asleep – one, there wasn't a blanket of snow, but a knitted blue blanket, and two that it was warm.

Tilting his head to one side he saw the curly head of hair that was all too familiar to the young man. Sam was sleeping, and if Dean hadn't been so tired he would have reached out and played with his brother's hair.

"Hey Dean," he heard the gruff voice of his father from behind him.

Dean looked at his father with wide eyes but didn't say anything.

John sighed and pulled his chair closer to Dean's bedside. He noticed Dean gulp and try to say something but the widow held his hand up to keep his son quiet. "Dean," he began softly, "I know I'm not always there for you and Sammy." He gave Dean a knowledgeable look, "Sam told me why you left. Listen son, I can't promise you that I can always be there, and I didn't raise you to need me. I want you and your brother to rely on each other."

"But I just want you home Dad," Dean croaked.

The widow held one of Dean's hand with his own two large calloused hands. It was still cold, but the couple who had found Dean had found him just in time. From what John could figure, Dean had spent the night in the storm, was near to death from hypothermia.

If that accident happened right by where Dean had been, Dean would probably died in less than a few hours.

"I know Dean. But sometimes I can't be home, and someday I won't come home."

"Why not? You're the best there is…"

"Because things can go wrong Dean. You know that yourself." Keeping one hand holding Dean's, John took his other and patted Dean on the knee and added with a grin, "Get some rest Dean, we'll talk about your punishment later."

Dean mumbled indiscernibly. He kind of wished Sam would wake, but his brother would be there when he woke up, and on the road to their next town. But this time Dean promised himself he wouldn't focus on Dad being gone, but looking forward to him coming back.

THE END

Author's Note: Sorry about you know, the long period between these chapters. College does that to a girl. Anyway, happy holidays! I know that Actually one of you guys thought that I would take this years down the road, and I might do that, but not for this fic. Maybe in a few weeks or months or something. Already have an idea for it too, coming off the first chapter of this.

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

Please REVIEW! It encourages me haha