A/N: Well, it's complete. This story started back in 2010 out of the pain my mom caused me by ignoring my presence, pain she still causes me. It was originally just going to be a one-shot, an insight into Dean's possible childhood. But a few reviewers asked for more, and soon every time I was being ignored by my loved ones I would turn to Dean and write through him. But I wanted Dean to have a happy ending, as I hope someday I will as well. Hence, this last chapter. It was written through many tears and Timshel by Mumford and Sons on repeat. Enjoy and review!

Bedford, Iowa
February 9, 2009

They were still in Iowa nearly a week after the 'siren incident.' Both brothers were tense and unsure around each other, what little trust had been between them before Thursday was now shattered into a million pieces. Dean tried his hand at small talk, sharing possible cases with Sam every now and then. Sam would mumble responses, avoiding eye contact with his brother out of embarrassment. They had both said so much that night, revealed too much too fast, and now that it was out in the open neither knew what to do with it all.

So they played a common Winchester tactic called avoidance.

Only, it had already been four days, and they weren't getting anywhere fast.

Dean was still suffering through his nightly nightmares, self-medicating with a bottle of Jack, as Sam silently observed from the four-foot distance between his bed and his brother's. And Sam was still sneaking out to visit Ruby when he thought Dean's focus was elsewhere. Little did he know Dean's eyes were always on his younger brother, especially when Sam least expected it- "Watch out for Sammy" always. They both feigned ignorance and tried to give each other space to lick their wounds inflicted by poisoned words. But the poison was spreading faster than either would have ever expected, and too soon they were back where they started that night, just as angry and bitter.

Sam was inches from Dean, his face red and his eyes filled with fire.

Dean was in Sam's face too, only his words were defensive and his eyes shone with betrayal.

They didn't end in a fist fight this time, but Sam's words were more powerful than any physical blow he could ever throw, knocking Dean's confidence right out from underneath him. The argument lasted minutes, but the deafening silence that followed felt like hours. Sam kept his back to Dean, breaths coming in hard as he struggled to regain control over his anger.

Dean leaned back against the grimy motel wall, his head down, hands shaking.

"Too busy feeling sorry for yourself, whining about all the souls you tortured."

Sinking heavily on to the edge of his bed, Dean wondered when they'd stopped being brothers.

"I'm smarter, stronger than you. I can take out demons you're too scared to go near."

It had to have been when Sam buried him in that pine box and was forced to move on. Something Dean could never have done, because he was weak and needy. He'd heard that often in enough in hell, Alastair loved picking him apart piece by piece. Alastair had told him then that he was making Dean stronger by breaking him down. Dean didn't believe him anymore because he was weaker than ever.

A loud sigh had Dean looking up from his shoelaces. Sam's back was still to him, but his brother's voice was loud and clear, "Don't wait up." And he was out the door before Dean could take another breath.

Those words broke something deep inside Dean, that smallest place in the farthest corner of his heart that was reserved strictly for family, for Sammy, and was guarded by layers of barbed wire. The raw pain ravaged through that corner of his heart and ripped to shreds every precious memory of his family he held with a firm grasp. They were slipping through his fingers now, like the string of a balloon carried away by the wind. His vision swam, and he blinked furiously only to feel tears sliding down his face. He hadn't even realized he was crying.

He cried a lot since getting out of hell.

"Don't wait up." Dean had heard those exact words only one other time in his three decades of life, the night John had left him. When he had been tossed aside like a useless dog, left behind to fend for himself in a world that no longer revolved around Sam and John. Neither of them had cared that they were taking with them Dean's purpose in life and taunting him with it.

Dean was a protector by nature but when you took that away from him he became a hopeless wanderer, looking for flings, easy hustles, and fast kills. And every other thought was either about Sam or John, always, because that's who he was. He was John Winchester's son and Sammy's brother. Without being those things he was nothing, a nobody.

Hours passed quietly, the moon dipped behind the skyline of trees and the sky bloomed with fresh light. Dean lay still atop the covers of a perfectly made bed, tears long since wiped away but the pain that had caused them very much present. Sometime during the night he had packed his duffel, and all that remained out of place in the small room was the nearly empty bottle of whisky by his side. Finally, Dean sat up and ran the back of his hand across weary eyes.

It was time to get up and move on.

When John had left Dean had spent weeks in the room where he had been abandoned, refusing to accept that his father had truly left him. And with coordinates, no less. Dean didn't like feeling worthless and used, especially by those he loved and gave his all to. So he sat in that motel room day after day, Impala's keys digging into the palm of his hand cellphone in the other, not moving on. And when he finally gave in to that voice in the back of his head whispering to him all hours of the day that he was alone and unwanted, it took months to build back up the face of Dean Winchester strangers were used to seeing; that cocky, charming, flirty 'Dean' that usually got into bar fights as well as out of them. It had taken so long to perfect those walls around his slowly mending heart back then. Now he wasn't sure where to even start rebuilding what Sam had crumbled. The faster he moved on the faster those walls could be rebuilt.

Dean looked around the room once more, memorizing every inch of it, so that he could remember where they ended- Sam & Dean. Then he shuffled out the door, duffle slung over his shoulder and the nearly empty bottle of whisky in hand.

"Where're you going?" The voice startled him, and Dean spun around to find a very tired looking Sam slouched in a plastic lawn chair that had seen better days.

"Don't know."

"If you don't know, then why are you leaving?" Sam sat forward in the chair, resting his chin on his hand.

Dean kept silent but his thoughts were clearly read on his face.

Because you're leaving.

"Dean, I'm not leaving." The you was left unspoken but still heard. "You're my brother and you've done a hell of a lot for me. More than I've deserved." Sam stood from the chair, moving towards Dean. "And I," his throat caught, and he swallowed back the emotions that struggled to the surface, "I'm sorry for what I said to you. You're the strongest person I know, Dean. You survived forty years in hell. I had no right to say what I did, and I uh… hope you can forgive me."

There was tentative fear in those brown eyes that reached deep into Dean's soul, coaxing out his instinctive nature to protect. And if there was one thing Dean could never do, it was to deny his brother anything. And though his chest still tightened when he thought of the words his brother had said to him, a sincere apology went a long way in repairing fallen walls and frayed hearts.

Dean tossed his duffle at his brother, who caught it easily. "On one condition, no more chick flick moments." Nodding, that Sammy-smile suddenly appeared, dimples showing and the huff of a laugh.