Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural

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The next morning, Sam was released from the hospital.

Dean stays by his side, making sure not to take his eyes off of his brother for more than a few moments-knowing Sam, he'd just get himself hurt again. When his father leaves the room to sign the discharge papers, Sam turns to Dean.

"Are you ever going to stop staring at me?" Sam demanded as he pulled on a new shirt.

"Sorry, Sammy," Dean looked over to the wall. "I shouldn't have let this happen."

"Dean, you didn't let this happen," Sam told his older brother. "You need to realize that we're going to get ourselves into trouble, but it isn't all your fault. Okay?"

"Sammy, I'm supposed to-" Dean began, but Sam cut him off.

"Dean, you do protect me," Sam cut in. "But you have to look out for yourself. You're going to end up hurting yourself again if you don't start realizing how much we need you."

"You mean it?" Dean asked, skeptical.

"Of course I mean it, Dean," Sam answered. "You're my big brother, and we need you."

Sam hugged his brother, and in that moment Dean realized exactly how much he was worth. His family needed him, and he needed to be there for them. He would do whatever he could to help them.

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The rest of the summer passed in a lazy haze. Dean would spend some time with Sam, go to the beach with Jake and Amy, and just enjoy life. He was putting on weight, but good weight-he ate right and worked out, until he was a solid brick wall with bulging biceps and a six pack.

In July, Pastor Jim and Caleb came down to visit. Caleb was beyond shocked when he saw Dean-he was still expecting to see the same small, skinny boy that had left. But Dean had changed, and it was an amazing turn around.

On July fourth, the entire family decided to go see the fireworks. The display was about halfway over before John realized that his son was no where to be found. He looked around, and saw Dean leaning up against the side of a building, passionately kissing Amy.

John was tempted to go over there and separate the two lovebirds, but he didn't. He was so relieved to see Dean acting like a normal teenager that he was unable to even pretend to be angry with his son. He kept an eye on the teenagers, making sure that nothing else happened until Dean came back towards them, holding Amy's hand.

"You got yourself a good girlfriend there, Ace," John whispered in his ear.

Dean kissed Amy on the cheek and wrapped her in an embrace.

"The best," Dean agreed.

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By the time Dean started his sophomore year in September, John was growing restless. He didn't want to do the suburban thing, but he also didn't want to set Dean back. He eventually decided that Dean would finish the year in Sioux Falls, and then they would hit the road.

He just needed to break the news to his kids.

For Dean's birthday in January, Bobby rented out a hall and hired a DJ. Dean invited almost his entire class, but Bobby didn't mind. He was glad to see the teenager being himself again.

Caleb made a surprise appearance at Dean's party, and was more than pleasantly surprised. Dean was still doing phenomenally well, and seemed to be acting like a typical teen again.

"Deuce just keeps getting better and better," Caleb commented to John. "You made the right choice by staying here."

"I think so too," John replied, biting down on his tongue. "But we can't stay forever."

"When are you planning on leaving?" Caleb asked.

"End of June," John answered. "I just...I need to be hunting again, and now that Dean's better-"

"Dean's not better," Caleb interrupted. "He has an eating disorder. Just because the symptoms are treated doesn't mean they can't come back."

"Well, I think he's ready," John insisted. "I'll keep an eye on him, and he'll be fine."

"John, he has a life here," Caleb reminded him. "He has a girlfriend, friends, school-"

"You think I don't know that?" John growled, looking over at his eldest. Dean was dancing with Amy, to some teeny-bopper song that John had never heard in his life. "But this isn't our life. Dean knows that."

"It could be," Caleb hissed. "He could stay here with Bobby, graduate, go to college-he could get out. Sam too."

"I know he could get out," John stated. "But who would protect him? Who would teach him how to shoot a rifle, make sure he salted the windows?"

"Bobby isn't completely helpless, John," Caleb answered. "You know that. He's just as much a hunter as you are. You know what I think?"

"What?" John asked, furious. "What do you think, Reeves?"

"I think this is you being selfish," Caleb answered, looking the hunter straight in the eye. "You know that Dean's just as comfortable with Bobby as he is with you-hell, probably more-and you're afraid that he'll end up wanting to stay."

"Yup, you hit the nail on the head, Caleb," John responded angrily. "I'm so fucking selfish that I would risk my son's health for my feelings. You don't know shit, kid."

With that, John stalked off to find Sam.

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As the end of the school year grew closer and closer, Dean grew more and more afraid. He knew that his father wouldn't want to stay at Bobby's forever, and he would end up leaving. That was why he hated getting close to people at school-he always ended up leaving at some time or another.

On the last day of school, he took Amy aside. He walked her over to the shade of a tree and kissed her, long and hard. He wanted to remember the way she tasted, the way she felt, her body pressed against his. She was the first steady girlfriend he had, and it honestly hurt him to break things off with her.

But he knew that he had to for his family.

"Amy, I've got something I need to say to you," he began seriously. He stared in her eyes, memorized all of the contours and characteristics on her face that made her Amy.

"Yeah, babe?" she prompted, kissing him again. Dean gently rebuffed her. God, this hurts, he thought.

"What's up?" She asked, perplexed. Dean had never denied her a kiss, not in nearly a year of being together. "Is something wrong?"

Dean couldn't stand to see her so upset, and he didn't want to do it. He nearly chickened out, but he knew that it was necessary.

"Amy, we need to break up," he told her, closing his eyes. You will not cry. You will not cry.

"Break...up?" Amy questioned, hurt. What had she done? Why didn't Dean love her anymore? "Why? What did I do wrong?"

"You didn't do anything wrong," Dean replied, reaching for her hand-she pulled it back as tears clouded her vision. Dean ignored the twinge in his chest and did his best to stay calm. "It's not you, it's me."

"Yeah, like I haven't heard that one before," Amy guffawed through tears. "Is it my scar? Or my attitude? What?"

"It's not you," Dean repeated. "Amy, you're perfect. You always have been. You need a guy who's as good as you, and I'm not that guy. I'm...broken."

"Dean, you're perfect for me," Amy cried. She threw herself at Dean, breathing in his scent. "Don't leave me. Please."

"I'm so sorry," Dean replied, letting the tears spill over. "I have to."

He planted one last kiss on her forehead. "You're beautiful, Amy. You're amazing, and someday you're going to meet a great guy and settle down. But I'm not that guy."

With that, he extracted himself from her arms and walked away, tears pouring down his face.

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When Dean arrived back at the house, Sam assaulted him with requests.

"Can you come help me finish the tree house, Dean?" Sam asked eagerly. "We only have to do the roof."

"I really don't feel like it, Sammy," Dean declined. "Maybe tomorrow."

"But Dean, I really want to finish it up," Sam pleaded. "Please?"

Dean really didn't feel like doing it, but he couldn't say no to Sam when he pulled the puppy eyes. So he just nodded and followed him out.

They spent a couple of hours working on the tree house before John walked out. It was time to tell them.

"Dean, Sam...we're going to roll out in a few days," John told them. "Start packing up."

Dean had been expecting this, so he didn't say anything. Sam, however, had a completely different reaction.

"But Dad, I don't want to go!" Sam shouted. "Jake invited me to his party next week!"

"Samuel, don't start," John warned. "I'm in no mood."

"But Dad..." Sam whined.

"Samuel," John replied, his tone dangerous. "Don't fight with me."

Sam began to cry and climbed down the ladder. He ran into the house and slammed the door behind him.

"You have any problems?" John asked his eldest.

"No, sir," Dean answered, his mouth a thin line.

"Good," John grunted. "We leave Monday."

He walked inside, leaving Dean alone with a toolbox full of sharp tools.

Dean was distraught, and for the first time in a while he was actually thinking about cutting. He reached inside the toolbox and grabbed the box cutter...

….But put it down. He couldn't do that. He couldn't do that to Sam, to Bobby, to Caleb, or any of the people who had worked so hard to help him. He placed it back into the box and carried it inside.

"Here are your tools, Bobby," he told the grizzled hunter, placing it on the counter. "Thanks for letting me and Sam use them."

"No problem, Dean," Bobby answered. "So yer Daddy told ya the news?"

"Yup," Dean answered, slumping into a chair. "I've been expecting it for a while."

"It's all going to work out, Dean," Bobby promised, setting a plate of cookies in front of him. Dean picked one up and began nibbling at it absentmindedly.

"I guess," Dean replied, unconvinced. "I'm going to go start packing."

Dean got up from the table and walked upstairs to begin packing.

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On Monday, they hit the road.

Breakfast at Bobby's was a solemn affair-Sam pouted, John was silent, and Bobby attempted to lighten the mood with bad jokes. But nothing could change the fact that they were leaving.

At ten in the morning, John ordered the boys to bring their bags to the Impala. Sam made a big scene, as usual-he banged his suitcase on the door, stomped his feet, and cussed a couple times until John threatened to spank him.

Dean, on the other hand, walked out silently. He had nothing left in this town, not after leaving Amy.

He didn't even notice that she was on Bobby's lawn until she walked up to him.

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"Hey, Dean," Amy greeted him. "Leaving?"

"Amy," Dean said, shocked. "Who told you?"

"I ran into Bobby at the store yesterday. He told me about it," Amy answered. "You know, you could've just told me that you were leaving."

"Sorry," Dean said curtly. He just wanted to get this over with, like ripping off a Band-Aid. The faster it was over, the less it would hurt.

"It's fine," Amy replied. "I just wanted to say goodbye."

With that, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a kiss. It was long, passionate-Dean was sure that sparks were flying off of them.

It was also over far too soon.

"I'll miss you, Dean," Amy admitted. "You got closer to me than anybody else. Thank you."

"Thank you, Ame," Dean responded. "You helped me with everything. I-"

"You what, Dean?" she asked.

"I love you," he finished, staring her in the eyes.

There was a beat of silence, and then she replied:

"I love you too, Dean," she replied, kissing him again.

Dean didn't want to leave her; he wanted to stay, wrapped in her embrace, for all eternity. But he couldn't.

"I've got to go," he told her when they were finished.

"I'll miss you," she said, tears in her eyes. "See you later?"

"See you later," Dean repeated, before his throat closed up.

He let go of her hand and walked towards the Impala. He took his seat, next to John and in front of Sammy-but he turned back and stared at the girl who had become his first love.

He didn't take his eyes off of her until she was out of sight.

John looked over to his eldest and noticed that he was crying. Keeping his eyes on the road, he laid a hand on his son's shoulder.

"It'll be okay, Dean," John soothed. And then came Dean's response:

"I know."

The End

Thank you guys for sticking with this story until the end. I may write a sequel, I may not. But you guys have been absolutely amazing, and I want you to know that I appreciate every review, read, and PM I've gotten.