"I'm done with it! You hear me, Sam? I'm done with your selfish obnoxious bullshit!"

"Bullshit? That's funny, coming from you, Dad."

"Get the fuck out of my sight, NOW!"

John's voice echoed in the apartment, but the sound of Sam slamming the door to their bedroom was louder.

"Son of a bitch!" Sam punched the wall so hard Dean was sure at least one bone might have fractured. "I can't fucking believe-"

"Just shut up, Sam." Dean's voice was tired. "I wish for once both of you would just shut up."

Dean's words stopped Sam and his mouth just hung open silently. "I'm sick and tired of both of your bullshit."

"That's right. Take his side, as usual."

"No, not as usual, Sam. That's the part you don't seem to get. I do take your side sometimes, but I just don't get anything but shit on for it by both of you. Now I'M sick of it."

"He's an asshole-"

"He's our FATHER!" Dean refused to let Sam's tirade continue. "I'm over this shit- I really don't want to talk to you right now."

Dean tried to exit quietly, but John heard him. Two weeks into an at least six week stint on the sofa for a broken leg had not improved John Winchester's disposition.

"Dean front and center."

Sighing, Dean approached his father.

"You always ask me to let you handle Sam. Well, you need to handle him."

"What do you want him to do?" The teenager tried to hide the irritation from John, but the older man's eyebrows raised.

"Seems you're not able to handle him as well as you thought, son?"

"I'll take care of it."

John shook his head. "No, nevermind. I'm going to be here a while and it's time he learns to listen to me. I'm his father."

"Dad, I can handle him. I'm just tired."

"Tired of his shit, I'm guessing." John almost smiled. "He's turning into a grade A asshole these days."

Dean was sure if he heard the word 'asshole' one more time from either of them he was going to start swinging. "Fine. You want to go a few more rounds with him I can't stop either of you." Without another word, Dean went out the front door.

It was a rare show of disobedience on Dean's part, but John was sure Sam's attitude had a lot more to do with it then his own. So he let it slide.

Dean drove for an hour, than found a quiet spot to sit and wonder what the fuck was going on in his life. The next four weeks were a sure thing to be hell on earth. Sam and John hadn't said a civil word to each other, or about each other, in months. And that was seeing each other for maybe a few hours here and there. John was determined to start dragging Sam along more often on hunts, and Sam was determined to spend more time on his AP courses in school. Not going to go well.

But, on the other hand, John was going to be stuck there for a few weeks. Maybe it was time they both were forced to leave Dean out of their bullshit. Making a decision, Dean headed back to the apartment.

The lights were out and the doors locked. Letting himself in, he made sure Sam and John were asleep before grabbing his stuff. Years of leaving quickly made the Winchester a master at efficiently packing and he was back out the door in under ten minutes. As he backed the Impala out of the parking lot, he briefly wondered how his father and brother would do on their own. But his last nerve and slim desire for self-preservation won out. It was time for Dean to spend a few days taking care of Dean.

About three hours from the apartment, it was time to pull over. His eyes were burning, and the white lines on the middle of the road kept blurring. He found a small motel and checked in quickly. Knowing that his phone would be going off as soon as one or the other of his remaining family woke, he quickly sent a short text to both.

I'm fine. Need some space.

And, as an afterthought.

Work it out.

Satisfied that they would realize he ran away (could you really be considered a runaway at 19?) and not be worried that something got him, he closed his eyes and gave himself permission to rest.

The first morning of freedom hit Dean with a case of guilt. His watch read 8am and he was sure that Sam and John were up and most likely already having their first round of the day. This one would end quickly, since Sam had to go to school. Briefly he wondered if his name would come up in the fight, since by now they'd both already read his text message. Blaming each other, no doubt. But then the thought that neither of them could call him into their domestic battle made him smile. Fuck 'em. At least for a few days.

Breakfast was the first order of the day he intended to follow. So, that being decided, Dean made his way to the small diner across the street. The most adorable waitress he had seen in a while brought him a hot cup of coffee and stared at him for a long moment. The attention made Dean smile. He knew girls, and women, for that matter, saw something in him that they wanted to have more often than not.

Her smile grew brighter and she stammered a bit taking his order.

Yep. Dean thought to himself. Definitely interested. He realized it might be a great way to kill a few days. By the time he'd finished his food, he had her number and the fact that she was only six months younger than him. Not jailbait. Not jailbait, not put off by the fact that he was only going to be around for a couple of days, and got off at 5. Dean was set for a day or so. At least.

A few hours of doing absolutely nothing was like a week long vacation for the tired hunter. Not something he could get used to, but Dr. Sexy was on, the A/C in his room worked, his phone was off, and he had a definite date at 6.

After a run and a shower, Dean headed out the door to meet Janice and actually enjoy himself. They met at a restaurant she told him was the greatest pizza in the town. Even Dean had to admit the pizza was noteworthy, but he couldn't say for sure it didn't have anything to do with the short, short, short skirt Janice was wearing, or the tight tank top that threatened to show him just what was in store for him later. All in all a great dinner.

Small talk in the parking lot had the cute waitress quickly following Dean back to his room and from there the night took a ninety degree turn for the better. For the first time in what seemed like forever, Dean was concentrating solely on the beautiful figure under him. Not listening with half an ear for his phone, or his brother returning from wherever he went off to when Dean sent him out to find something to do. Might not have been that special to Janice, but the Winchester definitely ranked the nights festivities up in the top ten of his life.

Also in a first for Dean, when he woke the next morning, he was not alone. Janice was sprawled, in all her fucked out glory, right next to him. Normally, that would send Dean into a panic, rushing her out before Sam or John returned to glare at him for that huge breech of protocol. Not today. Today he woke his date with soft caresses and another round before she announced she had to get home to get ready for work. After seeing her off, Dean decided maybe Sam had a point in his eternal quest for normal. Had it perks, that was for sure. He had never had a wake up call as nice as that one had been. In a purely uncharacteristic selfish mood, he didn't even bother to turn his phone on yet. No one was hunting, and unless you could count the possibility that Sam failed a Trig quiz, there was nothing at home to threaten anyone's life. Unless John and Sam decided to try to kill each other. In which case, Dean was just as glad he didn't know about it.

Another run, followed by a big breakfast served to him by Janice, and Dean was actually contemplating staying another day to explore any and all kinks he'd missed out on the night before. A few more hours of doing nothing, which in itself was exhilarating, and Dean stared at his silent phone. Something was nagging him, his sense of duty, his responsibilities as a son, brother, all the shit he'd actually run from.

It was time to check on his real world. Almost 24 hours and he realized he felt guilt at being out of touch from his family.

23 messages and 18 texts.


With a groan, he scrolled through them. They were all John and Sam, fairly regularly alternating until some point where Sam had apparently given up on his brother answering. The last voice mail was from John, about an hour ago. The voice on the message was loud, and slurred, telling Dean that John had been drinking or at least taking his pain pills, in healthy doses.

"I'm gonna kill the son of a bitch! Get your god damn ass back here before I beat his ass."

Yesterday, leaving them to work it out had sounded like a good idea. Now he realized that he'd basically given them the green light for Winchester version of World War Three. Quickly, even though he had a feeling he was too late, he dialed Sam's number.

Voice mail.

Terrific. He tried John's.

Voice mail.

Panic hit Dean and he decided it was time to get home and do as much damage control as he could. Racing back to town, he immediately went to the apartment and let himself in quietly. It looked like Winchester World War Three had gone off in a spectacular fashion. The coffee table was broken, one of John's crutches was bent in half and there was glass everywhere. Moving quickly, Dean found his father passed out on the sofa. Letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding, the younger man determined that John was fine. Just passed out from alcohol, judging from what was left of a broken bottle on the floor by the door. Time to find Sam. John's temper when he was drinking was definitely exponentially worse and, of course, Sam had not stopped to think it was a bad idea to aggravate him if he'd decided that a bottle was a better pain remedy. Or Sam had literally driven the man to drink. Either scenario spelled 'not good' in big bold letters to Dean.

Entering the bedroom, Dean found that room hadn't escaped, either. The nightstand was knocked over, leaving a broken lamp on the floor beside Sam's bed. Considering the fact that John wouldn't have been able to make it this far, Dean assumed Sam had broken the furniture in here on his own. Like Father, Like Son.

"Dean?" Sam's voice was coming from the bathroom.

"What the fuck happened, I-" The sight of his brother trying to clean up his own blood out of the sink stopped him.

"You need to ask?"

"I'm asking what the fuck happened." Dean's temper flared, but he still wasn't sure who he should be pissed at yet.

"Don't worry about it. I took care of it." Sam's tone was flat and obviously angry.

"Took care of what? God dammit, Sam, what are you talking about?"

"If you cared you wouldn't have bailed on me. Just leave me alone." The younger boy tried to brush by his brother, but Dean reached out and put a hand on his chest to stop him. Instantly Sam doubled over and hissed in pain.

"Open it or I'll rip it. Your choice." Dean's voice was deep, and let the younger boy know he wasn't kidding.

When Sam opened his shirt, Dean knew how badly he'd fucked up by running away. A dark bruise covered the left side of Sam's ribs peppered with scratches and cuts.

"Son of a bitch. God dammit, Dad." When Dean swore under his breath, Sam shook his head.

"He doesn't know he did it, Dean. He was drunk. We were fighting and he just threw the bottle. Doesn't know he hit me with it."

That was as close to defending their father as Sam had ever been, and Dean wasn't sure what to do. Part of him wanted to wake John up and beat him with the broken crutch for hurting Sam like that. Part of him wanted to throttle the kid in front of him for not cutting and running the second the bottle came out. Another part of him was stunned that Sam seemed intent on Dean NOT getting involved. But that just might be because Dean wasn't there to stop it in the first place.

"Let me take a look in the bathroom."

"I already-"

"Yeah, I know. But the light sucks and looking down like that you might have missed something."

The younger brother seemed to get the fact that his older brother was feeling like a shit for letting this happen. Nodding, Sam turned to go back in the bathroom. "I'm okay, Dean. Just gonna be sore."

"I know you will, Sammy." Dean watched the lanky teen disappear around the corner into the bathroom. "Not fucking running away again."