It was January 24th , 2001. My 18th birthday.
It was the day I'd had enough.
Enough of my father coming home, too drunk to remember how he even got there. Too shit-faced to even know I was his damn son. Too wasted to know that you aren't supposed to beat your son.
He used to be a happy drunk. A goofy, buzzed, type-guy who only drank excessively on the holidays spent with the in-laws. But even then he'd just pass out on the couch, stuffed with ham and mashed potatoes.
I remember that much. My mom curling up in his lap and listening to his quiet snoring, asking him to wake up. We would be heading home. He would smile and kiss her lazily… say something cheesy I'd never hear, and she'd blush and they'd walk hand in hand to the car.
But nothing was ever the same after my mom died. There was a car accident. Dad was driving. He killed my mom, and crippled my little brother, Sammy. The two of us were unscathed.
Probably because it was late…
He was too busy watching her to even bother with the road. Too damn in love.
And it fucking killed her.
The light turned yellow as we steadily moved toward it. I was too young to know what to do. Only four years old and to this day he'll ask me why I didn't say something. I have no answer. It would only make him angrier to respond.
The light turned red.
The other car didn't stop.
It came in from the right, crushing Sammy beneath the door and popping my mother like a cork.
It all happened so fast.
But not fast enough. I'll never forget the look on her face as she died. My father's screaming.
I'll never forget.
Fourteen long years later, and John, my father, never forgot. Never forgave himself, or anyone else he could throw the blame on.
Except Sam. He never blamed Sam. He was only a baby, and he looks just like her, with my dad's eyes. Or, what they used to look like.
Now they're dead. Curious hazel oceans, turned to ashes.
Sam is the smartest kid I know. He's only fourteen and he was the only reason I ever stayed.
He lost all use of his right arm in the crash. It should've been ultimately amputated when it happened, but we couldn't afford it. So to this day he has a useless arm in a knotted sleeve mechanism I made for him.
It kept his arm from slipping out. Mostly because people asked him about it and he didn't like the attention.
But on my eighteenth birthday that year, dad had never come home from the other night. It wasn't unusual, to say the least. And I couldn't say I didn't expect it.
But somehow it still hurt.
I woke up and made Sam's breakfast. A cheese and ham omelet, ham a bit overdue its expiration date, but we had to make do. And some toast.
I was slathering the pan with butter when Sammy came down the steps, yawning.
"Morning, Sam." I said, giving him a thoughtful glance as he grinned at me, knowingly.
"Morning, Dean." He bounced down the last two steps and ran into my stomach, wrapping his good arm around me. "Happy birthday big bro." He chided and I patted his head soothingly.
"Aw, thanks, Sammy." I said as he pulled away and sat down. He gently used his left arm to rest his dead arm onto the table. It laid there awkwardly, as it always did, but I was used to it.
"Dad come in last night?" Sam asked, looking at the floor as I cracked a few eggs.
I clenched my jaw and answered tersely. "No," I flipped the eggs and sprinkled in lunchmeat cheese and ham.
Sam got up and got some orange juice, and began reading the newspaper set on the table. I used some extra money I got from my job at the auto repair shop to pay for the subscription to the newspaper for Sam.
He didn't know it, but I liked it that way.
We ate breakfast and got ready for school. I helped Sam with his shirt and tussled his hair with a promise, "Dad should be home tonight."
Not that it was technically a good thing…Because god knows I wished he'd never come back. But I could see in Sam's eyes, he didn't know that Dad, the John Winchester from fourteen years ago, was dead. Long, long dead.
I walked Sam to school. He was only in 8th grade and I was a senior. So he went to the Middle School and I went to the High School. We said our goodbyes, and just before we parted Sam stopped me and said,
"Dean! I almost forgot!" And he reached into his pocket and gave me a small package, wrapped in the same newspaper I secretly bought for him.
I grinned like an idiot and hugged him again. "Thanks Sam. You didn't have to get me anything." I said, but we both knew it wasn't true.
Every year we always got each other something, no matter what the other said. And if one didn't, we should probably be worried.
I put it in my pocket and told him I'd open it later.
"Okay, pick you up after school."
I got to first period as the bell rang.
My teacher gave me a look but said nothing.
I tried my best to pay attention, I truly did, but it was hard.
I couldn't stop thinking about what I was going to do when I saw my dad stumble in, drunk off his ass that night.
Was I going to mention my birthday? Mention Sam?
Would I just stay quiet and take it?
"Can you tell us why you think Romeo and Juliet decided to run away, Dean?" My teacher prompted me.
But that was it. I knew the answer.
I had to run away.
School was a blur, I was too busy planning and plotting and stressing the fuck out.
I needed to get out. And at 18, I could.
I had everything I needed. I could survive a whole year on the money I'd saved and have enough to keep getting Sammy's papers.
I stopped. But Sam.
What was going to happen to Sam if I left? Would John use him as a punching bag instead of me? My fists clenched at the thought.
What about Sam?
I couldn't leave him alone. My heart raced. But I needed out.
I needed out asap, and Sam was holding me back.
No. He's your brother, Dean. You gotta look out for him.
I cringed and skipped my last class of the day.
I walked slowly to pick up Sam from school that afternoon.
Guilt tainted my conscience and I could barely look at my brother without wanting to punch myself.
I was being so selfish. I couldn't leave Sam, and I couldn't ask him to come with me. He needed a house and a place to sleep that wasn't a sketchy apartment on the bad side of town.
I didn't even look at him as we walked home together.
He talked about his day, and I nodded along with his continuous thoughts.
He didn't stop talking about all his friends and the stuff he learned and the new books they got all the way home.
But as I unlocked the door, so dazed I failed to notice the car in the driveway, I bit my tongue and watched Sam race into the house to greet our father.
He sat at the kitchen table, bags under his eyes and a beer in his palm.
"Dad." Sam said, climbing into his lap, ignoring the stench of alcohol in his beard.
"Sam, get off." Dad snapped, scowling at Sam. Sam cautiously backed away, looking like a kicked puppy.
My eyes narrowed and I le tout a growl of words. "What the fuck is wrong with you?!"
"Excuse you?" He slurred, standing up so unevenly he knocked the kitchen chair over.
Sam cowered away to the fridge, backing up against it.
"Where have you been?" I snapped.
"Yeah well that's just great. Leave your kids to fend for themselves."
"Watch your fucking mouth, kid." The floor groaned as John took a step further.
"No." I breathed. "No, I'm not your kid. I'm 18 now, and I'm…" I paused watching his face contort in anger "I'm leaving, and I'm taking Sammy with me."
He snarled in my face, and swung his fist. "You are not!" He argued.
He was groggy and slow, I dodged his fist with ease. I ducked under his arms again, and swooped Sam up into my arms, racing up the stairs and locking us in out joined bedroom.
"Sammy…Sam we gotta leave." I panted, locking the door.
John roared his way up the stairs. "You little shit get down here!"
"Dean…" Sam whimpered.
"We're leaving." I repeated firmly. "Now pack a bag and let's go!"
Sam just shrugged his bag from his shoulders and began throwing things into it. Clothes, deodorant, the stuffed moose I got him for his 5th birthday.
I packed as much as I could, including Sam's baby blanket and my mom's necklace.
Dad was pounding furiously on the door, demanding it unlocked.
"Dean what about food… money?" Sam asked, still half in shock, but I could hear the relief in his voice.
Sam knew our dad was a drunken ass. He'd seen my bruises. Not all of them. Only the ones I let him. Which wasn't very many.
Sam knew all along how we needed to get out.
But I took him for naive.
"Dean you open this fucking door!" John barked, kicking the door, now.
My heart pounded in my chest, and I asked Sam if he had everything.
He nodded uncertainly, and I looked to the window.
"Can you make it?" I asked, gripping his shoulder for assurance. Although, I don't know if it was to comfort him or myself more.
"Yes." He sighed, looking at me with tears coming to those bright hazel eyes.
"Dean I'm so sorry." He whimpered as I crooked open the window and shoved our bags out first.
The sound of our father's drunken fit filled the entire house, maybe even the whole block.
But I still could hear the sincerity in his voice.
"Sammy it's okay." I told him and helped him onto the sill.
"I got it." He said, sliding down onto the awning below and jumping the safe height of about 8 feet, from there. He landed and grabbed our bags in his arm, and jerked his head to get me to follow.
I had one leg out when the door finally buckled.
My heart dropped.
"YOU LITTLE SHIT." John screamed, running for me like a deranged bull.
I panicked and squirmed myself out the window.
It was too late.
He grabbed hold of my torso, holding just under my arms and squeezing with all his might.
I cried out in a rather embarrassing way. I could feel him crushing around me, pushing the breath form my lungs and bruising every inch of my ribs.
"You're gonna fucking pay for this shit." He snarled in my ear, the stench of alcohol filling my nose, my mouth, my shrinking lungs.
I felt like I was choking on it, and I felt nauseous all at the same time.
I let out a grunt of pure pain and surrender, going slack in his arms as I felt the fight drain from me.
"GET OFF." Sam screamed, from where he was now, right behind John, a vase crashed over his head.
And the pressure was gone. John went limp and I slid down the roof, watching with amazement at my cowardly little brother finally standing up for something.
Standing up for me.
He came down not long after, and we sat together on the side walk.
"Thanks Sammy." I whispered, and he just told me to shut up.
I looked at him disbelievingly, but the sheer anger in his eyes told me it all.
"Dean he was gonna kill you." It wasn't a question. Not like it should have been.
"No, Dean." He held up his good hand to hold me back from continuing with more lies. "let's just go."
"Okay.." I agreed, standing up. I nearly doubled over with the immense pain all over my ribs. I could still feel his arms. Smell his stench all over my neck.
I placed my hand on Sam's shoulder for balance.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
"I'm fine." I said, pulling my bag over my shoulders. "We have to just…we have to go before he wakes up." I said simply, looking back at the damned house and not really believing it was time to be free.
"Let's go, then." Said Sam.