I didn't want to leave, I wanted to stay here where I'm safe, where I can go to a school dance, where I can act my age without all the responsibility and constant concern weighing me down. I should have known it wouldn't last though, should have known that he would come back for my eventually, if not now then later on when he needed my help with a hunt.
I knew he would come, but that didn't make it any easier when he actually showed up, didn't soften the blow or make it any less disappointing. He said I had a job, a hunt, there was always a hunt and it came before everything, especially some stupid school dance, and god did I resent it. The moment Sonny told me he would fight to keep me here hope flared in my chest, I knew he would probably win, I knew that there is no way my Dad's lifestyle would stand up in court, but for some reason I couldn't give him the okay to do that, not yet.
I heard the Impala's car horn and walked to the window. I wanted to tell my dad to fuck-off, the man can't give me one more night and he doesn't even have the decency to come in and get me, he just sits in the car and honks the horn, as though he is summoning me, like a damn dog.
I pull back the curtain, the Impala's idling right out front, I can't see John but I know he's waiting impatiently in the front seat, watching the front door of the house, waiting for me to make an exit; he's expecting me to just get up and go the moment he calls like the soldier he wants me to be, I hate it.
Then I spot the kid, his oversized hand-me-down shirt is hanging off him the same way he's hanging out of the car. I would have rolled up his sleeves when he put that shirt on this morning, knowing that if I didn't he would spend the entire day getting caught up in them, dragging them in his food; but Dad would never think to do that. He's playing with that flimsy plane, the moment I see it I'm reminded of the time Dad ordered him to throw it away.
That plane had been mine and was one of the few toys Sammy actually possessed, but it was one of the bigger ones. Dad was always whining that it took up too much room in the car and one day he had enough, ordering my little brother to throw it away as we were packing the Impala ready to head to a new town.
"No!" Sammy had declared defiantly, causing both Dad and I to stop packing our things and turn to the young boy before us.
"What did you say?" My dad glowered, shocked by the complete and utter refusal coming from the youngest Winchester.
"I won't throw it away Dad, it's my very favourite toy and I'm keeping it." Sam had insisted, shuffling slightly where he stood, glancing between me and Dad as he spoke.
"You will throw it away Sam and you will do it now!" My father announced, frustration rising.
"Why?" The young boy asked, but not in the typical whiny way that young kids tend to say it, but in a logically curious way, the way the kid has always asked questions.
"I already told you Sam! We don't have room!" Dad explained in exasperation, taking another step towards my fidgeting little brother.
"I'll make room Dad! I will fit it into my duffle, or keep it on my lap, or I'll…" Before Sam could finish with his explanations my father interrupted.
"Enough! I've had it with this nonsense! Do as I say, Sam, or you'll be running twice the number of laps when we get to Nevada." John threatened. I had every intention of intervening at that point, I was angry enough that Dad had started Sam on training at such a young age, but making him do twice as much when he was hardly able to manage with what he had, that's unacceptable. Before I could voice my disapproval Sam was already continuing with his argument, god this kid doesn't give up.
"Fine, I'll run 3 times as many laps as long as I get to keep the plane." Sam pleaded.
"Quit being a smart ass Sam and toss that piece of junk or I'll toss it for you." Dad yelled. I could tell my father was about to lose it, so I stepped in front of my baby brother and attempted to diffuse the situation before it could get worse.
"Dad, come on, it's just a plane. The kid hardly has any toys as it is; besides you never had a problem with that plane when it was mine." I reasoned.
"That's cause you didn't try to fly that damn thing in the car Dean!" My dad argued.
"I wasn't flying it in the Impala! I kept it out the window." Sam yelled from behind me, his famous patience just beginning to waver.
"That's not the point Sam! I told you to get rid of it so that is what you are going to do!" My dad ranted, trying to see around me to the young boy shifting uneasily at my back and gripping tightly to the bottom of my shirt.
"Dad please…" I began to say.
"No Dean! I've had enough of this disrespect! Sam you do as I say and you do it now!" Before I could re-attempt getting through my father's thick skull I noticed Sam step out from behind me, coming to stand at my side, but maintaining his hold on my clothing
"Fine, I'll throw it out, but then I'll get an even bigger one!" My little brother announced.
"Sam you don't have any money, you won't be buying anything." Dad replied.
"I don't need any money, I'll make one and it'll be huge, and every single time you throw it away I will make another one and they will get bigger and bigger and bigger." Sammy stated, bravely staring my dad right in the eye.
I was far too shocked to even open my mouth, here's this kid less than 5 feet tall, wirey as ever, staring down the most frightening man I have ever known. Dad just glared at him, I could tell he was also slightly shocked, never had he been so blatantly contradicted by the youngest Winchester and I knew he wasn't quite sure what to say.
We all stood in silence for a couple minutes and then Sam and I watched as our dad huffed and turned away, taking his freshly packed duffle out to the car. I looked down at my little brother to see his big brown eyes staring up at me, I could tell from the way his one dimple was showing as he bit his bottom lip that he was trying his hardest not to smile. I could also tell by the way the little bugger was looking up at me that he was asking my permission to be proud, seeking my approval in his actions. Damn right that kid could be proud, it's rare that anybody, human or supernatural, defeats John Winchester; I told him as much with the grin I gave him as I winked at the kid. Getting my approval was all it took for Sammy's face to light up with a full-dimples , twinkling eyes kind of smile.
As I stood staring out the window at the young boy hanging out the side of the car playing with the toy plane he fought so hard to keep, I remembered those eyes that always turned to me for approval, comfort, or protection, those eyes that always trusted me and loved me without reservation or condition. I couldn't help but smile because god I loved that kid, I loved that kid so fucking much!
I knew what my job was, it wasn't the hunt, it wasn't following orders or being a soldier, it was protecting this kid, it was putting him first, making him number one.
I knew that moment that Sammy came first, before this new life I found, before the people I met here, before what I want, even before what my dad wants.
That's all it took, one look at the small scrawny kid I spent my entire life taking care of, the kid I raised, my kid. Turning to Sonny I thanked him for everything, and as I hugged him I knew that I would miss him, I would miss the life I made here, I would miss the future I could have had if I stayed, but none of that compared to Sammy.
I said my goodbyes, packed up my stuff and walked out the front door, I was no more than 5 feet from the house before I looked up and found myself unable to stop the grin spreading across my face as I watched my little brother meet my eyes, the moment he did he dropped the plane he had been playing with, as though it wasn't his most prised possession, and tore open the door, leaping from the Impala and running full speed towards me. I barely had time to prepare myself before the kid leapt on me, arms around my neck as I held him in the air, legs immediately wrapping around my midsection as I hoisted him up. He was almost too big to be carried like this, but not yet, so I walked towards the car with the monkey in my arms, feeling him rest his cheek on my shoulder as I ran my hand up and down his back.
"Are you okay?" Sam whispered directly into my ear.
"Yeah buddy, I'm alright." I replied quietly.
"I missed you Dean, I missed you a lot." Said my brother as he nuzzled his face into the space where my neck meets my shoulder.
I found myself choking back tears for the 2nd time in one night, "I missed you too Sammy." I replied, tightening my arms around the kid wrapped around my body.
Sam didn't let go until we were back at the Impala, then he slowly released the death grip he had around my neck, loosening his legs from around my waist as I carefully set him on the ground, waiting for him to pick his plane up from the ground and crawl into the backseat before sliding in beside him and pulling the door closed.
I refused to look up to the front, knowing that my father would be staring at me through the review mirror. I wanted him to understand that I wasn't doing this for him, I wanted him to know that I didn't give all that up for him, so I let him know all these things in the Winchester way, strictly with body language and no use of words. I refused to look out the window either, not wanting to watch as I was driven away from the safest place I had ever been, so instead I looked to my left at the young boy who was hardly an inch away from my side.
Sam was looking up at me with those soft puppy-dog eyes, staring at me as though he was looking for clues, trying to figure out what he should say or not say, how he should act. Looking at him I noticed the deep dark circles under his eyes, I had thought he looked tired from when I was looking out the window, but now that I was up close I realized the complete exhaustion written over his face. As if to prove my observations Sam tore his eyes from me and pulled his legs up on to the bench seat, as he laid his head onto my lap, he curled up into a small ball and nuzzled his head into my leg. I smirked at the cat-like antics of my little brother as I settled my hand on his head, moving my fingers slowly through his too-long hair, listening to his breathing even out as the kid slowly fell asleep.
Something was wrong with my kid brother, Sam never fell asleep this fast, particularly at such an early hour, the boy hadn't fallen asleep at 7pm since he was an infant. Sam had always fought sleep with everything he had, staying up until he was no longer able to physically keep his eyes open, which is something I knew because I was always who Sam was looking at as he finally gave in to exhaustion. Then it hit me, Sam hadn't been getting sleep because I hadn't been around, he had always needed to see me before he was able to drift off.
"He finally asleep?" A gruff voice asked from the front seat.
"Ya." I muttered, not moving my eyes from the shaggy head on my lap.
"It's about damn time, the kid hasn't slept in a while." My dad griped. And I knew that by "awhile" he meant pretty much since I'd been away, the thought making my heart clench.
"We're going to stop in a bit to grab some food and then I'm driving straight through the night."
I grunted a response, enough of a sound that he knew I heard him, but not so much that it was considered conversation.
"I need you to makes sure he eats something." My dad continued, I lifted my gaze immediately, my anger at the man upfront momentarily forgotten as the implication of his words soaked in as well as the defeated tone in which he announced them.
"He hasn't been eating?" I asked, not bothering to hide the concern in my voice. I watched my dad's shoulders rise and fall as he shrugged.
"Bobby said it was all he could do to get the kid to down a few pieces of toast."
I sneered at the reply, figures John would drop the kid off at Bobby's, like a dog he didn't have time to take care of anymore. I knew the moment I thought that that I wasn't being fair, my dad was flawed I knew, and far from the perfect parent, but the other option would have been dragging Sam around on the hunt of the week and without me around that meant leaving my little brother alone in the car or at some sketchy motel. Out of the two options available, I was actually rather relieved that my dad dumped the kid off with Bobby.
The fact of the matter was, Dad didn't know how to take care of Sam, he didn't know that the kid needed his over-sized, hand-me-down, shirt sleeves rolled up, he didn't know that Sam had nightmares regularly and that after he needed to be comforted or else he wouldn't be able to fall asleep again. Dad didn't know that Sam hates eggs, or that, though he loves school, he struggles with math. Dad didn't know that Sam likes his mac and cheese extra creamy and that when he is afraid he grips onto the back of my shirt. Dad doesn't know Sam, and he sure as hell doesn't know how to take care of the kid.
I couldn't believe that I had thought I could have stayed at the home. How could I think for one second that Sammy would be okay without me? How could I forget how much this kid needs me? If I had stayed Sam would have been stuck with Dad, he would have no one to put him first, to protect him from shithead school bullies, fugly supernatural monsters, creepy old perverts hanging around motels, and drill-sergeant marine fathers. The anger I had been holding towards my dad was now directed at myself. How could I be so stupid? How could I think for one moment that I could leave Sammy behind to fend for himself while I lived a life of safety and normalcy. I was going to be sick.
My dad pulled up at a rest stop to fill up the car and grab some grub. The moment he closed the driver side door the head resting on my lap began to shift. I looked down as two sleepy eyes met mine and smiled at the adorable manor in which my brother awoke. Sam glanced up front, realizing where we were and that we were alone in the car and then sat up a little straighter, but remaining extremely close to my side.
"Hey there sleepy head, how you doing?" I asked gently, sweeping Sam's bangs out of his eyes.
"I'm tired." Sam whispered, resting his head against me for a couple seconds before straightening up again. "You sure you're okay?" He asked me for the second time, with a look so full of love and sincerity that I almost had to break eye-contact.
"Ya kiddo I'm good." At my response he nodded sleepily, looking back at me as I continued. "What's this hear about you not eating?" I knew he hadn't been sleeping either, but that was something he probably wasn't able to control, so I was hardly going to scold him for it.
"I couldn't Dean, I missed you too much to eat." I sighed at my little brother's earnest reply, how could I possibly be upset with this kid?
"Well I'm here now, so when Dad comes back with some dinner I need you to eat it alright? You're never going to grow if you don't eat Sam." I said with a smirk, messing up his shaggy hair, which got me a small Sammy smile in return, and then his face turned intensely serious.
"Where were you Dean? I asked Dad, but he wouldn't tell me and Bobby said he didn't know, so where did you go?" He asked, his gaze imploring me to give him the truth.
"Don't worry about it Sammy, I'm here now." I assured, looking directly at him so that he could see the truth in my eyes.
"You aren't going to leave me again are you Dean?" The question and the pure innocence in the way it was posed had me choking back tears for the 3rd time that night, good lord I was becoming such a girl!
"No Sammy, I'm never going to leave you again." I said the moment after I got a handle on my emotions.
"Promise Dee" Sam asked, using the version of my name that always caused the protective streak with in me to surge.
"Promise Sammy." I said, pulling the kid into my side, receiving a tight embrace in return.
This is what I lived for; Sammy was who I lived for. Without this kid, without my kid there was no me, there was no normal, and there sure as hell was no future. I raised this little boy, I taught him how to read and I held his hands when he took his first steps and he would always come first. How that could have slipped my mind I'll never know, but I can tell you that it won't ever happen again. There is nothing past or present I would put in front of Sam, that's the way it is and the way it will always be.