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[ used to be ]
by kHo

It's a small hotel room that John and Sam fight their last fight in before Sam goes away for four years without ever looking back.  

Dean stays on the bed, walkman on but not loud enough, not nearly, could never be loud enough to drown out the curses and the accusations and the yelling and the throwing of lamps and desk chairs and glasses.  He stares up at the ceiling feeling angry and helpless and sad and sick, fingers digging into his palms as he blinks tears out of his eyes.

It's been like this lately, this never-ending, never-resolving, never-letting up fight that Sam and John have been having since Sam was 13 and had to leave his first girlfriend in Portland because Dad got restless and the semester was ending and there was some serious hoodoo going on in Mississippi and they shoulda left a long time ago anyway.

Sam says "why" and John says "because I said so" and Sam says "that's not good enough" and John says "well it's gonna have to be" and Sam says "fuck you" and John says "boy, don't talk to me like that" and Sam says "fuck you fuck you fuck you" and John says "I brought you into this world and I can take you out, son, shut your fucking mouth" and Dean puts on the headphones and pretends that if he can just wait it out his father will let up and Sam will finally at least try to understand.

This one though.  This fight is something else.  This fight is different, and Dean can feel it in the way he's shaking on the inside, in the way his guts are twisting and he feels like he's being torn in three different directions, but mostly in the way that there's this moment where there's this dead silence and Dean thinks it's over, finally, God, finally fucking over, and then Sam says "I'm not your prisoner, Dad, I'm not your god damned soldier in this stupid fucking war you keep dragging us into" and John says "you walk out that door and you don't ever come back" and then he leaves, stalks out the room with a shotgun in one hand and his leather jacket flung over his shoulder and goes out alone to do a job that was supposed to be done by the three of them.

Dean is angry and he's bitter and he's so god damned fucking sick of it, of this push and pull and yank and tug and fightfightfightfight and he thinks they have enough of this in their life, with wendingos and werewolves and witches and demons and whatever the hell else, that they don't need to have this in their private time, don't need it in the privacy of their own hotel room, that this is why they lined the doors and windows with salt, to keep this shit out there, not lock it up in here.

Dean keeps staring up at the ceiling as he feels Sam settle down next to him on the bed, longass legs hanging over the edge as he bends forward and buries his head in his hands and starts to cry and thinks fuck you, he thinks like hell am I gonna be the big protective brother that strokes your back and tells you Dad loves you even when he doesn't act like it, I'm done, it's over, it's not happening again, you bring it on yourself.

"Dean," Sam says, his voice buried in his hands, muffled, hoarse, trembling, and Dean blinks up at the ceiling and doesn't look over.  "Dean, come on, man."

Dean turns the volume up on his walkman.

"I just wish I could live a normal life."

And Dean laughs and hears his father's voice coming out of him when he says, "Well if wishes were horses, Sammy, we'd be in one fucked up western."

"I just wanna go to college," Sam says, and it's not even a whine, it's a plea, it's a please understand, it's a this is all I've ever wanted, it's a why don't you want me to be happy.  "Is that so bad, Dean?  Why is that so bad?  Why?"

"Yeah, and I want a million dollars and a Dad that doesn't look like he's dying on the inside twenty-four seven and a brother that isn't an ungrateful little shit and a Mom that's..." He can't finish it, it hurts too much and it hurts enough already. "We don't get what we want, Sammy."

"Well why not," Sam yells, standing and turning those angry hateful eyes at Dean.

This has started happening too. Back in the day it used to be him and Sam against the world, used to be that Dean never spoke back to his dad except to say lay the hell off Sam, used to be that Sam crawled in Dean's bed when John was too angry and frustrated to tell him everything was gonna be alright so Dean did it for him. Now, apparently, Dean's not the solution anymore, he's part of the problem.

"We don't deserve what he puts us through, we don't deserve to have our lives uprooted every five god damned seconds because he's got a hair up his ass to go save people he doesn't even know."

Dean keeps staring at the ceiling because as pissed as he is it still feels like a knife to the gut to see that hate directed at him. "And we also didn't deserve to have Mom burn to a crisp on our ceiling, but you fucking deal, Sam."

"I'm smart Dean," Sam says, and it's back to pleading, he's kneeling on the ground in front of Dean's bed and looking at him with baleful eyes that look so much like they did when he was ten, when he was five, when he was still a baby. "Full ride. Scholarship. Man, it's like it was handed to me. I'm supposed to do this. I have to do this."

"And what about us," Dean snaps, cutting his own hateful gaze right back at Sam, because it's just.... It's just it. "Me and Dad, you're just gonna leave us? Go do your own thing? All you think about is yourself, Sam, you always have!"

Sam smirks that bitter smirk that makes him the most ugly person in the world and rolls his eyes. "Yeah, and you and Dad are sooo selfless."

"We are," Dean yells back, jerking up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Would have hit Sam in the head with his knees if Sam hadn't jerked back like he thought Dean was gonna hit him. "We hunt these evil sons of bitches and we save people and we don't ask for anything in return, and we do it because it has to be done, and nobody else fucking is. Why can't you see that?"

Sam's eyes flash and Dean's always been able to tell right before it's about to happen when Sam's going to say something he's going to regret, always has been able to by the way his eyes flash and his lip curls and his fists clench and his nostrils flare. Always knows when Sam's about to say something that's going to cut so deep it leaves your entrails hanging out and you stuck on the side of the road with no way to call for help.

Sam's nostrils flare and his fists clench and his eyes flash and his lip twists, and then he reaches inside Dean's chest and rips his heart out and splits it in two. "And I'm just expected to live my life like this because Drill Sergeant says so, for some woman that I didn't even know."

The punch that lays Sam out hurts Dean way worse than it hurts Sam, and walking out to go find John hurts even more, leaving Sam there broken-nosed and bloody and sobbing and screaming after him, but he does it because the kid deserved it and he brought it on himself, and fuck him anyway.

Dean and John come back at three in the morning with black guts and yellow bile covering them from head to toe and stinking to high heaven, and John stands in the doorway and takes three deep breaths, hand frozen on the doorknob, before he opens the door. Dean thinks afterwards that if Sam just could have seen that, he might have stayed.

The room is empty and there's a bloodstained rag lying at the head of Dean's bed. John looks at him and cocks an eyebrow. "That what happened to your knuckles?"

Dean reaches down and tosses the rag to the floor. "He deserved it."

"You shouldn't hit your brother, Dean," John says, sounding tired and wore out and wrecked. Dean expects a lecture, or at least a severe talking to, but all he gets is a wan smile and a heavy hand on his shoulder and looking up into his father's watery eyes that he tries to pretend is from the stench of a dead hell beast but knows isn't. "Your family's all you got."

Dean looks at John and sits down on the edge of the bed. "No. You're all I got."

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