Dean was tired of fighting himself. This life didn't call to him anymore, not like it had. Things weren't as simple as they used to be.
And as for his brother, well he knew now that he wanted Sam to be someone he wasn't, wanted him to be perfect. And that wasn't fair, on either of them.
"Sam, we need to talk."
Sam looked up at him, and even when he did it wasn't the same. Sam had well and truly become his own man, one that didn't need Dean anymore.
Dean took a deep breath. This was a huge admission, but it was time to set them both free.
"Things have changed, and I know you feel it too."
"It's okay," he said, choking back the lump of emotion in his throat. He knew he had to do this, that it was the right thing, but that didn't mean he'd wanted them to end up here. There was a time, most of his life in fact, when he never could have imagined anything coming before Sam, let alone anyone. "I think it's time for us to live our own lives.
"Okay..." Sam said in a careful voice. "What did you have in mind...?" It wasn't hard to tell that he'd been waiting for this, that he was worried about saying the wrong thing and having Dean change his mind. It was no secret that Sam had been ready to leave for a while now, and Dean was only sorry it had taken him this long to realise it would be for the best.
He knew though, that it might never have happened if he hadn't met a certain vampire. In the end, it had taken a monster to show him that he might have something more in life.
And there was no point hiding it from Sam anymore.
"I think I'm gonna go find Benny."
Judging by the look on his face, that didn't come as much of a surprise to Sam either, maybe only that Dean was admitting to it. Still, he had to say this, get it out there so Sam would understand how much Benny meant to him, how serious he was about making a life with the vampire work.
"I love you, Sam. I always will. But it's like everything revolved around you, and now that feeling is pulling me towards him."
"Dean," Sam frowned. "What are you...?"
"I don't know," he sighed. Maybe he had been a little bit in love with Sam at one point, but if he had been it was gone now. Sam had let him down too many times. "Just that whatever that thing is that grounds me and gives me purpose, it was you and now it's him. I don't blame you for anything, I'm just trying to be honest."
He could see a whole bunch of thoughts ticking over in Sam's mind, but in the end, Sam chose not to rock the boat. He wanted out too damn much to take offence or be upset by Dean's words.
"Thanks, Dean. I appreciate it."
"Good," Dean nodded. He wanted them to part on good terms. That was the best thing they could do for each other now. "I'll always come if you call, Sam."
"Me too," Sam promised.
And somehow, it was like a weight had lifted from both of them. Like they could just be brothers now, happy when the other was happy, but not responsible for each other. Even after all they'd been through, Dean wasn't sure he'd really grasped how heavy that burden of responsibility was until he'd been able to let it go. Maybe that's what Sam had found after Dean had gone to Purgatory. If it felt this good, maybe Dean had been too hard on his little brother.
An easy smile lit up Sam's face, and Dean knew beyond a doubt he was doing the right thing.
"So, what are you gonna do?" Sam asked. "Go shack up with a vampire now?"
"I don't know," Dean said, a little terrified by the idea that Benny wouldn't want him in the same way, but mostly excited to find out what his life might become by being brave enough to live it. "Hell, maybe. If he'll have me."
Sam's smile softened.
"I only saw the guy once, Dean. But the way he looked at you? There's no doubt."
That was Sam's blessing and while he didn't need it, it was nice to have. Not to mention it would make his life easier with one less hunter after Benny.
"Thanks, Sammy," Dean said, pulling his brother into a hug. This was goodbye. For a while at least. "Take care of yourself."
"You too, Dean."