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It’s mid-November, cold and drizzly. It’s been one-hundred and fifteen days since Sammy left. But it’s not like Dean’s counting. Dean’s alone in a Walmart parking lot, and he doesn’t know what to do.

Dean’s not stupid. As soon as Dad picked up that Sierra Grande in August, Dean knew. Seventeen days after Sammy left, if you walk out that door, don't bother coming back still rattling around in Dean’s head, Dean knew Dad was going to leave, too. It was only a matter of time.

Dad’s been itching to leave for years. For eighteen years, if Dean’s being honest. After the fire took out the only thing Dad ever really cared about – which isn’t fair, Dean knows, because Dad cares about Sammy, too. That’s why Dad’s so pissed about Sammy leaving. For eighteen years Dad’s been taking every chance he could lay his hands on to get away for a couple of days, a week, a month, two months. And now that Sammy’s gone, Dad doesn’t have to keep up pretenses anymore.

And Dean can’t blame Dad for leaving. If Dean were in Dad’s place, Dean would have left, too. Hell, Dean thinks and taps the barrel of his shotgun against his thigh, maybe he still will.

Because it’s not like Dean’s been much help lately. Quit dragging your feet, dammit, Dad says it on every hunt now. Maybe it’s just because Dad’s taking out his anger about Sammy leaving. Or maybe it’s because it’s true: Dean’s holding Dad back. Dean’s missing easy shots and coming back to the motel drunk and screwing up every damn thing he puts his hands on. What’s new?

It’s like Dean’s a thirteen-year-old kid again, back when Dad first started letting him tag along on regular hunts. He’s inexperienced, slow, and dumb. Not worth the time or effort. And he’s stupid for thinking that, now with Sammy’s gone, maybe he and Dad could really partner up. Maybe it wouldn’t just be a father and son act anymore. Maybe Dean could finally prove he could pull his own weight. Maybe Dad –

But Dad’s gone.

The thought sticks in Dean’s lungs. Coats his breath in tar, so Dean can barely drag it up his throat. Dean doesn’t cry. His eyes sting; he knows they’re ringed with red. And his damn bottom lip trembles. But Dean doesn’t cry.

That’s enough, Deano, Dad lays a heavy hand on Dean’s small shoulder. Dean’s five-years-old and wailing about leaving the trailer park after four months that almost felt normal: there are other kids around for Dean to play with and a mom in one of the trailers that comes by with chocolate chip cookies and lasagna sometimes. And Dad’s been home. Almost every day. You don’t wanna scare Sammy, do you? You gotta be brave for your little brother. Don’t let him see you cry.

But now Dean’s alone in a Walmart parking lot. Five days ago, Dad and Dean took care of a poltergeist who’d found a home in a local library outside Kearney, Nebraska. Four days ago, Dad got that mysterious phone call that made the blood run out of his face, made him pack his bag with trembling fingers, choke back a couple swallows of JD, and tell Dean something’s come up in Minnesota.

And then Dad leaves, Sierra Grande roaring and kicking up gravel. Dean decides he isn’t going to pay for another night in the empty, echoing motel room, and packs his bags, too. He finds a Walmart parking lot to spend the night in, parks alongside eighteen-wheelers and campers, curls in the backseat of the Impala with his scratchy, blood-stained wool blanket from the trunk and a pillow he stole from the motel. He drives listlessly around town for the next three days, stopping for alcohol and food when he remembers he’s supposed to be hungry. And he ends up in the Walmart parking lot at night. He thinks about calling –

Calling someone maybe.

Calling Sammy.

Telling his brother to come back. Come back because Dean can’t stand it. Can’t stand the expanding, gaping feeling of alone in his chest. Can’t stand listening to that last fight replay his head – the only thing he’s got left of Sammy now. And Dean can’t do it anymore. He doesn’t want to do it anymore. And maybe if he told Sammy – told his little brother that he’s alone in a Walmart parking lot and there’s a shotgun in his lap and he doesn’t know what to do –

But Sammy left. Dad left. Mom left. Everyone leaves.

Just this once, Dean wants to be the one who leaves.

Dean switches the shotgun’s safety off. He switches it on. Off on off on off. Like a nervous tick. His hands are shaking. Stupid stupid stupid, he berates himself, fucking coward. Can’t even hold a damn gun straight.

Dean’s six when Dad teaches him how to shoot: strong, large hands guiding Dean’s small fingers around the trigger, nestling the stock against Dean’s shoulder, warning him about the recoil. And Dean likes how close Dad is. His warm, firm body is tight against Dean’s, breath hot against his neck and he can feel Dad’s whiskers against his skin, smells like sour sweat and whiskey. It took a while for Dean to get used to the smell of whiskey, but he likes it now, because it smells like Dad. John Winchester’s not much for physical contact. Dean can’t really remember the last time Dad hugged him. Dad still hugs Sammy, but Sammy’s only two, so maybe Dad hugged Dean when Dean was that little, too.

Fuck, Dean thinks. He’s alone in a Walmart parking lot. The traffic light above flickers lazily in a way that tells Dean there’s something wrong with the electrical circuit; it’s not anything he should be concerned about.

Fuck this, Dean thinks and brings the barrel to the soft underside of his chin. Dean’s seen enough death to know how to do it right; he’s not going to fool around with sleeping pills or a blade, even if he can pinpoint an artery, because he doesn’t want to miss.

It’s wrong. Some distant, niggling part of Dean knows it’s wrong. Knows that, when he goes out, he’s supposed to go out swinging. Supposed to go down under the claws of some monster. Taken out while ganking the thing that killed Mom and destroyed Dad and made Sammy leave. Dean knows that Dad will be disappointed when he finds out. That maybe Sammy will be sorry.

But maybe Dad and Sammy won’t find out. Won’t know for a few weeks, at least. Maybe Dad won’t come looking. Maybe Dad won’t call Sammy. Dean didn’t write a note. Maybe he should have written a fucking note. It’s easy enough to track down Sammy’s address; Dean could have – just to say goodbye.

Dean blinks and his lashes come away wet. He didn’t think it was going to be so hard. He’s killed so many things before: just pull the trigger, dodn’t think about it, don’t hesitate. That’s it, Deano, Dad says, and helps Dean aim through the rifle scope, firm pressure on the trigger.

Dean takes a deep breath. Starts counting, one two three four, tells himself when he gets to ten, when he gets to twenty or thirty, thirty-one thirty-two thirty-three, when he counts to a minute he’ll –

He’s going to get blood all over the Impala’s seats and dash. He didn’t even think about ruining the car – his car, he reminds himself, now that Dad’s got his Godzilla Sierra Grande. And maybe he should have hotwired himself another car.

He’s lost count. Dean starts up again. Four five six seven, and by the time he reaches twenty-nine he knows he’s not going to do it. The realization sinks like a rock in his stomach. Makes bile rise in Dean’s throat. He drops the gun.

Coward coward worthless coward. It’s a mantra in his head. Can’t even do this right. Can’t even finish the damn job. He picks up the half-empty bottle of Jack he left by his feet and swigs it until he isn’t thinking anything at all.