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How I Live Now

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I ran away four times in my life. The first two—well, they didn’t count. Dean found me and dragged me home—grumpy, hungry and miserable—before twenty hours passed, so of course they didn’t count.
The third time, was Flagstaff. I was gone for two weeks, some of the best weeks of my life, before Dad and Dean tracked me down.
I think, even then, if it had just been Dad, I wouldn’t have come back. But there was Dean, and that. That always brought me home.
Until Stanford.
Until that night, when we fought after a hunt, and I chose to leave. I had already chosen, but Dad nailed the lid on that coffin with his rage and his ultimatums, and his don’t you come back.
I took a bus. Dean drove me. I tried to ignore his grief, this living thing between us in the Impala.
When I climbed on to that bus to California, I didn’t look back.
If I looked back, if I had seen the tears swimming in his green eyes, I’d have never left.
I didn’t know that leaving was going to be the easy part.
I didn’t realize that I had no fucking clue how to live, without him.
It takes months, to learn.
To quit carrying five weapons everywhere I go.
To not pick a seat based on how I can survey the room, assessing it for threats.
To not tense when the lights flicker, or sprinkle salt at the door.
To let the predatory instinct that is as natural as breathing drop away.
People notice. Some buy the lie that I pass off—too much time with a military father. Others just think I’m a freak, and I let them because it’s not that far from the truth.
But the hard part isn’t the day. It’s the quiet nights.
I got lucky, my friends say, because I’m in a single.
I don’t have a roommate.
But I’ve spent my entire life in a car with my brother, in shitty hotel rooms with his presence so big it eats up space.
And now it’s quiet. Silent. It’s so fucking empty that I can’t sleep. The silence is a thing, a living, breathing thing that I can’t shake, and I can’t remember why the hell I thought being away from him was a good idea.
I play music. Constantly. So loud that I get complaints, until it swallows the silence, and drives back the loneliness.
But I can’t sleep. I can’t handle the big empty space in my bed where my brother should be.
I don’t miss hunting.
I miss my brother.
Sometimes, I think I see him. The first time, I’m in a club, with a couple friends, and a girl is flirting with me, and I see this flash of green. Dirty blond hair and green eyes and a cocky smirk. Not him but close enough.
I’m drunk enough that I drag him home, and this. This. Oh, Jesus, this. He’s on his knees in front of me, my hands in his hair and if his voice is different, if it’s not quite right, I don’t care. Because it’s my name, Sammy, on his lips, and I’m coming down his throat, his soft pouty lips red and right and right.
I sleep, that night, tangled up in him, and I can breath. I can sleep.
With him next to me, everything is finally. Finally. Right.
It’s not him, and when the guy calls me Sammy the next morning, that peace shatters like nothing ever has.
No one calls me that. Only him.
I throw the guy out and throw up, thinking about it.
But it happens again.
Every month, sometimes more, but never much less. I find them nameless and too damn pretty, and if they care that I fuck them and pant another name, they don’t bitch. If they think it’s strange that I am so fucking drunk I can barely function, none ever complain.
One did, when I cried, after. Called me bitch and stormed out—and I sobbed all the harder because there was nothing affectionate and loving in that name, and it always came sharp but sweet from him.
But most don’t give a fuck and I wrap up in them, bury my face in the curve of their neck, and it’s him.
And I can rest, because he’s with me, even if he’s not.
I don’t think about the fact that I am fucking strangers and thinking about my brother.
I don’t think about the fact that I only sleep when I’ve lost myself in someone who reminds me of him.
I don’t think about the fact that the one time one corrected me after I moaned Dean, I couldn’t finish, and kicked him out, and then wept for hours.
I can’t think about any of that.
Because this is how I live now. Without him. This is how I have to live.
I chose this. Walked away.
But Christ, I never knew how fucking hard it would be. How much I wanted and needed him.
I sit in the too still, too empty room, another nameless green-eyed boy wrapped around me, and the room reeks of sex and whiskey. It almost smells, almost, like Dean, and I close my eyes.
Let myself pretend.
And for a moment, it’s him. It’s Dean. And I’m home.