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04 May 2008 @ 11:30 am
Supernatural Gen Fiction: Always Too Soon Gone (PG)  
Title: Always Too Soon Gone (Five Friends Sam Left Behind)
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Sam and Dean (Gen)
Rating: PG
Summary: Pre-series, these are five friends Sam left behind.
Author's Notes: I started this back in November for mini_wrimo, but it didn't want to finish until much later. For my switch25 table, this is "Forget."


x-x-x-x-x

It bugged Sam that Dean always called her "Lily," like he wasn't really listening. He probably wasn't— her name was Lilah, and she was the first real friend Sam ever had.

Lilah lived a few doors down at the apartment house in Kansas City where they stayed when Sam was four. She had Duplos—even a train set passed down by her older brother—and a stuffed kangaroo.

"Do you like liver?" she'd asked the first time he saw her.

"No," he'd said immediately, wrinkling his nose.

She'd nodded like that was the only right answer to that question. "Come see my room. It's yellow!"

It was the beginning of a wonderful summer.

Lilah liked the Muppets and Scooby Doo, and playing pirates and house and store. She liked digging in the mud with sticks as much as Sam did, and floating berries on leaves in puddles. She never acted like there was something better she could be doing right then instead.

"How old's your kangaroo?" Sam asked her once. They were lying on the grass, breathless from chasing each other around the courtyard for half an hour. Lilah's kangaroo sat between them.

"Really old—from when I was a baby," she said. "Her fur's coming off, and see this cracked eye? She's going to turn real soon, I bet."

Afterwards, she told Sam about a story her mother had read the week before, about an animal that was loved so much that it finally did become real.

Sam took his stuffed rabbit everywhere with him after that, even to the dinner table and the edge of the bathtub.

He held it close the day they packed up the car and drove away, leaving Lilah and Kansas City far behind.

~*~

It was hard being the new kid, and Sam was always the new kid, some years even more than once.

Dean was four grades ahead of him, which translated to junior high in the cities where elementary school stopped at sixth grade. Eugene was one of those cities, and starting third grade in November was the kind of situation Sam always dreaded.

"Where'd you live before here?" the kid at the next desk whispered, after the "new student" introductions were over and Sam was finally allowed to sit down.

"San Francisco."

"My aunt lives there—it's pretty cool, they have trolleys and there's those big bridges and stuff."

"Yeah. I liked it." They'd barely spent three months there, and Sam had been hoping they'd stay for the year, like they hardly ever did.

"You like four-square?"

"Boys!" the teacher scolded, and they looked up guiltily. "Everyone, open your story anthology to page fifty-nine…"

The room was filled with the sound of books dropping onto desks and pages turning. "Four-square's my favorite," Sam whispered while everyone got settled.

The boy's name was Jerry Spivak, and he was almost as good at four-square as Sam and even better at wall-ball. Sam sat with him at lunch that day, and met Jerry's mother and little sister and puppy after school while he waited for Dean to come get him.

The two boys played together like textbook twins for the next five months, until something big called from Tennessee and the Winchesters picked up and left in response.

Sam ached clear through the end of summer with missing everything he'd had, including that sense of belonging that he'd never known before. Years later, he found himself wondering which was the bigger loss: leaving Jerry behind, or giving up the dream of sticking close enough to Jerry's life to somehow be him.

~*~

"You smoke?"

"What?" Sam had never been asked that question before. For a moment he thought he'd picked the wrong part of the school grounds to wait for Dean—that had definitely happened before.

"Yeah okay, well, I've got another one if you change your mind." The kid struck a match with practiced ease, lit the end of the cigarette and sucked in a lungful of smoke. His face tightened up for a moment like he was trying not to cough, but then it passed. "You're new here, aren't you?" he continued.

"Yeah." I'm new every year, everywhere we go, Sam thought.

"At least you got a chance to start over again," the kid muttered. He kicked a rock with his foot and took another drag on his cigarette.

"I never wanted to, though," Sam answered honestly. "I've been starting over my whole life, and I'm sick of it. Been there, done that, you know?"

The kid eyed him thoughtfully, nodding his head. "I'm Doug," he said, "been here since Kindergarten."

"Sam. If I'm lucky, I'll still be here next month."

Doug was thirteen, a year ahead of Sam, and he liked action movies and basketball. He was there again the next day when Sam waited for Dean, and the day after that too.

"Don't your parents wonder where you are?" Sam asked, something he'd learned people usually said in situations like this.

"Not really," Doug answered.

"Yeah." Dean was the only one who'd kept tabs on Sam in the last four years, and he bothered less now that Sam was older.

"Want to shoot some hoops?" Doug asked.

"For awhile, until my brother shows up. And then I've got a book report to write."

"I hate book reports." Doug dribbled the ball aggressively over toward the basketball hoop. "I hate books too," he added. "Maybe it's related."

"Maybe," Sam grinned.

He discovered that Doug had a killer hook shot, and was pretty good at math. They made a deal to get together Tuesdays and Thursdays at fifth period and help each other with their homework. Sam suggested a couple of books to read— easier ones with good stories— and Doug creamed him with two lay-ups and a fadeaway jumper while Sam was still trying to maneuver around his own feet.

"Jeez, you're fast."

"There's more to basketball than just being tall." Doug handed the ball over for Sam's turn, but Dean pulled up in the car just then and honked the horn for Sam to get a move on.

"Tomorrow," Sam promised.

"Sure."

The sound of the ball bouncing on the playground and smacking into the backboard followed Sam to the car.

Over the next three weeks Doug worked with Sam on dividing by fractions and calculating percentages, while Sam got him interested in books like "The Castle In The Attic" and "Black Stallion." Then Sam came home one day to find half-packed boxes in the kitchen and living room.

The basketball court was empty when they drove past the school on the way out of town, but the wind carried the sound of metal clanging against tetherball stands as the Winchesters left in the gathering night.

~*~

"Can I help you find something?"

The woman had dark, curly hair and glasses— must be the librarian, though Sam couldn't remember her name after just a few days at North Billings High. She looked distracted, as if she'd been engrossed in something just before he walked in.

"I need a library card. We just moved here this week."

"Certainly," she said, picking up a pencil. "I can help you with that. What's your name?"

"Sam Winchester."

"Homeroom teacher?"

"Mr. Farber, eleventh grade." Sam looked over the shelves of books, row after row running deep off to the right and around the corners of the room on all sides. He wished he were still in grade school, when he could read for hours and not have to worry about whether he'd left enough time for his homework.

"All right, I've got a temporary card set up for you for today. Is there something in particular you're looking for?"

There was no way this woman could guess that Sam probably knew almost as much about libraries as she did. He even had a few parts of the Dewey Decimal system nearly memorized.

"I need a book of poetry for an English assignment."

"Any preferences? Modern, lyrical, tragic, classicist, British?"

"Something interesting," Sam answered. "That I won't be able to put down."

He went home with a collection of poems by Dylan Thomas, and finished it before his father left for recon at the local cemetery. On Friday, Sam went to the library for more books to carry him through the weekend, in case the three of them wound up driving hours away to take care of an unexpected job.

"We Have Always Lived In The Castle," the librarian suggested, "and Slow Dance On The Killing Ground."

"This last one looks like a play, though," Sam said.

"It is," Mrs. Lisle agreed. "But I think you'll find it interesting. Some of the meaning is on the surface, but most of it comes through under the words, almost as a side-effect."

She was right, it turned out. He liked both books, and somehow they resonated with him. He was back for more on Monday.

"You have a very capable mind, Sam," she told him. "Have you started thinking about where to go to college?"

She had to be kidding. College? With all their moving around and all the schools he'd been to over the years, how did that add up to getting into college? The school transcripts alone seemed insurmountable, a disconnected network of lost information.

"Save some of your best essays, and teachers' names to use for references. Study as hard as you can for the SATs— if you do well on those, the rest won't matter so much. With how little you've stayed in one place, colleges will focus on those tests if they show your abilities. Truly, Sam—it's not too late. You have so much potential."

Her words stayed with Sam. It was one of the few times anyone had really listened to him, even if she knew what he wanted before he had a chance to say it.

When the next major job called from Texas, Sam wrote her a thank you note and tucked it into "Spring Snow" before dropping it into the after-hours slot and going home to gather his stuff.

~*~

"You're not around much these days," Dean said, cleaning and oiling each component of the Glock 9mm lying in pieces on the table in front of him.

Sam went to the sink for a glass of water. "Kind of busy," he answered.

"Doing what?" Dean asked, examining the firing pin. "You already graduated."

"Yeah." Sam rummaged through the food supplies, securing an apple for later.

"Want to go out to the woods, do some target practice?"

"Nah," Sam said. He didn't feel like shooting— didn't really enjoy it. Maybe he never had.

"Huh," Dean said, switching his attention from the gun now to Sam. "How about seeing X-Men? There's got to be a matinee."

Sam had intended to go to the library and use the computer to look up course offerings for Stanford. He wanted to plan out several class-list options for Freshman year, get the prerequisites out of the way for sessions that would come up later.

But Dean looked so hopeful… "Okay," Sam agreed.

The movie was fun, but the way Dean enjoyed it was better. He elbowed Sam during his favorite parts, hissing out "Awesome!" when Wolverine sprang metal claws or laughing when something blew up.

"I'd totally do that blue chick," he said afterward, like that was news to anyone—least of all Sam.

They stopped off for burgers at a drive-in, one of the things Dean claimed made out-of-the-way towns like this one actually worthwhile. Sam let Dean steal half his French fries, in exchange for all the cereal-box prizes he knew Dean had given up for him so many years ago. It had taken Sam nearly this long to realize there was a lot Dean had given up for him, a lot of things Dean never got to have for himself.

But even with Dean giving, their Dad was always taking. His choices—his decrees—had stolen Sam's childhood (Dean's too, Sam reminded himself), had taken away friends and dreams and too much of who Sam needed to be. The place between Dean and Dad wasn't balance, it was simply survival. It wasn't happiness. It never would be.

That night, Sam lay in bed watching shadows from the trees outside play across the ceiling, their patterns scattering like unfulfilled promises. He listened to the slow hush of Dean's breathing, falling into the silence like a metronome by which his own past was measured.

That sound had been part of Sam's life for as long as he could remember. The only true constant for him was Dean, night and day, going back forever. Dean always seemed to be with Sam, even when he wasn't.

It would be lonely away at school, without Dean. It was probably time Sam learned how to stand on his own, but it wouldn't be easy. Dean was the only comfort he'd ever had.

Sam tried not to think about the possibility—nothing more, he refused to admit to 'more'—that Dean would be lonely without him. Because this was hard enough already…

The next morning, Sam was in the shower when Dean banged through the bathroom door.

"What the hell's this, Sam? Were you planning on even saying something?"

Sam turned off the water and reached for a towel. Once he dried his eyes he could see what Dean was holding: an envelope. From Stanford.

"I stopped by the post-office for our mail, and found this in the pile. You applied to Stanford?"

"I applied and got accepted, Dean. Full scholarship, even." Sam couldn't help smiling, though Dean didn't smile in return.

"So you're just going to walk out on us then, on this family, and move across the country?"

"You sound just like him, Dean." Sam started pulling on his clothes. "And you knew I always wanted to go to college."

"I knew," Dean said, "but I didn't… God, Sammy, I didn't think you'd actually do it."

Sam expected more discussion about it, but Dean walked out of the room instead. Even after Sam finished in the bathroom and moved on to packing clothes and books and toiletries in his duffel bag—everything he'd need—Dean didn't try to argue. Every time Sam checked on him, Dean was still in the same place, sitting on the living room couch staring at the floor.

"You know you have to tell Dad," Dean finally said.

"I know," Sam answered. But it was telling Dean that he'd been dreading.

No matter how badly it turned out with Dad (and Sam was fairly sure that it would), he wasn't the one that mattered. If leaving was a betrayal—and Sam didn't necessarily agree with that, but if it was—then Dean was the one Sam's choices would hurt the most.

The evening went worse than Sam had hoped for: "You walk out that door, you don't come back," his father told him.

Sam had packed up early and hidden the bag outside, just in case. But even knowing that he would leave— had to leave—didn't mean doing it right that minute. Not with the look that was on Dean's face.

Sam retreated to the bedroom instead, hoping some of the anger would burn itself out on all sides. Dean came in shortly afterwards, maybe with the goal of talking some sense into Sam, or maybe just to hide.

"You could always come with me," Sam said softly. "We'd find an apartment, you could get a job."

Dean just stared at him. "And leave Dad with nothing? How am I supposed to do that?"

"You heard him, Dean. Once I go, that's it. Not that I was planning on coming back to all this afterward, but this is different. It means no visiting, not even you visiting me."

"But you're asking me to choose, Sam," Dean said plaintively. "I don't want to choose…"

"Not choosing is still a choice, Dean. And Dad's the one that pushed the whole ultimatum— I'm just going to college."

When Dean didn't respond, Sam knew that was probably an answer in itself. He glanced over to where Dean sat on the bed, shoulders hunched and eyes never leaving the floor. Dean had never looked so sad, or so terribly small. "I'm sorry," Sam whispered.

There was nothing more he could do.

After their father finally went to bed, Sam waited another hour just to be sure. Maybe it was the coward's way out or maybe it was just practical, but he wasn't taking any chances on being held up. This was his future.

He could feel Dean watching him in the dark as he put on his shoes and tried to check around for anything he'd forgotten. "Last chance," Sam said, but Dean just shook his head sadly, his eyes glittering in the moonlight. Sam stepped closer. "Then this is goodbye."

He expected something then—a hug, or some kind of touch. Instead, Dean crossed his arms and turned away, jaw tightening as tears slipped slowly down his face. He didn't look at Sam again, even when Sam patted him on the shoulder in farewell. They parted in unforgiving silence.

Slipping out of the house, Sam shut the front door behind him soundlessly. He retrieved his duffel bag and backpack from behind the swamp cooler, and set off toward the bus station a mile down the suddenly blurred and distant road.

A new life waited for him across the country—a chance to finally become himself, whoever that turned out to be.

For the first time, Sam was leaving by his own choice. All this time he'd thought that would finally make it easier, but he was wrong.

This time was the hardest of all.


-------- fin ---------

 
 
 
The Grammarian about whom your mother warned you.acostilow on May 4th, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, boys.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
What a life, huh? *sighs*
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
That is such a hard way to live, when you care about people outside your family. I don't think John ever really understood that. :(
Not Quite by Firelight: My turntahirire on May 4th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh *ouch*

Really good job, it's sometimes hard to remember how sheltered Sam was, people blame him for not understanding John, but he wasn't raised a hunter from 4 like Dean was, it just isn't in him the same.

Hopefully SamnDean won't have to part ways again any time soon ....
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
it just isn't in him the same.
Well also, HE isn't the same as either Dean or John. We don't know how Dean would have been if Mary hadn't died, but once she did he had to cling to the family he had left. And being the oldest, he was somewhat trapped into trying to win his father's love all the time through obedience. Sam, on the other hand, would probablyl eventually notice that even though Dean did virtually everything their father said it still wasn't enough. So why even try, especially if you're not that good at it?

In general, though, Sam was less emotionally insular than John or Dean. I don't think he could help making friends everywhere he went-- or hurting at the loss of them over and over again. *sniffle*
brigid_tanner: Dean-breakingbrigid_tanner on May 4th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
That's beautiful and it hurts. Wonderful job capturing Sam's longing for "normal" and not wanting to hurt Dean, but just not being able to stay.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
and not wanting to hurt Dean, but just not being able to stay.
That was such an impossible situation. He really did have to leave, for so many reasons, and the only reason NOT to was Dean. But there was no compromise that would have made any of those choices work. :(
tabaqui: samb&wby_chokeanddietabaqui on May 4th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Ah.
*sniffle*

I love him with his bunny, with his friends that he wants to keep *so* bad. With hating being the new kid, and starting over so often...

Good stuff.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
with his friends that he wants to keep *so* bad.
John and Dean never seemed to understand that it wasn't just Sam wanting to be "normal"- it's that WANTING all the things he did was also normal. To not care about those things (or not care enough), was the aberration.

And after all of that, it turned out leaving Dean was the most devastating of all. :(
Ruth: LongWayHome (Ruth)just_ruth on May 4th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Sam clearly never felt the calling that Dean did, maybe Dean had the same potential but never the confidence to use it.

A sad little collection of good-byes.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
maybe Dean had the same potential but never the confidence to use it.
We'll never know, because losing his mother created such a fear of abandonment in Dean that he couldn't ever let go after that. Or dare to form deep attachments outside his family, when those were even more transient. :(

I'm glad you liked this. Can't believe it took so long to finish it, but it turns out that the 'Dean' part was the hardest for me too. :0
I do not think it means what you think it means.tcs1121 on May 4th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
That said a lot. Beautifully done, the way you seamlessly went from the too-short friendships from childhood to when Sam left,on the chance he could "finally become himself." I liked how Dean was always present, softly woven into his life. Good job.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
I liked how Dean was always present, softly woven into his life.
He's always there, but I think it's only at the end that Sam realizes how crucial Dean was to him. And that no matter how much it hurt them both, he still had to become Sam and not simply John's 'failed' son.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 4th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
Poor boys-- both caught between a rock and a hard place at the end. :(
Jean: SPN: Sam & Dean: Now & Thencontrary_lady on May 4th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
*cries* My poor boys!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 8th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't wish that childhood on anyone. I know there are so many worse ways to live, but... *sigh* Doesn't mean that one was good.

Thanks so much for reading!
minx999 on May 5th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
That got me all teary-eyed. Wonderful look back in Sam's life and how his need to be more and have more built up over the years until his final decision to go to Stanford. Sam's frustration of always being the outsider and the sense of loss at not having what everyone else seemed to have can be felt here. I remember how crushed and lonely and bitter I was when my family moved to another state when I was 11. I can't imagine having to experience those feelings over and over and over again like Sam did. Gah. And, the last part was so sad and just like I'd imagined it might have happened. I like that Sam was thinking about how his leaving would affect Dean too, but that he knew he had to go and make it on his own. Great job!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 8th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Sam's frustration of always being the outsider and the sense of loss at not having what everyone else seemed to have can be felt here. I remember how crushed and lonely and bitter I was when my family moved to another state when I was 11. I can't imagine having to experience those feelings over and over and over again like Sam did. Gah.
We moved between a total of 4 cities (even more houses) by the time I graduated from high school, and I SO hated it. And there wasn't even a decent excuse, just that my Dad operates on his own whims a lot and the rest of the family gets dragged along too. For Sam, that must have felt really similar. He can't even tell other people why they move so much, not that it would help what it feels like anyway. I completely understand his frustration with having absolutely NO control over even the smallest aspects of his own life. And when you add onto that the fact that he has/had the wrong personality to be a soldier or hunter, you can see why John Winchester's life didn't fit Sam at all.

I like that Sam was thinking about how his leaving would affect Dean too, but that he knew he had to go and make it on his own.
I don't think people understand that Sam knew that life wasn't him (not remotely), and he didn't want to spin out his days running around killing things and waiting for the one time he didn't get away fast enough. He had to leave. But what a hard and hopeless decision that must have been. :(
heidi∞: weechestersheidi8 on May 5th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)
: sniffs

No, that tissue's not mine, no ma'am.


Oh, Sammy. Oh, boys.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, Sammy. Oh, boys.
In the end, I'm not sure which of them it was harder on. Dean still had the hunting he loved, and his father, but I think he lost his happiness. And Sam gave up everything and found that he was really only giving up Dean (still so much), but finally had the chance to choose his own friends, his future, himself. *sigh*

It's the angst that fueled a thousand fanfics!
realpestilencerealpestilence on May 5th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
It's fics like this that make me want to smack the shit out of Sam. Probably not the reaction I'm supposed to have, but there ya go! *laughs*


I do like the point he made about it being John who forced the issue into a betrayal/choice; *he* was just going to college.

It's well-written, and one of the few pieces I can think of that has Sam and Dean in it marked gen that really *is* gen in feel; you managed to keep the wincesty vibes from it, which isn't easy.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Probably not the reaction I'm supposed to have, but there ya go! *laughs*
:0 ;) You know, I had so many issues with Sam in S1. Mainly, they weren't that he left (which I understood completely) but that he'd cut off all contact with Dean (says canon) and once they were reunited Dean was practically bouncing up and down with happiness about it and Sam was utterly ignoring him. Talk about kicking a puppy! And then there were all of the "baby of the family" entitlement issues.

But I truly understand what drove him to walk away, and I don't blame him one bit for it. Living with John Winchester certainly would have driven ME nuts, and when you add the life-threatening aspects and nomadism into, you can see why that life didn't appeal to Sam. If Dean felt as Sam did, there would have been no conflict! But Dean was a Daddy's boy through and through. :(

I do like the point he made about it being John who forced the issue into a betrayal/choice;
God, of all the things I'm sure Sam never saw coming with his choice, that had to be number one. What kind of asshole puts their child in that position, no matter how angry they are? And doesn't relent later when they've cooled down...

you managed to keep the wincesty vibes from it, which isn't easy.
I do try to keep the two separate, partly because I love both and write both, and they're very different "flavors" of the Sam and Dean love. But then, I don't like my food to touch, either. ;)
neb92: Supernatural - Devil's Trapneb92 on May 5th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
Oh wow... This is so one of my favorite fics now lol. I mean, wow... Of course, I think that more angst could have been thrown in there, (more detail on Sam's actual emotions, rather than just telling the story), but I'm an angst junkie and love things like that xD. Still, awesome, awesome fic. *is going to try to remember to add this to favorite fanfics list on website*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 12th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it-- and I hope it was still angsty enough (there's always room for more). :)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
(no subject) - neb92 on May 12th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ErinRua: Samerinrua on May 5th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
*cries*

Especially now that we know where that road would lead ... Oh, Sam.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on May 12th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
Especially now that we know where that road would lead
Worse every year, I swear. *cries with you*
cindy: spn - emo sammy (by nyaubaby)tsuki_no_bara on May 5th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
*snif* poor sammy. i love the variety of friends and how easily he gets comfortable with them, and how it never stops being hard to leave. i knew it was going to end with dean - he was sam's first friend and only constant - but that last section is just brutal. :(
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on May 12th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
i knew it was going to end with dean - he was sam's first friend and only constant - but that last section is just brutal. :(

You were right- that was where the arc of the story was leading, partly because Dean was Sam's most important friend of all and he didn't see it until there was no real choice left but leaving.

It was much harder to write that last part than I thought it would be, which is why it took so long to finish this piece. But in the end, it was worth it to tell it right. :)