Sunny Days That I Thought Would Never End

Notes: Written for spn_flashback. Prompt #211: Dean is skipping school and not telling anyone. What does he do during the day, and what happens when his father or Sam catches on?
Notes #2: I didn't really get in the part where Dad or Sam catches on. Sorry, but the story finished itself before I got there.

I've seen fire and I've seen rain I seen sunny days that I thought would never end I seen lonely times when I could not find a friend But I always thought that I'd see you again.

"Fire and Rain" by James Taylor

The first time was when Dad was gone on a hunt, leaving strict instructions that hadn't changed in nine years. Be in bed by curfew. Make dinner and breakfast, don't go anywhere but to school and back home. Dean had long since memorised the rules, thought he knew better than Dad what all of it meant. Arguing with Sam about going to bed, turning out the light and putting away whatever it was he was reading. Arguing with him again over what they had time to make for breakfast -- Dean never could make the waffles the way Dad did, so he stuck with cereal and oatmeal and Sammy bitching about wanting bacon and eggs over-easy.

Arguing with him when Dean wouldn't drop him off at school early, or pick him up an hour late so Sam could...whatever it was Sam was doing, that year. This year it was playing soccer in the recess yard during lunch and after school those few times Sam won the 'exactly three o'clock' argument.

Dean knew Dad would kill him if he found out, but when Dad was on a hunt all he really cared about was no one got into trouble with the authorities and nothing was seriously broken when he got back.

So Dean figured he was safe, and it gave him some time to hang out in the high school parking lot with Debbie or Susan or Tricia, breaking in the backseat of the car. Then he picked up Sammy by four thirty at the latest, and Dad always called the day he was heading home so Sam and Dean made sure they were there, three twenty five on the dot.

The first time, Dad was a whole state over chasing poltergeists. Dean dropped Sammy off at the middle school and he turned the car towards the high school, two miles away, and... kept going. Didn't even really know he'd been thinking about it for real, but when he didn't take the turn onto Richardson Street, he knew. He'd kept driving, mentally checking his wallet to make sure he could fill the gas tank up to where it was now in case -- long shot, but Dean had been trained to be careful. In case Sam looked, in case Dad came home without calling ahead.

The first time he'd been nervous, heart pounding when he picked Sammy up from school, ignoring the way Sammy bitched about Dean being on time and how he was the wing, for god's sake, and they needed him to score goals and Dean let it wash over him, the familiar cadence of his brother's voice masking all the thoughts that were pounding in Dean's head.

The second time was just as nerve-wracking, and the third time almost didn't happen. But Dad left again, and they'd been living in this place long enough that Sammy had a decent circle of friends and Dean knew which teachers didn't care and which ones he'd have to hand in his homework so they wouldn't complain.

By the eleventh time it was easy. Dean had the routine down, had his grades up and wasn't it funny that the school he ditched most was the one he had his grades the highest at. But he had to keep them from calling Dad in for a parent-teacher conference, and this way his teachers really didn't have much to complain about the next day.

By the twelfth time he'd kind of stopped caring about school at all, and for the first time in his life he looked forward to Dad leaving. He dropped Sam off with a hand wave and a reminder not to be a eggheaded geek, grinned at the way Sam scowled at him, and Dean drove away from the curb a little too fast, already thinking about what lay ahead.

He had it timed perfectly. Between two and three hours out and he stopped at a different town, different gas station every time. Filled the tank with cash he'd been saving, grabbed something for lunch and obeyed the speed limit the entire way. Exactly four hours and ten minutes after he'd dropped Sammy off he'd stop. He'd have exactly forty-five minutes before he had to turn around and drive back, filling up the tank once for the drive then again closer to home to get the tank to whatever it had been at that morning.

Pull up to Sammy's school at three o' five and wait. Argue with Sam about letting him stay, why the hell did it matter with Dad not home, and why not just let him play the first half, the first quarter, please, Dean, just sit and watch or take a nap or something, just let him play.

The days Dean ditched, he never let Sam stay. He'd glare at Sam and jerk his thumb at the passenger door, and think about how Dad would growl and snap off orders and tell Sammy to stop bitching and get in. He never really brought it off the way Dad did, or maybe it was just that Sam didn't willingly obey either of them.

The thought made Dean think about what he was doing, and it made him scowl even harder and refuse to even argue with Sam about letting him play.

The thirteenth time Sam asked him what was so important. Dean stopped on the way home and bought them burgers and milkshakes and never answered.

The fourteenth time Dean wondered if he should stop before Sammy asked again.

The fifteenth time was a month later, because Dad had been home with a fractured wrist and Sam was a surly, whiny asshole because he was missing every single game. Dad took them out to train them with a crossbow and to work on their tracking skills, and hiding in the woods while Sam tried to pretend like he wanted to find him gave Dean enough time to decide he was going to stop for good.

Assuming he had another chance, because that time when Dad got home he started talking about taking Dean with him because Sammy was old enough to stay home alone for a few days, taking the bus to school and telling everyone his brother was home sick. Going hunting with Dad was far, far better than the chance to stay home and argue with Sam and... even better than anything, so Dean had encouraged the idea as much as he could, did everything Dad ever asked without bitching even in his head, and threatened Sammy to fucking well behave while they were gone so he wouldn't screw this up.

The fifteenth time was after they got back, and Dean had been so excited, afterwards, that he could barely sleep, tossing in bed and thinking how he had totally nailed that black dog in the face and Dad had smiled and said 'good shot' and Dean had practically forgotten all about everything else.

Then a few days later at breakfast, with waffles and bacon and cereal than none of them touched, Dad said he'd be gone three days. They'd both simply muttered 'yes, sir's, and Dean could see how Sammy was thinking there was a game the next day. Dean wasn't thinking of anything until the next morning when he dropped Sammy off, promised to pick him up at four thirty so he could play, and as Dean drove away he realised it would give him an whole hour and a half more.

Which he'd always known, he wasn't stupid. Fear at getting them both caught had always rushed him back to get Sammy from school on time, but as he drove away from town, not even seeing the buildings drop away and replaced by cornfields, he knew. Let Sammy play, give him that much.

And he'd get an whole two hours and more.

The fifteenth time Dean maybe drove a little over the speed limit when he hit the highway, two lanes and deserted. Slowed down like he should when he had to pass Mr. Ferguson on his tractor, and he waved because yeah, by now the guy recognised the car and Dean had a feeling that maybe that was a bad sign. But school was out in one more month, and after that they'd be moving on, and how many more chances was he going to get?

So Dean drove, turning on the radio and singing at the top of his lungs with no one to hear. He stopped for gas at a Sinclair station he hadn't been to before, and he bought Doritos and Pepsi and a bag of Corn Nuts, eating one-handed as he kept driving.

He pulled into the same spot he parked in every time. No one else was there; usually there wasn't, the middle of the day in the middle of the week. Sometimes there was someone else, but no one ever gave him more than a glance.

Dean walked the path he'd memorised the first time, feeling his heart pounding. Not from nerves, not from the fear he'd be caught. Just...something he couldn't name, and when he found his place he stopped. He went down on his knees and he wished, for the fifteenth time, he'd been able to bring something.

He checked his watch and smiled. "I've got more time today, Mom. I'm gonna let Sammy play soccer after school, which is good because it makes him bitch-- sorry, I mean complain a lot less...."