Characters: Sam, Dean, John, OCs
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Rating: PG-13 for language
Summary: Life and times of Sam Winchester, with a little help from Pink Floyd.
Author Notes: Thanks to everyone who reviewed. This is the last part - not wee!Winchesters anymore. I wrote it because I wanted to read it, I guess. Do let me know what you think?
1/3: Broken Bow, Nebraska. Sammy is four years old.
2/3: Blue Earth, Minnesota. Sammy is ten years old.
Latest chapter 3/3 here:
But he sure as hell won't like it.
Sam stopped wanting to be like his big brother years ago.
All Sam wants is normal… what is so fucking wrong with that?
Sam almost jumps. Dean’s face is still turned away, his voice slurry and sleepy. Sam wonders how is it that his brother always seems to know when he has something on his mind. He bites his lip.
“Go to sleep Dean, we’ll talk in the morning.”
Dean turns his way then. “So there is something.”
It's never been easy keeping secrets from Dean. Sam opens his mouth, but just then Dean’s cellphone rings. Dean sees the number and is sober in an instant.
“Manticore on the loose. It has lured the detectives on the Burton murder case into the woods.”
“How did it do that?”
Dean looks at Sam briefly, blankly, before turning back to the road.
“He didn’t say.”
Sam is pissed. “Why don’t you ever ask him this stuff? It could be important you know.”
“There’s no time Sammy, we gotta get there NOW.”
Sam scowls but keeps his mouth shut as they speed toward the forest.
Nobody that is, except dad.
It's Dean, concerned as always but Sam isn’t listening. Slowly he gets closer then crouches next to the figure, turns it over. It's one of the college students they had interviewed earlier in the day. Sam is stunned.
“It's Nathan Hefner.”
The guy he spoke to not eight hours ago. The living, breathing, cheerful guy who, Sam thought was, actually really cool. He turns to his dad frowning, disturbed.
“You knew it was him? All this time?”
John doesn’t bother to respond. Turns to talk to the detectives to initiate damage control but doesn’t get very far.
John is pissed now. “What is your problem son?”
Dean mediates, or tries to. “C’mon guys it's no big deal.”
Sam carries on like he didn’t hear his brother at all.
“My problem is your attitude dad! You keeping secrets from us. Leaving us hangin’ on a need to know basis. What the hell’s your problem with us?!?”
Dean tries again, as quietly as possible to keep his family feud from the ‘civilians’.
“There was no time Sammy and you know that. Stop being a bitch about this.”
Sammy feels no such compunction. “Sure Dean, right after YOU stop being HIS bitch!”
John charges like he’s about to sucker punch his youngest son but his older son's firm hand right in the center of his chest stops him. He turns away, disappointed or not… Sam really doesn’t care. He’s too furious and frustrated and at the end of his tether himself to think straight. But takes one look at his brother’s face and it slowly dawns on him.
“I’ll see you in Richardson.”
And that’s all he’d said. Dean knows even his father needs to get away now and then, and he is allowed to. But not Dean. The twenty one year old wonders when and where he turned his own life into a fucking prison.
Dean can hear the sincerity in Sam’s voice but he isn’t stupid. Saying sorry will not make it go away this time. This time, it is here to stay.
Dean has a freakishly good memory, probably ‘cause they’ve had a freakishly… freaky life? He remembers the day Sammy spoke his very first word. How he’d squealed himself in excitement and how happy his folks had been.
After mom, every new word that came out of Sammy’s little mouth made John smile one moment and sad the next. Every new word, every baby step that Mary missed…
Dean knows Sam needs answers.
“He figured it out only an hour ago himself. The Hefner family has had one male in each generation with the ability to transform into a manticore. That’s why these unsolved murders date back to the 1800s when their ancestors migrated to the States.”
Sam is skeptical, but their dad has never been wrong so far.
“They weren’t all killers though right? There’s only been like six cases in nearly two hundred years.”
“Yeah, they could control it. Manticores are not like werewolves, they’re maneaters but not compulsive killers.
The Hefners probably killed only when they wanted to. Opportunistic killers Sam. That’s worse.”
Sam still doesn’t want to believe, but he has no argument left. Looks out the window and shakes his head.
“There might have been another way…”
“He killed his professor over a grade Sammy. That’s about as cold blooded as anyone can get.”
Sammy had seemed somehow… taken by the geeky college boy. That’s the sort of role model Dean couldn’t possibly be for his little brother. Ironically enough, that’s exactly the kind Sam’s needed all this time.
Dean makes a sharp right, nearly missing the exit.
“Okay so Hefner was evil and he deserved it. But it still doesn’t explain why dad is such a jerk to us. He keeps things from us like we wouldn’t know what to do with…”
“You’ve been keeping things from us too Sam.”
“I don’t know what you’re…”
“At least dad doesn’t lie to me.”
Sam shuts up, looks straight ahead, clearly on edge. Dean never could stand his baby brother’s discomfort for too long, unless of course he was intending to cause it.
“I saw your acceptance letter.”
More silence follows. Thickens until Dean is forced to turn the volume up again. A minute later Sam turns it back down.
“Was stickin’ out of your physics book.”
“I was going to tell you…”
“Believe me I…”
You obviously don’t need to know what I think, Dean wants to say, but he doesn’t wanna be called a bitch (to his face) again. Once a night is plenty enough.
“Just let me know when, so I can stop making breakfast for three.”
“What do you care man? You love this life! You got your dream car, your dream job. A new chick to fuck and dump every week. What difference will it make to you if I stay or leave huh?”
Dean doesn’t look at his brother, doesn’t even frown. Instead he smiles. That lopsided grin of his that never reaches his eyes and he’s glad it's too dark for Sam to see it.
The drinking and the pool-hustling and the girls… this stuff wasn’t something Dean aspired to when they started out. This stuff became more and more significant through the years because they allowed him to let go… of the one person who’d required his constant 24-by-7 attention not so long ago. Funny how quickly people change, Sam did. Dad did. Dean wonders what’s wrong with him… because at heart, he knows he never did. He never did let go.
He swallows, doesn’t look at Sam. He isn’t blind to his little brother’s desperation to escape this life. Hell might even understand it to an extent. He wishes with all his heart he could give his baby brother the ordinariness he seeks, so long as it didn’t mean Sam had to leave… go so far away where Dean couldn’t see him or keep him safe?
Ack, Dean rolls his limpid green eyes. Maybe he is turning into a teary eyed menstruating bitch.
Dean cannot deny he didn’t see this coming either. Fact, it's been coming for seven years.
I don’t know if I can live like this… wondering if today’s the last day I’m ever gonna see you and dad alive.
You see… it's not about Dean leaving Sammy behind anymore. It's about Sam leaving Dean, and unlike Sam, he is in no position to demand anything of his brother. He never was.
And that’s about all Dean can manage to say through the terrible tightening in his chest, the painful lump lodged in his throat.
And that’s all he says. Sam wants to grab Dean and shake him… clock him one if he thought that could make his brother talk. But Dean learnt from the very best. Sam won't get another word out of him if Dean didn’t want him to.
Great now his chest hurts. Bites his lower lip painfully to make it stop trembling damnit!
Damn you for making me choose between my brother and my sanity.
Dean swerves, partly from shock and partly to avoid the body from landing on his windshield but it does. Dean hits the brakes and the Impala comes to a screeching halt just as the body tumbles off the car and onto the road where it is illuminated by their headlights.
“Then what the…?”
Sam gets his answer when a gigantic weight lands on the trunk of the car, then heads up to the roof over their heads before leaving dents on the hood and finally jumping off and turning around to face the brothers.
Dean runs to check the pulse on the detective, he’s long dead.
“We gotta get out of here Dean, come back later with a plan.”
Dean agrees. They start to get back into the car when they hear the scream.
“Help me!! Somebody!”
It’s the second detective. Sam looks at Dean. “It’s a trap.”
“He’s luring us into the forest.”
“What if he’s not? What if Milton’s out there?”
Sam knows his brother has a point, they need to check this out.
“Okay, but we’re taking more weapons.”
They grab a machete, crossbow, a couple of flare guns, a rifle and more silver ammo then head after the beast.
The boys follow the sounds of the repeated screams until they reach a clearing on top of a cliff with a steep drop to the dry ravine below. It’s a crescent moon night with barely enough light to make out shapes and outlines.
Dean nods. “Fresh blood.”
Sam moves toward the source of the acrid scent.
“Sammy stay next to me.”
Sam is distracted, if only for a moment, inexplicably pleased that Dean called him ‘Sammy’. And that is enough. The manticore jumps him.
“Sam get down!”
Dean fires, and Sam swings a machete at the beast. He barely touches it before the machete is knocked out of his hands. Four sharp claws scratch Sam in the face and neck and his shoulder feels sprained where the manticore crashed into him. Dean discards the gun (silver completely ineffective by now) and grabs it from behind. The manticore turns to attack Dean.
Sam picks himself up and runs to where Dean dropped their stuff. Gropes around in the dark to find the flare gun as his brother fights the beast.
“Anytime now Sammy, this thing’s… arghh… getting pissed!!”
When he finally finds the gun he turns to shoot but it's too late. The manticore has vanished.
Sam runs to the edge of the cliff to look down, doesn’t see anything. Turns back around and scours the bushes.
Don’t do this, please don’t do this, Sam quietly murmurs under his breath. He stands still for a couple of seconds, holds his breath because he thinks his heart is beating too fast for him to pick on other sounds.
Oh God. Please God.
“Dean! Answer me man!”
He doesn’t care if the manticore hears him and comes after him so long as it leaves his brother alone.
Walks to the other end of the clearing right next to the edge. There are giant boulders shadowed ominously by the moon and it's still as death. He can feel every single hair standing at the back of his neck.
He softly whispers. Suddenly a figure slides out from behind the boulders. Unfortunately the manticore also notices at the exact same time as Sam.
“Dean watch out!”
But it's too late once again. The manticore roars with the elation of its eminent victory as it leaps up and Sam shoots.
The flare hits bull’s eye and immediately catches on to the furry beast. But the momentum of its pounce and the shock of the fire sends it and his prey careening off the edge.
Sam runs towards the edge, drops to his hands and knees and helplessly watches the two ignited bodies fall into the ravine hundred feet below. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing he can do.
Tears fill his eyes just as all breath catches in his throat and Sam starts to hyperventilate.
“Dean come back! Come back please come back!”
His chest heaves with the effort it's taking him to breathe.
“I’m so…so sorry! I know I’ve been a selfish bastard and I keep fucking up but… please… this is too much
Dean! You can't punish me this way, Dean please!!”
This can't be happening. Oh God. This can't be happening. The sobs get hysterical like they haven’t in seven years.
“I’ll do anything you want. I won't go Dean. I’ll never leave you! Please just please… I’m sorry, come back. Come back! Please…”
Sam’s heart skips a beat. He jerks around, toward the boulders. A dark figure silhouetted in moonlight slowly limps out and walks toward him. Sam is too shocked to react for a few seconds. When he does, his voice is barely a whisper allowed through his painfully contracting lungs.
“You came back…”
Sammy exhales in incomprehensible relief. Then a frantic burst of energy and he pulls his hands off the ground where they’d clawed themselves in to wrap himself around the older man’s legs.
Some rational corner of his brain recognizes his brother’s expression of utter indignation at the whole… touchy-feely-ness but he doesn’t care. Doesn’t let go and can't stop trembling for what seems like ages until he hears Dean sigh, and lower himself to his knees. And then he does something Sammy had long forgotten to expect or hope for.
Dean engulfs him into a comfortingly tight embrace.
“That was Milton’s body, I set it up as a decoy.”
Sam still can't breathe. He rests his head on the broad chest and grips the biceps hard… as if to make damn sure Dean didn’t go anywhere ever again.
“I thought I killed you…”
“You saved me you big dufus. Gawd you’re heavy.”
Sam looks up into his brother’s tired eyes, and his face crumples again.
“Don’t ever do that again.”
Dean holds Sam tight against his chest, kissing the top of his head for a long time. He wonders if Dean realizes that he is gently rocking him like he used to when they were kids. Rubs his back to aid in Sam’s struggled breathing.
“Breathe dude, come on… easy. Breathe. Breathe.”
Gradually Sam stops hyperventilating. His sobs reduce to silent snivels before Dean’s grip ceases to be borderline painful.
Sam tenses up. Looks into Dean’s eyes. Dean smiles as he wipes the tear tracks off his little brother’s cheeks.
“I want you to go Sammy.”
“Listen to me. I am so… SO proud of you.”
And the tears start again. Sam whimpers wishing he could hide in his brother’s shirt again but Dean won't let him.
“A full ride to Stanford, that’s big shit kiddo. You’d be one major dumbass if you let this chance of a lifetime pass you by.”
Sam shakes his head fervently, unable to form any words. Dean takes his chin in his one good hand and forces Sam to look up into his eyes.
“All my life, all I’ve ever wanted is for you to be happy. And safe. And if college makes you happy, then so be it. And hell Stanford couldn't possibly be any more dangerous than this.”
And who’s gonna save your ass when I’m gone? Sam knows better than to say that aloud.
“Screw Stanford. I’m not goin’.”
“Oh you’re goin’. And that’s an order.”
Dean looks like he’s daring Sam to challenge him. To snap back in his best whining voice, who died and made you drill sergeant?
Sam sighs, wipes the tears off his face and looks up. “Come with me.”
“Lets leave together Dean! Ditch this freak show of a life and start over.”
Dean smiles sadly, ruffles his hair. “You know I can't do that.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.”
Sam’s voice is barely a whisper. “It's not me I’m worried about.”
The rest remains unspoken but mutually understood.
And just like that, Dean lets him go.
Pulls away, ending the warm, rare embrace abruptly and stands up limping. Sam makes a valiant effort of hiding his disappointment and gets up as well.
This wasn’t how he’d imagined his conversation about college with Dean to go. Sammy never realized he’d be willing to give up all his dreams for his brother. But now he knows he would, absolutely would… in a heartbeat. Only now, the tables have turned.
“Don’t wanna hear it.”
A soft whimper escapes before Sam clamps down and turns away. Dean wishes he could do more to comfort his miserable little brother but what?
Maybe the habit of hiding his pain from his family eventually bled out and expanded till Dean was left incapable of ever showing any emotion whatsoever.
Dean offers gallantly, expects a snide remark in response. But gets nothing. Dean sighs, then takes out one of the older cassette tapes he’s been religiously preserving for seventeen years. Mary’s collection of greatest hits starts off with a rare Janis Joplin, unplugged. It makes Sammy smile (though sadly), and Dean feels like a weight’s been lifted off his chest.
Be a hip cat, be a ship's cat.
That cat's something I can't explain.
Someday, Dean thinks, maybe Sammy would return to him and say, hey, turns out normal isn’t all it's cracked up to be after all. Ah hell. Rewinds again.
Always sitting by your side
Always by your side.
That cat's something I can't explain!
Smiles, his shit-eating lopsided grin, steps on it. Then again, maybe not.