Warnings: Mild language. Brotherly fluff.
Author's Note: This chapter is relatively short. Sorry. Enjoy anyways and review please. :]
Four Months Later
"The number you are trying to call has been disconnected. Please hang up and try again or contact your local service provider."
Dean frowned at his phone and flipped it shut. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel while staring at the sign that was pointing him towards Palo Alto. He was having that feeling, that feeling that told him to get to Sam as soon as possible. However, he had had that feeling several times over the last few months and, despite it going against his very fibre as a big brother, he had chalked the feeling up to being away from his little brother for so long. They had never been apart for this long before and it took a lot of getting used to.
Well, that would be true if he had actually gotten used to it because he hadn't. He still reached for Sam and looked for him and even started talking to him before realizing he was alone. And he was always alone. When he had finally gotten back to Michigan, Dad had been pissed that he had taken off, had aided Sam in his escape.
He rubbed absently at the tiny white scar that now sat on his left temple. John's wedding ring had cut him quite deep from the man's vicious backhand.
Yeah, John had been mad, had taken it out on Dean, and then left. He hadn't seen or heard from the man since despite his attempts to contact his father. So he had been hunting on his own and, while he enjoyed hunting, he did not enjoy doing it alone. It was too quiet hunting alone. He always wanted Sam there to fill the silence even if sometimes they didn't actually talk. He wanted to be able to tease his little brother and have casual conversations and even have, God forbid, those ridiculous chick flick moments. He wanted Sam to roll his eyes at his horrible singing and bitch about his diet and use those stupid puppy eyes that he should be immune to by now. It had been nineteen years! He should have some kind of control under those stupid things.
He hadn't found time to visit in between jobs, healing, and travelling. They had been talking a lot though. They emailed constantly and sent texts throughout the week. And every Saturday night, no matter what was happening, Dean found a place he had perfect service and quiet, and he called. They talked for hours every Saturday and every conversation ended with Sam falling asleep to his brother's voice.
Even without visiting or being told, he knew Sam wasn't really sleeping. He knew Sam and knew he lay awake for hours every night and the other hours consisted of nightmares and tossing and turning. Dean had always been the only thing that could make Sam sleep and sleep well. With the start of the phone calls, Dean knew Saturday night was now the night Sam slept perfectly.
He opened his phone again and hit the number two speed dial. It was silent and then it beeped and the recording repeated.
"The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected. Please hang up and try again or contact your local service provider."
He cursed and snapped the phone shut, tossing it across the bench seat. He bit his lip, continuing to stare at the sign that told him Palo Alto was ninety miles away. Surely if Sam was in trouble and needed some kind of help he'd have called Dean. But Sam would never let anything stop Dean from being able to contact him. If something was wrong with his phone, he would've gotten it fixed instantly. So if Sam hadn't gotten his phone fixed then...
He threw the car into drive and turned right, heading for Palo Alto and his little brother.
Dean looked up at the Florence Moore Hall as he put money in the parking meter. This was where his little brother had been living for four months and he couldn't help but be proud. Stanford was a great school and Sam had been hooked up with a full ride, including a great room that he had rent-free for the first month. He knew Sam didn't have much in the way of personal items but he hoped his brother had been able to score a few things here and there over the months to personalize his dorm room.
He locked the Impala and then headed into the building, taking the stairs to the second floor. He found room 249 and knocked on the door then stood back and waited for his brother. He could hear banging, heavy footsteps, and loud laughter before the door was wrenched open. He blinked at the guy who was clearly not his brother.
"What?" the guy said, grinning and holding a joint in his fingers. He had a military haircut and was only around Dean's height. He was wearing a baseball jersey for some team that even Dean didn't know and his lower half only had on bright green boxers. Sam was fit and muscular, definitely, but this guy clearly did nothing except hit the gym in his free time.
"Um, is Sam here?" Dean said. He knew he had told Sam to live a little rather than sit in his books all the time but parties, half naked, and marijuana were not his little brother's scene.
"Sam who?" the guy said, taking a drag from his joint.
Dean scrunched his nose slightly at the sight and smell. "Winchester. Shaggy hair, gigantic, nerd."
"No idea who you're talkin' 'bout, man. Y'got the wrong room," the guy said and shut the door on another round of raucous laughter.
Dean raised an eyebrow. Did he have the wrong room? No, he wasn't about to forget his brother's home. So what was going on? Had Sam moved for some reason? But he would've told Dean if he had moved rooms. He frowned. Where the hell was his brother?
He left the building and headed for the main one to find the residence office to find out what had happened to Sam. He followed the signs the way he and Sam had done on the day he dropped his little brother off. He walked through the open door and up to the desk of—he looked at the name plate—Charlie Manson. He raised an eyebrow at the name and looked at the young man behind the desk. He was around thirty with blonde hair and was clearly more comfortable behind a computer than on a field of some kind.
"Do you have a question or are you going to keep wondering if I'm a descendant of Charles Manson?" Charlie said dully, gaining Dean's attention.
"Sorry," Dean said with a sheepish smile. "Guess you get that a lot."
"I do," Charlie said. "Now how can I help you?"
"Right," Dean said. "I'm looking for my brother, Sam Winchester. I went to his room but it seems to have been taken over by someone else."
Charlie nodded and turned to the computer. Dean waited and watched as Charlie typed and clicked away, searching for whatever he needed. It only took a few moments and then Charlie was turning back to him.
"Looks like your brother was evicted about a month and a half ago. He missed his rent payments and so he lost his room," Charlie said.
Dean stared at the guy in shock. "You're kidding?"
Charlie shook his head.
"Well, where is he? Where would he go?"
"I can't tell you that. I don't know where he would go. That's up to him."
"Wait, so you people just kick students out and don't even bother to make sure they have somewhere else to go?" Dean said, getting angry.
"This happens more often than you would think. It would be too much for the school to keep track of every student that loses their dorm and has to find somewhere else."
"Unbelievable," Dean said. "I think you need to change your damn policy."
"This isn't a high school, sir. Our students are adults capable of taking care of themselves. It is up to them to manage their lives," Charlie said.
Dean glared. "With the tuition of this place and the rent, it's no surprise students can't afford their dorms."
"It is their choice to come here," Charlie said.
"Doesn't mean you shouldn't care about them," Dean growled and then stalked from the office. He walked out of the building until he was standing outside on its steps. He stared around, watching the students move around campus.
He just stopped and tried to figure out just what he had learned. Sam hadn't been able to pay his rent and had lost his dorm room. Why hadn't Sam said anything? They had been talking for the last month and a half and Sam hadn't even given the slightest indication that he was struggling financially. He cursed. If Sam had been kicked out a month and a half ago, where had he been staying all this time? Where was he now?
He looked at his watch. Three forty-five on Thursday. Sam was going to be done class at four. He wracked his brain. What class was it? Something about writing...
"Dude, you okay there?"
He blinked at the guy that had stopped to give him a concerned look. The guy was about Sam's age but shorter, even shorter than Dean. His arms were filled with books and the backpack on his shoulders looked really heavy.
"I'm fine," Dean said and then spotted the title of one of the guy's books. "Pre-law?"
"Correct-o," the guy said and Dean resisted the urge to raise an eyebrow.
"Any chance you know other people in pre-law?"
The guy chuckled. "Kinda hard not to get to know some people in your program. Why d'you ask?"
"Hoping you might know something about my brother," Dean said. "Seems he's gotten into some trouble and I have no idea where he is, just that his class ends soon."
"I'll try, who's your brother?" the guy said, shifting the stack of books in his arms.
"Sam Winchester," Dean said. "Shaggy hair, massively tall, probably stares at his feet and keeps to the books."
"Winchester?" the guy said and Dean nodded. "Yeah, I think I got'im in one of my classes. Keeps to 'imself. Don't see him much outside class and the library."
Dean snorted and rolled his eyes. "That's Sam. So you don't know much about him then? Any friends or anything?"
"No, not really. Sorry, man," the guy said, clearly trying to shrug but unable with the books and his bag.
"Damn," Dean muttered. "Thanks anyways."
"Go to the Registrar's Office, near the Residence Office. They can get you his schedule," the guy said.
"I'll do that. Thanks," Dean said. The guy smiled and walked away, looking to be in a bit of a rush now. He watched the guy disappear into a nearby building and then went back into the main building he had just left. He looked at the signs and their arrows, following the ones that were pointing him towards the Registrar's Office. He eventually found it and walked through the open door, immediately spotting the middle aged woman behind the desk, clicking away on her computer. He approached her and waited.
"Can I help you?" she said, looking up at him.
"I'm trying to find my brother. There's a small family emergency and I need to find him but I don't remember what class he has now or where," Dean said.
"Your brother's name?" the woman said, turning to her computer and placing her hands over the keyboard.
"Winchester," Dean said. "Sam Winchester."
There was the clicking of the keyboard for a few moments as the woman searched her computer. He tapped his fingers on the counter as he waited. There was noise as a printer started up and he watched her pull a piece of paper from it.
"Here is his schedule," the woman said. "Campus maps are next to the door."
Dean took it and tried to give the woman a smile but she was already staring at her computer screen again. "Thanks," he said and then turned around to leave, snatching a map from the plastic sleeve hanging on the wall next to the door before he left. He went back outside and then examined the map after finding the class Sam was currently in. It only took him a few seconds to figure out where he had to go and soon he was walking across campus.
Arriving at the correct building, he looked at Sam's schedule again to get the room number and huffed when it was up on the third floor. Glancing at his watch told him he had just over five minutes before Sam's class got out. He walked in and found the stairs, rushing up to the third floor and then finding room 3049. He looked in the little window beside the door to find the classroom full and the professor still standing at the front of the room lecturing.
He shoved the map and Sam's schedule in his pocket and leaned against the wall next to the door, waiting for the lecture to end. His hands were in the pockets of his jacket and he watched the door open and the people file out as the professor finally let them go. He raised an eyebrow and gave a crooked smile when Sam froze in the doorway upon seeing his big brother.
"Hey, move it, moron," another guy said, shoving past Sam, purposely knocking his shoulder into Sam harder than was necessary and making Sam stumble to the side slightly.
With a frown, Dean reached out and snagged Sam's sleeve, pulling his little brother to stand beside him as the crowd dissipated. Sam kept his arms around his books which he held close to his chest and kept his head down so his long hair concealed his face.
"Hey there, Sammy," Dean said once the rest of the students were gone.
"What are you doing here?" Sam said, still not raising his head.
"Visiting my little brother," Dean said. "And wondering why your phone is disconnected all of a sudden."
"I, uh, it-it got stolen so I cancelled it," Sam said, looking anywhere but at his brother.
"You are a crappy liar, Sammy," Dean said bluntly and Sam flushed. "And because you suck at lying, you are going to tell me what's going on with you. By that I mean you are going to tell me how and why you lost your dorm and where you've been staying for the last month and a half."
Sam's head flew up then and he stared at Dean with wide eyes.
"Yeah, I know about that," Dean said. "Hard to miss when a guy smoking weed answers your door instead of you."
Sam winced and blushed again, clutching his books tighter.
"Come on, Sammy, let's go somewhere we can talk," Dean said, putting a hand on Sam's shoulder.
Sam was hunched over as he walked, leading Dean from the building and to a group of picnic tables scattered in a courtyard. They chose one partially shaded by a nearby tree and sat down across from each other. Sam dropped his books on the table and put his bag on the bench next to him. He picked at the brown paper that covered the covers of his books, staring resolutely at them instead of Dean.
"So, Sammy," Dean said and Sam cringed. "Tell me what's going on, man."
"I, uh, I couldn't get a job anywhere," Sam said. "I applied to every single place I could find but I never got hired. Couldn't make rent."
"How did you manage until a month ago?"
"I started saving money as soon as I decided to apply to university," Sam said. "I had a fair amount saved up. I also got that five hundred you sent me two months after school started. The third month into school, I found a poker game on campus, managed to get in. Cleaned everyone out but it wasn't quite enough and I missed the last two rent payments."
"What about your phone?"
"Sold it. Needed money for food too," Sam muttered. "Figured I should buy food first before rent since I couldn't do both. I would've sold my computer, too, but I need it and...probably wouldn't have gotten much."
Dean knew he meant to say that the computer had originally been Dean's so he refused to sell it.
"Sammy, why didn't you tell me?" Dean said.
Sam shrugged one shoulder. "You're no better off than I am, Dean. I wasn't going to ask you to give me any money you might have when you need it. Also didn't know what was going on with you...and Dad. He wouldn't want you giving me money so I figured it best not to ask."
"Sam," Dean said, groaning and rubbing his hands over his face. Sam hunched in on himself further though it shouldn't have been possible. "You need to stop worrying about Dad. I know I've always been the one to do everything he said and told me to, but he does not have the strong hold on me that you think he does. You have a much stronger hold over me. You should've told me you were in trouble, Sam, to hell with Dad. If I get the money I have then it's not his business what I do with it. I could be setting it on fire and he could do nothing about it. Let's keep in mind I'm twenty-three years old."
"I know but I didn't want to get you in trouble if you were with Dad and he found out you were sending me money," Sam said. "I know he'd get really mad at you if he knew."
"Sam, I thought you left so you could stop worrying about Dad," Dean said and Sam felt his eyes tear. "In any case, I haven't seen or heard from Dad since a few days after you left. He got pissed and took off."
Sam's head flew up again. "You've been hunting on your own? We've been talking for four months and you never thought to mention any of this to me?"
"Didn't want you to worry, Sammy," Dean said. "Apparently you've had more than enough to worry about here without me adding this onto it all."
"I've been fine, Dean," Sam said, his eyes roaming over his brother's face, immediately spotting the new scar on Dean's temple. He'd mention it later.
"No, you haven't been fine," Dean said irritably. "You got kicked out of your dorm, Sam. Do you even have any money left right now? And where the hell have you been staying since you lost the room?"
"I have enough for dinner tonight and a small breakfast tomorrow," Sam said, flushing with shame. "And I've put some of my hunting skills to use. I broke into the Residence Office and found an empty dorm room. Broke into the room, been staying there. Haven't been found yet."
Dean scrubbed his face with his hands again. "Damn it, Sam. You should have told me, you know that, right? You should not have hid this. What if you'd been found using that room? What would've happened then?"
Sam shrugged, reminding Dean of a sullen fifteen year old Sam.
"And what did you plan to do about food after tomorrow morning? Break in somewhere and steal that too?"
Sam dropped his eyes to his books again, feeling his face heat up and tears fill his eyes. He'd broken one of his last promises to Dean. He'd promised to make Dean proud and now it was clear he had done the complete opposite.
"I'm sorry," he murmured, picking at his book again.
Dean sighed. "Don't be sorry, Sammy. I just wish I had known. I'll always help you, you know that, but I can't if I don't know you need help."
"I know," Sam said.
Dean looked around, watching other students walk by and then turned back to his little brother. He hated the look of absolute shame and sadness on Sam's face. The kid actually thought he was disappointed. Smartest kid on the planet yet he could be so stupid.
"Come on, kid," Dean said. "Let's go get your stuff and then we're going to get some food."
Sam glanced at him through his hair and then nodded. He pulled his bag onto his shoulder and gathered his books to his chest before getting to his feet. He waited until Dean was standing with him before leading the way to where he had been staying. He kept his head down to hide his tears and suppressed a relieved sob when he felt Dean's hand come to rest on his back.
To Be Continued...