Happily Ever After

by: Williamson M. Scott

Rating: T for possible language

Authors' Notes: This short, and I mean short, story was spurned by my writing partner and best friend. She was telling me about her story All Wrapped Up and this little piece wouldn't go away. This takes place during the first semester of Sam's college career. I hope all enjoy the little diddy and I wish all a very safe and Merry Christmas! Ridley, this one's for you!

Disclaimer: I own nothing Supernatural, at least not the television show!

December 24, 2000

Sam Winchester stared at the cellphone that lay in front of him. He had been sitting at his dorm room desk for over an hour. Demanding the phone to ring, wishing for the phone to ring,...hell if he was honest, begging for the phone to ring. Hoping to hear the unmistakable voice of Dean Winchester on the other end, but Sam knew he was living in a fantasy world.

When he had left for Stanford in August, the parting between brothers and father was anything but a Hallmark moment. Sam and John Winchester had shared departing words, albeit yelled, but Dean had been typical Dean. He had let their father take the lead and voice the disappointment both had for Sam's leaving. He did this rather than face a possible chick-flick moment. Besides, Sam knew Dean understood there was nothing he or their dad could say to change Sam's mind. Wasting breath on a lost cause was not Dean Winchester style. He knew when to fight and when to retreat.

Sam hadn't accepted the stoic silence radiating from his older brother that day and forced a verbal response. Now, looking back, he wished he had let it go. The two words Dean imparted to him were succinct and heartbreaking. 'See ya.' Never would Sam accuse his older brother of being over dramatic, far from it. But more important than the words was the look. Blank. No emotion, nothing. That hurt Sam more than a slap or punch ever could or would.

Sam sighed, hating the melancholy thoughts of four months ago playing around in his head. He tried to clear the images by turning back to the cellphone. Once more giving the silent mechanism all his attention and mentally sending a message for his brother to call. Even if it was just to cuss him out, or say 'how's life, Sammy?' Right now, Sam would settle for anything.

A hand suddenly fell on Sam's shoulder startling him up and out of his chair and into a defensive stance within seconds. Years of training had kicked in and Sam prepared himself to face the opponent, whatever it may be. However, what he saw when his eyes focused and his heart rate eased was not demon or foe, but friend. His roommate Pete Walker to be exact. The look plaguing Pete's face caused a blush to creep slowly onto the younger Winchester's face.

Sam quickly cleared his throat and stood up straight, trying to look at ease. "Pete!" A small smile worked it's way onto Sam's face. "Sorry man, I thought you had already left with the others." Apparently the smile wasn't working it's magic. Walker looked ready to bolt at the first sound. Sam stepped back a little, hoping the distance would put Pete more at ease.

It seemed to work. The deer in the headlight look started to relax from the freshman's face. "Uhm," Pete took a deep breath and continued. "No problem man, didn't mean to scare you. I thought you heard me come in." A slow grin inched it's way onto the young man's face. Since his first meeting with Sam Winchester, he had learned to expect the unexpected, but times like this, made him really wonder about his friend's life before college.

Sam read the expression on Pete's face as if it was an open book. 'Great, now he thinks I'm nuts for sure.' "Look, Pete, I'm really sorry." Sam glanced back at the phone. "I guess I was more preoccupied than I realized." He couldn't contain the longing sigh that escaped.

Walker stepped up to Sam and placed his hand once more on his friend's shoulder. Thankfully, not getting a repeat performance from moments ago. "I was coming to see if you had changed your mind about going with us." Pete squeezed the tensed muscle under his hand and watched a crestfallen look pass over Sam's face. "Look man, sitting around here watching your phone is no way to spend Christmas Eve. Me and the other guys are stuck here same as you. If we can't be with family, why not be with friends."

Walker felt the other man start to relax and knew he almost had him. "Hey, you can take your phone with you, in case your brother or dad decide to call."

Sam knew Pete was right. Sitting around here lost in what could have been, would drive him crazier than most already thought. "Okay, Pete, you twisted my arm." Sam scooped up the cellphone still mocking him from the desk, making sure it was on and functioning properly. He then jerked his jacket from the back of the overturned chair, not wasting time by readjusting it to it's normal vertical position.

"Great!" Pete clapped his hands together and danced on his feet a couple of steps. It reminded Sam of one of those commercials with kids waiting to see Santa Clause. "Mike said that a place down the street, Poor Richard's, was having a dinner special for those students stuck on campus."

Sam slowly drifted away from Pete's commentary as they walked toward the front doors of the dorm. He grasped the handle of the door and suddenly felt a presence nearby. A presence that he knew as well as his own and missed terribly. As the two men continued out into the chilled air of the afternoon, Sam scanned the area around them, but couldn't find what he was looking for. No, the only thing that greeted him was the trees and empty benches surrounding the dormitory. Sam sighed quietly, trying not to interrupt or attract Pete's attention. He knew he was grasping at straws thinking Dean could be here now. He just wished for it so bad, he was beginning to convince himself it was real.

As both men strolled down the sidewalk, a lone figure watched from the tree line nearby. Dean had been standing there for the better part of three hours. He had started to go to the dorm door a few times, but each time talked himself out of it. Now, as he watched his baby brother walk towards him with another guy, Dean felt his fight or flight trigger spring. Facing Sammy after all these months of no contact, well if you don't count the many non-descript unreturnable postcards he had been sending to Sam, was suddenly more frightening than a banshee in a glass factory.

But, Dean was strong. He could stand here quietly, hell he did invisible better than the wind. No way would either man know he was there. Damn, he should have known better. Sam had this sixth sense the older Winchester had tried to play down since they were kids. He should have remembered this. Dean glanced behind him at the Impala waiting patiently to be back on the open road and then back at the two men not more than 20 yards from him. Now or never.

Dean placed the small package he had been clutching at his side on to the bench a couple feet in front of him. He slid it close enough to the edge of the seat so when the two passed, one of them would certainly notice. When he was sure the package wouldn't fall or be pushed off by a sudden gust of wind, the second eldest hunter did an about face and made a mad dash for the waiting car.

He slid behind the wheel, careful not to slam the door, and waited. He couldn't see the bench or the two men from his new position. He could only count the seconds until when he knew the two would pass. When a full five minutes had gone by, Dean knew he needed to make a quick exit. If Dean knew his brother, and he did, Sam would not sit idly by and wonder about his brother's current whereabouts. No, he would begin to scour the immediate area, checking all possible parking spaces Dean would choose for his baby.

The older Winchester turned over the ignition and placed the car into drive. He picked up speed to 5 miles an hour and never looked back. He figured if he did, he wouldn't be able to leave without talking to Sam and the things that had occurred just in the past few months were something he didn't want to share with his kid brother. Sam was on a new path now. Somewhere Dean could not tread and he had accepted that. But it didn't mean he didn't miss his brother terribly.

Against his will, Dean felt his eyes creep up to the rearview mirror and the sight that met them as he stopped the Impala at a STOP sign caused him to gasp. There staring at him from the end of the sidewalk was Sam. The younger Winchester held the opened parcel to his chest as if it were a bar of gold. But what caught Dean's attention most was the look adorning his brother's face. Pure sadness.

The hunter almost turned the car around but he convinced himself once more that this was best for Sam. He had wanted to go to college, to escape the life of hunting and Dean accepted that, as much as he could. Running to his brother to try and protect him from the sadness was not an option. Sam needed to do this and Dean was bound and determined to let him. What was that phrase? Oh yeah, if you love something enough, set it free. If it comes back, it loves you too. Or some such nonsense. Dean wasn't in to placating euphemisms.

He turned his gaze away from the mirror and pressed his foot down, hard, onto the accelerator. Leaving his brother behind. Dean couldn't help the words that spilled from his mouth.

"Merry Christmas, Sammy."

Sam watched the Impala quickly disappear from sight and closed his eyes. For a brief moment, he thought Dean would turn around and come back, but he didn't. He left with a succinct and heartbreaking reply. The young Winchester opened his eyes and withdrew the present from his chest. When he saw the title of the book he now held, he couldn't stop the smile that broke across his face. A Collection of Fairytales by the Brothers Grimm.

The first story Sam ever remembered was Cinderella. Not something a four year old boy would particularly choose to hear, but Dean had checked out the story from the school library. The librarian had told him it was a great children's fairytale and she was sure his kid brother would enjoy it. So, Dean had brought it home and read it to Sam.

As the pleasant memory faded, Sam opened the book to the inside front cover and reread the inscription Dean had left behind. Once more, succinct and heartbreaking.

-Good Luck on Happily Ever After- Dean

Sam closed the book and glanced again to the empty street where Dean had been. He sighed and then smiled. The cellphone hadn't brought what he had wished for, but it seemed Sam had gotten something more. His brother.

"Merry Christmas, Dean."

The End