Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural.

Author's Note:This is slightly AU.Pre-pilot.

Ihope you enjoy!


It didn't happen often. In fact, these days… it hardly happened at all; something he didn't know whether or not he should be grateful for or ashamed about.

Then again, when it came to his family, Sam didn't know much.

He'd always been the outsider. Always seeing the picture in a different way, always asking the wrong questions, always wanting more…

Breaking free hadn't been nearly as hard as he'd thought it would be. Comparative to ripping the Band-Aid off—one hard yank was all it took. His Dad had made it easy; the stubbornness, the yelling, the ordering, the refusal to even hear Sam out… it wasn't had to walk away from that.

And his brother—Dean had done nothing. He'd stood back and let Dad yell, let Dad order, let Dad issue is his ultimatum— he'd stood by and said not a single word. That had hurt; Sam had expected defense from Dean; Dean was always on his side…

… not that day though, that day Dean had stood back and said nothing, done nothing—a great big 'fuck you' to his little brother and Sam had been more then happy to return the sentiment.

If Dean couldn't be bothered to stand by him, then Sam didn't need to bother either.

He'd walked away—and he hadn't looked back; not for a while. It was a Winchester trait to hold a grudge, to feed it and nurse it—to let it simmer.

His first two semesters at Stanford he'd let it simmer. It had made everything so much easier. He'd catapulted himself into his new life with no qualms whatsoever. He'd made friends and relished his classes—and when thoughts of his family meandered through his homework riddled brain he latched on to them with the single, devout purpose of shredding them to itty-bitty pieces.

He picked them apart for every fucked up thing that had ever happened in his twisted childhood—and god, was there stuff to pick apart.

And soon those meandering thoughts tapered off. Soon his mind was occupied wholly with professors, papers, exams, games, and friends; with all things "normal." Only when he let his guard down, in the shadows before sleep took over, did a voice whisper that he was a Winchester and could never escape.

His first year melted into his second and thoughts of his family ceased completely. He'd become adept at spotting their approach while they were still on the edges of his consciousness and he was good at shooting them down before they neared.

He'd been trained as a sharpshooter, after all.

Occasionally, his cell phone would ring with an out-of-state area code. He wouldn't pick up, but he couldn't stop himself from checking every few seconds for that little you have a message icon either.

Sometimes it would appear, sometimes it wouldn't. When it did, his heart would hammer and his hands would sweat.

Afterwards, he'd grab a beer and sit alone in his room—resolutely ignoring all emotions and memories his brother's voice resurrected.

In an hour or two he was firmly back under control, he'd delete the message and move on. There was always something to do; someone to hang out with, something to study…

So the grudge had slowly dissipated, but he was still a sharpshooter.

So days like today were rare—days when his shots went wide and the memories had clear pathways to his mind.

It was the day of his graduation party. A party Jess was throwing for him, in honor of him being Suma Cum Latah, in honor of his LSAT scores, in honor of his scholarship for law school.

All his close friends were invited, her parents were invited, his mentors were invited… everyone who'd had a hand in his getting to this point.

Everyone, except his family.

They weren't invited. They didn't know. They didn't know about all of Sam's accomplishments—his friends, his professors… they all commented on how proud his family must be.

But… his family… they didn't know.

They didn't know that yesterday he'd proposed to Jess, that she'd said yes, that tonight they were announcing it.

And that hadn't bothered him; it didn't bother him. Why should it? He hadn't spoken to either of them in nearly four years.

Dean had stopped calling about two years ago.

"Sam?"

Her voice broke him out of his reverie and he jumped, almost dropping the glass in his hand.

"Sorry," she murmured as she approached, "Didn't mean to startle you…"

He sent her a small smile, ignoring the tiny voice in the dark recess of his mind that taunted him: you should have heard her approach…

"What's goin on?" she asked, settling herself next to him on the sofa, "You look like you're in a funk—but you can't be in a funk, because in three hours and twenty-eight minutes we're celebrating the wonder that is you." She teased gently, reaching out and taking the glass from his hand.

He studied her as she smiled and brought it up to her lips. Jess amazed him. So intelligent, so understanding, so intuitive— so blind to what he really was.

He was always expecting her to turn around and just—see him. See the horrors he'd done, the lies he'd told, the lie he was…

But she didn't. Jess saw what he wanted her to see, like everyone else, like his father had taught him to do…

"Sam?" she murmured again, setting the glass on the coffee table. Her voice concerned now, her hand reaching out to rest on his arm.

He blinked and pushed the thoughts away, letting his smile grow, "I'm fine." He told her.

She grinned suddenly, brilliantly, "Liar—you nervous?" she asked.

Nervous?

Why the hell would he be—

Oh, right— announcing the engagement, she was so giddy about it that she expected him to feel something along those lines as well.

And he did. Sort of.

He was happy… pleased… content with the decision… he was happy, pleased, and content with it all… with everything that was going on in his life at the moment, it was all so very "normal" that how could he not be?

She was watching him, expectantly and Sam shrugged, focusing his mind on being the Sam Jess had come to know, "A little I guess…" he murmured, "I'm still not sure your Dad likes me."

She chuckled, cuddling closer to him, "Are you kidding…? You're the perfect son-in-law… kind, polite, intelligent." She laughed again, "…he likes you better than he likes me."

Sam laughed too, because that's what she expected and wondered why it was so hard today…

Usually he delighted in it— being Sam Winchester: Average-All-American-Ivy-leaguer. There was something about today though, something that made it hard to slip into the role. A role he'd perfected to the extent where sometimes he even forgot it was a role. Maybe that's what had happened—he'd forgotten for so long that he was playing a role, over two years, that the shock of remembering had him numb.

"Seriously though," Jess murmured, her smile fading, "What's up?"

"Nothing."

the best lie has a grain of truth in it…

His father's words floated through his mind and he almost winced, it didn't stop him from using the lesson, though.

"… not really anyway… I just… I feel a little off… there's so much goin on…" he added, to appease her.

"Everything is going to be perfect," she told him, shifting so their gazes met.

She opened her mouth, intent on saying something else—a pounding at the front door interrupted her.

She rolled her eyes, "That'll be Jake, he was gonna bring some extra chairs…" the pounding sounded again, "… and he has no manners…" she muttered, getting up and heading for the door.

At the threshold she paused and looked back at him, grinning, her eyes sparkling, "… everthing'll be perfect," she repeated, "… you'll see… happily-ever-after, and all that…" she finished, before sprinting around the corner towards the front door.

He watched her go. Heard her greet Jake in the entryway, heard the banging of chairs against the walls as Jake brought them in, heard her reproach him, heard him laugh…

Ordinary sounds— not the growling of a beast or the hissing of a Banshee or the howling of a poltergeist; not the sharpening of knives or cocking of guns—just ordinary sounds.

Just like he'd wanted—he'd gotten everything he ever wanted.

So what's with the pissy attitude?

The question rippled through him and he made a conscious effort not to acknowledge it.

It wouldn't have been so bad if it had been his inner voice asking the question; the bad, was that the question was posed in the voice of his brother.

Dean— who had always been able to cut through his funks with all the gentility and subtly of trucker wielding a sledgehammer in a crystal shop.

Dean—who wasn't here; wouldn't be here tonight, didn't know…

Slowly, Sam drew in a long breath and closed his eyes. It was time to put those sharpshooter skills to work again, time to get back into the role… Sam Winchester: Average-All-American-Ivy-Leaguer, who didn't care that his Dad and his brother weren't coming, didn't care that they weren't going to tell him they were proud, didn't care that everyone believed he wasn't close to his family, didn't care that he was starting to fear they were right…

Slowly, he released the breath and opened his eyes. Sam Winchester: Average-All-American-Ivy-Leaguer didn't have a past. He was all present, all future…

… and he'd gotten everything he'd ever wanted…


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