Disclaimer: I do not own "Supernatural" or any of its characters.
Author's Note: Okay. So apparently I have no will power. The chanting of I will not start another story, I will not start another story did not work and I have (obviously) started another story.
It is utterly AU now; as I will give in to the muse that will not leave me alone and merge CollegeSam with Dean. Just to see what happens... hee.
This follows "Area Codes" but I don't think its necessary to read that one to understand this one (although reading it and reviewing it would make me very happy :-))
Jess is featured in the story and a few OC's (the same as in "Area Codes") but the story is solely about the brothers and their relationship, everything else is just background. So don't stress! ;-)
I'm planning a four chapter story.
I hope you enjoy!
It was the sensation of being stared at—that's what woke him. The fact that he woke up slowly and not with the instinctual alertness his father had ingrained in him, gave him a deep seeded satisfaction and an innate shamefulness that he told himself he had no reason to feel.
He blinked slowly as his eyes adjusting to the gentle sunlight that streamed into the room. Jess was sitting Indian-style on her side of the bed, still in her pajamas, her blonde hair streaming in front of her, a contemplative look in her blue eyes as she gazed him.
"Jess?" he said hoarsely, sitting up and rubbing a hand over his face, "What's wrong? You okay?"
She shook her head, the streams of blonde hair rippling downwards, "No."
His heart hammered and the world spun; instantly, he was awake, "What is it? What happened?" he asked, his voice sharp and concerned, his eyes raking her seated form, his head swinging around to study the room.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
"It took me nearly three weeks." She whispered, her gaze still fastened steadily on him, studying him.
Sam swallowed hard, nothing out of the ordinary, he repeated to himself; releasing a slow breath. Nothing to fight, nothing to kill, nothing on fire…
"Three weeks to what?" he asked slowly, feeling the world shift back into place.
"Everyone's been asking me… what's wrong with Sam? Is he okay? Did something happen?"
Sam frowned, "Jess…" he began, but she cut him, her voice still soft and almost absent.
"I kept going over it and over it in my head… what could have happened? Why's he so absent? So apathetic?"
"You are," she cut him off, her eyes focusing sharply on him for a moment, then becoming thoughtful again, "You stare off into space when there's conversation going on around you, you sit in silence for hours, you haven't met the guys for a game in two weeks…"
Sam sighed roughly, running a hand over his face again, leaning back against the headboard, "I'm stressed a little, so what? There's a lot going on…" he explained, but even he heard the suddenly defensive tone of his voice.
"It's not the first time you get into this kind of mood… it happens once in a while… I learned to accept it, to deal with it. We all have our quirks… but this one… this one has lasted for so long…"
Again she cut him off, "Two hours," she stated, still very calmly, "…you stared at that cell phone… as if you expected it to do something and when it did, when it rung, like cell phones are supposed to do, you jumped out of your skin… I saw you." She added, when he opened his mouth.
Sam scowled, "You were supposed to be studying…" he told her, knowing it was nonsensical, but not knowing what else to say; not knowing where this was going.
She ignored him, continuing as if he hadn't spoken, "It's like there's an ongoing conversation in your head that you refuse to share… and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was. Or even why…"
Sam drew in a long breath, leaned his head back and closed his eyes, "It's too early for this Jess… and it's Saturday… and I'm fine, nothing is going on… and just for emphasis I repeat: it's too early for this—"
"—it's Dean." She whispered softly.
Her words had the impact of wrecking ball, Sam's eyes shot open and he straightened abruptly on the bed, "What?" he croaked out, his voice a bit high pitched.
Her gaze was no longer thoughtful, but direct and meeting his dark eyes head on.
"The night of the dinner… Doug and Kerrie said they ran into a guy named Dean—like your brother. I didn't make the connection right away," she shrugged carelessly, but her intense eyes belied the gesture, "Why should I, right? You've mentioned you're brother, what? Three, four times since I've known you? It's pretty normal that he didn't pop into my head; but in my obsessive desire to figure out what the hell is up with you… I've analyzed all the mundane details of our lives lately. And I pinpointed this funk of yours to that night— that night when you turned three shades of green and snapped at Kerrie after they brought up that car; that night when, after they mentioned that guy, you formed maybe four coherent sentences and then retreated to the library to do research when no one could really figure out what the hell you could possibly need to research on since classes had already ended; that night when the guys swear you were ignoring them and you stayed behind when they came back to the apartment— after going out and not finding that guy."
Sam's mouth was dry, his heart was beating widely, and he had that sensation of the world spinning again, he opened his mouth, but no words came out… of all the things to deal with without his morning cup of coffee, Dean was the worst possible one.
He opened his mouth to try again, but Jess beat him to it.
"What sort of car does your brother drive Sam?" she asked, and for the first time Sam realized that Jessica was pissed at him. She had that sort of veiled fury that he'd only seen once since he'd known her and it had not been directed at him. In fact he clearly remembered thinking that he never wanted to be on the receiving end of that. She'd torn into someone for lying to her and done it with such methodical, brutal rage that he'd wondered if there hadn't been more to it...
The answer, when he'd asked, had been, no; she just hated to be lied to.
He swallowed hard again, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, blood rushing in his ears…
He looked away, not wanting to meet that gaze—angry, demanding, accusing…
"It was him wasn't it?" she asked.
He remained silent. His thoughts whirling as quickly as his heart pounded— it was too early for this, he hadn't had time to raise his guard, to put The Role on…
He needed to reign in his thoughts, to figure out what to say… to explain and know how to answer the questions that were coming… but dammit… he couldn't think when it came to his brother…
Jess made a hissing sound, "I'm not moving- and neither are you- until you tell me what's going?" she stated, the veil slipping and her anger shining through loud and clear.
He swallowed hard, what's going on… okay, that he could do.
He looked over at her, meeting her gaze again, "Nothing." He whispered, surprised at how tight his voice sounded—how sad, how hurt…
Jess blinked a little, apparently surprised as well, her gaze softened, "So it was him…?" she asked again.
Sam nodded, looking down, "I think so… unless… there's another Dean with a '67 cherry-black Impala out there…" he whispered, then shrugged, "Which is possible… you never know… it could—"
"It was him." She stated firmly, cutting Sam off. Then she scooted closer to him, "Did you know he was going to be around?"
"I don't exactly keep in touch with my family, Jess. You know that." He said, his voice sounding weary even to his own ears.
She was silent a moment, then reached out and took one of his hands in both of hers, "Before we get married—can we please talk about why that is?" she asked, almost pleadingly; with those big blue eyes, no longer angry, just soft and fastened on his face. Her voice earnest and kind and Sam felt his heart turn over with love and shame and frustration…
…because he knows that he won't ever talk to her about why that is; not really…
He could tell her— that he and his dad don't see eye to eye, that he and his brother can't find middle ground, that they can't accept what he's chosen— but he couldn't ever tell her…
Even if he told her the truth, it would be a lie… and he wouldn't have it any other way.
He squeezed her hand, offering her a small smile, "I've told you—we're not exactly the Brady's…"
But Jess didn't smile back. Not this time. She didn't return the hand squeeze either.
She studied him again, and when she spoke her voice was once again contemplative, "Are you upset that he was here… or are you upset that he was here, but wasn't here?" she asked him.
Sam's head swung towards her, his eyes widening again, "I'm not upset." He whispered after several long moments.
"You're something," she whispered back, "…and whatever it is it has to do with this, doesn't it? With your brother being around?"
He could lie to her, he thought suddenly, except that he lied to her so much already… just by being he lied to her. It didn't seem fair to purposefully lie to her on top of that…
"I just…" he searched for what he wanted to say, "… I haven't… Dean and I… we haven't…"
The words were halting, his thoughts moving too quickly for him to verbalize…
How was he supposed to explain his relationship with Dean?
The answer was sudden, clear, and painful—he couldn't.
He would never be able to give her a complete picture—because she'd need the truth to see it and he would never give her the truth, he loved her too much for that.
"You two aren't close." she stated, when he trailed off.
"NO!" the word was out with more force than he'd intended, it shocked her, but he couldn't help it.
Instinctively he recoiled at the words; perhaps if he'd had his role firmly in place he would have realized that this was the best impression for her to have, that this was the one that would provoke the least questions, that would lead her to dropping the issue, but the role was not firmly in place and allowing her to believe that he and Dean weren't…
… it felt a little too much like betrayal.
"It's not that…" he assured her, more gently.
"So you are you close?" she asked, confusion touching her voice. He realized she'd expected him to acknowledge that he and his brother didn't have a close relationship, realized again that he should have let her believe that, realized again—that just the thought, sent shudders of revulsion through him…
If anything, Jess would know this one truth about him.
"I love my brother."
She blinked in surprise at him again, opening her mouth to respond, but he interrupted quickly, not finished.
"It's just… complicated between us…" he added.
She nodded slowly, then asked softly, "When was last time you talked to him?"
"I don't…" Sam sighed roughly, pulling his hand from hers, running it over his face, "… Jess, this isn't something that I want to talk about…" he told her, but the expression on her face was suddenlyclose to mutinous—too close.
The silence stretched.
She broke it with a question, "What month is it, Sam?" she asked.
He stared at her a long moment before giving in, "June."
"What is the date of our wedding?" she asked.
"October third." He whispered.
"How far away is that?"
"Is this a cross-examination?" he asked.
She arched a golden eyebrow at him and he sighed.
"About four months, I guess." He answered wearily.
"How long have we known each other?"
Sam groaned, "… Jess…" he pleaded, when she said nothing, only stared at him he answered, "Three and a half years."
"Okay. Here's what I know about your family." She said, her voicesharp and Sam straightened again at the words. Surprised—again. Wondering where the hell this had all come from and why he hadn't been expecting it.
Jess raised a hand in the air, "One," she said, holding up one finger, "You're mother died before you were a year old. Two," two fingers in the air, "You're father, whose name is John, moved you and your brother, whose name is Dean, around a lot growing up. Three," three fingers in the air, "You and your Dad had a fight before you left for Stanford. Four," four fingers in the air, "You don't keep in touch with him or your brother. Five," five fingers and a glare that intensified its heat, but no words followed. Silence filled their bedroom and finally Sam made a, what gesture with his hands.
Her eyes flashed blue fire, "NOTHING. There is no five!" she hissed, waving the hand in his face. "Three and a half years, a wedding four months away and I don't know five things about your family!"
Sam shrugged, turning away from her and setting his feet on the floor—deciding this conversation was over, "Technically speaking, you know six things—Dad's name is John, brother's name is Dean, those are things." He said simply, tossing the covers aside.
"It's too early for this, Jess." He grumbled, yet again running a hand over his face. He sighed and turned to look back at her, "We'll talk later, okay?" he said, inserting a note of pleading in his voice.
She met his gaze, then sighed— frustrated, "Fine." She growled, her bottom lip sticking out, "But I won't forget. I mean it. We are talking about this."
With that pronouncement she whirled away from him and flounced off the bed and out of the bedroom.
Sam watched her leave then turned away from the door; resting his elbows on his knees, he lowered his face into his hands.
He knew she wouldn't forget. He knew that she would now ferret out as much information as possible about his family.
He'd tried so hard to behave normally; to ignore the whisperings of his past, but they'd surfaced with a vehemence that had both surprised him and caught utterly off guard. He wasn't prepared to deal with the memories that had resurfaced—not when he'd spent so much time and energy blocking them out.
His biggest problem, he knew, was time. Time had made a difference. He almost wished it hadn't. He almost wished that when he thought back to his family all he remembered was that fight—his father's yelling, Dean's silence; that all he remembered was the pain and the blood and being left alone for days on end in a motel room with a shotgun and the instructions to shoot first, ask questions later; that all the remembered was the lying, the moving, the unfairness…
But he had no such luck. He remembered other things now too. He remembered smiles and inside jokes, he remembered prank wars and laughter, he remembered the wonder of seeing a new landscape for the first time and he remembered the absolute safety and security of lying in the backseat of the Impala and listening to his Dad and Dean talk about where they were going.
A feeling that had surrounded him so completely and been so much a part of his life that it had taken time away, for him to be able to see it.
He could look back and see that although he had questioned everything about their lifestyle, about what they did, and why they couldn't stop it… he had never questioned their love for him— not till that day, of course.
But time had matured the furious eighteen-year-old he'd been or maybe it had just mellowed him some, either way... he could see more now. He could see the betrayal on their faces—both of them; and he knew it was justified, knew that to Dad and Dean his announcement had come out of left field. He hadn't told them anything.
When he finally did tell Dad, he'd already had a bus ticket to Palo Alto, a place to live, and a part-time job.
He hadn't wanted to do it that way— but he'd seen no other way.
Even now, he saw no other way.
Dad would never have let him go. It wasn't safe, he'd claimed;more like he hadn't wanted to lose one of his soldiers, Sam had thought—and said, in rather colorful English.
With Dad Sam had known – still knew – what it was about, where he stood. Dad had told him to stay gone if he was going—and so Sam had.
With Dean, Sam was less sure.
Dean who had been here… two weeks and three days ago…
Dean who had been here and left without one word…
For a few days Sam had tried to convince himself that Dean hadn't known he was in Sam's neighborhood, that it had been a coincidence, that if Dean had known he would've stopped by…
But he knew that wasn't true.
As sure as he'd known all those years, that the only way he'd get out was if tore himself away, he knew now that Dean had been checking up on him.
How Dean knew where he lived, Sam couldn't even begin to fathom… or rather, he could fathom and that always brought a small smile to his lips.
Laws never held a Winchester back.
Dean had known exactly where Sam was and something in the younger man told him it wasn't the first time that the Impala had made the rounds near his apartment.
He'd never given it much thought before— he'd tried to give his family as little thought as possible— but now that he did, it didn't surprise him all that much.
Winchester's weren't really ones to let go, either
It was a thought that bothered him intensely— the idea that Dean had been so close and hadn't come to him.
Suddenly, he missed his brother.
Missed him with a ferocity that was startling, with something so akin to yearning that it had him longing to see an unknown number on his cell phone.
It had him remembering sparring sessions and Saturday-morning-cartoon-fests, it had him remembering a time when his big-brother knew everything and could do no wrong…
A time when he couldn't have imagined— even in his most terrifying nightmares— that he could spend four years without having a conversation with his brother; without arguing over who got the last pop-tart or who's music was better; or the million other tiny, irrelevant thing that siblings argue over…
It was like he'd torn the scab off a wound that had almost been healed and forgotten—now it was bleeding again and refused to be ignored.
His life was moving rapidly; in the blink of an eye he was out of college and about to embark on this new life. A life with Jess…
A life that had no place for the supernatural in it… did that mean it had no place for Dean in it?
The question had been plaguing him. Dammit he wanted his family at his wedding! He wanted them to know, to care, to come…
But could they do that? Could they come and not bring all that shit with them? Could he have them in his life and not have that in his life?
Sam didn't know. He honestly didn't. He'd been turning the questions over and over in his mind, trying to figure it out, to find a way…
He should have realized he was freaking his friends out, that he was pushing Jess away, that she wouldn't stand for that for long. He should have seen the questions, the intervention, coming; he should have run interference for it, should have been more careful.
He sighed roughly, lifting his head. He'd been sitting here a long time—making her wait on him was not going to make it better.
He had to deal with it, with her questions; even as he searched for the answers to his own.
When it came to having Dad and Dean in his life without the supernatural attached— there was one thing Sam had figured out in the last couple of weeks— if given the chance, he sure as hell wanted to try.
Jess was waiting for him when he entered the kitchen in search of coffee. She was still in her pajamas, but had pulled her hair into a pony-tail. She was slicing banana into a bowl of cereal in front of her. She didn't look up when he came in.
Sam went over to the cupboard, got a mug, and went to the coffee maker. He'd decided that the best way to meet this conversation was head-on; to slice into it, cut it off at the bud—take the wind from her sails, so to speak.
Unfortunately, he had yet to figure out how to do that.
So he said nothing.
He poured his coffee, grabbed a bagel from the pantry and sat down at the table, across from her.
The silence stretched—so did his nerves. He was on edge— dammit, it was Saturday…
"Okay. Are you ready now?"
Her voice was calm, soft… but Sam heard the edge of steel in it. He bristled, "My family is not a subject I like to discuss," he said, responding automatically to that tone.
She looked up, her gaze meeting his, "Explain that to me." She stated.
"I don't have—"
"Yeah, Sam you do. Because in four months, your family becomes my family—our family and at Thanksgiving I'd like to know what to tell my mother when she asks about my in-laws."
The words were hissed and frustrated and Sam suddenly had an insight into where this had come from.
"This is about your sister." He stated, flatly. Jess's sister, Jill, was one of the few people that Sam actually felt saw him— and that was in no way a good thing.
Her gaze was always a little too pointed when she looked at him, her questions barely veiled accusations, her attitude almost forced.
They just didn't click.
Jess shrugged, "It's not about my sister…" she murmured, "… but she did… she mentioned it—and I happen to agree!" she added quickly, when Sam opened his mouth, "I don't know anything about your past, Sam!"
"There's not much to know—I didn't have that great of a childhood, you know that…" the lie mingled with the truth was more bitter than the coffee he sipped.
Jess nodded, the steel melting away into a familiar Jess expression— a mixture of sweetness, intelligence, and just… warmth, "I know that… I understand… but Sam… you can trust me with it—with at least a little bit of it. Our past, whether we like it or not, shapes us in some ways—and you are such a great guy that I can't imagine it was all bad…"
Sam blinked then rolled his eyes, "Have you been taping Oprah again?" he asked, wryly.
Jess blinked then rolled her eyes back, "Idiot." She murmured, a smile tugging at her lips as she spooned cereal into her mouth.
Sam grinned at her and bit into this bagel; feeling some of the tension melt away.
They ate in silence for a few minutes and Sam suddenly knew how to take the wind out of her sails.
"Yes." He stated and watched her head lift. She frowned him, arching an eyebrow in question.
"Dean and I were close—before I left for school."
Jess's face cleared and she set the spoon. She seemed to think that over then shrugged, "What happened?"
Sam swallowed hard and gave her the bare bones answer to that question, "I was angry when I left; didn't answer phone calls—he stopped calling. I don't have a number to reach him at."
It was simple really.
Yeah, sure, simple, a voice mocked—a voice that sounded suspiciously like Dean.
Jess met his gaze again, "Do you think it was a coincidence that he was around?"
"No." Sam answered truthfully.
She nodded, accepting that answer, not asking why. She twirled the remaining cereal around in the bowl. Sam waited.
Her gaze shot up suddenly, surprising him—even though he had been expecting it, "He sounds sweet." She whispered.
He frowned, feeling like he'd skipped a page in a novel, "What?"
She shrugged, her eyes sincere, "Your brother—he sounds sweet… the way… even though you guys… lost touch and all… he still thinks of you and sort of checks up on you, even if it is a little… odd that he knows where you live when you haven't told him…" she shrugged again, a sheepish look stealing across her face, "It's still sort of sweet…" she finished, frowning a little at Sam's expression, which had become more and more incredulous with each word she'd spoken, "What?" she asked finally.
He was so shocked that for a moment, he was actually speechless.
"Sweet?" he asked, the word tinged in something like horror.
Then a grin broke across his face— he'd pay to see Jess tell Dean he was sweet…
She frowned, "Yeah."
Sam chuckled a little; "I don't think…" his smile widened, "… sweet… is the right word to describe Dean…"
"So describe him to me." She countered and Sam sobered instantly—he'd opened himself up for that one.
When he remained silent, Jess sighed, standing and picking up her nearly empty cereal bowl, "Okay—fine… I will let this go…" she murmured, her tone almost petulant, "But you owe me dinner or a puppy or something…" she added, pouting a little.
He looked up at her, and a small smile touched his lips. He stood and in one fluid motion, he pulled her against him and lowered his lips to hers.
The kiss was warm and sweet—familiar; he could get lost in it, and he planned to get lost in one just like it every morning for the rest of his life.
When he pulled back she was smiling, he grinned down at her, "Tell Jill I said to mind her own business." He murmured.
Jess rolled her eyes, "Jilly has never minded her own business… she learned to read using my diary." Jess murmured back.
Sam chuckled despite himself, "What're we doin today?" he asked.
Jess pulled away and went to the sink, "I don't know—depends… are you still allotting four hours a day to brooding?"
"I don't brood."
"Puh-leeeease…" she drawled cheekily, "You totally brood…"
"Do not. I ponder…" he corrected.
She laughed and Sam's world seemed a little brighter. He wasn't for one moment fooled into believing this was the end of the I-don't-know-anything-about-your-family conversation
Jess wasn't going to let it go that easily, but for now it was Saturday, the sun was shining, and she was laughing…
For now that was enough.