Labels

By Kara G

It's been awhile since I've written a fanfiction. This is my first Supernatural fanfic—I've got more ideas but who knows if I'll ever write them… Man it feels good to be posting again!

Rating: PG

Summary: Sam thinks about who he's been and who he could have become while trapped in a drainage pipe alone during a storm.

Begun: February 9, 2006

Finished: May 30, 2006

Whether or not we like it, we'll always be subjected to labels.

Geek. Jock. Genius. Freak. Goth. Loser.

We think that when we stop being kids, when we enter the real world, that the labels will disappear, and we won't feel trapped into a definition designated for us, but that doesn't happen.

In life, in the real world, labels don't go away, they just change. They become more definitive, less subjective. They always exist, in some form or another, at any point in our lives.

Husband. Wife. Employee. Businessman. Father. Mother. Lover.

The trick is not to shed yourself of labels, to become someone that cannot be categorized…

No, the trick is not to let those labels bring you down. The best thing you can do in your life is to avoid who you don't want to be, and learn to love what you are.

Son

Sam didn't remember anything about his mother.

When he was little, before his dad told him what had killed his mother, and why they hunted, he remembered asking him and Dean relentlessly, what was she like? Was she pretty? Was she nice?

The only time he ever got an answer was Dean's simple reply: she loved you very much.

That was it. After awhile, Sam learned not to ask.

Once, when he was 13, their dad had taken Dean and Sam to a theme park. They spent half the day riding roller coasters and go-karts, eating cotton candy and soda until they felt sick, laughing and having fun. It was one of Sam's fondest memories, which were few and far in between. Their father looked happy. He smiled and he laughed with them. It was a memory Sam took with him when he left for college a few years later.

It was one of very few memories.

Stupid Dean.

Stupid Dean and his stupid superiority complex… always too proud to admit that he could be wrong

Sam Winchester muttered incomprehensibly to himself as he picked his way through the muddy field, rain sloshing around his filth-caked shoes.

He supposed he was probably letting the weather—a light but freezing drizzle—reflect his mood to an extent, but he was still angry. Dean was currently searching a factory elsewhere in town, most likely feeling dry, warm and comfortable, three things Sam was not. Still, he wasn't going to find anything there, Sam bemused, mining what little victory he could out of the thought.

They had been investigating their latest case, some sort of lizard-man hybrid that had been supposedly responsible for killing stray dogs over the past few weeks until it culminated in the death of a construction worker. Dean was convinced that the creature was hiding in some cave on higher ground, where it had access to more easy prey, but all the signs told Sam that this creature was living in the sewers, and he tried to tell his brother so, but Dean wouldn't listen to him.

He was just having one of his days—one of his cocky, know-it-all days where he thought he knew everything about hunting, just because he was older and had been doing it for longer. Sam may have been out of touch, but the instincts had slowly returned to him over the months. He wasn't an idiot.

Idiot… That was what Sam had called Dean, among other, less savory curses. Somehow their disagreement had devolved into a series of insults and Sam wasn't even sure how it had started anymore.

All he knew was that somewhere along the way, Dad had come up.

Dad was always an issue these days. Whether or not they talked about it, the issue of their missing father always hung between them, driving a silent wedge further in the rift that had formed before Sam had left for Stanford. On some days it reminded him of the days before he'd left for college, almost like he'd never left at all…

o-o-o

John Winchester wasn't a bad man. He wasn't a hopeless father either.

He just… had a habit of making bad decisions, decisions that usually led to someone getting hurt. When Sam was little, their dad wouldn't let him hunt. He didn't let Sam hunt for a while, longer than he had waited with Dean, according to his brother. Dean didn't talk about mom, but he talked often about dad, about how different he was before… before their mom died.

Sam loved his father. He fought with him all the time, but he didn't have to dig deep to realize that he loved his father very much—still did, even if he thought it possible that John Winchester was dead now.

It wasn't an easy thing to do—loving him. John made it difficult with the lifestyle he kept for himself and his boys. It was this belief in the hunter's destiny that drove Sam away, pushed him toward a life of simplicity—of normalcy. Dad had been angry when Sam said he was leaving, but Sam fought with him over that too, and eventually, he escaped.

He may love his dad, but he'd be damned if he ever found himself agreeing with the man.

o-o-o

Sam heard what appeared to be rushing water further on ahead. Heading toward the sound he saw a large drainage pipe opening up into a murky lake. The concrete pipe extended back until it connected with the sewers. The area was desolate, and at least a hundred yards from the nearest factory. It looked like the area had been in disrepair for some time, evidenced by the construction equipment lying about in piles nearby open sewers.

A rustling sound caught his attention over the rain, and Sam's ears pricked. He made his way, slowly, over to a hole in the ground surrounded by 2 by 4s, an abandoned project. He leaned over and looked in the hole, carefully planting his feet so that he didn't slip and fall in. It was about a twenty foot drop to the concrete floor of the sewer. He didn't see any mystery creatures, but he did notice some scraps and bones lying alongside the walls.

"Jackpot," Sam muttered to himself, grinning and getting down on his knees to get a closer look. He looked around the area, confirming the presence of some sort of animal then he began to stand, intending to go around and enter the sewer from lower ground.

Sam scrambled to his feet, but as he did so, a flash of something furry scampered by below. Startled, the hunter lost his footing and tripped. It was at this moment that the wet and unstable ground started to give way and dirt, mud, and concrete crumbled, taking Sam with it.

o-o-o

When he'd left for college at 18, Sam had felt isolated and alone. It was only a temporary feeling, and it went away after a few weeks, when he started to make friends, but it felt like such a lengthy adjustment. He'd never been away from his father for more than a few weeks, and even years after Sam left him, he still felt that ache of being without someone who had always cared for you, loved you, protected you.

The only thing left for Sam to do was remind himself that he deserved better than the life he'd been given, to barrel past the pain and pursue the life he'd always wanted. John Winchester's opinions could be damned, Sam needed something more from life.

But it never stopped him from feeling guilty.

A few weeks before Dean visited him and Jessica died, sending him on this new road trip to the past, Sam still felt the pangs of loss, the lingering feeling that he was selfish, that maybe, if he'd tried a little harder… he could have been a better son.