Turn Your Back
Rating: T for language and violence
Summary: What would have caused Sam to not have left for college? The night of the acceptance letter's arrival brings more grief to Sam's life than he ever could have imagined.
Dedication: To my little sister. No matter where your endeavors take you, I will always have your back. Congratulations on your graduation.
Chapter 1- Flawed Goodbye
His fist tightened around the folded piece of paper, causing it to collapse in around itself, and jut out edges that cut into his palm. The man before him was screaming something. He had no idea what he was saying. He had shut out the tirade after the first few verbal blows had been exchanged. Now all he could feel was the acceptance letter compressed against clenched fingers and the embittered words rising up from within him and screaming to be released.
"Sam, are you listening to me?" John Winchester growled, snapping Sam's attention back into the fray. "'Cause I'm not standing here and having this discussion for my own good."
Discussion. Sam laughed off the word in his head. Calling what he was having at that moment a discussion was like calling a deluge a dripping faucet. The "discussion" was for John's own good, because Sam knew it sure as hell wasn't for his.
"It's Stanford, Dad!" Sam shot back, suddenly finding it impossible to hold back any longer. "God! Can't you just be happy for me? Just this once?"
John's stone cold exterior didn't even flinch at the words. He continued to stare down his youngest and most defiant son with his impassive glare.
"You can't go."
John's resolve was akin to a heavy steel trap. Solid. Un-breakable. Un-escapable. Once he had his mind set on something it was impossible to change. Sam had always likened their arguments to be being attacked by a pit bull. The man could latch onto any opinion and rip it to shreds. It was hard to have a valid view when fighting with John.
"Why can't I go?" Sam's voice had softened a bit, but it was shaking with rage. He had known it would come to this night. He had just hoped that things would have been different. He knew what this moment was suppose to look like. Parents were usually slapping their sons on the back, waving the acceptance letter around their places of work, and bragging to everyone that happened to pass them about how proud they were of their sons. No. He should have known better than to expect anything remotely close to that.
"You can't leave, because we need you too much at home. You know how things work around here."
The words 'home' and 'we need you' sounded like absolute bullshit to Sam at that moment. John didn't 'need' him. He could pursue the hunt just as well without him. On top of that, calling the Motel 8 they were staying at 'home' was ludicrous. He hadn't even had a home address to receive the letter from. He was lucky they had passed by the P.O. Box in Colorado that he had written down on his applications.
"Look, I can't just live my life on the road. I want to make something of myself." Sam laughed cynically. It was all he could do to release the energy that would have guided his fist through a wall. "Maybe you didn't hear me. I just told you that I got into Stanford. Stanford! Full ride!"
"Everyday we are getting closer to finding this thing that killed your mother, and you want to jump ship," John fumed. "You want to just drop this family. Pretend we never existed."
"Where did you pull that conclusion from?" Sam returned. "It's been 18 years. We're no closer to that damn thing now than we were back then. To hell with your damn quest!"
John moved quickly, grabbing Sam by the shirt and slamming him back against the wall. "You ungrateful…" He stopped himself as he realized what his anger was making him do. He would never strike his kids and he didn't plan on starting that night. But he could not help the ire that was rising despite that fact. Sam was pushing all the right buttons that evening.
Dean, who had been a silent observer from the moment Sam had made his announcement, suddenly was by their sides and ripping them apart. He held up his hands and made himself a wedge between the two.
"Let's just calm down," he said. "Take a few deep breaths and try this again." Dean looked his father in the face, his eyes pleading for him to stop before anything else would be said or done that everyone would regret later. However, despite Dean's efforts as peacemaker, the boiling point had already been reached for John and Sam. John saw his son as unappreciative and Sam saw his father as a callous tyrant.
John pointed at Sam and set his jaw, the words he was looking for being held back barely by the presence of Dean. He opened and closed his mouth a few times. Each time he could not articulate his thoughts.
"I'm going," Sam said insolently. "Short of you putting a bullet in my head, there is nothing you can do about it." Sam was through with taking orders, through with always having to take his father's word for things, and through with the hunt.
Dean shot a disappointed look back at Sam as his brother's words ripped through the room. Leave it to Sam to be too prideful to just let it drop. Dean didn't give up his position between his dad and Sam, but he braced himself mentally for the onslaught of angry words that would definitely follow a response like that.
"Fine. Go," John snarled. "But if you're going to go, you better stay the hell gone!"
Dean's head snapped back to his father's face, searching for any hint of a joke. His father was no where near a humorous mood. The veins bulging in his neck and the fierceness in his eyes that were tearing into Sam were evidence that John was not having an amusing moment.
"You're not serious?" Dean asked, praying that his father wasn't really going to make his brother choose between them and Stanford. Dean was hoping his father would take it back, because he knew which one Sam would choose.
"Fine," Sam said. "I'm gone."
Sam pushed past Dean, their shoulders connecting violently and knocking Dean off his balance slightly. The slamming of the screen door felt like a cheap shot to the gut to Dean. He looked at his father, still waiting for him to take it all back.
John wouldn't even look up at his son. He was focused on the ground and the empty silence that was following the fight. He looked small and worried. Not angry anymore. The hardened exterior was fading now. Softening. He looked like a man that had been beaten. Defeated.
"His choice," John finally gave Dean. He had a seat on the closest bed and put his head in his hands. "His choice…"
Dean had just watched his family dissolve in less than a few minutes. It left him feeling sick. Part of him was mad at John for being so stubborn, for issuing the ultimatum in the first place. At the same time he knew why he had done it. They were stronger together as a family. He knew there was some saying out there about a chord of three being unbreakable. He didn't care about the exact details, but knew they were that chord of three. Sam would be out there on his own. Sam would be alone. That thought drove him crazy as well. However, this was not supposed to be how they parted ways. This was not how Dean wanted Sam to walk away.
Sam had made it only a few feet away from the room when he heard the screen door open and slam shut again behind him.
"Sam!" Dean called after him. "Get in the car."
"What?" Sam wasn't in the mood for this. The last thing he needed was to be talked out of leaving by his brother. "You heard the man," Sam said, ignoring Dean, and continuing to walk away. "I'm gone and I'm staying gone."
He heard the engine of the Impala roar to life and he stopped, realizing his brother was probably going to follow him until he got into the car. That or run him over with it.
Dean pulled his car up beside Sam and looked at him expectantly. "Get in."
"Why, Dean? So you can talk me out of going?"
Dean nodded toward the passenger side. "Please, Sam. Just get in the car."
The cool, crisp, Colorado night air felt freeing against Sam's face as he leaned against the door and breathed in the wind from the open window of the Impala. He had no idea where Dean was taking them, but he wasn't going to ask. He wanted nothing more at that moment than to just hear the sound of Zeppelin coming from the tape deck and the sound of the road passing by under him. Already the fresh breezes were pulling the heat from his cheeks and with it seemed to go the intensity of his anger.
Dean pulled off onto a side road and they winded up through a forested area until they came to a clearing. Dean put the vehicle into park and got out without saying a word. Sam looked around at his surroundings. They were sitting in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the shadows of the mountains in the background.
"You going to get out of the car?" Dean asked, popping his head back into the Impala.
"Are you going to leave me here?" Sam asked.
Dean smirked, "If you continue to be a pain in my ass, then yeah. Come on."
Sam pushed open the door slowly and got up lazily from his seat. He stretched and once again took everything in. They were on some cliffs overlooking the town they were staying in. The sun had just vanished over the horizon, with not much proof left of its existence save but a blood red tracing of the mountains.
He watched as Dean opened the trunk and pulled out something. He couldn't see from where he was standing. Dean then slid onto the hood of his car and held out a beer to Sam.
"Congrats," he said.
Sam stared back at the bottle suspiciously like it was some trick. "I'm not 21," he said.
"You're killing me, Sam," Dean sighed.
Sam took the bottle, "So, did I just imagine that, or did you congratulate me?"
"Don't make me repeat myself," Dean said leaning back against the windshield and getting comfortable. He took a swig of beer and looked out over the mountains. "Don't know why you want to go waste four years with your nose in a book …" Dean paused before continuing, like it was painful to no end to get the words out. Sam watched his brother struggle over whatever was going through his mind. He didn't know that Dean was trying to put together more than just the words to say. He was gathering the strength to say them. He meant them. He just didn't like what would be the result of them.
"No matter what you choose, Sam, I'll always have your back."
Sam couldn't believe the words that had come out of his brother's mouth. Dean was never very much for grand speeches or emotional bound talks. However, every word that had passed between them spoke volumes to Sam. He took a seat beside Dean on the Impala and glanced down at the beer in his hands.
"I know that's not your first," Dean poked, noting Sam's scrutinizing stare.
"Yeah, well, still looking for the strings that are attached," Sam muttered, trying hard not to smile. It was a losing battle.
"There are none, Sam. Just shut up and drink your beer."
They sat there in silence, taking in their final moments. Sam didn't like to think of them as final moments, but that was what they were. Dean had brought him there for one reason; to say goodbye.
All the lights were off and the room was empty when Dean returned. That was his first clue that something was off. The interrupted dinner was still sitting on the table and the only light evident was the dim and fuzzy glow coming from the ancient black and white television.
He looked back at the car and could see his brother sitting there and listening to phone messages on his cell phone. He was scribbling something down on a yellow pad. Dean was slightly relieved that their father was not there. It meant that Sam and John could have more time to cool down. In Dean's mind he figured that after a few days they would be on speaking terms again. That wasn't too much wishful thinking on his part either. Dean knew his father and he knew his brother. The two stubborn men just needed time to think. Apart. His dad had to be worried about Sam. There was no other explanation that Dean could put with the outbursts that evening. A little time and space would repair things. He just hoped his optimism wasn't falsely placed.
It was the oddity of the darkness and the silence of the room that was throwing Dean off. He had planned to come in and grab Sam's things, and drive him to the nearest bus stop. Now in the awkwardness of his father's absence, his relief was slowly turning into something else. Concern. He flipped open his cell phone and looked for any messages. There was one and he swore, beating himself up for missing the call. He quickly dialed up his voice mail and listened intently for an explanation.
"Dean, I got ….call from…daughter's murder … investigating," Dean pressed the phone into his ear so he could make out the words against all the static. He could barely understand it, but he guessed it was about the latest hunt they had just finished. "I thought…just a poltergeist… Thought those … … the house… dispelled it. I think …we were wrong…very wrong…"
Dean listened as the phone clicked and the obnoxiously upbeat female voice told him it was the end of the message. He stood there for a few seconds trying to piece together the words and make sense of them. He quickly called his dad back, but it went directly to voice mail.
Murder. Poltergeist. His dad had to be referring to the case they had just finished. The reason they were in Colorado was because of a murder up in one of the mountain villages. A Poltergeist had killed a woman, but they had gotten rid of it. Case closed. The end.
We were wrong…very wrong
Dean walked back to the car. Sam had seen him returning and the expression on his face. He got out and stood by his door, waiting for him to say something.
"We have to go," Dean said.
"Go where?" Sam asked. "What's going on?"
"Dad called. I think there is something wrong with the Montgomery case. Something we missed."
"We didn't miss anything Dean," Sam responded. "I went over the reports, the history of the house..." Sam was counting the points off on his fingers, overemphasizing the fact that he had the problem nailed.
"Then why did Dad go back out there? Huh?" Dean asked.
Sam looked down at the ground and shook his head in disbelief. "Can't you see that he wants me to stay. This is just his way of making it happen."
"What?" Dean laughed. "You're paranoid. He knows you're too smart to fall for something like that. No. Dad wouldn't go off without more planning if it wasn't an emergency."
"I don't know, Dean," Sam said wearily. He looked off down the road like that was where he wanted to be. Anywhere but there. He had been so close to just getting away. He had been so close to striking it out on his own. "It's a poltergeist," he continued. "Nothing you two can't handle without me."
"Come on, Sam. One last hunt. I'm just asking you for an hour. Two at the most."
"No," Sam stood his ground. He held up his phone and pointed it at Dean. "I had left a message with the financial aid office this morning when I got the letter. They got back to me and want to meet with me Wednesday. Now a Greyhound bus is leaving at eleven. I have to do this. There is no other option for me."
Dean looked down at his watch and noticed that it was a quarter till eleven. "Call them and change it."
"No, Dean," Sam shouted. "Look, what happened to all that bullshit about having my back."
Dean blinked in amazement that Sam would even bring that up, even use that against him. Sam was really on a roll with hurting the ones he loved.
Why don't you just shoot me and step over the body if I'm standing in your way?
"It wasn't bullshit!" Dean returned heatedly. "Just wish that you'd have ours."
Sam looked away from his brother and crossed his arms. "Dean…I…"
Dean held up his hand to stop him from continuing, and headed for the driver's side of the car. "I hope for dad's sake that you are right about this."
Sam stood across from Dean, his expression heavy laden with frustration. "I'm sorry, Dean."
Dean shrugged it off and nodded down at the car. "I hope you won't mind walking. Dad's in the opposite direction."
Sam watched his brother disappear into the car. He backed away from the window and ducked down to see him inside. Dean started the engine and rolled down the window. For a second he looked like he was waiting for Sam to change his mind and get into the car.
"Have a nice life Sam. Maybe, if you find the time, drop me a line or something," Dean said coldly before turning up the music and backing out of the parking space.
Sam stood there watching the Impala peel out of the parking lot. The screeching of the tires tore through his numb mind and he started to feel like an ass for everything he had just said. This was not how they were supposed to part ways. This was not how Sam wanted to leave Dean.
He checked his watch, grabbed his bags out of the room, and started his walk to the bus stop.