ETA: Please read the warnings and, as the warning indicates, scroll to the bottom of the page if you want a more specific warning. If you don't bother to read the warnings, don't cry to me in the reviews about not being warned.
Title: Fighting Words
Challenge: First Chart Challenge - first fight
Characters: Sam, John, Dean (gen, pre-series)
Warnings: angst, language, violence (see spoilery note at the end of the story if you want a more specific warning)
Word Count: 1,071
Feedback: - constructive criticism welcome
Disclaimer: None of the Winchesters belong to me, alas.
Summary: Some things can't be taken back
What nobody ever seems to remember is that Sam was a good little soldier once, too. He'd run home from school and do his homework quickly so that he could practice with the throwing knives or spar with Dean, the two of them taking turns at pretending to be werewolves or zombies. He knew how to pack his bag in a hurry, but organized and efficient, just the way Dad had taught him.
It was his responsibility to lay out the lines of salt in a new place, while dad checked the perimeter and Dean tested it for EMF. He took his job seriously, making sure the lines were thick and straight, covering from edge to edge. He was proud that Dad trusted him to do such an important job.
He was proud, too, that his aim with the bow was almost as good as Dean's, even if he had to use a lighter bow because he wasn't as strong yet. He wanted to be like Dean and Dad, and he daydreamed about being grown up and all three of them hunting together, doing the best job ever.
Then he turned fourteen, and one day it was like a switch flipped in his head. A new light turned on, and everything looked different. He came home from school and sat on the floor watching TV, ignoring the fact that he was supposed to do at least half an hour of training.
In the late afternoon, John walked through the door carrying groceries and his bag of weapons. Out of the corner of his eye, Sam watched his father walk toward him, and then Sam turned and glared defiantly at his father, daring him to say anything.
And when he did, when he took that dare, the things Sam said were things he never would have imagined saying before, things he'd never felt before but that were suddenly ripping their way out of his chest.
Things that can't be taken back.
"You know what I'm thinking, Sammy?"
He didn't answer, just turned his head back around to stare at the TV again.
"I'm thinking that you don't look like somebody who just did his PT." No response. "Am I wrong about that? Sammy?"
"Guess not," he muttered, still not looking away from the screen.
"You want to tell me why not?"
A shrug. "Didn't feel like it."
"That's a sorry excuse. I told you, son, you're getting tall now, but if you don't build up your strength, your height's not going to be anything other than a hindrance."
Sam jumped up, turning to face his father. "Well, god, I wouldn't want to be a hindrance! I wouldn't want to hinder you!"
"Whoa, there." John held up a warning hand. "Where the hell is this coming from?"
"Maybe I don't want to train! You ever think of that? Maybe I'm sick and tired of doing your fucking pull-ups and push-ups!" As the words rushed out of Sam's mouth, they felt great, like a drug going to his head, like the adrenaline after a hunt pumping hot through his veins. "I didn't join the goddamn Marines, Dad!"
While Sam yelled, John had carefully set down the bag of groceries and the duffle of weapons, then he stood still, his body going stiff and tense, his face showing a blank kind of anger that Sam had never seen before. "You want to watch that mouth, Samuel Winchester." He strode across the room until he stood a few inches away from Sam.
"You're right; you're not in the Corps. But you're a member of this family."
Sam glared up at his father, still a few inches short of his height. "I didn't ask to be born into this fucking family!"
John's eyes went hard and his jaw twitched for a moment before he responded, his voice low and dangerous. "Are you saying you don't thank your mother for bringing you into this world?"
And Sam was shocked, really, because Dad never mentioned Mom. Almost never. But even this couldn't derail the train of his anger, which was still speeding out of control inside his chest. "Maybe… If you weren't going to let me live my own life, you should have just let me die, too! You should have left me there because if I can't do what I want to do I might as well be dead anyway!"
Before he even saw his father moving, Sam felt himself falling, and he landed on the floor with a hard jolt to his back and a hot throbbing in his jaw. His eyes swam with tears of disbelief more than pain. Dad had hit him. Dad never hit him. Never.
He heard his father whisper roughly, "Oh god, oh no," and then the pounding of his footsteps receding and the slam of the door. Sam pushed himself up from the floor, ran to his bed and flung himself down, his face pressed into the comforter. Breathing. Trying not to cry. Smelling musty fabric and salt until his nose clogged up.
When Dean came home an hour later and asked about what happened to his face, Sam didn't want to say, but he ended up telling Dean everything. What he said. What Dad did. When he told Dean what he'd said, about the fire, about Mom, he almost thought Dean was going to cry or something. But Dean didn't cry. Ever.
"You better not say that ever again, Sammy, or I'll give you a bruise on the other side of your face." Then he walked out to the kitchen, grabbed an icepack from the freezer, and threw it onto Sam's bed. "Anybody asks you what happened to your face, you tell them I did it. We were horsing around, and it was an accident, okay?"
Sam just nodded. The anger that had filled him earlier was gone, and now he didn't know what to say. He didn't know how to apologize because some of what he said he meant, and the rest of it was too horrible; he didn't think he could say anything to make it better.
In the end, they never spoke of it again. John came home late that night, and when he saw Sam's bruised face the next morning he looked down, his jaw twitching again. Sam didn't apologize, and neither did John. Some things can't be taken back, and some things never go away.
Note: This story contains a small amount of child abuse. If you have a major, serious squicky problem with that, you should avoid this.