Title: Shades of Colour
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: None
Rating: G
Word Count: 1200
Disclaimer: Kripke is a god. I'm just playing with his characters.
Summary: Some early morning musing from Sam, where he thinks about what he really wants in life. PrePilot.
Warnings: None.
Notes: This is dedicated to the awesome hauntedlove on her 20th birthday. Also, thank you so much to shanghairose for all the help she gave me with this fic -- without her, you'll all still be staring at a 700-word story with no-transitions-between-paragraphs. :D

Sam opened his eyes to the soft chirping of birds outside. Peering at his watch, he saw that it was only four in the morning. Lying on his bed and looking out through the window of the small apartment John had chosen to stay in the night before, just the slightest hint of red could be seen in the otherwise grey sky.

His eyes shifted into the room, and he frowned as he saw that even the crowded apartment seemed monotone. The carpet was grey, the blankets on the beds a dull green, and the light from outside made even the walls seem a faded yellow. Looking at the third empty bed, he could see that John still had not returned from his latest hunting job.

Hearing Dean shift in the next bed over, Sam quickly stilled, not wanted to wake his brother. He winced slightly as his shoulder bumped against the wall, causing a sharp pain from the half-healed wound on his arm.

Dean. His brother turned over onto his other side, but his posture remained tense, alert -- ready to defend at any sign of danger. It saddened Sam sometimes to see that his brother never seemed fully relaxed; Even in sleep, Dean had one hand underneath his pillow, where Sam knew the razor-sharp knife was hidden. Paranoia was something that had always haunted John Winchester, especially so after his wife's death, and it seemed as if Dean had inherited and adapted to it well – just as he had quickly adapted to the dizzying life of hunting after his mother's death.

It was something Sam had never seemed to be able to do – not the way Dean did – even though he had been raised in what could be called "hunting conditions". Dean had been four years old when he had had to adapt to what John had decided devote his life to. But Sam – Sam had barely been six months old. Shouldn't it have been easier for him, considering the environment he had practically been born into, to fall into the pattern of life as a hunter?

But no. Even now, Dean just seemed to flawlessly go along with what they did while Sam struggled on.

Life went at the pace it did, but for Sam, it seemed dizzying sometimes. Hunt after hunt, kill after kill – always ongoing and never ending, to the point that Sam felt detached. Separate. He felt like a shadow, standing there and following his father's orders aimlessly. In a way, it wasn't really him. It was a robot, a piece of machinery – too tired to argue and not having any choice other than to do what he was told.

He shifted slightly, wincing again as he noticed that the wound he'd gained from the last hunt had reopened, and red was slowly seeping through the white gauze. Sam didn't bother trying to stop the blood. He would need Dean's help rewrapping the bandages anyway, and he didn't want to wake his brother just yet.

Red. The colour of blood. Red was such a vibrant colour, contrasting with the dullness of everything else. And it signified so much – the difference between life and death. Thinking back, Sam could remember times when he'd felt like the blood in his veins was the only thing that separated him from a mindless puppet. Knowing that he was able to feel pain somehow reinforced the knowledge that he was alive, and that he was his own person. Despite the control his father had over him, it felt good to know – or at least, believe – that he was only controlled because he gave his father that control. And that he could just as easily walk away any time.

Sam knew his half-asleep musing was causing his mind to perhaps go down perhaps dangerous paths, but frankly, he didn't care right now. Dawn was a time for thinking, after all.

John. His father had always scoffed at what he believed to be Sam's need to be "normal" – his constant questioning of why they were hunting, his unwillingness to unfailingly follow John's orders, or even something as simple as his desire to join the school newspaper. Even Dean, who knew him so well, had always thought Sam wanted a "normal" life, and Sam didn't see a need to disillusion his family. John wanted revenge for the only woman he had ever loved, and Dean found meaning in his ability to help people. Protecting the innocent was what he did best, after all.

But with Sam, it was different. He wanted to help keep the world safe, yes, but he also needed something else in life. Nor necessarily normal, but something stable and lasting, something colourful. Sam wanted some permanence – and even more than that, he wanted laughter. Happiness. Perhaps it was idealistic of him to think this way, but a part of Sam needed that reassurance that true happiness existed. Because for the Winchesters, what should have been joyful had been snatched away much too soon.

It was true that he and Dean had shared countless laughs growing up, priceless memories of the good times. And he could still remember the few times his father had laughed along with them, at Dean's antics or Sam's responses. But as he grew older, Sam realized that none of that laughter was actually joy. John had laughed because that was the only thing he could do, and for Dean, laughter was only a way of distancing himself from the situation – a way of making things less personal, less painful.

What Sam really wanted was some colour in life. Something permanent, something whole – something worth laughing over. He didn't want to have to laugh because it was either laugh or cry – Sam wanted to laugh because life was good, and he could laugh. And if that colour, that laughter, meant a picket-white fence and an apple-pie life, then so be it.

Grey. That was what a life of hunting was to Sam. It certainly wasn't lacking in terms of adventure, but to him, it simply felt bland. As much as he hated to admit it, Sam knew that there was no end in sight – not now, not ever. There would always be more demons to hunt, more spirits to exorcise. His dad would never stop hunting, and Dean, always the obedient son, would follow.

With a small sigh, Sam closed his eyes again, knowing that there would be no point in staying awake. John would be back in a few hours to take them to their next hunt, and he needed all the energy that he could get.

As he drifted off to sleep, however, Sam's mind turned to the Stanford application he had sent out two weeks ago. There was a chance, he thought, for him to leave all of this behind. A chance for him to go out there and live life the way he wanted. And a part of him knew that if he had that chance, he wouldn't hesitate to exchange what little life he had for the colour, the laughter he so desperately craved.

One chance. That was all he needed.

And for now, all Sam could do was hope.