Fifteen year old Sam Winchester jolted awake when a loud thud hit the other side of the wall his bed was lying against. Groaning he looked at the time. Midnight. Great.
Listening for a moment he could hear raised voices and groaned again. Just wonderful… The people in the room next door were fighting.
That had to be one of the worst things about cheap little motel rooms. Noisy neighbors. If they weren't having loud sex, they were fighting.
Personally Sam preferred the fighting 'cause that never lasted as long as the sex…
The teen rolled on his side and pulled the pillow over his head. God he was tired.
He didn't even want to be here but his father had insisted…
'Get in the car, Sam. Now.'
It was spring break but instead of being allowed to stay behind in the small city apartment John Winchester had been renting since September, Sam had been loaded into the car, along with rock salt, holy water… and Dean. His annoying, bossy, know-it-all big brother.
Dean didn't mind hunting.
Dean didn't mind traipsing from hick town to hick town chasing down rocking chair rumors… or skirts.
Dean didn't screw up or shoot himself in the foot. Although in Sam's own defense Dean had assured him the gun hadn't been loaded and Sam had only been ten! (His brother still felt bad about that one. Apparently he never thought Sam would actually pull the trigger… He never underestimated his younger sibling again after that).
Dean didn't –
Dean wasn't here. Dean was with Dad freezing his ass off on a stakeout some twenty minutes down the road. Sometimes being the youngest had its perks, which right now included a warm bed.
Although it probably was more about his father's limited patience when it came to his teenage sons in the confined quarters of a vehicle than anything else, but it worked out better this way for both Sam and Dean. They stood a healthier chance of finding Saturday morning not being grounded then if they drove their father to distraction with their near constant tormenting of each other.
'Stop looking at me!'
'I am not looking at you.' A pause. 'And even if I was, what are you going to do about it?'
Nineteen was really too old to be grounded by his father, but apparently no one had ever told Dean that. Not that that would stop anything in their messed up family dynamics. Dad said 'jump', they jumped. Well Dean did. Sam usually asked 'why?' And then jumped.
Dean claimed Sam's first word had been 'why'…
Sam loved and idolized his older brother more than the nineteen-year old could ever know… but sometimes he really wished Dean did mind about some things. Especially things that the younger teen was positive that his brother didn't like…
Like staking out an old barn on a Friday night in April.
Another bang against the wall made Sam huff loudly. Yeah. Like that was going to stop the noise.
The teen was armed however. His family would never leave him without some sort of protection and right now the fifteen-year-old was seriously considering opening fire on the a-holes next door. Didn't midnight mean anything to anyone any more?
For the love of God, he was trying to sleep here!
However, as tempting as it might have been, Sam wasn't the man of action. That was his brother. Sam was a talker. So, instead, he launched his pillow against the far wall, growled in a way that would have impressed his sire, shoved the blankets off his lanky body and stood up.
The large diet Pepsi that he had drank two hours ago, and that had been pleasantly resting in his bladder, shifted –
Great. Now he had to pee.
Grumbling loudly, Sam dragged himself to the bathroom and 'fed' the 'pee pee' monster.
Heaven help him but Dean loved to remind Sam that when John was potty training him, Dean convinced a very young Sammy that a monster lived in the toilet and that if his little brother didn't 'feed' it his pee-pees and poo-poos, the monster would lurch out of the toilet and bite him on the bum!
To this very day, Sam always looked before he sat. Not that he believed in toilet monsters… anymore.
The young hunter didn't bother to turn on the light. The room was small and even if he missed, he'd hit.
Hmmm…. That sounded like a good dare for Dean. Target practice in the dark.
Sam smirked. He'd have to make a mental note to bring it up later. It never failed to amaze him, the lengths he and Dean were willing to go to amuse themselves in dinky little motel rooms. Especially if their old man had them on lockdown…
Finishing up, the teen washed his hands and then dried them on his pajama bottoms. Why wet a perfectly good towel?
Moving back into the main room, Sam stood for a few moments, indecisive about what he wanted to do. Not that he had a lot of choices thanks to his brother's ridiculous 'book' of Little Sammy Rules.
Little Sammy rule #1 – according to the book of Dean, and amended by the hand of Dad – 'thou shalt not leave thy room after dark…. If thy does, thy older brother shalt be given full access to said Sammy's boxer waistband for the ultimate Dean wedgie'.
Actually the neighbors could thank their current continued breathing status on that rule. Dean gave a mean wedgie… and Sam could be a 'man of action' with the proper prompting. After all John Winchester, demon hunter extraordinaire, had raised him as well.
The voices were getting louder now and this time the large badly faded picture that hung over Sam's bed, rattled when another something hit the wall. Probably a fist.
For one brief moment Sam envisioned how pissed his father and brother would be if they came back to find him dead in his bed, having been brained by the falling picture of a – Sam squinted his eyes and took a good look – of a duck riding a horse? What the f-?
A wicked smile lightened his features and he chuckled. He could almost see the murderous rage on his family's faces as they hacked their way through the cankerous guests next door. Sam would have pitied them but he'd be dead of course, so instead he opted to lie down on the other bed. His father's bed (Amazingly enough Dean had lost the coin toss this time and was sleeping on the couch pullout).
Sam bounced lightly on the edge of the other bed. It seemed to be more springy then the one he'd been lying on and he briefly wondered if that was the case in every room. Maybe that was why his dad always took the bed closer to the door…
A brief image of creatures with vicious overbites and impeccable manners, choosing the door over any other entry mode, settled that thought. The beasts would have to eat Daddy Winchester first. Yeah good luck on that… The springy bed was mere coincidence.
The sound of a woman's scream cut off abruptly and Sam was out of bed again. It didn't even occur to him to call the police or even rouse the night manager; he just pressed his ear against the wall, closed his eyes and listened.
A fight was one thing – arguing and yelling back and forth. But violence was something else. A something that Sam had been raised not to tolerate, especially against women or children.
The man was yelling obscenities that made Sam blush and he'd heard his share over the years. But this guy, whoever he was, was particularly adept with his sharp tongue and the teen felt pity for the woman on the receiving end.
The woman was babbling apologies for it seemed, just about everything, and…
Sam frowned, he hadn't heard it before but with his ear pressed against the wall it was damn hard to miss, a child was crying. A baby.
And that was the deciding factor, Dean's wedgie threat be damned –
Hastily throwing on a pair of jeans and a hoodie over his t-shirt, Sam put on his sneakers and headed for the door. He briefly considered taking the handgun he'd been left with but then decided against it, not wanting to complicate things.
He did take his knife though. He was cautious. Not stupid.
Midnight in hicksville was dark and cold – even for April and Sam's breath made little puffs of white air as he glanced around. The small parking lot in front of the motel was almost empty except for the one vehicle, a beat up old station wagon, parked out front of the room next door. Sam felt a sharp pang of loneliness, not seeing his father's black truck or his brother's Impala parked out front. He should have gone with them. If nothing else, he'd have gotten more sleep…
Truthfully though, as much as he should be used to this by now – these times by himself - Sam missed his father and brother when they weren't around. Not during the first hour or two of course, but after that –
Sighing Sam took a deep breath, raised his hand and knocked on the door.
In hindsight, he probably should have taken the gun.
Okay so that hadn't been the brightest thing Sam had ever done, however in the end he got the quiet he wanted. And he had the bruise to show for it.
God, but that guy had been an asshole, sucker punching the kid almost as soon as he opened the door. Even then though, he still was no match for the teen. Sam had grown up sparring with older and bigger opponents, either Dean or his father so it didn't take much – once Sam was back on his feet that was – to 'convince' the irate man that maybe he should get his own room and sleep 'it' off. Whatever 'it' was…
The young hunter wasn't sure the guy was drunk. Stoned maybe. Possibly even stoned AND drunk. Either way, the guy had pulled himself from the room floor, no little pissed that a punk 'kid' had put him there, and then left the room.
Sam gave him a wide berth as he dabbed carefully at his bleeding lip.
The woman – sporting an impressive black eye – was very grateful and kept thanking him as she tried to console the crying infant, a little boy of about six or seven months of age. She was most thankful though that Sam hadn't called the cops. He didn't think he'd ever understand people's logic when they let people who were supposed to love and take care of them, hurt them.
Sure, from time to time, Dean had hurt him. And even his dad had, on rare occasion. But it had never been deliberate, always accidental and never happened twice. But this? This was beyond what he could know…
After assuring her that he was fine, Sam went back to his own room and stood in front of the mirror – bathroom lights on this time – to assess the damage.
A busted lip and developing bruise on his cheek made him sigh. There'd be no hiding this.
He was so screwed… There was definitely a wedgie in his future.
As if on cue the sound of a familiar rumbling made him groan. His brother was back.
Quickly turning off the light, Sam bolted for his bed and turned his back to the door. Maybe his brother wouldn't notice. Well maybe not tonight anyways. That would give Sam some time to come up with something better than the truth…
That meager hope was lost when two seconds later he heard raised voices and recognized them both. One was Dean's. The other was the angry man from next door. Only this time he was outside the Winchesters' room door.
Just freakin' wonderful.
Apparently he was looking for Sam.
The guy's 'discussion' with Dean was short-lived though, ended with a sharp crack to his already colorful jaw before Sam was even half way across the room. The young hunter winced at the sound recognizing his brother's right hook anywhere. Dean hit hard.
Yanking open the door, Sam's surmising of events turned out to be dead on as the now unconscious asshole slumped at Dean's feet.
Dean looked at Sam sharply. "You know this guy - " he paused, his shrewd gaze taking in the younger Winchester's face and then moving down to Sam's bruised knuckles. "I'll take that as a yes."
The door to the room next to theirs burst open and the woman, still holding the baby, took in the scene quickly before wailing, "You killed him! Oh my God! You killed him!"
"Whoa lady," Dean quickly tried to placate, "I never killed anyone! Friggin' jerk jumped me." He glared at her. "Mind you if he's the one who messed with my brother, I might just have to revisit his condition."
"Dean," Sam tried to interject knowing his brother had no way of knowing what had just happened. "It's okay."
Dean gave him a very distinct 'what the hell are you talking about look?' but didn't press the issue. Instead he shouldered past Sam to go into the room.
"Get your stuff, Sammy," he growled as he passed. "We're leaving."
Sam paused a moment as he watched the woman with the black eye fawning over the slowly stirring man. His gaze lingered on the baby…
Swallowing back the bile that rose in his throat, he turned away. What else could he do?
Dean was shoving their stuff into bags with a fevered pace when Sam finally closed the door and turned around. He waited for the expected questions but when none came, the younger teen sighed and started to pack.
"Hunt over?" he finally asked a few minutes later. He hated silence between him and Dean. It felt unnatural.
Wonderful, one syllable answers. His brother must be really pissed.
Sam tried to think why but he must have been more tired then he thought because his mind drew a blank. Sure the guy had accosted Dean but Dean could have handled him with his eyes closed. Besides which, violence didn't phase his older brother as much as it did Sam.
"Dean," he tried again.
"Sam," Dean sighed and looked at him. "Just get in the car, okay?"
Sam opened his mouth to ask where they were going but changed his mind. Something in Dean's tone unsettled him so instead of pressing, he just did what his brother asked, grabbed his stuff and then went out to the car.
It was only when they were pulling away from the dinky little motel that Dean glanced across at him and asked, "You okay?"
"I'm fine," Sam said and then frowned and shifted in his seat so he could look at his brother, "Dean, I just don't get it."
"Get what?" Dean kept his eyes on the road.
"Why she let him hurt her?" he tried to explain, "I mean I tried to help and the only thing she was happy for was that I didn't call the cops – he obviously hits her… she had older bruises on her face! I just wanted to help them."
Dean didn't say anything for a moment and then he sighed and shrugged. "I dunno, Sammy. I guess some people are afraid no one else will love them so they let themselves get hurt."
"That's stupid," Sam still couldn't understand and he admitted it. "I still don't get it."
"No," Dean agreed, "And you never will. Not as long as me or Dad are around."
A feeling of warmth and gratitude washed over Sam and for one long moment he forgot that Dean was his annoying, bossy, know-it-all big brother… and then Dean continued:
"Mind you, once Dad sees your face, you're on your own!"
Sam groaned and slouched down in the seat. This night just kept getting longer and longer.
"But don't worry, little brother," Dean assured him sweetly, "I can wait to collect on my wedgie!" To add insult to injury, he started to sing, "Hey Mr. Wedgie-man, give Sammy a wedgie! Wedgie-Man come and we wanna go home!"
Great. The Wedgie song was sung to the tune of 'The Banana Boat Song.' Dean did not make a very good Harry Belafonte…
"I hate you," Sam grumbled as he closed his eyes; the comforting rumble of the car lulled the exhausted teen to semi-consciousness. His body grew heavy. His senses dulled.
"Yeah, kiddo," Dean's voice sounded amused… and very far away, "I know you do."
And then Sam was asleep.