By: Oldach's Dream
Summary: A drabble on Sam Winchester's past. His relationship with his family and his struggle in piecing together a life of his own. Appearances by Pastor Jim and Caleb. One-shot.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Never was, never will be. The CW got to it first.
A/N: I wrote this a long, long time ago. But in an effort to clear all my even somewhat postable - ha! that's so not a word - Supernatural stories out of my hard drive, I'm posting it now. Read, Review and Enjoy.
When Sam was seven, he wanted to be just like his big brother and his father. He wanted to go after things that hurt other people and kill them, just like they did. He wanted to be strong and brave, a true Winchester. He wanted to be a hunter.
That lasted until he was nine, when he told his daddy he was scared of the thing under his bed, and in a gruff voice the older man had said, "Good." And looked almost proud, handing him his first gun.
That was the first time Sam Winchester experienced conflict; because while he no longer wanted to be just like his daddy, he still looked up to and tried often to mirror Dean. He couldn't quite grasp how these two most influential people in his life had the same goals and values.
He started to despise hunting just a little, not too much though, because after all, his hero was still a hunter. Then he started hunting with his family just like he'd always wanted and decided to focus on that, and the other parts of his life that were a little easier to understand.
The differences between the two worlds were much more complex than he'd ever imagined.
When he was eleven and just beginning fifth grade and Dean was fifteen and in the tenth; that was the year he deemed the vagabond year. They moved more in those twelve months than they'd ever moved before.
It started with Dean getting into a fight with a kid at his school who happened to be the Sheriff's youngest son; the man threatened to arrest all the Winchester's for a variety of different crimes, both actually committed and made-up.
They were halfway across the country in a day and a half, and they never heard from that man again, although his dad did make them lay low for almost two weeks.
Sam had been disappointed about that move, but had understood that it was necessary. Plus, he'd known the kid that Dean had fought, and thoroughly believed that him getting his ass-kicked was well worth the inconvenience.
They settled after that in a small city in North Dakota, where the harsh winter weather did nothing to discourage his father's frequent hunting trips. Dean looked after Sam like he always did. Sam thrived in his new school, and wished that it could always be like this.
That lasted all of three and a half weeks.
A neighbor noticed that their father seemed never to be around and decided to call social services. Dean was able to spin an impressive tale of a sick Aunt Martha a few miles away and a make-believe Uncle Dave who checked on them regularly.
It got the lady to go away that day, but Dean was pulling out the emergency credit card as soon as the door closed, telling Sam to pack everything he could carry - weapons first - and that they'd be taking the next Greyhound to Colorado to stay with Pastor Jim for a while.
Sam had been more upset about this move, as he had wholly enjoyed his fifth grade class there. But Dean was not dad, and Sam never liked fighting with him; looking back on it, he probably trusted him more too. It was Dean, after all, who always took care of him.
Dad had met them at Pastor Jim's a week later with a broken arm, two black eyes, a badly bruised rib cage and praise for Dean, for doing the right thing and aborting the situation before it got out of hand.
When asked, he blamed his injuries on a Black Dog, but the boys heard him up late one night talking to Jim. They were never sure exactly what had happened, but Sam would bet anything that the culprit hadn't been supernatural. Neither Dean nor Sam ever asked for details, but they did both notice a radical decrease in the alcohol stored around the house after that.
They didn't stay with Jim for long, moving instead to Maine, where they only stayed a few months. A new job took precedent and they took off again for Lynwood, Washington; and they only stayed there a month before hopping across the country to New York. Where they camped out for an unbelievable week, before hitting the road again, they didn't even have to pack.
Six times that year in all. Sam stopped trying to fight it in New York, withdrawing from his family in a big way. He went to fifth grade, didn't make friends, didn't do the work, and didn't care.
He stopped watching cartoons, stopped reading Dean's textbooks, stopped trying to get his big brother to spend every waking moment with him, stopped confiding in him, stopped sneaking out to go to the library, stopped complaining when they had fish for dinner instead of burgers, stopped acting out, stopped waking Dean up when he had nightmares, stopped fighting his father about taking bow hunting lessons. He stopped trying.
He stopped living.
It was Dean who noticed first that something was off. He tried to coax it out of him, but Sam had decided that no matter what he said, it wouldn't matter, so it didn't work. Dean told their dad that something might be wrong, but the elder hunter just said he needed time to adjust, before he left them alone to go hunting again.
Sam stayed silent despite Dean's best efforts to cheer and amuse him. He wasn't doing it to punish his brother, to make him feel bad or guilty; he just had no energy left.
After about a month of this behavior, Dean started getting desperate. He'd beg him to talk.
"C'mon, Sammy." He'd plead. "You used to tell me everything."
The twelve-going-on-thirty-year-old would just shrug and declare he was going to bed early. He remembered sleeping a lot in that time.
Dean stared crawling into bed with him after six weeks in Wisconsin. Sam never commented on it, or asked him why he did it; but every night his sixteen-year-old brother would lay on top of the covers with his arms behind his head and fall asleep that way.
Slowly Sam started to thaw and after two and a half months, he was more or less back to his normal self. A little quieter at times, with only a foggy recollection of the past twelve or so weeks.
Until their dad came home one day and said there was a rash of disappearances in the Louisiana area and that they'd be moving there within the week. Sam started to withdraw again and Dean put his foot down.
One morning a day or two before they were meant to leave, his brother told him to go to school without him, that he had something to take care of. This in itself was odd, as Dean rarely ever let Sam out alone, but the younger boy was too tired to truly care.
He never found out exactly what happened that day, but when he arrived home from school that afternoon, both his father and brother were there. His dad informed him that a hunter he'd met a few months back named Caleb would be coming to stay with them for a while why he went to investigate in Louisiana.
They never spoke of it again.
That time in Wisconsin with Caleb - who was only about six years older than Dean - and his brother, was one of the highlights of his childhood.
That spring, in his end-of-the-year paper that he had to write for extra credit, so he wouldn't flunk fifth grade, like he was on the verge of doing, he wrote about what he wanted to be when he grew up.
Caleb had taken them to a dirt bike race the weekend before, and that's what Sam decided he wanted to be; a professional dirt bike racer.
Caleb and Dean had both given him high-fives when he'd let them read it, and his teacher, while not crazy about high speed, motorized bikes and helmets and crashes, couldn't ignore how well-written and well-researched the assignment had been. She'd given it an A+ and bumped his overall grade that year to a B-, which was generous to say the least.
Sam always thought it had something to do with the fact that Dean happened to be dating his teacher's daughter at the time, but never looked that gift horse in the mouth.
They'd stayed in Wisconsin all that summer and half of the next school year. Their dad came home for weeks at a time, but they ended up spending the majority of those nine months with Caleb, who also left from time to time to go hunting.
Sam felt like an equal with the older hunter and Dean; the two men hiding nothing from him and frequently asking his opinion. And listening as if he had something real to offer. They quickly discovered that he was better at research than either of them, and readily gave that job over to him.
It was a big responsibility for the thirteen-year-old, and one he embraced completely. He discovered, while investigating local - previously forbidden - libraries, digging through dusty books and yellowed newspapers, that he truly loved learning. He loved knowing things no one else did. Especially when he could use that information to help others.
Knowledge is power, he'd learned, and decided that that's what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He had no specifics, knew only it involved books and high shelves and the smell of libraries that always made him think of peace and quiet. Calm and safe.
His father came home in February of that year and said they had to move again, that it wasn't safe to stay there, as they were paying for everything mostly, with fake credit cards. He said all this while looking intently at his eldest son, almost as if silently asking his permission.
Dean, however, was studying Sam, and Sam was focused solely on their dad. While the idea of moving again wasn't thrilling for the youngest Winchester, it certainly wasn't the horrible notion that it'd been last year.
He ended up shrugging, not enthused but far from depressed. That was good enough for Dean, who nodded reluctantly at the leader of their clan, who let out a deep breath and nodded almost apologetically. It was the first time they'd come to any decision as a family.
Caleb said his goodbyes the next day. Dean broke up with Sam's fifth grade teacher's daughter, Ally. Sam told the few friends he'd made that he'd be leaving. It took them almost two full days to pack and the Impala was stuffed to capacity by the time they took off.
Sam had been to, lived in, or driven through every state in the country by the time he was eighteen. He'd lost his virginity in Nevada when he was sixteen to a woman twice his age named Miranda. He'd decided, at age fourteen, that he wanted to be a pilot, while staying in Ohio, the birthplace of aviation.
He started fighting with his dad about hunting when he was fourteen as well, after he'd moved them away from Ohio and out to Oklahoma; where the schools sucked, to say the least, and he was smarter than everyone else there - including his teachers.
He got into a huge fight with Dean when he was seventeen, while they were bunked out in Illinois one summer. He couldn't even recall what had started the fight, all he knew was that he felt repressed, controlled; and why he understood logically that it was his father who was doing the controlling, Dean was the one pissing him off.
Sam would be an adult within months, had been forced to act like a grown-up for years, got a brief taste of independence that almost-year with Caleb, and hated to the point of rage that he was now being treated like a little kid.
So he'd picked a fight with his brother. Punches had been thrown and only the strong bond that had formed between them years ago, the one that prevented either of them from truly hating the other, kept them out of the hospital.
They didn't speak more than was necessary to each other for weeks. When dad asked about the bruises Dean said he'd been hustling pool and had run into some sore losers. Sam said he'd hit on a girl who ended up being the girlfriend of the football Quarter Back and he and half the team had jumped him after school.
Their dad didn't believe one word of either of their stories, but he never pushed it. For once Sam was glad for his lack of involvement.
For about four months in Sam's senior year of high school, he and his family lived in Connecticut, only twenty minutes away from New Haven by bus. Sam spent every afternoon he could after school taking the bus there and hanging out in the Yale library. Later, when he got more comfortable, he'd walk across the campus, soak in the atmosphere, and feel almost at home.
He'd been there one afternoon reading a book on Mythology when a professor approached him. The man was old and tall; he had a slight stoop and wore a bow tie. He asked Sam what his major was and the youngest Winchester was so startled that this esteemed professor had actually mistaken him for a student, he'd blurted out the first thing that came to mind. History.
The man 'tsk'ed and sat down across from him. They spent hours discussing everything under the sun. From Mythology and History to Medical practices, to Religion - he was very fascinated to hear how Sam had spent such a chunk of his childhood living with a priest yet he wasn't particularly religious - to the ethics behind certain clinical procedures.
Sam started arguing, using what he'd learned from the Law textbooks he'd been reading, and deciding as he spoke so passionately that he believed in what he was saying.
"Son," the professor clamped his shoulder at the end of their discussion. "I think you ought to change your major."
Sam met his gaze and smiled truly. "I think maybe you're right."
He didn't make it home that night until almost eleven; apparently the New Haven buses only run once every hour after dark, as compared to every fifteen minutes when Sam normally rode them. Go figure.
Both Dean and his father were beyond pissed when he came sauntering into the house that night. His dad because he was supposed to leave for a hunt that afternoon, but couldn't because Sam had been missing and his brother because he'd been worried sick.
Sam had brushed it off as no big deal, which seemed to irritate them further, but the youngest Winchester couldn't bring himself to care. He was flying high, because for the first time since last year in Georgia when he'd decided he wanted to be a journalist, he had a real plan for his future. And he knew this one would stick.
Hunting had been a part of his life since he'd been an infant, and the only time he could recall after age nine when he didn't truly despise the notion of that was with Caleb; and that was more because he'd fallen in love with the atmosphere of that situation, more than the actual hunts and hunting practices they'd engaged in.
Dean had been there for him throughout his whole life, through thick and thin, and Sam knew that he owed him so much more than he could ever hope to give back. But he was seventeen, he was selfish, and he felt trapped. Confined to a life he hadn't chosen and didn't want.
"What do you wanna be when you grow up?"
So many times he'd been asked, and so many times he'd answered. The complexity of the notion threatening to overwhelm him every time, because for a Winchester, if the answer to that question is anything other than "A hunter. Duh." Then you're in for a long, hard, uphill battle.
At the last possible minute, Sam decided to take on that battle, to fight his own fight for once. He applied to every school he could get an application to. He sat in his guidance counselor's office one afternoon and filled out forms until his hand went numb and his head throbbed.
He forced Mrs. Callaway to pull up all his records, all the schools he'd ever attended, and put them together in one file. Which they made copies of, then placed each in a large envelope - along with various standardized test scores and teacher and counselor recommendations. She told him that the school would send them out. He'd nodded, gone home, and collapsed. Told Dean he had a headache and didn't move again until it was time for dinner.
He'd gotten a P.O. Box before he'd applied and put that on all the applications incase they moved again before any of his letters came. Which they did.
He didn't get a chance to go back and check it for a couple months. When he finally did, it was empty. He felt his spirit fall at once, but then clicked into logic mode. Even if he hadn't gotten in anywhere, they'd still send him rejection letters. So he went to the front desk of the Post Office and asked a heavy-set black woman about it.
She disappeared for a few minutes, and came back holding a giant stack of thick envelopes. Too many to fit in the tiny box.
"Oh." Sam gulped.
She smiled at him and politely shooed him away after he'd taken hold of the letters.
He went to the Impala, which he'd gotten Dean to let him borrow for the day. A rare occurrence, Sam knew, that only came to play today because Dean thought he had a date and was currently bed-ridden, fighting off something that he constantly informed them all wasn't the flu.
Sitting in the familiar leather seats, he opened all the letters, one by one. He'd gotten into every single school he'd applied to. Some of which, he didn't even remember applying to. He'd gotten into Harvard. Harvard, for crap's sake. His hands were shaking.
Six Ivy League schools. He'd gotten into six fucking Ivy League schools. Six.
There were more letters from each of the schools. He'd filled out finical aid and scholarship related applications specific to each University as well, at the instance of Mrs. Callaway, the counselor he was now seriously considering sending flowers to. He'd gotten partial scholarships for a few places, federal grants for a few others.
His heart began to fall as he realized, even with everything he'd received, there was still no way he could afford any one place. The last letter he'd opened was one from Stanford.
He saw the words 'Full ride' as soon as he unfolded the paper, as they were in a bigger, bold font bold. Quickly he skimmed around them to make sure it wasn't some sort of advertisement. It wasn't.
He had a full-ride to Stanford.
His future was about to unfold.
This was the beginning of the end of what had always been. And he couldn't wait to see what would come next.