House of Burden
Summary: Within its walls lives a family that has never been touched by hate, fire or the Supernatural… but for one.
This is written for ObuletShadowStalker for a great prompt she suggested for the SFTCOL(AR)S Round 2 Challenge. It's an AU story where the fire never happened and only Sam grows to realize there's a darker side to the world around them and to him. Hope you like it girl! I really kind of thought this would be a short story but one page turned into ten and then ten into twenty and so on… thank you for stealing numerous hours from my days and giving me an excuse to ignore my roommate ;) I hope it's not too long winded, I think I just got kind of caught up in the whole 'family life' for the Winchesters.
"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." --Helen Keller
Dean shoved his car in park and shut if off, pocketing the keys as he climbed out. He walked across the neatly manicured grass, past the well kept rose bushes and up the green cement steps. He raised a fisted hand to the door with a pink and green 'welcome' sign hanging on it but pulled back suddenly remembering where exactly he was. He dug back into his pocket muttering to himself as he sifted through his keys until he found the right one, shoving it into the lock and letting himself in. He kicked the door closed behind him and made his way through the familiar hallway toward the kitchen.
"Hey mom," Dean greeted, leaning over to give his mother a kiss on the cheek as he opened the refrigerator at the same time.
"Hey sweetie." Mary smiled warmly with surprise, letting the fork she was using to push the cooking bacon around rest against the side of the pan. "What are you doing here?"
"What, I'm not allowed to come visit my mother?" Dean asked with wide eyes as he pulled the milk carton out.
Mary gave her son a chastising look. "You know what I mean."
Dean smiled and snagged a glass from a cupboard, pouring the milk in. "Dad has some parts he left in the garage he needs. Do I smell waffles?" He asked innocently, peeking around his mother.
Mary grinned knowingly. "I made extra."
"Home sweet home." Dean's grin mirrored his mother's. He turned to lean back against the counter, milk in hand. "So what's the occasion?"
"What, I'm not allowed to cook for my family?" she asked with a sly look, turning her attention back to the bacon.
"Dad's already at work and you didn't know I was coming over so…"
Mary smiled warmly knowing she was caught as she turned the sizzling bacon over. "It's for your brother."
"Oh yeah? What, did I forget his birthday again?"
Mary paused to send her eldest a 'that's not funny' glare.
"I'm kidding," Dean defended as if it should be obvious.
"Well you shouldn't. It wasn't funny then and it isn't now."
"Come on," Dean implored light-heartedly, "it was one time."
"Dean, you would have no clue if I didn't tell you or call you every year." She chastised lightly. It was early and she really didn't like starting out the day getting into spats with her children.
Dean seemed to mull that over for a second before conceding with a tilt of his head. "True… but give me a break mom; it's not like we don't get along or anything… we just don't have anything in common." He sat down at the kitchen table with his milk, an empty place setting resting before him.
"I'm not expecting you to be best friends," Mary picked up the pan and carried it to the table, picking a few pieces of crispy bacon out to drop onto her son's plate, "but I do expect you to act like brothers. And brothers remember each other's birthdays."
"Alright, alright," Dean held his hands up in surrender. "I'll have it tattooed onto my hand."
"You'd better not." Mary pointed the fork at him. Dean chuckled. "Do me a favor though, go upstairs and make sure your brother's up. Let him know breakfast is ready."
"He still sleepin in?" Dean asked incredulously with a small shake of his head as Mary went back to the oven to pull out the warmed waffles. "He's like a freakin vampire," Dean muttered as he rose from the table and headed toward the hallway.
"Dean," Mary's voice stopped him. She pushed back a few stray blond hairs, looking suddenly tired and drawn. "I'm worried about him," she admitted.
Dean hesitated in the kitchen entryway; it was awkward for him to see this kind of concern so openly admitted to him from his mother. He was used to seeing it directed toward him, not his brother. Sure, the kid had some seriously weird quirks and habits, but he was the good kid; the one that got good grades, followed the rules and always said please and thank you at the dinner table. Dean was the delinquent of the family; the one that barely made it through high school, nixed the college idea, took up a job at his father's shop, and frequented the local bars as often as possible.
He shifted slightly under her concerned stare and gave a small shrug. "He'll be fine Mom. He's just goin through a stage."
Mary nodded though obviously not at all convinced. Dean hesitated another second before realizing he had nothing else to offer and made his way toward the stairs.
"Saa-am," Dean peeked around the door and then sighed loudly before letting himself into his kid brother's room. "Dude… the laziest ass I've ever seen," he muttered as he walked up to the bed. Sam was blissfully unaware of his visitor, curled up on his side. "Sam!" Dean yelled.
Sam jerked awake falling clear off the other side of the bed in a tangle of sheets and limbs, a loud thump sounding against the floor. Dean busted out laughing. When Sam finally de-tangled himself and was able to look over the mattress and see the deliverer of his rude awakening, his expression immediately turned sour.
"What the hell dude?!" he threw his sheets on his bed and walked around it toward his nightstand, picking up his alarm clock to check the time.
"Breakfast is ready." Dean chuckled and turned back toward the door.
"I'm not hungry."
"Well too bad. Mom made it for you so eat it and be grateful."
"I'm gonna be late for school," Sam argued as he pulled a t-shirt from a drawer and yanked it over his head, immediately searching for his jeans.
"Well then maybe you shouldn't have slept in."
"Dean-" Sam huffed, history book in hand, "What the hell are you even doing here?"
"Why, you miss me?"
"Yeah, I totally miss having the crap scared outta me every morning." Sam said flatly, stuffing the book into his backpack.
That caused Sam to pause in his hurried packing and look at his brother seriously. "What?"
"She's worried… about you," he said with a clear hint of accusation that Sam was the cause of their mother's stress.
"Why?" Sam asked somewhat guardedly; he couldn't remember the last time he'd had a serious conversation with his brother.
"Well, here's a thought – why don't you ask her."
Sam seemed stuck in his thoughts another moment before he resumed his search for his jeans. Dean's brow quirked when his brother turned, a huge black and blue bruise revealing itself on the back of his thigh.
"What happened to your leg?" he asked dully, standing in the doorway.
Sam immediately turned around, as if just remembering it was there. "Uh- nothing… got kicked at soccer practice." Sam shifted awkwardly, watching his brother's reaction.
Dean pulled a face and shook his head, turning and leaving the room. His brother was such a freak sometimes.
Sam jerked around at the door, bumping into a few other students as he tried to maneuver his way back into the classroom. "Yes sir?"
Mr. Jenkins hardly lifted his eyes from the papers on his desk as he pointed across the room with his red pen. "Your bag," he announced dully, scribbling a comment on a student's paper.
Sam looked to the middle of the classroom and realized he'd left his book bag lying under his chair. He kicked himself mentally; he was just so freaking tired he kept forgetting stupid, little things like this. He gave an embarrassed grin and then retrieved his bag, threading an arm through one of the straps. "Thanks," he said sheepishly, ducking his head to exit the classroom again.
"Mr. Winchester?" the teacher's voice dully called once more, gaze still fixed on the paper beneath him.
"Yes sir?" Sam asked, hiding his annoyance and sneaking a glance at the clock hanging above his Civic teacher's head.
"This is the third assignment you've turned in late."
"I know," Sam shifted awkwardly in the doorway, "I'm sorry."
"This is becoming a habit," Mr. Jenkins made another notation on the papers below him.
"I know. I'm sorry, I- …it won't happen again."
"I sent a letter home to your parents."
"I sent a letter to your parents informing them of your declining interest in your school work."
Sam felt his stomach flip, imaginative curses pouring through his head. He really didn't know how to respond. "Okay," he hedged.
Mr. Jenkins suddenly dropped his pen with a sigh and looked up at his tall student. He rested his chin on an open hand. "Sam you are a 4.0 student with a history of praise and recognition in your transcripts. You were a model student before you stepped through my doors and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed."
Sam swallowed and found his shoes intensely interesting while he felt a burning sensation weasel its way into his stomach. He hated getting into trouble; in fact he avoided it at all costs and was successful most of the time. Coming from a teacher though… this was new for him.
"I'd like to blame it on the normal wiles of high school teenage-ism however I don't think that's the case here." Sam could feel his teachers stare burning into him as he skillfully avoided it. "Other teachers have informed me you've been falling asleep in their classes, you've dropped out of speech and debate, you've quit the soccer team and yet you've been spending an unusual amount of time in the library for someone whose lost interest in their classes." Mr. Jenkins listed off his findings on his investigation. He watched the younger man shift awkwardly in the doorway for another moment before continuing. "If there's something going on at home, there are people here you can speak to-"
"No." Sam's head shot up. That was the last thing he wanted; people thinking he was being abused or having problems at home. His mom would be devastated and dad would totally freak. "There's-… there's nothing- I… my home life is great."
"Then what is it Mr. Winchester?" The teacher asked with a small sigh, clasping his hands together on the desk top.
"Nothing, I just…" Sam searched the classroom walls for some kind of answer. "I'm just trying to figure things out is all. It won't happen again, I promise."
Mr. Jenkins pursed his lips together with another sigh, clearly unpleased with his results. "That assignment is due next Monday. Don't miss it or your parents will be receiving a phone call from me next time."
"Yes sir," Sam nodded enthusiastically. "I won't." He turned and quickly retreated from the classroom and an uncomfortable experience he never wanted to revisit ever again.
He barely cleared the school's front entrance doors when a loud honking noise filtered into his hearing. He looked up to see a sleek, black car resting noisily at the curb, his brother looking quite impatient within. Sam made his way toward the car as another bout of honking filled the air. He glanced around the parking lot at a few groupings of students talking and joking around who stared at the spectacle that was him and his brother. He ducked his head and reached the car, quickly throwing himself inside and shooting a scowl at his older brother.
"Do you have to be such an ass?"
"Do you have to be late to every damn thing? What took you so long?"
"I was talking to a teacher."
"Like talking… or talking?" Dean waggled his eyebrows.
"You are such a prick." Sam settled himself into his seat.
"Yeah well pay attention; you could learn a few things."
"The bumper he ordered on that Jaguar got shipped to a shop in Kansas City, so he had to drive there to pick it up."
"Why didn't he just have them ship it to him?
"Because he's supposed to get the car back to them tomorrow genius."
"Well how was I supposed to know?"
"You're supposed to be the smart one of the family," Dean said disinterestedly as he pulled to a stop at a red light. "By the way, you're Mom's date for that dinner theater thing she's got goin on tonight."
"What- no, I can't."
"Why not?" Dean glanced across the seat briefly before accelerating through the green light.
"I just… I've got stuff to do." Sam stuttered.
"Like what?" Dean asked sardonically. "Memorize the encyclopedia?"
"No," Sam glared defensively. "I've got research on a project I need to do."
"Oh yeah? Anything to do with ancient mythological creatures?"
Sam froze in his seat. Don't turn and look, don't turn and look – don't take the bait. He could feel his brother's gaze and knew he was waiting for some kind of reaction.
"What are you talking about?" he squeezed out of his suddenly dry throat.
Dean smirked. "Relax dude, I saw the books you've got stuffed under your bed. But I'd move 'em before Mom finds them."
"Oh," Sam responded intelligently.
"So what's the deal? You joining a cult on us or something?"
"What do you care?" This was definitely not something he'd planned on discussing with his brother like- oh, ever.
"Because Mom and Dad would freak if they found out. That and it's not exactly your style," Dean added on somewhat hesitantly; as if showing any inkling of interest in his sibling's well being would ruin his reputation.
"Look, all I'm saying is if you wanna get involved in all that Goth crap that's fine, just-… don't drag Mom and Dad down with you alright? They don't deserve that kind of stress."
"I'm not apart of a cult." Sam ground out with annoyance.
"Well then what the hell's the matter with you? Who reads about demonic creatures and shit for enjoyment?"
"It's not for enjo- look it's none of your business okay?"
"Like hell it isn't; mom's already upset over that letter she got from your teacher." Dean griped.
Sam literally felt the blood drain from his face. "She got that?"
"Of course she got it ya moron. What, do you think the post office is gonna cease all incoming mail that has anything to do with you?"
Sam kept his mouth closed and slumped in his seat, keeping his gaze firmly out his side window. Dean divided his attention between his younger sibling and the subdivision roads. He was definitely a little irked, and admittedly a little uneasy with this new side of Sam.
"Look," he started a little softer, "Mom doesn't know I told you and she didn't look too thrilled at the idea of bringing it up with you so just keep quite about it okay?"
Sam gave a small nod of ascent, still staring forlornly out his window. "Why can't you or Dad go with her?" he asked quietly.
"Because as soon as Dad gets back we'll be working on getting that car ready for tomorrow. It'll probably take us half the night."
Sam sighed dejectedly, rubbing at his eyes. "Fine," he mumbled softly.
"I said fine," he said a bit louder and laced with annoyance.
"Good." Dean said. Conversation closed. He pressed down on the gas and sped toward his childhood home.
[So what are the thoughts so far? Does this sound even remotely interesting?