So usual disclaimers apply about Supernatural and owning nothing but an over hyperactive imagiation. Hands up also about all those annoying mistakes being mine, all mine (damn it!).
I suppose this is a prequel to my last story 'Becoming too visible' where Sam has a secret that he has kept from his brother since he was a teenager. It starts with a 15 year old Sam being uprooted one time too many by his dad. More angst and (rubbing hands gleefully as my imagination goes into overdrive here) of future whumpage - especially the added bonus of LimpSam to come!
Chapter 1. No voice, no choice.
Sam's pen hovered over the problem he had been working on and his mouth went instantly dry. His father's deep voice drifted in from the kitchen and the words that he had dreaded all summer long echoed out loudly. A new hunt and this time so far away that they would have to move.
Not for the first time in his fifteen years of trailing after his father's obsession did he feel something akin to heartache. Yet again he about to lose something that even for the shortest of times had felt like a home, had felt like normal.
Desperately he looked out of the window battling to keep his emotions in check. The late Autumnal sunshine bathed the vista gold and his gaze travelled down through the thin line of trees that stretched out for almost half a mile to the white sand dunes and the thin line of blue of the ocean.
The sliver of blue was a too painful reminder of a time where he had felt truly felt alive. Leadbetter Point was a place he had learnt to surf against all expectations, a place where he excelled riding those powerful waves that not even his older brother was willing to try. It really had been a freedom for him that he had never experienced before.
He was never naïve enough to not know that this was all down to his brother with his father away more than usual. Dean had loosened the reins enough for him to actually have a life. Now all because his father chose a new direction it was all about to be taken away from him.
Slowly Sam closed his eyes in a desperate attempt to shut out the picturesque view now mocking him, allowing bitter acid rise up his oesophagus knowing that he had allowed the last four months to become too real. To now leave him feeling utterly fucking stupid.
Stupid as in not having kept up his guard after the first month when he dared to smile at the pretty girl at the front of the English class and for allowing that peculiar feeling in his tummy to grow when she smiled back. Pretty Holly Morland with her easy smile and chocolate brown eyes really had lay claim to his heart there and then.
Even more stupid as by the second month he was actually enjoying the smell of her hair and the taste of her lips, like over ripe strawberries, at the back of the bleachers on a Friday night when he would lie and tell Dean he was doing a fictional few hours on the debate team.
And really dumb ass stupid because by the third month he dared to ignore what his dad and brother were all about, about what being a Winchester was, and had asked Holly to the Thanksgiving dance.
Now tonight as it played out he was most definitely feeling close to moronic in daring to believe that any of that with Holy was ever going to happen. Real life never happened like that for a Winchester. Not for this particularly fucked over Winchester anyways.
Eyes glistening he stared through the window and fought to stop the hurt from spilling out physically. It was the last thing he could keep control of here. His hurt. Especially when his dad despised such weakness and would use it as another excuse to rag on him for.
Brushing back angrily the moisture from his eyes he knew his dad would spear him to the floor with verbal bullets if he caught him mooning about a girl, about a life he was never supposed to have.
Slowly he found enough control to put down his pen and sucked in a long agonised breath, willing for his lungs to expand, willing for the scream of denial on the tip of his tongue to remain silent. Yet all he could hear pounding in his head was one word. No.
Desperately he tried to get a handle on the feelings churning inside like a physical fire but the bitterness was all to real burning with the strength of acid inside of him.
In a few months time he would be struggling just to remember the name of this place, or how good Holly smelt, or the faces of friends that he had been foolish enough to make and invest time with. They were all just another set of memories soon to be lost. And this time around he really was starting to hate his dad for its loss.
Caleb's voice appealed down the line, "I just thought you might have jumped at the chance of a longer time in the sun what with those achy old bones of yours old man. Winter is literally on the doorstep and believe me Wisconsin is going to be a real bitch after California."
There was strangled cough down the line before John responded. "My old bones will do just fine. Besides like I said this is a really big job Jim has dug up in Wisconsin. Gonna be based there for a good couple of months at least."
"So no chance of you postponing it and helping me out with this Florida job first? This really is a two man job at least."
John chewed on his bottom lip not wanting to let down his friend, "Look I promised Jim and he's already made plans for my arrival. I suppose though I could make do without Dean for a few weeks while I set up base…."
Caleb realised that this was the best deal he was going to get and quickly snapped up the offer. "Thanks John. It will be good to work with Dean again, he's got a good head on his shoulders even if his mouth does run away with him at times."
There was soft laugh, "Just make sure that its work that you keep your focus on and not all that pretty eye candy around."
Caleb spluttered back, "Hey it's not my fault this gig happens to be in the Sunshine State and the girls wear practically next to nothing. Besides are you saying that I will take less than a professional approach to this gig?"
John sniggered at the man's mock indignation, "Knowing you dude I bet you've already got your speedo's packed together with a box of condoms. Professional my ass!"
"Look here John it's not me you have to worry about. That son of yours can barely keep it in his pants at the best of times. You really sure you don't want to swap jobs and let Dean go to Wisconsin instead?"
His suggestion was met with a deep laugh before John answered, "No dufus, if you want help then it's my oldest boy or nothing."
Taking what was offered with a thankful words Caleb quickly came back, "So Junior it is then."
"Best not let Dean hear you say that Caleb," warned John softly.
The younger hunter though dared to tease even further, "Ah come you mean Dean still bitching about his baby brother growing like a weed? I hear they're nose to nose now."
"The words 'It being against all the laws of nature' comes to mind," sniggered back John.
"I dare say by the time the runt of the litter stops growing he's gonna be taller than you both."
"Yeah, like that's ever going to happen!" growled back John in denial. In truth he was a little taken back by the notion that his youngest would outstrip him height wise and the control that went with it. He could appreciate now how Dean was feeling about his little brother daring to threaten to be taller than he was. It just didn't seem natural.
Sensing his old friend's thoughts Caleb offered up his plan in deflection, "So I was thinking that it's best that I fly down and meet up with Dean in Cali and then we could head down to Florida together. The next attack should take place at the end of the month so it will give us enough time to suss out the whole set up down there."
"Yeah sounds like a plan. Gives you time to go over the finer points and make sure there are no nasty surprises waiting in store for you when you get there."
Caleb knew it was his John's way of saying to look out for his son and murmured back his agreement. "You know it will. Thanks John. I'll speak to you later then."
John sighed as the phone line went dead dreading what he would have to do next, knowing that Sam was in the other room and would have heard his entire conversation he prepared himself for the next battle of wills.
Tiredly he stood up and scrubbed a hand over his mouth, trying to get his game face back on before he faced his youngest. Inwardly he prepared to steel himself against his youngest ability to make him feel like the worst parent in the world with just a look.
When he ended his call with Caleb he had half expected Sam to come storming into the kitchen to scream the odds at him but the silence was now deafening. He grinned ruefully to himself on realising he was more scared of facing his son than most of the fugly creature he dealt with out there in the dark world of hunting.
The boy had a way of using words more effective than any weapon against him and he could only answer them with his own harsh comebacks. Unlike Dean his youngest didn't seem to understand there was a reason for a chain of command and that to follow orders might one day save his life, or even all their lives when push came to shove.
Perhaps Dean going off to Florida wouldn't be such a bad thing. Without his brother to cosset him Sam might finally buckle down to doing things his way and grow up a little in the process. This move might prove to be the making of his little boy.
Mechanically Sam closed his math textbook and put his pen back into the shabby pencil case mentally counting backwards from ten for his dad to march in and tell him about this latest move.
True to form his dad made his appearance, "You heard all that right?"
Sam mutely nodded and John quickly added, "Good, go start packing. I'm aiming to be out of here by seven. We've got a long journey ahead of us."
Sam slowly stood letting the chair knock back against the wall and ignoring the scowl on his dad's face dared to ask, "I was thinking…. I could stay here and finish up the year. Dean won't be too far off being in Florida and I'm almost sixteen."
"So what part of packing up did you not hear here? You're coming to Wisconsin so get your sorry ass into gear and be ready by the time your brother gets back," snapped back John steeling himself for the fight to start in earnest.
Sam swallowed slowly as he saw the glint of anger surfacing in his father's eyes but still couldn't but help pursue the chance of staying put, "What about me staying with Aaron then? He wouldn't mind me crashing with him till the school year ends?"
Stabbing a finger at his youngest John shook his head emphatically, "Do I have to keep repeating the word 'No' here? Just for once it would be nice if you stopped trying to manipulate everything to your own goddam advantage."
John saw the flash of pain in his son's eyes but didn't ease up wanting him to realise that he had to learn to follow orders regardless, "Why do your stupid needs have to come above everything else in this family? School is school in whatever State you park your skinny butt in. Just pack your stuff and try and keep your goddam prissy moments to a minimum. I don't have time for your usual batch of tantrums."
For a brief moment he thought Sammy was going to carry on arguing but his youngest simply turned on his heals and the threatened confrontation fizzled out to nothing more than a slamming of a door.
More than a little surprised that his son was finally learning to take orders he was able to dismiss the haunted look in his youngest eyes and instead turned his attention on to the logistics of getting them to Baudette, Wisconsin.
By the time Sam had packed his duffle bag with his personal belongings and the few clothes that still fitted him after his latest growth spurt the urge to go out of the window and just keep on running took hold. Fingers pressed desperately up against the glass as he thought on his options and he realised that he really had none. There was never any choice when it came to what his dad wanted. None at all, and deep down he was starting to hate him for it.
Casting an eye around the room he sadly realised there was nothing in it now to ever indicate that he, Sam Winchester, had been there. He thought of Holly and looked down at his watch realising that he was supposed to have met her almost half an hour ago. He wasn't a total coward and wandered back out to the living room looking for the house phone only to realise that his dad still had it in the kitchen and knew better than to intrude.
On standing in the room he realised that his brother had already returned as Dean's voice held his attention and he took on board his excitement at the news that he was going to meet up with Caleb and head off to Florida.
Sucking in a long breath jealousy briefly reared its ugly head for Sam. Jealousy because of the fact that Dean had the right to freedom, the right to choose. It was a feeling soon squashed down though knowing that his brother had earned the right by being everything his dad had ever asked of him. A right he really doubted his dad would pass on to him.
Just for once his wished his voice counted for something with his dad like Dean's did but his words as always had fallen on deaf ears. Would it really have upset his plans if he stayed in California with Aaron? Deep down he knew his dad felt him a hindrance at times and was just being pig headed and stubborn because he had dared to speak out of turn.
Sam slumped back on the hard backed chair and picked up his pencil case shoving it into his bag. Pens and pencils would be always be needed and cost money to replace. As for the other textbooks laid in a symmetrical spill on the table his hand momentarily hovered over them before he swept them down into the wastepaper bin. The homework he had been doing for Math, Science and English were now more than a little redundant.
Sucking in a breath he wondered if he would have time to say his goodbye to Holly. Then the truth hit him that he really didn't have the courage to face her and see the disappointment his words would create. It was best just to leave and pretend that he had never met her. It was easier for him at least.
Pushing the duffle bag between his knees he waited in the dwindling twilight. It was something he was getting good at. Waiting for life to skip past him as his dad dictated.
After a few minutes he heard his name mentioned then the voices went low, tight whispers he couldn't make out and could only guess what was being said. No doubt his dad was voicing his unhappiness at having to play baby sitter without Dean in tow.
The phone rang suddenly and next his brother's voice was calling out for him. "Hey idiot brother of mine some chick on the line for you."
'Holly', realised Sam frozen to his chair not sure if he speak to her and face his own feelings.
Dean called out again striding into the living room not noticing him till he turned on the light and then threw him an irritated frown at being ignored, "Hey you deaf or something?"
"Or something," drawled back Sam without any enthusiasm.
Eying the miserable look on his brother's face Dean guessed that dad had been right again, that Sam was readying to kick up a fuss on having to leave California. He couldn't fault the kid for feeling the way he did as Santa Barbara had been a sweet gig. But that was all it was ever going to be and Sam was now trying to make them both look bad.
Slapping him lightly on the back of the head in a pre-emptive warning Dean dropped the phone into his brother's lap, "You better tie this one up quickly. Dad's readying to leave in five."
He expected some snide come back from Sam but there was none. Only the longest second before Sam picked up the phone and walked away back to his room, head held low refusing to make eye contact with him.
John watched from the kitchen doorway and Dean turned to throw him a questioning look. Sam's sudden lack of fire concerned him. Voicing his thoughts Dean dared to ask, "Look you sure about me going off to Florida? It's a long way to Minnesota with you two fighting all the way."
John shrugged, "I think I can manage a hormonally challenged fifteen year old on my own."
"Ya think?" Dean shook his head and wondered if his dad realised just how much interference he ran between the two of them at times. "This is Sam were talking about. If he puts a mind to it he can run rings around the devil himself…"
Seeing the worry on oldest son's face he patted his shoulder, "This will be good for him."
"I don't think he sees it quite like that. He's really settled in here. You'd have to be blind not to see that..."
John's scowl deepened not liking the implication that yet again he was a bad parent. It was bad enough getting that vibe off his youngest but to get it from Dean to didn't sit right. "You best watch your mouth."
Dean automatically nodded and spat out, "Yes sir."
John buoyed by his oldest immediate respectful response quickly added, "If you want to know the truth this move will give me a chance to knock back some of those soft edges you let him develop. A few weeks under my thumb and he'll be whipped back into shape."
Dean raised an eyebrow at the vehemence behind his dad's words. "I've had him training hard all summer long and the kid is in good shape."
John snorted out loud, "Depends on whose version of training you mark that by. You think I don't know that you've been letting him slack off with his buddies most afternoon to go surfing. And this girl that just called is just another distraction he can be doing without."
Ignoring his father's criticism best he could Dean countered, "Jesus he's fifteen. I'd be worried if he didn't have a girl tucked away somewhere. You rather he'd be hanging around with some of the other slackers at school drinking beer, doing drugs or worse?"
"He knows I'd kill him if he did any of that nonsense," answered John confidently.
As his father went to go back into the kitchen Dean wasn't prepared to let it rest. His dad had to see the changes in his brother for the positive things that they were. "You known different skills aren't necessarily bad. Have you seen that kid on a board dad? It's freaking amazing."
Not liking were this conversation was heading John snapped back, "Not gonna help him strip a Glock as good as you is it? He needs to get his head out of the clouds and back to the basics. If he spent half the energy he put into all that surfing crap then he might have done better this year in helping us out."
Dean's voice softened as he tried to plead his brother's case, "You have to give him something. He needs more…."
"That kid always needs something," muttered John back darkly his voice taking on a harder edge that made Dean visibly flinch. "It's about time he started pulling his weight rather than us having to drag him around. When you were his age you were more than ready to join me hunting, yet your brother practically sleeps walks through them. He's making it dangerous out there for us."
Dean sucked in a breath. This was the closest that he had ever gotten into having a full blown fight with his dad about is brother and it rattled him. Still the need to defend is brother persisted, "Hell you know at times Sam is a freaking walking talking encyclopaedia and he can research us both under the table. You know how smart he is."
"Yeah well if he put some of that so called smartness into something more important other than his social life then may be I might respect him a little bit better. The boy is damn useless at times, not worth a quarter of his weight in salt."
The words were out before he could call them back and John grimaced at noticing his youngest standing in the bedroom doorway. Eyes locked on him as his youngest absorbed his sharp words, eyes that were stripped of all emotion. His harsh words seemingly had travelled over him like a ripple of water barely touching the surface.
Dean saw his dad wince and was immediately alerted to his brother's presence. As he spun round to face him he could have cheerfully have strangled his dad for saying what he did and immediately tried to offset some of the damage done. "Like I was saying Sammy did real good this year…"
"Yeah. Right," responded Sam softly with a bitter smile as he picked up his duffle and swung it over his shoulder. He now knew exactly now what his father thought of him and it hurt so bad he could barely breathe but he wasn't going to let him see that. Throwing a quick glance at Dean he offered up, "See you around brother."
John shook his head as his son walked silently past him without even a flicker of recognition on his face. An angry verbal Sam was something he was used to do, was prepared to deal with. This new silent version unsettled him and he was left to wonder just when did his youngest get so good at shutting down like this?
"Dad this is all wrong," hissed back Dean as he watched his brother disappear from sight. "I'm gonna ring Caleb and tell him to hold off on this Florida gig for a while."
Gruffly John shook his head desperately trying to keep his guilt hidden at running off his mouth like that on his youngest, "No like I said me and your brother need some alone time together. It might make him act more responsible if your not there to cover his sorry ass all the time."
"That's my job remember?" spat back Dean readying to go off after his brother. "Can't you see that these last few months have been good for the kid? He's really grown up a lot already dad."
John stopped his son with a hard hand on his shoulder, "Not enough, he still has these stupid fantasies running about his head about school and stuff. It's got to change…he has to change."
John tightened his grip and shook his head, "But nothing. Look it's a long way to Wisconsin and I will have sorted him out by the time we get there."
Dean looked up at him sharply already regretting to agree to stay behind and wait for Caleb. Florida suddenly seemed less attractive as he saw the determination on his dad's face and knew it meant only more trouble for his brother, "You know if you keep backing him into a corner you best be prepared for the fall out when he eventually explodes out of it."
John laughed uneasily at the imagery Dean was leaving him with. "Like I said I can handle your brother and all his little hissy fits."
Dean huffed at his words but knew that hell would sooner freeze over than hear his dad admit he was wrong. "I'll remind you of that when you get to Wisconsin and you're still licking your war wounds. You think Sam is soft but your wrong dad. Dead wrong."
He didn't wait for a response neatly stepping out of his dad's grip and headed for the truck where his much too silent little brother sat.
He leant into the open window and gave an apologetic grin, "Hey kiddo, about what dad said…"
"Nothing I haven't heard before," interjected Sam softly. He turned to look at his brother and offered up an apology, "I'm sorry you and dad got into one because of me."
"He didn't mean it. Dad just gets a little frustrated at times is all."
Sam turned his head away, "Because I'm not like you. That's why isn't it?"
The sound of the driver's door being opened stopped Dean's rebuttal as his dad slid into the cab. He locked eyes with him and saw how troubled his dad looked and then he turned back to his brother noting how purposely he was looking anywhere but at them.
This was going to be one hell of a road trip for them both he realised. His dad really had no idea how to treat his brother at times, that pushing Sammy only caused him to push back. One day his brother was going to push back so hard his dad was going to land on his butt hard to break his pelvis.
Ruffling his brother's unruly hair affectionately Dean offered up, "You just suck it up dude till I get back. I'll ring you later kiddo. Okay?"
"Yeah, whatever," Sam mustered back pulling away from his touch, all the while trying desperately to hide the fact that he was really going to miss his brother. It was another thing he was determined for his dad not to use against him.
John merely nodded a goodbye over to his oldest boy and started up the engine. Giving a quick glance over to his other son he pursed his lips, already feeling the chill in the air growing deeper.
As they left Dean's eyes travelled after them watching his family disappear from sight and he whispered out a small prayer, "You better look after him dad."
John had honestly thought that after a few hours Sam would have relented enough to try and speak to him but the silence in the truck was still oppressive. The over excitable chatty youngster that used to drive him too distraction with a bucket load of questions had mutated into this unnaturally quiet sullen teenager and he knew that he was the cause.
Holding in a sigh he turned on the radio allowing the noise to break up the silence noting how his son turned even further away in his seat to press his face up against the window. It was going to be long drive, over two thousand miles, and he wondered just how long Sam was going to freeze him out like this.
Not one to make the first move to break the impasse he grimly continued driving through the night putting as much distance between Sam and Santa Barbara as he could.
The words of his oldest earlier kept playing out in his head suggesting that the last few months had been good for Sammy. Dean was so clearly wrong as the opposite is what he saw now. The last four months had been bad for his youngest, offering up the unrealistic hope of normal allowing him to cultivate a softness that was too damn dangerous to ignore.
A softness that all those ugly supernatural freaks out there could exploit to hurt his boy time and time again. Best he took a tongue lashing or two from him and hardened up rather than getting it from the dark things out there that seem drawn to him at times.
For his own sake he had to break his son of all those stupid daydreams that he harboured or the whole point for them hunting would be lost.
At times he just couldn't understand his youngest boy, knowing there was a need in him that he could never meet. The unrealistic yearning for a white picket fence lifestyle that he had dared once to have with Mary now so alien to him.
Another hour passed and the radio had been turned into background noise as they sped along the highway before John finally took the chance to look at his sleeping son with a less judgemental eyes. Dean was right about one thing, his son had been transformed this summer, sprouting up to meet his brother's height and sporting a healthy golden tan that made him a picture of health.
As if aware of his scrutiny Sam muttered something under his breath and turned his body away, his long hair falling over half his face. Nervously John reached out a hand to brush it behind his ear, anxious for his touch not to rouse him and face the awkwardness that would come with his waking.
"Tomorrow you are going to have this cut," he murmured out softly. The too long hair was an open act of defiance that he has suffered all summer long. Again he looked at his son and despite his latest growth spurt he still looked frighteningly young as unguarded in sleep he was still his little boy.
Shaking his head John tried to stop the guilt flare up again inside him. He was doing all of this to keep his family whole he kept reminding himself. That meant that the little boy whose bright smile and happy nature he now sorely missed had to disappear. Those qualities in his boy were just too attractive to all those hateful things out there.
Missouri had hinted at it when Sam had been a mere toddler, taking him aside to say that his boy showed promise. He had snorted out loud at that suggestion but had enough sense to leave before she could say more. Or make anything more of it frighteningly real for his family.
By the time Sam was a talkative four year old with his 'invisible friend' in tow he as was more than a little desperate to shutdown the lighthouse that his son apparently was. It wasn't until Elkins stepped in and cast a binding spell was his little boy supposedly safe again. Still years later the darkness kept nipping at their heels, chasing after his boy in all his ignorance and all he knew now was that he had to keep Mary's baby safe by exorcising the gift totally out of him.
"Sammy," he said softly over the holler of Metallica, "Why do you keep fighting me son? Why won't you just knuckle down and trust me to keep you safe?"
Fingers curled tighter around the steering wheel as once again his thoughts returned to his long dead wife knowing that it was too fucking hard at times to look at Sam and not see her staring back, see the natural gentleness she had possessed shine brightly out of him.
"God Mary, why does it have to be so hard to keep the bad things away from our baby?" he whispered softly his words still thankfully drowned out by the radio as Sam continued to sleep.
As his truck sped down the near empty highway his youngest whimpered suddenly in his sleep, the threat of a fresh nightmare on his lips that normally would be stilled by his brother's calming voice.
"Sshhh," John muttered softly, a hand resting on his son's shoulder for a brief second before Sam settled again. Smiling to himself at this small victory he suddenly felt more confident about getting his youngest turned around to be strong enough to battle all the supernatural stuff out there.
What John Winchester had never appreciated in the fifteem years since his wife's murder that it wasn't just the unnatural forces out there that he had to be worried about. There was still a normal world out there populated with enough supposedly ordinary people to fly under his protective radar to leave his boy seriously vulnerable.TBC
Slow start I know but reviews or feedback as always devoured!