Thanks for your patience. I'm definitely snodding this weekend (anyone reading the awesome fanfic 'Energies and Ice cream' by Katecyrus will know exactly what I mean.) Guess that what comes from writing 3 different fics, reading, watching, dreaming SN. No word of a lie, I only had 4 hours kip last night. Serious snod alert!

I had a struggle with this last chapter, don't really know why but I'm not 100 happy so might tweak at it later.

Stanford & Sam – Chapter 4

Christmas morning and Jess was sat up in bed with her back against the headboard; Sam laid in her arms reading a book she hadn't even know he possessed. Jess leant forward resting her chin on Sam's head, strands of his hair tickling against her nose as her lips give his head an affectionate kiss.Sam startled from his absorption on the book, glanced up at her with a quick smile. "So, this Christmas doesn't suck." He said with a contented sigh.

"You ever had one that did?" Jess asked only half-seriously because Christmas had always been about good times for her.

"Most of them I guess." His eyes deftly returning to his book and Jess now knew better than to press Sam for more details. His glance away had closed the subject. He had done so gently and without the need for saddened words but he'd closed the door to it just the same.

The sight of the tightly wrapped bandage on his forearm, earned a frown as she gazed at it. Some dried blood had matted the back of Sam's hair and Jess was certain it had nothing to do with some dumb dog. It worried her, Sam's avoidance of the truth, it clawed away in the depths of her stomach but she ignored it because she trusted Sam and that trust was enough to keep her worry locked away.

She hugged him closely and stroked at his hair, combing down the errant locks as she promised herself she would make this Christmas something to remember. He needed a few more happy Christmas memories after all.

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Sam struggled without Dean. Before he had Jess it had been worse, of course, much worse. Having Jess made Sam feel grounded again but before Jess, those first six months after arriving at Stanford were tough. He had never felt more unhappy and lonely. Sam had always been determinedly resolute, "pig headed" John called it, and so Sam didn't admit the cruel stab of regret he (wasn't) feeling for leaving his family. Sam made friends easily. Moving around all the time when growing up had equipped him well with such skills but friends, especially the casual friends he made in the short time he'd been at Stanford still weren't family. He wasn't bonded to them by blood or years of nurturing. Sam had walked all his life with Dean at his side, matching Dean's step, seeking him out in crowds, learning, growing from Dean's example. Sam would never admit it, especially to Dean but his older brother had taught him a lot and much of what he had learned he put in to practice at Stanford. Sam made his new Stanford buddies laugh with jokes Dean had told him. He shrugged away his own tendency towards shyness and pushed forward an air of wit and confidence, which Sam skilfully exuded but knew didn't belong to him, they were Dean's traits after all not Sam's.

Sam felt lost without Dean and it both surprised and embarrassed him to acknowledge his neediness. After all, he'd got what he'd wanted, hadn't he? He wasn't hunting anymore (Starbucks employees turned werewolf aside), he was safe and had all the time in the world for studying but instead he missed the familiarity of long established routine. Hunching over a laptop to do research, disassembling and cleaning weapons, wrestling over who got the first shower but most of all sitting around shabby motel rooms passing time talking crap with Dean.Jess gave Sam someone to care for and someone to care for him. Someone who noticed if he was unhappy or ill and cared enough to do something about it, although Dean's tactics had differed some. If Sam was ever ill and Dean wanted to cheer his little brother up he'd tell crude jokes, pull out a deck of cards and settle himself by Sam's bedside. Sam would groan at the jokes, whine about losing at poker and bitch about Dean's choice in television programme but he wanted Dean there. Even if it did mean sitting through re-runs of 'Happy Days' whilst Dean guffawed loudly over every Fonzie line until Sam threatened to sneeze on him, or vomit on him, depending on how much of a pissy little brother Sam was feeling. Sam adored Jess, could imagine spending the rest of his life with her but whilst Jess fitted in the gaping chasm Dean had left in Sam's life she still didn't fill it.

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His father was another matter. Whilst Dean had left a chasm, John had left a wound which wouldn't heal. Thinking about Dean hurt but still made Sam smile with brotherly affection. Thinking about John just plain hurt. Sam and his father were undeniably too damn similar but too damn different at the same time. Both were stubborn, passionate and fiercely argumentative when their passions collided. Each equally convinced of the importance of their differing causes. Sam had battled against his father's imposed choice of life for his sons and took the first real chance at an escape he had. But he still loved his father.

Sam missed seeing the look of calm which would rest on Dean's face when he and Sam were being watched over by their father. John brought them both a sense of security which neither could deny. Dean was often exhausted, sometimes injured and on occasion his face would betray the weight of responsibility he carried but any lines of pain or despair would gradually melt away when Dean had him and John. When there were no father/son battles being fought, just Winchester men spending time together, Dean would be at peace. Sam knew Dean had paid a price too when Sam had left for Stanford.

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Sam had the most intense hazel eyes Jessica had ever seen. Sam kept secrets and lied. Sam was affectionate and strangely old fashioned with his manners in a way which made most women want to either bed him or adopt him. Sam had scars, not one or two like most people would boast about, Jess had counted eleven. Sam always remembered the little things and when he made Jess a coffee he never forgot to add the cinnamon stick, which she adored. Sam had been abandoned by his family or perhaps he had abandoned them. Sam was her first real love and Jess didn't care about anything else.

-end-