AN: Hope you all like it... don't forget to let me know. I'll probably do a sequel at some point if there's a desire for it.
The morning didn't go as planned for the Musketeers at it was still sitting badly for them after arriving at the base for the morning briefing and saw just how horrible the Colonel looked. Although they hadn't gotten anything out of Sammy the previous night or even this morning, the pieces were falling in place and now they knew something was going on with Jenna. Looking at each other, they knew that no matter what had happened between their little brother and the girl they cared for, Sammy still loved her and was hurting.
As the Colonel stood and finished his briefing, he could only feel thankful that there wasn't some crisis somewhere that needed his full attention, because quite honestly at the moment he couldn't give it. Last night had been a devastating blow for his little girl and he knew that today would be one of the hardest days of her life; facing her classmates without her hair. He had peeked in to check on her before going to bed himself when she called out to him and showed him how the chemo was already starting to wreck havoc on her body. It had been a harsh blow but one he was determined to help her stand strong for. It didn't take much convincing for her to realize that it was better to take the doctor's advice; cut it off yourself so you can at least have control over one aspect of your condition. That's how he spent the midnight hours, cutting his baby's hair then shaving it until there was no sign that it ever existed before holding her and letting her feel the loss of something that seemed to be a symbol of her fighting spirit. Now he could only hope that her day was swift so she wouldn't have to face those pompous arrogant asses at school for another three months.
Dean knew a storm was brewing with the Colonel, but had no idea what to do about it. He and the others could tell that whatever it was that happened the night before had taken a toll not only on the man before them, but their little brother too. He was about to say something when the older man motioned for them to follow him to his office. Once they all were inside and the door was closed the Colonel filled them in with six words making the situation crash hard around them.
"Jenna lost her hair last night."
Jenna sat in her car and stared at the building in front of her as if were the enemy. Actually in a way it was. All she had to do was get out of her Honda, walk across the quad and inside, take her finals and sit through some boring assembly where normally the faculty recite some speech about the previous year and the hopes they have for the upcoming Fall, but that was the problem; she couldn't get out of the car. She of all people knew how others would look at her now, and although a couple of months ago she wouldn't have cared, right now she couldn't help it – she did.
Leaning her head against the steering wheel she sat and tried to gather her courage. It wouldn't be so bad if she could where her scarf all day, but the school has a very strict dress code… no exceptions. So now she was sitting in her car like a coward and wondered how she could be so pathetic to have tied her whole sense of self around something that would eventually grow back. Not understanding her own feelings about it, she could only guess how out of place she had made both her Dad and Vic feel last night during her little melt downs.
The sound of tapping on the glass made her look up and she was surprised by who she saw. Rolling down the window she could only stare at the young man before her and wonder if maybe her medicine was affecting her more than she thought.
"Hey, I heard that the last day of school was that way… you get lost?" Sam joked with a smile. Seeing her stunned expression he sighed and opened the door. "Ok, obviously that fell flat. How's this, we walk in get this done and get the hell out of here as fast as we can, deal?"
Hesitantly nodding, Jenna could only stare at him for a moment before allowing herself to be guided towards the school. She could tell that he wasn't back to a hundred percent yet, but he still looked perfect to her. "What's with the hat?" she asked suddenly, not knowing why that just jumped out of her mouth.
Sam smiled and reached up to feel the black stocking cap he was wearing. "Got a little chilly this morning… what's with the scarf?" he shot back with a smile.
Feeling the old Jenna resurface, she grinned and said flippantly, "Oh you know, just felt like being a rebel today."
Laughing, they walked up the step ignoring the looks they were being given and walked inside before Jenna started to take off her scarf. She knew people were staring, but she also knew that she had to get it over and done with. Before she got it completely untied however, a loud collective gasp was heard around her and she quickly turned around to see what was going on, not expecting to see what was going on.
Knowing that Jenna was having a hard time, and other people's reactions to her would hit her hard, he reached up and took his cap off first sending a chain reaction throughout the hallway. Seeing Jenna turn around and stare at him he smiled. "You know, you really didn't have to do this. " Seeing her confused expression he shrugged his shoulders. "It was my fault for letting someone else touch my hair and totally screw it over until I didn't have much choice in the matter. So anyway, thanks."
Completely lost in what Sam was saying, she barely noticed him reaching over and helping her remove the final knot in her scarf before draping it over her shoulders. When he leaned over and whispered in her ear, however, she heard every word. "You're still beautiful."
The day seemed to crawl by for everyone, but it looked like the Colonel was about to have kittens as the time for the school wide assembly came closer. The phone calls that they had already been getting had caused them all wondering why they didn't just go home, it would probably be more productive. When the first call from the Dean of Students came Dean was the recipient and was wondering what was really going on. Apparently his little brother had caused some sort of commotion by showing up without hair and although the news had been a shock, Dean couldn't help but wonder what the problem was. It wasn't until the surly man threatened to keep Sam out of class that he had enough.
"Look, I've read your Dress Code as well as your Code of Conduct and I don't remember anything in there about not being able to go to classes if you don't have hair. In fact there is a guideline about the hair length being above the collar. Now excuse me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't bald be considered above the collar?" he asked, trying hard to control the temper that was rising up to the surface.
The Colonel had had a similar conversation only making it sound as if Sam had somehow found out about Jenna's plight and had showed up hairless as a jab to his daughter. After he recovered from laughing, the Colonel told the Dean of Students that if there was any interference to either of them finishing the school year, he'd make sure there was a new Dean for the next year. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to carry out his threat, but he knew he'd give it his best shot. Now though as the day was slowly ticking by he couldn't help but worry just how badly the kids' day was going. Making a decision, he opened the door.
"Musketeers, you're with me!"
Although the day had been filled with finals, it still had seemed to creep by at a torturous pace keeping both Sam and Jenna waiting to see if the other shoe would drop. It was no secret that phone calls had already been made and neither one of them wanted to deal with idiotic bureaucracy today, they still had to get through the rest of the stupid day and move on. The classes had been quiet with the almost continuous stares from their classmates, but it was nothing more than they expected and was determined to keep going. Lunch had been full of tense moments with more than one person walking up to Jenna trying to convey misplaced sympathy. Finally it had pissed Sam off so much that he stood abruptly, grabbed his and Jenna's lunches before walking out to the atrium and locking them out there so they could finish what they could in peace, the only exception was Vic was allowed to join them in their self imposed isolation.
Now they stood in front of the auditorium and hoped that they could endure this final obstacle before they were finally free of the idiocy of the day. As Jenna paused once again, Sam pulled her closer to his side. "They're not going to bite Jenna, c'mon." Sam said as he guided her into the already filled room. He found a few empty seats by the aisle and quickly got her settled before he sensed something different in the room. Looking around he was surprised to see his brothers and the Colonel already seated and watching the procession of students filling the room. Confused, he stood there a moment before sitting down himself and motioned for Jenna to take a look. Before she could comment however, the lights dimmed and the assembly began.
Dean of Students Eugene Cummings stood at the podium and began his synopsis of the school year slowly lulling the students to a dazed consciousness. It wasn't until he finally turned the podium to his next speaker that the students seemed to collectively shift in their seats to get more comfortable. Meanwhile the Colonel and the Musketeers were having a tough time staying awake themselves, how anyone were able to stay awake was a mystery to all of them. Seeing a skinny professor walk up to the podium they were prepared for another boring speech, until he actually spoke.
"I know that our tradition is to bore you about the previous year in reflection and talk about the next year with hope. However, I and others of the faculty spoke briefly and decided to try something new. In my class several weeks ago I gave my students an assignment, to write a speech about a subject that they would have to defend their point of view. Most wrote of things that were easily defendable, but this young man took a subject and took us all by surprise and opened a door to show us all what is really outside our hallowed halls. It took quite a bit of convincing, and I'm hoping he hasn't changed his mind… Sam Winchester, would you please come up here?"
In shock, the Musketeers stared at each other before turning their attention back to their little brother. None of them had any idea what was going on, but from the looks of it it was causing a chain reaction throughout the room. As they watched Sammy walk up to the podium they could now tell what some of the fuss had been about earlier, with no hair hiding his face the scars were more pronounced giving everyone a clear view to the harm that had been done to him.
"Thank you Mr. Franklin. As he said, we had an assignment to write a speech about a subject defending our views. Most people were expecting me to write about my condition and how it affects me and others around me, but apparently I surprised them by talking about being unwanted in a family and how many children would be better off in those situations to be adopted by those who would want them, but I was thankful that I wasn't one of them since I would have missed out on my brothers, the Colonel, and Jenna. I know that Mr. Franklin was hoping I would repeat my speech, but I think my time as well as yours would be better spent if I spoke about something else; why we are here. Many believe that being in school is purely for scholastic pursuits but I say that true learning comes in different forms. Each day we all learn from each other and have the opportunity to teach each other, whether it's a helping hand with an assignment, or with a personal problem. True learning is how we all handle each and every situation, whether it's good or bad. I've learned a lot this year, mostly from those around me in how they react to others as well as themselves. Not everyone stands firm for what they believe in, but when it happens it's something to truly admire and should be encouraged. Whether it's something huge like world peace or equality for all people, or something small like making sure someone doesn't feel alone after a horrendous haircut. Each situation is an opportunity to learn from each other, to carry what we've learned before into what we do today and tomorrow, but most importantly to continue to learn from each other no matter where we are or what we're doing." Taking a deep breath he looked over at the professor who had introduced him and smiled. "Mr. Franklin, I doubt if this is what you were expecting, but I'm hoping it'll do since I doubt very seriously that there will be a repeat next year."
Dean, Stephen, and Joseph were standing close by the Colonel's Tahoe watching the school entrance as the students exited with an exuberance that they hadn't shown in quite awhile. None of them could get Sammy's speech out of their heads and wondered just how much more was going on with the kid than they knew or understood. Turning, they saw Taylor talking to the Colonel and Jenna and wondered how her day had gone since she had such a rough start this morning.
"Any idea what's taking little bro so long?" Stephen asked as he continued to watch the entrance. They all were surprised with what they heard earlier and now just wanted to get home and make sure that the youngest member of their family never questioned just how much he was a part of them.
Shaking his head Dean had to wonder himself what was taking his brother so long, he figured the kid would have been the first one out of there as soon as Mr. Cummings had announced that they were dismissed. Now they were waiting for him to come out of the school so they all could go home and try to put today behind them.
Finally Sam walked out the doors dressed in jeans, sneakers and a hoodie with a huge smile on his face. "I PASSED!" he yelled towards them, making them laugh at the absurd notion that he wouldn't have. When he reached them he was joined by Jenna, the Colonel and Taylor who looked extremely happy for him. Turning towards them Sam smiled, "Thanks again Colonel, but I hope you won't take offense if I don't come back here next year."
As the Colonel looked at Sam he could tell that there was more to what the boy had said but he decided to wait until the impending explosion passed before he said anything. Not to be disappointed, he watched the first shocked then incredulous looks appear on each of the Musketeers faces before the real fireworks began.
"WHAT! We discussed this Sammy… you're going to school dammit!" Dean exclaimed, not caring how loud he was or if anyone was around to watch. With the others chorusing his protests he was ready to march his little brother back inside and make sure his enrollment was ensured when Sammy started laughing and shaking his head.
"No Dean, I meant I'm not coming back here next year… Couch Sanders is going to Eastside High and asked me if I wanted to be on his team. I figure that if I can deal with this place, then I can handle Eastside, right? Besides, they have a more flexible program, so if I have any setbacks I won't be penalized."
Dean stood stunned and wondered just how long his brother had been thinking about this. Seeing the approval on the Colonel's face he couldn't help but wonder if maybe Celia hadn't had the right idea after all. "So you're still going to school, but to a public school half an hour away, is that right?" he asked, trying hard to piece everything together.
"Uh huh… if you guys think I can be trusted to ride my bike that far every day." Sam said with amusement. "All I need is for one of my guardians to meet with the Principal and get my paperwork transferred."
Looking around, Dean saw the others ponder the situation and come to the same conclusion he had – public school had to be a whole hell of a lot easier than the snotty academy they'd been dealing with.
Sam stood on the scaffolding with the paintbrush in hand trying to reach the upper trim of his latest project. Admittedly he hadn't planned on getting another house so soon but after Taylor found one two towns away while on a day trip with Mandy and it was definitely something that none of the brothers could ignore. Although it wasn't anything extravagant there was definitely a simple elegance to it that had made Mandy insist on pulling over and taking another look. Three phone calls and two visits later it was agreed that they should at least put a bid on it and see what happened, all without his knowledge until they walked in with the paperwork and asked if everything was in order. To say that it was a surprise was an understatement, but then again it made him feel good that his brothers were really interested in growing the business that he had started. It had caused a minor strain on the company's finances until everything was once again restructured, but it was nothing that they couldn't handle with a few changes in their budgets. Now they were putting the finishing touches on the house and it wouldn't be too long before the new renters would move in and help build what his brothers were adamantly calling 'little bro's college fund'.
Looking down, Sam saw Jenna and Vic mixing more paint while Dean and Joseph were replacing the front door. Mandy had insisted on doing the landscaping even though the same group that was doing the yard of their apartment was more than willing to come over and help, leaving Stephen and Taylor to help with the heavy lifting. Smiling, he couldn't help but wonder how he got so lucky. While others of his and Jenna's class were off on some vacation somewhere, he was able to get reconnected with not only Dean, but Jenna as well. It hadn't been easy, but the really good things in life rarely were. While she was still going to chemo and fighting the cancer with everything she had, he was always there to let her know that he wasn't going anywhere, that what happened before was chalked up to an extremely bad experience and they could move on from it. After all, if his brothers hadn't done the same for him then he wouldn't be where he is now, right?
Dean knew that things had been busy for his little brother the last couple of months and although he still worried, he realized that he wasn't doing it as often mainly because he was seeing the older Sammy breaking through more and more. Sure the kid still had nightmares that ran their blood cold, but he was actually smiling and laughing more making them all feel as if they were actually making great strides in keeping the kid on track. What really shocked them though was the fact that he brought home some college brochures from the area schools and was actually talking to a few admissions councilors while on summer break. Some people might not think anything about it, but it proved to him and the others that Sammy was going to keep his promise and fight as hard for as long as he could, making them all extremely proud of him.
Knowing that Jenna still wasn't out of the woods, they all took turns keeping an eye on her and made sure that if she needed something then she got it with no questions asked. It was common knowledge that Sammy had put the hurt to side and wanted just to concentrate on her and the time they had together, even going so far as to keep his own head shaved while Jenna was unable to grow hers back out. It made him proud to know that the loving kid he knew was making such a forceful comeback and he swore he'd do everything he could to make sure that it stayed that way. It hadn't been easy to sit his little brother down and hash out all the insecurities that he was feeling with his newfound psychic abilities, but they had done it and had both walked away from it feeling like they had regained
something that neither of them had known they lost. It might have been the long way back to what they once had, but now the both knew that there was nothing that was going to separate them again, and only God would be able to help the person who tried.
"Hey Sammy, get a move on… we're all supposed to meet Katie back at the apartment in an hour and as slow as your being we'll be here till the second coming!" Dean called out, causing everyone to laugh when Sam decided to show a very special hand sign before turning around and started painting.
They might not know what tomorrow would bring, but they were together and that was more important than anything they had gone through before.