Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or the characters …
Author's Note: I can't give enough praise to Supernaturaldh, my awesome beta, who is responsible for working this chapter into shape. I do like to change, re-change and change again, so all remaining mistakes are my own.
Summary: Left alone by John and Dean, Sam learns that not all predators are supernatural. Pre-series (Sam aged 11, Dean 15), hurt Sam.
Did he mean so little that nobody remembered? If he disappeared would everybody forget that he ever was. Sam wondered that sometimes, feeling like a voice that was never heard, a person that was scarcely seen.
He sat at the end of the bed, a long forgotten book cradled in his lap.
Looking across at his sleeping brother, he wondered briefly, would Dean remember, or should he remind him? He turned eleven today – it was his birthday. He sighed; eyes darting back down to the book. He doubted his older brother remembered what day of the week it was, let alone the actual date.
A single tear escaped and rolled slowly down his face. He recalled all the celebrations at school when it was some other kid's birthday. There'd be a cake brought in, singing, and cheering as the whole class joined together for the special day.
He'd never had a cake. He'd never been at one school long enough for friends to remember the important date. But that hadn't stopped him from joining in and enjoying the party, secretly hoping that one day that would be him.
He knew it was stupid to wish for something he could never have. To hope that one day, it would be him who everyone was happy to see, smiling at, and wishing the best day ever.
As his Dad said, he needed to get his head out of the clouds and quit daydreaming. He needed to focus on the bigger picture, the important things in life, and he would, as soon as he worked out exactly what they were and where he fit in.
He wiped away the tear. He was eleven now, too old to cry.
By lunchtime he knew for sure that Dean had forgotten. At first, he'd hoped that maybe it was all some cruel prank that was being played on him. That maybe his brother was just riling him up before springing out a surprise. A present. Something. But as the hours ticked away and Dean continued in his melancholy mood, flicking between the channels on the old TV, he admitted the truth to himself. The one person he had trusted deep down to remember, hadn't.
Sam leapt off the bed. "Dean?"
"What?" Dean mumbled; his attention occupied with the TV.
"When's Dad coming back?" Sam moved to stand behind the couch, needing to do something to break up the boredom.
Dean turned and glared at his brother. "Will you quit asking me that! How the hell should I know? He'll be home when he's finished the job."
"But he was supposed to be back two days ago." Sam muttered.
"Don't you think I know that Sam. Quit whining and go read a book or something."
"Can't you see I'm trying to watch something here?" Dean snapped, punching the buttons on the remote control to pump up the volume.
Sam stared at the back of his brother's head for a moment before turning away. He would have loved to have somewhere private to go to escape, but the small motel room scarcely had room for the two beds, couch, and small kitchenette. Privacy was near impossible. Instead he retreated to the only space that he could really call his own. His bed. Propping himself against the headboard, he picked up the tattered book from the night stand and settled down to read.
He read for a couple of hours, immersing himself in the fantasy world the novel provided, until his nagging hunger pains refused to be ignored. How his brother could sit through all the fast food commercials was beyond him. His mouth watered every time a chocolate bar flickered across the screen or someone raised a piece of food to their mouth. They'd been on tight rations since yesterday, the last of their money going on extending their stay in the motel for a few more nights. A roof over their heads and a dry place to sleep were more important than something to eat, in the short term anyway. It wasn't the first time he'd been hungry, and he knew it wasn't going to be the last. But he'd been wet and cold too often to want to give up the room for something to eat. The rain was beating relentlessly against the motel windows and he didn't need to venture out to know that it would be utterly miserable outside, but still, he was hungry.
He opened the back cover of the book and looked at the five dollar bill nestled there, money he'd earned from helping out Pastor Jim during their last visit with him. He'd been saving it for something special.
"Yeah." Dean let out the single word with a resigned sigh.
"I told you Sam, we're out of cash so we gotta make what we have last."
Sam climbed off the bed, the five dollar bill clutched in his hand. Walking around the thread bare couch to stand in front of Dean, he held out the crumpled bill to his brother.
Dean looked at the money. "Where'd you get that Sam?"
"Pastor Jim gave it to me, the last time we stayed there. Remember, I helped sort the books?"
"You been holding out on me." Dean smiled as he took the fiver.
"We could maybe go get something to eat." Hope filled his voice as he waited for Dean to agree.
Dean looked out the window, but only hesitated for a moment. "Yeah, put your coat on and some shoes, we're going shopping." Dean shoved the money into his jeans pocket to join the few remaining coins nestled there. It wouldn't go far, but he was an expert at stretching their funds.
It was a testament to their hunger that they could get out of the room so fast. As tempted as Dean was to blow the money on a juicy burger, he knew he needed to get supplies that would last them a bit longer. With Sam trailing at his side, he led them down the puddle ridden street towards the local store.
Sam was excited just to be out of the motel room. He hadn't left the confined space for a few days and was desperate to have a change of scenery, even if for only a short time.
It didn't take long for his excitement to be replaced with the stark reality of the harsh weather. It took only moments for the water to soak through his sneakers and before long his socks squished between his toes with every step. By the time they'd reached the end of the block his too thin coat was barely making an impact in blocking out the icy rain and he felt the water soaking through to his layers underneath. He struggled to keep pace with his brother, now just wanting to get their food and return to the motel room.
He was practically shaking when they entered the store, leaving a trail of water in his wake. He brushed the dripping hair out of his eyes and towed behind his brother as Dean picked up a plastic shopping basket before making his way down the isles.
A loaf of marked down day old bread was the first addition to the basket, followed by some pasta, cheese and milk. As they walked back to the front of the store Dean did the calculations in his head. He had enough for their purchases with a tiny bit left over. A he emptied the basket in front of the cashier; he reached across to the confectionery display and added a small chocolate treat to their meagre collection of groceries. As the items were run through the register and placed in a bag, he snagged the chocolate bar and handed it to his brother.
Sam smiled at the offering, eagerly tearing off the wrapper and looking at the chocolate with reverence as his mouth watered in anticipation. He waited patiently as Dean paid and collected their bag before snapping the bar in half and handing Dean his share.
Dean shook his head in refusal. "No Sammy, you have it."
"But you're hungry too Dean?" His questioning eyes gazing at his brother.
"You shouldn't have to spend your money on goddamn groceries Sam. Eat the chocolate."
"I want you to have half Dean." Sam continued to hold out his offering.
Dean took the chocolate and shoved it in his mouth, savouring the taste as they headed back to the motel. "Come on runt; let's go make ourselves some sandwiches." Dean quipped as he picked up his pace in anticipation of a long overdue feed.
Sam pushed himself to keep up with his brother, struggling to keep his feet from falling into the too deep puddles and submerged pot holes. The rain was coming down in sheets now, making visibility poor as he had to bow his head against the driving rain. He envied his brother's longer legs and added height as Dean strode with impatience along the sidewalk.
If someone had asked him what he wanted for his birthday, pasta and cheese on stale bread wouldn't have been it. But he shoved the food into his mouth with disregard for spillage or mess, filling the growling hole in his stomach.
With the hunger pains vanquished; the day no longer seemed so bleak. Maybe their Dad would come back today, maybe he wouldn't, but Sam knew that the outcome was out of his control. At least though, today he had found something to contribute, some way to make their day pass a little easier. He settled into the couch and wriggled a little closer to his brother, seeking out the warmth.
He wasn't a baby anymore. He was probably too old to be tucked into his brother's side in front of the TV, but he didn't care. As a heavy arm fell across his shoulders he rested his head on his brother's chest and smiled.
He was eleven now.
Two days later, just when they were starting to face the reality that they might get thrown out onto the streets, their dad showed up. Without much more than a scant apology for his delay, their meagre belongings were bundled up and stowed in the trunk of the Impala.
It was time to move on.
His heart fell when he heard that they were only moving a couple of towns over. He'd been dreaming of warm sun and blue skies, eager to escape the dreary weather. He was tired of the wind and the rain.
He listened in to the animated conversation between Dean and his Dad, as his brother pried out all the details of their father's last hunt. His presence was quickly forgotten in the back seat as they talked about ammunition, weapons and hunting techniques. Dean was eager to learn every last detail and his father revelled in having such an eager pupil to share his stories with, keen to have Dean follow in his footsteps.
He rested his back in the corner between the seat and the door and pulled his knees into his chest. He wanted to ask his father to turn the heating up a little, but there was no break in the conversation taking place in the front seat and he was lax to interrupt.
When they pulled to a stop in front of the run-down motel Sam couldn't prevent the shiver of revulsion that ran down his spine. He could only hope that the rooms were better than the outside appearance, which left a lot to be desired. It not only looked shabby, but unkempt and dirty. Knowing his father, the low price tag more than compensated for the lack of quality.
As he dropped his bag on the floor near the bed he knew he was right to be afraid. If anything, the outward appearance of the motel only gave a glimpse of the horror that lay behind its walls. The smell hit him first. Stale cigarette coupled with festering mould. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light cast by the bare single globe swinging from the ceiling, he decided that maybe sleeping in the car would be preferable.
The tap in the kitchenette dripped a constant beat against the stained sink and he tried not to look too closely when he thought he saw something black and shiny scurry across the tarnished surface. The fridge door hung open, making no pretence of being able to function at all. Both beds sagged in the middle, the covers stained and threadbare. He shuddered to think of the conditions of the sheets hidden beneath. Finally, he turned and looked at the closed bathroom door, deciding that inspection of the toilet could wait until he was really desperate. He wasn't ready to face that yet. He wanted to pace himself.
"Friggin' hell, this place is a dump." Dean announced as he flung his own bag onto the bed.
"Watch your mouth Dean." John tossed back
"This is a new low, even for us Dad." Dean looked around the room.
"Yeah well, money doesn't grow on trees you know." John dropped his bag near the second bed, deciding that the room wasn't half bad considering the pittance he had to pay for it. "You boys want to go out, grab something to eat?"
"Yeah" was the unanimous reply.
Sam couldn't get out of the room fast enough.
The hot meal in a local diner made up for a lot. It chased away the emptiness and the cold. He felt part of the family, enjoying the feeling of peace and security as he and Dean sat side by side across from their father. For a moment, he could almost believe that everything was alright in his life. That they were normal. That he was normal.
Any hint of normalcy flew out the window the next day when instead of visiting the mall or going to the movies they set off for a trek through the nearby wilderness reserve for a little recognisance work. He'd begged to be left behind, but as usual his request fell on deaf ears.
He wondered, not for the first time, if he was the only one who'd noticed it was raining. That it had been for days and there didn't seem to be an end it sight.
The damp was all encompassing. He'd layered his clothes in an attempt to ward off the icy rain but it made little difference. Only the steady pace set by his father was having any affect in keeping his body warm. No concessions made for his size or his shorter stride. He was expected to keep up.
The occasional glance over his father's shoulder and yell to "get his ass moving" was the only indication that his Dad remembered he was there. The occasional stop to check the map and note a landmark was his only respite from the unrelenting pace. He couldn't help but wonder why he'd needed to come in the first place.
Dean of course was in his element, more in tune with their father than ever before. As his brother grew in height, closer to their father, Sam felt like he was being left behind. He was like the third wheel which didn't really fit, scrambling to find common ground.
Twilight was taking hold when at last they made it back to the motel. A flickering fluorescent tube lighted the parking lot and he struggled not to stumble on the uneven ground as he followed his Dad and Dean to their room. Closing the door behind him, he kicked off his shoes and shrugged off his jacket, letting it fall to a sodden heap on the floor. He felt like he'd been fighting exhaustion and cold for hours and not even the sight of the abysmal bed could stop him from collapsing against its length with a weary sigh. The rain had made his inner clothes damp and they were sticking uncomfortably to his body but he was too tired to shower and change, unsure if he even had any clean dry clothes to make the effort worthwhile. He wriggled until he was under the covers, ignoring their musty scent as he pulled them up to his chin. Sleep claimed him so quickly he barely remembered putting his head on the pillow.
He felt trepidation and a little relief the next morning when he discovered that his Dad and Dean were planning on going out and leaving him behind.
"It'll be boring Sammy." Dean announced as he packed a few things into a bag with feigned nonchalance.
John glanced across at his youngest. "Trust me son, it'll only be for a few hours, you'll be better off waiting here."
"But Dad, what if…" Sam felt the need to protest.
"This isn't up for discussion son; you'll do as you're told." He was summarily dismissed.
Sam sat in rebellious silence as he watched guns being checked and loaded, knives sharpened and supplies readied. He'd got the message loud and clear. He wasn't needed, so no way was he going to offer to help.
Opening his book, he settled down to read, making a pointed effort to ignore the bustle of activity in the room. He refused to comment on the fact that it looked like they were planning a three day trip rather than a one nighter. After all, he reminded himself, he was eleven now, old enough to be left on his own.
After lunch, he watched as the car was loaded with military precision, each weapon having a designation slot, each bag a set position. A place for everything and everything in its place. Except for him. He didn't have a place in this hunt. He was being left behind.
He stood in the doorway and watched as his Dad shut the trunk of the Impala with firm pressure before heading back in his direction.
"You know the drill Sam. Don't open the door for anyone, for any reason. I want you to stay in the room son, there's no reason for you to be coming outside, you hear me?"
"You have any problems, you give Pastor Jim a call, he'll know what to do."
Sam nodded his understanding.
"Should be back tomorrow morning, evening at the latest." John felt a little uneasy about leaving his youngest son behind, but knew that Sam would never be able to keep up in the rough terrain in the dark. John gave the seedy motel a quick glance, but pushed his unease aside as he threw his youngest a small bribe to ease his conscience. "Soon as we're back, we'll head west, find an apartment, get you enrolled in school again, okay?"
Sam nodded in reply.
A clip on the back of the head heralded Dean's exit from the room. "Dude, you touch any of my stuff and I'll kick your ass."
Sam smiled, twin dimples on full display as he took the derogatory jibe for the sincere goodbye his brother intended.
"Make me proud son." Accompanied a firm pat on the shoulder from his Dad as he too strode back to the car.
Sam stood framed in the doorway until the car disappeared from view. With a last glance around the parking lot he stepped back into the room, closed the door and engaged the lock. Only as the eerie silence hit him did he fully comprehend that it was just him now.
He was alone.
To be continued…
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