I had this scribbled in a notebook. Thought I'd share it. Why not :)
Sam let his eyes wander over dust-covered shelves. Neither he nor Dean had known that their father had had such a room. It was packed full of various bits and pieces, most related to hunting. There were a few things that Sam couldn't identify; strange objects, charms and ornaments. To the untrained eye it would look like a room full of junk. But Sam's eyes were well trained. When he looked upon it, he saw a reflection of who their father had become after their mother's death; he saw everything he'd ever loved and hated about the older man.
"We're not here to go sightseeing, Sammy," Dean grunted from a few feet away. "Someone broke in here. We need to find out why."
Sam peeled his eyes away from a stack of dusty books, slightly shaken by the weight of memories charging through his mind. Dean was right. Sam knew Dean was right. For once, the older brother's impatience could be forgiven. They'd come here for a reason, and the sooner they found what they were looking for, the better.
Sam mumbled his understanding and began to search more diligently.
Dean spared little thought for the possible fragility of the items they were sifting through, and proceeded to push things about the shelves, overturning objects and un-stacking stacked boxes.
Dean was upset. Sam could tell. Dean had been close to their father, but John hadn't even thought to tell him about this room. Sam felt his brow twitch. He was angry with their father too. Some of his reasons overlapped Dean's, and some stood independent of his brother's. But the hurt was the same. Sam couldn't help but look around the room and feel bitter towards the things their lives had come to represent. The tools of their trade; they left no room for much else. They left no room for things like relationships... or family.
Sam thought about the limited possessions he'd ended up with after Jess had died in the fire; his belongings weren't much better than this. Somehow, he realized brokenly, he'd ended up just like their father.
Fingers tripping over a strange, ancient-looking compass, Sam's searching led him to an old shoe box. He glanced at it briefly, and then pulled his gaze away. He moved on to the shelf above. But for some reason his eyes wandered back to the shoe box.
Tilting his head, he regarded it with a frown. Cautiously he lifted the lid by one of its dusty corners and peered inside.
There was a photo of him and Dean when they were kids, side by side with wide grins splitting their faces. Sam felt his breath hitch as he stared at it. He would have only been about four, and Dean only eight. They sat on the grass, goodness knew where, probably the side of some forsaken road or a rarely found patch of lawn outside one of their many motel-houses. Dean's arm was around Sam's shoulders, his grip tight and his fingers digging into the sleeve of Sam's t-shirt.
Sam smiled to himself. Even then, Dean had been ridiculously over-protective.
Moving his eyes from the photo, Sam's gaze settled upon a carefully folded tissue. It looked like it hadn't been touched since the day it was folded; there were no creases or tears, and it was pressed flat. Fumbling slightly, he allowed curiosity to get the better of him and gently unfolded it.
At first he thought it housed nothing. But then a single, small golden star shone up at him as it caught the dim light. His mind jerked and stalled, and unwillingly he was pulled back to a long-buried memory.
Sam crouched on hands and knees, sifting through the dusty gravel of a parking lot. The sun beat down upon his back, reddening his exposed arms and legs, and the dust rose in small clouds as he raked his fingers through it. John was in a garage behind him, speaking with one of his friends about something he was looking for. They'd arrived at the garage and John had told the boys to wait by the truck, which would have been fine if Sam hadn't spotted the shiny things in the dirt around them. When John had vanished, Sam had decided to go on a search of his own; for treasure.
There were all sorts of things in the gravel; old metal springs half-buried beside the occasional nuts and bolts. Every now and then something shiny would catch his eye and Sam would investigate, digging it out of its shallow grave and inspecting it. Dean watched from a few feet away, his hands pushed into his pockets. He'd told Sam numerous times to get out of the dirt, but Sam hadn't listened. Now Dean stepped closer, his face set in a frown.
"Dad'll kill you when he sees the mess you've made of your clothes, Sammy."
Sam hesitated a moment, following Dean's unimpressed gaze.
He was covered in dirt.
Dean's frown deepened. "What are you doing?"
Sam's chest bubbled with excitement. He held up a shiny screw. "There's cool stuff here. Look."
Dean snagged the screw and snorted before throwing it back into the dirt.
"Hey!" Sam scrambled after it. "That's mine. I dug it up."
"It's junk," Dean told him impatiently.
Sam felt tears prick his eyes. It wasn't junk.
"C'mon, dad'll be finished soon." Dean indicated Sam leave the dirt alone. "Come stand at the truck like he told us to."
Sam didn't want to. He wasn't finished.
"Sammy-" Dean tugged his sleeve. "I'm the one who'll be in trouble. Come on. Clean yourself up."
Sam's face scrunched in annoyance. He looked down at his dusty hands. He wanted to keep digging… But, at the same time, he didn't want Dean to get into trouble. Sighing, he wobbled to his feet.
Something glinted from beside a rock, and Sam blinked at it, unsure whether he'd really seen it or not.
It glinted again, shinier than the nuts and bolts he'd found. He bent down and picked it up, his chest swelling with amazement. It rested gently on his palm, as light as a feather, and he held his breath.
"Sam, come on!"
Sam's fingers curled protectively over the treasure in his hand, and he hurried over to his brother, using his other hand to brush the dust off his clothes.
John finished up with his friend, and returned to the truck. He hadn't found what he'd been searching for and his face was stiff with frustration. "Let's go," he said, motioning for the boys to get into the vehicle. He didn't even notice how dirty Sam's clothes were, or the way Dean hastily brushed at Sam's shorts as they climbed up into the cabin.
They skidded out of the parking lot in a cloud of pebbles and dust, and hit the road with Sam sandwiched between his father and big brother, still clutching his magnificent treasure in his hand.
Later that night, when they'd settled into their motel, Sam worked up the courage to approach his agitated father. John was hunched in a wooden chair, and he stared tiredly at his youngest son as Sam stepped near. "What is it Sammy?"
Sam looked hesitantly at his feet, and then extended his closed hand.
John frowned as Sam opened his hand to reveal what was hidden there.
"I found this today," Sam told him in a small voice. "But you can have it."
Slowly, the hardness evaporated and gentleness settled upon John's features. He tilted his head and offered Sam a tight smile.
"It's a star," Sam announced, his voice strengthening with pride. "I found it in the dirt. But it's real."
John's smile grew more generous. He patted his lap, and Sam clambered up.
"A real star, hey?"
Sam nodded vigorously. "It must've fallen down one night."
John carefully took the star from his son's upturned palm and made a serious face as he inspected it. "Yep, it's real alright." He ruffled Sam's hair and gave him a brief hug. "Thanks buddy."
Sam smiled, pleased that he'd been able to make his dad happier. "That's okay," he replied. "It's magic," he said earnestly. "So it'll bring you luck."
Sam stared at the star in the tissue. It was smaller than his pinky fingernail; one of those little stars you find in glitter packs. What it had been doing in the dirt of that parking lot was a mystery in itself. A smile twitched over his lips. It had seemed so real back then. He couldn't believe their father had thought it important enough to keep.
Dean cursed as he tripped over something.
Sam re-focused on reality and replaced the lid on the shoe box, turning his attention to his brother.
"You look like you're ready to set up camp for the night, Sam," Dean growled, pulling himself to his feet and glaring at whatever had caused him to fall.
Sam put the shoe box back where he'd found it and didn't reply. Dean was right; they weren't here to resurrect dead memories. They had a job to do. Shaking his thoughts into order, Sam continued scanning the shelves and tried to ignore the lump in his throat.
Eventually, his eyes fell upon a collection of boxes, all sealed shut with what appeared to be binding spells. Curse boxes. There was a small, clean space on the shelf in the shape of a rectangle, surrounded by dust. One box was missing, and judging by the lack of dust where the base of the box had been, it had been removed very recently. This, apparently, was what the thief had stolen.
"Dean," Sam said, motioning towards his brother to come and take a look. "I think I've found our answer."
Dean peered at him through the gloom, shuffling over and frowning at the other curse boxes upon the shelf.
Sam pointed at the empty space on the shelf, and Dean muttered under his breath.
"Maybe they wont open it?" the older brother suggested hopefully.
But Sam knew that things like this never ended well. The thief would open it, alright, and he and Dean would be left to clean up the mess.
Dean suddenly clapped him upon the back. "Good job Sherlock," he said, and began to make his way towards the door.
Now that they'd found what they'd come for, it seemed Dean couldn't get out of the room fast enough.
Sam followed, pausing in the doorway to take one last look at the storage space their father had kept secret from them. He felt sad. He felt sad for his brother because Dean had always worked hard for John's trust, and this had to hurt.
Dean didn't allow him time to linger.
Sam jumped as Dean yelled at him to hurry the hell up. They had work to do.
They returned to the elevator and leaned against its walls as the doors closed. Sam stared at his blurry reflection and the elevator began to move. He thought about the little golden star in the shoe box. The saddest thing for him wasn't finding their dad's secret room; it was being reminded of how much he'd lost.
Over time, all the things he'd so willingly believed in as a child had been proven false. And all the things he'd never wanted to believe in had turned out to be frighteningly real.
Sam sighed. I guess, he thought sadly, that's just life.