A/N: So, these following chapters are EACH A SEPARATE FIC. The prompt that I was working off of will appear at the top.
The prompt for this first one is Sam gets a terrible haircut; Dean to the rescue. From now on he'll only let Dean cut his hair.
Sam's thirteen years old and he's never felt about anyone the way he feels about Lauren Westheimer. She's about four inches taller then him and smells like coconut all the goddamn time, even though they live in freakin' Nebraska -- it's gotten to the point where Sam gets hard every time he's around a Mounds bar or an Almond Joy, which is more often then most kids, considering Dean's slightly skewed ideas of a balanced breakfast.
Lauren sits next to him in homeroom, and Sam falls asleep each night thinking about conversation topics he might bring up with her in the morning, but never does. Maybe because most of his imagined conversations start with something like:
"Hey, Lauren. What'd you do last night? Me, I hunted down an evil Kelpie and almost got strangled by a rope of magically homicidal seaweed..."
Yeah. Not exactly the way to get with the hottest (or at least tallest) girl in seventh grade.
Sam doesn't plan to tell anyone about the enormous, painful crush he's got on Lauren, but Dean shows up to pick him up from school one day, and Lauren's standing there, long brown hair blowing in the wind and sticking to her pink, cupcake-scented lipgloss, while Sam pretends to have forgotten what Mr. O'Donnell's assigned for the next morning.
"Dude," Dean says, when Sam slides into the front seat of the Impala, praying that his face isn't nearly as flushed as it feels. "Please tell me that was her number you were writing down in that dorky-ass notebook."
"What?" Sam squeaks, because his fucking voice is playing tricks on him left and right, and everything that should come out deep seems like it goes through a chipmunk-o-meter first. "No! I was just -- she was just -- I didn't get the homework."
Dean rolls his eyes, pulls the car out of the parking lot, turning the wheel with his left arm, the right hanging carefully in his lap. He fucked up his shoulder a few days ago, dislocated it pretty badly and bruised it besides, and it's clearly still bothering him, though he hasn't been complaining.
"I'm just sayin'," Dean says. "She's cute, for a thirteen year-old. You should make a move, man."
"No," Sam says miserably. "Shut up." He hates his brother sometimes, he really does, hates him for being so perceptive, hates the hickey he's got burned on his neck. Dean's never had a problem with girls. He wouldn't understand what it's like to be too short, too chubby, too smart, with too-thick hair and too-small clothes, weird bruises, the only kid in his homeroom who lives in a tin trailer instead of a real home.
Dean glances over at him, starts to reach out with his bad arm before dropping it with a wince and a hiss of breath through his teeth.
"You need a haircut," he says. "I'll do it tonight, after dinner, if you want. That girl won't be able to resist you, lookin' all suave with your awesome hair."
"No," Sam says, suddenly pissed-off. No one else has their hair cut by their older brother -- normal kids go to the barber, or the what-do-you-call-it, the salon. He does need a haircut, yeah, it's true -- but he's sick of sitting in his bathroom, Dean behind him with a pair of dull, blue-handled scissors, falling hair going down his collar and tickling his neck. "I don't need you to do it. I'll -- I was gonna go to Quick Cuts tomorrow."
"Quick Cuts?" Dean asks, raising an eyebrow. "And how exactly are you gonna pay for that?"
"I get allowance," Sam says indignantly. If by allowance you mean a cut of Dean's hustling money when Sam goes along for the sympathy factor.
"Your funeral," Dean says doubtfully, and pulls onto the long dirt road that leads to the trailer park.
It feels awesome, sitting in one of those black swively chairs with the big apron across his body, a pretty girl behind him, snapping her gum and running her fingers across the hair at the nape of his neck. Sam is glad for the cape-thing that's laid across him, obscuring his lap, because every time one of her long, fake pink nails snags on his skin, the touch goes straight to his groin. He doesn't knwo if this is normal, but it pretty much sucks. Except for the part where he sort of likes it.
"There you go," the girl -- Angela -- says, ruffling his still-wet hair and examining her handiwork. "Whaddaya think?"
"Awesome," Sam beams, because, yeah, it looks pretty cool, layered and shorter than he's used to.
He walks home along the railroad tracks in the August heat, and he can feel his wet hair dry against his head. He can't stop running his hands through it, thinking how he's gonna show Dean, how he's gonna say "I told you so, you moron."
He heads for the bathroom as soon as he gets home, wants to see his new haircut again, see how it looks dry. He heads for the mirror eagerly, already imagining how Lauren will react, how her eyes will soften and her mouth will part slightly, how she'll reach forward towards him, wanting to stroke his hair, wanting to stroke...
He stops in front of the mirror.
His mouth goes dry.
His hair has dried to about six times its normal size. What was layers in the salon has become clown-hair once it's dry, sticking out from his head in a crazy halo of frizzy brown, and his face underneath it looks both too round and too small at the same time.
Sam stares, uncomprehending, one hand raising to touch it, to ascertain that, yes, that's his hair, and yes, it clearly has lost any affection for him, has reneged, has turned traitor and run to the enemy's side.
It's hideous. There's just no two ways about it.
Sam feels his eyes grow hot, and he has to swallow rapidly a few times to prevent the lump in his throat from exploding.
He can't go to school like this. He's already a freak, the new kid, weird Sam from the trailer park with his invisible father and the brother who always looks half beat to death, always a black eye or a walking cast or a sling.
He just wanted Lauren to look at him and see a BOY, a guy, someone she might like, or want to talk to, or ask questions about -- anything to ground him, to make him feel real. Anything but the way she looks through him, like he's a non-issue, a non-story.
Sam heads to his room, breathing deep, can feel the disgusting hair on his head sticking out in all directions, trying to escape his scalp.
He buries his face in his pillow, and if he cries, well, no one is around to hear it.
Sam wakes up three hours later to a knock on his door, and Dean doesn't wait for an answer before barging in.
"What're you--" Sam hears Dean's voice start then stops. "Sam," Dean says in a very different tone. "Did you ... did you cut your hair?"
"Yes," Sam says into the pillow.
Dean is silent, and for a moment Sam thinks he's left. Then there's the creak of floorboards, and Sam's bed dips beside him.
"Sam," Dean says. "That haircut... dude, that haircut is bad fuckin' news. I mean, I can tell from here, and you haven't even looked up."
"No shit," Sam snaps, face still buried in the pillow.
A hand comes out, rests tentatively on his back.
"Hey," Dean says. "You want -- I could look it over? Even out the edges a little? Maybe make the bangs a little shorter, get rid of those freakin' layers, shorten the back? It's really not that bad, man... we can fix it."
Sam is going to say no, is about to protest, but something about Dean's hand on his back, heavy and warm and so competent, stops him.
"Okay," he finds himself saying. And before he knows it, he's in the bathroom, Dean behind him, rusty scissors in hand, bad arm ignored, though Dean can't help but let a couple pained grunts escape as he flexes his fucked-up shoulder.
And the thing is... when Dean's done, and Sam's looking at himself in the mirror... it looks good. Edges straight across, bangs perfectly framing Sam's eyes, silly shaggy curls disappeared.
"Yeah," Dean says with satisfaction, examining his handiwork from every which way, scissors still in hand. "That chick is gonna fuckin' LOVE it."
And Lauren seems to. So much so, in fact, that she waits for Sam after class, bends down, and asks him to the Octoberfest Extravaganza Dance. And Sam, when he says yes, doesn't squeak once.
Dean doesn't say I-told-you-so, but he gives Sam a huge fucking grin when he sees Lauren peck Sam goodbye on the cheek, and Sam can't help but grin back.
"Thanks," Sam says.
Dean doesn't say anything, but he makes a slicing motion through the air with his hand, scissors his fingers in front of Sam's nose.
That's the last time Sam ever goes to a salon.
::: Nine years later :::
"Dean," Sam says, adjusting his tie in the mirror of the motel bathroom where they're staying. "Dean, would you..."
"What?" Dean asks, gently, in that same cautious tone he's been using since he pulled Sam away from the sight of Jess on the ceiling, burning to a crisp while Sam was fucking helpless.
"I need," Sam says, gestures helplessly at his hair, hanging in his eyes, curling down over his ears. "I need..." He can't let Jess's family see him this way. Can't stand like this in front of Jess's grave.
Dean seems to know, though, and he nods, eyes alighting in understanding.
"We'll do it in the bathroom," he says. "C'mon, Sam."
And Sam succumbs, succumbs to the feeling of his brother carding through the hair at his neck, to the feel of those calloused fingers running gently through the too-long strands. And Sam thinks, of course, of Jess, and how she used to play with his hair for hours: the familiar tug of her nails, the pull of her fingers, her hands smoothing down his head, down his back... thinks how he'll never feel that again, has to close his eyes against the sting of tears against his lids, so familiar these past few days, that sudden, shocking knowledge that he'll never see her again, never feel her again, and even though he knows, he knows she's gone, it's like someone's smacked him in the face with a hammer each time he remembers. Jess is gone. Jess is never coming back.
"Hey," Dean murmurs, pushes Sam's head gently to one side, strong hands sure and familiar, competent, cupping the back of Sam's neck with a casual tenderness that Sam's only ever felt in these moments, his hair falling down around his feet to puddle like soft, strange rain.
And for just a moment, with Dean's warm hands pressing against his temples, the rhythmic snip-snip of the scissors, Sam thinks everything is going to be all right.
Thinks maybe this is just a bad haircut, and his big brother is here to fix it. Will always be here, to fix it.