Hunting was the Winchester family vocation and camping was a sometimes-necessity, but fishing? No. Sam had been raised with the vague notion that eating fish was for girls, and fishing for fun sounded just ludicrous. A complete waste of time.
But when your girlfriend asked you to go fishing with her, when your girlfriend was a girl like Jessica Moore, there wasn't a whole lot of room to say no. When the fishing came complete with a weekend alone with her at her family's cabin, Sam would have been hard-pressed to find the word ino/i anywhere in his brain.
In reality, the details were a lot less awesome than Sam had been imagining. The cabin was old and run-down, even by the standard of some of the places Sam had stayed in growing up. The only bed -- other than the set of rusty metal bunk beds -- was only full size with a thin, sagging mattress, and Sam just knew what it would smell like.
Jess didn't seem to mind at all; she threw herself onto the mattress and bounced up and down with the motion of the springs, her lips in a wide grin.
A couple of hours later, she was laughing quietly at Sam as he struggled with her dad's fishing rod. She had made the whole procedure look easy--slip the bait on the hook, wind up the line, cast it out into the water. She'd sent the line flying with a snap of her wrist, her arm and the pole one graceful line arcing up from her shoulder.
Sam got the bait on the hook just fine, skewered the hell out of one of the fat worms they'd picked up from the bait shop on the road leading to the cabin. He wound the line up and tried to cast it, but that was when the whole thing turned into an embarrassing mess. His first try, nothing happened at all. The second, the line went wild, swinging out toward Jess who snickered at him and danced away, her bare feet quick on the muddy bank.
The third try was a little better -- it actually hit the water -- but any fish that could swim in two inches of water wouldn't really be worth catching. Sam knew Jess's laughter wasn't mean-spirited, knew she was having a good time and that should make it all okay for him, but he couldn't help himself. It was like trying to learn to bowhunt with Dean--failing and failing and Dean's chortling laughter egging him on until he wanted to take the arrow and beat it into the target with his bare hands.
Reeling the line back in from the shallows, Sam spread his feet to get a better stance and gave it another try. The line finally flew out farther over the water…only to get caught on the branch of a fallen tree. "Shit!"
"Do you want me to cast it for you?" Jess offered, her smile conciliatory now.
"No, I got it." Sam jerked the line back toward himself, trying to get it free of the leaf it was stuck in. It didn't come loose, so he pulled on it harder, letting his frustration lend strength. The line finally came free, snapping back toward Sam. He saw the path the hook was traveling, but he couldn't move fast enough. Dad would have bitched at him for his crappy reaction time, and somehow that stung more than the hook did when it punctured the bare skin just below the hem of Sam's shorts.
"Damn it!" Sam's anger crested over him again, and he yanked the hook out of his thigh. "Fuck!" The pain only made him angrier--pissed at himself, illogically pissed at Jess for getting him into this situation. Tossing the fishing rod off to the side, Sam closed his eyes and let himself drop down to sit on the ground, his ass making a faint squelch as it hit the damp grass.
"Sam?" Jess sounded worried enough that almost all of the laughter was pushed out of her voice, but Sam couldn't trust himself not to say something that would hurt her.
He held up a hand in Jess' direction and pulled his non-injured leg closer to him. He breathed in the smell of his own skin for a minute and waited until his heart rate slowed down, his anger seeping out into the ground beneath him. He heard Jess walk around him and felt her leaning closer, but he kept his eyes closed until she spoke.
"Sam, oh shit, that looks bad."
Sam opened his eyes and saw the thick stream of blood flowing down over the side of his leg. He just wanted to close his eyes again and not deal with it right away, but he knew Jess was right. And she was scared, which was even worse.
"It's okay." He forced himself to smile up at her. "I can take care of it."
"I should get you to the hospital. Crap, it's like an hour away. My brother broke his arm one year when he was climbing on the roof and--"
"Jess." She broke off her nervous rambling and stared. "Go get me my backpack. Please."
She took off running back to the cabin, and Sam pressed one hand over the wound, feeling the blood between his fingers. So familiar and so strange that he hadn't felt it for years now. The rush and slip of bare feet on leaves sounded behind him, and then Jess was back, falling to her knees beside him with his over-stuffed backpack.
"Can you get me the white t-shirt from in there?"
Jess nodded and yanked the zipper open, digging around for a few seconds before coming up with the shirt. Sam took it with his non-bloody hand and looked at it for a moment. It wasn't his favorite, but it wasn't more than half worn-out either and he hated to lose it. He sighed before grabbing either side of the neck hole and tearing the shirt in two.
He tucked one half of the shirt in his pocket to keep it semi-clean and used the other half to wipe away as much blood as he could. The blood was still flowing, making a new path down his leg, but it had been clear long enough to show him that while the cut wasn't wide, it was deep enough to need a few stitches. Sam could feel the first small edge of shakiness from the blood loss starting to push underneath the calm he'd found in the wake of his anger, and he knew he didn't have time to screw around.
"There's a first aid kit in the outside pocket. Get me a couple of the alcohol wipes."
Jess scrambled to pull them out, but her eyes kept going back to the blood on Sam's skin. "I don't--I don't think a Band-Aid is going to do it."
She handed over two flat, square packets, and Sam ripped them open with his teeth but left the wipes inside for a moment. "I know. There's a little sewing kit that pouch too." Jess looked up, confused, but Sam continued. "Get me one of the threaded needles."
"I can't do stitches!" Jess' whole body went tense, like she was going to drop the bag and run away, and Sam thought that might have been better.
"I can." Sam kept his voice steady, doing his best not to bark out orders, not to hear John Winchester in his own voice. "Just give me a needle. Please."
Jess fumbled the sewing kit out and flipped open the clear plastic top. Her fingers hovered over the line of pre-threaded needles for a second before she pulled out the red one. Sam nodded and wiped his thigh one more time with the bloody t-shirt before pulling the cloth away and wiping again with one of the alcohol wipes.
He snatched the needle from Jess's trembling fingers and cleaned it with the other wipe. Pinching his wound closed with his left hand, Sam put the needle through his skin to start the first stitch. Jess gasped, and Sam felt the instinct to hold his breath, to make himself steadier, but he knew that was a losing game. He would need his strength, his breath, to keep going.
Sam couldn't help the grunt that slipped out of his mouth as he pulled the thread through the other side of the wound, and he wanted to rest but there was no point. He took the second stitch and the third as quickly as he could safely manage and then checked the tension on them before making the fourth, the last. He dropped the needle and wiped off the wound with the clean t-shirt half.
A small amount of blood still oozed out from between the stitches, but Sam knew it would clot soon. He leaned forward to bite off the trailing end of thread and then just stayed there, letting himself breathe for a moment while the shock he hadn't been able to let himself feel washed over him. Jess' hand touched his back then, and the weight of her fingers felt tentative the way it never had before.
"Sam? Are you--"
Am I what?, Sam thought. Am I okay? Am I some kind of freak? Am I sure I'm not taking pre-med? Sam sat up and looked into her big, freaked-out eyes. "I'm okay. Seriously."
"I got stitches once." Jess looked down at Sam's leg again and then over at his bloody hands. "I screamed so loud a cop came in from the hallway. How--"
Sam tried to think of a way to explain without telling her all about his messed up family, without making her think things had been even worse for him than they had been. "I…uh…"
"How are you so fucking HOT?" Jess knelt up and leaned in to kiss Sam, her hands on his face wiping away the traces of cold sweat. By the time she let him stand up, the cut wasn't bleeding one bit.