AN: Ok, first off... I want to thank everyone for their continued support, not only for this story, but my writing in general... it means a lot! I know you all were probably expecting a short little epilogue... but it had a mind of it's own. Honestly, I don't feel like I do epilogues very well, so I'm hoping I didn't screw this one up. Hope you enjoy and thanks again! :)
The rhythmic sound of small wheels rolling on wood before a pause and then a thud repeating in frequency filled the salvage yard and broke the silence of the late spring afternoon, the lone occupant far too lost in his own thoughts to notice anything else around him. Phone calls were left unanswered, the small stack of mail left unattended and the ingredients for dinner stayed lined up on the counter waiting to see if they'd be used at all.
"Damn it, looks like a rough day," Dean told Bobby as they got out of the truck and watched as Sammy once again did a full flip at the top of his half pipe and landed with catlike grace to do it once again on the other side.
Nodding, Bobby could only agree. It wasn't often when the boy would decide to get some marathon usage out of his skateboard, but when he did… it showed. When the boys first moved in, it had taken weeks of worrying where the kid wandered off to before either of them fully understood that half the time the kid didn't understand himself what had him so tied up in knots; that's when Dean came up with the idea of skateboarding. It wasn't the same as surfing, but it managed to keep Sammy close by while he worked out his frustrations enough to be able to share with them.
Dean rubbed his face with his hand and leaned back against the truck. "You don't think it's those kids on the football team again, do you?" he asked, worried that they'd missed the signs of trouble brewing.
"Nah. Kid said they've been leaving him alone since he started tutoring Steve. Let him work it out, he'll let us know when he's ready."
Not liking it, but silently agreeing, Dean nodded and watched another minute before walking into the house, hoping it had nothing to do with Mindy… he liked what the girl had done for Sammy. He'd just stepped to the porch when he saw the very person he was thinking of on her bike heading his direction. Smiling, he watched as she paused only long enough to see how engrossed Sammy was before making her way towards him again. At fifteen, Mindy was short, wore braces and outdated eyeglasses, with stick straight brown hair that was always in a tangled pony tail, but she was the sweetest kid he'd ever met and made his little brother smile each and every time he saw her… a huge accomplishment some days.
"Mindy, what's up?" he called out, hoping that she could pull Sammy out of his funk.
Smiling shyly, Mindy looked up at Sam's big brother, "Well, I was hoping to see how Sam was, but I guess I can already figure it out," she said with a sigh, "I just don't understand it… neither can anyone else, Dean. I mean, yeah… he'll be the youngest one there… but that's what's so awesome about it, you know?"
Puzzled, Dean wasn't exactly sure what to think about anything at the moment and motioned for her to continue. This was something else he loved about the kid… she wasn't scared to talk to him like anyone else, to her he was Sammy's big brother… not someone to crush over, which meant he could get information from her when no one else would tell him.
"He was called into Mrs. Taylor's office, you know… the Guidance Councilor… and she told him he'd been accepted into the summer program at SDSU. You know… he'll get to take the same entry level courses as the entering Freshmen and be part of the mentoring program that guides you through the process of which career to go into. It's a really big deal, but he's acting like it's a death sentence! I don't understand it… I'd give anything to be able to go, and I'm just a Freshman… he's a Junior and should already be deciding which college he's going to."
Dean watched fascinated as he was pretty sure the girl in front of him had just told him all of that without once taking a breath… he was impressed. Nodding, he motioned for her to join him in the house, he had a feeling they were going to need reinforcements on this one.
Sam ventured across the yard, barely noticing the truck that hadn't been there before. He knew he had Mindy concerned, but how could he explain why he wasn't excited when she had no clue what was really out there… waiting. Sighing, he walked in the house and up the stairs to his room, taking care to put his skateboard and equipment up properly before looking around and taking stock of everything he had. When it was just him and Dean, they often stayed in the same room… sometimes having to share the same bed. Now though, they had their own rooms and were able to have posters, pictures and little mementos without having to worry about if they'd have to be left behind one day. Not to mention being able to make plans with friends without having to worry about breaking them because of some hunt causing them to have to move suddenly. Although they still trained in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings, it was nothing like when they were with their dad; here they stayed in shape mainly as backup for Bobby if he might need it and protection for themselves. So much had changed in such a short amount of time, it was often more than a little disconcerting.
The day they left Memphis, they'd flown straight to South Dakota and immediately walked into a judge's chambers and he watched as Bobby slapped the stack of papers he'd been carrying around for two years on the judge's desk and silently demanded the man finish the process. He could laugh about it now, but then he'd been horrified that something was going to go horribly wrong and that he and his brother would be separated. It had taken less than half an hour for the judge to review the documents, ask his questions to each of them and then proceed to announce the adoption final. However it had taken Dean and Bobby almost a week to finally convince him that they were really home, that no one was going to take him away. That had been six months ago and he still wondered at times if he was dreaming.
With his fifteenth birthday just a week away he'd thought his biggest worry was how to keep Dean from getting in the birthday swats he'd always threatened… not how to gracefully bow out of something every other kid in school was drooling over. It was times like this that he wished he'd stayed in the home school program; there he could stay anonymous with no pressure of everyone's expectations. He hadn't told Dean or Bobby that it was now a weekly occurrence to be called into the counselor's office to talk about next year's AP classes, college entrance exams, scholarship award applications, and a ton of other things that he really wished they'd leave him alone about. As it was, he was already scheduled to graduate the following year, making him even more of an outcast than he was already. Now this.
Groaning, he fell back onto his bed, stared up at the ceiling and wondered what he should do.
"I didn't mean to make you worry," Mindy said as she helped Bobby chop some vegetables for dinner, "it's just that… Sam's a great guy and so smart. Why does he want to hide that?"
Smiling, Dean and Bobby shared a look before Dean shrugged his shoulders and finally answered, "Well honestly, I think me and our dad have to take the blame for that. You see, we didn't really get how special Sammy was in that way, you know? So when he kept talking about how he was doing in school, we were proud, yeah… but didn't appreciate it so much." Seeing her puzzled look he shrugged again. "Hey, it's not like we didn't know he was smart… just figured that one day he'd be knee deep in the family business full time, you know? Now though I get it… I just hope it's not too late for him to get it too."
Bobby nodded in agreement and placed the items in the stew before excusing himself to make a phone call.
Hearing Sammy trudge down the stairs, Dean smiled and nodded towards the stairs, giving Mindy full permission to do her thing.
Rushing towards the door, Mindy practically ran into Sam, causing him to halt midway between the living room and kitchen.
"Mindy, when'd you get here?" Sam asked, completely confused at how he hadn't know she was there.
Rolling her eyes, he looked up at Sam, "I've been here for awhile. You were doing your Tony Hawk's thing again, so I thought I'd visit with Dean and Bobby for awhile."
"Oh…uh… are you staying for dinner?" he asked, really hoping she would. Ever since they met he liked being around her… liked how she made him feel, like he could do anything.
Smiling, she shook her head. "Sorry, not today. Mom's making pot roast which means someone's going have to call the fire department. I can come by later though, ok?"
Nodding, Sam smiled and watched as she rushed out the door.
"You know, you really need to make an honest woman out of her," Dean joked, knowing that the kids adored each other and it was only an amount of time before they became an official couple.
"Dean… you can be so… so…"
"Right? Yeah, I know," Dean smirked as he pulled his brother to the table. "Ok kiddo, mind telling me why we get a notice of your acceptance into the state universities mentorship program in the mail without us even knowing you were up for it?"
Stunned, Sam looked at his brother and had no clue what to say; he didn't even look at the mail today. "Uh…"
"Yeah, 'Uh' is right. Do you have any idea how many kids would kill to have this chance?" Dean asked, hoping to put on just enough pressure to get some answers, but not enough to incite Hurricane Sammy.
Sam sat and stared at not only is brother but Bobby who walked into the room looking like he wanted to know the same thing. "I… uh… I didn't want it to be a big deal. I mean, it's not like… I'm not going so what's the problem?" he stammered out, confused at why both of them were looking like he was some strange bug.
"Oh you're not are you? Mind telling me why not?" Dean asked, feeling Bobby stepping behind him to give his support. "You know you want this, why not go for it?"
"It's too far!" Sam blurted out the first thing that popped into his head.
"An hour away tops… not that far. Try again," Dean countered, waiting for his brother's next excuse.
"It costs too much!"
"Uh uh… the acceptance letter says all classes and activity fees are already included. You'll stay in a dorm and have a meal plan… not that much," Bobby stated as he watched Sam scramble for the next answer.
"I'll be the youngest one there, you know… the freak!" Sam exclaimed, jumping up from his chair.
"Not a freak… just smart. Sammy, you have to understand something… you've got to be who you are, no matter what anyone else thinks. And I'm sorry that I made you feel like you had to be something else." He nodded when he saw the uncertainty in his brother's eyes.
Sighing, Sam sat back down and whispered, "I don't want to leave. We're all doing so good here, and I have Mindy close by, and I know every safe place in the house and in the school and… and I don't think I'm ready to go."
Seeing the misery in Sam's face Bobby took a deep breath and wondered not for the first time how he was going to deal with such a book smart kid.
"Sam, just because you can go doesn't mean you have to," he began, ignoring Dean's shocked expression, "but you need to make sure of the reason you don't want to go. Is it really because you don't want this experience, or is it because you're scared? 'cause I gotta tell ya kid, this sounds pretty damn good to me."
Looking between the two men in his life, Sam sat and stared in wonder. "I don't know. I mean… yeah, it might be cool to take the college classes, but… I don't want to be by myself," he admitted, looking down at his feet, knowing that he probably disappointed everyone.
"Cool… now that that's settled, let's eat!" Dean exclaimed as he went to the cabinet for the bowls. Hearing his brother's confusion, he turned back, "Bobby's already got a line on an apartment there on campus… we'll take turns staying with you, no big deal."
Seeing the confirmation from Bobby, Sam continued to sit confused until the other men joined him and began talking about the plans for the summer seemingly excited at having a college boy in the family. Sitting back, he began to smile and thought, "I wonder what Mindy would think about dating a college student."