AN: Sequel to Bullet with Butterfly Wings and Bite the Bullet. This is the product of Sammygirl1963 "hinting" she'd like to see more Johnny... and really, how can I say no? For those Sammy haters out there though, I have one thing to say - Be gone! Sammy's not perfect, nor do I try to portray him as such... with that said... on with the disclaimers.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Kripke's creations or anything of the CW... because really... if I did, do you think we'd have had THAT ending for season 5? Yeah, I think not!
Snow piled onto the windshield faster than Sam could coax the wipers to sweep them off. Of course it didn't help that there was a short in the old truck's electrical system, causing half the vehicle's electronics to periodically fail. That was a problem for another day though – a day that he didn't have a dozen things waiting on him to do at home, work and school, not to mention the play that Ellie was supposed to be in that very evening.
Pulling into the driveway, Sam looked quickly at his organizer, or as his brother liked to call it, "Little Brother's Leash." He knew Dean was just kidding, but sometimes the things that came out of his mouth actually hurt. It wasn't his fault that he needed everything laid out and organized otherwise he'd never get to them. Honestly though, it was days like this one that made him ache for the open road again with only himself to look after. Sighing heavily, he closed the book and put it in the outer pocket of his backpack before pulling it out of the truck with him and quickly made his way to the door, knowing that no one would be home and was actually thankful for having the five minutes or so to himself to breathe. He knew that he had enough time to start a pot of coffee and put in the frozen casserole he'd made earlier in the week before everything became a whirlwind again, so he quickly set about his tasks while listening to the answering machine… hoping that there wasn't any bad news hiding in the device.
"Sam, hey its Dad… call me back will you? Nothing majorly important, just need to ask you a question. Thanks, 'bye."
"Sam… It's your Mom. Don't let your Dad know that I called, ok? But if you get a moment, will you call me back? Not an emergency or anything, just need to ask you something. Thanks, Sweetie!"
"Sammy! Hey, you're not answering your cell phone which means you're either getting your geek on… or getting something else on… huh, huh? Yeeeeeah… ok… look, call me… like quick, ok? Something's going on with Mom and Dad, and Dude… it's really creeping me out. Yeah… ok… call me!"
Taking a deep breath, Sam thought about what he should do. It was clear why his parents called, and that Dean had no clue yet meant they wanted to talk to him about it alone; going as far as not even letting each other know what they were planning. The problem was he didn't know how he could explain it without ratting out the very person he didn't want to know.
Feeling frustrated, he leaned back against the wall before rushing towards the mailbox, hoping and praying that Dean hadn't come home for lunch. Seeing the envelopes, he breathed a little easier and smiled when he found what he was looking for – his bank statement. This month would show a very strange transaction and he didn't want his big brother to see it and throw everything out of proportion. After all, it wasn't any big deal and he'd pay it back, he just didn't want to have to deal with Dean in full guard dog mode – that's what got them to this point to begin with. Taking a quick look at the papers in his hand, he quickly balanced his checkbook and nodded in agreement. Two dollars and twenty seven cents wasn't anything to smile about, but at least he wasn't in the red. Now if he could just find out how to explain to his parents why he raided his college fund, he'd be doing fine.
Dean felt foolish for leaving a message on his own answering machine, but he couldn't get hold of his brother and he really needed to figure out why the hell his parents were acting like strangers. Sure, to anyone else they seemed normal, but he could tell when they were hiding something, and right now it looked like they were hiding it from each other!
Running his hands through his hair, he massaged his scalp a bit in the attempt to release some of the tension, but it wasn't working. Right now he needed to talk to Sammy, but Sammy wasn't picking up. Of course it didn't help he really didn't want to hear his phone ring at the moment since for the past couple of months the only ones calling was the credit card company wondering why the payments weren't in full and usually late. What could he say, they were right. He was behind and every day seemed like he was sinking a little bit further. The only problem was… he wouldn't have done anything different. When the central heat and air system stopped working completely around the same time Sammy decided to disappear with their little princess, what was he supposed to do… leave it like that? So yeah, a whole new system installed had set him back… along with a hole in the roof causing a leak in the attic all because a branch fell on the house during a wind storm. At the time it was enough to make him wonder what the hell they'd gotten themselves into with buying the house. Sure, he knew that more than likely Sammy could have fixed it, but the kid had more than enough on his plate and didn't need the added strain, hence the calls to the repair guys and the credit card bill. Unfortunately though, he'd forgotten what day it was while recovering from a concussion, graciously given to him by a strung out co-ed who had way too much to drink, and missed a payment, adding late fees and an increase in interest on top of everything else. He knew he should have read the fine print on that promotional rate, but he'd been anxious to get everything taken care of, and at the time he hadn't cared how it happened.
"You ok over there, Dean?" Lucas asked as he put his coat on and reached for his duffle. He knew that the kid had something on his mind, but he hadn't had any luck in figuring out what the hell it was.
"Yeah, man… just running late, you know?"Dean answered as he quickly changed and began to lace up his boots. "Sammy's probably got dinner already ready and you know how he gets if he has to scratch out anything in that Leash of his."
Lucas smiled and nodded. Although he knew an avoidance tactic when he saw one, he also knew exactly how Sam got if he had to reschedule something in the notebook he started carrying around. "How's he doing with that?"
Dean suddenly became serious and tried to smile. "Would you believe he actually got more than two hours sleep in a row the other night? I wanted to celebrate by shouting from the rooftops when I found him in his own bed sound asleep. Apparently, Mom came over and watched Ellie while Sammy took care of his assignments and the kid actually was able to check off everything on his list that day."
"Sounds like he's still taking too much on. The kid's not Superman, you know?"
"Yeah, tell me about it. For some reason though he really thinks he needs to make A's in every class and is devastated when he thinks it's not going to happen. Add to that volunteering at Ellie's school, working at the shop and dealing with the household stuff when I'm not there… well, I'm surprised he's lasted this long," Dean said sadly, thinking about when he confronted his little brother and got a heartbreaking look in return. "I don't know… maybe he thinks we'll send him back if he isn't perfect."
Lucas laughed, "He's not a puppy Dean, even with those eyes. You need to make sure he knows he needs to take care of himself too. Maybe take that damn organizer away for a day."
Dean stopped abruptly and looked back horrified, "Oh God no… I finally got him sleeping… no way am I screwing with that!"
The sounds coming from the bays were barely noticed by one of the co-owners of the shop, John being more than just a little distracted by the fact that his youngest son took a large amount of money out of the savings account earmarked for his education. After the pains they'd gone through to get Sammy to agree for them to pay for his tuition and books, the sudden dip in the account balance had him more than a little concerned.
It didn't take a genius to notice Sammy was strung tighter than a guitar string and had gone back to his insomniac ways, leaving him to wonder if maybe his son had gone back to some of his more wild behavior. He really didn't want to think that, but what else could it be?
Taking a moment to think over the past several months, he had to admit that his boy wasn't a slacker by any means. Sammy took his responsibilities seriously, even to the point of neglecting himself in the process, which made the suspicions of drugs, alcohol, or even a hustle gone bad that more upsetting. No, he needed to take his son to the side and find out what was going on. If it was something like that, then they could quietly deal with it without Mary or Dean finding out; it was the least he could do for his boy.
Looking at the page in front of her, Mary knew that something was definitely going on with Sammy besides the obvious lack of sleep and working himself to death. She didn't have a doubt that if she hadn't handed him the day organizer and made him promise to only list ten things per day, he'd still insist on trying to accomplish everything at once. As it was, she was second guessing herself on the ten items – who knew that he could actually find a way to classify a whole list into one block and call it one item?
Shaking her head, she knew that in a couple of weeks it would be Thanksgiving again, which brought up horrible memories of when Sammy had been kidnapped by that lunatic hunter the previous year. So much had happened since that time and there was no way she was going to wallow in self pity about a time that had already passed. Instead, she was going to figure out what was going on with her youngest to make him need so much money in such a short time.
Looking at the clock, she knew she had enough time to take a short nap before getting ready for Ellie's play. This evening was going to be a long one and she didn't want to be one of those in the audience that actually fell asleep during the performances; instead, she wanted to be the one waking the others in her party of four. Tonight their little princess was going to shine and she was determined to be wide awake and cheering Ellie on the whole time.
It took only a moment to find the tape player with some of Ellie's favorite Disney movie songs on it, and another few moments to crawl into the bed that was still in the old nursery, but it took less than a minute for her to fall into a deep sleep with music playing through the earphones causing her to be oblivious to anything else going on around her.
Sam closed his notebook and rubbed his eyes, thankful that Dean had volunteered to pick Ellie up from school today. He knew that by the time he got Ellie back home in order to eat and change, he would have been too wound up to enjoy tonight's play. Now though, he had managed to finally get a handle on his essay that was due in a week, opening up some extra time to get his notes ready for finals that began in a month. Dean still teased him about being an over achiever, but the truth of the matter was that if he didn't have everything lined up and within easy reach and accessible, he usually got the information mixed up, causing him more frustration and a lot more work to understand what he should already know. His advisor Dr. Malloy insisted he was doing exceptionally well, but he knew the truth – without constant diligence, he'd slack off until he wasn't even average, much less 'exceptional,' and that was something he wasn't going to do.
Leaning back in his chair he thought about the time he and Ellie had been on the road and how much work he had to make up when they got home. He'd been offered a Leave of Absence, but he refused, stating that it would be too easy to come up with excuses why he couldn't continue and he didn't want to disappoint his family. It had taken several all night study sessions to catch up and he had never been so thankful to see a semester end than the summer term this year… and that counted last fall when he'd been kidnapped and tortured by a very overzealous hunter.
The phone ringing pulled him out of his musings and made him realize that he hadn't done one very important thing – call his girlfriend to let her know about tomorrow.
"Hi Sam… you sound tired. Which is it this time, History or English Lit?"
Smiling, Sam didn't know what to say, he was busted. "Uh… both?"
Laughing, Layla shook her head and thought about how amazing her guy was. "Yeah? Well, maybe you need to take a break before Ellie gets home. How about you go over and see if your mom made those cookies she was thinking about whipping up, then you take a hot shower and think about me being in there with you."
That thought made Sam groan before he answered, "Yeah, well if I imagine that, it'll have to be a cold shower."
"Seriously, Sam… you're working too hard. Take a little time for yourself, no one will think badly of you. In fact, I wanted to let you know that I can't make it tomorrow because I was just asked to cover another shift. So, how about you take that three hours you have slotted for some us time and use it for yourself… no studying, no going into the shop for extra hours, no volunteering at the school… and definitely no studying."
"You mentioned studying twice."
"Yeah, that's because I knew that's what you'd end up doing if I didn't. Please, Sweetie… you're worrying me here. Take a nap, go for a jog, veg out in front of the TV with a beer… I don't care, just please do something for yourself, ok?"
It took Sam a few moments to finally agree; knowing that if Layla was actually asking for something, there was no way he could deny her. "Ok… I'll do… something… nothing… I don't know, but I won't do anything you listed."
"Good. Now, get over to your mom's and get those cookies. Make sure you let Ellie know I wish I could be there, but she and I are going for ice cream on my next day off. Love you!"
"Love you too… 'bye."
The sound of the dial tone suddenly made him feel alone, so he decided to take his very smart girlfriend's advice – time to get some of Mom's cookies.
It didn't take a lot of time to get to the house next door and even less time to open the front door. What took him the most time was coming to terms with was the smoke and flames he saw climbing up the living room walls.