Title: Less Traveled By
Summary: High school is hard enough without an absentee father, restless spirits, haunted cars, a missing classmate and a sexual predator on the loose. Then again, the Winchesters never did anything the easy way. Dean is 17 and Sam is 13.
First off, I would like to thank all those who read, favorite-d and especially all who reviewed my last post, The Righteous With the Wicked. This is a much-delayed and unfortunately not very detailed thanks, but RL just swallowed me whole and suddenly I found I've been fandom-idle for the last four months. And worse, I've been so busy I actually unintentionally racked up my carbon footprint this year with having ridden 19 airplanes so far! Hopefully though, things are now more settled and I can begin to be more active in Supernatural again.
To kickstart that activity is the new fic below, Less Traveled By, which is basically Dean on the last leg of high school he never got to finish, chronicling how that happened and all the challenges and lost chances in between. It's also going to feature Sam, of the kind I just miss after seeing Season 6 so far. I mean the season is interesting, yes he's hot haha, and I've always been more of a Dean-girl really, but I find I just really miss Sam! Is that strange, haha :)
Anyway, this will be a multi-chapter effort and as always, I look forward to hearing your c & c's so please let me know what you think if you have time. As with every writer here on the site, reviews inspire and excite, and in my case, they make me post chapters sooner than I should, haha! So without further ado, Less Traveled By:
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Less Traveled By
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1: Your Emergency
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"Get your nose out of that book, Sammy, I mean it," Dean told his brother, who just glanced at him mildly before continuing with what he was doing.
"Sam!" Dean kept his left hand on the wheel of the humming car and swiped blindly at his younger brother with his right one. Distracted though he had seemed with reading, Sam was nevertheless fast enough to dodge, and was still slight enough to press himself against the passenger car door and be out of Dean's reach.
"Lemme alone!" Sam retorted, "I'm so behind it's not funny, Dean, I gotta finish this!"
"Would it hurt to wait ten minutes 'til we get home?" Dean snapped, "It's fricking dark! Ruin your eyes, why don't you, see if I care."
Sam sighed dramatically, but lowered his textbook and let his eyes drift to the window. Night had indeed fallen, just snuck in on him from when he started reading with the late afternoon light just minutes ago.
"It takes more than ten minutes to get back to that dump," Sam commented.
"Well at least you got a roof over your head," Dean snapped, before pointedly putting on the radio, volume turned up.
Shit, Sam thought miserably, suddenly bristling with annoyance at himself. Their father had gone on one of his longer absences again and left the two brothers on their own with a piss-poor budget. And then he had the gall to call days later and say he was going to take even longer on another hunt near to what he just finished and did they need more money?
Of course they needed money; they needed the money even before the extension. But it had been Dean to answer the phone and not Sam. Dean just said, It's okay, dad. Don't you worry about all that. Just watch out for yourself. Just be careful out there.
Just come back, he didn't say. But they all knew it was at the tail end of all that. Just as they all knew that Dean would say exactly everything that he had said. It's okay. Don't worry about all that...
That was what pissed Sam off about their father the most. He knew Dean wouldn't bother him with tiny things like money. He damn well knew. The pretension of the question and the expected answer that made Dean own the decision was just picking at Sam. Their father just had extraordinary nerve in many ways, and not always in the right sense.
Minutes after that call had ended, Dean occupied himself with a sheet of paper, Sam's second-hand calculator, and counting pennies. Sam knew it was coming, but that didn't mean he was any less miserable when the very next day, they moved from the fairly decent motel that was near their school to a dingy studio in the outskirts of town, to make sure they survived on the money left until their dad came back. They've since had to drive to and from school. Every afternoon Dean would stack shelves in the library for some extra cash as he waited for Sam to finish all his extracurriculars so that they could save gas and go home at the same time. The whole situation was as hard for Dean as it was for Sam, and the younger Winchester's realization made him want to kick himself for being unappreciative.
His older brother muttered a curse, startling Sam into looking at him, wondering if he had offended Dean that much.
"What are you-" Sam asked as he watched Dean shuffling in his seat and trying to get at something from his jeans pockets.
"Grab my damn phone and call 911," Dean barked, and it took Sam but a blink to get into business-mode. Dean had adopted that tone like he says Down! during a hunt; you did as you were told and just asked questions later. Sam concentrated on fishing for Dean's phone, lurched a little when Dean abandoned the search, placed both hands on the wheel, and floored the gas.
"The hell is going on?" Sam demanded when he finally got Dean's phone. He plastered himself to his seat, dialed as instructed and pressed the phone to his ear. He watched, wide-eyed, as Dean weaved around two cars determinedly.
"Dean!" Sam cried out, "What do I say?"
"The white sedan in front of us a sec ago," Dean said quickly, "One of the taillights was busted and I saw fucking fingers from the cracked hole, Sammy, fucking fingers, wiggling like there was someone inside the goddamn trunk trying to-"
"911, what's your emergency?"
"Oh god," Sam blurted before efficiently relaying, "I'm driving along Daffy-Ashland Way and I think there's someone trapped inside the trunk on the car in front of me. Dean!" he yelled at his brother, "Car and plate?"
"White Ford sedan from late 80's," Dean growled, "Didn't get a good look at the plate. Tell 'em we're in fucking pursuit, don't wanna lose 'em but I think he caught a scent of us, he's moving around like-"
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed in alarm as the Impala swerved, narrowly avoiding another car as they weaved their way closer and closer toward the white car, "W-white Ford sedan from l-late 80's," Sam relayed to the operator. He looked away from the action-movie-view of the windshield and turned instead to his brother's set, determined face. It calmed him, and in that split second it dawned on him that what they were doing right now was as much a Winchester's job as hunting things in the dark. His voice came out stronger. "Didn't get a good look at the plates, but we're following so-"
"There!" Dean cried out triumphantly, "The plate number is-"
He never got to continue the rest of what he was going to say. Sam caught the sudden shock in Dean's focused gaze, and he turned his own attention away from Dean's face and toward the windshield. In front of them was indeed the white car, but now with its trunk popped open and a bedraggled girl who apparently jumped right off of it, rolling on the road right on the path of the Impala.
Dean swerved sharply to avoid her.
The car twisted with his command; she would and could always do whatever he wanted. But speed and maybe God and most certainly the laws of physics did not take too kindly to that. The car skidded, turned and fell on its side in a violent slam, turned again and rolled, rolled until it came to a smoking mess of a stop, upside down in the middle of the road.
The desperate, ragged cry pierced into the darkness like the serrated edge of a knife; it went in and its irregular ends broke through and snagged on skin and flesh, such that when it was pulled out, things got pulled out of the dark and out into the light of the world.
Sam woke to Dean's screams, and the world seemed to just grow around it. Suddenly there were other sounds, and blurred light, and faces over his, and sensations to his body.
"The brother's coming to!" someone exclaimed, and it was just too damn loud.
"Good!" someone else exclaimed, "Tell the older one, it might calm him down!"
"I keep telling him his brother's fine!" another person retorted, "But the kid's pupils are blown and his memory's shot to hell – he keeps forgetting."
"Shit, his heart rate's through the roof."
"Sedate him or something!"
"I don't wanna give him anything that makes him fall asleep 'cos we're not sure - Fuck, I coulda sworn he just tried to bite me!"
Sam's body strained in an attempt to move, but he was bound head to toe against a stiff board. Restraints on a Winchester was never a good idea, and he struggled a little in panic – trying to twist to get at the butterfly knife in his pocket - before realizing why he was in this situation. He blinked to greater awareness and realized similarly that if he was hurt from a car crash and immobilized against a backboard, then probably so was Dean. The only difference was that Dean was making enough of a racket such that Sam was sure he was fine; Dean on the other hand, had no idea how Sam was doing.
I'd freak out too, Sam thought, as he opened his mouth, licked his lips and tried to speak. He ended up coughing instead.
"!" Dean screamed again, like he had heard him, "Oh god, what's happening, is he-"
"Dean, you seriously have got to calm down," someone said to him, "Sam is fine, he's right here, and he's coming to. But you have to calm down."
"Dean," Sam said quietly, and he gulped and said to the person hovering over him, "You... you gotta bring me closer."
The blurry face over his seemed to hesitate, before nodding to the other people around them. Sam felt the board shift and move, and then finally felt the back of his right hand brushing the cold, trembling left one of Dean's, lying next to him.
"Dean, you're freaking these people out," he said, attempting for levity.
There was a gasping sort of swallowed sob, and it sounded like a shitload of relief to Sam's ear.
"I thought you were-" Dean's statement broke midway, but he was calming at last from the way his heaving breaths sounded, and from the tension Sam felt bleeding away from his hand.
"How bad are you?" he suddenly asked his younger brother, curtly.
"I'm not sure," Sam admitted, "I was out for a few minutes, I guess. And I'm kinda sore, but that's about it. You?"
"Head hurts like a bitch," Dean said, "Nothing I haven't had before."
"I heard them say," Sam hesitated, "You keep forgetting things."
"It'll go away," Dean said confidently, "I've had concussions before."
"How about the ah..." Sam asked, "Did they tell you anything about the girl?"
Dean's hand stiffened again.
The brothers were brought to the hospital in separate ambulances; Dean was sent out first, as the memory-loss was more worrisome than Sam's more lucid state. On the ride over, Sam got to ask the paramedics about what happened since the accident, what they thought was wrong with his brother, and about the girl who had jumped out of the trunk.
"You're very thorough and you don't miss much," one of the personnel attending to him – he saw her name tagged as 'Dulles' - said with a pleased smile, "That's a good sign."
He pursed his lips impatiently, expecting answers.
Her smile widened, "Well tell me what you remember, and then I'll fill you in with what I know."
It was as much a test of his memory and awareness as a practical recommendation, he knew, so he went with it.
"I wasn't paying attention to the road," Sam began, "Then my brother tells me to call 911, 'cos the car in front of us – it seemed like there was someone stashed in the trunk. He saw fingers wiggling from a hole by the tail lights. By the time I looked, the car was further up front, and Dean drove faster to catch up with it. Dean didn't catch the plates or the model, but if someone stashed someone else in a trunk – well, I guess he wanted to make sure they didn't get away."
"That was very brave of you and your brother," Dulles said, "Some people would have just called for help and left it alone."
"He's not 'some people,'" Sam said quietly, "So we catch up to the car, and Dean was about to tell me the plate number so I can tell the 911 operator. But then the trunk pops open and this girl jumps out right on our way. Dean swerves to keep from running over her, car flips... I wake up and my brother's screaming for me." Sam licked his lips nervously, "So... so really, how is he doing?"
"Well," Dulles replied, "He was awake when we got to the accident site. He was on all fours on your side of the window, checking up on you. Seemed like there was nothing wrong with him at the start; he was talking, told us your names and how to contact your dad, talked about your allergies, even. At worst he seemed shaken up, maybe some busted ribs from how he was holding himself up but nothing too serious. You were the unconscious one so we checked you out first. He hovered a lot, wouldn't let you out of his sight. We told him to stand aside so we can help you better, which knocked sense into him right away so he backed off. A few minutes away from you though and he started screaming, asking if you're alive, asking for us to help you, get you out of the car. We calmed him down, and then a few minutes later he starts up again like he's forgotten you were already being taken care of."
"Concussion," Sam said, hazarding a guess - "Serious."
"Yeah," she admitted, "Had to lie him down after that. But he got top-notch medical attention right away, you know? And he's strong as an ox, fighting all the way. They'll take care of him, Sam."
"What about the girl?" Sam asked, "The girl from the trunk?"
Dulles bit her lip apprehensively, "Oh she had a rough time; broke a few bones, some bruising, burns and scratches from her rough landing. She was conscious and she knew what was going on but she was loopy, seemed to be on the tail-end of some drug with sedative effects."
"So someone really kidnapped her and kept her in the trunk, huh?" Sam asked.
"Yeah," Dulles replied, "You boys... you boys are heroes, saved that girl's life. You know you might even her know her."
"What do you mean?" Sam asked.
"She's a teenager like you," Dulles said, "Sixteen. I think she goes to the same school as you and Dean. Ever heard of Annie Huntington?"
"No," Sam replied, "We just moved here a couple months back, we don't really know anybody."
"Well she was lucky to have you around then," Dulles said, "Hey we're almost here, we'll be moving you in a bit, okay? But you sound good, Sam. You'll go for a bunch of scans to be sure, spend the night, maybe two. But you sound real good, kid. And good work out there, you and your brother."
"What about the driver of the white car?" Sam asked, "Who was he?"
The ambulance came to a stop, and the double doors at the rear opened.
"He got away," Dulles said.
TO BE CONTINUED...