AU: Sam doesn't go to Stanford but instead chooses to stick with his family.

Ages: Sam is 18, Dean is 22, and John is ?.

Spoilers: Season 1, possibly Season 2.

Disclaimer: I do not own what you recognize. Kripke & CW own Winchesters.

A/N: I was thinking about the famous fight between Sam and John before Sam went to Stanford and thought...'what if he didn't leave?' Then my thoughts began turning into this story. My friend and I had been brainstorming one day the year before last about some events that have been 'manipulated' to fig this story. 90% of this story came from those ideas, the rest out of my head.

Hope you enjoy it, so far it's been a blast writing it.

Sam Winchester bit back a sigh and grabbed his duffel bag. His family was moving...again. A month ago it would have killed him to be moving, but now that he was out of high school it didn't matter as much. Not that school mattered in his family. Grades and a social life were at the bottom of the list when it came to priorities. His dad said Sam only went to school to keep CPS off their backs.

While Dean had dropped out at sixteen, Sam had decided to keep in school. He wanted out of the hunting life. Sam wanted to life the apple pie life, find a girl, get a good job, and keep safe. He didn't want to risk his life every moment of every day.

He was glad he saved people, don't get him wrong, but he was fighting for a cause for a woman he'd never known. It was different for Dean and their dad, they'd known Mary Winchester. Sam never had. He'd never had a normal life despite being 'kept in the dark' for eight years of his life. When he had attempted to get out of the hunting life, at least long enough to go to college, his father had given him an option: he could stay with the family or he could leave the family for good.

You walk out that door, you don't come back.

Sam had looked at Dean for some sort of support, help even, but all he found was his brother looking half-betrayed and half-scared. Instead of chasing his own dreams, Sam nodded his head and went back to the bedroom he was sharing with Dean in the crappy house the Winchesters were staying in. He had shut the door with a soft 'click' before plopping down onto the small mattress in the room.

"Come on, Sam." Dean's voice pulled him from his thoughts. Sam looked up to see his older brother walk out the motel door. Since that night one month ago, the air between the two brothers had been bordering on awkward and tense. Gone was the brotherly banter Sam had grown up with his whole life.

He knew Dean was ticked and there was always a trace of fear in his eyes when Sam went out on his own, even if it was to grab a bite to eat. Sam had always been able to read his brother, and vice versa, but it was times like these when he wished he couldn't. Dean was always hanging around more than he had before the incident a month ago. The youngest Winchester wasn't sure but he was guessing it had to do with the fact Dean thought he'd run off the second he could. Sam had earned a full scholarship to Stanford and he still had a couple more weeks before they would give the money to someone else.

"Coming." Sam said though he already knew Dean wouldn't hear him. He glanced around the room one more time to make sure he had his things before carrying his duffel out the door.


The youngest Winchester jerked awake, half-jolting up in the passenger seat of the Impala. He calmed his breathing before looking out the window, trying to guess where they were.

"We're in Georgia."

Sam faced his brother, "Where are we going?"

"Small town called Colesing."

He nodded and pulled out his cell phone to check the time. The digits told him it was one in the afternoon. "When are we stopping for food?"

His brother shrugged, "Probably soon. We've still got a little ways until we hit Colesing." Sam gave another nod, this was probably the longest conversation he'd had with his brother where both parties were calm. Maybe things would finally get back to normal. The younger hunter considered calling his father to ask to stop for food, but decided against it. His dad still wasn't over his attempt to leave for college.

About forty-five minutes later, the truck ahead of them that contained one John Winchester pulled off on to an exit. When the two vehicles were parked at a small diner, they made their way inside and sat down.

The diner was like every other diner Sam had been to. A mixture of booths and tables littered the place. A counter was in the back, behind it was a door that led to the kitchen. Doors marking bathrooms were placed to the right of the counter. The Winchesters picked a small booth in the back corner on the left of the counter. John faced the door while his sons faced the wall behind him.

Accepting the menu from his brother, Sam scanned through the items. He settled on a grilled cheese, not feeling up to any comments his brother might have about eating the 'girly healthy food' he enjoyed.

They didn't have to wait long for a middle-aged waitress, Fiona according to her name tag, to take their orders of beverages and food. Once she left John began briefing his sons on the upcoming hunt.

"There've been three disappearances in two days," he began, "It fits the lunar cycle, Bobby thinks it might be a werewolf."

"Did they have anything in common?" Sam questioned, a natural curiosity coating his tone.

"Three men from different parts of town, different jobs, different ages, and they all went to different schools." Dean informed his brother. Sam hadn't realized his brother had already been filled in on the hunt. Not that that was anything new, Sam had to hold back an eye roll. He was always the last to be filled in.

"Right, good job Dean." John praised his oldest. Dean nodded and looked down at his menu, ignoring the fact he'd already ordered. John's praise didn't come often and it came even less to his sons.

Sam resisted the urge to sigh. Dean received more praise than he had ever since Sam had hit the teen years. It seemed that no matter what Sam could never do anything right in his father's eyes. Dean, on the other hand, was the good soldier. Not that Sam was jealous. Not really. He wasn't jealous...per se. It was more of the fact that Sam felt like a disappointment at times. Sure, his dad loved him and Dean both, but it was clear who was the favorite.

Eventually, the waitress returned with their food. The family of three ate in mostly silence, each caught up in their own thoughts. Sam was trying to figure out how in the world his meal could be considered food, Dean occupied himself with the upcoming hunt and his delicious hamburger, and John discreetly watched his sons.

He could have lost his youngest son. Hell, if he'd lost Sam he'd have lost Dean too. The boys lived off of one another, were each others' rocks. They were the stability in their own lives, unlike John who came and went for more than half of their lives.

In a way he was proud as could be of Sam. A full ride to Stanford was fantastic, especially considering the fact Sam had transferred to so many schools his whole life. He was independent, ready to take on the world. Wasn't that what parenting was about? Or was it about keeping your children safe? In the hunting world you couldn't have both. Sam learning to become some doctor or lawyer or teacher or whatever he wanted wasn't going to keep him safe. Training, keeping up to date with the latest weapons, memorizing exorcisms, these things were going to keep him alive. And if what John had discovered about the Yellow Eyed Demon, Sam was going to need all the help he could get, even if the boy didn't want it.

Once the trio were finished eating, they were back on the road for another couple of hours. Dean drove the whole time, refusing to let Sam do any of the driving. Whether it was because he was mad or honestly scared of Sam hurting the car, Sam wasn't completely sure. Dean was odd like that.

Finally, Sam saw the large sign that welcomed him and his family to Colesing, Georgia. The Impala followed John's truck to the Good Night Inn and parked next to it. John checked them in, that parental mentality of his wanting to keep his sons from being seen by the motel manager. He was well aware that his sons were legally adults, but after years of motels and creepy managers he found it much safer for his boys if they just waited by the cars instead of accompanying him to pay for a room.

Key card in hand, he went back to the two vehicles and motioned for his boys to follow him. The three grabbed their bags and headed to their room. 'Brad Gilligan' had purchased a room at the far end of the motel away from the main lobby.

Entering the room, Sam was slightly impressed with it's condition. The place actually looked clean. Sure, there were a couple stains on the walls but what place didn't have stains? The two queen beds were neatly made up with some tacky design on the comforter. The carpet was a brown color, but not the painfully ugly brown a lot of motels Sam had been to had had.

Sam went to the furthest bed from the door and tossed his duffel against the wall. It was some kind of unspoken rule that Sam was always put on the far side of the room away from the door. Dean slept next to Sam and John was always in front of the door. While each Winchester knew how to handle themselves, John wanted to be the first line of defense between whatever came through the door and his sons. It'd been that way as far back as Sam could remember.

"Get changed," John ordered, dropping his own bag in a corner of the room. "We're going to talk to the families."

Reviews welcomed and appreciated. Since this story hasn't been written all the way out yet, I'm going to be posting about once a week-this way you guys/gals know when to expect an update and I can work on this thing. I've re-read this thing several times so I hope it's good enough.