the words unspoken inside
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural, Roswell or any of their characters or plots. I mean no infringement, this is for personal benefit only.
Fandom: Supernatural, Roswell aka Supernatuwell
Pairing: Sam Winchester/Max Evans
Word count: 9,588
Summary: It's funny how you can decide to stop saving people only to start saving someone else on accident. Sam meets Max at Stanford and slowly saves him. In return, Max helps Sam remember just who he really is.
- AU for both Roswell and Supernatural, although the premise of both shows remains the same. Pre-series for Supernatural, post-series for Roswell.
- This probably has typos everywhere, but I had so much fun writing this. It all just poured out over five or so days, sometimes when I was half asleep. But, I don't regret a single word.
Sam walks down the loud hallway; there are people everywhere. He clutches the paper in his hand and glances down at it even though he's long since memorized its contents. Samuel Winchester and Max Evans Room 261. At 259 Sam shoves the paper into his pocket. A few more steps and he's there. His name is written hastily on the whiteboard next to the door jam. Max's is there, too, but it's been re-written in a much neater style. Sam figures that means his roommate's here.
He knocks once and then pushes his key into the lock. The door opens easily, it was already unlocked, and Sam grips his bag tighter. He doesn't have much, especially next to everyone he's seen with boxes and boxes of stuff, but Sam's always had to travel light, and what he has is enough for him.
There's more than one person in his room; two tall people his age-but not quite his height-, one brunette female and one dark haired male, and two older people that must be their parents. There's no resemblance between any of them.
The older woman steps forward with an easy smile and a soft handshake. "You must be Samuel," she greets.
He nods. "Sam."
"Sam," she repeats. "I'm Diane, this is my husband, Philip. We're Max's parents."
"Nice to meet you," he says pleasantly.
Max and the blonde woman are silent and appraising. Sam tugs his bag even tighter against him. It's clear that the side closest to the door is his, so he steps in next to the bed. He sets his bag down and takes off his backpack. The Evans stand around watching him for a few seconds before they go back to helping Max unpack.
Sam looks around the doors, taking in his desk, dresser and closet. His and Max's desk face each other with a high shelf in the middle, separating the room, providing a modicum of privacy to their beds. Sam unzips his bag and grabs his close, shoving them into his dresser.
All he has are clothes, a few school supplies, and some toiletries. He has a small living stipend from his scholarship money, but he plans to dip into that as he goes, seeing what he really needs.
Max has a mini-fridge on his side, and a printer, and a hundred other little things that his parents bought him. Sam has a picture of him and Dean from a couple of years back. He props that up against his desk and tosses his duffel bag into the closet.
There's a laptop on reserve for him at Tech Services, waiting to be picked up. He glances at his watch and thinks he can make it there before it closes for the day. Sam offers an awkward wave to his roommate and his roommate's family before taking his leave.
It's warm in Palo Alto in September, Sam might even call it hot. He rolls up his sleeves and tries not to walk into any of the new freshman milling about, all their worldly possessions on their person.
Sam's wallet is in his back pocket and his cell phone is burning a hole in his front one. Dean had said to call when he was settled in, but Sam isn't sure how long that will take. He thinks he might need years.
When he gets back with the borrowed laptop, Max's parents are missing, but the blonde girl and Max are still there. They both look up when he enters and Sam gives them the least awkward smile yet.
He lays down on his bed and stares up at the plain, white ceiling. It's as boring as it seems, but there's not much else to do. Freshman Orientation Week starts tomorrow, so until then, Sam has nothing but time.
"I'm Max," his roommate finally says, in a surprisingly deep voice. He's standing in the middle of the room, a small smile on his face, as forced as the one Sam had offered earlier.
"Sam," he returns, sitting up.
"This is my sister, Isabel," Max says, gesturing to the woman next to him.
She offers Sam a curt smile, but doesn't say anything. "Nice to meet you," Sam answers. It's not really nice to meet them, but Sam figures he better start working on his lies now.
"Same," Max says with a nod. "Um, we're going out to dinner with my parents later tonight, and they wanted to know if you would like to come."
Sam wonders briefly if he had any sort of normal life, if it would be him offering to take his new roommate out to dinner. He tries not to think about how his dad hadn't said goodbye, and how Dean had just watched him leave. There are families everywhere, but Sam's is hundreds of miles away.
"Nah, man, I'm good," Sam answers with another fake smile. He thinks he's getting pretty good at those.
Isabel glares at him briefly, but doesn't say anything. Sam wonders if she's younger or older than Max. "Sure?" Max asks. He sounds genuine, but cautious.
"Okay. Let me give you my number in case you change your mind. Iz and I are gonna walk around the campus, track down all our classes and stuff."
Sam pulls out his phone and keys in the number that Max rattles off. He offers his own in return. Max offers him another smile, this one a little more real, and leaves with Isabel in tow.
Max shuts the door behind him, but Sam can still hear people yelling and music playing outside. He lays back down and tries to make images out of specks on the ceiling.
Max has nightmares. Sam figures this out on the first night when he wakes up to Max begging someone to stop in his sleep. Sam has nightmares, too, but he's pretty sure his are the silent type-the ones you can't wake up from and no one ever knows you're having.
He waits a few minutes to see if Max will settle down, but the other man keeps moving and begging. Before Sam knows it, he's out of bed and reaching for Max, gently shaking him awake.
Max's eyes are wild and his hand is reached out, poised to do something, Sam's not sure what. But then his eyes focus on Sam and his breathing relaxes just a little.
"Sorry," Max gets out. "Sorry."
"No problem," Sam says. His hand is still awkwardly resting on Max's shoulder and Sam pulls it back. "Are you… are you okay?" he asks hesitantly. It's obvious that Max isn't okay, but Sam isn't sure what else to say. A thousand reasons come to mind, about why Max might have nightmares, none of them remotely good.
"Yeah," Max breathes. "I'm fine. Sorry," he says again.
It's automatic for Sam to reach out and tousle Max's hair. Dean does it to him all the time, so it seems natural to pass it on. He freezes right after he does it, but Max doesn't say anything or look at him any differently.
"Okay, well, goodnight," Sam offers.
He climbs back into his bed. He's almost asleep when he hears Max's breath hitch, just a little. It's enough to let Sam know that he might be not quite crying, but close enough.
Sam doesn't say anything, just listens.
Sam wakes up to a knock on the door. A glance at his watch says it's way too early for it to be an RA, pestering him about joining in some of the Freshman games. He slides out of bed and shoots a glance at Max, who's still sleeping. Sam runs a hand through his hair and opens the door.
Isabel is standing there, with two people, a guy and a girl, next to her. "Max is still sleeping," Sam says, but opens the door anyway.
Isabel doesn't hesitate to walk over to her brother's bed and shake him awake. She's gentle with him, as though Max is fragile, and Sam thinks that after last night, maybe he is. The two newcomers hover by the door.
"I'm Maria," the girl smiles. "This is Michael. He's kind of the strong, silent type."
Michael looks him over, the same way Max and Isabel did when Sam first saw them. "Sam," he answers.
"We're going out to breakfast. Would you like to come?" Maria asks. She's bouncy, and energetic; definitely more friendly than the other three. "There's a place we saw nearby, should only take a few minutes to walk there."
Sam opens his mouth. "I-"
"Good," Maria interrupts with a smile. "We'll leave you guys to get dressed, check out the floor and stuff. I think I saw a lounge a few doors back. Just come get us when you're ready." With that she pulls Michael out of the room and Isabel says something to Max, quietly, before exiting.
There's a small sink in their room and Sam brushes his teeth while Max gets dressed, and then Sam dresses while Max brushes. Everything is quiet, and Sam isn't sure yet if he's relieved to have a quiet roommate. He thinks he probably is.
Sam's hand is on the doorknob when Max reaches out and touches his wrist lightly. "Thanks," he says. "For last night."
Sam bites his lip. "Was it okay? Waking you up?"
"Yes," Max says quickly. "I-I'd rather be woken up than relive…" he ducks his head and looks away briefly. "Anyways, thanks."
Sam nods. "You're welcome."
"And, um, sorry about Isabel. And Michael. They don't really… they don't trust easily."
"They shouldn't," Sam says with a shrug.
Max stares at him intently for a moment, but it passes quickly enough. "So… breakfast?"
At breakfast Sam learns many things. He finds out that Max and Isabel are adopted, but are fraternal twins. Isabel is also a Freshman at Stanford, but she lives in a different set of dorms. Michael and Maria live nearby in an apartment together, they both work, Sam didn't catch where. Most importantly, Sam learns about Liz. He doesn't learn much, but he finds out that Max loved her, possibly still loves her, and she broke his heart.
He finds most of this out from Maria, as the other three are near silent. Maria seems happy to carry on the conversation for all of them, though, so Sam lets her. The more she talks, the less he has to lie about his life.
Max picks at his food, Sam notices. And he notices everyone else at the table noticing, too. Isabel pushes the plate closer to her brother every few minutes, and Michael keeps giving Max stern looks. Sam takes a closer look at his roommate and notices the bags under his eyes, probably from the nightmares, and also how loose Max's clothes are on him, as though he's lost weight recently. He makes a mental note to try and get Max to the 24/7 ice cream machine in the Caf.
Sam marvels at the irony of leaving hunting, the business of saving people from the stuff of nightmares, only to wind up with a roommate who seems to need the same thing.
He pushes his foot under the table and connects it with Max's. Max looks up at him and Sam raises an eyebrow in the direction of Max's plate. It's more direct than anyone else is being, but Sam knows that sometimes you have to be direct or you'll never get anywhere.
Max picks up his fork and stabs a pancake. By the time breakfast is over, he's eaten most of his plate.
Sam takes that as a small victory.
Max is the first twin that Sam's met, so he wonders if they're all like this, or if Max and Isabel are unique. Either way, Isabel practically lives in their room. She's suffocating to Sam, but Max seems to accept it, or is at least used to it. There's a few times a week when Isabel has class but they don't, and that's when Sam gets to know Max a little bit better.
He finds out that Max likes basketball and the Counting Crows.
At night, though, Sam gets to know him a lot better. Sometimes, after they've both climbed into bed and turned off the light, Max will ask Sam about his life and Sam will try not to lie. He thinks the same is true for Max. Sam knows how to spot a lie a mile away, and he thinks it's sad that he and Max lie so much to each other, he'll never call Max out on it, though.
At night he learns bits and pieces about Max. And about Liz. He also learns that Max thinks there's no such thing as destiny or fate. He finds out that something bad happened to Max a few years back and that he's had nightmares ever since. He also figures out that Max can be funny, in his own way.
Mostly, Max seems lost. He's pre-med, and according to Max, the only thing he knows for sure in life is that he wants to help people, wants to heal them.
Sam thinks he and Max are a lot alike, nothing like him and Dean.
Max has nightmares every night, and Sam's taken to napping during the day to catch up on the sleep he misses. They never mention it, not really, but sometimes after a particularly bad one, there'll be a hug. Sam's never sure who starts them, but it doesn't matter, not when Max's voice is hoarse from begging and there's something Sam can do to help just a little.
As strange as it is, Max is filling a void in Sam, a hole. It's not a Dean shaped one, that one is still gaping and raw, but it's another void that Sam hadn't known he had. Sam's never had a best friend, just a brother, and he thinks that maybe he has one now, despite all the secrets between them.
Sam's been at Stanford for a few months now and he still hasn't called Dean. Dean hasn't called him either, but Sam doesn't expect him to. He finger hovers over his phone at least once a day, poised to dial, but Sam can't seem to press down.
He keeps trying.
Sam requests to stay in the dorms over Christmas. There's a few international students that are staying, and while Stanford doesn't usually extend the opportunity to domestic students, Sam's case is special and his advisor pulls some strings.
Max offered to let Sam come home with him for the holidays, but one look from Isabel had Sam turning him down before the offer was even fully extended.
So here he is. It's December twenty-fifth, and like every other Christmas, Sam is eating take-out and watching a movie. Unlike every other Christmas, Dean isn't next to him. Sam hasn't felt this alone in months. His chest aches a little and he turns off the movie two-thirds of the way through. He puts his leftovers in Max's fridge and climbs into bed.
It's quiet. There aren't students making noises outside or in the hallways. Max isn't typing away at something on the other side of the room. Isabel isn't turning the pages of her magazines.
Sam picks up the phone.
Instead of talking himself out of it, he calls Dean. Dean picks up on the first ring.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean greets, as though it hasn't been months since Sam's last seem him. As though Sam hadn't walked out on him.
"Hey, Dean," Sam answers. He runs a hand through his hair. "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," Dean returns.
They fall into an almost comfortable silence. He can hear Dean breathing softly, a movie playing in the background. After a few minutes, Dean asks, "How's school?"
And it all comes pouring out. He tells Dean about his classes and his teachers. He tells him about his finals and his grades. He tells Dean about Max.
When he finishes, he feels drained, but better than he has in weeks, months even. Dean starts talking, then, telling Sam about hunts he's been on recently, how Bobby is, how the Impala's been running.
It's all a little bit awkward because they've never been huge on phone conversations, but now that he has him, Sam doesn't want to let Dean go. He wants to call him more than once every four months.
It's past midnight in California when they hang up. It's the best Christmas Sam has had in years.
He falls asleep soon after the conversation ends and is startled out of slumber by his phone.
"Hello?" Sam says, voice raspy with sleep.
"Max?" Sam frowns into the darkness. It's almost two in Palo Alto, which means it's even later in Roswell. "Is everything alright?"
There's clear hesitation before Max asks, "How was your Christmas?"
"I called Dean," Sam says, settling back into bed. He pulls the covers up and huddles underneath them.
"Really?" Max sounds surprised, Sam doesn't blame him.
"Yeah. It was… we talked," Sam tells him. "It was good. How was your Christmas?"
"I saw Liz," Max whispers. "She was back for Christmas. I didn't talk to her."
The words settle between them heavily and Sam wonders what it means that the silence between him and Max is more comfortable than the one between him and Dean.
This time he breaks it. "How else have you been?"
Max sighs softly. "Isabel is so annoying during Christmas. Michael calls her the Christmas Nazi."
Sam laughs. "I can see that."
"She just wants everything to be perfect…"
"… and sometimes it's not?" Sam finishes.
Sam yawns. "Sorry."
"It's late," Max says.
"Yeah," Sam agrees. "It is." He hesitates before adding, "How are you sleeping?"
Silence stretches between them. "Not very well," Max finally says. "I think I've gotten used to you waking me up."
"What about Isabel?"
"Her room's too far away."
"Max have you ever… I mean, there's sleeping pills, right?"
"They don't work for me," Max says. "I've tried everything."
"Have you talked about it?" Sam asks. He feels stupid, because it's been two years, of course Max has talked about it-
"No," Max whispers. "There's no one I can talk to."
"What about you sister? Or Michael? Maria? Your parents?"
"Sam…" Max exhales and Sam's name hangs between them. "I can't."
"What about me?" He asks quietly. "I won't judge you, Max."
"I-there are things you don't know about me, Sam. Things that I can't talk about."
"I've read that when you talk about something, you give it… it becomes verbalized, you know? It's no longer this, like, massive amount of thoughts floating around your head. It becomes more sequenced and less… theoretical or emotional or something. It helps your mind process whatever happened. Maybe your mind needs to process it all, Max."
"I can't," he says softly.
"My family hunts demons," Sam blurts out.
"We hunt demons and vampires and werewolves. Everything you never thought was real, we track them down. I-I left it behind so I could be normal for once," Sam confesses. "I was tired of traveling around, never having a home. I just… I wanted to have what everyone else has."
He can hear Max swallow, hear him breathing on the other side. "I'm an alien."
"Isabel and Michael?"
"Yeah," Max answers. "How did…?"
Sam shrugs, even though Max can't see him. "Maria's more open. The three of you are more cautious."
"Oh. Yeah… well, Isabel can be more… outgoing sometimes."
"I don't really want to talk about Isabel."
Max inhales sharply. "We were hunted, by the government. They caught me."
"Oh, god," Sam breathes.
"I was… they kept me in a white room," Max gets out. "Did things to me. It hurt, Sam. I… they showed me pictures, of everyone I knew, dead."
And once Max starts talking, the words don't stop. Sam knows everything. He knows about Topolsky and Nasedo and Pierce. He knows that Liz left him days after he escaped. He knows that Max's destiny is to be King, and that Max decided long ago he wants nothing to do with it. He knows.
The sun's been up for hours by the time they hang up. The room is bright again and everything feels different. Sam thought he knew about all of it, everything that no one really believes in. But then there's Max. His best friend is an alien and it's still one of the least outrageous things in his life.
Sam calls Dean a few days after New Year's and the day before Max is supposed to arrive. Things are a little less awkward than they were a week ago, and Sam lets himself believe that things can be okay between them again.
He's sitting on a bench on University Avenue, phone tucked into his pocket. He watches as people walk by, coffee in one hand, tiny dog in the other. He's thinking.
These days Sam does a lot of thinking.
Max looks completely wrecked when he arrives. He ditched Isabel somewhere along the way, so it's just him and Sam in their room. There are dark circles under his eyes, and Sam thinks Max might be the only one to return even thinner than when he left.
"Did you eat at all?" Sam asks. He's sitting on his bed, leaning against the wall, watching as Max unpacks.
Max tosses a Gladware container at him and Sam catches it deftly. "My mom sent that for you," he says, avoiding Sam's question.
Sam opens the blue lid and inside are homemade cookies. Sam can't remember the last time he had homemade cookies. He can't remember the last time he had homemade anything. He grips the sides of the container tightly. "Tell her thanks for me."
Max offers him a smile and a nod as he finishes putting his clothes away.
When he turns around everything feels different.
"So do you have any powers?" "Do you know karate?"
Their simultaneous questions leave them grinning and Max settles down onto his bed and faces Sam. "Twenty questions?"
Sam laughs. "Deal."
Max, as it turns out, is really freaking cool. He can do things Sam never really dreamed of, and he fixed the hole on the bottom of Sam's shoes with a simple touch.
Max also thinks that Sam is really freaking cool, and that's even cooler. He's always asking about different creatures and fighting styles and Sam's pretty sure that he made Sam promise to teach him how to exorcise a demon. Sam's Latin is starting to get rusty, so it's probably for the best.
Things are different now. They're both a little more open, a little more real. It's kind of scary to be so honest with someone who isn't Dean. It's nice, though, and for the first time, in the five months he's been there, Sam starts to feel like he belongs.
It's some time in March when things change again. Max's nightmares have settled down a bit since talking to Sam, something that Sam thinks they're both grateful for. The ones he does have, though, are horrendous and just hearing Max cry out gives Sam nightmares of his own.
Tonight, though, Max is calling for Sam. It's the first time he's done it. It's interspersed with Pierce's name, and Liz's, and stop.
Sam scrambles out of his bed and is across the room in three steps. He gently grips Max's shoulders and squeezes. "Max."
"Max," Sam repeats louder. He gives Max a little shake and then Max is out of it. His eyes fly open and search for Sam's in the darkness. His breathing is ragged and harsh in the quiet. Sam pulls him up and into a hug and Max clings tightly to him. Sam runs a hand up and down Max's back. "It's okay."
"It's not," Max says brokenly. "I'm not."
"You will be," Sam promises. "I'll help you through this."
He waits until Max's breathing is under control and when he pulls back, Sam absently kisses Max's forehead in a way he remembers Dean doing.
They both freeze as the kiss sinks in. Sam doesn't apologize for it, because he's not sorry. Max reaches up and cups Sam's cheek. "Thank you," he says.
Sam nods. "You gonna be okay to sleep?"
Max's hand falls from his cheek as Sam steps away. He squeezes Max's shoulder one last time. "Goodnight, Max."
There's a restaurant on California Avenue that Max loves, Palo Alto Sol. It's a Mexican restaurant and Max calls it comfort food. They end up there, with Isabel, Michael, and Maria, more Fridays than not. It's a bit pricey and Max usually pays for Sam, which they've argued about, but Max somehow always ends up getting his way. It's times like that when Sam really sees the king in him.
Palo Alto Sol is a few miles from campus, so most of the time, like tonight, Michael and Maria meet them there and they walk it as a group.
It's a bit cold out as they walk back to campus. The cars passing by offer a cool breeze that has Sam wishing he'd brought his sweatshirt as well as his jacket. Max's shoulder bumps into his and Sam fights a blush. Michael and Maria are arguing up ahead of them, with Isabel running interference, par for the course with those two, and Sam and Max are bringing up the rear.
"Nice night," Max says.
Sam laughs. "Really?"
"Don't tell me you're cold, Kansas," Max teases.
"I don't know, Roswell, who's the one with more layers on?" Sam teases back.
"I can plan ahead."
Their shoulders bump again.
No one's ever made him feel like this. Like he's important, and he matters. Dean tries, Sam knows he does, but Dean's always been dedicated to the cause and Sam's lived with his head stuck in the possibilities of another life. Max, though, Max is someone who Sam think gets it. Max has this whole big destiny thing he's supposed to live up to, footsteps he's supposed to follow, and instead he's at Stanford University in a random city in California. Exactly where Sam is.
"Ever wonder which white dot is yours?" Sam asks, gesturing to the night sky.
"I used to," Max admits. "A lot. But now it's… it's easier if I don't."
Sam nods. "So… have you decided on your summer plans?"
"I think we'll be going home," he answers. "Michael found someone to sublet to, and they've talked to their bosses about having the summer off. I guess some people are used to having college employees. Anyway, I know Iz wants to go back to Roswell. What about you?"
Sam's honestly not sure what he's going to do. He had a job lined up for the summer with the university, but it fell through, so now he has to find another job to pay for his dorm during the summer. "Not sure yet."
"Come back with us," Max says. "I've talked to my parents about it, they're fine with you staying with us."
"I could show you around Roswell," Max offers. "You could… you could see the pods if you want."
"-knows I'm going to ask you," he finishes. "And she's okay with it."
Sam exhales. "Okay."
"Okay," Sam repeats. "I'll come."
Their shoulders bump a third time, but this time one of them, or maybe both of them, move a little closer and their arms touch. Sam thinks it should be weird, but it's not. It's Max.
Sam's first year at Stanford ends quietly. He has a 3.9 GPA and feels pretty damn good about it. He tells Dean one night on the phone and Dean promises to buy him some ice cream the next time he sees him. It's an old thing Dean used to do when Sam was younger, to get him motivated for school. Eventually Dean figured out that Sam was going to run him into the poor house with ice cream, and it stopped somewhere around seventh grade. Sam's still going to hold him to it, though.
Max's parents drove out to help with the move back to Roswell for the summer, so Maria and Isabel are riding with them, while Michael, Max, and Sam ride in Max's Jeep.
Michael claims the back for his own and is asleep before they even hit I-5. They're taking the trip in three days, even though it can be done in two, or one, depending on the urgency. Max and Sam take turns driving while Michael sleeps through most of it.
It's late evening when they finally get to Roswell. Maria's mom is waiting for them at the Evans's house, and Michael and Maria go with her while Sam helps the Evans haul Isabel and Max's stuff in. He still has his one duffel bag and a backpack.
The guest room is in between Max and Isabel's room. Sam is exhausted and asleep before his head hits the pillow.
When he wakes up, it takes a moment for him to remember where he is. He can hear sounds coming from another part of the house, and he smells bacon in the air.
There's a soft knock on the door. "Sam?" It's Max.
The door opens and Max is standing there, clad in sleep pants and nothing else. "Mom's making breakfast, but if you want to sleep more, she can set some food aside for you."
"I'm awake," Sam says, scrubbing his hand over his face. "I'll be right out."
Max nods. "Did you sleep okay?"
"Yup, and shouldn't I be asking you that?"
Max offers him a small smile. "I slept fine."
Sam gives him a huge smile in return. "So, breakfast?"
There's not much to do in Roswell, but Sam's never had a better summer. He and Max spend most of their time alternating between lounging in Max's pool and hanging out in the desert. They even spend a couple nights sleeping out under the stars. Isabel, for the most part, has left them alone. Sam's still not sure if she knows that he knows, he thinks she probably doesn't.
Out in the desert, Sam teaches Max to fight. Max already has the muscle, all he needed was the training.
Sam tells him about growing up on the road, different things he's seen and fought. Max tells him about growing up with a secret so big it could destroy everyone he loves. Sam thinks he knows a little bit about that.
Three years after Liz left him, and three years after the White Room, Max moves on. He tells Sam that he still has nightmares, but he's not in love with Liz anymore, that he probably hasn't been for a while now. It's scary, Max says, to try and start over again, missing a huge piece of his life. He's known Liz for years, been in love with her for almost as long.
Sam doesn't have any kind of wisdom to offer on that front. Dean's entire love advice had been: No glove, no love. It's advice that Sam hasn't ever had to put into practice; they moved too much when he was younger, and he was too busy with school by the time he was older.
A couple weeks before they have to drive back to California, Max pulls out his mom's ice cream maker and Sam is roped in. He wants vanilla, Max wants chocolate, so they compromise on strawberry.
"We need ice," Max decides, staring at the machine.
"And cream," Sam adds.
"And pretty much everything else."
It's a sweltering heat, or else they would have walked to the store. So Sam climbs into Max's Jeep and Max drives them to the nearest grocer's. The ride is quiet, and Sam thinks that Max is the quietest person he knows. They settle into silences a lot, and Sam's growing to love them.
They move through the grocery store without talking. Sam grabs one item, Max grabs another. They work easily together, as though they've been doing it for years. It's comfortable and Sam's only ever had that with Dean. It's nice to have it again.
They hurry home and Isabel is there when they arrive, sitting on the couch reading.
"Hey," Max greets her.
"Hey," she replies. "Dad called and said he'd be late for dinner."
Max nods. "I'll tell mom."
An hour later they have ice cream. It's more like soft serve than anything else, but it's delicious and Sam's never made ice cream before, outside of the two bites worth he made in chemistry junior year at some nameless high school, so it feels like an accomplishment.
He looks over at Max, who's scooping some out for Isabel. "I think we need one of these in our dorm."
Max laughs, a soft, tiny thing that Sam rarely hears. "How good are you at hiding things?" he asks, indicating the size of his mom's ice cream maker.
Sam grins. "I've hidden more with less."
"Do I even want to know?"
"Probably not," Sam says with a laugh. "Plausible deniability."
Max flicks a strawberry stem at him, hitting him in the arm. "Plausible deniability," he repeats with a snort. "Please, Winchester, there's no such thing where you're involved."
"Eat your ice cream, Evans," Sam says with mock sternness.
Max laughs again and takes a bowl to Isabel before he comes back and sits next to Sam. "I agree, though, ice cream machine in the dorm. This is so much better than the stuff they try to pass off in the Caf."
In some ways, Sam never sees it coming. They're almost half-way through their junior year, still sharing a dorm, when Dean asks about any girls in his life. Dean asks pretty much every time he called, but this time is different. This time Sam almost says, "Just Max." Instead he bites his lip and says, "Nah, man. Too busy."
It's when he realizes he spends more time with Max than he does anyone else. He's not interested in finding a girlfriend, or doing all the terrible things Dean keeps alluding to over the phone. He's fine just hanging out with Max.
"How are things with Dad?" Sam asks.
"We split up for a while," Dean answers. "He went down south, and I'm up north chasing a nest of vamps."
"You should have back-up," Sam says.
"Rufus is meeting me there, and Bobby."
There's a moment of silence before Dean speaks again. "You're still doing alright there? Still happy?"
"Yeah, Dean," Sam says softly. "I'm still happy."
"That's good, Sammy," Dean says. "Because you should be happy."
Sam swallows thickly. "You should be happy, too, Dean."
"I am," he answers, but it's weak, and they both know it.
"Come stay with me for a couple weeks."
"I don't know, Sam…"
"Please? It's almost Christmas, Dean. Come stay with me then."
"You sure, Sammy?"
Sam grins. "Yep."
"Fine," Dean sighs. "I'll head out there after I finish with these vamps, okay?"
"You'll really come? You promise, Dean?"
"I promise, Sammy."
Sam's smile is so wide that his face hurts. "Thank you."
Dean coughs. "Listen, Sam, I have to go, but you take care, okay?"
"You, too. Listen to Bobby."
He can practically hear Dean roll his eyes. "Study hard."
The line goes silent and Sam laughs in excitement. "Yes!"
Sam bounces around the dorm, tidying up even though it's not dirty. Max is sitting on his bed, reading, laughing at Sam's exuberance. He can't help it though, he hasn't seen Dean in almost a year.
There's a knock and Sam smoothes down his shirt and takes a deep breath before answering. Dean's there, with a single duffel bag that matches Sam's. Dean drops his bag and grins and Sam, pulling him into a tight hug.
"Sammy," Dean says, clapping him on the back.
"Dean," he breathes.
They break apart and Dean nods over Sam's shoulder to Max. "Good to see you again, man."
"You, too," Max answers.
"Let's get some dinner, Sammy, I'm starving," Dean announces.
"Can Max come?" Sam asks.
Dean shrugs. "Sure."
Sam pulls his red Stanford sweatshirt out of the closet and tugs it on over his head. Next to him, Max is shrugging into a leather jacket. Dean glances at both and them and then holds open the door.
"Where do you want to eat?"
"Somewhere completely unhealthy," Dean answers.
"The creamery at the mall?" Sam asks.
"I don't know what that is, but if they serve any form of cow, then I'm in."
Sam laughs. "The creamery it is."
Christmas morning is spent opening presents with Dean. There aren't many, a few for Sam and two for Dean, but it's something. Sam got Dean a gift card to Target, along with a bumper sticker that reads: Stanford Mom.
Dean laughs at the sticker and says, "No way is this going on my baby, bitch."
Max got Dean On the Road. He said since Dean was living the pancake tour life, he might as well see how someone else lived it.
Sam gets gift cards from Isabel and Mr. and Mrs. Evans, homemade cookies from Maria, a box of pens from Michael, and a knotted bracelet from Max. he slips the black bracelet over his wrist and holds his hand out for Dean to tighten it and tie it off. Dean rolls his eyes but does so.
They're left in silence.
Sam stares at the bracelet and feels Dean staring at him.
"So," Dean says. "How long?"
Sam looks up. "Hmm?"
"How long?" Dean repeats, gesturing to Max's gift.
"I just got this today," Sam answers, confused. Dean stares at him expectantly. "I really have no idea what you're talking about."
"How long have you and Max been together, dumbass?" Dean asks with a sigh. "I'm not mad or anything, Sammy. You can be with whomever you wanna be with, I just thought… you know… you'd tell me."
"I'm not…" Sam frowns. "We're not together, Dean."
Dean meets his eyes. "Really, Sammy, it's okay. I'm not gonna… you're still my brother, no matter what."
Dean is asking questions that Sam isn't ready to think about the answers to, but they're here now, and it's not like the questions haven't passed through his mind before. "Dean, I…" Sam looks away. "Max is straight."
A warm hand settles on Sam's knee. "Has he said that?"
Sam shakes his head and looks sadly at Dean. "No."
"I think you should ask him, Sammy. Talk to him."
"Dean, are you… giving me… love advice?" Sam asks in confusion.
"It's what big brothers do."
"Talk to him," Dean says. He hesitates, "So are you, like, one hundred percent…?"
Sam shrugs. "I… I don't know. I mean, I should know, right? It's just… we moved a lot, and I never really had the chance to… meet someone. And Max is like, he's my best friend, you know? I've never really had one of those before, other than you, and I just thought this is what it's like to have one, but lately I… you always ask about a girlfriend." He sighs. "I don't know."
"Well… let's talk it through," Dean suggests.
"Talk it through? You're going to talk me through my sexual orientation crisis?" Sam asks in disbelief.
Dean pats his knee. "Yes, I am. So… when you're… spending some quality alone time with little Sammy, do you think about chicks or dudes?"
Sam blanches. "Dean…"
"Come on, Sam-o, just answer the question," Dean says. He leans back and studies Sam.
"Girls, I guess," Sam offers.
"Um…" Sam blushes. "Not really."
"I'll take that as a yes," Dean smirks. "Next question: how do you feeling about kissing dudes?"
"I've never done it," Sam says.
"Yeah, but if you were…"
Sam sighs, but thinks about it. "I think I'd rather kiss women."
"What about Max?" Dean asks him.
"What about Max?"
"Do you want to kiss him?"
Sam thinks about the feel of Max's forehead under his lips after a nightmare. He thinks about the hugs and the slight touches. "Yeah," he admits softly. "It's more than all that, Dean. I just really like being with him." Sam hangs his head and tries not to think about how lost he feels and how none of this matters.
Fingers tip his chin up and Dean is looking at him with an impossibly soft gaze. "Talk to him, Sam."
"What if he hates me?"
"He won't," Dean assures him.
"How can you know?"
"With age comes wisdom," Dean quotes. "And I'm always gonna be older, Sammy. That makes me wiser."
Sam cracks a small smile at that. "Thanks, Dean."
Dean nods. "And now that we're done with this chick conversation, let's get some food, bitch."
Sam rolls his eyes. "Jerk."
Two days before they're supposed to drive to Roswell for the summer, Sam works up the courage to talk to Max. Dean's been bugging him on the phone for months, but Sam wanted to wait for the semester to end, in case things went sour and also to make sure he was really feeling something for Max.
Sam has a blanket pulled over his head, and the light off, in the middle of the day. He's waiting there like that when Max gets back from his last final. He hears his roommate putter around their dorm before he feels the bed dip down from Max's weight next to Sam's body.
"You okay?" he hears Max ask.
"Fine," Sam answers.
A warm hands worms under the blanket to land on Sam's forehead. "You don't feel warm."
"You're hiding under your blankets, Sam."
Sam sighs and pushes them down to his chin. He meets Max's concerned gaze, and before he knows it, Max is doing his alien healing thing, except that Sam doesn't need healing. He bats Max's hand away. "I'm fine, Max."
"Sorry," Max says sheepishly. "Habit."
Sam smiles a little. "I know." He bites his lip and wraps a hand around Max's wrist as the other man moves to stand up. "Can we talk about something?"
Max settles back onto the bed. "Sure. What's up?"
Suddenly Sam isn't sure what to say. He's been dreading this conversation for months, and now that he's having it, no words are coming to mind. He takes a deep breath. "Max? How come you don't have a girlfriend?"
Max looks at him, a frown making its way onto his face. "Most people don't like to date outside their species," he says. "Why?"
"Is that it? You don't think you can trust another girl? After Liz?"
Max flinches a little at the name. "I think that, in this case, a burden shared is not a burden halved."
"So you're just going to be alone forever?" Sam asks. "What about Isabel? She dates people."
"It's different with her."
Sam sits up, his head inches from Max's. "So you'd only date someone who knows?"
Max leans in a little. "Sam, what is this about?"
Sam swallows and reaches out a hand to Max's hand, brushing their fingers together. "I like you, Max. It's okay if you don't like me back," he adds quietly.
"You… like me?" Max repeats, leaning in just a little bit more.
"Yeah," Sam breathes.
"Good," Max says.
"Because I like you, too." He leans in and their lips brush hesitantly. Sam hasn't kissed anyone in a very long time, and he's discovering that it's not really like falling off a log. There's definitely a right way to do it and he's trying to remember what that is. Max's kisses are soft and light, cautious.
Sam pulls back a little. "Are you sure about this?"
"Sam, I've been waiting for you," Max says. "I knew you weren't ready."
"You were waiting for me? Why didn't you say something?"
Max shrugs. "I'm a patient guy."
"How long have you been waiting?"
"Since the night you first kissed me."
"On-on the forehead?"
Max nods. "Yeah."
"Wow. I… sorry?" Sam says. "For taking so long."
Max manages a smile for him. "No worries."
"Were you ever going to say anything?"
"Yeah. Isabel is tired of hearing me talk about it. She made me promise to tell you by our birthday."
Sam slowly absorbs all of that in. "Max? When you say like…"
"I mean it's probably closer to love," Max finishes.
"Love?" Sam gapes.
His gaze softens. "I'd do anything for you, Sam."
"I… same," Sam says. "For you. I'd do anything for you."
Max leans in and touches their foreheads together. "Be mine."
"Yes," Sam breathes.
They lean in at the same time and their lips meet again. The kiss is filled with hesitancy and shyness. It's perfect.
Sam's had two paradigm shifts in his life, one when Dean finally let him in on the family secret, and the other when he realized that aliens are real. He thinks he's pretty good at readjusting after life-changing information, but he's finding it hard to get past Max likes me.
The drive back to Roswell is quiet, Counting Crows fill the speakers, and Michael is softly snoring in the backseat. Max's hand is tangled in Sam's in the space between them. It feels weird, finally being able to touch Max whenever he wants. Dean's the only one he's really ever had that level of comfort with, and even then, he hasn't really had it since he was twelve.
"What are you thinking about?" Max asks, glancing over at him.
Sam shrugs and squeezes Max's hand. "This."
"Worried about Dean?"
"Nah," Sam says. "He's cool with it." He looks back at Michael. "What about… others?"
"Michael and Maria know," Max tells him.
"Yeah, they know, too."
"So you told everyone but me?" Sam says, making a face.
Max laughs softly. "Not really. I… freaked out a little, in the beginning, and went to talk to Maria. Michael overheard us, and Izzy found out soon after. My mom figured it out on her own while we were there last summer."
"If it helps, I'm still sort of freaked out about it," Max offers.
The thing is, it does kind of help. It's nice to know that Sam's not the only one who feels like he's in over his head. "I might be really terrible at this," Sam blurts out. "At being a boyfriend."
"My track record isn't stellar either," Max says. "And I'm… I'm not who I used to be."
Sam figures that's code for I'm still mostly broken. "Who is?" he asks.
Max squeezes his hand gently. "Thank you," is all he says. Sam isn't sure what he's thanking him for, but for some reason the sentiment works.
Their time spent in Roswell that summer is split between trying to spend time alone together and trying not to rush things.
It's harder than Sam thought it would be. He's a virgin at the age of twenty, and his body has suddenly decided to sit up and take notice of Max in every single way. Max is in a similar boat, so early on they talked about it. Neither of them felt ready to go all the way, no matter what they might think in the moment, so they set boundaries. Sam never thought it would be so hard to stick to them.
"Sam," Max breathes. He's laying on top of Sam, and they're both shirtless, legs tangled everywhere, clad in jeans. It's almost uncomfortable, except it's Max.
Sam's fingers are dipping into the top of Max's jeans, just under the elastic of his boxers. Their mouths meet in a hard kiss as they rub against each other. Sam's close, and so is Max. Max's tongue slides in and Sam licks at it with his own. They're panting hard when Max pulls back, burying his face in Sam's neck as they rock together.
He moves a hand up and tangles it in Max's hair. "Max."
Max gasps a little and comes quietly, shaking against Sam's body. He rubs a little against Sam until Sam comes, too. They both make very little noise when they're together. They're quiet people and it spills over into their sex life, Sam kind of likes it. Although he'd probably like Max even if he were loud.
Max collapses down on top of him and Sam presses his lips to Max's forehead a few times. It takes a moment for them to catch their breath, and then they're both up. Max heads for his and Isabel's bathroom, while Sam heads for the guest bathroom.
They meet back in Max's room after they clean up. Max lays down, fully clothed now, and Sam pulls on his shirt and falls to the side of him. He flings an arm and a leg across Max as Max plays with Sam's hair.
"Are you really going to become a lawyer?" Max whispers.
It's a question Sam's asked every day since leaving Dean. He can't be honest with himself, but for some reason, he feels he can be honest with Max. "No."
"I want to go with you," Max says. "When you leave."
"You have your parents and Isa-"
"-I have you," Max cuts in. "They'll always be there, Sam. I've thought about this."
"Everything's dangerous. I was taken at an amusement park," Max says gravely. "Will you think about it?"
Sam nods. "Yeah."
Max kisses him, deep and sure. "You're my best friend," he says. "Even if we weren't-" he gestures between them with his free hand. "-I would still want to go with you. I love Isabel, and Michael, and Maria, and my parents, but I just… they all want so much from me, Sam."
"What about med school?"
Max shrugs. "Some things are more important."
"I took Latin, Sam," Max says suddenly. "For two semesters and I've taken karate for the past two years. I realized last year that I wasn't going to go to med school, so I started taking basic medicine classes to help me figure out what to heal."
"You…" Sam blinks in disbelief. "All this time?"
"I wasn't going to let you go off and get yourself killed fighting demons," Max tells him. "Not if there was something I could do to help."
"How did you know I was going to go?"
"I know you," Max says softly.
"But I know me, and I wasn't even sure about it until you asked," Sam protests.
"I know what it's like to have a sibling you'd risk anything for," Max tells him. "You worry about them all the time. I knew you wouldn't leave him alone for long. You needed some time for yourself. Dean gets that, I get that. But we both know this isn't the life for you. You're a hunter, Sam."
Sam exhales. "Just because I'm a hunter, doesn't mean you have to be one."
Max laughs softly. "If there's anything I know, it's that I don't have to be anything. I'm a king, Sam, a leader of my people. I could spend years trying to figure out how to get back to them. I'd rather be here. With my parents, my sister, my friends… with you."
Sam reaches for Max's hand and tangles their fingers together. "Let me talk to Dean."
"Thank you," Max whispers.
Sam, Max, and Isabel graduate on a Saturday. Dean and Bobby are in the audience, with Max's parents and Michael and Maria. Sam's not exactly sure where his dad is, but then he didn't expect him to be there anyway.
It's a long ceremony spent texting Max back and forth about how bored they are. Afterwards they go to Palo Alto Sol for dinner, all nine of them. It's still Max's favorite place, even after four years of eating there. It's cramped and crowded, but the food is good they make a damn good virgin margarita for the alien crowd.
Max is sitting next to him and Sam has a foot hooked around Max's ankle and Max has a hand on Sam's knee. They've been together for over a year and Sam couldn't possibly be anymore in love than he is.
Dinner is long, and full of stories about them from when they were kids. Dean has several embarrassing Sam stories handy and Max's parents aren't holding back either. Sam feels good, he feels surrounded by family.
They walk back to campus together, Max's arm tightly around Sam's waist. Dean gives him shit about being 'the girl', but it's not really like that, and Dean knows it.
Bobby and Dean are staying at a nearby hotel, so they head to the parking lot with Michael and Maria. Sam's left with Max's family, which is how they planned it. Diane and Philip know that Max isn't continuing on with school. They weren't exactly thrilled with it, but they were supportive, which is all that really mattered to Sam.
Now that they've graduated, though, Isabel wants to tell them everything. Max agreed.
They find a bench on campus and a soft breeze surrounds them, filled with the scent of nearby eucalyptus trees. Max is squeezing Sam's hand so tight, that Sam begins to worry about broken bones, but he doesn't say anything. Max is scared and Sam knows he's only telling his parents because Isabel wants to.
"Mom," Isabel says in a shaky voice. "Dad. I… we have something to tell you."
Diane looks between her and Max and that's when Sam knows that she knows. He's not sure what she's labeled it as in her mind, but she knows her kids are different. She knows that there's something not quite right. "Whatever it is," Diane says fiercely. "Won't make us stop loving you. Not ever."
Next to him, Sam feels Max shake. "We… we were in the crash," Max says quietly. "The Roswell crash. We lived in incubation pods and that night you found us was the night we… we came out of them."
Philip gasps, but Diane is quicker. She's hugging Max and Isabel, and Sam, too. "I love you both, so much," she says. "And Sam. We love you, too."
Then Philip joins in on the hug, and there they are, standing under the night sky, together. They start to talk then, Isabel sharing anything and everything. Max is more reserved, and Sam notices that they leave out any mention of the white room.
He pulls Max's attention to him as Isabel explains the healing stones to their parents.
"Hey," Sam says. "Doin' okay?"
Max nods. "Yeah. They… they don't care," he says in surprise.
"I told you they wouldn't."
He doesn't even hesitate. "I didn't believe you."
Sam laughs. "I know."
"We still have to tell them about hunting," Max says. Sam was adamant about this. If Max is going to go out on the road with him and Dean, Sam wants Max's parents to know where they are and what they're doing. He's tired of secrets, and so is Max.
Sam gives him a kiss on the cheek. "We'll tell them in the morning."
"I think you missed," Max says with a grin.
"Yeah?" Sam challenges.
"Mm-hmm," Max answers. He leans in and gives Sam a kiss on the lips. "Better," he says against Sam's lips.
Sam kisses him again for good measure. "Definitely better."
Sam thinks Max must have saints for parents. They take the news about hunting without blinking an eye. They nod and tell him to call often. Sam shares a look with Isabel that tells him she told them last night, probably when Sam and Max weren't paying attention.
They both hug Max's family goodbye. It's a bit tearful, but Sam will swear to the end that none of those tears were his. When he gets to Michael, the other man pulls him in tightly and tells him to watch out for Max. Sam promises to. Maria sends him off with four bottles of cedar oil for stress and instructions to call often. Sam promises her, too.
When they're ready, Sam picks up the duffel at his feet, the same one he arrived with four years ago, his backpack is in his other hand. There's a few more pieces of clothing in it, but that's it. He's leaving with everything he arrived with, plus the love of his life. Sam figures it's a win.
Max has his own duffel slung over his shoulder, and they walk hand in hand to the Impala, where Dean and Bobby are patiently waiting.
"Finally, bitch," Dean says.
Or not so patiently waiting.
"Shut up, jerk," Sam returns. He tosses his bags into the trunk and Max does the same.
Dean slaps him on the back. "Got everything, Sammy?"
Sam looks at Max and grins, shutting the trunk. "Yup."
His brother rolls his eyes and walks around to the driver's seat. Sam and Max slide in the back. Dean starts the car and Back in Black blasts through the speakers. Sam laughs to himself as they wave goodbye to Max's family once more while Dean pulls out of the parking lot.
"You good?" Max asks.
"I'm good," Sam says with a smile. "I'm really good."