At the beginning of this story, Sam is 16 and Dean is 20.

I don't own Supernatural, I just play with Eric Kripke's toys.

Third Wheel

Sam Winchester stared out of the motel window and he was miserable. Mostly because he was stuck indoors doing homework and his dad and brother were outside enjoying the sun. Just another example of how he was different from them. Of course, it didn't help that his dad would talk to Dean first, they would go out for beers together, hunt together, research together, and hell they even got mechanic jobs together. And what did Sam have? A big nothing.

Ever since he turned thirteen, he had been left alone or out of the family business. Dean already said that Sam had to handle his own problems and he refused to listen to his young brother when Sam complained about bullies or their dad. Dad was just as bad, not listening to his son when he disagreed with the research done or even if he was hungry. So Sam decided to stop everything. His homework would be done at school during study hall. He would do whatever his dad and Dean wanted but if he disagreed with the research, he wouldn't argue. He would just make sure that he had the stuff to kill whatever he thought the monster could be. He would make sure dad or Dean didn't know what he had in his backpack. As long as dad saw him packing the items that dad wanted there would be no problems.

There were another couple of things he would do. Dad and Dean would get the shower first. Sam would take his very late at night. Sam would also start taking the cot. Not being part of the family meant not having a bed. He would make sure the money they had for food would go mainly for dad and Dean. Not being part of the family meant not eating unless the others had first. Money meant for clothes would also go to dad and Dean. Not being part of the family meant he had to get his clothes from churches or other organizations where he could get free or cheap clothes.

Sam sighed and turned away from the window to finish his homework. It took him only another 15 minutes before he was done. After he put it away, he sat on the couch, feet planted on the ground, back straight, and hands on his knees. He stared into space until his family came in. As he could have predicted, the men came through the door laughing and joking. Not seeing what their youngest was doing, John got a beer out of the fridge and Dean went for a shower. When he was done, he sat on the couch next to Sam and turned on the t.v. Not a word was said to Sam and he stayed there, staring straight ahead and not saying a thing.

SWSWSWSWSWSWSWSW

For six months, Sam slipped further and further into a deep depression but his dad and brother couldn't see it. Sam was careful, arguing about moving but that was only because they expected it of him. But for the rest, they just didn't see it. They just knew his grades were good and he was toeing the party line. It wasn't until a Wendigo hunt did they figure out something was wrong but by then it was too late. The Sam they had known was gone and a stranger lived in his skin. The problem happened because John believed all the signs for the hunt pointed to a black dog but Sam did more research and found it was a Wendigo. So he packed a couple of flare guns in his bag before his dad got up. Then he packed the gun with silver bullets and a silver knife.

When the Winchesters got to the hunting area of the monster, they split up in a V formation. Dean and John took the points further away and Sam was in the middle. Ironically, it was Dean who saw the Wendigo and, after swearing, called out to his family. When the Wendigo came for him, a pop sounded then the Wendigo let out a yowl. Dean's eyes got large when the Wendigo caught on fire. As it burned, he looked at his dad who shook his head. Then the two of them looked where the youngest had stood with a flare gun in his hand. He looked at them for a second then turned to go back to the car not even wondering if Dean had gotten hurt.

John hurried over to his eldest. Dean stood as if in shock while his father checked him over for injuries. Sam's flare had killed the Wendigo before it had a chance to hurt the young man. Then the two men walked back to the Impala. When they got there, they noticed the trunk was open and waiting for them and Sam was sitting at attention in the back seat. John and Dean stowed their gear in the trunk and went to get into the car. Turning around, John said, "Good job with that Wendigo. But you should have checked Dean for injuries."

Staring straight ahead Sam said, "Sorry for not checking Dean for injuries. Thank you for your compliment, sir."

John looked hard at Sam and thought the boy looked a bit out of it. He decided to check Sam for injuries back at the motel. When they got back though, John forgot all about his youngest and decided to celebrate the successful hunt with Dean at a nearby bar. Sam watched as the two of them left and he sighed. Getting out the guns and knives, he went into their room to clean and sharpen all the weapons for the next hunt. Then he got ready to sleep. Lately he had stopped sleeping on the cot, just too much money for it, and started to sleep in the closet. He decided to take his shower early since the elder Winchesters would take some time at the bar. After he was done and ready to sleep, he made sure the salt lines were down and the door was locked before he got into the closet. He had set the cot up to look as if someone was sleeping there but he doubted that his brother and dad would check too closely. Next time, he decided, he would return the cot and get his dad's money back.

The first thing Dean did when they got back to the motel was to check on his little brother. For a while now, he had noticed that Sam wasn't himself. Every time Dean asked him what he wanted to eat, Sam would either say he wasn't hungry or got the cheapest thing on the menu. When Dean did the laundry, he noticed Sam's pants were full of holes. When he offered to get his brother some new ones, Sam waved him off and said he would take care of it. No new pants have appeared yet and Dean was going to be buying him some the next day. There were other things that bothered Dean also but most of them had to do with how Sam stood or sat, always at attention with his eyes not focused on anything in particular. The quiet was also very perturbing. When he brought it up to John, his dad just dismissed his concerns as being too smothering.

Dean noticed two things. One was that the closet door was shut, something they never did. The other was that even though it looked as if someone was sleeping on the cot there was nobody there. Panicking slightly, he looked in their bathroom and didn't see his brother. Then he went back into their room and looked at the closed closet door. Quietly, he went and opened it where he found his baby brother curled in a ball using his own jacket as a blanket. Dean's eyes filled with tears as he carefully picked his brother up and set him on his bed. Taking the boy's clothes off, he laid down next to him, covering them both with the blankets. Dean vowed to get to the bottom of Sam's actions in the morning.

When John came in soon after, he saw both his sons sleeping in one bed. Roughly shaking Sam awake he demanded to know what was going on since there was a perfectly good cot that he paid for. Sam was unsure how he got in Dean's bed and quickly jumped out. Automatically, he went towards the closet. John watched in horror as his baby went in the closet and closed the door. Now he knew something was definitely wrong with Sam. Walking over to the closet, he opened the door and tried to pick the boy up. Sam just moved deeper in.

"Do you want to sleep here?" John asked.

"Doesn't cost a penny if I do, sir. You should take the cot and get your money back," Sam replied in a monotone.

"No, I'll sleep on the cot, you are going to sleep in the bed," John said.

"Sir, you can't do that. You deserve the bed. The beds are for family and I'm not family," Sam's words broke John's heart. He wanted Sam out of the closet badly but didn't know how to do it.

"Why don't you think you're part of the family?" was Dean's quiet question. He had woken up and heard his father's questions and his brother's answers.

Sam turned towards the voice but didn't meet his brother's eyes. "I'm not part of the family, sir."

It was the sir that broke Dean. He sobbed loudly as he pushed his father away from the door. No matter how much Sam struggled, Dean pulled him out and brought him back to his bed. When Dean let go of Sam, he took off again for the closet. This time, John caught him and pulled him in for a hug.

"Sam, you are part of our family! You gotta believe that!" he cried.

Sam just froze and stared straight ahead. He let John put him in Dean's bed again and Dean curled around his brother. John watched his sons and vowed to get to the bottom of this problem in the morning.

SWSWSWSWSWSWSWSW

As he had done for the past six months, Sam woke up before John and Dean. It took him a few seconds to realize he was in bed with Dean and he leapt out as fast as he could. Shaking, he wondered how he came to be in a bed. All he could remember was John hugging him then everything went black. He knew that the others would never let him do what is right for their family so he started to pack his duffle. This was for the best, he thought. Now they wouldn't have to worry about him. Sam didn't look back as he walked out the door.

When Dean woke up, he noticed right away that something was wrong. Sam wasn't in bed with him nor was he on the cot. Dean got up quickly and looked in the bathroom and the closet, no Sam. When he noticed Sam's stuff was gone, he panicked. Waking John he said, "Sam's gone!"

John jumped out of bed. He didn't even think Sam had gone out for breakfast, not after last night's revelations. Wordlessly, both men got dressed and went out to the vehicles. John took his truck and headed east while Dean went west in the Impala. Both knew he didn't have any money so unless he hitchhiked he would be in a twenty mile radius. When they went twenty miles, Dean turned south and John to the north.

Dean found Sam around noon. Sam had decided to stop for some rest and fell asleep in a graveyard. After all, that was all he was good for. Dean saw the small form when he was going past and he stopped quickly. Careful not to make any sounds that would alert his brother, Dean snuck up and grabbed Sam before he knew what was happening. When Sam felt hands around him, he started to fight. Fists and feet flying everywhere until a fist connected with his head and everything went black.

Dean felt bad about having to knock out his brother but he had no choice. Sam freaked out so badly that he gave Dean some beautiful bruises and a few hundred scratches. The kid really knew how to fight, even when half asleep, he thought.

After he rendered Sam unconscious, he threw him over one shoulder and grabbed Sam's duffle. He got them to the Impala and put Sam in the back. After thinking for a minute, he got some rope and tied his brother up. He didn't put it past Sam to try and jump out of a moving car. After making sure his brother was a comfortable as possible, he got a blanket to put on him. It was a cold day and Dean didn't want Sam to catch cold from sleeping out in a graveyard. He got into the driver's seat and took off for the motel where he knew his dad was waiting for them. Dean called his dad on his cell to let him know that Sam had been found and they were on their way back.

By the time they got to the motel, Sam was conscious and glaring at Dean. John came up to the Impala and looked in. "Did you have to tie him up?" he asked.

"Kid kept fighting and trying to get away. So I knocked him out. I had a feeling that he would try to jump out of the car even if it was moving so I tied him up," answered Dean.

"I got our stuff. We're going to Bobby's and to try to figure out what's up with him," John said.

"Should I untie him?" asked Dean.

"Wait a minute," John said. He walked over to the door where Sam was propped up and opened it. He looked at his son and asked, "If we untie you, will you jump out or will you behave?"

Sam stared just beyond John and said, "I'll behave sir."

John sighed and signaled Dean to untie Sam. Then Dean led his brother to the passenger side of the front seat and buckled his brother in. Triggering the lock, he closed the door and went back to the driver's seat. Sam sat at attention with his hands on his knees, looking straight ahead. John sighed again and told Dean to go to the nearest fast food joint and get them something to eat. He gave Dean a twenty so the boys could fill up. Dean smiled. He was very hungry after missing breakfast.

John got in his truck and took off with the boys soon after him. Dean pulled into a Wendy's and asked Sam what he wanted. Sam looked at the menu and said, "A bowl of chili and a cup of water would be nice sir."

"Aw Sammy, you gotta be more hungry than that. How about some fries and a burger with that? Maybe a soda?" Dean questioned.

"No thank you sir, the chili and water will be just fine," Sam responded.

This was a day for sighs. Dean sighed and ordered Sam his chili and water. He ordered for himself a couple of bacon cheeseburgers, two large fries and a large coke. When they got their order, Dean noticed Sam wasn't eating and asked him why.

"Family eats first. If there is anything left, then I'll eat, sir," Sam said.

Dean snapped and said gruffly, "Sam eat your damn chili now! And you are going to eat some fries. I won't have you starving for some stupid idea that you are not family!"

Sam's hand shook so hard that every time he had a spoonful of chili it fell back into the cup. Then he tried to take a fry that Dean was offering but again, his hand shook so hard he couldn't even touch it. Finally, he said, "Sorry sir, family eats first."

Dean watched his brother trying to eat and started to get an idea of what was going on. Sam had for so long believed he wasn't part of the family that it became ingrained to let the others be first in everything. Tears started to fill his eyes as he realized how long it would have taken for those kinds of habits to form. Sam had, in his own mind, become a slave to Dean and John.

Emotion clogged his throat as he said, "It's okay, Sammy. You can eat when you want but I want you to eat everything, okay?"

Sam breathed a sigh of relief and quickly agreed. Dean ate quickly and made sure he saved some fries and part of the coke for his brother. After he was done, Sam ate his chili, fries and drank the rest of the soda. As his brother ate, Dean looked at him critically. He could see that Sam had become dangerously thin. His eyes were dull and his hair was unbrushed. Dean also saw that the clothes that Sam chose to wear were threadbare and full of holes; his shoes were also full of holes. Dean saw how much his baby brother had been neglected by both father and brother. He vowed that Sam would be a priority from now on.

When they stopped for the night, Dean led Sam into the motel room for the night. Sitting the boy down, he turned the t.v. on and commanded him to stay right there until John or Dean came back. Sam nodded and stared at the wall beyond the television set. Dean took John outside to discuss what he had observed.

"Dad, we have a serious problem with Sam. I don't think he is really there anymore," Dean said. "He needs clothes, shoes, and food. I'm going shopping so could you keep an eye on him for me? I think if we don't watch him, he'll take off on us again and we may never see him again."

John was shocked by the orders and the revelations but he agreed and went back to the room. When he got there he looked at his youngest staring into space. Then he really looked at him. He saw the clothes, shoes, the thinness and paleness of the child in front of him and felt guilty for the neglect he had done. Like Dean before him, he knew that the condition that Sam was in took time…lots of time. Hanging his head in shame, he went to sit next to Sam and watch t.v. Sam didn't react as his father sat down, he just stared straight ahead.

For the next hour, John tried to get the words out of his mouth but nothing came out. The guilt he felt was deep and unending. Every time he even looked at Sam, he imagined what Mary would say about their baby being so miserable. When Dean finally got back, he felt a tad bit better since he knew that help was there. Dean looked at his dad and brother then he unpacked the bags he had brought in.

In one bag were new clothes. Jeans, shirts, underwear, socks, a coat and some p.j.'s came from Wal-Mart down the street. He also bought some toiletries and Ensure along with fruits, vegetables and a chicken dinner. After unpacking the bags, he went to his brother's duffle and took out all the threadbare clothes and put in the new ones. The ones he took out went into the trash and the trash was taken out immediately. He didn't put it past Sam to dig the old stuff out and return the new clothes for his money back.

Sam never protested as his father and brother dragged him into the bathroom and put him in the shower. Dean actually got in and made sure Sam washed thoroughly. While they were in the shower, Dean got a visual on how skinny his brother really was and he swore a blue streak. He could see most of Sam's bones under a thin layer of skin. When the boys were done with their shower (Sam waited until Dean was done washing before doing his own), John helped Sam out and dried him off. Then the two elder Winchesters put new sweat pants and hoodie on their baby. All the while, Sam didn't help or say anything. It was if he had just checked out and they were handling a life-sized doll.

Getting Sam to eat and sleep in a bed was extremely hard. Dean explained to John what had happened at Wendy's and both men had to eat before Sam would even attempt to eat the rich foods in front of him. He ate just a wing, a carrot and drank some water. When they protested, he insisted he was full. John looked at Dean and saw his own pain reflected in his eldest's eyes. Then it was time for bed and again, Sam attempted to sleep in the closet but this time John and Dean made him lay down between them in a bed. He couldn't get up without either of them knowing.

SWSWSWSWSWSWSWSW

It took two more days and a lot of worry before the Winchesters pulled into Bobby's yard. John had called ahead to give Bobby a heads up on their problem. When asked why they didn't go to Blue Earth, John said that since this was a family problem, he wanted family help. He went on to say that Bobby was like a second father to the boys and John felt that he was more than qualified to help their youngest. Bobby was touched. He knew how the boys felt about him but he didn't know that John also looked at him like a second father to his kids. John had always been real protective of his sons and jealously guarded them like a mother bear.

When Bobby finally got a look at Sam, he could see immediately that there was something wrong with the boy. Sam was sitting as was his new habit, at attention and staring straight ahead. For a minute, he was at a loss for words, and then Bobby said, "How're you doing, boy?"

Sam just stared ahead and replied, "I'm fine, sir."

"Sam, you know better than to call me sir! I'm Bobby or Uncle Bobby, remember that!" Bobby said emphatically. He had decided to lay out the groundwork for working on Sam's issues early on. "I know

that you and Dean usually share the bedroom upstairs but this time, while you are here, we will do the sharing. Dean will be in my room and your daddy has his usual. After we get you settled, we'll go downstairs and start getting some food ready for everyone. Okay?"

"Okay, s-Bobby," Sam answered. He got out of the car and went to the trunk to retrieve his duffle. Then he went in the house to go up to his room. When he left, Bobby turned to Dean and John to explain his plan.

"I don't know what happened but we need to repair what you two broke! Yeah, you two idgits broke that boy." Watching John and Dean not even protesting his statement, Bobby knew that this would go easier than he thought. "It seems to me that since he believes that he isn't part of your family, we need to get him to accept he is part of mine. I'll keep him close and we'll do things together. After a while, I'm going to start to include Dean…" Seeing John starting to protest, Bobby held up his hand and continued, "Dean because they were closer than you and Sam, John, and you know it. Then we'll include you but get this, you two need to include Sam in your everyday life. I've seen the two of you doing things together and forgetting you have another person in your family. You two work on the car, go to bars, talk, and hunt together. You have excluded that kid in your everyday life even if you don't realize it. If you want to be a family with him, you will need to change what you do or you will lose him."

Both men nodded in agreement. They got their stuff and went into the house. For the first time in days, the elder Winchesters felt hopeful.

SWSWSWSWSWSWSWSWt

Bobby started slowly. The first thing he did was to feed John and Dean their dinner in the living room while he and Sam ate in the kitchen. He insisted on Sam eating at the same time as he did. Bobby had Dean do their dishes while Sam did his and Bobby's. John did his and Dean's laundry, Bobby did Sam's and his own. Bobby made sure that he and Sam did everything together. He kept stressing the fact that they were family until Sam was comfortable with the concept. It took a couple of months for that to happen but Bobby knew the minute it did when he saw Sam's wide, infectious smile.

Next, Bobby started to introduce the concept of Dean being Sam's brother. In the beginning, it was difficult since Sam would back away and call Dean "sir". He took them fishing and for walks. Then he went to town with them and to the movies. When Dean got popcorn at the movies, he insisted on sharing with Sam. It took a couple of shaky handfuls but Sam soon got into the movie and started to joke with Dean. It took time to get there but finally, Sam became comfortable with Dean. What really cemented the family feeling was when a couple of kids decided that Sam was a good punching bag. When Dean saw the bruises, he got pissed and went to "discuss" the problem with the bullies. The bullies, after healing a bit, came over to Bobby's and apologized to Sam. After that, Sam and Dean became inseparable.

It was when Bobby tried to get John back into Sam's family that he ran into trouble. John insisted on the boys calling him sir and treating him with military respect. Sam had a hard time thinking of John as his father because of this. No matter what Bobby tried, Sam wouldn't look at John or even eat at the same time as John. He insisted that John eat first, have more money for clothes and weapons. Sam wouldn't ask for anything, saying that money must go to the family.

When Bobby tried research as a family activity, he would always figure out what they were going after before asking John, Dean and Sam to help. Sam would always agree with John on what they were hunting and how to do it, even if the elder Winchester was wrong. Finally, Bobby lost his temper and yelled at John for insisting he was right and said that Sam knew exactly what they were going to hunt. He then turned to Sam and said, "Tell me what we are going to hunt!"

Since Sam was appealed to, he correctly identified the creature and how to destroy it. Bobby turned to John and yelled, "You would have been badly hurt or killed if you didn't listen to your son, ya idgit! He got it right!"

John hung his head. He turned to his youngest and apologized for not listening to him. When they went to hunt the monster, he used the information Sam gave him and the hunt was successful. This time, instead of going to a bar to celebrate with just Dean, John took the family out for pizza. For the first time in months, John saw his baby smile and heard his laughter.

Bobby took the whole family out fishing, camping, shopping and even to the zoo. Everything he planned was family oriented. He started to take John aside to have him help plan every activity and taught him how to include his youngest. Then, one day John took Sam shopping for clothes. At first, Sam didn't want John to spend money on him but John insisted and let Sam pick out his own clothes. While Sam was trying on a cheap pair of pants, John found a couple of jeans in Sam's size and put them in his cart. He also found two pairs of shoes for both boys and coats they needed. Sam was surprised but graced his father with a hug and smile, just for him.

The last thing Bobby taught the family was that politeness and respect didn't have to be cold and unfeeling. When done with love, it could be very warm. He got John to accept that the boys didn't need to call him "sir" all the time and Sam started to call John "dad". Sam also stopped calling Dean "sir".

When Bobby finally was done, he said that family meant that there would be arguments, tears, and hurt feelings but there would also be warmth, love, closeness, and protection. There should never be coldness and hatred or even ostracism. He said that the Winchesters needed to take time to do things as a full family. He said that the boys were as different as day and night, John needed to respect that and remember to treat them equally.

As the Winchester Family finally left, Bobby knew they still had a ways to go but Sam would never be treated as a third wheel again.

A big thank you to my awesome beta reader Daiyu Amaya-you are the greatest!