It's the early fall of 1995 and the first time in a long time where Sam Winchester feels proud of himself.
There's no one giving him crap about the new kid status, he managed to make normal friends in the past three weeks of middle school, and his teammates on his now divisional championship soccer team cheer energetically on the field around him. Sam's knee guards cake in slimy mud, his cheeks sweaty and beet red. He can't stop grinning as Anthony and Elijah and Danny surround him, hooting and whooping, clapping him on the back of his uniform and half-embracing, half-climbing on top of him.
For once, Sam isn't reminded of his family's business or treated like some kind of freak.
He had even seen Dean in the stands with his parents, his oversized, leather jacket flapping around him, sun glinting off the horned amulet bouncing off his chest, as his sixteen-year-old brother shot up on his feet and punched the air in victory when Sam had dirtied himself up scoring a goal towards the end of the match. Not eyeballing the pretty, petite redhead in the jiggling V-neck rows down. It's… it's damn near perfect.
He wipes the perspiration building into his hairline with both of his palms, laughing genuinely when a thinner, bonier arm roughly clings around his neck — break your opponent's grip by shifting your weight to the side and crashing your elbow into their solar plexus — and Anthony's voice yells full-force into Sam's ear, "You're coming to the pizza place with us after this, aren't you, Sam?"
"You better!" Danny pipes up from their left. "Coach Haas has already promised that he's gonna pay for the ten extra-large pizzas!" Someone's hand noogies against the top of Sam's head — once you've got the wrist locked, apply enough pressure to the radiocarpal joint — but the muscles in his face don't relent on the grinning stain, even if they are getting numb from the ache.
"Sure," he says. "I just gotta tell Dean first."
Sam's eyes swerve back to the emptying stands, hoping to catch the welcoming image of Dean grinning as hard as he is, those tanned, freckled cheeks dimpled, and flashing his two-thumbs up to Sam. Instead, his older brother has his cell phone flipped open, seeming to be shouting into it, and with a finger crammed deep in the other available ear. Dean's expression arranges into one of absolute obedience towards the other person on the phone.
Clear, green eyes hone in on Sam's own pair in the distance.
The urge to run, to just GO — go somewhere far, far, far away where no one can find him — crawls over him. Like an itch Sam just really wants to compulsively scratch at. Has been wanting to. Damn everyone and just scratch. Because no one is ruining this for him.
Unable to contain his anger, Sam marches up to his brother leaping over the stand's side-banister and patting off his jacket.
"Tell Dad I'm going with my friends." he hisses out. "I'll be at the Backroad Pizza down the street."
Dean's eyes blink in disbelief.
"Are you kidding, Sammy?" he asks. "We're leaving town now. Stuff's already in the car."
"No, I'm not kidding. I'm going. with. my. friends."
"Then you're getting your ass dragged to the car," Dean tells him, simply.
The twelve-year-old delivers an arrogantly patronizing look, one he knew Dean hated. "And you're gonna do that in front of all these people, Dean? I don't think Dad would appreciate a big scene being made while he's gone. People will notice. My friends will notice."
Dean's fists curl in.
"If your friends knew who you really were, they'd turn on you so fast it'd leave your head spinning," he snaps. "Go ahead and pretend that you're normal if that makes you feel any better, Sammy, but you and I both know you're not. We're not. Pretending won't change that."
"You're not going to tell them." Sam can feel himself shaking violently, his hands mirroring Dean's fists and digging into themselves hard enough to feel where the ends of his fingernails press down, where they begin to draw blood to the surface from where they impact skin.
Dean agrees, shaking his head like he's disappointed that Sam would even suggest that.
"Duh, geek-o." The cell phone vibrates noisily in the pocket of Dean's battered jacket. Sam's heart makes a slow sink towards his gut at the glimpse of shining, dark hood, as the Impala cruises into the parking lot. "Don't you wanna say goodbye?" Sam's lips convulse and he remains silent. His soccer coach jogs up to them, with Sam's individual trophy, and the younger boy allows Dean's charm to smooth away the inevitable questions, the confusion.
The drive through New Mexico to Arizona has a similar atmosphere to most of their road trips — very little talking, no radio. When John was in a decent mood, or if one of them asked politely, he would turn on the AM sports or pop in a cassette tape. The dry, warm airs blows in through the car windows, Dean's passenger window opened the farthest, whistling the loudest.
Sam has buried himself in an upright, fetal position, despite being firmly buckled in. Knees to his forehead and arms loosely circling around his legs folded in towards his chest. "Hope you ain't set on sulking this whole trip," John says, gruffly. Dean sympathetically glances between the passing scenery and the side mirror of Sam's hunched double, saying nothing as John's hazel-green eyes flick from the view of Route 40 and stares critically, sharply at the backseat. "You answer me when I'm talking to you, boy."
"… …I'm sick of this," comes a mumble.
It barely drifts into their ears. Sam's arms tighten around himself, unconsciously protecting himself, and he sucks in a muffled breath. Dean's eyebrows burrow together. He jerks his head over his shoulder, turning towards his little brother.
John glares briefly and wordless; Dean gives the smallest bit of an involuntary flinch at its appearance. He flattens himself against the passenger seat, clicking his jaw audibly shut, shoulders squaring like he's awaiting an order. John speaks up again, no less gruffly than before, eyes focusing straight ahead but the intent of his words no less charged, "When you choose to man up about this, we can have a discussion. Until then, everyone's quiet until we reach the motel, got that?"
"Yessir," immediately passes Dean's lips. Sam's knuckles whiten around the burnished, metal head of his soccer trophy.
Two weeks in Flagstaff. That's how long the supposed hunt would take, and that's all the time John needed for information gathering on a powerful necromancer. That left Sam and Dean to fend on their own with a lump of hustled cash for living expenses.
Whatever else they needed could be acquired with their collection of fraud credit and insurance cards. The Impala stays with them, tank already full, and John ends 'acquiring' another car off the parking lot of the town's dollar general store when he disappears the next morning, Sunday morning. Sam has the strongest feeling that his older brother thinks he's doing Sam a favor, attempting to get on Sam's good graces unlike their old man, by letting him decide to be enrolled in the nearby school for the next two or more weeks. He agrees to the arrangement, without complaining, pleasantly surprising Dean.
Truthfully, it's not that Sam doesn't want to be sorry when he packs some essentials into his book bag (toothbrush, toothpaste, extra blanket, extra set of clothes, all the cash he could sneak out, a collapsible silver knife and iron knife, a rosary, a medium-sized bag of rock salt, bottle of holy water and a bottle of ordinary water for the hike) come Tuesday morning — when he tucks the forged note for the school office under his zipped-up jersey — when he waves halfheartedly to a grinning Dean hanging out of the car and then speeding out into the main road from the school's entrance, probably to pick up groceries for dinner.
He's just sick of pretending that the idea of running doesn't give him a sliver of self-satisfaction, the itch sighing with relief.
There has got to be luck on his side; that, or someone Upstairs has heard his prayers for not sleeping in a mess of twigs, because Sam manages to locate an abandoned rental trailer on the outskirts of three towns over. It provides a queen-sized bed with clean-smelling linens and sheets, a couch with years of abuse, a bathtub with some runny soap bars, a refrigerator stocked with unopened beer bottles and grape soda, and high-reaching cabinets vacant minus cups, disinfectant sprays and soap for the dishwasher. Oh, and there's a crappy-looking television in front of the couch that only gets three channels, one of them too fuzzed out.
There are also people who call luck risk and Sam wastes no time in checking the place over, any reason to feel threatened and he's gone.
By the time the sun's vanished from the horizon, inky black sky hovering with starlight, the salt lines are all put in the entrances and windowsills, and Sam mentally plans out a list of things to buy when he walks out to the gas station tomorrow, throwing a sheet over his head before drifting into a restful sleep for once.
Dean's gotta pissed about him taking off. He won't call Dad until it seems completely hopeless. Good.
It's the fifth day of hiding out in the rental trailer. Sam's new diet consists on a delicious medley of Shop N Variety hot dogs and deli sandwiches, several bags of FUNYUNS and Cheetos, and Mr. Pib. After a bit, money will be tight but he sets on worrying about that later. Sam makes a trek for more food and supplies a mile through the sparse spot of woods behind the trailer, not making a routine of it; only if Sam finds himself with nothing more to gorge on.
A couple yards into the woods, Sam discovers a stray dog roaming between the trees, digging his paws into the soil and whines out at the cautiously approaching human but he wags his tail friendly when Sam's oniony-scented hand is held out for inspection.
"Are you hungry, boy?" he asks, petting an amber-furry muzzle, and it deserves another — if not harder — tail wag.
Barbeque chicken wings are on the menu tonight, and Sam's new pet devours his portion, bones and all.
There's no collar or identification to go on. The nickname just kind of sticks, Sam concludes.
Insects drone lazily outside, beckoning nightfall on the passing of the eleventh day.
Sam reclines against the squeaky couch, gladly feeding the last slice of pepperoni pizza to Bones. His pink tongue drags across Sam's fingers lovingly before his new master nods off, forsaking the bed, relishing Bones' warmth curling up to him.
He should have figured that the dream wouldn't last forever, when he didn't cover his tracks well enough as Dean may have, didn't travel far enough away, and the security cameras were fully functioning every time Sam came in to buy anything. In the snack aisle, past the chip rack and the refrigerated meals, Sam jerks around with his shoulder trapped with someone else's burly, seizing hand and drops his handful of junk food.
His eyes widen in shock, guilt at the towering, scruffy-looking John Winchester who in turn scowled — who crushed Sam into a fierce, uncommunicative hug.
The two weeks were up. And so was the dream.
It's not until another six years are up until Sam successfully runs away — this time to Stanford. And somehow still, with all the resulting consequences and lines of destiny intertangled, he gets dragged away. Literally out of the hellfire, safely in Dean's arms locked around him.
The search for God was, predictably, a bust from the get-go. Castiel has enough rage to blasphemes his own Father for a couple moments and disappears without so much as a goodbye to either of the Winchester brothers. Before Sam closes the motel door behind him, to follow his brother into the blinding sunshine — back into the living world, with its random and unpredictable evil they know so well — he fishes out Dean's amulet from the trash can, shoving aside greasy bits of last night's dinner and the aluminum beer cans in his task, and shoves its familiar weight into his back jean pocket.
"Did you ever think about staying?" Dean asks from the park bench beside his, bare hands laced over his stomach.
Sam gives a one-arm shrug, leaning over his knees. A blonde teen with pigtails tosses a Frisbee up in the air, allowing her chocolate-colored Labrador to catch it in its slobbering jaws. "In Heaven? Nah, they weren't going to let us in any case." Dean makes a concurring noise through his nostrils.
Sam's throat clenches with a hard swallow.
"Dean," he begins, apologetically, "those memories…"
His older brother cuts him off, sensing that Sam's doing that thing where he over thinks everything, "Forget about it."
Naturally, that doesn't sit well with Sam's conscious.
He frowns. "I wasn't thinking about anyone but myself in Flagstaff. And I made you and Dad worry."
"Damn right you did," Dean adds, shoulders bracing, and the ghost of some emotion like hurt flits over his solemn expression.
"But me and Dad didn't make it easy on you either. It took some balls to bail out like that."
Sam feels his eyes gravitate back on the bounding, panting dog and its smiling owner. No heartbreak. No goodbyes.
"I wonder whatever happened to that dog," Sam mumbles, not really expecting an answer.
A thoughtful click of tongue to the roof of mouth. "There was a missing pet alert in a few counties over," Dean speaks up, extending his arms of his head and groaning as something pops back into place. "The local shelter seemed interested in him."
Sam hesitates, head turning back to his brother, amazement.
"He had a family…?"
"Apparently belonged to two little girls. Which would explain why he took a liking to—" Dean broke off with an irritated "—what?"
Sam's features don't bother pushing away the keen, proud smile; the horned amulet, warm with body heat, in his pocket.
I do not own any brand names mentioned or any SPN characters. Birthday request from my not so little, 21-year-old brother: "Sam Winchester and his relationship with Bones. Sam's soccer trophy." And then I added the Samulet. Because reasons, that's why. It's weird that you're an adult now, kid. I have all of these memories of you being two heads shorter than me and gullible as hell. Everyone grows up, I guess. -brofist- Everyone else reading, I hope you enjoyed the fic~. Comments are always encouraged and thanked profusely.