This really was a cool idea. I can't seem to leave it alone in my head. There's a scene that I've been constructing for ages, and for the first time, I'm not having trouble psyching myself up to writing the exposition that has to happen before my brain baby scene can happen. Miracles do exist.

CHAPTER TWO

"Dad?"

John looks up and the room stills as Sam pokes his head in through the doorway. Sam hates how nobody trusts him in the least, but he can get over it. He's 17 and a big boy, for God's sake, so he can put on his big girl panties and get over it.

"What do you need?" John asks as he gets up to herd Sam away from any of the important-people talk. Sam fucking hates that.

He doesn't know how to say it in a way that's not going to get him in trouble. He can try taking the long way around it, but he knows how his Dad feels about it when he pulls crap like that. No time for beating around the bush. "Got some communication from Stanford today. On Persephone. They're offering me a full ride."

John stops dead, his face stony. "Persephone is a core planet," he says like that somehow escaped Sam's attention along the way.

"I know tha-"

"Then why are we still discussing this?"

"Dad, I've wanted to go there since forever. Just because you and the Alliance are intent on scalping each other-"

"Is that what you think this war is, boy?"

"It's your war to fight. You helped start it, and it's something you want to fight for, and I've no quarrel with that. But you can't tell me where to die and what cause to die for. It doesn't work like that, Dad."

"You cannot seriously be thinking about selling your life to Alliance pigs! That's what's going to happen if you get… schooling… in a core planet." He says the word 'schooling' like it's some nasty rodent that's gotten into the food stores.

"If I don't let you control me, what makes you think the Alliance can manage it? Dad, I don't like the Alliance any more than you do, and I'm never planning on getting buddy-buddy with the bastards. If that's what you're worried about-"

"They'll own you."

"They won't."

"You can't know that for sure."

"Right back at you."

"You're going to get us all killed."

"I thought your war was going to take care of that all on its own," Sam says, knowing he's gone a bit far with that one but not caring. His father is intent on destroying his son's future. He has to know that Sam isn't going to lie down and take it like Dean did.

John's face closes off entirely. He's silent for a while. At last he speaks. "You leave now? Don't bother coming back. Ever."

"Just as well. If I stayed, I'd be owned by you every bit you seem to think the Alliance is going to try to own me. Funny how free will means so little to you." He doesn't bother looking back at his father and goes to grab his things. He's already packed, on the slim chance his father gave permission, and on the bigger chance that something like this would happen.

He's angry. So angry. His father expected Sam to fight and die for a cause that isn't his own. John expects Sam to follow along, be a Browncoat. Sam agrees with their ideals, but he's wanted a good future in the core for longer than he can remember. The whole point of being a Browncoat was the part where you were free to make your own decisions, live your own life without being forced to follow around an uncaring, corrupt government for handouts. John doesn't understand that he's treating his children exactly the same way the Alliance treats its citizens. It makes Sam sick to his stomach. Sam's allowed to have free will. He can understand if John was worried about his son's safety, what with his father being one of the key top members of the Browncoat movement. But John never cited that as a reason. John never breathed a word about that. It's like he really doesn't care. Not about Dean. Not about Sam. Just about his stupid fucking war that's going to cost him and his eldest son their lives. Sam thinks about Dean, how he's leaving his brother for what is probably forever, and cries silently as he makes his way out the door to catch his shuttle for Persephone.


"Sammy? Time to wake up now."

"Ngh?" Sam tried in earnest to pull the blanket over his head. He didn't really expect it to hide the entirety of him (he was enormous by anyone's standards), but there was something childishly comforting about the whole I-can't-see-you-so-you-can't-see-me mentality.

"Not gonna work on me, Sammy. Besides, your hair was poking out. We might need to have a talk about your hair soon. You're turning into a regular Rapunzel with sideburns."

Sam couldn't help the sleepy giggle that escaped him as he let the blanket fall. Dean ruffled the aforementioned Rapunzel hair and kissed his little brother on the forehead. "First one to the kitchen gets to eat the other guy's bacon," he whispered. Sam was up and sprinting for the kitchen at a pace that would have dizzied an Olympian.

Dean was close behind. "Not today," he mock-growled, elbowing Sam away from his plate and towards his own. Sam just grinned in response, falling into the chair and subsequently his breakfast.

Sam hadn't uttered a word in two years, ever since Dean had gotten him out.

"Hey, uh…" Dean said. "We've gotten a whiff of… well, I think it might be best if we packed up our shit and got on the move."

Code for Alliance moles poking where they weren't wanted. Dean thought that outright mention of them might spook Sam. That, or he had no desire to speak of the Devil. Probably a mix of both, knowing Dean.

"Is that okay with you?"

Sam nodded, looking his brother in the eye so Dean knew he meant it. He refocused his attention to his toast.

Dean tried to concentrate on his own food. He knew Sam was never going to say anything ever again, for whatever reasons, but he couldn't help prodding occasionally. He still got to hear his brother's voice when little noises would escape him, but they couldn't have proper conversations any-more. Most of the time, Dean could read his brother well enough to make up for the lack of words, but… he missed it. He missed Sam's long-winded ridiculous rants and speeches about shit that didn't matter. He missed the jokes tossed over a shoulder. He missed just hearing the kid's voice. He'd spent years when Sammy was a kid just wishing the little bastard would shut up (because he never did, really), and now the opposite situation was true. The irony sucked.

"I already checked and it's looking like there aren't any shuttles of folk we know going out. We're going to have to hitch a ride with strangers. I'm sorry, Sammy."

Sam shook his head, clearly meaning, 'It's not your fault, Dean. Not an issue.'

"I found a listing I think might work. I've heard the captain's one of us. Browncoat. Does some smuggling, so he's still not a fan of… y'know."

Sam nodded.

"I've never met him, but he seems like somebody we can trust just to get us from point A to point B. We don't have to tell him anything," Dean said. "Malcolm Reynolds. Ever heard of him?"

Sam shook his head no.

"Huh. I could swear you memorised the rosters at one point in time."

Sam wiggled a flattened palm in the air ('sort of'), wiggled fingers around his temple (which could mean anything from 'my memory's a little spotty' to 'the needles they stuck in my brain might have fucked with my ability to dredge up that memory'), then made a horizontal circle, bringing his thumbs around and together (indicating a passage of time). All together, it went something like, 'I sort of memorised them, but it's been a while and my memory isn't faring so well these days.'

It had taken forever for Dean to learn all the little nuances of Sam's sign language. Most of the signs had about ten different meanings, although if he chained multiple signs together, you could usually piece out the overall meaning. At least Sam didn't have to carry around a dry-erase board anymore.

"Heard his first mate is also one of ours. A Zoe Washburne."

A furrowed brow and one finger from Sam.

"You remember her?"

The pointer finger meeting up mid-air with the thumb from his other finger. "Just the first name. Well, maybe she got married or something." Sam nodded along. Life went on, even after the war. "So you're cool with hauling our crap out of here soon? Ship's supposed to be docking around 4 today." A nod. "Awesome. I won't make you carry any of the heavy crap, promise." An eye-roll. "Well, what else am I here for?" A shit-eating grin and the pointed waving of a strip of bacon in the air. "I see how it is, smartass. Quit playing with your food and get packing."


(A/N): I know. I know. Work on ANY other fic. I know. It's just... I really, REALLY like this concept. I've had a crappy day and I just needed to unwind and write Winchester angst and then slap it away with fluff. It's therapeutic. Also... if you've been on tumblr in the last... week, I'm gonna say, VOTE FOR DESTIEL. YOU KNOW WHY. You can vote every hour and I encourage you to do so, if you can. I don't even ship Destiel that much (yeah, they're cute, and practically canon, but you should understand - the ship chooses the fangirl, Mister Potter), but I want the Supernatural fandom to win. Like, really bad.

Been watching Castle a lot. I swear, it's like the directors took Nathan Fillion and asked him to play Nathan Fillion. He's just the most majestic fucking creature.

My apologies that these are, in general, shorter chapters than I do for pretty much anything else I've written in the last two years or so. Like I said - I do this to unwind, so I try not to stress at all over how long or short these chapters are.

My thanks to everyone who reviewed! Your feedback is appreciated like you have no idea.