This was a fic written a while ago on LJ for an ohsam challenge but I've just recently had time to go back over it, edit and make it a tad more readable. Hope it is enjoyed
Sam tried to concentrate on the words blurring in front of his face. He rubbed his hands down his face again, pulling himself together. He'd got two sentences into the next paragraph when the pounding of a bass beat startled him from his stupor.
Sam barley contained his growl before banging on his and Zac's shared wall
"Oi Zachary!" he hollered through the plasterboard. "Keep it down, trying to study in here!"
There was no reply but the bass did recede a little which Sam counted as a win at the moment.
Sam knew he was being (what Dean had lovingly called) a bitch, but he had a headache, had only coffee running through his systems and a quiz in less than 24 hours he had to cram for.
Once the beats had reversed to a quite calming thrum in the back ground Sam turned back to the text in front of him on Native American mythology. He had started the course as a bit of an inside joke between himself... and, well himself, since Dean wasn't around to find it ironic. It had turned out to be one of his toughest courses and the reason he had only had 10 hours sleep over the last few days. Well that, and the party Brady had dragged him to.
Sam had a blissful five minutes of quite reading where he actually absorbed more than two sentences when the shrill ringing of their dormroom phone rang through his head.
Sam sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He should give this up for done for the night and try again in the morning
"Zac!" he called when there was no movement from the room next door and the phone carried on wailing.
Zac was forever getting phone calls at all times of day, early morning calls on the weekend from an over protective mother, Sunday afternoon calls from a dotty grandfather who chatted for at least an hour about Zac's studies as Zac listened half-heartedly whilst channel hopping, calls from his sister, Becky, every other day inviting him to this party or that, which Sam was inevitably dragged along to no matter how hard he argued that he had an essay due.
Sam guessed this was probably Zac's latest girlfriend, demanding he come over for 'pizza'.
The phone continued to ring and there was no movement from Zac's room. Sam banged on the wall again. He was gonna put a dent in it one of these days. The only response he got was an increase in volume from Zac's hundred dollar sound system (a gift from an over indulgent father).
The incessant ringing continued as Sam stormed out of his room, giving Zac's door a kick for good measure on the way.
"Hello Zac's answer phone service, how can I help?" he answered with a glare at his roommates closed door.
"Oh," an older female voice came over the line, so not Zac's new girlfriend and not Zac's mum. "Sorry, I was looking for a Sam Winchester?"
It was times like this, when instant suspicion was his first instinct at being asked after, when Sam thought he would never fully escape his upbringing. "I'm sorry," he asked brusquely into the phone. "Who's this?"
"My apologies," the women responded kindly. "I am Betty Miller. I am calling from Child Service in Windom Minnesota. I need to speak with Sam about his brother."
"No, sorry. His other brother – Adam?"
Sam begged and offered hours of free tutoring to Becky to borrow her car and travel the 1000+ miles from Palo Alto to Minnesota.
He had frantically tried every conceivable number he could remember for his Dad and Dean, all attempts were met with the same annoying voice telling him that 'this number is no longer in service'. Bloody typical.
He contemplated trying Bobby's landline to see if he could track them down that way but half way through dialling the number Sam had thought 'fuck em'. They chucked him out, seemingly forgot he existed, he was not going to go around grovelling for their attention just because John had abandoned another one of his sons. Sam had snorted at the blank phone screen at that thought - he and Adam probably had more in common than anyone.
By the time he had got to the front door of a drab looking children's home in Windom he had exercised all his anger with a carefully regulated diet of blaring music and simmering silence. Now he was just nervous.
Nervous would probably be a massive understatement.
The group home he had been directed to was grey and bleak. Memories of the two weeks he and Dean had been held in one surfaced and Sam had to hold back a shudder.
But at least he had had Dean; at least he had known it was only temporary.
Sam was led up a set of stairs, passing a communal room on the way. Three teenage girls and two boys sat around a TV, their eyes following him unblinkingly as he passed.
Before he knew it he was being pointed towards a closed door at the end of the corridor. He barley registered the social worker walking away; something about 'give you some time', before he was standing alone in a hallway.
Sam reached a hand out tentatively to knock on the door, then realised his palms were sweating. Shaking his head in self exasperation Sam wiped them on the front of his jeans.
He'd fought werewolves, ghosts, faced down a multitude of monsters and his father with a hangover. He could meet his long lost half-brother, whose mother had just died, who he has never even heard of before let alone met…
Before he could lose his nerve he knocked on the door.
There was a grunt in response that sounded something alike an invitation to enter, so Sam pushed the door open.
The first thing he thought was: Dean.
Because the boy sat in front of him looked the spitting image of a young Dean.
The hair, the skin, the freckles – even the dress sense.
"I told you I'm not up for 'bonding time'," a sullen voice broke Sam from his trance.
"Huh," he answered intelligently.
"I said I don't want to sit in a white washed room and play twenty year old board games with a bunch of kids I don't know!" the teen barked. "So save yourself the trouble and leave me alone."
"Oh – um," Sam mumbled taking a step further into the small space. "No. That's not what-"
"Then go away."
Sam took a deep breath and stepped further into the room. "I don't work here. I'm Sam… Sam Winchester."
There was a brief silence before the boy turned in his chair to properly face him. The eyes, Sam noticed, the eyes were different though.
"Winchester?" the boy scowled. "Like my so called father?"
Sam winced at the brief mention of their shared parent but tried to shove it down. "John Winchester. He's my dad."
"Well isn't this a lovely family reunion," Adam, his brother sneered at him. "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out,"
With that the teen turned back around, dismissing Sam. But Sam had never been one to give up so easily…
"No you listen," Adam interrupted casting fierce angry eyes over his shoulder. "My mum is dead. Do you get that? She was my whole family, my only family and she's gone, so as far as I am concerned you can take whatever speech you're leading up to, whatever excuses from you old man, and shove it, cos I don't wanna hear."
"Your right," Sam nodded shortly. He saw a glimmer of surprise at his response before Adam gathered his arrogant mask back up. So much like Dean Sam could help but think.
"Damn straight I am," Adam nodded eventually.
"There's nothing I can say that you would want to hear," Sam continued, taking another perhaps inadvisable step towards the teen. "But- I just found out a few days ago that you existed," he shrugged. "I just wanted to meet my little brother."
Adam stared back.
And that had been all Sam had planned to say when he came here. He had planned to meet the boy, maybe give him his number so he could call if he wanted, maybe extend an invitation to visit on the holidays, bond over their absent parentage. But…
Sam looked around the drab room, the beaten up duffle in the corner, Adam's defiant face that screamed 'leave me alone!' and then to his eyes that pleaded for a chance.
Sam surveyed it all and then looked back at his brother and took a deep breath.
A few hours later Sam was back in his car. A fresh tank of gas in the car and a grieving teenager in the passenger seat.
The atmosphere in the car on the journey was tense. Awkward. And… very quiet.
Sam gripped the steering wheel tighter and wondered what the hell he had just gotten himself in for.
Sam led the way into his and Zac's apartment, a still silent Adam in tow.
"So… this is us," he stated once he'd closed the door. They both stood there awkwardly in the doorway for a moment, Sam looking at Adam and Adam looking anywhere but Sam.
Sam cleared his throat. "Right, so… you can put your bag in here."
Just a short way down the hall Sam turned the light on to his room, quickly taking in the books littering almost every surface.
"Just ignore the books and stuff, I'll find somewhere for them later."
Adam moved past him, and dropped his duffle to the floor before flopping back into the bed, one arm flung over his eyes.
"So, just make yourself comfortable," said Sam needlessly, "I should probably make you some food. What do you like?" His enquiry was met with silence. "I'll just see what we have in then, might just be noodles." Still silence. "Right.. I'll just…"
Adam still lay on the bed, ignoring the world so Sam made a hasty exit, resting his head against the door for a few seconds before hurrying to the kitchen.
Adam didn't leave Sam's room for four days, didn't really speak much except for the odd grunt in acknowledgment when Sam delivered him food.
Zac's response had been the expected.
"What the hell Sam? How the hell do you expect to keep up with your classes with a kid in tow?"
"What did you expect me to do Zac?" Sam sighed. "The kids my brother and he's got no one."
"Isn't that what child services are for – to look after children!"
Sam snorted and levelled a look at his roommate. "Have you ever been in child service's care?"
Zac shifted awkwardly on the spot for a moment. "…No."
"Well shut up and make dinner."
Sam turned around to the property listings page in the paper and Zac slunk off to the kitchen. He hadn't brought it up again since.
On the fourth day Sam looked up from his anthropology textbook to see a silent Adam standing in the archway to the kitchen.
"Adam!" Sam exclaimed, jumping in his seat. "Um – hi. Were you hungry?"
Adam stared back for a few moments before shrugging. "I could eat."
It was the longest string of words that Sam had heard from him since they exited Minnesota and he couldn't contain his pleased grin.
"Alright then, let's make us some dinner."
It was going fine until Zac got home.
Adam hadn't exactly said much but he'dd cut some peppers and had watched over the boiling pot of rice.
When Zac came into the kitchen he stopped at the sight of Adam. "I see the kid decided to join us."
"Leave it Zac." Sam huffed, his eyes fixed on the chicken.
"No," Zac replied, leaning casually on the doorframe. "I was beginning to think he was a figment of your imagination."
Sam growled and spun on Zac, who looked shocked, even a little afraid. "God Zac! Is this how you think I would act if Becca needed a place to stay? The kids family, so back off!"
Nobody seemed to notice Adam seething in the corner. "You're not my family," he whispered.
Both Zac and Sam turned towards him.
"You're not my family. You are nothing to me!" Adam stepped away from the counter, "My mum was my family and she's dead! I am alone! I don't want to be here, I want to go home. No one asked me what I wanted, they just wanted shot of me so palmed me off to the first possible person they could. Give you a few days and you'll be the same."
"Adam that's not true!" Sam started, his hand held out in front of him like he was trying to calm a startled horse. "I understand what you're feeling –"
"No! No you don't! You couldn't possibly understand what this feels like. Your mother died before you were even old enough to understand! She might as well have never existed! You don't even remember her!"
Adam was prepared for many reactions to his outburst, what he was not expecting was for Sam to look as if he had been punched in the stomach and consequently wanted to throw up.
They all stood in the silence of the kitchen for a moment, the pot on the cooker over boiling.
Suddenly Adam broke the moment in a flurry of motion, he grabbed his duffle he kept full inside his bedroom and slammed the front door behind him on the way out.
Adam walked and didn't stop walking until he reached the bus depot on the other side of town. By the time he got there and sunk to a bench his anger and indignation had faded, replaced with a bone deep ache of what he thought was probably loneliness.
His mother was dead, his father didn't want to know and he was stuck with a half-brother he had only just met, moved away from all his friends to a place where the closest people his age were freshman.
He just wanted his mum. He didn't care if it made him pathetic or a baby he just wanted her. Wanted her arms to surround him and her smell… he was starting to forget all those little things. He didn't know which loss weighed more heavily on his heart.
Adam didn't know how long he had sat there… long enough for him to start to feel the nights chill through his thin jacket and his tears to have dried to salt tracks on his cheeks… but he was startled out of his daze by a large jacket coming to rest on his shoulders.
He looked up in time to see Sam perch on the bench next to him.
"God," he groaned, unconsciously tugging the jacket closer around himself. "Do you never give up?"
Sam offered him a wan smile. "Nope," he stated, going back to look at the quiet bustle of people around the bus stop.
Sam let the silence drift on a for a little while, until Adam started squirming in his seat
"You are my family Adam," Sam said, his eyes gazing unseeingly into the night. "One thing I learnt from being a Winchester is that we look after family. So I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere. And I know you're sad and hurting right now, and I get it. But we need to work together here yeah?"
Sam looked at Adam then with eyes so round and hopeful that Adam couldn't hold back his reluctant nod.
Sam's smile widened. "Alright then. Deal?"
Adam eyed the hand that was thrust towards him, then eyed his duffle at his feet, then the bus that had just pulled up into the depot, then back to the hand again.
He sighed and let his hand bridge the gap.
Adam looked with disdain at the… well house would probably be too generous a term, shack would fit quite well. It was a one story building with a rotting porch around the front. You could barely see the steps to the front door for the weeds and grass growing with gusto in the front yard. In the background he could hear a kid crying and sirens and the sound of his senses running urgently away.
He turned his face of disbelief up to Sam who was looking at the house with an air of satisfaction and accomplishment. Adam couldn't help it when his mouth burst out with: "Seriously?"
"What?" Sam looked down at him in confusion.
"Seriously?" Adam repeated, throwing in a flailing arm movement towards the crumbling abode in front.
"Oh come on," Sam rolled his eyes, looking back at the house. "It's not that bad, I've definitely stayed in worse."
"Yeah well… I haven't," Adam huffed. "Even Zac's snoring has got to be better than this place. Looks like the paint is the only thing keeping it up!"
"First of all – Zac's snoring is atrocious. Second – one of the necessities of letting you stay with me is finding somewhere 'suitable' to live. So…" Sam swept his hand towards the house, "here we go."
"They seriously think this is suitable. I'm gonna need a tetanus shot before even going in there."
Sam rolled his eyes and hefted his duffle further up his shoulders setting off up the path. Adam stayed on the path alone for a few moments before the sound of a nearby car alarm spurred him into movement. He picked his own bag from the ground where he had dropped it in shock at the sight of his new house, and headed inside.
He left his bag next to where Sam had dropped his by the door and followed the sound of Sam's ginormous feet pounding against the creaking floor boards.
The moment he entered, what he assumed was, the main room his vision was swallowed in a large plume of dust. Coughing and spluttering he finally made out the image of Sam shaking the dust throws from the furniture around the room; a TV, Sofa, Coffee Table – all about a thousand years old but still standing. It took a while for him to realise Sam was talking to him.
"… furniture was all included. It's got running water, hot and cold – heating, a garden, and not a million miles from a decent school which I have already enrolled you in."
Sam rolled the dust sheets into a ball and threw them into a corner, hands on his hips he surveyed the room.
"So?" Sam asked of Adam, a lop sided hopeful grin on his face. Adam tried really hard to say something scathing thinking back to his three bed house in Windom with a porch swing and a basketball net out back.
Sam smile started to dim the longer Adam stood there in silence. Adam sighed in resignation.
"Fine. But I call first room."
It took a week and five different conversations, two of which ended up with Adam locking himself in his room, before Adam convinced Sam that he didn't need Sam to walk with him to school on his first day.
"Seriously," Adam had sighed. "You're not my mother and I am not eight. I'm thirteen!"
"But it's your first day-"
"Don't you have class on Monday morning?" Adam had argued back, his arms crossed, face in a scowl.
"Yes… but I can still walk you there then grab a bus-"
"I've been to school before Sam. I'm walking by myself and that's that!"
That conversation hadn't ended with slamming doors, but with Adam staring sullenly at the fuzzy picture on the TV screen until Sam brought him a plate of macaroni and cheese as a peace offering. They sat in silence eating for a few minutes. Once the plates were empty and their bellies full Sam broached the subject again.
"Fine, you can walk yourself but I'll meet you at the end of the day." At Adam's impending scowl Sam ploughed on. "I will be walking near there anyway when I get off the bus."
"Fine, but you wait around the corner."
Sam considered him for a moment before giving a small nod. "Alright, done."
Standing in front of the large brick building Adam secretly wished he had let Sam walk him on his first day. He looked around the groups of teenagers around him, all chatting excitedly with each other, groups littering the sidewalk and steps, a familiar face may have been nice.
Adam shook his head and frowned forward. He could do this.
It was not too far into October so Adam skidded into the school mostly unnoticed, hadn't missed too much work and got partnered with an alright guy in lab.
It was strange being in a place where no one knows you. He'd lived in the same town since he was born, the teachers at his school knew him, the kids knew him, the caffetierier lady shopped at his local store. This was strange. But it was oddly liberating knowing that every little thing he did won't be noticed, because he is not.
Until lunch it was a freeing thought, he almost smiled when his lab partner offered up the free chair next to him at the table. He was about to sit down when he got, none too gently, nudged from a passing group behind him. He recovered his balance, and thankfully his lunch, before taking a quick look behind him.
He caught the tail end of a smug look off a guy with too much muscle not enough hair and a letterman jacket on.
His only thought was to let out a resigned sigh and roll his eyes to the heavens. Fan-fucking-tasitc.
Life, inevitably, moved on. Maybe not forward, but on. In the blink of an eye Adam had been with Sam for almost two months and the leaves crunched under his feet as he walked the pavements to school and back again.
He had made some friends, not best buddies, but people he felt comfortable enough to sit next to at lunch and people he could stand around chatting to before the bell.
He knew how he came off to them; the strange new kid, mysterious even. He didn't talk about where he had come from or why he had moved, it wasn't any of these people business, and he didn't want their pity. He didn't mention that he lived with a half-brother he had only known for a few months and didn't take on any of Sam's unsuccessful attempts to get him to invite people to the house if he wanted. He wasn't afraid to admit he was ashamed of it. It was falling to pieces, cheap and in a crap neighbourhood.
So these people could just carry on thinking he was the son of an ex-spy or any of the other multitude of strange rumours he had heard. That was fine by him.
Adam carried walking passed the corner Sam usually met him on after school. Sam wasn't there waiting today, he had started an afternoon job at the local coffee shop a few weeks ago.
It was no secret to Adam that money was tight, even a full Stanford scholarship didn't cover the unexpected arrival of a teenage charge. So when Adam's only pair of shoes he had brought with him started to fall apart and his coat didn't stave of the worst of the cooling weather, Sam had no choice.
"It's not too bad," Sam had argued after coming in the door at just gone seven. "My boss is alright, lets me do work behind the counter if it's not busy, and a free supply of coffee."
Adam didn't comment when Sam yawned all through dinner and fell asleep on the sofa. Adam just slipped out the room belatedly finding an old blanket and throwing it over the long body draped over the sofa.
The crunch of footsteps behind him roused Adam from his thoughts; he was still a few blocks from home and now passing into the quiet part of his journey where foot traffic was unusual.
From the sounds of it there was more than one person and Adam would have happily ignored them. Increasing his pace he carried on looking straight ahead, only faltering when a large hand gripped onto his shoulder.
"If it isn't the new kid."
Ah, Adam mused as he looked back over his shoulder: big muscles, no hair, letterman jacket, Jared; the largest and most possibly stupidest member of the school football team who had definitely received one too many blows to the head.
But intellect aside he was large, and flanked by two nearly-as large mates, and currently blocking Adam's path.
Adam just stopped and glared. He didn't have time for this, he needed to get home start his homework before Sam got in 'cause then Sam would occupy the table with his textbooks. If Adam hadn't witnessed Sam exercising almost every morning he would have sworn the guy got his muscles from dragging them books around 'cause, man, they were heavy.
When Adam failed to make any kind of response to his statement Jared scowled and prodded him hard in the shoulder with a beefy finger.
"Hey," the jock growled. "I'm talking to you. You dumb or somethin'?"
"Sorry," Adam raised an eyebrow. "Did you ask me a question?"
"Oh, new-kid thinks he's funny. A comedian. Let's see if we can kick some laughs outta him."
Not and I've-run-ten-miles-then-killed-a-banshee ache, but I-am-operating-on-about-5-hours-sleep,-had-a-full-day-of-classes,-then-went-to-work-and-now-have-to-make-dinner,-clean-the-house-and-finish-my-reading kind of ache.
The front door swung open and he unceremoniously dumped his book bag by the door. He would probably berate himself for it later but he couldn't care too much at the moment.
He wished the boiler could handle more than one bath full of water a day because he could really do with a soak. But then there would be no water for Adam's shower or the washing up.
He was still feeling mildly sorry for himself when he walked out of the small hall to find Adam sat, his head tipped back against the sofa, and a bag of peas balanced on his face.
"What the-" Sam started, stopping when Adam's face snapped up, allowing the peas to slid off revealing the purpling bruise developing on his cheekbone. "What the hell!"
"I'll buy more peas," Adam started weakly but Sam had already crossed the room, his own ache's forgotten, grabbing Adams chin and turning it into the light.
"Like I give a shit about the peas – What happened to your face Adam?"
"Just some jerk at school. I'm fine."
Sam scoffed. "Yeah you look fine." Sam twisted and turned Adam's face in the light, gently probing at the cheek to make sure there was no bone damage. When he had determined it was just a cosmetic issue he let go. "Did you at least give him a matching one?"
Adam gave Sam a sardonic eyebrow. "The guy's like twice my size, I bolted as soon as something shiny distracted him."
Sam let out a short chuckle and picked up the discarded peas. "You stay there, I'll get you something cooler, these have already started to melt."
When Sam returned to the coach Adam watched him warily as he reapplied a bag of frozen veg to his cheek.
"What?" Sam asked after a few more moments of blatant staring.
"Are you just gearing up for my lecture?" Adam asked. At Sam's confused stare he continued, "You know, the patented 'fighting is bad' speech"
"Please this wasn't a fight." Sam peered under the veg before reapplying it. "This was a mild slap contest. Whoever this guy is can't punch for shit."
Adam chuckled then winced when the movement stirred his cheek. "Well, he's definitely got the muscle mass."
"Muscle mass doesn't matter if don't know what to do with it. You could floor any guy with the right training."
Adam thought back to Sam with his head in his books, the blush that ran up his neck whenever someone mentioned that pretty blond girl in his psych class, Sam who rolled his eyes when Adam watched late night slasher flicks.
He gave Sam an incredulous sideways look. "And I suppose you would know about that?"
Adam wished he'd kept his mouth shut when he was being dragged out of bed at seven on Saturday morning.
"Dude!" he did not whine. "What's your issue?"
Sam herded him into the bathroom and stuck a toothbrush in his hand.
"I don't have class, you don't have school and I don't have work till twelve. It's training time," Sam chirped. Way too fucking happy for seven on a Saturday morning.
It wasn't until Adam was dressed in sweats, freezing his ass of in the overgrown back yard before his brain caught up. "Training for what?"
"So that next time Jared gets bored he's the one that will walk away with a shiner. And a proper one too, not the pansy ass one's he hands out."
For the next hour Adam fell on his backside more often than when his mum had taken him ice skating one winter. Then Sam was standing over him, an inane grin on his face telling him 'good, now get up and try again'.
After the upteenth time, Adam lay back panting on the ground and refused to get back up.
"Nah-ah. I'm done!" he shook his adamantly amongst the grass staring up at Sam's frowning face.
Sam considered him with his hands on his hips for a moment before acquiescing. "Alright, we're done for today."
Offering down a large hand Sam pulled Adam from horizontal straight up to standing in one go.
Adam stood panting, bracing himself for a moment he felt like he'd run a mile. "How are you not even sweating?" he asked incredulously of Sam who looked just as fresh as he had an hour ago.
"Knocking you over isn't really that much hard work."
Adam swiped out with a fist, only clipping Sam's bicep as he dodged out the way. "See," Sam grinned as he trotted back into the house. "You're getting better already."
"Bite me!" Adam called out after his retreating back, but Sam had already disappeared back inside with a wave over his shoulder.
Christmas was rather anticlimactic.
Sam broke for his Christmas break a little before Adam and spent his days pulling extra shifts at the coffee shop and evenings hauling crates and boxes in a department store warehouse for the busy Christmas period, and in his spare time, doing odd jobs around the house.
It was by no means now a palace but Sam had tidied up the front yard so there was no longer the worry that a family of small children were hiding amongst the weeds and gave the porch a rub down and paint. So the place was no longer a complete disaster zone.
But the arrival of the festive season sparked a renewed interest in Adam's grief that he had thought was getting better.
It had not disappeared. Adam feared, and hoped, that it never would. He loved his mum, and missed her, every single day. But he had thought it had been getting better, maybe slightly easier to get through the day without being crippled by it.
So he was surprised when he woke up in the night gasping for a breath, a nightmare lingering in the back of his mind and his mother's name a whisper on his lips.
Sam had always been a light sleeper. The slightest shift in position from his brother across a motel room had always been enough to wake him from even the deepest of sleeps. So when he heard soft footsteps creep past his room to the kitchen he roused straight from asleep to awake, one hand on the knife hidden down the side of his mattress. When the footsteps hadn't returned to their bedroom after a few minutes he swung his legs out of bed, hissing at the cold when his bare feet touched the wooden floor he grabbed a pair of socks before investigating.
The fluorescent light flicked on in the kitchen and Adam blinked his eyes in the transition from dark to light. The large shape in front of him was still blurry, he didn't know whether it was the lights or his unshed tears, but he would recognise that frame anywhere.
Working evenings in the factory had added bulk to his brother's already wide shoulders, added to his 6'5" frame made him over shadow everything in his path. It could be intimidating if you didn't know what a pansy he was.
Said pansy curled his long legs up and slid down the wall to sit next to Adam. They sat in silence for a while before Sam tried to hide a yawn in his t-shirt clad shoulder.
"You should be asleep," Adam said, taking in his brothers dark bags under his eyes and the paleness of his skin.
Sam snorted softly and wriggled his limbs to get more comfy crouched on the cold lino floor. "Well… so should you."
"I'm not the one who's got work all day followed by work at night"
"Who is the guardian and who is the younger brother here?" Sam asked, a smirk to his lips which Adam reluctantly returned. "What you doin' up Kiddo?"
Adam looked down at his hands, where his too long pyjamas sleeves covered his knuckles. "I miss her," he whispered. Not even bothering to add any context because Sam would know exactly who he was talking about.
"I know," Sam replied softly. And Adam couldn't even get angry and snarky at him for consoling him because Adam knew that Sam understood what it was like to be without a mother.
"Do you remember her?" Adam asked, finally looking up to see Sam smile slightly, but it was a sad smile.
"No," he whispered. "Dean used to tell me stories, of places we went and things we did. Dad showed me a picture of her once; he kept it in his journal. He caught me sneaking a look at it so many times he just gave it to me. I treasured that thing. I still have it but it's so faded and worn now…. I had her eyes, but Dean looks just like her."
"My mum worked a lot," Adam found himself responding. "She was a nurse, she worked long hours and we needed the money. But whenever she had a day off she would take me to the park, and we'd sit and play for hours. She must have been so tired but she never complained or said we couldn't go. She just smiled and pushed my higher on the swings." Adam hastily swiped a tear that had fallen down his cheek. If Sam noticed he didn't say anything.
"She loved you Adam, spending time with you wasn't a chore."
Adam swallowed past the lump in his throat
"Come on, bed," Sam announced, heaving himself to his feet. "You've got three hours before you have to be up for school and – as you helpfully pointed out – I've got a day full of manual labour."
Adam didn't feel like celebrating his first Christmas without his mother and Sam, unspokenly, seemed to get it. There was no tree, or tinsel, or fairy lights. They had a quiet day around the house, watching old movies playing on TV before a meal of burgers and fries, Adam's favourite.
In the evening Sam sheepishly pushed a messily wrapped box across the space between them on the sofa.
Adam flicked confused eyes down at the newspaper wrapping and back up to Sam who smiled strangely.
"It's kind of a Winchester tradition… Go on open it."
"Sam," Adam hesitated. "I didn't – I mean, I wasn't expecting-"
"Dude it's fine," Sam replied, shaking his head. "I wasn't expecting any presents. I just saw this and thought you might like it."
Adam returned his gaze to the package and gently lifted it into his lap and started unwrapping it. It was quite long and once the newspaper print was removed he found… one of their bath towels.
"Thanks man," he said sarcastically, "just what I've always wanted."
"It's wrapped in the towel smart ass. It's not brand new, I got it from that second hand store by the coffee shop and I didn't want it to get damaged."
Adam, seeing Sam's rambling as something he did when he got nervous, decided to put the poor boy out of his misery and quickly removed the towel to reveal… a skateboard. His eyes widened and darted back up to Sam who was biting his lip.
"Like I said, it's second hand and it had some pretty awful stickers and stuff on it but I gave it a good sand down, you can do whatever you want with it." Adam ran a hand over the smooth under belly. "And I when I saw you at the park the other week all your friends had one so I thought…"
Adam tried and failed to be surprised that Sam had been checking up on him and suppressed a smile that may have been fond. "You stalking me dude?"
Sam must have heard his smile and answered in turn. "Just watching out for you, making sure Jared and his goons weren't buggin' you."
"Nah. He learnt his lesson."
The two shared a grin at the memory of the story Adam had whirled into the house with one afternoon after showing Jared just what a Winchester could do when he and his mates tried to gang up on him again.
"So…" Sam ventured after a while, "do you like it?"
"Dude! It's awesome. Seriously, thank you!"
"It's no problem. It's what Christmas is supposed to be for right?"
Adam watched Sam for a moment. "I didn't get you anything."
"You don't need to get me anything, I swear."
"Hey, don't sweat it," Sam said with a small sad smile. "It's not that unusual for a Christmas to go by without any presents."
Adam frowned and then thought back, he had been so caught up in his own grief, and what this Christmas was signifying that he hadn't stopped to look around but now he did he couldn't help the surge of… anger he felt towards his wayward father and Sam's brother.
He didn't know what exactly had happened between the three Winchesters, didn't know what had happened that meant they never spoke. All he had managed to get out of Sam, when he questioned if he knew where their Dad was, was that they had parted on bad terms. But still… it was Christmas. He couldn't think you a single thing he could have done ever that would have meant his mother ignoring him at Christmas. Not a card, a phone call – nothing.
He didn't get it. Sure Sam could be annoying, and OCD about the washing up and keeping his text books neatly on a shelf, but then left his massive shoes all over the place for people to trip over, and if he ate something that didn't agree with him he stunk the house out for the rest of the day. But he was a good guy. A guy that turned his life upside down to take in a half-brother he had never even heard of let alone met, a guy that weeded Miss Elbert's garden when he did their own just because, and a guy who used, probably what little spare money they had, to buy his half-brother a present just because he thought he would like it.
Adam fought hard to not let his anger seep onto his face and instead granted Sam with a mischievous smirk.
"Oh I don't think you got no presents. What happened to the basket I saw you bring in before winter break started?" He knew he had struck gold when Sam started to blush. "Were those, or were they not, home baked goodies from the beautiful Jessica."
"She gave some to everyone," Sam mumbled, his face growing redder.
"But you were the only one who got a big batch wrapped up with a bow." Sam grunted and sulkily turned back to the black and white movie playing on the TV. Adam couldn't help his cackle. "Oh, you're so in there. Just man up Sammy and ask her out."
"I'm not taking dating advice from a thirteen year old."
"Well I'm a thirteen year old who's had more action than you in the last few months."
"Jennifer Price accosting you under the mistletoe does not count as getting lucky."
"It's luckier than you!"
Sam responded by throwing the rolled up newspaper wrapping back at Adam who batted it away easily. They sunk into a gentle silence, Adam's present still sat in his lap. After a while he turned to Sam, the most earnest face he could muster.
"Sam – Thank You."
It covered a multitude of things he would never say. But Sam seemed to get it and gave Adam a full smile that reached his eyes, showing his dimples. They passed the rest of the night in silence.
Sam sat with his head bowed over the pile full of bills in front of him, and try as he might he just couldn't get the 'in' pile as large as the out-goings pile. And staring at the numbers, surprisingly, wasn't helping, only giving him a headache.
He let his head fall into his hands, gently massaging his own temples in an attempt to stave it off for a few more hours. He had two essays to write, and three chapters of his psychology text book to read before his class tomorrow, and by the looks of the state of his bank account, a second job to find.
His head gave another painful twinge at that thought; there really weren't enough hours in the day.
A creek from the room next door made him look up. But there was no more noise.
Carefully he crept down the hall to the half open door, pushing it open fully he let the light from the hallway filter through to the bedroom beyond, lighting the figure on the bed.
Adam had squirmed his way out of his blankets, his awkward teenage limbs sticking out at all angles. Sam smiled fondly and shook his head, silently collecting the blankets from the floor and arranging them to cover at least the majority of Adams legs.
He was stood in the doorway about to leave when an emotion hit him with such force that he had to grab the door frame for strength.
Sam had felt snatches of this before. He had felt protective of his brother and father, probably more so than most, in the life that they led, had looked after them both when they were ill or too drunk to care, worried about them when they didn't come home on time. But he had had never felt this soul deep tug of responsibility; that this life in front of him was entirely his to mould, to succeed or to fail, all on his shoulders.
This dream that he had had; to leave hunting, to go to college, make a life, settle down, had been for him. It may have been selfish or naïve, but it was what he had needed, wanted, to feel safe and happy.
Now it wasn't just about him.
Sam looked around at the peeling paper of Adams bed room walls, the posters they had bought to cover up the worst of the paint chippings and felt his heart constrict.
Adam didn't deserve this. He had had a good life, with a strong caring mother that loved him. He didn't deserve to live in a rundown house with a 20 year old half-brother he hardly knew.
Sure they had had a few run ins, but considering the upheaval the kid had gone through Sam wasn't surprised. And the kid had floored him with his strength in the face of his grief. Sam wondered if he would have been able to carry on if something had happened to Dean or his Dad at that age.
He turned back to the kitchen, switched on the coffee pot and turned to his open school books with renewed vigour, pushing aside the bills.
This wasn't just about him anymore.
Adam blearily walked into the kitchen the next morning, absently grabbing a bowl of cereal and spoon before dropping into an empty seat at the dining table.
After a few mouthfuls of sugary goodness his brain started to boot up, taking a note of the haphazard pile of books and papers covering the table. He followed the trail that led to the opposite side to see Sam, in the same clothes as yesterday, furiously scribbling on a legal pad.
He opened his mouth to pose the question but Sam held up a hand for silence. Adam knew enough by now to let Sam write down whatever fast paced thoughts were running through his mind before interrupting or you would incur an epic bitch-face.
"Aha!" exclaimed Sam, ending the sentence he was writing with a pointed full stop. "Done!"
Adam watched as Sam gathered together a few of the loose sheets of paper on the desk "Dude! Did you stay up all night… writing an essay?"
"Ahh not just any essay: one essay on the use of cave painting in Native American mythology, one on the World wide power of the UN. And not three, but four chapters read, challenging Freud's methods." Sam grinned in delight, seemingly very proud of himself despite the crow's nest that was currently his hair and the large bags hanging beneath his eyes.
"You are such a geek," Adam scoffed before turning back to his cereal.
"Whatever. I have finished my work, and I still have time for a shower and breakfast before class."
"Oh yeah," Adam smirked around a mouthful of sugary goodness. "Today's your psychology class, gotta smarten up. Wouldn't want the beautiful Jessica to see you with flat hair, now that would be embarrassing."
Adam revelled in the flush that spread up Sam's neck, even when Sam clipped him on the back of the head and told him to eat his godamn breakfast.
Sam shifted in his seat again and tried to focus on the words spewing from the guest lecturer's mouth. But try as he might he nothing was going in. He couldn't get comfortable. He shifted again, banging his long legs against the chair in front of him earning an over the shoulder glare.
Sam sighed and shifted again when a small warm hand landed on his arm.
"Sam, are you alright?"
Jessica's worried eyes were on him. Sam didn't like the look of worry on her face; it made something in his chest tighten. She should be happy and smiling, her smile could light up a whole room it was so beautiful, and whoa… where did those thoughts come from?
Sam shook his head back to the present, back to the frown between Jessica's eyebrows that had deepened.
"No, I'm good," he whispered back. "Just can't get comfy."
"It's almost as if they made chairs especially to stop us falling asleep in lectures," she responded with a wry grin before turning back to the front.
The lecture end was pronounced with the familiar hustle and scrape of students escaping into the sunlight. Sam hovered, waiting for the worst of the crowds to disperse, slowly packing his unused notebook and pens away.
"Hey Sam." Sam turned to see Jessica nearly by the door. "Me and some guys are going out to 'The Quad' tonight, did you wanna come?"
"I can't," was out of his mouth before he even thought about it. He was too busy making sure he got his bag zipped up to see the disappointed slump to Jessica's shoulders. "I've got a shift at the coffee house and then I'm stopping at the library to finish that paper for Tykeman's class."
"Isn't last minute paper worries what weekends were made for?"
Sam smiled at her joke before he hefted his bag onto his shoulders. "They are also for weekend shifts at the Factory."
"Right," she mumbled, glancing over her shoulder to her waiting friends.
"Oh sorry," Sam said, seeing where her gaze was. "I'm keeping you from your friends. Have a good weekend anyway."
"It's fine Sam, I started talking to you remember?" Sam frowned, trying to actually remember. Jessica smiled and shoved at his arm. "Go on then. Haven't you got a job to go to? Don't work too hard."
"Oh you know me," Sam grinned, throwing his bag over his shoulder.
"Yes I do – which is why I said 'don't work too hard'."
Sam ended up getting home just after nine. He would have stayed longer but the Librarian kept tutting at him when surreptitiously coughed into his elbow every few seconds. It wasn't his fault – library dust always got to him.
Instead of the usual background noise of a quiet TV and rustle of a crisp packet Sam was greeted with giggles and murmurs of conversation coming from the front room on his return.
Maybe if he hadn't been so tired and he wasn't aching as much, he would have been more worried but as he turned into the front room he saw a gaggle of teenagers huddled around the coffee table.
"Hey?" he croaked, he really needed to take a drink of water.
Sam saw Adam's head pop up from the group belatedly holding the opened beer can in his hand behind his back. Sam followed Adam's guilty gaze to the opened six pack on the table and the one beer left.
Sam gave the nervous teenagers a tired smile, a chuckle escaping his lips as a gruff cough. "Just save that last one for me alright. And don't stay up too late."
Adam nodded and shot Sam a look of relief. Sam retreated, leaving the kids to their fun, to the sanctuary of his room.
Adam had just been to a party.
An honest-to-god party.
With music and dancing and beer (alright so the beer was weak and warm and there was only enough for one each but it was the principle) and his friends.
And it had been his first party.
His heart simultaneously soared and wilted at the thought of his mother's reactions to his first teenage experience. She probably would have laughed to hide her wet eyes and tried to flatten down his hair. Then try and make him pose for photos whilst he whined and blushed.
When Adam slipped through the door he was aware that he was grinning like a fool, his lips still tingled from his parting gift from Isabelle.
His grin faded into a frown though, when he looked at the pitiful figure on the coach.
Sam's large frame was huddled under their threadbare blanket, his face flushed, his bangs sticking to his forehead whilst he feebly hacked into the sofa cushions.
Dammit – he knew Sam had been getting sick.
"Sam," he called, coming to his brother's side, feeling the heat radiating off him.
"Adam?" Sam's voice sounded like he had been gargling with sandpaper and he coughed into his arm again. "How was the party?"
"Fuck that – what the hell are you doing still up?"
Sam gave him a look, his head cocked sideways like a goddamn puppy, like the answer was obvious. "Waiting up for you."
Adam rolled his eyes and got Sam's not inconsiderable weight up off the sofa and leaning into his side. "You are such a girl."
When he got to Sam's bedroom the older man fell face first into his pillows, letting out a heartfelt groan.
Sam turned his head to offer his brother a withering glare, kind of diminished by his glassy eyes and flushed cheeks. "Not shit Sherlock."
Talking obviously wasn't a good idea because Sam started coughing into his pillows again.
And Adam didn't know what to do.
He had never had to look after someone when they were sick before.
When his mum had been sick he had gone and stayed with Mike's parents so his mum could rest. When he was sick his mum had looked after him.
Adam didn't think that Sam would appreciate softly sung lullabies in quite the same way he had.
Sam seemed to read some of his apprehension. "Dude, I'll be fine." He punctuated this statement with another grating cough. "I just need to sleep."
Adam gave Sam a disbelieving stare which Sam ignored and rolled over grumbling under his breath.
When Adam woke the next morning he entered the kitchen he scrubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing things.
Sam was still pale, large bags under his eyes and a flush painted across his cheeks, his hair sticking up in every direction and his breath rattling on every inhale. But instead of lying miserable in front of the TV, or better, in bed, he was stood, in a T-Shirt and shorts, his hands elbow deep in the washing up bowl.
"Christ Sam," Adam yelped. Sam started, swaying dangerously away from the sink before Adam darted forward. "Sit down!"
"It's nothing Adam. I'm fine."
"Bull your fine," Adam barked. "I heard you coughing all night. You can't go to work toady."
"I have to."
"No you don't – call in sick"
"I can't," Sam insisted. "I already called in sick yesterday to get my paper finished. If I take another sick day I'll get fired."
"Jesus Sam –"
They stood at an impasse for a few moments.
"At least let me do this." Adam shifted Sam's tired form away from the sink and towards the table. Sam groaned and sunk into the seat as Adam plunged his hands into the soapy water.
"Could you please just… take it easy then?" Adam asked, glancing over his shoulder. "Do what the rest of the world does at work – the bare minimum."
Sam snorted. "Yeah, I think I can do that"
"Good – and I'll cook dinner tonight"
"What exactly will you be cooking and pizzas does not count"
"Fuck you I can cook. I used to cook all the time at home"
"Alright then. I will prepare to be amazed," Sam replied a little sarcastically for Adam's taste then coughed very wetly. Adam watched worried for a moment before he fixed his gaze back to the dishes.
Adam wasn't worried. Nope.
He was not sitting at home like a house wife waiting for their husband, dinner on the table, biting their nails because he was late.
Well, diner was on the table, but that was just because it was cooked, and there wasn't much point leaving it in the oven when it was going to be eaten in a moment.
And biting his nails was a habit that he had always had. His mother had threatened to put mustard under his fingernails if kept doing it.
And maybe he was pacing, just a little. But it was good for the circulation or something.
Definitely not worried. At all.
Sam was a big boy. Just because he said he would be straight home after work didn't mean he was going to be… Like he was every other night.
A miracle could have occurred and Sam could have lost that inane stubbornness that said he had to come home every night instead of going out drinking like any normal college student.
He could have grown some balls and awareness and asked Jessica out on a date and just forgotten to tell Adam.
Yeah…that could have happened.
Adam stared at the dinner, now cold, on the table and then the phone he didn't realise he had been clutching.
But who exactly was he supposed to call?
He didn't know Jessica's number, or that guy Brady's. And Zac… well Zac's new girlfriend was… interesting. Adam would really rather not interrupt anything.
He could maybe dig out some of Sam's payslips and call the factory, see if he was pulling some overtime. Against Adam's very sage advice.
He was still staring at the phone, debating whether or not to screw it all and call the police to report a missing person when it rang, nearly causing Adam to throw it across the room in shock.
Cautiously he lifted the receiver to his ear. "Hello?"
"Oh hey," a crackled male voice sounded through the speaker. "I'm Joe, I work with Sam at McCoy's. You Sam's little brother?"
"I thought I should let you know. Sam had a fall at work. I wasn't there but they said that he fainted."
Adam gripped the table top to stop himself from stumbling. "Fainted?"
"Yeah, big guy like him. Surprised you didn't feel the earthquake," Joe chuckled, seemingly unaware of Adam's utter silence or the way his heart was trying to jack knife through his chest. "Anyway, they got an ambulance for him. Sam said it was just the two of you, so I thought you should know he probably won't be home tonight. You got someone to watch out for you?"
'Yeah' Adam thought, 'and he's just been whisked away in an ambulance'
"Which hospital did he go to?" Adam asked in lieu of answering out loud.
"Um – County I think. Hey kid, you really shouldn't be at the house alone all night-"
But Adam had already hung up and was rushing out the door.
Adam was used to the chaos and noise of a busy ER from years waiting for his mother to finish work. But it had never been quite this annoying.
Throngs of people stood between him and where he needed to be; the nurses' station. He knew enough about hospitals to know that any information he wanted he would find there, if he could convince the nurse to tell him.
Barging through the crowds of drunkards with blue eyes and the jocks with bleeding noses he found himself in front of a stern looking woman, frowning down ant a computer screen.
"Hi," Adam spoke as politely as his worry would let him.
"Can I help you?" the nurse asked boredly, barely looking up from her computer screen.
"Um yes, sorry to bother you but. I was supposed to be waiting here for my dad but," Adam looked over his shoulder when he heard a yell and watched a two men being dragged apart by security guards, "but I don't think I'll ever find him in here. Do you mind telling me what room Sam Winchester is in?"
The Nurse looked up from her computer then and Adam gave his best disarming smile. The poor woman never stood a chance.
Adam paused when he finally found Sam's room. It wasn't ICU, so that was something, but looking at Sam he wouldn't have looked out of place there.
He was still pale, and now scarily still; his hair limp against his forehead. A large oxygen mask was covering his nose and mouth, steadily misting up from Sam's breaths. Along with the IV's and the drips and monitors, Sam's usually large frame looked swamped, small, and vulnerable.
Adam didn't like it.
He didn't even notice the other presence in the room until an older man, presumably Sam's doctor, spoke to him.
"What are you doing in here?"
"I'm… Adam," Adam stuttered under the man's annoyed glare. "Sam's…he's my brother."
"You should really wait outside until Sam's guardian arrives."
Adam frowned at the doctor then. "Who?"
"A Mr," the doctor looked down at the chart, "Bobby Singer. He was notified of Sam's condition and is apparently on his way."
"But that could take hours!"
"Still – hospital policy-"
"Please," Adam pleaded, casting wide eyes at the doctor. "I won't get in the way I promise. I just… I just want to sit with him."
The doctor looked reluctant but finally nodded.
Adam didn't hesitate then in dragging a chair closer to Sam's bed side. He contemplated doing something really girly, like holding Sam's large limp hand. But he just sat there, taking in all the tubes and wires.
"What's wrong with him?" Adam asked after the doctor had finished fiddling with the tube and writing on his clipboard.
"Nothing too dire," the man answered lazily. "Basically just exhaustion. Mixed with a cold that moved to his chest, not enough sleep, too much stress." Adam swallowed and tried to dampen down the guilt that threatened to overtake him. "We've just got him on fluids and rest at the moment. We'll see how he does."
Adam nodded, not really hearing anything else the Doctor said.
Soon he was on his own in the room, silent save for Sam's laboured breaths.
He must have fallen asleep because sometime later he jerked up when a gruff voice sounded across the room.
Throughout his flailing limbs Adam managed to somehow stay on his chair. He blinked blearily and his vision cleared to see an older man, in an old T-Shirt and plaid shirt and a dirty baseball cap on his head, staring at him.
"Kid, you wanna clear out, this is private room. Catch your Z's elsewhere."
The gruff attitude and the hat matched Adam's mental picture from the few select stories Sam had shared of his childhood.
The man frowned then, suspicion apparent on his face.
"Who's askin'?" And Adam suddenly didn't know what to say. He didn't think that Sam had been in contact with the man he described as his uncle, since Adam had been with him. "Cause you're too old to be his sprog, too young to be a friend. So I'll ask again, who are ya?"
"Adam," he blurted out quickly because the way Bobby was leaning towards him, and the glint in his eyes, was slightly frightening. "I'm Adam, Milligan."
"And what you doin' ere? Apart from taking a nap."
"Um… well Sam. I'm his brother."
"Brother?" Suspicion was very clearly the only thing the older man was feeling now and Adam felt a jolt run through his spine as the older man reached for something tucked in the back of his jeans.
"Half-brother! My mum is Kate Milligan, Dad is John Winchester, Sam's been looking after me since Mum died!"
Bobby stopped and stared. Suspicion fighting a shock on his face. "John's your Dad?"
"Well, I've never met the guy but that's what it says on my birth certificate."
"And Sam's been looking after you?" At Adam's nod Bobby seemed to relax somewhat, a resigned but fond smile crept across his face as he looked at the unmoving man in the bed between them. "Jesus Kid. Why didn't you call me?"
"Why didn't you call?" Adam couldn't help but accuse. Maybe Sam wouldn't have ended up here, in this state if he had someone to help him out every once in a while instead of trying to deal with everything on his own.
That made the older man clearly bristle. "Because he wanted a break, a fresh start. I was trying to give him that. So you can get off your high horse."
Adam slumped back into his seat and Bobby dragged one to sit at Sam's other side.
"So," the gruff man ventured after a few moments, "long lost brother uh?"
"Yeah," Adam scoffed. "Real lifetime movie stuff."
"How long ago did your mum…"
"And Sam's been taking good care a ya?"
"Yeah, he's cool…" Adam tried to think how to explain the feeling he got when Jared looked up stunned from the floor when Adam had floored him, Sam's smile when Adam got an A on the paper they had stayed up working on, his gentle and firm support through Adam's on-going grief. But he couldn't think of the words, "…um, yeah. He's been good."
Bobby gave him a small smile before his gaze drifted back to Sam. He leaned forward and gave Sam's still arm a squeeze. "Bet he has."
They lapsed back into silence.
Adam didn't fall asleep again; he just got pulled into a trance, his gaze solely focused on Sam's face, the beeps and hisses and drips that accompanied the hospital room crowding around him until he was in his own small world, with Sam, just waiting for him to wake up.
He had no idea how long it had been, sitting in silence, when raised voices from the hallway pulled him back to the real world.
"Shit!" Bobby hissed.
Adam watched Bobby spring from his chair and send him a nervous look as the voices made their way closers to Sam's room.
"Sorry kid, I had no idea they would even show up here."
But Adam was cut off when the door burst open and two men filled the doorway.
Adam wouldn't be able to tell you how he knew, maybe it was a genetic thing, but as soon as he saw them he knew who these two men were, and the bottom of his stomach dropped out.
John Winchester was so much more… everything, than he had imagined. His body blocked the door, his shoulders broad and stiff, standing upright and in charge.
Sam had mentioned in passing once that their dad had been a Marine. Adam could see that now.
So imposing John Winchester was, Adam didn't notice the smaller man stood beside him until he let out a gasp that sounded strangely like 'Sammy'.
Smaller wasn't really a true description of the second. Like saying an oak tree was smaller than a mountain. He was still a fair size, his sharp green eyes firmly fixed on the still figure laying in the bed.
"What the hell Singer?" John growled, coming further into the room.
"Calm your horses John-"
"No. What is going on? He was supposed to be in college. He was supposed to be safe."
Sam's hand twitched, it was only then that Adam noticed he had been gripping it tightly in his own.
The raised voices carried on in the background and Sam's eyelids started to flicker.
There was a loud thud, like a hand slapping a wall in frustration and Sam groaned.
"Sam?" Adam whispered. Sam's head rolled towards him and he groaned again, his forehead puckering in discomfort. But his eyes remained closed. He was mumbling something. But Adam couldn't hear above the raised voices. "Shut up," he told them. But his voice didn't even seem to make a dent in their psyche.
"God! Would you all just SHUT UP! Sam is supposed to be RESTING! Your shouting is not helping at all. So either SHUT UP, or get out!"
By the end of his tirade Adam was standing and had the undivided attention of the three awake occupants of the room. Sam had grown still now, unhearing of Adam's burst.
But now Adam's other brother, and his…God…Dad, were staring at him, he had their undivided attention. And he had no clue what to do with it. "Um. Thanks," he mumbled when the silence reigned for a while longer.
"Who are you boy?" John's face and voice were blank, and cold. Adam gulped, feeling the need to sit back down and melt back into the shadows.
A voice, sounding surprisingly like Sam's, whispered in the back of his mind thought. Suck it up, square your shoulders, and don't show them you're afraid.
"A-Adam. My name is Adam."
"Alright Adam. Well thanks for sitting with Sam, but his family are here now so why don't you-"
"Adam Milligan!" Adam blurted out, cutting John off. "Kate Milligan was my mother."
John's face started in recognition of that nameand Adam had a moment of pleasure that at least his mother had been remembered by this man. But then, the pieces started to fall into place in John's brain, and you could nearly see him joining up the dots.
Adam wasn't sure which was more entertaining. The look of horror spreading over John's face or the confused look on Dean's face as his gaze switched between his father and the strange boy by his brothers bed.
But it was a relief when John finally tore his gaze away from his suspected offspring, and went back to glaring at Bobby.
"What the hell Bobby!"
"What?" Dean piped up. "What's going on? Who's that kid?"
But Bobby was ushering them out of the room, under Dean's vehement disapproval as he tried to keep an eye on his unconscious younger brother.
And then the door slammed shut and there was silence.
"Well," Adam spoke to the now empty room before looking down at Sam, who had slept through the whole thing, "I bet that wasn't how you hoped that meeting would go."
Adam stayed alone in the room, not daring to fall back to sleep.
He had just met his father. His actual, flesh and blood, real life father. And the first thing he had said to his was to 'shut up'.
He let his heard fall down into his cupped hands. And let out a groan.
Sam let out and answering one.
Adam's head whipped up at the sound. Sam's eyes were moving about under their lids.
"Sam?" Adam whispered. This time the eyelids flickered, and he groaned, and then they crept open.
It took a while for those eyes to focus but when they did they zeroed in on Adam, who couldn't help his relieved grin.
"Adam?" Sam croaked out and then started to cough. Adam grabbed a cup of water from the side and helped Sam to take a sip. "Wh-Wha's going on?"
"What's going on is you decided to take a face first at work and get rushed to hospital. Knew you were a drama queen but that's taking it a bit far," Adam forced a chuckle.
Sam blinked and took in his surroundings and Adam could literally see him piecing things together in his head until the world made sense. When he seemed to get a handle on reality he turned back to Adam. "You good?" Sam rasped.
"Me? I'm fine you're the idiot that ended up in hospital!"
"You-" which was cut off with a bought of coughing. "You eat dinner?"
"Jesus Christ Sam!" Adam exclaimed. "No I didn't eat dinner. It's sat going cold on the table you asshole. I spent a good hour making you godamn pasta and you don't even have the decency to get home on time."
"Your language is awful." Sam's laugh turned into another cough which took another sip of water to calm down.
"You know, it's not funny," Adam continued once Sam could hear him over the sound of his lungs trying to escape from his body. "You were sick. I could tell you were sick but you wouldn't let up. You needed rest."
"Also needed money for rent and food."
Even sick and pale with an oxygen mask half on Adam could tell that was Sam's stubborn face so decided to save this argument when they were both in a bit better condition.
Now to introduce the elephant that could walk back in the room at any moment. "Your Dad and brother are here."
Sam's eye's widened in shock and opened his mouth but all that came out was more coughing. Adam got one hand behind Sam to help him sit up.
"Bobby called them," Adam explained when Sam was finished.
"Bobby's here too?" Sam rasped with wide disbelieving eyes.
"Yeah, you have him as your emergency contact. They called him when they admitted you."
"You," Sam swallowed. "You meet them?"
Adam helped Sam lay back onto the bed.
"And – I yelled at them, told them to shut up, then Bobby dragged them out and they haven't been back since."
"Yeah," Adam sighed, "that was my feeling."
Adam was quite happy to be sitting here, just him and Sam like normal. But he didn't miss the skittish glances Sam kept making towards the door.
"Do you want me to get them?"
"No," Sam said hurriedly, and not at all believingly. "No. They'll come when they ready I suppose. Dad will have had a big shock."
Adam wasn't going to push.
By the time the door crept open again Sam had dropped back off to sleep and Adam had positioned his oxygen mask back over his face.
Adam glanced up from the two year old magazine he was reading to see Dean slip through the doorway.
Predictably he went straight for Sam, his eyes shining with worry.
"He already woke up," Adam said, only slightly smug. "I asked if he wanted me to fetch you but he said not to bother."
Dean didn't bother to respond. Leaning over Sam he carded a gentle hand through Sam's bangs pushing them away from the face and over to the left. Adam had to grit his teeth against the urge to reach up and sweep them the other way, the way Sam liked to wear it.
"You know, I expected more from the prodigal 'Big Brother'. For the guy that Sam clearly idolises your kind of… small."
"Don't you have something more important to be doing than bitching at me?" Dean growled not taking his eyes from Sam.
"Like you've had something more important to be doing than being with Sam?"
"You don't even know what you're talking about kid, so leave it alone."
"I know that I had my first Christmas without my mum and I wasn't the only one missing someone. At least my mum's dead. What's your excuse?"
"You know what." Dean seemed to grit his teeth against whatever he would have preferred to say. "Sam's sick, and from all the evidence he's sick from working himself into the ground to take care of you, so why don't you-"
"Dean!" Both Dean and Adam's head's whipped round from where they had been staring each other down across Sam's sick bed and zeroed on the imposing figure of John Winchester in the door frame.
"How is he?" John asked blandly.
"Woke up," Dean explained. "Lucid. I think he'll be fine."
"Good," John seemed to murmur to himself. There was a short moment, and Adam couldn't be sure as his face was cast in shadows in the darkened room, but his gaze that was skittering about the room landed on Sam and softened. But it was only a moment and then it was gone, shut away behind gruff walls and military shoulders. "Grab you stuff. We're heading out."
"What?!" Dean barked. But Adam just snorted in resignation. He wasn't surprised, everything he had learnt about John Winchester second hand told him that the man wouldn't be sticking around. He wasn't surprised; that didn't mean it didn't hurt.
"You know what Dean , your Dad's got the idea. We don't need you. So you can run off and do whatever it is that is so important. Sam doesn't need you," Adam made sure his eyes were locked on John for the last bit, "and I certainly don't."
"Oh yeah," Dean sneered, his gaze flickering around the hospital room. "Looks like your both doing real well."
Adam opened his mouth to retort, to let his anger, pain, his on-going grief, pour out in a public condemnation of John Winchester and his lap dog. Scream at them 'where were they?' when Sam needed help, 'where were they' when Sam had a paper due and work and not enough hours in the day, and that small little voice at the back of Adam's mind that screamed 'where were they' when Adam was growing up and alone. But a small touch to the back of his hand stalled his tirade, and Sam's eyes held his own.
"Adam – let it go."
The room fell into a hush as the tension in the air mounted; the older two Winchester's not seeming willing to break it.
"Dean," Sam rasped with a small smile. "Dad," he said more tentatively to the figure still huddled in the shadows. "Just a quick visit then?" Sam's tone was bitter and John seemed to flinch in his corner.
Sam's gaze was fixed on John but it was Dean that reacted first, reaching out as if he couldn't help himself. "Sammy – you scared the crap outta me man!"
"'S good to see you too Dean." Sam managed a smile at his brother which was returned with an eager grin. "Surprised to see you both here though. I thought our last conversation made it clear enough of my importance in your crusade."
The tension sprang back and Dean's face lost a little colour. "How can you even think that Sammy?"
"'Leave and don't come back' is pretty clear cut Dean."
"See Dean," John spoke from the doorway. "He's fine. Up and bitching already. Let's go." John swung the door open and held it, sending an equally expectant and impatient look at his eldest.
Dean seemed torn, his eyes bouncing from his father's glare to his brother lying in a hospital bed. Adam stood, his hands twisting in the hospital sheets to stop himself from punching one of them. And by the look of John and Dean that would get him nowhere.
"Dean," John barked when no one had moved in a while.
"Just a minute." And then Dean moved, but in the opposite direction he was expecting.
Leaning down over Sam dean sent him an imploring look. "Come with us Sam."
"You heard me, come with us."
"Dean," Sam sighed. "You still don't get it. I don't want-"
"I know. I know you wanted to go to college and be normal, but it's not really working out the way you expected is it? We can help. I practically realised you and you didn't turn out half as bad."
"I-" But Sam seemed to falter, and Adam could feel the bottom drop out of his world. Of course Sam would want to go back with his Dad and brother, the people who he grew up with, people he had known all his life. He tried to move his hand away from where it still lay, partly under Sam's on the bed but a large hand gripped it, the hold too strong for someone who was supposed to be sick. "No. It's not the life for a kid Dean and you know it. This life… it's hard, but at least it's safe."
There was a visible slump in Dean's shoulders and Adma thought he saw a small flicker of sadness across John's face before it hardened. "Say your goodbyes Dean. Kid?" It took a moment for Adam to realise that John was talking to him. "They may want some privacy." He nodded to the still open door.
Adam opened his mouth to decline, very strongly, but Sam squeezed the grip he still had on his wrist. "Go on. I wanna talk to Dean real quick."
Adam took a seat in the waiting room and John disappeared for a moment. Coming back with two steaming cups he handed one to Adam who took it wordlessly.
Adam was very, very aware, that this man now sat next to him was his father. The man he had fantasied about when he was a boy and wanted someone to play catch with. Also the man that had abandoned both him and Sam when he was needed most.
"It's Hot Chocolate," John was saying. Adam looked down to see the milky brown water the vending machine had dispensed under the name 'Hot Chocolate'.
"I'm thirteen, not five." But he took a sip anyway. Mostly just for something to do that wasn't fidget in discomfort… or cry or scream. It tasted just a bit worse than Adam was expecting. He took another sip.
"Bobby told me," John started again, "about your mother. I'm sorry."
John blinked at the side of Adam's head. "Because she was a good woman… I met her when I was injured on a job. She was my nurse."
Adam held back a snort and just nodded. He wasn't going to say anything back. He didn't want to talk about his mother, especially to this man. His memories of her now were the only thing he had. And he didn't share them lightly.
"I never knew, you know." It seemed Sam had inherited his annoying habit of not leaving things that wanted to be left alone, alone.
"Would it have made a difference?" Adam asked, casting a side on glance to his father. "If you had known about me?"
John seemed to think about that for a while. "No. Probably not." It wasn't the answer Adam had wanted, but at least it was honest.
After that there wasn't much else to say.
Dean left the room, his eyes brighter than would be normal, and John stood. There was a small moment before Adam stood to go back into Sam's where the three of them hung in statis.
How do you offer farewell to long lost family members you didn't know?
John helped make all of their decisions by giving Adam a tight nod before leaving, giving Dean a moment to catch up. Dean used that moment to send Adam a strong look.
It said many things; one of the most glaring was 'take care of my brother' as though Adam even needed a directive. And Adam didn't miss the small glance of envy as Adam walked freely back into Sam's room and closed the door behind him.
It took some time, some antibiotics, many hours sleep and an argument over what constituted tolerable working hours in a week, but things settled back to normal.
Well kind of normal.
Bobby had hung around at the hospital. Helping them both get back to the house and sticking around for a few days to help Adam play nurse maid when he was at school.
He left with gruff instruction to 'take care of each other, ya idjits' and an envelope stuffed with bills shoved into Sam's hands.
Sam's shocked stare at the cash gave Bobby enough time to escape before Sam could try and protest. In the end Adam freed it from Sam's fingers and they had pizza and ice cream for dinner.
After that there were random phone calls from a gruff voice every now and again which consisted, on Sam's end, of him repeating; "Yes I'm fine.", "Grades are good.", "Adam's a pain in the arse, so nothing new." And then things like, "Yes I've got enough salt." Which confused Adam but he passed it off as an inside joke and forgot about it.
There was also one memorable evening when the beautiful Jessica, in full mother-hen mode, had insisted that she was cooking them all a healthy dinner.
Adam spent the whole night wiggling his eyebrows and making lewd gestures behind Jessica's back. Then Sam would blush and kick Adam in the shin.
Jessica spent the night alternatively cooing over both of them, telling Sam that he still looked flush with fever and that if Adam's leg was hurting that much he should really see someone about it.
But she survived the night and made Sam grin like a lovesick loon so she was OK.
Six weeks after Sam had left hospital, Adam came home from basketball practice to find the kitchen sides overtaken with food and a bemused looking Sam in the centre.
"Did a grocery store explode in here?"
Sam huffed a laugh but didn't answer as he sorted through the bags of rice, and pasta, and jars of tomatoes and peanut butter. Along with an industrial sized tub of salt.
Adam was just about to ask what the hell was up with this family and salt when he saw the note discarded on the table top.
Take care – both of you.
PS – 1 448 567 3322. Call us if you need anything
Adam looked up from the note to see Sam watching him warily, as if a small scribbled note could send him into a hissy fit.
He could tell that Sam was waiting for some kind of reaction from him and by the tense set of his shoulders it was important.
Without much thought Adam crossed the kitchen, towards the garbage can. He grabbed the disused magnet of a bikini clad woman Brady had bought Sam from spring break, and fixed the note to the fridge.
"So," Adam declared spinning round, ignoring the pleased grin Sam was wearing. "Your turn to cook?"