Sam had never been more excited- or nervous- before in his life.
He was finally on his own, taking charge of his life. He had a full-ride to Stanford and he was going to make something of himself.
He grinned as the Greyhound tore up the miles, carrying him further and further away from his past and on towards his future.
He was going to be a lawyer; he was going to help people. He wouldn't have to be afraid of getting hurt or killed on the job anymore.
He'd never felt so free.
Thinking back to the night before- the night he'd left- Sam frowned.
John hadn't wanted him to go. He'd called Sam selfish, said he didn't care about seeing his mother's killer brought to justice. He'd acted as though Sam was betraying their family- of betraying him- by wanting something more than a life on the road.
Not wanting to fight anymore, Sam had turned away from his father, even as John continued to shout at him.
Dean hadn't said a word throughout the entire tirade. Hell, he had barely said anything when Sam told him and John about Stanford- springing it on them the very night of his departure.
Sam wondered if Dean felt betrayed like John did.
He hoped not. He couldn't bear it if Dean hated him for trying to choose his own destiny.
Sam told himself that he'd call Dean as soon as he got to Stanford, at least to let him know he'd made it in one piece.
Elko, Nevada was tiny. Barely a dot on the map. It's major source of income were the tourists who drove through on their way to Las Vegas.
Its bus depot was even tinier.
Sam stepped off the Greyhound and stretched his stiff muscles. The air was warm and dry, carrying with it the scent of dust and sage grass.
Making his way across the gritty concrete, Sam pulled open the smeary door and let himself into the depot.
"Excuse me," he said as he walked up to the desk where a grey-haired woman sat, knitting.
"Yes, how can I help you?" she asked, peering up at Sam through thick-rimmed glasses.
"I need to catch a bus to Carson City, when does the next one arrive?" Sam asked politely.
The woman's lips pursed, "Next one doesn't come until tomorrow morning, Hun."
"Oh," Sam sighed.
"Do you have anywhere to stay for the night?" The woman asked kindly.
"Well, no," Sam admitted, "I'm just passing through on my way to California."
The elderly woman nodded, "Always passing through. That's what everyone says."
"Are there any motels around here?" Sam asked hopefully.
The woman nodded, "There's the Tranquility down that way. Nice place. It's not far; could probably walk from here."
"Thank you," Sam said and turned back around.
Outside the depot again, Sam decided his next course of action.
It was almost five o'clock and Sam hadn't eaten anything on the bus. Glancing around, he spied a sign for a restaurant called Cal's and crossed the street, making a beeline for the diner.
Cal's boasted a Southwest theme. It had retro wood-paneled walls and brown-speckle tiled floors. The vinyl seat covers on the booths and bar stools was chocolate brown. Taxidermy head of pronghorn antelope, bison and mountain goats hung from the walls. A stuffed jackalope sat on the bar, a brass nameplate introducing it as 'Wyatt'.
Sam smirked and sat down in a booth at the back of the diner. Moments later, a waitress wearing a cowgirl outfit appeared.
She handed Sam a menu, "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"Coffee, please," Sam said and the waitress nodded, walking away.
Sam flipped through the menu while he waited, grimacing at the diner's meal choices.
Hamburgers, ribs, chicken wings; food fit for a carnivore.
Dean would love this place, Sam thought as he turned the page and glanced at the small list of salads available.
Maybe I'll just have a sandwich, Sam decided and settled on a buffalo chicken club.
I should be celebrating anyway.
Sam told the waitress his order when she returned with his coffee and he glanced out the window, curious about the tiny town he had stopped in.
Many of the shops and businesses were closed for the night and the streets were all but deserted. Strange for a town that seemed to thrive on tourism.
"Are you just passing through?" the waitress asked as she brought out his sandwich.
Sam nodded, "I'm going to California."
The waitress smiled, "That's nice. Hey, you have anywhere to stay for the night? The Tranquility motel isn't too far from here and it's really great. They even have one of those continental breakfasts in the mornings."
Sam nodded, "Yeah, I think I'll be headed over there."
The waitress told him to enjoy his meal and walked away.
Huh, she's the second person who's suggested the Tranquility, Sam thought.
By the time Sam left Cal's, the sun had almost set. He walked down the street in the direction the lady at the bus depot had pointed, seeing no one else as he went.
He walked as far as the end of the sidewalk and kept going. He guessed he was going the right way. The road continued on, so there must be a motel in that direction.
Why would a motel be out in the middle of nowhere? I know Elko isn't all that big but why not have the Tranquility closer to town?
Sam shook his head, he was tired from hours of sitting on a bus and just wanted to get some sleep.
He knew small towns could be a little bit odd- he had been through enough of them- that he didn't let the strangeness of Elko bother him.
The land began to rise and Sam sighed. The woman at the Greyhound station and the waitress didn't mention that the walk was going to be such a hike.
C'mon Sam! He thought, Dad's made you walk farther for training! The motel will show up in a few minutes. Stop being a baby!
At the top of the crest, Sam smiled when he caught sight of an L-shaped building at the other side of the swell. It was aluminum sided, with a neon sign out front that said 'TRANQUILITY' in red letters.
The redhead at the reception desk looked up when Sam opened the front door.
"Welcome to the Tranquility Motel," she said, smiling.
She was a little bit chubby, with copper-coloured hair, clear blue eyes and a generous helping of freckles on her cheeks and nose.
"Hey, I'd like a room for the night," Sam said and the girl smiled even wider.
"Good, we have lots of rooms free," she said, "Single?"
"Yeah," Sam said; of course, no one else had come in with him.
The redhead typed something into the ancient, grey computer that sat on the desk and looked back up at him, telling Sam the price.
"Do you accept cash?" Sam asked and the girl pointed to a sign that read, 'Cash Only' sitting on the far end of the desk.
Blushing slightly Sam nodded and took out the bills he needed.
"Here's your key," the redhead said and handed him a key with a red plastic fob attached to it, "You'll be in room 5 tonight."
"Thanks," Sam said and left the office.
He walked down the sidewalk towards his room, passing a couple of cars on his way.
Reaching his room, Sam unlocked the door and peered inside. The place looked normal.
The carpet was dark blue as were the curtains; the bed sheets a pastel. The walls were papered in a flower print.
Setting his bag down on his bed, Sam walked over to the A/C and turned it on. The room was stifling! Almost as though it hadn't been aired out in days.
The air conditioner began to chug away, slowly cooling the room.
Sam yanked off his shoes and yawned widely. He was exhausted.
Sam blinked and sighed. He wanted to take a shower but the bed was just so comfortable.
I'll just rest my eyes for a minute, he decided, leaning back against the covers, asleep in seconds.
"…When I woke up, I was already in a cage," Sam said quietly.
Dean reached out and gripped Sam's arm comfortingly.
John stared at his youngest, arms crossed over his chest, seemingly unmoved by the events leading up to his son's kidnapping.
"If you had listened to me," he intoned, "That wouldn't have happened. None of this would have happened!"
Dean stood up and leaned across the table towards his father.
"Shut. The. Fuck. Up."
Sitting back down, he turned to his brother, "Keep going Sammy."
Felicity smirked at Sam. The young man glowered at her.
"Hello, Love," she cooed.
"Fuck you," Sam snarled, backing away from the woman.
The vampire titled her head to the side.
"That's very rude," she said, "Your Mama must not have raised you right."
Sam said nothing else.
"I just came down for a quick drink," Felicity said and stepped forward.
The vampire reached out but Sam fought back. He lashed out with his fists, catching her on the chin and snapping her head back.
Felicity was faster however.
One hand snaked out and snatched Sam's wrist, bending it backwards.
Sam gasped with pain and tears welled up in his eyes. Felicity drew Sam close to her, grabbing his hair with her free hand.
"Haven't you figured out that fighting me gets you nowhere? Hm, Love?"
Sam groaned in agony, afraid that the vampire was going to break his arm.
Thankfully, she loosened her hold and Sam sighed with relief.
Felicity turned his arm over, exposing his wrist.
"I'll not send another one like Myron in here but you do need to know your place."
Sam swallowed thickly.
"You have a kind soul," Felicity said, not even looking up, "A gentle soul. I can see it in your eyes."
"Seeing others hurt wounds you even more than a physical blow."
Sam's heart began to beat faster in panic.
Felicity looked up at him and smiled sweetly, "I said that no one would touch you and I intend to keep my word. The others though, do not have my protection."
Sam's mouth went dry and he looked away from the vampire to the other cages around him.
"It can get sooo boring here," Felicity explained, "Especially when tourism is slow in town. We need something to keep us entertained. What Myron did to you was but a taste of what we do."
"And you'll be privy to it all," the vampire smirked, her fangs slipping down over her human teeth, "Unable to help your fellows, unable to end their pain."
Felicity ducked her head and sank her fangs into Sam's wrist, drinking deeply.
Tears welled up in Sam's eyes and he sucked in a shuddering breath. Dean reached out- tentatively at first- and put a hand on his brother's arm.
"Felicity was right," Sam muttered, "Hearing those people screaming, begging for those monsters to stop… And I couldn't do anything! I… I couldn't handle it. I tried to… but nothing could drown out those sounds."
"You were there for four years?" John asked, "And you didn't try to escape?"
Sam cringed, "I did… once."
Dean's eyes narrowed, "Is that what happened to your leg?"
Sam nodded, "Yeah… Wycliffe did it. To set an example."
"What?" John asked.
"Those sons of bitches hamstrung Sam," Dean told his father.
John's expression turned skeptical, "But he can walk now."
Dean sighed, "It must be the vamp virus. It must have healed him, sort of. If you'd seen Sam when we found him, you wouldn't believe he's the same guy."
All three Winchesters looked up at the sound of the front door opening.
"Bobby?" Dean called and half-stood up in his seat.
To his shock though, it wasn't the grizzled hunter who stepped into the kitchen, it was Caleb.
And behind him was Gordon Walker.
Thanks to CindyT63, Elishab68, sarah, Jkf340, L.A.H.H, whimsicalbarwench, SamDeanLover28, BranchSuper, SPN Mum, kasey, and reannablue for reviewing.
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