Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or anything related to it.
Author's Note: Two stories in one day! Don't expect this ever again, lol, but my muse kept providing. So here's another one for you. Also, for this story, I am aware of how out of character this is for Sam, but he's depressed, and that feeling changes people. Enjoy!
Summary: Pre-series. Sam is failing to adjust to life at Stanford a month in. He knows nobody, he has no friends, and his family has disowned him. He tried to be happy at school, but he can't shake his regret at losing everyone he loves to follow what now seems to be a pointless dream. With no one to turn to and nothing to hold on for, can Sam dig himself out of his depression? Or will it consume him?
Warnings: Language, suicidal thoughts, spoilers up to season 5.
Sam Winchester had never once in his life considered killing himself.
He had grown up with a drill sergeant of a father. He had been forced into a life that wasn't what he wanted, that wasn't what he was good at, or so he thought. He had never had time to put down roots or really get involved in school or make true, long-lasting friendships. He had never even had the chance to get a long-term girlfriend or experience puppy love or real love…
That had all sucked.
But it hadn't been enough to ever make him depressed enough to kill himself.
Because even though John Winchester treated his sons more like soldiers, he loved them. Because even though Sam had struggled to keep up in school from constantly moving around, he did well and he enjoyed it. Because even though Sam wasn't the best hunter out there, he tried, and he always backed up his brother and father to the best of his ability.
And he had Dean.
Dean had raised Sam more than his own father had and Sam owed Dean everything. He loved his big brother, though he wasn't sure if he'd actually ever said it before, at least not since he was a small child. And he knew Dean had never said it to Sam. But they didn't need to say it verbally. They knew. They showed it in their actions: bumps on the shoulder, slaps on the chest, quirked eyebrows and silent communication. And they showed it in their constant taking care of each other.
Dean took care of Sam in every sense of the way, the ever-present overprotective big brother. But Sam had taken care of Dean too, he liked to think.
But now, he had ruined everything.
Sam had left for Stanford one month ago yesterday.
He had had the mother of all fights with his father the night he left, and for the first time in his life, he didn't stand up to John. He let John rage and yell and get all his anger out, he let him throw insults and reprimands and pure hate at Sam, because Sam thought John deserved to feel betrayed.
But he hadn't expected John to tell him that if he left, he could never come back. That if he left, he was no longer a part of the family.
All the while, Dean had stood there, in silent shock, not defending Sam, not helping John, nothing.
That hurt the most, Sam thought.
Sam had explained that he wanted to hunt on weekends and over breaks. He'd have months during the summer to dedicate his time to the family business. He wasn't quitting, he was just trying something else too. Sam had not chosen the life he lived for himself. He didn't know what he really wanted. And there was no way to find out without branching out a bit and trying something new, even if that something new was terrifying.
But it hadn't been enough.
Leaving for college was full blown traitorous in John Winchester's book, because Sam was leaving, period. He didn't want Sam to hunt with them on weekends and breaks. He wanted Sam with them all the time.
They both couldn't win.
So Sam left.
It had hurt. It had hurt so much Sam thought he was dying as he had glanced one last time at his silent brother who wouldn't meet his eyes, had turned a hopeful look one last time at his red-faced father who only glared at him with distaste, before he walked out that door with only a duffle bag containing his meager belongings on his back.
It wasn't the words of his father or the indifference of his brother that had torn Sam's heart practically in half before setting it on fire and stomping on the remains. No. It was simply the fact that in order for Sam to find happiness for himself, he had to leave behind everything he knew, everyone he loved. He had to abandon his small, broken family completely for even the possible opportunity to find some sort of meaning in his life that was all his own. That was truly Sam.
Now though, every night since that late August night in fact, Sam thought that may have been a huge mistake. A huge, irreversible mistake.
He was in a state he was unfamiliar with, at a school he had never even visited before applying to, in classes that were much harder than he was used to, that even his intelligent mind couldn't easily handle, surrounded by strangers with such different backgrounds than him, he was dumbfounded.
He knew nobody. He had no friends. And now, he had no family.
He was well and truly alone in a way he had never once experienced before in his 18 years and the pain that radiated throughout his body, the sharp burning in his heart, the deep, hollow ache in his stomach, was all consuming and it took everything in him to get up each morning for class or to shovel at least a small bit of food into his mouth at least once a day.
There wasn't a night he didn't cry himself to sleep or wish he could turn back the clock and not come to school at all.
What was happiness in a career as a lawyer if to get there he had lost everything else?
Who cared about a good education or a well-paying job if you had no one who cared about you?
The worst was that if something happened to Sam, it would be long before Dean and John found out, if ever. And would they even care?
But worse than that was that something could happen to John and Dean without Sam there to back them up on a hunt, and that would be 100% his fault. Because as his father had said, he had abandoned his family.
Sam clutched at his stomach, feeling an urge to empty its contents right then and there on his desk in English class.
What had he done?
Sam waited with baited breath as the phone rang once, twice, three times, four times, and then went to voicemail.
"This is Dean Winchester. Leave a message."
Sam dialed the other number, waiting again as this one went straight to voicemail without any prior rings.
"You've reached John Winchester. Leave a message."
Sam choked back a sob, cradling his head in his hands, trying to compose himself on the dirtied bathroom floor of the commons, grateful once more for the fact that it was 3am and no one was in there showering or taking care of their business.
Trying one last time, failing all 10 times on each number before, Sam dialed Dean.
It rang four times before going to voicemail.
"This is Dean Winchester. Leave a message."
Instead of hanging up and leaving it to a missed call, Sam decided to leave a message for his brother. He hadn't once tried to call his family before tonight, but he couldn't take it anymore, and he couldn't just call them so many times without saying anything.
Trying to gather himself quickly in the brief moments before the beep, Sam readied himself to speak. He heard the tone, taking probably a moment way too long, before he opened his mouth.
"Dean…" Sam flinched at how scratchy and pathetic his voice sounded. He cleared his throat and tried again.
"Dean, I… I know you're probably not supposed to talk to me, but I… call me… please."
Sam flipped his phone shut and lowered it to the floor, rubbing his face with his hands in a futile attempt to prevent completely breaking down.
Maybe they were asleep? Or on a hunt? Maybe they had lost their phones or their phones were destroyed?
That happened all the time in their profession, what with travelling around so much and then having monsters constantly throwing them around like rag dolls…
And John's phone had been off, so that could be it.
But Dean's had been on… it had ringed.
Sam had gotten a new phone the day after he had arrived at Stanford, having lost it somewhere on his journey cross-country via public bus. So, it wasn't that they knew it was him and were ignoring him. They wouldn't recognize the number. And John and Dean never ignored unknown callers because it could always be a job.
Yet he couldn't shake the feeling that somehow they knew and they weren't answering on purpose. He wasn't in the family anymore.
He considered calling someone else, maybe Bobby or Caleb or Pastor Jim… someone.
But he couldn't. Because when John Winchester had cut him out of the family, he meant everyone they considered friend or closer, and that included fellow hunters. He wanted Sam out of his life when Sam deserted them and Sam knew it.
Sam felt he deserved it.
He'd give them a day. Maybe they'd call? He had to talk to them. He couldn't be alone anymore…
Sam woke up two days later feeling like he was the most hungover person on the planet; a headache pounding behind his reddened eyes, his throat raw, his stomach aching, despite the fact he hadn't had a single drink. He had slept through the entire previous day, missing his classes, meaning his siesta had gone on for over 36 hours. But he couldn't bring himself to care that something wasn't right with that…
He wanted to go home, but where was home?
Home was sitting shot gun in the Impala, next to Dean, following behind John's truck to whatever motel in whatever state they were hitting next.
He had no way of knowing where his brother and father were.
It didn't matter even if he did know, he corrected himself. They didn't want him back.
He was as good as dead to them.
And maybe he should be just that…
He had a hunting knife with him. He couldn't go to school unprotected, not with so much knowledge of the supernatural and other dangers engrained in his mind… He also had a small bundle of collected prescription pills from various hospitals over the years he had taken with him just in case he ever got injured at school or too sick, being without the money or insurance for a doctor… He also had plenty of jackets and long sleeve shirts and he knew how to tie a knot…
Sam flipped open his phone to see no missed calls, no voicemails.
He stood, gathered his things, and made his way back to the commons bathroom he had fruitlessly tried to contact his estranged family from only a few nights before, ready to shower and get himself together for another day of classes he wouldn't pay attention in.
He was too stubborn to give in so fast.
But he was wearing thin quickly.
He just wanted the hollowness to go away. He wanted it to end. He was the farthest thing from happy a person could be and he hated himself for doing this single-handedly.
After classes, he needed to study at the library for an exam. When he was done with that, it would be late. It was a Wednesday so there wouldn't be many people out as there were few parties during the school week.
He would call Dean and John respectively one last time if they hadn't called by then. He would leave them messages he was sure, but hoping differently, they wouldn't listen to. He would apologize for breaking apart their family, for hurting them, for leaving them, and beg for forgiveness.
Then he would say goodbye.
He had it all planned and for the first time in the month he had been in California, he felt less miserable, instead feeling somewhat near content.
Sam gathered up his books and left the closing library. It was 1am; the Palo Alto night air was cool and slightly breezy. Birds sang in the trees throughout campus and crickets chirped in bushes. There were very few people milling around campus, the few that were heading back from study groups or the library like himself, or heading to a week night party, or walking towards their dorms in rumpled clothes, doing the walk of shame.
Sam flipped open his phone and checked one last time.
No missed calls.
He bit his tongue as he felt a tear slip out of his eye.
He felt physically weak, as if he could barely carry himself at all. His arms and legs hurt and he just wanted to lie down there on the path and wait for death naturally. He wanted to rip his hair out in anger and frustration, but that would be too much work and he was so damn tired…
He hated himself for being such a failure.
It should never have come to this. It shouldn't have even come to leaving his family for college. He shouldn't have been around to do so in the first place. All he ever did was let down the people he loved. Maybe that fire should have taken him instead of his mother…
Sam had never been so negative. Even at his worst, he was always the optimistic one of his family, but he felt like a different person now. Less of a person. It had been 34 days since he had willingly lost everything that really mattered for a stupid dream that seemed so pointless now…
He wasn't Sam Winchester anymore and he really didn't see any way to be Sam Winchester again.
Sam startled as he felt a heavy knock into his chest, stumbling back and falling to his butt on the hard stone path beneath him.
"Whoa, man, my bad!" Sam looked up, squinting through the too-dark night, vaguely thinking to himself that a college campus should have more lighting. "Oh, Jesus, Chad, I didn't realize that was you!"
Sam shook his head but didn't say anything. The figure didn't move for a moment, perfectly styled back golden blonde hair glowing in the dim lighting, then suddenly reached out, a hand offered to lift Sam up, and Sam took it, letting the boy do all the work in pulling Sam's tall, lanky frame to standing position.
The boy looked at him through the darkness, then laughed loudly and awkwardly, obviously embarrassed, "Dude, I'm so sorry! You totally looked like my buddy Chad for a second."
"It's okay," Sam muttered and made to leave.
The boy shot a hand out, grabbing Sam's shoulder hard but gently, "Hey man, you okay?"
In his month at school, walking through the halls and pathways with his head down and shoulders hunched, sitting in the meal halls alone, pushing food around on his plate without eating any, sitting in class neither paying attention nor taking notes, no one had once questioned if Sam was doing any less than peachy.
Even his roommate hadn't questioned him when Sam had abruptly filed for a change to a single his second week in.
Sam smiled faintly, the gesture not even coming close to reaching his blue-green eyes, "Yeah."
The boy scrutinized Sam for a moment, his face completely disbelieving, "Uh huh. Look man, I can tell you're pretty down and I don't know why, it's none of my business. I don't even know you. But, well, you're obviously a freshman…"
Sam cut him off with a confused look, wondering how he knew that.
The boy chuckled, "You've still got that baby face. Anyway, I remember what it was like my first few months last year and it sucked serious dick… doesn't matter. The point is, you're homesick and I'm an awesome guy so I'm gonna be nice. Friday night my buddy's throwing a house warming party cause he just got his lease renewed, I know, a month late, but anyway, there'll be a lot of people there, and honestly, that's the best way to meet kids around here."
The boy suddenly grabbed Sam's messenger bag, flipping it open to pull out a notebook. "Got a pen?"
Sam nodded numbly, still a little confused as to what was going on, and dug around in the bag. He handed the first pencil he found to the boy.
The boy wrote something down on the inside cover and handed it back to Sam. Sam glanced at it, seeing it was a local address, before tucking it back into his bag. The boy absentmindedly tucked the pencil behind his ear as Sam returned the notebook to his other belongings. Sam didn't bother to ask for the writing utensil back.
"You should come, all right?" The boy clapped Sam on the shoulder, smiling warmly, worry in his bright green eyes.
Sam was so unused to anyone treating him like anything other than insignificant lately, he had no way to respond, appearing shell-shocked to the guy.
"Well, I better get going… I'm supposed to meet this chick in her room…" The guy smirked devilishly and turned to leave.
"Damn, wait!" The guy turned around again, wearing a shit-eating grin. "Wow, I forgot. I'm Brady, by the way."
Sam couldn't help but genuinely smile, albeit faintly, at Brady's reaction for forgetting a proper introduction. The guy was funny and actually nice and seemed kind of ditzy. But Sam didn't care.
"All right Sam, I'll see you Friday!" Brady pointed two finger guns in Sam's direction, grinning goofily again, before turning and heading on his way.
Sam stood still for a moment, still a little stunned at the whole exchange that had just occurred. Finally he shook his head and made his way back to his dorm.
As he entered his single dorm room, he couldn't stop himself from checking his phone one last time, despite the fact that he would have heard it ring or vibrate if someone had called him.
He sighed in disappointment and collapsed onto his bed, not bothering to even change or kick off his shoes.
He stared at his phone, feeling different than earlier.
He wouldn't call his dad and Dean. Not tonight.
It didn't feel right after talking to Brady.
Sam didn't feel like Sam Winchester, not even close. He didn't feel happy, he didn't feel complete, and he didn't feel like he made the right decision to come to Stanford. He didn't know if he ever would…
But for now, he would go to sleep, he would wake up in the morning, and he would go through the motions of class every day for the rest of the week like he had been for the past month. Hopefully it would get better. Maybe it wouldn't.
Maybe he'd pack up his bags and hit the road solo.
Maybe he'd take his things and search for his family to beg forgiveness from in person.
Maybe he would stay and push through the next four years and then grad school and become a lawyer, whether he ended up liking it or not.
But for now, he would wait and see.
Because he wasn't okay.
But maybe he could go to that party on Friday and maybe he could meet people and maybe he could try to open up a bit and make some friends and maybe he could find it in himself to learn to find a way to even start to be okay again…
Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed! Use your imagination for why Dean and John neither picked up the phone nor called Sam back, because like I listed, there are many possible reasons. It's up to you! Also, in stories I've read with similar plot-lines to this, Sam always meets Jess. But in season 5, Sam said Brady introduced him to Jess. Therefore, I introduced Sam to Brady here first, in case anyone wonders why I didn't pull the whole romance card with Jessica!
Please, please, please review! Thank you! :)