12 April 2012 @ 02:58 pm



Masterpost

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Now


“The hell’re you talking about, lady? I’d never – ”


The cock of the barrel cuts him off sharply and he takes an involuntary step back, arms still held out in front of him.


“Like I’d believe a word outta your mouth. Now leave or take a bullet to the chest. Your choice.”


A scowl mars Ellen’s face, finger tightening over the trigger and Dean backs up, slamming out of the bar with tense shoulders. The last thing he wants to do is leave when every muscle, nerve, instinct in his body is telling him to rush in, grab Sam and drag him out into the Impala. And never let his brother out of his sight again. But he can’t do a damn thing to get his brother back if he gets himself shot and bleeds out on the floor of a hunter’s dirty old bar.


Sam obviously remembers him; he knows he heard his brother say his name. If he could just talk to Sam, he could find out what the hell that woman was talking about.


What he needs is a plan.

*


Sam rushes to the window, dragging Jo from behind where her long fingers are still wrapped around his wrist. It’s getting harder and harder to drag air into his lungs as he stares through the glass of the window that acts as a look-out on the nights Mom feels the need to keep an eye out on the lot or make sure the rowdier patrons leave when they’re told to get gone.


There he is. Walking toward a sleek black car that dredges up another wave of memories, the smell of leather rich in the air, feeling warm and comfortable and safe, held close to the body of the boy who was always so much larger than life in the eyes of his hero-worshipping little brother. God, he looks so different now. A little smaller than Sam remembers him even though he's actually grown. Broad around the shoulders and he walks like he’s fighting every step, an invisible weight dragging him down and muscles tensing to turn around.


Sam almost wants that. Almost wishes his brother would turn around and storm back here and hug him, tell him that he loves him. But he knows better than to hope Dean would want him back, would say that to him even if that was something Winchesters did.


But Sam’s not a Winchester, hasn’t been for a long time. Longer than he’s been separated from them. For so long he didn’t know what he was, who he could be. Then Rufus saved him and Ellen took him in and he finally had a place in the world, a name to call himself and take pride in. He’s a Harvelle. A Harvelle can use the ‘l’ word without someone bleeding out in the backseat of an old car. A Harvelle can balance normal with hunting and not be considered wrong or a freak. A Harvelle doesn’t taint everything around them.


And a Harvelle doesn’t wish the family that threw him away would take him back.


"Sam?"


A light, familiar hand rubs apologetically at his arm when he starts, having forgotten he isn't alone in the room.


"Yeah?" he whispers back, voice rough and tired and smaller than it's been in a long time as he watches his brother slide into the Impala, settling into the driver's seat like it was made just for him. Sam catches himself wondering when John would have given him the car and let him drive around on his own.


Dean's probably safer by himself than he'd have ever been with Sam in the way.


"Was that really… your brother?"


Jo's voice is soft, hesitant. Something he doesn't think it's ever been, even back when he first ended up at the Roadhouse. She's probably the only person who never treated him like he was fragile and could break at any moment, with any sudden movement or loud noise. Even back when he almost was that broken.


When he opens his mouth to answer, the "Yeah" gets caught in his throat with what feels like his heart and maybe even part of his stomach so he swallows the words and emotions back, nodding instead. His hair falls into his eyes, making it hard to see but it doesn't matter because the Impala has long been out of sight, dust settled back into the ground like maybe she'd never been there; like seeing Dean had all been a crazy dream.


But Jo turns him around to face her with the hand still holding his wrist, lifting her other hand from his shoulder to ruffle his hair up. He huffs in surprise and tries to dodge her long fingers but it's no use and he only ends up falling back onto the spare bed, dragging Jo down with him until they're both sprawled out side by side. A smile twitches at his lips when she shifts and looks at him, her shoulder brushing against his. The look on her face is one of triumph, grin wide and chin up in victory and it takes him a minute to realize it's because his hair is no longer in his eyes and he's smiling.


"What really happened?" She wraps a hand around his wrist again, brown eyes wide and curious but as warm as her mother's, and Sam knows if he chooses to shrug the question off and change the subject or stay completely silent, she won't hold it against him.


Jo is the only one who never treated him like he was made of glass, but she's also the only one out of them that doesn't know exactly what brought him to their door. She knows that Rufus saved him from a demon and that Ellen practically adopted him on the spot, but he never told her anything himself except that he has an older brother he used to look up to like no one else. A brother named Dean who he'd thought would always be there for him no matter what. And that Sam hadn't seen him since he was ten.


Sam bites his lip, searching her face and finding nothing but patience so uncharacteristic of her. Her hand squeezes gentle reassurance into his wrist when he takes a deep breath, attempting to build a wall against memories he tries to pretend weren't realities of his past.


Then: Eight Years Ago


The grip on his shoulder tightens, his Father's fingertips digging in painfully and Sam bites his lip to hold back the sound that tries to claw out of his throat. Even with the evidence to the contrary bruising into his shoulder, Sam still hopes this is all some horrible nightmare. He knows that he and his Dad don't always get along, especially in the past two years after he found the journal his Father keeps and he found out what his family really does. But no matter how much he fights the man, Sam still loves his Dad and he can't believe this is really happening.


He'd woken up in the passenger's seat of a moving Impala, his Dad at the wheel as stoic and hardened as Sam had ever seen him. None of his questions – where are we going? Where's Dean? What's going on? – were answered on the drive and Sam didn't know what to think about any of it. Dean left earlier, threw a wink over his shoulder with a 'don't wait up' when Dad told him he could go to the town's local Arcade for a couple of hours. A reward, Dad said, for doing so well on the last hunt. Sam sulked some, but fell asleep when he realized that was easier than trying to deal with being alone with their Father for a couple of hours. He now wishes he'd stayed up because they're in an empty parking lot in a town he doesn’t recognize and his Dad is looking at him like he's a complete stranger.


The two men who'd been there when they arrived are also looking at him, but they're wearing smirks. Shivers run up his spine and he tries to take a step back, to run back into the Impala and figure out a way to drive it back to their motel and Dean himself if he has to but the grip on his shoulder only holds him more firmly in place.


So far he's been tuning out the conversation between these men and his Dad, some words making it through that he wishes he hadn't heard – How much? It's what we agreed on. We'll take him off your hands. – because there's no way they can be saying what he thinks they're saying.


When Dad pushes him forward and lets him go, when another large, unfamiliar, hand wraps around his upper arm, Sam regrets not paying attention. The surprise doesn't freeze him for long and in the next moment he starts struggling in earnest, looking up at his Dad with wide, confused eyes.


"Dad?"


But he's only met with hardened, brown eyes on his. And this is worse than when Sam thought his Dad was looking at him like he was a stranger. It's so much worse, because this is an even more familiar, painful expression and Sam doesn't understand why his Dad is staring at him like he's something they hunt.


Like he's a monster.


His words, somehow, cut even deeper than the disgusted sneer he wears when he spits them.


"We always thought you were damn worthless, Sam. Seems like I was wrong. Some people have offered big for you, boy, and we get everything we need. Some cash and the persistent thorn in my side gone."


"You d-don't. D-Dad, you don't mean… I'll be better," Sam promises, emotion clogging his throat, fear swirling in his stomach. He's pulled further away from his Dad by the unforgiving grip on his arm and terror rips through him. It's worse than when Dad and Dean go on hunts, worse than when he found out about what their Father's job really is and that he was expected to be a part of that life someday. Because Dad's just letting these men take him and doesn't even look upset.


"Dad! Please! Dad!" But his Dad doesn't even twitch and Sam feels tears that had welled up in his eyes start to fall. "Dad! Dean!"


There's a sharp jolt of pain in the back of his head, and the last thing Sam sees before the darkness swallows him up is his Father's back walking away from him and back to the Impala.


Now


"That… that's what happened?"


Jo slides her hand down from Sam's wrist and slips her fingers between his. She squeezes his hand in what she hopes is a comforting gesture when his hand is so much larger than hers. But there's nothing else she can offer him, there's nothing she can do to make his past go away no matter how badly she wishes she could.


He nods, usually bright hazel eyes shining and wet. It makes something in her chest ache, seeing him look so much like he did when she first met him. Tired and scared and unsure, so different than she'd seen anyone look before.


"But Rufus got you and brought you here…"


She's cut off by the strangled sound Sam makes.


"I was ten when Da- John got rid of me." His words are spoken so softly that she almost doesn't hear him.


Jo almost wishes she hadn't.


What kind of father would do that to his son? Her mom always told her John Winchester was the wrong kind of person, a hunter she never wanted to get mixed up with and while she hadn't doubted her – someone who owns a hunter's bar has more than enough experience to know when a person is trouble – it's still a shock to hear exactly what he'd done to Sam.


She lets go of Sam's hand, eyes misting at the way his ever-expressive face falls, like he thinks she doesn't believe him. Like he thinks she doesn't want anything to do with him now that the truth of just how long he'd been without a family before Rufus brought him to them is out.


But she refuses to let him believe that. He's her brother. Since her mom told her that Sam would be staying with them – since she saw the way he ate their mom's eggs and bacon and pancakes like he'd never seen food before – Jo knew she was going to make sure he had someone he could turn to and she's succeeded so well that she's found a brother in him just as much as she hopes he's found a sister in her. There's no way she'll let anything make Sam think this can change that.


Jo doesn't give Sam the chance to move before she's surging forward and wrapping her arms around his shoulders in a tight hug. Normally, Jo's head would be pressed against his chest or shoulders but lying on the bed, she's able to pull him in until his head is under her chin the way her mom used to hold her after she'd had a nightmare or when she'd scraped her knee.


The floorboards creak quietly and Jo sees her Mom walk in. Dark eyes soften when they land on Sam where he's clinging to Jo. His fingers are curled into the fabric of her shirt behind her, stretching the material and she couldn't care less that they twist tighter when her Mom puts a hand on his shoulder.


She pets the top of his head and the gesture is familiar, something her Mom has always done for Sam on his rough days – that used to be so frequent, but he hasn't had now in what feels like forever. It always seems to calm him down and this time is no different; the fingers twisted into her shirt loosen gradually until Sam has let go altogether, pulling out of Jo's hold and swiping a hand roughly over watering eyes like his reaction is something to be ashamed of.


Jo wishes she could find John Winchester and hurt him just like he hurt her brother.


"It's gettin' late, kids. I already have Ash closing up for the night – "


"What, M-mom," Sam interrupts, tripping over the word like he hasn't since the day he called her that the first time, his voice scratchy and strained, "It's not even that late. You can't let my f-fuc – "


"Now you stop right there Sam Harvelle." Her tone is stern but her eyes are even softer than when she walked in not five minutes ago. If the situation wasn't serious, Jo would have laughed at how fast Sam's mouth shuts before he mutters a quiet "Yes, ma'am". Their Mom has that effect on people. It's almost funny to watch when it's not being directed at her. "First, it's my bar and I can close whenever I damn well please. Second, I don't want to hear one word out of your mouth implyin' anything about you is wrong. No buts. Your past is your past and you can't change that, but it don't define you and the only ones in the wrong on any of this is that sorry excuse for a family that were fool enough to let go of someone as special as you. Got it?"


She smiles at him, resting a work calloused hand against his cheek and patting it gently until he nods with a small smile. His face is open, eyes wide and glowing with pleased surprise. He wore that look a lot the first year he spent with them. Like he couldn't believe they could possibly feel that way. "And third, I think we could all use a night off. So what do you think? Bowl a' popcorn, some junk food, and something trying to pass for a horror movie sound good?"

*


Waking up comes gradually to Sam and when he blinks sleep crusty eyes open he isn't surprised to see the blurry outline of Jo next to him. Long hair tickles the skin of his cheek and he isn't sure whether his own bangs are hanging in his face or if some of Jo's mass of blond curls have invaded his side of the bed.


This is something they used to do a lot, when Jo seemed to decide Sam needed someone close to him, someone who was closer to his age than Ellen and all of the Roadhouse's patrons. She'd sneak into his room and fill his uneasy silence with nonsensical chatter, sharing junk food with him while they vegged out for the night. It helped him through a lot of the rougher patches he went through. Whenever she "accidentally" fell asleep in the room, Sam was able to sleep for one night without nightmares he wishes weren't the memories that they are.


Watching horror movies – throwing popcorn at the screen when the characters inevitably run up the stairs or decide to investigate the strange noise alone – with Mom and Jo helped settle his nerves enough that he was able to fall asleep where he was crowded between them on the large bed in his room. Sam loves his Mom for buying him a bed big enough for the three of them. She'd taken him and Jo out one day back when he had more bad days than good, and she kept finding the two of them asleep in the same room, if not the same bed, more often than not. It's perfect when just what he needs is a movie marathon and he's sure that was Mom's plan all along.


Sam doesn't like to think about what happened to bring him here, though. His own family didn't want him, but he's found a new one; one that took him in without a second thought. He feels incredibly lucky to have found a mother in Ellen – something he'd never had before when it was just John and Dean and nothing but moving around – and a sister in Jo, closer than he thought he'd be able to get to someone again. As close as he thought he and Dean were. He'd do anything for them and after countless nights like last night, Sam finds balmy comfort in the knowledge that they feel the same way.


With a growing smirk, Sam looks at where Jo is still sleeping, clutching the overstuffed pillow under her head. Sitting up slowly to keep from jostling the bed, he slips off of his mattress and grabs what he needs from the top of his dresser. After the emotional whirlwind of yesterday, Sam could use a little unwinding and what better way, he thinks as he creeps close to Jo's sleeping form, than to pull a small prank on his sister. Gently placing the rubber spider on her cheek, he smiles, tongue in his teeth, and uses a lock of blond hair to tickle the skin right beside the fake spider.


Her eyebrows bunch, lips twitching down at the corners and it takes all of Sam's control not to break into a fit of laughter before she even sees it. One more light brush over her cheek is all it takes for her nose to twitch and wrinkle, eyes scrunching tighter closed before they start to flutter open. He makes sure he's close to the door for a quick escape and waits, biting his lip as he watches her blink, slow and sleepy.


Then she reaches clumsily to get rid of what's interrupting her sleep. Her hand collides with the body of the spider and her eyes sweep to the side. When she finally sees what's on her face. all hell breaks loose. Sam has to slap his hands over his ears to protect his eardrums from the shriek Jo lets out – she could give a banshee a run for its money. He doesn't even try to hold in the laughter bubbled in his chest when Jo launches herself off the bed with flailing arms, hair flying around her head like it's taken on a life of its own. She freezes mid-flail and looks at him, eyes wide and panting. The shock melts into understanding and he's faced with one of her famous, and deadly, glares, her arms falling to her sides in a deliberately slow movement.


Throwing her his widest, teeth flashing grin, Sam bolts from the room and lets his long legs carry him out through the hallway. Footfalls pound behind him, followed by loud yells of "You're so gonna pay for that, Sam!". He stomps down the stairs, taking the steps two at a time; he may have the advantage of longer legs, but Sam knows better than to underestimate his sister and he wouldn't put it past her to catch up with him by pouncing on his back. She's always been fearless and sneaky in their tussles. His cheeks hurts with the force of his smile and it feels good, great even, after yesterday.


Looking over his shoulder, Sam doesn't see where he's going and he slams into something – somebody. His smile drops for a whole second before he hears a familiar, gruff voice. "Watch where yer goin', you idjit."


"Uncle Bobby!"


When he turns back around, he's faced with the man who'd done even more than what Mom could when he showed up – got him caught up with all the years of school he'd missed – and Sam's smile widens. He has to look down now to look Bobby in the eyes, something he's still getting used to after being the smallest of everyone for so long. But that doesn't stop him from wrapping long arms around the man's shoulders and pulling him into a hug.


It's been a month since they've seen each other. Bobby drove down for Sam's 18th birthday party, the one Mom insisted he have no matter how many times Sam tried to tell her he didn't need one. He wishes they saw more of each other, but Bobby's got his hunts – and when he's not out, he helps hunters with research and running phones in case they need to confirm their identity – and Sam had school and helping out at the Roadhouse to save up for college, when Mom lets him. But Sam spends a couple of weeks at the Salvage Yard in the summer. He runs around with Rumsfeld and devours any book he can get his hands on in Bobby's library – supernatural or otherwise. Bobby even lets him sneak looks at the actual business side of the salvage yard.


The rest of the year, Bobby comes around whenever a hunt is finished and is close by if he can spare the time.


Mom pokes her head out from the kitchen and dining area separate from the one she uses to make food – wings and sliders and whatever other greasy food people like to eat with their beer – for customers and Sam sees her roll her eyes when Jo huffs next to them, obviously wanting her own hug from the hunter before they sit down for breakfast. The small smile Mom's wearing isn't as strained as it was last night and Sam thinks that watching those movies together in his room wasn't just to make him feel better.


He steps back, still smiling, and releases his hold on Bobby so Jo can squeeze in before Mom yells at them to hurry it up. Jo slides by him, glaring over her shoulder and he responds by sticking out his tongue just before she turns back around to give Bobby one of those blinding grins he knows she learned from their Mom.


"Hey Bobby," she says brightly when she lets him go, voice showing no sign of the threatening tone she’d taken on when chasing Sam down the stairs.


"Spiders, huh?" Bobby’s eyes dart to Sam for a moment before meeting Jo’s again and his sister pouts, her bottom lip jutting out, when she nods. Spiders are the only thing Sam has ever found that freaks her out the way clowns do for him. There’s a reason he keeps a rubber spider - or five - handy in his room.


Sam just shrugs with a smug smirk. It’s not often he can get the drop on Jo; at least when it’s not in retaliation for whatever prank she pulled first. Bobby shakes his head at both of them, turning and throwing his arms around Sam’s neck and dragging his head down into a noogie that Sam can’t shake out of until the hunter lets him go, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and leading him into the kitchen, Jo snickering behind them. Sam just huffs and pats his hair down with a pout of his own that disappears when he smells the tell-tale aroma of pancakes and warm syrup.


"Smells awesome in here, Mom," he moans, straightening in the seat Bobby practically drops him onto and pulling a plate stacked with pancakes in front of him.
Mom smacks his hand away, though, and he slumps in the chair with a put-upon sigh, corners of his lips still turned up.


Bobby sits next to him, bumping shoulders and rolling his eyes when Mom turns back to finish the eggs.


"I saw that!"


"Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about woman."


"Where's Ash?" Jo asks in between their exchange.


Mom gives Bobby one of her looks, the ‘don’t think you can pull one over on me, mister’ glare that she’s had years to perfect on them. "In his room, where else?" she answers seamlessy, setting a heaping plate of eggs on the table with the pancakes so they can dig in.


Finally.

*


"Ellen told me about Dean."


They finished breakfast an hour ago and he and Bobby are sitting out on a two-person swinging chair, enjoying the sun and weather before the summer heat starts in earnest.


Sam knew Bobby would have to bring Dean up sooner or later; he isn’t set to go back to Bobby’s just yet this summer and Bobby doesn’t usually come out in June when Sam will be there in a couple of weeks. Mom had to have called him and told him to come and make sure Sam is okay. He’s actually surprised it took Bobby this long.


The knowing doesn’t keep him from freezing, working his jaw and trying to ignore how his eyes are growing wet already. "Yeah," he whispers to keep his voice from cracking.


Bobby rests a hand on Sam’s shoulder, squeezing it in a reassurance that he’s there for Sam - a reassurance Sam no longer needs, but never fails to make him feel better; knowing he isn’t alone anymore.


"Don’t know why he came," Sam says, voice strengthening enough for it to come out a little louder. His growing curiosity and that nagging question, at the back of his mind - what brought him here? - keeps it steady as he continues. "He looked as surprised to see me as I was to see him."


"He probably heard about a hunter’s bar and decided to check it out. That’s how a lotta hunters end up on yer Mom’s porch."


Nodding, Sam relaxes back into the chair and sighs. The swing's chains whine as the movement causes them to sway. "I miss him," he confesses quietly, words barely audible in the summer breeze.


The hand on his shoulder tightens again and Bobby smiles, but it’s sad this time. "I know you do, kid. I know you do."

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