[identity profile] acidquill.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] verse17_17
title: in the space where you belong
author: [livejournal.com profile] acidquill
disclaimer: don't own em
rating: pg-13
characters: Sam, Dean
pairing: gen. mentions of Sam/Jess.
word count: 2,923
notes: the actual 'beginning' of my Proverbs 'verse. In Proverbs, Sam is twenty-two and Dean is eighteen. I plan on following both seasons eventually with 'rewrites' of the episodes. There will also be pre-series pieces and other in between bits.




Sam's not expecting a family reunion in his apartment in the middle of the night. Two, almost three years, with hardly a word and Dean literally comes crashing into his life again. But really, that's just Dean. And now Sam's got his brother standing in his living room and his girlfriend wanting to know what's going on.

Dean's wary, edging around like he's not sure he should have come at all. Sam wonders what the hell his eighteen year old brother is doing in Palo Alto. Not that he isn't happy to see that Dean's healthy and in one piece, but if Dean is around, Dad can't be far behind. And that's a confrontation Sam isn't sure he wants to tackle tonight. Hell, he knows he doesn't want to. Whatever has Dean playing messenger through his window can wait until tomorrow --

"Dad's on a hunting trip and he hasn't been home in a few days."

Well, that isn't on Sam's list of things he wants to hear at two-thirty in the morning.



The Impala gleams in the streetlight. She's just like Sam remembers, sleek and dark; a sharp feeling of home strikes him like a blow to the chest. This is where he and Dean spent their childhood. He can't hope to count the hours the two of them spent in the backseat, playing, sleeping, fighting. Sam runs a hand over her hood.

"Dad gave you the car?" Dean grins a little, and Sam knows he's just been waiting for Sam to ask.

"For my birthday this year."

Dean pops the trunk and just like that, Sam's reminded of the only part of the Impala he hates: the arsenal hidden inside her. His stomach turns at how comfortably his brother sifts through the weapons and tools of the family business.

Not mine anymore, Sam reminds himself.



"He was checking out this two lane blacktop just outside Jericho, California. " Dean spreads a map out over the weapons in the trunk. He digs through some more papers and pulls out articles printed straight from the 'net.

"Where were you?" Sam asks.

Dean shrugs, "Had my own gig, voodoo thing down in New Orleans."

"Dad let you go on a hunt on your own?"

"Dude, I'm eighteen."

"God," Sam whispers. He feels sick. What the hell was his father thinking - how could he send Dean off alone like that? He wonders how many solo hunts Dean's been on in the time he's been at Stanford. Maybe he doesn't want to know. A familiar stab of anger replaces the queasiness brought on by Dean's easy announcement of 'having his own gig.' He turns on Dean, "So that's it, I leave and he decides to throw you to the damn wolves? I guess he was just going to call me if something happened to you and say 'Oh sorry Sammy, but your brother's dead. But he went out like a hunter.' Well fuck that."

Dean doesn't say anything. Sam shakes his head; he takes a step back from the car and his brother. He knows it's an old argument, but he can't help adding, "You know what most eighteen year olds are doing Dean? I guarantee they're not salting and burning damn bones, for one thing."

"Sammy - "

"No, Dean. I mean it. You should be in college, working at the damn 7-11, something. Hell, you can backpack across Europe if that turns you on, go fucking hang gliding. Anything you want. Anything except this!" Sam gestures angrily at the clutter of weapons in the back of the car.

"This is what I want!" Dean yells, slamming the trunk. Sam clenches his teeth until his jaw hurts. There are plenty of things he still wants to say but he bites his tongue before this turns into a patented Winchester screaming match. The last thing he needs is for the neighbors to call the cops. And really, Dean isn't the one Sam wants to tear into, he's just the closest Winchester in range. What surprises Sam is that Dean is ready to give as good he gets; Dean's never been the one to fight before. Sam and John were the ones always at each other's throat. Dean has always been the one jumping in between them, trying to keep the peace. Now that Sam really thinks about it, Dean's had a hell of a job for a kid.

Sam takes a deep breath. He studies his brother a little more closely, sees the way Dean wraps his arms around himself like he's afraid he'll lose something, sees the dark smudges under his eyes. "You had any sleep lately?"

Dean leans against the car; he won't look Sam in the eye. "I'm fine," he says. He runs a hand through his short hair. "I don't want to fight with you. Just help me find Dad, Sammy. Please."



Dean sits outside while Sam packs his stuff. As soon as he walks back into the apartment, he knows Jess can tell there's something more happening than simple 'brotherly bonding.' She asks him over and over to tell her what's wrong; Sam brushes her off with a story about a hunting cabin, Jack, Jim, and Jose. Most of the story is true, even if some parts of it don't fit together exactly the way Sam says they do. She gives him a look that tells Sam exactly how much she believes what he's peddling, but she doesn't call him on it. Sam knows he has to tell her eventually, but he can't do that right now. Maybe when he gets back.

Sam has a brief fantasy of bringing his dad home, bringing Jess in on the realfamily history, and all of them living happily ever after; he's not gonna hold his breath for that one. But when he finds Dad, he at least wants John to meet Jessica. Especially since the ring Sam bought a week ago is hiding in his sock drawer.

He throws enough clothes in his bag for three days and pops the catch in the dresser drawer he fitted with the false bottom. Even after he left his old life, Sam kept some things. It was instinct. It was just in case. He shoves his knives inside his duffel and zips it up. He kisses Jess goodbye; she stands on her toes and wraps her arms around him. Sam breathes in. Under the strawberry of her shampoo, there are traces of smoke. Sam shakes off a sudden chill and kisses her one more time before he walks out the door. When he gets back, maybe he'll finally tell her about his nightmares too.



Sam opens the driver door and nudges Dean with his bag. "Move it kid."

Dean glares at him. "'m not a kid anymore, Sam."

"Yeah, well you aren't driving me anywhere. Not until you get some sleep."

Dean mutters a little under his breath but slides across the seat to the passenger side anyway. Sam tosses his bag in the backseat and shrugs out of his jacket, throws it at his brother; Dean balls it up and shoves it between his head and the window. Sam smirks, "That's what I thought."

"Bitch."

"Jerk." He jabs Dean in the arm, "Now shut up and sleep."

Sam waits until Dean looks settled then slides behind the wheel, takes a deep breath. It feels blasphemous to drive this car; he wonders how Dean does it.



It's almost five when Sam pulls the Impala smoothly into a parking place in front of 'Alda's Stop-In.' The place is about half full, semis lined up one after another to the side of the building. He reaches over and shakes his brother; Dean jerks awake. It takes a minute or two for Dean to understand they've stopped moving. Sam has to practically push him out of the car.

"Come on, let's get something to eat."

Dean doesn't say anything, just follows him into the diner.

Sam asks for orange juice and a side of scrambled eggs. He sees the way Dean's eyes flick over the menu, but Dean only orders coffee, straight black. Like he doesn't look half starved. Sam gets up with the excuse of washing his hands, ignores his brother's muttered 'such a girl.' He finds their waitress and adds one of the breakfast specials to their order. When the food arrives Dean gives Sam a dirty look from across the table, but that doesn't stop him from finishing off the whole plate. And the second helping of pancakes the waitress slides in front of him with a motherly smile.

Sam watches his brother nearly inhale the food and something hot and vicious uncurls in his belly. His father is gonna have a hell of a lot to answer for when they find him. Sure Dean's eighteen, but Sam knows how much he fucking worships their dad. For the man to disappear, without a word for three weeks - no wonder Dean looks like he's been through hell. He has. His very own special version of it, as designed by John Winchester. Sam feels like putting his fist through the old man's teeth. He's never had a thought like that in his life, no matter how pissed he was at his father. But this. Damn him.



Dean takes the wheel for the rest of the ride to Jericho, only because he won't shut up about Sam's driving. Every other word is 'watch the paint job,' 'for Christsake Sammy she's my baby,' and Sam's all-time favorite, 'Dude, if you scratch her, you're explaining it to Dad.' Sam rolls his eyes and hands over the keys. He stretches out as much as he can in the passenger seat.

The two of them roll into town without a problem. It doesn't stay that way. Dean gets arrested; Sam gets up close and personal with Constance Welch. Jericho gets one less thing going bump in the night. They find only bits and pieces of their father - a motel room full of clippings and salt, his journal, coordinates that lead God knows where.



Sam unlocks the door to the apartment and motions for Dean to go in ahead of him. The whole place smells like fresh baked cookies; Sam smiles.

"Jess, we're back!" he calls over the muffled thrum of the shower. She doesn't answer, but Sam isn't surprised. He got Jess one of those shower radio things, complete with headphones, for Christmas last year, and she listens to it compulsively. Right now she's probably lip-synching to Radiohead or something.

He shoves Dean towards the living room and tries not to laugh when Dean looks at the couch like it's the second coming. His brother's asleep almost before his head hits the cushions; Sam tugs off Dean's boots and throws a blanket over him. He picks up a cookie before heading to the bedroom and falls back onto the mattress with a tired sigh. After his interview tomorrow, he and Dean are gonna have to talk. Sam doesn't know what to do about their father, but he knows he doesn't want Dean out there looking for him alone. He doesn't care how old Dean is, or how much his brother isn't going to like it. Sam's spent nearly four years of his life proving that he doesn't need buckshot, silver, and exorcisms. And he doesn't. But somewhere in the past two days, Sam realised that he's come this close to proving himself right out of a brother. He isn't taking up hunting again, but this time he isn't going to sacrifice Dean either. He'll find a way to make this right. Everything will be okay.

Something drips onto his forehead, the feeling disturbingly familiar; Sam opens his eyes. Nothing is ever going to be okay again.



It's Dean who pulls him out of the burning apartment. His little brother is the one who pushes and pulls and shoves until Sam's safe outside. And it's Dean who stops him from running back inside the building,. Holding onto him tighter than anything and yelling against his chest -- "No! Sammy you can't. You can't leave me too."

The fire trucks show up, sirens wailing and Sam stands there. People come up to him, tell him, 'Come on now, let's get you looked at.' Sam shoves their hands away. He is not leaving. He can't. Not yet. She's still in there. She's still fucking in there, and Sam will not leave her. Ash swirls around him in a terrible black snow that sticks to his clothes, hair, eyelashes. He stands out in the grass and watches his life burn away to nothing.

By the time the fire is finally out, most of the onlookers are gone. Sam hasn't moved. It only takes one EMT to carry what's left of Jessica out of the building in a small black bag. Sam turns and throws up all over Dean's shoes.

After that, Sam doesn't remember much of anything.



He spends the first few days after the fire in a haze. She's gone. And it's his fault. I should've told her repeats on an endless loop in his head. His body feels like it's been hollowed out; there is nothing left inside him, not even the hurt. Sam lies in the motel and stares up at the ceiling. Dean brings him food, tries to get him to sleep. All Sam wants is for Dean to leave him the hell alone. He must have said that out loud because afterwards, Dean stays out of his way.

Jess' parents fly in and Sam manages not to break down and sob when they hug him. He holds on to Mrs. Moore a little tighter than usual; she grips his hand like she's afraid he'll disappear too.



Sam sits through the funeral without shedding a tear. He stares at the people crowded inside the chapel and doesn't think a single thing. It's only when Jess' father takes him by the arm and whispers, "Your brother's looking a little ragged son, maybe you two should go get some rest" that Sam wakes up enough to comprehend, oh fuck, Dean and looks around frantically for his brother. He finds him tucked into a corner; Dean is scrunched into a chair, knees to his chest, fingers drumming maniacally on the armrest. He's not making a sound. Something about the way Dean's sitting makes Sam's insides twist; he's seen his brother like this before, trying like hell to take up as little space as possible. Only before, Dean was a lot younger and Sam was there to tell him 'Don't be afraid Deano, I won't let anything get you.'

Dean's wearing a black suit Sam doesn't remember buying, and hell, he can't remember introducing Dean to anyone except Jess' parents. He doesn't even know what he said to them, other than the obvious 'This is my little brother.' Dean's just spent days in the middle of a bunch of people who don't even know who he is. And Sam, for all intents and purposes, abandoned him.

Oh God.

"Hey," Sam calls quietly.

Dean looks up and Sam hates himself even more. His brother looks worn, thin. Way too damn young. Standing there, it hits Sam that Dean's never been to a funeral, at least not one he remembers. Sam has only the barest recollections of their mother's memorial -- mostly jumbled images of their dad standing outside by himself and people Sam didn't know passing Dean back and forth between them. There's no way Dean remembers any of that, he was only a baby; Sam was only four and a half. But his brother is caught up in all of this because of him. Dean won't leave because Jess was Sam's girlfriend, these people are Sam's friends, and Sam is here. So there’s no way Dean is going anywhere, even though he looks about as freaked out as Sam's ever seen him.

Only a few days ago Dean wanted him to help find their father, and, Sam realises, came to his big brother expecting Sam to fix things. It feels like he's been socked in the gut. So much for taking care of Dean, Dean's been taking more care of him than the other way around. Sam covers Dean's hand with his own and squeezes his brother's fingers gently,

"Let's get out of here for a while."



He stands in the motel parking lot and looks around at Palo Alto. This was everything Sam wanted, what he gave up everything for. This was his normal. But for the time being, Sam can’t be here. He can’t go back to ignoring the things he grew up knowing existed. He tried that, and now he’s paying for it.

There's something happening and Sam doesn't have a clue as to what it is, only that it's not anything good. His girlfriend is dead. His father is missing. His dreams are filled with fire. And damnit, Sam's not gonna stop until he has some answers. He leans towards Dean, bumps their shoulders together. When Dean glances up at him Sam nods towards the highway.

"Come on. We've got work to do."

Dean hesitates, like he's not sure where he's supposed to go. Sam walks to the passenger side, opens the door, gets in. He stretches across the seat and looks out at his brother, "You coming?"

Dean's smile is tiny, but it's there. Sam feels the tightness in his chest ease for the first time in a week.












- end


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