The rest of the summer became routine for the family. John and Sam would start to get on each others nerves and Dean would find himself being pulled in the middle and asked to choose sides. Even though Dean had recovered from his injuries the constant fighting had started taking its toll on him emotionally.
He became depressed and withdrawn. He started to have trouble eating and sleeping. He would sit up at night worrying that his gut feeling about Sam leaving was right and he worried that his dad would leave on a hunt, be distracted by his last argument with Sam and wind up seriously injured or dead. Neither of those options sat well with him.
For all the bravado Dean displayed he was still a lost little boy who fought not only the world, but his family to keep them together. He hated the weakness in him that needed his family, but ever since the night he lost his mother his family was the one thing that kept him rooted.
To their credit Sam and John had noticed how their fighting affected the middle member of their family and they both tried to give a little. John started taking on more hunts to provide some space between he and Sam; and Sam tried to understand that their dad wasn't just abandoning them but was in fact providing some much needed breathing space.
Sam spent his days sparring with his brother to help him get back in shape and re-hone his skills. He would go with Dean out to the practice range and enjoy betting his brother on who could shoot the most targets. Sam lost more than a few of those bets and found himself being placed on laundry and dish duty for the remaining part of the summer.
On the rare occasion that Sam won a shootout Dean looked the other way while his younger brother went into to town or hung out at the beach with Allison and their friends. It was during those times that Sam would feel his desire to get out of hunting, to be normal, grow and he would find himself dreaming of that day.
It was a late August day when the letter arrived from Stanford. Sam could barely contain his excitement. His dorm room was available as well as his student study job. Sure he had gotten a full scholarship but that only paid for school and his room. He had accepted a job at the library to help pay for the necessities.
John had gone on another hunt and he was expected home later that night. Sam had made arrangements with Dean to go to the beach and spend some time with Allison. The summer had wound down and Dean was well enough to get back into hunting, so he knew that they would be packing up and leaving soon. Sam decided that he was going to tell Allison his good news and then break it to John and Dean the next day.
The day couldn't have been more perfect. The sun warmed the beach and the water to just the right temperature. The picnic lunch they had picked up from the local market consisted of chicken salad sandwiches, carrot sticks, ice tea and for dessert chocolate chip cookies. Everything was going according to plan.
Sam knew that Allison had decided to take a year off before going to college. He had hoped that once that year was up she would join him at Stanford. He had planned this day to show her what would be waiting for her if she chose to follow him out.
When the time came Sam brought up the letter he had gotten and asked her if she had been thinking about going there the following year. Allison looked at Sam and the look she gave him told him he wasn't going to like what she had to say.
"Sam," she said her voice soft and low, "I'm sorry but I've decided to go to U of M next year. I've had a real good time with you and I'm grateful for you saving my life but I have to be honest. There's someone else. I've always had this crush on Joshua; he's a year older, and well when he came home for a visit a month ago we connected. I didn't say anything right away because I wasn't sure what would happen but we fell in love. He's going to be a junior at U of M next year and I decided I would go there. I'm sorry Sam, I didn't plan on this. I hope you can understand."
Sam felt as if the world had just sucker punched him. He couldn't believe that she had kept this from him. She hoped he could understand. Ha, not very likely. He felt his face growing warm and he turned away from her. He waved her off when she placed a hand on his arm.
Without looking at her he replied, "I have to be honest. Do I understand? No, I don't. I don't get how you could have kept this from me. I bet it was a real funny joke to you. Huh, string the poor loser along? He's leaving soon anyway, so what would it hurt? Is that what this was to you, a joke?"
He turned to her his hazel eyes burning with the hurt he was feeling. "But it's alright. We can still be friends. No, like seriously that would be so much fun," he said his voice conveying the mixture of hurt and anger he was feeling. He jumped up, grabbed his towel and headed off towards his brothers car.
He heard Allison call out for him but he didn't turn around. If he had he would have noticed the man, with the yellow eyes, who stepped up to Allison and told her she did well. He would have noticed Allison's eyes slip to black and the satisfied smirk she gave the man.
Sam drove home in a daze. He couldn't have told you how he had made it home. The only thing he could have expressed the ache that he felt deep in the pit of his stomach. He didn't notice his dad's truck sitting in the drive or the way the sky had turned to a pale purple as night moved in.
He sat in the car trying to get himself under control before he went in and faced his brother. His dreams had just been shattered, his heart ripped from his chest and he knew that it wouldn't take much to send him over the edge.
When he felt he had himself collected he headed into the house. He started to go to his room hoping to avoid his brother when he ran into his dad. Sam didn't know what came over him and before he could stop himself he pushed his dad back out of his way.
John stumbled backwards and placed his hand on the wall to keep from falling. His temper already short from the soreness he was feeling he let loose with a string of very colorful words and a harsh push of his own.
Dean having heard the commotion and flurry of words came from the kitchen to see what was going on. He stopped short when he saw his dad and brother standing nose to nose, fists clenched and bodies shaking. "Crap," he let out and he took another tentative step into the room.
The other two men were so wrapped up in what they were doing that they didn't even notice they were no longer alone. John stood his eyes burning with something that Sam hadn't seen before and for a moment he thought of backing down….for a moment. Sam had been pushed to the breaking point and he wasn't going to pull himself back. It was time he stood up for himself and told his dad how things were going to be, instead of the other way around.
John stood staring at his youngest a new and deep resentment having settled deep into his being. He held a crumbled piece of paper in his hand and this time he knew he was right. Sam was planning on leaving and John swore he'd see hell rise before he let his son go. He saw the hesitation flit in Sam's eyes and he took that moment to strike.
Lifting the paper up so Sam could see what he was holding John addressed his youngest. "Samuel, what do you have to say about yourself," John inquired his voice hard, dangerous. "Well," he asked his voice having raised an octave but still hard and dangerous.
"Where'd you get that," Sam answered back as he tried to snatch it from his dad's hands. "You've been sneaking around in my things. Guess I shouldn't be all that surprised, but then again I was hoping for some semblance of privacy; should have known that's not possible when you grow up with Hitler as your father."
John grabbed the front of Sam's shirt and tossed him into the wall. Sam's head bounced off the wall with a sickening crack leaving a dent in the plaster. "That's not an answer, Sam," John growled, "I asked what this is about. You've got anything to say for yourself, huh? How long have you been planning this and did your brother know about it?"
Dean's eyes grew bigger and he felt his stomach knot in fear. What was dad talking about? What had Sammy been planning? And, please don't let dad think I knew anything about it.
Sam lifted his arms up and managed to pry himself free from John. His face that usually radiated kindness had turned into a stony mask of dignified rage. "I don't have to explain myself to you. You read the letter. You know what it says. I got into Stanford. I was hoping to talk to you and Dean about it tomorrow but since you don't have the decency to respect my privacy I guess I'll have to talk to you know. And if you didn't catch that part about talking to Dean, well let me make myself clear," Sam paused then continued on emphasizing each word, "He. Didn't. Know. About. This."
"You can't do this. You can't leave. You know what's out there. You're a hunter Sam, this is your life. Time you grew up and accepted it." John had crossed his arms over his chest out of fear. He feared that if he hadn't he would've knocked Sam into the next week.
"I can't. Oh, I can't, can I," Sam bellowed, "Just who the hell do you think you are? You can't make me stay with you. I'm eighteen dad. I can leave if I want to and believe me I want to. I'm tired of being moved around from town to town. I'm tired of worrying about Dean not coming home from some stupid hunt and most of all I'm tired watching you slowly dying inside because of what happened to mom and your sick need for revenge.
Geez, dad you had two sons to live for and we weren't enough. We were never enough. You choose to exist, not live. You choose to drag your two young sons around with you instead of letting us go. You couldn't let your ego suffer the loss of not being able to raise your boys and save your wife. So, instead of you suffering you forced us to.
Dad, I'm sorry about what happened to mom. But, what happened doesn't make this right. This is your fight. Your war. If Dean wants to follow you like some mindless soldier, then that's his right. But, I don't want to and I'm not going to. I have hopes and dreams and if mom were here she'd be ashamed of you for trying to keep me from them."
Dean took in a sharp breath as he noticed his fathers shoulders fall under the weight of his brother's words. He took another step forward. Dean reached out his hand to his brother. "Sam please," he said his voice pleading, "Please think about what you're saying."
Sam turned to his brother and the next words he spoke stabbed him like a thousand knives, "Should have known daddy's perfect soldier would take his side," Sam shook his head, "It never ceases to amaze me how no matter much you swear to protect me, the one thing you can't/won't protect me from his dad. You're just like him you know. Can't say I blame you, it's all you've known. But, still it's kind of pathetic in a way."
"Sam," John spoke up his tone of voice clearly one of warning.
"What, dad, what? You going to hit me? Well go ahead. Do your worse. But you need to know whatever you do I'm leaving. I've got a full ride and I'm not passing that up. I worked for this and I deserve it."
Sam pushed away from his dad and headed to his room. John dropped his arms and stood staring at his youngest in shock. After he had collected himself he went into the kitchen grabbed his bottle of whiskey, went to the living and sat on the couch.
Dean followed Sam into the bedroom. "Please, Sammy can't we talk about this? Come on man, you can't really want this," Dean said.
Sam refused to look at his brother. He knew if he did he'd lose some of his resolve. He had looked up to Dean and he was grateful to his brother for giving him the life he had. Sam knew that it was really Dean who had raised him and that it was really Dean who cared for him. His heart clenched and he shook his head. 'No, Sam,' he thought, 'Don't. You're going and that's all there is to it.'
"Yes, Dean," Sam replied a hint of exasperation in his voice, "I want this. And, no we can't talk about it. You know you could come with me. You could get a place off campus, get a job and I could stay with you on the weekends." Sam looked into his brothers eyes. "But, you won't. You won't leave him. Dean, I swear one day that man will get you killed. Come with me and get out while you can."
Tears had built in his eyes and they could be heard in voice when answered, "I can't Sammy. He needs me, us. I can't do that to him."
"Yeah, well don't say I didn't offer," Sam replied his voice tinged with bitterness. He put the last of belongings into his duffel, took on last look around the room and stalked past his brother without even giving him a glance.
Sam had made it to the door and had put his hand on the knob when he's father icy cold voice reached his ears. "You walk out that door, Samuel, don't you ever come back. You hear me? You turn your back on this family and leave you're as good as dead to me. I don't to ever see or hear from you again."
"Don't worry sir. You won't. I promise." And with those words Sam turned the knob, walked out the door and let it slam close behind him.