Walking on broken glass
Tension is building
Everyone feel so far away from me
Heavy thoughts forcing their way
Out of me…
From the inside, Linkin Park
November 25th, 2000
He walked slowly, kicking a small rock ahead of him listlessly. He was alone today and that was something unusual for Sam Winchester. Normally, his older brother Dean would be waiting for him outside the school in his beloved Impala and would drive them back to wherever they were staying.
The walk itself wasn't too long; just about a mile. He didn't mind. Goodness knows his dad wouldn't be angry about it. He always seemed to feel that Dean was coddling him too much. It was Dean's over protectiveness that his dad always blamed for Sam's weaknesses, his inability to take care of himself, and his lack of passion for the hunt.
What he did mind though, was Dean's distant behavior as of late. He wasn't some needy toddler by any means, but he still needed the assurance and comfort that only Dean could give him. For the past few weeks all that Dean had given him was the cold shoulder.
He gave the rock a hard kick. It went into the street.
Sam sighed and walked on. the sky was getting dark and cloudy. The setting sun was barely peaking out from behind the clouds. A snow storm was on its way; the first snow of the season.
Up ahead was Main Street. Instead of walking toward it as he normally did, he turned off onto a smaller street and headed toward a small super market.
Gene's Harvest Foods greeted him warmly as the doors opened, hitting him with an onslaught of heated air.
With thanksgiving only a day away, the store was as crowded as it ever got in this small town. Sam grabbed a cart, threw his school bag in, and headed off to the deli. While his family wasn't on the best of terms right now, he hoped that they could still have some semblance of a Thanksgiving. He hoped it would help to get them talking again. It was his form of a peace offering.
He looked at the small assortment of rotisserie chickens on display and picked the largest one he could find. a package of rolls and some potato salad were next on his mental check list. They still had some soda left over so the drinks were covered. On his way to the checkout stands, he passed a pie display. Dean would love that. Pie was one his favorite things in the world. He added that to his cart.
Using money he had been saving up from the few odd jobs he had been able to do while in town, he paid for his purchases. He then took out all his school books and put the food in his backpack. He wanted to surprise his family. Grabbing extra plastic bags, Sam put his textbooks in them; he didn't want them getting wet if the weather got worse outside. His task complete, he stepped back out into the bitter cold.
Around him he could feel the anticipation from the people as they rushed to their cars, eager to get home and start their holiday preparations. He sighed as he thought of these happy families and the life he could have had, had things been different for his family. He turned onto Main Street. As he walked on, his thoughts turned back to the most recent cause of his family's discord.
Ever since he had told his small family about his applications to college they had been more argumentative toward him than usual. They took his actions as a personal insult to the way they lived their lives. Sam had lost count of how many times his dad had taunted him about being too good for a hunter's life.
He had expected this. But no matter how much he had prepared himself for it, it still hurt. The heated exchanges, the cold stares, the indifference; any normal person would break under the onslaught, but not him; not Sam.
He still held strongly to the belief that while it may not happen anytime soon, their anger would pass and they would come to accept his decision. He held to the hope that they were just expressing their hurt in the only way they knew how, by pushing him away before he inevitably left them.
The frosty chill in the air caused him to shiver. He pulled his coat tighter around his body and held his textbooks closer to his chest. His breaths turned into small clouds before fading into nothingness. He quickened his pace. He was not far from his destination.
Up above, the heavy clouds finally blocked out the setting sun.
Soon his family would be leaving this town. They never stayed in one place too long. The life of a hunter was one of constant upheaval. He was just grateful that he would be able to finish out the semester here. He liked his teachers, and his fellow students were kind to him; even if he always refused their offers to hang out.
The motel was only a few blocks away now.
They had been brought to the small town of Omak, located in north central Washington, by reports of several grisly murders that couldn't be explained by traditional methods. The deaths had taken in a remote area miles away, but this was where the closest school was; so they had moved here while Dean and dad investigated.
They were getting close to finding the source of the deaths. Within the week Sam predicted his dad would be leaving them to fish out the killer and restore this place to the peaceful, uneventful town it was at heart.
He didn't mind his dad's absence as much as he used to. He had grown to accept that this was the way his dad was and that hoping for more would get him no where except on his dad's bad side. He was there more than enough and he really didn't care to press the matter anymore.
At least he would have Dean, no matter how angry his brother was with him right now. He always stayed back on hunts when dad didn't want Sam along because of the danger level of the hunt or when Sam had school. Hopefully a good meal would help in getting them back on track with each other. He had to hope it would. He knew he wouldn't be able to last in this family without Dean's support. Without his brother, he and Dad probably would have killed each other long ago.
He crossed the road.
Up ahead, the bright red letters of Motel Nicolas greeted him. He walked past the front office on his way to the set of rooms that lined the back parking lot. Their room was at the end of the row.
The first drops of ice cold rain started to fall as he pulled out the keys to the room from his pocket. But loud voices made him pause mid reach. Dean and Dad were arguing. He could hear their voices through the thin walls clearly.
"I'm coming with you!" he heard Dean shout.
"You're staying here with Sammy!" Dad shot back.
Where was dad going? Sam thought.
"What could possibly happen to him here?! This place is practically a ghost town!" Dean reasoned.
"Don't argue with me!" dad threatened.
There was silence. Then...
"I can't stay here dad," Dean said suddenly. "I need a break."
"A break?" dad said irrediculously, "From what?"
Sam's hand was still on its way toward the door handle as he waited for Dean's answer.
"He's your brother Dean-"
"He's your son."
Sam's mouth dropped open at the words he heard. It was as if they were throwing him back and forth between each other, both not wanting to claim him as a family member.
"Admit it dad," Dean said. "You can't take it either, that's why you're so eager to leave, and right before Thanksgiving no less."
Sam let his hand drop. Was dad meaning to leave them for good? There was a pause before their dad responded.
"What sort of Thanksgiving were you expecting?" he asked. "It's a pipe dream, nothing more Dean. This family is falling apart."
Sam waited and hoped for some sort of defense from Dean.
"You really think that?" Dean stated.
"We're just too different," dad said. "You and me, we're a team, but Sam…"
Sam held his breath. Up above him, the icy rain had turned into snow.
"I know," Dean said.
I know? What was that supposed to mean? Sam thought.
"Please don't leave me here," Dean pleaded.
Sam cringed. Dean never begged for anything.
"I have to make sure he's safe Dean, even if he doesn't care about what we do for him, at least until he's eighteen, then he's free to risk his own life for all I care."
Sam took in a harsh breath. So now he was just being taken care of by a sense of obligation?
"Screw you," Dean said.
Sam eyes went wide as the door was thrown open in front of him and his brother passed by him roughly, pushing him into the door frame on his way out.
"Save it Sammy," Dean said shaking his head as he went over to his car.
Sam watched him, hurt filling his very soul. Before he could let the tears fall he turned back to the room and walked in.
His dad was bent over his duffel bag, loading it with weapons. He didn't notice Sam standing there.
"You're leaving?" Sam asked, pushing his hurt feelings away for the moment. "Now?"
The door was still open behind him.
His dad's face snapped up.
"You want more people to die?"
"But the weather-"
"Won't stop it," his countered. "Neither will it stop me."
Sam was at a loss for words.
"You said it would be at least a week or more before you-"
"Sam, I don't want to hear it," his dad said agitatedly. "You cause enough trouble for this family."
He zipped his duffel up, straightened up, then threw the bag over his shoulder. He looked around himself until he spotted what he was looking for. Reaching down, he grabbed Dean's bag with his other hand.
"You're taking Dean with you?" Sam asked.
His dad didn't even look at him when he replied.
"It's about time he got a life of his own, away from you."
"I changed my mind."
Sam just stood there, the cold wind blowing in behind him through the open door.
"When will you be back?" he asked in a small voice.
"However long it takes," his dad roughly replied.
Too hurt to care anymore, Sam stood his ground as his dad walked up to go around him and out the door.
"Move Sam," his dad said sternly.
"Are you doing this to punish me?" he asked boldly.
His dad shut his eyes, his face growing red.
"Everything's about you; is that what you think?!" he shouted out angrily. His face was mere inches from Sam's.
He shrank back at having his father's anger directed at him so closely.
His dad moved forward, forcing his anger on Sam.
"It never crossed your mind what it would do to me and Dean did it? You applying for college?" he huffed. "Why do you need all that education, a normal life?" His voice became quieter in a rare show of emotion. "Aren't we enough?"
Sam couldn't speak. His voice was tight as he fought for the words to come out. He had hoped they would be able to talk, but not like this.
The voice that came out next was only a whisper.
"I just want more than this," he said.
His dad rebalanced the bag on his shoulder.
"Can't I have both?" Sam pleaded quietly.
"Move," His dad ordered.
Sam finally backed down and moved out his father's way, letting him pass.
"You take care of yourself Sammy," his dad said tonelessly, not even turning around to face him. "It seems to be all you're capable of."
Sam looked on brokenly, struggling to keep hold of his own emotions, as his dad continued on and walked out of the open door slamming it shut behind him.
Sam let his backpack fall to the ground behind him and threw his books onto the bed. He rushed over to the window and peered through the shades. He was surprised to see Dean getting up from the curb. He hadn't gone far at all. A light dusting of snow covered him.
His dad motioned for Dean to get in the truck. Taking his bag from their dad, Dean looked back toward the motel room and for a moment, though Sam didn't think Dean knew it, their eyes connected. Sam couldn't handle the emotions flashing in his brother's eyes and looked away. By the time he composed himself enough to look back, the pair was already in the truck and backing away, the loud roar of the trucks mighty engines filling the air.
He sighed heavily as he turned away from the window and took in the now empty motel room. Why couldn't they understand? He wasn't like them. This wasn't the life he dreamed of. He loved his family more than they would ever know, but he couldn't go on with this life much longer. It was eating away at him. Gnawing at what innocence he had left, turning him into a cynic. He didn't want to go through life that way.
He needed to know that there was something that he was fighting for, other than revenge for his dead mother who, while he loved dearly and missed deeply, he had never truly known. He didn't want to live with the fear that the next hunt might be his last or his father's or brother's last. How long was he expected…how long were they all going to live this way?
When would it end?
Sam turned off the lights and went back to the furthermost bed from the window. He ignored his backpack and the books strewn all over the other bed. Lying on top off the covers, he curled up and turned toward the window, gazing at the cloudy sky in the fading light.
He laid this way until the sky was dark and the only light coming through the shades was the dim glow of an old street light. He didn't change his clothes and ignored the hunger he felt. His mind was working overtime analyzing everything that had gone wrong between him and his family in the past few weeks.
His thoughts eventually came to what time of the year it was. Ever since he could remember, Thanksgiving and Christmas had been rife with disappointment and unfulfilled expectations. This time of the year seemed to highlight everything that was wrong with their family and bring it up for discussion. It was not an equation for the fluffy happy holidays that Sam had always dreamed of before he had given up on the idea entirely. He closed his eyes willing sleep to come and take him away from it all, if only for a few hours.
Before long he slipped into an uneasy rest.