?

Log in

 
 
18 July 2009 @ 11:14 pm
Supernatural Gen Fiction: "Vagabond Highway" (Sam and Dean, PG)  
Title: Vagabond Highway
Author: HalfshellVenus
Characters: Sam and Dean (Gen)
Rating: PG
Summary (Pre-Series to Pilot): Sam never really belonged, not anywhere, but that didn't mean he'd ever stop trying.
Author's Notes: For writers_choice, this is "Stray."

x-x-x-x-x

Dean would say they had a home, a place where they belonged—even if it stretched and shifted across state lines and highways, moving from one town to the next until it was like they'd lived everywhere and nowhere all at once.

But for Sam, that never felt true—it didn't mean anything. Wherever they went, they were usually on their way to being forgotten by the next cycle of the moon.

Sam wanted nothing more than to put down roots in something stable, to build a life that wouldn't change with every passing lead or rumor or one of those sudden bursts of restlessness that always returned to drive their father onward.

Who am I? he wondered, with no lasting mirror to reflect back the truth of himself as seen by anyone other than Dean or Dad. He'd never be Winchester enough to satisfy either of them, always measured more by his failure to fulfill—or worse, by the fact that he didn't live it, breathe it, want it like either of them did.

He got good at making friends. The truth of it was, he no other choice—he needed to fit in with the crowd, and couldn't count on ever keeping anything he found. He learned the art of getting along, wielding it with incredible skill everywhere except within his family.

There was a difference between wanting to be liked and needing to keep a foothold on a sense of identity that was already always under attack.

Other people had lives Sam envied—friendships dating back to preschool, family reunions, town traditions. When he made friends with someone like that, he couldn't help turning up at their doorstep and slowly slipping inside the family fabric, like he was hoping to be adopted.

The more he absorbed of those other lives, the more the richness of that permanence called to him. Only in the twisted logic of all-things-Winchester could wanting the American dream be considered selfish and wrong. Sam wanted it all—a life without running or secrets, one at last lived outside the ever-present shadows of darkness and death.

At Stanford, he finally found what he'd been looking for. Everyone was starting over just like he was, ready to make sense of themselves in a new place and hoping to find new friends along the way. Sam felt easy with himself for the first time ever, able to just enjoy where he was and the people he met without having to try so damn hard all the time. He could pass off his background the same vague way any military kid might, always evading deeper questions. He knew he wasn't the only one reshaping his own past.

He missed Dean, even missed Dad, for all the times he'd wanted to be out from under their demands and disapproval. But even so, this was still the life he would have chosen.

It was a shock, having Dean show up one night. Sam was halfway to his future with Jess, and suddenly there was Dean—reminding Sam of everything he used to be. All those years of practically worshipping Dean twisted inside him, as he looked at his brother now—more wild than he remembered, or maybe Dean was always that way—and the up-close smell of leather and gun-oil and ash twined through him until it was hard to breathe.

Soon they were on the road together, looking for traces of their father. It was both half-alien and all-too-familiar, falling back into that life, but it was temporary and Sam could never really say no to Dean any more than Dean could ever do the same to him.

The trip was disjointed, Dean alternately cocky and unsettled. Half of Dean's life was in the Impala, the other scattered through the scraps and clues and questions in the motel room their Dad had so mysteriously left behind.

Dean had never belonged anywhere except inside his own family, Sam suddenly realized. He probably never would. Sam had Jess waiting for him back home, Jess and a circle of good friends, but Dean had nothing but a string of hints and messages and Dad's old journal to guide him on.

Surely they'd turn up something, Sam thought, unable to ignore the desperation in his brother's every movement. It hurt—just like it hurt to see how happy Dean seemed to have him back, and to know how badly Dean needed him and Dad both.

They'd find Dad soon, though, and then Sam could go back to his own life, safe in the knowledge that Dean was settled away once again.

But as they drove down yet another road of half-possibilities and bleak promise, Sam watched Dean in the glow of oncoming headlights and wondered why he'd never noticed which of them had actually always been lonelier.


-------- fin --------

 
 
quarter mile, bunch of horses & some gasolinecalijirl5150 on July 19th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
You made me cry !!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
Awww! I'm glad this spoke to you so strongly. Thank you!
(Anonymous) on July 19th, 2009 09:14 am (UTC)
Ouch. Beautiful writing!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)
Gretagretazreta on July 19th, 2009 09:40 am (UTC)
Oh, I like this a lot. It's very insightful, I think, about both of them, and so beautifully put together.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Thank you! The prompt was perfect for Supernatural, I thought, both for how Sam has always felt and for the twist at the end where he realizes it is every bit as true for Dean, if not moreso.
Maerhys: √ bluer skiesmaerhys on July 19th, 2009 09:42 am (UTC)
Ouch, that last line! *cries* Beautiful language through out this, it lingers on the tongue.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)
It stings, doesn't it? As hard as things were for Sam (and god, they were), I think they were just as bad for Dean, in an entirely different way. It's hard to say which is worse-- being out of step with your family, or out of step with absolutely everyone BUT them.
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf: Impalaembroiderama on July 19th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
This is lovely! The line about Sam liking to slip into big families struck me as something Sam would really have done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
I don't see how he could resist-- everything he wanted and everything he was would be utterly welcome to just about anyone outside of the Winchester lifestyle. God, the relief of finally just fitting in and not being constantly reminded of being so wrong.

Maybe I should have titled this "The Kindness of Strangers"-- all those families along the way probably gave far more to Sam than they realized. ;)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
brigid_tanner: Impala hiway to hellbrigid_tanner on July 19th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
I love the way you write. That last line is beautiful and so true. Dean needs his family in a way Sam never did. Painful look inside the heads of the Winchesters.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. Your words made me so happy! Nice to know I haven't lost my touch, too. :)
cindy: spn - emo sammy (by nyaubaby)tsuki_no_bara on July 19th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
aw, boys. :( i love that sam got to be good with people out of necessity, because he always had to start over and make friends from scratch, and because he kept trying to fit himself into other people's lives because he wanted what they had. and i love that his distance gives him perspective, so that when dean comes to get him at stanford, sam can finally see how tightly tied-together dean's world is, and that even tho he never outwardly acted like it, dean was probably the lonelier brother.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 05:36 am (UTC)
because he always had to start over and make friends from scratch, and because he kept trying to fit himself into other people's lives
I think even from an early age, Sam knew he was never going to align with what his father wanted, and he could see that the rest of the world wasn't anything like that. He simply wanted what any child would want, and the number of obstacles thrown in his path to getting it was pretty impressive-- but no more so than his ability to get past them. One of his best qualities is his ability to meld with others, to just merge into a situation like he belongs there. Right up to the point where Dean opens his mouth and torpedoes the whole thing. :0

But there's a certain sadness in realizing how important a survival skill that was for Sam, rather than just an incidental talent. He was never going to fully fit in at home, and by god, he wanted to fit in somewhere.

and i love that his distance gives him perspective, so that when dean comes to get him at stanford, sam can finally see how tightly tied-together dean's world is, and that even tho he never outwardly acted like it, dean was probably the lonelier brother.
It's such a bittersweet situation, because while Sam struggled to belong all his life, he was equipped to do so everywhere except inside his family. And for Dean, it was exactly the opposite-- his family was the only thing that sustained him, and the only thing that ever would. Ouch. :(

Serena64serena64 on July 19th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
Beautifully written and very poignant.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 05:36 am (UTC)
Thank you, Serena, I'm so glad you think so!
ErinRua: Samerinrua on July 19th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)
Ooh, lovely stuff. I like the thoughtful, meditative feel of this. It feels like Sam, the deep introspection and slow-coming realization, the sort of pondering I'd imagine he does. Or anyways did, at this point and time.

Bittersweet and a little sad. Lovely look back in time! *smish!*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 05:41 am (UTC)
The way in which Sam rarely puts his foot in his mouth in social situations-- especially ones involving strangers and sometimes unexpectd twists-- is one of the things that reveals how thoughtful (and introspective) he is. He takes in his surroundings and their context, and adapts himself to them, and we already know how much time he spent growing up noticing that their lives were nothing like other people's... and also nothing like what he wanted.

Only among Winchesters could Sam's simple and utterly normal needs be painted as so very wrong, so disloyal. And how could he keep from searching for the place and people who would at last match who he was and wanted to be?

The utter loneliness of these boys' background is heartbreaking, and even moreso the fact that it continues on...
ErinRua: Samerinrua on July 20th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
*sighh* Yes, and it's heartbreaking as well to try and consider where Season 5 will find them. Poor Sam will probably feel like the loneliest, most useless person on the planet.

Oh, boys ...
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 20th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
God, I hate to think of S5 heading that way. I really didn't want any part of where S3 and S4 led us, and I so wish we were more in the S1/S2 territory of things than in the world of epic Waaaangst. :(

On the plus side, your birthday drabble is not remotely angsty. Still have to wait a few more days to post it. ;)
ErinRua: Dancinerinrua on July 20th, 2009 06:25 am (UTC)
Well, maybe they'll work faster on getting the boys back in sync. Hell on earth notwithstanding. ;-)

Awww, you're a dreadful tease! *HUGS* I look forward, however impatiently, to your sweet generosity. :-)
ash_carpenter: SPN Winchester ash_carpenter on July 20th, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)
Beautiful little character piece *aches for the boys*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
Ruth: Amuletjust_ruth on July 20th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC)
This rings very true, and very hurtful. Especially the part where he sees how happy Dean is and he understands.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
There's nothing so hopeless, is there, as knowing that what makes you happy is in direct conflict with the happiness of someone you love. Once you know that, there are no good choices left.
devon99 on July 20th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
Oh Sweetie, that was so beautifully written, heartbreaking and incisive and quite, quite lovely:)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! What a lovely thing to say. :)
orehime: bulborehime on July 20th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
=(
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
Yeah. *sigh* I wouldn't wish their childhood-- or the effects of it-- on anyone. :(
peeps wanna see peeps boink: at the crossroadsmusesfool on July 20th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, Sam. This is heartbreaking.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
Given his personality, and that he was the youngest and not the pleasing-Daddy-at-all-costs-oldest, I think Sam was destined to lock horns with John right from night Mary died. *sigh*
Jean: SPN: Dean: All Alone & Bloodycontrary_lady on July 20th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
Wow, That was just breathtaking. Well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on July 21st, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :D
seesmooshrun: pic#91035810seesmooshrun on July 21st, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Oh my GOD that was good! You had me from the very first line:...a place where they belonged—even if it stretched and shifted across state lines and highways, moving from one town to the next until it was like they'd lived everywhere and nowhere all at once. What beautiful writing. *sniffle*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Hughalfshellvenus on July 25th, 2009 06:33 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Both the style and the story itself.

Thank you!
May Robinson: Boys Brokenmay7fic on July 23rd, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
This was so wonderful and so very well written. All these insights into Sam leading to the wallop of his sudden insight into Dean was beautifully handled and oh so powerful. This really was magnificent and makes me want to cry ::sniff::

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on July 25th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
The prompt was so wonderful for the way that it was so clearly Sam, and yet could cut the other way just as easily. It was absolutely made for the Winchester brothers, and the difficult and disjointed way they grew up.

Thanks so much for your lovely comments! I really appreciate them. :)
tyrical: RPS_Jaredtyrical on September 13th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
That Sammy was always a bright kid. Too bad the light seems to shine when it's just shy of too late.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on September 13th, 2009 07:50 am (UTC)
Doesn't it, though? Hindsight is always clearer, and always much too late. :(