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02 May 2007 @ 10:10 am
Supernatural Gen Fiction: The Space Between  
Title: The Space Between
Author: HalfshellVenus
Character: Sam (Gen)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: Pre-Series story. It's not even an hour on the bus before Sam starts having doubts.
Author's Notes: Happy Birthday to girlguidejones! Hope your day was lovely, and that this makes it a little better. This started out as the 60_minute_fics "On My Own" prompt, combined with "Convinced" from my Switch_25 table.

x-x-x-x-x

It's not even an hour on the bus before Sam starts having doubts.

Yes, college is what he wants—absolutely. Going to Stanford with a full scholarship is like having a dream offered up to him in daylight; sometimes he still can't believe it's real.

That's not the part he wonders about. He's good with that—pretty much has been for the last four months since he got the letter. He had a lot of time to get used to that future over the summer, going through the motions with Dad and Dean while knowing that he finally had something to look forward to. Something private, something safe... something that was entirely his alone.

God, that had felt good. Knowing that he did it all by himself, in spite of everything about their lives that had made it so damn hard… he was proud of that, even if nobody else was (and screw them for acting like succeeding at school was some pointless, passing thing).

No, the doubts are all about Dad and his anger—that fucking ultimatum Dad dished out. Not that he was going to cave in to that, because he's already had a lifetime of that militaristic bullshit, and Dad's My way or the highway attitude was worn out and old when Sam was eight.

So it wouldn't have changed his mind anyway, but Sam's pissed that Dad went there, that he made things harder than they had to be.

Because leaving—even for awhile, which is more like a year at a time—isn't something Sam is used to. Their family stuck together tight no matter where they happened to be; that was the only constant he had, growing up.

Sure, there were times he fantasized about leaving—mainly, getting out from under Dad's thumb. But every teenager does that—it's part of becoming independent. So yeah, he planned to go to college and create a future on his own terms, but he didn't plan on divorcing his family. It wasn't supposed to be a permanent thing—Jesus, some kids' families even visited them at college.

Sam's family doesn't stay put long enough to do anything like other people. They're modern-day gypsies, with a different after-hours agenda. As far as Sam's concerned, they move one step closer to getting themselves killed every time they set off on a hunt.

He was already worried enough that there might not be anyone to come home to.

Dean loves it, of course, loves all that crap—the hunting, the weapons, the lifestyle, the lore. He's Dad's perfect little soldier, First Lieutenant in the Winchester Family Corps. Dean'll probably be happy to spend even more of their time hunting, now that they don't have to worry about Sam's school schedule.

The mental picture of the two of them, stalking through the woods on weekends like a bunch of gun-nut survivalists, is so perfect and ridiculous that it makes Sam roll his eyes.

It's better, though, than the images he actually remembers. Dean's face going white at the dinner table when the subject of Stanford first came up. The stiff set of Dean's jaw when the two of them discussed it over the next month— discussions that sometimes escalated to yelling, and other times ended with Dean's voice dropping down to hoarseness while his lips trembled in betrayal.

Most of all, because it was just hours ago, Sam remembers the bleakness in Dean's eyes at the bus stop. Dean wouldn't hug him goodbye—not because they never do that anymore, but because he was afraid of something, of making Sam's leaving real or maybe of breaking from the inside-out if Sam so much as touched him.

"You could come with me," Sam had said, knowing that Dean wouldn't, but just needing to make Dean understand that Sam wasn't leaving him.

Maybe Dean heard him and maybe he didn't. He just shook his head sadly, eyes never meeting Sam's.

Sam can't stand to think about it, about whether Dean will ever step out from under Dad's shadow. About whether not coming back to "the family" means that saying-goodbye moment was it— that Dean will honor Dad's directive and Sam won't see him again either.

The bus is hot and stuffy, and Sam suddenly feels sick. Who will love Dean now that he's gone? Not that Sam was the best little brother ever, and they had their share of bickering over the years, but still… all Dean's got now is Dad. Even though Dean hangs on Dad's every word, practically lives for his approval (which Sam thought was stupid before, but now it just seems sad), what Dad gives back is in short supply. What if that's not enough to make Dean happy?

Fuck, he just—he can't fix Dad and Dean. He can't. Not what's inside them, not what's between them.

They'll have to work their own way through that, without him. Maybe Dean'll get tired of living on crumbs, and they'll have some options. Maybe. He's not counting on it.

Rain starts up along the prairie, and the road whish-hushes through the background of Sam's thoughts. He's got his own problems ahead of him—new people, new setting. But they'll be the problems of any other Freshman for a change, and Sam's good at this kind of thing. He's had plenty of practice.

He's still feeling bitter, obviously, from the way things stand, thanks to Dad drawing those goddamn battle lines.

"If you go, then don't come back." The words had burned all the way down after Dad spoke them. Sam probably should have seen them coming, after everything, and yet he didn't.

But it made the choice easier.

As the distance between him and his past grows larger with every passing mile… Sam thinks he might even be a little bit grateful for that.



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




 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 2nd, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Claire!

They really are-- they push and pull, sometimes they work together and other times they get into heated arguments, and they don't always understand each other... but there's love and intense loyalty underneath it all.

It cannot have been at all easy growing up the way they did. :(
Are we back to hos over bros?lissa_bear on May 2nd, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
At first, I thought Sam had it all wrong, imagining that Dean might be happy to have the extra hunting time. And this line: The mental picture of the two of them, stalking through the woods on weekends like a bunch of gun-nut survivalists, is so perfect and ridiculous that it makes Sam roll his eyes. Cracks me up.

But then, he does see how broken Dean is, worries about him. The who will love him bit broke my heart.

Very nice.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 2nd, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
But then, he does see how broken Dean is, worries about him. The who will love him bit broke my heart.
This seems so typical of people, too-- they'll get all pissed off about a certain aspect of someone or what they do, and then in the next breath they suddenly look down into the person rather than at the surface. And in this case, Dean and John are alike and all in cahoots on the everyday level, but John still withholds from Dean, still keeps him the Daddy's boy that he is. It's not enough, and Sam knows it. :( And if he doesn't, then I'll kick him but good, so here at least he does think of someone besides himself.

Glad you liked it! I've written about this period from Dean's POV before, but never really Sam's. It's interesting to flip that perspective around.
girlguidejonesgirlguidejones on May 2nd, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
Mine! Mine! MineMinemiNemIne....
First off, thank you! Having something made for you is the best of all possible gifts. ::smisHes::

And, now...I love it, of course. I love the intellectual way Sam approaches his thoughts about leaving, because, of course he would be that guy. All teenagers go through stages where they hate their parent/s/family. All kids fantasize about leaving, and having their own place to live. It's normal to do that (and therefore something Sam feels drawn to indulge in doing). Then you have him departing from that, and into all the additional reasons a "reluctant Winchester" would have for wanting to go, and it's just perfect.

It was interesting -and sad- that you had him pondering John and Dean needing "fixed". And worrying that Dean wouldn't get enough love if Sam was gone? That broke my heart.

Thank you for a lovely gift that topped a lovely birthday.

::smisHes Sammy and you together::
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 2nd, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Mine! Mine! MineMinemiNemIne....
Hee-hee! I'm glad you liked it, and are willing to claim it! Happy Birthday (yesterday)! :)

It was interesting -and sad- that you had him pondering John and Dean needing "fixed". And worrying that Dean wouldn't get enough love if Sam was gone? That broke my heart.
Do you remember, in "Bad Blood" I think it was, when they meet up with John again and he starts tearing Dean down for not taking better care of the Impala (the car Dean treats like his baby)? Sam looked so angry then, like he's seen that before and absolutely hates it (as if that's one of his beefs with John, actually-- how John treats Dean). Between moments like that, and Sam's comments about Dean not questioning John enough, a picture starts to form of Dean "hopping-to" every time John says so and yet still never being a full grown-up in John's eyes. That is not a good dynamic, and I can see Sam being frustrated with it. It's not even about him, but he's pissed on Dean's behalf. Which I love him for. ;)

And worrying that Dean wouldn't get enough love if Sam was gone? That broke my heart.
I really think Sam has seen that-- the situation where even if Dean does everything John says, it's still not enough and there is so little coming back in return. Enough for a soldier, maybe, but not enough for a son. And I think Sam has always known that, and Dean's blind to it (and just keeps trying and trying to please John, because maybe, finally... *Sigh*)

Thank you for a lovely gift that topped a lovely birthday.
Oh, you're so welcome. I hope it was fantastic, all the way around. :) Birthday and May-Day all in one!
Re: Mine! Mine! MineMinemiNemIne.... - girlguidejones on May 2nd, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Mine! Mine! MineMinemiNemIne.... - halfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
bluesister on May 2nd, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
Who will love Dean now that he's gone?
*bursts into tears*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 2nd, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
Doesn't that just seem the question, from Sam's perspective, that he might worry about? Knowing how he felt about living with their Dad, and leaving Dean in that environment? Dean might get a small pat on the back once in while, but it's not going to be enough, not considering that his whole world will be John now. *cries*
Entendre? Make mine a double.: SN Johndeirdre_c on May 2nd, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, Sammy. Despite what he thinks, they're all so inextricably intertwined.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 2nd, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
they're all so inextricably intertwined.
They really are, like any family-- they each influence the whole and each other in their own ways.

But he doesn't see that-- it's all "Dean and Dad" and the places where he doesn't fit, and once in awhile he must worry that having only once source of real love-- and it's conditional love at that, or at least feels like it is-- that's not really enough for anyone's soul to survive. It really isn't. :(
cindy: spn - ouija handstsuki_no_bara on May 2nd, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
i like that sam hates john for his "don't ever come back," but is also kind of grateful that john made it easier to leave. but it breaks my heart that he thinks there might not be anyone to come back to even if he could, and that he's kind of worried about dean - who will love dean now that he's gone? because sam knows john can't show it the way dean needs to see it, and because sam isn't leaving him. (sam isn't leaving dean, he's leaving the life, but what he doesn't get is that to dean, they're the same thing.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:09 am (UTC)
and that he's kind of worried about dean - who will love dean now that he's gone? because sam knows john can't show it the way dean needs to see it, and because sam isn't leaving him.
It's such a painful thing-- because although John did love the boys, he didn't necessarily show it well. We can tell that Dean needed so much more (and Sam has said so, in canon). We suspect that Sam did too, but being the rebel casts shadows across that picture-- it isn't entirely clear.

sam isn't leaving dean, he's leaving the life, but what he doesn't get is that to dean, they're the same thing.
You put that so well, and it's really true-- they are one and the same to Dean, partly because HE never imagined leaving that life (never intended to). So for all intents and purposes, the result is exactly the same, and he thinks Sam should have seen that. :(
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on May 2nd, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Love Sam's conflicted emotions
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
Oh, I definitely don't think that choice was easy for him. He had to do it, and it was the right thing to do, but the consequences of it were very heavy-- and he knew all that was coming. :(
1aquaesulis761aquaesulis76 on May 2nd, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)
Loved this - just so... 'Sam.' The determind reasons for leaving, Sam's inconvertable decision that he's doing the right thing. The sheer arrogance of most 18 year olds coming over in the way he thinks that he has managed to do what Dean can't - getting away from that life and out from under his Dad's shadow. The youthful inability to completely understand his family's rationalilty for doing what they do, and wanting to go his own way.

As for the 'who will love Dean' part.. :heart breaks: To me, that one line is Sam's reason for going with Dean in the Pilot ep - and sums up all that we have seen of their relationship.

Thanks for writing and sharing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
The sheer arrogance of most 18 year olds coming over in the way he thinks that he has managed to do what Dean can't - getting away from that life and out from under his Dad's shadow.
And what he doesn't understand (even older people often don't) is that he and Dean are not the same person, and that he doesn't have the same relationship with their Dad as Dean does. Dean isn't working from the same set of variables as Sam-- his choice wouldn't be anywhere near as easy, and Sam's is already hard!

The youthful inability to completely understand his family's rationalilty for doing what they do, and wanting to go his own way.
The wonderful irony here is that this is typical for the age Sam is here, and yet because of the bizarre Winchester circumstances... he has perhaps more clarity than most.

To me, that one line is Sam's reason for going with Dean in the Pilot ep - and sums up all that we have seen of their relationship.
It really kills me sometimes that Sam is the only person that will ever really successfully love Dean, if he manages it. John didn't seem to understand quite how (i.e., didn't make Dean feel enough of that love being returned). And Sam... will now have to fight Dean to get that message through. I so often wonder when that happened-- when Sam became a teenager and started to get rebellious and thorny, or when he left for college and in doing so left Dean? When did those walls go up?

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. It's such a pleasure when a reader really "gets" what a story is saying. ♥
(no subject) - 1aquaesulis76 on May 11th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
iamstealthyoneiamstealthyone on May 2nd, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
Good take on what it might have been like when Sam left his family for Stanford. I like that it feels gritty and hurty, that they all feel flawed.

Favorite lines:

"You could come with me," Sam had said, knowing that Dean wouldn't, but just needing to make Dean understand that Sam wasn't leaving him.

Oh, boys.

it made the choice easier.

As the distance between him and his past grows larger with every passing mile… Sam thinks he might even be a little bit grateful for that.


Love this, because it really would have hurt more the other way, if Sam had struggled and struggled with the decision and John had been nice about it. He would have had a lot of second-guessing and guilt to deal with, methinks.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC)
that they all feel flawed.
Oh, I love that phrasing, and it's entirely true. No-one here is entirely complete or settled, and they make each other hurt with all the places they are disaligned.

He would have had a lot of second-guessing and guilt to deal with, methinks.
I think so too. It's so bittersweet-- to have the choice be easier, to make that break and know that you really need to, but at the same time to have that stark line drawn that means "You are dead to me now." Honestly, John-- it didn't have to be quite so extreme.
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
This just makes me want to cry.
You'll hate me if I say that was the goal, but really-- there were so many aspects of this moment in the Winchesters' lives where they were hurting each other and pulling all the wrong ways, and not even able to imagine how to do it less badly. They all knew it wasn't fixable, but god-- why make it so much worse?

Some days, all I have to do is think of Sam going off to Stanford without Dean-- and then cutting off communication later-- and I am all depressed for them just like that. *sigh*
ErinRua: heavyerinrua on May 3rd, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)
I wish I wasn't so tired tonight, as I'd love to wax lovingly and at length about how wonderfully this button hits so many of my "oh, yes" buttons. I absolutely adore Sam's voice, his POV, his almost older-than-the-rest-of-his-family tone of voice that puts him at a distance from them. I like that you've captured a sense of concern for Dean, that Dean is missing his chances to find his own two feet, subverting who he might become by being too much Dad's Good Little Soldier. I love Sam's revelation that he can't fix them. That I think is at the crux of his decision. He can't fix them, he can't fix anything but himself - and to do that, he needs his freedom.

Anyhow. I can't brain right now, but for more reasons than I can coherently express, I love this. Excellent psychology that I think is pitch-perfect Sam. :-)
Cheers ~

Erin
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Actually, I'm thrilled with all the things you managed to say-- they felt quite coherent to me! :)

This story is really about all three of them, shown through Sam's eyes. And even though he is the youngest, he is also most like an "outsider," and he has a certain clarity on the family dynamics that neither of the other two Winchesters have. John didn't seem to see-- until his dying day-- that he'd asked a lot of Dean and yet not given him the approval he so desperately needed. He couldn't tell Sam all the reasons he worried about that decision and try to persuade him not to make it-- he had to make it a choice between the family or Sam's future, with no middle ground at all. :(

And I think you can sense Sam's wish that he was more a part of what John and Dean are all about-- not permanently, perhaps, but how nice it would be to not feel yourself always on the outside looking in?

I love that you termed this a "psychology" piece, because it really is. It's a snapshot of Sam at that moment in his life-- all his doubts and misgivings and convictions, all his love and unavoidable regret.

(no subject) - erinrua on May 9th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
Steffi: Supernatural - Sam Cry No More by carmenlegoline on May 3rd, 2007 06:10 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely. *puts to memories*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you-- I'm so glad you liked it! When someone puts a story in their "Memories," that really says everything to me. ♥
(no subject) - legoline on May 9th, 2007 06:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
angels3angels3 on May 3rd, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC)
I have sat here
for like five minutes with my fingers poised over the keyboard trying to review this. Every time I try I get a great big lump in my throat and get all weepy. This is just so very sad. I'm not even sure who I'm saddest for.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on May 9th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
Re: I have sat here
Sometimes, the emotional reviews like yours are the ones I understand the very best. They go down below the language of words.

I'm not even sure who I'm saddest for.
I think you understood exactly what this story was about then, truly. ♥
     Mandy: Winchestersa_phoenixdragon on July 23rd, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
Whoa!!

*Cries*

*Clings*

*Pets them all*

*Sigh*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on August 1st, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
So glad you liked it! What a tortured dynamic there is between all three of them, sometimes. It's painful and frustrating to read/write it-- imagine having to live it. *sigh*
(no subject) - a_phoenixdragon on August 1st, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)