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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.



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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.

ErinRua: Motor runnin'erinrua on May 9th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC)
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?

Wow. You just made me think a really thinky new thought. It's crossed my mind a few times to wonder how on earth Sam could grow up the way he did, in the same circumstances that shaped Good Soldier Dean, and yet remain so much apart from Dean and Dad. You've suddenly made me wonder if maybe part of the cause was that Dad and Dean tried too hard to protect Sam - and inadvertantly raised him as permanently the odd man out.

Hm. That's like a whole new visual for me: Sam who is not only an outsider to the world they travel through, but somehow set aside, different, from his dad and brother. Then when he got old enough to want things for himself, he began to feel smothered and trapped. He's cut off from the "normal" world and isolated within his own space. Some of the series scenes with Sam and Dean or Sam, Dean and Dad did make me wonder just what you've said, that Sam may have wished that he shared more of a place with Dean and Dad. Being set apart all his life, protected and *ordered* to be kept safe may have been a large part of what caused the break to Stanford.

Huh. I hadn't thought of it in terms of Sam possibly wishing he was more part of the team, so to speak, rather than simply Sam wishing he was shut of it all. It would certainly explain why he was so desperate for "normal", though. Besides the fact they can't connect with the world around them, Sam maybe couldn't even connect within his own family. I mean, of course him and Dean were close, but he was still being left out of something. Dang. That's just ... *sighhh* Poor Sam. Poor Dean. Poor Dad.

Thanks for giving me a new angle to ponder! :-)
Cheers ~

Erin
*who is embarrassed at tired type-os in original post, LOL!*