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Prompt: Written for family_secret, prompt #77, Where Sam goes when he sneaks out at 3am and how long he’s been getting away with it?
Word Count: 1,997
Genre: Gen, immediately post-Heart
His fingers poke, prod, and press — do everything he can think of to convince himself it isn’t that bad — just an indentation of the flesh. Sam’s reflection in the green-tinged florescent light is determined, not scared. Fear never helps anyone. Twisting around to view his shoulder from another angle doesn’t help. By the time he’s ready to slip his shirt back on and go out to scrape up some dinner with Dean, Sam isn’t even sure if the bite mark is oozing slightly because Madison’s penchant for biting during sex had actually punctured flesh or he’d just messed with it enough that the skin was finally broken.
Dean has gathered up their bloody clothes to shove into the hotel laundry’s washer on their way out. Madison’s blood is soaked into solid blotches on Dean’s light blue shirt where her head had rested against his chest while they carried her out for burial. Splatters, thick and congealed, decorate Sam’s shirt from when her heart exploded all over him.
“Think those are salvageable?” Sam asks, motioning to the plastic garbage bag Dean hefted across his shoulder.
“Dude, that was my favorite shirt. We’ll use that stain-remover stuff we’re always seeing on TV.”
Sam recognizes Dean’s weak attempt at humor to lighten the mood just a little, as they’ve both been wrist-slittingly happy since burying Maddie in the park where she’d run wild for so short a time. He can’t quite manage a full smile, but he appreciates the effort. Maybe he’ll wait awhile before telling Dean about the bite.
Dew-dappled branches whip past his face. The night settles around him like a familiar, well-loved blanket. Shadows and light dance around his peripheral vision, while objects straight ahead are clear and detailed. His world is blue and grey and sparkly and fresh.
Once free of the trees Sam lets loose, running full out and careless across the uneven expanse of grass and brush. There’s nothing to stop the wind caressing him, like fingers carding through thick fur. He feels a hum of satisfaction and pure joy rumble up through his throat until he has to stop and let out a howl of exuberant delight or explode with it.
He shakes free of the dampness and laughter echoes in his mind at the way raindrops are sent flying from his head and shoulders into the night.
“Sam, damn it! Wake up!”
His brother’s voice is distant, has to travel through fog and mist and over mountains to reach him. Sam feels the not-so-gentle poke between his shoulder blades again and why can’t he just be left alone to keep running?
“If you don’t get your lazy-ass…” is followed immediately by a glass of tepid water bouncing off the bare flesh of his back and that’s just fucking it.
When Sam becomes fully aware, Dean is standing at the foot of the bed, his hand on the handle of his knife where it lies on the dresser and glares at Sam.
“What the fuck, dude!” Dean’s eyes hold a wariness usually reserved for demons and witches.
Sam looks around, blowing the bangs out of his eyes like it will blow the last of his dreams away and clear his head. He’s crouched on the bed on all fours, his fingers splayed out, gripping the bedspread. Muscles ache while adrenaline is reabsorbed back into his body. He forces himself to relax. Shake off the feeling of anxiousness.
“What? I just wanted to sleep some more, asshat. You got somewhere to be?” Sam tries for casually aggravated, but his throat is dry and scratchy and it’s hard to pretend he didn’t just bare his teeth at Dean.
“No, but it’s almost noon and what the fuck is up with the growling?”
“Huh?” Sam climbs out of bed, walking toward the bathroom, which also happens to be toward Dean. “What? You were gonna pull a knife on me?”
Dean jerks his hand back, like he isn’t even aware what he was doing. He walks over to his own bed, giving Sam lots of room. “Right. Like I couldn’t take your ass down with one hand if I wanted to.”
Sam leans back against the closed bathroom door and inhales deeply, searching out an unknown scent, feeling bereft and sad as if he’s lost something he hadn’t been aware of.
The drone of the highway is a comforting, known sound. It’s white noise for Sam, allowing him to drift. With the windows open and the wind funneling through, he doesn’t have to worry about holding up his end of a conversation. They’re headed west again and Sam can feel the air becoming richer, the temperatures cooler as they climb the mountains toward the Great Divide.
Madison’s face, her look of fear and pain, of guilt and longing. It’s all there for him to read. Just before he pulled the trigger. Two weeks later and he can still smell her blood, feel the warm splatter across his cheek. When his time comes, he’ll use the same gun on himself.
Oh yeah, Sam knows what’s going on. The dreams that are more real than reality. The lingering scents that live only inside his head, but fill the room for several minutes after waking. The feel of warm, damp earth beneath his feet. It feels so solid. He can live in these dreams forever, he thinks. It’ll be so much easier to just live his life as a feral animal, leaving all this behind. He can do it. He would leave — if it weren’t for Dean.
Sam feigns sleep and uses the next hours of travel-time to formulate a plan. He needs to be ready.
They’re hanging out in Utah, just because the pickings are easy in the bars. Those Latter Day Saint boys can’t hold their liquor and just think they’re good at pool. And what they say about daughters of preachers goes double if they’re Mormon. Plus, the weather’s nice for a change. Dean never does need much more than that.
First, Sam decides he needs to establish a pattern. He begins leaving their room in the middle of the night. If Dean’s still awake, he’ll say he can’t sleep so he’s going for a walk. If he’s lucky and Dean’s dozed before him, Sam just slips out, pulling the door closed behind him until he hears the soft snick of the latch. Then he’ll begin a reconnaissance of the area. If they stay…if they’re here when it happens, he’ll need to know where to go.
Sometimes, when the night is really black except for the growing sliver of moon and the stars, while strolling out back of the motel where the brush and desert came up to meet the highway, Sam will try to figure out how he knows what’s coming. How can he remember his dreams and just know? Maddy hadn’t known. She never mentioned dreams or even nightmares. She would have told him. She would have known what it meant.
Sam jerks awake and looks around for a few seconds. He swallows, licks his lips, raises his nose to sniff the air, then opens his mouth letting the breeze dry his tongue. Casting a guilty glance around for Dean and seeing he’s still alone by the motel pool, Sam stands and walks to the back of the dirty tiled patio, not sure what he was searching for exactly. Whatever it is, he’s hungry for more.
And then it hits him and he begins running, jogging across the parking lot in an easy lope, into the trees bordering the motel grounds. Then he throws back his head and runs full out, open mouthed until he’s panting and sweating and at least a mile from their room. It was the wind. He’d tasted it in his dream. And now he misses it. It tasted like home.
He flops onto the ground and spreads his arms and legs, covering as much earth as possible. With eyes closed and mouth open, he soaked up the forest and feels at peace.
Sam has no idea how long he’s been laying among the trees when he feels the cool shadow fall over his face. “Sammy?” He cracks an eye and sees Dean, looking a little worried and whole lot confused. “Mind telling me what you’re doing out here?”
The heat of guilt is overshadowed by defensiveness. Why does he have to explain every god damned thing he does? He’s free. He reports to no one.
“Nothing.” He knows his own sullen tone.
Dean shifts his feet in the leaves, cocks his head and glares. Sam watches his brother, face upside down, as Dean towers over him. Sam’s shoulders dig into the ground as he shrugs.
“Can’t you leave me alone for ten minutes?” Okay, maybe that was a bit more belligerent than he’s going for.
“Hey, just back the fuck off with the ‘tude, Sammy! you’ve been gone for an hour and last time I let you out of my sight you disappeared for a week.”
Sam sighs, stands up and brushes leaves and debris off his shirt and pants. “Sorry. Was just feeling a bit caged and needed some space.”
“Whatever,” Dean mutters and turns back toward the motel, hands stuffed deep in his pockets. Sam is immediately sorry he’s snapped like that, but his look is regretful when he turns and looks back among the trees before following Dean back to their room.
The north woods of Minnesota hold a crispness Sam has never felt. The air caresses his skin and filtered sunlight warms his hair until he smells like grass and leaves and clear water. Except the water isn’t so clear as the ropes of blood wash downstream. Goosebumps dance over Sam’s body, but he’s no where close to as freezing as he would have been before. Before the full moon. Before the Change. Sam lifts his head and inhales deeply, smelling the fear that still lingers in the air, still palpable on his tongue.
His third month. Last night, the day after the full moon and here he is washing off the remains of his kill, scrubbing his hands with silt from the creek and savoring the lingering metallic taste that still lives in his mouth.
And he remembers. Every day, every minute, the second his fangs sank into yielding flesh and tear, and warm, viscous liquid fills his mouth and washes down his throat like ambrosia.
He knows what he’s doing and he makes his choices. Sam is cognizant of how his muscles tighten just before he sprang upward, all four legs leaving the ground as he lands on the back of his prey. His animal prey. No humans. He’d made that choice. And he knows what he is doing.
Sam doesn’t want to think about what makes him different He shouldn’t be able to rationalize this thing. Shouldn’t be able to pick and choose when in the throes of the moon’s pull. Yet, unlike Madison, each month he makes his choice. I will not kill a human today. It is his mantra three days each cycle. And Sam knows he is unlike any werewolf ever created.
He thinks Dean might know. His brother stopped asking about his nightly rambles during the last waxing moon. Sam still goes out more than the required three nights, just to keep up appearances. It convinces him he has a smokescreen. Sam likes to think his secret is safe.
When he returns to their room, the sun isn’t up but the grey dawn makes everything look old and tired. Even the trees, half hidden in the mist, show only gnarled branches and dead limbs. Sam’s tired but wide awake and the sound of the TV, still on from the night before, seeps out from under the door.
He doesn’t know if he will meet his brother’s worried face or a silver bullet when he opens the door.