Sam's hair is long.

Don't own 'em, just love 'em, wished to hell I worked for Kripe

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Sam hair is long. It's a look that defines him, though it is so impractical for the line of work he's in. The fugley's he hunts, of long tooth and claw, taunt him in glee saying, "It's all the better to grab you with..." still he maintains the look. His reasons being deeper than just style.

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You see, the essential difference between himself and his big brother is that Dean can remember the fire. Dean can remember bits and pieces of having a mom too, but Sam can't dredge up any such memories. No matter how hard he stares at the faded photos of mom in Dean's room, her smiling face doesn't register any feelings of safety and security or the degree of loss that Dean still feels. And Sam has always felt bad about that. He's always felt bad that his sense of loss didn't start with the death of their mom, how could it, he'd never had the chance to know her. His loss began years later at some stupid barber shop in some random town when he was about three years old.

Looking back, it seems to Sam that he's always had an aversion to barber shops. The smell of Bay Rum mixed with cigarette smoke, even the barber's chair seemed sinister to him. And when his brother Dean, who has sported a Military Buzz cut for like forever, gets exasperated and says, "Com'on Sammy you look like a girl get a real haircut ferchhristsake!" It hits his ears with a sting of betrayal. Always has.

In his dimmest memories, Sam remembers Dean from before the barbershop. He remembers the laughing his brother used to do and how much fun they had at play. And even though the rooms of the seedy motels they lived in changed from week to week, some times day to day, the one sure steady thing was Dean's ready laugh. Sam knew Dean was always smiling, always happy, always ready for a game and that made Sam happy too.

But tied to those memories of a laughing Dean were the ones of a sad and angry dad. Sam remembers that when they were very young, dad would sometimes look at his brother and make a mad face. Their dad would then grow really quiet and it would always follow soon after that he'd become very sad and tell Dean that he looked so very much like their mother... that they had the same color hair.

Sam remembered his dad being very very sad about that.

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Until one day everything changed.

Dad took them to a place filled with men sitting in small chairs reading magazines and laughing at jokes only grownups get. It smelled of cigarette and cigar smoke tinged with Old Spice. Some men were sitting in the center of the shop, high up in funny, scary big chairs while a guy in a white smock, like a doctor, clipped bits and pieces of their hair off.

The place was like no place Sammy had ever seen.

They waited along with the men in the chairs until it was Dean's turn to sit in the big scary chair, and Sam didn't like that at all and began to fuss. Normally John's youngest was the quiet one but suddenly at this moment something upset him. "Nooooooo daddy," the child said softly and squirmed in his fathers arms, "let's goooooo..."

He remembered seeing the barber pick his brother up and set him on the chair's booster seat. Dean frowned at the man because, One: he had picked him up, and two: a booster seat? Really? Then, like a magician, the barber produced a big, gray cape and draped it over Dean until only his head stuck out. The barber turned the chair around, so that Dean could face them and moved the razor over the flaxen Dutch boy locks his brother had. John watched each tendril of golden hair gently fall and land at the base of the barber's chair. Sammy was transfixed by the falling hair too. Dean was fascinated by the buzz of the electric hair razor and giggling said, "It tickled."

Dean was taking it all in stride until the barber removed the cape and swung the boy around to see himself in the mirror. Sam watched as Dean's eyes grew wide and began to fill, his lower lip starting to wibble. Sammy didn't like seeing his big brother this distressed. The buzzy thing had eaten nearly all of Dean's hair off and the youngest Winchester felt awful and helpless seeing his hero about to cry! John's eyes were equally beginning to fill but he got straight up out of his chair and went over to his son and patted him gently on the back telling him how grown up he looked, how proud he was of him for being such a good boy in the chair and would he like some pie as a reward from the diner next door?

Though Dean looked stricken, as he stared at his reflection in the big mirror, his lower lip still in full on pout, he nodded once at the mention of pie.

While the barber brushed stray hairs off the boy's shoulders and helped him slide down off the chair John gathered up his now very fussy youngest and opened his wallet to pay the bill.

As Dean's dad put the money in the barbers hand he asked a favor of the man. Dean was too busy looking in the mirror and running his little hand over the short spikes that now covered his head to hear what was said. But the barber passed John a small, clear pouch that held one golden curl and his dad had reverently placed it in his wallet.

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After that things got different. Or became the routine they'd have for the rest of their lives. Dad would tell Dean to stay up past his bedtime and Sam would watch their father leave. Quite often they would be alone together for a long, long time. Dean didn't play as much with him anymore either. He became all bossy. "Sammy you got to go to bed." "Sammy you got to take your bath." "Sammy we have to split the cereal up tonight for supper so no you can't have any in the morning."

To be fair, most times Dean would try to make things fun but not the way they used to play. They used to play like equals. The barbershop took more than just Dean's hair away that day. It took away Sammy's playmate and the easy carefree laugh that his brother always had. Subconsciously to Sam's three year old mind it was the barbershop that Sam blamed for the loss of "his" Dean, the brother that was quick to laugh out loud, the new short haired version of his brother just wasn't the same.

So Sammy developed an aversion to barbers and that meant more arguments for his dad whenever the mention of a hair cut came up. As a former marine, John knew how to pick his battles, as long as the boy kept up with his training he'd let him keep his hair longer than Deans if it meant some peace in their lives. And slowly Sam began to let his hair grow out, decidedly longer than Dean would ever had, without really being able to voice it he kinda felt like he had to make up in length what Dean lost that day. And he wears his own brown locks as a kind of tribute for what they once were as brothers...before the fire...before the barbershop. When laughter was just easy.

The end

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