Title: Becoming Sam
Summary: 'At the door Dean said, "Watch out for Adam, huh, little bro?" And mussed up Sam's floppy hair.' Adam's mother is killed by ghouls when he is young and John takes him in. The family dynamic shifts. For Sam everything changes and nothing does. Pre-series AU.
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or anything else that is even vaguely recognisable.
Author's Note: For the sake of artistic freedom, I have made Adam slightly older than he would have been. He was born in '88 instead of '90. And in this universe, Sam has a few visions when he's younger. Also, this is my first AU, so though I hope I did the characters justice, they may be OOC.
Warnings: Nothing but the occasional swearword. Though if I missed anything, please let me know and I will edit the warnings!
Chapter 1: Search for the truth
Adam had been there almost as far back as Sam could remember. Sure, there were vague images of tables for three, half-there feelings of Dean's utter devotion. But they were barely hanging on the vestiges of his mind and he knew they would soon disappear. Only one memory of before remained, a dream, violent and vivid, forever seared in his retina. He had known Adam would come.
That day, the day that Adam came, that was also something that Sam could remember with startling clarity. Dean had been angry, he recalled, resentful of a brother from another mother. Then Dad had brought Adam in, a one-year-old with hazel eyes and sand-coloured hair. Just like that the anger had evaporated, only a residual bitterness towards John remaining.
Dad never gave an explanation for Adam's appearance, but Sam had known that the mother had died.
Somehow, the little boy naturally become Sam's responsibility. Perhaps it was because he wasn't as loud or as big as the others. Perhaps it was Sam's feeling of guilt towards the magnitude of responsibility that already weighted Dean's shoulders. With the arrival of Adam, Sam slipped out of the little brother skin. He was no longer the burden to be protected, he was the protector now, and he loved the job with all his heart.
Still, Dean was always the protector in chief. When Dad went out, it was Dean who went down the list of what to do. It was Dean who provided food, protection and kisses on their scrapes and bruises. But the words had changed now.
"Watch out for Adam." Dad would warn, then at the door as an afterthought, "And Sammy too."
That always confused Sam a bit. Was he supposed to be protected, too? Or was he supposed to protect Adam, too? Sam opted for both. He let Dean be the big boss, but he still took care of Adam.
Sure, Dean did the big things. He protected them from monsters and saved them from bullies and CPS. But Sam took care of the little things. He protected Adam from nosy teachers, from hearing Dean's profanity and seeing all the porn that their motel-rooms offered. He took Adam outside when Dad was in a mood, and secretly fed him fruit when he could. Because Mrs. Laurance had told him that you couldn't be healthy without fruit.
Dean got used to the new dynamics quickly, his dose of younger sibling now doubled. It worked well, he let Sam do the 'chick-flick' moments and shoulder some responsibility, but he watched over them both. As was a big brother prerogative. That was fine with Sam. He was tired of being the one that everyone belittled and happy to pass that fate over to someone else, but he still needed Dean.
Of course, being a big brother was not all fun and games. It meant sitting down at a table with Dad and Dean as they told him that monsters existed. That the weird thing that came into his room and made him feel tired last year was real. Dean looked really guilty at that and while Sam nodded solemnly at Dad, he shot his big brother a smile to cheer him up. It didn't work.
Sam sat up at night sometimes, then. He would think of all the bad things in the world that could be monsters. Think of all the times that his family had lied to him before. It had hurt, knowing that this entire life had been a lie, and he wished it hadn't been. After all, how could he trust Dad and Dean if they were this good at hiding the truth? Sometimes, Sam even wondered if he should tell Adam, because he deserved to know. Just like Sam had deserved to know.
But he didn't, because Adam deserved a life where he wasn't scared. So, just like Dean had done with him, he held his tongue when it came to monsters. Even as they watched the Little Mermaid and Adam babbled that Ursula was a monster. He couldn't really talk yet. Dean laughed of course, and Sam wanted to correct him and tell him what actual monsters were like. But it wasn't like Adam could understand that anyway.
So, they just sat watching movies in front of the crappy motel TV, like they always did. Dean to the left – nearest to the door - Sam to the right, and Adam in the middle. Face and hands dirty from their dinner, protected by the walls of his big brothers and blissfully unaware of the horror the world hid.
Then two weeks later, Dean left on his first hunt. He was so excited, piling weapon after weapon into his duffle bag and telling Sam stories of how he was going to crush that ghost because it had hurt so many people. Sam was almost jealous of Dean as he left. He was also uncertain. It wasn't the first time he'd been left in a motel without Dean, the guy had been training for a year now. It was, however, the first time he had to take care of Adam on his own, and he didn't want to screw up. In fact, he couldn't afford to. Dad and Dean would never forgive him, and more importantly, he would never forgive himself.
Then at the door Dean said, "Watch out for Adam, huh, little bro?" And mussed up Sam's floppy hair. Sam slapped Dean's hand away indignantly and told Dean that obviously the would watch out for Adam.
Dean smiled that knowing big brother smile. The one that was proud, happy and just a tiny bit insulting. A pool of warmth spread through Sam. If Dean thought he could handle this, then he could.
After he put Adam to bed that night, Sam softly turned on the TV. As a big brother that was his prerogative, after all.
SPN NPS SPN SNP SPN
As they got older, Sam often found himself in a motel with Adam while Dad and Dean went hunting. He didn't know how Dean did it really, with school and the amount of girlfriends, Sam was starting to think his brother might have a talent after all. Once in a while, Sam went along. As actual workforce, too. Adam would stay safely in the warded car or holed up at Bobby's.
Most of the time though, it was Adam and Sam in the same room. Which was fine, because Sam loved his little brother. Really, he did. Even at times like this, when Adam was letting out a stream of constant nagging.
"Sa-ham," Adam whined, managing to turn a one syllable word into a two syllable complaint.
"Adam." Sam replied, resolutely not looking up from his Spanish grammar exercises.
"When do you think they'll be back?" Adam continued in the same tone, sitting next to Sam and looking over his shoulder. Sam sighed. No need to ask who 'they' were; Dad and Dean had been gone for almost two weeks. He didn't know when they'd be back, but he hoped soon. Money was running out and Sam wondered, not for the first time, how Dean always managed to make ends meet. Then again, he probably didn't want to know.
"I don't know, just like I didn't know the other fifty time that you asked." Sam answered, this time closing his school books. For some reason he was having a hard time concentrating today.
"Don't you want them to come back?" Adam questioned, obviously annoyed by Sam's lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of the two older Winchesters returning.
"Of course I do, I just don't think they'll come back any faster if you keep asking about them." that wasn't a lie. He did want his family back. Alive. Unhurt. Unmangled by the werewolf they were hunting. That wasn't the way the world worked though. Not for the Winchesters anyway. It was just wishful thinking. And wishful thinking had never helped anyone, it just brought disappointment and hurt. That was something Sam had learnt pretty early in life.
One look at Adam's hurt face though, and Sam wished he could take back his words. He shouldn't let Adam worry, just like Dean had never let him worry as a kid. Maybe wishful thinking did help sometimes, when just for a moment you could believe everything would be alright.
So Sam lied, "They'll be back soon, you'll see." Then he cast a distraction, "Wanna help me make dinner?"
It was only mac'n'cheese, not exactly much to cook. Pretty unhealthy, too. But Adam smiled and nodded enthusiastically, so Sam would take that as a win.
When the two older Winchesters came stumbling into the motel-room later that night, Dad was concussed and Dean was bleeding like a stuck pig. With Dad's double vision, and his shaking fingers, he didn't dare to stitch Dean up. So the job fell to Sam.
At thirteen years old, Sam had never stitched up a real breathing person before. He'd practiced on animal skins and leather of course, but his skills had never been needed. Instead, he'd always been delegated to 'Adam-duty', keeping the kid from seeing all the blood and gore that came with the hunting life.
Now, a bent needle and a box of tooth floss were tossed in his hands as Dad anxiously pushed against Dean's wound in an attempt to stop the blood-flow. Sam moved closer, threading the floss through the needle and nearly puking as he caught sight of all the blood on Dean. There was a bottle of some kind of strong alcohol on the table and Sam poured it liberally over the wound. It hissed slightly, and Sam wondered if it was infused with holy water. He wondered if that was even supposed to happen. Usually Dean would get a shot to ease the pain. He wasn't conscious now though, just dead weight in a bed.
Sam was about to put the bottle back when Dad told him to take a sip. "Liquid courage son, it'll ease the nerves."
It didn't ease the nerves, but for some reason in managed to steady his shaking hands as he stuck the needle deep into Dean's flesh. Dean didn't yell, didn't grunt, didn't even wake up. He just twitched half-heartedly every time Sam touched the wound. It took half an hour and twenty-two stitches before the bleeding stopped entirely. Dean didn't wake up once.
Dad took over after that. Bandaged Dean's chest with stuttering hands (guilty hands, Sam thought), cast a blanket over the boy, then in a gesture so intimate that Sam felt he had to look away, brushed Dean's hair aside and laid a kiss on his forehead. Dad stumbled back into a chair then, head in his hands and crusty blood under his finger nails. Sam wondered if he should go over and comfort his father, tell the man it wasn't his fault. It was what Dean would have done.
But Sam couldn't move, couldn't stop staring at the blood on his hands and he abandoned needle on the floor. Dean's blood. The needle he had used to save – hurt – Dean. There was just silence now. Steady breathing from Dean, laboured pants from Dad. Somewhere behind all of it, Adam sobbing.
That was what got Sam moving in the end. He jerked his head to the right, looked straight in Adam's teary eyes. He was just a kid, eight years old, and he shouldn't have been seeing these things. With lurching moves, Sam turned towards Adam to console him. Then he saw the blood on his hands and thought better of it, standing stock still in the middle of the room. Adam had his face hidden behind his hands and Sam hoped more than he'd ever hoped anything that the kid hadn't seen what he had done.
"You did good, kid." Dad's voice sounded through the room. Hoarse, tired, worried. Something hot flared suddenly in Sam's chest. He realised he didn't want Dad to be proud that he'd stitched up his bleeding brother. He didn't want to stitch up his bleeding brother at all. So he said nothing, and John continued with a slurred voice, "How 'bout you get Adam to bed. I'll keep an eye on Dean tonight."
Sam nodded jerkily and moved towards Adam. Making sure to have wiped the blood off his hands, he reached over to his brother. He hoped his voice didn't shake when he whispered, "You hear what Dad said? Let's get you to bed."
Adam looked up at him with wet eyes, and Sam wiped the tears from his face on autopilot.
"Is he gonna be okay?" Adam asked with a small voice. This time Sam knew his voice wouldn't be strong enough to answer. He swallowed convulsively against whatever was lodged in his throat, but he couldn't bring himself to speak.
It was Dad who answered instead, voice softer, with a look that spoke of a innocence he was trying to protect, "Dean'll be fine. Sam fixed him up."
For a moment Dad and Adam stared at each other, as if they were each trying to find the lie, the chink in the armour of the other. Then Adam nodded solemnly and looked back at Sam. The look on his little brother's face made Sam ache in places he didn't know he possessed. That look, he'd felt before, morphing his own face as he looked at Dean.
Sam gave a wobbly smile and took Adam to brush his teeth. While Adam got into his pyjama, Sam scrubbed his hands until the only red was his own irritated skin. Then he slunk in bed beside Adam, throwing a protective arm over his little shoulders. He looked over his pillow at Dean, who lay still as a statue. For a moment he locked eyes with Dad. There was mourning in the man's eyes. Over Dean, over lost childhoods or lost wives, Sam didn't know.
Other things he did know. He knew he wasn't going to die on a motel-room bed with his brothers attempting to stitch him up. He wasn't going to spend the rest of his life in fear of his family's deaths.
He decided right then that this was not going to be his life. Not forever.
SPN NPS SPN SNP SPN
November 2nd was always the worst day. It was strange, really, how all four of them mourned a woman that only two of them had ever known. She wasn't even Adam's mom, but he would cry for her like she was. He didn't get it when he was younger, didn't understand the strange silence that had strained that day for as far back as Sam could remember. He had tried to explain, but it was difficult to explain something he barely understood himself. Of course, Dad and Dean weren't much help, one drowning in booze while the other locked himself in a room with their one photo album.
Sometimes Sam would wonder about Adam's mother on that day. He would wonder why Mary Winchester got an entire day of grief dedicated to her, while Katy Milligan only got a sad remark and a bowed head. It wasn't fair. And as Adam grew up, Sam saw him notice the same. He saw the moment his brother came to realise that his mother just wasn't as important as theirs. Each year after that, it would break Sam's heart.
That wasn't the worst part though, the worst part wasn't even how much effort both Dad and Dean put into not mentioning Sam's part in the whole thing. The two of them would talk of it sometimes, only on this one day every year. They would talk about 'the room' where it happened. Never 'Sam's nursery'. They would say she was suspended on the ceiling. Never 'over Sam's crib'. It was always 'when you were a baby'. Never 'when you were exactly six months old'.
That was how Sam knew that they had made the same connections he had. That they, too, had realised that if he wasn't the cause of the incident, he might someday still feel its effects. Sam wondered if Mary Winchester would have thought the same. If she would have subconsciously attributed her own death to him. He would never know. He would never know her.
And that was the worst part.
SPN NPS SPN SNP SPN
The first time Sam landed in the hospital for something really bad was on November 3rd 1996. The Winchesters, still fresh on the grief of Mary, had taken a hunt and naturally it had completely gone to hell. A mere two hours into their hike through the forest, they'd come across the witch they were looking for. Ironically, she had lived in a hut in the forest, poisoning wells and turning trees into murderers. Usually the locals didn't have much trouble with her, but then she started targeting hikers and she could no longer be ignored.
She looked like a typical fairy-tale witch, something that Dean told Sam was actually pretty rare. Tangled grey hair, wrinkled face, black dress, and behold, an actual wart on her nose. Her very image made Sam's skin crawl and made him feel like he had to sniff himself to see if he smelled like a child. He hadn't showered in two days, so according to The Witches he should be safe, right? His heart pounded faster at the idea of Adam in the car down the hill. At ten, he was bound to smell like a child and Sam had never felt more grateful for how heavily warded and salted the Impala was.
That, Adam sitting goose in the car, was something that Sam had argued fiercely about with this father. They were arguing a lot these days. Sam thought Dad was being too much of a general, and not enough of a father. Dad thought that Sam's words were disrespectful and insubordinate. Especially around this time of year, when Mom's death was so fresh all the words came out harsher than they were supposed to be. Though Sam knew that, he just couldn't stop himself sometimes. They'd agreed in the end though. Or, Sam had agreed to shut his mouth, and they'd whispered quick apologies because you didn't go into a hunt angry.
So, Sam was fully expecting Dad to fight the witch, then get back to Adam before dawn.
To Sam's utter surprise, John didn't move to incapacitate the witch immediately. On the contrary, he struck up some friendly conversation. For a few minutes Sam thought that maybe they could talk this through and that everything would be fine. Then Dean's 'happy-hunting-grin' had turned upside down. Sam wasn't sure, why, at first. Then he caught the flitting of Dean's eyes, he heard the cracking of branches and the rustle of leaves as they shook. There was no wind though, not even the slightest breath of air in the warm summer night. Sam gripped the knife in his hand harder, knuckles turning white as Dean stepped closer, arm stretched as if he could shield his brother with that one limb. The Glock in his right hand was raised now, safety off and ready to fire.
"Those hikers are of little importance in the grander scheme of things," the witch croaked wisely, long finger raised in warning.
Dad simply narrowed his eyes, finger twitching on the trigger of his shotgun when the leaves rustled again, "Those hikers were people. And you killed them."
The witch shrugged, then looked past Dad and locked eyes with Sam. There was something assessing about the look, like a dog smelling out a bone. Sam felt every hair on his neck stand up in anticipation of what he knew was about to come. Sure enough, when the witch next opened her mouth she spoke of Sam, "Now your son there, he is interesting."
With a flash of wobbly fire and the silence of the woods, Dad and Dean were thrown aside. Not far, not dangerous, just out of the witch's way. The she was in front of Sam, fingers reaching for his cheek and he wanted to stab her there and then. But she was human. And Winchesters didn't kill humans.
"No! Sammy!" Dean yelled in desperation as Sam heard him scrambling to get up. Dad cursed up a storm, but it was no use.
Sam was backing away from the witches prying hands, feet stumbling until his back hit a tree that he could have sworn wasn't there before. It was like Lord of the Rings, he thought, his vaguely terrified mind coming with useless information.
"The power you have, boy…" The witch whispered in awe as she let her hands glide over Sam's face. He flinched away, but there was nowhere to go and she continued, "The evil in your veins…"
Suddenly she looked up at him in shock, her head shaking back and forth as she stared into his eyes. Sam felt his skin crawl, he felt every emotion bubble and come forward like the woman could summon his very thoughts.
"I am truly sorry," the witch whispered as a branch from the tree impaled him from the back, "But you cannot be allowed to fulfil your fate."
With morbid curiosity, Sam saw the branch coming out through his side, then retracting again. It was like someone had set a thousand fire ants loose in his body. Like every nerve converged to that very spot in his side. Somehow he had the presence of mind, or maybe the reflex, of lurching forward with his knife. He pulled it back as blood welled up in the witches jugular and his knees gave way.
Two strong hands engulfed him. Then another two. Dean's face swam between trees and Dad's voice echoed over the rustling of leaves. After that things got strange.
Sam had vague memories of being carried through the forest, of frantic voices and a beautiful starry sky. He could remember the soft leather of the Impala and Adam's panicked voice. There were orders from Dad and there was Dean telling Adam that Sam would be fine, that they just had to fix him up and he'd be good as new.
"Huh, Sammy?" Dean asked with a squeak to his voice that Sam didn't think he'd ever heard.
The motor of the Impala rumbled. Smooth, soothing, reliable, like she always was. Sam allowed himself to slip away to the touch of Dean's hand, with Adam's voice filling his ears and the smell of blood and leather in his nose.
Then time came in flashes, green eyes over his face small hands on his shoulders, shaky hands on the wheel. Later, masked faces and bright lights. Soothing hands from too nice nurses. Then finally, finally white. Pristine, sterile white that burned his eyes and antiseptic that attacked his nostrils.
Sam's eyes fell on Dad, seated by the bed with his head in his hands and a weary slump in his shoulders. For a moment Sam was privy to a moment so private, that he was sure he would never see it again. This man next to him was defeated, torn at over and over by the horrors of the world. Sam remembered what the date had been when they were hunting. November 3rd. Two consecutive days of grief would have felled Dad. He'd lost so much and still had so much to lose and for the first time in a while, Sam felt his heart constrict for his father.
Why do you do this to us, Dad? He wondered. Why do you do this to yourself?
Dad looked up, as if sensing Sam's thoughts. The eyes that met his were tired, but obviously happy to see him awake, and the smile that greeted was more genuine than the entire first five years of Sam's life. Not a word was said, but Sam knew how to carry a conversation without words, like any brother of Dean would. Looks and gestures could to more sometimes.
Now, the way that Dad reached out and pulled the line of one of the IV's in Sam's arm straight said more about the fear the man had felt than any words ever could. It had been a long time since he'd been alone with his father, just the two of them without Dean or Adam. It was refreshing almost. Natural.
Then Adam came bounding into the room with gasp of, "SAM!"
Dean strolled in behind Adam and tossed dirty looks at the frowning patients in the other beds (and how come Sam was only seeing them now?) when they shushed his little brother. Adam was very happy to see Sam awake, and very impressed by the scar his wound would leave behind.
"Chicks dig that, Sam." Dean agreed with a laugh, then with a wink, "You might even manage to get some action with one of the nurses…"
When Sam turned beet-red, Adam snorted too. Dad simply shook his head as he tried to hide a smile. While Sam usually had no problem whatsoever believing that Dean had flirted with every single nurse on the floor, something in his eyes made Sam do a double take. It was like the green had grown harder, walls raised higher than they were before. Sam hated when that happened, when Dean shuttered himself from the world.
Looking closer at Adam, though, he could see the same happening to his little brother. Shutters drawn, walls being built a brick at a time. A hospital visit at a time, perhaps. He'd done this to his brothers, and he ache in his chest grew stronger.
Two weeks later, when Sam lay in bed beside Adam, he heard his brother whisper in the dark.
"I was really scared that you would die." came the soft voice.
Sam forced his heart-rate down, forced the pain lines from his eyes, and the walls around his mind. Then he looked down at Adam with a smile, "You shouldn't worry about that, you know Dean will always save me."
And as Sam looked over at Dean's from, the older brother's breathing just a little too steady to be real, Sam new it was true.
He also wished it wasn't.