Pairings: Sam/OMC, one-sided Sam/Dean
Summary: "War does not make men, war destroys them. It is through peace that true men are made."
Notes: A remix of the sidewalk is rushing at my head again by sazzlette. Beta'd by waterofthemoon.
Sam runs into Alicia Fujisaki's boyfriend right after that first tutoring session. He's all puffed up and big, spewing random shit about staying away from his girl like he's trapped in every teen movie from the eighties.
That first time, Sam just rolls his eyes at the immense lameness of it as he walks away.
Four days and two more tutoring sessions later—he thought she was joking when she said even multiplication confused her—and The Boyfriend, whose name he doesn't know, corners him at the far edge of the parking lot. He takes a sucker punch right to the face, a weak right cross that Sam should have seen coming, and goes down like a lead balloon full of bricks.
He's caught off guard. That's why he doesn't fight back. It's why he curls in the fetal position and shields his face when the kicks start coming instead of jumping up and beating the crap out of this guy.
There's no real damage; his face hurts, and he's kind of lightheaded, but he's had worse. His ribs don't feel broken, and neither do his arms. He'll probably be pissing blood for a while thanks to a swift kick to a kidney early on, but it could be worse.
Sam lies there and waits for a truck to run him over and finish him off or something else appropriate like that.
It's not that he thinks he can hide it from Dean, not really. Sam just. Didn't want to have to tell Dean all about how he's such a wuss that he got taken out by some normal guy who isn't even a football player or anything.
Dean's making dinner for tomorrow; it looks like pot roast, maybe beef stew. Sam can never remember which one goes in the oven and which one goes in the crock pot. He's got a fifty-fifty chance of hiding out until Dean leaves for work and he can figure out a way to break his face in the one-floor model home they're squatting in.
He should've known better than to test his luck, but he was hungry and thirsty—okay, so he was just really bored and antsy, but still, Dean is nothing but completely focused when he cooks. Sam can see the priorities shift when he walks in—the way the line of Dean's back moves ever so slightly under his shirt and his body angles towards Sam ever so slightly, the way the quick-succession chopping sounds slow down.
Sam doesn't turn tail, even though he knows he should.
It's no shock to him when he gets caught. No matter how hard he tries, Sam can't seem to tear his eyes away from the small pool of blood the lopsided potato chunk is sitting in on the counter.
Sam doesn't stop tutoring her. She pays him ten bucks each session, and she'll probably end up getting held back a year if he can't manage to get her to bring it up to at least a C average.
It takes four days for her boyfriend to find out. At least that's what Sam assumes, since it's that long until Sam's next run-in with him. And, of course, this time he's brought friends.
Sam's cutting through what passes for an alley in the suburbs—a long stretch of blacktop between back rows of houses, squashed between fences with the occasional big plastic garbage can and kid's bike left laying out—when he gets tackled from behind. He only just manages to get his hands in front of his face before he eats the pavement.
There's three of them this time, and Sam tells himself that's why he doesn't fight back.
There's a note static-clinging to the TV when Sam gets home, telling him that Dean's pulling a double at work, which means that all that effort that Sam put into thinking up an excuse for his bloody nose and shirt was wasted.
Steak, hamburgers, and meatloaf are his dinner options, with sides of frozen broccoli, frozen carrots, and frozen green beans.
Sam slathers a piece of bread in ketchup, another in mayo, and makes himself a meatloaf sandwich and a glass of milk. The frozen steak, veggies, and icy tube of hamburger go under him while he lies on the couch, trying to soothe his aching ribs.
When Sam wakes up in the morning, the front of his shirt and pants are damp from defrosted food, and he has a thick comforter tucked around him up to his neck.
A week and a half later, Sam's on his back in the alley again. At least he's covering his face this time.
If asked, Sam can't actually say why he doesn't fight back.
They don't have any actual training.
They aren't really that strong.
They sure as hell aren't fast or smart.
And sure, there are three of them, but he's been sparring with Dean and his dad since before he knew why he had to be able to shoot a bull's eye.
Maybe it's because it makes him feel normal. "Guys get beat up all the time, right?"
Eric swings his leg, knocks his knee up against Sam's shoulder and leaves it there. Eric's three years older than Sam, a senior, and he doesn't mind if Sam just wants to hang out instead of fool around. "Sure. Usually they at least try to escape, though."
Sam leans his head back on the edge of the bed and wiggles his newly loose incisor with his tongue.
"Shit, Sammy." Dean's voice is low and shocked.
Sam's heart trip-hammers in his chest, racing harder than it ever does in that alley. "Thought you were sleepin'," he chokes out.
The light is bright and burns his eyes, the bare bulb a sharp contrast to the dirty, old-piss-colored cover in the kitchen.
He's surprised when he feels Dean's hand brush his stomach. The bruises hurt, and his stomach rolls with pain memory nausea. That's why he jumps away. "Dean, leave it."
"Sam… what the hell happened to you, man?"
"I said forget it," he snaps, ashamed and scared for different reasons, neither of which he wants to think about. Sam shoves past him and climbs into bed, crawling under his blankets even though he took off his shirt because the so-called "central air" doesn't reach their room.
It takes a long time for him to fall asleep.
"Have you been drinking? I swear to god, I'm not covering for you if you have." Dad will kill Dean with a giant rock if he finds out Dean took the Impala out for a drunken joyride, and if Sam covers, then he better hope Dad's fine with just killing him.
Dean rolls his eyes harder than Sam ever has—how does he do that without making himself dizzy?—and exhales a sharp breath. "Jesus, Sam, just get in the car."
"No." He straightens up, stubborn and pissed at Dean for trying to drive him home like a little kid. "I wanna walk."
Dean scoffs and rolls his eyes again. There's no way that Sam's anywhere that annoying when he does it. "All right, whatever," he says. "I'll see you at home."
The engine's revving, and Dean's probably trying to show off to all the other tenth grade girls like some creepy old freak. "I'll be late," Sam yells over the rumble. "Gotta swing by the library."
He takes off before Dean peels away—he doesn't want to be seen with him, doesn't want to come to class tomorrow and have all the girls flocking around, giggling and flirting and asking how he knows Dean. Besides, he's late. He needs to get to Alicia's soon for her tutoring session, or her mom will be gone, and he won't get a sandwich.
"Leave me alone," he yells, but he doesn't run.
Alicia's boyfriend knocks Sam's backpack out of his hands, and his books go spilling out onto the road, thanks to the zipper the idiots broke yesterday. "How many times I gotta tell you to stay away from my girl, Matthews?"
"I told you," Sam snaps, angry and still not running away. "She asked me to help her with her math homework. That's all." He can't afford a new backpack. Dean's work money is for food, and they're already scraping their budget because Dean won't stop buying steaks and other expensive crap.
"Oh, that's right." One of his friends sneers. "You're the little class genius, aren't you, Matthews?"
They laugh just like the assholes in all those eighties teen movies Dean won't stop watching. Sam scoops his books back into his backpack, stands back up, and doesn't run. The Boyfriend pulls back his fist, and the next thing Sam knows, he's ass over ankles, entire face throbbing from one of the worst aimed hits he's ever been on the receiving end of.
"Come on, Matthews. Not gonna fight back?"
Sam's head is spinning, and he's dizzy, can feel the blood streaming down his face from either his nose or forehead because the fucking moron punched him between his eyes like some kind of retarded four-year-old who watched too many movies. He's more lightheaded from his head connecting with the metal handle of the trashcan than from the punch that sent him into it.
Everything's blurry and loud as Sam struggles to his feet. He's pretty sure he has a concussion, probably from the trashcan.
He doesn't really hear Dean's voice. Auditory hallucinations are... not common with concussions, but they probably aren't unheard of. Pun unintended. It's not real—he has epilepsy or he's schizophrenic or something, Dean's not there; he didn't just watch Sam stand there and take that. He didn't save Sam's ass like Sam's still that scrawny kid who couldn't even be trusted to take a shower without hurting himself.
It's not Dean who hauls Sam upright and practically carries him out of the alley. It's Eric; it has to be. Eric kept telling him to fight back or quit or do something at all. So clearly, Eric finally got tired of Sam coming over all bloody and bruised and came to help him. Not save him. Dean doesn't need saving, so Sam doesn't, either.
"C'mon," Eric says, opening the door to the Impala for Sam. "Let's get you cleaned up."
Sam reels back out of Dean's grip. "Screw you," he hisses, then runs.
"You sure you're okay?" Eric asks. He's half on, half off the bed, long fingers reaching down and poking the gash at Sam's hairline.
"Yeah, 'm fine," Sam murmurs. "Just needed to wash up."
Eric slides down to the floor, effortless and graceful. His left hand braces Sam's right side as he rolls them face to face. Eric's thumb swipes at Sam's eyes, puffy and red from the tears he couldn't explain to himself. Eric leans in closer and meets him halfway, mumbling into his mouth, "At least you ran this time."
Sam doesn't correct him.
Sam stays at Eric's until his uncle comes home. He says goodbye and sneaks out the window, taking the long way home so he doesn't pass the bar.
There's no point, though, because Dean's there when Sam gets home, sitting in the living room and glaring at the TV like it just insulted his car.
"Hey," says Dean, not turning around.
He climbs over the couch, testing the waters. If Dean yells, he's in deep shit. Dean doesn't even turn his head as Sam eases himself down. He sits on the middle cushion next to Dean instead of near the arm like he usually would.
Sam shakes his head. Dean finally turns his head and looks at him, and Sam feels self-conscious and wonders if he missed any spots.
"Sorry for cramping your style earlier."
Sam sighs and leans over Dean to grab the remote, ignoring the sting and pull of his ribs and muscles. He turns the TV off and sits there next to Dean, trying to figure out what to do with his hands, what to say, where to start. "I'm sorry, Dean. I was… I shouldn't have…." He doesn't finish the sentence, doesn't know how when he can't even explain to himself why he took off like a bat out of hell.
Dean sighs in response, the Winchester version of shalom. It's no help to Sam because it could mean he forgives him, but it could also mean that he's pissed or irritated, or that he wants to disown Sam for getting his ass handed to him so many times by someone who didn't even make the basketball team.
Dean moves his arm off the back of the couch and wraps it around Sam's shoulders, pulling him close and pressing his face into Sam's hair. "You're an ass," Dean tells him, and Sam's stomach rolls. Pulled this close, he can feel the rumble of the words in Dean's chest.
"You are." Sam smiles, even though he knows Dean can't see it.
Dean laughs, pulls away sooner than Sam would have liked, and gets up from the couch. "So whaddaya want on your pizza, geekazoid?"
"Usual." Sam turns the TV back on and tries to make himself comfortable, kicking his feet up on the coffee table.
Dean smacks Sam's feet as he walks by, mindful of Sam's manners even when they're stealing cable and living in a show house. "Usual it is," says Dean, snatching the cordless off its cradle.
Sam glances up at him, shoves everything deep down and smiles. "Oh, and Dean? Can I get a soda, too?"
Dean grins. "Don't push it."