Summary: Five people who helped Sam in Stanford.
Notes/Acknowledgments: Betad by waterofthemoon, celtic_cookie, and sophie_448.
She doesn't let him pay, refusing to take his meal card and swiping her own instead.
"You don't pay here," she tells him, grateful for the standard seven-thirty lull. "Daisy's my girlfriend. Last night," she starts. She can't say it, doesn't know how she could ever begin to thank him. "She'd be dead if you hadn't been there. She told me what you did to that thing."
"It was just a stray mountain lion," he tells her.
"Free meals for life."
She wipes off the table he's sitting at and slips him her number, as discreetly as she can manage with her shaky hands. "If you ever need anything," she tells him. "Anything."
As soon as he sees Sam, fidgety and trying to blend into the tree behind him with his wet hair and his towel clenched tight around him, he strips off his jersey and t-shirt. There are three fire trucks and dark smoke billowing out of the third floor windows, and he knows they won't be allowed back in any time soon.
"Take them," he tells him, stripping off his jeans.
"Put your clothes back on. Stop that," Sam begs him.
"No, you need them more," he says. He doesn't look at the scars covering Sam.
"I don't need—"
"I'm not putting them back on. If you don't wear them, I'm just going to leave them here," he says.
He stands there in his boxers, his back to Sam, an impromptu wall for safer changing.
"Thanks," Sam says.
He turns and is struck by how different Sam looks—football jersey too big for him, jeans nearly falling off of him even with the belt, wet hair slicked out of his face. "You look like a frat boy," he says without thinking. "One of the good ones. Like me."
"Well, I am wearing your clothes. That probably helps. I'll bring them by after they let us go back in."
"No, man, keep them. I can buy new stuff. And that's my 'away' jersey, anyway. I've got extra."
He's pretty sure Sam doesn't remember him. Not that he blames him or anything; he was different back then. Scrawny. Weak. Annaleigh almost... he's different now. He has muscles, though still not that many, and he got rid of the stupid straps on his pants and the boots with the "metal" caps and too-thick soles. Kept in the piercings, though. Annaleigh always liked them.
Sam comes in every Saturday morning and buys a notebook and a pack of cheap pens. Sometimes he buys one good pen, sometimes he buys a book, but he always buys a notebook. He doesn't know anyone who goes through notebooks as fast as Sam does. Not that he really knows Sam.
He hides new copies of Sam's textbooks—it isn't stalking, since Annaleigh sees everyone's schedules when they come to get their new IDs—and rings them up as used, then adds an employee discount. He swipes the cheap pens and forgets the good ones, keying in his discount code and smiling at Sam.
He's pretty sure Sam thinks he's flirting with him. He isn't. Contrary to popular belief, he doesn't swing that way, but he's willing to play it up. He's glad that Sam doesn't remember him as that stupid little kid who pissed his pants and almost got his girlfriend killed because he didn't believe in the threefold rule.
Almost the entire left side of Sam's face is swollen and purple today. But Sam smiles anyway when he plops his stuff down on the counter, even though he knows there's no way for that to not have hurt.
"Nice hair," Sam says.
His mohawk is pink, purple, and green this week—Kool-Aid and Manic Panic with a healthy dose of Elmer's for kick. Back then, his hair was normal, stringy and greasy and sandy blond.
"Thanks," he says. "I was going for something like that with the purple." He gestures to Sam's swollen eye. Sam ducks his head and smiles that same awkward smile he always gives him. Sam thinks he's flirting with him. It doesn't take a fashion design major to figure it out.
But that's okay, he doesn't mind. So long as Sam thinks he's flirting, he won't try to refuse the obvious discount; too much of a chance for awkwardness if he tries to bring it up.
He slips a Kit Kat into the bag and wishes Sam a great day.
Seven am classes are a bitch even when they're easy. When it's "Mediation for Dispute Resolution," you come prepared for the class to snore their way through it. Even Sam Winchester mainlines an entire thermos of coffee in between his naps in the back row, and she has two other psych classes with him, so she knows how focused he usually is.
He's just about the only person in the room who bothers to put on real clothes for this class. Hell, even she comes in her pajamas half the time. It's one of the perks of being the only idiot willing to TA early psych for nothing but experience.
She never noticed him before, not as anything more than the tall kid who never came to any class less than five minutes late. Not until that night when the statues in the quad started attacking people. Everyone else might've been able to chalk it up to laced weed and roofied beer, but she was stone-cold sober, has been for three years and seven months. She knows what she saw.
He comes to class beat half to hell and back sometimes—black eyes, band-aids, and those butterfly things stuck to him like he was attacked by a bored five-year-old. Sometimes, he doesn't show up for days on end, and when he finally does appear, he looks like he's been run over by a car—a cast or brace, some kind of limp, Ace bandages, the works.
As far as the professor knows, Sam's never missed a day of class, though his signature on the sign-in sheet does have a tendency to change drastically sometimes. She takes notes for him, too, when he misses. Makes sure someone takes care of him in all his classes.
Sam Winchester might be the only person in Stanford who has never officially missed a class. She figures it's the least she can do for him. It might not be much, but if he can stay in school and on campus, he can keep doing whatever it is he does that keeps the statues from moving again.
Winchester didn't have any experience when he hired him. No work history, no references, and he couldn't list five years' worth of addresses on his application. He can't cook, he never gives the right change from the register, and he's broken more plates than anyone seen outside of a Vegas act.
Winchester's been working at the restaurant for five months now, and he's sure the kid has cost him more money than he's worth.
But the boy's got a good head on his shoulders. He's great with the cranky kids, never complains about mopping up puke or cleaning the bathroom; hell, he even duct tapes his band-aids. And he doesn't have proof, but he's sure he's seen the kid covering up his bruises with some of the waitresses' makeup before shifts.
By far the most important part, though, is that Winchester saved his little boy, Jackson, when that thing nearly ripped him limb from limb. He still remembers it clears as day—clutching his boy tight to his chest, sobbing with relief that he was okay. Watching Winchester peel himself off the car he'd just been tossed into and march himself right back across the street with that cannon of a gun gripped in his hand.
That kid could burn the whole damn restaurant down, and he'd still have a job.