The Winchesters sit round thinking stuff and not talking much. Set pre-series, before Sam goes to Stanford.
“Live. Late-breaking. Bringing you tomorrow’s news today. Welcome to Sunrise news. I’m Dennis Cho ….”
“and I’m Annalise Marshall. Heading this nine o’clock bulletin, a siege is underway after a gunman opened fire in the parking lot of the Fountain Garden Mall. We cross live now to Ken Vanderleur, live from the Mall. Ken, what’s the latest?”
At eighteen Sam had seen more death than most kids growing up in middle America, but that day a few more kids caught up.
Despite strict standing orders from Dad to go to school, whether he and Dean were home or not, this morning Sam had kept lingering. Just another ten minutes he told himself. He wasn’t sure why this morning was any different than any other night when Dad and Dean had been out hunting; maybe it was just that the last few days he hadn’t slept well. He had no memory of dreams or nightmares; he just woke sweating, anxious, and filled with a dreadful apprehension.
He just kept telling himself he’d wait another ten minutes. He was late enough now that he’d have to report to the principal’s office, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Despite a less than perfect attendance record, Sam had a bit of an easy time of it. He got good marks, was considered an asset to the debate team (he wanted to try out for basketball, but Dad didn’t want to risk him getting injured) and was generally polite and kept a low profile. There was a general understanding amongst the faculty that he had a ‘difficult’ family situation. Judging from his failure to join his peers in having the latest shoe, music or sporting accessories it was obvious his family didn’t have much money. And sometimes his father, and sometimes an older brother, sometimes turned up at parent-teacher nights. And most of the time they looked like they’d been in a fight. So the teachers cut Sam some slack, but didn’t push to find out more – he seemed to be getting by, and they had enough kids with bigger problems.
Dad and Dean had arrived home an hour later, unhurt. Sam made some excuse about a school trip he’d been from which he’d been excused but Dad wasn’t paying attention. Apparently Dean’s arrow had finally felled the creature they’d been hunting, but he had disobeyed John by not staying on point in case it had doubled back. When Dad finally finished bawling Dean out, an uneasy silence descended over them. Dad settled at the table with a drink and his journal. Dean sat in the corner chair facing the TV, and spread a collection of knives out on the floor next to him.
“At present we have seven people confirmed dead and nine injured. The gunman remains holed up and continues firing at people pinned down between the cars. I’m speaking now to just some of the people who have friends and family trapped …”
As Dean watched the TV, he saw the same look of fear and incomprehension he’d often seen in their eyes of people they rescued. Afterwards it was replaced by gratitude but also something else, something that begged him to tell them it was all a dream, to take them back to before, before they knew these things were real. And before they knew that horrific things happened to ordinary people like them.
Dean turned his attention back to the knife he was sharpening. He added a couple of drops of oil to the stone and drew the blade carefully across it. Dad was still dark about him fucking up last night and he thought if gave all their weapons a going over it might show Dad that he was sorry.
People were crazy. Dean knew people did bad things, evil things, but in his world, the supernatural world, things were clearer. You protected people and killed the other things. People good, spooks bad. Sam would point out that lots of the things they destroyed – spirits, ghosts – had been people once. Sam couldn’t just do something, he always had to ask why. It mattered to him whether a spirit was evil because, when alive, the person was evil or whether the spirit was just the evil part of a good person.
Thinking like that just distracted you from the job at hand. You didn’t kill people – that was an absolute. So how –Dean looked over at the TV - how could a man do this? Dean couldn’t imagine how someone got to that place. Did you just wake up one day with something broken inside, or did it happen one little bit at a time? Could someone like him, change to the extent that one day killing a person would not matter? Dean shook his head. Would never happen.
“..latest update on the gunman involved in the killing spree. He is believed to be nineteen year old Ely Bonnici, son of the prominent local defense attorney Teresa Bonnici who died tragically in a house fire when Ely was only six months old The whereabouts of his father are unknown.”
Damn kid, John thought, if Dean didn’t stop sharpening that knife he’d ruin the blade. Last night could have gone seriously wrong because of Dean’s disobedience. His oldest son was also tough, quick and fearless; an invaluable part of the hunt. But Dean thought for himself, and that was a bad quality in a soldier.
John stared at the TV. He knew that for dozens of people this event would divide their lives into before and after, and soon they’d find it hard to remember that life before. When John’s world had fallen apart eighteen years ago, he’d fallen back on something he’d learnt back in Vietnam when his world turned to chaos – follow the mission, keep your men safe
John looked over at his youngest son. How was he going to keep him safe? He still hadn’t seen any signs, signs of the things Missouri had said might start to manifest as Sam got older. The only thing that had manifested to date was a smart mind and an even smarter mouth.
John’s dilemma was whether keeping Sammy close was the best way to keep him safe. If whatever had killed Mary had been after Sammy too, then was dragging Sam along hunting, having him around supernatural things, putting him in danger?
He knew Sam wanted to go to College. He’d found the applications under Sam’s mattress. Hey, what sort of father would he be if he didn’t search his son’s room for contraband? Except unlike the stash of porn mags and a joint he’d once found in amongst Dean’s things, Sam had applications to college. Maybe that would be best, to send Sam as far away as possible.
“Sam - stop wasting time in front of the TV and do something useful like taking an inventory of the ammo Sammy. Need to make sure we have enough silver rounds.”
Sam glanced over. He’d been putting off telling Dad about college - he figured he’d wait and see if he got in somewhere, and more importantly got a scholarship.
Which was just an excuse. He knew it would lead to a fight which was going to be bloody. Not necessarily because John cared whether Sam went to college. Most of the time Sam felt he existed in John’s peripheral vision, present but not quite in focus. Then he’d say or do something and he’d be front and centre while Dad hauled him over the coals for some infraction of the rules.
Sam wanted to explain to his Dad that he wanted to be part of the real world and not because he was afraid or didn’t respect what they did. The real world wasn’t safe or less important but it was the world that everyone else lived in. And Sam wanted to be a part of it, and a part of making it better. Not just killing one bad thing at a time and not telling anyone about it, but maybe fixing things on a bigger scale, doing something to make living in this fucked world easier.
“Why Dad? Sorry, wouldn’t want you to actually explain yourself.”
“The police spokesman has reported that the Tactical Response Team is currently surrounding the gunman’s position…”
“Sammy,” Dean warned. God, he was tired of running interference between Sam and Dad. He just didn’t get why Sam had to wind Dad up. It was’t hard to keep on Dad’s good side – just follow orders. They both knew this. Dean tried to, although he fucked up sometimes. Sam just chose not to follow orders and Dean didn’t know why. Dad cut Sam lots of slack, but Dean figured it added to his stress, and was another reason he’d been spending more time with Jack and Johnny lately.
In the past year, Dean had taken to sleeping in the lounge was so he could keep an eye on Dad’s movements. When he came home with a skinful, Dean was there to help him to bed, to hide the empty bottles so Sammy wouldn’t find out. He didn’t mind Sam having the bedroom - at his age Dean figured he could do with some privacy. More to the point, sleeping in the lounge meant he could come and go without either John or Sam knowing. Occasionally, a guy just had to get out on his own. For the last couple of years, Dean had been supplementing their income with money he scammed at the pool tables and dart boards of the bars around town. And of course there were the girls, which sometimes meant he didn’t come home at all.
“ …police report that the gunman has taken his own life. Just repeating the siege at Fountain Garden is over after the gunman took his own life.”
Sam gnawed at the side of his thumbnail. He thought of the application forms he’d hidden under his mattress. He felt like a prisoner studying escape plans as he read over them and worked on the essay questions each night. They should have been easy for him, but they were all about personal experiences, which meant his had to be works of fiction. Describe a gift you have been given and why it was important to you. He was still not sure on whether to go with the .45 Dad gave him when he was nine, or the visit to a strip joint Dean had organised for his seventeenth birthday.
Sam was relieved to have the bedroom to himself; it meant he could work on his applications without fear of discovery. Also, it meant Dean wasn’t there when he woke in fright, whimpering and calling for a mommy that was long gone. Dean had told Sam he’d moved into the lounge so he could beat off in peace, but Sam figured he wanted to be able to come and go without anyone knowing. Dean had taken him out to a bar a few times, and while it wasn’t really Sam’s thing, he’d liked seeing Dean laughing and flirting and actually having fun. When he was out on the town Dean was The Man and Sam wondered whether ever fit in like that. Maybe at college.
“…no clue as to why the nineteen year old had killed so many people. Family friends report that he had been estranged from his father and sister in recent years, and there is some suggestion of mental health problems. More in the news at ten.”