Movie Prompt: Where the Wild Things Are
Pairing: peripherally Sam/Dean
Word Count: 1.8k
Summary: This is how Sam began hitchhiking.
Notes: I wrote this for spn_cinema where I collaborated with lightthesparks who made gorgeous art, as always!
This is how Sam began hitchhiking. He was fourteen and really hated his life. They'd been reading Huck Finn in class that day, which may or may not have also been a contributing factor to the great escape, Sam scribbling monsters in his notes and imagining setting off on his own.
That night he crept out of his bedroom. He crept past Dean's room with its door gaping so he could see Dean's arm hanging out of the side of the bed, and past Dad's, breath held. He forced himself to keep his pace cautious as he tiptoed through the front room to the door, but let himself full-on sprint after he'd negotiated the door silently shut behind him.
He started off along the road. Their house was at the edge of the forest along a main road, the town a mile back behind them, so there was bound to be someone who was traveling from a point A that could take him to a point B. He wouldn't be a nuisance. All he had with him was the backpack slung over one shoulder with a pack of hot dogs and a water bottle, fifteen dollars he'd saved, and a pair of underwear. Just the essentials, unobtrusive.
But after sticking his thumb out at all three cars that passed in the first hour, Sam started slowing down and thinking deep thoughts about loneliness as relating to running away and hitchhiking. He didn't fit right at home, but he also didn't fit right here. It was dark, except for the glaring moonlight. His feet hurt, sneakers rubbing blisters from yesterday's five miles, and the shirt he stole from Dean to remember him by just made him feel guilty now.
There were shadows in the trees, too, which made things worse, shadows which seemed to loom up from the forest. Sam deliberated whether he should go walk in the center of the road or hide behind a tree.
Thankfully, just as he was getting real jumpy, a beat up white truck pulled over. It had a speed boat trundling along behind it, and the guy who drove it looked trustworthy, if worn.
"Where to?" he asked when Sam climbed in.
"Oh, wherever," Sam said. He was just glad to get off the road, relief flooding through him. He tugged the door shut and put his backpack in his lap, and yawned. It had been kind of cold out there and he was bored and tired of walking.
The man gave him an unimpressed look, but he shook his head and said, "Sure," and stepped on the gas. Sam thought, this was it, and steeled himself for the road ahead.
The car sputtered and died.
"Dammit," the guy said, and had to reason with the engine for a long minute until it coughed to a start again, reluctant. Then they were really off.
The guy tried to make conversation, and Sam answered his questions, but Sam was very skilled and practiced at drifting off in the passenger seat so they eventually stopped talking altogether and Sam watched the fields speed by. They were expansive and blue in the night, and the rocking of the truck felt smooth. Owls swooped like fat fish in a sea of sky as Sam rested his cheek on his backpack.
They drove for what felt like weeks or probably years. One day's worth of forest faded into the next, and Sam thought that the road was like a river that went on forever.
Then, like a revelation, an island of a late night diner loomed up in front of them, dragging closer until its glow seemed to light the entire surface of the earth.
"You hungry, kid? You got money on you?" the driver asked.
"Yeah," Sam said. He blinked desperately, trying to wake himself up from his doze.
The car slowed and parked. Sam felt like he was pulling to a shore. He stepped out onto the gravel and a smell of roadstop oil hit him rough in the nose. There were no city sounds, only the quiet movement of wind over cornfield.
When they walked inside, everything was yellowed. Yellow menus and yellow wallpaper. Yellow mustard on every corn-colored table top. Sam felt dirty with it. People looked like zombies under the neons.
He was used to nowhere places at nowhere times, but never like this. Never without Dean to knock elbows with or Dad to tell them to order something with at least something green on it. Now it was just him and the driver, whom the woman at the next table over probably mistook for someone who knew him.
Sam looked around. There was a lady talking quietly on a cell phone in a booth, and a man in a low hat was gutting a bread roll with a butter knife across the room. No one looked their way and Sam felt like he blended in there. He felt like he was wearing a monster suit in a room full of monsters, every one of them tired and road weary, just like him, and everyone looked like they could use a good nap.
When the waitress came over to take their french fry order, she didn't bat an eye at Sam's age or attire, just said, "What'll it be, sweetie?"
"You're not a monster," Sam wanted to tell her apologetically. She was just doing her job, and probably had a life to go home to. But she looked at him pityingly when he didn't order real food, so he didn't say it out loud.
Being here felt like that dream where he wasn't wearing pants at a pants-only party. He suddenly wanted to leave.
He could stay, he knew. He saw his future stretch out before him, how he could drop out of school and this guy who'd picked him up would probably drop him wherever he needed along his route. Sam could be one of them, a traveler. But the mini creamers on the table reminded him how Dean always stacked them as high as they could go, the tower teetering and precarious until one of them knocked them over, depending on who was feeling more vitriolic or more daring.
Sam leaned his head on his hand, watching the driver do a crossword. He was caught in the flux of indecision. He wondered if he could get back by himself. He thought about how nice it would be to go back to bed. He could go back to that ratty, run-down house by the highway, to his dad who sometimes made pancakes, and to his brother who annoyed the hell out of him and who he loved something embarrassing. He wanted it more than most anything.
The driver didn't look all that surprised when Sam stood up to go.
"You know," Sam said. "I think I have to—" It took three false starts and then a half-raised voice that had the person next to them turning. Sam tore up a sugar packet in his hands with nerves and gave a milktoast smile to whoever was watching. "Thanks," he said. "For everything—"
"You take care of yourself, kid," the driver said, mercifully cutting him off mid-speech.
The french fries arrived then, which was regrettable, so Sam took a handful and wrapped them in a napkin and shoved it in his pocket.
"Bye," he said and turned and went.
He left like he was escaping. He swung the door wide and strode out into the parking lot. Darkness felt like waves of water hitting his feet hungrily but Sam, beast suit soaking through up to knees, moon glaring full and harsh directly over him, kept on. He crossed the parking lot and made it to the road.
The moon was even brighter out here, it was like magic. Sam smiled at the thought.
"Sam." Tone impatient, touch gentle, firm though.
"You freaking nerd." Sam woke up gradually to Dean tugging the back of his shirt up away from his neck, tugging his hair, pulling him back to consciousness. "Sam, wake up, you're totally drooling."
Dean pulled a book out from under Sam's head, which was annoying. Sam rubbed his face against his arm and pulled himself up to sitting, cracking his eyes which were dry and heavy.
The books he'd been reading were scattered and haphazard. It came back to him gradually, how he and Dean had gotten into an actual argument about whether Kevin should come live in the batcave. Dean had taken off on a drive while Sam threw himself into a despondent sort of research.
At some point, Sam put his head down, so that now, hours later maybe, he was dozing on the page, face-pressed to his forearm. Under his elbow, he felt the Men of Letters' Guide to Time Travel, and under his right rested Hunter PR.
"Oh," Sam said. "Earlier."
"Yeah," Dean said. He looked massively uncomfortable.
Sam let him off easy. "Dude, thanks for waking me up. I had a dream I was a kid again. Surrounded by monsters." He yawned and stretched, gathering his bearings. He felt like he was struggling from sleep, still climbing aboard a wooden rowboat with a sturdy enough sail and a couple of oars. "It was kind of creepy."
Dean chuckled because he was the only person who took Sam's feelings in stride.
"Come on," he said, poking Sam's shoulder. "Let's go."
Sam followed him out of the library and Dean tugged him through the door to his room. He put a hand on Sam's chest and shoved so Sam fell back easy into the mattress.
Sam kicked off his shoes and moved into a good position and said, "You just trying to get me into bed?"
Dean didn't answer for a minute. He sat at the edge of the bed and Sam watched him make a lot of movements toward being ready. He checked his phone and took off his jacket and looked around the room until Sam finally grabbed him by the back of the t-shirt and said, "Get in here."
Dean did. He shifted around under the covers, lying on his front and sticking an arm up under his pillow like he always did.
"I'm glad we both came back," Sam told him.
"Shut the hell up, I'm trying to sleep," Dean said, sweet as anything.
Sam curled on his side and threw an incautious arm around Dean's middle and pushed his face into the pillow. His last thought was that, even though he'd spent over thirty years as a monster, here he was in a bunker fortress with a roof over his head. He had a sweet ass library to sleep in, a car, and a brother who was probably going to try to smother him with a pillow when he kicked in his sleep. For now, Dean just rolled in toward him a little.
Yeah, Sam thought, feeling pretty pleased with himself. This life fit just right.