: Sounds on the WindAuthor
: inksheddings Recipient
: PG-13 (just a little swearing)Author's Notes
: I selected the following prompt: A first hunt - Sam or Dean.
I went with Sam. I hope it's to your liking! Title mangled from a quote by Guillaume Apollinaire: “Memories are hunting horns whose sound dies on the wind." Thank you to my trusty beta!Summary
: Five hunts, five firsts: "Throw the match, Sam."Sounds on the Wind1
Perfection is what Sam is after. He's not entirely sure what, exactly, perfection is
. But, at seven years of age, he understands that it's what a Christmas tree is supposed to be about.
They'd been on the road last year. Dad drove straight through Christmas Eve and Christmas breakfast was at a truck stop south of Tucson. This year, however, they have a motel room with a stove
. Maybe they can't cook up a turkey like Sam sees on all the TV shows, but Dad bought something called Stove Top and packets of gravy and drumsticks for fried chicken.
"Sammy, wait up!" Dean calls as Sam runs through the near maze of pine needles and last-minute-shoppers.
Sam doesn't slow down and he definitely doesn't care that it took Dad until two days before Christmas to finally decide they weren't going anywhere until after the holiday. All he cares about is finding the right tree–the biggest
most glorious tree to capture Santa's attention. Maybe this year he'll get what he really wants.
He loses Dean among the make-shift forest so he slows down, breathes deeply in and out. The scent of winter and pine smells strongly of the season, and it tickles his nose and his imagination. He watches his breath frost over and eyes tree after tree after tree until...
It towers over Sam, he's sure it must be ten feet tall. It's full and lush and Sam reaches out and the blue-green needles are as soft as they look. With a gold star on the top–no, no, an angel
–with an angel on top it would have
to be perfection, he's sure of it.
This is the one, this is it
, and as soon as Dad and Dean see it–
Dean slips his larger hand over Sam's smaller one. "It's too big, Sammy. It would barely fit in the back of the truck let alone the motel room," he says gently.
Sam frowns. "It would too
fit in the truck."
"You may be right about that," Dad says as he walks up beside them, "but Dean's right about the room. It would be an awfully tight fit."
Sam's about to argue, to point out that the bigger the tree the more room for presents underneath, but Dean squeezes his hand and, annoyingly, seems to read his mind. "Don't worry Sammy. I hear that Santa puts the biggest presents under the smallest trees. You know, to make up for it."
Dad takes hold of his other hand. "Yep, Santa's real thoughtful that way."
Sam's not sure he should believe them, because big presents would
take up too much room in the truck once Dad decided it was time to leave. But...
Dean's hand is warm and Dad's is strong and they're smiling down at him like he hasn't seen in a forever. Maybe a smaller tree isn't such a bad thing.
Sam picks out a four-foot tall tree instead - not quite as soft but nearly as pretty - which Dad carries on his own so Dean can still hold his hand.
It's the day before Christmas Eve. They have Stove Top and fried chicken and an honest-to-goodness Christmas tree. Sam thinks that maybe he's starting to understand perfection.2
"Okay, Sammy, you're gonna do this just like I showed you," Dad says as he hands Sam the small knife and points at the dead rabbit laying on the ground, belly up. "Remember, insert the knife just below the ribs, but not too deep. You want the cut about three-quarters of an inch long, without going in farther than a quarter inch."
Sam can feel his hand shaking ever so slightly, and trying to keep it hidden from Dad is going to make it worse. He's never killed an animal before now. He's seen Dean do it, seen Dad do it, but this is the first time he's taken aim and taken life.
"Come on, Sam, just get it over with. It'll be easy, you'll see," Dad says encouragingly, and Sam really doesn't want to disappoint him. He's not a kid
anymore; he's old enough to pull his own weight.
He holds the body still with his free hand and pushes the tip through. He doesn't hear much of anything as skin and flesh separate, but he feels
something, a strange and disturbing sort of give
. He's not sure if he's thinking about the rabbit or himself at this point, but his hands have stopped shaking.
"Good," Dad says with a firm nod. "Now's when you want to stick two fingers in and tear the incision open about three inches."
Sam throws up all over the rabbit, all over his hand still holding the knife. Amazingly–and thank you, God Almighty–he doesn't throw up on Dad.
His heart sinks to his stomach, along with the bile he swallows down, and now his hand is truly shaking, splattering bits of vomit on the ground and he's never
going to live this down. Dad is going to yell and Dean will hear it all the way back at the campsite and then there'll be merciless teasing
Dad takes hold of his wrist, just above the worst of the vomit, and gently urges him to let go of the rabbit and the knife. Then he's pouring his canteen of water over Sam's hand, wiping the ick away with a handkerchief. His touch is firm but gentle, and Sam can't help but risk a look up at his face. Dad's looking right at him but, before Sam's skin has a chance to color up in shame, he's smiling
at him. Hell, Dad's laughing
Sam's sure he's looking at him like he's lost his mind which, under normal circumstances, is a dangerous look to send Dad's way. However, between the dead rabbit, the vomit, and the sudden hilarity Sam simply can't help himself.
Dad finishes wiping Sam's hand off as much as he can at about the same time he manages to stop laughing. He hands what's left in the canteen to Sam, who gratefully takes a drink.
"That, heh, was pretty damn good, Sam," Dad says, laughter threatening to break loose again. "I think you puked up more than Dean did on his first kill."
Sam's eyes widen. "He did?" he asks, knowing he sounds far younger than his thirteen years, but the thought of Dean throwing up over a rabbit
is just more than Sam could ever have hoped for. Not in his wildest
Dad nods, removing the soiled knife from the rabbit's body. "He hadn't even gotten the knife in yet."
There's so much Sam could say about that. So, so much. But he doesn't, he keeps his words to himself and joins Dad in laughter. The rabbit is ruined, but Sam's mood is much improved. Besides, they still have canned beans and beef jerky back at camp, and Sam will have a chance to let all those words spill out tonight. He and Dean are sharing a tent after all.3
"Throw the match, Sam."
It's just a pile of bones. A little creepy maybe, but not all that frightening. The ghost
wasn't even all that frightening. Just some guy who'd died young, leaving behind a wife and newborn child over fifty years ago. His small family had left town soon after, and a new family had moved in almost immediately.
No one had even noticed his ghost was around until a couple of months ago, when another small family moved in. A young husband and wife and their newborn son.
Apparently, the ghost got a little confused about just whose wife and baby they were.
He hadn't caused any trouble though, not really. Extra blankets on the baby when the nighttime temperature dropped below freezing. A lullaby that did nothing to soothe the mother of the colicky infant. A ghostly smile in the mirror as the woman brushed her hair.
Just a pile of bones. Salted and covered in lighter fluid, waiting for Sam to drop the match.
"Sam, come on now, get to it already," Dad says impatiently. There's been a wendigo sighting about three hundred miles west. If they leave now they'll make it there by dawn.
"Hey, Sammy, you're gonna–"
Sam drops the match and hisses in pain. He waited too long, and now the only things burning are his fingers.
Dad rolls his eyes and makes to take the book of matches from Dean, but Dean snatches his hand out of Dad's reach and takes a step closer to Sam.
Sam looks at his brother, sees the matches offered to him, like he's being handed a can of soda or a candy bar.
"It's just a pile of bones, Sammy."
Dean shrugs, and anyone else would have seen nothing but indifference–and maybe a little arrogance–but that's not all Sam sees. There's silent apology in Dean's posture, but there's also a look in his eyes that says, "Hey, this is what we
And Sam knows this. Knows that just because the ghost seems harmless now, doesn't mean he'll be harmless later when he decides the young mother and child really are
his and the guy living with them is just in the way.
Sam strikes the match and throws it in fast. The flame takes hold and the bones burn, and there is relief in the act, knowing the family will sleep better tonight then they have in far too many nights.
Sam's not sure he'll be sleeping any time soon though. Dad's already making his way to the truck and Dean's gathering up their supplies, ready to be on the move as well. Sam's supposed to be studying for a trigonometry test, but he's not even going to get the chance to officially withdraw from his current high school.
He follows Dean following Dad, and he wishes that the strike of a match could give his
family a little peace.4
"Sammy's going hunting," says Derek, teasingly–and annoyingly–poking Sam's shoulder just a little too hard.
"Don't call me that," Sam says, but there's no bite to his words. He's too preoccupied watching a certain blonde college student sashay her way through the cafeteria line.
Sam's pretty sure she's got a cheeseburger, strawberry yogurt, and an orange juice on her tray. Weird combination, but hey, whatever works for her.
He's been watching her for nearly three weeks now, and he hasn't been terribly surreptitious about it. She's glanced at him a few times, and he hasn't yet managed to look away quickly enough to not
make eye contact. Okay, so eye contact is supposed to be a good
thing when trying to catch a member of the opposite sex's attention, right? Right. Still, Sam's nervous. Nervous because Jessica Moore is pretty and smart and funny–she laughs a lot, so she must
be funny–and Sam is none of those things.
Well, okay, he's smart. Smart enough to know what he wants...just not how to get it.
Sam knows a lot about hunting things
. He knows a lot about ghosts and demons and monsters and how to kill stuff that isn't even technically alive
, but he knows diddly squat about winning over an attractive, intelligent, normal
He pokes at his macaroni and cheese casserole as his friends continue giving him unwanted advice about pick-up lines and condom brands. Sam's not paying attention. He risks one more look at Jessica.
She's looking right at him. Smiling.
Suddenly, Sam feels more like the prey than the hunter.
He smiles back.5
Mom. Jess. Dad. Dean.
Sam's the only one left.
But he's got a lead. A decaying old book somewhere in Yakutat, Alaska. A credit card in the name of David Beneham has bought him cold weather gear and a plane ticket to Anchorage. A little luck will get him the rest of what he needs.
Sam knows that the day will come for someone to pour salt over his
bones and let him burn. Lead or no lead, he swears he already feels the heat in his heart; painful flickers that urge him forward despite the fact that he has no fucking idea what a crumbly old book can really do
for him. For Dean.
But he's gonna try. He'll try until the flames work their way out from under his skin and take hold without. He'll try until he's right there with his brother, wherever he is, right there with Dean.
Sam has to, he wants
to. He knows damn well that the flames are already all around him anyway, and he's pretty sure he struck his own damn match.END