Sam finally got the nerve to ask Jess on a date during the spring semester. She readily agreed and he took her to a nicer restaurant in Palo Alto. He butchered the names of the dishes, spilled some food on his lap, and almost tripped a waiter, but Jess laughed and smiled through the whole thing and told him she had a nice time. She also said that next time they could have a more casual date. The thought made Sam grin like a little boy who was given his favorite toy and that made Jess laugh again and lean forward to kiss him on the cheek.
Even though he kept his plans a secret, told no one where they would go, when they would go, or what they would do, when he returned to his room after dropping Jess off, Connor was waiting for him with a knowing grin. Sam blinked in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
He held up his phone. “Becky shot me a text when Jess got home. We’re going to compare notes later to see if there is a possibility for another date. Dude, did you really trip a waiter?”
As he unlocked the door to his room, Sam kicked at Connor. His friend came in uninvited and flopped on the empty bed Brady vacated the previous semester. Sam never got a new roommate and liked living on his own for a while.
“Well?” Connor asked, snapping Sam out of his thoughts.
“Did you really trip a waiter?”
Sam took off his jacket and threw it at Connor, which his friend took in the affirmative and started laughing.
Despite the colossal screw up that the first date ended up being, the second, third and fourth dates went well. Almost two months later, Sam and Jess were going strong. He would look over at her in between bouts of studying and try to imagine a life without her in it, without her smile, her cute faces she made when he irritated her, the times when she would roll her eyes when he and Connor would do something immature. He didn’t want to picture it, but his pessimistic nature and the realist drilled in him thanks to his father started to drive a wedge between him and Jess.
Sam expected things to go to hell since he finally had the normal life he always wanted. For a while, Jess picked up on his tension, which led to a less-than-fun fight between the two of them with Jess doing most of the yelling and him bottling up his feelings. Their mini-break up lasted all of one day thanks to Jess telling Becky and Becky telling Connor and Connor coming over to threaten to ‘kick his ass if he didn’t get his shit together’.
After a full night of staying up and talking, Sam and Jess came to an understanding. Sam explained he had major trust issues thanks to his screwed up family upbringing and that he constantly expected the worst. He told her things he never told anyone, not even Dean, and she told him things that no one in her family knew. They both accepted that they had their issues, Sam definitely having the most, and wanted to work through them. It was a concept Sam wasn’t used to, since if he had an issue in the past, his father’s policy was to shut up and forget about it. It was just another thing that made Jess so special.
Just as he finished getting his life together with Jess, Sam started to feel like the fiasco with Brady was happening all over again, except this time he was losing his best friend.
At the end of his tirade telling Sam that he was an idiot for screwing things up with Jess, Connor let it slip that he was going on a trip to L.A. with his parents. At first Sam thought nothing of it, but when Connor returned, he was a different person. He was more withdrawn and jumpy. Before his visit, Connor was always laughing or cracking a smile, but Sam didn’t think he noticed his friend be anything but stoic since he returned.
Sam slid into the seat across from Connor, noticing the way his moves were followed. At times, Connor reminded him of a wild animal. He put his hands on the table in between them, taking up the small space left that wasn’t covered in books. “So, how was L.A.?”
“Hell,” Connor replied, and Sam saw the first small smile on his friend’s face in a week. “Not exactly like I remembered it.”
“Look, I know it’s none of my business,” Sam began, “but you seem a little out of it, and I just thought I would offer to listen.”
Connor looked up at him, an unreadable expression on his face. “It’s family stuff. Not too exciting. Just the normal dysfunctional issues.”
Sam snorted, trying to push the bitterness down. He’d met Connor’s parents and even had a standing invitation to visit them whenever he wanted. They were so normal, so wholesome
, that it made Sam unreasonably jealous sometimes. “Dude, my
family is dysfunctional. But if you don’t want to talk about it, then I won’t press. You just seemed more closed off than normal.”
He waited a few moments as Connor stared at the book in front of him. Just as he stood up, Connor sighed. “I met my biological father.”
Blinking in surprise, Sam sat back in the chair. “I didn’t know you were adopted.”
“I...didn’t either,” Connor replied slowly.
“Did you meet your biological mom, too?”
Connor shook his head and his jaw clenched. “She died giving birth to me. My father tried raising me on his own, but his particular lifestyle was too dangerous for me. So, he gave me to my mom and dad.”
Sam tried to put himself into Connor’s shoes, but he really had no idea what that was like or what to say to him. “Wow. Um, what does your dad do that’s so dangerous?”
“Undercover law enforcement. Life or death every day. Not exactly an environment to bring a child into,” Connor scoffed. “But that was then. Now he works at a law firm. My parents went to set up a trust fund, and my bio-father connected the dots. It was just chance that it happened.”
Connor went back to his studying, leaving Sam to ponder all the what-ifs in his own life. Hunting was no environment to bring a child into, and life certainly would have been easier on him if he was raised by a normal family. “So what happens now?”
He looked up from the books, frowning. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, are you going to visit him? Get to know him? Write or email or text, something
Sam was a little surprised at Connor’s terse response. “Why the hell not?”
Connor glared at him. “Because I’m going to respect his wishes, Sam. My father gave up a lot when he gave me to my family. He wanted me safe. It would be stupid to make his selfless actions pointless by inserting myself in his life.”
Sam really wanted Connor’s biological father to meet his own. For a moment, he allowed himself to envision a world where John Winchester recognized that his two sons shouldn’t be thrust into the hunting world and wanted them safe. His life could have been normal, like Connor’s, filled with soccer matches, spelling bees, and sleepovers. Dean would still be Dean, but there was the possibility that he would have settled down and had a kid that was like a mini-Dean.
Connor’s explanation was logical, but that didn’t mean Sam understood. “I guess so.”
He went back to his studying, but Connor looked up at Sam intensely. “I mean it, Sam. I’m happy where I am. My father has his own life and I have mine.”
Sam nodded. “And I get that. Trust me
, of all people, I get that. I guess that I kind of wish my dad did what yours did--being responsible enough to admit that his lifestyle was too dangerous and giving me a new one.”
Connor’s eyebrow went up. “Is the mighty Sam Winchester actually going to talk about his family?”
Now he was the one who was tense, but Sam played it off as a joke, giving Connor a smile, however fake it was. “No. I wouldn’t submit anyone to that torture. And I’m over it now. I’m grown up, going to an awesome school, dating the best girl in the world, and I have complete assholes for friends. How could it be better?”
Connor flicked a paperclip at him and he laughed, rubbing the stinging area where the metal hit his skin.
“At least you have a normal last name,” Connor said after a few moments.
“What are you talking about?” Sam scoffed. “Your last name is totally normal. What’s not normal about Reilly?”
“Before I was adopted, I had my father’s name.”
Sam just looked at Connor expectantly. “And?”
“My name is Connor Angel,” he said with a sigh.
Sam stared at Connor for a moment, trying to sense if it was a joke, but Connor just looked at him dejectedly. He threw his head back and laughed loudly, attracting curious stares from the other patrons.
“Your last name… is Angel?” he said between chuckles.
“Yeah, yeah, Winchester. Laugh all you want.”
He snickered some more but finally settled down. “Look, I’m heading back to the room to study. Come by later if you want to go over your internship resume, Mr. Angel.”
Connor glared at him but Sam chuckled and slid out of the seat, heading toward the exit. Just as he was about to walk out of the coffee shop, Sam looked back at Connor and furrowed his brow. A tall man had just walked up to the table where Connor was sitting. When Connor looked up, the tension went out of his face and Sam realized that his friend looked relaxed. When the man sat down and looked around the coffee shop, Sam blinked in surprise. They looked scarily alike.
Connor caught his eye, grinned, and nodded slightly, answering the unasked question of the man’s identity. Sam looked back to the man—Connor’s father. This would need to be a private time, but Sam decided to sit down and pull out his own notes. He would stay, just in case Connor needed something. His friend would do the same for him if the positions were reversed.
Hours must have passed but Sam was absorbed in his homework. Every once in a while, he would flick his gaze toward Connor and his biological father, but they were deep in conversation and Sam didn’t feel like disturbing them. Just as he was beginning to wind down and head out to meet Jess, a shadow fell across his table. He looked up and was surprised to see Connor’s father standing by the table.
“You’re Sam?” he asked quietly, and Sam nodded. “I’m…Connor’s father. His biological father.”
He chuckled and nodded his head. “Yeah, I know. Connor told me about it before you got here.”
“I’m sorry if I interrupted your studying time,” he said, his brow furrowing.
“No, it’s fine. I can study just fine on my own,” Sam said, and they dissolved into an awkward silence.
Connor’s father finally broke it. “Right, well, I just wanted to introduce myself, and I know that I’ve never met you before now, but I wanted to know if you would do me a favor?”
Sam was curious, but he was also cautious. “And that would be?” he trailed off.
“Look after Connor,” he said, and Sam’s eyebrows shot up. It was a strange request. “I know that I don’t know you and even though Connor and I just…met, I care a lot about him. I want him safe. He says you’re his closest friend, so that’s why I’m asking.”
The man seemed incredibly nervous, but Sam got that he wasn’t used to the whole parenting thing since he’d been out of Connor’s life since Connor was young. “I’ll do that.”
“Thanks,” the man said. He looked over at the bathroom, and when Sam looked at the table, Connor wasn’t there. “I’ve got to go. I have…somewhere I have to be. It was nice meeting you.”
Sam watched Connor’s father leave in the night, staring out the door long after his shadow disappeared. When Connor dropped his books on Sam’s table, he jumped and glared at his friend.
“Well?” he asked after a moment of silence.
“That was my dad,” Connor answered. “The bio one, I mean.”
Sam nodded. “I got that. What did he want?”
Connor stared out the same door his father had walked out moments ago. “Just to stop and chat.”
He was confused. “Wait, I thought you both agreed to keep to your separate lives?”
“We did,” Connor replied thoughtfully then began packing up his things. “I’m going to be gone for a few days.”
Sam blinked in surprise. “You’re what
? What do you mean you’re going to be gone for a few days?”
Connor stopped packing and looked up at him with a raised brow. “What part of that did you not get?”
“Stop joking, Connor,” Sam said sternly. “Finals are next week. We’re half-way through our degrees. We start applying for internships soon.”
“And I just finished my resume, courtesy of my father’s help,” Connor said with an easy grin. “He’s been working for a law firm and has a real knack with loopholes. Being a lawyer runs in the family. I guess it’s in my blood to become one.” It was reminding Sam of the laidback friend he had previous to the L.A. trip. While it was nice to see him again, he was going to stay focused.
“Which won’t happen if you fail these tests.”
He sighed. “Sam, stop worrying. I’ll be back by Saturday, which will give me plenty of time to finish studying. I’ll be fine.”
As Connor slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the coffee shop, Sam felt like he was already breaking the promise he gave to Connor’s father. …………………………
After Connor’s mysterious disappearance at the end of the previous semester and his quick return, Sam watched his friend more closely.
During the entire week of their second year finals, Connor was detached, sad, and inattentive. They all finished their finals and started planning for their summer, but Connor seemed content to go home and do nothing.
Sam had finally saved enough money to buy an apartment close to campus so he could stay by himself and not worry about getting a new roommate since Brady’s departure and planned to work all summer. He was the only one staying in Palo Alto but promised to keep in touch with all of his friends.
On the day the dorms were emptying out, Connor and Luis helped Sam move into his new apartment. Zach and Becky already returned home to St. Louis and Jess flew to her parents’ in Michigan the day before.
Just as they finished bringing in the last boxes, Connor’s phone rang. Sam watched closely as his friend cautiously answered, but his expression quickly changed as the call went on. It was a short call, but when he was done, Connor was trying to hold back his grin.
“Connor?” Sam asked softly so Luis wouldn’t hear.
“My dad,” he said, shoving his phone back in his pocket. Sam didn’t miss the emphasis and knew Connor meant his biological father. “He called to let me know he was okay.”
“Okay? Was he hurt?” Sam asked. It certainly put the conversation they had when he had gone to meet Connor in the coffee shop into perspective.
“No,” Connor replied quickly. “Well, it’s kind of complicated, but everything is okay now.” He smiled at Sam. “Everything’s fine.”
That night, a sylph—an air elemental—suffocated everyone inside of the coffee shop.
Sam hoped that it was a one-time occurrence, that the sylph was acting on its own, but as the summer wore on, more and more demonic activity plagued the campus and the town. A bit of research online to websites he thought he was done surfing proved that Palo Alto wasn’t the only place with a surge in supernatural forces. Most of California was feeling the effects of something that happened in Los Angeles in May, but no one really knew what exactly had occurred.
At first, Sam desperately wanted to ask Connor, especially since his biological father lived there. Then again, Sam knew that asking Connor about anything supernatural was going to make his friend lock him up in an asylum.
August arrived just as hot and blistering as usual, but Sam was dreading his upcoming semester. The entire summer was spent either working or researching. He hadn’t called Dean yet to tell him about all the monsters he was now faced with. Sam was trying to stick to research and stay away from the actual hunting, but it was getting harder. Poltergeists, sirens, wraiths, even a damn chupacabra had taken up residence in town at some point during the summer.
When everyone moved back into the dorms, Jess wanted to plan a nice dinner get together so they could catch up on what everyone had done during the summer. Sam didn’t know what the hell he was going to say, but he was good at lying through his teeth.
One thing he noticed was that Connor was back to his normal self, but he was much more tense than usual. He didn’t think anyone else had picked up on it until Becky glanced between the two of them.
“What is up with you boys? You’re both looking at the shadows like you expect a ghost to jump out at you.”
Sam worked his jaw, her spot-on statement throwing him for a loop, but Connor was apparently better at thinking on the fly than him.
“LSATs are coming up this year. Plus, we’re done with most of our gen ed courses now and we’re getting into concentration stuff. Internship applications are due and then we have to worry about law school interviews next year. It’s stressful.”
Sam knew that was a lie, but everyone else seemed to eat it up. Jess put her arm around Sam and kissed his cheek. He smiled at her and tried to pay more attention to the conversation. The rest of the night went smoothly. Sam walked Jess back to her dorm room, promising to see her the next day.
As he walked back to his apartment, Sam unsheathed the sharp hunting knife he hid on his calf before going to dinner and gripped it tightly, hiding it within his sleeve. There was a gun strapped to his midsection on his left side and a small knife sheathed in his side pocket in his jacket. Monsters appeared left and right in the past months. Most of the time they disappeared on their own; Sam figured they left town or that a hunter was taking them out. After entertaining the thought that maybe his dad or Dean were the ones taking out the creatures, he became depressed, because that meant they didn’t bother letting him know they were in town.
He tensed up after hearing footsteps behind him. Whoever was following him was doing a good job of masking the footsteps, but he was a trained hunter and could pick up the sound. Just as he spun around to face his follower, he was blindsided by something that knocked him off his feet. The hunting knife was knocked from his grasp and landed with a thump in the grass.
The monster loomed over him. The creature looked human, but the voice was unearthly, as were the sharp teeth. It held down his arms and Sam barely managed to grab his gun before his hand was wrenched away. He quickly fired and the bullet went through the thing’s shoulder. But more importantly, the wound sizzled as the being drew back screeching.
“Silver bullets,” Sam said with a grunt as he stood and grabbed his knife. It was also silver and would help a long way if he happened to run out of bullets.
When the revenant came toward him again, he holstered his gun and slashed with his knife, wanting to save the bullets. He got in two good slashes to the chest and then stabbed his side, making black, thick blood ooze out the side. The revenant dropped to the ground but Sam put two silver bullets in the head just to make sure.
Once the revenant died, the body began to disintegrate until nothing was left except dust. That was the only good thing about revenants—there was no cleanup.
Sam heard a twig snap behind him and he spun around with his knife in one hand and the gun in the other. He blinked in surprise when he realized Connor was the one behind him about twenty feet away, staring at him with equal surprise. He tried to figure out how he could explain what just happened without sounding completely insane.
Before he could do so, another revenant came up behind Connor and grabbed him. Sam rushed over, but Connor threw back his head and it connected with the revenant’s with a loud crack. Connor didn’t seem phased at all; instead he spun around out of the revenant’s grasp, landed two solid punches and then executed a perfect roundhouse kick. His foot made contact with the revenant’s head so hard Sam heard the neck crack as the skull was disconnected from the spinal column and the revenant went flying about ten feet back.
Connor was barely panting as he looked at the motionless body. He then gestured over to it. “Mind putting one of those silver bullets in his head? I really don’t want to have to fight him again if I don’t have to.”
Still blinking and trying to find the words to ask what the hell was going on, Sam obliged and finished off the revenant with two bullets to the skull, ensuring the undead body would stay dead. The body crumbled to dust and scattered as a light breeze blew through.
That left Sam and Connor staring at each other. The tense silence stretched out until Sam finally broke it. “Okay, what the hell
Connor scoffed. “You’re the one who just pulled a silver knife out of nowhere then proceeded to get slash happy with a revenant. And who carries silver bullets in a gun? Since when do you carry guns period?”
Sam sheathed the knife on his right calf and put the gun back in its holster. “Since when are you capable of beheading someone with a well-placed kick to the head?”
His friend’s eyes narrowed. “I’ve been doing this since I was a baby.”
Sam scoffed. “So have I.”
The tension grew as they stared harshly at each other. When police sirens started to blare faintly in the distance, both looked quickly to the side in the direction of the noise and then as one ran to the shadows. Sam should have known someone would call 911 due to the gunshots.
“Come on, we can go to my townhouse,” Connor said, darting off to the right.
“What?” Sam shouted. Connor was fast, but his long legs gave him a boost to keep up “Since when do you have a townhouse?”
“My father got it for me, now come on! It’s closer than your place!”
The sirens were getting louder so they pushed themselves farther. Hoping that this wasn’t a trap, Sam followed Connor to a newly built townhouse complex. Connor quickly entered a few numbers on the keypad and the light on the pad turned green, allowing Connor to wrench open the door. Once inside, they didn’t run, but still walked quickly to the elevator.
They both leaned against the back of the elevator, breathing heavily. They didn’t speak at all during the ride up to the third floor. When the doors opened, Connor pulled his keys out from his pocket and unlocked the door to the townhouse.
Sam’s eyebrow rose at the brand new, modern space. “This is yours?”
Connor grinned. “Crazy, right? My dad paid for it. Said he didn’t want me to staying in dorms that I couldn’t ward.”
For a few moments, it had been like neither had just killed something supernatural while the other watched, but at Connor’s reminder, both clammed up.
“So,” Connor said after clearing his throat. “Do you want something to drink?”
“I want answers, Connor,” Sam replied.
“So do I. But who goes first?”
Sam sighed. “How about we share? Both of us tell a bit of our lives, starting from the beginning, no holds barred. When we’re finished, we can go from there.”
For a moment, Sam thought Connor wouldn’t agree, but he nodded and turned around, rummaging through the cabinets. “In that case, I really will need something to drink. And probably something to eat.” He turned around to glance at Sam. “You sure you don’t want anything?”
This was Connor, his best friend. If he was honest with himself, his first real friend that liked him just because he was Sam and not because he had killed something coming after him. Connor was always honest with him, and Sam tried to do the same. When he needed help adjusting, Connor was there. When Brady went off the deep end, even though Connor didn’t like him, he helped Sam through it. When he and Jess were about to break up because of Sam’s trust issues, Connor was the one who really encouraged him to try to fix it. Now they were about to tell massive secrets about each other, and Sam still felt like he could trust Connor.
“Why not? I have a feeling this will take a while.”
Connor chuckled. “You have no idea.” It was silent for a moment before Connor cleared his throat. “How did you find out about the supernatural?”
Sam fiddled with a bag of chips on the coffee table in front of him. “When I was six months old, something evil killed my mother. Ever since then, my dad has been hell-bent on finding whatever killed her and avenging her death. My brother Dean and I were just along for the ride. You?”
Connor rubbed the back of his neck and laughed nervously. “You know my dad? My biological one?” Sam nodded. “He’s a vampire.”
Sam stared at Connor, expecting his friend to crack a smile and say he was just joking, but the moment never came. “You’re serious? A vampire? Your father is a vampire
“My mom, too.”
Sam stood up and started to pace, unable to store his nervous energy. Connor was thankfully silent as he continued his trek across the living room. The little information he knew about vampires was zipping through his mind as he tried to come up with some rational explanation. “You realize that’s impossible, right?”
Connor nodded. “It is. Vampires can’t create life. They only destroy it. My biological mother was staked by my father years ago, but was brought back through some powerful magics as a human. She was also dying. To save her, my father went through powerful trials to give her a second life, but she had already been granted that just by being alive again. Even after she was turned back into a vampire, that second life my father earned for her had to go somewhere. That’s where I come in.”
Sam was still shaking his head, unable to wrap his mind around the concept of a human born of two vampires. Of course, Connor already proved that he was no normal human.
“So, are you…” he trailed off. Thankfully instead of being insulted, Connor just chuckled.
“I’m not a true vampire, but I do have some of the perks of one. Extra strength, quickened healing, heightened senses—I have it all with none of the drawbacks.”
Sam rubbed his face roughly. He was having trouble seeing his friend Connor and the supernatural machine Connor together. “How am I just now finding out about this?”
“Because I didn’t know about it until April,” Connor replied. “I wasn’t exactly raised in the most stable environment.”
Sam was becoming more confused by the minute. “Your life with the Reillys is awesome.”
Connor shook his head sadly. “Sam, I wasn’t raised with that family. You have to forget everything you know about me. I wasn’t even born until 2001.”
Sam knew this had to be a joke, but Connor’s face was devoid of all humor. Gone were the easy grins and amusing expressions. His friend’s face was made up of hard lines and serious stares. This wasn’t the Connor that he knew. It was someone else. His expression was one Sam had seen on many hunters, Dean and his father included, over the years.
“I still don’t get it. We started here at Stanford in 2002. How is that possible?”
“I was raised in a hell dimension, Sam,” Connor said slowly. “I was screwed up. I was brought up to be a killer, a hunter.” He chuckled dryly. “I was the most socially awkward kid you’ve ever seen. I was the epitome of the phrase ‘fucked up’, believe me.”
Things were starting to make sense. “Your trip to L.A. last spring and your weird behavior…” he trailed off.
“The reason we went to L.A. in the first place wasn’t to set up a trust fund. I was struck by a van and had no injuries.” Connor sighed. “I should have died, but I walked away without a scratch. My memories were coming back like a fuzzy dream I was trying to remember the day after, and my abilities were starting to manifest. The Reillys needed help understanding what happened and by fate’s design, they went to my father for answers. I gained my full memories back and ever since then, I’ve been trying to make sense of them all.”
“Memories?” Sam asked with a confused face. “What are you talking about?”
That haunted look came over Connor’s face again. “In addition to the truly crap way I was raised, some things happened that would make a normal person go insane. I was ready to end my life. I’d seen so much death and destruction. I didn’t know who to trust. My dad made a deal to give me a new life, one where I was raised normally. From the moment the deal was set, the memories of my old self were erased from everyone I knew and I was given a new memories and a new life as Connor Reilly.”
Sam fell back onto the couch in shock. He thought his life was screwed up. “Do you really expect me to believe all this?” he asked slowly.
With a sigh, Connor reached under the coffee table. Instead of pulling something out, like Sam expected, his friend lifted it into the air without even a huff of struggle. Sam’s eyes widened.
“I know what you are, Sam,” Connor began. “I know who
you are. I have memories of you from my previous life. Your father is notorious in hell. The Winchester name isn’t all that pleasant.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sam snapped.
“Would you have believed me?” Connor asked incredulously. “Even after that display with the revenant tonight, you still don’t. I just picked up a coffee table with no effort and you’re still questioning me.”
While that was true, picking up a coffee table and being born of two vampires were completely different things. “It’s kind of hard to believe, Connor.”
“Given what you know of the supernatural, you should accept it quicker,” he shot back.
It was quiet as Connor let him gather his thoughts again. Sam suspected he was in shock and would take a few days to come to term with everything he had been told.
“I used to think the only traumatic thing that happened to me was when I got lost in a department store when I was five.” Connor stared off and Sam recognized the haunted look on Connor’s face. He saw it every time he looked in a mirror after a hunt with Dean and his dad. “Now I only wish something so normal had really happened.”
Before Sam could reply, Connor shook his head and finished his soda. “I know your life as a hunter sucked, Sam. Trust me, I know. But you had people with you who loved you and weren’t using you for their own gain. Hunters are close like family. It beats the alternative I had to live with.” He began to pick at the metal pop top on the can and didn’t meet Sam’s eyes. “You were the first person to befriend me just to have a friend.”
Sam gave Connor a lopsided grin. “The same here.”
At that moment, he didn’t care that his internal voice that sounded like his brother and father was screaming at him to destroy whatever Connor was, but it was Connor. For at least one night he wanted to pretend a little while longer that they could be friends.
“How did you spend your summer?” he asked lightly.
“Hunting monsters,” Connor replied flippantly. “You?”
They finished telling their stories as the sun peaked over the horizon. Hearing stories about Connor’s real past was like listening to horror stories told around a campfire at night, but the only difference was that Sam knew these monsters were real. Even though he wouldn’t think it possible, some of the stories he told to Connor were received with wide-eyed amazement.
Sam was glad that it was a weekend and they didn’t have classes until Monday. They were both buzzed from the alcohol they eventually consumed and emotionally exhausted after spilling their life stories. They collapsed on the couches and slept until just after noon.
Sam woke when Connor poked him in the side with a water bottle and pushed some aspirin into his hand. He groaned.
“Call Jess. She’s worried because you haven’t been answering your phone,” Connor said groggily.
He groaned and popped the pills, finishing the water Connor gave him. His phone was in his pocket, turned on vibrate, and Sam winced when he saw the number of phone calls, texts, and voicemails. He called Jess, and she picked up before the second ring.
“Sam Winchester! Where the hell
“Oh god, please don’t yell,” Sam said with a groan. Connor snickered as he started the coffee pot in the kitchen.
“I can yell all I want! I’ve been worried sick about you. Your neighbor said you didn’t come home last night and then those students were attacked on the same route you take from my place to yours and—”
“Wait, what?” Sam said, sitting up, forgetting about his headache. “What do you mean students were attacked last night?”
Connor spun around at Sam’s words and came closer, concern on his face.
“I mean that a group of students were found practically ripped apart an hour after you dropped me off. They were close to your apartment and I was worried when you didn’t pick up your phone.”
“I’m with Connor. I stayed the night here.” Sam rubbed his eyes. “How many students died?”
Connor sighed loudly and sat down heavily on the couch. His phone started to ring and he pulled it out of his pocket, making a face at the caller ID. “Hi, Dad.”
Sam tried to listen to Connor’s conversation but stuck with Jess when she started giving him details.
“—and they’re telling us to stay in the dorms but Becky and I are really worried, Sam. Zach wants to get a hotel room and stay there and I don’t want to be alone.”
He winced. What he really wanted to do was hunt whatever had massacred the students, but he couldn’t do it with Jess right behind him.
“Why don’t you come stay with me until this guy is caught, all right? I can walk you to and from class.” Connor’s eyebrow rose as he looked at Sam, but he was still talking to his father. Sam just shook his head. “When is Zach picking up Becky?”
“In an hour.”
“I’ll be by then to pick you up, too. Make sure you have everything packed for a while, okay?”
Sam hung up with a sigh and leaned back into the couch, watching Connor pace back and forth.
“Dad, I told you. I can handle it,” Connor growled out. “I am capable of finding out what murdered the students. I’m not going to throw my college career out the window to go hunting. I told you that I’m happy where I am, and I meant that.”
With a jolt, Sam realized he wasn’t talking to Mr. Reilly, but to his biological father. It made sense that he would find out about the supernatural attacks and want to make sure Connor was all right. Dean was probably getting word and worried as well.
“No, I understand. If it becomes too much, I’ll let you know and have you send someone to take care of it. Bye, Dad.”
Connor let out a loud groan as he flopped onto the couch. “Of course all hell had to descend right when we start our upperclassmen courses.”
Sam snorted. “Seriously. So, any idea what attacked the students? Jess said it looked like they were mauled by a wild animal and then eaten.”
“Rugaru. It’s a werewolf-like monster that craves meat, eventually turning to humans to feed.”
He nodded. “We kill it by setting it on fire, right?”
Connor made a face. “I doubt we’ll be able to catch it. According to dad, it’s already moved to the next county over.”
“That or there’s more than one,” Sam added.
“Shut up,” Connor said, tossing a pillow at him as he sat up. “So, Zach and Becky are staying in the town proper?”
“Yeah. Jess is scared and wants to stay with me, so I guess I’m stuck with staying in for a while.”
Connor laughed. “Do not even pretend that this is a burden for you. You get to have your girlfriend live with you while you protect her from the big bad monster.”
“What are you going to do?” Sam asked and Connor paused. “You’re not going to go hunt this thing, are you?”
He shrugged. “Like you said, there’s a chance it’s still around. It won’t stop until it’s burning. I have 24 hours until school starts, and that’s 24 hours I can spend hunting this thing.”
Silence filled the townhouse. Their long discussion from the night before seemed like it happened years ago, not hours. Knowing that there would be waves of monsters heading up through California didn’t give Sam a good feeling, but he didn’t want to give up what he had either.
“Connor, what are we going to do?” Sam asked. “We both spent our summers hunting down monsters and now we’re back here, trying to go to school. We can’t do both. I don’t think I want to do both. I like my life now.”
“I do too,” Connor confessed. “But I also can’t ignore people dying around me when I can help it. It’s in my blood to help. I can’t just refuse.”
Sam bit his lip. “What if we only do a little bit? What if…what if we live our lives here first, and hunt second?”
Connor paused and thought it over. “You know it’s usually the other way around?”
“Yeah,” he replied, “and I’ve done it that way around. It’s not for me. I left that life, and so did you. We might still be able to help people, but I want to be selfish and say to hell with it.”
He started to pace as he mulled Sam’s words over. “So we hunt, but only when we have the time for it or it’s really pressing.”
“We can trade off if we need to. We’re both capable of working small cases on our own.” The more Sam argued about it, the more he was almost excited about finding a way to both help people and live the life he wanted. “And then when we need to study, we study. If it gets too out of hand, we both have people we can hand off cases to.”
Connor didn’t look as happy with the solution as Sam did, but then it was literally in Connor’s blood to be a hunter. It wasn’t in Sam’s.
Finally, he nodded. “I think that will work. We’ll be safe, smart, and won’t let this impact our lives.”
Sam stood, looking at his watch. “I need to run by my place and clean up a bit, then go pick up Jess. You going hunting?”
They shared a small grin at the question. Connor unlocked the decorative chest that Sam realized wasn’t so decorative and pulled out knives to strap to his person. He glanced at Sam’s jacket, where his gun was holstered. “We might have to do a weapon’s trade off. Most of my stock comes by way of sharp and pointy things.”
“And mine have a tendency to go boom. We’ll also need to trade lore stories.”
It was surreal that Sam was having a conversation about hunting and not throwing a fit, but he meant the promise he made. He wasn’t going to let hunting ruin the life he made for himself.
On the first night they decided to go hunting together, a night after study group when they finished early, it was almost awkward. Connor had various knives strapped to his body while Sam stuck to two pistols and a short blade.
It became pretty clear that their two styles were too different and their approaches too complex to explain to the other. Connor depended on his sheer strength when attacking while Sam thought out his moves and relied on a monster’s weakness to break it. When situations called for two fighters, they did fine, but for the most part, they decided to split the responsibility and alternate nights to patrol the university.
It took a while for Connor and Sam to find a rhythm as they tried to split their lives with emphasis on their schoolwork. In the end, Connor was the one who found the solution. Trading off nights to hunt worked out well, until their finals week of that semester arrived. A demonic force was gathering on the north side of town and both had a project due. Sam lost sleep for two nights over the situation, knowing that the only time they could attack would be during the day, when they had tests.
Connor solved all the problems when he put in a call to his father, who immediately sent a team to stop the demon. Sam and Connor passed their finals and the demons were vanquished. He hadn’t realized how hard it would be to trust that another person could get the job done, but now he had faith in Connor’s contacts and he’d even anonymously sent out word of cases through the web to other hunters he knew Dean trusted.
And so began the rest of Sam’s life. He had a great girl, a great friend, and a balanced life that he could handle.