When They Come For MeAuthor(s):
Eric Kripke owns everything Supernatural, Joss Whedon owns everything Angel, and the title comes from the song of the same name by Linkin Park. I own nothing.Characters/Pairings:
Sam Winchester, Connor Reilly, Dean Winchester, Jessica Moore, other minor Supernatural and Angel characters briefly mentionedWarnings:
Pilot for Supernatural, entire series for AngelSummary:
Sam Winchester has everything he's ever wanted: a wonderful girlfriend named Jessica Moore and a normal life away from hunting at Stanford University. When his best friend, Connor Reilly, comes back from a trip to L.A. acting different, Sam begins to worry. At the same time, demonic activity picks up around the campus, and he reluctantly takes up hunting once more, shocked to find Connor doing the same thing.
Sam and Connor make a pact that they will hunt, but only when it will not endanger the fresh starts they have been blessed with. Everything goes smoothly until Dean Winchester shows up the weekend before Sam's law school interview claiming their father is missing. Tasking Connor to stay with Jess, Sam goes with Dean to hunt a Woman in White, not knowing his life will be vastly different when he returns.Author’s Notes:
A more detailed author’s notes and acknowledgements are located at the end of the story, but still, many thanks to the mods of the Supernatural Crossover Big Bang, to my artist, and to my beta. You all are wonderful.…………………………
Sam knew that it was just his mind playing tricks on him, but everywhere he looked, all he could focus on were the father and son pairs scattered across the campus, hauling boxes together and laughing at some inside joke that came from afternoons playing baseball or doing yard work during the summer. He ducked his head and kept his eyes on the ground in front of him, weaving through the families unloading cars. Sam only had the large duffel bag thrown over his shoulder and hadn’t come in the family minivan, but by an older Greyhound bus that departed from Nevada.
A wry grin crossed his lips when he tried to imagine a scenario where Dean and his dad would have seen him off in the Impala. His dad would have scoured the campus, looking for any demonic activity, quizzing him on what runes to carve into the door and asking if he had enough salt to last him until he could get to a grocery store. Dean would have scoured the girls around the school, and would have the phone numbers of at least three before they waved goodbye to the youngest Winchester and headed off for a hunt.
A car horn blaring loudly woke him from his daydream and he shook his head, looking down at the map he received at the Orientation table. Until he could find a job and an apartment, he was stuck with on-campus living and praying for a normal roommate. He’d already overheard two horror stories walking to his dorm.
Sam was always good with directions and a map, so he found Donner House in Stern Hall fairly quickly. There were no single rooms left and the Hall was co-ed by corridor. It was going to be strange living with so many people his age; it was a completely new experience, but the idea of staying put in one room for more than a few weeks at a time sounded exciting.
After navigating the halls and corridors, he found his room. The door was open, and another young man about his same age was leaning over a box placed on one of the beds. Sam hesitantly knocked on the door frame.
The man spun around and grinned when he saw Sam. “Hi. You my new roommate?”
Sam nodded and walked into the room, glancing around. “Yeah. Sam Winchester.” He held out his hand.
“Brady Michaels,” the man replied, shaking his hand. “I hope you don’t mind that I grabbed this side.”
He looked around at the blank side of the room and shrugged. “A bed’s a bed to me. I’m cool.”
“Can I help you unpack?”
He dropped the duffel bag onto the mattress that he was set to sleep on for the next year. Sam was prepared for this line of questioning and tried not to seem too nervous. “Nah, this is all my stuff. My dad was in the military, so we moved a lot.”
As Sam started pulling things out of his bag, Brady went back to unpacking his boxes. “So, what’s your intellectual poison?”
“What?” Sam asked, tensing a bit at the word ‘poison’.
“Your major,” Brady replied with a laugh.
“Oh,” Sam said lamely. “Uh, pre-law.”
Brady chuckled. “Ah, another student who wants to submit themselves to more school than the brain should handle. I’m pre-med.”
Sam was relieved, because if Brady wanted to get into a decent medical school, he would have to study extremely hard and not have time for partying, disrupting Sam’s own study schedule.
“Dad’s a doctor, mom’s a nurse, older sister is an ultrasound tech. I figured it’s in my genes so I might as well get in the family business.”
He returned Brady’s grin, although it was fake. While Brady was following in his family’s footsteps, Sam was running away from his. He was studying to put people like his family behind bars.
“Hey!” Sam’s head snapped up when Brady snapped his fingers in front of his face. “Since you’re practically already unpacked, you can help me with some of my crap. I still have a few boxes waiting in my car outside.”
“Sure,” Sam replied, standing up. With a sigh, he followed after Brady, wondering if he was prepared for the next four years.…………………………
Sam’s first class came at 8:00 on a warm Monday morning. He didn’t mind the early morning, unlike his bleary-eyed roommate who was running late for his World Civilization class.
He saved up enough money from his last pool hustle to buy a decent laptop he could use for coursework and pulled it out to place on the desk in front of him. Sam was sitting closer to the back of the class, and when the professor started up the lecture, someone slid into the chair next to him. Sam glanced over and saw another student pulling out his own laptop and book.
“This seat taken?”
Sam shook his head at the whispered question.
There was no more time for introductions before the professor started handing out the class syllabus and going over the materials they would need for the class. Sam took meticulous notes, not wanting to forget anything and decided he would have to hit up one of the campus stores in the afternoon for better supplies. His single notebook and pens with chewed lids weren’t going to cut it.
The two hour class flew by. When they were dismissed, Sam glanced at the student who took the seat next to him. The only person he knew on campus so far was Brady, and even then, it was obvious that they wouldn’t have a single class together and would have different study groups. In junior high and high school, Sam never really tried to make friends because they wouldn’t stay in the school very long. This was different. Sam planned on staying here, and that meant being social.
“Hi, I’m Sam,” he said, holding out his hand. The student looked up and took Sam’s hand.
“Connor. Freshman, pre-law?”
Sam nodded and stood the same time Connor did, both of them slinging their backpacks over their shoulder. “I gotta say, I wasn’t expecting Civil Procedure to be that fast paced,” Sam began.
“I know,” Connor said, shaking his head as they walked out of the lecture hall. “I met Professor Woods when I was here as a prospect, and he didn’t talk that fast. Looks like I’ll be spending more time at study group than I thought.”
“You’ve already got one formed?” he asked in surprise, but Connor chuckled.
“Just me, myself, and I. Well, another girl on my corridor says she’s pre-law, but by the way she’s talking, she’ll trade Civic law in for Fashion law.”
Sam returned the laugh. “Well, if you ever want to study, I’m over in Donnor Hall, room 418.”
Connor nodded with a grin and they headed off their separate ways.…………………………
A week later, Connor took his seat next to Sam in Civil Procedure and pulled out his books. They had three classes together and although they hadn’t talked much outside of classes, they still sat next to each other and talked about various assignments before and after lectures.
Sam caught Connor’s pen as it started to roll off the desk. “Here you go.”
“Oh, thanks,” Connor replied. “So I was thinking of getting a study session started early in the semester. You interested?”
He paused in writing down a few notes before class began and thought about it as he glanced at Connor out of the corner of his eye. A study group with someone his own age in his own field of study who appeared to be one of the few semi-laid back people in pre-law seemed like a good idea. If it turned out to be a mistake, he could always bow out.
“Yeah, sure. What days?”
“Tuesdays and Thursdays? And maybe an odd Sunday if we have exams piled on us in a week,” he answered. “I can reserve a room in the library for us.”
Sam nodded as the professor started his lecture, wondering if normal people were this excited over the prospect of studying with other students. Probably not.
It turned out that he got a chance to experience his first study group the following night. Sam arrived at the library just as Connor finished securing a study room for them. He wasn’t sure what all they would be studying or what exactly they would do.
He followed Connor into a small study room, just big enough for four people. As they unloaded their books, Sam debated on how to break the silence and get the session started.
Fortunately, Connor let out a loud sigh and broke the silence for him. “I didn’t get anything from the Contracts class. Can you help me?”
Sam launched into an explanation of the purpose of legal protection, and before he knew it, he started to relax. Tension seeped out of his shoulders and the air in the room became less stressful. They were cracking jokes at professors and throwing out questions, letting each other explain the answer. With a pang, Sam realized he had missed this in high school, but refused to be angry about it. He was getting the experience now, and as he wrote down another explanation, he was even surer of his decision to come to college.
Connor stretched and popped his back. “I guess we better pack up. The library is going to close in a few minutes.”
In surprise, Sam looked at his own watch. Three and a half hours had already flown by. Sam hadn’t realized how quickly the time went, and he was surprised by how much he enjoyed it and learned.
“Do you want to grab something to eat?”
Sam shrugged. Connor rolled his eyes and started packing his things. At the time they decided to eat, Sam thought it was a good idea, but once they sat down to eat, he realized it was a mistake.
“So, where are you from?” Connor asked, swiping a French fry through some ketchup and popping it in his mouth. Sam’s drink was halfway to his mouth as he froze at the question, but Connor didn’t even blink. He probably didn’t have to think up a lie to answer such simple and ordinary questions.
“I’m from Los Angeles, born and raised.”
“I was born in Kansas,” Sam said, “But my dad was in the military, so we moved a lot. Never really had a home for a long time. This will probably the longest I’ve stayed in one place.”
Connor winced. “My cousin is an army brat. She always hated moving so often, having to make new friends in new schools, but I always thought it would be neat to see so many different parts of the country. My uncle even got placed in Germany at one point. Did you travel any overseas?”
Sam shook his head, and made sure he kept his mouth full so he could avoid questions. Luckily, Connor and was content to talk about his family life and picked up quickly that Sam didn’t want to delve into his.
After dinner they decided to go back to their rooms since they both had class early in the morning. Sam unlocked the door to his room and walked in, dropping his bag by his desk. So far, he survived his first week of college, participated in a study group, and possibly made a friend in Connor Reilly. As he changed to get ready for bed, Sam couldn’t help but smile at the normalcy of the situation. It was a nice feeling.…………………………
His first semester of college passed without incident. He studied, he did his homework, he hung out with Connor when he wasn’t busy, and he had no interaction with anything supernatural. The final exams were gruesome, but he passed all his classes and signed up for his next semester. Before he knew it, Christmas arrived.
Students weren’t allowed to stay in the dorm rooms over break, so he spent the two weeks in a motel downtown watching Christmas specials on a crappy black and white television and reading ahead for his classes the next semester. It was a decent Christmas compared to some of the holidays spent on the road hunting, but Sam was ready to get back to school.
A balled up piece of paper smacked him in the side of the head and Sam glared at Brady. Classes started two weeks before but his workload was already insane. “What was that for?”
“Because I just told you I was going to use my medical knowledge to try to get myself pregnant and you agreed with me,” he replied wryly. “But before that, I was asking you if you wanted to come hang out with a few people.”
Sam learned early on last year that Brady’s definition of ‘a few people’ was either one person or a mob. His earlier thought that Brady would choose studying over partying because of his pre-med major turned out to be wishful thinking. “Just how many people?”
“Becky and her new roommate. Probably Becky’s brother. Maybe a few more people.”
“Becky?” Sam asked skeptically. “A&P study group Becky?”
Brady grinned. “Ex-A&P study group and current girlfriend Becky.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “I thought you didn’t date pre-med majors?”
“She switched before break. She’s moved into a new dorm and got a new roommate, who is hot and single, by the way.”
He sighed. “Brady, I told you I don’t want you hooking me up with anyone. I’ve got enough on my plate with classes that I don’t have time for anything else.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Brady said, waving his hand. “Just come hang out for a bit, okay? You need a break.”
“We just got back from winter break!”
Brady wouldn’t be deterred. “Come for an hour and then you can bow out. I bet when all the girls hear you’re a pre-law student, they’ll fall all over themselves in hopes that you’ll graduate, join a fancy pants law firm, get rich, and shower them with diamonds.”
That sounded like the most uninviting plan for life ever, in his opinion. “You’re not helping your cause.”
“One hour,” Brady said, his winning smile that scored him almost as many girls as Dean on his face. “And then I won’t ask you to socialize for a week.”
Sam pretended to think about. “Three weeks.”
“Two weeks and you have to have at least one drink tonight.”
“Deal,” he said with a sigh. He would just pour the drink out when Brady wasn’t looking. It was probably the best compromise that would be offered that night. When he was staring at the crowded apartment full of tipsy college students complete with drinking games and blaring bad music, Sam almost reneged on the deal, planning to head back to the dorm.
Brady grabbed his arm as soon as he spun around. “Either stay for an hour or I will make your life hell. You know I can do it, too.”
Sam sighed and followed Brady inside the crowded apartment. This was going to be the start of one of those horror stories regarding roommates, he just knew it. Within ten minutes of being inside the party, a beer was spilled on him, a girl nearly puked on his shoes, and when he reached for the counter for balance as someone knocked into him, his hand came away sticky. The bathroom was occupied by a couple that, from the sound of things, were having a very, very good time.
After finding a spot on the couch that wasn’t stained or covered in spilt drinks or chips, Sam sat down with a grimace. Brady disappeared into a throng of sorority girls and Sam was tempted to leave while his roommate was distracted. Just as he made the decision to head out, someone blocked his path.
“Hey, Sam!” Becky said with a smile. “I didn’t think I’d see you here tonight.”
“Brady made me promise to come for an hour, or he’d whine like a little girl while I tried to study.”
Sam breathed a sigh of relief when Brady swept in and put his arm around Becky.
She laughed. “He’d be good at it, too.”
Brady just rolled his eyes. “Hey, have you met her roommate? She’s around here somewhere.”
He shook his head and tried to tell Brady that he really, really
didn’t need to be hooked up, but the man wouldn’t give up.
“Jess!” Brady shouted, motioning her over. Sam bit his lip and managed to drag his eyes away from Brady when Becky’s roommate walked over.
Sam’s breath caught in his throat. She was Becky’s height, which meant she was a good few inches shorter than him. Her blonde hair was in soft waves as it spilled over her shoulders. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, unlike most of the other girls who dressed to skimpily impress in mini-skirts, halter tops, and high heels that looked like murder on the ankles. She held a red plastic cup in one hand and her other out to Sam. He blinked a few times before taking it nervously.
“Hi, I’m Jessica. Call me Jess,” she said with a bright smile.
Sam shook her hand. “I’m Sam.”
Becky leaned over and looked in Jess’s cup. “What are you drinking? Is that just a Coke?”
Jess laughed. “I said I would have a drink. I didn’t say there would be alcohol in it.”
Sam looked down in his own cup full of whatever the hell constituted a beer in this place and made a face. He wished he had thought of that.
“What’s the matter, Sam? Not having a good time?” Brady asked.
“I would rather be studying. I have a test coming up soon.”
“What’s your major?” Jess asked, taking up the spot next to him on the couch that was recently vacated.
She grinned at him. “Art history.”
“And that is my cue to head out,” Brady said with a grin. “Who wants a refill?”
“Ooh, me,” Becky said, handing her cup over. Both Sam and Jess replied no at the same time, prompting them both to smile.
He returned the shy smile and started up the conversation again as Brady walked away to refill his drink and Becky’s. “I pegged you for science,” he said honestly, which made her laugh.
“And I pegged you for a sports jock. Just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
If only she knew the truth. His cover looked like a boring non-fiction piece, but underneath was one of a gruesome horror story. He banished the dark thought from his head and turned to fully face Jess.
They talked about their classes and their homework assignments. Sam had no idea that art history was such an involved major but he could see Jess was really passionate about it. The way her face lit up when she talked about an artist or a painting made him smile in return.
Their conversation stopped abruptly when Becky dropped her drink and shot up out of the chair she was sitting in.
Sam looked up at Becky, who was glaring at Brady, who was wrapped around a blonde who had her arms wrapped around his neck. Brady honestly looked like he didn’t want to be in the situation, trying to push away the drunk co-ed, but the damage was done.
“Oh crap,” Sam muttered under his breath. “Damn it, Brady.”
Becky stormed off and Jess looked after her. “I better go.”
“I should too.” Brady peeled away from the blonde and stared after Becky with a stricken expression, but Sam knew from many nights with Dean and his jealous girls that going after Becky was a bad idea. He and Jess both stood and while Jess went after Becky, Sam kept Brady from doing the same. “Not tonight, Brady. You’ll just make things worse.”
“Shit,” he said with a wince. “I really didn’t mean for that to happen. She just came at me and latched on while I was refilling my drink.”
“I know. Why don’t we head out, go back to the room, sleep this off, and then you can talk to Becky tomorrow. She’s too angry right now.”
Brady nodded. As they walked across campus, he suddenly turned to Sam. “I saw you checking out Becky’s roommate though. I told you she was hot, right? And single?”
Sam just glared and walked faster. …………………………
“I don’t care! I don’t ever want to see him or talk to him or, or, or even think
about him ever again!”
Sam leaned back as Becky slammed the door in his face loudly and blinked at the wood. So much for his theory that Becky would calm down by the next morning. He had a little extra time between classes, and told Brady he would test the waters with Becky, but he also wanted to see Jess again.
Just as Sam thought that wasn’t going to happen, he heard Jess’s voice muffled on the other side of the door. She opened it and slipped out quickly, closing the door behind her. “Sorry about that,” she said quietly. “Becky’s still a little upset.”
“I figured that out all on my own, amazingly enough,” Sam said, and she grinned. “I just stopped by to see how she was doing. Brady honestly didn’t mean for that whole thing to happen.”
“I know that, and I’m pretty sure she knows that. Brady was good to her, and he didn’t look like he welcomed the attention.” Jess hesitated. “But I would still watch out for Zach. He came by earlier and asked why she was upset. I think he’s going to play the older brother card and put the fear of God into Brady.”
“Great,” Sam said sarcastically. “Thanks for the heads’ up though. It’ll be useful.” It was then that Sam noticed the backpack on her shoulder. “Class?”
“Yeah. Sorry I can’t stay to chat, but maybe you can come by later? Becky may be calmer by then.”
He nodded, even though he was doubtful that Becky would be willing to hear Brady’s apologies,. “Well, thanks for info anyway.”
She smiled and hitched the bag higher, walking down the corridor. Sam sighed and shook his head. He meant what he told Brady. He didn’t have time for girls, and it wouldn’t be helpful to get in the middle of a lover’s quarrel. …………………………
Becky and Brady weren’t meant to be, but luckily that didn’t mean that Sam wasn’t welcome as a friend in their little group. He brought Connor around who got along great with Becky’s brother Zach. They had dinner sometimes or a late night snack at one of the campus cafeterias after a study session. Sam realized that Connor was spending just as much time with Becky as he was spending in study group, but he hadn’t quite connected the dots.
Sam was still oblivious until one night at dinner when Jess pointed out to him that the two had been dating for three weeks.
“What?” he choked out, glancing over to Connor and Becky who were playing pool. It was just the four of them out that night. At first, he thought Connor arranged it that way so Sam would be close to Jess, but apparently his reasons weren’t so nefarious.
Jess laughed lightly. “Oh, come on, Sam. Surely you noticed before now? Connor came by one night looking for you, and the two of them just kind of clicked.”
“Is it serious?” Sam asked with a bit of trepidation, causing Jess to laugh again.
“You sound so concerned.” She leaned closer and Sam was captivated by her bright eyes and the dimples on her cheeks when she smiled at him. “I think it’s cute that you care for your friend like that.”
It took him a few moments after she leaned back in her seat for Sam to blink and realize what she said. He blushed, and she chuckled.
That night, Brady also found out Connor was dating his ex-girlfriend. Brady slammed into their dorm room, startling Sam out of his studying. He had returned to his room early, despite the glare from Connor for doing so, not expecting Brady to come back so soon.
“Something wrong?” Sam asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Brady snapped. “Your new buddy Connor was cozying up to my girlfriend.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “She’s not your girlfriend, Brady. You guys broke up.”
“Because some drunk sorority bitch fell all over me and you couldn’t convince Becky it wasn’t anything.”
Sam narrowed his eyes. “Don’t pin this on me, Brady. Besides, you said that it wasn’t serious in the first place. Lighten up.”
Brady slammed out of the room much in the same manner he slammed in and Sam shook his head. The more time he spent around Connor, the more Brady started to dislike him. Brady almost reminded him of Dean in some ways. He certainly had the mood swings of his older brother.
As the semester drew to a close, Sam realized he would miss this group of friends he discovered. It was the first time he was going to dread summer. Usually, summer meant no hopping schools and getting to see his dad more often, even though the past years had been stressful between them. Now, summer meant…well, he wasn’t sure what to do over his first summer in Palo Alto. He wasn’t allowed to stay in the dorm and he didn’t have enough money to stay in a hotel or apartment, even the really cheap ones. Fortunately, Connor solved his problem for the first three weeks in July, inviting Sam to stay with him in Pasadena while his parents took a cruise. It would give Sam a change of scenery and also give them both time to finish summer assignments together.
During the second half of May, Sam searched for a job and found one at a local coffee shop close to campus. The owner claimed that most people who wanted a job just wanted the employee discount and since Sam was willing to do any type of labor, he got a better pay than a normal worker. He also got to stay in the small apartment above the coffee shop next to the owner’s office for relatively cheap.
When July came, even though Sam was grateful for the job and change of scenery from the dorms, he was even more ready to get the hell out of Palo Alto. Perhaps he wasn’t as ready to settle down in one town as he thought.
The bus took him into downtown Pasadena, where Connor picked him up at the bus depot. Connor’s gray sport sedan pulled into the parking lot and Sam threw his bags into the back seat, settling into the passenger side with a sigh. Connor chuckled.
“That bad of a trip?”
“Dude,” Sam began with a relieved grin as he stretched out his stiff legs, “you have no idea.”
On the drive to Connor’s house, they caught up on how they spent their summers so far. It was nice to socialize with someone outside of class. Connor was down to earth and serious about his studies but was always ready with a joke or a witty comment to break tension.
When they pulled up to Connor’s house, Sam’s eyes widened. “That’s…a very large house.”
The house wasn’t overly opulent, with two stories and a picturesque garden in the front. It was the kind of place Sam wished he grew up in but never had the chance.
“Hence why I did not want to spend three weeks alone in it,” Connor said with a grin as he pulled the car up the drive and parked. He helped Sam bring in his bags and led him to the guest room where he’d stay. “Make yourself at home. The dresser is empty so feel free to empty your bags. You have a bathroom through your door to the left and the one on the right is a closet you can use.”
Sam dropped his things off and followed Connor through the house on a tour. There were family photos on the mantle and sports trophies in a bookshelf to the side. A weathered leather recliner was off to the side with an end table pushed up next to it filled with various electronic remotes. Sam peered out through the large windows to the back porch where pool accessories were crammed into a bin. The lawn furniture looked worn, but sturdy and there was a beach ball in the middle of the table.
The kitchen was to the right. The counters were clean but filled with kitchen appliances, jars, and spice racks. Pictures were hung by the wall near the breakfast table and a family portrait was stuck to the refrigerator door with a California state magnet. It was so…normal.
“I thought about grilling some burgers tonight,” Connor said as he opened the refrigerator and pulling out a soda. He handed Sam the can then grabbed another one for himself. “Does that sound good to you?”
Sam grinned as he looked around the house. “Sounds good.” But what he really wanted to say was “Sounds normal
After the first week of lounging around and doing absolutely nothing but relaxing at Connor’s house, they both decided to get an early start on their summer projects. It was vastly different than doing homework back in Palo Alto. For one, he didn’t get to lounge by the pool to do his Early Government reading while the radio played nearby with a lemonade and beer within arm’s reach.
There had been an embarrassing moment for Sam when he realized he didn’t have swimming trunks which had gotten worse when he realized he never bought swimming trunks before. Connor took him to a nearby mall and laughed as he modeled the swimsuits with a red face and awkward stance. Finally, Sam settled on a pair and bought them.
A shadow fell over his reading and he looked up, squinting through his sunglasses at Connor. “You’re blocking my light.”
“Shut up,” Connor said, making a face. “I wanted to know if you finished that due process paper yet.”
“I haven’t even started,” Sam said gleefully.
With a loud sigh, Connor fell onto the lounger next to Sam. He was also in swimming trunks and a t-shirt. “I don’t know how to get started. I was hoping you had yours done so I could copy it.”
Sam chuckled. “Liar.” Connor never cheated and even though he joked about it, Sam knew that Connor was serious about school.
He also laughed and then reached over to swipe Sam’s lemonade. “Oh, by the way, your phone has been ringing almost non-stop.”
Sam’s brow furrowed. “What? I haven’t heard it.”
“It’s in your room. I heard it ringing before I came out here.” Connor grinned at Sam in a teasing manner. “It’s probably Jessica.”
“Shut up,” he mumbled, embarrassed.
From the moment Sam introduced Jess to Connor and his friend saw the two of them together, he noticed the looks Sam sent Jess, which he described as a forlorn puppy dog gaze. The teasing still hadn’t stopped months later.
“Dude, when are you going to ask her out?” Connor groaned. “You like her; she likes you. What’s holding you back?”
Sam didn’t answer, but he knew his reply. Getting close to him meant her life would be in danger when the supernatural came knocking. Even though he’d been monster-free for nearly a year, there was still the knowledge in the back of his mind that they could appear at any moment. A frown crossed his face.
Connor shook his head. “Screw this,” he said, standing and quickly pulling off his t-shirt. Sam looked up at him, confused, until Connor started running for the pool. He barely had time to stuff his book underneath a towel before Connor’s cannonball caused a huge wave of water to wash over him.
With a laugh, he pulled off his own t-shirt and started toward the pool, pushing all things supernatural from his mind.…………………………
His time at Connor’s quickly came to an end. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Reilly asked him to stay a while, Sam knew that he would need more money soon and decided to get back to work in Palo Alto. The second year of his college life was coming up quick. Since things with Brady hadn’t been terrible, all girl issues aside, Sam agreed that they could apply to be roommates again and opt for the same Hall. It saved him from a new roommate who could be completely off the wall.
When he moved back into Donner Hall in mid-August, it was like nothing had changed. Sam discovered that the first year was a walk in the park compared to the second one, but he was determined to continue to make good grades. So far, this life he had was good for him. He had a nice roommate who kept the partying to a minimum when Sam really needed to study, a close group of friends, and no demons or ghosts of any kind haunted him.
He walked to his first class a bit bleary-eyed thanks to nervousness over his classes, which was why he nearly fell over when Connor knocked into him from behind.
“Are you dead on your feet or something?” Connor asked with a laugh. “Usually I can never get the drop on you.”
“First day jitters,” he said as an excuse. “It’s crazy to think I made it through a year of college. I keep thinking the second year is going to be so much worse and I’m going to fall apart.”
Connor gave him a strange look. “Wow, you’re really a ‘glass is always going to be half-empty’ kind of guy, aren’t you?”
Sam forced a laugh. “Past precedent.”
He rolled his eyes. “Well, let’s get you into the ‘glass half-full’ mindset.” When Sam sent Connor a questioning glance, Connor grinned impishly. “Talked to Jess recently?”
“Connor,” Sam replied with a groan. “Let me catch some air this semester, okay? We’re kind of gearing up to go to law school, and I need to stay focused.”
He shrugged. “Whatever. I think you’re perfect for each other and you need a break in your studying time. That’s why we’re all going out this weekend.”
Sam stopped walking in the middle of the sidewalk and Connor took a few more steps before he realized his friend was not next to him.
“What did you do?”
Connor grinned and grabbed Sam’s arm, dragging him forward. “I texted Jess and told her we should do a group dinner. She and Becky are rooming together again. Becky said Zach is going to come and bring his new roommate, Luis. You can bring Brady, even.”
Sam looked at Connor suspiciously. “You think Brady is a rich playboy who is throwing away his parents’ hard earned money and belongs in a booze-filled frat.”
“I was just mad after the whole Becky thing.”
Connor’s relationship with Becky hadn’t lasted more than a month and a half but they were still good friends. Sam hated to admit it, but he was glad for the split because things between him and Brady became less tense, although when Connor came around, Brady still acted like a colossal dick. Once, he even refused to let Connor in the room when Sam wasn’t there. Brady was jealous about the most stupid things, including the fact that he was the reason Sam knew Jess in the first place. Sam didn’t know why Brady kept bringing it up, because it not only made him sound like a child, but also highlighted the fact that Sam had done nothing to further his relationship with her.
For a while, he tossed around the idea of asking Jess on a date, but every time he came close, he always chickened out, knowing that his old life could come up and bite him in the ass. It was a lame excuse, but one he held on to fiercely so the guilt of his own cowardice didn’t overcome him.
Unfortunately, something normal ruined his life first.
Brady returned from Thanksgiving break distracted and even more dick-like than usual. He was sleeping more, considerably irritable, had more severe mood swings than a girl, and his eyes were bloodshot. His bad attitude expanded past Connor and onto everyone he came in contact with.
Sam wasn’t stupid. He knew the telltale signs of drug abuse. A nice university like Stanford wasn’t completely exempt from the druggies and alcohol-funneling students. It explained the crazy behavior his roommate had been having for a while.
One of the things that bothered Sam was the fact that Brady always claimed to be above drugs. Most students tried to justify it by saying it helped them relax before a big exam, or they needed the drugs to help them stay up to study since Red Bull and coffee no longer helped.
Two weeks after Sam began to suspect Brady was on a downward spiral, Brady surprised him and all their friends by dropping out of school. Sam thought the way he let everyone know was pretty crappy, too. Sam came in from his British Literature class to find most of Brady’s side of the room boxed up. He stood in the doorway, blinking in surprise.
“Brady, what are you doing?”
“Oh come on, Sam” Brady said harshly. “I’m not cut out for this.”
“For school?” Sam asked slowly, coming into the room more. “You’re halfway through your pre-med degree. You’ve been doing fine.” His expression hardened. “It’s the drugs, isn’t it?”
Brady froze, and Sam sighed. “The drugs?” Brady asked cautiously.
“It’s obvious. Let me help you, man. You can beat this. Take next semester off and come back strong next year.”
Brady shook his head and continued to pack up his things. Sam looked over all of the boxes and knew that Brady must have began the moment Sam left for his classes knowing that he wouldn’t be back until the end of the day. “Please, Brady. Let me help you.”
Sam put his hand on Brady’s shoulder, but the other man flinched and shrugged it off like he’d been burned. “No, Sam. I’ve already made my decision. Now just leave and let me finish. I’ll be gone in a few hours. You and your buddy, Connor,” he spat, “can continue on like I’m not even here. Be careful, though. He might steal Jess away like he did Becky.”
He tried to plead with Brady more, but his words had no effect. He felt completely useless sitting in the room, watching his roommate for a year and a half pack up his things and leave, but didn’t want to help either. With a sigh, he grabbed his things and left the room. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed Connor’s number.
“Connor, it’s Sam.” He paused, not knowing what to say now that he had Connor on the phone. “Brady’s leaving.”
“What?” Connor asked after a large pause. “You mean like, leaving your room or leaving the University?”
“Both,” he replied. “He’s packing up his stuff and withdrawing from classes.”
Sam heard Connor sigh. “What brought this on?”
He was hesitant to tell Connor about the drugs, but there was no sense in worrying in it now. “He’s been into drugs, Connor. All the signs are there, and when I confronted him about it, he didn’t deny it. Think about it; it explains his behavior recently.”
“Sam, you’re going to be a lawyer. Just because he didn’t deny it doesn’t mean it’s true. He’s been a prick for quite a while.”
Sam kicked at some dirt on the sidewalk. “Connor, stop being a lawyer and be a friend right now. Brady’s been doing drugs and now he’s throwing his life away! Just because you two had issues doesn’t mean you should be so childish.” He stopped walking, wincing as he replayed his words in his head. “I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.”
“Yeah, just a bit,” Connor said, his voice clipped.
“It’s just…” Sam trailed off. “Brady is throwing away this awesome opportunity. It’s stupid and pointless. I know I haven’t really been there for him, but I still want to do something.”
It was different for Connor, who came from a wealthy family from Pasadena and was given everything he ever wanted. It didn’t help that Connor and Brady got on like oil and water.
“Sam?” Connor asked. “You there?”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“You said that Brady has been acting strangely anyway, and has basically been a dick. This is his choice and he’s a grown-up. Hopefully he can realize what he’s doing wrong before it gets too bad.”
Sam nodded to himself. “Yeah, I guess so. I just wish it didn’t happen like this.”
“I know. I’ve got class in ten minutes, but if you want, you can swing by and get my key and hang out in my place until Brady clears out.”
He sighed in relief. Sam didn’t feel like going to the library and Connor’s room was familiar and sure to be quiet. “Thanks, Connor. I’ll be by in a bit.”
“See you then.”
Sam hung up and stared at his phone a few moments before the screen went dark. Up until this moment, his college career had been relatively excellent. This was the first serious stumble. Shaking his head, he walked in the direction of Connor’s next class. …………………………
“He quit? Just like that?” Becky asked in shock.
The entire group was gathered around what had become their table at the bar off campus. Sam finished telling them the story of Brady’s dropping out and subsequent moving out. All of them, except Connor, were just as shocked as Sam had been when it first happened.
“Just like that,” he confirmed. “I walked in on him about three quarters through packing, and ever since he left, I haven’t heard a word from him. I tried calling his parent’s house, but no one answered.”
Becky was taking the news the hardest. Even though they quit dating and she moved on to other guys, they still talked. Jess sent a sorrowful look at Sam. “Do you know why?”
Sam froze, unwilling to tell them about the drugs. Becky looked at him. “You do, don’t you? Sam, what is it? He’s our friend, too.”
“Drugs,” he said hastily. “I think he’s on drugs. All the signs were there, and when I asked him about it, he just changed the subject.”
Someone started rubbing his back and Sam looked over at Jess in shock. She gave him a sad smile. “It’s not your fault, Sam. I know you’re thinking it, but he’s a big boy. He’s an adult capable of making his own decisions, no matter how bad they may be.”
He looked over at Connor, who shrugged. As one of his closest friends, Connor always told him the truth, even when he didn’t want to hear it, and this time was no different. “She’s right, Sam. He made his bed. Let him lie in it.”
“Speaking of beds,” Luis said with fake casualness, “I guess this means one-half of your room is vacant.”
Sam glared at him. Luis was the newest member to their group of friends, but his easy going nature made it easy to accept him. That didn’t mean Sam wanted to live with him. It would be nice to be alone for at least the rest of the semester, however short it was.
“I don’t think so. I do most of my studying in my room and I need quiet. Don’t think I haven’t heard about how loudly you play your music during all hours.”
“Worth a shot,” Luis replied with an easy grin and Sam shook his head, his thoughts turning back to Brady.
Jess nudged him. “Sam, I know he was your friend, but you did what you could. Maybe he’ll come back around.”
Sam shrugged and looked up at Connor, who quickly changed the subject. Zach had an arm around his sister, who looked close to tears.
Perhaps Jess and Connor were right. Brady made his decision and there was nothing Sam could do just yet. He pushed all thoughts of Brady from his mind and chuckled at a joke Luis told, taking one last look at Jess. She caught him peeking and grinned before turning her attention back to the group. There was no guarantee she was going to be around forever either; the thought made Sam begin planning. If she was still at Stanford come January, he would ask her on a date and see where it took them.