Sam was 12 when he ran away in Flagstaff. It was the first time he'd been alone, and it felt good to have that freedom.
He remembers finding an abandoned cottage on one of the backroads and taking up residence there. The place was stocked, and what little he had in money he made up in knowing how to con.
He found Bones, an energetic golden retriever, on a Wednesday morning, his second away from home.
It was one of the best things to happen to him in a long time, and he was overjoyed to have a pet to call his own. Bones was just what he needed, a faithful companion in his time away from home.
He spent most days lounging, finally free from a hunter's regime. It was the best two weeks of his life, but it had little to do with his newly achieved normality. Yes, he had a dog he could call his own, and yes he was free to live off of Mr. Pibb and Funyuns, but that paled in comparison to what really made those two weeks memorable.
When Sam was 12, a blue police box appeared on the driveway one Thursday, and he met a strange man sporting a bowtie.
He called himself The Doctor; just The Doctor.
Sam recalls tales of far away worlds with thousands upon thousands of different life forms.
"There's entire universes out there, just waiting to be explored."
Sam nods, eager to see it with his own eyes.
"Not yet," The Doctor whispers,"but soon."
Sam frowns, but he understands. Time's a bit funny, but he's willing to wait if it means an opportunity down the road.
The Doctor leaves on a Friday morning as the sun is coming up in the east.
Dean finds Sam on a Saturday afternoon, he's angry and worried, so Sam Leaves out his meeting with The Doctor, and how one day he'll get his chance to travel to universes just beyond the stars.
Sam leaves for Standford at 18, he takes a bus after a fight with his dad. He longs to see that familiar blue box coming to take him away. It never shows.
He meets Jess at Standford, and memories of bowties and time travel slowly drift to the back of his mind. He feels free once more and normal is more than just a word in the dictionary, it's an actual possibility now.
The Halloween of 2005 changes everything.
Sam is 22 when Dean shows up in his apartment asking him for help.
"Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been back in a couple of days."
He's back in the life just like that.
Jess dies, the same way mom had 23 years ago, and Sam knows normal will only be a word for him.
He tries to hold on to the image of an "Apple pie" life, but that thought quickly dissolves when he dies in his brother's arms in some ghostown, a knife in his back.
He doesn't stay dead long, seems Winchesters have a penchant for making deals with demons.
Dean sells his soul to bring him back, he gets a year.
Sam wakes up starving, but it isn't until Bobby stares at him like he's looking at a ghost, that he knows what Dean's done.
By that time, thoughts of a house of his own with a wife and family quickly fly out the window. They've got a year to save Dean, and white picket fences hardly seem worthwhile anymore.
Sam hates this year, it only seems to get worse as the months fly by. Between Bela's schemes and the 100 Tuesdays he suffered at the hands of The Trickster, Sam's beginning to think that normal was a word invented to tease him.
Dean dies in Sam's arms on his birthday, it's the single worst present he's ever gotten.
He buries him on a Monday, unable to burn the body.
He takes the Impala and hits the road. He has to keep moving, keep hunting, its the only way to honor his brother.
A month later finds him In Indiana, at some seedy motel.
Sam is 24 when he hears the familiar whirring coming from the parking lot. He runs outside barefoot just barely remembering to shut the door behind him as he takes off towards the sound, tugging on his shirt as he runs.
He stops running when he reaches the parking lot edge in time to stare with wide eyes as the blue box materializes before him. His breath hitches when he hears a low click as the door slowly opens outwards.
There's now a stenson in place, but the bowtie remains and Sam feels himself grin for the first time in ages.
"Samuel Winchester, my how you've grown."
Sam ducks his head shyly feeling like that gangly 12 year old once more, "it's good to see you Doctor."
Tales of space and time travel bubble to the surface of Sam's mind, and when The Doctor extends his hand, Sam doesn't hesitate.
He takes the proffered hand and realizes that he's never really cared for the word normal; it's far too boring and shortsighted.