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Mainstay: Palo Alto

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The Stanford library has a surprisingly large and respectable section about the occult. Sam avoids it for almost three weeks after he first makes this disturbing discovery two months into becoming his own man.

Then the girl who lives a few doors down his floor mentions a surge of rattling noises she can’t explain. After placing a strategic and well-hidden layer of salt all across her room while she is out, Sam concludes that the best way to prevent supernatural occurrences from disrupting his new life is to be as prepared as he can.

* *

The first time he calls Dean, he hesitates for almost an hour before he actually pushes the button on his phone, but in the end his conviction of having found a better way of dealing with water sprites wins out. Dean is the one who's out there. Dean needs to know.

“Hey, man, where are you?” he asks, and the surprise and the relief and the sheer joy at being remembered that reach his ear all the way from Gainesville, Oklahoma are worth all the nerves.

* *

“Do you have a safe spell one could use to track people,” Sam asks Bobby when he fails to find what he needs in all the books nearby. Bobby does, even if it takes a lot of coaxing before the old grouch agrees to send his notes on it to Sam.

“It’s almost as if the pin moves on its own!” Zach exclaims over the large map of the U.S. that has appeared in Sam’s tiny kitchen, but none of the other students believe him.

* *

“Dad wants to know who my new contact is,” Dean tells him the next time he calls from the road. “I told him you were a tiny chick with great legs and a pair of Hunters for grandparents.”

The casual way Dean calls him up at least once a week is almost worth the bone-deep certainty that he will never speak to his father again. It more than makes up for the insane hours Sam is pulling.

* *

“It’s a three-men job, isn’t it,” Sam determines after a five-minute ramble about how there are at least twelve unrestful spirits in this recent town.

“It’s a three-men job,” Dean agrees, and the following silence is telling in just how well they both know that John Winchester is far too much at odds with the rest of the world to call anyone in. He might have asked Bill Harvelle, but Bill Harvelle is dead.

“Wait for me,” Sam decides after a long pause. “I’m not losing you because of him,” and disconnects before Dean can say anything in their father’s defense.

* *

“Great job waiting,” he huffs when he lowers his shotgun and holds out a hand to haul his brother up.

Sam stands guard while Dean opens the last of the graves and sets the bones on fire. He doesn’t spare a look at his father, who is slowly coming around from getting knocked out and leaving Dean to field six vengeful ghosts all on his own.

* *

There is a marker each for Caleb, Bobby, Pastor Jim and Ellen Harvelle on Sam’s map by the time he starts his second year at Stanford. The last three don’t move around much, but the one time Ellen calls because Pastor Jim is out of reach, Sam feels all the better for locating his in bright blue.

Around Thanksgiving Caleb warns him, "I gave your number to the Chicezies. Isaac and Tamara - couple of newbies I met in Oregon. Pretty sure they have what it takes, but they could use some supervision."

* *

The day before Sam goes on his first date with Jess he returns home to the sight of the Impala in his street and a lone Dean on his doorstep. "Think you can add another pin?" his brother asks, trying to sound unconcerned and failing by a mile.

"Of course," Sam says and wishes he could be surprised.