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On Cat’s Feet

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Sam was such a big guy: tall, broad-shouldered, strong. How he managed to keep sneaking up on her unnoticed was beyond Jess. Even after they moved into that rickety old apartment filled with groaning floors and squeaking doors, he astonished her time and again, materializing where he was least expected. She wished she knew how he did it.

At first, she thought his furtiveness cute, and relished how he could appear as if out of thin air. Like when she would turn away from the stove and find him filling the doorway, sweaty from his morning run, leaning a shoulder against the jamb and watching her with hooded eyes, a half-smile dimpling his cheeks in a way that made heat pool in her belly. Or on those days that she spent hours on the laptop, until her shoulders froze up and she could only hang her head in agony, and she'd suddenly feel those long, limber fingers on her neck to knead the stiffness from her muscles.

Still, over time it started to get on her nerves. He overheard her talking on the phone with her best friend Tanya, discussing Sam's strange reluctance to speak about his family, and she never knew he was there until he wandered into her line of sight. That had been embarrassing, and more than a little shameful. And it wasn't as if she made a habit of airing their dirty laundry—except the holidays were approaching, and, well, that was the time for family, wasn't it? Not that Sam had seemed too upset: just lifted a brow when she'd flushed and yelped into the phone that she had to go now, and he'd never mentioned that conversation again. They'd spent that Christmas with a couple of friends from Stanford.

But when he emerged in the bathroom doorway just after she'd peed on a stick and was waiting with hammering heart and dry throat for the results, she'd lost it: the tension of being late finding release in sudden panicked tears and screaming at him to give her some goddamn privacy and stop creeping around the house like a freaky pervert.

Sam had stared at her wide-eyed and pale, more startled than alarmed at her outburst. He'd mumbled a "sorry", looking unsure as to what he had to be sorry about, and walked back out, closing the door behind him.

She'd ended up with a single line on the stick and hating herself for blowing up at him like that.

It wasn't like he was doing it on purpose.

However, after that, he somehow always managed to step on those floorboards that creaked the loudest: the ones right behind the front door, and in the kitchen beside the table, and next to the bathroom. She knew he was putting weight on them, deliberately making them creak, because of her. And part of her felt guilty for making him change. Another, bigger part loved him all the more for it.

Then Dean had showed up. Snuck into the house in the middle of the night like a professional burglar. And she'd realized stealth ran in the family: the thumps and bangs that accompanied the brothers' reunion had woken her only long after Sam had slipped from the bed and tiptoed off to investigate.

Sam had left with Dean shortly after. To find their father, he'd said, assuring her everything would be okay and he'd be back in time for his interview on Monday. But that weekend, used as she was to Sam's surreptitiousness, the house seemed all the more silent for his absence.

When Sunday night finally rolled around and Jess sensed more than heard that she was no longer alone, she didn't worry; she simply pricked up her ears to listen for the floorboards. She'd baked chocolate chip cookies and left them clearly visible on the table in the kitchen; Sam was bound to snatch one. Jess smiled: she'd know when he did; she'd hear him.

But the expected creak never came.

And Jess never did learn why stealth came so naturally to tall, broad-shouldered Sam Winchester.

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