All his life, Sam Winchester was watched over by his father and older brother. Ever since his mother had been killed in the ceiling fire, he’d been trained to protect himself and taught that above all else you look out for family. His father lived to avenger their mother, and to teach his sons to protect each other and the rest of the world from the things that lurked in the dark.
And yet that vengeance was why he currently found himself chained to a tree. So much for ‘family comes first’.
“Dad, please don’t do this. There has to be another way!” Sammy begged, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes as he watched his father turn away from him ignoring his pleas. He knew if Dean were here, he wouldn’t let this happen. No matter how obedient he was to their father, he’d been taking care of Sam since he was child so much that it had become second nature to think of his safety first. No wonder Dad had insisted on leaving him back at the motel. “Please don’t do this!”
“Stop wailing before someone hears you and comes looking. What a load of unnecessary trouble that would be.” John grumbled, Sam wincing at the hard edge in his father’s voice. Sure, he’d never thought his Dad was the cuddly type, but this? This was cold even for him. Sam opened his mouth to start guilting him again, hoping it would wear his father down so that he might let him go, but John anticipated it. Pulling a bandana out of his pocket he gagged his son with it, tying the ends behind his head. “This is the way things have to be son. One day, maybe you’ll understand that.”
Sam looked up at his father with wide, sad eyes.
“Don’t look at me like I’m the bad guy here, you don’t understand.” John said gruffly, his voice clearly conflicted. Looking away from his son he sighed, running a hand through his hair. “You don’t understand Sammy. Ever since your mother died… things have been hard. I’m getting tired, and I don’t know how much more I can do this. I made a deal to get ahold of something that can help us, that can end this. Something that can help me avenge your mother.”
“And in return you promised me one of your sons.”
Sam stiffened, jerking his head from side to side trying to see around his father. John stepped back, shielding his son even father from view. If he’d been able to speak without being choked on fear and his father’s bandana, Sam would have pointed out his father’s hypocrisy in his sudden concern.
Once again, Sam wished his brother was there to save him.
“Look, no point in hiding him now. You made a deal. If you want the Colt to avenge your wife’s death, then give me the son you promised me and go.” John hesitated at the man’s words, but ultimately moved out of the way. Sam watched warily as the other man step forward, the shadows and his hat blocking his face from view. Reaching into his coat pocket he drew out a gun wrapped in a cloth, holding it out for John to take. “Remember, by taking this you’re giving up your right to your son. And no thinking about trying to gun me down with this as soon as I give it to you either – like I said before, I’m one of the few things this can’t kill. If you’re still alright with this arrangement, then take it.”
When his father turned away to look down at him, Sam was sure that he would turn the offer down, that he’d seen how terrible the deal really was. Reaching out John ruffled his son’s hair gently, a sad smile on his face. Sam had always believed the best of his father, even when Dean didn’t. His father might have missed a few Christmases, many even a few birthdays or forgotten a few
And then he turned and took the gun. As the chains fell away from around him, Sam briefly considered running to his father, but knew it wouldn’t matter – he’d already been left behind, and his father was never going to try and keep him safe again. The last glance Sam got of his father before the strange grabbed his arm and teleported them away was of his father lovingly touching the barrel of the gun he’d just bought with his younger son’s freedom.
They’d barely rematerialized in a new location in doors before Sam, exhausted and emotionally bereft, slipped unconscious.
Still groggy, Sam rolled over in the bed confused to find it so empty. Usually he woke up first and got the coffee going so that it’d be ready with Dean finally rolled out of bed. Opening his eyes, Sam glanced around. It only took him about three seconds to realize he wasn’t in the motel.
And to remember that his father had sold him for a gun.
Sitting up he pulled his knees up to his chest, trying to fight back tears. He was rather gangly and gawky for a sixteen year old boy, and already as tall if not taller than his older brother. Looking at the mirror over the dresser on the wall across from the foot of the bed, he was surprised at how childish and small he looked in the huge bed, practically swimming in the large pajamas he had no memory of putting on.
“Oh, you’re finally awake.”
Sam swallowed against the fear in his stomach as he looked up at the stranger leaning against the doorframe watching him.
“Before you ask, no, I didn’t change you.” The strange smiled, snapping his fingers. When Sam looked down, it was to find himself in the same clothes he’d been wearing the day before. “I’m not some pervert, I promise.”
“Then why did you ask for me in return for that gun?” Sam asked, fiddling with the edge of his jacket. The stranger had the decency to look affronted, pulling a sucker out of his jacket pocket. Sam watched him unwrap it, a bit surprised when he popped it into his mouth.
“I didn’t.” Sighing he strode into the room. He was careful to keep his distance, something Sam was very grateful of. Sammy watched suspiciously as he dropped into the chair by the window, not trusting him for a second. He’d just been sold out by his father, he knew that, but that didn’t mean he had to trust this person’s story. “When your father found me looking for the Colt, he asked what I would trade for it. I told him that other than a constant companion, I had everything I could ever want. So he offered to give me one of his sons in return.”
“That… actually sounds like something Dad would do, if it meant avenging Mom.” Sam said. Looking down at his knees he took a deep breath, afraid to ask the question burning into his brain but needing to know the answer. “Can that gun actually kill the demon that killed my Mom?”
“Yes. One bullet to the chest or head, and Azazel will die.” He said mater of factly, a small smile on his face. “Does that actually change how you feel about this situation?”
“Mostly just curious, but… I guess it does, a little. At least Dad might finally find peace. I just wish he’d found a way to do it without selling me off in the process.” Sam said honestly, a little surprised to see the amused look on the other man’s face. “I’m still not sure you aren’t a perv though. I mean, you did receive a teenager in a trade.”
“Yes, but I didn’t ask for you specifically if that makes you feel any better.” He grinned, licking his sucker.
“True, but you didn’t turn down his offer either.” Sam countered, smiling despite himself.
“I guess you’ve got me there Sammy.” He said, raising an eyebrow when the teenager frowned. “Family nickname huh? I’ll stick to something else then, if it would make you more comfortable.”
“I’d appreciate that.” Sam said, tossing his bangs out of his eyes. “So… I guess I live here now, right?”
“That’s the general idea, yeah. I got this room ready for you after I talked to your Dad, but I didn’t know what you’d want so I just left it white for now.” He said softly, standing to leave. As he strode over to the door, Sam noticed something he wasn’t sure he believed: that this man felt just as awkward about the whole situation as he did. He might have said he wanted a companion, but clearly he was just as thrown by the whole situation as he was. Sam wasn’t sure why, but it made him feel a little better. Maybe this guy was telling him the truth after all – not that he was going to just up and believe him without proof. That sort of trust would take time. “I’m sure you’ve got a lot to think about, so I’ll leave you be for now. If you get hungry the kitchen is just down the hall, and if you have any questions for me or need anything I’ll be in my office two doors down from here.”
“Can you at least tell me your name?” Sam asked. The stranger turned, tucking his hair behind his ears as he smiled.
“It’s Gabriel, but you can call me Gabe.”