Category: Gen, pre-series, (could be seen as Sam/Dean, but I didn't intend it that way).
A/N: This isn't as good as I would like it, I might do a do-over on it someday, but in the meantime I figured I would post what I have. Please note that I use the word "awesome" in here in it's more traditional definition. Also, I appear to still be cheesy.
A/N2: Title is taken from a Hawksley Workman song of the same name.
Summary: When Sam went to Stanford, he brought three pictures of his family.
When Sam went to Stanford, he brought three pictures of his family. One framed - a white house, a mother, a smiling father, an innocent older brother, and a happy newborn baby. He sat it on his bedside table in his dorm and he sat it on top of his dresser, when he moved in with Jess. Normal people had framed pictures of their family. It was all part of the lie.
The second picture he kept in his school bag. He only brought it out a few times, when he thought that maybe if he gave just a little bit more information about his family, whoever he was talking to would stop asking him questions. Usually, it was only shown when someone made the comment "How come the picture of your family is so out of date..."
Sam couldn't really explain that it's because after that they rarely had cameras. Instead he would say, "That's the last picture with my mom, she died a few weeks later" and that, most of the time, would shut them up, but then Sam would feel bad for causing them to give him that look, Sam hated that look. So he would say "hold on..." and pull out the second picture, with it's slightly bent corners, and worn edges.
He'd hand it over to them and say "That's a more up-to-date photo of my family. That's my older brother Dean and my Dad, just a few years back."
The picture had been taken when Sam was sixteen and Dean was twenty. They had been staying with Caleb while Dad and Dean hunted something in the area and Sam went to school. When the Hunt was over, Caleb had taken them all to a local dive to celebrate. Caleb was the one with the camera. Sam always privately thought that no Winchester would ever want to document their life. They had always been taught to leave behind as little evidence as possible that they had even been there.
Sam wasn't in the picture. He was thankful for that when he showed it to his friends. At the time the picture was taken he had been over at the pool table, hustling some poor bastard - no one ever suspects the skinny under-aged kid. So the picture just had Dad and Dean, posed leaning up against the bar - Dad with his arm around Dean's shoulders, giving a small proud grin; Dean with a broad smile, that probably had to do with the fact that Dad had an arm around his shoulders.
They looked happy.
And that picture pacified people. Inevitably, they would make a remark about Dean's looks, the girls especially. "Wow, your brother is hot." Even one of his guy friends had said, "Huh, your brother can't have much trouble with the ladies looking like that." And Sam would roll his eyes, and give them a dull "yeah" in response, and then slip the picture back away. When he had shown the picture to Jess, she had said "Your brother's beautiful," and then added, "almost as handsome as you", when she realized she had spoken out loud.
Sam didn't mind, of course. The girls had always gone for Dean's looks. He knew Dean was attractive. It didn't matter that Sam always thought that Dean's smile looked more goofy than charming, more sleazy then seductive.
But Sam knew that Dean was beautiful. He had the third picture to prove that. The picture that he never showed anyone. Sam would take the picture out only sometimes - Christmas, Jess's birthday (just Jess's birthday, no one else's), his own birthday - Sam would take the picture out and run his fingers gently over the edges.
It was taken a half minute after the other one, at an odd angle, as though Caleb had accidentally pressed the shutter again as he was putting the camera down. Dean and John had fallen out of their pose, and were both glancing off to the right, reacting to something that was happening out of frame. Sam knew what it was. Sam knew that he had just been punched in the face by a very large, very pissed off, biker, who had just been hustled out of a fair bit of money.
Dad had that expression on his face that Sam could never quite interpret. Grim, he supposed. The expression he wore when Hunting, when Sam spoke back to him, and when Sam had just done something very stupid. Sam had just angered someone twice his size, inadvertently starting a bar-fight that would inevitably get them all kicked out of the bar with even more bruises than the hunt had left them with - So yeah, maybe Sam had done something stupid; but that didn't make the expression any easier to take. This was the father Sam remembered.
It was Dean though, that held Sam's focus in the picture. Dean who had gone from goofy playfulness to hard-edged and dangerous in the few seconds between the two pictures. Dean with his jaw tight, his goofy smile replaced with a hard line, his eyes intent, focused, dangerous, and angry. This was Sam's family.
As much as Sam remembers Dean's goofy smiles, he also remembers this Dean. The Dean that is all power and precision, expertly trained and deadly. He can remember looking up from the barroom floor, trying to stifle a nose bleed, and seeing this Dean growl as he punched the guy who had punched Sam. He remembers how Dean glared, as though the guy was the worst kind of evil. Whereas Dad seemed to always be angry, Dean rarely ever got truly angry, but when he did, it was an awesome thing. Sam remembers the sounds of the punches, the broken pool cues, the scrambling and scraping of chairs as the place erupted. He remembers how Dean took on the biker and his three friends himself. He remembers the sound of bodies hitting the floor. He remembers the even tone of his Dad's voice saying "Dean, that's enough."
And then he remembers walking to the car afterward, Dean getting blood on the money while he counted. He remembers Dean giving him a goofy smile with bloody lips and saying "$500, Sammy? Nice!" He remembers Dad's angry voice saying "Next time, know when to quit," and he remembers Dean winking at him when Dad's back was turned, and knowing that Dean wasn't angry at all, just proud, and that Dean would defend him against anyone even if Sam had just done something very stupid.
And Sam thinks, "yes, Dean is beautiful."