The first laptop started out being more about practicality
than anything else. They had just returned to the bunker for the first time
after- Well, just after. Cas was
gone, and Jack was here, and Jack deserved some way to entertain himself, for
those times outside of training, because expecting him to just sit in silence
all the time would have just been cruel. It wasn’t until he told the kid that
the laptop had originally been Castiel’s that he truly understood the precise
nature of the task he had undertaken.
Because, where Sam had just seen a painful reminder of a
lost friend, Jack had seen a single, tenuous link to the father his mother had
chosen for him. A memento of a father he would never have an opportunity to
know. And the look on that young face- so young yet already so familiar with
the dark taint of a Hunter’s world- had been more than enough for Sam to just know.
Jack was his to
protect now. Not just for Castiel. Or for Mom. Or for the safety of the world.
But because Jack deserved better.
Because Jack deserved a family.
That was then. And this was now. And now Castiel was back. Jack had his father. They had each other. And
Sam, while happy, couldn’t quite banish the bitter feeling in the depths of his
chest. The slow, sinking sensation of dread. The tiny voice whispering in his
mind, reminding him over and over that Jack
didn’t need him anymore.
And that? That hurt.
Despite his better judgement. Despite his own joy over Cas’
return. Despite his happiness on both Jack’s and Cas’ behalves. It still hurt.
To think that this one connection he
had somehow come to cherish so much was suddenly going to be gone.
So call it stupid, or call it sentimentality, but for some
reason or other… he wanted to give Jack something to remember him by.
…Which was why he found himself, shortly after checking in,
excusing himself from the hotel (under the pretext of checking out the
neighbourhood), trekking over to the city’s Sears and immersing himself in the computer
section. Less than thirty minutes later (because he knew computers, and he also
knew he hated browsing for long periods of time) he left the store again, brand
new laptop firmly in his possession.
He didn’t reveal it to anyone when he got back, though,
choosing instead to tuck it safely into his duffel for now. When they finished
the case, he could present it to Jack as a sign of congratulations, and then
they could all move on with their lives. Cas and Jack would likely head off to
do their own stuff, and Dean would feel better now that the “Anti-Christ” (a
term he still insisted on using even
though he knew it was inaccurate) was
out of their hands, and Sam… well, Sam would just have to forget how it had
felt to have a (kind of) son of his own.
They would move on. And he would make do. That was the plan.
And, in the meantime, if he got the chance to arrange the partnerships so he
got to spend just a little time around Jack alone, to reassure himself that the
kid would be okay? Well, then, he would take that chance gladly.
And, for a short time, things went well. Relatively
…And then Jack tried to help, and the guard stepped out at
just the wrong moment, and suddenly Sam’s own feelings didn’t seem all that
And he tried. Both he and
Cas. They tried in the car. They tried again
when they reached the Bunker. But it was too soon, and Jack wasn’t ready to
hear it, so they sat instead where they knew Jack would be able to see them- to
reach out to them- at any time, and
waited for the moment when Jack (when his
son, that traitorous voice still whispered) was ready to hear that he wasn’t a monster. That a mistake didn’t mean he was evil.
…They forgot to take into account that Jack could fly.
The first night was the hardest. That’s what he’d always
What a load of crap.
Because the pain and the worry? They didn’t fade or go away.
They just got worse. Cas left, deciding that doing something was better than just sitting around feeling useless. And
Sam? Sam did what he did best. He researched. He searched online. He used every
virtual tracking method he could think of.
And still nothing.
And it felt, especially after Mom, kind of like it did
whenever Dean died- like some part of him had been ripped away, and like he
could never breathe quite right, and
like the entire world was just that tiniest bit dimmer in the weight of what he
had lost. The only positive thing was that Dean (while his reasons were
different) also thought Jack needed to be found and, as such, never questioned
Sam about either his motives or his urgency outside of merely saying that he
should “at least take a break while we’re on a damn Hunt, Sammy. Geez, you’d
think you were actually worried about
the kid or something. You forgetting that he can’t even be hurt?”
Sam didn’t bother to remind him that lasting injuries weren’t
the only indicator of pain.
He also didn’t bother to tell him that ‘worried’ didn’t even come close.
It wasn’t until they returned from their third Hunt (a
simple salt-n-burn in Western Colorado Dean had kind of enjoyed because the
widower had practically plied them with home-made pies in gratitude) that Sam
even thought about the laptop again.
But he needed a change of clothes (because he’d been kind of remiss on the
laundry front lately) and, while digging around, his fingers pressed against
the cool, hard plastic.
He couldn’t think of the last time he’d been so close to
breaking over someone who was still (because Jack was- he had to be) still
In somewhat of a daze, Sam moved the couple of steps over to
his desk, setting the laptop down almost on autopilot and opening it up,
logging in to the as yet un-password-protected main account. Before he even
really knew what he was doing, an empty document was open on the screen, and
his fingers were dancing their way back and forth across the keyboard.
typed, ‘I don’t know if you’ll ever read
this- or even why I’m doing it, really. But video messages are your mother’s
legacy, and I don’t want to intrude on that. Well, that and Dean would probably
take the piss out of me for weeks if
he ever found me making one. I just… I miss you, Jack. And I understand why you
left- I really do- but I still wish you were here. I’m looking for you, and so
is Cas, and even Dean’s doing his bit here and there, but in the meantime… just
be safe, Jack. Please.’
After saving it, he closed the laptop again, and that was
Or, at least, it should
have been that.
Instead, the messages became a regular thing. Every day
(sometimes twice a day) he would make a new one- some short, some longer and
more detailed, but always just… honest. Yes. Maybe that was the best word for
‘We got a call from
Cas today. He said he saw someone who was wearing that same jacket you were
when you… left. He knew it wasn’t you, of course, but he said that still didn’t
stop him from going over anyway. Just in case.
…I just realised you
didn’t take any clothes with you. I hope you’ve found somewhere to wash yours,
or maybe a few new sets. Be safe, Jack.’
‘Jack, I’m sorry. That
night you left, I stepped back, and I know what that looked like. But I’m not
scared of you, Jack. I promise. I’ve had a lot of bad experiences over the past
few years, and I don’t always react well to confrontational tones or snapped
words because of it. But it wasn’t because of you or your powers, Jack. I hope
you know that. You are not a monster,
Jack. A couple of mistakes don’t change that, and I’m sorry if I made you think
they did. I’m sorry I didn’t do more to help you understand that.’
‘I nearly stepped on
your pencil earlier. It had fallen on the floor next to your usual chair. I’ve
put it in your room for you- just in case you want it when you get back.’
‘Did I ever tell you
that I tried some tracking spells on you, in those first few days? None of them
worked. I have this theory that it was because you didn’t want to be found, so
your powers protected you. Some of the ingredients are a bit hard to come by,
but I’ve decided I’ll keep trying. At least once a week. That way, when you’re
ready to be around us again, we’ll be able to get to you fairly quickly, even
if something bad has happened to you.’
‘Jack, I told you that
mistakes don’t make you a monster. Perhaps I should have told you why I know that. You see, I’ve probably made
more mistakes- and bigger mistakes-
then you’ll ever be able to make. If
you come back, maybe I’ll be able to tell you about a few of them.’
‘You know what, maybe
I don’t need to wait until we’re face
to face to tell you. So here are just a few of my mistakes:’ (That one was particularly long, spanning five whole
pages. And still he didn’t manage to get past some of the biggest, most obvious
ones. He could only hope that Jack wouldn’t think less of him when he read it.)
‘Wherever you are out
there, Jack, I hope you’re doing alright. Come back whenever you feel ready.’
‘Please be safe.’
And so it continued. Day in, day out. He took to keeping the
laptop in Jack’s room, just on the off-chance Dean wandered into his own
uninvited and happened to get curious (or mischievous) enough to poke around a
Until, three months, fifteen days and eighteen hours after