Title: GraduateAuthor: meimei42Pairing/Character: Sam, Dean, JohnWord Count: 2319Rating: Pg-13 (for some language)Prompt: superficfridays' prompt 15: Sam or Dean’s graduationSummary: Its one of those once in a lifetime kind of days and John isn’t here. Sam isn’t surprised. Spoilers: Set pre-series, so none reallyWarnings: Family angst, some languageDisclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are copyright the CW, Kripke and other people much richer than meAuthor’s Note: Betaed by my buddy starx_sparrow (who rocks). This was written for the LJ comm. Superficfridays. Family angst ensues below.XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX“He’ll be here.”“I don’t know. I don’t know if he even wants to be here.” Sam shook his head.“He promised, and Dad doesn’t break his promises. Not the important ones anyway.” Dean attempted to cover his steadily increasing doubt with a pat on Sam’s shoulder and a reassuring smile.Sam wasn’t buying the smile or the comforting words. He could see through Dean’s bravado, see that his brother was just as uncertain and disappointed as he was. Their father should have been there by now. Of course, the realization his brother could be unsure about something was news to Sam. He had gone so many years relying on his brother’s unwavering strength to get them through their darkest hours that it was only in the last few years that Sam had been able to finally see the pattern. Sometimes Dean was just a scared as he was or just as nervous and in doubt as he was, but he hid it behind his carefully blank expression and that tough guy, I-don’t-need-anyone attitude. Sam was learning that even Dean could be disappointed by their father, and that epiphany had been the shock of Sam’s young life. Someone besides himself had questioned his faith in the John Winchester. “He’s not coming,” Sam sighed, leaning against the brick wall of his high school’s auditorium. It was still pretty cool out for May; the bricks were cold and hard against his back. They scratched his skin, even through the dark blue material of his graduation gown. “He’ll be here,” Dean said again, sounding even more sure of himself this time. Sam knew the more unsure Dean was, the more he tried to convince himself and everyone around him that he wasn’t. And when John Winchester would ultimately disappoint them like he so often did, Dean would make a string of excuses, reasons, and apologies. Sam was sick of his brother doing everything he could to whitewash their father’s mistakes. “And if he’s not?” Sam asked with a shortly.Dean flinched. It was probably only noticeable to Sam, but he saw it, saw the second of fear and realization that flickered and momentarily revealed itself in Dean’s eyes. They both knew their father wasn’t known for remembering the important dates and events in life. Why would this be any different?“Look, I know you’re worried because of the fight you and dad had, Sam, but he said he’d come so he’ll come. He told me last night he’d be here.”“Right,” Sam said in a clipped tone. He looked away from Dean and down towards where all the students were beginning to line up. “You should go sit down, it’s about to start.”“Sam—”“He’s not coming, I get it. I have to go line up now,” Sam said, pushing off from the brick wall he’d been leaning against and heading over to the small gathering of students. Sherry Walker and Mark Brown quickly greeted him in a shared embrace, smiling like it was the best day of their lives. Sam should have been smiling like that too but he just couldn’t muster up the strength. Not now. Not when the inevitable disappointment of the day loomed ahead. He honestly didn’t know why he ever thought his dad might actually make it—might actually want to come to his graduation. John Winchester hadn’t put much stock in school work or grades. Sam wasn’t sure why he’d thought being valedictorian would somehow change that.“Good luck!” he heard Dean call, but Sam didn’t turn to acknowledge it. He wasn’t angry with Dean, but he was angry with the stock Dean put in their father. Just once he wished Dean would admit that their father had failings, that he wasn’t perfect—that their life wasn’t perfect. Maybe that was too much to ask. He’d probably have better luck trying to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.XOXOXOXOXOXOXDespite knowing that his father wouldn’t be there, Sam still found his gaze wandering the sea of people as he took his seat on the stage. A part of him, the little boy who was still four years old, wanted John to be there more than he wanted just about anything else in the world. However, the empty seat next to his brother was what he expected and exactly what he got. Sam squashed the punch of disappointment before it could swell and fester inside him. He expected nothing less from the man; he just had to keep telling himself that.The ceremony was a blur of boring guest speakers and pointless awards. As the valedictorian, he was required to give a speech of his own; one he’d hoped would be more interesting the owner of Towlen Automotive, Bob Towlen's, speech on entrepreneurship and “reaching for the stars." Half the graduating class had fallen asleep during the ten-minute stutter-fest. The speech Sam had written had been one he’d worked hard on and practiced over and over it in the mirror whenever Dean was at the garage and their dad was out hunting. He had wanted it to be perfect, to be exactly what he needed to say. Of course there was something tasteless about the words without having his father there to hear them. The speech was being given to his senior class and all their families, but it had been written for John. A goodbye, a thank you, and a fuck you all rolled into one. “So it is my pleasure to introduce Bakersfield High’s valedictorian, class of 2001, Samuel Winchester.” Vice Principal John Howard’s voice snapped Sam to attention.Sam stood slowly, listening as the applause died down and the crowd grew quiet, ready for his speech. He approached the podium, fingering the folded up piece of paper he had with him. He couldn’t give his speech without John being here. Not when every word of it had been meant for him. That left Sam standing in front of 500 people without a speech or a clue what to do. Fortunately improvisation was something their father had taught them since they were little and he used that skill to his advantage. “I had a speech prepared,” Sam started with a shy smile. “It was a good one too; I spent the last three weeks working on it, perfecting it. It was…exactly what I wanted to say. But that’s not the speech I’m going to give you today because I realized something this morning. Sometimes words aren’t enough. Sometimes you can say things as perfect as you want but that doesn’t necessarily matter. If the person who needs to hear them isn’t there or isn’t listening, your words are just that—words. Empty, meaningless words. "Right now we have our lives being rolled out before us. Some of us will go to college, some of us will start jobs, families, or careers, but all of us have one thing that we need to do in order to accomplish any of that." Sam paused and glanced around at his classmates. He took a breath before going on. "Act. Forget the words, the promises, the speeches. They are meaningless if your actions can’t back them up. If you want something, you do something about it. You act on that want and you go after your dreams, no matter what they are and no matter who tells you no. To be the person you want to be and not the person someone wants you to be, you have to take your life into your own hands and do what’s best for you. Don’t let your life be ruled by meaningless words or empty speeches. When you find what you want, don’t talk about it, go after it. Don’t let someone else’s dreams keep you from accomplishing yours. That’s the best advice I can give you.” Sam paused, his eyes landing on Dean who was sitting perfectly still and perfectly emotionless. “Thank you.”As Sam stepped away from the podium he could hear the audience clapping excitedly. Most of them were probably just glad his speech hadn’t gone on for twenty minutes, but in the crowd he could see a few people beaming at him and Sherry and Mark were standing up and cheering him on. His friends, the only normal thing his had acquired in his abnormal life, were happy for him, they were proud of him. He could see in the way they looked at him with genuine affection, not some façade held up under the pretense of protecting him. He didn’t need or want that anymore. Sam’s eyes moved through the crowd; unconsciously going to what should have been Dean and his father’s seats, only to find them both empty.A lump formed in Sam’s throat as he took a seat and Vice Principal Howard began to talk again. His eyes searched out his brother’s face. He couldn’t find it. The longer he went without seeing him, the more worried he grew. A small part of him wondered if he’d pissed Dean off enough to make him leave, but another part of him, the part of him that he sometimes loathed, wondered if something bad had happened when he hadn’t been watching. An angry spirit or a vengeful demon maybe? There was no telling for sure.If he hadn’t been sitting on the stage in front of his whole graduating class, he might had left to try and find them, but with a thousand eyes on him, he couldn’t just walk away only to find out Dean had just gone to the bathroom or something. So he waited. The graduation dragged on, and every few minutes, Sam’s eyes would go to the empty seats and his stomach would tighten. By the time the ceremony was actually finished, Sam was rushing off stage, cell phone in hand as he dialed his brother's number.“That was fast,” Dean commented as he picked up the phone.“Where are you?” Sam demanded.“Right here,” the voice came over the phone and from behind him, prompting Sam to shut his phone off and turn around, only to be confronted by not just Dean, but his father too.“Where did you go?” Sam asked, though the desperation had left his voice.“We’ve been here, Sam,” Dean replied quickly.“You’ve been here?” Sam questioned skeptically.“We didn’t want to disturb the crowd by trying to take a seat again so we were standing over there,” John stepped in, pointing towards the auditorium side door.At John’s interruption, Sam turned towards him, his eyes landing icily on his father’s. “You were late.”“Yes I was.” John nodded without offering an apology or an excuse.“Did you even hear my speech?” Sam asked."Your speech?” “Yeah, my speech. The one I gave because I was valedictorian. Did you even hear it? Were you even here?” “Hunt went bad, Sam, Dad—“ Dean tried to defend but was quickly cut off.“I don’t care!” Sam snapped. “I don’t care what your reason is. I’ve never asked either of you to come to these school things I did. Never. This was the one and only time, and you can’t even show up on time. This was important to me.”“Important?” John asked. “More important than someone else’s life? More important than a murdering shape-shifter? A kid almost died tonight, Sam. If’s I’d been here, he probably would have.”“Yes, this was more important. You could have sent Bobby or someone else after the thing, but you didn’t. You had to go after it yourself because of this stupid obsession you have with killing anything that is supernatural. Like it’s your life mission or something to be a hero to everyone but your kids,” Sam spat angrily. “There will always be a vengeful spirit or a demon or a murdering shape shifter, but this is the only time I will graduate from high school. You should have been here. You should have found a way.”“I was here,” John snapped.“No you weren’t,” Sam shook his head. “Not when I needed you.”“When you needed me? Since when do you need me, Sam? Seems to me last few years, you didn’t want to have anything to do with this family, and just yesterday you’re telling me you want to run off and go to college somewhere, you wanna be an adult and abandon your family. Yeah, you really sound like you need us.”“Dad—” Dean tried to cut in, but Sam was looking for a fight and now he was getting one.“Because I want to be something more than this, I don’t need my family?” Sam shot back.“That’s not what he’s saying,” Dean attempted. “I told you where I was, Sam. I was saving someone's life. I’m sorry if that interfered with your speech, but somehow I think we’ll all recover.”“You don’t get it,” Sam snapped. “You just don’t fucking get it.”“Watch your mouth.”“No! I’m tired of watching my mouth, of not saying what needs to be said!”“Sam—”“Stop, Dean. Just…stop. I wasn’t bringing college up to piss you off, Dad. I brought it up because I was accepted into Stanford. Stanford—with a full scholarship. I was accepted into arguably the best school on the west coast, and not just accepted, they’re going to pay for everything. Room and board, tuition, hell, I’ll finally have health insurance! So I guess you’re right. I don’t need you. I haven’t for a long time.”“You wanna go, college boy, fine, go. But don’t even think about coming home again,” John ordered, stepping closer to Sam until the two of them were nose to nose. “You turn your back on this family, and that’s it. You leave, you don’t come back.”“Fine,” Sam growled, pushing past Dean and his dad and heading off towards the parking lot.