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Fic: Centrifugal Force (1/1)

Title: Centrifugal Force
Author: Zubeneschamali
Rating: PG
Genre: preseries
Spoilers: blink-and-you-miss-it for Metamorphosis (4.04)
Word Count: 982
Summary: Sam felt like part of something here, in this little next-to-nothing Minnesota town.  All he wanted was a way to remember that.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just borrowing them for fun.
A/N: Written for the Wednesday Challenge at spnwriterlounge to write something in a genre you've never written before, which in my case means preseries.  Thanks to savingfaith333 for the encouragement.


It cost a lot.  It cost a lot more than Sam could ever earn working odd jobs in town.  If he asked his big brother to lend him the money, Dean would laugh in his face when he told him why he wanted it.  Dad would think it was ridiculous that a jacket cost so much, and if he really needed a new one, he should either get to Goodwill or stop growing so damn fast.

Sam hunched his shoulders as he walked, feeling the tight pull of the fabric across his back.  He really did need a new coat, but it was more than that.  He felt like part of something here, in this little next-to-nothing Minnesota town where half his classmates wanted to get out of town as soon as they graduated, away from their families and the weight of generations anchoring them to the same faded white four-squares and Cape Cods their grandparents had lived in.  There was no one to appreciate the irony of Sam the Wandering Winchester feeling kinship with them, but he felt it all the same.

But it wasn't just the centrifugal force of family that bonded him to Kenyon-Wanamingo Senior High School (and yeah, he knew that it was only the centripetal that was technically a force, probably because he'd heard it from two physics teachers before this one, but there sure was a centrifugal power acting on him these days).  For once, he was part of a team that appreciated him for who he was, not for his long body parts that should automatically be able to propel a basketball into a hoop, or for his seemingly freakish ability to run for miles cross-country without stopping (and which he could never explain he had developed to stay ahead of things with fangs and claws). 

No, they liked him for his brain, and that was something he'd never get at home.  Something he rarely got at school, too, always being the new kid who knew the answers because he'd read Lord of the Flies or The Scarlet Letter three schools back or already had this unit in chemistry or U.S. history.  For once, being smart was cool, at least among the circle he'd found to hang with.  That was worth remembering, commemorating, even once they inevitably moved on.

So he thought of all the counterarguments that he would hear, re-countered them in his head, and went to make his case to Dean for borrowing the money he needed.

Predictably, his brother said that a varsity jacket was too expensive, unnecessary since they'd be leaving sooner rather than later, totally uncool for a junior, and what did Sam have to letter in, anyway?  He came home right after school every day with no time to practice any sports.  Sam set his jaw and said he'd pay Dean back, they didn't know how long they were staying, the jacket was warm and durable, and yeah, he had something to letter in, but he didn't expect Dean to understand.

His brother's lips pursed at that, but finally he counted out a small pile of twenties from his wallet, fruits of his part-time job at the auto repair shop in town.  Sam kept his grin down to beaming instead of blinding, lightly punching Dean's shoulder in thanks.  The next day, he went to the sports shop in town and placed his order.

The jacket came in the same day Dad returned to the house where they were squatting and said he and Travis had finally found the spirit's grave, and after a salt-and-burn tonight, they'd be off in the morning.  Sam thought of the jacket, still hanging in its plastic in the closet.  The only person from his high school who'd ever see him wear it was Caitlyn Hodge, who'd dimpled and smiled at him on the sidewalk until she'd seen the "M" sewn proudly to the front underneath the school logo of a knight.  Then her fine blonde eyebrows had furrowed in something like derision, and she'd turned away.

He put the jacket on that night in his room, feeling its warmth and even a little of the camaraderie and belonging it was supposed to symbolize, wondering how long that would linger.  He smoothed down the red wool, his rough fingers catching on the edges of the black letter M.

A sound behind him made him whirl around, but it was only Dean standing in the doorway.  His eyes flickered over Sam and the jacket.  "Did you have to pay more for the extra-tall version?" he grumbled.  Before Sam could stop him, he reached out and pulled the lower part of the jacket closer, reading the word embroidered in red across the big black letter.  "Mathletes?" he said in disbelief.

Sam's chin jutted out, and he readied himself to prepare for whatever retort Dean shot at him about being a geek or a nerd or a brainiac.  But instead, Dean let the jacket go with a soft huff and smoothed its surface much as Sam had.  "You, uh, you still owe me ninety bucks for this, you know."

Sam swallowed.  "I know."

Dean gave him a nod.  Then he tapped Sam's shoulder with a fist.  "Dad and I'll be back by two.  You should be packed up so we can leave at daylight."

"Got it."  Sam lowered his head and watched Dean walk away.

His big brother paused in the door.  "Hey, Sam."  Dean waited until Sam was looking up and then said with a quirk of his lips, "Sorry you're not gonna get to pick up any hot chicks with that thing."

"Yeah," Sam agreed quietly.  "Be careful, okay?"

"Always," Dean replied, flicking a two-fingered salute before disappearing downstairs, pulled by the strange force that kept him close to Dad and simultaneously pushed Sam farther away. 

No physics teacher or mathlete would ever be able to explain that one.


A/N: I picked the name of this high school at random based on their participation in the state math contest.  Turns out they have the same mascot and the same colors as where I went to high school and got my own mathlete letter jacket.  What are the odds?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 11th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
What are the odds?

Judging from the fact that it happened? Pretty good, lol.

Well done. I liked this little one-off. Poor Sam, he really did have a tough childhood.
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Unfortunately, I think it's quite easy to take a random fact like Sam being a mathlete (which made me squee when I heard it) and turn it into something angsty about his childhood. Glad you liked it!
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
Glad to see you dipping your toes in unfamiliar 'genres'. The ending of this was unexpectedly powerful - loved the scientific imagery!
Jun. 11th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I have a hard time with endings, so I'm glad you liked that line.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 12th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
Jun. 12th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC)
See, this is something that I as a non-US citizen just don't get. Jackets with letters on them? 'Lettering' in something? Does M really stand for mathlete?

All that cross-culture confusion aside this was a simple tale of a teenaged boy trying to be normal. His life is anything but so it is easy to see why this is so important to him. Nice of Dean to recognise the need and accept it rather than ridiculing him over it. But then Dean does idolise Sam, always has. A nicely done snippet of pre-series.
Jun. 12th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Hee! So the varsity or letterman jacket is kind of a jock thing; it comes in your high school colors and, now that I remember correctly, you don't get a letter standing for the sport but for the name of your high school. (You can get a jacket without a letter, but that's kind of missing the point.) The letter is about six inches high and fairly thick, and you'd get one for every sport you were in with the name of the sport embroidered on the letter. It's a way to quickly identify the jocks, but at my school (and I don't know how many others), the mathletes (and maybe the Chess Club) could get one, too.

Sam probably wouldn't have been around at one school long enough to be officially part of the team, but ever since the backstory mention of him being a mathlete, I've wanted to write a little something about it, since that was the best part of my high school experience. Dean might have been excessively understanding in this story, but hey, there's a reason I don't write pre-series. Glad you liked it!
Jun. 17th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
I find this marvelous! It's bittersweet and tells a lot about Sam and what he wants. I like to believe Dean wasn't a total dick to Sam when he was growning up.

Nicely done, thank you!
Jun. 19th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for checking this out! Glad you liked it.
Jun. 18th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
This is really cute and heartbreaking all at once. I don't think that it's unreasonable for Dean to be so understanding though; he's got a horrible weak spot for Sam.
Jun. 19th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
Cool, that's what I was going for. :) I guess I think of Dean as being surprisingly understanding from time to time, or at least letting it show rarely enough that it really matters when he does. Thanks for the comment!
Jun. 18th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
Awesome coincidence there with the school colors. I always appreciate a Minnesota mention, living here as I do.

This was really great. Not something I'd normally read, but very well written and somber about Sam in his 'wish to be normal' mentality. I liked the idea of him wanting to letter in Mathletes, Dean NOT teasing him, and that Dean paid for the jacket. Great job!
Jun. 19th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Yay, Minnesota! I lived there for a while and loved it. Thanks for giving it a try even if it's not your usual thing; that's the same thing I did when I wrote it!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 19th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you liked my first attempt at the genre.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )