Title: Bruises on the Fruit
Word count: ~1200
Warnings: References to child abuse.
Disclaimer: Please don’t sue me.
Author’s note: Written to fill the “bruises” prompt on my hc_bingo card. Title taken from Nirvana’s "In Bloom."
Summary: Sam is 12 the first time he shows up to school covered in bruises.
Sam is 12 the first time he shows up to school covered in bruises from his arms to his ass. Dean had inventoried his injuries that morning, walking around Sam in a slow circle and whistling low.
“We told you to stay in the car,” Dean says, eyeing a particularly colorful splotch on his arm.
“You were screaming for help, jackass.”
“I was not screaming! Do I look like Jamie Lee Curtis to you?”
“Fine, you were hollering. And you’re welcome, by the way.”
“How ’bout I thank you after the nice lady from social services pays us a visit tonight?”
“Shut up,” Sam mutters, chewing his lip. “Just help me figure out what to say if someone asks.”
“Okay, well, the best lies—”
“—are closest to the truth, I know.”
So, he’ll say he tripped and fell down the stairs, leaving out the part about the poltergeist that pushed him.
“Okay, but we don’t have stairs,” Dean points out. “So where were you?”
“And nobody saw you fall?”
“They have a back staircase that no one really uses. It leads to the microfilm room.”
“All right, I guess it’s good enough. Clothes’ll cover up the worst of it. Too bad you have gym today.”
All the way to school he keeps telling himself library…stairs….library…stairs, practicing what to say in his head. By the end of the day, he’s so prepared to spin his fake story that he’s almost disappointed nobody asked him how he’d got so banged up.
Sam is 13 and sporting a truly spectacular shiner, courtesy of a surprisingly corporeal ghost with a nasty right hook.
“I am not telling people I got this opening a venetian blind,” Sam complains as Dean hands him a bag of frozen peas over breakfast. “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.”
“I know it sounds stupid, but it can happen,” Dean says. Sam eyes him skeptically.
“Fine,” Dean snaps, setting down a plate of Eggo waffles. “Remember that fight I got in last summer in Sheboygan?”
“When you got caught making out with Brandi Appleton?”
“Yeah, well, I was actually trying to open Brandi Appleton’s blinds, and my hand slipped.”
“You punched yourself in the face?” Sam throws his head back and laughs.
“And that’s why I didn’t tell you what really happened.”
“Did you even actually kiss Brandi Appleton?”
“A gentleman never tells.”
“Yeah, but you do.”
“Just, stick with the story and shut up.”
Window blinds, window blinds he chants to himself as he shuffles through the dead leaves to school. He tells the story over and over to himself, feeling kinda like that cop in Reservoir Dogs.
Mr. Wainwright gives him an assessing look as he takes his seat in homeroom, but doesn’t ask Sam what happened. Neither does Mrs. Levin or Ms. Johnson…in fact, none of his teachers ask him what happened. It’s kind of weird, some of them don’t even seem to notice, their glances sliding over his face and away as they take attendance. Sam wonders if he’s maybe gotten too good at pretending to be invisible as he drifts from school to school.
Sam is 14 and has a split lip and another Technicolor black eye. Another day, another angry spirit.
“What are they so pissed about anyway?” he asks, prodding gently at the burgundy bruise.
“Who cares?” Dean snaps, handing him an ice pack. “When are you gonna learn to get out of their way?”
Stop scaring me like this, Sam hears.
He hasn’t made any friends yet in Lincoln, and the kids in his class look over his battered face with curiosity but nobody asks him what happened. He’s starting to feel like a ghost, the ghost of something they would hunt. Hardly anybody speaks to him all day, and he thinks maybe the teachers are avoiding calling on him in class.
On his way into the cafeteria though, Beth Henry nods at him wordlessly, with something like recognition in her eyes. As he stands behind her in line for his lunch, he finds himself studying the brace on her arm protecting what’s probably a fractured wrist.
She’s not the only one who seems to actually see him. Brad…Something, who walks hunched over his books like he’s trying to disappear, nods at him as he’s walking into the school library. And Jason Bell, a JV linebacker who’s never given him the time of day, whispers ‘hey’ when Sam takes his seat in biology.
It’s like a club, Sam realizes. A horrible little club, and they think he’s a member.
After that, Sam sees them in every new school.
Sam is 15 and nursing three fractured ribs and a bruised cheekbone from a run-in with a ghoul. He and Dad work out a plausible story as John drives him to school.
“Just stick with ‘bike wreck,’” John says sagely. “It covers a multitude of sins.”
“I don’t have a bike,” Sam grumps, slumping down in his seat.
“Fine, how about those roller skatey things I keep seeing kids on?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “I don’t have rollerblades either.”
“Well, you’re not getting any. Those things are death traps on four wheels.”
Yes, much more dangerous than shooting ghouls in a cemetery, Sam thinks, eying his father crossly.
His algebra teacher asks him what happened in an absent sort of way, as Sam files in with the rest of his classmates. He doesn’t blink when Sam talks about skating over a rock and slamming into a parked car, he just goes back to writing xs and ys on the whiteboard. Nobody else says anything that day … nobody except Mr. Langtry, the track coach. He sits down a little too close to Sam on the bleachers where Sam’s watching the rest of his gym class play basketball. “You should be more careful,” Mr. Langtry says, studying his bruised face intently. Something in his voice raises warning bells in Sam’s head, and he eyes Mr. Langry sharply until the coach looks away, scoots back a little.
As Sam watches him walk off towards the locker rooms he wonders uneasily why only some adults seem to see him when he’s injured, and what they’re seeing when they look at him.
Sam is 16, with a laceration over his eye and a bruise on his shoulder in the shape of a particularly ugly flowerpot.
Dean sits him down on the lumpy motel bed and sews him up gently with neat, precise stitches.
“You’re ugly enough without scars, Sammy,” he says.
“Bite me,” Sam returns.
Dean works in silence for several minutes, Sam trying not to wince as the needle slides in and out of his skin.
“Hmm?” he asks, frowning in concentration.
“Have you actually ever talked to anybody from social services?”
“Shhh, don’t say their name. It’s like saying Bloody Mary in front of a mirror.”
“Right, like that’s real.”
“I’m serious. If you stand in front of a mirror and say CPS three times…”
Sam sighs. “It’s just, you and dad are always so worried about them. I just wondered if you’d ever actually talked to anybody.”
Dean purses his lips. “Nope. But then, I’m a way better liar than you.” His hand stills. “Why, somebody been asking you questions?”
Sam thinks about Beth and Brad and Jason, all the Beths and Brads and Jasons he’s seen at all of his different schools.“No,” Sam says. Nobody, he thinks.