Title: The Code
Summary: This guy named Sam moved out of my room about six months ago -- and I'm still getting his mail. Wild postcards -- and the wildest thing about them is they're in code!
Characters: Dean, OMC (Wayne)
Warnings/Spoilers (if applicable): Stanford fic, pre-series
Notes: Migraines don't care that they hit the day you're supposed to post -- sorry about that.
I had been looking forward to being at Stanford for years and years. When I finally made it, I was so happy I nearly cried.
I'd have to share my room with a sophomore – his roommate had moved out in the middle of last semester to move in with his girlfriend – but I didn't mind. It was someone to show me the ropes and to teach me the rules.
Only it didn't quite work out that way.
My roommate was – to put it mildly – a dick. He was cold and distant and left me alone to figure out the wilds of college life on my own.
Which was fine by me – because the highlight of those first early days was going to my brand new mail box and finding the flyers and envelopes with letters from home.
And the postcards.
There were ten of them, all addressed to Sam Winchester – who clearly had lived in my room before me. I knew I should have reported them – told the post office that someone was letting wrong mail get through -- but two things stopped me.
First of all, they were from all kinds of places – places I wouldn't have a prayer of going to on my own.
And second? The cards were in code!
I've always loved puzzles. Codes are just another kind of puzzle.
Each postcard was in a different code. Each one also had a partial key – at the bottom of the address was a line of letters. It took me a couple of times looking them over to realise that the letters were the address's first two lines – encoded.
I stacked them up in chronological order – the postmarks helped there – and I spent the first two weekends of my college career translating code.
January 1, 2003
Happy New Year, bitch.
Hope it's a good one.
Am a little drunk. Don't know if I'll even mail this.
Aw, what the hell.
We're both good. Dad is sleeping and I just wanted to touch base. We are good here.
I hate Valentine's day.
It's so much worse when you're a girl.
Yes. A girl.
All is well; just wanted you to know you have a brother again.
That one gave me pause.
Brother? Huh! Then why did he call his brother 'bitch'? And he was a girl for a while?
I figured it out after a night's sleep. This "D" guy and this "Sam" were apparently playing some bizarre role-playing game.
Armed with that knowledge, the other six made a strange kind of sense.
The one in April told of a werewolf hunt. May was more witches – two postcards' worth.
But in June, their father got sick.
I wish you would pick up your phone. Don't laugh – but I miss you.
There were two more – one from July with news their father was better – though not one word about what had gotten him sick in the first place – and one postmarked jut a week before school had started.
Fair warning, bitch. Case taking us close to you on the 24th. Don't be surprised to see me. --D
I glanced at my calendar and gasped when I realised that was tomorrow!
Was that postcard a warning? A promise? A threat? Who was this "D Winchester"?
All I knew was that he was supposedly the brother of the guy who had lived here before me, and he probably was so involved in role-playing that he had trouble telling fantasy from reality!
Witches? Werewolves? It was only a matter of time before ghosts or vampyres or zombies showed up, not to mention Dracula and Frankenstein! The only thing in there that was even remotely sane was their fathers' illness and D's missing his brother.
He even called his brother a curse word as an affectionate tease!
What kind of man was coming to my dorm?
I was suddenly very worried about tomorrow.
The next day seemed to crawl by. I think I aged a week, waiting to see if this mysterious "D" would show his face. Every time I left the room, I half expected a stranger to be sitting there when I returned.
I met my roommate in the hallway after lunch – leaving after clearly having only popped in to shower and change clothes – and we did no more than nod to each other.
I took a deep breath and opened my door.
I'm still not sure if it was relief or frustration that I felt when I found my room empty.
Blowing that held deep breath out, I closed the door behind me and headed for my desk to try to catch up on a few assignments I had let slide in order to play with coded postcards.
I was about halfway through my zoology assignment when a sudden knock on my door startled me.
"Shave and a Haircut"? Who knocks like that anymore?
I opened the door to face a stranger. He was taller than me, and broader in the shoulders, but the leather jacket seemed to swallow him whole. His hair was the same style as mine, but mine is black and his was that weird colour that couldn't make up its mind if it's brown or yellow.
Green eyes widened and looked past me, as if searching the room. Then he smiled and looked right at me. "Hi. I'm here to see your roommate."
"Brady's not here," I answered.
A frown produced a faint line between his eyes. "No, not Brady – Sam."
"Sam – are you 'D'?"
His eyes widened and then began to narrow. Hurriedly, I held up a hand. "Come on in – let me explain."
"You better." But he walked inside.
I left the door open and returned to sit at my desk. He took a seat at Brady's, and I started, "Sam hasn't lived here since Christmas."
"Then how did you know--"
To answer him, I held up one of the postcards.
His eyes widened and his voice went cold. "Explain."
"Campus Post Office goofed. I got all ten. I love puzzles, so I decoded them." The slight flush that darkened his freckles prompted me to add, "So – I got three questions."
It was obviously confusion, but I answered like he had asked me literally. "What does 'D' stand for? What's with all the role-play? And why the hell do you call your brother 'bitch'?"
He blinked at me, visibly startled. Then his head fell back as he cackled out a laugh that surprised me. "All right," he gasped. "But then you tell me where to find my brother, deal?"
"Deal! I'm Wayne, by the way."
Over the next ten minutes, he answered all three questions. His name turned out to be Dean -- "D" being both an easy shortcut and a childhood nickname. Sam was his younger brother.
The references to witches and werewolves turned out to be role-playing, born from a lifelong love of horror movies. Their dad really had been sick, but he was doing much better. Dean had left him at the hotel, trying to catch up on some sleep.
And that unusual nickname for his brother? "That's a very long story, and I don't think I have the time to go into it right now." He stood. "Any idea where I can find my brother? I answered your questions."
"You sure did. I don't know where he is, but the Registrar's office might be able to help. Here." I pulled out my campus map and showed him how to get there.
"Hey, thanks, man." He clapped a hand over my shoulder. "I owe you one."
And with that, he quietly left my room, closing the door behind him. With the closing of the door, I knew I would not be getting any more postcards addressed to Sam Winchester.
What I wasn't expecting was a postcard to arrive two weeks later – addressed to me. The handwriting was familiar and there was the familiar partial key at the base the address.
When I decoded it, I found the same role-playing crap as the others. But this time it ended with a post office box address and:
Are you doing okay? Sam says hi. --D
I grinned. Grabbing a piece of paper and a pencil, I wrote the alphabet on a blank sheet of paper and shifted every letter to the right five letters. Then I wrote a quick message to Dean – and began to encode it.
I would pick up some postcards and stamps in the morning.