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Stars in a Bottle

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There's a darkness inside him. He can feel it creeping and seeping and burrowing its way into his innermost thoughts. Even as a bottle is lifted to open lips, a voice whispers like poisoned silk in his ear. Drown your problems, the voice says. Drown them or get it over with and drown yourself. The water is right there. Do it. Step forward and let it be over.

The starlight sparkles in its reflection off of the glassy lake. It's too much. It's too much to think that there should be light in such a dark place. Why can space be so big and so black and yet still have those little pinpricks of light in it? How is it fair? How is it right?

He screams and throws the empty whiskey bottle out as far as he can and hears it break the surface like a slap to the face. The ripples work their way closer, distorting the gleaming stars and causing them to wink in and out of existence.

Why can't he be like that? Why can the stars do that and he's not allowed to?

He wants to disappear and only come back when the ripples have gone, when every problem has been fixed by the natural order of things. Gravity and physics and pretty little molecular formulas should rule the universe, not these little instances that leave him wanting to gasp for oxygen that just won't reach his lungs. There is nothing that should be able to keep him from just forgetting like the oceans forget the fish and creatures inside of them. He should be able to transcend, to wipe clean, just like the surface of this lake.

Jump, the little voice says. Jump and those little splashes that you make will leave in time. There won't be anything left of your problems. Go ahead. Do it.



Sam screams out at the voice and picks up a discarded half-empty bottle of tequila and throws back, feeling it burn like acid down his throat. It should numb him, shouldn't it? If it's acid, shouldn't it wipe out all those pesky little nerves and leave him to be nothing in the dark?

Do it, whispers the little voice again, and Sam takes a drink. After a few more, the numbness really starts to set in. He can't feel the alcohol sliding down his throat anymore, can't feel the clear liquid sloshing down his chin.

He looks down at the water from his place on the pier, staring at the dark mirror, gazing at what little of his reflection he can manage to make out. He swears he can see it smirking at him. Light. The light that's supposed to be oh so good is reflecting this menace, the menace that is Sam Winchester.

He wants it to be over. He wants to not be him.

But he keeps looking. He keeps staring at that glassy water and into the dark eyes that are his but so very different. Looking in any other mirror would show him what he always saw, brown hair, two eyes, a nose and a mouth. This mirror was showing him what he really was. Sick. Dark. Tired. Just... tired.

The muscles in his face flare as he clenches his jaw (why isn't he numb yet? Why can he still feel his body) and he takes another swig from the bottle, emptying it. His reflection does the same and a toothy grin spreads across its face.

Stop it, he thinks. Stop looking at me like that. Just STOP.

He throws the bottle and it breaks the surface, ridding him of the inner mirror. But now that it's gone, who is he? What's left of him?

He falls to his knees and looks at the dark planks of the boardwalk, their whorls and grain so strangely defined in this non-light. The moon is dark, only a blank spot in the sky and his attention is drawn upwards again. The stars. The bright little pinpricks of far off galaxies and worlds that he'll never see stare down at him, judging his actions and deciding his fate. They want him to fall. They want him to fall like they will, millions of years from now (or maybe it already happened for them, just too far off to tell), but there's something they don't know. The joke is on them. Sam fell long ago, bursting into a steadily collapsing mass of gravity and darkness, sucking in everything and spitting nothing back out. The stars don't already know that he's dead inside, just like the blackest parts of space with no light nor heat to let anything stay alive.

He died a long time ago, back when women in white were the biggest concerns in his mind. He died when a fire lit so brightly and hotly that it seared him to the core. He's been dead inside for too long to tell; the decay just hasn't reached the surface yet, but it's there. People catch it in little glimpses of anger, when he just can't hold back the death in his heart any longer. There isn't any chance of recovery. After all, nothing can bring back the dead, not without a dire consequence. He's sick of paying the price. He just wants to let go.

What about Dean? The little voice in his head is back, giving him whiplash with its advice. He wants to break its neck.

What ABOUT Dean? Dean doesn't know. Dean can't know. Because if Dean ever finds out, there's about a snowball's chance in Hell that Sam will ever figure out what he should do on his own. There will always be that guilt trip, the "Dad told me to take care of you, Sammy". He can't handle that. Not after all these years. Not after the blackness in his heart has almost reached the surface.

There's no point in denying it. He's rotten all the way through. He's surprised it hasn't started to show on his skin yet. There aren't little bruised patches of skin, cuts and scrapes that he doesn't remember getting. There's just skin. Nothing more, nothing less. It's a farce. He knows it. There has to be something there.

Doesn't there?

He yells again and hears the echo over the water.

He almost thinks he hears someone yell back, but when he looks down he just sees himself, again, grinning like a predator in the dark. Some sort of psychotic Narcissus leaning over a lake to get a better view. His Echo just an echo. This Narcissus wasn't even complete! He didn't get to be right. He can't even get the rest of the myth right. A perfect example, but for the fact that he destroys every pre-conceived notion of correct, of right, before he can even try.

Want to screw it up more? the little voice asks. You know that Narcissus turned into the flower. Why don't you break that trope? Fall into your reflection like he wanted to do. Just fall. Break. You're already broken. It shouldn't take much to crush yourself to dust.

Sam starts to lean, starts to go forward, but a hand catches his shoulder.

"Sammy! What are you doing? Jesus Christ, you were about to fall!" The hand pulls him up and away and Sam can't stop thinking the same thing, over and over again as Dean pulls him into the waiting Impala.

Just this once, why couldn't you have been too late to save me?