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A Season In Hell : Part Two : The Mourning After

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A SEASON IN HELL : PART TWO

THE MOURNING AFTER

Chapter 1: One Beating Heart

In a house there is a room; in that room there is a floor. On that floor there are two bodies with only one beating heart between them, one drawing breath. One living in this moment, the other torn and lifeless—Sam isn’t sure: which one is he?

He stands over his brother. He hears the sound of rushing air, white noise, and beyond that the rasp of quickly-drawn breaths; his own. Okay, so he’s the living one and the pain that comes now chokes him and threatens to stop his heart. For one agonized, mad instant he wants that, to be ushered after Dean into the darkness, then his capacity for coherent thought is drowned in a tidal wave of pure agony, sharp, clear, and cutting as a diamond.

Dean is beautiful and dead and Sam falls to his knees to cradle Dean's head on his shoulder, puts both arms all the way around Dean to pull him close, and the blood still seeping from Dean's shredded chest —though his heart no longer beats— spreads and bathes him with hot, sticky redness. Sam twines his legs with Dean's, molds himself along Dean's body, and wails like a baby, with abandon and without any consciousness of ego. There is only the pain, and Dean's body. Dean's green eyes are open and staring; just before the end, his eyes had widened in horror, as if he had seen beyond some awful door to what awaited him. There is the full knowledge of Hell in Dean's death-stare, and the pit that opens in Sam's stomach must match, for depth and agony, any that might await doomed souls beyond death.

There is not much thought in Sam's mind, only pulsing waves of painful disbelief. He can't believe he failed. Winchesters find a way. They always find a way, and Sam didn't realize before now just how deeply he had believed that he would save Dean, even until the final second when Dean had recognized Lilith lurking within Ruby's host body and cried out a warning. Too late, Sam sees, all too late. What a fool he’d been.

The floor creaks, and Bobby is there. He does not make the mistake of trying to pry Dean out of Sam's arms, only places his hand on Dean's head and weeps. Sam's tears flow so thick and fast that he is blinded, the world is only a wavering mirage that dips and sparks in shades of gray. Behind him somewhere there is screaming, and he remembers that this is some family's home, that he is lying in their dining room, a place where they have celebrated birthdays and holidays. The blood will never wash out of the soft carpet where Sam lays, and the wooden floor has drunk the blood irretrievably deep into its grain.

This all scans in a place at the back of Sam's mind where a piece of him always stays separate and distant and sane, telling him now that he must get up and see to it, that there is so much that must be done, and it will not do for itself. This small part of him is what has him pick himself up off the floor and grip Bobby under the elbow to support him, bring him to his feet. This small part that tells him that the police are most likely on their way, and they must not be allowed access to Dean's body. Above all else, above all things, Sam must protect Dean's body. Because…somewhere there is a thought forming. Because…

His body moves, shuts out the unimportant people at his back, the parents of the possessed girl, their shrill voices asking questions, demanding explanations. Sam bends and lifts his brother's body. Dean. Just a very small part of him pilots his body like a great, ungainly ship navigating an ice-locked channel with one oar and a flashlight.

The rest of his mind is busy slamming repeatedly into a very high wall lined with vicious spikes and thorns where he is torn to bloody pieces and yet keeps gathering himself to charge again.

Dean is beautiful in Sam's arms, curved lips softly parted, staring eyes like chunks of green jade. It is a shame to let Bobby close them.

Chapter Text

A SEASON IN HELL : PART TWO

THE MOURNING AFTER

Chapter 2: Last Rites

Sam feels himself slipping under, just below the surface in a pool of warm, still water that lets him see everything clearly, but as if from a great distance. It's a nice, safe feeling. He talks to Dean's body as he cleans it and prepares it for burial.

"You didn't actually leave any instructions, Dean, for how you wanted to go in the ground. I mean, I would have ignored them in favor of whatever the hell I wanted, anyway, but you were so goddamn stubborn about not preparing for this. Wouldn't even let me say goodbye, you bastard," Sam says, good-naturedly, really. That word; Sam would have choked on it. To be fair, it wasn’t Dean who had been stubborn. Sam was the one who’d fought Dean every step of the way, for a year, never accepting what was coming, even when Dean had asked Sam to let him go. To be fair…but Sam isn’t in the mood to be fair.

As he speaks, he slides a curved needle through a torn flap of flesh on Dean's chest. The blood has been cleaned away, which is actually eerie because the claws and teeth of the hellhound left such wide, jagged gashes that Dean's slopped insides are clearly visible. Red and pink gristle and slashed tendons, muscle ripped and tossed like shredded meat, ribs gnawed and cracked clean through, long strips of pale flesh curled back from ragged, gaping holes. When Sam figures out how to bring Dean back, he's going to have to make sure the method—spell, deal, whatever—includes a good healing, because otherwise, well, this could put a serious cramp in Dean's style. Duct tape and sutures aren't going to cut it once Dean's up and walking around again.

"Bobby wanted you salted and burned, but it might be a little harder to animate a handful of ashes, and we've already got the deck stacked against us," Sam lets Dean know, shaking his head as he loops and tightens another stitch.

Sam washed his brother's body before this, thoroughly, lowered him into a bathtub full of warm, soapy water. Carefully propping him up so as not to let his head slip under and drown him. Dean most likely would have protested at the thought of a sponge bath being administered by anyone other than a hot candy striper in a white nurse's cap, but too bad. And it was certainly something that should stay in the family, though Bobby is the closest they have to a father without there being a blood connection. Family doesn't end with blood.

Still, washing your dead brother's balls is really something that one should do in private, and with eyes averted, thank you. Dragging the washcloth over the skin between his thighs, soaping him up and scrub-rinsing. It's unbearably intimate, parting Dean's legs to take him in hand, wrapping a fist around him with only the damp terrycloth between flesh and flesh. Two quick movements, up and down and then wash the soap away.

"Bobby's building you a pine box, nothing complicated.” Hunters don’t get memorials or engraved tombstones; no satin-lined coffins and a place in the family plot where loved ones can mourn and bring flowers. Hunters get shallow graves dug by the side of an unpaved back road with a hastily assembled wooden cross and, if they’re lucky, a friend present to say a few kind words and pour some whiskey out onto the churned-up dirt.

“It's not like you're going to be down there long. And I'm going to leave you everything that was on you. Just your lighter, your watch, your ring, shit like that. I got you some clean clothes, but none of your best stuff, ‘cause frankly I don't know if grave dust comes out of cotton blend in the wash." Sam laughs a little, aware of sounding not at all like himself—the glib remarks, the half-assed nervous humor. That was more Dean’s MO than Sam’s. He doesn’t think too hard about it, though, just keeps focused on the task at hand.

He uses a finger to smooth out a wrinkle in one flap of skin as he finishes another row of stitches. Joining the edges of such jagged wounds is not an easy task, they don't exactly line up evenly like the pieces of a puzzle. The hellhound had taken strips of flesh away with it, buried beneath its claws and filling its maw. Sam exhales in a huff, has to work to keep it from hitching on this hook in his chest. His fingers tremble, another stitch goes awry. Sam has ideas, he does, but he's not sure any of them are good ones. Dean's chest is just so torn up, look at that. God, that must have hurt. The sounds Dean made as he died, his cries, his gasping moans and screams, choked gurgling as he drowned in his blood, just, God, he…

No. Sam breathes in quick and deep, blows out hard. "No" is a beautiful word, it's Sam's favorite word, really. The word has magical abilities, to say so much with so little, imbued with the power to calm his mind and soothe his heart and rest his fears. Every time the jungle drums pound in his head, louder and louder until he can't ignore them, just one magic word makes them all go away. "No." Not really that much to it, but there you go.

No. Just…no. He acknowledges that he sounds childish, that attitude like the world will conform to his will if he just wants it bad enough. Just says it with enough force behind it. He even knows the term for it from freshman Psych. It’s called magical thinking. Yes, like a child at the center of his own universe. The word makes the bad thing go away.

Because it's starting to sink in, that yes, it happened, Dean is dead. Sam couldn't save him, a fact which he had been denying for a year, despite the (often smug) declarations of so many others. The Trickster god, demons with their smart mouths—hell, Dean himself, all had told Sam that there was nothing to be done. Dean is in Hell. Dean is in Hell, a real place close enough to claim Dean's soul but burning at a great enough distance that Sam has no means whereby he can reach in and pull his brother out.

But that doesn't mean he's giving up. Dad had brought Dean back from the dead, Dean had made his deal to recover Sam from some unknown place beyond life and death. Wasn't Sam just as capable as the rest of his goddamn self-sacrificing family when it comes to pulling last-minute rescues out of his fucking ass? Like father—like brother—like son, right? Sam will be damned to Hell himself if he's going to let those sons of bitches show him up—and leave him here in this craphole of a world all alone.

Sam ties off the last stitch and puts his hand on Dean's shoulder and tries not to notice how the dead flesh feels like cold clay. For the first time, he allows himself a glimpse at Dean's face. He feels nothing at the sight, it's like looking at a wax effigy of his brother, rather than the man himself. It is very easy to believe that this is not Dean. And yet.

"I should have led that demon army out of Hell," Sam whispers into this dead Dean-like thing's ear. "By the time you got there, it would've been empty."

This isn't over. Not even close.

Chapter Text

A SEASON IN HELL : PART TWO

THE MOURNING AFTER

Chapter 3 : Deal or No Deal

Sam is at a crossroads. Literally. He sits on the dusty earth where four roads converge, the mutilated body of the Crossroads Demon in pieces all around him. The ease with which he slaughtered the thing scares and excites him. He thinks about his contaminated blood, Azazel's blood, pumping through his veins and tainting his soul. Demon’s blood.

Speaking of blood, there's blood everywhere, on the knife, his hands, his clothing. A satisfying spray of guts encircle him in a tight blast radius. He's blacked-out on the last hour or so, at least parts of it. He pushed reason into the back seat and let rage and grief take the wheel. Threw himself into the slaughter with gleeful (God help him) abandon. All the frustration and the pain took hold and he let fly.

Sam was ready to throw himself into the Pit if it meant he could be sure in the knowledge that somewhere Dean was alive, his soul safe, rescued from torment and torture. He knows that he could hack it in Hell, just knows he could make it through anything if it means all that.

Hypocrite, some nasty little voice inside of him whispers. Round and round the Winchesters go, the Crossroads Demon had said, and he hears the echoes reverberating all through his mind. He pleads for silence…just saying "No," isn't gonna hack it this time.

A deal with a demon was his last resort. First there was research; spell books, legends and fables, witches, psychics, voodoo mambas, old gods, new gods, prayers and pilgrimages. And when none of that worked he went to Wyoming, stole a Dodge 4 x 4 and rammed it repeatedly into the Devil's Gate. Figuring on marching right into Hell to pull Dean out himself. Ready to search a hundred years, if necessary, though he was somehow certain that he would be pulled to Dean as surely as are two magnets with opposing positive/negative attractions. Dean's soul would be a beacon for Sam, drawing him forth. He could picture it, his love for his brother would be the light that shines even in the darkest depths of Hell. Then he'd reach into the fire to take Dean’s soul, bring it home and shove it back into his body with his own burn-scarred hands.

But even once the entire front end of the Dodge was crumpled, as well as the truck bed (he tried ramming it backwards, too) there was not even a scratch on the gilded onyx doors of the Devil's Gate. Goddamn Samuel Colt made that thing to last. Black and gold and disguised as a tomb, for which the only key in the world is the demon-killing Colt.

The long-barreled pistol is gone, though, in Lilith's hands thanks to the doomed Bela, the supernatural grifter to whom Dean and he had made the supreme mistake of giving their trust, despite irrefutable proof that she was not worthy. She had stolen the Colt right out from under their noses, taken from their hotel room safe and then handed it over to Lilith in the hopes of welching on the deal she made with a demon exactly ten years prior. Her time was up, her bill come due, and she was desperate to make a new deal to avoid taking her place in Hell. It hadn't worked, and though Sam was filled with resentment for the bitch, it had still been hard for him to sit beside Dean in the Impala while his brother talked to her on the cell phone and watch the clock switch over to midnight. He’d gotten nauseous picturing the doom and bloody death that came to her after Dean hung up. Hell took her soul into its fiery belly, chewed her up and swallowed the pieces.

But Sam doesn't really have it in him to mourn her. His life has always been about painful choices and consequences; he's learned to live with the hard ones. She would have killed him and Dean to save her own pretty hide. So good riddance. Saving Dean had been his only concern and now it is his only mission, his obsession, the driving force that keeps him putting one foot in front of the other, keeps him breathing in and breathing out, waking up every morning and getting out of bed instead of lying back down and eating a bullet.

Sam scoured all the same old spell books, rooted around for recycled information, sure that he could still find a way to save Dean, if he could only appease the right forces. If only he could find something worth offering in exchange for his brother's soul.

But now, sitting bloody at a crossroads with what was once a man spattered around him, Sam's head is spinning. It was the last thing Sam could think of to give, his own soul, his own freedom. And he has been denied. That last spark of hope that he has harbored in his core is fading and going out like the light of a dying world. Dean, his Dean, is out of Sam's reach. No matter how hard he tries to make up for the distance between them, he falls short.

His eyes burn, his vision wavers and he closes his eyes against the tears that threaten to come. If he loses control now he may not get it back. He wants to let go, to open up and weep for his brother, weep for himself, for his broken heart and bleak future. All he can see when he looks forward is a flat black, a darkness that has swallowed his brother up forever. His mind reels at the immensity of the concept: forever. Never and never and ever will he see his brother again. Never sit beside him, touch him, or share a second kiss. Sam’s shaking, he’s gasping for air, all of Hell might be watching and laughing at him, but he cannot turn aside the tide of his pain, his regret, his loss.

No, no, oh please no, and the word means nothing, a denial that doesn't have enough weight behind it to budge a feather.

Why? he wants to know, just why? Can he have nothing for himself, is this his doom, his fate, his curse, to always be alone? Dead mother, dead girlfriend, dead father; and now, the one person who had, at one time or another, strangely sort of been all of those things for Sam, parent-brother-friend-lover

He gives in to despair and falls back in the blood-spattered soil of the crossroads. This is where he belongs, covered in dust and gore, stuck in a living Hell that is not of his own making. He has nothing left to give. There is nothing left to be done. It all clicks into place in his mind; it's over. He failed and Dean is gone from him. Forever.

And then he wills himself to die, asks his body to let go, but his heart keeps beating with obnoxious, stubborn persistence. Still, he stays stretched out on the road. He'll move, maybe later. Right now, all he can do is stare at the stars and offer up his final breath in exchange for oblivion.

But it doesn't come. The universe just isn't that kind.

Chapter Text

A SEASON IN HELL : PART TWO

THE MOURNING AFTER

Chapter 4 : A Fly in Amber

Alcohol, is what Dean would do. Sam is unpleasantly sober. A situation that he must remedy, fast. They say alcohol just exacerbates your problems, expands them and brings them into greater focus. But Sam’s biggest problem right now is that he’s sober, so he’s not worried. He finds an all-night liquor store just a block away from his motel with an honest-to-God drive-thru window. The clerk behind the counter ringing up his purchase flinches back from Sam's touch when he reaches for his change. Sam is a wild and deadly animal with burning black eyes; even this soft-headed man with a paunch and a comb-over can sense the shadows that surround him like a charred and blackened halo. Sam slinks from the store, head down with a paper bag under his arm. Whiskey, the Winchester drink of choice. Two steps out the door and he’s got the bottle open.

That warm bubble Sam has been living in has popped, the defiant fuck-you to reality Sam used as a shield has dissipated, leaving only him, with every one of his options exhausted. None of it worked, none of his final resources, not one of his desperate plans: voodoo, hoodoo, white magic, black magic, gray magic, wishes, spells, rites and rituals, all of it and none of it. Worse, and sickeningly, Sam sees that he never expected any of it to work. It was all a lie he told himself. Gross denial that kept the wind in his sails, kept their bellies full and the ship running before the breeze. Now the wind has died, and with it goes all of Sam's hope, all of his tender emotions. Left seething in his gut are all his darker thoughts; they prey on him every goddamn sober second. This is why he takes a drink and then another while walking down the street to the little no-tell motel with its hot pink-painted bungalows trimmed with blue frosted gingerbread eaves and shutters, and a plaster fountain in the middle of the gravel parking lot depicting a cherubic boy pissing into the chlorinated pool of water at the fountain's base. Dean would get a kick out of it; make some winking statement, maybe just nudge Sam to get his attention and then point and laugh.

By his third swig of whiskey, Sam's already feeling it. He hasn't slept in days, can't remember the last time he ate. It's all reflex, anyway; routine, habit, things like eating and sleeping. Without Dean, sometimes Sam forgets. Dean was the one that reminded Sam to eat up, kept an eye on him when the spaces between his ribs started to hollow and his cheekbones to sharpen. When they were kids he had always made sure Sam had breakfast before school and cleaned his plate at dinner. Even as adults Dean concerned himself with things like whether Sam was getting enough sleep at night. Dean took better care of his brother than Sam did himself.

Better than he deserved.

There are flashing red and blue lights and he looks up to see a black and white pulling over to his side of the road. He’s a little unsteady on his feet, though it’s not from the whiskey. Still, he tries to imagine what the cop sees: a physically imposing stranger with a staggered gait drinking whiskey from a brown paper bag. A man entirely too at home in the night, prowling the street and trailing shadows in his wake. The car comes to a stop and a police officer gets out with a flashlight in one hand and a ticket pad in the other.

Dude, 5-0! Dean’s voice is in his ear. “Fuck,” Sam hisses, then turns to face the cop. Okay, be calm, just chill, you’re not doing anything illegal, just remember the name on the ID you’re carrying and take it easy. Sam stands up straight and tries not to look half as dangerous as he feels. That’s it, Sammy. Now turn those big, sweet eyes on him and charm him right out of his pants—you’ve got no problem with that, right? And then Dean’s familiar, wicked laugh that lightens his heart even as his chest tightens painfully. Bitch. Jerk.

It's scary, how good Sam is at acting innocent and getting away with telling some pretty outrageous lies. Dean was always visibly impressed when Sam slipped them loose the noose more than a handful of times just by flashing his dimples and a shy smile. Dean tried it once or twice, but it never really worked for him. Too much snark, too much sass, maybe just that cynical glint in his eye and set to his jaw, something, Dean just couldn't pull off that "who, me?" expression with any degree of effectiveness. In fact, sometimes it pissed people off more, being presented with this smarmy man with a mocking tilt to his pretty lips, looking like he was the only one in on a really good joke made at the expense of everyone else. It was often best to let Sam do the talking, which Dean hated, and so, of course, Sam loved it.

"Good evening, Officer," Sam says, all tucked-in smile and dewy eyes. "I'm sorry, have I done something wrong?" He toyed with, Did I do something bad? but he wants to sound like he's innocent, not a mentally-arrested moron.

The cop gives Sam the steely eye for all of five seconds before the tension around his eyes loosens and he turns the beam of the flashlight slightly to the side so that he is no longer blinding Sam. There ya go, Sammy, there ya go.

"Good evening, sir," the cop says, his eyes narrowing a little, sensing Sam's shadowed soul for a moment, like the liquor store clerk, although this time Sam is attempting to hide it.

The cop is thinking drunk and disorderly, Sam's pretty sure, small town like this. Sam doesn't want to spend the night in the tank drying out, so he amps it up a little.

"Officer, please, if I've done anything wrong, I'd just like to apologize and ask, sir, what it was?" Sam tilts his face down and then looks up at the police officer from beneath his lashes, and the cop inhales sharply, a quiet little movement of air that's barely audible. The cop's eyes hook onto Sam like a baited fish, and Sam reels him in.

"Sir, uh, I just—" and the cop is looking at Sam with confusion written on his face, like even he is not certain as to why he stopped this innocent young man just taking a moonlit stroll. He looks into Sam’s catlike eyes and the shadows swirling there and stumbles over his words "That—that is—"

"Yes, Officer?" Sam's laying it on thick and the guy is eating it up. Sam holds the officer’s gaze, keeps him trapped like a fly in amber. He can tell when the cop makes a decision; the man breaks free of the magnetism pf Sam’s eyes and he immediately straightens up a little, the wrinkles in his forehead smooth out, he even shakes himself a little and says, "Sir, I just wanted to let you know that you shouldn't be walking around all alone like this after dark." He smiles, like he’s proud he got the words out and gestures to the night around them. The liquor store, the motel, and an abandoned diner make up the full roster of urban development on this part of the road. Across the street is a green and untouched forest, and beneath his feet grass and weeds are growing up through cracks in the concrete. This night holds no danger for Sam. Sam is the dangerous one.

"Oh, thanks, Officer, I really appreciate that. I'm just going to the Fontainebleau Motel up ahead, though, so I won't be out here for long."

"Well, that's good," the cop says, rather lamely, still looking confused and more than a little relieved to be going. Sam sees him off, waves at the man as he drives away shaking his head like he's trying to knock something loose.

Good job, Sammy, Dean says, and Sam turns to meet his brother's grin. But no, he is alone. It's like a punch in the gut, he loses his breath and stands gasping at the roadside for another minute before he can force himself to move.

---

Sam is drunk, finally. It makes it so much easier to do things like going out to the Impala to get Dean's duffel bag—yeah, he still has it and all its contents—and bring it back to the room. There, he sits on the bed, opens the bag, and pulls out one of Dean's shirts. Soft, green, button-down flannel; Sam buries his face in it, inhales long and deep. If he closes his eyes and holds very still, he can pretend to himself that he is sitting in the passenger seat of the Impala with Dean at his side, a faint, herbal scent rolling off of him, his scent, Dean's scent. The scent of comfort, and home, and everything good in Sam’s fucked up little corner of existence. He knows how pathetic he is, but there's no one there anymore to see it, no one to help keep Sammy's feet on the ground.

Sam folds his hands around the fabric and whispers Dean's name like a prayer. If he thought it would help, he'd get down on his knees. He strokes the soft, worn material of the shirt against his cheeks, his lips, his neck, lightly so it feels like another person's touch, and the shirt smells so much like Dean that Sam can imagine being there with him. That it's Dean's hand at the join between his neck and his shoulder, Dean's fingers moving up the column of his neck and his jaw line, then over to gently brush his lips. Sam puts his own hand to his mouth, just as he pictures Dean doing, then slides it down to cup his neck, then under his collar to meet bare skin. Sam holds the shirt in his left hand and moves his right hand down his front, palm skimming over his chest, but it's not enough and so Sam takes off his overshirt and then drags off the t-shirt beneath it to get skin on skin.

As he imagines Dean's hands on him, he gets hard and drops his hand to his crotch, to the growing bulge in his jeans. He can't get the fly open fast enough, pushes his pants and boxers down to his knees, and gets his hand on his erection, red and thick and pleading for attention. He's too hot all of the sudden to go get something like lotion from the bathroom, and he pauses just long enough to spit-slick his palm and gets his fingers wrapped back around his cock, smearing pre-cum from the tip to help ease the way. But not too easy, friction is the name of the game, after all. "Dean," Sam says, and behind closed lids he can see his brother, so beautiful, he always thought so, even when he was a small child looking up at Dean with one hand firmly grasping Dean's pocket. Sammy, Dean would say, and Sam just knew that his brother was some kind of creature of light sent to smile down at Sam just like that, all sparkling eyes and loving smile meant just for him. Wrong, bad and wrong, Sam is useless and sick, but he still sees his brother's long eyelashes and perfect mouth, and the clear emerald color of his eyes. Sam's pulling on his cock, twisting and pumping and his arousal is like a spear that penetrates all the way into his gut. He is so goddamn hard, he feels like unyielding stone in his own grasp, moaning and digging his toes into the carpet. He makes small, pained noises that bubble up and slip out though he tries to stop them. He whispers, "Dean," just that, and he comes hard, inhaling the scent off of Dean's shirt and jerking his hips to rise up into every downward stroke. He comes and comes, so good it aches, and tears form in his eyes from a pleasure that's like pain. There is cum on his hand and on his stomach, he is shivering with the aftermath of his self-induced orgasm, and if Sam wasn't already going to Hell, he is now.

In this moment of release, Sam is honest enough with himself to admit to his failure. Dean is gone and there's nothing Sam can do. And maybe worse, situations reversed? Dean would have found a way, no question. Sam's just not as good as Dean was, and he never will be. Dean was better than him in every way. Sam gave his word that he would save Dean, promised his brother that he wasn't going to Hell, but he just didn't make good on it. Why can Sam save everyone in this world but his own family?

Sam feels dirty all over, he flops naked back on the bed where he just masturbated while thinking of his dead brother, and instead of feeling sick, he just gets hard again. Laying Dean's shirt over his neck, he follows the valley running center down his chest and stomach. Hot slide of skin on skin as his hand seeks out his cock and encircles the hardened flesh. And he does it all again.

There's so much regret inside of Sam, he's not even sure what he feels so guilty about anymore. Part of it is a fear so penetrating and hopeless that it might still drive Sam mad. This is all he'll ever have. He dug his own grave, now he has to lie in it. All the platitudes about grief are complete and utter bull shit, and Sam has to come to grips with it—he's never going to "get past this", he'll never be able to "move on." This will always be a knife blade lodged in his flesh and bone and his every move pulls at it, renewing the sharp (never gonna dull) and hot (never gonna cool), slicing pain (never gonna stop).

So he stretches out on the scratchy comforter and jerks off to a hot little fantasy about his brother involving hands and mouths and teeth scraping smooth, hard skin.

Chapter Text

A SEASON IN HELL : PART TWO

THE MOURNING AFTER

Chapter Five : Falling Down

Cripple Creek, Colorado

Sam bares his teeth in a death's-head grin as he bashes in the skull of a shapeshifter with a crowbar. He doesn't flinch when blood splatters on his face and chest, hands, arms—all over. The crowbar is an impromptu yet efficient weapon—he used it to break into the shed, had it in hand when he kicked the door open and found his quarry, but too late; he'd come too late. He laid the first blow in the heat of an intense rage that flamed over him and blanked his thoughts. Sam didn't even really know what he was doing until he registered the shifter's shrieking and choked gurgling as it began to drown in its own bloody ooze, until he felt the cold weight of the crowbar in his loose but firm grip. He'd blacked out and he now comes back to himself in degrees, finds that he is in the midst of perpetrating an act of supreme, inhuman violence. He also finds that he doesn't care.

He hefts the crowbar over his shoulder and swings it down in a flashing arc. Blood pools in the end that curves back on itself, then flies off to splash red and black gore on the bare concrete floor and cinder block walls. The tool's double prongs, like a forked metal tongue, cleave rubbery flesh and splinter bone, and it's not long until the bent end of the crowbar is scooping out globs of gray matter. Since it's a shapeshifter he's dealing with—has, in fact, been tracking for two days—Sam has a silver knife and a handgun with silver bullets to do the job, but he'll take care of that in a minute. Right now he's busy caving in this motherfucker's skull.

The site of this gruesome but satisfying massacre is an empty tool shed that was cleared out for a dark purpose. Just beyond the tight blast radius of white bone splinters and blood splatter, a bundle wrapped in a blue blanket leans partly upright against the wall. One corner of the fleece blanket, with its pattern of dancing teddy bears with stitched-yarn smiles, has fallen open, allowing a small, pink hand to spill out onto the floor. The hand, that of eight-year-old Melinda Hopper, is pale and still, fingers curled, nails painted with chipped, glitter-flecked pink polish.

Sam tries not to look at Melinda's dead little hand as he uses the crowbar to make soup of the contents of the shapeshifter's skull. The girl slept with that blanket every night, including the night she was snatched from her bed three days ago. Sam knows this because he spoke with her young, scared parents that very morning, flashed them his FBI badge and they invited him in; yes, Agent, whatever you need, please, just find our baby girl.

Unspoken, of course, was the request that he find her alive. Instead he found her body, broken and used-up, along with the shapeshifter that had been posing as an elementary school teacher to target young kids. He caught it in the middle of shedding its outer layer of skin, so long strips of its moist, slippery flesh are flayed half off its body like an oozing, rubbery banana peel. He pauses, takes a step back with the crowbar in hand to survey his handiwork. The thing's legs are twitching, the crotch of its pants are wet and there is a puddle of urine on the cold concrete floor. The shapeshifter's head is just a red mess.

Sam forgets about the blood on his face, and in an absent-minded gesture, he licks his lips. Rather than being revolted by the blood in his mouth, he is surprised to find that the shapeshifter's blood tastes human, has that same familiar iron tang. It is with great pleasure that he finally straightens up and plugs the fucker, empties a full clip of silver bullets; caps him in the head and heart, bang, bang, you're dead. Then, for good measure, he slits its throat with a silver-plated Bowie knife—custom-made—goes deep to saw through muscle and tendon with its silver-plated serrated edge.

Sam doesn't usually go in for overkill, but this time he empties the clip because not every shot makes it home. His aim is off, all his movements are a bit wide, a bit sloppy-drunk. He's all smashed out on bloodshed. Just a little staggered by it. Some of the bullets hit the floor and chips of concrete spray outward, one hitting his cheek and making a little cut. The relatively light recoil from the .45 knocks him back because he's already off-balance. He catches himself before he falls, takes a moment before he salts and burns the body, dousing it with enough accelerant to ensure that it will be charred down to black ash. All this in lieu of chopping it up, making purée, and feeding it to rabid wild dogs. In fact, he can think of a hundred alternatives to this relatively dignified disposal, but he can't afford the distraction. These days, Sam tries not to take things too personally; he'll be damned if he's going to let this one get any further into his head, he's already taken it too far. No, it's time to cut ties and move on.

So he picks up the body of Melinda Hopper, careful to wrap the fabric around her so that he doesn't have to see anymore of her small, dead hands. He leaves the shed, kicks the steel door shut, and stands back, waiting to see it engulfed in flames before he leaves.

He lays her down on the ground just far enough away that she won't be touched by the fire, her body left mostly whole for her parents to bury. Such nice young people, both of whom firmly believe that their baby girl is still alive and waiting to be found. Sam sat in their living room and gave them his most soulful, sympathetic look, thinking, your daughter is already dead, and wanting very badly to be gone from there. It had been easier to be the soft one, the one that reached out and felt everyone's pain, when he had Dean there, backing him up, being the hard-ass and keeping an eye on cold reality. Balancing him out. He can't afford to be that guy anymore, can't even find it in him to try. "Goodbye," he said to the parents, stumbling a little over the words because he almost said, "Your daughter is dead," to their faces. He got as far as "Your daughter is…" before he caught himself and held up the photo they had given him, Melinda smiling and waving at her last birthday party with a smear of vanilla cake frosting on her cheek, "—very beautiful," he finished. He turned his back on their tears and got out of there fast, leaving no trace of himself behind.

***

The morning after he made chowder of that shapeshifter's head in Cripple Creek, Sam is in a coin-operated Laundromat somewhere outside of Boulder. He is staring at the center table, which is covered in the damp, wadded-up granny panties of the dinosaur to his left taking up four machines at once. She is an ancient woman in a knit vest the color of sick, and support hose that are so stretched-out they have rolled down to pool at her ankles. The nylon is about ten shades darker than her actual skin tone. She's giving him the hairy eye as he tosses bloody clothes into the wash, and he's about half ready to apologize for the state of them. He smashed in that shapeshifter's head like an overripe watermelon, all waxy skin on the outside and red and pink mush on the inside. It splattered, got a little messy, and he has to admit, it's pretty gruesome. For some reason, he's having a problem coming up with some polite little aside, so he gives her a small, jerking nod and she startles, immediately turning away in a huff. She radiates disapproval, and maybe a little bit of fear, too.

Sam considers how he might appear to a stranger; a man of indeterminate age with three days’ worth of dark stubble on his jaw, skin pale and gray in tone beneath that, dark canyons under his eyes carved out by sheer exhaustion, and dirty yellow nicotine stains on two fingers, black grime under his fingernails.

Intimidating, maybe, so tall and kind of hulking, no longer bothering to camouflage his height and strength with the old shuffle and smile that he once wore so well. Dangerous, really, and definitely out of place. No one can see it but he has a gun at his back and a wicked little knife sheathed in his boot. Add to it: Sam has always come on a little intense. He is aware of that, but not so good at tempering it. Dean kept an eye out when they had to gather information for a hunt from the locals; Sam would barrel through with his forward questions, arcane theories, and sometimes thoughtless accusations, and Dean would dance along behind him, all dazzling footwork, subtly sweeping the off bits under the carpet. Swoop in with that effortless, coaxing charm and smooth down any feathers that might have been ruffled under the force of even a stray gaze from Sam.

Sam tries to imitate his brother's easy grin but it might sour on his own features, because the wrinkled old bean gasps and glares at him like he's just said a rude word. After that, the old lady avoids Sam like the sharp edge of a rusty blade, pulling wet clothes out of the machines before they're done and then finally waddling out of the Laundromat with her wet and soapy clothes piled in her arms so high they almost clear the top of her head. She can only just see over the immense load of washing in her shaking arms, and she steers her way out of the shop with the wallowing grace of a garbage scow. Good manners dictate that Sam run forward to hold the door open for her when she leaves, but when she turns to give her thanks and sees from the other side of all that sopping laundry that it is Sam trying so hard to be helpful, she narrows her beady eyes at him and says some very ugly things before stomping out onto the sidewalk. She leaves a drizzling trail on the concrete from a sopping pair of nylon stockings that drag along behind her.

This interaction reaches inside of Sam to stir the sleeping giant that is his grief. For whatever reason, he has found that it hurts worse when he's doing stupid little things, like standing alone in a Laundromat drawing frowns from the frumpy soccer moms peering at him from over top of their Danielle Steel novels. (Dean called romance novels "Granny Porn." What a way with words that man had!)

Shit. Oh shit, shit, shit. Son of a bitch, not here, not now, no. Just. Just no.

He's not going to lose it here, no, despite the wakened grief pounding in his chest and stinging his eyes. He is going to see through the tears to separate his lights from darks, to pour white and blue granules of detergent into the machine with his gory clothes. He is not going to leave to find somewhere private so he can fall apart. The double-thud of his heartbeat is not loud enough for everyone to hear: want-Dean, want-Dean, want-Dean.

He almost choked and lost it at the gas pump of a fill-up joint two days ago. He kind of hates the Impala for reminding him of his brother in a way that he cannot avoid or ignore. Hates the feel of the smooth, buttery leather upholstery under his thighs; the sound of the monster engine growling as it eats up the miles; hates the gaping emptiness of the unoccupied passenger seat beside him.

Sam has a lot of hate. He would never have thought that such a base emotion could rule him so utterly, make it hard to do the job; no longer because he cares too much, more that he can't care enough. He just can't drudge up much sympathy for anyone, lately, can't even bring to mind a single face from a long line of victims. He wants to regain his drive and his compassion, he really does, but he just doesn't have it in him to give. He tries for it, but it stays out of reach, like the event horizon of a black hole, drinking in light and stretching it, tearing it apart and dumping it down in ceaseless, descending spirals so it remains endlessly frozen in motion.

He wants to feel just about anything else. He has become reckless with it, all that baseless hate and its corresponding apathy. He's a little self-destructive, a lot kamikaze, taking big risks and getting adrenaline highs when he comes close to death. He is ruthless, always testing himself, and thinking back on past failures, lingering over his greatest regrets. Dean would chew Sammy out if he was there to witness his descent, but he's not there, is he, no. No one's there. No one to watch his back. And he's proven that he can't watch his own back—proved it when he let another one of Azazel's psychic children, Jake, get behind him with a knife. He should have killed the bastard while he lay unconscious in the mud, but he couldn't do it, and look what his weakness has brought. Dean made the Crossroads deal to save Sam from death, and from himself, his own great fault. His weak nature has damned them both. Therein lies his great tragedy; Sam came back to this life to be with Dean, and now he hunts alone. This is his Hell.

Pragmatic, practical, Sam has been all these things, but never when it came to Dean. Just like Dean said, just like goddamn Dean fucking said: Dean is his weak spot and Sam is Dean's…only not now, because Dean is dead and Sam doesn't have any spots anymore, weak or strong. He is nothing but a weapon of his own making; a living blade, thin and deadly, and he hones it on a whetstone of pain and punishment. Dean's voice murmurs in the back of his mind, alternately giving encouragement and warning Sam to be cautious. The memory of his brother is his guide; he'll do anything it tells him—he'll go anywhere it leads.

***

It leads him into a bar, big surprise there. It is in part to spite Dean's voice echoing in his head that Sam seeks out the place; a slick boutique bar playing house music and harboring deep shadowed corners from which tendrils of gray cigarette smoke curl and beckon. The place is packed, throbbing with bodies tangled in a sweaty mass at the center of the main room; it's not his usual scene—Dean had always preferred a bar with a few pool tables, a jukebox, and some sawdust on the floor; Sam preferred a bar with Dean—but it fits his needs tonight.

His strong presence catches every eye; he is a man burning with purpose. This is something he has to do. He couldn't explain it if he tried. Multiple inviting looks are aimed at him from hungry eyes all over the room, but he just cuts through the seething mass with gliding ease. The crowd parts for Sam and clears a space at the counter in which he can slot his broad shoulders and slim hips, folding himself against the flecked marble surface. The bartender's gaze takes him in with healthy appetite, and he does not charge Sam for his drink.

Once Sam has downed the last of his shot he shifts his stance just a little, spreads his legs and plants his palms on the counter; he opens up, ready and waiting.

It's not long before a figure comes up behind Sam, and he tenses, catches a reflection in the mirror behind the bar. Just a man, with short hair and a well-shaped jaw, and Sam feels like he might just lose it right fucking now. The man sitting down beside him and flicking his eyes up and down Sam's long form doesn't look much like Dean, but something about his appearance sparks a reaction in Sam—the pretty lips and pretty eyes, the gold-toned hair. It makes Sam want to give him anything and everything. In having this power over Sam, the man is like a god. In this instant Sam is in more danger than he has been in weeks.

It feels good.

When, after only maybe a quarter of an hour of buying Sam drinks and paying him outrageous compliments, it turns out that the man wants to take him home and fuck him, well it's about time. Let's go now, Sam urges, and the man, whose name is lost to the ages and the stars, catches Sam's hand and kisses his palm. Yeah, let's go. He sees darkness in the eyes of some of the patrons, envy and resentment, even jealous anger as Sam leaves with his pick, and the air trembles in his wake. Sam kind of enjoys leaving devastation behind him wherever he goes.

***

When they enter the guy's apartment, Sam is so intent on the moment that he has no plan, and that's unlike him. He's usually at least a few steps ahead of himself; he thinks in the round. But his equanimity deserts him and leaves him with nothing but right now. No glimpse at what comes next, and he hopes this guy is up to taking the lead, here, at least as far as the mechanics of the act are concerned. The guy's going to need a punishing, stern iron core to really have Sam; he doesn't think he sees it in this man, but he moves ahead with the job. He can't explain it, but he woke up today knowing that he had to do this; he is a man on a mission.

He moves them quickly beyond the 'how-do-you-do's, gets them where he wants them, fast. He's ready to get down to it, makes himself known.

"Oh, shit, are you a virgin?"

"The fuck does it matter?" Sam looks over his shoulder with a challenge burning hot in his eyes. "Just go already," he commands, snarls, back arched, rolling his shoulders, hips begging with his ass in the air. He is more than ready for this, impatient for it. "Just. Fucking. Do it."

"Oh shit, you're gonna let me…oh, oh holy shit." The guy is quite obviously excited by the thought, being the first to take Sam like that, turned on by Sam's offer of his own virgin ass.

Sam just wants it done with, rough and quick, but the guy does persist in taking his time, playing with Sam's ass to open him up, which is sweet and thoughtful and all that crap, but utterly useless for his needs. Still, he slows it down so he can get it right—as if it's one more physical or mental challenge he's set himself, and he's got to learn it from all sides—like he's on a hunt. He tilts and rolls on his knees until the guy's cock finds just the right angle, he takes in the information, files it away, and from there he's got it down cold. Before tonight, he studied up on the routine of it, the inner workings—The Joy of Gay Sex, various pornographic sites online—Sam is a walking reference book on guy-guy fucking. Sam was always good with research.

But the man doesn't seem to understand his part, his purpose, which is this: he exists as a necessity to Sam, nothing more, and yet he tries for romance. He drapes himself over Sam's back, kissing along the curve of his spine, his hand on Sam's cock a little too gentle, not quite as rough as Sam needs. Sam has to take what he wants, pumping his hips, really fucking into the guy's fist. He balances on one hand and wraps the other one around the guy's fist, tightening his grip on Sam's cock until he finally gets the message.

"Yeah, harder, shit, harder," Sam growls, until the guy is really slamming into him, kind of using his cock as a handle to get the right leverage for each thrust. He drops his head and watches Dean's amulet hanging from his neck and swinging like a pendulum in time with every hard slam as he rocks back and forth on his knees. He hides his face and bares his teeth in the same death's-head grin he wore when he bashed in that shapeshifter's skull. The two experiences trigger some of the same emotions, there is a similarity, both disturbing and satisfying on a primal level that feeds his soul.

"Baby, oh, tight, tight," and the nervous tremor in the man's voice is not at all like Dean, but Sam isn't looking for perfection, here, just a pretty substitute. He's kind of annoyed at how the guy insists on treating him with a special reverence, and later he'll remember this, imagine ways it could have been better—in the shower he'll jack off thinking about the sex being a little bit rougher, and when he realizes he doesn't remember the guy's name, that's when he'll come.

There's a moment of oh God, what have I done? as he rests in the sticky mess of his own cum with the guy collapsed on his back. Sam's face gets pushed into the rumpled sheets and he almost smothers; suddenly he feels too full and rolls enough to dislodge the guy from his ass. His cock slides out with a wet suction noise that both fascinates and disgusts Sam.

He moves to leave the bed, but in a blinding, crippling flash the turmoil in his mind shifts, and he is filled with a sense of bright and blaring triumph. Like a choir of trumpeting angels celebrating the glory of his success. Did it without you, Dean, did it all on my own. He is bragging to his own memory, that piece of Dean he carries inside himself. Taunting a ghost. The spice of anger in his blood, the bitter taste of spite on his tongue, and Dean—they urged him on tonight, drove him to jump that final hurdle and get fucked. It should have been Dean, should have been, but Dean is gone and so Sam had to find a proxy. Still, it's all for him, all for Dean. Sam is carrying on his relationship with his brother in Dean's absence, and tonight he is taking it further, forcing progress and pushing it to a new level. Sam is a pioneer reaching beyond his previously established limits, breaking new ground, claiming territory on virgin earth. Sam knows he has done something great and terrible, and he revels in the wrongness of it all.

"How are you? Was it good for you?"

When the guy speaks, the sound of his voice, the too-solicitous, puling concern, sets Sam's teeth on edge. He almost forgot he was not alone, it feels like the man is intruding on a personal moment, like he shouldn't be there, invading Sam's privacy. This is Sam's rite of passage, here, his journey; this guy is just the one who fucked him over the line.

Sam is bewildered by the sudden rush of contempt he has for this man, shocked into stillness, half in, half out of bed with one foot on the floor. Words like acid well up and burn the back of his throat, threatening to spill. He has to stop himself, Jesus, God, he has to fight it so hard. He could very easily turn around and snap this man's neck, the guy would never even see it coming.

Right now, Sam has to get out of there right now. He feels drunk on adrenaline again, like he did when he was killing that shapeshifter, all his baser instincts laid bare. His hands are clenched into white-knuckled fists and digging into the meat of his naked thighs. Out of nowhere he remembers the surprisingly human taste of the shapeshifter's blood in his mouth, on his face, and all over. Instead of being sickened, he is turned on, half-hard already.

Sam whips around, pins the guy with his sharp eyes, holding him, and for the first time Sam really looks at the man, at his shape, and appreciates the physical beauty of his body. The man responds, letting his head fall back slightly, exposing his smooth neck, looking at Sam through slitted eyes, biting and licking his lips; they are red and plump. But Sam's gaze is too hot, too intense, and the man breaks out in a sweat. He leans away, then jerks up short like he's caught in Sam's net; his throat is working like he's trying to speak, but no sound escapes him. Under the weight of Sam's gaze he is like a butterfly pinned to a board with a tack, captured and collected, all without damaging his colorful wings.

Sam grins, his white teeth flashing. "Do you wanna go again?"

***

Like calls to like; he finds them, every night he senses them, in every town, goes right to them. First try, every night for a week, Sam finds the ones that suit his needs. He sees the red-shot darkness of their minds. He wants it rough, wants to lose control, likes the sense of danger that comes from putting himself in a stranger's hands. It's the only way he can get off—he needs that extra shot of emotion because he can't spare anything like tenderness. All the love he can feel goes to Dean, the ghost Sam houses in a chewed-out hole between the chambers of his heart.

He doesn't bother to learn names; they all feel the same when they're pushing into him.

It's as good a way as any to self-destruct. After a fashion, Sam has become quite the thrill-seeker—even Dean would be impressed. Left and right, set 'em up and he knocks 'em down. One man ties him up and the feel of the rope around his wrists is almost enough to make him come without being touched. When he struggles, it makes the taking all the sweeter. Sam is looking, always looking for someone who can handle him. They're always asking his permission, and he gets tired of having to give it.

Dean would be surprised at how experienced little brother Sammy is, now. Wouldn't it just eat him up inside, knowing that someone else got there first? That baby brother got there on his own? Is this what you didn’t want to spoil, Dean? Is this what you wanted to keep pure?

One guy fucks Sam from behind with an arm slung around his throat, pressing tight and cutting off his air—and making him hard enough to cut glass. Two guys take him at once, working his mouth and his ass, shoving him back and forth between two cocks. His own cock is fully erect, pre-cum dripping from the tip and giving his belly dirty wet kisses. His breath comes too shallow, too fast, making him dizzy and all the easier for the having.

***

The world narrows from sweeping views to a single point. Sam is lying on a bare mattress, writhing and panting as a man props up his legs and holds him in place. He slips in and out of a drugged stupor and comes to with no memory of what he took—or was slipped. He feels sore and over-fucked. There’s a vague impression, a blurry memory of a lot of men, faces and cocks, one after the next. Right now there’s a guy he doesn't recognize pounding into him and fisting his dick. The hands groping him are heavy and blunt, sure to leave bruises. The tugging on his cock feels good, twist slick slide, but the skin of his shaft is raw and oversensitive, and the weight of the body rocking over him is too heavy, smothering him. He's going to suffocate if he doesn't get out of there, if he doesn't get free. He summons all his strength, but still his limbs are limp and unresponsive, slow to move. Eventually, he gets his legs bent up under the guy and throws him off, dislodging the dick from his ass, then rolls to his feet. He falls, has to pick himself back up and slide along the wall toward a door that pulses and sways before him.

“Don’t go,” the guy says, putting a hand on Sam’s shoulder. “We’re not done yet.” His jutting red erection poking out of his unzipped jeans points up at Sam like an accusing finger.

Repulsed by the contact, Sam shakes him off. “Don’t touch me.”

He looks around for his clothes and sees his jeans and boxers on the floor. He bends down to snag them and steps into them, straightens to pull them up and finds that the guy has moved in closer. He puts his hand on Sam’s bare stomach, gives a caress.

“Please. Don’t go.”

Sam’s skin crawls and he reacts violently, shoving the guy hard so that he falls to the floor.

“I said, don’t touch me,” Sam growls, sliding along the wall toward the door as he casts around for his shirt. He spots his jacket on a chair and pushes away from the wall; the room tilts and he sways with each step, grabbing the chair for support when he reaches it. Jacket in hand, he gives his shirt up for lost and moves unsteadily toward the door.

The guy is up off the floor and across the room faster than Sam can track. He yanks the jacket out of Sam’s hands and tosses it on the bed.

“And I said don’t go…Sam.”

Sam never uses his real name with the men he fucks. No one’s called him by name in more than a month. He’s struck dumb, mouth agape, staring. The guy laughs, gets right in Sam’s face and Sam is suddenly certain what he’s about to see—isn’t even surprised when the guy’s eyes fill up with blackness. The demon throws Sam across the room, sending him crashing into a chest of drawers and pain blossoms all up and down his right side. Phantom hands lift him into the air and then dump him onto the floor where he whacks his hand and lays stunned as the demon advances on him. The demon swoops down and wraps its hands around Sam’s throat, lifting him with supernatural strength and turning to slam him down onto the bed.

Still dazed, Sam doesn’t react right away when the demon grabs him bodily and flips him onto his stomach. The demon crouches, turns Sam’s head to look him in the eye. “How fucking lucky am I? See, I’m fresh out of the Pit, only been topside a few days. I came here tonight looking to raise a little hell and run this body into the ground, when in walks Sam Winchester, high as a fucking kite and set to self-destruct. And I think, ‘Jackpot!’ I won the demon lottery, big time.” The demon runs its hand down his back, lowers Sam’s pants and boxers enough to palm his ass. Sam struggles, tries to rise, but the demon is using its superior strength to hold him down with one hand planted on his back; Sam can move his arms but the demon has him pinned.

Then the demon pulls Sam’s jeans all the way down, uses its knee to part his legs and rams its cock into Sam’s ass. Sam groans but keeps from shouting, afraid to attract attention from the other side of the door. He doesn’t want someone getting curious and entering the room, only to have a demon snap their neck. No, Sam grits his teeth and accepts each punishing thrust in silence.

“Shh, there’s a good boy,” the demon says tenderly, stroking Sam’s hair. It leans down and places a kiss on his lips. Sam shudders, almost more disgusted by the kiss than the rape. The demon slides its free hand under Sam’s body and Sam can’t think what it must be doing when it grasps his cock and starts pumping in time to its thrusting. Another shudder works its way through his body, this one prompted by unwanted pleasure. He reaches up and tightly fists the fabric of his jacket fighting not to cry out.

“See?” The demon nuzzles Sam’s ear. “I’m not all bad.” Sam gets hard in the demon’s hand, can’t hold in a moan of pleasure.

“Stop,” Sam says, then again, “Stop,” but he is ignored. The demon picks up the pace and Sam is rocked by the force of its rutting. In and out, trapped between a hand around his cock and a cock up his ass. He’s twisting and wringing the cloth of his jacket, bunching up and pulling it taut, taking it all out on the fabric.

He can’t hold back anymore and, against his will, his hips start moving in small jerks, fucking the demon’s fist in pursuit of that blissful friction. He is disgusted with himself, even as he rocks back to meet the demon’s thrusts. The shame of it all is too much. He groans and buries his face in the mattress.

“No,” the demon says, letting go of Sam’s cock—robbing him of that pleasurable contact—to slide its hand under Sam’s cheek and urge him to turn his head. “I want to see your face.” Sam glances up at the demon but is unable to look it in the eye. It pulls out part way, then slams back in hard, forcing a grunt out of Sam. It starts up a punishing rhythm. The only sounds in the room are Sam’s panting breaths and the slapping of bare flesh on flesh. The demon wraps its hand around Sam’s cock again and starts pumping, and oh God, it’s good. Soon, the demon fiend is wringing a shuddering orgasm out of Sam, his cock shooting cum into the demon’s hand. Sam can’t keep from crying out, moaning and shaking as he rides it out. Cutting through the haze is the demon’s gloating laughter.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, Sam,” says the demon, chuckling. It lets go of Sam’s cock and pets his hair, strokes his cheek. It leans down and nibbles Sam’s ear, then tilts its head and kisses him on the lips. Sam pulls away, cringing in disgust. The demon laughs again and lays its hand on the mattress next to Sam’s head.

This is what Sam has been waiting for. He stops fisting the jacket and reaches into the inside pocket, grips and object and pulls it out. He unsheathes Ruby’s knife and, though it’s awkward at this angle, he’s able to twist around and stab the demon in the hand.

“Fuck!” The demon jumps up, its cock slipping out of Sam’s ass, cradling its wounded hand. As soon as the weight of his hand is no longer pinning him down he gets his hands under him and, with a roar, he levers himself up. He slams his elbow back into the demon’s gut, spins and punches it in the jaw, knocking it off its feet. Cum is trickling out of Sam’s ass and his pants are bunched around his ankles but he pushes all this aside, yanks up his pants and advances on the demon with the knife.

The demon waves its hand in a familiar gesture and Sam braces for the feel of invisible hands lifting him and throwing him through the air like before, but nothing happens. The demon tries again, and again its power fails. Sam doesn’t have the time now to wonder at it, he just looks the demon in the eye and bares his teeth in a death’s-head grin. He holds up Ruby’s demon-killing knife, moves it back and forth just to watch the demon’s eyes follow the blade—the fear he sees there is gratifying.

Then the demon’s expression turns ugly, it smirks and taunts, “By the way, Sam. While I was in the Pit, I saw your brother. He says ‘hi.’ Or, he would have if he could’ve stopped screaming.”

“You black-eyed son of a bitch,” Sam growls and launches himself at the demon, but before he reaches it, the parasite opens its mouth and escapes the body it’s been possessing. Black smoke shot through with purple lightning comes boiling up out of its mouth and streaks across the room and out the open window. Sam is in a daze; he stays still and staring for a long minute, holding the knife in his hand, panting from exertion, his heart pounding. He comes back to himself enough to check the pulse of the man lying on the floor and determines that he is unconscious but alive. Sam then takes stock of himself. He’s not wounded, but he feels raw and worked-over. His entire right side is stiffening with pain where he made impact with the chest of drawers. By tomorrow the whole area will be purple with bruises. His back aches where he was pinned, his ass hurts, and he’s still half-hard. He knows he should get the hell out of there, but he’s half in shock and he stands there for an unknowing stretch of time until the unconscious man on the floor groans and begins to stir. This triggers a sense of urgency that breaks through the numbness and he lurches toward the door, still gripping the knife in his fist.

***

Sam falls through the doorway into the hall, very unsteady on his feet, and starts the uphill climb toward the front door. He keeps the knife in his hand and tries to be aware of everything around him, but it's so hard to do, so hard to even try. There are people in the kitchen he's pretty sure are cooking meth, a burner going, plastic tubing, an old woman at the table crushing up cold tablets into powder with the back of a spoon. There's a party spilling out the back door, one big red whirl; Sam shies away from the drunken screams and flashing eyes turning his way. Some of the men leer at him, their gazes raking his body; some of them wink, one licks his lips. Sam feels exposed, naked in front of a crowd. He doesn’t even know which of these men fucked him.

Looking at his surroundings, he feels rattled and sick; he could do some real damage with Ruby’s knife right now if anyone gets in his way. He sees needles and busted glass vials and curses his stupidity. Serve him right if he did die here. He'd be asking for it. Dean's voice in his head is shrieking at him to get the fuck out.

Once he gets outside he stumbles under the purple, starless sky. He takes a moment to let his eyes adjust to the night. The house he just left is dilapidated and looks to be the only occupied building on the shabby street. Its roof is a sagging mess and the clapboard has been mostly ripped off the façade, exposing the mealy wood beneath it. There are a lot of cars parked in the driveway and on the lawn of the house, and he hears noise coming from the backyard. It could be the party or a fight, for all the yelling. His instincts tell him to get away, get the hell away—and, even dulled by drugs, he trusts his instincts more than anything else he has. They are the only thing he has left. Everything else has withered and wasted away.

Thankfully, the Impala is parked right out front, with two tires up on the sidewalk, having popped the curb. No flat tires, luckily. Sam moves toward the car in shuffling, dragging lurches, and when he makes it all the way there he leans heavily against the driver's side door. He sees his reflection in the window and flinches away from the sight. He yanks open the door—he didn't even lock it—and slumps down in the bench seat. For a moment he allows himself to lean his forehead on the steering wheel and blank out, his head throbbing and his brain swimming. Then, he forces himself up.

"Son of a bitch," he mutters, pawing at his thighs to reach into his pockets, where's the key? It's not there, so he has to rip off the panel under the dashboard, pull out the two red wires, peel back their plastic casings and spark them to life. He hates to have to do it, knows how Dean would feel about the mutilation of the dash, and at that he cannot find it in himself to sneer, to remark once more that Dean chose his fate and lost the right to make Sam feel guilty about the damn car; that Sam has every right to be angry. Instead, what comes is a weighted sadness that threatens to paralyze him. He kicks and struggles to get out from under it, has to talk himself through it, "Just go, put it in gear and go." He berates himself, "You stupid fuck, go now! You put your foot on that pedal and go!"

He just misses the cops as he drives off, passing a line of police cruisers a block away from the house. They're running silent, no sirens to tip anyone off, meaning they know they're going to bust up something more than just a rowdy party. He escapes with the flash of blue and red lights disappearing from his rearview mirror, staying stiff in his seat for the next few blocks; whether or not the FBI believes that he is dead, he does not need to get arrested right now. So he drives and curses under his breath without moving his lips.

Fuck! He's still got the knife in his hand! He's cruising at a safe, legal speed of twenty-five miles per hour past a line of cop cars with a wicked-sharp blade sticking point-up in his fist. Way to lay low, Winchester, he congratulates himself. He jerks to the side of the road as he leans down to stash the weapon beneath the seat next to the neat little .22 he keeps strapped under the cushion. He caresses the gun with his fingertips, taking comfort from the cold steel, before sitting up straight and driving on.

For the next hour or two he picks roads at random with no destination in mind—if he had a room somewhere he would have put the motel matchbook on the passenger seat, a habit he's gotten into since he can't always trust himself to remember where to go when the night is through. All his shit is piled in the back, clothes and books and some Xeroxes from the rare books collection of a library two states back. A tip had led nowhere, his research pointless, so why did he keep the pages? He just can't judge his own behavior anymore, he is a cipher even unto himself.

As the adrenaline coursing through his veins subsides, the comforting cloud of numbness he’s wrapped in dissipates. The pounding of his heart slows, his breathing evens out. He’s really feeling the pain now, but he’s used to that. Pain he can handle; pain is an old friend. It’s not the pain that’s got him gritting his teeth and gripping the steering wheel hard enough to break it in two. He feels angry and ashamed, dirty, but more than that he is humiliated—and that’s the hardest thing to face.

The feel of the demon’s hot hand on his back, the steady thrusting of its cock in his ass… It finally happened. It’s what he wanted, isn’t it? What he’s pursued with single-minded purpose night after night with all those men? To lose control—to have it taken from him?

He asked for it, that much is clear. He got exactly what he asked for, and he has to accept that. He’s been reckless, self-destructive and petty, acting out like a child. It’s a twisted way of grieving, broadcasting his pain loudly enough to attract the attention of any man capable of taking advantage of his vulnerability. He set himself up as prey and waited for a predator. He just didn’t expect that a demon would be the one to take up the challenge.

There’s something else he has to face, and it’s not easy. He’d fought, yeah, struggled to get free. The demon tossed him around the room, stunned him with a blow to the head, choked him, pinned him in place with supernatural strength. Sam didn’t go easy, anyone would agree. He was assaulted, there is no question about that. He was satisfied that he did all he could to stop it, but it just wasn’t enough.

But then he gave up the fight and, worse, became a willing participant in his own subjugation. Just as there is no debating that he fought, there is no way to deny that he got off, writhing on the end of that demon’s cock. Did he fight that? Did his body betray him, or did he want that, too? Was it rape if he came? He isn’t sure, and the not knowing is getting to him. He’s confused, his thoughts are in turmoil. For the first time, Sam is glad his brother isn’t here to see him sunk so low. Jesus, what would Dean think if he were? It’s beyond Sam’s ability to imagine; he can’t bear to try.

And what would he say? Probably something along the lines of:

Welcome to rock bottom, Sammy—how do you like the view?

***

Sam drives aimlessly through the fading night, startling when he sees the first rays of the dawning sun clawing over the dark shoulders of the rolling hills to the east. He's not sure when he last saw the sun, so he turns onto a dirt road past a clump of mostly dead trees and overgrown tangled bushes into a vacant lot. He stops there to watch, despite the way the light reaches with searing fingers into his brain through what feel like mile-wide cracks in his skull.

The clouds are shot through with orange flame as the sky ignites. Stars blink out of existence as their velvet backdrop floods with a grisly blood-red puddle of light that spreads and widens as the sun moves into the start of its daily arc. Morning forces itself upon the landscape, crashing into being, slashing violent, bleeding wounds of color and blinding light that burns out the soothing blacks and blues of earlier hours. It is an invasion, this sunrise, and if he could Sam would shove the sun down below the horizon and welcome back the night. He hates the sun. Fuck it for rising. Sam used to feel that every new day was full of possibility. Now every day that shows its face is a burden.

Despite his wishes, the day advances and begins. A diffuse mist the sick color of sulfur hangs heavy and low over the ground as the sun burns off the dew coating the grass. As dawn progresses it gets easier to see the dilapidated area where he parked the Impala. What was once a paved lot is now a mess of potholes and gravel with tall, yellow weeds thrusting up almost obscenely through cracks in the asphalt. Sam has no idea where he is, what road, what town, or, hell, even what state he's in. He gets out of the car, pebbles and dry weeds crunching under his boots. Dead trees block his view of the road, but otherwise he is surrounded by brown, empty landscape, nothing but earth and sky.

The moisture in the air quickly boils off, evaporating in the first heat of this new summer day. The last of the blood-colored light fades from the lip of the horizon, pounded out by the sun so the flipped-over bowl of the sky turns a scrubbed-metal gray. Sam stretches, neck cracking as he throws out his arms and bends backwards, making a bow of his spine. When he straightens up too quickly he gets dizzy and leans back against the hood of the car. The lacquered black paint job is already getting hot from being in the open summer sun. Sam's pretty sure he's in the Midwest somewhere, it would explain why everything is so flat. He may even be close enough to Bobby's to pay a visit, though he knows he won't. He doesn't want to be seen like this. His eyes are bloodshot and ringed in red, his lips pale and chapped, small bruises ring his neck and arms and smudge his waist and thighs. His hair is a mess, he is unsteady on his feet—he’s a total wreck. Worse than that, he’s on a downward spiral, out of control. He’d rather die than let Bobby see him like this. Add in that Sam is so fucking angry all the time, filled up with a rage that burns and bubbles inside him like acid. No—a visit with Bobby right now could only end in pain. Sam wants no company in his misery.

His back twinges. It aches from the great weight of the demon’s hand on his back. He rubs his lower back under his shirt and brushes against a thin scar the length and width of a blade. His death wound, made by that son of a bitch, Jake, who knifed him in the back.

Well, Sam shot him in the back, then looked down at him when he fell, met his eyes, ignored his pleading, and shot him, yes, yes, yes. Seven rounds total, Sam looked right in his eyes as he did it and felt no remorse. He did it for Dean. His brother looked at him right after, fear flickering in his eyes and Sam just stared back, because he knew. When Jake said he had killed Sam, looked so damn sure, it just snapped the last of the pieces into place for Sam, solved the puzzle that he had been putting together ever since he came back to himself on a bed in that ghost town, whole and healed but surrounded by a pool of his own cold blood. Dean had made a deal, it was the only possibility, and Jake had to pay. Because of that fucker, Dean's days were numbered; measured and capped off. All that anger in Sam rose up and found a focus, and at that moment, no one could have saved Jake's life, not Dean or the demon or even Sam. If Dean was going to die, then Jake's life was worth less than shit. If they had bothered to burn Jake's body, Sam would have pissed on the ashes.

Sam remembers how Jake's blood spattered on his face, and how it had tasted just as human as his own, as anybody's…like that shapeshifter's blood, spraying out of its crushed skull. Did that mean something? Blood on Sam's tongue, blood dripping into his mouth as he lay in his crib, demon's blood changing him, making him into a monster at six months old. Dad had told Dean that Sam might be evil, might need to be killed to stop him from fulfilling his destiny. Did Dad know about this? Did he know about the blood? Yellow Eyes's blood pumping through his veins, tainting him, cursing him and his family… If Dad had known, then how could he have stood to have Sam around all those years? How could he not have despised Sam for the freak he is? Sam doesn't know, and it haunts him. There was no hate in the eyes of his father's ghost in the cemetery, only love and tears pouring down his face. Even after a year in Hell, there had been only love. How could that be?

They always ask about the scar, the men. What makes them think they have the right? Just because they're back there, fucking Sam from behind so he won't remember their faces, and they look down and see the scar, they think they get to ask? The lot of them, the One-Nighters, as Sam sometimes thinks of them, tracing the scar over his spine and wondering aloud how he got it.

Dean knew everything, never had to ask. Never any asking with Dean, not about anything. Dean knew it all, knew his body better than any lover. Could have been his lover. Should have been. Always should have been Dean, nobody else. None of the others, Jesus, oh God, none of them, not a one, no matter how he tried to picture Dean and imagine it was him whispering low in his ear, "So tight, baby, so hot, so good." They aren't Dean and they never will be, does he get that now? Hateful, spiteful stupidity, that's what's driven Sam here, he made a mockery of what he had with his brother. Soiled all that Dean loved and believed about his baby Sammy, all out of deliberate, petty spite. Dean died and left nothing behind but a car and a brother, his legacy, and Sam betrayed that.

"Dean, sorry," Sam says, and the sound of his own voice startles him. He wants to hear it again. "Dean." It was the last word he said before he died from the stab wound in his back, "Dean." Calling out to his brother, dying in his arms, seeing his face, then nothing.

That demon, all those men, so many men. His thoughts turn to memories, the hot ones, the filthy ones, and Sam stumble-falls against the car, rocks his hips against the driver's side door, twitching and moaning; he's half-hard. Such a dirty boy, naughty, naughty, it turns him on. Not knowing their names, their faces, not knowing where he is when he's taking it up the ass. There's only one worth knowing, there's only ever been one, and there's no getting him back. All Sam has is this, now. He slides his crotch up the door, humps against it to get some good, old-fashioned friction going. Jams his hand down his pants and strokes, jerking his hips, humping the car, Dean's legacy, a stupid car and a stupid brother, fuck, ah, yeah, fuck.

Golden brown hair and soft lips and grease-stained fingers fiddling with the engine. Back muscles bunching and flexing, arms reaching, sweat beading on his skin as he works out in the sun. "Dean." Pretty green eyes with light behind them, pretty green eyes dead and staring.

He trembles, his cock is on fire, his balls are drawing up close, his ass clenching. His hips rock against the car, faster and faster, then finally he makes a low cry and comes in his jeans, but it's not enough. Jesus, when will it be enough? If only Dean had just fucked him before he died. He remembers Dean's hands all over him just before the clock struck twelve, wild, groping caresses like he was making up for lost time. When's it ever gonna be enough?

Sam slips and falls forward onto the hood. The sun has made the black shell of the Impala hot enough to scorch the skin on Sam's bare chest, and he yells in pain, slides down to the ground beside the front bumper. Dust in his hair, on his skin, cum cooling in his underwear; he's dirty, and he'll never feel clean.

Dean did this. Dean, he did this, made his choice and brought this down on them both. Now Sam is…is this, this thing, are there even words for what he's become? He fights, he fucks, he fights, he fucks, does he eat or sleep? Can he remember the last time he did either?

"Dean," he mutters. Then, he rises to his knees and says it louder. "Dean." Then, it's welling up inside of him, a hot spring of anger, resentment, hate, all this crap that’s been churning around inside of him given new focus and he lets it out like a geyser, "Dean! Goddamn you! You bastard, you did this to me! You made me this! Fuck you, I hate you, you selfish bastard! Dean, you coward, you hypocrite! Answer me, Dean! You son of a bitch come back and answer me! Come back here and—and answer—" he's choking on his own heaving breaths, "fuck, Dean! I hate you!"

His hands close around dirt and rocks, he throws them, kicks at the weeds, gets up and kicks the car, the wheels, the door, slams his hands down on the hood and falls back down onto the cracked asphalt.

He lets out a wordless shriek that hurts his throat until he runs out of air and the shriek collapses into a wailing moan. Sam tries to scream again but he cannot make a sound, sucks in a breath, and keens. There are no words and no meaning in the horrible noise he makes. It is not cathartic, there is no release in making it. It is all his pain tearing itself out of his throat and erupting in bloody flecks that hurt to give voice. He is a sobbing, sloppy mess, fat hot tears dripping onto his chest and the dirt under him. His nose is full of snot, he's drooling, and his eyes are swollen. He rolls into a ball on the ground and cries like a child of impossible size.

Dean. It hurts just to think the name. He made himself forget, so many times. Over the last year, and since Dean died, he made himself forget it, blocked it out so it wouldn't be real and he wouldn't have to let it in. But he can't do it anymore, he just cannot do it. There is no more forgetting, he has to give up and stop fighting. Let it in at last. He said he understood, he thought he did, even when he looked Dean in the eye and said the words, "You're leaving, right? And I have to stay behind…" Even then.

Now he knows. And he can't say he's any happier for the edification. The more he cries the worse he feels, everything is crumbling inside, there is nothing but destruction and agony to be had. All that good spite that's been fueling him, that piss and vinegar drains away. Once acknowledged, he can feel the anger melting and evaporation and leaving him empty. What comes next? He's pretty sure he knows, and he doesn’t think he will survive it.

So there it is. In the end, the one person who was supposed to be able to survive Sam's curse didn't make it. Mom, Jess, Dad, all dead because of Sam, but Dean was supposed to be stronger than that, than any of them. Invincible. Not like Sam did fuck-all to help. But Dean. Dean was supposed to…he was…

"Even now, everyone around me dies!" Sam said that to Dean, God, more than a year ago. Dean's response?

"Yeah, well I'm not dying, okay? And neither are you."

"I'm—" Sam starts to say I'm sorry, but he chokes on the words. He swallows, takes a breath and tries again. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry I can’t bring you back.” But the words are meaningless in the face of this. Oh. It feels like a discovery he's made. Like it's all coming to him in some new way, oh, and it's on him. It hits, he sees it, now, finally, all at once and the size of it is staggering. "Oh." He goes down under the weight of it, falls flat beneath it. Oh.

Here at what might as well be the end of the world, everything around him is dead. And inside there is only his empty heart, one he'll never fill with mindless sex, no. There will be no more of that, he needs a new way to drown this pain.

Sam whimpers, then cringes at the sound of himself, puling like an injured and dying dog, crawling on its belly and begging to be put down. He drags himself up and climbs in the back seat of the car with all his crap. He curls up on the smooth leather upholstery, shivering despite the heat. He shuts his brain off and drifts as his mind turns to his senses, the things he can see and feel. The sun’s warmth on his skin. The dirt on his hands. And the familiar sensation of blood on his face, and the taste of it on his tongue.