Sam Winchester thought there could be nothing worse than watching helplessly as his brother was torn to shreds by Hellhounds. That was still the worst, followed only by being trapped in the cage with Lucifer and Michael. But watching helplessly as his brother, his lover, his whole world was suddenly taken away from him, without any clues as to where he may have gone… well, it was certainly high on the list of worst experiences in Sam’s book.
So what do you do when the love of your life is missing?
Of course, if Dean heard him talking like that, his brother would roll his eyes at him and only Sam would see the smile that Dean would be fighting as he reminded him, "No chick-flick moments."
And for a second, Sam swore he could hear Dean's voice whispering in his ear as he reached out his hands towards him.
When it turned out that there was nothing but empty space next to him, Sam felt his throat closing up again as he fought back the tears.
For months Sam did nothing but search for Dean, trying desperately to find any trace of not only Dean but Castiel as well. But with the loss of Bobby, Sam didn’t have the resources that he once had. He also didn't have Bobby's support and that was what Sam missed the most. Not even when he went to Stanford had he been this alone. It was painful and hard. He needed Dean and he was at a loss of how to find him.
He also had the memories of Hell filling his head, and he couldn't tell what was real or not. There were days when he could hear Lucifer in his ear, whispering how much of a failure he was, how he was letting Dean down when his brother did so much to save him. And the worst part was Sam knew he was right, that by not being able to find Dean he was failing him.
It was wearing Sam down, Lucifer’s whispers in his head; it had been Dean by his side that kept the Devil silent, and as long as he’d had Dean the Devil couldn't win.
“I’m sorry girl; I know you must miss him as well.” Sam petted the Impala’s steering wheel. He knew people would think he’s crazy, but he could tell she missed Dean almost as much as he did. He didn’t belong behind her wheel - that was a spot reserved for Dean. “We will find him, I promise you.” Sam wouldn’t rest until he found Dean, no matter how long it took him.
The Impala let out a purr beneath him and Sam knew that she agreed.
Time can change things, and the longer Sam went on unable to find any way of knowing where Dean had ended up, the more he despaired. He was beginning to lose hope - the hope that he would ever find his brother - and it didn't help that the more he failed, the stronger Lucifer's taunts got, the more they affected him.
"Aww look at poor little Sam so lost without big brother to hold his hand," Lucifer taunted from his spot on the bed as he watched Sam consider slamming his laptop closed as his lead once again turned up nothing.
Sam tried to block his voice out, but he could feel himself slipping further and further away from sanity. If it wasn’t for the uncertainty of knowing where Dean was… Sam couldn’t give up until he knew for sure that Dean wasn't trapped somewhere - and if his brother was in Heaven, hoping that Sam wouldn't join him until his long life was over, well, Sam was going to have to disappoint him because he would be joining Dean sooner than he would like… if he could determine that that’s where Dean actually was.
"Oh that's so cute; you, the Boy King and my destined vessel, actually believe that you are going to Heaven. Or that your brother would be there," Lucifer cooed.
Closing his eyes, Sam pressed down on the scar on his palm like Dean had told him to and counted to ten inside his head as he did his best to drown out Satan’s voice.
“That won’t work Sam,” Lucifer sing-songed as he watched Sam with glee in his eyes. “Without Dean around you are just weak,” Lucifer hissed as he moved from the bed to stand behind Sam before Sam could even blink. “Look at you Sam; what happened to the man who vowed to rip apart all of Hell to save his brother? You are pathetic.”
“You’re not real.” Sam refused to let Lucifer’s words get to him but he knew it was a losing battle.
“Oh, I’m very real Sam. Being reunited with Dean was just a dream; you’re still in the cage with me,” Lucifer purred against Sam’s ear.
“NO!” That was one of Sam’s greatest fears, still being trapped with Lucifer and Michael in the cage, away from Dean. He needed to get out, away from Lucifer. Snatching up his laptop, wallet, the bag he hadn’t bothered to unpack, and the keys to the Impala, he stormed out of the room.
“You can run Sam, but you cannot hide!” Lucifer shouted as he watched the door slam behind Sam. “He’ll be back.” There was nowhere for Sam to run that he couldn’t follow.
Behind the wheel of the Impala, Sam took a breath as he worked to calm himself down. He was finding it harder and harder not to let Lucifer’s taunts get to him. He wasn’t strong enough to face him on his own; he needed Dean back.
Sam would never be sure of what happened, but he figured that a combination of Lucifer’s taunting and being without Dean was pushing him over the edge. Since the moment Dean disappeared, Sam had been slipping further and further down a dark path, and that night something in him gave up. There was no trace of Dean no matter how hard he looked and he just kept hitting dead end after dead end.
Sam had passed his breaking point. Without Dean around it was getting harder and harder for him to drown out the Devil’s voice. Curling his fingers around the wheel of the Impala, Sam rested against the seat.
“I’m sorry girl, I just don’t know what to do anymore.” Sam could feel tears beginning to form in his eyes and he didn’t try to fight them back. He had already lived three times without Dean in his life; he couldn’t do it a fourth time. “I’m sorry girl, but I just can’t go on without Dean.”
Needing to put the motel far behind him, Sam pulled out of the parking lot with his foot pressed down hard on the pedal. He needed to escape. Without realizing it, Sam's foot pressed a little harder on the pedal as one thought overtook him.
He needed to be with Dean.