Sam was grateful for his watch at times, no pun intended. It granted him at least some semblance of time, if such a concept even mattered here.
The Empty. Black. Void. Black. Nothingness. Black. Black. Black…
He ran a shaky hand through his hair, the incessant tick tock tick tock tick tock of his watch clicking in his ear, making him twitch with unease. It was one of the sole sounds that Sam heard now, other than his own breathing, his heartbeat, and if he listened hard enough, he could even hear the blood coursing through his veins.
It was a wonder that he still had a heartbeat and a pulse, he often thought. Was he really still alive? Because he definitely didn't think he was alive. He still existed. Of that, he was fairly certain.
"How nice- to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive." Suddenly popped in Sam's mind. It was a quote from Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, a novel Sam had read back at Stanford. It followed the story of a man, Billy Pilgrim, who would travel through time without really meaning to. Ironically though, the novel seemed to have no concept of time.
Time. Again. It always passed, but never ran out, never would run out in this damn place, full of nothing but black, black, black, BLACK-
Sam shut his eyes, (engulfing himself in black) once more, but intentionally. He was controlling it this time. He and he alone dictated where his thoughts went.
Whenever Sam found his mind wandering, he forced himself to go through a memory, one that would keep him grounded. Grounded in what though, he wasn't really sure, because it sure as hell wasn't reality. Nonetheless, Sam took a deep breath, and let himself fall back into a memory. The memory actually. The one that had caused him to end up here.
"Mom," Dean had said, voice dripping with surety, but tinged with regret. "That place, there was only one way we were getting out of here, and it wasn't breathing. So I made a call."
"And we made a deal." Sam chimed in. "We'd get to die and come back one more time. But in exchange-"
"Come midnight," Billie said eagerly. "And a Winchester goes bye-bye. Like, permanently. And that is something I've been looking forward to for a long time." She grinned, and wasn't it just lovely that the only time she was ever happy was when she was fantasising about their demises?
Neither brother was sure whether confusion, anger, or betrayal was strongest in Mary's voice. "Why would you-"
"We were already dead." Dean interrupted. "Being locked in that cell with nothing… I've been to Hell. This was worse."
"At least this way, one of us gets to keep fighting." Sam said tiredly. If only Dean knew what he was planning.
"You don't have to do this." Castiel almost pleaded, desperation rather than certainty driving him to say it.
"Yeah," Billie was practically laughing. "They do. We made a pact, bound in blood. You break that, and there's consequences on a cosmic scale. So, who's it gonna be?"
There was no hesitation. Sam felt Dean's eyes on him, but Sam couldn't bring himself to look back, otherwise he knew that he would change his mind. So instead of sharing one last glance with his brother, instead of them falling into the inevitable argument of, "take me, not him," Sam just ran up to his mom, plucked the gun from her waistband, cocked it, and put it against his head. His eyes were still closed, equally unwilling and unable to bear the looks of horror that he knew would be on his family's faces.
"I love you." The seldom spoken words left Sam's mouth less than a second before the bullet left the chamber.
Dean, Cas, and Mary all screamed his name in tandem, but Sam never heard it. He was dead before he even hit the ground.
The last thing he had seen in life, and the first thing he had seen in The Empty was black.
Always black, forever black, everything was and is and will be black.
Despite the ever-enveloping black within this nothingness, Sam could still see himself. He wasn't sure how, because there was no discernable light source, but he didn't complain. He would have gone completely mad if he lost all sense of colour and light along with time.
Back to time again. Sam checked his watch. Two minutes had passed since the past time he'd checked. Or maybe it had been twelve hours and two minutes since he'd checked. Or twenty-four hours and two minutes. Or thirty-six. Or fourty-eight. Or-
Sam shook his head again. He knew he shouldn't try to think about how long he'd been thinking. Because it didn't really matter in the end, now did it?
"The end." Sam thought briefly. He wondered if that was another concept that would evade him. Maybe he would never get an end. Or perhaps, this was his end. Sentenced to an eternity of The Empty.
An eternity of black.
But it would be worth it. Sam constantly had to remind himself of that. He was dead, dying, fading, losing, but Dean was alive and- well, not well. Sam knew his drastic and admittedly selfish decision was- is- something that would haunt Dean for the rest of his life. But life. That's all that mattered now. Dean would still have a life. He wouldn't be rotting in this void, losing more and more of himself as time (ha) went on. Sam could bear this unbearable nothingness forever, so long as he never forgot why he had done this, why he had done almost everything.