Sam might have considered the Crossroads Demon attractive, if she hadn't been about to take Dean's soul. Illuminated by the headlights, she waited with a predatory smile curving the corners of her lips, wearing a slinky black dress and black stilettos. Outside the car, the wind howled desolately, and dark, heavy clouds obscured the night sky. Sam thought the weather was morbidly apropos.
The seat squeaked as Dean shifted and finally spoke. "Well, this is it. End of the line."
"Don't, Sammy." Dean's hands tightened on the steering wheel, his knuckles whitening. "You know the score. I will not let you die."
Sam fell silent and readjusted the collar of his turtleneck. It wouldn't do any good to argue with Dean. He'd made up his mind and damned the consequences. Literally.
Dean cleared his throat, but didn't look at Sam. He stared steadfastly out the windshield. "You'd better take care of yourself. If I find out you haven't, I'll crawl out of Hell just to kick your ass."
Sam didn't point out that that promise would make him want to get hurt, to get Dean back.
Exhaling sharply, Dean suddenly opened the door and got out of the car, leaving Sam scrambling after him. "Dean!"
Dean strode without hesitation towards the Crossroads Demon with a slight swagger. Sam rounded the front of the car. "I won't let you do this."
Dean stopped halfway between the demon and Sam, but didn't turn. "We've been over this Sam—"
"I wasn't talking to you," Sam interrupted. He looked directly at the demon. "I'm talking to her."
"Me?" the demon said, her smile growing. "Don't I feel like a special girl?"
"I won't let you do this," Sam repeated and shoved his sweating hands in his coat pockets. "I won't let you take him."
"Are you proposing a counter-offer?" The demon slinked closer to Dean, eyeing him like a piece of meat. "It'd have to be good. I already have what I want."
"No offer." Sam forced his voice to keep steady as he enacted his last ditch effort to save Dean. "I'm commanding you to release him."
Dean pivoted on his heel and shot Sam an "Are you crazy?" look. The demon laughed. "You're commanding me?" she said. "Oh, sweetie, I know this is hard on you, but did you really think that would work?"
"I know it will," Sam stated, "because I am the Boy King."
The demon hesitated, amusement disappearing. Acknowledgement lit her eyes.
"Sam, what the hell are you doing?!" Dean said. "Whatever it is, cut it out. A deal's a deal. It's over."
"Release him," Sam said, ignoring Dean. He kept his gaze steady on the demon.
"What'll you do if I don't?" the demon said warily but with a hint of skepticism.
Sam drew himself up to his full height. The headlights cast his looming shadow across the dirt road. His voice deepened unnaturally, becoming gravely sinister. "Do you really want to find out?"
The demon clutched a hand to her chest and took a step back. "No, no. You're right. You're the King. I release Dean completely from the contract." She gave Dean a shaky smile. "It's your lucky day, kid." She took another step back and disappeared.
"What, that's it?" Disbelief paled Dean's features as he turned in a circle, searching for the demon. He stopped and stared at Sam. A grim line creased his lips and he approached.
Sam didn't release the breath he'd been holding until Dean threw water in his face. "Dean! What the hell?"
"Well, you're not smoking. That's a good sign," Dean said, capping his flask and tucking it back into his jacket pocket. Then, he punched Sam in the arm. "Dude, the fuck was that?!"
"Ow." Sam rubbed his arm with a glare at Dean. "That's the thanks I get for saving your sorry soul?"
"By using a freaky-assed voice and saying you're the King, as if you believed it." Dean rubbed the back of his neck. "You scared the shit out of me, Sammy. I thought you were possessed."
Sam tugged down the collar of his turtleneck, exposing the voice distorter. "Possessed with the only brains in this family, maybe."
"Christ, you little bitch." Dean shook his head. "I don't know whether to hit you again or kiss you."
Sam took the decision out of Dean's hands by pulling him into a tight hug. Dean's arms came immediately around him and Sam closed his eyes against their sudden sting. "Sell your soul again and I'll kill you myself."
Dean's unfettered laugh was muffled against the crook of his neck. It was a sound Sam hadn't heard in a year, and he vowed that he would never let it be lost again; a promise that he knew he could keep.
He cracked his yellow eyes open as the heavens began to pour.
After all, he was the King.