Summary: After years on the road with Dean, Sam reaches a breaking point.

A/N: This is a little depressing. I'm not sure what possesses me to write such things--I certainly would never want this to happen. But I just find angst so intriguing and Sam is just so riddled with it!

Disclaimer: Again, not mine. Just messing around.


Sam stared at the wall. It was a dull brown shade, the color of snow when it turns to slush, the color of wet leaves before they decompose. He could imagine it had once been a soothing color, nondescript but durable, but it had had a tumultuous life in the seedy motel.

The furniture had chipped veneer. The lights emitted a dim glow, hampered by dust and low wattage. The lone piece of artwork drooped in its frame. The picture was of a mountain landscape, tall majestic peaks towering over a field of wildflowers. Even in the poor light, Sam could see that the color had faded. The wildflowers were nothing more than muted smudges against a gray backdrop.

He sat on the edge of the bed, his eyes traveling the wall, following the lines of the wallpaper up and down, up and down, occasionally straying to the mirror above the dresser. In the mirror he could see the two small beds that flanked a single nightstand. There was a TV on the dresser. He thought about turning it on, to break up the silence, but he couldn't bring himself to move.

Dean went out to pick up some local color, leaving Sam to do some research on their next gig. Sam had intended to, but when he saw himself in the mirror, he was suddenly paralyzed by his own reflection. It was like when he looked into Bloody Mary's mirror, seeing himself change until he didn't recognize himself. He hadn't been able to look away then, and he couldn't look away now, although he knew there was not an angry spirit trapped behind the glass.

He had been on his way from the bathroom to the desk. He had walked by thousands of mirrors, he had seen himself a million times, but this time he just had to stop.

There was something in the way he walked. There was something in the way his eyes flickered. There was something in the way his face set like stone.

It just hit him: he didn't know himself. That familiar stride, features, everything—it was foreign to him. The man in the mirror looked nothing like the boy who went to Stanford and fell in love, the boy who was too sensitive for hunting, the boy who wanted to be someone, someone normal, the baby in his brother's arms, innocent, as their house went up in flames.

It made him sink to the bed. He turned his gaze from the mirror, but he still could not move. His life suddenly caught up with him.

It had been three years. Three years on the road. Three years with Dean. Three years with Dad missing. Three years of facing everything evil. Three years since Jessica died. Three years since he'd been happy.

He didn't know when he finally realized this life was about more than justice, when his anger melted into determined routine. When he finally accepted this as his destiny, just as his father had always told him. When he finally gave up the dream of a normal life.

He could argue the loneliness away. It was a duty, a protection. He needed to save the world, one demon at a time. Sure, he thought about finding the thing that killed his mother, Jessica. He thought about finding his father. But those were destinations, ones he almost knew he could never reach, and he finally knew that he would be doing this forever without end. This duty fell to him, and he could not run from it. This was his destiny. It became his mantra,his life, but it was never satisfying.

It just cost so much. All the nights in dingy motels, all the dangers he faced, all the loneliness, night after night, spanning in front of him like the road they always drove on. He had filled himself with the hunt, justifying his misery as a mission, a necessary side-effect of saving people.

But he was empty. And nothing seemed to be able to fill him.

It was sacrificial; it was altruistic.

But he surrounded himself with strangers, and he had become anonymous. He had no one to give it to. No one to make it worthwhile. Dean had always run from emotions, and after three years, they were running out of small talk.

Nobility wasn't enough. It wasn't enough to give him meaning. He didn't want to be a tool anymore. He didn't want to be the hero. All his efforts couldn't stop evil anyway.

And the evil—it consumed him. He lived it, dreamed it, breathed it. Sometimes he couldn't figure out what thoughts were his and what thoughts were not. It was as if he didn't know where he began and it ended.

Nothing was worth that cost.

He had given up his life for it in all ways but one, and it was the way he had always valued least.

For a moment, he believed he could leave it. He could tell Dean he dreamed evil and was dying. But Dean would never understand. He would never let himself understand. Sam had only been consumed by the hunt for three years; Dean had been consumed for a lifetime. He didn't exist apart from it.

It wasn't Dean's fault. It also wasn't Dean's decision.

He saw the 45 his father gave him on the dresser. It was the only piece of this life he had never left behind. It represented his legacy. It was his beginning, and now it would be his end.

He picked it up. He trembled. But he had let it go on long enough. He released the safety and closed his eyes. He knew if he pulled the trigger, it wouldn't cost him anything.