Disclaimer: The Winchester brother's are mine…that is, if I owned the WB network, which I do not. I know, let's all riot now, shall we? Just kidding…

Author's Note: This story was written for a challenge submitted by Mellaithwen on P.L. Wynter's Supernatural forum found on this lovely site. The challenge was: What if, in the Roosevelt Asylum, Dean was the one who was first "possessed" by Dr. Ellicott? At first I had no idea what to write, and then this thought came into my head…actually, the title came first, and then this happened. It's also kind of a character study on Dean's part, I guess. At first this was going to be a one-parter, but as I read over it…I'm thinking I might have to write one more part…just so people won't hunt me down and stab me in the eye with a paper clip…Why would someone do that? Well, I'll shut up now and let you ponder that. Er…I'll shut up in a moment.

Warnings: Rated for language. No, this isn't slash…just a lot of, what do you call it…smarm? There is a lot of angst and…I'm afraid to say…there might be character death. MIGHT…I haven't decided. Fair warning, okay? Please, no flames, but if you insist on making me feel bad for trying something new to me, then go ahead…but only if it makes you feel better, kay?

Other nonsense probably making you regret ever clicking the link: Just wanted to state the obvious that I twisted some of the given dialogue for Dean, since…I'm sure under a kind of "possession" each brother would have their own way of approaching the other…or something. Wow, it's 2 a.m. and my double espresso is wearing off…Go on and read the story, I think you've earned that right by now…


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A Penchant for Sacrifice

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"Dean, I need help. It's comin' at me. I'm in the basement, hurry up!"

Dean slammed his cell phone shut and turned to exit to the basement. He briefly stopped, pulled a gun and a few pellets of rock salt out and tossed them to the anxious teens. He didn't bother asking if they knew how to work a gun. His brother needed him.

"Stay here. If you see something, point and pull the trigger," he instructed, dashing out of view.

I'm coming, Sammy…

Dean entered the basement in a rush of panic and a pretense of courage. He'd be brave enough to fight a pissed off poltergeist, but all his valor would surely dissipate in the sight of his fallen baby brother. The unbidden thought was pushed away as Dean continued further into the basement.

"Sam!" he yelled, gun and flashlight hand in hand, pointing in every which way. "Sammy!"

He heard no response; heard nothing at all. He was beginning to get scared, something that didn't happen very often. He burst through a door labeled with cautionary warning and his heart was nearly bursting out of his chest. Where was his brother?

Suddenly, his flashlight flickered wildly until it quit completely.

"Damn it," Dean cursed under a breath, knocking the flashlight against his free palm. He wasn't sure what that'd accomplish, but it made him feel better.

He thought he heard a noise behind him and turned around. There was nothing.

And then a door to the side of him creaked open, all on its own.

"That can't be good," the hunter muttered, taking a reproachful step towards the new room. Knowing the idea was foolish, he couldn't walk away from the possibility Sam might be in the room. Sam could be injured now…or worse…

A small flame shot out from his lighter as he opened it and adorned the room with pitiful light as he entered.

"Sammy?" he tried his best to mask the growing fear in his voice. When he was ultimately certain Sam, or any other entities, weren't in the room, he didn't want to waste any more time. "Why do I always gotta save your geeky ass, little brother?" he directed the question to no one, trying to further away thoughts of fear. He grinned as he recollected his lifetime prerogative. It might be a hassle sometimes, looking after the baby Winchester, but he'd been devoted to Sam since the beginning and unquestionably would be throughout the very end…

And thereafter

Dean made one final glance at the empty room, bidding it a not-so-fond farewell, before turning to leave, when something caught hold of his head. He didn't have time to back into a defensive stance as the grimy looking ghost clawed into his mind. Dean's skull ached, his vision blurred and he was losing feeling throughout his entire body. The last thought he remembered was that he needed to get to Sam. The last voice he heard spoke chillingly to him:

"Don't be afraid. I'm going to make you all better,"

-:-

Dean opened his eyes and his sight was cast upon an empty doorway.

Someone was there…Someone…

He found it hard to focus as his head began pounding. He lifted himself up from the dirty floor and brushed off his jacket. The lightlessness of the room didn't faze him. He didn't bother with a lighter or trying his flashlight. He didn't care. And it wasn't just that Dean didn't care, it was that he didn't feel…anything. He felt no fear, no concern, and no peace. He couldn't understand why he suddenly woke up, lying on a damp floor, head pounding…and left empty inside.

He couldn't understand…but it didn't bother him in the slightest.

He walked out of the room as if he'd known where he was going; but he did not. Something was different, something had changed…he was beginning to feel the aspect of a turnabout when he heard it.

"Dean!" Someone was calling for him. Someone he knew almost too well. And something clicked inside of him. He remained silent, walking to the carrier of the worried voice.

Dean wasn't sure of how he managed to creep out of the shadows with such ease. It suddenly seemed natural for him. And he stood there for a moment quietly studying this man who was looking for him.

It was Sam.

Not Sammy anymore. Not Sammy ever again…

And he was his brother, he knew that now, felt it now…and suddenly he felt angry. He felt envy, bitterness and utter contempt, and it was sweeping over him like a shadow in a dark room. He didn't know why. He didn't need to know why.

And then the younger brother halted in his steps and looked wide-eyed at Dean.

"Dean! Why didn't you answer me when I was calling you?" Sam sounded upset but held relief to see his brother was all right just the same.

"Guess I didn't hear you," the words were just as empty as his eyes when he peered at the other man.

"You know I didn't call you on the cell, right?"

Dean glared at Sam. "Yeah, I figured someone was trying to lure me down here,"

"Probably. I found Dr. Ellicott's journal, and he's done some messed up things. He had been working with his theory that if he got patients to vent their anger, they'd be free of it. Instead, it only made them worse…they got angrier and angrier, to the point where they became homicidal. I think that's what he's done to the people in the past, the officer…"

"Huh, really…" Dean was apathetic but Sam accepted it as his way of mulling the idea over.

"Yeah. So we just have to find the body. Through that room there is where he performed a lot of his twisted experiments. I'm guessing his body might be hid somewhere inside,"

Sam walked by Dean to the room. Dean didn't respond.

"Are you coming?" Sam asked, tilting his head. Dean sighed heavily and followed Sam.

"Yeah, I'm coming," he huffed. Sam rolled his eyes and they went into a dark room. Sam used his flashlight to shed visibility over the dark objects.

"I already checked here, ya know," Dean spat, becoming impatient for no reason. Sam knelt down by a loose board in one of the walls.

"Do you hear that?" He said quietly. He swore he heard a gust of wind. Sam put his hand along a protruding piece of rotten wood and began to pull on it. He stopped when he heard something rattle behind him.

"Sam," Dean growled in a stern voice and Sam turned and stood abruptly. His face paled as he noticed the gun pointing in his direction.

"What are you doing?" Sam asked, his balance wavering from confusion.

"Get away from the door,"

"Just…put the gun down, Dean,"

"And what do you plan on doing about it if I don't? Run away like you always do?" Dean felt the words tumble out as if they had been held captive and finally got a chance to run free. They sprung from his thoughts, but the words held intentions with alternative motives, not his…

Sam watched as blood tricked from Dean's nose over his lips, which he quickly wiped away.

"I knew it…Ellicott did something to you, didn't he?"

"Shut up, Sam. You don't know the first thing about me," The older Winchester hissed, holding the gun higher towards Sam's chest.

Sam bit his lip, unsure of what he could do now to get to his brother. He took an awkward but gentle step forward, his posture claiming an attempt to get a little closer, hands facing palm out with surrender.

"Stay where you are!" Dean commanded. Sam stopped and put his hands down, fear beginning to well in his eyes.

"That gun is filled with rock salt, Dean. It won't kill me," Sam tried to speak plainly. The next thing he knew his body was falling backward through a thin wall of splintering wood; his chest and back feeling instantly bruised by the pressure of a pounding force.

"No, but it'll hurt like a bitch," Dean snapped, almost smiling.

Sammy! Sammy, I'm sorry…

Sam coughed, gasping for air and eyes cast upward as if to plea for help. He tried to sit up but the pain was too much and he was forced back down.

"We just…have to find his bones…burn them, and this will be…over…" Sam said through shaky breathes.

"You're right about one thing," Dean taunted, pointing the gun back down at Sam and stepping closer. "It's time this ended. I'm ready for this all to be over with, this fear, this reliability. It's sickening, really. I'm always stuck being the one saving you from monsters, hiding you from pain, protecting you and standing up for you…I've done it so much now you're corrupted by your own, pathetic weakness," Dean said coldly.

No, I don't mean that…

"You don't mean that," Sam replied, trying to ignore the aching of his body that begged him to keep quiet and still. "This isn't you talking,"

"Oh, but it is…I've just been too much of a coward to say it, too cautioned for your peace of mind that I kept everything locked inside that might hurt your precious feelings. Maybe I was the coward…It doesn't matter much, now…"

"What? You want to kill me?" Sam asked, fearing the answer to his question. Dean eyed Sam suspiciously, as if thinking the prospect over with a mixture of trepidation and delight. "If you're really so sick of me, here, this will do better." he said, slowly lifting the silver pistol that he'd tucked into his waistband. He gestured Dean to take it and after a brief moment of hesitation, he swiped it from Sam's loose grip.

"Do you have a death wish, brother?"

"You're not my brother. And if you were him, he'd fight…he'd fight like Hell right now, and not give in to some crazy doctor's crappy mind-control game," Sam's words were harsh but sentimental. He wanted Dean to hear him; wanted Dean to fight…he only prayed Dean could.

I'm fighting, Sammy…I'm trying…

"I wish I could say I expected more of a fight from you, Sam. I guess, in the end, I'm to blame for that." Dean said, getting a feel for the new gun in his hands as he looked at Sam and avoided actually seeing him. "If you weren't such a pushover, such a poor excuse for a hunter…maybe then I could have a normal life, too. While you were off trying to play Brady Bunch, I was stuck cleaning up the mess you left with Dad. He blames you, ya know…for Mom dying…"

No, he doesn't! Don't listen, don't believe that…

Get that look out of your eyes, Sammy…Please don't look at me like that…

"I once blamed you, too…but then I remembered how much of a weakling you are, too weak to commit such a catastrophe. And so I was stuck protecting you, from the things hiding in your closet, waiting under your bed, around the corner….even protecting you from Dad. And you left me, you ungrateful bastard…You know, I've tried to understand what I do so well that drives everyone I ever love away from me…" His voice lowered with reluctant sorrow.

Sam found it difficult to speak.

"Don't talk like that," Sam begged while trying not to be influenced the words his brother was speaking.

"Like what? Like I'm weak? Okay, so I admit to one weakness and one weakness only," Dean's frigid gaze closed in on Sam like a vulture preparing to strike its feeble prey. "You're my weakness, Sam. And I hate having a weakness. Like Dad always told me, weakness leads to fear…Fear holds you back. I can't let you hold me back anymore." His words were acidic, his voice was lined with a poisonous anger, and yet Sam couldn't mistake the tears he saw forming in his brother's eyes. It's like he was crying and unable to stop it, though his mind willed otherwise.

Sam was desperately trying to ignore the pure hatred drilling into his head, all from his brother. He knew it was Ellicott's doing, but what Dean was saying…it was so believable, so possible. And the possibility of these supposed vacant words being true was something Sam couldn't ignore, no matter how hard he tried.

I can't do this…

"Dean, don't do this…"

"You told me once you'd die for me," there was no feeling emanating from his words, nothing to suggest malice or forgiveness, nothing spiteful or inclined to a proper response Sam was able to give.

"And I meant it. I mean it." For a moment, Sam let the fear of his own brother murdering him subside as he kindly reminded Dean he wasn't going to give in. He was going to be strong for his brother, like his brother was always strong for him. His tears, however, were stronger than Sam had hoped. He didn't want Dean to see him cry, but that was something, like this whole situation, that was out of his control.

Dean's hand trembled as he held the gun firmer in his hands, his finger tightening on the trigger.

"You don't understand!" Dean shouted. "Everything I've ever done was for you! Everything I'll ever do will be for you! Damn you, Sam! I can't live like this…with you, this…this ends tonight," Fresh tears fell, his eyes glazed over in a fear Sam could never comprehend in that moment.

No…I can't kill him, I can't kill my baby brother…I won't!

Dean's hand struggled to keep the gun at a required aim to his brother's heart, not knowing that the young Winchester's heart had already been broken by the mere threat of the trigger being pulled.

"I'm sorry, Dean," Sam let the tears fall. He was weak, and he was going to die because of it. His brother was stronger than him, knew better for him…He couldn't fight his brother. Dean would always have the last say, the last laugh, and somewhere deep down Sam knew Dean would be the last man standing. Dean was just stronger, much stronger. Sam was left helpless at his brother's expense.

He knew nothing of what to say or do to make amends. His older brother's words made sense, perfect sense. This wasn't Ellicott's doing…Sam was coming to a realization that he had somehow corrupted Dean's life. He'd ruined Dean in the past, and he would in the future. Perhaps, he deserved to die. If his death brought his brother some sense of release, of tranquility…he had no other choice but to submit.

"I'm sorry," Sam said again, with an uncontrollable sob, his voice confined to a whisper.

It's not your fault Sam! What have I done to you?

"Apologies…never saved anyone," Dean said solemnly. He was beginning to sweat. Someone inside him was fighting the urge to pull the trigger. There was a much stronger urge, deriving from a buried emotion. And nothing stays buried…It was that kindled devotion Dean was instilled with. It was a kind of a promise that goes without saying, a bond nothing could break no matter how far someone bent it. It was brotherly love; Dean's eternal conviction that Sam was his and he needed to protect him.

"You're wrong. You'd never die for me," Dean spoke, this time his voice carried a softer tone. "I wouldn't let you, not if I could save you first," and with that, Dean forcefully moved the gun away from his little brother's direction. Still, something within him longed for death, be it his brother's or his own. Something tugged at him to pull that trigger, something burned with an insatiable desire inside him for blood. Ellicott

If it's you or me, Sammy…It's gonna be me…

He had no choice as the cold metal of the gun pressed against his temple, finger on the trigger and ready to fire.

Dean was fighting within himself to save his brother, though he would have to sacrifice himself.

And it was the look Sam was giving him in that moment, as he first saw the gun move away from him to his older sibling, that Dean knew why he would give his life up. It was the look of innocence, being tainted once again by an evil thirsting for death. Dean had a penchant for sacrifice. He'd sacrifice years of his life, all but four when times were less than simple and evil hadn't scorched his world. He'd sacrifice for strangers, for those undeserving, for his father and most of all, for his brother. He'd do it for the innocent, and for the innocence his brother had the capacity for.

"Sorry…Sammy…" the words were forced out, and Dean shut his eyes having only a moment left of lucid awareness which he didn't want to spend on seeing the suffering of his little brother.

"I love you, Dean! Don't…please…"

I love you more, Sammy…

And the last thing either brother heard was the sound of the bullet chamber clicking into a release.

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If I tell you I'm crying right now after writing this, will you still hate me? Yeah, figured you would…lol. I was…and am terrified to submit this but I suppose if you're reading this then it's too late…damage done. Actually, I'm proud of this...wouldn't post it if I wasn't. Well, I'm open to comments, compliments, suggestions, complaints, any kind of feedback. Let me know what ya liked, what you hated…what you want to kill with a spork…um, yes. Thanks for reading…

Silver Kitten