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He plunged the knife deeply into the soft, pliant flesh and watched in satisfaction as the creature howled in agony. He twisted the handle from side to side, relishing the sounds of death until at last the creature's eyes glazed over and its pitiful squirming stopped. Damn, he thought. That wasn't nearly long enough.

He sighed and pulled the knife out of the carcass, wiping various body fluids on the grass. Hopefully, the next one would be more of a challenge. He wouldn't want to lose the thrill of the kill.

As he stiffly stood up, he turned his head from side to side, his neck cracking in response. Sleeping on hard motel beds was for the young and even if he wasn't old by usual standards, his soul felt old. Old and dead.

The wind howled around him and he vaguely noted the chill of winter in the air. He finished the job quickly, burning the remains as he chanted the familiar Latin phrases. No point in taking chances, he thought as the smell of scorched flesh surrounded him. It was a lesson ingrained in him since childhood.

As the bonfire smoldered to a few flickering embers, he left the woods and made his way back to the waiting Impala. He opened the trunk and away from prying eyes, took the opportunity to check his arsenal. He was running low on silver bullets; he'd have to restock at the next town. He reprimanded himself for using too many on the last werewolf. He should have stopped shooting when the wolf died. But it was too enjoyable to keep shooting and watch the blood spurt out in little fountains. At least he still had enough holy water and rock salt.

He closed the trunk carefully and went around to the driver's side, checking the car for any signs of damage. But the car was intact and he grinned in approval. He caught sight of his smile reflecting off the car's window and the expression was frightening in its hollowness. The skin looked unnaturally stretched and he suddenly had a vision of a skull grinning back at him. He stopped smiling.

Opening the car door, he reached in and put on the worn leather jacket while trying not to look at the empty interior. He vaguely remembered that he used to smile and laugh and make bad jokes but that time was gone. Now all that was left was the hunt. The hunt gave him purpose and a reason for not blowing his brains out. He told himself that it was a good thing, to rid of the world of monsters and spare others the horror of losing a loved one. But if he were totally honest with himself, he'd have to admit that he enjoyed the kill too much. The need for revenge was consuming him and he embraced the growing darkness. There was too much pain in the light.

So he lived for the kill and tried not to think of how closely he was beginning to resemble the very things he hunted. It didn't matter. He had died the day he held the broken body of his brother in his arms. If he had been faster or stronger or anticipated better……. Now he buried his guilt in every knife wound he inflicted, in every bullet that hit its mark. But it was never enough.

He sat for a moment behind the wheel of the motionless car, fingering the silver talisman that hung from his neck. He had never taken it off, not since the moment he had accepted it from Dean's bloodstained fingers. "Someday, big brother. I promise you. I won't stop until your death is avenged." The whispered words hung in the stillness and Sam's face briefly tightened in pain. But even as he grieved, in his mind he heard his father's admonishment that feelings were a weakness and a hunter needed to stay strong. His face now impassive, he started the car and drove into the endless, empty twilight.