Summary: Sam suffers his own crisis of faith while searching for a way to save his brother. "Faith" missing scene.

A/N: Why should Dean be the only one who gets to experience undue amounts of angst during this ep? I was just wondering what it was that made Sam believe so adamantly, and this is what I came up with. It may be a little AU, but it completely fits in with what we know now of the boys (as far as I can see). Again thanks to Cati for the beta.

Disclaimer: I'mnot quite that deluded...not yet anyway.

Reasons to Believe

It's not supposed to end like this.

The thought churns through Sam's head endlessly, burrowing in the recesses of him mind, reverberating loudly in every synapse of his body. The hotel room is barren; the sparse decor only making it seem emptier. The sound of cars speeding down the nearby highway drones in the background. The light fixture looks uncouthly retro, in desperate need of remodeling, and the dust buildup contributes to the dinginess that permeates the air. But Sam does not notice his surroundings. He sits on the uncomfortable chair, but doesn't feel its awkward corners. His eyes are fixed forward, but he can't even see the laptop in front of him.

Dean shouldn't be in the hospital. Dean shouldn't be dying. It's not supposed to end like this.

Not just because Dean is the strong one. Not just because Dean is the good little soldier. Not just because he's always believed Dean was invincible. Not just because Dean is his brother and he loves him and needs him.

A single, separate truth overrides every other factor: Sam has seen his brother's end, and this isn't it.

It's a disconcerting truth. But it is truth nonetheless.

It's a truth he has agonized over for years. As he perches on the chair, hunched over the laptop, Sam tries to forget how many times he's dreamed Dean's death. He never thought, until now, that such a dream could give him comfort.

Sam has dreamed Dean's death thousands of times. It started when he was a child. When he first started hunting, the monsters they tracked in the waking world stalked him in his dreams. His father could vanquish them from earth, but in this world, Sammy was on his own.

Sometimes the monsters were after him, but Sam knew how to handle them; he carried a phantom .45, just like the one he had in real life. He'd raise the gun in his hands, aim carefully and fire. A single shot, and they vanished with an anguish scream and a flash of light.

But Sammy never figured out how to deal with the monsters that attacked his brother. He would find himself standing, unable to move, watching as Dean was killed in painful, horrible ways.

Sam would wake up screaming Dean's name, sobbing and trembling.

As wrenching as they were, though, these dreams were fleeting, and Sam could easily recognize them for the nightmares they were. It was the other dream, the one that still lingers today, that truly haunted him. This dream was not as frequent; it had been well over a month since it last came to him. But he remembers it vividly.

He is alone, standing in the middle of a dark room. The only door is shut and there are no windows. His back is to the door, and he faces a blank wall. The floors are hardwood and somewhat warped with age, and there is simple and dark crown molding running around the ceiling. He stands straight, still, silent, waiting for what he knows will come.

A tiny flame flickers suddenly in the corner, hovering in midair. Sam does not move as it approaches him. It grows as it nears, until the flame is a tall pillar of fire dancing before him.

He can feel the strength of its heat. Its glow casts eerie shadows in the room.

A voice comes from the fire, and although Sam doesn't know who it is, it echoes with familiarity through his body. It is low and murky, dripping with hunger. Each time the dream visits him, the voice utters the same three words, three words that Sam can never forget: "He is mine."

Somehow Sam has always known what the words mean, even though no other explanation is offered. He feels the rage build up inside him, rage that overpowers him, commandeers his senses. He screams and lunges at the fire, flinging himself into its core.

Before it burns him, he wakes up, and Dean's name is always on his lips.

Dean's death is never shown, but it is prophesized all the same. The dream's ambiguity is more frightening than the clarity of his childhood nightmares. After all the dreams, Sam knows for a fact that the words "massive heart attack" play no role in his brother's demise. Sam doesn't know how he knows, but as he learns the power of his dreams, he understands the meaning of this one with increasing certainty. Dean will face the fire, and he will fall. That is how it's supposed to end.

Sam never used to believe in premonitions. He can't afford not to anymore.

Fueled by his faith in his precognitive abilities, he types in keywords desperately—heart research, tissue recovery, radical treatments, miracles—on the search engine. He looks for something, anything, because he knows it's not supposed to be like this.

He has called every contact. He has e-mailed every friend. He thinks to call his father, but he knows that's a dead end before he checks it out, and he doesn't have time for fruitless ventures.

Because there has to be a way out.

The search engine bounces back hits and Sam reads through them voraciously. He has let too many people die; he has lost too many people to sit by and let this happen. He couldn't save his mother. He couldn't save Jessica.

He will save Dean.

It is a fight he has been preparing for all his life, since the dream first tore him from his sleep. The dream is fickle. Sometimes it leaves him for months at a time; sometimes it visits him twice in a week. And though it grows stronger, it lacks immediacy. He does not sense the signs; he does not believe this is when it will come to pass.

So when the doctor told him that Dean was dying, he couldn't believe him. He couldn't believe him because this wasn't the time, this wasn't the way.

He had said nothing to the doctor, because the doctor wouldn't understand. He had to see Dean.

Sam clicks on a link.

He was not surprised by the doctor's response; he was petrified by Dean's. Of all the people in the world who should believe, it should be Dean.

Sam curses as the link proves worthless.

Maybe he should have told him, told him about the dreams. Maybe that would have made Dean fight.

But that's a secret yet, one he has to keep, one he has to keep until he knows he can keep it from coming true. Even when he was younger, he could never give voice to it, for fear of bringing it to reality and out of the dreams buried in his mind. And it seems morbid—placing his hope for his brother's survival on another version of his death.

Sam clicks on another link.

Besides, Dean would joke it away, make it nothing. Sam is too afraid of it for that.

The link is a dead end and suddenly it's too much. The answer should be here, he should be able to find it, because everything inside him tells him it is this way. Watch me, he told his brother. But that means that there has to be something to see.

Sam's faith has backed him into a corner from which he can see no escape. Sitting alone in the outdated motel room, Sam cries.

It's not supposed to end like this. He knows the ending, and this isn't it. So he doesn't understand why all the tests say otherwise or why Dean has given up. He doesn't understand why no one calls him back, why the internet is yielding no solutions. He doesn't know if he can endure the loss again, if he can survive his own powerlessness as everything around him falls apart. He can't.

His world is shoddily constructed on two things: his brother and his dreams.

How can he believe in Dean when Dean has already given up? This time, he knows this is his burden to carry, his time to believe in himself. The dream is all he has left. The dream gives him something to believe in, to cling to, the power to fight. If Dean dies now, then they, too, are worthless—random snippets of future he can't comprehend. And the foundation of his fragile world will crumble. He can hardly bear to think about it.

But as minutes pass without a phone call and each link takes him nowhere, he wonders if his dreams are nothing more than ramblings of his subconscious. Maybe he's as helpless as he's always been, and there is no way to change fate.

Sam sobs recklessly. Doubt runs like ice through his veins. He is running out of time and he's already out of options.

The sun filters through the curtains, catching particles of dust as they meander above his head. The bed is unmade and rumpled from where sleep eluded him the night before. The door to the bathroom is ajar, and the sink drips. The laptop buzzes contentedly, the whiteness of the screen glaring in the low lighting.

The once-imperceptible crack in his faith has split open widely. He is too grieved to think, to desperate to feel. He almost doesn't hear the sound of his phone ringing.

His sobs stop suddenly and he wipes at his nose, afraid to breathe. Tentatively, he reaches out and picks up the small device. His heart pounds.

Turning it on, he holds it to his ear. "Hello?"

The voice on the other end drawls. "Sam Winchester?"

"Yeah?"

"This is Joshua Wiley. I got your message about your brother. I'm sure sorry to hear about that."

Sam blinks, his breath catching in his throat. He clenches his teeth, afraid to believe. "Yeah."

"But I think I got something that can help you."

As he listens, his fear evaporates along with the tear streaks on his face. His smile grows as he writes down the information. He knows it sounds like a long shot, but he cannot deny the certainty that is solidifying within him, promising him another chance to ward of the darker destiny that seeks to claim them both.

It isn't supposed to end like this, and Sam knows it won't.