Chapter 69: Poor Dean

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights
But you yourself are nothing so divine
Just next in line
Arm yourself because no-one else here will save you
The odds will betray you
And I will replace you
You can't deny the prize it may never fulfill you
It longs to kill you
Are you willing to die?
The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name

-You Know My Name by Chris Cornell

It wasn't that long at all before Sam came back. Dean knew what to expect, knew he would be the first person on Sam's checklist. He didn't even look up when he heard the lock click open on the door, or when a figure stepped into the room, his stride confident. He didn't slam the door angrily like Dean would have expected, instead shutting it quietly, carefully. It locked behind him.

"Dean." There it was. One word. Barely a greeting, but enough. Dean didn't flinch or move from where he sat, turned away from the door. He didn't want to see the face that went with the voice, which had once seemed so familiar, so warm, kind, but now put even more space between Dean and his brother.

No. This wasn't Sam. No matter what happened to him, what Sam did to him, he had to remember that. Sam wouldn't do this, but that didn't stop his hands from shaking minutely. He clenched his fists against the wood to hide it, knowing he had no chance if Sam saw any sign of fear.

A scraping sound was heard as a chair was drawn across the room, closer to Dean, and in his peripheral vision Dean caught the first glimpse of Sam. He wore the same clothes as before, the same neutral expression, but his hair was jet black, matching his eyes. Dean turned his head in reflex, but the second he moved, a hand shot out and grabbed his upper arm. He yanked away, pulling himself off the chair and backing away.

Now Sam was smiling. He didn't speak for awhile, and neither did Dean. Sam just stared at him, his eyes surveying Dean with a calm stare, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, if you're going to be like that..." He shook his head, disappointment in his eyes at the lack of reaction from his older brother. "I had a feeling, though." He sighed, standing.

"How'd you get him to do it?" Dean snarled, the anger flowing through him as suddenly as if a switch had been flipped. "What did you tell him?"

"You know," Sam said, stepping closer. His eyes sparked with satisfaction as he leaned against the bed post lazily. He looked as relaxed as if they were two old friends sitting at a bar somewhere. "It's incredible how much a little pity and a lot of bullshit can do for you." He chuckled before turning to look at Dean. "Oh, come on; don't look at me like that. I was the one who had to hold down the vomit watching that little sob fest ten minutes ago. And you two are always like that, constantly, all 'I'll be there for you,' 'Everything is going to be okay.'" He took a deep breath, rolling his eyes. "Thank god that's over, right?" He didn't seem to notice that Dean hadn't shared the humor.

"If you're going to kill me, do it now," Dean said, forcing his voice to stay even. Sam looked mildly impressed at that fact.

"Hey," Sam said mock-defensively, smiling wider. "Who said anything about killing?"

"You killed Sam," Dean said.

"Don't be such a drama queen, Dean," Sam threw back with exasperation with the air of someone who'd heard the same thing way too many times. "I haven't killed anyone. He's still up here." He lifted a finger to tap his temple. "He's just a lot less..." He thought for a second. "Annoying," he finally decided. "Do you know how much it takes to shut that kid up?"

"About as much as it takes for you to, I'm guessing," Dean spat.

"I'm sorry you feel that way," Sam said, pretending to be hurt.

"It doesn't matter what I feel. You're going to kill me anyway."

Sam didn't speak. In fact, that comment seemed to be the first thing to wipe the smile off his face, for his true side to show. The coal black eyes bored into Dean's for a split second before he looked down, a knife in his hand. Dean saw the gun hooked in his belt loop tightly as he shifted. Sam twirled the weapon between his fingers as if it was something fascinating.

"Well..." he said, no regret showing on his face."We both knew that, didn't we? That's why I'm here."

"You don't have to," Dean said, and Sam rolled his eyes, frustration shining through.

"Stop acting like I'm still your kid brother, Dean," he said, his voice angrier than it had been their entire conversation. Instead of scaring Dean, it made him feel better. There was no disguise on anymore. "He's gone, and you know it."

"No, he's not," Dean said calmly. "That's what you said last time, and look how that turned out."

"I was lying last time," Sam threw back. "I'm through playing games with you, and I know you know that."

"How do I know you're not lying to me now?"

"Because it doesn't matter if I tell you the truth or not," Sam spat, temper rising as he pushed himself up into a standing position. "You're going to die either way. It's not like you're going to tell anyone." He smiled briefly, but it didn't reach his eyes like the others had. He had started pacing around, back and forth in front of Dean slowly, like a lion circling his prey. Dean's fists clenched at his sides as he prepared for Sam to lunge at him. "Pretty soon you're going to start up the Star Wars jokes again, aren't you?" Sam asked, eyes slightly narrowed.

"I was getting a few ready."

"Let me guess: Darth Sam, right?"

"Nice way to spoil it." Sam didn't even seem to register the comment. His eyes looked far away, as if he were thinking of something else entirely. Dean didn't think someone's eyes could glaze over that fast, and a few seconds later, when he looked up, his eyes were an even darker brown than before. "What are you...?"

Sam ignored him once more, eyes attentive again. He blinked a few times, and then continued, "It's not that bad." His eyes met Dean, and when they did Dean saw even less of what had been his brother there. Fewer sparks remained than before; Sam looked...dead. His skin had paled even more, but maybe that was because of the shadows that seemed to have become darker since he had entered the room. He was drawn up to his full height, taking every opportunity to point that out to Dean wordlessly as he knew it pissed him off. "I'm starting to think Anakin had it right after all."

"Well, if being thrown into a pit of molten lava is your idea of a good time, I guess so," Dean muttered loudly enough for Sam to hear. His brother's expression didn't change.

"And what are you, Dean?" he asked coolly, coming to a halt in his pacing to round on Dean fully, locking Dean in the full force of his coal black stare, daring him not to look away. "Han Solo?" He cocked his head to the side, choosing his words carefully as he took a step forward, watching for Dean's reaction. Dean didn't give him the satisfaction of seeing him flinch, though his entire body was tensed, prepared just like John had taught him to when expecting an attack at any second. "You're here for comic relief and to get the girl." He straightened his head, creasing his forehead and looking at Dean like he was a disappointment. "They were going to kill him off anyway, and do you know why?"

This time, Dean did wince as Sam drew even closer, so their faces were only inches apart. He broke the eye contact, and Sam didn't care. He spoke his next words slowly; quiet enough so that Dean could barely hear him, but with a sharp edge to his voice that seemed to echo in his mind. "Because he's not important enough." Dean reflexively pushed him away, shoving as hard as he possibly could, satisfied when Sam stumbled slightly. He could have taken advantage of that, could have attacked him right then. He should have, but he didn't.

"What would the movie be without Darth Vader, Dean?" Sam hissed under his breath, gazing up at Dean dangerously through his bangs. "Think about it. Han...well, he ended up in love with Leia, and that's pretty much it." He drew himself up again, only slightly surprised that Dean hadn't taken the opportunity. The knife was still in his hand, tucked in the sleeve of his jacket temporarily. "And as..." He flinched as if it caused him physical pain to say the next words. "...cute as it was to watch you and Cassie swap spit, I don't think it'll exactly save you from being frozen in carbonite."

"Vader died in the end, too," Dean threw back lamely, and Sam rolled his eyes in annoyance that Dean had chosen such a weak argument.

"Well, there's always that," he admitted. "But who says we can't tweak the story a little? Add a few characters, take a few out? Who needs Luke anyway? He was just a whiny little twerp anyway."

"He had a better haircut than you, though," Dean muttered under his breath, but he knew full well Sam had heard what he said, and his eyes narrowed. That, of all things Dean had said, that one comment broke Sam's shell completely. For a second when Sam surveyed Dean, he was sure Sam was about to lunge at him, and got ready to fight back with what he had, though he had no idea what Sam's fighting capabilities were at this point. But Sam didn't lunge at him. He just stood there, and after a few seconds, to Dean's surprise, he laughed. The laugh wasn't like any of the other ones earlier on, the chuckles, since this one didn't have a trace of humor in it.

Fine. If Sam wouldn't make the first move, he would. Sam was too fast for him, though. As if he had been preparing for Dean to attack him at any moment, and when Dean sent out the first blow, he dodged easily, grabbing Dean's upper arm with inhuman strength and throwing him away and into the wall as hard as he could. He advanced, looking barely out of breath at all from the exertion.

"I was going to give you a few more minutes," he said, eyes suddenly looking the opposite of dead. "But this works, too." They were narrowed in a predatory fashion as he pulled out the knife, twirling it in between his fingers, and Dean lashed out at him.

Sam moved faster than he would have thought humanly possible as kicked Dean in the stomach, sending him against the wall once more. This time, Dean's head made contact with the wall, the thud resounding inside his very skull as if his brain had physically started rattling around. He felt something yank at his hair and force his head back again into the wall, his vision temporarily blacking out as he felt the blood start to trickle from his scalp.

Out of the corner or his eye, Dean saw a glimmer of something silver and ducked to the side just in time to miss the blade coming at him. He stumbled and fell, but kicked his leg out and brought Sam down with him in one sweeping motion, evening out the playing field. Dean pulled himself up to a crouching position, watched as Sam flung the knife out in his direction. He ducked, grabbed Sam's lower arm and finished the blow. He slammed Sam back down to the stone floor as hard as he could, hard enough to send the knife flying into the corner.

Sam struggled against his brother as Dean put his other hand forcefully on his chest in an effort to keep him down. He reached for the gun at Sam's belt, but the youngest Winchester was faster, and realized what he was doing in time to knee him in the stomach firmly, knocking the wind out of him.

"Nice try." Sam was on his feet before Dean could get his bearings. All he could manage to do was duck and roll as something smashed next to him, the vase from the end table most likely. He hit the bed and used it to pull himself up. His body was shaking and his head was spinning but adrenaline was doing its job for him. Sam lunged at him, but this time he was better prepared. His reflexes had sped up, and he felt like he would do better now that he had finally let go, warmed up. He was as good as he would ever be in this situation.

But Sam was better. He moved so fast it was unbelievable, and Dean had to use every bit of strength he had just to defend himself, much less get a blow in. This wasn't Sam as he'd known him; hell, this wasn't even Sam from when he had first turned all those months ago. This was worse. Twice as strong, twice as fast, and twice as ruthless. Dean had struggled to win last time, and even then he'd nearly gotten himself killed.

He let out a sharp breath of air as he hit the ground with amazing force after Sam flipped him. A hand was at his neck, pinning him down, the short fingernails cutting into the flesh.

"You'd think after all those years of training you'd put up a better fight than that," Sam said, still completely composed. "You're no better than dad."

"Don't you dare talk about dad," Dean spat. Sam snorted, ignoring the threat.

"Both of you, I mean. It's pathetic. It's always about work. Work, work, work. It's always been about training, about saving all those people. It's your mask, Dean. You hide in your work."

"From what?"

"From facing everything." Sam easily parried Dean's punch and slammed him into the bedside table, grabbing hold of the front of Dean's shirt to pull him upright so he could speak to him eye-to-eye. "From seeing what you really are," he snarled, his eyes colder than ice. "Mom was gone, dad was gone, and I was as good as gone. It was all you had and it's gone now. You're hiding from seeing that you're alone. You always have been, and you always will be until the day you die."

"No," Dean said, trying to latch onto some hope that Sam was still in there, that there was something in there. "Sam..."

"You live a lie, Dean. You keep preaching not to shut the rest of the world out, not to be numb to everything, but it's how you thrive. You pretend to be critical and all the rest of this bullshit, but you're just looking for a way out. An excuse. Your entire life is an excuse."

"Maybe it's because I know I'm the only one who's getting out of this."

"Poor Dean," Sam hissed in the most hostile tone Dean had ever heard him use. He held out his hand, shutting his eyes halfway as he continued to hold down Dean with inhuman strength. "You know, Dean, they say you never feel more alive than when you're about to die." It was then Dean noticed the knife in the corner beginning to levitate off the ground, wobbling slightly for a few seconds before evening out. Sam opened his palm, his eyes meeting Dean's. There was no sign of Sam Winchester ever being in there, and no sign that he was going to come back in time. "Let me know if that's true, okay?"

Sam let his guard down as the knife came flying at him, and that was all Dean needed. He leaped into a crouching position matching Sam's. He grasped the arm that Sam had thrown out to catch the knife and twisted it as hard as he could, kicking out into Sam's chest. Surprisingly, it worked, and the knife fell to the ground a foot away. He kicked Sam forcefully in the stomach to keep him on the ground, grabbed the knife and held it at Sam's neck while grabbing the gun from Sam's belt to hold it to his head.

"Three seconds flat," he gasped smugly. "And I didn't need any shit-head demon to teach me how to do it, either. Makes you rethink a few things, doesn't it?"

"What now?" Sam asked, out of breath. "You going to kill me or what?"

"No," Dean answered. "I'm getting out of here."

"Good luck with that," Sam said, smiling. "You'll last two minutes tops."

"I didn't say I was going alone," Dean threw back, pulling Sam to his feet while still pressing the gun to his head. He held on to the knife tightly, as he could feel Sam trying to pry it from his fingers telepathically. His powers weren't fully developed yet; they wouldn't be until at least twenty-four hours after the transformation ended. "I'm going to need a hostage."

The smirk on Sam's face dissolved immediately. "Oh, you've got to be shitting me."

Stay out of the light
Or the photograph that I gave you
You can say a prayer if you need to
Or just get in line and I'll grieve you
Can I meet you, alone
Another night and I'll see you
Another night and I'll be you
Some other way to continue
To hide my face

-I Never Told You What I Do For A Living by My Chemical Romance

A/N: Hi, guys! Sorry this took so long to come out, things have been really...crazy. My heart just hasn't been in writing lately, and I have a few family issues I have to deal with at this point in time. I know these last chapters have been really, really transition-y (I'm seriously thinking of trademarking that phrase) but I had to put them in there to get to all the other stuff. I didn't like writing them AT ALL, but they had to be there, and I did the best I could with them. If you don't like the story at this point, remember nobody is making you read this. Please review:)
Oh, and if you're confused what that last move Dean used was, AKA what he was referencing, go back to Chapter 51.