Summary: The boys need to clean up after their encounter with Bloody Mary and Sam feels his burden.

Warning: rated PG-13 (just because I hate to admit it's probably just G), spoilers for Pilot and Bloody Mary (I think that's all.)

Disclaimer:Wouldn't I love to have them as my own? But alas, the boys belong to Kripke (and the CW). More's the pity...

A/N: Written and posted for Faye Dartmouth and Geminigrl. Two of the most amazing people I have ever come across. You both know how I feel about my writing. The miracle of this post is dedicated to you both. Faye for making me believe that maybe, just maybe, I could write a sentence that made sense. Gem for taking up the reigns while Faye is off experiencing life and for offering to beta my supposed fic. You both rock beyond belief!

Faye, I hope this post was a surprise worth waiting for. I'm posting it now because I want you to get the shock of finding it for yourself when you get back from vacation.

His Secret Burden

Sam braced his arms against the shower wall, the abrasions covering his hands burning as the force of his weight was transferred from his lower to upper body. His muscles tight, Sam continued to stretch in an attempt to ease the pain. The delicate cuts split wider as he pushed against the cool porcelain, and a sharp stabbing in his left palm brought back images of shattering mirrors and the tinkling rainfall of glass. A reminder that no one escaped Mary's attention unbloodied not-even Mary herself.

For a moment, Sam tried to find pity for the woman who had become "Bloody Mary". After all, she had been the original victim in the story. However, Sam lacked the conviction to pursue his attempt to find forgiveness for Mary's soul. Other women, strong and weak alike, had died at the hands of countless monsters, both human and supernatural, and not become the embodiment of hate that allowed Mary her twisted revenge. Besides, Sam knew there were some sins that couldn't be forgiven. And some souls were beyond redemption.

In the end, Mary had been just one more spirit attracted to the death and destruction that surrounded him. Sam curled his fingernails into the wall tile at the sudden inaccuracy of the thought. No, not surrounded. Destruction didn't follow him. It didn't shadow his every move. It enveloped him and consumed him, leaving behind only the hollow shell his brother had been dragging across the country the last few months. Sam wasn't sure how noticeable the change was to Dean. He knew his brother wanted to help him. But concern from his big brother was another burden Sam could not bear right now. So, he was secretly relieved to find Dean easily distracted by the cuts, bruises, headaches, and increasing blood loss they had begun to suffer at the apex of each hunt. Focusing Dean's attention on bandages and stitches kept his brother from looking into his eyes at the end of the day.

Staring into that mirror earlier in the evening looking for Mary, Sam recalled seeing the shame and guilt reflected back. The true Sam he never wanted his brother to meet. If Dean saw the unforgivable sinner standing before him, he was afraid his brother would feel obligated to destroy him, like the monsters they dispatched in the dark. A quick and efficient blow that would destroy Dean as surely as his brother.

Sam felt a sob building in his throat as his mind forced his thoughts down a path of 'what if's' and 'should have's'. He couldn't afford to let his mind wander in this direction, not with Dean pacing outside the bathroom door waiting for his chance to clean up. Clean? Sam wondered if he would ever feel clean again. With the question spinning around in his mind, Sam felt the pressure in his throat intensify. Sam refused to let Dean hear him crying in the shower, but this was a cheap motel and the walls were paper thin. Throwing his head back, Sam exposed his face and long neck to the spray of water. As he opened his mouth warm water rushed in, silencing the mournful cry before it escaped. The need for oxygen forced Sam to drop his chin back to his chest allowing gravity to carry the water from his mouth and his spent tears down the drain.

It was his fault. It was always his fault. His mom had been the first. Though he couldn't make Dean understand, Sam knew the fire had wanted him. Him, not her. Jess haunted his dreams every night, standing in the doorway in a thin white cotton gown suddenly overcome by flames, a vision of fire and ice, whispering his name. In her eyes, Sam could see the truth, that she knew the fire had again wanted him not her. But even through the flames the truth never morphed into hatred or anger only love. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right. This was his burden, not hers. The demon wanted him, but instead, it always took the person he loved. No, worse - it took the people who dared to love him.

The guilt was overwhelming. It increased with every breath he took. In. Out. It should have been him. In. Out. He should have felt the fear of being lifted up, the hard ceiling to his back. In. Out. He should have looked down on the sweet face of Jess, happily ignorant of his plight. In. Out. The heat of the flames should have consumed him. In. Out. She should be safe. In. Out. She should be living and breathing. In. Out. Not him. In. Out.

Sam took a deep breath, continuing to suck the air in even as the pressure tried to force him to breathe out. His chest muscles rose with the attempt to rush more air into his lungs. And when his lungs had reached their maximum capacity and his body ached to release the pressure in his chest, Sam still held it in. He held it until the ache became a burning and he could feel the fire trying to consume him as it should have done months before. Then Sam pursed his lips and extinguished the fire in a long sigh. All the way out, more and more air escaping his lungs until even his abdominal muscles were aching from the strain. He shouldn't be the one standing there with the warm water washing away his sweat and blood and tears. He deserved the burden.

Yet, even as Sam acknowledged the guilt and burdens that were his, he knew they were more than he could take. He needed to feel clean.

He stood there under the force of the shower head, wishing for once that Dean could have picked a semi-decent hotel to hide away in. The river of moisture flowing through his hair felt weak. It felt like standing out in a spring shower. Sam wanted a hurricane gale to pound him into oblivion to beat the grime off his body and the weight off his soul. He needed to be lost and torn by the lashing of the torrential rain.

Sam shifted his weight back to his legs and reached for the faucet knobs. He had to increase the flow of water. He wanted the force of the water to pound his body into goo. Sam had the desperate need to follow his tears down the drain and be washed away from everything.

"Sam! Get your wrinkled butt out of the shower already!"

Banging on the door and a shout from Dean tore through Sam, causing him to jump, automatically turning the shower off.

"Sam do you hear me? You've got three minutes to get out of there or you will not like the consequences!"

Sam yanked the shower curtain back as he heard Dean stomp away from the door. Dean. What was Sam thinking? Dean would never see the unforgivable sins Sam saw when he looked in the mirror. If Sam let his guilt consume him, the fallout would fall on Dean. Sam couldn't let that happen.

Stepping out of the shower, Sam grabbed a towel from the bar and wrapped it around his waist. Taking a second towel, he walked over to the mirror wiping off the steam to stare at his reflection. Crap, he looked like hell. His eyes were bloodshot from his confrontation with Mary, but not enough to hide his emotions.

Of course, there was always the chance Dean wouldn't see his guilt.

No. Dean had a knack for uncovering all his brother's secrets. Sam needed a distraction - just something to get him through the night. He knew by morning he would be back in control of his emotions, able to keep his burden from becoming Dean's.

Sam played with the towel in his hands as he thought. He could leave the bathroom drying his hair and hope Dean would storm past him to take his turn at the shower. By the time Dean got out, he'd be safely tucked in for the night, faking sleep. No. That plan was shoddy at best. Sam twisted the towel in his hand in frustration.

Ow! His hand stung from the abuse. As Sam unwrapped the towel, he noticed the material soaking up a small amount of blood. He'd forgotten about the gash. Perfect. Sam slipped on the old torn sweat pants he wore when the brothers managed to do laundry. Then, he wrapped his good hand around his other wrist and squeezed and released it, pumping more blood to the wound. When the gash was sufficiently bloody to set off Dean's big brother instincts, Sam opened the bathroom door and stepped out.

"It's about time, Francis. What the -"

Sam interrupted Dean mid-rant, holding up his bleeding hand. "I think I still have some glass stuck in my hand."

Dean reacted exactly the way Sam planned. Dean grabbed Sam's hand in his own and reached for the spare towel, applying pressure to the wound.

"Dude, just don't stand there like an idiot! Put some pressure on it." Dean's grip was harsh, and the material of the towel burned Sam's exposed wound. But the pain was worth it; the plan had worked.

"Go sit down, I'll get the first aid kit."

Sam walked over to the bed and lay back against the headboard. Placing his hand at the edge of the mattress where Dean could easily reach it, Sam closed his eyes and willed his body to go limp. When Dean returned, he would think his brother had collapsed from exhaustion. Sam knew he could lay there and pretend to be asleep even as Dean cleaned and dressed the wound on his hand. If he were lucky, he'd truly be asleep by the time his brother had showered. In the morning, Sam would make sure Dean believed he was fine.

After all, he was with his big brother and that was as fine as Sam could ask for.