Legalese: The television series, Supernatural, and all related characters and material belong to a lot of important people. I am not one of these important people. I claim ownership solely of the story idea, and no profit will be made by this.
Author's Note: Again, I have to give major credit to Faye Dartmouth for the inspiration and motivation for this little piece. I was very unnerved by the events of "All Hell Breaks Loose Pt.2" - so much so that I emailed Faye first thing Friday morning to hopefully gain another perspective and help find a way to have everything make sense in a way that didn't leave Sam forever tarnished, changed, and evil. This coda is the end result of those conversations, and I can only hope that this helps any others that may have been left wondering, worrying, and living in terror for the fate of our Sammy. And again, to my faithful Godless Provenance readers - really, don't worry! I really am nearly done with the next chapter!
Timeline: Spoiler alert for "All Hell Breaks Loose Pt.2"
Brief Description: Supernatural - Coda to Pt.2 of "All Hell Breaks Loose." "I'm not a killer, Dean. I'm not a killer, and I'm not evil."
The motel could have been one of a hundred that they had stayed at in the past twenty-three years. A small place located on the edge of nowhere, more run-down than the last, with walls covered with tacky paintings and bedspreads that could make you dizzy if you dared stare at them too long. There was an old, lingering scent of stale cigarette smoke, and the carpet was so worn and dirty that Sam couldn't tell if it was supposed to be brown, or if that was just an after-effect of countless years' worth of foot traffic. The light from the two cracked lamps was a weak yellow that cast the room in shadows - a small blessing as it somehow managed to soften the worn edges of the two chairs that were pulled up to a rickety old table, and it helped hide the water stains and whatever bugs created the small rustling from the dark corners.
It was a hole in the wall, and to Sam, it felt like home.
"Hey, you wanna get cleaned up first?"
Startled from his thoughts, Sam turned to find that Dean had already claimed the bed closest to the door. His movements were smooth, methodical, and ritualistic as he dropped his duffel on the thin mattress and began sorting through the contents. He would pull out his knife first and tuck it beneath his pillow, and then he would find some clean boxers, a fresh tee-shirt, maybe a few more weapons, and then he would turn on the small 19-inch television that stood precariously on a tv stand that faced both beds. It was the same thing that Dean did every time they entered a new room, his way of claiming it as their own.
It was familiar, soothing, and Sam tried to convince himself that it was just like any other night.
Following his brother's cue, Sam moved to the bed furthest from the door and rummaged in his duffel long enough to find clean clothes and his small bag of bathroom essentials. He, too, tried to fall into that same familiar rhythm, but he kept getting distracted by the quick, wary glances that Dean continually threw in his direction. His brother had been doing this from the moment that he had returned from the errand that had taken him from that abandoned house in which Sam had awoken, lain out on a blood-soaked mattress. There was a difference, though, in the glances - a difference that happened sometime during their confrontation with Jake and the Demon. Before, Dean's glances had been filled with disbelief and something so profound that 'relief' felt inadequate. Now, however, there was a wariness, a hesitation that had Sam moving into the small bathroom without another word.
This room was smaller than the last, and overly bright compared to the dim settings of the rest of the motel room. Three bare bulbs were mounted over the small, rust-stained sink, and their glare illuminated the cracked tiles, the grimy floor, the small shower and the thin, gray shower curtain that was weighted down by a light dusting of mold. Realistically, Sam knew that he should have been disgusted by the conditions of the room, but too many years of constant travel and shit rooms made this current locale seem merely on the low end of average. He'd certainly seen worse, and knew that he would again.
Absently he closed the door behind him and placed his stuff on the spotted counter. Working from experience, he completed his bathroom ritual by turning on the taps to the stand-up shower, allowing the water time to not only run free of dirt and rust, but also to warm up to something beyond the freezing level. It was as he turned back, however, that he finally caught his reflection in the cracked bathroom mirror and froze at what he saw.
It was himself, from his bloodshot brown eyes to his shaggy, unkempt hair. There was stubble dotting his chin and cheeks, and he fingered the small, dark hairs for a moment as he wondered at how he could look the same as he always had when he had been dead, dead, just hours ago. He should have looked different. There should have been something that marked him, stained him, and yet there was nothing.
With quick, decisive movements Sam shed his jacket before slipping out of his blood-stained flannel, the tee-shirt underneath, his boots, socks, jeans and boxers, until he stood naked before the cracked mirror. His clothing had been stiff with blood that had leaked from the stab wound that had killed him, and yet when Sam turned and arched his neck, even the small line that he had seen earlier was gone. There was no evidence of Jake's murderous act aside from the dried blood that itched the smooth, unblemished skin. Even the earlier discomfort was gone - gone as though it was something from a dream - a nightmare.
And yet it hadn't been a dream. It wasn't a nightmare. He had told Dean that he remembered nothing aside from seeing his brother and Bobby, and then a white-hot flash of pain before the nothing. He hadn't been lying. There really was nothing else - no blinding light, no warmth, no Mom and no Jessica - at least not that he could remember. Surprisingly, he was fine with that, for while he didn't remember light and warmth and love, he was still left with the uneasy feeling of cold, of dark... of death.
Death had claimed him, coated him, taken him - and then Dean had stolen him back. Sam had been dead, and while he knew that he had every right to be mad at Dean, to yell, scream, and argue for what he had done, he found that Dean had become a hypocrite enough for the both of them. It was ironic, in a way, for Dean had been the one to take their father's death the hardest. He had become a different person - one who had been angry, furious at the world, and he had taken that anger out on any and everyone, including Sam. Dean had argued that what was dead should stay dead - and that was coming from a person that, technically, really hadn't been dead when their dad had made the deal that had sent his soul straight to hell.
Sam, however, had been dead.
And Dean had brought him back. Dean had made a deal with a demon and given his soul as payment - following in his father's footsteps to the very end. But Sam wouldn't follow his brother's example. He wouldn't grieve for a death that he had never wanted in the first place. Sam didn't want to die, and he certainly hadn't wanted to be stabbed in the back by a man that he had just given mercy just moments after he had saved himself from the demon's plans. And he had saved himself. Not Dean, and not their father. Sam had saved himself.
And then he had died.
He wouldn't blame Dean, either, because if their roles were reversed, Sam knew that he would have done the same thing. Some could argue that Dean's act had been selfless, but Sam knew the truth. Dean had been selfish. Completely and utterly selfish - and Sam was grateful for it. Dean wasn't saving Sam from death. Dean was saving himself from a life without Sam - and Sam couldn't blame him for his actions. He couldn't blame him, not when he had been secretly thanking his dad each and every day for making that same sacrifice for Dean. If he was honest with himself, he was grateful to John Winchester for making the deal with the Demon, for Sam could somehow survive without his father - had been doing so for the past four years - but he couldn't survive without Dean anymore than Dean could have survived without him. They were more than just brothers, as more than blood connected them. They had been raised in isolation, with nothing but each other to count on, depend upon, and because of that, Sam couldn't imagine a world without Dean anymore than Dean could imagine one without Sam. Even when he had been at Stanford, Sam had never really been alone, because he had always known that all he had to do was call and Dean would be there, just as Sam would have gone running had Dean ever tried the same. They were Dean and Sam, Sam and Dean. They were the Winchester brothers, a package deal, and you couldn't have one without the other.
So Sam wouldn't grieve for a death that had been as official as you could get, nor would he blame Dean for making a sacrifice that Sam would have willingly made had their roles been reversed. He wouldn't waste time on doing the illogical when there was too much else to focus on. Dean had been given one year, which meant that Sam had one year to save Dean's soul without also returning his 'Get Out of Death Free' card.
At least, it would have been simple if there hadn't of been so many other thoughts, concerns, and worries clouding his brain.
Sighing softly, Sam turned from his reflection and gingerly stepped into a shower that was now so hot that it scalded his skin. The pain was sharp, piercing, but the heat was a wonderful balm against the lingering cold - a cold that he didn't dare explore. The water pounded against his back, his shoulders, and washed away the blood in a swirl of muted pink. He tried to lose himself beneath the hot, blinding spray, but already he found his mind drifting back to questions that, with the demon's death, may now never find answers.
Why had it seemed as though his mom had known the demon? Some dark, quiet part of his mind pointed out the obvious answer - the one that had caused him to lie to Dean when his brother had asked what else the demon had told him. Why had Sam been selected? Why had he been targeted? These had been the questions that had forever haunted his childhood. He had always known the true story of Mary Winchester's tragic death; he had always known the reason for their militaristic childhood, for their crusade against evil and the thing that killed their mother. Mary Winchester was a loving mother, a beautiful wife, a saint. But thanks to the demon, the night of his mother's death was now forever burned into his memory - and also marred. There seemed to be only one reason why Mary would have known the demon - one reason why she had recognized him - and that was because she had met him before.
Why would young, lovely, charmingly innocent Mary Winchester have known a demon? Why would she have recognized him as he stood over the cradle of her youngest son? Why had Sam been targeted? The dark, quiet part of Sam's mind pointed out that the most logical explanation was that his mother had made a deal with the Yellow-Eyed Demon. If Mary was so normal, he doubted that she had summoned the demon herself, but that didn't rule out the possibility that she had been approached. Maybe she had been a frightened girl who was in a situation beyond her control when a yellow-eyed stranger approached her with a way out of her troubles. Maybe her firstborn, her infant son, Dean, had been deathly ill and the doctors said that there was nothing they could do. It had to have been something dramatic, something earth-shattering, something that could have explained why Mary would have agreed to the price of her second-born for whatever magic solution the demon had offered. Who knew? Maybe Mary had taken the demon's offer with no intention of ever paying the price. There were four years between he and Dean - a long time, perhaps longer than what most parents waited between children. Maybe she had never intended to have another child, so that she would never have to pay her bounty.
But she did get pregnant again. She had Sam. And the demon... the Yellow-Eyed Demon came back to collect.
While Dean had sparse memories of their mother from when he was a small child, Sam had nothing to draw on aside from the few, scattered stories his brother had shared while growing up - nothing until Sam had seen her spirit in their house in Lawrence. It had been a busy, crazy, painful night, and yet to this day Sam still clearly remembered the only three words that she had spoken to him: Sam, I'm sorry.
Maybe now he was beginning to understand why.
It was a wild theory at best, but Sam knew it was plausible. Hell, more than plausible - likely, even. But he also knew that John Winchester had never considered this possibility. If he had thought that Mary was anything other than an innocent victim of the demon's evil plots, a martyr to their cause, then Sam knew that the past twenty-three years would have been much different. John hadn't known about Mary's connection to the demon, and Dean was equally ignorant - and Sam had no intention of ever helping him to make that connection. If Sam had ever had any doubts about the impact their mother's death had on his brother, those doubts had been erased since Dean's recent encounter with the djinn. That glimpse of normality, of a life where Mary Winchester had lived, had nearly destroyed Dean, and Sam wouldn't tempt fate or his brother's fractured psyche by filling him in on this new development.
Not that it seemed to matter anymore.
The Yellow-Eyed Demon was dead. Dean had killed it, and in doing so, he had avenged their mother. He had avenged Jessica. Even John had played a role in the destruction of the creature that was ultimately responsible for ruining all of their lives. And yet Sam couldn't help but wonder if later, when the thick fog that had settled over his thoughts had finally lifted, if he wouldn't feel some measure of remorse that he had done nothing but watch while he was, once again, pinned up against some hard spot with nothing to contribute but a few idle threats.
Sam's lips twisted into a wry, humorless smile, his head tilting back as the water pounded his muscles until they were numb.
How ironic. He had spent the past few months spiraling further and further down a washed out tunnel as he was repeatedly beat over the head with the idea that his destiny was not his own. He was going to turn evil. He was going to fail. He was going to fall and it would be up to Dean to 'save' him. Idly, he couldn't help but wonder if Dean ever realized that each and every time he promised him that he would save him, he was instead just killing him further, eroding what little self-confidence he had left. He had been spiraling out of control, only to be stripped from his brother and dumped into a situation in which Sam had to either save himself or fall and thereby fulfill his hated destiny. There was no Dean-safety-net, and instead of failing, falling, becoming evil, Sam had risen to the occasion. He fought Jake without ever using a demon-driven power and it had been an epiphany, a leap ahead, because he had won.
And then he had died.
In that moment, it was as though he was being unceremoniously dumped back on square one and all of his hard-won accomplishments were worth nothing. Zilch. Nada. Sam wasn't standing on his own, and he hadn't earned the right to stand at Dean's side as an equal partner. Instead it was as though no time had passed as he was once more held against a fucking tree and was effectively pushed another three steps behind his brother.
Not that Sam had been completely useless in the fight. He had, after all, been the one to kill Jake - and God, what a fucking accomplishment.
A small groan of distress slipped past lips that were clenched tight, and his head fell back until it smacked against the slick tiles of the small shower stall. It hadn't been all that long since he had killed Madison. She didn't want to be responsible for the deaths of innocent people, and so she had asked Sam to kill her. It had been one of the hardest things Sam had ever done, but he had obliged - and he had hated himself for it. Oh, he knew that her death had been necessary, just as he knew that Dean would have pulled the trigger to spare Sam from doing it himself, but that had been the first of many steps that Sam had taken to begin climbing out of the out-of-control, downward spiral that he had been in. He had never before killed anything that was so human, and yet he had pulled the trigger. Just one shot and Madison had been dead.
God, no wonder Dean was looking at him as though he had brought something back that wasn't quite his brother. Sam had shot Jake seven times. Seven times. He had shot him four times in the back, and when Jake had begged him for some of that mercy he had been so quick to offer just the night before, Sam had pulled the trigger another three times, this time emptying his clip into Jake's face. Once more, he knew that this death had been necessary. Jake was the Yellow-Eyed Demon's chosen soldier, and despite his promises to find the demon and kill him, Jake was obviously in the cemetery to do the demon's will. He had already done the demon's will when Sam had fired the first shot. Jake was ultimately responsible for every single creature that surged, fought, and crawled out of hell. He had used Ellen as a hostage to his madness, and, not to forget, he had killed Sam the night before. No, Sam had every reason to kill Jake, and he knew that Dean, Bobby, and Ellen wouldn't have hesitated to do the same.
But none of them would have done it so brutally, so coldly, and so dispassionately. He had been acting like Dean during his brother's darkest depression after their father's death, and that had been a stage in Dean's life that had seriously frightened Sam. There had been so little remorse and an almost visceral thrill when Dean had acted as God's personal weapon in the fight against the evil they hunted. Suddenly, the wariness in Dean's eyes began to make more and more sense - and it sickened Sam.
With fingers that felt thick and clumsy, Sam hurriedly turned off the shower and wrapped the small white square of cloth that the motel had the audacity to call a towel around his waist. He was so wet that the water cascaded down his slick skin, pouring in small, clear rivulets from his tangled locks of hair to form a treacherous puddle at his feet. The short journey from shower to door was a dangerous route over slippery tile, but he skidded his way there, knocking his body against the door for a couple of frustrating seconds before he finally managed to pull it open so that he could stumble out in a belch of steam.
"Sam, what the fuck?" Dean called out, and Sam had a brief glance of his brother standing beside his bed, a cache of weapons spread before him and within reach, before Sam became hampered by the hair that was dripping water into his eyes, and the fact that he couldn't wipe it away without dropping his towel and giving his brother an even bigger shock.
"I'm not evil!" he gasped as he compromised and used his shoulder to nudge the heavy, wet locks out of his line of his sight. What he saw, however, caused his heart to plummet as he watched his brother drop the knife that he had been holding, his face betraying little of what he was thinking.
"I never said you were," Dean countered, but even though Sam could hear the sincerity in his voice, he still couldn't miss the way his brother's eyes never left his own - as though they were searching for something that he was desperately hoping not to find.
"What happened with Jake, I wish... I didn't... I'm sorry that I did that. I hate that I did that," Sam hurriedly explained, but the words were coming out twisted, wrong. There was the realization, the understanding of what he did - something that his heart had been trying to tell him, and something that his brain was only starting to figure out. But the connections were still too new, and his brain hadn't had time to process the full impact of what had happened, and it was too hard to pull the words together to make Dean understand... to make Dean understand that despite his uncharacteristic actions, he was still Sammy.
And Dean didn't understand, for immediately his face cleared and his eyes became cold. "I'm not sorry that Jake's dead," he insisted, and there was so much anger, so much hate in his voice that for a moment Sam drew back. "He deserved what he got," he continued, and suddenly Sam understood, because Dean had watched Jake kill his little brother. If Dean could put a bullet into an innocent man that was housing the Yellow-Eyed Demon, of course he could understand the need to kill a man that wasn't innocent; to kill the man that had taken his brother away from him. Once more, Sam would have felt the same. But that still didn't change one thing.
"I'm not a killer, Dean," Sam reiterated, his voice pleading with his brother to understand. "I'm not a killer, and I'm not evil."
"Dean, I know that Jake needed to die, that he deserved to die, but... I still hate that I did it. I still hate that in that moment, I was glad to do it," Sam explained, and for a moment more Dean was silent. He was silent in his appraisal, and this time Sam didn't shy away from his brother's probing gaze. It was something that Dean needed to search for, something that Sam needed him to search for, because he didn't know if he could handle seeing fear in his brother's eyes, uncertainty, and a wariness that was directed at him. He needed his brother to be Dean: the one full of false bravado, reassurances, and the cocky swagger that was his trademark. He needed Dean to be his big brother.
The probing gaze seemed to last seconds, minutes, hours, but Sam felt his panic recede as a slow, mocking grin lifted his brother's lips.
"What? And you just had to tell me all of this while naked? Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," he murmured, and with that much-hated, and much-needed nickname, Sam felt a matching grin lift his lips as all of the tension finally, completely eased away. "We may be close, but we are not that close. Now go put some fucking clothes on before I see something that very, very, very few people ever get to see."
"Jerk," Sam muttered, but the word was said around a grin as he turned and ambled back towards the small bathroom.
"Bitch!" came the much-treasured reply as Sam pulled the door closed behind him.
They were good.
Their father was out of hell, the evil Yellow-Eyed Demon was dead, Sam wasn't evil or dead, and they apparently now had plenty of business opportunities to keep them busy, not to mention a certain demon-deal to break. It was a lot to handle, but Sam suddenly understood that no matter how many trees he was held against, no matter how many daddy issues he still harbored, nothing was going to stop him from saving his brother.
After all, that's what being a brother, being a Winchester, was all about.