Disclaimer: I don't own or make a profit from Supernatural.

One Night in Pasadena

Dean sat hunched on the red leather stool, both arms braced on the scarred wooden bar. He took a deep pull of his Corona, seemingly uninterested on what was going on around him. In the mirror above the bar he watched everything; the sway of the waitress's hips as she served customers, the friendly game of pool between locals in the back, and the quiet conversations in the dimly lit booths tucked in the corners of the room. His ever watchful eyes missed nothing even as he took another swig of beer.

The front door opened and a whiff of fresh air blew in sweeping away the scent of stale cigarettes for a breath before it was gone. Dean's eyes followed the shadowy movement of the new intruder, patiently waiting for them to step into the light.

A woman appeared with thick, black hair that curled around her small shoulders, and big, expressive eyes that glittered in the light. She was petite, only coming to his shoulder, but she held herself with the confidence that she was the most desirable person in the room. Every male swung their head towards her, lust flashing across their faces before they hid it from jealous girlfriends.

Her black eyes scanned the room, appraising and disregarding prey with predatory intensity. Finally her eyes settled onto Dean. Her full red lips parted into a smile, revealing perfect white teeth. Her eyes deepened and the sway in her hips became more pronounced as she sashayed towards him.

Seeing her coming, Dean swiveled in his seat, his lips tilting up into a welcoming smile. He allowed his eyes to rake down her body with hungry male admiration, knowing that's what she expected. Her smiled broadened and she inhaled deeply, heaving her breasts until they filled the low-cut neckline of her hot pink blouse.

"Buy me a drink, stranger?" Her voice was husky and teasing. A voice made for seduction and moonlight.

"Absolutely." Dean returned her smile, lifting his hand to flag the barkeep's attention. Without being told the bartender placed a drink in front of her, walking away without collecting his money. His actions said loud and clear that he had seen her operate in past.

"I haven't seen you around here before." She sidled up closer to him, sipping delicately at her gin and tonic.

"Just passing through town." His words were curt, but his hazel eyes lingered. They watched her cherry lips as she spoke, before trailing down her pale, graceful neck to her cleavage. She inhaled again, her smile curling mischievously at the corners of her mouth as he took a long swallow from his beer to recoup.

"Well then, let me be the first to welcome you. My name is Suzy." She held out her small hand for him to shake. He glanced down, noticing that her long, manicured nails were the same crimson red as her lipstick. He wrapped his much larger hand around hers, squeezing her fingers gently.

"Dean."

When she tried to reclaim her hand he refused to release it, twining his fingers around hers, massaging her palm suggestively with his thumb. Her smiled quirked and she leaned forward, sliding her knee between his so that their bodies were only inches apart.

Dean peered deep into her eyes, looking passed the dark iris and into her soul. He watched as her pupils dilated with anticipation, and he could see her pulse begin to race at the sensitive spot just below her ear. He knew his intensity was frightening and alluring. It was the reason that women threw themselves at him, and the reason he always left in the morning. A woman only wanted a wild beast long enough to say that it ate out of their hand, but with the morning light thoughts of a normal life and husbands with steady jobs drove him from their bed.

Without looking away he lifted his hand to the barkeep, still staring at her as he placed his order.

"A shot of Jack with a Cuervo chaser. And of course, another drink for the lady."

Suzy's eyes widened, but the barkeep just grunted, producing two bottles from beneath the bar. He poured Dean's shots simultaneously with dexterity earned from years of practice, but when he went to pour Suzy's drink she waved him away.

Finally breaking his gaze, he picked up his shot of Jack, belting it back with a hiss. He slammed the glass down, picking up the tequila and throwing it back with equal vigor. When he was done, he turned back to her, not surprised when she inched closer to him, practically sitting in lap.

"Trying to get me drunk, cowboy?

"Not if I beat you too it." He grinned at her, sliding his arms around her waist so he could haul her up onto his thighs. She seated herself comfortably on him, riding him sidesaddle while wrapping her slender arms around his broad back.

"I hate to tell you this, but I'm a sure thing," she purred throatily in his ear, her delicate pink tongue sneaking out to flick against his lobe. Dean felt himself harden, and he grabbed her hips, pressing her down on him so she could feel his excitement. He motioned the barkeep over again with a wave of his hand, barely resisting the urge to slide open-mouth kisses along the column of her throat.

"Two more shots and the tab."

"On the house." The barkeeper refused to meet his eyes, and there was an air of defeated sadness about him. Dean ignored him, too involved in the woman on his lap to care.

"Careful, sweetheart. I wouldn't want you to fall down before you can get up." She ground herself against him, allowing him to feel the full stretch of her supple body against his hard one.

He grinned at her, cockiness gleaming in his hazel eyes. "Don't worry, sweetheart. I always get up.

She chuckled, her laugh vibrating down through his chest and into his groin. He groaned, pulling her closer to lick the hollow of her collar bone. He reached for the salt on the bar, shaking it onto her wet skin. He threw back his shot of Jack then buried his face in her neck to lick her salted skin. She wrapped her arms around him, drawing his head further down so it was between her breasts. He bit her soft, plump flesh, not hard enough to sting, but enough to make her squirm. She released him, and he shot his tequila, setting her abruptly on her feet.

"Where's your place?" he demanded, all business. For a moment she was caught off guard, but she recovered quickly.

"I have a room across the street at the Sweetwater Inn."

He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and snatched up his duffel that was in the chair next to his. He pulled her into the cradle of his body and led her outside.

"I thought you were a local?"

The air was warm outside, and Dean took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet scents of summer. This was his favorite time of year. The world had just finished blooming, the sun was shining, and all the women started taking off their clothes.

"No. Just hanging out for a few weeks. I'll be moving on soon."

He pulled his eyes from the fat moon overhead, grinning down at her.

"A fellow road scholar, huh?"

She smiled back, dimples showing impishly on both cheeks.

"Something like that. I'm a bit of a gypsy. I never stay in one place to long. It gets to be a dead bore after a while."

"I hear that."

She fished her key out of her purse, slipping it into the lock. As soon as he heard it click, he spun her around to face him, enfolding her into his strong embrace. He kissed her deeply, hungrily, pushing into her. He could taste the cherries from her lipstick and gin from her drink on his tongue.

He felt a crack inside him. An invasion from the outside in. Something thin, nearly invisible, slicing past his breastbone and into his soul. He felt the pull, the draw. He opened his mouth wider, allowing the memories to come, and the sorrow, anger and resentment that followed them.

It was subtle at first, drawing old hurts, lancing nearly scarred-over wounds.

Sammy had deserted.

He had deserted the family. Deserted dad. Deserted him. Went AWOL and gone off to college, leaving him behind to be the good son---left him to follow orders, to obey like a dog on a leash. Unlike Sam, he didn't have options. He didn't have school or friends or a life. He had hunting. That's what he did, that's what he would die doing.

But that ache was old, and he let it go easy. It was drawn out his soul, and all the resentment was drained away, only leaving the memory. He felt another tug, a yank deep down, riffling through his memories of the last two years but he barred the threshold, refused it entry.

He pressed Suzy up against the door, his hands finding their way to the smooth skin of her thighs. She wasn't what he wanted, but she was what he needed. He buried himself in her arms, losing himself in her touch. He lifted her up, cradling her body against his. Instinctively she wrapped her long legs around his waist, pulling him into her even tighter, never breaking their deep kiss.

Somehow, while holding her up with one arm he managed to wrap his fingers around the door knob and twist it open. He stumbled into the dark room, and top heavy with Suzy's weight he dropped his duffel so he could balance himself. She broke the kiss, leaning away to pull her blouse over her head in a flurry of fabric. Then her mouth was back, sliding her lips hungrily against his, spearing her tongue between them.

He felt the pull, more of a dig this time, a sharp stab of the knife. He cracked the door, revealing the next hidden hurt in his soul.

Dad abandoned him.

That hurt was old as well, nearly scabbed over with explanations of 'it had to be done, son,' and 'I did it to protect you boys,' but it was still there. The realization that his father didn't trust him, that he didn't put stock into his skills as a hunter to help him. Worse, he stole his right to hunt the demon that killed his mom. Dad had trained him, pushed him, and drove him until he was a honed weapon with one singular purpose--kill the demon. Then, just like that, he disappeared, taking his cause with him. Leaving him alone and rudderless with no target to slay.

But that sin was easily forgiven with the gift of life.

Dad is dead, sacrificed for me.

That pain shot out, right on the heels of his old resentment. It couldn't be stopped or held back. It was intermingled, one led to the other.

He clenched his eyes shut, nearly buckling under the wave of agony his memories evoked. He had forgotten how strong emotion was when it was being drawn, sucked from the soul like a fruit smoothie through a straw. He fell forward onto the bed, pinning Suzy beneath him. He pulled away from her mouth long enough to drag his shirt over his head, flinging it into the corner. She purred, sliding her hands over his chest, his muscles made hard from a life of fighting. Her fingers played with his scars, moving over each in silent exploration.

His green eyes flashed in the neon lighting of the vacancy sign, making him look almost inhuman. The light that washed over the room from outside was the color of week old blood and it splashed over his face and bare chest. She shuddered beneath him. He could feel it where their groins met. They were splayed sideways on the bed, his booted feet still planted on the ground while her legs wound around his waist. She flicked her high heels off with her toes, and they thumped onto the floor on either side of him. She bucked hips, letting him know that she wouldn't mind her panties following them.

Deliberately he reached behind him, slipping his long-bladed Bowie from its sheath at the small of his back. He could see the silver reflection of the blade in her dark eyes as he pulled it out in front of him. He felt her body stiffen, the small tremors of anticipation stilling to cat-like alertness. She was alarmed, but not afraid; he could see it in her liquid dark eyes.

He smiled down at her, cold and predatory, not his usual roguish, charming smile, but his hunter grin. She smiled back, just as predatory, small white teeth gleaming. Smoothly he rippled forward, rocking his hips against hers, placing the knife gently on the nightstand. She looked back at it; brow lifted, but didn't say a word. Transient as she was, he was certain that it wasn't the first time that a man brought a weapon to her bed.

He leaned in, pressing his lips firmly against hers, stealing her breath, soaking her in. The pain stabbed through him, and he remembered. He remember his father, the man who raised him. The years flipped through his mind like a pages in a book. He grabbed for them, reaching for the ones that made him happy, made him smile, letting the painful ones go. He realized that most of the memories he clutched included Sam and only Sam. He pulled them back tighter, refusing to let him go.

Dad died for me.

His dad sprawled out on the floor hospital floor. His dad stiff and cold on the exam table in the mortuary. His dad ablaze on his funeral pyre deep in the woods. Those were the memories he revealed to the riffling intruder in his soul. He released the emotions those memories wrought, felt them flutter away from his soul. To save his life, his dad had made a deal with the very demon that he had hunted for twenty-two years. He gave his soul to the demon that had pinned his wife to the ceiling of her baby's nursery, gutted her like a fish then set her on fire while she was still screaming. To save his son, he sacrificed his cause, his life, his soul.

The agony gripped his chest, and he almost couldn't let it go. It was embedded so deeply inside of him, that he didn't think it could be scrapped out. He felt the dig, a sharp pull and a pop. The bulk of the pain, the sadness was gone, but remnants remained. Remnants of Sam, and what his father had told him before he died.

He broke their kiss, sliding back so he could shed his boots and jeans. With battle-strong hands he tore the rest of Suzy's clothes from her body. Straps of silk and satin, flimsy and insubstantial like the tatters of his soul. It was easy to rend apart, just like her panties.

He settled back on top of her, laying open-mouth kisses along her jaw and down her neck. He could still feel the echo of agony inside of him. So much anger, so much sadness. It seemed that those were the only emotions that filled the well of his heart. There was no happiness for him, no relief. When he thought of those things, only Sammy's face appeared, but behind him there was a shadow. A darkness that was ever growing, always expanding, darkening the sunshine that was his brother.

"Go deeper," he muttered into her mouth, and she froze beneath him.

He didn't allow her to respond, but gripped her hips and thrust deep inside her. He felt he warm pull of her heat, the luxury of her body, but it was distant---empty--- a tool to his absolution. He sealed his mouth over hers, opening the floodgates.

Kill Sammy.

That's what his father had said. The demon wanted his little brother and he had to be prepared to kill the one person in his life that he protected above all others. It was impossibility. Inconceivable. Sammy would never turn evil. He would never welcome The Dark. The likelihood of Dean having to kill his own brother was nil. He would never turn. Never kill. Never hurt.

But the thought remained like a maggot in his brain. What was he willing to sacrifice to keep his brother safe? Millions of people? The world? His soul? Could he kill his brother or would he stand next to him, gun in hand, still protecting him while he set the world on fire?

He pressed into Suzy, deepening his kiss with every thrust. He forgot to breathe, and then he was beyond caring that he needed air to live. All he wanted was for her to swallow it down, to take it inside her, to feast on his pain.

She pulled away, her eyes dilated with pleasure, her sharp nails scrapping red welts down his back. She panted against him, her soft breasts pressed tightly to his chest. He slipped his hands under her back, sliding them over her shoulder blades until he buried his fists in her thick hair. He tightened his fingers, pulling her head back on her slender neck. He glared down at her, and for a moment he saw a flash of fear in her eyes.

"Take it all. Lance the wounds clean," he demand, his voice rough with passion and pain.

"You know what I am." It wasn't a question, but a statement spoken with a quiver of fear.

"I've visited your kind before. Now do as I say."

"If I take it all now, then we won't have our three days." She rubbed her body against his, confident again in her seduction, comfortable in her role as devourer. "Three days of feasting and pleasure."

He leaned down, brushing kisses along the ridge of her jaw, flexing his hips. She gasped and he laughed low and dark in her ear.

"I don't need three days."

"You'll never leave me," she purred. "No one ever does."

He didn't respond, sealing his firm lips over hers instead. This time she dug deep, no finesse or skill, just hacking passed his shields of steel will and forgotten dreams. She gasped into his mouth, finding delicacies in his soul of fear, regret, agony, sacrifice, and would wonders never cease, an expiration date.

Sammy died.

Just like that. Right in front of him. No warning. No lingering wounds or hospital visits. One moment he was walking towards him, relief etched on his face that his big brother had finally found him, and then shock as the knife severed his spinal cord.

Dean had caught him before he fell, but it was too late. The knife had come and gone, slicing away his little brother's life as easily as it would a piece of birthday cake.

The bone-gnawing loneliness, ever present in his soul, surfaced. It was what drove him. What kept him going. He did his father's bidding because it gave him purpose, it gave him his father's praise and love. He had no friends. Only the names of people he had saved, people who would rather forget him and the terror that he had rescued them from. He had some contacts here and there when he needed a certain weapon or a piece of information, but they were just names on a phone list. Other than that there was a string of women from Charlotte to Palo Verde, whose names he didn't even remember.

All he had was his family. When his dad went MIA it was all he could do not to wreck the Impala trying to get to Sam as fast as possible. Being alone---completely and totally alone. It terrified him more than a reaper with his name on its dance card.

Then Sam died in his arms. One minute he was alive then he was dead. He had been alone. He had been unable to think, to breathe, to even exist. It was all Bobby could do to get them into a cabin, lay Sam's body on a bed and hand him a bottle of whiskey.

There had been only one thing to do. A sacrifice needed to be made. There had no longer been an existence for him. He was dead, as surely as his brother was. He could either eat a bullet right there at the table, while his brother lay dead in the next room or he could let his sacrifice mean something. He could bring Sam back. He could give his brother a life again. He could protect him one last time.

Suzy broke away from his kiss, gasping. He eyes were so wide that Dean could see the whites around the dark rims. Her heartbeat drummed against his, and sweat made her body slick. He pounded into her, unstoppable, unrelenting, seeking a goal that had nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with absolution, with freedom from himself. The goal of sweet, blessed emptiness.

"No, the next is too much. I can't take it."

"You will," he swore coldly, twining his fingers deeper into her hair. She struggled against him, rolling her head to the side to avoid his kiss. He gripped her chin with steel-corded fingers, dragging her jaw forward. Her terrified eyes met his, and she whimpered.

"It's too much. I'm not used to it. I usually only snack on roadside travelers. Simple men with simple problems."

"Take it all. Take my pain, Suzy," he whispered and she sagged against him. She didn't fight when he closed his lips over hers, her eyes rolling back into her head as he emotions washed over her in an icy, crashing wave.

Fear.

It was so cold and intense that he could feel her shiver. Fear that he had done something terrible. That he had made the wrong decision. What had he yanked Sammy's soul back from? Had he been in heaven with Mom? Had he finally found the peace that he could never find while on earth? Had his selfishness destroyed his only brother's very salvation?

All those thoughts coalesced in his mind, merging and blending until it became one big steamy heap of shit. Something that he needed to dump, to get rid of, because he didn't think he could live with it any longer. It was too much. Too intense. Too terrifying to think about the consequences of his actions. He got Sammy back, and he was no longer alone, but at what cost? At what cost to himself? To Sammy? To the world?

There it was again.

Fear.

Sharp, painful and raw. Not fear that he had damned his own soul to hell, but the fear that he had damned Sammy's. The way he figured it, he deserved to go to hell, for his selfishness, for his failure, but Sam---Sam deserved more.

Sam didn't deserve to have his goodness turned against him. Sam didn't deserve to be returned to his body with half a soul. Sam didn't deserve to be filled up with evil. The yellow-eyed demon had been right. What came back from the afterlife wasn't one hundred percent Sammy. Pieces of him where missing, and to fill the void he was soaking up what surrounded him on a nightly basis.

Evil.

Suzy bucked, seizing beneath him, but he didn't let go. He rammed his knees into the bed, sealing his lips tight over hers. Her eyes bulged, and her throat convulsed, but he held her tight. He jabbed his fingers into the hinges her jaw, wrenching her mouth wide while he spilled his greatest fear into her. He pried it from the deepest, darkest part of his soul and forced it down her demonic throat.

Everything in universe traveled full circle. What is born must die, and what dies is reborn. The yellow-eyed demon was dead, and now it was being reborn into a new vessel. The knowledge that he was the cause of the end of the world was devastating. The knowledge that he was the cause of Sam's dissolution was soul shattering.

Sammy was Becoming.

It flew from his soul into hers, sweeping from him in a whoosh, leaving him blessedly, perfectly empty of his pain, his doubt, and his fear. He dragged his mouth away, pulling back until only their hips met. Suzy lay beneath him dazed, sucking air into her lungs while she desperately tried to consume what he had fed her.

He pressed a wide hand to his chest, checking for the agony that had been building inside him for years, since the last time he had met one of her kind. It was gone. All that was left was a dull sense of loss, and the memories that he had kept a steel-jawed grip on. The happy memories of him and Sammy. He clutched those to his soul, cherishing his fleeting moments of joy.

"You bastard. I can't wait to see your ass in hell."

He rocked forward, a small smile playing along his full lips as she whined and dug her heels into the backs of his thighs.

"Sooner than you think," he murmured, reaching out to wrap his fingers around the hilt of his knife.

Her eyes rolled back as he hit the spot that made every woman's spine tingle. He planted one hand alongside her head, burying his fingers into her hair that spilled across the comforter, and pinned her to the cheap motel bed. She dug her fingernails into his bicep, leaving little half moon scratches. Her eyes fluttered, focusing on him in the crimson-tinted shadows. Through the haze of darkness he could see the silver shimmer of his blade reflected in her black eyes one last time.

Her gaze widened in horror and her mouth dropped open into a scream, but only a choked gurgle escaped. Crimson blood sprayed across his face, and for a moment all he could see was red. The knife opened a long gash at her throat, and he adjusted the angle of his arm, bearing down hard to slice through flesh and bone. He heard a snick as the blade hit her vertebra, then a snap as he cut through. He wound is fingers through her hair, pulling hard until her head came away from her body with a thick, wet tear.

He reared back, standing over her decapitated body, as her blood draining onto the hideous motel bedspread. He held her head high, memorizing her terror-stricken features illuminated by the bloody light from outside.

He smiled at her, feeling a new emotion fill up the space in his soul that she had drained away for him.

Horror.

He felt horror. At what he was. At what he was capable of. At what he might do in the future. But it was fleeting, just like his happiness, and it was easy to tuck it away into the newly emptied closet of his soul.

He dropped her head onto her torso with a splat and it rolled off, landing near her side, black hair still streaming over her breasts, one eye hidden. The other eye glared at him accusingly, but he ignored it, dismissing her as easily as he would roadkill ground into the asphalt.

He walked into the tiny bathroom, flicking on the light and dropping the long-bladed knife into the sink with a clatter. It rimmed the edge of the sink for a second, before sliding to a stop, blood running from the blade into the basin.

He glanced up, catching sight of himself in the mirror. For a moment he had to brace himself on the edge of the counter with both hands, his body hunched over protectively. Then he straightened, and forced himself to look himself in the eye.

He was covered in blood. Most of his face and chest were slicked with it. It didn't have a demonic, yellowish cast or burn like acid. It was red. It felt warm and fresh. It tasted metallic and human. His green eyes flickered, but he held his ground, looking passed the blood to the man who stood beneath it.

This was who he was. Without the pain and the regret. Without fear or indecision. Without loneliness or despair. He was a Hunter. A man who walked in the dark, so others could be safe in the light. He turned away, storing another emotion away in his soul.

Regret

But it was small, barely worth consideration as he shoved the shower curtain aside to step into the bathtub. He turned on the cold water, not bothering to heat it. He rinsed the blood from his face and hair, splashing his chest until he could see only his skin. He didn't use the soap for fear of leaving something of himself behind in the mold.

He stepped out to dry himself, then threw the towel into the bottom of the tub. He rinsed his knife, putting it back into his sheath when it was dry. He walked back to the bed, staring down at Suzy one last time before carefully taking the ends of the comforter and wrapping her up tightly in a cocoon, head and all. He hefted her up, hauling her to the bathroom and dropping her into the bathtub with a thud.

He checked himself in the mirror to make sure he was still clean, then dressed himself. With his knife he pried the top off the smoke detector, disarming it. With another towel he methodically wiped all the surfaces that he had touched, and threw that one into the tub as well. Once he was satisfied that there was no trace of him left in the room, he pulled out his rock salt, tossing handfuls of it over Suzy's body.

A little bubble of regret wormed its way up into his heart, but he shoved it back down where it belonged. He splashed her with lighter fluid, making sure to soak the blanket thoroughly. He tucked his supplies away, and lit a single match. He watched it burn for a second, and briefly he wondered if a single match was all that it would take to set the world on fire, but it passed and the emotion that it should have evoked never reared its ugly head. Because it was gone. Suzy had chewed it up and swallowed it down, and soon it would burn up inside her.

He tossed the match, standing back as the heap of cloth and flesh was set ablaze. The flames reached the tiled ceiling and melted the shower curtain, but it stayed contained within the metal tub. Silently, Dean stepped back, and turned away, shouldering his duffel on the way out of the room.

A few minutes later he entered the room he shared with Sam. His brother was on the bed, his back braced against the headboard while he scanned the local newspapers.

"Dude, where have you been?" Sam snapped, worry and annoyance reflected in his eyes that were starting to take on a yellowish cast.

"Out." Dean replied, tossing his duffel on a chair. He reached inside, pulling out his .45, checking the magazine carefully.

"Drinking again?" It was a challenge. Over the last few weeks Sammy had nagged Dean like a fish wife of twenty years that he was drink far too much---far more than he ever had in the past. He kept asking why, and Dean kept telling him to shut up. This time Dean didn't rise to the bait, and Sam let it slide, moving on to the next most obvious flaw in his brother's character.

"Looking to pick up some tail? Dude, that's such a bad idea. I've been doing some research on this succubus we're hunting and she's bad news."

"Don't worry about it, Sammy." Dean tapped the clip on his pearl grip twice before sliding it back into place with a snap.

"I am worried about it. She's totally messed up. Apparently she's some sort of special breed. She feeds on the emotions of the men that she sleeps with, completely stripping their feelings away until they feel nothing, not even the will to live. Eventually they just sort of shrivel up and die."

Dean glanced over at his brother, noting how Sammy really did look genuinely concerned for him. It had always been so easy for Sam to wear his feelings on his sleeve. He never felt the need to hide them, even when showing them was more destructive than helpful. That's what Dean loved about his little brother. The fact that he could look at him, and know that Sam loved him. Loved him still, even after yanking his soul back from heaven and thrusting it into hell.

"Don't worry about. I took care of it already. Check the obits in the paper for the next state over. We need to head out."

"What the fuck, Dean? You couldn't even wait for me? What if you got hurt?" He paused, his eyes sliding over Dean, looking for any obvious injuries and finding none. "And why do we need to leave right now? It's the middle of the night."

"Dude, I didn't know what she was until it was too late."

Lie.

It fluttered down into the void of his soul to be lost, to help fill up the space.

"And we have to head out, because someone in the bar probably saw me leave with her. She may have been a demon, but her remains are going to look like a decapitated woman who was set on fire in her bathtub."

Sam huffed, but bounced off the bed, taking his brother's word for it. He slammed into the bathroom, shoving all his gear and clothes into his backpack. It took barely took two minutes to get packed, but neither brother bemoaned their lack of possessions. They carried only what they needed, only what they couldn't survive without.

Dean still held his .45, watching as the light played on the silver slide. Sam picked up his brother's duffel, eyeing him curiously, before opening the door to pack the car. Dean stood behind him, tucked inside the shadows of the room as Sam threw their stuff into the trunk of the Impala that was backed up to the curb. He could see the bare skin of his brother's neck, just below the sandy shag of his hair, the protrusion of his spin just above the collar of his shirt.

He glanced to the side, catching sight of himself in the mirror that hung above the solid wood dresser. He was standing in the doorway, gun extended, his finger curled around the trigger. He saw the Hunter inside himself. The man who killed the evil that lurked in the dark. The man whose first priority was the protection of his brother to the exclusion of everything else.

Again, he wondered, what would he do for his brother? What would he do in six month's time, when his soul came due and the demon showed to collect? Would he walk away from Sam, and the hell that he unleashed on earth, because of his one selfish act of loneliness? Or would he turn the gun on his brother? Would he watch the light dim from Sammy's eyes as his soul was being dragged down to hell?

Fear

It rose up and took its rightful place in his soul, filling nearly all the empty corners like it had never left. It couldn't be banished, or swallowed or even burned away. Fear lived inside him--- writhed and twisted, sobbed and screamed.

Fear that he wouldn't be strong enough to protect his brother one last time.

Dean lowered his gun, shoving it into the waistband of his pants as he walked up to his brother. He wrapped his hand around the back of Sam's neck, feeling his warm skin beneath his palm. He gave him an affectionate squeeze, before ruffling his hair. Sam nudged him away with his shoulder, smirking at him as he slammed the trunk closed.

"Brothers forever, Dean?"

Dean looked at him, his hazel eyes unreadable. No matter how much he stared, he couldn't tell who was talking to him. Was it the demon inside Sam trying to chain them together with their family bond or was it Sammy reminding him of who they were?

"Whatever, Francis."

Brothers forever.

The worlds trickled down into his soul, lodging themselves there. They filled up space, simultaneously feeding his fear and soothing his agony.

Together they looked up at the fat summer moon, breathing deeply before sliding into the Impala. They pushed forward into the darkness, black, liquid asphalt disappearing beneath their wheels, yellow stripes racing beside them. They drove as fast and far as they could, both knowing that it would never be far enough to outrun destiny or fast enough to turn back time.