Dedicated to paperbkryter.

/\/\/\

How certain are you that what you brought back, is 100 percent pure Sam? -Yellow Eyed Demon.

/\/\/\

It happens subtly at first.

Small twinges of something somewhere inside, like a breeze kicking up a few leaves and raising the hairs on your arm for effect.

You're seeing things brighter somehow, as if the world has suddenly switched into high definition and you're blinded by all the bright colors. The way things smell, as if they fly through your nose and straight into your brain, the olfactory sense working on overload.

You feel as if you know so much, yet are consciously aware of nothing new at all. You can't think of a reason for any of this, and watching your brother drive out of the corner of your eye, the thought of talking to him about it is quickly dropped.

It usually takes a few rounds of sparring with Dean before he ever coughs up any information, and right now you're just too tired to even bother. So you lean back and stare out the window as the world flies by in a high octane blur, trying your best to ignore Brownsville Station being blasted through the stereo and Dean singing along about smoking in the boys' room.

The thunderous rumble of the engine is calming and familiar and your eyes get heavier as the miles pass underneath you. It feels like you haven't slept in days just about as much as it feels like you've slept forever.

Dean looks over at you and says something about you needing some rest, and you want to argue the contrary because, well, just because. But you don't, you sink further into the leather and let your eyes finally settle closed.

That's right Sammy, you hear your brother say, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

/\/\/\/\/\

In your mind hell isn't just a place to fear and dread because you've been there. One quick stab in the back and you're in the land of fire and brimstone, despite feeling like the person you lived as didn't deserve to be sent. Still, you were blood mapped at birth to go straight down, and you think there must be something in the cards when in comes to Winchesters and hell.

You've seen things. Demons, monsters, and lost tortured souls. Despite the legends and mythos, and humanities underlying aversion of such a place, you felt a kinship there.

Though, for which side is still unclear, and that little detail is enough to make a cold sweat break across your forehead. Your brother's concerned stare is burning into your peripheral vision and you can't bring yourself to look at him when these thoughts are swimming around in your head.

You've been down this road already, and hundreds like them before.

It's Sam and Dean, or Dean and Sam, against the world until the wheels fall off and one of you dies. And even though it's Dean with the hourglass floating above his head, slowly counting down against him, you're still not sure which of you will be the one to go first.

/\/\/\/\/\

You barely eat because food seems to taste like sulfur all the time and you drink nearly a gallon of water a day because you think it can put out the trail of fire chasing you down.

When Dean suggests stopping for tacos somewhere because you're in El Paso and he knows a little place, you have to beg for him to stop the car because it seems that even the idea of eating is enough to make you want to puke.

When you're on your knees panting and trying to catch your breath you feel your brother staring daggers into your back, and chuckle weakly at the irony, feeling his fear and concern carried on the wind.

He asks if you're okay and you tell him yes, you're fine.

He knows you're lying. You can hear it in his heartbeat and wonder how that's even possible.

/\/\/\/\/\

Some nights it's Meg you meet in hell.

She's all blonde and bright-eyed, just as you remember her, giving you that big smile that makes you want to go to California for real this time. You know now that it's not what she really looks like, but dreaming about a big black cloud would just make the whole thing seem silly.

You're in the same bus station where you had parted the first time you met, and when she asks you to please come with her, you say yes.

The bus travels on a highway of bones and Meg curls up at your side and tells you that you've made her so happy. She says she's glad she met you, and she talks about her family. She tells you that someday you just have to meet her father, and you hold her back and say sure.

He sounds like a nice guy.

/\/\/\/\/\

Dean wants to track down every single thing that escaped through the gate right away, and you wonder if he hadn't made that deal, would you have been one of them? Of course his plan doesn't happen the way he wants. Other jobs pop up as detours along the way. You help when you can, and you kill when you can't, and with each job done and each day gone by, Dean looks at you with an increasingly furrowed brow.

He's really starting to worry because, on top of never eating, you hardly say a word. You don't bicker like you used to. You don't joke or bitch or anything.

He's become a light sleeper because a lot of the time your dreams carry over into this world, and when you're face down on a mattress talking to whoever it is you talk to, you know he's listening.

In sleepy hazes you can hear him on his phone with Bobby, or Ellen, or hell even one time you swear he was talking to Jo, asking what exactly you did last time you were possessed.

You wonder if, this time, he will have the guts to kill you if he has to.

/\/\/\/\/\

Sometimes you miss Ava, which is a little strange, because you only knew her for a day.

Before finding her in Cold Oak you'd find your thoughts drifting toward her when it was your turn to drive and Dean was passed out next to you, thinking what if.

She stirred something inside of you that you hadn't felt since Sarah, and you were kinda sorta hoping that something along the same lines would play itself out until she mentioned her fiancé.

From that point on it was business as usual.

She had visions like you. She wanted to save you. She tried her best to help, and when she declared how awesome it was just distracting that therapist you knew you wanted to kiss her.

There was something instantly trustworthy about her. You think maybe that's why it had felt like your own throat had been slashed when you found her fiancé in that bed covered in his own blood and her ring left in a puddle of it on the floor.

You didn't want to believe it.

Not from the girl who didn't want to leave your side until you made her.

Yes, she tried to kill you.

Yes, Jake killed her.

Yes, Jake killed you too.

Yes, you killed Jake, and felt damn good doing it.

You wonder if somehow, karma wise, that evens things up.

You wonder if Ava is one of the things that had gotten through the gate.

You wonder if this time, you'll actually try to stop her.

/\/\/\/\/\

The day Dean throws holy water on you is the day the two of you go hunting for a howler. They are nothing but scales, teeth, claws, and bloodlust according to dad's journal. You track it down to a houseboat on some lake in Minnesota, and unfortunately, are too late to save anyone from its hunger.

The door is already partially open and Dean nudges it the rest of the way, gun drawn and trained on the darkness inside. You follow closely behind with your own firearm, though oddly, it feels like Dean is somehow watching for you too.

Once you get into the living room you see the first body torn to shreds with no head, the blood is still sticky on the carpet. And the smell, god how it makes your stomach rumble, the blood so fresh it couldn't have been spilled more than a few minutes before you walked through the door.

Dean hears your stomach, looks back at you with a scowl that doesn't match his slightly shocked eyes, and that's when the howler leaps from its place in the shadows and lets out a high pitched shriek that pounds your eardrums into submission.

This is how it stuns its victims, your father wrote, and you and Dean are both dumb enough not to have brought ear plugs.

He fires a couple of wild shots, and slips on the headless victims' remains, causing the howler to pounce. You fire a few shots into its shoulder and it screams in your direction, lashing out a hand full of razors that catch the end of your shirt.

Dean yells your name from the floor, and your empty your clip into the thing, knocking it back and giving your brother enough of an angle to do the same.

The howler lets out one final shriek, enough to take out a few of the boats windows, before collapsing into a lifeless heap next to the victim.

Dean looks at you and he's scared. And when he's scared he yells. He waves the gun at the body left on the floor.

"What the hell is going on with you huh?" He shouts. "Is this making you hungry? Is this fucking headless corpse finally making you want to eat?"

You don't know how to answer. You could lie but he would know you're lying.

You hear a girl's voice whisper in your ear that it's Dean's fault you're even here at all.

And you tell him so, and for a second you think he's going to punch you. Instead he pulls a vile out of his jacket and pops off the top, stepping close to you and splashing the contents in your face.

You don't know what scares him more.

The fact that it doesn't do anything, or the fact that it makes you laugh.

/\/\/\/\/\

You're sleeping in separate rooms now.

You're still his brother, that's what he tells you, but the trust is shaken severely, and he doesn't want to wake up in the middle of the night thinking you're going to go 'Night of the Living Dead' on him.

You're not a zombie, or a vampire, for that matter. You don't know why the blood of an innocent person made your stomach rumble the way it did.

But when you close your eyes that night, you open them back up to Meg and Ava sitting at a table with you in some coffee shop, with a golden goblet shared in their hands. You don't have to see what's in it. You recognize the smell right away and when they offer you a sip it's sweet and sticky and delicious.

You wake up screaming with Dean at your door, gun in hand.

/\/\/\/\/\

It's Dean's job to look after you. He's your brother, it's what he does. He's sacrificed himself for you and does everything humanly possible to protect you.

He's spent the last year protecting you from hunters, and cops, and the one time from yourself. Meg's little puppet master routine aside, you begged him to shoot. There was still a part of you inside, even though you weren't in the driver's seat, and you wanted him to end it. He couldn't. He would only ever consider such a drastic action when you absolutely cannot be saved.

And for all that you've made a promise to get him out of his deal. It's your turn to do the protecting.

Too bad it's the furthest thing from your mind these days.

You're too busy wondering about the plan for you, if it's still in effect, if you're even Sam Winchester at all or just a passenger along for the ride.

You wonder if this is the catch to Dean's deal, on top of such a limited time span, the sudden apathy on your part.

/\/\/\/\/\

What starts to scare you is a spirit of some jealous, murderous uncle, on a farm in Iowa that doesn't try to kill you.

Dean is in another part of the house, and if you yell for him he will be here in seconds, but you don't.

The spirit stands before you, all fuzzy and distorted, with its head tilted in idle curiosity. You feel your gun at your side, loaded with rock salt, cold and heavy waiting for you to fire but you're curious too.

In all your years of hunting you're the only one who ever questioned the how and why of evil things and evil deeds. You've never had the opportunity to just stand toe to toe with something you could actually ask.

Of course it can't answer you. How could it?

You take a step toward it and it takes a step back and you're really confused. You can feel fear in the room and it isn't coming from you. You are oddly calm with this. This spirit, this ghost of a man who killed his brother's entire family because he wanted what he couldn't have, is backing away from you and is afraid you're going to take him to hell.

It doesn't want to go. You don't know how you know this, you just do. You take another step and it steps away. It doesn't leave. You know that somehow it can't leave, and that you're the reason for it.

It's terrified of you. A fucking ghost is terrified of you.

And now you're scared because, before you finally lift your gun, you can hear Ava whispering in your ear about how much you are capable of if you just give in.

/\/\/\/\/\

Meg and Ava, Ava and Meg.

Evil gals with three-letter names eh Sammy? Sounds like you've got a thing.

It's easily something Dean would say if you told him that no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to get the two of them out of your head. You dream of them every night, and when you don't dream your mind drifts to thoughts of them. You can't blame the yellow-eyed demon because it's dead, and you can't tell Dean because if something really is wrong with you, it means all he's done was for naught.

You're in a hotel room alone while Dean is off grifting, or gambling, or both. And this time when you see them you're not even asleep.

They're standing at the foot of the bed staring at you, each having their own little way of stirring whatever it is inside.

Meg drifts to your left and whispers in your ear how much fun you could be having, wielding your power, being a leader. And when she smiles at you, you believe her.

Ava drifts to your right and shows you how much fun you could be having, wielding your power, taking charge. And when she smiles at you, you believe her too.

A part of you, a small part that dwindles down each day like the sand in Dean's hourglass, begs you to fight and to keep fighting. It's quiet though, Meg is so convincing, and Ava is so pretty.

You start to feel like a sucker that will do whatever they want you to do.

/\/\/\/\/\

Dean is terrified of being by himself.

That's why he did it.

With dad gone, and you dying on him, he would have been completely alone. You know he would have done anything to get rid of the feeling, and that's exactly the reason he would ever think to do something so stupid.

You think maybe that's why he's not taking such drastic steps with you this time. When you start to exhibit stranger habits than non-eating, all water consuming, and night after night of fitful sleep he can always hear one room over.

Or when you can track down a beasts and goblins by the smell of them, or can hear someone begging for help locked in a basement miles away. How your visions are getting insanely accurate, and seem to point you in any direction you want to go. You still hear the phone calls, and still feel the worry, but he doesn't do much beyond those two things.

He doesn't take action against you because he still believes in you. He believes in the good inside of you. He won't give up because when he was dying, you wouldn't either.

It's strange to see your brother kind of weak this way. Dean was always the one not to let sentiment get in the way of the job, though the last two years have really seemed to wear him down in that regard.

You watch as the asphalt of another endless highway flow beneath the car, and you feel Dean watching you out of the corner of his eye. You shift in your seat and he steps on the gas.

You wonder if someday you will actually hear his thoughts.

/\/\/\/\/\

You're in an old shack somewhere outside Frankfurt Kentucky, circling a demon tied to a chair, frozen under a devils trap. Dean stands off to the side with his gun trained on the body, the demon's eyes black and menacing, eerily staring at the both of you at once.

You stand with bible in hand, reciting on of the many ritual exorcisms you've learned.

There's something a little uneasy about this one. The demon did not put up much of a fight, and you didn't have to trick it into walking under the seals. It seemed like this is exactly what it expected to happen.

You've always been good with Latin, but as you read the words the language seems to flow from your lips with such ease, it's as if you were born in the heart of the Roman Empire.

The demon is cursing your mother, telling you how much your father suffers in hell, and you almost tell it it's nothing you haven't seen for yourself. But Dean wouldn't understand what you meant, and now isn't the time to fall into a lengthy explanation of just what happened when you died.

You're almost to the end of the passage when the demon suddenly stops struggling falls completely still in the chair. Its black hollow eyes bore into you and it smiles so slow and cruel.

"They are coming for you Sam," it says. "They are coming for you soon, and we'll all be reunited again, all us special kids. All us soldiers."

Before you or Dean have the chance to ask what it means, the body screams and the black cloud of the demon expels from the mouth with such force you're knocked flat on your ass.

You watch helplessly as it escapes through the chimney, and Dean is at your side asking if you're okay.

No, you're not okay. Because you have this sick twisted feeling in your gut that you know just who that demon was, but his name still comes out a question.

Andy?

/\/\/\/\/\

The day Meg and Ava become corporeal you're sitting in a Starbucks drinking your way through ten dollars worth of house coffee and taking advantage of the free wi-fi. Checking emails from other hunters and researching information on the other gates that Samuel Colt locked down. They aren't the faces you've been seeing in your dreams, they wouldn't be, so when two girls approach your table and give you matching ear to ear grins, who else could they be?

Dean is off doing some recon because you finally got a tip on some of the things that escaped the gate and now can't help but you laugh because here they are.

This doesn't appear to be a dream, you've ingested too much coffee to have nodded off in your seat, and you regard them suspiciously.

Meg drifts to your left side, and Ava to your right, and you wonder just how it is you can tell them apart.

Ava loops her arm through yours and smiles up at you with a pretty face very similar to the one you actually knew. Meg laughs a little on your other side and you turn to her.

"Hey Sam," she says, as if you're old friends. "Miss us?"

You think about the last time you 'saw' her. When she possessed you, and made you do and say all those horrible things. How she locked herself inside and refused to let go. You scowl at her and ask what she, what they, want.

That just makes her laugh again, and somehow you can feel Ava pouting on your right side.

"Don't be like that Sam," she says into your ear, her stolen breath causing the hairs to rise on the back of your neck.

This is more Dean's thing, you think. Sitting here with two girls on your arms, all the men in the room looking at you like you're their hero. This is not good. Instinct tells you to call your brother but you know there's no way they'd let you even get to your phone.

"You don't want to do that," Ava says as if she's read your mind.

You look down into eyes that aren't her eyes and tell her she's dead. She died. You stood right there and saw as the light went out in the eyes of the face you remember.

She only shrugs and says "I could say the same about you," before dropping her head onto your shoulder.

"She got promoted," Meg says, capturing your attention again. "Fastest rising star out of all you special children. Daddy always had a yen for you Sam, but even he was impressed by all those months she survived in Cold Oak. So many children sent her way and none of them could beat her. Not until you anyway. Not until you were enough of a distraction for Jake to pull his He-man routine and snap that pretty little neck of hers."

You look back to Ava who's still resting her head on your shoulder.

"It's okay Sam," she says quietly. "I don't hate you for it."

That soothes away some semblance of guilt you weren't fully aware of until this moment.

"You actually did her a favor," Meg chimes in. "My father wanted it to be you, but when your brother pulled you back, he had to look elsewhere. I hope you're not disappointed."

You ask again what they want from you and Meg only smiles.

"Oh Sam, isn't it obvious?"

It really isn't.

"You honestly didn't think my father's plans for you ended just because you killed him did you?"

And you did, you honestly did, but you know now that it was just wishful thinking on your part.

/\/\/\/\/\

When you walk up to the car with two girls on your arm, Dean looks at you as if you've brought him the greatest Christmas present ever.

It's a fleeting smirk on his face, because he quickly picks up the fact that something isn't right here, that this is something you would never do. He doesn't know who the girls really are but he can definitely see that they're not friendly.

You see him reach for his gun when Meg throws up a hand, pinning him to the side of the car, and spreading out his limbs like a starfish. Dean's eyes shoot from Meg to Ava before finally settling on you, a fit of anger and questioning firing out of them all at once.

"Sam?" He asks through clenched teeth in a tone that let's you know he's not happy about this situation.

You separate yourself from the girls and approach your brother who is struggling fiercely against his invisible bonds.

"Come on Sammy," he says trying to grin and play it off. "Enough screwing around okay?"

You take your hands and put them on both sides of his face, slowly pressing your forehead into his. You tell him you're sorry.

"This isn't you," he says. "It's them. It's those fucking demons. It's that yellow-eyed bastard turned you into a sleeper or something, but you gotta fight it Sam. Come on…"

You step back slightly so you can look at him face to face. He's pissed and fighting back tears and the look in his eyes tells you this is his worst nightmare come to life.

You tell him what Meg told you about the yellow-eyed demon's plans for you.

Cold Oak was a testing ground, that much was obvious, but death wasn't necessarily a measure of failure. Whether you lived or died was insignificant in bigger picture of things to come, it was merely a system set up to define rank in the uprising army. Those who died first would be on the bottom rung, and those who survived the longest would climb further up the ladder.

You, and the children like you, weren't living up to their full potential. So ol' yellow eyes devised a way to speed up the process and awaken the laden parts of your powers.

You've been changing for months and you know he's seen it.

You tell Dean that he shouldn't have made that deal, and that either way you would have come back like this.

"No," Dean says weakly. "That can't be true."

Meg and Ava appear at your side again and Dean's anger comes bubbling back to the surface. He spits and snarls and struggles helplessly against Meg's hold.

You tell him that this time, he can't save you.

You would say you're sorry again, but you know he wouldn't believe you.

/\/\/\/\/\

You sit in the passenger seat as Meg drives the Impala along some unknown highway, heading for a destination you can feel coming, toward an army of hellions just waiting for their leaders to arrive, but are unaware of an exact location.

Meg smiles at you as she presses a little harder on the gas.

"I've always wanted to drive this thing," she says and you grin back at her.

Ava leans forward on the back seat even though Dean had given up thrashing around in the trunk well over an hour ago. One of her arms is stretched casually over the seat and across your shoulder and the other holds onto the space in-between you and Meg.

You think about what Dean told you before Meg and Ava started to have their fun. About the yellow-eyed demon asking him if he was sure what he had brought back was one-hundred percent pure Sam.

You think about Dean's eyes when you let him in on the rub.

What died in Cold Oak wasn't even one hundred percent pure Sam.

It took dying, going to hell, and being resurrected for Sam Winchester to finally come into the destiny that had been laid before him in those small drops of blood as an infant.

What died in front of Dean that day was only part of the man you were meant to be.

You are not in the driver's seat, you haven't been for any single part of this journey, and you know that now.

That's right Sammy, just sit back and enjoy the ride.