Title: The Devil Kept a Garden
Rating: R
Category: AU gen oneshot
Word Count: 6022
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Spoilers: Minor S3 "Bedtime Stories"
Summary: Without his memory, all he has is a newfound family and the word of the Lord to guide him through the end.
Warnings: Character death, religious themes
Author's Notes: Placed during the middle of season 3.
I have been debating for a long while how—if—to word a warning regarding all the religious themes in this story. This story is full of religious images, symbols, and quotes, and they are not here to be forced on anyone. At the same point, they are not here to dissuade anyone away. My personal beliefs remain what they are, apart from this story, and whatever appears here is simply for the story and that is all.
Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

(Genesis 1:1-3)

There is a beginning here somewhere. He knows that. He knows that to be truer than anything else.

He stands in a bathroom, small and sterile, and stares in the mirror at his reflection. Hair cut short, a light spray of freckles across his nose, and eyes rimmed by black circles. A black leather coat they tell him he once wore, hangs in the closet alongside a golden amulet, the head of a monster on a string. The medical charts hanging on the end of his bed say that he's six feet and one inch tall and that he weighs one hundred seventy-two pounds. They tell him these facts, these statistics, but they don't reveal where he was found or why there's a myriad of white scars across his body that look like bullet wounds and knife wounds and those spots above his knee that could be teeth marks if he were to linger a bit longer on those.

He raises a hand to his face, touches his lips and nose, watches the way his reflection does the same. There is a beginning here somewhere, he knows. It's with his identity and belonging. It's with everything he should have but doesn't.

He sighs. He wishes he could remember his beginning. He wishes he could remember anything before he awoke alone this morning in a hospital bed.

The doctors ask him how he's feeling, and the nurses smile when they check his vitals. He doesn't talk, doesn't respond, because words seem so fragile right now and things move in a haze around him.

They ask him if he has any family. If he remembers his name. If he remembers what his home looked like. But he just shakes his head. No, no, no, he wants to say. He can't remember his parents. He doesn't know his name, and he couldn't find his house if they dropped him right in front of it.

So they label him "John," as in "John Doe" because they can't leave that line on his medical forms blank forever. Everyone has to have a name, even if it isn't the truth. They call him John, and it almost feels right in a way he knows he'll never be able to explain aloud.

Four days since he awoke in the hospital with its beeping machines and constant background chatter, and he still hasn't spoken a word when there's a commotion in the hallway outside his room. A woman's crying and a man's talking too loud.

He looks up, swings his legs out from his bed and stands, waiting. Maybe they've come for him at last.

The door to his room opens, and a doctor that he vaguely recognizes enters, says to him, "I think we've found your family." The doctor steps aside to reveal the crying woman with red hair braided down her back and skin milky white and a man with silver glasses and blonde hair gone gray at his temples.

The woman rushes forward, throws her arms around him, buries her face against his shoulder and weeps tears into his hospital gown. She smells of rosewater and coffee.

"Oh my baby," she cries. "I thought I'd never see you again."

He stiffens and whispers, says his first word in days, "Mom?"

She pulls back to hold his face in soft hands. There are tears in her bloodshot eyes, and her face is flushed from crying. "Oh, David," she says, smiling despite it all. "Oh, my David, baby, you're going to be okay."


He says it aloud to hear how it sounds on his own tongue, and the man with the silver glasses, the man he assumes is his father, steps forward and squeezes his shoulder, "That's you, son, that's you."


His name is David. He has two parents, Adam and Ruth, who have been married for over thirty years, and an older brother who loves to travel and a younger sister who dances ballet. He—David, him—was attending college with hopes of becoming a doctor, and after a late night study session, he went missing a few days ago. Some kind of accident, Mom clucks sadly, and she says nothing more.

They live in a house where Mom's prized roses grow alongside bleeding hearts and clouds of baby's breath and an old swing set sits next to an unused slide in the backyard. Michael is his brother and says, "How ya doin'?" when Mom and Dad bring David home, and Elizabeth, his sister, wraps her arms around his waist and squeals, "We were so worried!"

There are photos in the house, photos of him with these people he doesn't remember, and there are flowers in glass vases on the end tables, and the curtains are ivory lace. A quilt is thrown over the back of the overstuffed couch, and books lay opened on the coffee table in the middle of the living room.

While David is examining all this, taking in the bookshelf that lines the far wall and the clean fireplace, Mom comes into the living room.

"I think we should say a prayer to let God know how thankful we are that David is home with us again."

Elizabeth smiles and nods, and Michael reaches for his—David's, I'm David—hand. The five of them stand in a circle, linked hands as Mom bends her head and begins to pray.

He listens to the sound of her voice, and he wonders why he can't remember any of this. He wishes he could. He wishes he could so badly.

He has his own room that overlooks the rosebushes. His shelves are full of books, classics like Dickens and Thoreau, safe words of knowledge, and his clothes are button-down flannel shirts or starched polos with a nice pair of khakis or corduroys. They don't match the stained blue jeans and bloody gray t-shirt the hospital said he was found in.

There's a crucifix above his bed and a dog-eared Bible on the nightstand. When he opens the book, its pages fall open automatically to the first book of Samuel.

When David asks about his scars, wanting to know more, Mom only purses her lips and says they should pray to the Lord for guidance.

"I hope," she says, washing dishes in the sink, suds up to her elbows, "God didn't take away your memory to punish you for whatever sin you committed to earn those scars."

David stands in the doorway of the kitchen. From the table where he plans his next trip across the ocean, Michael looks up, and his stare is cold.

David turns away.

They don't go to church. Mom says it's too far, and Dad says they can pray right in their own house and that's good enough for the Lord. They all wake every morning, when the world is still dark and the roses are pinched closed in sleep. Dad reads stories from the Gospel of Luke, and Mom whispers a soft, little, "Amen" at the end of the verses while they sit in the living room with the curtains opened. David watches the sun rise, a bleary pink on the horizon, and he tries to concentrate on the holy words. Perhaps, he thinks, if God knows he's listening, God will answer back. God will give him his memory again.

"Jesus said to his disciples," Dad reads from his chair, "things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come…."

They eat dinner together, gathered around the table that great-grandad made when he was first married. The food is always homemade by Mom because she believes that her family should have a healthy, hot meal. There are heaping potatoes and warm cornbread. The roast steams in the middle of the table, and everyone always takes an extra serving of the vegetables because they taste so good.

Elizabeth chatters on about school and her friends, and Michael's looking forward to seeing the parts of Europe he hasn't before. Mom and Dad smile and say how proud they are of their children.

David sits, quiet. This is his family, he tells himself, and he knows these people love him more than anyone else in the whole world does. But, he lacks the memories to tell stories and he lacks the ability to join in their laughter.

He lacks the ability to belong.

Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.

(Joshua 2:12-13)

David can't sleep one night, and he leaves his bedroom to sneak into the living room where Mom is still awake. Startled, she looks up from her knitting quickly.

"Oh David," she whispers quietly, bringing her hand to her chest, "you scared me for a minute there."

He bites his lip. "Sorry," he apologizes and sits down on the couch across from her rocking chair. Mom's lamp casts a soft glow over the room.

"Can't sleep?" she asks, brushing long red hair behind her ear.


"You got something on your mind, don't you?"

He nods, shakily. "I…I wish I could remember who I was," he admits.

She smiles with sad eyes. "Don't try to push things," she says. "It will all come when it's ready."

He remains silent for a moment, before he lays his Bible down on his knees. "There's something else that's bothering me. This always opens here," he tells her. "Why's that?" The Bible's pages, wrinkled and smudged, flop open obediently to the book of Samuel.

Curiously, Mom sets down her knitting needles and holds out her hand for David to give the book to her. She skims the opened pages quickly before smiling, her eyes curving gently.

"Why," she says, "this is your favorite story in God's book."

"It is?"

She nods. "Yes. See? Here? David and Goliath." She smiles again as she reads the passages. "It's about you, honey. It is how David fought against a giant and won." She looks up. "Maybe you should remember that."

Mom and Dad go away for a weekend retreat. Spreading God's good word to the people and preaching to everyone who will come to hear them speak. The three kids watch TV and play board games. David makes dinner—macaroni and cheese from a box—with only a bit of help from Michael, and Elizabeth eats everything on her plate without a fuss.

After Elizabeth goes to bed—kisses for both of her brothers on the cheek—Michael and David stay up late. Michael tells ghost stories and laughs when David jumps at the endings.

"Such a wimp," Michael says. "you're practically afraid of your own shadow."

His grin is wide, eerie against the flickering light of the fireplace beside them.

He reads the Bible passage—his Bible passage, the one about him—over and over again until he memorizes it. In the words, he finds comfort. Stability in the idea that he once loved these words so much and once believed in them so wholly. Every night, he reads the verse. Every morning, he whispers it out loud. Every day, he believes in it a little more.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

(1 Samuel 17:50-51)

He takes a trip to his old college, just a forty-five minute drive from home, to see if there is anything that he can remember about medicine and the way the human body works. To see if there is somewhere for him to fit between the scattered pieces of his life. But after walking through hushed hallways and reading aged anatomy textbooks, he can't fit between such scattered pieces. He cannot even find those pieces they all tell him he once had.

He returns home, heavy-hearted and despondent.

When he pulls in the driveway, there is a car that he doesn't recognize on the street across from his house. Yet, there are so many things that he doesn't recognize—his room, his favorite foods or the Bible passage with his name—that he ignores this car and goes inside, slipping the car keys into his pocket.

Entering the house, he hears a man's voice, deep and angry, and Dad laughing. David stiffens in the foyer as he hangs up his coat, and slowly, he walks to the entranceway of the living room where the unnatural sound of Dad's sardonic laugh slips out.

Elizabeth is bleeding on the floor with her arm twisted at an abnormal angle, and the roots of her blonde hair are stained red with blood from her torn scalp. Her eyes are closed, but the shallow rise and fall of her little chest gives David hope. On the other side of the living room, in front of the couch, Mom, Michael and Dad are tied to the kitchen's chairs, thick rope binding their wrists and ankles. Michael's lip is bleeding and his face is swollen, puffy and bruised purple. Mom has her head bent down, hissing in pain, so David can't see her face. In front of Dad with his bloody nose and cracked tooth, the tall man stands.

"Tell me, you lying bastard!" the tall man shouts, and he backhands Dad viciously. Dad's glasses fly off his face as his head whips back, and he doesn't move for a moment. Then, slowly, ever so slowly, he turns his head to look up at the man.

David holds back a gasp of horror, and he turns out of the living room, unseen, and he goes into the kitchen where Mom keeps her best cutting knives. The ones she says that she uses only for the holidays to carve the meat and the one she reminds little Elizabeth, "Be careful, sweetie, these are sharp."

Quietly, David creeps back to the living room, handle of the knife slippery with sweat in his shaking hand. The man is speaking a foreign language, something fast and angry, while David's family writhes in pain. David, fighting to breathe, enters the room, and he approaches the tall man from behind.

Mom looks up and sees him. She stops her screaming and through clenched teeth, fighting back the pain, she hisses, "Goliath," and David knows what he must do.

He must save his family just as David saved his people from the Philistine.

In one long, smooth motion, he plunges the knife forward.

He stabs the man in the back.

The man chokes on his words, his fluid phrases faltering, and he crumbles to his knees as David holds the knife tight between muscles and bone.

"Nobody hurts my family," he snarls in the man's ear.

The man's blood, warm and wet, soaks David's hands and the rug beneath them. With a grunt, David pulls out the blade. His hands, glistening red and sticky, are shaking as the man rolls, collapses back against the foot of the couch. The tall man's breathing is labored but shallow; he can't seem to get enough air.

He looks up through heavy-lidded eyes, looks up through his dark bangs, and he sees David. His dying eyes widen, and he whispers, "Dean?"

The memories are instant.

There is a blast of information and faces, and David—Dean—fights to breathe as the wave crashes over him. The fire, Mom, take your brother outside, Dad's death to save Dean's soul, as long as I'm around nothing bad is going to happen to you, Sam my brother Sam, separated during a hunt, surrounded by red-eyed ghosts that laughed and took away his memory and took away Sam, and waking in the hospital and these people who hugged him and said they were his family, but they're really not, they never were, because his only family left is right here, looking at him right now, bleeding and dying right now in front of him.


Dean falls down beside his brother, whose head has fallen forward and chin rests on his chest. "Sam," he cries, "Sam, no, I'm so sorry, c'mon, no. You can't leave me now." He rambles, slurs of grief and guilt, and he cannot control the words as they spill out from his shaking lips.

There is so much blood and it's everywhere, and when he lifts Sam's head to look his brother in the eye, Dean leaves red handprints on Sam's paling cheeks. "Sam, no, please, no. I remember now, okay? I remember now. Dammit, I remember you." His words are mad and frantic.


But it's too late. Memory or not, Sam or not, all that remembered means nothing because when Dean presses his fingers to Sam's throat, only silence, only the absence of a heartbeat, a life extinguished, greets him.

Sam is gone.

Furious, so caught between his sorrow and anger, he stands to turn and face the people who pretended to be his family. They're shucking off the ropes and standing easily. Elizabeth rises to the ground with the help of Michael, who tenderly wipes blood from her face with the corner of his thumb. Adam's lifting his glasses, a crack in one of the lens now, and putting them on his face while Ruth readjusts her top.

Their eyes go black when they look at Dean.

"Congratulations," Ruth sneers. "You just sent your brother to Hell for good."

Adam laughs, but the sound is cold. "After all you did to save precious Sammy—trading your own soul for him—you just murdered him. How does that feel, Dean? You want to talk about your feelings over a game of catch, son? Want to see what God has to say about it?" This time, they all laugh.


Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."

(Mark 5:9)

The whole time, they were demons.

Even before they heard that Dean Winchester was sitting in a hospital with no recollection about anything past the tips of his fingers and Sam was upturning every rock and tree to find him but had no luck, they were demons. They certainly hadn't taken away Dean's memory—had an angry ghost and a local curse that the brothers had stumbled into to thank for that—but they weren't about to let this kind of chance pass them by. Demons, if nothing else, were opportunistic. They knew when to take advantage of certain situations.

What they hadn't expected was for Sam to go to the crossroads and summon a new demon, one who had replaced the one he had killed. Dean was missing and his year was almost up, and Sam refused to let Dean die alone. So Sam offered up his own soul in exchange for his brother's, voiding Dean's deal.

And, yes, the demons used this opportunity to their advantage. Passing up the chance to own Sam Winchester's soul would have been foolish beyond all possible reason.

The minute that Sam died, his soul was already doomed for Hell.

Dean simply sent him there.

He collapses beside Sam, who's bleeding on the floor where Dean laughed, where he sat unassuming as David merely yesterday afternoon. Now, he ignores the demons, lets them leave out the back door, and he buries his face into Sam's jacket.

He pulls his brother—his real, true, only brother—to him and cries.

"Sammy," he says, and the word is bittersweet on his tongue. "Sam, Sam, I'll get you out, okay? I promise you that." His nose runs, snot on his lips, and there are wet tears on his cheeks. He holds Sam, holds him tight, and he rocks, broken and alone with his brother a limp weight in his arms.

"Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."

(Job 2:4)

He doesn't burn his brother. There is, Dean finds, something too final, too painful, in the ideas of pressing a match to wood and allowing the flames to eat Sam's hair.

Instead, he carries Sam in his arms and gently, tenderly, Dean lays Sam down on the couch, and Sam's head, heavy, bobs against Dean's arm as he eases him onto the cushions. Turning, Dean walks up the stairs to the room where he slept as David beneath a cross.

A heat of something sick and heavy swirls in Dean's stomach as he looks up at the crucifix. He prayed here, every night for months on his knees, begging and pleading for his memory and to find where he belongs in the world. Now he stands with his dead brother just a floor below.

"Fuck you," he hisses to the cross. "You killed the wrong sinner this time, pal. You got the wrong guy."

He yanks the sheets and blankets from the bed and returns back to the living room where brushes Sam's hair away from his face. One last look, and then he wraps the bed sheets around Sam's body, wraps him tightly and protectively. Quickly, he brings a white-knuckled fist to his lips before he breaks apart again, and he carries Sam out to the backyard. Carries Sam out to the backyard to bury him alongside the thorny rosebushes and bleeding hearts.

The Impala is still parked outside, right where Sam left it. When Dean opens the trunk with the keys he took from Sam's pocket, Dean finds the trunk fuller than he remembers. There are new weapons and books, new amulets and newspaper clippings, all which reek of Sam's sheer desperation to find Dean before it was too late.

Unsteadily, Dean unlocks the driver's side door. Slides in and notices how the steering wheel's adjusted a bit too high and how the rearview mirror is tilted all wrong. There's a cup of coffee still warm on the floor and Sam's writing covers a newspaper article in the passenger seat.

Dean shakes his head, bites back the emotions that are running hot and mad through him, and he pulls the Colt out from beneath his coat. After Sam had died, Dean had found it fallen to the floor, and he gathered it for his own use before the demons could. He figures that if he has to go demon hunting, this is his best weapon.

He adjusts the mirrors, touches the pedals with his foot, and wraps his hands around the steering wheel. It should feel like coming home, but without Sam beside him, he's still as lost as he was before.

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?"

(Matthew 8:28-29)

He goes to the crossroads, calls to the demon, and he offers everything he has just like he offered everything he had before when Sam was taken away. This time, unlike the last, the demon smiles and licks her pretty lips. Tells him there's nothing he can give that she'll accept. She laughs and turns away to leave him alone.

After that, he spends his time hunting demons in blind madness. Slaughtering anything with black eyes that crosses his path and refuses to help him get to Sam. He nearly gets himself killed once or twice, here and there when he's too reckless, but he never worries. He's not suicidal, but he knows right where his soul is going when he finds death, and then at least he'll be with Sam again.

He finds Ruby and ties her to a chair. Tortures her almost senseless until she spills her secrets for making more bullets for the Colt.

"You don't want to do this," she gasps, bruised chest heaving as blood falls from her face.

"And why's that?"

She sighs, trying to catch her breath. Her eyes are sunken into her skull, exhaustion of the days of torment he's put her through, and she replies, "Sam. Don't you think he knew what he was doing?"

"You shut up about Sam!" he snaps.

Silently, she bows her head, too tired, too beaten and worn to fight back. "You're better off if you just stop it now…both of you. You'll both be better off for it."

He picks the Colt up from the table and points it at her. Shoots her right between the eyes and she says no more.

Bobby calls him frequently, meets up with him in back alley bars and dingy diners. He tells Dean to stop, warns him that he's being foolish and hardheaded. "The devil himself is going to come and find you, boy," Bobby says one night on the phone.

"Then let him come, goddammit," Dean snarls back. "Let him come, Bobby, and I swear I'll kill him too."

Bobby sighs raggedly, and Dean pictures him rubbing his temples as he's done in the hundreds of times they've had this same conversation. "Dean," he replies, voice broken and quieter now, "you're better than this. Sam wouldn't want—"

His sentence dies when Dean snaps the phone shut on him. He tosses it onto the motel bed, where it rings and buzzes helplessly.

Dean concentrates on cleaning the Colt, wiping away the demon blood on its body. The phone rings for the most of the night, and after that, Dean doesn't hear from Bobby again.

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

(Genesis 4:8-9)

He's trying to sleep when there's a noise at his motel door. His hand instantly goes to the Colt, warm beneath his pillow, and his muscles tense. He is wanted for dead by the demons and wanted alive by men; he never sleeps soundly now.

There is a scratching noise, metal against metal, as if someone is picking the lock. Dean slides out of bed, bare feet cold on the floor, and he rounds the end of his mattress to face the door with the Colt held high.

The door swings open slowly, and Dean swallows, tries to control the rapid thump-thump of his erratic heart in his ears.

The figure stands in the doorway as a black silhouette against the bleak fluorescent light that streams in from the parking light. It shuffles towards him, holds out a hand that drips something wet and black onto the floor, and croaks, "Dean."

He knows that voice, sure as he knows his own, and he fumbles for the light switch, careful not to turn his attention—gun—away. With a click, the room is illuminated instantly, and Dean wishes he wasn't so surprised at the man standing before him.

Sam looks at Dean curiously. His head is cocked at an unnatural angle, and what skin remains is gray and spotty. There's mud smeared on his face and falling from his hair when he moves. Around his joints, bones are visible, and a black tar oozes from beneath his yellowed fingernails and around his eyes.

"You're not Sam," Dean says, sick by the smell of the rotten corpse and of the sight—knowledge—of his brother's body in front of him like this.

The monster smiles, reveals a spot of toothless gums where teeth have fallen out. "Oh? And you're telling me who people really are?" It walks closer, staggering, limbs uncoordinated and clumsy. "You? Who didn't even know your own name for months and then stabbed your own baby brother because of that?" It chuckles, a sloppy wet sound from deep in its throat.

"Get out of his body, you son of a bitch." He wishes he could pull the trigger. This isn't Sam. It's not Sam, but he cannot bring himself to shoot his brother's face.

"You know, Dean, I hated you from the very moment Mom and Dad brought you back from the hospital," the creature slurs. "David, our precious David, even though we all knew why you were there. To break Sammy. Hoping you'd die after your year was up, and he'd be broken enough to join us—"


The monster smiles, pleased, and the expression on Sam's features is disgusting and dark.

"But you Winchesters always do the hard part for us, y'know? Sam sells his soul for yours and goes to Hell when you kill him." It raises a hand, bleeding black to touch Dean and smiles. "It's very biblical, you know. The sacrifice of one brother for another. I think Mom and Dad would be proud you learned so much from them about the meaning of religion."

Dean finally shoots. Crack of the gunshot into the gut and the creature stumbles backwards. It chokes and spits up a messy bile that runs over Sam's chest and down the shirt he died in. Sam's eyes look wide and afraid before the monster crashes to the ground, limbs a mess, and lays still.

Dean cups a hand over his face before he turns away and vomits in the corner.

This time, he burns Sam's body. He can't take any more chances.

He'll find a way to bring Sam back.


And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery…Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

(Exodus 20:12)

He hears stories through other hunters, through other demons themselves, that Adam and Ruth are not far away, and he abandons everything else to pursue them. But they know he's coming, can hear his heartbeat on the wind, and they separate for safety.

He finds them in the end.

Adam has a different face but talks the same talk as he did before.

"Ah, David," he smiles, wide and charismatic, "never could remember that fifth commandment, could you?"
Dean shoots him without an answer.

Ruth has kept her red-haired form, and he ties her down so she can't escape when he brings the end to her.

"Why?" he screams at her. "Why me? Why Sam? Why us?"

She smiles, her teeth bloody where he split her lip and says, "Why not you?"

"You're monsters. I'm going to kill every last one of you until I get Sam back."

Her laughter is brittle. "Well good luck with that kiddo. You're going to need it because Sammy's not coming out of Hell anytime soon. Lucifer's pleased with his new pet you gave him."

Dean shoots and lets her bleed to death while he turns his back and walks away. Her words fall away, and he closes the door on her gurgling taunts.

At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"

But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?"

(John 10:19-21)

Time passes, days rolling into weeks and weeks into months. He loses track of the calendar year and starts counting time by the bullets in his gun and the demon bodies in his wake.

The demons get the better of him every now and then, and he loses days to insanity where they torment him with images of Sam in Hell and the taste of human flesh on his tongue. He always escapes, even if it's a little worse for the wear, and he wonders if they want him to escape. If the demons don't want him dead just yet. If they think death is too easy of a way out for him.

He's hardened and crazy, and he has to be to survive. Rumors of his existence fly around the hunters' bars, and he becomes nearly as infamous and unbelievable as the monsters he hunts. Dean Winchester, lost to the madness, unstoppable by any demon that walks this earth.

He lets them talk.

Somewhere in the wilderness, he finds a demon who laughs when Dean asks of Sam.

"Your brother's gone. Accept it, Dean."

"I'll never give up. Swear to God, I'm never going to give up."

"God?" The demon snickers. "God? Oh, Dean. You know God doesn't hear your cries. He never has." The monster sighs, a soft, lonely breath. "He never will."

But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."

Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."

(Luke 22: 33-34)

He receives reports of power outages that have lasted for weeks and cattle deaths that are sudden and unexplained from a little town way out west. When he arrives, dust billowing up from yards, the people press nervous fists to their mouths and point him to a farm that sits atop a hill overlooking the valley. They shake when they talk, and he doesn't know if they're demons in disguise. He knows that there is one here that isn't in disguise.

Following winding gravel roads, he pulls up to the house, sitting quietly with the animals moving slowly around. Outside the house, a garden of roses is dead and dried. The brown petals lay scattered on the parched earth.

The barns are old and falling apart, shingles on the ground with window cracked open, and when he walks through the main house, spilled milk grows mold on the countertops and rotten food wriggles with maggots and glitters with the black sheen of flies. An old sheepdog rests on an empty bed with pillows strewn open. The animal whines, cocks its head as Dean passes by. It doesn't follow him outside. It's still waiting for its owners to return home.

Outside on top of the hill, there is a man standing with his arms crossed and face upturned to the setting sun.

Dean approaches, Colt in his hand, and he says, "So, you're the one they told me about."

The man turns around, and his eyes flash black. "You came," the demon says.

Dean lifts the gun, and he shoots as he's shot a hundred times before. Hits the creature right in the chest, and the demon lifts a hand to the wound where the blood seeps out between his fingers. It chokes unintelligibly, and its black eyes soften when it whispers, "Dean, no…no, not now…It's…it's me…"

Dean's heart falls into his stomach for the third time since he regained his memory.

He knows instantly what soul from Hell he murdered. Throwing the Colt to the ground, he rushes to the man—Sam's host—and he babbles nonsense as he catches him, pleas and curses, but he's too good of an aim.

Sam, wearing another man's face, has no words for his older brother. He stares up through muted eyes and says nothing. Says no more now than the two times before this.

Dean falls to his knees and breaks apart completely. The creeping darkness swallows his cries, and in the distance, a rooster begins to crow.