May 3, 2008

So many asked for a follow-up that I couldn't say no. This is sequel to "Worse than Death," my tag for the S3 finale, "No Rest for the Wicked." Picks up where the first story left off.

I tried to stay as spoiler free this summer as possible, so I have no doubt this will be nothing like anything in Season 4.

Thanks to geminigrl11 for the beta. Reviews craved. I own nothing.


The Devil to Pay

Before he could say anything, his attacker stepped out of the shadows by the window, dressed in a long black overcoat and carrying a wicked looking blade in his right hand. The eyes were what transfixed Sam though…black as tar, pinning him as effectively as the chair.

"Howdy, little brother."

January 24, 2009

11:46 PM

Sam could do nothing but stare. A demon had gotten the drop on him in his motel room, and worse, it was wearing his brother's face. He couldn't quite wrap his exhausted brain around it. It was Dean. But it couldn't be. Dean was-- Dean was no demon. Ruby said it took centuries. Therefore, logically, this wasn't Dean. It was some demon--some goddamned filthy demon--who was masquerading as Dean.

"No," Sam breathed, shaking his head. "No."

The demon strolled forward, casually picking up the fallen Colt and stuffing it into a side pocket of the coat. "That all you have to say to me? It's been eight months, dude."

Sam shook his head again, willing the words to be lies. Dean being a demon was unacceptable. "No. You're not my brother. My brother is dead because of you bastards."

Stopping just shy of Sam, the demon turned and glanced appraisingly into the room's mirror. "Hmm. Looks like me. Maybe that head injury you're sporting blurred you vision, bro. You should get that checked."

"Fuck you," Sam growled, straining his muscles as he pushed against the chair again. This time it started to move. The demon raised its hand, and the chair slammed back, pinning Sam's arms this time.

"Now, now, Sammy. Can't have that. Though, I must admit, that was an impressive display. Lilith and her friends are right to be afraid of you."

Sam stopped struggling with the chair, unable to move his arms at all now. He glanced down, noting that the salt line by the door was broken. Which shouldn't have been possible. Even the most powerful demons he had encountered were stopped by salt. He looked back at his captor. "How…?"

The demon followed Sam's gaze to the floor. "Oh, that? Nothing magical about it, just terrify the little punk at the front desk, get him to open your door with a spare key while you're out and break the line for me. One, two, three."

His captor stepped closer, gently sliding the tip of the menacing dagger in its hand across Sam's jawline. "But let's not get tied up in the details. We have a lot of catching up to do, don't we?"

Turning his head away, Sam frowned. "Not likely, demon."

The blade fell away, replaced with the sneering visage of his brother. "You wound me, bro. I came all this way to see you, and you reject me because your ego refuses to let you believe I'm really Dean. That hurts."

"Not as much as it's going to hurt when I get free. You come in here, daring to make yourself look like my brother?" Sam stridently ignored the fact that there weren't that many shape-shifting demons, so his assumption was pretty weak on fact. Didn't matter though; nothing mattered except his anger toward the thing in front of him. "I'm going to make you pay for that. All of you."

The demon cocked an eyebrow in what looked like amusement. "Big words, kid. Especially for someone with a price on his head and a knife at his throat."

Sam blinked at that. A price on my head? Lilith must have upped the ante. That's as far as his thoughts went before a voice interrupted them from across the room.

"The price isn't nearly high enough."

Sam and his captor followed the sound, glancing over simultaneously. Ruby stood by the windows, her demon-killing knife held out in front of her.

The demon snorted and looked back at Sam. "Still haven't ditched this lying whore, Sammy? You just stupid, or did she get in your pants?"

Ruby stepped closer before Sam could answer, holding the knife out threateningly. "Get away from him, Dean."

Sam frowned at her. Surely she could see this wasn't his brother. He was about to say as much to her when the demon turned back to her.

"Don't think so, sweetheart. My brother and I have business that doesn't include treacherous skanks."

Ruby flipped her knife over and hurled it at the demon, and for a moment, Sam thought the blade might slice right into its throat. Part of him hoped it didn't. He'd seen enough of Dean's blood to last him two lifetimes, whether this was his brother or not. The knife never made it that far, though. "Dean" flicked his hand, and the weapon spun in midair and shot back, catching Ruby in the leg. She cried out and went down, energy crackling along her midsection.

Then, without warning, "Dean's" hand shot out, grasping Sam's neck. The grip was so strong that he couldn't even draw a breath. He heard Ruby shouting something as the room went black.


January 25, 2009

12:35 AM

Bobby cursed under his breath when the call went to Sam's voicemail. Again. He'd called Sam four times since midnight to no avail.

He's done something stupid, I know it.

Sam was a good hunter--scratch that, in the year since Dean's death, Sam had become a great hunter--but he was impulsive, his lingering grief over his brother's death making him reckless. If not for the young man's ever-increasing psychic abilities, he probably would have gotten himself killed already.

Bobby wasn't convinced that that wasn't exactly what Sam wanted.

The Winchester boys had been close, unusually so. Losing your parents and assorted other loved ones to demons did that, changed your outlook on life, Bobby knew from experience. But it also meant that when Dean died, he took a big chunk of Sam with him, and the boy had never truly recovered from that.

Sam was short-tempered and aloof these days. He rarely spoke outside of the planning of a hunt, and when he did speak, it was usually in abrupt sentences, using as few words as possible. Orders, often. Like a drill instructor or platoon sergeant. He reminded Bobby a lot of John.

On nights like this, Sam's growing similarity to his late father irritated Bobby to no end. They'd located Lilith again, and despite Sam's--admittedly vague--promise to wait for backup, with each passing minute, Bobby suspected that Sam had charged in alone. If not for the young hunter's amazing abilities and physical strength, Bobby would have called it suicidal. But Sam had shocked him too many times.

Taking on Lilith alone was perilous--if not insane--but if anyone could do it….

Bobby growled to himself. Just because Sam could do it didn't make it smart. Something about the circumstances this time made Bobby suspect a trap. Unfortunately, Sam was equally capable of completely ignoring any such danger.

His anxiety ratcheted up a notch as he pulled into the motel lot where Sam was supposed to be staying. The Impala was parked, which meant Sam should be there and answering his phone. The fact that he wasn't--

Bobby parked his Chevelle and got out, casting a wary glance at Ellen, who pulled in beside him and dropped down from her truck.

"Still nothing?" she asked, surveying the parking lot.

"Not a word. I don't like it," Bobby replied gruffly, marching up to the door of room 97 and knocking loudly. "Sam?"

When no answer came, he tried the doorknob, grimacing when he found it unlocked.

Ellen drew a gun as they entered the room. Not much looked to be in disarray, though the salt line was broken and a chair was lying by the entrance. The thin sulfur residue on the floor was far more alarming.

"Demons?" Ellen asked, scanning the room.

Bobby shook his head. "I dunno. How would they get past the salt?"

A soft groan drew their attention, and they cautiously made their way to the far bed. Sam was still getting rooms with two-beds, Bobby noted. When will he stop torturing himself?

They found Ruby on the floor beyond the second bed. Her own knife was sticking out of her leg. Sharing a look with Ellen, Bobby kneeled and carefully extracted it. Ruby moaned, her eyes fluttering open. "Damn…."

Bobby bit his lip. Ruby had proven to be a valuable ally, if a wild card. Sam found her useful, but she definitely had her own agenda, and she wasn't trustworthy. Nor particularly well-liked. Bobby suspected from the way Sam treated Ruby that he blamed her for Dean's death in some way. The boy refused to talk about it, though, for whatever reason.

"You all right?" he asked, extending a hand to help the girl up.

"I'll live," Ruby hissed, grudgingly accepting the hand and moving to sit on the bed.

"Where's Sam?" Ellen asked, lowering her gun.

Ruby looked at them, clearly debating something, then shrugged. "Let's just say things have taken a turn for the worse."


January 25, 2009

Time Unknown

Sam drifted slowly toward consciousness, senses overloaded by a rush of sound, light, and sensation. Pain filtered through first: from his knees, from his wrists, and from the throbbing in his head. Sound was next, the rustle of feet on a floor and hushed murmurs surrounding him. His forehead itched.

He opened his eyes, but was assaulted by the glare of an overhead floodlight. Wincing, he tried again, slower this time. When his eyes finally adjusted, he became clearer on the source of the pain. He was kneeling on a concrete floor, his wrists shackled out in front and above shoulder level. The position strained his back, and was killing his legs, but when he tried to move, he found that his ankles were chained as well, locking his feet under him.

The shackles on his wrists were so tight that he could barely move his hands, and any attempt to do so caused small spikes on the inside of the cuffs to slice into his skin. Sam obviously wasn't supposed to be moving around. He shifted his weight experimentally, trying and failing to ease the growing ache in his back muscles.

It was chilly in the room--which looked like part of a warehouse--without his coat, but not unbearably so. He didn't bother to look for whoever was stirring around him. He already knew who had captured him, and wouldn't give them the satisfaction of seeing his face.

Damn… Something was making his forehead itch, but he couldn't scratch it. The part of his sleeve he could reach wasn't helping…the feeling was starting to get maddening.

Screw this, time to go.

Sam concentrated on the shackles, willing them to unlock. Nothing happened. Frowning, Sam tried again. His telekinesis usually worked immediately--

Something was very wrong.

"Having trouble?"

Dean. No, it was the demon that was pretending to be Dean, insulting Sam and his brother's memory. Sam cursed himself. He shouldn't let these bastards get under his skin with their games. That's what they wanted.

He finally looked up as the demon came into view from behind him. It was still appearing as Dean. Sam glared as it smugly made eye contact, noting dispassionately that the eyes were hazel, not black like in the room. It even looked like Dean's smirk.

Forgetting the chains for a moment, he focused on his demonic captor, and willed it to free him.


The demon noticed his scowl. "You're probably wondering why your usual bag of psychic tricks isn't working."

Sam just glared.

His captor reached over, picking up something from the shadows outside the bright cone of the floodlight surrounding them. It appeared to be a mirror. Sam saw his reflection in it.

There was something all across his forehead, under his bangs. It looked like blood, but sigils had been painted in reddish smears.

"Black magic. Old black magic," the demon explained casually. "It blocks psychic abilities. Pretty much locks you inside your own head."

Sam frowned, trying to examine the symbols more closely, but the mirror was abruptly tossed away.

"Scratch all you want, nothing short of slicing your skin open will break the spells. Unfortunately, you're still immune to anything a demon can do to you--short of being shot or stabbed--but at least this way you can't hurt them either."

Sam just glowered at the demon.

"Nothing to say, Sammy? Not even a 'it's nice to see you again big brother?'"

"You're not my brother," Sam hissed, eyes dropping to the floor again. He was tired, like he'd run a marathon. His ribs were starting to ache again from his earlier battle outside the warehouse.

Speaking of which, that's probably where I am….

"We've been through this, Sam. I sure as hell look like Dean."

"I don't care who you look like."

The demon chuckled. "Strong and silent. Nothing past name, rank and serial number. Smart mouth the enemy, put them on the defensive. You learned all the right lessons, Sam. I'm proud. Dad would be, too."

Sam ignored him, listening to his captor's footsteps as it circled him like a stalking predator. He only raised his eyes when the demon dropped to one knee directly in front of him, though he proudly didn't flinch at the sudden motion. People flinched in fear when they had something to lose. These sons of bitches had already taken everything Sam had, so what did he have to fear?

"I think you do care, Sammy. This…mask you wear just hides the scared kid underneath. I can see through you. Look into my eyes and tell me I'm not you're brother, I dare you."

Sam sneered, and leaned forward, making direct eye contact for the first time. "You aren't Dean. You're lying. All you things do is lie. Lie and kill."

He didn't focus much on the eyes though, settling for the forehead. It was too painful to see his brother this close, knowing that it was all false.

The demon smirked again, then broke into a grin. "Same old Sammy. Stubborn as ever."

"It takes centuries for someone to become a demon. It's only been eight months," Sam stated matter-of-factly, not blinking. The irony didn't escape Sam; to him, the last eight months had felt like years, decades, centuries….

The demon mockingly motioned for Sam to come closer, knowing that Sam had stretched as far as he could in that position. "It's been eight months up here, bro. Did you ever stop to consider that time might not mean the same thing in The Pit?"

Sam blinked at that. He actually had never thought about it. For the first time, doubt formed in his mind. He focused on his captors eyes, looking carefully at them this time.

No. No… It was a trick, an illusion. This was a demon projecting his brother's image and voice; that was all.

"I'm bored!" a voice called out from over Sam's left shoulder. A child's voice.

Sam turned his head, finding a small girl, no more than twelve, walking out of the shadows toward them. Lilith. It must have been.

The little girl stopped in front of Sam's chained hands, making a face like he'd stolen her ice cream cone.

"You're mean. I don't like you. You kill my demons."

Sam couldn't hold his anger in, not when she was this close. He lunged forward, trying to twist his hands so he could get them around her throat. Blood seeped from his wrists but he didn't care.

"You murdered my brother, you bitch!"

Lilith flinched and stepped back, obviously not expecting his outburst. Two of her minions stepped up behind her, and the one that looked like Dean tensed. Lilith's surprised expression turned sour.

"You're being bad, Sam. I'm going to make you pay for that. I'm gonna make you suffer for what you've done to us."

Sam smirked at her, pleased that his bloody swath through the demons' army was appreciated. "Come closer, and you can try it yourself."

He tried to use his abilities again, focusing on ripping the demon from the girl's body, but like before, nothing happened.

Lilith shook her head, looking childlike and young. It was weird confronting a child like this, but he knew that's what Lilith counted on to distract her enemies.

"No. Dean's going to make you sorry. You'll see."

She turned and walked out, her entourage following her. The sounds of chatter around them in the darkness thinned out, as well. Moments later, Sam was alone with the demon that was masquerading as his brother.

The demon that looked like his brother stepped closer, drawing the menacing blade he'd had when Sam had found him in the motel room. In the light, Sam could see the ornate inscriptions running along the blade, but couldn't translate them.

"That was pretty stupid, Sammy. She might have made it quick if you hadn't yelled at her. What were you thinking?"

Sam pulled futilely against his restraints again, drawing more blood. He dropped his head against his forearm. A small tear of frustration and anger flowed from his eye. He was so close! He could kill that capricious bitch so easily! If I could just get out of these damned shackles!

Unfortunately, with his wrists bound so tightly and his psychic mojo off-line, he wasn't going to get very far. He opened his eyes and looked up.

"Fuck you," Sam sighed, letting his eyes drift shut again. Might as well conserve energy. "That's what I'm thinking."

He was caught off-guard when the fist smashed into his mouth. Sam grunted, his eyes snapping open as the shock of impact whipped his head back. That was--

Sam's mind shot back to the motel room, when the demon's hand wrapped around his throat and squeezed. He hadn't been paying attention then.

"You're…you're corporeal…."

The demon smirked at him. "Expecting me to be part of the Black Smoke Brigade?"

Sam had. He'd written the appearance off as a mask, a projection. His captor seemed to read it in his face.

"I told you, Sam. It's me. I'm the real deal," it said, swinging the blade playfully and walking around Sam.

Sam felt the realization like an electric shock. No…. Half of him denied it. This was a mind game. They wanted him to believe it.

The other half--what was left of the mourning little brother--was starting to do just that.

What if this really was Dean?

But how--?

"I don't understand--"

"I don't either," his captor interrupted from behind him, his voice cold. "I don't understand how the little brother I traded my soul for could just let me die like that."

Anger and--Sam hated to admit--hurt flared inside him. "I didn't--"

He was cut off when the blade flashed before his eyes, the demon driving it into his flesh at the left shoulder and slashing down Sam's chest, all the way to his right side. He cried out, unable to block the pain in time. Blood was already flowing freely from the gash. Sam's brain told him that the wound was likely superficial, but it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.

Worse, the tissue around the slice seemed to heat up, and moments after the knife left his body, a sharp burning sensation radiating out, burning through skin, muscle and veins. Sam panted, trying to control the pain, when he heard his captor again.

"I don't understand how you could break a promise so easily."

Another slash, this time across the top of both shoulder blades. The burning around the edges started faster this time, taking Sam's breath away. He was shaking from the pain already, the attacks pushing him past his threshold faster than he expected.

"But, I guess you always did cut and ran when it counted. Didn't you, Sammy?"

Another cut up his left side blotted out any reply Sam could have mustered.

"That burning sensation? The blade is poisoned. Don't worry, it won't kill you, just make you wish it had."

Sam said nothing, gritting his teeth to stay silent. He wouldn't give Lilith the satisfaction of hearing him in pain. The blade sliced into his right thigh. He closed his eyes.

Dean wouldn't do this, he reassured himself. This isn't Dean. Dean's gone.

For the first time in months, Sam prayed. Please don't let this be him….


January 25, 2009

2:55 AM

Bobby snapped his phone shut in frustration, pacing back and forth in front of the beds. "Joshua and Jefferson are in New Jersey; it'll take them a few days to get out here. Deacon's in Montana, he's coming as fast as he can."

Ellen sighed, looking from Bobby to the door. "Better than nothing."

"We should be out there with Ruby instead of sitting here on our butts."

"You heard her. The whole town is crawling with demons. If she can find out where Sam is without us losing the element of surprise--"

"I know," Bobby interrupted grumpily. "We have a better chance if they don't know we're coming. I know that, Ellen."

"Still don't trust her?" Ellen asked, peering at the older man.

"Do you?"

Ellen sighed. "No. But, she's kept her word so far."

"So we think," Bobby scoffed. "Who knows what goes on with demons when we're not looking? They're liars and killers, that's all they'll ever be."

Ellen smiled faintly. "You sound like Sam."

"He's not wrong to distrust her."

"Didn't say he was."

"We wouldn't have survived this long if not for Sam. He's winning this war for us, and he's practically doing it by himself," Bobby mused, almost sounding mournful.

"I know."

"I told him not to go in by himself."

"I know."

"He's his father's son, that's for sure," Bobby growled.

"Yes, he is."

"Do you have anything useful to add?" Bobby barked.

"Don't take that tone with me, Bobby Singer. Sam's as much part of my family as he is yours. But charging around town, letting every demon inside twenty miles know that we're here isn't going to help him."

Bobby stopped pacing, resting his hand on Sam's duffel. Ellen eyed him, knowing how he was feeling. He'd essentially adopted Sam and Dean after John passed. He'd done his best to hold Sam together after Dean.

Now, Sam might be dead or dying, and neither he nor Ellen knew what was going to happen next. She gestured casually in the direction of Sam's bag.

"So, what are we gonna do?"

Bobby huffed without humor. "We're gonna wait here, and trust Ruby to find Sam for us."

Ellen laughed softly. "Yeah."

The conversation ended when the door opened, Ruby coming to a stop at the salt line with a huff of impatience. "Let me in, I've found Sam."

Bobby broke the line with his foot, then grimaced as the blond demon strode past him. "You're welcome…."

"Where is he?" Ellen asked, rising off the bed.

"The same warehouse you tracked Lilith to, and where Sam was ambushed tonight."

"He was ambushed? You didn't say that before," Bobby shot back, suspicious.

Ellen watched as Ruby settled at the small table. "You didn't ask. He was jumped when he went after Lilith. Killed eight of her demons, but he got hurt in the process."

"Anything else you didn't mention before you went out to find him?" Ellen asked angrily. She wasn't in the mood for demonic word games, not while Sam was in danger.

Bobby was already moving, though, grabbing his shotgun. "Forget it for now. We gotta get to that warehouse."

"You can't," Ruby sighed, not moving from her seat. "Lilith's there, so is Sam…but so are about thirty or forty more demons. They're guarding the place, watching the doors, the windows…it's locked down tight. Three of us won't be able to get in, we need more."

"Or a distraction," Ellen offered. Ruby shrugged noncommittally.

"We've got help coming," Bobby offered weakly.

"Joshua and Jefferson are a few days away, Bobby," Ellen said. "Deacon's the only one even close."

She didn't say the rest, but she knew Bobby was already thinking it. Sam might be dead by the time help gets here.

The older hunter, though was lifting a map of the city off the bed by Sam's bag. "Well, let's have a plan ready for when he gets here."


January 25, 2009

Time Unknown

Sam couldn't bite back the cry of pain as the knife slide down his forearm, leaving a bloody mess in its wake. The intense burning sensation from the poison now encompassed nearly his entire body. A constant film of sweat covered him. It made the chill of the warehouse much more noticeable. Fever made every move and twitch torture. His blood was hot against his clammy skin.

He didn't want to look down, since he could already feel that his clothes were soaked through with blood. At any rate, he couldn't open his eyes if he wanted to. Intense dizziness waited for him whenever he dared. Sam had no idea what the poison was doing, besides making him queasy, lightheaded and sick.

Dean was still ranting, digging up old hurts and bad memories Sam had spent the last few years burying--pausing only long enough between accusations to draw more blood. The list of reasons why Sam was a terrible excuse for a brother was seemingly endless. Sam didn't react to any of them.

It wasn't anything he hadn't thought before, after all, more than once. He wasn't a good brother? Tell me something I don't know. He'd failed Dean in the most fundamental and egregious way possible: he'd outlived him.

Dean was dead because of Sam. He had been to Hell because of Sam. Dean had been brought back in this heinous form--his very memory betrayed and tarnished--because Sam hadn't managed to hunt down and destroy Lilith fast enough.

He huffed in silent, painful mirth, realizing what he'd just thought to himself. When did I decide this was Dean?

It didn't matter, he supposed. If there was any justice in the world, Lilith would come back with some of her Hellhounds and take Sam to Hell, where he knew he belonged. If the demon, or revenant or zombie or whatever in front of him was really his Dean or not…it didn't matter. It was just another mark of his failure.

Sam kinda hoped it was Dean, though.

At least this way, if it was really Dean, Sam would be punished the way he deserved to be by the person who deserved to punish him. It was only fair. The notion pleased him, odd as it seemed. He chuckled.

It didn't go unnoticed.

A hand gripped Sam's sweat-soaked hair, yanking his head back painfully. He forced his eyelids open, finding Dean's face inches away.

"Something funny?"

Sam smirked, too tired to argue. "Does it matter?"

Dean regarded him coldly, malice filling his otherwise familiar eyes. He brought the knife up, slowly dragging the tip down Sam's cheek. The pain was almost instantly joined by the burn of the poison, and blood flowed down his face onto his neck.

"Impolite not to share, little brother. I raised you better than that."

The knife, and Dean's attention, shifted to Sam's right bicep. "Not that you ever gave a damn about anything I taught you…."

"N'true…" Sam countered weakly, breath hitching at the pain, eyes drifting shut again. He wasn't sure why he bothered. Nothing he'd said since waking up here had made any difference to his captor. Something just compelled him to correct the falsehood this time.

Dean stopped carving into the muscle and looked back at him. Sam felt the blood trickling down inside his torn shirt sleeve. "That so?"

Sam swallowed, his throat almost too dry to speak. He'd kill for some water just now. "Y'can…be angry for how I acted…things I didn't do…but, don't tell me what I thought."

Dean grabbed Sam by the chin, gripping so hard Sam wondered if his jaw might break. "You left me in Hell. You gave up on me. I'd be surprised, but it's all just part of a pattern, Sam. You never gave a damn about anybody but yourself. You're worse than Dad."

The grip on his jaw tightened, so Sam stayed silent. He wanted to tell Dean he was wrong. At least on the leaving him in Hell part. Sam had scoured dozens of books, had called in every marker he had--not that he had many--in the last eight months, but he had found nothing that would have released Dean.

And despite a certain reckless edge he'd been sporting since being on his own, Sam couldn't quite rationalize away opening the Devil's Gate and letting everything out of Hell until he found Dean. He could have, maybe even would have, but he knew Dean would never have forgiven him for it. Or, at least, he thought he knew.

Dean stood, apparently tired of waiting for an answer, and dragged the knife down Sam's left arm as he casually circled around behind. "'Course that shouldn't surprise me either. Dad knew what you were. Told me, remember? Told me I'd have to kill you. He should have put you down himself long ago, instead of pretending his son was human."

Sam could barely feel the blade slitting his skin, the new pain being lost in the agony that pulsed through the rest of his body with every heartbeat. He turned his head slightly, listening, trying to see where this tirade was going. He found it too difficult, and just rested his forehead on his shredded upper arm. He felt no pain there, just the slow stream of blood soaking into his hair.

"I never pegged Dad as a sentimentalist, but I guess I was wrong," Dean continued, circling back around front. "He treated me like a dog, a little toy soldier…all the while knowing his youngest was a freak of nature."

Sam winced. That one hurt. He'd always feared how Dean had viewed him after discovering his psychic abilities. But fearing a bad reaction, and actually hearing one…two different things.

His brother dropped down into his field of view again, sneering. "And look how well that turned out. Dad got himself killed. You let me die. And pretty little Jess. How does that feel, Psychic Boy? Do you regret even a little of the damage you caused?"

Something inside Sam broke. Dean hadn't told him anything new, just laid it all out in the light for the first time. He raised his head, forcing his eyelids open long enough to meet Dean's gaze. He deciphered the look in his brother's eyes and knew this was it.

The opportunity he'd begged for since last May finally dropped into his lap.

"You have no idea, Dean. But you're right. Do it."

"Do what?"

"Do it, Dean!" Sam snapped. He was through playing. "You hate me so much? Fine. End it. You can finally end it."

Dean scoffed. "Lilith doesn't want--"

"Who cares? Do it, Dean. Do what you've wanted to do since you came to my motel room. I can see it in your eyes. Take that knife and do it, you fucking coward!"

Dean blinked, hesitating, but Sam saw the look in his eyes and knew he was just one push away.

This was it, Sam's chance. Maybe his last chance. And he was going to be selfish and take it. He was going to be selfish, just like Dean said. I love you, Dean.

"Do it! Be a man, for once and do what you want, Dean!"

The words hit the mark. Enraged, Dean lunged forward, driving the knife into Sam's gut all the way to the hilt. He twisted it, causing Sam to scream, before yanking it out. The poison flooded through Sam, filled his abdomen with white hot fire.

Sam let his eyes shut again, thanking his brother silently. This was it.