3.07 Fresh Blood tag – Sam's POV

This is my Secret Samta gift for nigHoney. Honey, I hope I managed to portray Sam's inner workings to a small degree. Oy, these Winchesters… so very complicated and intriguing!

Happy Holidays to everyone and I hope you enjoy Honey's story. It never would have come about without the support and encouragement of the awesome Sam fans at Supernaturaltv.

Wishing you all the best as we finish out this year and head into the next. Take care, B.J.

Choices

Life often changes in the blink of an eye. You make a bad decision, turn down the wrong path, and before you even realize it your life has changed. You find yourself trapped on a course, inevitable, with no way out. Lucy made a poor choice in going out to Spider's that night and letting a stranger pick her up. Looking for a cheap thrill with a new drug, she saw her life flicker away. It was red and thick and the nastiest virus out there. Bad call, Lucy. I feel for you, I do; but we're hunters and there's only one choice left for us in how to handle this.

Believe me, I can relate. I've got demon blood in me, but I haven't killed anyone. And I'm not going to… ever. I control my own destiny. I have to believe that. I may not be able to wipe Azazel's blood from my veins, but I do control who I am and what I do. At least I have so far… and if there is ever any hint that I can't, then I will end it. I will not become a monster.

And if I can't do it 'cause it's gotten too tight a grip on me, then my brother will… he promised. Dean promised… and Dean's never broken a promise to me… ever.

Dean's not just my big brother and protector… he's my best friend.

Dean.., well there are lots of choices in his life he never got to make, that were made for him: losing his mom as a kid and with it all faith in God, being responsible for his little brother, protecting him and insuring he got everything out of life that he himself was denied, becoming a hunter when no other life was offered, believing that his life didn't matter when weighed against the lives of his family.

So many choices were taken away that when he did have a choice to make; he truly didn't… no choice other than to protect me, save me… even if the cost was his own life and eternal soul. In Dean's twisted mind there was no choice.

He made the only choice he could and in so doing took away my choice, left me holding the bag, destined to be the last Winchester standing. I promised him I'd save him, but time is slipping away and all the resolve in the world can't turn back the clock, take away the bad decision he made and give him back his life. Every day brings us closer to the inevitable and I can't bear the thought of losing him.

One year… not nearly long enough to say good-bye…

Too soon, much… much too soon… and totally unacceptable.

My choice is Dean lives.

---

Dean's always been a loose cannon, but now he's becoming even more reckless, almost taunting death, with a glimmer in his eye and laissez faire attitude like his life doesn't matter… like he's Doris Freakin' Day and whatever will be will be. He actually threw down his weapon and let that vamp charge him. She took a chunk out of his neck before he subdued her with a shot of dead man's blood and he laughed about it.

With that arrogant, cocky attitude of his, he smirked and said he was chumming the water; but I swear, the look in his eyes… It was like he was getting high off the danger, balancing on one foot on the edge of a sheer cliff, mesmerized by the drop-off and double-daring death to reach out and grab hold of his outstretched hand and pull him in. He almost acted like he didn't care if it did, and that scares the crap outta me, like maybe even a part of him wants to…

God, I wish I could knock some sense into him, make him see that without him, I'm lost. He's always been there; a rock, solid and sure whenever this life got too crazy. And it's only gonna get crazier… now that I've got this demon blood in me and these powers, that may or may not be gone… so much goin' on that we don't understand. I always wanted to be so damn independent, but right now… I don't want to be alone.

I need my brother.

Sometimes at night, when my thoughts crowd me and I can't ease this tension that just keeps building, I stare at him sleeping and I close my eyes and imagine he's gone. It's just this sick game I play to see how it will feel and every time my stomach knots into this trembling mass of hurt and tears stab my eyes and I can't… I can't even imagine it and yet… I know it's coming. He's the last of my family and he's dying. One year… less than a year now.

I swear… if he gets himself killed before his deal comes due…

I'm trying my best to be strong, to be who he and Dad would expect me to be, tough and able to do the job. Lucy made a bad choice and now we have to finish it, there's no other way around it. This job sure does suck sometimes, but I have to remember all those we're saving. I have to focus on the good we do. We can't let her loose in the world, she's a monster now, and even though I can sympathize, we've got no choice.

As usual it's Dean who steps up and makes the hit, saving me from yet another gruesome job.

Soon it's only going to be me and I'm gonna have to make all the hard decisions myself. There'll be no one else to get their hands dirty.

Only me.

---

"All right, run, I'll draw them off."

"What? No, you're crazy."

And he is. He doesn't wait for me to argue, doesn't stay to listen to reason; he just takes off, but that's Dean. He was out in the open drawing their fire and the only thing I could do was run. At least Gordon came after me; I am the one he wants… the Anti-Christ, or whatever the hell else his sick mind says I am. Dean still has faith in me and that's all that matters.

But Dean and his big-brother-protector gene just can't not protect me, even if it puts his life in danger. To his twisted mind, it's better him than me… I love him for it, god, I love him… And I respect his dedication, his sense of duty and how he says what he's going to do and then he always does it, regardless of the consequences… but it's not what I want. I'm not the kid brother anymore. I don't need him risking his life like that. I can take care of myself… the truth is, I'm gonna have to once he's gone.

I got away from Gordon easily, I turned a corner and he never followed. I can only pray Dean's as lucky with his guy. I've stared down the barrel of Kubrick's gun and he's as crazy as Gordon, another one of those religious zealots who thinks he's doing God's work. Dean was right about that one, 'God save us from those who think they're doing God's work'. I wish I could believe God was on our side, that he'll step in to save Dean, 'cause Dean doesn't deserve to die and he certainly doesn't deserve to go to Hell.

I've always had faith, that there was a higher power, that we weren't alone in this fight, but as the days wind down I'm feeling so alone. Dean is distant, hiding behind his macho crap and I'm sick of it. I want my brother back. The guy who's always been there for the big events and the little moments. The only one who's always been there to watch my back.

The only person in the whole wide world who really knows me.

---

I am going crazy here waiting in this ramshackle dump we're squatting in and he still hasn't come. He should have been back by now.

Something happened… it had to.

But I'd know… I'd feel it if he was… NO! He's all right. He has to be all right.

When I get to feeling so alone like this, when Dean is driving me crazy, from worry and concern and fear… I think about Dad. I imagine what he'd say about all this, what he'd do to get Dean back in line. He always was the only one who ever got Dean to toe the line.

Dad, I swear, he is cut from the same cloth. He's just like you, pig-headed, obstinate… so damn sure he's right… running at the damn guns. Just another mad attempt to throw his life away for me. You know, Dad, you started all this. You made the first deal… and god, I'm so thankful you did. I know that sounds terrible, like I don't love you and miss you, but that's not it. I do… more than I ever thought possible, more because we never did get those final moments… the chance to make amends and settle our differences. If I could do it all over again… I just wish I'd had the chance to tell you how much I love you. And that I understand and it's not even like I need to forgive you, 'cause you got us to where we are today and we're still alive and that's something. I think maybe I should be thanking you for the way we were raised; which believe me, I never thought I'd say.

It's just, I think you knew how much I needed Dean. I think you knew that so much of the time you weren't there and Dean always was.

And I understand the love you have for him, why you couldn't let him die.

Believe me, I understand.

And Dad, I do miss you… and I regret all the things we never got to say, that I wish I'd told you before everything blew up like it did. You were right. And Dean was too. It seems like whenever you and I got together it didn't take long for it to turn into a fight. I don't know why exactly, except maybe I just needed you to see me. Not the kid brother or the baby of the family or the junior warrior you tried so hard to mold me into… just me.

I wanted you to see me. To accept me, for who I was, not who you wanted me to be.

I fought you so hard hoping that maybe you'd see who I wanted to be. You already had the perfect soldier and son in Dean, and that didn't leave much room for me. But I never, ever resented what you had with Dean, I didn't; but I couldn't compete with it either. He was everything you ever wanted in a son. All I could ever hope to be was a cheap imitation and… god, this is funny.., freaking unbelievable.., but I did want to be just like Dean.

Not because he was who you wanted for a son, but 'cause Dean was awesome. Dean was the best big brother anyone could hope for and all I ever wanted was to grow up to be just like him. He deserves a lot of credit for who he is, but you did your part.

Whatever mistakes you may have made raising us, you did one thing right, Dad; you brought us together, closer than ever.

So, Dad… this deal of Dean's. I know you wouldn't like it, wouldn't approve. It's certainly not what you meant when you told him to watch out for me, I know that. It's not what I wanted either.

I'm not sure where you are, if you made it to heaven or not… but I hope so. Dad, if you are in heaven, if there is a heaven… if there's any chance at all, can you help us? Please? You're a man who's always known how to get things done, so if there is a God, could you put in a good word for Dean? 'Cause you know he doesn't deserve to go to Hell and I'm running out of options here.

Please, Dad, can you do that?

I need your help.

---

"There you are."

Dean slips into the room with a grin on his face and a pat to his stomach.

If I wasn't so relieved, I'd kill him. I swear I would.

He stopped off for a slice… figures.

He's still acting like nothing's going on here, like he isn't risking his life yet again in a brave but stupid move to save me. Like it isn't his job to do whatever it takes, including sacrificing his own life and well-being, to protect me. There is nothing my brother wouldn't do for me, that's been proven time and again. I just wish I could return the favor, somehow do something to save him… to show him how important he is to me.

This brother thing, it doesn't just go one way.

---

Gordon didn't have a choice when that fang made him into a bloodsucker, but he did have a choice in what he'd do about it. As usual his only thought was killing me. He's a monster now and we have to end him. We were going to anyway, no choice in the matter. It's either him or us, he made that clear enough. He isn't going to stop until we're dead or he is and now he's even more dangerous. A vamped-out killing machine with me as his target and Dean, well, Dean is bound and determined to step in front of me and take the shot.

I only wish he'd show half the concern for his own life as he does for mine.

Gordon says we're the same now, he and I, but I am not like Gordon.

I still believe I have a choice in this demon blood thing, that I am not destined to turn darkside. I have to believe that. I know Dean's scared, not of me, but for me. That big-brother-protector gene out in full force and I need him on my side, helping me keep the faith. We're like a team that always evens out the other's weakness, not that Dean could ever be weak, but together we're stronger than we could ever be alone. That's what has me terrified of him leaving. I need him. I can't imagine my life without him.

But that's not the main reason I'm so pissed off at this whole deal of his. Not hardly. It's just so damn unfair… Why should his love for me mean the end of him? What sense does that make? Where's the justice or right or… anything, in that?

It's just wrong… so damn wrong.

But I don't know how to change it. I've tried… lord knows, I've tried, but I keep coming up with a big old honkin' nothing. I'm not going to give up; I'll never give up on Dean, but I need to face the truth, there may not be a way out. Maybe this curse I've brought down on my family is going to win after all, destroy every last member of my family and leave me all alone in the end.

Maybe that's my destiny… to be the cause of all their deaths.

---

Dean always thought I was so damn independent, leaving home and making that new life for myself at Stanford. The truth is I was running as fast as I could from who I was, denying my life as a hunter and hoping I could catch a glimpse of normal. Normal was a mirage dancing on fairy dust just beyond reach; as soon as I got close enough to touch it, it would vaporize and slither away, reappearing just beyond grasp. I was a man dying of thirst chasing after something that didn't exist, stumbling further and further away from my family and who I really was.

Denial sure can be a bitch.

The truth is I was lost until Dean came back into my life and set me back on course; my destiny preordained when I was six months old. I was a fool to ever think I had a choice in the matter.

But I tried… I reinvented myself to fit in at school, but I knew it was just another lie. We Winchesters are good at lying. I never did fit in, not really. But as long as I had Jessica, I could pretend; live the fantasy I'd dreamed of my entire life and pray the truth never caught up to me. I was an actor playing a role, smiling at the audience and as long as the spotlight was on me, shining in my eyes, I couldn't see the shadows lurking in the wings.

It gave me a chance to take a breath, to feel like a normal guy doing normal things, with a beautiful girlfriend who helped me believe I could be that guy. And I wanted it so bad back then. It was all I ever thought I'd want.., but that life and that hope are gone forever. I couldn't go back even if I wanted to.

I'm a hunter. That's my true destiny… Where I belong, side by side with my brother in the family business.

But even when I was back at school, I always knew Dean was there, battling to keep the shadows at bay, waiting, ready to step in if ever I needed him. He was always just a phone call away. Of course, I didn't let myself dial him, but I knew… somewhere, in the back of my mind, I always knew.

He was my brother. He'd always be my brother, even when I tried to deny him.

I may have left him, but he never would have left me. I can see that now and it breaks my heart how I hurt him when I left. He was always so strong and confident, acting like it didn't matter and I bought the whole act. He told me to leave if that's what I wanted, so I did.

It took me a long time to realize what he really meant, that if leaving made me happy then that's all that mattered. My happiness, just another means to protect me.

Why can't he see how much leaving me now is gonna hurt? Why won't he fight to stay?

---

Dean's at it again, telling me to stay put, stay safe, and he'll track down Gordon.

That's it. I've had it with his macho bull crap and I call him on it. I can see the walls raise up, see his eyes retreat back to the safety of his denial. When he feels threatened, he attacks… it's what Dean does. He spouts off about sad poems and how he's gonna die and that he is not scared. But he is; I know him. It's so clear.

How can he possibly think he can fool me? Me?

"Yeah, I know you. Better than anyone else in the entire world. And this… is exactly how you act when you're terrified. And, I mean, I can't blame you. It's just… It's just I wish you would drop the show and be my brother again. 'Cause.., just 'cause."

I feel like I'm six years old again, scared to death and only needing my big brother beside me to tell me it's going to be all right. I'm so scared he's going to leave. Now… and then for good in a few months… And I'm so tired of him shutting me out and pretending he isn't scared of going to Hell. I think we're headed for the same old nasty row, one more fight over his refusal to protect himself, but something's different this time. This time he stops, his eyes register real feelings and he actually listens. He hears me, and he listens.

"All right, we'll hole up. Cover our scents so he can't track us. Wait the night out here."

His eyes break free of his binds and he relents, agrees to stay… safe and protected.

Why can't it always be like this? Why can't we keep each other safe?

I think that's what Dad would want… it's certainly what I want. Me and Dean, together.

Is that too much to ask for?

---

"You just charged a super vamped-out Gordon with no weapon. A little reckless, don't you think?"

Yeah, I guess it was, more like a move my big brother would make. Seeing Gordon hurt Dean triggered something, maybe my own little-brother-protector gene. No one hurts my brother… no one. Gordon had to die, that's all there was to it.

In that instant, with the razor wire wrapped tight around his throat, his life spurting out of him in flashes of crimson, Gordon looked almost pleased, like my killing him proved his point, that he was right, that I was a monster. But he's wrong… he is dead wrong. This has nothing to do with my demon blood and everything to do with my brother. He's hurt Dean for the last time. I've turned the other cheek and let him live one too many times. He's a monster now, what he chose to do to that poor girl proves it. He deserves to die.

Granted, it was brutal and pretty bloody, but then that's what we do. I guess it proves I am cut out for this job. I can do the job, and I suppose if forced to, I can do it alone, but I don't wanna. And I don't think I'm supposed to. I think if there is any order in the universe it's supposed to be Dean and me, together.

Dad died to give Dean back his life, and I think to give me back my protector, knowing we were stronger together.., that we were meant to fight this battle together. I still get angry at Dad sometimes, for how he raised us, for what he did to Dean, taking away all his choices.

I had Dean to give me back my dreams, and he did, even though he couldn't understand them. I guess that's what real love is, sacrificing your own wants and needs for those you love. Dean sure has that down pat. I just want to do the same for him, find a way to save him and make him see that his life matters too. His life means more than just taking care of me. I'd like to be able to give him some dreams of his own, make him feel like he's always made me feel.

I just want to give him back his life.

---

The car's developed a rattle and we finally have the time to address the problem. Dean's always taken care of his baby, Dad taught him that. He pulls over on a barren stretch of highway, like we've done countless times in the past and pops the hood. A cooler full of beer and his tool box on a warm summer day are all Dean's ever needed to fix her up proper.

I hand him the wrench he asks for and then he pauses, his mind considering his options… and that's when the auto shop begins. I've always shunned the mechanics, not that I didn't know the basics, but that was always Dad and Dean's special bond, long hours spent working side by side on this car. First, Dad's car and then on Dean's sixteenth birthday, his. I never felt like I could compete with that so I went my own way, focused on my studies and finding my own identity, far from who my Dad wanted me to be.

Dean seemed to go in the opposite direction, toward Dad and what he wanted, almost like he was fulfilling Dad's expectations to make up for some other short-coming. I used to hate Dad for not letting Dean dream of something on his own, but I don't know… I guess it's just the way it was, maybe as much what Dean wanted or needed as Dad's choice. Maybe it was inevitable, the end result of his screwed-up childhood.

Now that I've walked in Dad's shoes, lost someone I loved, seen what true evil is capable of and the dangers out there, I finally understand a little better. I still don't condone everything Dad did, but he did the best he could. I know that. I honestly don't know if I'd have done any better, maybe not even as well. Jess and me… we never had the chance to have kids. We talked about it, but looking at it now, from Dad's point of view, I can't imagine worrying about your kids in a world this messed up. It's hard enough worrying about my brother.

Dean's been through a lot in his life, saw some terrible things at too young an age; knew the truth long before I ever did and he shielded me from that ugliness as much as he could. I don't know how he did it at such a young age. Somehow he made it through. He's a good man, in spite of all the tragedies in his life that would have broken a lesser man. Maybe without Dad he'd be a lot more screwed up… maybe we both would. Sometimes I think working on the car was the only therapy Dean ever had to deal with life, a little grease on his hands and some physical labor and he was almost normal, or at least as normal as he ever allowed himself to be.

He looks at ease now. He belongs under the hood of a car, and maybe in another reality, with a half-assed chance at normal, he'd have his own garage. Maybe he'd actually have that regular life he used to scorn. The life he secretly wanted but always assumed he couldn't have.

The life I'd like him to have a shot at someday.

He takes the wrench from my hand and then he looks up at me and something in those clear emerald eyes makes me want to know everything he's thinking, to delve deep within while the walls are down; at long last finding my way back to my big brother, the boy who held my hand that first day of school and told me I was all right, that I could step away from him and confidently walk into that new classroom knowing he'd be right there waiting for me on the sidewalk when the bell rang at the end of the day. The teenager who cleaned up the cuts on my face before Dad could see me and again be disappointed in his screw-up son, and then as my ultimate protector took me out back and showed me how to fight and beat up those bullies when they came back the next day looking for my lunch money. The twenty-year-old who gave me the keys to his pride and joy so I could take my date to prom and silently touched up the paint after the minor fender-bender I had in the parking lot; no regrets over letting me drive her and not a single word about the damage. The big brother who never once teased me when I started in at twelve asking him all those awkward questions a boy shouldn't have to ask and I wonder who Dean asked and where he got his answers.

And then my gut clenched tighter and my heart ached because the thing I wanted most in this life was to see Dean at thirty… and then forty… and I wanted to grow old with my best friend still by my side, sharing all the moments that brothers should share. Or at least as many as hunters are allowed.

Dean finished up is Auto Shop 101 quickie course and spun the socket wrench around and held it out to me.

"What? You don't mean you want..?"

"Yeah, I do. You fix it."

"Dean, you barely let me drive this thing."

"It's time. You should know how to fix it. You're gonna need to know these things for the future."

When he says for the future my throat constricts around a lump the size of Maine and all I can think about is the past… all those moments when Dean was there for me; each one a treasure chest of good feelings, what real brothers are all about. And then my mind inevitably reminds me of all the choices Dean's made that brought him to this road. How those choices effectively wiped out his future.

But I can't get past the look in his eyes. He's still hopeful… for me and my future… even if he's not gonna be there to witness it.

My future without him.

And he's still trying to guide me, help me along my journey… just like he's always done. I guess that will be his job until he is dea... Oh, god, I don't know if I can do this.

Breathe… just breathe…

Dean's still doing what he's always done, taking care of me.

That's the job Dad put on his shoulders and he willingly accepted it, never any hesitation, never a complaint, always that sure and steady presence leading the way.

His choice.

And I want that choice, that chance. When he first confessed his deal, when he begged me not to blame him, I asked him what he thought my job was? Wasn't my job to watch over him? Protect him? 'Cause that's my choice, to take care of my big brother, to protect him and save him from Hell.

So far I've failed miserably.

Dean is still dying, still heading straight to Hell.

Nothing I've done has managed to change that.

It's not fair; it's wrong, cruel and so damn unjust. I haven't found a way to stop it and honestly, it doesn't look like I will. It tears me up inside, knowing that every moment with him takes me one step closer to losing him forever. But he is still here… now.

My insides tremble and twist into that mass of hurt again just thinking about it; but that's the road he's on now, a dark destiny without any detours, a one-lane road leading him down into the pit.

My only choice now is how I handle it, whether I treasure each and every moment with my big brother or spend his last days on earth bemoaning the fact that he's leaving. I still hold out hope that a miracle will save him. I have to believe that 'cause that's what Dean deserves… but if it doesn't, if these are his final days…

He looks at me so expectant, so willing to again hand over his baby to my unskilled hands. Always the big brother showing me the ropes: how to live, how to love, how to face death with courage and that Winchester determination.

That's my big brother.

This is hard… so damn hard, but Dean's taught me well.

The last thing in the world I want is to take Dean's rightful place beside his Chevy, but I take that wrench and I lean over the car, focusing on the engine so my brother can't see the tears clouding my vision.

I can do this… for Dean.

The End

bjxmas

December 2008

All standard disclaimers apply.

As always comments are much appreciated. Take care, B.J.