BLACK HOLE

By: Karen B.

Summary: A short missing scene. Set just after All Hell Breaks Loose part two. Just where was Sam during those hours after his death at Cold Creek.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything but my own 'nine counts of crazy' dreams.

Thank you -- always for your time.

Sunshine even in rain, Karen.

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BLACK HOLE -- a region of space-time from which nothing can escape, even light.

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He was face up, spread eagle, and falling slowly. Floating through darkness. Through space. Maybe even through time.

Down, down, down.

Was this a dream? Maybe he'd been watching too many horror movies. Or better yet, maybe he'd jumped from an airplane without a parachute in the dead of night.

Sam strained to see, but there was nothing to be seen. Only a dark, inky black tunnel. His lower back hurt. The pressure intense. Like the entire weight of the world had rested there. He tried to breath but the pain crushed his chest. He struggled to move his arms. Desperate to grasp onto something and stop himself from falling, but the pressure was too much and he feared he'd snap a bone just trying. The darkness was thick. Sound was a muffled whoosh, like water rushing into his ears. All of life had dropped away. Even Sam's breathing and heartbeat were only distant echoes lodged somewhere in his fuzzy memory. He was lost and alone, being dragged by an unseen force further and further into the void.

Up.

Down.

Left.

Right.

Anyway you looked at it -- there was a big, fat nothing. Progress was slow. When would he hit bottom? And what would he find once he did.

He was scared and closed his eyes.

"Stupid," he mumbled only seeing more darkness.

He kept his eyes closed, pictured his brother in his head -- held on to Dean like a rope.

Memories of he and Dean as kids flitted through his mind. Setting plastic army soldiers on fire and reshaping the plastic into demons and monsters. Crashing their Hotwheels into each other to see who could crack their car up first. He and Dean sneaking their father's beer, and hiding out behind the dumpster of the Moon Glow motel. Their father, not a stupid man, finding them and making them drink 'said beer' until they puked.

The memories faded. Sam was desperate to call out to his brother through the nothingness. He swallowed and tried to form his lips to say the word -- but not so much as a grunt was made. There was still nothing. He was nothing. Falling. Falling. The black hole dragging unwilling limbs at the speed of a crawl, deeper into the seemingly bottomless cavity. Wind whipped around him, and the tunnel seemed to get smaller the further he fell. Would the void become to narrow, his long body unable to fit in the space any longer. Sam would be stuck there, hung between blackness and nothingness forever. Maybe he already was. He didn't want to think about what would happen when and if he hit ground zero. He began to shake, gritted his teeth and fought to move in the cramped space. His shoulders hunched and he was able to twist his legs slightly, but that was about it.

Sam struggled and fought to make his muddled brain work. It hurt to think, but he made himself. What had he been doing just before the fall?

He'd been lost then too. But felt relief when he had seen Dean and Bobby heading his way out of the darkness. Relief didn't last long as it turned into a stabbing white pain in his lower back. Sam had fallen to his knees. Breath lodged in his throat. Heartbeat lodged in his ears. Voices. Crying. Soaring. A brilliant light had appeared. For a moment, the pain was gone but in a snap of a finger he was dragged back to hurting.

His back was pinned against a tree or was that a wall? The pain in his gut, was damn near intolerable. The sound of invisible barking dogs sliced through his eardrums like a knife. Dean was being dragged across the floor in a mad rush. Screaming in pain. His chest cut wide-open, spurting blood slash after slash. Sam wanted to look away from the horror -- but he couldn't. He was frozen. Helpless. Unable to stop the torture he bore witness too.

"No! No! No!" Sam cried out, his breathing labored. "Dean!" His shaking became more convulsive, the black hole had returned.

"Sam." Came a voice through the darkness.

The black hole shook harder.

Flashes of images once again appeared through the darkness. Dean in his arms. Dead green eyes staring up at him. Exposed flesh -- shredded to ribbons. Dean's corpse -- petrified as rock and lying in a wooden box. Sam wiping dirt and blood from his own hands. Blood that would never wash away.

"Dean, not like this." Tears fell, Sam's eyelids fluttered. "How could you do this?"

"Sam, you with me?" The voice said in a singsong tone.

Something cool gently slapped his right cheek. Sam tried to concentrate, but his head throbbed and he felt sick.

"Hey, man."

Sam was vaguely aware the voice was familiar. His head rocked back and forth trying to rid himself of the black world. "You left me," he mumbled. "Here. Alone. How could you. Dean, how?"

"I'm here. Right here."

The crushing pain in his back eased. Sam groped frantically for a hold of something, anything. He had hit bottom, but it wasn't hard like Sam had thought it would be.

"Damnit!" The shaking continued. Sam, I said friggin' wake up!" The black hole dropped away.

"Huh!" Sam sat forward, startled awake and staring at his reflection.

He looked terrible. His face white, black rings standing out stark under his eyes.

"Dude, you were dreaming."

"What?" Sam turned toward his brother.

"You are awake, right?" Dean had a tight grip on his shoulder and gave a little shake.

"Right," Sam murmured.

"Took me five tries to wake your ass up." Dean released his hold and sat back behind the wheel.

Sam shivered, the memories flooding his thoughts. Rain. Mud. A knife shoved into his back. Twisting in and upward, slicing down and out. Waking up confused, hurting. The gates of hell opened. The gates of hell closed. Yellow Eyes dead. Their father having climbed out of the pit, then disappearing into a blaze of bright light. Dean's soul auctioned off to the highest bidder.

"Ughh," Sam groaned, a pang of sorrow ripping through him.

"You look shit-faced."

"Really." Sam rolled his eyes. "What about you?"

"Never better."

The words hung thick in the air. Sam stared into his brother's green eyes. Eyes that still held life. A body that was still whole.

"Sam?" Dean's face contorted into something that could be called sorrow. "What was that all about? You having one of those Jedi-mind dreams?"

"No, Yoda." A grim smile spread across Sam's face. "Just plain old fell asleep," he said. "Guess, I was tired." Sam scrubbed a hand over his face trying to hide the sting of tears.

"You should be," Dean said disbelievingly as he continued to stare at Sam. "You look like hell."

"Dean." Sam flinched, collapsing against the Impala's seat trying to sink as far back as he could.

"Bad choice of words. Sorry, kiddo. You holding it together?"

Sam ignored the question. "Where are we?" he glanced out the side window.

It was dark and rainy, large drops streaming down the glass.

"It'll do, motel," Dean scoffed. "You need to rest -- get your strength back."

Sam shivered. Rest? Get his strength back. Why? Because he had been dead and brought back to life -- that's why. Obviously, dying did something to a guy. He thought of the black hole he'd dreamt of. Was it a dream? Or was that what death was? Being lost in a black hurricane. Trapped. Helpless. And what about Dean? He was going to hell. Spitting fire, demons ripping into his flesh, facing every scary thing they ever fought throughout eternity -- hell. Sam was angry at Dean for what he'd done. My God, selling his soul. How was Sam going to live with that harsh reality sitting on his shoulders the rest of his life? A terrible emptiness filled his insides. Every nerve exposed to the ice-cold numbness of the sacrifice his brother had made for him. Dean shouldn't have done that. Sam tried to steady his breath but his anger boiled. The dream or vision he'd had of Dean savagely being ripped to shreds, his brother's crimson blood against his pale fingertips, it was just too overwhelming. Dean had asked him not to get mad, but mad was all he was.

Sam stared out the window, wincing as his thoughts slapped him hard across the face.

'Jerk. Dean, you stupid jerk. What did you go and do that for? How could you? Dead is dead. This is too much. Too real.'

"Dean." Sam turned and opened his mouth, about to let those very words fly, but Dean's hard-edged expression stopped him. Eyes of green shined bright as any universe -- Dean would never let death triumph.

"Sam, don't you dare. Just don't."

"Dean…" Sam swallowed his anger and lowered his head. "It's, just…God, Dean, it's hell," he said, shivering at the thought.

"Sammy, you died." Dean's eyes watered. "You died. Right there in my hands." Dean looked at his hands. "Just don't be mad. I already told you, I had to. It's my job." He made a fist, lifting his eyes to stare at Sam. "No way that son of a bitch in the black cloak with the scythe was going to take my baby brother from me…" Dean took in a shaky breath. "Not yet. Not now. Not that way. That's all! What's done is done." He continued to stare.

Sam nodded. He knew he'd have done the same. There was nothing more to be said. Nothing left to do but find a way to get Dean out of his deal. If Sam had to crawl down into the pit himself and wrestle the contract from the demon's hands -- that's how it was going to be!

"Dean." Sam's teeth chattered. "Stop looking at me like I just landed."

Sam forced a smile, dizzy with fatigue and fighting the burning pain in his lower back. He'd held back the gates of hell, and his already injured back had been slammed into a tree. All that, after being a cold-corpse for several hours was taking its toll.

"What is it?" Dean's questioning eyes blazed with worry.

"Just cold," Sam muttered, straining to keep his eyes open.

"Without another word, Dean exited the car.

Sam closed his eyes. One year. One year to find a way to weasel his brother's way out of the bullshit deal. Sam whimpered, watered down beer was bullshit. Going through the drive-thru and finding out ten miles later they'd screwed up your order was bullshit. Deals made with demons were insane. The contract was merciless. There was no haggling your way out. When Dean's time came up, he wouldn't be just plucked from this world. Going to hell was going to hurt. Dean would be dragged down like USDA Grade A meat. A free meal to every hellhound within smelling distance. Screaming, tattered, bloody.

"Crap." Sam's heart jumped into overdrive to the squeak of the passenger door opening.

"Hey, man. Just me." Dean took off his jacket, slipping it around Sam's shoulders. "You're fine, zombie boy," he gritted, half-supporting Sam as he dragged him from the car. "You are fine? A sidelong look. "Aren't you?" Dean asked, giving Sam the once over.

"I'm fine, Dean," Sam muttered, feeling anything but fine.

He was exhausted. The pain in his back was still fiery hot, but not as hot as Dean's soul was going to be if Sam didn't find a way to get him out of this.

His legs felt like lead, and his knees dipped as Dean lead the way to their room. All Sam wanted to do was drop to the ground and sleep right there on the gravel-pitted parking lot.

"Sam, help me."

"Sorry." Grimacing, Sam steeled his strength taking the twenty steps to get to the motel room door.

"Stay put." Dean propped him against a light post holding on with one hand, and fumbling to unlock the door with the other.

Sam took a deep breath, vaguely aware of being hauled into the room and positioned on his side on a sagging mattress.

"Sam, get some rest. I'm going to go clean up." Dean gestured toward the bathroom, snatched his duffle bag, and disappeared.

Sam looked around the room. Dean was right, it was another 'it'll do motel.' Nothing special. The pictureless room smelled of mildew, the walls were white, and the carpet green. Hearing the shower turn on, Sam let out a frustrated breath and shut his eyes. He was beyond tired but how could he sleep? Dean was avoiding the fact he'd sold his soul to save his life. What was Dean thinking now? He couldn't drag any emotion from his brother other than Dean's concern for him. He didn't want Sam angry with him. Another shiver went down Sam's spine -- and then there was his dream of the black hole. Or was that real? He had died -- he had died and didn't even know it. Not until Jake told him so. In one blink, a single heartbeat, life had once again bucked them off the bull. Sure, the Yellow Eyed Demon was dead. But now they had an even bigger problem.

"Sam!"

Sam's eyes popped wide-open. Dean had once again materialized next to him.

"Dean." Sam let out a long, sleepy breath. "You gotta stop doing that."

"Doing what?"

"Appearing and reappearing."

"I'm Speedy Gonzales," Dean laughed.

"Who?"

"Bro, little mouse wearing an oversized yellow sombrero, Mexican accent, runs super fast."

"Dean," Sam growled in irritation. "What are you five?" He narrowed his eyes. "We have to talk."

"Sam, you thirsty?"

"Man, this is serious. In one year you're going up in flames."

"Sam. Are you thirsty?" Dean repeated forcefully.

Sam frowned. His brother wasn't making any sense, but why should anything make sense. The entire night seemed like something out of a New York Times best-selling horror novel.

"Yeah, guess I could use a soda." Sam gave in.

"Good." Dean snatched his car keys off the nightstand. "Because I need a beer and there's a Hooters just down the road."

"Dean, how many times have you saved my life?" Sam gasped, his insides going cold. "The breath of the devil is breathing in your face, and all you can think about is…"

"Boobs." Dean waggled his brows.

"How many?"

"Dude!" Dean scowled and cocked his head to one side. "Two."

"No, Dean," Sam huffed. "How many times have you saved my life?" Dean opened his mouth to answer but Sam wouldn't let him. "'Cause we are not talking a week in a Beverly Hills Spa, Dean. We are talking the kingdom of the eternally damned."

"Hey… Sally Jesse Rafael," Dean said in a rush. "It's a dying man's last wish."

"I won't let you die." Sam grimaced, his stomach tightening. "I'm going to save you." He bit back his anger. "Dean, I won't drop the ball." his voice quiet and distant.

"No soap opera moments, little brother." Dean turned his back and moved toward the door. " I got one year and a long list of 'last wishes'. This is only the first." Dean grabbed the handle, and twisted. "Sammy…" he paused, shoulders stiff, back ramrod straight." You can't stop this." Dean opened the door. "Don't try." He angled his head so Sam could see the seriousness in his eyes. " It's done," Dean growled, like a tiger waiting to be released from his cage. "I mean it, Sam," he whispered,. "There's nothing you can do now." Dean walked out and shut the door.

Sam sank down into the mattress and closed his eyes. He needed to sleep, but the black hole was back. Through the dark he could see sharp-toothed demons and vengeful, violent monsters.

Sam could feel his heart skipping beats in his chest. A year was nothing. Not nearly long enough. Descending into the flames of hell was going to be terrifying and painful. Going in a pretty little hand-painted basket wasn't an option. Dean would be going at breakneck speed.

His father had been able to crawl out of the pit. What strength did that take? And where was his father now? Could Dean do the same? Sam doubted it. His father was cool, calm and coldly rationale. If backing out of the deal meant things would go back to as before -- Dean would never even try.

Sam's heart thundered in his chest.

Dean was scared to death, but would never admit to that.

'There's nothing you can do now.'

Dean's red-hot words floated around inside the black hole. They twisted around Sam like a scaly snake, hissing tongues poked at him, and pointed ivory fangs bit into his flesh. A lake of fire consumed him. Gnashing teeth. Loud wailing. The screams of the damned. He waded through carcasses of worm infested rotting flesh. Through the earth's heated core. Volcanoes. Molten lava. Brimstone and sulfur. The stench of burning souls all around begging for forgiveness -- never, ever receiving any. The images were unlike any National Geographic photographs.

Of all the terrible, horrifying things Sam had seen in his lifetime -- nothing compared.

His brother bursting into flames. Over and over again. Dean wasn't just going to hell. He was going to become a part of hell, an unmovable part. Bound with heavy chains and meat hooks. Strung up, a prisoner, suffering over the inferno -- forever.

Who would willingly choose to go to such a place?

Dean had. To save Sam. His big brother was going to die -- because of him.

"Dean!" Sam cried out.

What price had his brother paid? Sam's soul was not worth an eternity in hell.

Sam's thundering heart moved to his throat, the truth of Dean's sacrafice and hell's fire running through his brain.

"Nonononono! God, no!"

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"Sam! Sam! Sam, damn it! Will you wake up!"

Sam jolted upward. Dean was kneeling over him, gently shaking and holding him in his arms. Quickly realizing he'd been dreaming, he wiped the drool from his mouth.

"Sam, these nightmares of yours have to stop."

"What nightmares?" Sam denied, cold and covered in sweat.

"Whatever." Dean let go, and reached for a box of donuts sitting on the nightstand. "Here, you need to eat something.

"Not hungry." Sam waved away the offering. "What about Hooters?" Sam winced, propping himself up on his elbows.

"Found a Krispy Kreme instead." Dean set the box to the nightstand. "Let me take a look at your back." He reached a hand to pull up Sam's shirt.

Dean, leave it!" Sam snapped. "It's no more than a scratch now!" He roughly knocked Dean's hand away. "Ghaaaa!" Sam shrieked, the sudden pain catching him off guard. "Shit." He flopped back to the bed, his teeth scrapping together.

"Easy, Sam, easy." Dean gripped his shoulder. "Hurt much?" Dean frowned.

"Would hurt less…" Sam panted. "If you'd stop trying to be nurse feel me up."

"You wish." Dean gave an evil smile.

"No, Dean. That's not what I wish. I wish you'd never made that deal."

"Sam! Enough."

Looking into Dean's face gave Sam one of the worst feelings. Dean had a guilty, 'poor kid' look. He was scared, but still trying to take care of him. Comfort him.

"Where's my soda?" Sam cleared his throat of his heart, trying to change the subject.

"You mean this panther piss you like so much," Dean laughed nervously, pressing a can of Mountain Dew into Sam's hand.

"Beats the hell…"Sam gave a shake of his head."Beats the socks off those Purple Nipples you drink."

"Nurples," Dean corrected. "Sam, you really are a perv." Dean moved away, plopping down on his bed, nabbing a donut and stuffing it in his mouth. "Go to sleep," he said with a mouthful, flicking on the television. "And no more nightmares," he ordered.

Sam took a few sips of soda, watching George Foreman and his groundbreaking indoor grill. Tomorrow he'd start searching for ways out of the contract -- on the sly.

Hell was Dean's black hole. A long, long fall he couldn't escape from. Sam wasn't about to let Dean make that trip. He'd hold on to Dean's heart -- whether Dean wanted him to or not.

The end