BOUND BY BLOOD

By: Karen B.

Summary :: Jump the Shark missing scene. Lots of Sam angst over Adam's burial by flame.

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The bullet hit bone, and the truth couldn't be dodged. Adam was our brother. I had a baby brother, and for once I could know how that felt. For once, I could be the one to teach someone how to make it in this world. I had started to, only to find out it wasn't my brother who I'd been teaching. The real Adam was long dead. Being an older brother was long gone. Nothing more would ever come of that as I was absolutely certain dad didn't have a kid in every town. Our brotherhood with Adam had ended, before it ever had a chance to begin. I shuddered hard, looking into my baby brother's ghostly dead eyes.

"I'm so sorry." I covered his face with the sheet, lingering over Adam's body for a moment -- searching -- as if there might be a thread of life left in him.

"Sam." Dean called, and I stepped back.

I slowly looked toward Dean. He stood straight, trying to be strong. I could see he was breathing heavy, his legs rubbery -- just like mine. We both stood on that same glass ground. Ground that was cracking and webbing all around us faster than we could move.

The star etched night was calm, but a firestorm brewed inside me. I was so sick of this storybook we were living in. Profits writing our every move. Left foot. Right foot. Our very souls treated as if we were nothing more than paper cutouts. Choreographing our lives down to every breath. Right down to what we ate, drank, even our sex lives. Who would die? Who would be the last brother standing? Alone in a world that didn't seem to want to be saved, a world that didn't need a hero.

I was sick of this story, didn't want to turn the next page. The ending was gong to be bad. Really bad. Going out like Butch and Sundance. In a blaze of glory -- was that really victory or just a boring cliché.

What if I didn't?What if I refused to turn the page? What then? What if I turned author? No more reading the writing in the book, but writing the book. What if I wrote Dean and I somewhere else? Wrote us as someone else. Damn this thing called destiny.

I turned my attention back to Adam. It wasn't easy hauling the wood and gathering small pieces of sticks and dried grass for tinder knowing what we were gathering it for. I wasn't sure we were doing the right thing. Dean said we were, claiming Adam was going to a better place. I supposed Dean figured if there was a hell -- there was a heaven. But who was to say that was where Adam had gone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Dean. His complexion was whiter than salt, and his lower lip quivered as he dropped the match down onto what was left of a brother we would never know.

I lowered my head, unable to watch as the flames roared to life. Part of me -- a whole huge part knew Dean was right. Adam needed to be put to rest like a Winchester. But there was another part of me. Niggling in the shadows of my mind. A part that wanted to knock Dean's block off for not wanting to try and give Adam the second chance we both had gotten.

I was breathing hard, my face hot from the heat of the flames. I knew the world wasn't perfect. Hell, it was down right screwed up. I wanted to walk away. Walk away and never look back.

I thought again of Adam. Finding him only to have to set his body on fire. I swallowed the lump that had worked its way up into my throat. I thought about all the times Dean and I had together. I thought about all the times we didn't have when he was in hell. I thought about when we were kids. How he was always there for me. I thought about all the nights he consoled me when I first found out monsters were real. All the times he'd nursed me back to health when I had the flu, a bullet wound -- a broken heart. I thought about all the scars we shared. The pain we felt. The sorrow, the joy -- life. Adam would never know any of these things. Maybe it was for the best. If so, why did it all seem so wrong?

Dean looked at me, I could tell he was as twisted up inside as I was. His eyes dark as the shadowy forest that surrounded us. We regarded each other for a second before staring back at the flames.

What if Dean died tomorrow. What if I did? We'd never see each other again. I was certainly going to hell. I had demon blood in me, and was adding more by the ounce. Dean had the angels -- he was heaven bound. We'd be separated throughout eternity.

Anger mixed with guilt and a crap load of despair. I had known Dean all my life. Hell, he raised me. I knew him better than I knew anything or anyone. This demon blood ragging like a river of fury through me has ruined our brotherhood. Adam, someone we didn't even know existed -- he was more a brother to Dean then I ever had been. Adam and Dean -- they were bound by blood. Real, pure, one hundred proof 'Winchester' blood. I'd been dealing from the bottom of the deck since the age of six months. A deck missing all the aces and full of jokers -- no deck at all. What had I ever done for Dean? He'd done everything for me.

Dean had not only died for me. He'd gone to hell for me. There was nothing I could do to pay him back. Nothing that would ever call us even. An endless loop of conversations filled my head, like a cloud of smoke. All the things my brother had said to me. Taught me. All the angry looks, and fists in my face. All in the name of love. Dean's spent his whole life dedicated to me. Me, the boy who's blood tastes weird -- even to the lowliest of ghouls.

I was weak and dizzy. The spinning forest approaching the speed of light. Sure the hospital had replaced the blood I'd lost. But it wasn't the blood I craved. Dean had no clue what a monster I'd truly become. I had to tell him. Before I turned into something…awful. Maybe I already was that something horrible and hideous. Dean was right not to trust me. I couldn't even make the right call where a baby brother was concerned. So positive Adam was what he said he was. Well he was, only not. My head hurt. Maybe it was the pain pills. The blood loss still having its effect on me. Or it was the demon animal living inside of me.

I watched the gold sparks rise from the fire, the embers disappearing when they hit the cool night air. I thought about happier days. About the beach bonfires Jess and I had gone to during Spring Breaks. Plenty of friends, beer, hotdogs, marshmallows, and laugher. There'd be no more of those -- ever. I exhaled, trying to keep my balance. I hadn't thought of Jess in a really long time. I hadn't done a lot of things in a really long time. What would Jess think if she knew what I was doing with Ruby. That I'd stopped praying. Stopped believing in everything. Even myself. What would she think if she knew what I'd become?

Unsteady on my feet, I moved to sit on a nearby log before all my thoughts could spin my head off and bring me to my knees. The wind blew, mussing my hair and covering up my face. That was good. I didn't need Dean seeing the tears pricking at my eyes. A cold-hard rock settled in the pit of my stomach. My right arm, the worst of the two, spasamed, and I cradled the limb against my chest.

"Sam?" Dean glanced over his shoulder, sternness in his eyes

"What?" I stared back.

"Everything okay with you?"

"Got a headache." I shrugged, knowing I had to come up with something credible.

"There's Tylenol in the car. Why don't you..."

"Later."

Jabbing his hands in his pockets, Dean turned back around.

For a long while we both stared into the blaze, like moths -- fatally attracted to the flame. The heat was intense but I only felt numb. I was in limbo. Chasing my own shadow. My life and Dean's was nothing but a giant blur of hatred, rage, revenge -- damage. Dean was right - Adam was in a better place. I listened to the breeze rustling through the pines, breathing deeply. I was nauseous, boxed in. Life had never been beautiful. There was no such thing as candy-colored rainbows. Even the good times with Jess were all an illusion. Life had always been cruel, always finding a way to smash us Winchesters to new lows.

A shadow cast over me, I looked up to see Dean frowning down. I glanced past him seeing the fire had died, Adam gone.

"Let's go," I said, starting to stand, but Dean's hand held me in place.

"Sam, talk to me."

I bit my lip. Kept quiet.

"What's going on in that caveman-sized skull of yours?"

I couldn't take the thoughts, and guilt, and pain all whirling around inside me like a cyclone.

"I feel like I lost something!" I blurted, giving up the silent tough guy act.

"Dude, we did." Dean waved a hand toward the dying embers.

"No, Dean." My heart was racing and tears slipped out the corners of my eyes. "It's more than that. More important than breathing. We lost more than a brother. We lost all the memories. Memories we never had a chance to make, because we never knew he existed. Mom. Dad. Jess. Pastor Jim. Adam." I looked skyward. I should have been awed by the millions of stars, but they only served to make me feel haunted. Small. Alone. "You." I shook my head miserably. "Dean, I lost you."

"Sam, what are you trying to say?" Dean crouched down beside me, one hand on my shaking arm. "You haven't lost me. I'm right here, bro," he said softly.

"You have to know something." I gave a toss of my head, getting my hair out of the way. Dean deserved to see the truth shining in my eyes. "I'm not. I've been. Fact is. Ruby and I…" I studied Dean's face. His open, caring, 'I love you, Sam no matter what the fuck you've done' face.

"Sam, what is it?"

I heard the words in my head.

'I'm a monster, Dean. I'm not the brother that you think I am. Adam was more your brother than I ever was. I drink demon blood, Dean. I drink it, and I like it…no… I need it. I need it, and I like it. I can feel the evil but I keep drinking it all in. The blood makes me strong. Stronger than I could ever have imagined. I'm scared, Dean. I can't stop. It's too powerful, and I'm scared. But I do it, to make things right.'

I wanted to, but couldn't say any of those things. I stood.

"Dean." I turned away, squeezing my eyes shut. "What it comes down to in the end is," I lowered my voice. "Nothing matters." I opened my eyes.

Dean stepped around to face me, so fast a cold wind blew a chill down my spine. I stepped back. Dean followed, squaring off in front of me, staring long and hard. Like he was in a trance. Like maybe he was reading my mind. Or worse, like he'd known the demon-drinking-blooded truth all along. I fidgeted under his scrutiny, a scorpion under the heel of his boot. My breath quickened. I could feel the glass we stood on shake, stretch and crack even more. I wished for the glass to shatter already. Instead, I gripped my own fists, nails digging into my palms, knuckles turning bloodless white, dizziness threatening to drop me to my knees.

"You're wrong." Dean gripped my arm gently. "Sammy, you're wrong," he said, his jaw tense. "What it comes down to in the end is, who is there… with you … standing by your side." He looked straight into my eyes. "That," Dean sighed. "That is the only thing that matters. Sam." Dean leaned closer. "I am going to be standing there by your side. Me. Your brother. Your family," Dean said with absolute power and conviction. The kind of Jedi Master power and conviction that could change the world. Dean kept a light hold on my arm. "Now, let's go," he said, walking us through the dark forest back to the Impala.

I was speechless. My brother would stand by me loyal to the end no matter what kind of monster I had, could, or would become. We were brothers -- all three of us. Bound by the only thing you come into this world with, and the only thing you leave this world with -- our souls.

The end.