Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. They all belong to Eric Kripke and his show, Supernatural.

Summary: This story picks up right where "The Rapture" ended. Dean is desperate to keep Sam from going dark-side. How far is he really willing to go?

SPOILER ALERT: 4.20 "The Rapture"

Bobby brought the two brothers to his newly created demon lock box. They paused at the door, Dean in on the plan and Sam completely oblivious. Just a few more steps from the youngest Winchester and he could breathe easier.

"Go on inside. I want to show you somethin'."

Sam walked right in, slowing his pace when he realized Bobby and Dean weren't following. Something was definitely not right.

"Alright… So uh, what's the big demon problem?" he prodded, starting to feel nervous.

"You are," Bobby replied in a flat tone. "This is for your own good."

Sam's heart sank as he watched the two other men slam the door behind him. The final click of the lock sliding into place was like the last nail in the coffin.

"Guys? Hey! Bobby! This isn't funny, man!" He tested the door from the inside even though he knew it was pointless, then slammed his fists into the hard metal. "DEAN! Open the damn door!"

"Not gonna happen, Sammy." Dean knew this was for Sam's own good, but that didn't mean it wasn't killing him inside. He took a step back, away from the door that was currently holding his little brother hostage.

Bobby shifted his eyes from the solid iron door to Dean. He had known both brothers for at least two decades now, but he had never seen the eldest Winchester looking so lost and crestfallen. He had to get Dean away from the door before his resolve broke.

"I don't know about you, son, but I could use a beer right about now."

Sam decided to switch tactics, knowing his best chance of getting out would be to beg. Dean could never resist his puppy dog eyes. He just had to hope his big brother wasn't immune to his puppy dog voice.

"Please, Dean. Don't do this! You know why I had to do it! I'm not drinking the demon blood for kicks. I'm getting strong enough to kill Lilith! Hit me if it makes you feel better, just please don't leave me in here. Dean? Just open the door, man."

Dean sighed, closing his eyes and then his heart to his brother's pleas.

"You go ahead, Bobby. I'll be there in a minute."

"You think I'm gonna leave you two boys out here to play Marco, Polo? I ain't goin' anywhere."

"I won't open the door, okay? I just… I just need to talk to him for a second. Please."

Bobby could see the resolve hidden behind the pain in the boy's eyes. He nodded.

"Fine. Five minutes. Then I'm gonna come back down here and drag your ass upstairs if I have to."

"Fair enough."

Bobby clapped Dean on the back for a little support before heading to the stairs, giving the boys their privacy.

Sam pressed his ear up to the thinner metal of the slot and heard Bobby walking away. Dean was his only chance at getting out now.

"Dean?" he called again, trying to sound unthreatening.

"I'm here, Sam," came the instant protective big brother response. The voice sounded weary.

"Dean, let's talk about this, okay?"

Sam's heart leapt as his brother opened the slot once again so they could talk face to face.

"What's left to say? I already told you, I'm tired, dude. I'm tired of the sneaking around, the secrets, the lies, and the freakin' demon blood. I don't know what else to do. This is for your own good."

"You don't understand, man! I don't have a choice! This war is happening, and the apocalypse is coming, whether we're ready for it or not. I'm not strong enough to stop it without the demon blood."

"It's not your job to stop it, Sammy."

"What? But…"

"It's mine. It always has been. I started this whole thing, and it's my job to finish it. Not yours. Not Bobby's. Not even Ruby or Cas."

Sam wrapped his hands around the bars, wishing he had the strength to rip them out of his way. He tightened his grip until his hands were aching and his temper was simmering. Shouting wasn't going to get him anywhere.

"Dean, please. You're not ready for something this big. After what you went through… when you came back… You're just…"

"Not what I used to be? You think I'm weak, Sam?"

"No! God no. That's not what I…" I think you're just not Dean anymore. He was destroyed in Hell.

"I'm sorry, Sammy. This is all my fault. If I hadn't made that crossroads deal and sold my soul, you wouldn't have needed to build your powers up for protection. You wouldn't have needed a demon to look out for you. I didn't have your back like I should have. Then after I came back from Hell, I was a mess; probably still am. I don't know if I'm strong enough to win this, but I do know it started with me and it's going to end with me. No one else should have to pay for my mistakes."

"Are you sure that's what this is about?"

Dean raised an eyebrow. "What the hell else would it be?"

"It's just… What you went through, man; what they made you do? It wasn't your fault. You weren't weak to give in after thirty years of torture. You weren't pathetic to want to dish some pain out yourself. No one blames you for what you did. You don't have to prove anything."

Even with his limited view, Sam could see that his brother was shaking slightly.

"It's not about that, Sam, okay?" Dean swallowed to try and quell the quiver in his voice. "I'm not going to let any more innocents get hurt because of me, and I'm sure as hell not going to let you go dark-side fighting my battles. We're gonna get this shit out of your system and I need you to promise me you won't start doing it again."

"This isn't a drug addiction, Dean! I've had demon blood in my system since I was six months old! I can never change that. I've tried to ignore it and pretend I'm normal but we both know I'm not. Ruby has been teaching me how to use my powers for good!"

Dean slammed a fist into the door in frustration. "Damn it, Sam! She's been poisoning you since day one! The next time I get my hands on her will be her last day on Earth."

"No! She's done nothing but help us. Don't you dare hurt her!"

"Are you listening to yourself? You're protecting a DEMON!"

"She's more than that to me!"

"She has to have another motive. Demons don't just help humans out of the kindness of their hearts. She's using you, and I'm going to find out why. Then I'm gonna end her."

"You don't have a goddamn clue what's been going on! You were gone for four months, Dean, but I was still here! I had to go on without you, and Ruby was the only one I could turn to. We saved a lot of lives because of my abilities. I owe her a lot, including my life."

"Yeah, well… That's why you're locked in there. We're gonna get you straight again, and then you won't need the bitch's blood. You're gonna be alright. I'll come back down and check on you in a few hours. Make yourself comfortable."

"Dean, no. Don't you leave me in here!"

"I'm sorry, Sammy."

"DEAN!"

The small hatch was closed, temporarily dividing the two brothers. At least, Dean hoped it was only temporary.

TBC

I was planning on taking time off from writing, but I just couldn't resist after watching this week's episode! It inspired my weary muse. Please let me know if this is worth continuing or not! I have a few theories as to where this season is headed, so I'll be mixing the real story line with my own inventions. Hope you enjoyed it so far!