Disclaimer: Still don't own the show OR the characters OR anything remotely interesting.

Summary: Sam has visions of himself doing horrible things: pushing Dean away, bedding a demon, drinking her blood. This is what might happen if season 2 Sam could confront season 4 Sam.

A/N: I got this idea for a very angsty oneshot after PhinnieLin expressed her sincere wish that season 2 Sam could somehow talk to season 4 Sam (and maybe talk some sense into him). This is what I came up with. I hope she enjoys it, and I hope all of you enjoy it as well :) And big thanks to Ster for her guest beta work! ::hugs::

The story starts out in season 2, during a pivotal moment in "Playthings." There are spoilers up through "The Rapture," including quite a bit transcribed right from the eps. Most of the story takes place at Dean's bedside during "On the Head of a Pin." And off we go...

Dean still doesn't get it, Sam can tell. Even with the room spinning and the alcohol fuzzing his brain, his thoughts—his destiny—have never been more clear. And he HAS to make Dean understand the danger. Sam can't let this go. The world could be at stake.

"All right," Dean says, hauling Sam up by his shoulders. "Time for bed. Come on, Sasquatch."

"I need you to watch out for me," Sam tells him.

"Yeah, I always do."

"NO!" Sam shouts. "No, no, no. You have to WATCH OUT for me, all right? And if I ever turn into something that I'm not…" He pauses a moment and looks Dean in the eye. "You have to kill me."

Dean shakes his head and dismisses the very idea. "Sam…"

Sam shoves Dean to face him. "Dean! Dad told you to do it. You HAVE to."

"Yeah, well, Dad's an ass," Dean declares. Sam frowns in confusion. "He never should have said anything," Dean tells him, hurt in his eyes swirling to the surface and forming twin whirlpools, his pupils as the stormy centers. "I mean, you don't DO that—you don't lay that kind of crap on your kids!"

"No, he was right to say it," Sam argues. "Who knows what I might become? Even now, everyone around me dies!"

"Yeah, well, I'm not dying, okay? And neither are you. Come on, Sam." Dean gives a gentle push to get Sam sitting on the bed, but Sam instantly reaches up and clutches Dean's jacket.

"No, please," Sam begs, wringing the fabric with his need for Dean to understand. "Dean, you're the only one who can do it. Promise."

"Don't ask that of me." He's quiet. Hurt.

"Dean, please…you have to promise me." Sam stares at him with all his desperation and thinks as hard as he can at his brother: It has to be you, Dean. You're the only one I can trust. You're the only one strong enough to do it. Please, Dean, don't let me become something I'm not, PLEASE!

Dean's face remains hard even as the green whirlpool churn harder. "I promise."

Relief pours over Sam. "Thanks." He reaches up and grabs Dean's face with both his hands, now needing him to understand how grateful he is. "Thank you."

Dean bats Sam's hands away. "All right, come on." He shoves him back on the bed.

The alcohol in Sam's brain tilts the room a few more times as his body falls, but he ignores it, too relieved that Dean will watch out for him, no matter what it takes, no matter what he turns into. He turns over on his belly and stuffs his face into the pillow.

It's going to be okay, he thinks. I'M going to be okay. Have to be… Sleep trickles through his mind and calms the spins long enough for Sam to drift off.

But his sleep is restless.

You have to kill me

Echoes of the stress on his mind reverberate through his subconscious.

Even now, everyone around me dies!

Fear pulses right along with them. What could happen to him.

Dean, you're the only one who can do it. Promise.

Who he might hurt if it does happen.

Promise me Dean You have to WATCH OUT for me, all right? Dad told you to do it Who knows what I might become!

There's a twinge…then a flash…then a shove. He's pushed into pain, images and voices cracking around him, a thousand memories playing over each other. A tunnel. A star. A scream.

Then silence.



Sam's head is throbbing before he even opens his eyes, and his dry tongue pries away from the roof of his mouth like Velcro. …why did I drink so much… He can feel cold sweat gluing his back to his shirt and his shirt to the sheet. Cracking his eyes open, he sits up and looks around. The room is spinning, but it isn't the same room he fell asleep in. What the…? His gaze falls on someone sitting at the desk by the window. It isn't Dean.

It's himself.

"Who are you?" Sam demands, on his feet at once despite the world swaying back and forth around him. He gets no answer—the man doesn't even look up. Sam's eyes dart around and soon fall on the bed next to him. It's empty. "WHERE'S Dean?" Sam growls as he reaches for his gun, only to find that it isn't tucked into the back of his jeans. He's unarmed. Keep quiet and keep your cool, he tells himself, letting the clear thoughts lift him above the chaos of emotions and questions

Where's my brother what did you do to him I'll KILL you if you hurt him where are we what the hell is going on

that threaten to cripple him. He closes the distance between himself and his double and looms over him.

"Tell me who you are," Sam orders. The thing still doesn't answer, just checks his watch, rubs a hand over his eyes, and turns a page in a book he clearly isn't reading. Sam's about to ask again when he hears a familiar, low rumble: the approach of the Impala in the parking lot outside. The thing in the chair jolts as the car door groans open, then slams shut. A few seconds later and Dean storms inside.

"Dean, thank God," Sam says—just before Dean walks right through him. Sam whirls, mouth gaping, but his doppelganger speaks up before he can.

"Dean, what are you doing?" The thing walks up behind Dean as Dean takes his duffel and slams it on the bed. "What, are—are you leaving?"

"You don't need me," Dean gruffs back, not looking at him. His face is both stern and sad—dejection and rejection. "You and Ruby go fight demons."

Who's Ruby? thinks Sam. It can't be someone Dean likes—he looks disgusted just saying her name. Dean heads back toward the door, shoulders so tight with pent-up fury that they're shaking, and the thing goes after him.

"Hold on. Dean, come on, man…" The thing grabs Dean's arm, and Dean whirls around and punches him square in the jaw. Sam's eyes fly open, staring at his brother as Dean fumes. He isn't just pissed, Sam can tell—he's hurt. That hurts Sam in turn.

"You satisfied?" the thing snipes, rubbing at the pain in its jaw. Dean punches him again, even harder. The thing gives a small sigh and steps back. "I guess not."

"Do you know how far off the reservation you've gone?" Dean asks, looking angrier than Sam has ever seen him. "How far from normal? From HUMAN?"

Sam's headache suddenly turns into the familiar, excruciating pain of an oncoming vision. He buckles, hands to his head, teeth clenched, just as Dean pushes the thing to the wall.


Sam is in yet another motel room. His double came along for the ride, and he's packing. Dean is nowhere in sight. A large African American man in a nice suit appears out of nowhere.

"Tomorrow," the man says, making the double jump. "November 2nd. It's an anniversary for you, right?"

"What are you doing here?"

"It's the day Azazel killed your mother, and 22 years later, your girlfriend, too. It must be difficult to bear." The man looks up at Sam's double, compassion in his face switching to disapproval. "Yet you brazenly use the power he gave you—his profane blood pumping through your veins."

"Excuse me?" say both Sams in unison. Sam looks at his doppelganger. "What power, what blood?" he asks, not sure he wants to know. The double doesn't respond, just watches the stranger, looking annoyed and afraid at the same time.

"You were told not to use your abilities," the man says.

"What was I supposed to do?" the double challenges, standing defiant. "That demon would've killed me AND my brother. Killed everyone!"

"You were told NOT to."

The room and both people in it fuzz out as Sam drops in agony. FLASH! A new location is burned into his brain: a diner. His double is having a fist fight with a demon wearing a waitress. There's too much hurt in Sam's head this time: his ears are ringing, and he can't make out what they're saying. But then he sees the other Sam raise his outstretched hand and close his eyes. A dark rush bursts through Sam, as cold as it is invigorating. His heart races as energy pulses through his veins. He feels strong…and wrong.

"What are you doing?!" Sam asks, freaked.

The demon starts to cough in pain. The other Sam smiles and takes a step closer, hand still outstretched. The demon drops to its knees.

So I—HE…you do have powers... Sam just stares at the other him, not caring at all what is happening to the demon, as he feels the energy grow inside him. He doesn't know what's worse—seeing what he's seeing, or feeling it. "How are you doing this?" Sam asks his double. "Does Dean know? Is that why he was so pissed before?"

The encroaching pain envelops him again, and FLASH!, Sam is back in the motel room he woke up in. Dean still has the other Sam pinned to the wall.

"Look, I've saved more people in the past five months than we've saved in a year!" he says to Dean. Dean lets him go and walks off, livid.

"That what Ruby wants you to think? Huh? Kind of like the way she tricked you into using your powers?" Dean shakes his head, looking worried. "Slippery slope, brother. Just wait and see. Cos it's going to get darker, and darker…and God knows where it ends."

Sam's double stands up straight. "I'm not going to let it go too far."

Dean gives him a "yeah, right" look, then swings his arms around and sweeps a lamp clear off the table. "It's ALREADY gone too far, Sam," he barks, stepping back up to him. His eyes grow cold. "If I didn't know you," he snarls, "I would want to hunt you. And so would other hunters."

Sam is gutted. "What's he done, Dean?" Sam asks, looking at his brother, afraid of the answer. He doesn't get one. Sam looks to his double. "What did you DO?" he demands, storming over to him. The other Sam looks visibly hurt. It takes him a moment to reply to Dean's stinging words, and when he does, his voice is meek.

"You were gone. I was here. I had to keep on fighting without you. And what I'm doing, it works."

"Where was Dean?" Sam asks them both. He's ignored by both in turn. Dean just cracks a very bitter smile and looks the other Sam right in the eye.

"Well, tell me," Dean says. "If it's so terrific, then why'd you lie about it to me?"

Pain hits Sam from everywhere, and both men flicker away. NO, not now! Why'd he lie? What happened to Dean? What the hell is going on?!

FLASH! Sam is now in a very dark room. Dean is asleep in his bed—fully clothed right down to his boots, with only his leather jacket as a cover. Sam's double is sneaking to the door. He looks back at Dean for a moment, and Sam can't read the expression on his face. Guilt that he's leaving? Relief that Dean isn't following? Both or something else completely? Sam doesn't know, but he follows him. He walks straight through the door and watches the other him get into a car. A girl with long, dark hair is behind the wheel. They take off.

FLASH! The double and the girl are performing an exorcism, only without any Latin: the double's dark power is his weapon, flowing out of his outstretched hand. Sam feels it rising up in his own veins, rippling underneath his skin as a firestorm churns inside him, pushing for release. It terrifies him.

FLASH! Same girl,different exorcism. The tied-up demon taunts the other Sam about being a big hero. "And yet here you are, slutting around with some demon. Real hero." Sam's double tells him to shut up, but the demon just grins. "Tell me about all those months without your brother. About all the things you and this demon bitch do in the dark."

Sam stares at the girl. "She's a demon?"

FLASH! New room, no exorcism—just other Sam and the girl. She's slinking up to him, telling him it's all right. She kneels down right in front of him, hands all over his body. "Oh please no," Sam begs, scared of where this is going. To his relief, his double looks as revolted as Sam feels.

"Is it because of this body?" she coos. "Because I told you—it's all me inside of here. There is no one else. And it's nice inside this body, Sam." She presses her hips against him. "Soft and warm."

The other Sam still won't look at her. "What are you doing?"

She caresses his hair with her long fingers. "Isn't it cos you're really scared to go there with a demon?" She brushes her lips against his and whispers, "Because it's wrong and it's bad and we shouldn't?"

Then he grabs her and pulls her onto his lap, kissing her with so much force that Sam is amazed her head doesn't snap off—no matter how much he wishes it would. She's a demon, and he's kissing her. He's going to have sex with a demon. Willingly. No, Sam laughs, disgusted, and turns away. That's not you, and this isn't happening. It's a trick, you know it is. Sam pounds at his head, no longer caring about the ache. Wake up, dammit! Something is making you see lies. It's all lies!

FLASH! Another room, still no Dean, only the girl. Sam's double looks desperate and worried. "Ruby, it's been weeks," he says to her. "I need it."

"THAT'S Ruby?!" Sam shouts, shaking his head in disbelief. The double sits down on the bed, and Sam chuckles, bitter. "More demon sex," he spits, disgusted. "Yeah, that's just what you need." But the other him—or Not Sam, as Sam decides to think of him from now on—keeps begging for help, looking all the more pathetic for it. A self-satisfied smirk crawls over the demon girl's face, and Sam dreads finding out what put it there. The answer becomes clear as she holds out her arm and cuts it with a small blade. She lifts it to Not Sam's eager lips.

"No," Sam whimpers, wanting to look away but unable to. "Please no…"

Not Sam looks at Ruby, eyes wide like he's seeking her permission. She smiles and offers up her cut arm. He leans down and wraps his lips around the cut, drinking the blood like it's mother's milk. Sam blinks away tears as he watches Ruby nuturing the birth of his demonic self.

"No," is all Sam can say at first. Not Sam keeps drinking. "It's not real…you're not me. Can't be me, I'd never, EVER—!"

Ruby smiles and brushes her fingers through Not Sam's hair. Not Sam comes up for air, blood all over his face. He licks it off before leaning in for more. Sam stumbles backward.

"Not me not me not me…" The suckling noises are like scrapes against his ears, and the warmth he's feeling through Not Sam is stoking the shared, dark energy fire between them. His stomach flips as his head is bashed down with another smack of pain, turning his field of vision blood red.

FLASH! The red becomes sickly ornate wallpaper in an entirely different room. Dean and Not Sam are facing off, with a third man Sam doesn't recognize standing nearby. Dean is talking, and his voice fades in as the pain in Sam's head wears down.

"…But the Sam I knew, he's gone," Dean finishes.

Not Sam looks nonplussed. "That so?"

"And it's not the demon blood, or the psychic crap," Dean goes on. "It's the little stuff. The lies, the secrets—"

"What secrets?"

"Your phone calls to Ruby for one."

"So I need your say-so to make a phone call?" Not Sam snits. Dean glares.

"That's the point: you're hiding things from me." The glare switches to a look of mistrust. "What else aren't you telling me?"

Not Sam gives a dark smile. "None of your business."

Rage clouds Dean's face and makes his voice quaver as he replies, "See what I mean?" Not Sam looks smug. Dean keeps his glare locked on him. "We used to be in this together. We used to have each other's BACKS."

"Okay, fine," Not Sam cuts in. "You want to know why I didn't tell you about Ruby, and how we're hunting down Lilith? Because you're too weak to go after her, Dean. You're holding me back. I'm a better hunter than you—stronger, smarter. I can take out demons you're too scared to go near."

"That's crap," Dean dismisses.

"You're too busy sitting around feeling sorry for yourself," Not Sam charges. The pain hits Sam's head as the scene starts to flicker. He misses the next words, but he sees what happens in a series of strobe flashes: Dean throws a knife at Not Sam. Not Sam dodges it. Both men swing at each other.

FLASH! Not Sam swigging demon blood from a flask.

FLASH! Dean telling Not Sam over the phone that he can't be trusted.

"No, no more," Sam begs, holding onto his head as he crouches down, willing the world to either purge him of this nightmare or swallow him up and lose him. Demon sex, demon blood, fighting with Dean…it can all only mean one thing. More tears burn at Sam's eyes as he finds himself sitting next to Dean in the Impala.

"Why didn't you stop me, Dean?" Sam asks. "You promised you would…why'd you let me go dark side?" Dean just drives, though he seems tense. He unknowingly looks at Sam as he makes a right turn, and Sam can see the worry in his eyes. "Did you try and stop me but you couldn't? Did I HURT you? God…Dean, please tell me I didn't do anything—"


A warehouse somewhere. Not Sam has his arm outstretched again, dark smile back on his face as he kills a man with his mind. The man is cut up all over, laughing as much as he's screaming. Sparks of energy light up behind his eyes and from his torn-up chest cavity. Sam would like to believe the man has it coming—maybe he's a demon, or worse. But can you be sure? Sam wonders. After everything you've seen? What if it is just a man? What if—

The man falls from where Not Sam had him pinned to the wall, his last breath wheezing out of the open mouth of the corpse. Not Sam lowers his hand, looking at where another man stands watching him in shocked disapproval. Both then wordlessly turn their heads to a spot behind them, and Sam follows their gaze. Dean is lying in a bloodied heap on the floor, a very ornate devil's trap painted all around him. Not Sam rushes over to him, but Sam beats him there.

"Don't touch him," he growls, standing in front of Dean like a guard dog. Not Sam runs right through and kneels down, carefully rolling Dean over.

"No…" Not Sam whispers. He checks for a pulse as Sam glares down at him.

"You did this to him, didn't you!"

Not Sam doesn't answer him, just looks around for the other man. Whoever he was, he's now gone. Not Sam mutters "typical" and puts his arms under Dean's back. He heads for the door, Sam hot on his heels.

"Where does it end?" Sam yells. "Is all that power worth Dean's life?!"

FLASH! This one is longer and brighter than the others. Sam's own words are still lingering in the air as the scenery changes. Stark grey walls become a small room, medical equipment all around. Dean is in a hospital bed, covered in bandages and tubes. His face is swollen and bruised, eyes red and shut. Not Sam is sitting on a chair on the other side of Dean, watching him quietly.

"Wow, you're actually here," Sam comments, looking upon his double in disdain. "Do you actually give a damn about Dean, or are you only here to save face?" Not Sam tucks his chin down, like he heard what Sam said. Sam just looks back at Dean, shivering at the sight. "What's he done to you?" Sam asks softly. "How did it come to this?"

"I didn't do this to him," Not Sam says. Sam looks back and sees Not Sam's eyes on his. "At least, not directly."

"You can see me?"

Not Sam gives a half smile. "I've seen you everywhere."

"Then why didn't you say anything until now?"

"What's there to say? You've already passed your judgement. Same as Dean." Not Sam says it without emotion—just states it and looks at his brother. Sam does the same.

"What happened to Dean?" Sam asks fearfully.

"A demon. One of the most powerful ones we've ever faced. I didn't get there in time to stop it before it hurt him…" Sadness breaks onto Not Sam's face. "He shouldn't have gone in there at all," he says, still looking at Dean. "He's not strong enough. Not anymore."

Sam expects Dean to wake up and punch the double for saying that about him, but Dean just lies there, letting the machine breathe for him. "Have you told him that?" Sam asks, fighting to keep his own anger in check as he already knows the answer.

"Yeah, I have," Not Sam admits. "He took it about as well as you'd expect."

"Then why did you say it?!" Sam yells. "How could you?" Not Sam just looks away, so Sam moves around the bed and stands over him. "Dean is the strongest person I know. Always has been, always will be."

"No," Not Sam says quietly. "He won't." He glances up at Sam, looking more like a little lost boy than an evil twin. "That's why I have to be strong for him. It's my job to take care of him now."

Sam nods, furious. "And sleeping with a demon...that's taking care of him? Sneaking around behind his back? Lying to him? Telling him he's weak and you don't want him around—that's taking care of him?!" Not Sam rolls his eyes and looks away, but Sam gets up in his face. "You explain to me how treating him like some inconvenience is helping him."

Not Sam rubs his face. "You don't understand."

"No, you're right, I don't!"

"He's broken, all right?" Not Sam yells back. Sam doesn't back down. Not Sam gets out of his chair, and Sam is right there, not giving an inch. "My brother...OUR brother...he's broken," Not Sam mumbles. "And I can't fix him. It was my fault he got broken in the first place! So now I'm just..." He turns away. "I can't just sit here and do NOTHING."

"So then help him!" Sam cries. "Support him, protect what you have to!"

"What do you think I've been doing?" Not Sam puts a hand on Dean's arm and looks into his face. "All of's all been for him."

Sam walks to his side. "It isn't right."

"I know," Not Sam says very quietly.

"So stop!"

"I can't."

"Why not?"

Hazel eyes meet hazel eyes as Not Sam answers, "If I stop, it's all over." He breathes some air through his mouth and shuts his eyes. "I'm all alone on this. I'm the only one that can stop it from happening."

"Stop what?"

Not Sam doesn't answer. Sam's mouth tightens into a frown.

"I don't care what you think," Sam tells his double. "Turning yourself into a demon isn't helping anyone. All it's doing is changing who you are. And have you seen yourself?" Sam nods to a mirror on the wall. "Look in that mirror and tell me you actually LIKE what you see."

Not Sam gives a very small smile and looks at the ground. "I haven't been me in a long time," he admits. His eyes turn up to Sam's. "And I'll never be you again." Sam doesn't understand. Not Sam smiles again. "And it's all right, you know? If I can save everyone, save DEAN…it doesn't really matter who I am. Just so I do something right with WHAT I am." He sits back down in his chair and pinches the area between his eyebrows as he sighs, "I don't expect you to understand. No one does."

"That's because it's bullshit."

"It's bullshit to want to save the world?"

"No, it's bullshit to believe the ends justify the means."

"I'm killing demons," Not Sam argues. "That's a bad thing?"

"It is when you kill the human host at the same time," Sam huffs. "I saw what you did to that bearded man in the warehouse. You didn't even check his pulse when you were done."

"That's because he was already dead."

"You sure about that?" Sam folds his arms as he watches Not Sam shift in his chair. "Cos from where I was standing, it looked like you were killing him. With your mind." Not Sam glares but doesn't say anything. "How many other people have you killed with your powers?"

"Not as many as I've saved."

"But you do admit you've killed some of them." Sam glares right back, and again, Not Sam looks away. "What happened to exorcisms, huh? They send the demon back to Hell without killing the host—"

"Unless the host is too far gone already. You know some hosts can't be saved."

"But most can, so why take the risk?" Not Sam doesn't answer, and Sam gives him a knowing nod. "Because exorcisms aren't good enough for you anymore," Sam chides. "They take too long for today's demon slayer on the go."

"I found a better way," Not Sam growls.

"Well, sure, better for you. Now you can get high while you work." Not Sam sniggers and shakes his head. "Go ahead, deny it," Sam tells him, "but I can feel what's inside you." Not Sam's face grows serious again as he looks back. "You feel strong…capable. Like nothing can stop you." Sam turns away. "God, you're deluded…"

"I'm not some pathetic junkie, all right?" Not Sam snaps back. "I don't like taking the blood—"

"Like hell you don't!" Sam whirls on him. "I saw you lapping at your demon girlfriend's arm like some thirsty dog."

"I wasn't lapping. And she isn't my girlfriend."

Sam grits his teeth and responds, "The fact that she's a DEMON is all that matters."

"She's not like other demons," Not Sam retorts.

"Yeah she's not like other demons—she's sleeping with you and feeding you her blood!" Sam stares at Not Sam, as incredulous as Not Sam is stubborn. "I don't understand why you can't see how wrong all this is!"

"That's just it," Not Sam says. "It's not about wrong or right anymore. It's about what's necessary. I'm doing what I have to do—what's best in the long run for everyone. I'm making the tough decisions and getting the job done."

Sam gapes at him for a moment before shaking his head. "Yeah, all right, DAD."

Dean stirs restlessly, snapping both Sams to attention, and they move to either side of him. Dean doesn't wake up, no matter how much both of them want him to. For a few minutes, the only sound is from the breathing machine. "I don't understand it," Sam says at length, looking only at his big brother. "I made you promise to stop me if I went dark side."

"That was two years ago," Not Sam says. "A lot has changed since then."

"But not everything. Sucking demon blood will always be wrong. Letting yourself turn into something you fear—that isn't right, either." He looks at his doppelganger with sympathy this time. "Dean would never want you to lose yourself to help him. Please tell me you at least understand that much."

Not Sam slowly looks up, pain in his eyes. "I lost myself when I lost him," he whispers. "I let him down. Couldn't save him…couldn't bring him back…"

"From what?" Sam demands. "From where? What happened to Dean?" Not Sam won't answer him: He turns his back and hangs his head. Sam licks his lips and tries a different angle.

"Look, Dean is right here," Sam points out. "Wherever he was, he's back. Yet all I've seen you do is push him away…lie to him…sneak around behind his back. If you missed him so much," Sam steps around the bed, "then why are you trying to drive him away again?" Not Sam only has eyes for the floor, though his frame has sagged with Sam's words. "He's your brother. He's always been there for you. Why won't you let him help you now?"

Not Sam's face clouds with anger. "He won't help me. He doesn't agree with what I'm doing."

"Can you blame him?"

Not Sam snorts. "You think I like looking in his eyes and seeing the fear? The distrust? And that's only when he looks at me at all." Not Sam shoves away from the bed. "He's changed. Hell, I've changed, I know it, but Dean…it's like he's lost that spark that made him so alive. You know how he'd walk into a room, and every one would look up at him, like he was a light and a magnet at the same time?" Sam nods. "Never happens anymore. Ever. Sure we still go out for drinks, but these days he's drinking ALL the TIME. First it was just to chase off the effects of the nightmares he has every night—" Not Sam stops talking as Sam's eyes grow wide, and Not Sam nods. "He screams. Thrashes…kicks… Some nights I can wake him up, other nights he knocks me out while I'm TRYING to wake him up, but during the day…" Not Sam rubs his face again. "He's like a shell of who he used to be. Quiet. Sad. Still makes his jokes and pretends everything's fine, but it isn't. HE isn't." Not Sam's gaze has wandered back to where his brother lies. "I miss him," he admits. "SO much."

"So let him lean on you," Sam tells him. "Get him to open up. Shoulder some of his burden."

"You don't think I've tried that?" Not Sam asks. "You know how Dean just LOVES to talk about his feelings. He lied to me, told me everything was fine, but I knew it wasn't. Whatever he didn't want me to know was bad…I could see it was eating him alive. So I kept on him, asked him all the time to open up and talk to me." He gives a small, bitter smile. "And then, one day, I got my wish. He spilled. Told me…everything." His voice breaks at the last word, and he swallows his emotion back down. Sam waits patiently for him to continue. "What he went through…" Not Sam tries, only to break again. "…what they did to him, made him do…" He wipes his sleeve along his eyes and looks away from Sam.

"What happened to him?" Sam asks, scared to hear about it but just as scared not to know. "Please…maybe I can help."

Not Sam brays a "HA!" and glares back at Sam. "You're the reason all this started. Your weakness. Your damn DESTINY…" He kicks the chair against the wall.

"Tell me," Sam insists. "I have to know."

Not Sam studies his face in silence for a few moments. Then he licks his lips and asks a simple question: "Would you stab an innocent man?" Sam is disturbed, and he must show it, because Not Sam holds his hands up like he's urging calm. "He isn't possessed," Not Sam goes on, "and he isn't a murderer. He isn't even a bad person. He's just caught up in the same crap as you. Wrong place, wrong time. Would you stab him?"

Sam looks offended. "Of course not."

Not Sam hits him with that bitter smile again as he holds his arms out to either side. "Exactly. Weakness." Not Sam pulls his chair back to where it was and sits down. "You won't stab him because you want to prove to the world that you aren't evil."

"And that's a bad thing?"

Not Sam gives him a dark look. "It is when you do the right thing, and the bad guys still win. And when you find out the evil's been inside you the whole time…" Not Sam drifts off, lost in his own, dark thoughts for a moment. Sam doesn't know what to say. Not Sam doesn't seem to care—he looks back up and regards Sam with both justification and boredom. "All I'm trying to do is turn some really rotten lemons into lemonade. Use my powers for good instead of letting them corrupt me."

"But is it really that simple?" Sam challenges.

"I think so. I'm helping people—isn't that a good thing? I'm killing demons—not just exorcising them, but wiping them out. Isn't THAT a good thing?"

"Yes," Sam admits. "But it's like I heard Dean ask you earlier: if what you're doing is so good, then why all the lies?" He looks at him plainly. "Why trust a demon over your own brother?"

Not Sam rolls his head around, like the conversation has worn him out. "Because she understands what I'm doing," he replies in a low voice. "Dean, Bobby…" he glances upward and points, "them…they only freak about what I might do, not what I've done." He gets to his feet. "And if I have to keep wasting time explaining myself," his eyes fall back on Sam, "then I can't help anybody."

His irises go nearly black, though the whites of his eyes remain, and he extends his arm toward Sam. The room starts to flicker out, and Sam's head swells with pain. "No..." He tries to somehow will the vision to keep playing, but he's already able to feel his real body, fingers flexing as his consciousness returns.

"I'm going to save everyone, Sam," Not Sam calls from somewhere. "Dean, us…everyone."

"You're going to KILL us all if you go dark side!" Sam cries back. The pain shoots through him…

…and he yells into his pillow. Sam blinks his eyes open and lifts his head. He's back in the hotel in Connecticut. The details of his vision are fading fast, pulling away like a wave on the shore. Demon blood. Dean getting hurt. Sam doing…awful things he can't quite place. A deep feeling of disgust hits him, and he somehow knows its disgust at himself—he just can't remember exactly why. He's left with an image of himself with dark eyes and a darker smile.

I go dark side, Sam realizes. Bile mixes with unabsorbed alcohol and rushes up his throat, and he makes a break for the toilet. He heaves and cries, clinging to the bowl and wailing like he's confessing to murder. The dark-eyed image rolls back into his mind, and he throws up again.

No. I won't let it happen, he swears, body shaking from distress. I won't let myself become that…THING.

He swears he hears someone laughing at him.

The door to the room opens, and Dean steps inside. If Sam didn't feel like death barely warmed over, he'd run out and bear hug him to next Thursday.

"How you feeling, Sammy?"

Sam groans out loud but thinks at him, I won't go dark side, Dean. I WON'T let them win. I promise.

"I guess mixing whisky and Jäger wasn't such a gangbuster idea, was it?"

Sam shakes his head, too sick to do much of anything else. Dean speaks again, a little hope clear in his voice:

"I'll bet you don't remember a thing from last night, do you?"

Sam looks up, and the dark-eyed version of himself smiles in his mind. I remember enough.


Sam rubs the remaining pain out of his head. It's been ages since he had a vision, and having one involving his younger self definitely takes the cake for freaky. He looks at Dean's heart rate monitor and smiles as the heart beat grows stronger. He takes his brother's hand and squeezes.

"I've come this far, Dean, and I can't go back now. But I won't go dark side," Sam says in earnest. "I WON'T let them win. I promise."

He shuts his eyes and pretends not to hear the power inside him laughing.