Somehow, after everything, hunting is still accomplished.
To a lesser degree of course, by yourself most of the time, but one mustn't forget about rescuing the little people even when your brother is concentrating on saving the lot.
In some hillbilly hotel in Arkansas, laptop resting on your legs, a few selections taken from the library researching local legends because something has risen out of the dark and taken to tasting the local flavor in a literal sense. Bones and bits of flesh found on the outskirts of town.
Dean is off with Castiel, super secret angel business you're no longer privy to, and you have a hunch about how to stop whatever is out there but can't wait for him.
Two hours later, after managing to save a couple of teenagers from the thing that was nothing but fur and fangs, you're washing the blood from your face when Dean magically reappears in the middle of the room.
Taking one look at you, he doesn't ask, because after what happened, he stopped wanting to know.
What you don't tell Dean is that you've both been touched by angels.
He of course, being pulled from the pit, the hand print of Castiel's grace so pronounced and etched (forever?) on his shoulder.
Yours, however, bears no physical mark to be seen, yet somehow you know it runs deeper than his.
Lucifer's light, rising from below, washing over the two of you and sending Dean unconscious to the floor. Immune as always, you stood eye to eye with the fallen, waiting for the death assumed to come.
Not ungrateful, he left you and your brother well enough alone, but not before expressing his gratitude.
The slow terrifying ease at how you could feel his will crawling into your heart.
Dean's mark is one of righteousness.
Yours is just a dull slow burn of the last of your humanity fading away.
Déjà vu when she knocks at the door.
Blonde again, apparently it's a thing.
Not even waiting for an invitation before making her way in, and taking a look around.
It's so reminiscent of a girl you've tried hard not to think about since you held her in your arms one last time while Dean stuck the blade in her.
She smiles as if she's missed you, as if the last time she was around it didn't involve overtaking your body and hurting people you cared about.
Her name, the only one you've ever known, falls from your lips without venom.
"How does it feel?" She asks, not a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "Being the hero?"
Still has that odd sense of humor.
Truthfully it doesn't feel like anything.
Inadvertent your method, unbeknown your motive, so blind by a singular mission and never once seeing the bigger picture, manipulation of blood skin and lips an affection never uttered aloud. Your soul in the hands of someone who no longer had one.
She's eyeing you as if she needs something, like they're still trying to recruit you as if you didn't already accomplish what they wanted. As if you haven't yet set him free.
The apocalypse still hasn't happened, but the lines are drawn, forces opposite and primed (you in the middle as always) just waiting for someone to say go.
There's no hatred in her now, no sense of revenge. Somehow you know she just wants to be close to you, the chosen one, the goddamned hero.
Something inside wants her, that much you can't deny (demon bait you'll forever be), and you don't push away when she leans in closer.
Her kiss tastes of ashes.
Yours tastes of light.
Whenever you and Castiel share the same space and time, the way he looks at you with that strange mix of pity and betrayal.
He doesn't quite see in black in white like the rest of his brethren, which may be one of the reasons he doesn't want to smite you on sight, your brother another.
A pawn is what you were, he knows it, knows how it feels.
Just like he knows you've been touched by the morning star.
He won't tell Dean, this much you know. Because he still needs him, because he knows what another reminder of how deep your demon side goes will do to him.
Dean, always in denial of your place in the mess, never understanding that the person you choose to be has nothing to do with destiny and what's to come.
Meg shows up randomly whenever she wants, always smiling, always trying to come off harmless.
You don't get angry because it's a waste of energy.
You don't send her away because yes, you're that lonely.
She never helps with hunts, but it's okay because you never expect her to, it's just nice to have the company sometimes. You can't remember that last time you and Dean shared a job.
Mostly she just sits back and watches the chaos, some kind of bizarre enjoyment in watching you work.
You never get caught with her, not like Dean would care much at this point, but she has an uncanny ability to know exactly when he's near.
In one blink Dean is back, she's gone, and it never occurs to you to ask how.
He's technically on the right side.
But you can see in his eyes he doesn't like what he's doing, doesn't like their methods, or the fact that angels are so willing to sacrifice human lives for the sake of their mission.
He can't even look at you anymore.
Whether it's out of shame for what you've helped unleash, or what the angels made him do, is never made clear.
Half the time you don't know he bothers to keep you around, disappearing for days at a time, you on the move in between, yet Castiel always manages to bring him back exactly where you are.
Why he bothers when the two of you barely hold a conversation beyond food or shelter, how he can tell the aversion you have whenever in close proximity, how your skin (your touch the polar opposite of his) just itches to move away.
Punishment or desperation, his refusal to let you go, it's so damn hard to tell.
Not once have you tried using your powers since killing Lilith.
So weak without Ruby's blood, the effort it took to vanquish the first demon, naturally you assumed they were all gone.
But now, back against a wall, black eyes shining above crooked smiles you throw your hand up on instinct. Just a push, one little push with your mind, and they're all vomiting up the black clouds of their essence.
There is no headache, no nosebleed, just unwavering power falling from your fingertips.
The gift that keeps on giving.
Meg says her goodbyes by pushing you against a wall and kissing the breath from your lungs. Admitting to petty jealousy when she heard about you and Ruby, how you weren't afraid to go there with a demon.
"All this time," whispered in your ear. "You could have been playing with me."
War is on your doorstep.
So close you can almost hear the screams, her last ditch effort to swing you to their side, promising you the world between kisses, glory between shed articles of clothing, never stopping even though she knows your answer.
Dean is waiting for you in the motel, covered in sweat and dirt from the latest hunt you make a beeline for the bathroom when he throws up a hand to stop you.
Only then do you notice the look on his face is much grimmer than usual, that there is a six pack chilling on the nightstand, that he glances out the window every few seconds like he's not sure exactly how much time he as.
Not bothering to wash up, you sit on the edge of the other bed.
Still not talking to each other, but it's obvious he doesn't want to just leave without some kind of send off, just as it's obvious he's not coming back anytime soon.
He hands you a beer, which you take but don't drink, feeling like you should say something, anything, despite the months of silence.
No words come to mind, none worth uttering aloud, and you can find nothing to do with your eyes other than stare down into the bottle.
He can't tell you where he's going, you can't go with him because he can't do a damn thing to protect you from them, and the both of you know it.
He kicks your foot, making you look back up at him, and extends his bottle to clink with yours.
It almost makes you smile, knowing no matter what, you'll always be Sam and Dean.
You finally take a drink, tilting your head back and sighing into the bottle, and when your eyes refocus upon swallowing he's already gone.
Lines in the sand are drawn.
Angels on one side.
Demons on the other.
You're walking straight down the middle because the angels don't want you, the demons don't trust you, and there's just nowhere else for you to go.
After all the fighting, all the blood and sacrifice, you're left on the sideline because your purpose has been served.
Azazel's boy, his favorite, his big plans for you come to pass.
There's no place for you in the world to come, no reason to fight for it.
Lucifer's gift, his touch, you'll be alive to see it regardless.
There's a special place reserved in hell for those who stand idle between good and evil.
It's where you would have ended up anyway.