Wow, I'm finally finished. I can't believe it. This story started out as an tiny idea and grew into something I'm very proud of as writer. It challenged me as a writer, because I did not want to write this part. I know Sam Winchester isn't real, but I hated putting him through this, fleshing it out and making it real. It made my stomach hurt, and I avoided it for months, as most of you know. Thanks so much for sticking around and forcing me to finish it.

I won't keep you any longer. Please let me know what you think. I love reviews.

Chapter 9

"Shut up," Sam said softly. There was an eerie fatality to his tone that belied his passive demeanor. "I am done being burdened by what you did to me. I am going to sit down and tell you what happened and then I'm going to forgive you for it. Because I need to move on. Sit down."

John sat, and Sam began telling the horrible story for the very last time...


Sam didn't miss Dean.

He figured he would have been counting the seconds until Dean had come home from Pastor Jim's, because he and Dad could barely speak without igniting an argument, but two days in and they were having fun. Bonding.

Sam's cheeks hurt from laughing and he pushed his soda out of the way, leaning over the rickety table of the dinner in order to catch his breath. "Dad, stop, seriously?"

John looked so different when he was smiling. It was a rare occasion, but the act cut years and hardness off his deeply lined face. His eyes sparkled, and even in his blood-stained flannel and with his whiskered chin, he looked kind and friendly. Not like a soldier or a widower, but a father and a friend. "She cussed my mother up one side and down the other. It was a sight to behold. She was fearless, Sammy."

Sam was once again overcome with that ghostly wistfulness inside him. He never remembered his mother and he loved hearing the stories, but there was always a hole carved out of him, a void that memories and pictures would never quite fill. It was bittersweet, because he didn't have the cope with the pain of her death, but hadn't been blessed with the joy of her life. "She sounds like Dean." Sam said still smiling.

John drained his iced tea, and balled his napkin up. "There's no denying that Mary spit Dean out. And don't you ever tell him I said this, but he's just as pretty as she was. God, they handed that kid to me and the doctor said it was a boy and I didn't believe him he was so pretty. I checked. Twice."

The teenager howled.

John sobered, but the lively gleam never left his eyes. "Dean has Mary's attitude, her spunk, but Sammy, you have her heart."

Sam's cheeks flushed and he ducked his head.

His expression tightened with seriousness and meaning. "You have her strength. Sam, you can do anything, survive anything. I know you make Mary very proud."

He stared at the vacant seat next to John and wondered what it would have been like if she was there.

He was tired of empty chairs.

"But she's dead because of me."

"She died for you, Sam, there's a difference. She'd do it again. So would I and so would Dean. In an instant."

John checked his watch. "Come on, Sam. We're going to be late for the movie if we don't leave now."

John paid at the counter and left the dinner, draping his arm around his son like he usually did with Dean. The stars were brilliant in the sky, and both Winchesters craned their heads upwards to behold them, wondering if an angel named Mary was looking down on them.


Sam flopped onto his stomach, curling into the cold spot in the bed and hunkering down for a well-earned night of sleep. Their motel room was briskly cold like he liked it, and though Dean wasn't there, Sam was put at ease by quiet activities of his father—the clink of his mug hitting the table as he researching, the precise scratches of his pen on the paper, the shift of a rag over metal as he cleaned the guns. It was a Winchester lullaby, and Sam was soon fast asleep.

His eyes snapped open a seemingly a second later to the splintering of wood. Groggy, he listened, and it took him far too long to pinpoint that the sounds were of the door being forced off its hinges. Before he could even think to react, rough hands seized him with bruising force and hauled him out of bed. Panic was nitrogen in his veins and a cold, stupefying fog in his brain. Time had ceased its leisurely slow crawl and leapt into a frenetic stream of chaos and violence. By the time Sam realized what was happening—that he was being taken—he was already face down on his stomach, arms twisted behind his back. He grunted and fought as handcuffs were snapped over his wrists. His heart raged inside him and the intense fear threatened to paralyze him completely. Sam closed his eyes, grounding himself and trying to focus on his training.

Cowering is easy; fighting back takes courage.

When he opened his eyes, Sam concentrated on what he could see: six pairs of boots milling silently around the room. Two men hovered over him and he tried to assemble his courage as he was hefted upright. As soon as his feet hit the floor, he lashed out, kicking one of the men in the stomach and checking the other with the brunt of his body. This wasn't like sparring with Dean. His bare foot ached from the blow, and all three men out-matched him in weight, height and experience. When he rammed into the thug, it felt like he'd willingly collided with a brick wall. The masked man was barely fazed by the blow and he retaliated in a blur of black. Sam heard the backhanded slap before he felt it and he sent him reeling to the side, and he was flying. The teenager smashed into the popcorn-textured wall with such force that whimsical neon blobs exploded in front of his eyes and his ribs rattled excruciatingly against his lungs. He slid bonelessly down the wall he'd been tossed into, unable to fight back as they knelt in front of him again. His head was lifted by a callous yank of his shaggy hair and it was then that he noticed John's disheveled and empty bed.

"Dad?" Sam gasped.

At first he thought that the fear of not finding his father had shorted out his vision, but when he felt a knot tighten behind his head, Sam knew that he'd been blindfolded. The lack of sight left him disoriented and defeated. The blow to the head made him sleepy and sick. He panted roughly as he was heaved off the ground. Instead of fighting, Sam concentrated on the details. A shock of cold told him he was being hauled out into the Iowa night. The husky slide of a door said the vehicle they were putting him in was a van.

Whoever was carrying him sat him down more gently than he expected. The van dipped when the man, who smelled like beef jerky and tobacco, climbed in after him. The door was shut and the van peeled off.

"Where's my dad?" Sam asked meekly.

No one spoke.

Sam tested the cuffs, his shoulders already throbbing from their tightness.

"Where's my dad?" He echoed with more bravado.

"He can't help you now, kid. Shut up," a nasty voice replied.

Sam opened his mouth to threaten and bolster like Dean, but his head snapped to the side by another vicious blow. He tumbled in the back of the trundling van, and landed on his stomach. The man parroted his inquiries to his fellow thugs. Confident his father was dead, Sam was overwhelmed by it all—the fear, the pain, the humiliation. He left the rocking of the van, the smell of his own blood and allowed the cruel laughter of his captors devastate him completely.


The next thing Sam remembered he was heaving. He whimpered, tasting bile in his mouth and tried to sit up, but his arms were bound behind him and his hands felt bloated and swollen. He couldn't open his eyes and he thrashed, confused and scared. And he remembered being kidnapped, succumbing to shock. His stomach churned with new violence and he bucked again, breath sailing through him, heart clamored.

His hair was snatched again, twisting his neck at a painful angle. "Stop."

"Sick," Sam grunted.

"For God's sake…"

The van wasn't moving, Sam noticed, as he was pulled out and into the cold. He threw up, almost pleased with himself when the guy cursed and shoved Sam away.

"Can't see." Sam managed.

A second later, bluish-white light burned his eyes. Sam squinted and blinked rapidly. He caught garbled snatches of naked trees and a deserted interstate; a sign that read "Cabins 13 thru 20" and picnic tables.

Escape was a possibility. Sam gagged again, retching with spirit into the frosty ground. He made a show of coughing as disgustingly as he could and stole a glance at his guard. The man was about 5'7'', stocky and a younger than Sam imagined. The van was empty.

You take any option you have to get out, to save lives. There's no such thing as fighting dirty when it comes to saving lives.

Harnessing his fury, Sam kicked his captor as hard as he could between the legs. The man keeled over with a strangled gurgle. The young man hesitated, eyes darting between the downed man and the driver's seat. He was gathering his breath, trying to scream. And Sam knew he had no choice. Even though these men had taken him and probably killed his father, it took more nerve than he'd ever imagined to knock him out cold with a kick to the face. He did it, because his life depended on it, and he turned to the trees and ran. It was an awkward, loping run with his arms behind his back, but Sam didn't care. He nearly wept with glee as he ducked into the forest and out of sight.

He kept running, panting wildly, spurred on not by bewildering fear, but by the satisfaction that he had gotten away. He felt it happening, the years of training were taking over, and Sam let it happen. He trudged forward tried to formulate a plan. The first thing he needed to do was get the cuffs off.

A cramp speared him low in his belly, and Sam bended over, fingers flexing behind his back. He tried to breathe through it, to keep going, but the pain snowballed, driving Sam to his knees. His eyes watered and his head swam. The frigid cold of twilight needled easily through his light t-shirt. The adrenaline was wearing off, Sam thought, as the forest began to spin and bob around him.

Combat is hard on the body. Go to ground as soon as it's over, self-assess with your eyes and hands. Don't always trust how you feel, because adrenaline can mask injuries.

Sam gave himself a minute to re-inflate his lungs and to allow his heart rate to slow from its painful gallop. Carefully, he eased himself to his feet, and compromised with an aggressive walk instead of a frenetic run.

He didn't know how long it took for him to reach a cabin. It would probably be a tranquil refuge in the summer, with its bare flower boxes already sprouting tulips, and view of the rolling with its darkened windows and rotted porch boards, the house seemed reassuring at the most basic level. It was shelter, a place to hide.

Sam sloshed through the ribbons of icy snow and mud towards the stepping stones of the cabin. He was already disturbingly tired, eyes closing on their own accord. It was weird to be sleepy when he was running for his life, and it made him laugh hoarsely. Reality was slipping and hysteria seeped in. Sam was tempted to let it. Because in reality, his father was probably dead and he'd be following him soon. Ensuing madness, with its whimsical hallucinations and insulated detachment, seemed like the better choice.

Woozy, Sam slipped over his own shuffling feet and fell, unchecked, into the hard rocky ground. With dulled reflexes and hands cuffed behind him, he never had the chance to twist his body and he landed square on his chin in an explosion of agony and blood as his teeth sank into his tongue. Hysteria surrendered to a semi-conscious twilight as felt his eyes rolling back and pain thundering in his head. Stubbornness and lessening fear kept him conscious and he rolled onto his back with a graceless flail of his legs and sheer will.

"Pathetic," Sam gasped into the din of chirping birds.

He'd not only managed to almost knock himself out, but now he was covered in slick mud. He felt it sluicing down his pants and his arms.

His eyes widened.

The cuffs slipped just an inch lower on his wrist.

With newfound vigor, Sam pushed himself into a sitting position and leaned back, coating his arms in mud. His tongue flicked out of his mouth as he concentrated on painting his arms and hands. The teenager didn't know how much precious time he wasted or how many layers of skin he scrapped over, but finally, wonderfully, the handcuffs slid off one wrist.

It was all Sam needed. His consequent freedom invigorated him, and stood up, darting into the cabin, hoping to find a phone. A quick scan through all of the windows show that it was abandoned and Sam left, running down the trail with the long-legged stride he'd perfected in soccer practice. He remembered the sign he saw when he first broke away from his captors, Cabins 13 thru 20—it had to mean Sam was in the middle of a tourist locale. While it wasn't the height of the season, optimism powered him on as there had to be a main office if not one person renting a cabin with a phone. Sam ran, checking five more cabins only to find them empty, until the sun was high in the sky and temperature rose well above freezing. He ran until his legs refused to hold him and cramps seized nearly his entire body.

"Shit!" Sam cursed. He'd forgotten to find water, and it was too late now. He needed to rest just for a little bit.

He felt the hissing pain of developing blisters making his feet uncomfortably tight in his shoes. The discomfort was one of many. He walked down, eyes scanning the base of fat trees and the hollows of logs for a place to hide. A gigantic tree had fallen, some years ago, leaving a knobby tangle of powerful roots. It had been mounded over with abandoned birds' nests and with a little work from Sam, it was a perfect place of concealment, albeit dank and smelly. He tucked his legs close to his chest, noticing not for the first time that he had shoes on even though he'd been taken from slumber. It should have struck him as odd, but Sam didn't have the energy to care. His head swam, his body ached, his heart was broken, splintered from the absence of his big brother and obliterated by the disappearance of his father. And it was ridiculously easy to let it all go.


Voices startled Sam from slumber and he jolted awake with the rapidfire cadence of his heart and strained to hear what was being said, if he recognized the voices.

He did.

"He's a kid for Christ's sakes, he couldn't have gotten this far!"

"No one woulda thought that he'd take Jimmy down but he did. Spread out and find that little bastard."

Sam eased out of his hole, grateful that his own body's magic elixir of adrenaline was overriding the dehydration and the bruises. He inched over the snarled, dead roots of the tree and scanned the perimeter. He saw two garbled shapes of men in the distance and one in the middle, holding a bloody rag to his face. It was the one Sam had disabled hours earlier.


In a flutter of leaves, Sam took off, leaning low to avoid detection but focusing more on speed than stealth. Twenty strides later, he heard the screams, and he willed himself to move faster. The forest was nothing but a blur of tree-bark brown trunks, and gray-blue sky. Bitter wind streaked across his face and made his eyes water, but Sam kept going. Quite literally running for his life. He thought he was putting life-saving distance between him and his kidnappers and tossed a glance over his shoulder to check. When he turned his head back, the snatch of blue camouflage was all the warning he got before he rammed into a solid body and fell backwards, a victim of his own forward movement. He smashed into the detritus, and felt every branch, rock and root tearing and bruising his skin. The world disappeared for a second, cutting off like a television.

He crawled on his hands and knees. His pitiful and futile retreat incited laughter from his captors. A foot landed in his ribs. Another in his thigh. Another in his chest. He cried out, begging with no shame for them to stop, for someone to help him. He may have screamed for his brother.

The onslaught finally ceased, and he pushed up again, doggedly inching towards freedom.

A boot stomped on his back, flattening him completely.

"Get him up!"

Sam was hauled to his feet, even though he gasped for breath and spit blood. Once he was upright, the men released him, seemingly content to play with their prey. His eyes danced to each member of the gauntlet. He didn't know what they were waiting for. Confused, Sam backed up a few steps. The men watched him with eerie curiosity.

"You knocked my teef out, you little shit." Jimmy hissed in outrage. He also walked like a pregnant woman, still feeling Sam's powerful kick to his manhood.

Sam shook his head, feeling sick as he beheld the man's puffed face and missing front teeth. "I'm…ss-sorry." He clamored, desperate.

The hulking man in the camo and a skull cap chortled, crossing his arms over his chest. His partner did not.

They were taunting him. They thought he was pathetic and weak. Sam's fists clenched at his sides and rage churned inside him, molten and fiery. "You snatched me from my bed…what should I have done?"

Even with his busted lips and missing teeth, Jimmy smiled like a chesire cat. "Better, kid."

It was foolish and cowardly to try to run again, but Sam couldn't let himself be taken. He knew he wouldn't survive it. He darted to the left, but the men closed in, tightening the circle.

Before Sam could react, Jimmy had crossed the distance between him and dropped him to his knees with a powerful uppercut, and then smashed his fist in his face. Sam's head rocked to the side he tumbled to the ground, feeling like a bomb had been detonated behind his right eye. Pain rippled from his face to tips of his toes.

A shadow loomed over him like a phantom, blotting out the sun and the trees. Hands wrapped around his throat, crushing and choking. Panic rocketed out of him, feral and primal. Sam forgot his training, about escapes and holds and close-quarter combat. He only knew that he desperately needed to oxygen, and he wasn't getting any. His eyes were bulging like overfilled balloons and the ugly, pulped face hovering over him was taking on an ethereal gleam.

Sammy clawed and scratched, legs kicking and tearing up the ground with useless fury. A horrible sound, like that of a dying pig, filling his ears over the staccato thumping of his heart. It took awhile before Sam realized the sounds were coming from him.

Weakness seeped into his limbs like poison. It was a pervasive, nefarious shroud, overtaking him completely.

Sam's hands thudded strengthlessly against his attack's corded arms. A few agonizing beats later, he lost his body entirely, thoughts ebbing from fightfightfight to absolutely nothing but the lethal pressure and the unbearable agony of suffocation.

The pain abated, passages opened...and someone was gathering him up, tendering tucking his limp arms over his body before lifting Sam completely. "Hang in there, kid. It's almost over."

Mercifully, Sam passed out.


An electric shock of fluid cold jarred Sam from the painless abyss of black. A scream tore through his swollen throat before he even opened his eyes.

When he did, cold water flowed in, rendering his eyes gritty and blurry. He gasped and coughed, trying to behind over and writhe, but found that his body was held immobile, lashed to a straight-backed chair by thick coils of ropes at his wrists, ankles. And Sam thought he'd knew of panic before. He wrenched against the ropes, hating that they held him immobile. Claustrophobia had never been an issue for Sam. He'd always loved hiding in tight spaces, except now he couldn't move and couldn't fight back, and he just needed to be free.

"Houdini couldn't get out of those ropes. Stop wasting your time."

Sam's head shot up, surveying his surroundings and trying to find the men who had been terrorizing him for more than a day. They were in one of the cabins. He recognized the tight rooms lined with room and the rough rocks of the fireplace. Jimmy lifted a metal bucket, ice clinking tinnily inside and hurled it at Sam, thoroughly dousing him in ice water. His lungs seized as blue cold burned white hot, thousands of stinging pins stabbing at his skin.

At least he didn't have to worry about dehydration anymore.

"How do you kill a werewolf?" The hulking figure, who was always shrouded in shadows, barked.

Sam trembled as the ice slicked down his shirt.

Never admit to knowing about the supernatural. Never.

"…tt-there's no such thing…"

He was pelted with water again, another frigid stripping burn. "How do you put down a vampire?"

"…I don't k-know what you're talkin' 'bout…"

Jimmy marched over and gripped his face hard with his hand, thumb and middle finger forcing his mouth open. "Answer the question."

Sam tried in vain to wiggle out of Jimmy's painful grip. He remained silent.

Instead of the icy kiss of water, he was slapped. Hard. His head rocked against the back of the chair.

"If I have to ask again, I'm pouring this down your throat," Jimmy menanced, jiggling the bucket. Sam saw at least a dozen of them gleam in the glow of the fire. "How do you kill a werewolf?"

"…silver bullet…t-to the heart."

The squat man nodded in satisfaction. "Now we're getting somewhere, Winchester. What about vampires?"


The man in the shadows joined the inquisition. "What's the name of the incantation to make holy water?"

Sam narrowed his eyes at the faceless beast and reciting the Latin smoothly.

Jimmy actually danced a jig, patting him proudly on the shoulder. "Kid's got brains."

Rage flared through him and Sam cursed him out in the same dead language. Jimmy kicked him swiftly in the shins, and he couldn't help but cry out. Dean, help me.

"Just ask the questions, Jimmy." The man who had helped Sam earlier said.

Sam's head turned and he saw him pressed against the corner of the room, looking as green and as pained as Sam felt. His face was all hard angles and dark features, but his eyes were kind and compassionate when they looked at Sam. He rocked his head in a covert gesture of encouragement.

The questions continued. Sam was drenched with near freezing water or slapped when he didn't answer immediately, succinctly or correctly.

Water soon soaked the concrete floors of the cabin. And the teenager was so cold, he couldn't hear the questions over the harsh violence of his shuddering.

Thankfully, hypothermia blunted the seriousness of his predicament, and he turned oddly pensive. For the first time in his life, he understood why people became victims, why death could be so easy. Instincts and training made him fight and claw to life, but that meant more pain and more torture. Surrender would be easier. He knew what would happen then—the divine serenity of Heaven that Pastor Jim had preached about, had promised him that's where his mother was.

Sam's heavy head lolled to his chest and not even Jimmy thwacking him on the back of the head gave him the strength to lift it. He was ready.

"That's enough." A soft voice said. It echoed, sounding both distant and too close.

The unsheathing of a knife spurred something inside of him, knotting his belly and kickstarting his slowing heart. They were going to slit his throat. Sam hadn't thought he'd die that way.

Don't ever give up, Sammy. Ever.

"Wait…um…I can answer more questions…" he rambled, clinging to life.

"That's not necessary, kid. You're finished."

Near hyperventilation, Sam closed his eyes and waited for the lethal pain and the wash of blood.

But knife cut through the ropes, not flesh, and he slid pitifully from the chair. The man heaved him away from the watery mess and in front of the fire. Bewildered, he couldn't fight as his shirt was peeled off, and he was swaddled in a blanket.

"Sam, can you hear me?" His cheek was patted gingerly. "Open your eyes, man. It's finally over."

Sam obliged. To his complete astonishment, the two men were grinning with pride. "Congrats, man! You survived."

He was still shivering with whiplashing force. "…s-ssurvived?"

"Doozies, kid." The big man answered. "Put up a hellvua fight too."

A cup of coffee was pressed into his hands, searingly hot. "You need to drink that." When he just looked at it stupidly, the man lifted it to his lips, tipping so he could drink.

Sam groaned, it was like swallowing acid.

"…where's my d-dad? I-is he dd-dead?"

Jimmy's face twisted with disbelief. "Of course he's not…Sam, didn't he tell you…"

Sam's eyes flickered to all three of the men as their frat boy smiles faded to obtuse horror. It was silent for several long minutes.

Jimmy knelt down in front of him, placing a hand on his knee. Terrified, Sam scrambled backwards, slamming into the hearth of the fireplace. "S-stay right there."

"Son," he said softly, lifting his hands in a posture of peace. "I thought you knew…you took me out, and I thought…I thought you were showing off. I never would…have hurt you if…I'm not a monster, kid."

Sam scoffed hoarsely. He was finally thawing and could feel the side of his face swelling, the eye closing. He could feel the uncomfortable shift of his ribs and the hot areas of pain where he had been kicked and stomped. "Get the hell away f-from me."

He downed the coffee, needing the heat and the caffeine and levered himself to his feet, stumbling from dizziness and the agony of his battered body. He powered unevenly towards the door. Doozies? It was too much to absorb. Doozies was just a game that hunters played. Dean went through an obstacle course, and spent the night in the woods. He hadn't been snatched from his bed and beaten.

He was only a foot away when it burst open and John Winchester filled the threshold, quite alive alive and beaming with pride usually reserved for Dean.

The realization that John had orchestrated this gruesome nightmare hurt more than anything he'd experienced in the past twenty-four hours. Sam now understood anguish that was beyond tears and rage beyond words. He gaped at the man who was his father, who had just spoken about how parents died for their children, and marveled at how he could have done this to him.

John gazed down at Sam, unmoved by the bruises or the blood smeared on the thin blanket and clapped him hard on the shoulder as if Sam had just scored the winning touchdown. "You passed, Sam. You're a hunter now. It's a big rite of passage."

Sam stared at him again, murder and tears in his eyes. He roughly shoved him out of the way and marched out into the cold dusk.

He heard Jimmy and the two men hollering at John from the hollow security of the Impala.

Sam stewed in his ire on the ride back to the motel, still beyond words but angry enough that he could smash furniture and make the betrayal tangible, visible and abundantly clear.

When John started screaming about family duty and his death of his wife, Sam barricaded himself in the bathroom, turned on the hot water and was finally able to cry.


It was John with the wet cheeks and red eyes when Sam finished his telling the tale. Sam and Dean were both dry-eyed. The youngest Winchester's hands were clammy, but he was unburdened and found a peace inside him that hadn't been there before. Ingrid had told him that forgiveness wasn't about freeing the other person from guilt, but releasing yourself from pain, and Sam understood. He didn't want to carry this anymore. And from this point on, he wouldn't. It was John's albatross now.

Sam placed his hand over his father's and pinned him with his eyes. "Dad, I forgive you."

"Sammy, I didn't know…" John's lip trembled and his face twisted with remorse and sadness. Sam didn't deny he was glad to see it.

"If that's what you need to believe then fine, but you saw my face and the buckets…you know what they did to me." He said trembling with conviction.

Sam was done with John Winchester and with hunting. Seeing him just solidified the fact that he couldn't go back. "I'm not coming back. I can't." He said and squeezed his father's hand. Because the love was still there, probably always would be.

Dean interjected, speaking for the first time in an hour. "I'm not either. You can contact us through Bobby."

Dean rose first, giving John a long hug before returning to his brother's side. Sam followed his big brother, lips turning upward as Dean draped an arm over his shoulder. Together, they walked out of the prison, the darkness and the evils of the past and into the sunshine, the good and the future that had suddenly been blown wide open.

Together, they left their demons behind.