HELL

OR

NO HELL

By: Karen B.

Summary: Season five spoiler warning. Episode related -- The Devil You Know. After killing demon Brady…Sam needs to work off all that adrenaline pumping through his body.

Dedicated and written for my lovely friend, Ladyhawk. Thank you for the suggestion and for your sweetness. Also written…'cause I like Sam being called a 'moose'. LOL. Shrugs.

Disclaimer: Not the owner!!!!!

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Sam stood staring at his reflection in the driver side window sucking air in and out of his open mouth, salty sweat poured off him as if it was raining, yet there wasn't a cloud in the night sky. He reached for the car door, his knees buckling as he stumbled and leaned against the metal frame. He could hear Dean behind him disposing of the body. He could hear the splash of accelerant, the flick, flick of a Zippo lighter, smell the stink of sulphur and flesh combined. Sophomore Brady had joined the demon task force against his will. Brady had been his friend, a friend who had brought love into Sam's life. Even when Sam thought he was living a normal life, his life was going to pot. How could he have been played so wrong? The devil had been on his shoulder, whispering in his ear all his lousy life. Why'd he listen? It was his fault Jessica had been used from the get go -- a pleasure playground for demons -- to keep him on the crooked path of darkness. How could…how could such beauty be turned into such an act of violence?

Sam hadn't even used half the current of rage flowing inside of him, and killing Brady was the smallest of starts in releasing all the years of volatile anger he'd stored up.

"Crap!" Sam slammed a clenched fist into the roof of the Impala, denting the metal.

"Sam," Dean called from behind, his voice calm and measured. "Just wait in the car. I'm almost done here."

Sam lowered his head and gulped, his throat working over time. Get in the car and do what? Go to a motel. Take a shower, drink a few beers, watch Dean hover over him, asking him if he wanted to talk, or better yet, watch Casa Erotica as if that ever eased his pain.

Sam looked up and glanced Dean's way. Smoke and flames bellowed behind his brother making bitter bile scrap up into Sam's throat.

"Two minutes." Dean gave a nod. "Go on, get in the car."

Sam watched the flash of pain cross Dean's face, pain that mirrored his. Sam winced, he couldn't just get in the car; he was still on an adrenaline high and there was only one thing to stop the supercharged up feelings.

Run.

Dean must have sensed what he was about to do as a looming war began between eyes alone. A war Dean was about to lose.

"To hell you are," Dean said, obviously reading Sam's mind, taking a tentative step forward. "Don't." Dean's tone full of authority.

Sam flinched, turned and ran.

"Son of a bitch!" Sam heard Dean swear as he headed toward the mouth of the alleyway that would lead out onto the street. "Sammy!" Dean yelled again in protest.

The moonlight filtered down between the two tall buildings, lighting Sam's way. Dean's calls had vanished, replaced by the sound of Sam's heavy boots smacking fast and hard against the pavement. Sam sidestepped an alley cat and stumbled past a street corner hustler as he rounded the corner out of the alleyway. He raced down the near deserted sidewalk, his heart pounding in his ears, in his chest, even in the bottoms of his feet. He swore the blood flowing through his veins had turned into a river of demonic fire. Possessed Brady was right. He couldn't even stand to look at himself in the mirror. Each word the demon had spoke was like a bomb blast of total truths. Sam had denied the fact there had been a devil on his shoulder all his life, but that would explain why he always felt off kilter. Would explain why he never liked what he saw in the mirror, why he'd spent so much time fighting dad, trying to change his life, be something else, someone other than the person he had to face daily. Brady's theory made sense, once you cut through all the crap, this was Sam's hell, and no matter how hard he tried to change that fact -- he couldn't.

Suddenly, the banging behind Sam's rib cage moved upward, sticking in the middle of his esophagus -- making him feel sick -- but Sam fought the urge and just kept on running.

He'd imagined this day for so long. Finding and slaughtering the thing that had killed Jessica. He expected to feel some relief from the constant pain, but killing Brady -- the thing that had taken over Brady -- so many years ago, had only made Sam feel worse. His pain and guilt would never be quenched. The inferno of anger and grief only exploded further, threatening to burst out any open crevice. Sam didn't want to be anywhere near Dean or anyone else when that happened.

Sam didn't have to stop and look to know Dean was in hot pursuit. Sam pushed his body to move faster, his tangled hair blowing in the breeze and lips cracked and dry as he panted and gasped. His chest was as heavy as steel armor, and he urgently tried to suck in more air. He was lightheaded, but kept running, fiercely committed to the notion he'd run until his legs fell off and/or his heart purged out his mouth. Sam willed himself without thinking as if he'd been shot from a cannon. He had no destination, just needed to keep going. His body quivered, banishing all thoughts from his now aching head and focusing on nothing but running.

He concentrated once more on his breathing, to keep himself moving. In through the nostrils exhaling slowly out through his mouth.

In and out.

In and out.

He ran.

The mantra ringing in his head as he ran, his arms pumping at his sides until he could run no more. Strangely, he found himself inside a Laundromat. There were only two people inside. One, gray haired old man sitting in front of a dryer, obviously guarding his precious load of whites, and a busty redhead behind the counter staring at a crossword puzzle; while chewing on a pencil. She glanced up nervously as Sam took a seat near the front door. He sighed, just needing to rest a moment and think. Just as he plopped down, the ringing of his phone startled him. Reluctantly, Sam pulled the phone from his pocket and answered, knowing exactly who it was. Before he could even try to say a word, the voice on the other end bellowed in his ear, nearly rocking Sam off the chair.

'What do you think you're pulling!"

Sam choked, so out of breath his ability to talk damn near strangulated him.

"Damn it, Sam! Why couldn't you just wait in the car?"

Sam grunted an answer.

Dean huffed and puffed. "You're like a friggin' choo-choo train. When'd you learn to run like that?"

Sam bit into his lip.

"This is stupid, Sam. Listen up…I want you to tell me where you are and I'll go back and get the car…come pick you up."

"F'n," Sam panted. "D'n, 'em, fine," he said his voice reedy and limp.

"Don't sell me, man," Dean spat bitterly into Sam's ear. "You are not fine."

"Deeaaa." Sam's throat muscles strained as he tried to talk. "Jus' nee-te-te-be 'lone."

Sam disconnected the call, dropping the phone back into his pocket. He peeked up at the Laundromat clerk behind the counter. Experience told Sam he better book before the cops showed up, or the clerk had time to plan a pepper spray attack. Sam shot up out of the chair, gave the clerk a weak smile and ran back out into the night.

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Sam tried to concentrate on the sensation of breathing as he started to run once more twisting through the city's filthy alleyways, and closely packed storefronts, like a rat searching a maze for cheese. He shot across the street, blindly dodging the light traffic. All he could see was Jessica burning on the ceiling. All he could hear was his own voice screaming -- with obsession -- her name. He let her die.

He should have known. He blew it. All of it. He remembered their first kiss. The taste of her mouth, her soft smile, the press of her fingers along his cheek, throat, chest, her moist breath whispering, 'I love you' in his ear. He'd almost had that normal life, but 'almost' had died on the ceiling while Sam watched.

With the energy of a catastrophic whirlwind, Sam ran harder, his insides completely bundled in a tight knot. He ran and ran, like a zombie. His mind empty, save for Jessica's ghost lurking in the shadows.

How long and how far he'd run, he couldn't be sure. Sam stepped around a sign that read 'bridge closed for repairs' and he slowed his run down to a jog.

"Jess," Sam uttered in a shaky, confused and hurting voice.

His shoulders slouched as he staggered along. He could hear the flutter of pigeon's wings and the rush of the river far below. Sam's mind drifted lazily back to a beautiful July day; when he and Jess had spent a peaceful afternoon under a bridge along a creek bed, skipping stones and staring longingly into one another's eyes.

Sam wrapped his arms around himself. He was exhausted, the empty road before him swimming and wavering. He lifted a hand to his mouth, coughing into his fist, desperate to catch his breath. The wind blew, a tundra-like chill racing through his thick jacket causing him to shiver uncontrollably -- or was that the adrenalin finally leaving his body.

Sam took a few more faltering steps, shuffling over to lean against the rail of the dilapidated bridge, flecks of dirt and gravel spitting out from under his boot and falling to the river below. Sam looked down over the safety of the rail, it was a lethal height and the river ran wild causing his vision to blur.

"Should have known better than to go chasing after rainbows," he growled.

A hunter had no business in the life of the normal, and happiness at the end of rainbows was just pure imagination. Perspiration dripped fast down his cheeks and Sam's eyelashes fluttered away the drops, clearing his vision. The rail he leaned upon shimmied. Surprised by the loose handrail, he tried to step back but a gust of wind slowed his effort. Sam felt a nervous pitch roll his stomach like dough as the guardrail began to give way.

"Saaaaaaam!" Something rock-solid slammed into his side, propelling him with force to the ground.

"Guh." Sam went down hard, scraping his knees on the pavement.

He tried to push himself to his feet, reach for his knife, but rough hands grabbed him by the jacket and brutally drug him up. "What do you think you're pulling?" Dean's panicked voice sunk into Sam's ears..

"Wha.. Wha… talking about?" Sam's throat muscles strained as he spoke.

"What the hell are you doing…trying to kill yourself?" Dean questioned, eyebrows arching high on his forehead.

"Wha', no," Sam said in sluggish surprise, trying unsuccessfully to move a muscle as he stared at Dean's flaring nostrils.

"Idiot, you fall, you won't go far. You know full well Lucifer will just twang your ass back up like a rubber band."

"D'n." Sam could hardly catch his breath and it took all his attentiveness to try to relax. "Wasn't…" His legs felt wobbly, like crepe paper.

"Bullshit." Dean gave Sam a good, hard shake.

"Get away." With the last of his strength Sam wrenched away from Dean. Damn it, he wasn't trying to kill himself he just needed to run. "Jus…needed to…"Sam's breath was whipped away as he plopped back down to his skinned knees. "Get away. Run off steam."

Green eyes stared down at him worriedly.

Sam shook his head in silent apology, barely able to talk past the burning dryness in his throat. "Swear."

"Hey, sorry, buddy." Dean crouched before Sam, reaching out a hand but not touching. "Sam?" He studied Sam's face, making no further move toward him. "You scared the crap out of me is all."

Sam trembled weakly, his long legs twisted beneath him, and his diaphragm lifted his ribcage upward and inward in heaving, painful breaths.

"You're a mess," Dean laughed lightly.

Sam shook his head. "You…." He reached out for Dean, his skin tone pale and sweating, patches of black dancing, threatening to take him into darkness. "Th--think." Sam teetered sideways, sucking at air.

"Dumb ass." Dean grabbed hold of Sam, warm fingers curling around his biceps and holding him up. "Easy, okay, pal? You're hyperventilating."

Sam coughed sucking air in unevenly, the wind drying his sweat soaked hair and chilling his body.

"You gotta slow your breathing down, Sam. You're crashing." Dean eased Sam to the ground with him. "Lie back," he instructed putting action to word as he pulled Sam against his chest.

Sam stared up between the bridges girders at the swirling black sky. "C..can't breathe."

"Close your eyes a moment."

"Sam closed his eyes groaning as his chest hitched up and down at too fast a pace. His energy was spent, and the bridge they sat upon began to spin round and round, like the flippin' Wheel of Fortune -- where he'd stop was anyone's best guess.

"Okay now open them."

Sam opened his eyes his brother's face whirling and distorting before him. "Now, watch me, Sammy. Watch me and do what I do."

Like an off tune radio Sam could hardly keep dialed in to what his brother wanted him to do. He struggled to keep with him, but the background noise of a buzzing streetlight in his head made it difficult. Sam breathed in deeply and out evenly, slow as he could watching Dean as he did the same.

"Come on, bro, you can do it. Follow my breathing."

Sam choked and coughed at first, struggling to slow his breathing down and keep from passing out at the same time.

"Ti…" He closed his eyes, wheezing, "ti--red."

"No, no, no open 'em up. Come on Sam, look at me. Look at me." Dean's voice beckoned.

Sam opened his eyes once more, and began to synchronize his breathing with Dean's.

"Deep breath. Good. Exhale slowly," Dean whispered in his ear. "You got it Sam, that' s it keep it up," Dean encouraged.

"Umph." Sam dangled limply in his brother's hold, his breathing more even.

"You okay?" Dean asked.

"I miss her."

"That'll never change." Dean swiped a tangle of strands off Sam's sweaty forehead. "And my bet is, you wouldn't want it too change. Right, Sam?"

"Right, Dean." Sam struggled to stand.

Dean wrapped an arm around his waist getting Sam to his feet. Sam tried to disguise the fact he was done in, but he swayed, losing all feeling in his legs doing a slow slide back to the ground.

"Car's not far at all." Dean clasped tighter to Sam's waist. "I can go get her if you can't…"

"Just point me in the right direction and don't let go," Sam murmured, titling sideways.

"Never letting you go, Bull Winkle." Dean gave Sam the 'we're-gonna-be-okay-nod' heading him to where the Impala sat at the end of the bridge.

"That's good to know…what'd you just call me?" Sam frowned.

"You're a damn moose," Dean panted, sizing Sam up.

"You're just jealous," Sam said smugly.

"Of what?" Dean leaned Sam up against the car, opening the passenger door.

"I'm hung like one and you're not."

"Why the hell would…you're not…I'm…so you're...and I never. Dude! Just get in the fucking dented up car."

Both men got into the car. It was time to roll up their sleeves and get back to work -- because that's what Winchester's did -- hell or no hell.

The 'blah…blah…end…she shrugs…really wrote this in a hurry. Hope it came out okay.