Title: My Eyes Flew Open

Author: ghost4

Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural, Sam, Dean, Bobby, or any angels. I may have a demon or two, but not the ones on the screen.

Synopsis: One shot. Sam is introspective after killing Demon-Bradley. Tag to "The Devil You Know"

Rating: er… I think this is a "T"

Author's Note: Nothing really. Rainy day, extra time…introspection is a bitch. The blame for this again goes to Mikiya, both for the inspiration and for the beta. She doth rock. ;)

My Eyes Flew Open

Felt it in my fist, in my feet, in the hollows of my eyelids
Shaking through my skull, through my spine and down through my ribs
No more dreaming of the dead as if death itself was undone…

And I could hear the thunder and see the lightning crack
All around the world was waking, I never could go back
Cos all the walls of dreaming, they were torn right open
And finally it seemed that the spell was broken
And all my bones began to shake, my eyes flew open

~Florence & the Machine - Blinding

This is a gift it /comes with a price
Who is the lamb /and who is the knife?

~Florence & the Machine – Rabbit-hearted Girl

Anger didn't cover it. Rage was too confined of a word. Too limited. Too blunt for the howling, empty ocean that he was drowning in. Even fury was too tame a name for the surging waves of emotion that filled him. An emotion that had no name, no words, no easy definitions. It couldn't be delineated and understood and put back in its box and ignored forever. He had tried. He really had. But it was beyond his control or his understanding and he didn't even know what to call it; this thing that was as hot and raw and as burning as lava and acid. It ate at the inside of him, it had replaced his blood with fire, it bit and tore and savaged him.

He swallowed and kept his face still. He was aware of Dean riding in the seat next to him. He was aware of the looks Dean was shooting his way. And he kept it together. Controlled it. No matter how much it carved out of his soul, he controlled it. Pain meant nothing. It wouldn't kill him. Anger was wrong. It was baseless.

Even if they had stolen his innocence, killed his mother, taken his father, damaged his brother… and broken his heart.

The litany has him gasping as the nameless emotion surges again. The impotent fury and agony of loss mixing in his chest, demanding he move, he fight, he run…that he do something to just make it stop.

Dean glances at him, frowning.

He sucks it up, sucks it in. Dean doesn't need him breaking. He doesn't want to break. He knows he's unstable, untrustworthy. He doesn't need to prove it by breaking down and crying on his brother. Dean has a hard enough time dealing with him as it is. If he looses it, he will break what little faith he's managed to rebuild between them.

But that's okay. He can suck it up. He can control it.

He has to.

Because, frankly, if he started talking, he wouldn't be able to stop, and it would change absolutely nothing.

And Dean didn't want to hear it, anyway. He never has.

The flames kick him in the chest again, ripping at his heart and stealing his breath. His head throbs with a second heartbeat, one made of betrayal and fear and panic… and loss.

The double beat is too fast and too hard and he can't breathe past the knotted fists in his chest and the blackness in his head.

He can feel her death all over again. Just like the days after the fire. Raw and aching and hollow. A slow burn that leaches the life from everything – until it flares and he can't think from the pain of it.

He has to breathe. But his chest won't unlock, so the air, when it comes, is a ragged pull, hitching noticeably in the quiet car.

Dean looks at him again, biting his lip. His hands work around the steering wheel, restlessly. Nervously.

Sam leans his head back against the seat and closes his eyes.

Dean clears his throat. "You okay?"

Sam would have smiled at the reluctant tone, but he has no strength to waist on expression. Everything he has is devoted to controlling the raging beast in his chest. "Fine," he hears himself say, and thinks: liar.

He wants Dean to call him on it.

After a few seconds he knows Dean isn't going to.

He's not sure if he's wounded… or relieved.

Or maybe he's just better at hiding then he thinks he is.

Either way, the agony is passing again for the moment. Becoming that low, constant ache that has been his companion for so long he can't remember what life was like before he hurt. He can breathe again. For now.

He opens his eyes, staring at the black. The darkness churns endlessly outside his window; behind his reflected eyes.

He breathes.

They had set him up. They had given him Jess… only to take her away. They had wanted his heart broken. They had wanted him on his father's path, trying to avenge his beloved. They had killed her – and they had done it to push him, to turn him into a killer.

The dark flashes beyond his eyes, behind them.

It had worked.

It had all worked. They had offered him love, and he had taken it. He had loved her. And once he had –

They had used that love to damage him irrevocably. To revive all the anger he'd spent so long smothering. To wake the agony of loss that he'd never been able to deal with. To get him angry again.

And it hasn't stopped yet.

They are so damned clever. So good at what they do. So good at tearing people apart. At breaking them down. At destroying them.

At taking everything.

Maybe he was just like them.

Dean shifted again. "Did it help?"

He doesn't have to ask what Dean means. The agony of Jess' death had been shredding him from the inside out, and his rage was rekindled and fresh and hot. It had wanted to slip the thin leash he had it on, it wanted to get free – to force someone, anyone, to feel the same pain that he felt, the same aching, burning, throbbing sense of loss and betrayal and hate.

And, hell yes, he hated. He hated them and he hated how they'd played him from before he could remember, and he hated himself and he hated this life that he didn't want and couldn't have anyway…

And it hurt, to hate so much, to be so angry, and to have no way to stop it, to control it, no safe place to let it out or be rid of it.

He'd wanted an exorcism. That's why he'd executed the thing wearing Brady's face. He'd wanted to… be free of it all.

To be clean of it.

It hadn't worked, of course. He had stalked the demon like a cat after a mouse. And he'd known that the demon couldn't do shit to stop him. He could take anything he'd wanted from it, and it was helpless.

And he'd been faster then he'd planned, wanting it over, wanting his vengeance. But it hadn't helped. Killing the demon hadn't soothed him, hadn't exorcised him… it had only reminded him that he could never have her – and his heart stuttered with that loss all over again.

Because he wasn't like them. He'd loved her. With everything he was, he'd loved her. He loved her still. No matter how they had met, no matter the pain of their separation, he still loved her…and he wouldn't trade one second of his life with her for anything. The joy of having her in his life – of seeing her smile, of wiping her tears, of holding her body – it was worth every ounce of pain that followed.

And that was the difference. He hurt because he loved. He loved Jess. He loved Dean. He'd loved his father and he was pretty sure he loved his mother, too. He loved Bobby, and he'd loved Ellen and Jo.

He loved.

And when those he loved were hurt, were taken, he hurt… and he raged. He couldn't change his nature, but that didn't matter.

Because he did the one thing demons couldn't.

He loved.

The agony, the rage, it didn't steal his humanity.

It proved it.

"Did it help?" Dean asked again, sounding edgy. Nervous about his silence, his obvious pain.

And he loved his brother for it.

"It helped," he answered, staring into the dark – seeing the lights shine in the distance for the first time. The beast in chest still raged, but it couldn't tear at him now, not like it had.

He wasn't like them.

"Not like I expected… but it helped."