With this story, I focused on one of my favorite episodes of Season 5, "The Devil You Know." It opened up an entire world for me about Sam and Stanford, which is all still a mystery. I'm a sucker for Sam Winchester angst, so there will be plenty to go around.

This entire story was revised on September 1st.


Chapter 1

Sam had wanted so much out of life: normalcy, safety, love, family, a permanent address. But someone, maybe even God, had decided that he deserved this life: an existence of snowballing, hellacious torment. Some force bigger than him had hand-plucked Sam to be the villain, the betrayer, the Darth Vader.

And that had forced him to do hideous, unforgivable things, like kill a demon that was wearing his best friend.

Sam stalked away—a tiger after the hunt—and felt the ground beneath him shift and drop, bringing him that much closer to hell, and that much further than all the things he'd ever wanted.

Somehow, he ended up on his knees, gripping the door of the Impala, breath chugging through him like a locomotive, doing his best not to retch or think or remember.

But his mind did anyway, conjuring up vivid flashes of parties and barbecues. The feel of Jess's fingers curled into his. The sweet smell of her skin.

He could hear the rich lilt of her voice, the taste of her tears, and the twinkle of her laugh. And while the memories were mostly balm to all of the scorched parts of his soul, now, when he knew that the love of his life, the most beautiful thing that had happened to him, had been orchestrated solely to manipulate him, it only hurt.

-o-

Sam's hair was too short. He'd gotten it cut that afternoon, and the stylist had scalped him, slathered his head in product and charged him forty bucks. He'd fought not to tug at it, and instead took a swig from the sweating longneck in his hand as his eyes swam around the enormity of the house. It was already his second year at Stanford, and Sam, the guy who never had a permanent address until he was nearly nineteen, still wasn't used to the decadence in which some people lived.

He ventured outside, where a bonfire burped sparks into dark night, and the music was so obscenely loud, the beats reverberated in his chest.

He found Brady, and his trustfund arrogance, perched in a middle of a cabana. He was drunk. Again. From the looks of the pill bottles littering the table, and his blown pupils he had also raided his parents' supply of prescription drugs. Sam sighed in disgust at his friend, who'd went away on holiday happy and healthy, and returned with an edge and a half-dozen self-destructive vices. He locked eyes with him, shaking his head and backed away. "Oh Christ, Sam, wait!" Brady weaved over to him, loose and fluid.

"I thought we talked about your drinking, ya know, when you totaled my car."

"Sam, angel on my shoulderr, straight arrow in my side. I did you a favor. That car was a piece of scrap metal. And I told you I'd...reimbursh you, dude."

Sam crossed his arms over his chest.

"Christ, Sam, relax. Take the stick out and have some fun." Brady laughed him off, stumbling as if he was trying to balance on a log and not a sandy, yet solid beach. "How many times have I told you I repay my debts?" He held up the keys to the Lexus SUV that Sam had secretly coveted. "It's yours until you're tired of it."

His face remained tight with exasperation, waiting for the condition.

"But one quick thing…dude, I need to you to entertain a girl for me. I invited her…and she's dying of boredom, and I can't have that. Can you just…show her a good time? Take her up the coast or…wooo her with Shakespeare. Use that Sammy charm."

Brady disappeared into a clutch of people before Sam could emphatically decline, and left him wondering why he was so patient with a guy who wanted to forfeit his life—and a brilliant legal career—to drugs and booze and reckless sex.

He'd never forget when he'd first set eyes on Jessica Moore…the glimmer of colored lights popping behind her like the very essence of life was telling him that she was extraordinary. The way his heart leapt upwards and his cheeks flushed in a flash of heat. Suddenly, he believed that love was an actual fall, and that it could happen in mere moments.

Sam stammered through the introduction, rattling off some embarrassing fact about Latin inscription on the pendant she wore. And then she smiled a little, head tilting towards his, blonde waves spilling onto her shoulders, "I like your hair."

-o-

His eyes popped open, swimming with sweat and tears. Sam wiped them on his shoulder, letting reality settle, letting the dream fade into the ash that it was. But the adrenaline, the jitteriness didn't recede, it intensified into a clawing burn on his skin and a hunger that ebbed from…everywhere.

He couldn't do this. He couldn't remember her and know that the purest thing in his life had been tainted. Everything else had been taken from him, and Sam had treasured his love for Jess as the pure gift it was. But it was confirmed that everything he'd touched would be poisoned. He was the Midas of the underworld. The only way Sam got out of bed in the morning was by carefully thinking about Jess and Stanford, and not all he'd lost or all he'd done, and now it was unavoidable.

He yearned to be cold and impenetrable—not like Castiel who was absorbing emotion by the day—but like he was before. He was strong and fierce and demons didn't screw with the giant hunter who didn't even need weapons or salt lines or exorcisms to take a demon out. The blood, as evil has it was, had insulated him from the daily horror show that was his life.

He needed the blood. He craved it.

In a fleeting burst of determination, Sam dug through the weapons bag, grabbing the handcuffs, but leaving the keys. He padded past Dean and into the utilitarian bathroom decked out in a mosaic of green tiles, from avocado to hunter. The trap of the sink an old, thick metal, and Sam wasn't sure if it would hold him at the worst of it, but nothing else would.

He locked himself down, hands stretched under the sink, back against the edge of the tub, long legs awkwardly bent across the length of the bathroom.

The pull came then, deep within him, a visceral scream. It hurt, but Sam knew it could be worse, even when his sweat puckered through his pores and his head ached and his stomach was knotted with queasiness.

Sam closed his eyes and took it like the monster he was.