A/N: *sigh* Same song, different dance. Sorry, everyone for the lateness. RL has been kickin my ass lately, and I'm ready to either A) seek professional help or B) hire a hitman. You know how it goes. On a lighter note, ten days til season 6! Are you excited yet? I'm fricken stoked. And terrified. All the spoilers and promos are not very encouraging in the BroMo department.


Warnings: Uhm…language, angst, schmoop, and weird…stuff. This chapter kinda ran away with me, I'm assuming because of the weird last few weeks I've been having. Don't (harshly) judge.

Disclaimer: I don't think it's going to be offensive, but just in case it is, I thought I'd put this up. I mean absolutely no disrespect to our soldiers. None. I have nothing but pride and gratitude for them. I know that doesn't make much sense now, but it will later.


Sam can't see anything beyond the icy gray eyes boring into his skull. They're so devoid of emotion, of anything, that he has to question if they're even human. But they are, he knows they are, and somehow that makes it more terrifying.

Sam's own eyes burn from staying open too long and from the wafting fumes of accelerant on his clothes. He wants to shut them, but he can't. It's in the Winchester rules: you always keep your eyes on the enemy at all times. If you lose sight, lose the concentration for the briefest moment, it can be over. Sam doesn't want it to be over, not like this.

Or maybe it would be fitting, maybe it's fate. A fire in his nursery, a fire in his apartment, both of which he escaped. Maybe all this time he was never supposed to. He'd be lying if he said it'd never crossed his mind before; the idea that his mom and Jess died because of him, and took his place in the chain of death. Maybe all of it, the case, the woods, Gates, maybe it all is supposed to happen. Maybe everything is just supposed to happen.

He doesn't know how he's thinking about this, or if he even is. It's churning somewhere in his sub-conscious, pounding against the terror that's on the surface, like a person trapped in a cellar. On the outside he's crying, pleading for Gates to stop, for his brother to come, for anything to get him out of the ropes. Underneath it all, there's something else. Something that he tries not to put too much thought into.

Gates finally reaches for the knob. Sam can feel his hot hand brush against his jeans as he grasps the smooth metal. There's just so much fear; he's never been so terrified in his life, and that's honestly saying something. And there's nothing he can do, no words he can say, no prayers he can recite, to save him. It's a feeling he's not used to, because he always has a way out and if he doesn't, Dean does. Now he has no outs, no answers, and he's scared. And he can't help but wonder, is this how everyone else dies? The people who aren't hunters, who don't get the luxury of dying quick and bloody, does everyone else feel this fear? Did mom? Did Jess?

Sam hears the knob creak and screech as it begins to turn. He's screaming, sobbing, uncaring of petty things like pride and strength when he's seconds away from meeting a painful, slow end. And all he can think is not this way, not this way, not this way. Not like this.

But the knob turns, Sam can smell the gas from the stove before it ignites. The blue flame immediately catches on the kerosene, and the flames begin to eat and lick their way through cloth and flesh.

In his head, underneath his own agony and screams, he can hear Jess ask, "Why, Sam? Why?"

And then he realizes, maybe it always had to be this way.

"Sammy? Sam, can you hear me? C'mon dude, snap out of it."

Sam jolts as his eyelids pop open. Dean is inches away from him, with this brow furrowed in his classic, "you've really got me worried right now, and you better be ok, bitch," expression, and his eyes as wide as a frightened cat's.

"What?" Sam croaks, wincing as his throat burns.

"Christ, Sam," Dean groans as he settles back. Sam notices with a frown that Dean's crouched down between the two motel beds, and he was previously leaning into Sam's space.

"What're you doing? How long was I out?"

Dean rubs his hands over his face –Sam sees them tremble- and breathes before he continues, "A few hours; you pretty much zonked as soon as we walked in the room. You were screamin,' man, like full on wailing. I couldn't shake you out of it."


Sam winces, embarrassment creeping up on him, "Just a dream."

Dean glares, "Sam, a dream is when you're skipping through lollipop land or parking with Jessica Alba. That was a nightmare, and," Dean sits back up to grab a hold of Sam's face, examining his siblings eyes, "I'm pretty sure you got high off that kerosene, man. Your pupils are blown."

Now that Dean mentions it, he is feeling rather weird…kinda floaty.


"Huh," Dean repeats, "You just gave me a friggin' heart attack, and all you have to say is 'huh'?"

"What do you want me to say?" Sam mumbles.

"What was it about?"

Sam recognizes that voice. It's the same voice that demanded to know whose ass he needed to kick when Sam came home with a bloody nose and a ripped shirt. It's the same voice that refused to let Sam face Bloody Mary, even if he eventually gave in anyways. Dean's on a quest for answers, because his little brother's hurting, and he's not going to stop until he gets them. He'll even play dirty if he has to, and Sam knows it. So Sam just sighs.

"What do you think it was about?"

"C'mon, don't do this shit right now. You and I both know that this time is different from any other time, it was…I mean, he…" Dean breaks off, frustrated, "Fuck, Sam, he tried to burn you alive. Don't try to tell me that you're not messed up right now, because I'm messed up right now."

Sam stares. Dean stares back.

"So what? Not like anything's gonna change it. It's done, it's over, we're both fine," Sam shrugs, "It was a nightmare. The fumes got to me is all, made it worse."

"Dammit, Sammy," Dean sighs as he rubs his forehead, "We're not doing that avoiding shit this time. I know I'm not the king of caring and sharing, but you can't bury this too. Not this time, man, please."

Sam doesn't answer for a long time, just stares at his hands, and Dean starts to think that he's lost this one. But then…

"You're right."

Dean sits on the edge of the other bed, waiting for Sam to continue.

"I am messed up about this, but, Jesus, Dean, I was just…I was so scared, you know? It was the first time that I really had no way out. And it was the first time that I really believed you wouldn't get there in time to bust me out. I really thought I was going to die. And it was fire, and all I could think of was mom and Jess, and how scared they had to have been. If they were anywhere near as terrified as I was…"

"Hey," Dean says softly as he knocks his boot against Sam's foot, "It's ok that you were freaked. There's no shame in that. I already told you that I was wigged too. It's just Winchesters and fire, man, it's an exception to the rules. Dad would understand too."

Sam nods and exhales, "Dean?"

"Yeah, Sammy?"

"This is the third fire I've escaped; do you think…do you think maybe I wasn't ever supposed to?"

Silence fills the room like smoke, heavy and unpredictable, before Dean responds, "That's what this is about, isn't it? You think you were supposed to die in Palo Alto. Or in Lawrence."

Sam doesn't answer but Dean knows. Dean always knows.

"Fuck that, Sam."


"No! You listen to me," Dean says as he gets off the bed, crowding Sam's personal space, "What happened to mom and Jessica was bad, and I wish like hell it had never happened. I wish for it every friggin' day. But you know what? Shit happens. It just does. And you got out because dad put you in my arms in Lawrence, and because the Impala's radio fritzed outside of your apartment in Palo Alto. You got out this time because my gut instinct told me you were in that cabin. There is no fate, no destiny, that says you were supposed to die in any of those fires. Mom and Jess didn't take your place. Shit just happens, and it happens to us tenfold because we're Winchesters. That's all. Ok?"

Dean locks eyes with Sam, and doesn't give an inch until he sees the despair lessen in his little brother's eyes.

"Yeah, ok," Sam responds with a light smile.

Dean huffs, relieved that the message was received, "Good."

"And what do you mean, you didn't think I'd show? I always save your ass, bitch."

Sam launches a pillow at Dean's head, grinning when Dean lets out a squawk.


One week later.

"See the paper, Sammy?" Dean asks as the smacks the newsprint on the table in front of Sam.

Sam scans it over, "They're prosecuting Gates for the other arson cases."

"Yep. Dude's as crazy as a fruitbat but I don't think even pleading insanity will keep this guy from prison. He killed a kid."

"Yeah," Sam replies, swallowing as his mouth dries, "they ever say what his deal is?"

"Well they don't, but I took the liberty of doing a little recon cause I knew you wouldn't."

Sam ignores that. He's doing better, but they both know that he's still doing everything he can to forget about what happened, including doing research on Gates.

"What's the story."

"Gates served time overseas, right? But for most of his term he was a POW, where he and three other soldiers, were repeatedly burned. When they were finally busted out, Gates was already messed up," Dean says before he takes a bite of his burger.


Dean shrugs, "Maybe. Or he could've just been monumentally messed up from the whole deal. Something that traumatizing does shit to you."

Sam frowns, "So it wasn't even his fault."

"Doesn't make it right. I don't care why he is the way that he is, or what happened to him; he tried to kill you and he's killed God only knows how many others," Dean states as he stares at Sam from across the table.

"I know, it's just…it's sad, you know? Makes it a little easier to forgive him, knowing that he was just a victim too," Sam says.

Dean narrows his eyes like he disagrees, but doesn't say anything. If that's what Sam needs to believe to help him get over the whole ordeal, then Dean isn't going to argue with it.

"Whatever, Francis," is what he says to avoid yet another chick flick moment, and then steals one of Sam's French fries.


Dean just grins, making sure to show Sam the mushed up potato in his mouth. When Sam grimaces in disgust, he knows that things are going to be just fine.

A/N: I had a hard time ending this one so it's kinda meh, but overall, I'm fairly happy with how this came out. You? Let me know, and thanks for reading!