Blood, Sam thinks, is such an interesting thing. Too little, and you die. Too much, and

One of his earliest memories used to be when he was five, and he was screaming. He didn't understand what exactly the red liquid all over his Dean's arms and chest was, but he knew it was wrong wrong wro

Now he has trouble remembering last week when he deftly applied the bandages after stumbling back to the motel, nearly

Blood soaks Sam's nights. Pounding behind his eyeballs, thundering in his ears, reflecting off Ruby's red lips as she smiles. The darkness is saturated with it. Every time it rains, Sam can't help but check the drops against his skin, half-certain he's going to find them coming down thick and red. Sometimes he has trouble understanding why no one else is suffocating when with every breath Sam can taste

Blood fills Sam's dreams. Rivers, oceans of frothing scarlet. Floods and floods pouring from a broken Dean, a dead Dean, a screaming and tortured Dean. Tiny little drops ticking against his forehead from blonde women burning on the ceiling. Sam prefers staying awake until he's gritty and sick to seeing the eyes of all the people he's let

Blood defines Sam's life. He's the fly at the center of a spider web, sticky red strands linking him to his family, his brother, to demons, to Hell. Every move he makes tugs and bleeds, lines wrapping him tighter, snapping and cutting and choking, until Sam just wants it all to

Blood is such an interesting thing, Sam thinks. Too little and you

He darts forward, pressing hands to Dean's chest. Seconds, less than seconds, Sam stared without moving but Dean has noticed. He hasn't noticed the shaking or the vomiting in the early hours or the bruises on Sam's arms or the hundred million times Sam's opened his mouth and tried to explain, to justify, to apologize, only to choke on the electric copper taste— but Dean has noticed this, this tiny less-than-a-second moment of hesitation, and it makes him turn away.

"I can do it myself," Dean growls, and Sam realizes Dean hasn't let him help patch up his wounds in a long time.

He stands alone, insides surging surging, stares down at the corpse at his feet— a human once, now covered in its own brains. Sam swallows, tries to breathe, then goes to wash the blood off his hands.