This is a time stamp to Forged by Fire (though not necessary to be reading that story to understand this one), a bit of a teaser as to what is coming later in the story. It's written for Summer of Sam 2010 celebration on Live Journal, there is a link on my profile to the master list of all the fics, vids and art, truly spectacular! This fic is written for the episode Folsum Prison Blues.

Every warrior needed a focus.

Two souls bonded together. Without one there would not be the other.

Solitary. Merely another word for caged, really.

Sam sat hunched on the floor in the corner of his tiny cell. It was better than the huge room filled with men steeped in hate and violence, but just barely. Sam thought he'd been in prison before, that this wouldn't be much different. He was sadly mistaken.

They'd been in prison, or jail, before, a few times, but Sam had always been locked up with his brother, never alone. The difference between the Green River County Detention Center and the maximum security prison he was confined in now was galactic in size. There Sam hated the food; here he was barely permitted by the other prisoners to eat. At least inside this tiny room he was given food and water. The inmates of Green River ranged from bullies to a few who were actually sympathetic and friendly. The hardened criminals here judged a man by who he murdered and how many. Back then Sam had been afraid, but he was there to do a job and with Dean.

Now he was alone. More specifically, he was segregated from other humans, but not exactly alone.

When they were in prison before Dean had been able to talk to others in solitary, administrative confinement it was called, and while there faced down a ghost.

Sam had no contact with anyone—anyone human—not even the man who brought his meals a few times a day, sliding them through a slot in the door and never speaking. Sam was in solitary, but he wasn't exactly alone. Not if he counted the demon slithering around in there with him.

"He's not coming back for you. He's left you here to rot," she said, oozing around Sam's shoulders, smoldering black.

Sam waved through the smoky form, trying to shoo it—her—away. They'd gotten tattoos, she couldn't get in, couldn't get to him that way. Bobby had given them the charms, but it was Dean who made sure Sam could never be possessed again when he thought up the tattoo idea.

Dean wasn't here and this demon was. There were other things too, maybe. Sam wasn't completely sure if they were real or in his head.

"You know she's just messing with you, lying to you," Dean said from across the small room. He stood, arms crossed over his chest, leaning against the wall, one knee bent so his foot rested against the wall.

Sam squinted at him, rubbed his eyes and squinted again. Dean's form wavered for a few seconds then steadied. "You're not here."

"You sure? It's what you want, isn't it? For me to be in here, too?"

"No." Sam shook his head. "I'd never want you to suffer through this. I want to be out there with you, not in here."

The sultry demon slipped over his shoulders and whispered in his ear, "He'll leave you in here. He's not real you know. He's never coming. You're alone, Sam. Alone and locked away. But you have me," she purred.

Shoving away from the wall, Dean moved so quickly Sam scuttled to the side, cringing back. "Get away from him, bitch," Dean snarled and swiped at the demon's smoky essence. 'Cause, yeah, slapping a demon usually made it go away. Despite his terror, Sam still managed an eye roll.

She flowed away a few feet, smirking, which was a good trick for a creature without a face. Sam giggled; her outward appearance was black as night but inside she was ruby red. It made no sense, demons never did, but it was the truth.

"You need to focus, Sam. Keep your head, stay alert. You're a fighter, a warrior. Stay focused." Dean paced back and forth in front of him.

"But I—" Sam's words faded away. He was alone. Dean was gone. She was gone. He picked at the sole of his shoe. "Ruby red demon. Ruby." An odd thought flitted through his head, if she were to inhabit a human, would she pick a blonde or brunette? It didn't really matter, she wasn't real, he hoped.

"I can be whichever one you want."

The silly demon bitch was back. Turning his back to her, Sam stared at the wall then slid down to curl on his side. Alone, he was horribly alone. Or maybe not. He watched a small, furry creature with round ears and huge eyes scurry across the floor and through the wall. Gremlins, great. Couldn't he at least be in a normal prison that only had rats? At least two demons had made their presence known here. Then there were the vampires and shapeshifters, probably a ghost or two, maybe a shtriga, the monster count was going up, the body count going even higher and Sam was losing track. Not to mention his marbles.

The jail in Green River County, in retrospect, that one hadn't been so bad. Sure there'd been the mattress full of dried blood he'd torched and the crazy nurse ghost to toast…Sam smiled at his own wit—ghost, toast—how poetic.

Dean had been in there with him, standing valiantly between Sam and the beefy man, Tiny, who glared at Sam, running one finger over his throat. There'd been cells there and only one cellmate. Sam's stomach clenched and he squeezed his eyes shut against the tears when he remembered looking up at his new roommate before turning to see heavy steel doors slam shut. The only contact with his brother until they opened again was through the small barred windows in the doors.

The door here had no window, barred or otherwise. He desperately wanted to see Dean, the real Dean, hear his voice, feel his hand squeezing Sam's arm, hear one of his lame-ass jokes.

At Green River, during the day he'd been allowed out in the sun, roaming the exercise yard with the other inmates and Dean. Despite his fear of that place, of prison and being locked away forever, Sam still had been entertained by how easily Dean managed to clean the prisoners out of their cigarettes. Dean fit in everywhere, Sam nowhere.

That prison had been daycare compared to this prison.

Here, Sam was locked away in the dark, alone.

"You're not alone," Dean reminded him. Sam opened one eye to peer at him. He was leaning against the wall again, one foot up against it. Apparently that wall needed holding up.

Oh, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy how could you forget? You're never alone with all these friends in your head.

He wasn't sure whose voice that was, his, Dean's or the silly demon bitch who was color-me-ruby not obsidian.

"Sam," Dean snapped at him, making Sam look up. "You have to stay focused. No hiding in here." He tapped the top of Sam's head gently. When had he moved closer? "These demons are messing with your head, don't let them."

Turning away, Sam looked at the cot covered with a thin bit of mattress and wondered if he lifted it if there would be a splash of blood, like the mattress he found in Green River, the one he'd turned to ashes. He didn't want to sleep on that mattress, especially if it was covered in some dead prisoner's blood. He'd been so worried, putting flame to that mattress back in Green River, that an angry spirit would show up. He'd been alone then, too, with Dean a decoy so Sam could get into a deserted cell block and destroy the remains of a man holding a spirit to the prison.

They'd been wrong about which spirit, but finally got her, the nurse. That prison had only two; and Sam wondered how many this prison held.

In here Sam was alone, no Dean to act as decoy or stand up to other inmates with him.

"I'm here with you, Sammy, always with you. Here for you." It was the silly ruby hued demon bitch again. She caressed his cheek, making Sam turn away.

"I said," Dean was waving a hand through her smoky line again. Why he seemed to think that was the way to get rid of a demon, Sam would never understand. Dean knew better, Sam knew he knew better, Dean had taught Sam how to banish a demon after all. "Get the hell away from him, bitch."

She laughed, her smoke body shimmering with the effort. "Dean, Dean, Dean, I only want what's best for Sammy." Blowing along Sam's neck she made his hair whuff up ever so slightly.

"Stop it!" Sam shouted.

"Need to pick," she slipped behind his shoulders and eased around his body, slipping over his chest.

"Pick, Sam. Me, your brother, or the demons who aren't even here. They're in your head."

Sam snorted, as if he'd actually trust a demon. There was nothing to pick. He looked from one to the other, frowning slightly. "What's the question?"

"Focus, Sam. Warriors need a focus, you need a focus."

Well, that was pretty simple, wasn't it? He was distracted for a few seconds by another of the gremlins, this time carrying what looked like a finger in its teeth, trotting across the six foot of space. Six by six, that's how big this room—cage—was. He couldn't even stretch out. The gremlin paused near a wall, waited, head cocked to one side. A door appeared, it ambled through and the door vanished.

"Focus, Sammy," Dean pleaded.

"I'm the only real thing in here with you, Sammy," the demon cooed in his ear.

He might be crazy, but he was still a Winchester, still a warrior against all things evil. Lifting his gaze, Sam held out one hand to Dean. Crossing the small room, Dean crouched in front of him, brushed one hand through Sam's hair then let it drop to hold his shoulder, firm and solid. "That's my boy," Dean whispered.

In Green River County Detention Center it'd been simpler—he'd been with his brother, they'd faced the fear of prison together. They'd stayed focused on one another and their job and in the end fled into the night, free, safe, together.

He was alone in this prison, but not really. Dean was here with him, just in another way. Sam had to stay focused on Dean, not demons crazier than he was. He'd get through, survive and get out. Dean was out there, somewhere, working on a plan to free him. Dean always had a plan, he wouldn't leave Sam to rot, he'd be back…Sam snickered, it sounded like a bad movie line, Dean would love it.

Sam had a focus, a reason to fight and hang on. He had a brother who loved and needed him. That was all Sam really needed.

The End