Words: 1,908

Genre(s): Angst

Rating: T

Type: Supernatural (Gen)

Disclaimer: Kripke's toys, just playing…

Spoilers: Up to the end of Season 3

Warnings: None

Characters: Sam W

Summary: Dean gets torn apart by Hellhounds; Sam goes on a bender….

Sam groaned as soon as he realised that he was conscious. A marching band was doing a noisy quickstep in his head, his mouth felt dry and fuzzy, and his stomach was churning. These clues led him to one inevitable conclusion; he was starting to sober up. Eyes still tightly shut Sam reached an arm out and felt around on the night stand for a bottle. He found a glass and drank deeply, almost spitting the liquid out in disgust when he realised that it was water. He felt around some more and came across a small plastic bottle which rattled when he shook it. Grimacing, Sam reached downwards; perhaps he'd left Jack, Johnny or José on the floor beside the bed? He found only a trash can. Sam frowned, and regretted it immediately. The miniscule movement caused the marching band in his head to increase its tempo and he had to swallow hard a couple of times to avoid hurling. Sam had no idea what day it was; no idea how long he'd been out of it for. He didn't know where he was, how long he'd been here or what he'd been doing. Once upon a time that would've freaked him the hell out, but since they'd gotten their tattoos, demonic possession wasn't something he had to worry about. Besides, the fleeting flashes he was getting showed him a dingy motel room and a lot of amber and clear filled bottles; and the mother of all hangovers he was currently sporting? Yeah, that was a clue to his recent activities as well.

Sam's brain may have been drink-addled, but not much got past his geek boy, college-educated intellect, even in this state, and he was still capable of rational deduction. If, he reasoned, he'd put water, Tylenol and a trash can next to his bed, it seemed logical to conclude that before turning in for the night, it had been his intention to sober up. Sam groaned again. Why the hell he'd thought that was a good idea, was anyone's guess. Sobriety brought memories with it and memories brought pain; the sight of Dean being torn apart by invisible hellhounds; the harsh sound of his brother's agonised screams; the smell of sulfur mixed with fresh blood; the feel of Sam's own body pinned immobile against the wall, too helpless to even wipe away the spatters of Dean's still-warm blood; the salty taste of his tears as they cascaded down his cheeks and over his lips - lips parted in their own shouts of horror. And that feeling; panic, despair, terror, desperation, shock, disbelief, no, no, NO, NO, NO!, NO! NOOOOO!

Sam choked back a sob. He never wanted to feel anything again, ever, so why in God's name he'd thought sobering up would be a good next step was beyond his comprehension.

Once the floodgates had been opened, memories came thick and fast: Lilith blasts him with white light and he's happy; he's not going to have to survive without his brother. The white blast rolls off him without impact and Lilith panics and smokes out. He staggers to Dean's body and holds him close, rocking and crying. He's quiet, too quiet until Bobby starts to make noises about a funeral pyre and then he loses it. They argue violently, Sam insisting that Dean will need a body to come back to. He wins the fight and they bury Dean, lowering him into the ground and covering him up. Sam vows that he's going to get his brother back, whatever it takes. He takes off in the Impala. He can't be around Bobby, it hurts too much. His grief is too raw, too painful and all-consuming. He can't even stand to be in his own skin, to be here and alive. He buys a bottle of whiskey, the first of many.

Sam struggled to shut the memories out, but it was hard without the numbing effects of hard liquor. It was a bad idea, not being completely trashed; a bad, bad idea. Sam wondered if he was actually sobering up out of necessity rather than choice. Maybe he'd simply run out of alcohol and money? Maybe he should take stock of his situation; get cashed up if necessary, buy some more booze. A little voice in the back of his mind told him that Dean had paid a very high price for Sam's life and treating it with such reckless disregard seemed like a piss poor way to repay him. Sam told the voice to go screw itself. Dean hadn't even lasted a day without his brother before he'd run off and sold his soul to the nearest damn demon he could find. What the hell had made him think that Sam would survive his death any better? How dare he? How dare he leave him here to carry on alone? Sam had only ever wanted to get away from the Life; not from Dean; never from Dean. Didn't his big brother understand how much he needed him? Without Dean, Sam knew that he was in real danger of turning into their father; driven, possessed, a solitary vessel of rage and loss and obsession. Dean kept him human. Without Dean he was…..lost.

Sam opened his eyes and twin lightening strikes penetrated his eyeballs and seared his brain. It was the last straw for his stomach and Sam lurched for the trash can as his stomach finally rebelled and hurled its contents up his throat and out of his mouth. He sat hunched over the trash can, eyes closed, shuddering and retching. He had nothing left to vomit long before the heaving finally stopped. When the retching and trembling stilled and the world stopped shaking and spinning, Sam stretched his long legs out in front of him and let his head loll back against the bed head, arms still clutched tightly around his make-shift bucket. Having survived that movement, Sam cautiously opened his eyes and pain stabbed his brain again. He felt dizzy and nauseous, his head was pounding, blood was roaring in his ears and he felt as though he was going to pass out. And he absolutely deserved it; all of it; everything he was feeling. Because Dean was in Hell. And however bad Sam felt, he was willing to bet that Dean felt a million times worse. Dean didn't deserve the agonies of Hell; he'd gone willingly to save his baby brother and Sam had let him down. For all his college education and lawyer training he hadn't been smart enough to get Dean out of his deal. So if Dean was going to have to suffer, than it was only fair that Sam should suffer too. Bring it on, he told the marching band grimly, do your worst, I deserve it. After a while though, refusing to take the Tylenol out of some stubborn, stupid, completely inadequate sense of solidarity started to seem, well, stupid, stubborn and completely inadequate. Sam had a hangover; Dean was being tortured in Hell. There was no comparison. Besides, the state he was in now, the state he'd been in since they'd buried Dean - Oh God; he couldn't even think it without the desire for oblivion washing over him - there was no way he could make good on his vow to get his brother back. So Sam took three Tylenol and then heaved himself out of bed and inched his way carefully to the bathroom. Facing himself in the mirror was hard; it seemed so wrong that he should still be here when Dean was…..Sam made himself meet his own eyes and grimaced. He'd quite honestly seen healthier looking corpses. His eyes were red-rimmed, blood-shot and encircled by huge, black bags. His skin was pallid, his hair was lank and, Sam sniffed, he smelled disgusting. He stripped his clothes off slowly and checked himself over; he had no new scars, gashes or bruises as far as he could tell, but he did seem to have lost a few pounds. The shower was riddled with mildew and the shower head and taps were rusty, but Sam braved it anyway. The water pressure was practically non-existent and he ran out of hot water after less than three minutes. He toweled himself dry with a grubby towel, wrapped it around his waist and went back into the motel room. He hadn't really taken in his surroundings before, but Jesus Christ! What a dump. This place was seriously low rent, even by Winchester standards. Sam was too scared to count the empty bourbon and tequila bottles, but there were at least ten. He found his wallet in a dirty pair of jeans on the floor and his earlier supposition proved correct. He was down to his last twenty bucks. He hoped to Christ one of the credit cards still worked, but in the meantime it looked like he was going to have to sober up enough to earn some money. Sam found a pair of track pants and a sweatshirt that were more or less clean, got dressed, then sat down on the edge of the bed. He was so glad that Jess wasn't around to see how hard he'd crashed and burned. Then again, if she had been, maybe none of this would've happened. Sam shivered. He wondered what his friends at Stanford would think if they could see him now. He'd been such a clean-cut, mild-mannered, hard-working student at college; now he was just a messed-up drop-out, well on his way to developing an addiction to alcohol. A wry grin twisted Sam's mouth. Let's not forget felon. Dead felon, to be exact. Sam assumed that the FBI had been down to Stanford to interview his lecturers and classmates, back before Henricksen had learned the truth. He'd tried to picture it more than once, to imagine the shock and disbelief on the faces of the people who'd thought they'd known him: Sam Winchester? A grave-desecrating murderer? No! He seemed like such a lovely young man! Sam snorted. No-one really knew him; not even Dean. If Dean could've seen the darkness that Sam could feel blossoming inside him, maybe he wouldn't have been so gung-ho to give up his life for him. Christ, he needed a drink.

Sam crawled back into bed and waited for his hangover to pass. As soon as he felt up to it he would go out and do a little pool hustling. Then he would buy some more booze. He'd try not to get so wasted again, but it was probably going to be a while before he was ready to face life without a numbing haze between him and the world. Besides, he was going to have to sleep sometime and he couldn't see that happening easily without the aid of self-medication. His next task, after re-stocking his alcohol supplies, would be to find himself a crossroad and summon a demon. Lilith wanted him dead, and he could arrange that for her. He wouldn't even ask for time; he'd just ask to trade places with his brother.

Sam drifted into a fitful, fretful, nightmarish sleep, but when he awoke he felt much less nauseous and the marching band had been reduced to a single tom-tom player. He lay still for a moment, trying not to think about anything, and then he sat up reluctantly.

"C'mon," he muttered to himself, "You've got work to do."


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