Title: In the End

Summary: Sam is going to save the world.

Characters: Sam, Dean, Jimmy, Amelia and Claire and assorted demons.

Rating: PG-13, for the whole demon-blood-thing and adult themes

Wordcount: 1,321

Disclaimer: It grieves me that I have yet to find a way to make it all mine. In the meantime, please don't sue.

Neurotic Author's Note: Written for the summer_sam_love's Summer of Sam challenge. I am a masochist and picked an episode in which Sam doesn't figure much, because I thought it would be, well, a challenge. And it was. Holy hell. I hope I pulled off something decent, because I'm sort of not sure about this.

The world feels is out of focus. He's been alone for weeks, it feels like. Dean sits next to him in the car and is ten thousand miles away. Bobby hasn't so much as called since their run-in with the siren. Sam wonders if it's because he knows, or suspects, or if Dean suspects and told him, then dismisses the thought as paranoid.

Things blur together, like water thrown on a pastel picture. The world fades, washes out, comes back into brilliant focus every so often, so bright that it makes him reel. Dean snaps at him, because he keeps spacing out, and because Dean is on edge. Always on edge. Has been for months, edgy and jumpy, when he's not drunk or shaking from nightmares of hell. So he snaps and snarls at him, and Sam lets him, because none of it seems important, not compared to his goal. Let Dean hate him. He's entitled to hate him. Just so long as he lets Sam do what he has to.

It's not as though he has a choice, Sam tells himself. He hates every minute of it. This is just how it has to be.

They've find Jimmy Novak in a pile of rubble, but Sam is the one who feels like he's been buried alive. The silver flask is heavy in his jacket pocket. The irony isn't lost on him, since it's been empty for days.

He's not going to call her. He doesn't need it.

They corner Jimmy in their motel room, explain what being a vessel really means, that he's just as trapped as they are. They need to keep him around, Sam is convinced of this. Jimmy's body hosted an angel, and he might know something, even if he doesn't know he knows it. That's the way these things work, sometimes. Jimmy is a potential font of knowledge, waiting to be tapped by demons and angels alike. He's not safe with them, but safer than if he's alone, and if he does end up revealing what he knows, well... they can use every edge they can get in this war in which they're so horrifically outclassed.

"So now I'm a prisoner?"

"Harsh way to put it."

They're all prisoners, anyway. The world is made up of walls that are closing in, slowly but surely. Sometimes he's amazed he can still breathe. Dean asks if he remembers when their job was to reunite people with their families, and all he can think of is leaving for Stanford. Of Jess burning on the ceiling. Of pulling Dean away from Lisa. This is just another in a long line of broken families that Sam has left in his wake.

His hand closes around the cell phone in his pocket, but he's not going to call.

Sam's dreams are filled with blood, filled with her scent. She laughs, ducks away from him, and his fingers close on empty air when he reaches for her. He falls into the darkness, and strains of her laughter swirl around him in crimson eddies. When he wakens he's drenched in sweat and half-hard, twisted and tangled in his sheets. He clenches his hands over the damp fabric, grits his teeth. He doesn't need it.

Half an hour later he's outside, the night air cold against his sweaty skin, licking the inside of the flask like a dog given a plate to clean off after a meal. He closes his eyes, tasting the heady mix of copper and sulphur, and he reminds himself he should hate this.

He settles on hating himself, instead.

"Ruby, this isn't funny anymore!"

His skin is crawling. He knows Dean is worried, angry, but he can handle Dean's anger, just so long as he's still on top of this. There's only one thing that's important, and that's killing Lilith. Dean can hate him if he wants, but Sam is going to save them all, no matter what. It's the most important thing, the only thing.

The demons find them. They always do.

He and Dean get there just in time, and while Dean is trying to get a hysterical Jimmy out of the line of fire and save the woman and child, Sam can only reel backward as nothing happens when he tries to exorcize the demon. Nothing happens, except that it feels as though his skull is trying to shatter from the inside. All the colour leeches out of the world, but he catches himself before his knees give out entirely. There's a flash of hellfire, and the stench of sulphur fills the room, making his mouth water.

The demon is dead, on the floor, and for a moment he imagines going down on all fours and lapping at the blood like a dog. He's weak and shaking, spots dancing in front of his eyes. He tries to pull himself together, wipes clammy hands on his jeans. His heart throbs, pulses in his ears, and it takes another moment before he can move, but he can do this. He has to be strong enough.

He follows Dean out into the night.

"Don't you get it?" he keeps his tone level, wants to scream at Jimmy for refusing to understand. "Forever! The demons will never stop. You can never be with your family. So you either get as far away from them as possible, or you put a bullet in your head. And that's how you keep your family safe. But there's no getting out and there's no going home!"

"Well, don't sugar-coat it, Sam."

"I'm just telling him the truth, Dean. Someone has to."

Because no one ever told Sam the truth: that there was no getting out, ever. He wishes there was someone he could hate for that.

"I'm scaring myself."

It's not true, but he can't describe it. It feels like he's been falling for an eternity.

"Now for the punchline... everybody dies."

For a moment he prays it'll be him. Then his stomach lurches when the gunshot rings out and Jimmy pays the price for believing in a benevolent Heaven. It's all spiralling out of control, right before his eyes, all because he's not strong enough, still not strong enough, pinned down by a demon that, only a couple of weeks ago, he would have disposed of without a second thought.

The room fills with light, and it's coming from the little girl. From Claire. Instinctively he recoils, feels the traces of taint in him stronger than ever, stomach roiling. The demon holding him feels it too, more strongly, and he turns on her, desperate and savage, and when he pins her to the floor and the smell of her blood fills his nostrils, there's no question in his mind, not anymore. There's no time for finesse, just the heady scent of it permeating the air, and in any case she won't live long enough to feel it. Her flesh yields easily beneath the knife, and her blood spills, warm and thick, over his tongue. The taste is slightly different than with Ruby, but he can feel everything he's been missing coming back in a rush, his heartbeat loud and frantic in his own ears, mingling with hers. He feels power surging, hot and fast, through his veins, the world coming into focus, crystalline and beautiful and filled with colour and promise.

He slaughters the demon, blood still dribbling from his mouth, then turns around and, under Dean's horrified gaze, exorcizes the one possessing Jimmy's wife. Sam couldn't help any of them before, but he's damned well going to save her now. Let Dean hate him. Let the whole damned world hate him, if it means he'll save them in the end. It's all worth it, every single sacrifice.

Because, in the end, he's going to save them all.