Title: Soulless Meditation

Author: borgmama1of5
Summary: Dean sleeps. Sam thinks.

Genre/paring: soulless!Sam character study; none

Spoilers: After 6.08

Rating: PG13

Beta: sandymg

Disclaimer: Not mine. Just borrowing.

Soulless Meditation

It poked at him the same way that a tongue niggles a loose tooth.

At night he used to slow down. Not quite rest, just sort of be. But since he's been back with Dean, the pre-dawn time spent sitting in a dark, malodorous motel room has turned his effortlessly focused state of mind into a whirlpool of unanswerable questions.

He's well-practiced at sorting through his old memories very clinically to see where he has made wrong choices. Choices that let something evil get away. Bad decisions.

Lenore, the supposedly 'vegetarian' vampire. It made no sense that he'd argued to let her go. Helped get her away from Gordon. What had possessed him to think she and her band of vamps should be allowed to continue?

Max Miller. He was a monster. Oh, Sam hadn't known Max had the demon blood taint at the time, but his abilities marked him as 'not human.' Why had Sam wasted time trying to 'save' him? It simply was a futile idea.

Madison had turned werewolf while lying in bed next to him. He could remember crying when he'd had to shoot her. But he didn't understand why. She'd been a creature and she'd killed. Didn't matter whether she was aware of being evil or not. That she was unaware of her true nature made her even more dangerous and necessary to be put down.

Why hadn't he killed Jake at Cold Oak? He should have picked up the knife and ended it there. Walked away the victor. Then he could have played along with Azazel to get the Colt, put an end to the yellow-eyed bastard, and stopped the Apocalypse in its tracks.

Sam's eyes narrowed as he pursued this train of thought further.

He should have ended the demon when Azazel had possessed John.

He could hear Dean saying 'no' even as John told him to shoot.

Why had he listened to Dean and rejected the clearly superior course of action to rid the world of one very powerful demon for a completely ineffectual effort to save one person?

Sam could sense that the answer to that question was important. But trying to force the answer out was like trying to hold a fistful of smoke.

All these hesitations, wrong decisions, were they because his soul had been confused? Couldn't make the hard choices?

Did a soul make a person weak? Was Dean weak?

If he was, Sam should leave now and resume hunting solo.

Yet every time Sam's thoughts circled to that point he couldn't do it.

It's just better with you. That was truth. Even if it made no logical sense.

He watched Dean sleeping in the blue glow from the laptop. Still in his jeans, on top of the covers again. Like he needed to be ready at a second's notice. Like it didn't matter that Sam was on watch.

Inconvenient, to have to stop so Dean could sleep in a bed I'm not sleeping like a pretzel in the car, Sam, even if you can drive all night. If he still had the Charger he could have driven on ahead, started to scope out the next hunt…

For a year he'd hunted just fine, making confident tactical decisions. No wondering if there was another way to accomplish the mission that would have less collateral damage. Eliminate the current threat and move to the next.

Now every plan he made, he had to look at it like Dean would—keep civilians out of the crossfire, save the bystanders before eliminating the threat. Inefficient, time-consuming, and headache-inducing. Everything had to be evaluated 'what would Dean think the "old Sam" would have done?' And while not remembering the feelings that had led "old Sam" to act in certain ways was a handicap, trying to parse that relative to what Dean was expecting? That was impossible. It made hunting things so complicated.

It made being in the same room as his brother so complicated.

He had no idea why Dean latched on to behaviors that didn't seem wrong to Sam.

Mollycoddling witnesses who were obviously withholding information—he got the truth much faster when he just called them on it. Double-and-triple-checking facts … Sam conceded that Dean had been right in requiring proof that Amanda was the alpha werewolf before they turned her over to Crowley, because pissing off the demon by giving him an ordinary human was not going to impress Crowley favorably.

But Dean hadn't been interested in going after the dog who'd escaped, and that puzzled Sam. He didn't feel they'd finished the job, but Dean said to forget it, he was sure Lucky had learned his lesson.

There was a soft groan from the bed as Dean rolled over, then settled back into rhythmic breathing.

Memories played through Sam's mind, of watching Dean sleep other times, hurt after a hunt and clearly in pain. He sorted through images, each vivid, yet missing something in the recollection. He stopped at the vision of Dean, mangled and still, blood oozing from his viciously shredded chest, green eyes open wide and dead.

He remembered touching Dean's body, he remembered so much blood, he remembered … feeling what?

That loose tooth niggling again – Sam was missing something.

He stood, making more noise than was necessary as he did, but Dean was out cold.

Dammit, Sam did not like feeling … incomplete.

He'd been just fine for the whole last year. Working with Samuel and the clan, family – he knew family was important. 'Family' was a lodestone. He just knew that. So he found working with his cousins satisfactory. Competence expected and delivered. Watching each others' backs. That's what family did.

Everything had been fine until that damn djinn attack. He knew Samuel had administered the antidote, had explained that Sam'd been hallucinating, hollering and fighting phantoms.

Sam couldn't remember what he'd been fighting, though. Couldn't put any words on what had nearly caused his heart to seize. When he tried to force himself to remember, his mind would go black and he'd hyperventilate but he didn't know at what.

But he had heard the djinn talking about going after Dean.

And Sam had to go after it himself. Samuel had offered to send Christian and a couple of the others to protect Dean, pointed out that Sam had insisted Dean be kept out of hunting now that he had a normal life. And that Campbells who Dean'd never seen could stay off his radar much easier than Sam.

A logical argument.

And Sam had said he'd go anyway.

And it was really weird how different it felt to work with Dean for that short time. Kind of … better.

Was it still better after these last several weeks? He'd tried acting like he thought he should at first, but Dean didn't believe him. After the vampire mess, Dean didn't believe in him. It had seemed like a valid option at the time – a turned Dean could infiltrate the nest without risk, get information, and then Samuel could turn Dean back with the antidote.

In hindsight, he probably should have told Dean the plan. But Dean would have argued, not wanted to do it, and although Sam was sure he would have agreed eventually, a lot of time would have been lost. So Sam had just made use of the serendipitous opportunity.

And Dean had actually told Veritas that he'd thought about murdering Sam. That thought should hurt, shouldn't it? It just annoyed Sam that his act hadn't been convincing to Dean.

Unconsciously, Sam put his fingers to his face. Dean had beat the crap out of him after hearing that Sam 'wasn't human.' Sam wondered again why he had just taken it. Defending himself, striking back – it hadn't even entered his mind. He knew absolutely he could have stopped Dean, even beaten him down. And he hadn't fought back at all.

It made no sense. His instinct for self-preservation had vanished before his brother's wrath. Like Sam deserved it.

Why had he reacted like that?

Sam ran his hand through his hair. He just couldn't turn his thoughts off tonight. He'd ended up in the bathroom, splashing cold water on his face. As he wiped the drops with the scratchy hand towel, he stared at himself in the mirror. Suddenly a jagged crack superimposed itself over his face and there were two of him, one cold and calm, the other fiercely contorted. Desperate, the word slid into his mind. Fighting against something … and losing …

Sam turned away.

Not sleeping had not been a handicap until now. When he had nothing to do but think while Dean got his few hours.

He poked at the metaphorical loose tooth until Dean woke up.

Still no closer to understanding what was wrong with him.