Notes: Thank you all for your reviews! They've really helped in letting me know you all enjoy this story so far. :3 Anyway this is Sam's chapter, because I think he will also be quite a focal point in future chapters and I do love Sam so~ I hope you enjoy this little chapter. I'm sorry if it's not as long, or not as good .. I'm not used to doing chapters with hardly any dialogue. I hope it's okay. :3

Disclaimer: Not mine, not ever. ;A;


Chapter 5: On The Dark Side
'slip into the dark side and cross that line'


It s been a rough year - no, scratch that. It s been hard, really fucking hard living without his big brother - without Dean. The few times he s gone without him there was something he could do. After the events of the mystery spot when he d spent six months after Dean s death searching and it had resulted in getting him back eventually, because he just hadn t stopped. And yes, he hadn t anticipated getting Dean back after the hell-hounds ripped his brother to shreds right in front him - but that hadn t meant he didn t try.

This time is different though. There s no getting him back, not again. Dean s always wanted to go out in a blaze of glory - well he got it this time. Sure, it saved the world and averted the Apocalypse, the Angels had their party up in Heaven no doubt. But for him? It fucking sucked. He s never really given thought to what it would be like without Dean. Sure, when he left for Stanford it was all about getting away from his dad and the family business, getting away from Dean who sided with their father rather than him - and that hurt. But he d forgiven Dean eventually, and even though he hadn t really wanted to leave back then, he d been glad to see his brother regardless.

He s regretted a lot of things in his life from that point on, but the one thing he regrets the most now is how little he s told Dean how much he loves him, and how much he d missed him those months when he was gone, dead or in hell. He supposes he s always thought it would just be him and Dean, against the world, against everything, supernatural or not. He never really thought - wouldn t let himself think - about Dean being gone for good, about what it would be like without his big brother protecting him, annoying the shit out of him with his stupid music rules in the car. He listens to Zeppelin a lot more now, Metallica too. Dean would be proud.

Another thing he regrets is not believing Dean on that fateful day, when his brother begged and pleaded for him to believe it was really him. But he couldn t, because it was Lucifer and he was a devil and a demon and demons lie, they always lie. Except maybe when the truth is even worse than any lie they could fabricate. So maybe it was Dean. It looked and sounded like him, so much it made him ache. So much that the betrayal he saw in those turbulent green eyes when he opened the gate to the cage made him want to vomit.

He wonders still, even a year or more later, if Castiel was right when he said it was really Dean in there. Castiel has never lied before, to his knowledge anyway, about Dean. Even now it makes him sick to think that Castiel might have been right. There are also times when he regrets giving the amulet to Castiel, if only because it was Dean s and Sam should have kept it. Because it was given to Dean from him, and it was Dean s and if Dean was gone then he should have kept it like he had before, just like he kept everything else of Dean s. But he hadn t, because he could see the guilt and weight of Dean s death in Castiel s blue, blue eyes and at the time felt it was the right thing to do. Even though he misses the little trinket, he still thinks it was best to give it to Castiel. Besides, he has the rest of Dean with him, so one little necklace missing isn t all that much.

Sam still keeps Dean s duffle in the trunk of the Impala, tucked far in the back and out of the way. He keeps the car tuned up and maintained, because that s how Dean would want it, would kill him if he did anything less. There was nothing more important to Dean than Sam and his baby. It s the least he can do and sometimes it makes the regret he feels burn a little less in his chest.

The first few months were the worst. He drank and hunted, fucked any woman who seemed interested, just to feel something other than the guilt that plagued him. It was only when he almost died during a hunt that he realized maybe he should take a break, get his head on straight.

Regret and guilt feels the same to Sam; guilt that he didn t try hard enough to stop Dean once he realized what he was going to do - that he didn t rush right into that apartment and stop him like he knew Dean would have done for him, regret that he didn t believe him, that he didn t try to save him even when Castiel had. That he hadn t tried to stop Adam-Michael-whoever from attacking Dean and dragging him into the cage - the space that was meant for him. He doesn t think the guilt and regret he felt - still feels - in those moments will ever go away. He just tried to bury them, with hunting and liquor and sex. He s turned into a real Dean Winchester hasn t he? Just like his brother, only more or less a sad copy of him. A part of him feels soulless and empty.

It was a month later, sometime in June, that he ran into the Campbells, and boy that d been pretty fucking shocking since he thought their grandparents were dead - was pretty damn sure actually. He d been on a hunt and nearly got killed when he ran into them, a small group headed by Samuel Winchester, the very man he was named after. It took a lot of convincing for them to let him go and not gank him straight away - agreed to all the usual tests. And even more to allow him to join their group - their family. He explained - though not in so many words, leaving out bits and pieces of Angels and the Apocalypse - about Dean, that he lost him and in turn felt lost as well - so so lost.

The older man had just squeezed his shoulder, clapped his hand on the back of the younger Winchester s neck and steered him silently toward their van as the group headed out, the hunt finished. It was then that Sam realized he d been crying while relaying what happened. Maybe it was that also that led the small hunter family to taking him in. It was the first time in many months he felt like he belonged, that he was doing some good instead of just wasting the life his brother left him on booze and women and shitty hunting.

There were things going down, he knew that much, but choose better to keep his head out of it. He didn t ask the questions that were bothering him and his need to know, and they let him stick around and join them on some of the smaller hunts. It was around that time that his past came back to bite him in the ass when they d taken out a small group of demons and he had their blood on his hands, literally. It was the first time since before the end of the Apocalypse that he d come across demon blood and damn if the need for it hadn t been building for a good long while now. He knew what it did to him, that it would make him stronger, a better hunter and he needed to prove himself to the Campbells that he was just as good a hunter as they were. He felt guilty taking some of the blood, a small part of him knowing that Dean wouldn t approve of this, would hate him for it. The other part of him though, the part that sounded like Ruby whispering in his ear - soft and sultry - told him that Dean wasn t here anymore and couldn t stop him. No one could stop him. No one had to know.

The trunk of the Impala now houses a small cooler filled with ice and bottles of demon blood, pushed in the back next to Dean s duffle and out of sight. Sam keeps this a secret, only drinks when it s necessary, when he s going on a hunt that he knows will be dangerous and could get real ugly real fast. No one knows and he wants to keep it that way. When he gets low, down to three bottles or less he takes off to find the nearest demon. No one asks where he goes just like he doesn t ask when they go off without him on some hunt they tell him nothing about. They don t trust him yet and that s okay. He doesn t trust them either. But they fill the empty spot inside him just a little.

When he finds what he s looking for he strings the demon up and bleeds it dry into a bucket sitting beneath it. He never stays to watch, because a part of him knows this isn t right, the part that knows there s a human in there somewhere, trapped and scared. But he s addicted and he can t care about that right now. So he leaves and comes back a few hours later. The bucket is full and the demon is dead. He cuts it down and wraps the body up, cleaning up any evidence that he d been there before ever so carefully pouring the blood from the bucket into waiting bottles, hands steady, not wanting to waste a single drop.

He calls the body in from a pay phone when he s done and out of the area, any evidence he d been there is completely wiped clean, then hightails it back to the Campbell base camp. He s halfway there when he has to pull over onto the side of the road and throw up into the bushes, barely making it out of the Impala. This is also part of his ritual of draining demons, because he knows it s sick and twisted and he s no better than what he s killing, but fuck if he can t help it, the way the blood makes him feel. Poweful and useful. He s doing good things, he knows he is. And that s how he justifies drinking it. Even if it s no better than booze and sex. Actually it s probably worse.

Sam hates that Dean was right. He s no better than a junky. But it doesn t stop him and on some level he knows that should scare him.

If anyone knows they don t ask or call him out on it, and for that he s thankful. He thinks if they do know and they say nothing it s because they ve got their own secrets to keep and as long as he doesn t pry they don t either. Sam thinks it s a good thing they ve got going. He stays out of their way and they out of his, and whenever they ask for his help or if he d like to come along, he goes and if he s hopped up on demon blood no one says a thing.

The demon blood has made him a much better hunter, he reasons, which is why he hasn t stopped yet. He doesn t let it consume him the way it did in the past and he has control over it and how much he drinks. He tries to ignore the fact he s been draining two demons instead of one lately. He has the control here, not the other way around. He can stop any time he wants. He can.

It s a month later, sometime in July, when he catches wind of a hunt. It sounds normal enough and he would have passed it up, given it to another Hunter, if it weren t for the claims that she d gone crazy. Screaming and clawing at herself, telling anyone who d listen to get him out of her . Now that, that is right up his alley. It sounds like a ghostly possession and he hasn t dealt with something normal for awhile now. It s kind of exciting really. Aside from his demon trips he hasn t gone on a real, solid hunt on his own for some time and he s eager to get back to it.

He tells Samuel he s got a hunt and he s heading out in the morning, the older man just nods and tells him to be careful and call for backup if he needs it, no matter how far away he is and to sit tight if he does. It reminds him of Dean sometimes, and he just smiles a little and nods.

The next morning at the crack of dawn the Impala s gassed up and ready to go, and with demon blood and an arsenal of weaponry restocked Sam heads out for Greenvile, South Carolina.

It s somewhere near four in the morning when the Impala rolls in and Sam stops at the nearest motel, buys a room for the next few days and heads to bed. He s got his work cut out for him doing this alone and knows he ll need all the sleep he can get. He d done some digging around on his last pitstop at a diner despite the shitty internet connection there and found claims that the woman, Mrs. Sherry Salvador, had been keeping her stepson locked up without food. If the kid was dead, like Sam suspected, then that would be the ghost problem right there. But he won t know until he starts the investigation in the morning.

Sam gets up around noon and dresses in a full suit despite the sweltering temperature that has his shirt already sticking to his back when he puts the blazer on and grabs his gear, locking the door behind him on the way out. He tosses the bag into the back of the Impala before getting in.

He heads to the diner not a block away to grab some lunch and hit up the locals for information about the case he s on, flashing his badge quickly to any one who asks for identification. He gets a few weird looks but it s not that big of a town so he thinks nothing of it. He thanks the waitress when he s finished, tipping her graciously and heads out to find the first witness, an older woman by the name of Mrs. Gilstead who first reported the strange happenings at the Salvador household.

That turns out to be a bust as she doesn t remember much anymore, about anything it seems, but Sam keeps it short and polite. The grandson that lives with her told him that Mrs. Salvador was weird and never let her stepson, David, out of the house. Ever. The kid says he s only seen David once and that was when the woman was ushering him from the car to the house a few months back and says he hardly recognized him for how skinny the kid looked. Sam thanks them for their time and heads out, crossing her name off his list and driving to the next.

Sam s halfway through his list of names when he realizes this is going nowhere fast, not that the list was all that long to begin with in such a small, closed community like this. He hadn t thought it would be this difficult, never has been before. He s beginning to suspect there might be something amiss but he s not quite sure what it is just yet. Well, whatever, he s got a few more houses to hit up before calling it a day.

The last house proves to be well worth the wait when the woman at the door, Mrs. Hattfield - a nice middle-aged woman, says she remembers the Salvadors and how tragic it was what happened to poor little David, the woman s step-son.

And you said you were ..? She asks, watching him speculatively.

Sam pulls out his badge and flips it open, Agent Perry, with the FBI, ma am.

She seemed to relax at that, Yeah, it was a shame what happened to that poor boy. I don t know how anyone could just starve a kid like that and then .. bury them in their basement. She says, shivering in repulsion and shaking her head sadly.

His brow rose at the information. So .. it s been taken care of? He asks, unsure, then looks down at his small pad of notes, seeing nowhere in there that the case had been solved.

This isn t a follow up? Mrs. Hattfield asks in confusion.

Uh, no ma am. I mean, it s not supposed to be? Boy doesn t he feel like a fool. Was his information wrong? Had another hunter gotten here first? He hadn t thought anyone was going to be on the case except him. Well, apparently I hadn t been completely informed .. He mutters a little, then smiles sweetly at the older woman.

Mind if I get the name of the Agent in charge? I ll need to speak to him at some point to get this all cleared up on my end.

Oh of course, his name was .. Agent Young I think? Nice young man, very charming. She says, smiling a little at the memory.

Sam stills, pen digging in to the notepad as he writes the name. Agent .. Young? He asks, an odd sense of dread filling him. No .. no no it has to be a coincidence. They used a multitude of fake names and sure, one of them just might be real .. but he doesn t think so. Could you excuse me a moment?

He then hustles down to the Impala parked along the curb in front of the woman s house and wrenching open the door he crawled in and pulled open the lid to the center console where they-he kept the stash of fake ID s. He flips through them until he finds the one he s looking for. FBI, Agent Young. It s one of Dean s old IDs, a younger handsome version of his brother laminated across the front. It can t be ..

Getting out the car he jogs back up the walkway to the front door again and holds up the badge for the woman to see, praying it was just a coincidence in names. Is this the Agent Young you met?

Mrs. Hattfield leans in to look closely at the ID before humming in confirmation as she nods. Yep, that s him. A little older now though but just as handsome. She says fondly and it makes his stomach plummet.

Dean.

Oh there was another agent with him too. I don t recall his name but he was polite and very quiet. She recalls, pausing in thought before nodding. Mhmm.

Another .. Sam pauses a moment and then continues as it starts to click together. Was he about this tall, short dark hair, really blue eyes and wore a tan trenchcoat?

The woman nods almost immediately. Yes, that s him. Nice young man, they seemed to get along really well. It s sad what happend to those kids, being taken away from their home like that. But Mr. Young assured me they d be taken care of, their grandparents I think took them in. Poor things hadn t even known what was going on in their own home.

Sam just nods. He has to get out of here, suddenly this small town feels much too confining. Well, thank you very much for your cooperation. He says, then departs and rushes down the walkway to the Impala, nearly throwing himself inside and peeling away from the curb.

He gets back to the motel, slams the thin door closed behind him and begins pacing. His heart aches in his chest at the thought that Dean s alive. Various thoughts run through his head. Maybe it s not Dean but a shifter .. not like it s never happened before, but he scratches the idea immediately. If Castiel was with him then he d know whether or not it was the real Dean, just like he knew before and if it was a shifter then there was no reason for Castiel to keep it alive. And secondly, since when did shifters actually help people?

But that s not really what needles him.

Dean is alive and Castiel knew, all this time and for how long. And neither bothered to contact him. Sam thinks that might actually hurt worse than losing his brother in the first damn place.

Son of a bitch!