AN: Thought-up and written today…A tag to the end of 7x06 because I needed something to hold me over until next week!

Do you ever get tired, Sam?

Sam sits on the side of a road he doesn't know the name of, outside a motel he hasn't checked into yet, and ignores the question burning in the air. His legs are bent uncomfortably, too large to fold between sidewalk and pavement. The backpack on his shoulders is weighing him down, the bag in his hand dragging him toward the ground. His posture screams defeat and he knows it, but isn't sure if he cares anymore.

Dean is gone and Sam's alone, but by choice, and while it makes sense why, it makes no sense at all. Nothing makes sense anymore. He thought it did, and it did, but then Stone One crumbled and Gotta start sometime never began. Dean doesn't trust him, but can Sam really blame him when he doesn't even trust himself?

He doesn't think he can blame Dean anymore. He can't blame himself either because while it was always his fault, it was never his choice. He served his dues, is still serving his dues.

Do you ever get tired?

Sam's hand is trembling because he can hear everything now. The things that he couldn't before, the things that Dean stood in front of, blocked. Now the Wall of Dean is gone, and all the nasty things he couldn't see or hear are there.

A car speeds by and the gust of air pushes the hair off Sam's face, an exhilarating flurry that leaves him sucking in a deep breath and God, it feels as if he hasn't breathed in forever.

He clenches his teeth as he hears the question repeated again.

Do you ever get tired?

"Of what?" he whispers roughly.

It could be so many things. It is so many things.

"Running away?" Sam wonders aloud.

There's no response but for the hum of traffic slipping past him, slipping away.

And though he doesn't answer out loud, he is. He's tired of running away from the one thing that grounds him, but it's instinct, and when his feet hit the ground, Sam just can't seem to stop them from carrying him so far away, too far away. He's tired of seeing that look on Dean's face when he takes that first step backwards. The tense mouth that screams I dare you to leave and the broken eyes that whisper Please don't go. Sam can't stand the sight of it, nor can he stand the tiny crack he feels expand in his chest every time it happens.

But he keeps doing it. Because it's instinct.

And he hates doing it. Because this dirty sidewalk on the side of the road isn't any more fulfilling than Stanford was, and whatever he's searching for isn't engrained in the stained pavement any more than it was written in the acceptance letter he'd hoped would change everything.


That part kills him, too.

Because it always takes him running away in search of anything for him to realize that everything is right in front of him, wearing a leather jacket and cocky grin.

But Dean doesn't wear that jacket anymore. Dean doesn't smile as much as he used to. Dean doesn't trust him.

Why should he, when all Sam does is run away?

Do you ever get tired, Sam?

"Of what?" Sam's voice is exasperated and he knows it. He also knows that he looks quite insane, talking to himself on the side of a road, traffic whizzing past, just sitting there. But if he looks insane, it's only because he is, and Dean isn't around to tell him otherwise so there.

The question rolls around in Sam's mind…Tired…of what?

Of screwing up? Well that one's too easy. Sam screws up because Sam is just too damn good at it to stop. Recounting all his failures would take longer than forever, so long that centuries in Hell only barely covered his expanse of iniquities, and he isn't even sure if that's true anymore.

Of hoping maybe? That'd be a good one. Sam hopes too much, thinks about the good too much. It ruins him. When Dean had conceded and handed his trust over to Sam, hope filled the younger man, sealing all the Hell-sized holes and Lucifer-shaped cracks. Because it was Dean and he trusted him and he doesn't know how long he's been waiting for that, but it might just be his whole life.

The hope got him nowhere except this rough place where sidewalk meets pavement and thought meets disappointment.

It's starting to rain, but Sam doesn't move. Pellets of water strike his cheek, sending moisture down his face in rivulets, soaking his clothes and curling his hair.

He still won't answer the question. Because maybe it means tired of…of just being. Existing in this whirlwind of hurt and mistakes and regret, never able to hold onto that one thing that makes it all worth it.

Sam left Dean. He walked—no, ran—away like he always does. But Dean doesn't trust him anymore, maybe he never did. And if Dean doesn't trust him, then how is he supposed to find a way to combat the sounds and sights that are everywhere, the things that used to be quiet, but now sound like everything, consuming him, burning him, even as the rain pours steadily.

He can hear the quiet defeat of Dean's "All right. Sorry, Sam." In fact, he hears that more clearly than almost anything else.

Do you ever get tired, Sam?

Of running, of screwing up, of hoping, of being?

The words are still hanging there, exposed and vulnerable, but demanding an answer. With a mixture of fear and sadness, Sam realizes that he doesn't know who's asking him this, over and over. All he's sure of is that he can hear everything, and it's pounding against his skull like the heavy pounding of feet on pavement, feet running so far away, too far away.

His hands are shaking with the volume of endless voices and the vision of things he wishes he didn't understand.

The rain pours down, giving the world a heavy weight to it.

Do you ever get tired?

Sam digs his fingernails into the tender flesh of his palm, and pretends that the broken "yes" doesn't come from him.