Title: Her Ghost Hides In My Mind
Pairings/Couples/Category: Sam. Dean. Madison.
Disclaimer: The characters of Supernatural do not belong to me and no infringement is intended.
Summary: He can't do it. She doesn't understand what she's asking of him. This isn't how it's supposed to end. Spoilers for episode 2x18 Heart.
The room feels heavy, clogged with emotion, drenched in pain. A feeling of inevitability, of fate, hangs in the air, curling around its occupants, seeping into their clothes, grabbing them and holding them captive. As much as Sam wishes he could deny it, it's inescapable.
He glances over at Madison, sitting forlornly at the table. She sighs; a heavy, sorrowful exhalation.
"So, I guess that's all there is to it, then."
Her words are calm, resigned, and as her meaning dawns, his head snaps toward her.
No, this is not how it's supposed to go.
He's supposed to save her.
She turns to look at him, eyes wide, glistening with tears, pleading with him. His heart clenches painfully at the expression in them, breath catching in his throat as the full meaning of her words slams into him
"Stop it." He straightens, turns to face her determinedly, pushing his fear as far down inside him as he can. Although he's sure the tremble in his voice gives him away. "Don't talk like that."
She looks up, eyes fixed on him, appearing so unnaturally calm and rational that he just wants to scream at her; to make her see sense, to really understand what she's saying.
"I don't wanna hurt anyone else." Her voice cracks with emotion and it makes his heart ache for her. "I don't wanna hurt you."
He frowns, swallows, her words wrapping themselves around his throat like icy fingers and squeezing tightly, choking him with fear, with emotions deeper than he's felt in a long time.
She stands, looks down at the gun, and suddenly her intentions are crystal clear. He watches, frozen, as she reaches for it, her fingers sliding around the grip like they're moving in slow motion. He wants to react, to knock the weapon from her hand, to stop this from happening, but he can't.
"Put that down," he manages tightly, barely able to choke the words out as he looks down at her.
"I can't do it myself," she says, tearfully. Her body is so close that he's almost blindsided by her; the feel, the scent, the memories of last night all coming flooding back in an instant. "I need you to help me."
She presses the butt of the gun into his chest and it feels like a knife is tearing through his shirt, piercing his skin, sliding painfully into his heart.
"Madison,' he says determinedly, quietly forceful. "No."
She just stares up at him with wide, expressive eyes, tears sliding down her cheeks and says resolutely, "Sam…I'm a monster."
Just like that, as if she's telling him she's an accountant or something. The words make him flinch, hitting closer to home than he's willing to admit.
If she's a monster… what does that make him?
"You don't have to be." His words are quick, firm, confident… but for a moment, he's not sure if he's reassuring her, or himself. And even as a small voice in the back of his mind wonders otherwise, he forces himself to say, "We can find a way, all right? I can. I'm gonna save you."
I have to. I'm not going to let you die.
"You tried. I know you tried."
Her brow furrows, mouth twisting up, as the tears begin falling faster. But they aren't tears of fear or pain, they are tears of resignation, of acceptance. She knows what must be done, Sam can see it in her eyes. He just refuses to believe it.
"But this is all there is left."
It can't be. There has to be a way.
She's a good person, an innocent… sort of. No less than he is himself anyway. And there always has to be a way to save good, innocent people.
The thought that has been niggling in the back of his mind for the last couple of days slams into the forefront. He hasn't wanted to acknowledge it, but now he has no choice.
If I can't save her, then what hope do I have of saving myself… what hope does Dean have?
He can't face the thought of having to be put down like a dog, like Madison is asking for; can't face the thought of having to watch as Dean stands there and pulls the trigger. There has to be a way to save her, there has to. He's not giving up on this, he can't just nod and agree, because that would be admitting defeat, that would be acknowledging that he's a monster too. That he can't be saved either, that murder is the only solution.
"Help me, Sam. I want you to do it." The words are spilling from her mouth; he hears them, but he can make no sense of them. "I want it to be you."
He looks down into her eyes. He wants so much to be able to say yes to whatever she asks of him, to help her, but he can't. This isn't right, none of it. This can't be how it ends.
"I can't," he manages finally, his voice tight, resolute. Final.
"I don't wanna die. I don't." Her words are soft, firm, calm, and he believes her. The raw emotion in her voice, in her eyes, is plain to see. "But I can't live like this."
No, she's not saying this, the voice in his head speaks up again. She isn't thinking straight. This isn't the way it's supposed to go down.
But he knows that's not true. She knows exactly what she's asking him to do, what it means. She's accepted her fate; he's the one who's refusing to. He can't. Because accepting her fate means that on some level, he's accepting his own fate too.
He struggles for breath, his chest heavy with the effort as he swallows around the lump in his throat. He feels tears stinging his eyes, and he fights to contain them, to get a hold of the emotions swirling around inside him.
"This is the way you can save me." The words are quiet, pleading, begging, barely more than a strangled whisper. "Please. I'm asking you to save me."
Save her? This isn't saving, this is murder.
He's not going to murder an innocent woman. He can't. He can't do that to her, can't extinguish her life just like that. He can't do it to himself either. He's afraid of what it would make him.
Will this be his first tentative step towards the dark side? If he does this, will there be no going back for him?
He can only shake his head, pleading with his eyes for her to understand, and although her expression doesn't change outwardly, his heart breaks at the disappointment in her eyes. He resolutely holds eye contact with her, barely registering when Dean appears behind her, reaches round and gently pries the heavy weapon from her fingers.
He can't take it anymore. He has to get out of here. Get away from her pleading expression, away from the large, soulful, emotion-filled eyes that are threatening to be his fall, away from the suffocating clutches of this room. Suppressing a stuttering, sobbing breath, he takes one last glance at his brother, his source of strength, but instead of seeing pity and sympathy in Dean's expression like he expects, all he sees is his own pain reflected in his brother's green eyes. Holding Dean's gaze for just a moment, he turns and leaves the room.
Dean's heart breaks for his brother as he watches the scene before him. He can do nothing but stand on the sidelines as Madison pleads and begs with Sam to help her, to save her.
But Dean knows his brother inside out, knows that Sam's not going to give up on his determination to do the right thing… and he knows that Sam would not consider pointing a gun at the girl and pulling the trigger to be saving her.
His jaw clenches as he recalls how he was encouraging Sam earlier, teasing him about his crush, glad his brother was finally showing an interest in someone else other than Jessica. Discounting those few days with Sarah last year, Sam has been resolutely avoiding female company since they started hunting together again. Not that Dean can really blame him. He can only imagine what it's been like for Sam, losing the woman he loved like that. He's never been one to get attached to women himself; he tried once, with Cassie, and look how that turned out. All it got him was humiliation and a broken heart. He learned his lesson after that, made sure to keep women at a distance, to keep things casual and get out before emotions got involved.
Earlier, he just wanted Sam to loosen up, to have some fun. It was amusing to see his brother tie himself in knots over a girl, see him awkwardly trying to play it cool around her and failing miserably, but now, looking at the two of them together, seeing the pain and emotions playing across Sam's face as he struggles with what Madison is asking of him, seeing how she cares for Sam so much that she's begging with him to be the one to pull the trigger and end her life, he realises he's made a mistake.
This isn't just a one-time thing for his brother, this is something more. And his stupid pushing and teasing and not-so-subtle hinting has put Sammy in this heart-breaking situation, is causing him the kind of sorrow and pain that Dean wished he would never have to experience again.
This is wrong. This isn't how this is supposed to end.
He watches Sam as Madison presses the gun against his chest; every emotion is playing on his face and he can see that it's too hard for him. Sam shouldn't be in this position, shouldn't be faced with having to kill someone he cares for.
Dean is the eldest; he's supposed to be looking out for Sammy, supposed to be protecting him, sparing him from this kind of decision and heartbreak.
He should be the one to do it instead.
He's not attached to this girl, hasn't shared a connection with her, either emotionally or physically; he can see things clearly, see things for what they are. His judgement isn't clouded by emotion or feelings. Sam can only see the good in Madison, can only see the girl he likes, the woman he's known intimately, but Dean has no problem seeing her for what she really is.
She's a werewolf. A monster. No good can come of keeping her alive. She might have good intentions, she might not want to kill again, she might do everything in her power not to kill again.
But she will. It's inevitable.
Madison is begging now, tears streaming down her face as she pleads with Sam to help her, to save her, and Dean can see that it's the final straw for Sam. He's not going to give in, he can't, but his brother's heart is breaking more with every second that she looks at him.
With a resolved intake of breath, Dean stands, straightens up and slowly makes his way across the room. He reaches around Madison, eyes fixed on his brother, and carefully extracts the gun from her hand. Sam just looks at him, tears threatening to fall, his expression a mixture of despair and relief, before he turns away and walks out of the room.
Sam stops in the foyer, leans his shoulder against the doorframe, barely even noticing his surroundings. His mind is racing, overloaded with emotion. Everything is running through him at once: sorrow, heartache, fear, guilt.
How can he do it? How can he kill a human being?
How can he kill her? Take her life away from her? She has so much to give, so much to offer. It's not like she wants to kill anyone and he's convinced that if they let her go, she will be able to control it, that she can stop herself from hurting anyone again. Dean doesn't believe she can, but then his brother has always seen things in black and white. In his mind, monsters are evil and that's the end of it.
'She's a monster, Sammy. We have to gank her; it's what we do.'
Sometimes Sam wishes he could think that way too, that he could just kill all the monsters and demons without any emotional involvement, but that's just not who he is, he's not that guy.
When he looks at her, he doesn't see the monster that Dean sees, doesn't see the fangs and the claws and the ice-blue eyes, he just sees her. He sees a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman, one who impresses him, who he admires. And she's just as much a victim as the rest of them. She didn't choose this, she didn't know what was happening to her, what she was doing.
But more than that, he sees someone he can relate to, someone he feels a kinship with, who he can be himself with. They have more in common than she knows. He can see some of himself in her; he has another side to him too, a side that may well turn evil someday. He struggles with that every day, just like her.
If he kills her, then what does that say about him, about where his loyalties lie? It's almost like he'll be killing one of his own.
Thoughts of their time together fill his mind suddenly, overwhelming him. He remembers her sweet scent, the feel of her lips against his as they clung to each other desperately; the feel of her naked body pressed against his, the smooth, warm skin of her breasts brushing his chest, the feel of her wrapped around him, pulling him in, surrounding him. Their coupling was wild and desperate, igniting a flame inside him that he rarely allowed himself to acknowledge, not even with Jess. He could let go with her, really let go; in that moment, there was something primal between them, something screaming out for release, causing him to be rougher than he usually would, because he knew she could be rougher still. No matter how deeply buried it is right now, how unconscious she is of it, she has that fire now, that animal instinct. Making love with her was liberating, he felt released, unburdened, finally able to let go and be himself for the first time.
Even with Jess, there was something holding him back. Fear, perhaps… fear of exposing himself as a freak, as someone not normal; fear of doing something to cause his shiny new hunt-free life to slip from his fingers. He was never able to fully relax around her, to fully be himself.
But Madison is different. She's like him. He can't kill her.
Dean follows Sam out of the living room and into the foyer, approaching him carefully. Sam's shoulders are shaking, he's barely holding it together, and Dean feels helpless, unable to do anything but watch.
Sam flinches at his voice and Dean feels his heart sink with worry. His brother sniffs and slowly turns to face him. He looks terrible; face scratched up, eyes wet and bloodshot, facial muscles tight, like it's taking a huge effort just to stay in control. Dean regards him sadly, not knowing what to do, what to say to make this any better.
What can you say in a situation like this?
"I'm sorry," he manages finally, gesturing to the gun in his hand.
He's not really sure what he's apologising for. Sorry for your loss? Sorry your girlfriend's a monster who clawed your face up? Sorry there's no cure? Sorry you couldn't shoot her? Sorry she asked in the first place?
"No, you're right." Sam's voice is tight, teary. There are tears threatening to fall and he can see his brother fighting not to break down. "She's right."
Dean just wants to make it better, to tell Sam they got it wrong, that there is a cure after all. He wants to take the pain away, to bear this weight himself so his brother will be spared.
Yet he knows that won't happen, knows that Sam is accepting that now, accepting what must be done. He can see it in his little brother's expression. He's resigned to this now, to Madison's fate; he knows there's no other way.
Dean nods slightly, agreeing with Sam, letting him know he understands.
"Sammy," he starts, surprised to find his voice is unsteady too, to find that he's now feeling just as emotional as his brother. So he says determinedly, "I got this one. I'll do it."
He's deadly serious. He will do anything if it means shielding Sam from this heartache. Even if it will kill a small part of him inside as he does it. Despite what Sam thinks, he's not just a killing machine when it comes to monsters and demons; he has feelings too.
It's not going to be easy, pointing the gun in his hand at the woman in there and pulling the trigger. The look in her eyes as he does so will haunt him forever, but he will do it.
He'll do it for Sammy; he'll do it because it needs to be done.
"She asked me to," returns Sam quickly.
And that's the crux of it. That's the awful truth. He can see it in his determined expression; Sam will be the one to pull the trigger. As much as Dean wishes it didn't have to be this way, he knows he will hand his brother the gun and let it happen.
"You don't have to." He tries one more time, though he knows it's fruitless.
"Yes, I do."
Despite the tear that rolls down his cheek, the pressing of his lips together so he doesn't start bawling, Sam's reply is absolute. Determined. Resigned. And in that moment, he is no longer Dean's kid brother who needs protecting and looking after, he's a man. A strong, capable man who is determined, who will handle whatever life throws at him, because he has no other choice.
Sam holds out his hand for the gun, his expression pleading and full of resolve. "Please."
Dean stands frozen for a moment. Suddenly he's back in the past, looking down at a six-year-old Sammy, the kid staring up at him with pleading eyes, holding his hand out, begging for Dean to let him play with his new toy. He could never say no to six-year-old Sammy, and he can't say no to the capable man that twenty-three-year-old Sam has become either.
He feels his jaw clenching involuntarily and a lump forms in his throat, threatening to bubble up and burst from his lips in an anguished cry. He doesn't want to do this, he's praying for another way. A stray thought crosses his mind, a thought that if he hands Sam the gun, if he sets this in motion, then he'll be responsible too… they'll both have her blood on their hands.
His arm lifts involuntarily, hand shaking as he slides the cold metal into his brother's hand, his fingers brushing Sam's as he does so, and he feels how he's shaking too.
Sam adjusts the weapon in his palm, tightens his grip on it, as he looks at Dean, another tear slipping down his cheek.
"Just wait here."
He turns, takes three long, slow steps toward the living room, and then stops. Shoulders shaking and tears falling faster, he looks back at him for reassurance, but Dean can't offer him anything. He wants to run across the room, knock the gun from his hands and grab it for himself, but he can't. He's just frozen, unable to do anything but watch as Sam leaves, goes back into that room.
Sam enters the living room slowly, feeling as if he's walking the Green Mile. He finds her still standing in the same spot, back to him, head bowed. It's as if she's simply waiting; waiting for the inevitable, waiting for him to come around, waiting for him to just do it. She turns to him and he doesn't even wipe away the tears that are streaming down his cheeks. Their eyes meet and he knows she sees the sorrow in his expression, because fresh tears begin to fall from her own eyes in response.
"I—" He tries to speak, but the word is barely more than a strangled whisper.
He looks down, gestures to the gun, before raising his eyes back to hers again in time to see her nod in understanding.
It's the hardest thing he's ever done, forcing his arm to raise, wrapping his finger around the trigger as he points the silver-loaded weapon at her chest.
His hand is shaking, his breathing ragged and for a moment, he gets cold feet.
How can he do this, how can he stand here and look into the eyes of a woman he's known intimately, a woman he respects, a woman who is looking at him with that awful, resigned expression, and pull the trigger?
How can he be responsible for cutting her life short?
She sees his hesitation, lifts her head, sets her jaw and mouths 'Do it', even as tears stream down her face, her shoulders hitching with silent sobs.
He sucks in a shaky breath, lifts his other hand up to steady the gun, adjusts his grip, readies his finger on the trigger.
There's complete silence from the other room and it makes Dean feel like the world is imploding on him.
He can't breathe, can't do anything but stand there, in that spot, and fight for restraint, fight to keep himself together, to be strong for Sam, to deal with the fallout this will inevitably have.
A tear he doesn't even realise has formed escapes from the corner of his eye and slides slowly down his cheek.
It's so quiet, not a sound echoes from the living room and for a second he's not sure that Sam will go through with it. Maybe he's having second thoughts, maybe he's changed his mind. Maybe Madison has changed her mind.
He steels himself, preparing to move, to go in there, to do what Sam can't.
But it's too late.
The sound of the shot is deafening.
It almost happens in slow motion.
He watches in horror as the bullet leaves the gun, pierces her skin and buries itself in her heart. Watches as she gasps in pain, her body jerking backwards with the force; watches as she crumples to the floor, her eyes still open wide and looking right at him as the life drains from her.
For a moment he can do nothing but stare down at her lifeless body, eyes haunted, his lips parted in shock, as if he can't believe what he's just done.
He's just shot someone, just shot a woman he cares for, killed her just like that. As if it were nothing.
His arm is still outstretched, hand still gripping the gun, finger still on the trigger, and he stares at it for a moment, barely comprehending what it is he's doing with it. Shaking, he lowers it to his side, flicks the safety back on, loosens his death grip on it. He steps over to her, gently placing the weapon on the table beside him before kneeling over her body. With a barely suppressed sob, he reaches out, closes her eyes, and then, with morbid fascination, watches as the bloodstain on her shirt grows bigger and bigger.
Oh God, he realises then. It's his shirt.
She's still wearing his shirt.
Her blood is on his shirt.
It slams into him then, the realisation that this is a sign.
One day it's going to be him. He'll be the one lying lifeless on the floor.
One day, he'll be the monster; he'll be the evil one, begging for Dean to put a bullet in his chest.
Begging him to kill him… to save him.