The Monsters Inside
"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." -Stephen King
Although he doesn't remember it, Sam witnessed his mother burning on the ceiling the night of the fire. He saw her blood sprinkle down like a leaky ceiling. He listened to the wail that woke up his father. He heard his father yell for her. He felt his utter panic as he picked little Sammy out of the crib and handed him to his brother. He felt Dean's tiny arms clutch him to his chest protectively as he ran outside.
And he wouldn't know for many, many years, but something else happened that night. Right before the fire that changed the course of his life. The yellow-eyed demon stood over his crib and bled into his mouth. The demons blood trickled inside him, where it would stay for the rest of his life. He would grow up feeling like a freak, like a monster, and never know why.
When he was little, Dean would cuddle up beside him, and tell him stories.
They would change every night, and Sam never wanted to hear the same story twice. Dean would tell him about cowboys off on adventures, and princes and princesses fighting off dragons. He'd tell him about friendly sharks and evil penguins. Really, whatever he was thinking of that night.
Through these tales, Sam recognized a pattern. Every story had two things: a hero, and a villain. He yearned so badly to be the hero in one of Dean's stories. He wanted to save people, to take down the bad guys.
Yet somehow, he could only ever picture himself as the villain.
When playing cops and robbers with other kids his age, Sam always wanted to be a cop.
He just wanted to be the good guy, whether he won or not. Even if John didn't seem to like cops that much, he knew that cops were on the good side- people trusted them. That's all he wanted. To be good. To be trusted. To be pure.
Monsters aren't real.
That's what Dean told him when he had trouble sleeping. He never could get a straight answer from his father, but Dean insisted.
"Besides, Sammy, if there are monsters out there, you know I'll protect you from them, right?" Sam agreed, calming down and lying back in the bed. Dean wrapped his arm around him, and Sam held onto his brother like a lifeline.
It was true, he did believe Dean would protect him. That was back when he thought the only monsters were big scary creatures with claws.
John and Dean came home, late.
Neither of them would tell Sam what had happened while they were out. Something must have gone wrong, the way they were acting. John wouldn't look at Dean, at all. He focused his eyes on Sam instead, even while he barked orders at the middle Winchester. "Get your brother something to eat, would ya?"
Dean kept looking back at their father, with an expression Sam couldn't recognize, as he led Sam into the kitchen. He looked to be on the verge of tears, which is not somewhere Sam saw his brother, often. Dean reached up to get something in the cabinet, and his shirt rode up a bit. Sam could see distinctive marks and bruising on his brother's side.
Sam would later learn that his father and brother hunted evil, but it was then that he started to wonder who the real monsters were.
Sam had never been on a hunt before, and he had no idea what to look for. How was he supposed to know that the skinwalker was posing as a park ranger. How was Dean?
The monster was hidden in plain sight, hiding behind a friendly face and a fake badge, much like John did all the time. He and his brother believed it's lie, and they almost payed the ultimate price for it.
Sam knew his father was mad. He almost believed he had a right to be. "Monsters are everywhere, Sam." His father would later scold him, as if Sam wanted to get caught by that thing. "You never know what they look like. You have to learn see them, blind."
It would be a long time before Sam truly understood what that meant.
Sam knew he was different. He knew there was something unnatural about him. He could feel it to his very core. He could feel it in the blood flowing through his veins, reaching every extremity, every part of his body.
He tried to ignore it, like Dean told him to, but he couldn't. How could he? That feeling was always there. No matter how helpful he was on hunts, no matter how many people he saved, he could still feel that omnipresent evil.
There was something inside him, and he hated it. It separated him from his friends, from his class. But unlike hunting, it separated him from his family, too. From Dean.
He didn't want to be different.
Sam's friend, Taylor, came into school one day with a black and blue bruise on her arm. When the teacher noticed it, she claimed she got it from falling off her bike. The teacher sent her down to the guidance counselor. Taylor never came back.
A few days later, a man in a cheap suit and coffee-stained tie came into their class to talk to the students about life at home. He took each one off to the side, individually, and asked them some questions.
"Do your parents yell a lot?"
"Do they ever hit you?"
"Have they ever touched you somewhere you didn't want them to?"
Sam answered all his questions, honestly. "Yes... no... no..."
The man asked a few more questions before sending him back to class. As Sam went to leave, he heard the teacher remark to him, "Can you believe it? Poor Taylor. I can't believe it- her parents seemed so nice. And yet they were really such monsters."
"I'm a monster!" Sam bawled into Dean's now tear-soaked chest. "I'm a monster..."
Sam felt Dean's comforting hand brush against the back of his head. He felt like a little kid, but he didn't care. He needed his big brother. "You're not a monster, Sammy. Trust me, I know monsters." Dean's voice was nurturing, but there was something else there, too. Fear?
Sam shook his head, burrowing his face deeper into Dean's shirt. "You can't see it, Dean, but I know it's there. I can feel it."
"Dad can see it, too. The way he looks at me..." Dean apparently didn't have anything to say to that, as he stayed silent. Sam just cried for a long time, and Dean let him. Sam felt safe in his brothers arms, but he still couldn't escape that feeling that something evil was inside of him.
Dean was drunk, and Sam was still fuming from his fight with John. "He's insane, Dean. I can't deal with him, anymore." Sam didn't want this life. He didn't want to hunt. He didn't want to live in motel rooms and abandoned buildings. If only his father could understand that. But all he saw was the hunt.
"Givem a break, S'mmy..." Dean slurred from the couch, his fingers wrapped abnormally tight around a beer. It made Sam even angrier to see his brother like this. How could he do that to himself when he knew what drinking did to John? He wasn't even nearly old enough... "He's just tryin' to keep you safe..."
"He is not!" Sam argued, yelling louder than he really wanted to. His brother was never going to listen to him. He just wanted to defend their father, as always. Dean was smart, but he was blinded when it came to John. Sam couldn't stand it; he had to get out of there. "He's only looking out for himself and his own obsessions! It's like he won't stop until he's killed every monster out there!"
He didn't even look at Dean as he spoke. Sam was already halfway out the door, jacket in hand and no destination in his head, when his brother finally got the words out. "He can't kill all the monsters, S'mmy... Sometimes the monsters are inside."
The door slammed shut behind him.
The blood poured out of his bare, pale skin, running down his arm into the bathtub. The water was turning red around him, almost mesmerizing so. He watched it flow out, and somewhere, in the back of his mind that was clouded with pain, he prayed that the evil inside would flow out with it.
Sam waited to come out of his room until the yelling had stopped.
He heard the front door slam shut, indicating that John had left, angry and most likely drunk as hell.
Sam opened his door, slowly, careful not to make a noise- not to be detected. He peeked out, and found Dean in the living room, sitting in the middle of the floor. He was turned slightly away from him, but Sam could still tell he was crying silently, holding his left arm close to his chest, as if it were hurt.
Sam backed away and retreated back into his room, leaving Dean to cry alone. He knew his brother wanted to maintain the illusion that he could fight any monster that came his way.
Every monster he killed, every 'evil' he stopped, Sam couldn't help but wonder if some of them really deserved it.
Maybe not all monsters were truly evil. Maybe some of them didn't want to be what they were. He knew he didn't.
He wondered if John knew what was wrong with him. He could see it in his father's eyes when John thought he wasn't looking. He looked at his son like he was one of the things he hunted.
Sam constantly worried that one day, the monster inside him would just take over, and his father would see no other option then to kill him on the spot.
He wondered briefly what Dean would do.
Sam stared at his brother, and wondered what his monsters were.
Surely, everyone had some sort of evil inside them, just like everyone had some good. He knew Dean was intolerable at times, but not evil. He looked out for Sam, and he looked out for John, despite of everything. He did his job without complaint. That wasn't what evil looked like.
But then again, there was so much evil around his brother, maybe that was enough.
"You either have to save your brother... or kill him." It wasn't that this was much of a surprise to Sam. He had guessed all along that his father knew. That his father would be willing to kill him. But hearing it from Dean's mouth... it just sounded more real.
He must have been a real monster, Sam figured, for even John to be afraid of him. He must have been pure evil for his father to be reckless enough to ask Dean to kill him.
What was John thinking? Dean was willfully ignorant to the monsters that plagued his family. He was never able to deal with them before, how could he now?
He couldn't explain it if he tried, but it felt so right. He knew it was wrong, he knew it, but he couldn't stop.
The demon blood made him feel strong. He had always felt like he was the weak one, but not anymore. Dean was weak. He was scared. Hell had changed him, and there was no going back. That left Sam to pick up the slack. He needed the blood to do that.
Ruby promised him he could stop the demons' plan. He could stop Lilith. All he needed was time. To prepare. To train.
He never wanted this evil, before; but now, he embraced it.
Sam was convinced the trials were purifying him. He was sure that at the end of it all, when he closed the gates of Hell, he would finally be rid of the monster inside him. He would finally be rid of the constant reminder of why his mother died, and why his family was torn apart. He wouldn't feel like such a freak.
Maybe, then, Dean would be able to truly trust him again.
Dean's black eyes only reminded Sam of what his brother had said all those years ago. He can't kill all the monsters, S'mmy. Sometimes the monsters are inside...
Dean was right. Sam feared he'd never be able to kill the monster inside his brother.