I remember when I was a kid, I met this weird little girl once who used to sing on the way home from school. Kinda loopy kid, scraggly hair and worn old clothes like the rags I was always wearin'. It was early summer, just before the year ended. I might have been eight. And this kid, she used to sing this song about poppin' heads, and she'd pick up a handful of dandelions and snap the yellow heads off with her thumb, one by one, pop pop pop. Singin' like it was funny. I remember thinkin' it was pretty creepy.

So now it's the second time in as many months that someone has placed their hands around my neck and given me a good squeeze, and that memory of the kid with the dandelions comes to mind and I think, 'Here I go!' and my head's gonna pop right off. Can't say I wasn't shocked as shit that this time it was Sammy grabbin' me by the throat and squeezin' like he wanted to crush me, squeezin' like he fuckin' hates me. It's Roosevelt and Ellicott all over, with that dark look in his eyes and me on the ground like a fucking mook waitin' to get ganked by my own brother. And I must be getting stupider the older I get because every time we're in this position I'm... surprised.

Shouldn't be this time. I shouldn't be fuckin' surprised, because I called him a goddamned monster. It's like that thing in my brain that forms all my thoughts and ideas is blocked by some kind of tumor and I can't say what I really mean – can't, I don't know, verbalize the feelings behind the words. I can only try to blurt out something that'll have some kind of impact to just keep him right the fuck here with me instead of running off with Ruby.

But instead what I come up with is, "It means you're a monster."

And that goes right up there with me tellin' him if I didn't know him I'd want to hunt him.

No fucking wonder he's got a deep-seeded urge to kill me. I'm a dick.

It hurts to breathe, what with being thrown through the partition wall, and choked, but that big gaping hole in my soul where Sam used to be before I told him to never ever come back might also have something to do with it. I've made a few useless attempts at getting up, but honestly I'd rather just lie here and wallow a bit. The floor and gravity are doin' their best to pull me down anyway, so I just stay where I am and try not to think about how I got here in the first place.

I feel betrayed, because Sam sided with a demon over his own damned brother. And the betrayal's worse because he protected her and then tried to fucking choke me. With his own bare hands. Hell, that's somehow so much worse than Ellicott, because at least then we could blame it on an angry ghost, and there'd been cold steel in his hands and not my own warm flesh beating a pulse against his crushing fingers.

It means you're a monster.

If I could rewind and take it back I would. But that's not exactly true: I don't want to take it back. I want to expand. I want to go back and say that and a whole lot more. In my mind I see us five minutes ago, before the punches started, when Sam was still trying to listen, when I was still trying to listen. When the illusion of compromise was right there like a poisoned candy apple.

"Say it..." I see him growl.

And this time, with my do-over, the words I need are there, and I'm suddenly like Martin Luther King Jr. with my ready-made speech that'll move mountains and help fix this.

"Remember when you told me I had to kill you?" I hear myself saying, and I don't sound harsh; I'm schooling my voice to sound calm and soothing because I need him to hear me. I need him to hear everything I'm saying and everything I'm not saying.

"Remember how you begged me to kill you if you ever became somethin' you're not?"

And I know how he'll react and he does. His eyebrows twitch, his mouth twitches, and his head tilts to the side and fuck yeah – a chink in the armor. Suddenly he looks like Sammy and not Sam-the-demon-blood-sucker. He remembers that conversation. His eyes are gettin' all dewey and he's remembering how scared he was when he thought he was going to become Darth Sammy some day.

"And I promised you, didn't I?" I say, and I'm smiling because he's still with me. We're still in this together, angels and demons be damned.

His face is crumbling and he looks like he's really gonna start in with the water works, like he's struggling with what he thinks he needs to do. He doesn't want to let go of that hope that he can fix this, that he's got the answers.

"I won't let you become a monster," I say. "I promised you I wouldn't."


"The demon blood is not you. It never was." And maybe I even take one of his hands in mine because that seems to work so awesomely in movies. "Where you're goin'?" I ask "There's no comin' back from it, Sam. Having demon blood in you is one thing. Drinking demon blood so you can become strong enough to beat the baddest of all bad-ass demons is something else entirely. You'd have to become what you hate to win that way – you have to know that!"

"But I can control it," he insists, but he's not convinced now and I can see it. "I can control it so it won't control me."

But I shake my head no.

"Just think of Jack," I remind him. "Taking that first bite changed him, no matter how bad he wanted it not to. Drinking demon blood is the same – it's gonna warp you, Sam, and you won't come out of it the same."

Now I can go ahead and imagine that he'll collapse in my arms and hug me and maybe cry about how scared he is and how he just wants this all to be over or whatever, but deep down I can't imagine even this carefully crafted conversation would go anywhere but downhill. Because Sam Winchester is one stubborn sonofabitch, and when he thinks he's right he knows he's right. And he's hopped up on demon blood and he's got Ruby leading him by the nose down the primrose path to Hell.

So realistically speaking, he probably wouldn't even listen to this.

But I just keep thinking that if I'd had the fucking words to explain, if I'd just been able to remind him of that promise, at least he wouldn't hate me. He wouldn't think I was some self-righteous, God-appointed ass who thinks he's gonna swoop in and save the whole world from Hellfire because the angels said so.

But I don't get a do-over. I could ask Cas to work some time-travel mojo so we can rewind this scene and fix this fucking mess, but I've got an awful feeling that that'd be interfering with the Gospel of Chuck. Which means Heaven's probably happy sittin' back and watchin' the show. Maybe Heaven wants ringside seats to the remake of the Cain and Abel story and we're just puppets playing our parts.

Right now I'm so fucking mad I could spit or scream or kill, because Cas's words from so long ago are echoing in my mind: "All paths lead to the same destination, Dean." And I can hear Dad telling me that if I can't save Sammy I'll have to kill him, and I can hear Sam begging me to kill him if he ever becomes something he's not, and I can hear my own voice telling Cas that I swear to do God's work and to ask 'How high?' when I'm told to jump. And it's all making me sick because I'm afraid I know what they're going to ask.

And I'm afraid this time I might actually do it.