Actions

Work Header

Misery's Child

Chapter Text

Sam opens his eyes and instantly regrets his decision.

He feels like crap.

His entire body aches in time with his head and there is a shooting pain traveling up and down his legs with alarming intensity. When he tries to lift his head from the pillow, a migraine threatens to split through his field of vision, bright and ferocious. He whimpers and gives up the fight, closing his eyes again.

A female voice says "Now what are you doing up?" and then there's a prick of a needle against his skin and he knows nothing more.

 

The next time Sam swims back into consciousness, the pain in his head has mostly receded and he’s feeling marginally more coherent. He still hurts and his thoughts keep getting lost in the kind of muzzy, drifting cloud that he associates from previous hospital stays with the best pharmaceuticals. But he can open his eyes and look around the room, so he counts that as a win for the moment.

Worse than the pain is a strange sort of internal itch that's been gathering steam inside him since he woke up. (Itch isn't the right word. It's almost a hunger?) It's making him unsettled and restless in a way that he can't quite put his finger on.

 

Looking around, Sam is surprised to discover that he doesn't appear to be in either a hospital or a motel. Instead he's lying prone on a cot in the middle of a small, sunny bedroom. There's a squat side table next to the bed and an metal IV stand in the corner. He notes with mortified resignation that there’s a half full catheter bag on the stand, attached to tubing which runs to bed and disappears under the covers.

Otherwise, it’s a sparsely decorated little room that gives away few clues about its previous inhabitants. There's an old fashioned, dark colored wooden chest looming in one corner and a rocking chair guarding the door. On the opposite wall, the sun is shining brightly through a wide picture window, gently warming the right side of his body. The view doesn’t give away much, he sees nothing but trees as far as the horizon line.

As for himself, he looks down to properly check the damage. Someone (Dean?) has gone to the trouble of splinting his right arm and both of his legs. He wiggles his fingers and toes experimentally and has to bite his lip to hold back another groan. It feels like multiple fractures in both, plus maybe a broken rib or two, in addition to a shoulder.

 

Yeah, he's probably going to be stuck in bed for awhile. He feels like he did that time Dean and him took on a vampire nest, when he managed to do a header out of a second story window. He had been forced to spend 4 days in the hospital before Dean had been willing to sneak him out, a measure of just how worried his brother had been, since usually Dean can't wait to get out of hospitals.

He doesn't like that he has no idea where Dean is right now or that he’s not sure happened to mess him up like this. Sam's never done too well when he's had to deal with not having all the information and right now there’s a big bleeding gap in his memory where the last few days should have been. Days, or maybe weeks? Its unclear.

He closes his eyes again and Dean’s face floats briefly into his field of vision. The Dean in Sam’s brain looks equal parts furious and heartbroken.

There was a fight, Sam thinks, but he isn’t sure he can say why he thinks it.

The door opens with a whine of hinges and a woman bustles in. She's middle aged and aggressively average looking, with a kindly, rounded face and a soft brown fringe of hair. Sam relaxes a fraction, but only a fraction because he has plenty of experience with monsters that look unassuming at first glance.

“Oh hey, so you're finally up! How ya’ feeling?" She's got a voice that's full of innocent, folksy goodwill.

He hesitates, not immediately sure how to answer her. She sees his expression and takes pity on him.

"I'm sure you have a lot of questions for me Sam, but first I just want to know what your pain level is."

"It's..not too bad," he tells her, finally finding his voice. Jesus he sounds rough.

She tsks disapprovingly. "Sam, you were in quite the car accident two days ago. Now I know you can handle a lot, but there's really no need to be a martyr with me and I'm sure you must be hurting."

A car accident?

 He's in the driver seat. It's a truck, not the Impala and where's Dean? Dean's nowhere to be seen. There is the sound of rain pounding relentlessly against the windshield and then he's flying out of seat and into the dark night and--

He blinks, trying to clear his head. She's studying him with concern. "My ribs are pretty rough,” he offers.

She smiles at him like he's won a prize and then heads over to the chest to start rustling through the drawers.

"Now," she prattles cheerfully while she hunts, "I want to step down from the really powerful stuff, you've been on it for days and it’s not so good for you to be on that for long, but I'm sure I have some nice pills in here somewhere that will make you feel better."

He listens a little distractedly and finally manages to cut in when her monologue starts to slow. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but who are you?"

She turns around triumphantly, pills in hand, and then gives him a little abashed grin that's probably meant to be charming, but which sits awkwardly on her face. "Oh, no I'm the one who should be sorry, here I am chatting away and I forget to introduce myself. I'm Annie and I am, well I guess you can say, I'm your number one fan."

Chapter Text

There's an awkward pause as he tries to process what he's heard.

"You're my what?" he says faintly.

"Your biggest fan," she repeats, undaunted. "I've read all the Supernatural books, and you, Sam, you're my favorite. You're so brave, you know, but also sensitive, even after everything you've lost. I always wanted to help you, from the very first book. You deserved someone who would be there for you." She’s staring at him with an unnerving intensity that makes him want to shift backwards on the bed, an act he is currently totally incapable of, considering the state of his legs.

A confused surge of guilt also wells up. Whoever this lady is, the immediate evidence suggests that she's been helping him.

Annie produces a bottle of water from somewhere on her person, loosens the top and hands it to Sam along with the pills. Sam obediently takes them from her with his good arm and tongues them. Then he takes a long, one handed drag from the bottle while he tries to marshal his thoughts into some kind of coherent shape. She looks down at him indulgently, like she knows exactly what he’s doing, which doesn’t exactly reassure him.

"You should know," she comments, "the fan forums have been going crazy for months now. The craziest rumors: that Sam and Dean are as real as you and me. That they showed up to the publisher with fake ID's. That they even managed to see Chuck, when NO ONE can see Chuck."

As she’s talking, she’s perching on the bed and making a show of checking the bandages and splints around his arm and legs, poking and prodding him in ways that make him want to hiss through his teeth.

"No one knew how the rumors got started. And for most of the people on the forums, it didn't really matter. They weren't going to do anything with the information anyway. But me, I decided to investigate for myself."

"But how did you find us?" he asks. If this woman is really just a fan who had managed to hunt them down, it doesn’t say much for Dean and Sam’s concealment abilities. More to the point, it also meant that Sam and Dean should probably start bracing for hordes of strangers showing up at their motel doorstep.

Her expression turns house-cat smug. She's clearly been desperate for someone to ask.

"By tracking demon activity. If you boys were real, then it stands to reason that the things you hunt are real too. I used the books for reference, and I started tracking signs of demon activity around the country. And I just waited around for you two. I figured that if I kept at it, you both were bound to show up somewhere, eventually. Everyone online said I was crazy, that it was a waste of time, but I thought, what if John Winchester had just given up on his search for the Yellow Eyed Demon? What if Sam had just given up when he was searching for a cure for Dean in "Faith?" And then hey presto there you were in a little town in Minnesota. Minnesota's a bit of trip from Maine, that's where I'm from you know, but I decided it was worth a drive."

Demons. he thinks and WANTS.

He wants, no he needs...

...something.

What?

"So, what you kidnapped me? Did something to my brother?" he asks.

Annie's expression instantly sobers up and she leans forward, all solicitous concern. Oh honey, no, I certainly didn’t kidnap you. And, I didn’t do a darn thing to your brother either. As far as I know Dean is just fine.”

 

Dean is on the floor and his face is bloody.

Sam blinks.

"I followed you out of a motel in Minnesota," Maggie says. "cause I still wanted to see you properly in person, maybe speak a little. We drove for a few hours and then the rain started to come down in sheets, but you just sped up."

He remembers the rain, its relentless rat-a-tat as he floored the gas.

"I lost you for a little bit there during the worst of the storm. But then I came around the bend, and I could see that you had flipped the car and you were just lying there in your seat and not moving. I ran and got you out of there. It was really slow going, because the roads were really washed out and there's no reception around these parts, so I couldn’t call an ambulance. “

She looks down and bites her lip, like she’s remembering something distinctly unpleasant. “Anyway, I was driving and driving and eventually I came upon an empty house. I think it’s someone’s vacation home, we’re really out in the sticks you know. And I figured, you really needed to get in somewhere warm and what would Sam and Dean do? It’s my first experience with breaking and entering and I think I didn’t do too bad. Luckily I had plenty of med supplies in my car, you know. I’ll take you to a hospital as soon as I can, but right now the road’s pretty messed up and there’s no cell service, so I guess you’re stuck with me for the moment.”

Annie rises with a flourish. “Well, anyway I suspect you’re all up to speed, so you should probably get some rest now.”

Sam doesn’t feel particularly up to speed. He still has a lot of questions. But sleep is pulling at him again, and he’s finding that he can’t quite remember what those questions were, so he lets his eyes drift close again.

In the dark, he lays there listening to the snap and creak of the floorboards as she walks around the bed. Then there’s a sharp prick against his neck and the world falls silent.

Chapter Text

Sam dreams.


There's something he's supposed to do, something big, something world saving. Only, he seems to have forgotten what it is.
Dean is there in his dreams. Sam reaches out a hand to his brother but Dean just turns away from him with an icy, distant expression on his face. Sam opens his mouth to protest and vomits blood in a long, painful stream until his insides feel black and scorched and there's a cloudy red puddle swelling in front of him. He bends down to inspect his reflection in the wavering surface. His face is distorted, monstrous. A gleeful little voice in the back of his brain informs that this, this is exactly why Dean left him. He takes a step forward. Lets the puddle swallow him up until he’s choking on it.

He wakes up starving, but he doesn't think it's food he's hungry for.

Food appears to be what he's getting though. Annie is here again. She’s pulled up the rocking chair next to his bed and she’s come armed with a tray of steaming chicken soup and tea.

“I hated to wake you,” she grins down at him, “seeing as how you were sleeping so peacefully there, but I figured you need some real nourishment as much as you need your rest.”

Sam dutifully lets her prop him up a little on the bed and begin the slow, humiliating process of spoon-feeding him soup.

Once he’s managed a few mouthfuls, she ventures tentatively, “So, Sam, I was wondering.”

He nods to show that he’s listening, whole body alert to what might be coming next.

“Well, I’ve read the Supernatural books from cover to cover, like I was saying. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried: when you see your mother’s ghost in ‘Home,’ when you get stabbed in ‘All Hell Breaks Loose,’ and Dean sobs over your dead body, I swear I had to call in sick to work the next day I was so upset. And then of course ‘No Rest for the Wicked,’ when Dean gets absolutely mauled in front of you, I mean ripped to pieces and then dragged off to hell, despite you spending a year doing everything you could think of to save him, well I don’t think I’ve ever been as sad about anything in my real life as I was when I turned the last page of that book, I mean Dean was going to spend eternity, being tortured, literally flayed alive and all the brotherly love in the world couldn’t save him from the demons.”

Sam has never wanted to get away from a conversation more, but he's quite literally stuck there and Annie’s on a roll now, voice steadily rising into a shrill register and she's not exactly looking at him. “My god, those boys, what they wouldn’t do for each other, no matter what life threw at them. And Dean, he gets a lot credit in the fandom for what he’s dealt with, but in my opinion Sam really doesn’t get enough. His own father told his brother he would have to kill him! KILL HIM! How DARE He!? And then there's what he went through with Jessica, and the Yellow-Eyed Demon, all for the sin of trying to be normal! Is that really worth crucifying him? Doesn't he deserve a little bit of happiness? Some normality? Someone who loves him and who can take care of him the way he deserves?"

Sam coughs pointedly, desperate to get her to stop. “What!” she snaps, looking sharply down at him. Her fist comes down heavily on the tray and the bowl of soup upends, spilling hot liquid all over his torso and blankets. He shouts, more out of surprise then pain and her face clears, like she’s suddenly seeing him there.

“Oh Sam,” she says softly, face crumpling with sadness. “You’ll have to pardon me. I can get a little worked up. Let me go get a towel."

A bit later, after she’s changed the sheets and dried him off, and there’s a new bowl of soup from the kitchen, she starts in again.

“Anyway,” she says, a little more diffidently this time, in a tone of voice that's just this side of wheedling. “As you can see, the end of the book series really messed me up. And I was wondering. Since you lived it at all, well I was wondering if you could fill me in on what happened after Dean went to Hell.” He stares at her and she bites her lip. “I did save your life and all, I figure it entitles me to a little information...”

Sam watches her for a long moment.

He he opens his mouth and closes it again. Then he opens it, figuring it can't hurt. “I...can't remember much." He grimaces. He sounds pathetically weak.

“Oh?” She cocks her head.

“I remember...Dean coming back. But….that was awhile ago, I think.”

“Odd. How’d Dean get back? Did you find a spell or something?”

“No, no, I had nothing to do with it. I tried, I tried everything, but nothing worked.”

It’s such a strange relief to talk about this. “I even tried to make my own demon deal.”

“Sam! Tell me you didn’t!” He looks at her. Annie’s watching him with wide eyes and a mouth gone perfectly round with horror.

“I didn’t,” he says hastily. “I mean, it didn’t work. No demon would go near me. Anyway, there was this...Angel. And he was the one who raised Dean up from Hell.”

She’s still looking at him like she hasn’t heard anything past his mention of the deal. “Sam, you HAVE to take better care of yourself. A deal, after everything your brother went through?”

“It didn’t go through,” he repeats uncomfortably.

Her lips are still thinned disapprovingly, but she lets it go for now. “And then what happened?"

Sam hesitates, unsure how to say this. “ Everything else is since then is all fuzzy in my head. I keep thinking I’m just about to remember, but it keeps slipping through my fingers.” He fingers the sheets with his good hand, feeling the rough open weave of the blanket against his palm. “There’s something really important that I need to do. But I have no idea what it is. It’s like running up against a brick wall, but that wall keeps turning out to be a fog. And I just get lost in it, again and again. Am I making any kind of sense?”

Her features have softened back into sympathy. “It may be an effect of the crash. A traumatic accident can sometimes create a kind of temporary amnesia. I’m sure your memories will eventually come back. But now you should probably get some sleep.”

She pats his arm maternally and gently pushes back from his bedside, leaving the room with his half empty soup bowl in hand. Sam watches her go through half-lidded, suddenly heavy eyes. If there is another prick of a needle this time, he’s already too deeply towards sleep to notice.

Chapter Text

There’s a woman in his bed. She’s lovely and slight with a dark hair and dangerous, dark eyes. “Remember” she tells him as she slides sinuously against him. “Remember….” she whispers something in his ear. There’s a flush of moonlight that lightens her hair, turns it white gold. Her face rounds and her mouth widens. She opens her eyes and there are no pupils, just expanse of whites.

His eyes snap open.

Lilith.

Sam considers. Lilith is still out there which means it's not a question of if he's going, but when and how. He has pulled off some complicated escapes in his time, but managing one on his own with two broken legs, a broken arm and a drug and pain fogged brain feels like it’s bit beyond his capacity. Somehow, he’s going have to figure out another option.

“Annie,” he says with a wide smile, the next time she comes in. She’s carrying another tray, this time with buttered toast and something that resembles scrambled eggs.

“Well, someone’s certainly looking perkier,” she comments as she pulls the chair up to side of his bed, placing the tray carefully on the side table.

“Much better, thanks.” He takes a bite of egg off of the fork she holds up to him and swallows carefully. “Listen, I was wondering how much longer the road will be out.

You’ve really done a lot for me and I’m sure the hospital can take it from here.”

Her face falls. The fork freezes in the air, halfway back to the plate. “It’s really no bother for me. It’s a pleasure for me to get to know the great Sam Winchester. I mean you’ve given me so much, this is the least I can do.”

He blushes and looks at her through his lashes. “And I’m very grateful. But I also really need to get somewhere I can call Dean. I’m sure he’s really worried by now.”

Annie huffs dismissively, spearing some more egg. “I doubt it.”

Sam frowns. “What do you mean?”

“Well, last time he saw you, you were beating his face in, so,”

Dean, on the floor, with a bloody nose and a betrayed look.

Sam swallows heavily.

“Anyway, “ Annie says, like that settles things. “You’re no trouble, and I’m perfectly capable of taking care of you, so you can stay with me until you’re all healed up.”

“Look,” Sam says, deciding to go for broke. “There’s something I need to do. Something hunting related.”

Annie looks at him sharply, but she waits for him to continue.

“There’s a demon named Lilith out there. I’m the only one who can kill her. And I-”

“No, Sam,” she says firmly.

“I’m sorry?”

“No, you are NOT going hunting. Especially for a demon. Not while you’re in my care.”

“Look, I appreciate what you’re doing, but this important.”

“You’re recovery is important. And I am not going to let you jeopardize that.”

“Let me?” Sam sputters.

“Yes, let you. You’re under my care and what kind of a nurse would I be if I allowed you to injure yourself further?”

Sam takes a breath, tries to calm himself and start again. “Annie, this is not just any demon. Lilith is trying to start the Apocalypse. And I’m the only the one who can stop her.”

“How?” Annie shouts, face turning red. “By drinking demon blood? Is that how you’re gonna stop her Sam?”

Sam’s mouth falls open. It’s another piece of the puzzle clicking into place, maybe the most important piece. The hunger has been a low background current in his mind since he got to this place. Now that he can finally put a name to what it is he’s been feeling it surges up, with all the force of a hurricane, taking his breath away.

Annie shakes her head, features twisting in disgust. “That’s what I thought, Sam. I watched you Sam. I watched you with that demon girl. You drank from her. ”

“I have to,” he says. “So, I’m strong enough to defeat Lilith.” It sounds weak, even to his ears.

Annie pushes back in her chair with force and rises, looming over him. “You. Will. Not. Jeopardize. Your. Care.” Every word is enunciated with unnerving ferocity, but Sam has also had enough.

“You can’t hold me here like this-”

She slaps him.

He stares up at her dumbly, cheek stinging. Her face has gone wild with emotion and there are tears threatening. He has to stop himself from cringing backward on the bed.

She slaps him again. And again.

“ You stupid, foolish, idiotic boy!” She’s starting to sob, voice raw, but she’s still raining down blows to punctuate her shouting. “You whore! You whored yourself! To that slut! And for what?! Her blood!” He’s still stunned and moving slowly, and only belatedly brings up his arm to protect his face.

Again, she turns on a dime, visibly softening as the anger drains out of her, even while she sobs harder. She runs her palms of over his red and swollen cheeks, as if belatedly trying to soothe away the pain.

“You betrayed me Sam,” she says, tears spilling out of her eyes as she cradles his face with tender hands, wiping his sweaty fringe from his forehead. “Worse, you betrayed yourself. But don’t worry, I have you now and I’m going to fix you. It’s okay that you can’t take care of yourself, because I’ve got you now and I’m going to take care of you.”

Her grip moves suddenly down to his neck. He reaches up in alarm with his good arm to push her off, but she’s pushing down with her full weight and he has no leverage.

As his vision goes black, he hears her say, “Oh and Sam? Don’t even think about using your powers. Or calling for help. I’ve got this whole place is warded against angels and demons. No one’s coming for you.”

Chapter Text

He dreams of Ruby (he knows her now, remembers the whole, aching story of their relationship). She’s waiting for him out there, waiting for him to find her so he continue with his quest to kill Lilith. But she’s going to give up any day and decide he isn’t coming and then he’ll really be alone because Dean told him, Dean said….

(Okay, that part still isn’t clear, even in his dreams).

It’s full morning when he wakes up, with a painfully swollen the throat and the sun shining indifferently into the bedroom. He knows he’s going to have to figure out an escape, even if he doesn’t know how it. He can’t afford to wait for Dean to find him. The fate of the world might depend on it.

Sam practices.

In the time since Annie said the words “demon blood,” since he’s been able to put a name to the sensations inside of him, the feeling has been like a key sliding into the ignition: all this power that’s been dormant for the past few days, rushing up to greet him like an old friend. It’s a balancing act though: he can tell it’s not infinite, what’s inside of him, and worse, it’s getting a little more depleted with every passing hour. But he needs to remember how to wield it, and that requires practice. So he goes inside of himself and focuses until he can get a feeling for the power living inside his chest like a second pulsing heart. Soon he should be able to draw on it, start to shape into something he can use to-

“Oh, hey, look who’s finally awake.” The knot of power inside his chest waivers and then quickly dissipates.

That’s Annie in the doorway, as blandly cheerful as always.

“Christo,” Sam murmurs. He should have checked long before now, but he’s been foggy brained for so long.

Annie doesn’t react. Sam can’t decide if he’s relieved or not. “How are you feeling Sam?”

She walks over to the bed clutching a scooped white plastic seat. Sam's heart drops. He’s been in enough hospitals that he can recognize a bedpan when he sees one.

Dad’s voice from somewhere deep in his childhood rings in his ears.

“Boys you should remember, if you’re held prisoner, it’s best to stick to short answers. One word if you can do it. Don't give them more than you have to.

“Better,” he tells her from the bed.

She beams, “that’s exactly what we like to hear.”

Now, Sam,” she singsongs, like nothing at all has happened between them. “Since I’ve started you back on solid food, I was thinking that you might be feeling the call of nature right about now. “

Sam flushes. He’s familiar with how a bedpan works, yes, but it’s a level of intimacy he’s not particularly comfortable with when it’s Dean helping him and he doesn’t exactly want to give Annie the satisfaction. But his stomach rumble with traitorous timing, so apparently he’s not going to have much choice in the matter.

She arranges the bedpan on the bed, hoisting him up into a raised position with a surprising amount of physical strength.

Then she just sits back in the chair and watches him, a pleasant, interested expression on her face like they’re making small talk at a church social.

He asks her faintly, “Annie, do you think I could get some privacy for this?”

There’s a long, fraught moment where she stares him. There’s a fraught moment in which she stares at him and he holds his breath. Then she smiles broadly and reaches over to gently chuck him under the chin. “Aww...Sam, don’t be shy. I’ve seen all your naughty bits before you know, when I was getting you in here. And anyway, I’m a professional.” She winks at him playfully.

And now it’s a standoff. Instead of watching her watch him, he closes his eyes, finds that ball of power inside of his chest and imagines drawing on it, shaping it into a weapon.

His guts twist unpleasantly and he’s suddenly he's forced back into his physical body, emptying the contents of his stomach into the bedpan.

“Right on schedule,” chirps Annie.

She cleans him up and gets him under the covers. Sam keeps his eyes closed through as much of the process as possible.

Later that afternoon, Annie walks into the room with her jacket on. “I’m going to take a quick the store for supplies.” You’ll be alright for a little while, Sam?”

She’s obviously decided that the fiction of washed-out road is no longer necessary, but Sam can't even be mad.

He manages a real smile, because this right here, this looks like his chance.

“I’ll be just fine here, Annie.”

Chapter Text

Sam waits till he hears the engine sputter and start outside and then for good measure, he waits a little longer. He has no idea how long of a drive it might be towards town but he figures that they're sufficiently away from civilization here that he can safely count on having a full hour before she returns. He knows he's not going to be able to move quickly, and if she comes back unexpectedly, he's screwed.

So, better to wait and do this right, better to make sure she's safely away before he starts.

Dean wouldn't wait, comments a tiny voice in his mind.

He would have escaped days ago, using charm and some kind of homemade weapon fashioned out of a spoon.

Dean isn't here, he reminds the voice, shutting it down as firmly as he can. Dean isn't here and he's...not coming. He's still a little fuzzy about why he's so certain Dean isn't coming, but it feels like an undeniable truth, squatting unpleasantly in the pit of his stomach.

Sam breathes in and out, one last time and counts to 50.

It's now or never, even if he's still not completely sure how this is going to work.

The first task is undoubtedly going to be the most unpleasant. With his good left hand he slowly reaches down and feels inside his pajama bottoms. Finding the rubber end of the catheter tube, he carefully begins to pull it out of him. It comes free with a queasy dragging ache that he’d prefer not to think too much about. He tosses it aside with a grimace.

That completed, he closes his eyes, and begins the increasingly familiar journey inside himself. It’s something he’s not sure he’ll ever get used to, this sensation of feeling his own blood.

There it is … he thinks with a sigh, as he locates the power once again, bright and finite, like a candle just before it burns itself out. Instead of shaping it into a weapon this time, he makes it into a rope of energy, sturdy and flexible.

Sam studies the rope, considering. It stares back at him, pulsing with possibility. Then with as much care as he can muster, he wraps the rope around his torso, knotting it like a harness. The energy sinks into his core, soothing and strengthening him in the places where he hurts. He can feel the power running just under the surface of his skin now, where he’ll be able to access it more easily.

With that extra energy in place, he pushes back his blankets and carefully, slowly swings his legs around to the side of the bed. He stares at them uncertainly, eyeing the long expanse of empty floor between the bed and the closed door. Magical boost or no, there's just no way he's going to be put any weight on his legs, not for long enough to make it out of the room.

Sam sighs and extends a finger of power out in front of him, molding it like a cushion on the floor. Then, using his good arm for support, he begins to pull himself off of the bed. As expected, he can only control his movement for so long and ends up falling painfully, face first onto the floor.

He lays there sprawled on his stomach for a long moment, trying to get his breathing under control, with three broken limbs screaming at him. He’s too shaken up to focus and the power keeps slipping through his fingers and dissipating.

Sam breathes through his nose, trying to even out his heartbeat. There's no time for this, he has to get moving.

With excruciating slowness, he starts to crawl forward on his belly, anchoring his movement with his one good arm pushing off against the floor. Its grueling, and awkward work, but eventually he does manage to bring himself to the bedroom door.

The knob on the door towers above him, just slightly out of his reach on the floor. He closes his eyes, tries once more, and this time the power responds to him more easily.

The harness flares bright around his stomach. He takes one trailing end of shining rope and swings it upwards, like a lasso until catches on the knob.

Sam yanks on it. The door cracks open with a sigh, just wide enough for Sam pulls himself through.

He finds himself in a cozy living room, outfitted in the same rustic, minimalist style as the bedroom. There's an overstuffed faded sofa on one end and one of those old-fashioned radios that look like it was straight out of a movie from World War II, sitting inside it's own cabinet.

The only personal touches, Sam notes with a queasy feeling, adorn the mantle over the fireplace at the far end of the room.

Arranged in a row across the shelf and placed with obvious, painstaking care, is the full set of Supernatural books in chronological order.

But worse than that, tacked to the wall above the books and looking for all the world like some kind of shrine, is a giant framed photo of Sam that's been taken from a distance. He's been captured strolling out of a gas station with the edge of a grin on his face, looking like he's fighting to hold back a laugh. The background is generic, it could have been taken at any one of a thousand gas stations that he's visited over the last few years. He thinks with a pang that it must have been Dean who was standing just outside the shot, saying something ridiculous. In the months and weeks leading up to Dean’s deal coming through, as Sam had gotten increasingly desperate to find a way to save him, it had seemed like all Dean had wanted to do was to make Sam laugh. It was like, if he could make Sam smile, it would be proof that Sam would be okay without Dean.

Dragging himself along across groaning floorboards, Sam makes for the phone he can see hanging off the far wall, tantalizingly close to the front door. He uses the same trick he did with the door to pull the receiver off the hook and the receiver crashes to the floor with a disconcerting bang. Sam grabs it, punching buttons with shaking fingers.

There's nothing, no dial tone, nothing. Frustrated, he tosses the phone aside. Then he turns to the door.

Once again, he extends his mental rope and swings it onto the knob. The door fucking vibrates with a teeth rattling intensity that travels down the rope and straight into Sam’s body. Sigils carved into the the wooden door suddenly flare into visibility with a bright light that nearly blinds him. He sees Enochian, he sees Aramaic, he sees words and symbols from languages he's never even dreamed of.

Then his world lights up.

Sam screams as the pain rushes in, sending his limbs spasming crazily. He’s never been electrocuted before, but this must be what it feels like, this feeling of being burned from the inside out, with every single pain receptor lighting up at once.

He tries desperately to release his mental hold on the door so that he can retreat back into the safety of his own head, but it’s like his mind has cramped up and he can’t let go, can’t retreat, can’t go forward. There’s just the pain coursing through his body like an unavoidable truth.

He lays there sprawled and shaking and screams till his vocal chords give out. At some point, he can’t say when exactly, his bladder gives out and he pisses himself.

When the pain ends at last, Sam’s too disoriented to immediately understand what’s happened.

Then there’s Annie looking down at him, and he's dully relieved to find that she doesn’t look angry, just sad and disappointed.

“Oh Sam, whatever were you thinking?” she asks him.

Sam can’t speak. He's not even sure what he would have said, had he had the capability. So he takes the path of least resistance and passes out.

Chapter Text

Swimming back up to consciousness this time around is a battle, one that Sam isn't entirely sure he wants to win. He's getting awfully tired of waking up in this bed, feeling like he's been beat to hell and back.

But the pain from his aching body is starting to leech into his dreams and there's somebody with a comforting presence who has been standing over his bed for a while now, holding a cold compress against his forehead and that feels even better than he could have imagined on his skin where he had been burned so if Dean could just hang out for a little while longer-

Burned?

Dean?

His eyes fly open.

Annie is looking down at him sadly. He fights down the urge to punch that look off her face. Instead he closes his eyes again and retreats back inside of himself, searching.

There's nothing inside of him anymore.That space inside his chest where his power had lived was nothing but a charred husk of itself. His abilities have been literally burned out of him. Sam wants to throw up.

"Oh honey," Annie says, like she knows exactly what he's thinking. "I know it hurts now. But those abilities weren't good for you."

He opens his eyes just wide enough to glare at her.

"Who are you?" he spits out.

She pats his hand maternally. "You'll feel better soon Sam, I promise."

He grabs at her wrist, twisting with much strength as he can. "WHO. ARE. YOU?"

Sam's a big guy. Even on bedrest, with three broken limbs and having just been recently electrocuted, he has a lot of brute force in his grip. Annie disentangles his fingers like they're nothing.

She cocks her head to one side like she's considering.

"I'm someone who wants you to see the truth about yourself. How can you can save the world when you can't even save yourself?"

His mouth is hanging open as he watches her. She stares back at him in silence.

Finally, he whispers, "angel or demon?"

Annie giggles, that infuriating giggle that makes her sound like she's 12 years old.

"Oh Sam, really. You can be so close minded sometimes. Like I told you before, I'm a fan."

She bites her lip like she's just remembered something and goes over to rummage in the drawers by the window.

"Anyway, I was doing some thinking while I was waiting for you to wake up. We really can't have you wandering around while you're healing, you're liable to end up, well that last little trip nearly killed you. So, this won't be pleasant I think, but it will be for your good in the end. Ahh, here it is!"

She pulls out a hammer with a triumphant smile. In the bed, Sam physically starts backwards.

"Annie," he says, and then swallows, at a total loss for words. "Annie what are you planning to do with that?"

“I need to do this for your own good,” she repeats and her face looks so sorrowful that for a ludicrous second, Sam thinks that she actually regrets this.

"Annie, I don't know what you think you're going to do with that, but I swear it's not necessary."

The hammer gets placed on the chair with all the care of a family heirloom, before Annie comes over to sit by his feet.

"Sam, honey. I know you think that now. But there'll come a day when you get it into your head that you need to try again to get back out there. Try to find the brother who left you. Try to save the world. And you're only going to get yourself killed."

She stands and walks over to the hammer before adding in a significant tone, "I need to know that you're going to stay where I can keep an eye on you."

Time turns fuzzy and slow as Annie moves inexorably back to the bed, raising the hammer over her head.

"Annie," he whispers.

"Don't you worry, I've done this before."

She swings the hammer down on the shoulder of his good left arm, which gives way with a thick wet crack. He screams. The scream breaks off in a gasp as he sees her raise the hammer again.

“No, don’t-” This time, it comes down with full force on the back of his hand.

She hushes him gently and chucks him under the chin.

"Shh...shh, I know, I know, but we're almost done. Just two more."

Sam shuts his eyes tightly, trying to hide i his mind, even if he's helpless physically. He thinks about sitting in the Impala on a hot summer day with the windows down and the music pounding. He thinks about Dean's profile in the corner of his eye.

He thinks about Dean, he-

The hammer comes down on his left ankle bone, shattering it with an explosive force that ripples up his still fractured leg. He shrieks, high and loud even as it comes down again on his right ankle.

"Shh...all done now, baby."

That's Annie's back at his side again. He can't tell if a moment or a minute has passed, but she'll right there, running her hands across his face and shoulder with gentle, professional strokes, like she's soothing a horse. He turns into the pressure instinctively, seeking relief.

There's the press of a needle against his neck, he feels the drugs flood his system with a sense of heavy relief, dulling the pain for a little while at least.

Sam drifts off to Annie stroking his hair. Before he falls asleep he halfway thinks he can hear her murmuring to herself over and over again, "my gosh, you're so beautiful when you scream."

But then again, it might have been the painkillers talking.

Chapter Text

Then

There was this one time, Sam was probably about 12 and Dean was hitting peak teenager-hood. The three of them were driving through the back roads of southwestern Virginia in the sticky sweet heat of late summer when John had abruptly maneuvered the Impala off the road and onto the packed gravel shoulder. Sam had woken up groggy from a nap in the backseat, just in time to hear Dad ordering Dean to keep watch, to keep the windows rolled all the way up, and not to leave the car until he came back with the all clear.

Dean didn’t seem happy at being left behind, but he nodded gravely. (Even at 16, when most teenagers were slaves to their own internal dramas, Dean had always been Dad’s first.)

Then John left, gun half cocked and mind already on whatever nightmare was waiting for him off in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Sam huffed frustratedly and tried to go back to sleep for a little while. But the leather seat was already tacky with his sweat, and eventually he had to concede that sleep was a lost cause.

When he finally lifted his head, it was to witness Dean sprawled across the front seat playing a very credible, if completely silent air guitar solo.

Sam snickered, making Dean jump.

“Well, check you out, Sleeping Beauty,” Dean said, infuriatingly unembarrassed. “I figured I’d need to find a pretty pretty frog for you to kiss if I wanted to get your ass awake.”

By age 12, Sam had more than perfected his Dean-you’re-being-an-idiot eyeroll.

“Wrong fairytale dude. I know you don’t read, but you have to have seen a Disney movie at least.”

“Careful Sammy, your face might get stuck like that, and what kind of frog would kiss you then?”

And off they had gone, sniping at each other for the sheer entertainment value rather than out of any particular grievance.

Time ticked by.

The temperature inside the car crept steadily upwards.

And Dad still hadn’t returned.

The sun was hesitating over the horizon line, casting half-hearted, twisting shadows that did absolutely nothing to cool down the heat pooling inside the Impala.

Sam couldn’t stop shifting in the backseat. His whole body itched with the overwhelming desire to go outside and stretch his limbs. He’d even be willing to run laps, a fact which would have astonished his father and brother, considering how much of a battle it usually was for Dean to coax him out for early morning cardio sessions.

“Dude,” snapped Dean. “Would you quit it?”

“It’s so hot Dean.” He was perilously close to whining at his brother, but Sam was finding it hard to care.

“Then stop moving around so much, you’ll only make yourself hotter.”

They sat there in silence for little while. Sam traced patterns in the heat fogged up window.

“What’s Dad hunting anyway?” he finally asked Dean.

“Why do you care? It’s a monster. It kills people. So Dad’s gonna kill it.”

“You don't even know.”

“Seriously Sam, it doesn’t matter.” Which was Dean speak for, it mattered a lot.

“We could leave,” Sam offered. “We could go help him.” Dean shot him a look which told Sam all he needed to know about what his brother thought about that idea. “Or we could just you know, roll down the windows. Get some air.

Dean closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the seat, looking tired and far older than 16. “Why are you doing this Sam?”

Sam exhaled extravagantly and then regretted it. He was starting to feel a little light-headed. “You know,” he told Dean, “in most states it’s illegal to leave kids in a car with the windows rolled up.”

“Dad told us to stay here until he came-”

“What if he never comes back.”

Even before it left his mouth, Sam had known it was the wrong thing to say.

The air in the Impala hung damp and heavy, clinging to both of them like an unwanted thought. Sam watched carefully, as Dean turned his attention back around to the dashboard, inspecting its reflection like he had discovered secrets inside of it.

Sam started tentatively, “I didn’t mean-”

“Save it Sam, I know what you meant.”

Sam opened his mouth and shut it again.

They both lapsed back into silence.

God, it was hot.

 

Sam was deeply regretting the fact that he had left his backpack in the trunk. He was getting desperate for a book, for something he could use to pass the time and take his mind off the sweltering heat.

“Dean,” he ventured.

“No, Sam.” Dean doesn’t even look up from where he’s slumped in the front seat.

“You don’t even know what I was going to say.”

“Yeah, because you’re so totally mysterious and hard to read. We’re waiting here for Dad and that’s final.”

“Can’t I just get something from the trunk? It’ll be like 5 seconds. You can time it.”

“Sam-”

“Please Dean,” he had graduated to full on whining and he couldn’t even bring himself to care. “I’ll be so quick. I just want to get my backpack and then I’ll come right back. What’s gonna happen?”

“Will it get you to shut up?” Dean suddenly shouted, punching his hand into the leather seat.

Sam paused, stunned less by Dean’s tone and more by the fact that it seemed he could possibly be relenting.

“Yeah,” he told his brother. “Yeah, I promise.”

“Okay,” Dean said. “Okay, I’ll go get it.”

“But,”

“Sam,” he said, warningly.

Sam shut up, not willing to sacrifice this partial victory.

Dean opened the front door a crack, letting in a wave of fresh evening air. They both paused for a moment, drinking it in.

So far, nothing had assaulted them, Sam thought with an internal eyeroll.

“Stay here,” Dean told him with a dark look, before getting out of the car and slamming the door shut.

Sam watched jealously through the windows as Dean walked briskly around the Impala and popped the trunk, disappearing below the hood.

Dean sure didn’t look like he was rushing to get back, Sam thought mutinously.

 

It happened in the space of a moment.

A dark cloud of something, something, jesus what the hell emerged from the tree line down, hovering menacingly there for a half a second before making a beeline for the Impala.

Sam screamed for his brother, but the thing was at the car before he finished opening his mouth. He saw Dean’s head appear over the hood as brother straightened in surprise. Then the the only thing Sam could see out the rear window was an inky unforgiving black.

Sam screamed again, and fumbled for the door.

He fell out the car and rolled across the gravel, dropping automatically into the low fighting stance that John had drilled into him over the years.

“Dean…” he shouted again, desperate for some kind of response.

The only thing he heard was a sort of droning, hostile buzz, like angry static.

He edged carefully around the car until his brother came into view.

Or, scratch that. His brother’s feet came into view, lying prone on the ground. The rest of Dean’s body was subsumed by swarm of black flies, bodies twice the size of a normal house fly and packed together so closely you couldn’t see air between them.

Shit.

 

Sam backed up half a step, grasping nonsensically for a weapon that he didn’t have, wouldn’t even have known how to use if he did.

Because, how do you even begin to fight...flies?

Dean moaned, a pathetically weak noise under the unnerving humming, and Sam acted on instinct, feeling around for pebbles, sticks, anything that could be turned into a projectile.

“Hey,” he shouted. The swarm turned toward him as one, like a single living animal, and Sam was momentarily struck dumb by the glare of millions of alien, angry eyes.

Sam swallowed, feeling deeply young and unsure. Then he tossed a pebble, sending it arcing over Dean’s body and straight through the heart of the cloud.

The buzzing ramped up indignantly.

Sam allowed his eyes to flick just once, behind the swarm and over to the trunk of the Impala, where all the guns lived. And the grenades.

Then the flies attacked and Sam ran.

 

Sam had been shooting up recently, limbs stretching out like someone was yanking on them. He’d been getting faster too, stronger.

And now his only thought was to get the damned bugs away from Dean.

So he ran.

Flat out, with his head down like a charging bull, tripping his way across the grass and back down to the road. He pounded the pavement, putting every inch of his newly long legs to work as he headed as far away from the car as possible.

The swarm obliged him, chasing after Sam with a vindictive ferocity and nipping at his heels with sharp, angry stings.

Sam was faster. He ran until he had no idea where he was, until he was panting from exhaustion and his eyes were blurring with tears and sweat.

Every time he thought about slowing down, he thought about Dean still and unmoving on the ground.

Then he tripped and they were upon him.

Sam screamed into the tearing dark.

 

 

The next thing he was aware of was waking up in a hospital bed with John Winchester looking at him.

The expression on John’s face made Sam wish he hadn’t woken up.

Corpse flies, John had explained to him.

Flies that had gotten tired of waiting around for dead flesh to appear, so they had decided to go out and create their own supply. With a supernatural boost, of course, from a nearby witch.

Sam had been lucky, John had gotten there just in time to see Sam fall, and he was able to clear out the swarm with a gas grenade.

Dean, though.

Dean would be in the hospital for days.

 

"You have to understand, son," John told him after Sam had been pronounced fit to be discharged and the two of them had silently made their way to a motel, "when I give you orders, they're for a reason. If you were in the Marines and you pulled a stunt like you did yesterday, you'd be in danger of being court-martialed. Now, your brother is in a coma because of your actions, so I hope you can see why I'm going to have to punish you.

Sam opens his mouth to argue, because the injustice here is palpable, but he's still at an age where a look like the one he gets from his father can shut him up.

 

"The belt or my hand Sam? I'll let you choose for now."

Sam lifts his chin, because he may not be getting out of this, but no way is he going to give his father the satisfaction of being made to participate.

 

Now

 

He lives for a long time in a kind of heavily drugged twilight that mutes the pain in his broken body and turns the whole world soft and grey. He thinks about his brother, dredging his memory for everything he can, but the Dean of the present stays maddeningly, stubbornly out of reach.

He remembers the past though, in perfect detail.

And then Annie comes to him in his dreams.

She's always there, day and night, asleep or awake, swallowing him up like honey.

"Sam, just let me take care of you."

She binds his wounds, changes the dressings, snakes the catheter back into place.

“Sam, you’ve been so alone."

She's creeping closer this time, running her hot heavy hands along the length of his body and up and down his flanks in a slow, methodical rhythm. He shifts over minutely in the bed, trying to flick her away, trying to shake himself out of this dream.

Annie's form flickers briefly, before resolving once more and becoming hot and solid.

There's a secret little smile playing at her lips, it's the girlish one that Sam hates. It makes him feel vivisected.

Dean.

He whimpers out loud.

"I know what it’s like to not belong." She cups his chin and bends down to kiss him on the forehead, softly, like a mother would. He can smell onions and meatloaf on her breath as she exhales against him.

She’s not a dream this time then, and she’s close, far too close, perching on the edge of the bed and looming over him. She lays her head lightly against his chest, like she's trying to hear his heartbeat. It's a parody of cuddling by someone who only seen the act from a distance.
She also seems to have completely forgotten about his still-mending ribs. He fights back a moan as she drapes more of herself across him.

"But, I found you Sam." she whispers.

Everything is suddenly getting too warm, too sensitized.

“It’s okay,” she says again against his skin, “I found you and claimed you and now you’re back where you belong.”

Then she's rubbing his chest in slow, inexorable circles, occasionally letting her fingers dip beneath the hem of the blanket. His tee-shirt is rucked up and she's touching skin. He closes his eyes, trying not to cringe away. She's touched him before. It's not like she hasn't seen every part of him by this point.

“I’m a nurse, Sam. My job is to make you feel good.”

Her fingers grasp his cock with expert pressure. She’s obtained liquid from somewhere, because her palm is nice and slick all of a sudden and he doesn’t want this, doesn’t know how to make it stop. She strokes along the vein with nice, firm movements that make him roll his hips in spite of himself. He gives in, just a little bit, until his fractured bones protest and the pain gets all mixed up with the pleasure until it’s too much, too much, not enough, he needs this all to stop right now.

She sinks down on him and he thinks dully that he never knew how much sex could feel like suffocation.

Dean he says again, Dean. Dean, Dean.

Annie’s breath is hot on his neck, her voice is a slow, steady seep against his ear. “ Dean isn’t coming. And if you truly loved him, you would be okay with that. Because all you ever do is hurt him.”

Dean isn't coming. Dean's never coming again.

“But it's okay Sam. You’re with me and you can rest now.”

And Sam relaxes, animal body grateful for the comfort.

Chapter Text

Sam's world is mostly dreams these days. It's a hazy, twilight sort of existence. He wanders through his head, reexamining old memories, until that gets too hard. Then, mostly he just drifts. He might have once been someone, he thinks. A person, outside of a bed. But maybe that too, was a kind of dream.

From time to time, pain comes to jolt him out of his head and back, briefly into his body, the grinding ache of broken bones and maybe other things that don't bear thinking about.

But Annie always comes, with a warm hand and a comforting needle prick to send him back into dreams. He thinks vaguely that she might stay with him sometimes, curled up protectively against his prone body. There's a problem there, he knows that, but nothing quite takes shape in his mind, so he lets it go. Mostly, it just feels safe. Comforting. There was someone else who used to stay with him like that when he was sick, back when he was much younger.

Dean. Dean was the one who stayed with him. Why can he not remember that?

Sam grabs hold of the memories of his brother with both hands and fucking clings.

Memory Dean dances out of reach, slippery as anything, and Sam feels himself losing the thread again.

"Filthy," whispers Dean as he dissolves into the blank space inside Sam's head. "Freak."

Alone in his mind again, Sam whimpers. He shouldn’t be alone. He’s never been good on his own.

She shaves him at least once, he's fairly certain, and gives him a sponge bath in the bed. It's careful and so, so, thorough. Sam doesn't mind. After all, he's dirty, dirty, dirty. But Annie's there to make him clean again.

His world is inside his head and on the bed, with Annie moving against him.

Sam is abruptly awake, more completely than he's been before. The transition is startling. There's a wrenching hand against his back, pushing him into a sitting position with unexpected force. Annie comes around and into focus, muttering to herself.

He stares confusedly at her, not certain what's happening here.

And then he hears it.

There's somebody at the door.

It's a fragment of a thought, so bizarre it can barely take root in Sam's battered psyche.

But no, he's not imagining it. Those are real, actual heavy footsteps he's hearing, mounting Annie's rickety front steps.

He doesn't know what to do with this. It's been an indeterminable length of time that's he's spent here, mostly just existing, drifting in a hazy bath of self-recrimination and physical agony. Hope feels like a foreign language, with a grammar that he never quite got the hang of.

There's an authoritative knock on the door. Sam thinks with a pang that it's the kind of knock Dean would make when he’s on a case.

Dean is probably off somewhere now, maybe doing just that. What was Sam thinking, that he could do this without Dean? He deserves everything that's happened to him.

Annie runs in with a look on her face that Sam is tempted to call fear, except that he knows better. Annie will take care of it. She always does.

She produces a pair of hastily rolled up socks and shoves them unceremoniously down Sam's throat. Sam gags only a little bit as the cotton catches against his throat. He's has a moment to be grateful that they do not appear at least to be used socks.

There's a double knock on the door, loud and irritated. Annie takes a moment to kiss him tenderly on the forehead, brushing his bangs out of the way. Then she presses her finger to her lips in a universal gesture of warning. With one last significant look in Sam's direction, she's reaches around this middle and hoists him up into a fireman's carry like he weighs nothing.

The pain is extraordinary, dizzying. Annie jostles his broken body with every step she takes, carrying him out into the living room and through a second door he hadn't noticed before, down steep steps into a dark, unfinished basement. Sam starts to cry out, a strangled garbled noise, but Annie slaps him forcefully on his rump and Sam shuts up.

Sam gets deposited like so much unwanted luggage on the dusty old floor. Annie barely spares him a thought before she mounts the stairs again, leaving him alone in the dark.

He hears the unmistakable timber of Dean’s voice in his best federal agent mode, asking Annie a question. He wants to call out to his brother. He wants to stay in this dark basement cowering forever.

Footsteps. Dean walking away. Dean leaving him. That’s right. That’s as it should be.

Sam drifts in the dark of the basement for an indeterminable amount of time, before he wakes up the sound of Dean’s voice again.

He hears the two of them talking, Annie’s voice rising into the shrill register that signals that she’s dangerously close to entering into one of her moods. Sam wishes he were up there to warn Dean away. He thinks he can placate Annie. He’s learning how.

Dean sounds pushy and frustrated. Sam wonders why.

There’s more footsteps and a creak of floorboards. They’re coming closer. Sam twists on the floor in frustration, feeling like a worm on a hook. He tries to shout around the gag, hears the noise die in his throat.

The door at the top of the stairs rattles, Sam can see a growing sliver of light as it’s forced open.

Then Dean’s face appears and Sam wants to cry out, but he can only stare at his brother. Dean’s face is this strange mixture of desperate relief and banked terror. His lips start to form the word “Sam.”

Instead there’s the crack of a shotgun and the world stutters and slows. Dean looks down at his chest and sees a spreading bloom of red there. Then he topples bonelessly down the stairs until he’s lying still on the gray cement floor, just out of Sam’s reach. Dean’s been reduced to a red splattered rag doll at his feet and all Sam can do is scream silently into his gag.

From behind him steps Annie, gun still held high. She doesn’t look triumphant or smug or even horrified. She just looks blank. She’s taking care of business, that’s all. She walks calmly downstairs, stepping over Dean’s body like she doesn’t even see him there.

She carefully places the gun on the bottom step before crouching to check on Sam.

“Well, now,” she says to Sam, easy as pie, smooth as Sunday afternoon. “That was certainly messy, wasn’t it?” She pulls out his gag, like she’s expecting him to say something equally pleasant. Instead, ignoring the screaming in his body, he rises up as high as he can, and head butts her.

It’s not a very strong headbutt. But Annie nevertheless stumbles back with a startled puff of air, before regrouping and coming towards him again. She’s got her hands out in front of her, clearly intending to grab him by the shoulders. He leans in and bites her on the wrist, clinging like a rabid dog until he’s drawn blood. She’s furious now and kicks him hard in the legs right on one of the fractures. He lets go with a scream, vision whiting out briefly from the pain, but adrenaline is riding him harder than anything now and he sees her scrambling backwards for the gun. He launches himself at her, letting his bodyweight do the work of knocking her over. Sam may not have easy use of his limbs right now, but he’s still a big guy and right now he’s willing to work with what he’s got.

Annie’s not exactly small though and she’s fighting viciously, kneeing him the balls and kicking all of his injuries in turn. They roll over and over across the dirty floor, Sam biting at any bit of flesh he comes into contact and trying to slam her head into the hard ground.

His teeth make contact with the soft, vulnerable skin of her throat. and he bites down hard, ripping into skin. It's like with Ruby all over again, and Sam can't dispute that he was literally made for this, to rip and to rend and to taste what he reaps. Annie may have burned it out of him for now, but this is who he is, and who he'll always go back to being, with no one around to keep him moored.

Her blood hits his tongue, bright and frictionless, like high proof whiskey.

Then there's something else there too, something bright and light filled that hits his tongue like scourging fire. There's a rough, wrenching feeling in his gut.

He tips his head back and screams as the white light fills him.

Chapter Text

There is a fan spinning overhead. Sam lies on his back, studying the whirl and hum of the blades with dreamy detachment until piece by piece, the scene reasserts himself and he understands that he’s back in Bobby’s panic room, stretched out on the camp bed. Just like before, the straps around his ankles are tight around his limbs.

Then, slowly, so, so slowly, Sam feels something shift against him. He watches, fascinated, as the straps begin to move on their own, undoing themselves, until finally they fall open.

He twists his neck around sees the door left tantalizingly ajar.

He’s been here before.

Is he dreaming? (Which time is the dream? )

Sam wiggles his fingers and toes experimentally and feels a thrill of pleasure at knowing this body is whole again, and he can get out and walk out of here any time he chooses.

There's nothing holding him here and he still WANTS, blood and revenge and Ruby, in that order.

But he thinks "Dean" with a sharp whip crack of longing and that’s enough to make him stay for now.

Presently his brother appears to check on him and finds him like that, stretched out on the cot and staring at the open door.

Dean looks startled, then desperately relieved, grabbing him by the shoulders and looking him in the eyes.

“You're clean Sammy? Jesus, does this mean you're clean?”

Sam considers for a moment. He still wants, a part of him knows he probably always will, no matter what got burned out of him. But it’s all mixed up with something else now. Something that tastes embarrassingly like fear. He needs Dean to stay right now, more than he needs anything else.

If this is what being clean is, why does it feel like a chest wound? He’s still vulnerable and bloody, but at least he’s strong enough to pretend otherwise, and maybe that’s enough.

He nods slowly. Dean hugs him outright.

"Monster," says Dean's voice in Sam's head. "Dirty, dirty, dirty" she echoes.

Sam just holds his brother tighter, fisting Dean's flannel like he's afraid of what will happen if he lets go.

 

--------
The angel in the rumpled trench coat watches her stonily from across the room. "You were not supposed to have interfered. There were orders."

Annie smiles nastily. "And since when have orders ever applied to me?"

"Heaven does not suffer nephilim to live, precisely for this reason. You should have been terminated immediately. I do not know how the oversight occurred, but fortunately I am here to rectify it."

"Castiel is it?" Annie says the name all sticky-sweet, like sugar coating something poisonous.

"You should not know that name."

"Oh I get around. Believe you me, I hear things. I've had a lot of time on this earth to learn how to tune into the right angelic channels. Self preservation really. It pays to listen in on the people who want you dead. And then to discover that Carver Edlund, writer of the greatest series of books ever was a prophet, and Sam Winchester was real? My goodness that was quite the exciting afternoon.” Annie throws up her hands in a gesture meant to convey helpless emotion.

Then she glares. “I heard your plans for Sam Winchester, what you were going to do to that poor boy then believe me, I had to intercede for his sake and for mine. And I must say, I think I outdid myself. A little messy, especially at the end there, but Sam’s head is quite the minefield, so I had to improvise a bit. But the important thing is that now Sam will never stray from his brother and raise Lucifer."

"You...of all people, wanted to save the world?" Castiel sounds honestly baffled.

Annie laughs, short and hard.

"Goodness, what a terrible thing to say. I quite enjoy this world in fact, and I'd like to continue to enjoy it. And it just wouldn’t be the same without Sam in it, not now that I know he’s real. I really am a fan, you see."

Bright, unearthly light fills the room. If a human had been with him, Dean perhaps, Castiel could have expounded upon the 1,00,002 characteristics of this particular light, waxing eloquently about the minute differences that separated it from pure angel grace.

Instead, finding himself totally and completely alone, Castiel remains silent.

 

Epilogue:

6 weeks later.

They’re at a dinner somewhere in Iowa when Sam sees her, and goes cold. She’s a frowsy middle aged brunette sitting by herself at the table directly in front of their booth. Utterly nondescript and totally forgettable.

Dean is carrying on an extended monologue about Lucifer and the possibility of a Van Halen reunion tour and whether or not the existence of one precludes the other, but Sam has stopped listening.

She’s minding her own business, and hasn’t given any sign that she recognizes either of them. She’s a teacher probably, it looks like those are term papers spread out in front of her. She probably just stopped in for a meal and change of scenery and she’s going to continue on with her grading.

Nothing to see here. Just him and Dean, same as always. A few recent bumps in the road, maybe, but they can get past that, Sam will make sure of that, he’ll force things back into shape between them if that’s what it takes, do whatever Dean needs him to do and pretty soon this this woman and this dinner will fade from memory, and he won’t be able to even to remember what it is about her that made him think-

Earth to Sammy, Dean says snapping his fingers in front of Sam's face.

"Hmm," Sam answers, eyes fixed on her tote-bag, which is on the seat next to her. Sticking out from the bag is undeniably, a copy of the first Supernatural book.
The woman, finally realizing she's being stared out, shifts around to meet Sam's eyes with a polite smile. Sam gives her an abbreviated nod.

"You like those books?" he finds himself asking, with a stiff jerk of his chin towards the book in the tote.

Her face clears and the smile becomes blinding. "What...the Supernatural books? Oh I guess you can say I'm a fan.”