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Between the Lines of Fear and Blame 1b/4

All notes and disclaimers in Part 1a.


It was mere seconds, maybe minutes.  Time was off here, skewed and distorted, and the very fabric of the existence felt strained and unsettled.

He blinked, and he realized there was shape in the light.  Blinking again, shadows danced across his vision, and the light receded just enough that he could see.

Bobby’s panic room. 

At first, Dean thought he was alone.  The room was as barren as the night he’d lock Sam in it--the sparest of furniture and the lone pitcher of water.  Walking around, Dean ran his hands along the walls, thick and impenetrable metal.  He lingered at the door, trying the handle and finding it tight.  The window slot was closed tight.

Moving away from it, Dean walked to the bed, letting his eyes trail to the ceiling.  The fan circled lazily, and its meager light made the place seem even more lonely.

He kept walking, going to the table, fingering the pitcher, before turning back toward the door.  “This is ridiculous,” he muttered.  “Sam!  Come on, buddy!  I thought we were going to talk about this!”

His own voice echoed off the walls, resounding in his ears.  No reply came except his own pleas.

Frowning, he went to the door, pounding on it.  “Sammy!  I can’t help you if you don’t come talk to me!”

Still, nothing.

Swearing, Dean ran a hand over his face, turning back to the room.  This was ridiculous.  He had things to do.  He came to Sam’s mind to help bring his brother back, not get lost in the mess that was his brother’s head. 

Well, that was okay.  If Sam didn’t want to talk, they didn’t have to talk. Dean would just grab him and haul ass.  But first--he had to get out.

Turning to the walls, he ran his fingers along them, looking for some sign of weakness.  But, it was solid and secure, designed to protect, to keep things out--but Dean had to admit, being locked in was slightly unnerving.

For a second, Dean had to wonder what it had been like for Sam.  To yell and scream for help and have no one answer.  How many hours had it lasted?  How many pleas had Sam made?  And how many had Dean ignored?  Worse, how many had he returned with blithe insults while Sam was suffering?

There’d been no option.  Sam made his bed; he had to sleep in it.

Swallowing hard, Dean tried to believe that as he looked around the room again.

And then he saw him.

How a man Sam’s size could fit in so small a space was beyond him.  But, there Sam was, curled into a ball, tucked miserably into a corner, face pressed against the metal wall.

Dean’s resolve faltered.  His attempts to leave were thwarted by the big brotherly instinct to take care of Sam.

Slowly, he made his way over to his brother.  “Sam?” he called.  “Can you hear me?”

There was a whimper and Sam shuddered visibly.

Flinching, Dean kneeled next to him, trying to get a look at his brother’s face.

What he saw was painfully familiar.  Garish features and pale coloring--Sam looked horrible.

Collecting himself, he spoke gently.  “Sammy?  You think we can talk?”

Sam’s eyes drifted open, focusing on Dean slowly.  “Dean?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, trying to sound reassuring.  “It’s me.”

“I hoped you’d come,” Sam told him, his voice wispy.  “It’s so lonely in here.  Like I could get lost.  Like I don’t exist.  I’d be better if I didn’t exist.”

It was hard to listen to, but Dean reminded himself that this wasn’t the point.  He just needed to get Sam out of here.  “Hey, it’s okay,” he said.  “I think maybe it’s time to go.”

Sam shook his head lazily.  “I have to stay,” he said.  “You locked the door.  Told me I deserved it.  I deserve it.”

Dean remembered that, and, seeing Sam like this, it was hard not to feel guilty.  There had been truth to it, of course, but seeing Sam like this--now it just seemed like kicking Sam when he was down.

“I’m thirsty,” Sam said, and he squeezed his eyes shut.  “I’m so thirsty.”

“There’s water,” Dean pointed out, glancing at the pitcher on the table.”

“Illusion,” Sam mumbled.  “Every time I go to it, I can’t grab it.”

Dean’s conscience twinged.  Bobby had been adamant about leaving the water, but neither of them had really considered whether or not Sam would be capable of drinking it on his own.

Sam swallowed dryly, laughing a little.  His eyes cracked open and his lips were chapped.  “I don’t deserve it,” he said.  “Just another demon problem.”

Leaving Sam locked inside hadn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination.  But Dean realized with acute certainty that it was far easier than being in there with Sam.  The seizure itself had almost left Dean undone.  This?  Was worse than the begging, worse than the pleading.  Worse than the screams.

This was heartbreaking.

Sam was broken.  He was spent and alone.  He couldn’t drink.  He couldn’t go to the bathroom.  He couldn’t do anything.  Except be lost--and alone--in his delusions.

Dean couldn’t be sure how he’d done it then, how he’d let himself believe that there was no other choice.

This time, Sam’s head or not, Dean couldn’t let his brother suffer like this. 

“Come on,” Dean coaxed, pulling on Sam’s arm.  “Why don’t we get you to the bed.”

Sam shook his head, pulling into himself.  “I was there,” Sam said.  “Tied me down.  Alastair, first.  Torture.  Torture and more torture.  What I should have had.  What Dean did for me.”

Dean swallowed a little and forced himself to stay with it.  “Not so boo hoo now, is it, Sammy?”

Sam just shook his head. “Dean needed me,” he said.  “He needed me to be strong, even when he didn’t want to admit it.  He needed me to carry the load.  I wanted to.  I let him go to Hell, I wanted to do this.  I want to kill Lilith for him.  For all of us.  Be a Winchester.”

Dean pulled his hand away, stiffening a little. “I don’t need to be protected, Sam,” he said.  “I can handle myself.  I’m not the one who went off the deep end this year.”

At that, Sam blinked, turning strained eyes up at him.  “But that’s what Winchesters do,” he said.  “You told me to remember.  I remember.  When one of us is weak, the others pick up the slack.  You went to Hell for me.  I had to make sacrifices, too.”

Dean couldn’t help but snort a little.  “So sucking demon blood?  Shacking up with Ruby?  Those are your sacrifices for me, dude?  What makes you think I’d want anything to do with any of that?”

“I didn’t want you to go to Hell for me, and you did it for me anyway,” Sam told him.  “Winchesters make the ends justify the means.  No matter what.  You and Dad and Mom.  My turn.  I was ready for it to be my turn.  Even if it cost me everything.”

Dean looked at his brother, looked at the shaking frame and the sunken face.  There was determination there.  There was sadness and grief and brokenness and pure grit--but there was no regret.  Sam had sold himself out, given over his soul, and wasn’t looking back.  It was a determination Dean recognized in himself after he made the deal in the first place.  As much as he’d hated the consequences, he could never be sorry he did it.

At least, that used to be the case.  Until Sam betrayed him.

But had Sam really betrayed him?  Sam had betrayed himself.  Sam had given up his dreams and his hopes and his everything just to try to make it right for Dean.

He was so angry at Sam--and Sam was angry at himself.  More than that, Sam hated himself.  It was a harsh truth, one that was easier to overlook than deal with. 

It wasn’t something he liked to think about.  That his anger at Sam was just a distraction from the fact that his brother was a mess inside.  Not that it made Sam’s decisions right, but being mad at Sam didn’t fix it.  There were problems here Dean didn’t know how to grasp.

Sam started shaking with more intensity, his eyes pleading.  “I just wish I knew,” he said.

“Knew what?”

“Who I am,” Sam said.  “Who am I, Dean?”

There was a vulnerability in the question that made Dean’s heart ache.  Sam looked so young--the pale face and stringy hair could be a six year old Sam with the flu.  Dean’s protective instincts were still strong, and he wondered how he’d done this.  How he’d locked Sam up without a second thought, how he’d ignored his brothers screams and said at least he’ll die human.  It seemed impossible to witness such pain and agony and do nothing.  No matter what Sam had done to get himself there, no one deserved that.  Especially not Dean’s little brother.

Gently, Dean crouched, putting a steady hand on his brother’s shoulder.  “You’re just messed up right now.  But I can fix it, okay?”

Shaking, Sam’s face twitched.  “And what is that worth?”

Dean’s mouth opened, then closed.  He licked his lips, his hand lingering on Sam’s shoulder.  His brother’s eyes were still on him, bloodshot and desperate and unrelenting.

“It’s worth seeing you suffer like this,” Dean said.  “Because I know I can save you.  It’s not easy, but we can be brothers again.  Like we used to be.  You just have to leave this behind, trust me.  When have I ever led you wrong?”

Sam kept his eyes on him, though it was a visible effort.  He licked dry lips, and shook his head.  “You were wrong about me,” he said.  “You used to believe I was worth it.  You don’t anymore.  That’s why you locked me in here.  Because I’m evil.  I can never be your brother after this.  Because when you locked that door, Dean, you made your stand.  Even if I survive this, part of me will never come out.”

Sam closed his eyes, turning away, as new tremors wracked his body.  A tear slipped from Sam’s shut eyes and he shook his head again.

“I turned myself into a monster,” he whispered.  “There is no going back.  The real Dean locked me in here.  You’re just a hallucination, just like the rest of them.”

Dean had never thought of it like that.  He had been so desperate to fix Sam, that it hadn’t really occurred to him what Sam felt about it.  Sam was sucking demon blood, skanking around with Ruby, lying to him: what else was Dean supposed to do?

But there was something wrong about this.  Something so wrong.  That Sam would question his validity not because of Dean’s supposed cruelty, but rather, his compassion.  Sam didn’t doubt that he was a monster who deserved to be locked up. 

And he didn’t blame Dean for it.  No, Sam just couldn’t believe that the Dean, here and now, offering him gentle understanding and reassurance was real.

It was like being in the cabin with his father all those years ago, and the only tip off that things had gone horribly wrong being how proud John was...

“Sam,” he said, hoping to find the words.  “Come on, it’s not--”

Sam’s eyes snapped open, frantic and panicked, and then, without warning, his body went straight and rigid.  The massive body fell hard to the floor, and it was hard for Dean to remind himself that this was only a manifestation, that this wasn’t Sam.

The seizure took hold, fast and hard.  Sam’s entire body thrashed with it, thumping painfully into the sparse confines of the panic room.  Sam’s eyes were open, eyeballs rolled back, and blood seeped from Sam’s mouth.

Manifestation or not, Dean couldn’t sit by and let Sam suffer--at least, not anymore.

Going to his knees, he sought some way to make it stop--to make Sam stop.  “Sam,” he said.  “Sammy, come on!”

But the thrashing continued, more violently now, and Sam made a low keening noise as he reeled like a fish out of water.

Like death throes.

If Sam died here, was it possible Sam was dying in the real world, too?

Dean had to swallow hard against that thought, as he sought out Sam again.  “Sam!  Sammy, come on!”

He remembered his line: at least he’ll die human.

It was harder to face now.

“Sam!”

Sam’s body went taut, head strained back, limbs stiff as boards.  He made a gurgling noise, before he began choking.

“No, no, no,” Dean muttered, moving closer.  He worked at Sam’s mouth, trying to open it, but it was locked shut. 

Sam was going a little blue, fresh blood smeared on his face.   

“Sam, snap out of it!”

But Sam was dying, Dean realized.   Sam was dying and Dean couldn’t do anything about it.

The hardest truth was that Sam had been dying before and Dean hadn’t been willing to do anything about it.

“Sam!” he yelled again, hoping to make him hear him, to make Sam listen, but it was too late...too little...and Dean found himself fading out.

-o-

Dean wasn’t sure what he expected, but the thin clapboard walls were a bit of a surprise.  The room was drafty, probably thanks to the gaps in the planks that made up the walls. 

It was a cabin of sorts, and, even by Winchester standards, it was pretty pathetic.  It even smelled funny--rank and musty and sort of like there was something dead buried beneath the floor somewhere.

So clearly, he was still in Sam’s head.

Though, really, he had to hand it to Sam.  These were pretty vivid memories.  Right down to the mouse that scurried across the floor.

The vividness, while impressive, only accentuated just how bad of a place this was.  Dean tried to think--what memory could this be?  He’d been in the panic room, which was easy enough to identify, but this place?  Didn’t ring any bells.  Sure, they’d squatted on piece of crap properties before and hunted in some that were pretty run down, but this?  Sort of took the cake.

Moving around, Dean could see among the filth, that it was in fact being lived in.  There were sheets on the bed, a ratted out pillow at its head.  There was a dish and a cup on the table and Sam’s duffel was heaped on dilapidated dresser.

More than being lived in, it was Sam who seemed to be doing the living, though it was pretty hard to tell.  Aside from Sam’s meager belongings, the place was a pit, with the bed unmade and the dishes dirty.  Sam was fastidious on his worst days, and it was only when Dean was making fun of him or forcing him out the door that Sam let it slide.

But Sam had let it more than slide.  Sam had let it literally fall apart.

Then there was a groan.

Surprised, Dean turned around.  From the shadowed corner, Sam’s looming body emerged, fumbling with one hand at his fly, a bottle of something that smelled foul from the other.

With a stagger, Sam gave Dean a look, moving past him and collapsing heavily on the bed.  The kid looked like he was ready to pass out, which, given the heavy scent of alcohol that Dean could smell, seemed about right.

But this wasn’t his little brother getting a little too carried away on karaoke night.  This was his little brother’s head, and Dean really didn’t know if he had time to mess around in here.  Not to mention the metaphysical headache he got when he contemplated Sam unconscious in his unconscious mind.

Besides, all this begged the question: “Dude, what the Hell are you doing?”

Sam’s eyes slitted open and he managed something like a glare.  “What the Hell are you doing?” he asked back.

“I’m trying to figure out what’s going on in here.”

“I’m trying to get drunk,” Sam replied shortly.  “And you’re totally screwing it up.”

Dean shook his head, moving toward Sam.  He fisted his hands in his brother’s shirt, hauling him to his feet.  Sam stumbled and cursed, pulling away from Dean with the vehemence of a petulant child.  “You’re dead anyway,” Sam whined.  “Can’t you leave me alone for five minutes?”

“Apparently not,” Dean said.  “Since you’ve gone off and got yourself drunk out of your mind.”

Sam actually laughed at that, deep and head thrown back.  “I thought about swallowing a bullet, but the alcohol seemed a little less destructive.”

Dean didn’t know whether to be pissed off or terrified.  In the end, he was both.  “So this is what you did?  Instead of getting me out, you sat here and got drunk?”

Sam’s humor diminished.  “I tried everything,” he said, leaning in close.  “I offered them my damned soul and what did they say?  They didn’t want it.  Probably because it’s damned anyway.  Why trade for me when they’ve already got me, right?  That’d be just plain crappy business.  And demons suck but they’re not stupid.  I’m stupid.”

“For getting drunk?” Dean admonished.  “Hell, yeah.  What about the hunt?  What if something comes after you?”

“Then it better have an acquired taste for Jack Daniels because I think my entire stomach might be full of it,” Sam said, and he took a swig for good measure.

Annoyed, Dean could only glare.  “I can’t believe you’re wasting it.”

“I can’t believe you wasted it,” Sam shot back.  “Everything Dad sacrificed to bring you back, and you throw your life away on me.  The demons don’t even want me and yet you just sold your soul all willy nilly.”

“Willy nilly?”

“So I get a little hillbilly when I’m drunk,” Sam slurred.  “Bobby would be proud.  Well, he’d be proud if he loved me.  But he just misses you.  I was in the way, I think.  And I think it pissed him off when I drank his scotch.”

“He was trying to look out for you, asshole,” Dean said.  “Which, you clearly need.”

And then some.  Sam was a mess.  Like a two year old without adult supervision, Sam had made a mess of everything.  Drunk and dirty, stupid and standoffish--it was embarrassing.  It was hurtful.  While Dean was being tortured in Hell, Sam was getting drunk. 

Sam’s nose scrunched up.  “He was only thinking of you,” Sam said.  “He loved you like a son.  He loved me like your brother.”

“You don’t know anything,” Dean said.

“And you do?” Sam shot back, indignantly.

Dean didn’t back down.  He could feel sorry for the Sam in the panic room--but this was harder.  This was drunkenness--sloppy and self pitying.  He was in Sam’s head trying to drag his brother the Hell out, and Sam was taking him on a rambling trip through a drunken escapade.  He didn’t have time for it.

And in light of Hell, it just looked damned pathetic.

“Yeah, I do,” Dean said.  “I know I sold my soul so you could do better than this.”  He shook his head.  “Sam, you were the lucky one here.  You didn’t have to suffer like I did, and what?  You try to make yourself miserable just for kicks?”

“You think I was the lucky one, Dean?” he asked, throwing his hands out.  “You think I’m the lucky one?  Every night I go to sleep, you’re in Hell.  Every morning I wake up, and you’re in Hell.  Every hunt I go on, you’re in Hell.  Every person I talk to, every meal I eat, every movie I watch, you’re in Hell.  And worse, it’s all my fault.  I don’t deserve to live, I never have, and yet, here I am.  So damn lucky that I don’t even know what to do with myself.”

For a second, Dean was taken aback.  It was an outburst Dean hadn’t expected.  It was harsh and difficult, but Dean could see where it was flawed.  “Well, it certainly wasn’t me who was lucky,” Dean snapped.  “Four months alone?  Try forty years in Hell.”

“Yeah?” Sam asked, his eyebrows raised in defiance.  “At least you got to choose.  At least you got to die the good Winchester.  At least you got to die before you saw me like this--”

Sam motioned to himself, the dirty clothes and the sunken cheeks, before shaking his head. 

“At least you got to die a hero, rather than live a failure.  What was it you said, Dean, before you died?  Before I watched the hounds rip you to shreds?  Remember what I taught you?”  Sam paused, tilting his head, taking a slow step forward.  His voice dropped, deep and gravelly.  “Remember that a good son makes the sacrifice.  That a Winchester sells his soul.”  Sam took another step, his mouth twisted in rage.  “That what you do with someone’s legacy doesn’t mean a damn thing--it’s just too little, too late.  Remember that, Dean?”  Sam closed the gap, wrapping his hands in his brother shirt and shaking, yelling in Dean’s face.  “Remember that?”

Sam let go, his hands dropping to his sides.  The fire died in Sam’s gaze and he sunk miserably to the dilapidated couch.  Taking another swig, Sam just shook his head.  “You’re not here anyway,” he said.  “I hear you, I see you, I feel you, but you’re never here.  I bought an iPod just to get you out of my head, to keep myself from going crazy.  I tried watching movies you like, I tried looking at your porn, but none of it makes any difference.  What the Hell does it matter what I do?  You’re already dead--you’re already gone--you’re in Hell.  I lost.  I screwed up.  And I can never get you back.  Too little, too late.  If there was anyone to give a damn, it could go on my freakin’ tombstone.”

Dean’s brow furrowed and he swallowed hard.  There was a lot there--between the rage and the self-loathing, Dean saw something he’d never wanted to see.  He saw his brother falling apart.  He had to admit, when he’d found Sam shacked up with a girl, when he’d found the iPod, learned about the movies--he’d been hurt.  He’d gone to Hell for the kid, and Dean had figured the least Sam could do was miss him. 

But he’d missed it.  All the while he’d thought Sam was okay, his brother was dead inside.  Sam couldn’t grieve, because he’d given it all up.  Suddenly, Sam’s allegiance to Ruby made sense. Dean had known she’d saved Sam’s life, but he’d never fathomed just how lost Sam had been.  He’d been drowning and Ruby had thrown him a lifeline.  Who was Dean to resent the fact he’d accepted?

He just hadn’t known.  He hadn’t known about the loathing.  He hadn’t known about the fatalism.  He hadn’t known that Sam had rid himself of every good emotion so he could just function. 

But then again, he’d never asked. 

It was no mystery, suddenly, when Sam had changed.  The fact that it ever had been was a little astounding, especially since it was a despair and desolation Dean recognized--one Dean had lived for those few interminable days after Cold Oak.  It was the feeling that had driven Dean to the crossroads, no questions asked.

“But maybe I should ask you,” Sam said, stepping forward a little.  His eyes narrowed and he swallowed hard. “I should ask you, since you know everything.  With all of this, with you dead and in Hell and me all alone, I just want to know one thing.  Who am I?”

It was a question Dean had thought about, especially during all the lies.  Most of the time, his idea of Sam had been colored with expletives and derogatory comments about following Ruby around.  But there was more to it. 

Sam hadn’t forgotten him.  Sam hadn’t spited him.  Sam had done exactly what Dean should have expected him to do, what Dean had told him to do.  Even if Dean had never intended it, this was what Dean had taught him.  This was what Dad had taught him.

He sighed.  He licked his lips, looking at Sam steadily.  He looked beyond the bloodshot eyes.  He looked beyond the sallow cheeks.  He looked beyond all of it, and saw the man Sam still was inside--the man Dean had to believe Sam still was..  “You’re my legacy,” he said.

Sam’s countenance wavered.  His lips curled into something like a pained smirk.  “Yeah?  And what is that worth?”

“It’s worth fighting,” Dean told him.  “You’re better than this.  I know you are.”

Sam laughed at that, and he shook his head.  “I knew I shouldn’t have asked you,” he said.  “You still believe that.  That I’m better than this.  That I was worth it.  Someday you’ll figure it out, Dean.  Someday.”

“Sam, come on,” Dean said.  “You can’t--”

“I can!” Sam snapping, turning on Dean in a rage.  He pushed Dean roughly, and Dean stumbled surprised.  “I can, okay?  Just leave me the Hell alone!”

Dean held his hands out in placation but Sam shoved him again, and Dean found himself tumbling backward.  Instead of hitting the wall, though, he kept falling and falling and falling.

-o-

And then he was in a diner.

Eating something with sausage.

Dean couldn’t help but grin.  “Hey, pignapoke,” he said.

Looking up, he found Sam staring at him.  “You don’t even like it that much.”

Dean’s smile faltered.  “Dude, I haven’t even taken a bite yet.”

“Which is why you’re still excited,” Sam told him.  “It’s sausage and eggs.  Side of toast.  It’s more than a bit of a let down.”

Dean looked his plate and frowned.  “Buzz kill,” he muttered.  Sighing, he looked up.  “Where are we anyway?”

“Where does it look like?”

“Some crap-ass diner,” Dean said.  “Like the rest of them.”

“Yep.”

“Okay, so when is this?”

Sam laughed at that outright.  “Oh, come on, this one shouldn’t be hard,” Sam said.  “It’s Tuesday.  It’s Tuesday and Tuesday and Tuesday.”

“Erm, okay,” Dean said.  He chewed his lip, putting down his fork.  “Trickster?”

“Trickster.  Not that I’ve figured that out yet.  Not that it matters if I do.  See, that’s the problem with demi-gods.  They can control it all.  I can’t even kill him.  So I can find him, day after day, I can threaten him, I can make demands, and he doesn’t have to do a damn thing.  I threaten, he starts us over.  I threaten, he kills you.  I threaten, he kills me.  I threaten, I kill myself.  I threaten, it’s Wednesday, but it’s not really Wednesday because you still die and I’m still here and Tuesday still comes once a week and I can’t do a thing about it.  It’s like, want a lesson in futility?  Here, have a Tuesday.  Then, in case you didn’t pick up on how powerless, worthless, and pathetic you really are, have another two hundred Tuesdays.”

“Yeah, okay,” Dean said slowly.  “I know how much this really must suck and all, but we’ve got to talk about this.”

“Talk about what?” Sam asked.  He cocked his head, looking off into nothing.  “Maybe we should talk about breakfast.  Pignapoke?  Short stack?  Maybe the old guy and the car.  Or the desk.  Talking about the desk is fun.  The human body, after all, can apparently get really, really flat.”

Dean opened his mouth to try to avoid the diatribe from continuing, but he never got the chance.

“Oh!” he said, looking at Dean fully.  His eyes were bright and wild.  Sliding out of the booth, he stood, looking at Dean with exceitment  “I know what we should talk about.  How about how you’re going to Hell? How you’re gong to Hell and it’s my fault and it’s my fault that you died today and tomorrow and the day after that and forever? Just like it’ll be my fault every day you’re in Hell.  Because I screwed up.  I always screw up.  And you’ll die because I’m a screw up and you’re following orders when I can’t.  Why don’t we talk about that?”

“Sam,” Dean said.  “Just.  Stop.”

Sam looked at him, surprised and incredulous.  “Stop?  Stop what?  Stop screwing up?  Stop breathing?  I’ve tried.  I have.  I can’t.  I can’t do anything.”

“No, just--this isn’t really your fault.”

“This?  You mean Tuesday?  Or Wednesday?  Or Hell?”

That gave Dean pause.  He wasn’t sure what he was talking about.  He just needed Sam to stop talking, because this wasn’t getting them anywhere.  He needed to get Sam out--not lost deeper in his brother’s screwed up psyche.  “All of it?” Dean ventured uncertainly, looking for anything to bring his brother from the manic pace of conversation.

Sam stared at him.  “All of it?  Really?”

Dean saw his opening and took it.  “Yeah, I mean, this?  Is the Trickster,” he said.  “Annoying son of a bitch, but you got to let it go.  This is what he wants.”

“So it’s my fault,” Sam said.

“What?”

“That it’s still going,” Sam said.  “If I could handle it better, then we wouldn’t still be here.  Just like if I had killed Jake in Cold Oak, I wouldn’t have died and you wouldn’t have made the deal.  Or maybe it started back in Stanford.  If I hadn’t gotten Jess killed--no, it was when Dad was possessed--no, it was going to college.  No!  I got it!  It was being born.  If I could just figure that out--”

It was too much.  Information overload in the extreme.  “Sam, seriously, I will hit you,” Dean interjected.

Sam stopped short.  “Okay.”

Dean stopped.  “Okay?”

“Do it,” Sam said.

“Do what?”

“Hit me,” Sam said.  He sounded almost excited about.  “I think that would work.”

“Hitting you would work?”

Sam nodded, and he took to pacing.  “Hitting me might make things better.  We haven’t tried that before.  Maybe hitting me will, I don’t know, set some kind of cosmic scale right.”

Dean rolled his eyes.  “Sam--”

But Sam was going, full tilt now.  “I deserve to be hit, obviously.  Actually, it might be best if you beat me up.  You know, do some kind of damage.  It might change the Tuesday.  Impress the Trickster.”

“Sam--”

“I’ve never tried putting myself in the hospital before.  I’ve always been focused on killing myself outright, not just incapacitating myself.”

And that was about all Dean could take before he actually did put Sam in the hospital.

Metaphysically speaking, since the real Sam actually was in the hospital, which was, of course, the problem here.

Too bad this Sam was even crazier than the addict.  And far less reasonable than the drunk.

“Just--shut up,” Dean said, forcefully. 

Sam bristled a little, his brow knitted together, but he fell silent.

Dean blew out a breath.  “You just need to chill a little, okay?”

“Chill?” Sam asked.  “How do you expect me to chill when you keep dying?”

“I’m here now, aren’t I?”

“Because the Trickster brought you back!  And the angels!  I have no control over that!  What happens when they decide not to?”

Dean winced a little.  That wasn’t a pleasant thought, but that wasn’t the point.  “We’ll deal with that when he comes.”

“But it does come,” Sam said.  “For me, it comes every day.  Every day I have to wonder.  Every day I have to know I’m a failure.  Every day.”

“Not every day,” Dean reminded him.  “We get out of this.”

Sam shook his head.  “I never get out of this.  This is my destiny.  To try and to fail.  To try and to fail.  Again and again and again and--”

Dean’s eyes widened and he held up his hand.  “Dude, I get it.  And I get that this is hard--”

Sam’s jaw dropped. “Hard?  Hard was managing to get a 4.0 while moving schools every three months.  Hard was working three jobs while trying to put myself through Stanford.  Hard is trying to listen to your music.  This?  This isn’t hard.  This is the inevitable story of my life.  All these questions, keep circling back.  How do I save Dean?  How do I be the good son?  How do I do anything?”

“Dude, those are questions we all ask,” Dean told him, leaning forward intently.

“But you have answers,” Sam told him.  “You have answers that matter.  Mine just make more questions.”

“No, they don’t,” Dean said.  “It’s not that simple.  I mean, just ask me.”

Sam threw his arms up.  “But it is,” he said.  “Tuesday after Tuesday, the questions all come out the same.  I fail.  I lose.  It’s that simple.”

“You’ve got to look beyond this loop, man.”

“Beyond the loop?  Beyond the loop?” Sam’s voice rose dangerously.  “My entire life is a loop.  Try to be a good son, fail.  Try to be normal, fail.  Try to avenge girlfriend, fail.  Try to save Dean, fail.  Try, try, try, try, fail.  And so I don’t know what else to do.  I can’t figure it out.  I can’t do it, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”

“Then stop!” Dean said.  “You don’t have to figure it out.”

“But I do,” Sam told him.  “How else do I make it stop?”

“Dude, you’re asking me?”

“You told me to ask you.”

“I did not.”

“You did.”

“When?”

“Before.”

“Are you sure?”

“Have you lived this day five hundred times?”

Dean’s brow creased.

“You’re supposed to tell me to ask again.”

“What?”

“Tell me to ask again.”

Dean’s mouth opened and closed.  There was a sudden futility in this that Dean couldn’t fight.

“Tell me,” Sam said, insistently.

It took a moment for Dean to find his voice, but he forced it to work.  “Ask again,” Dean said.

Sam seemed to shudder at that, but he pulled himself straight, his chin raised, as if he were playing a part.  “Who am I?”

Dean hesitated, looking at his brother.  His eyes were a little wild and his entire body was wound tightly.  He looked like he was ready to explode, turned around so many times, Dean sincerely doubted Sam knew which way was up at all.  Sam was just going on--keeping on the same path because he didn’t know what else to do.  Maybe because he had nothing else to do.

“You’re just a kid who’s trying too hard,” Dean said, as carefully as he could.  “You’re just one person.  You can’t change everything.”

“Yeah?” Sam asked.  “And what is that worth?”

“It’s...it’s not worth anything, kiddo,” Dean said.  “That’s just how it is.”

Sam nodded tightly.  “See.  It’s Tuesday.  Another futile Tuesday.  It doesn’t matter what I do, it all ends up the same.”

Then Sam pulled out his pistol, pointing it to his head.

Dean gasped, hands going out.  “Whoa, Sammy, what are you doing?”

“Don’t worry,” Sam said.  “You said it yourself.  It doesn’t matter anyway.  I’ll wake up and it’ll still be Tuesday, and it’ll be another day I can’t save you.”

“Come on, Sam--”

Then his brother pulled the trigger, and the scene went white.

Next





Comments

Posted by: Nebula (authoressnebula)
Posted at: September 4th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
spn sam big damn hero

This was definitely worth posting. (Then again, I feel that everything of yours should be posted and shared because you're that awesome.) This is fantastic!

Oh god, please to be posting more. Please. You've captured each Sam perfectly. The demon!Sam creeped me out, but he told Dean a lot of truths. A lot of these Sams have. And I love that your Dean is slowly starting to understand that yeah, Sam's not perfect, but god Sam's been breaking. And it's time for Dean to cut him a huge amount of slack and be a big brother again.

I'm waiting for Sam to ask "Who am I?" and have Dean respond without any hesitation, "My brother." Because he has to, and Dean has to know it for himself.

~Nebula

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
pretty sam

Aw, thanks! I will be posting the chapters every other day, which will time it all well with the new ep :)

I hope you like how it all resolves!

Posted by: zippy02 (zippy02)
Posted at: September 4th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)

Faye, I am at a loss for words. This is amazing and heartbreaking and brutal to read. Sam's pain is so palpable it brought tears to my eyes. I am glad you have only posted the first chapter because I want to reread it and let it sink in a little before read the next one. I am sure I will have more to say then. Thankfully you were talked into posting this. It is brilliant.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
the things I'd do

I would like to say it gets better, but not for awhile yet. There's a lot more of Sam to explore, so you better believe I'm going there :)

Thanks!

Posted by: MacByrne (macbyrne)
Posted at: September 4th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)

This is so desperate and heartbreaking and so damn sad that my heart hurts and my throat aches. Each version of Sam reveals a little more vulnerability, a little more guilt, a little more damage, and Dean is finally starting to realize that Sam has been suffering for everything, all along. I can't wait to read more of this; brilliant!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
rest

I find Sam sad almost by default and when you really look at what he's been through, it's just so hard to take. I wish the show would do it justice.

More should be up tomorrow.

Thanks!

Posted by: debbiel66 (debbiel66)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
Sam and Dean cloudy sky

Oh poor Sam. Poor Dean.

You've really captured the deep pit Sam found himself in starting at Mystery Spot until the end of Season 4. I agree that Dean had no idea about the dark place Sam had fallen into. He definitely had reasons for what he did.

Looking forward to the rest and seriously hoping you post soon!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
hope2

I think Sam's issues go way deeper than Dean has ever allowed himself to realize. I think Dean's always thought that he's taken care of it all for Sam, without really grasping that there are thing in Sam that he couldn't take care of and that have made Sam as broken as he is.

Anyway, I should be posting tomorrow.

Thanks!

Posted by: ghostfour (ghostfour)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)

Whoa.

I started out leery of this fic; is felt like another 'Dean is awesome, Dean saves Sam, Dean has been so hurt' fic...but it was you so I stayed... and then... this.

*This* is what I see in Sam. *This* is what the trickster was talking about when he said Sam was the one who was dysfunctional. *This* is what the landscape looks like for Sam, that place that Dean just doesn't want to go. So much anger and fear and loss and confusion and guilt and pain... and all of it blocked up and locked in by Dean's 'No chick-flick moments' rule (which only seems to apply to Sam).

This is what I want to write, and write like. The emotion in this is so overwhelming, and the style so subtle. This is just... perfect in it's portrayals. Even up to pissing me off with TD at the beginning. ;)

Thank you for giving Sam a voice... and finding a way to make Dean see him.

When do we get more???

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
monster limp

There is a lot to Sam the show barely hints at, and if they would just give it time and depth--wow, they'd have so much to work with.

And you are too kind. The minute I had the idea, I knew I had to write it--it was what I wanted to see more than anything. I know the show won't go here, so I figured I had to give it a go.

More will be tomorrow. And Dean has a LOT more to learn.

Thanks!

Posted by: ghostfour (ghostfour)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)

*nods* Oh yeah. I would *so* love to see this on the show. I know it will never happen ::muttering:: but reading this has helped with that frustration.

they really do give Sam the short end- both in the plot anymore, and in depth. There could be so much there...*sigh*

Glad we have you to make up for it. ;)

Can 'tomorrow' come now?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 6th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
boredom

Tomorrow is here now if it helps! I have the next part up :)

And I know--the show--I have no words for how disappointing and frustrating it is. Which is why fic must sustain us, sadly.

Posted by: Jean (contrary_lady)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
SPN: Sam & Dean: Panic Room Door

This is amazing! I love how you've captured Dean's hurt & anger, plus everything Sam has been feeling. I really can't wait to read chapter 2. Thanks for posting the link to this over @ summer_sam_love. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
meta limp

I'm glad you found it via that link! I wasn't sure anyone would care if I posted it there or not.

I'm also glad you've liked it so far. And your icon? Makes me sad--that scene always breaks my heart.

Thanks!

Posted by: annj_g80 (annj_g80)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:47 am (UTC)
SN road

Wow, painful. Got a knot in my stomach. I can really feel Sam's confusion and pain as much as Dean's and I can't decide whether to kick both their asses or hug them (I might tend to kick Dean and hug Sam though, meeeep)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
whole

Kicking Dean is encouraged. Hugging Sam is required :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Dani (pinkphoenix1985)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)

Faye- this is wow wow wow wow! each persona of Sam is heartwenching and I love how Dean is just as broken and tired as Sam is...

I hope that Dean can get through to Sam!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
regret

I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. Thanks!

Posted by: gemspegasus (gemspegasus)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
FamilySpnquote

Hi,

WoW. This is such a riveting, story that captures both Dean and Sam so well. Love it and eagerly awaiting more! It pulls at my heart to feel all the pain that Sam has been going through. Faye, you write awesome stories like this one and "His Hand in Mine" and the "GG story whose title escapes me at the moment. And I adore and ♥ all three of these marvelous stories. I am going to make more time to give you proper feedback in the future. But know I am always thrilled when I see you have updated or posted a new story.

Thank you for sharing your creativity and talent with us. It is gretly appreciated and looked forward to.

Have a great weekend.

take care
hugs
Angela

Edited at 2009-09-05 03:40 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 5th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
never alone

Aw, thanks! I'm so glad you're so into it. It's so gratifying to hear people enjoy my work. And your feedback is very proper--I liked reading your comment very much!

Posted by: gemspegasus (gemspegasus)
Posted at: September 15th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
Winchesterhug

Hi,

You're welcome. :)

Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you..RL getting in the way again.

Anyway, I do enjoy your work and have printed out the next chapters so I can read and savor them. I am reading the chapter of Dean seeing Sam at Stanford and then as Sam as a child and Wow that just tugs at my heart strings. You have a marvelous way of writing both brothers that I am glad that you share with all the rest of us.

Glad you enjoyed my comment because you give us an immense enjoyment with your writing.

take care
hugs
Angela

Posted by: *Bright (starbright73)
Posted at: September 6th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Speculum animi

Oh yes, this is so needed! Dean needs this, to finally walk in someone elses shoes and stop watching his own belly button. I swear that Kripke has destroyed Dean totally for me. By making him totally judgmental and a hypocrite of the worst kind. And that even after what he's been through with John's deal. it just baffles me.

And Sam has always had issues. Deeper and darker than Dean will ever understand because you hit the head on the nail right there: Dean had a choice. Sam never had; not when it came to the demon blood, not when it came to Dean's deal. *nods*

Wonderful but heartbreaking walk in Sam's psyche. I wish K et Co were this creative. But I'm not expecting anything of that lot any longer. Luckily there are wonderfully talented ficcers like you around here.

*hopes to next chapter*

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