"Hell is empty and all the devils are here."
Sam peered over the roof warily, holding his body as far back as possible. Below him the city-lights pulsated rhythmically in yellow, red and blue. He observed the general shape of a large sign wreathed in green, dancing to the commotion of the traffic below; tiny toy cars speeding across a little black ribbon of pavement.
Eyes wide, Sam stepped back from the ledge and onto the general safety of the rooftop. The ground was much too far away, and therefore, he was too damned high up! The silver-tipped ledge teased him, reflecting the moon's sheen back into the night sky. It beckoned him closer, tempting him to jump. By now Sam had figured it out; he knew how to predict the murder weapon before it stuck him. Any active movie-observer could notice that when a gun was produced in the beginning of a film, it would be used again at the end. In just the same way, the ledge would be the cause of Sam's destruction. At this point, he was sure of it.
Well… At one point, he would have been sure of it. But now he wasn't so sure. Jane had made his life a living re-run of every horrific scene ever constructed for film or television, but it had been predictable. But hell? Hell was surprising, sporadic, and shocking. Hell's inmates had no respect for the cinematography or narrative of human story-telling. Sam had been able to prepare himself for the horror in Jane's world, which had given him the smallest degree of comfort considering the circumstances. But the confusion of always running, of being in the dark… it was just as much torture as the actual torture was. That was something that Dean understood more than Jane ever could.
Summoned by the ledge, Sam breathed deeply and took a large step forward, so that his toes curled over the edge. He closed his eyes.
"Dude, you always were a pussy." Behind him, Dean's voice rang out in laughter. Sam spun around to see him approach from the shadows, although he could have sworn that he was alone just a minute ago. Then again, he was used to that. "You think you're going to kill yourself? In here?"
Clenching his fists, Sam backed up until his heels hovered over the edge.
Dean's hands were in his pockets, but Sam could see that he was holding something rod-shaped. Already he could guess at what it was.
"Sammy… You're already dead." The sympathetic tone in Dean's voice was contradicted by the aggressive stance of his approach. Like a cat circling a mouse. Stopping a few feet short of Sam, Dean pulled the object from his pocket, and the sharp edge glimmered in the moonlight. Fingering it fondly, he ran it through the fingers of his left hand as he spoke. "And you think you could have created a place a little cooler than this to die, Sam? Because I could come up with a few."
"I didn't invent this place." Panting softly, Sam spoke through lungs that felt unexplainably squeezed. "You did."
Raising a sceptic eyebrow, Dean lowered his hands to his sides casually. "And what would be the purpose? To run you off the roof? That seems a little lame to me." Once again he drifted towards Sam, but this time with much more purpose in his step. Placing himself in dangerous proximity, Dean lifted the blade with ease and held the point against Sam's sternum so that it just barely touched poked through his shirt. Sam was torn between the instinct to lean away from the blade, and the knowledge that he would lose his balance and topple off the roof if he did. Slowly, Dean grinned. "But then again…"
Dean pushed ever-so slightly, and Sam felt his instincts scream at the loss of balance as he fell. The rooftop was replaced with gravity, which wrapped Sam in her arms and pulled him down tightly into her bosom. He gasped for air, but none came, and at a loss he closed his eyes and waited for the end. Falling off of a skyscraper would be one of the easy ones. He should try and take it for what it was…. A break from everything else.
But it didn't end as Sam would expect, as he should have expected. In fact, it didn't end at all. When Sam hit the pavement, there was no restart. Instead he found himself broken, literally, across the pavement, his bones cracked and crumbled, and his body pooling blood like a popped water balloon. Pain screamed from every nerve he had ever felt, and even a few that he didn't know he had. It howled so loudly that it cut through all thought and reason, leaving Sam a dead-minded mess, but Sam himself could not scream. Somehow there was room in his pain-haze for a moment of clarity, during which he saw Dean stroll out of the building's main doors to stand over Sam with an amused smile. "Okay… You were right about rooftops, Sammy. I could do this on a regular basis."
"Dean…" Although Sam was aware that his body was unable to make sounds at this point, he heard himself speak. By now, he had learned not to question hell's abilities of rule-bending.
"Mhmm?" Bored, Dean picked at something under his nails with the blade, as Sam bled at his feet.
Another valuable lesson that Sam had learned in hell was that words were utterly disposable. They were fragments of nothingness that could represent thought and emotion, but words were neither of these things. You thought what you thought, and you felt what you felt; words only conveyed these ideas to the outside world. Well his expansive Stanford-level vocabulary was worthless here, where his vocabulary had become mostly restricted to "stop", "please", and "Dean". These words did absolutely nothing, but for some reason Sam could never stop himself from begging.
"I can't… God, Dean… Just… I can't take it anymore…. I can't…. Please."
It was the first time that Dean showed a reaction besides joy to something that came out of Sam's mouth, and he stilled. "What was that?"
"…Dean please…" Sam blubbered on, despite the fact that his body was, for all intents and purposes, completely busted. He was unable to care anymore that his mouth wasn't moving, or how he still managed to convey his thoughts out loud. All he knew was that it hurt! The pain danced up and down his spine and everywhere else, feeding from a central point between his shoulder blades. He was also vaguely aware that he wasn't breathing.
"No, not that." Deliberately Dean shook his head, and knelt down at Sam's side. "What was that about how you can't take it anymore? Did I hear that right?"
"Yeah, yeah, I got that part." With a wave of his hand Dean dismissed Sam's pleas aloofly. His eyes were frigid as he observed his little brother's pain in disgust. "Sam… You're pretty disappointing, man. I mean, I grew up with you, so I knew how much of a fuck-up you are… but this just takes the cake. Maybe if I hadn't carried you through your entire pathetic existence you'd have a little bit more of a backbone. I went to hell for you, Sam. For you. It wasn't even my problem, and I was never this much of a little bitch."
If there was ever a time when Sam shut up altogether, it would have to be moments like this; when Sam had no argument. He knew that Dean was telling the truth, so what was there to argue?
"I'm… I'm s-sorry."
With a huff, Dean shrugged. "I don't care."
"Mhmm?" It took but the sound of his name for Dean's head to jerk up from his pillow. His dream, whatever it had been, was lost before he could remember it, and Dean got the feeling that he hadn't been sleeping very deeply at all. After a few seconds his eyes adjusted to the darkness; he could see the twin bed beside him, and it wasn't hard to pinpoint the overgrown man underneath the covers. What got Dean's bells ringing in an instant was that the overgrown man wasn't asleep. "Sam?"
Untangling himself from the restraints of the covers, Dean freed his legs and jumped across the space to the other bed. "Hey, relax man. We're at Bobby's…."
Jesus Christ. Dean's heart sunk into his gut, and for a moment he stayed. Then he reached out to gently shake the trembling giant before him. "Sammy, wake up."
Sam jerked under Dean's touch, pushing back with an absentminded elbow, and made some sort of coughing noise under his breath. Navigating the flailing limbs as best as he could, Dean grabbed hold of the arm closest to him. He narrowly avoided a hit to the face in the process. Sam's eyelids flew back like curtains on a drawstring, and his chest puffed up as he made another coughing sound.
"Mmmmnngggh…." Sam's forehead scrunched, and he tugged at Dean's grip on his arm. His eyes flew every which way, and Dean realized after a few seconds that they weren't focussed on anything. And the wheezing sound that escaped his throat.
Eyes widening, Dean quickly stood. "Doc!" Wide strides took him to the doorway in an instant, and he hurried out in a panic. "Doc, get out here!"
He scampered to the side of the bed, where Sam continued to flail helplessly on the mattress. "I can't… God, Dean… Just… ugh…. Please."
"Sam, breathe." Despite the fact that the lights were all on upstairs – that being, of course that Sam was fully awake – there seemed to be nobody home. Dean sat on the edge of the bed to lean over his brother, and could literally feel him trembling beside him. When his hip pushed up against Sam's side, he was rewarded by an arm to the temple. "..Jesus Christ… Doc!"
"…Dean, what's…?" Davidson's voice echoed out in the hallway, paired with the thumping of bare feet on hardwood. The sound stopped right behind him. "Move. Now."
Suddenly there was a hand tugging on the back of Dean's t-shirt, pulling him backwards, and he stumbled back away from the bed. Davidson swooped in hurriedly. Floating over Sam, his hands waited while his eyes watched. Although he was generally a calm man and was more able to restrain himself than Dean, the mild panic in his expression was apparent.
"Dean, go downstairs and grab the nebulizer." The doctor spoke over his shoulder without turning to look. When Dean hesitated, he did. "Dean? Now!"
"I… okay." Dean bit his bottom lip, out of place. He was usually the one patching Sam up, but he had no experience here. What if Sam – No, he couldn't think like that. He had learned to follow orders before, and could do so again. Turning to flee down the stairs, Dean took them three at a time. Sam's nebulizer was plugged into the wall by the couch, and he skidded onto his knees to pull the cord free and scoop the machine into his arms. Holding it against his chest like a newborn baby, he rushed up to the spare room as quickly as he could manage. When he made it back, he fell to his knees by the bed and none-to-gently dropped the machine on the floor. Sliding onto his stomach, he angled himself behind the bed-side table to reach the plug-in, and shoved the metal prongs in sloppily. The machine made a whirring sound when Dean did so, and he could already hear Davidson reaching down to power it up. "…him down," Davidson mumbled above him, in the midst of Sam's wheezing and incoherent babble.
Dean's head popped up, and he jumped to his feet awkwardly.
"I'm going to need you to hold him down!" Davidson repeated through clenched teeth, having trouble getting through Sam's large waving arms with a mask in his hand.
Nearly jumping the end of the bed to get to the other side, Dean crawled onto it and grabbed one of Sam's arms guiltily. "Sammy, look at me, man. You're… oomph!" Narrowly blocking a hit from one of Sam's muscular arms, Dean reached over and wrapped a fist around one of Sam's wrists, pulling it towards him. "…You need to calm down, alright? Just…. Can… Can you hear me?"
At first Dean was relieved when Sam relaxed in his arms, but that was until he saw how quickly the rise and fall of Sam's chest was progressing. With every breath it moved faster and faster, and moved less and less. His babble had been reduced to hyperventilation. Dean felt his own breath hike in his chest in anxiety, and he found himself rubbing Sam's shoulder up and down. "Sam… You're okay… it's gonna be okay… Sam?"
Sam continued to pull at Dean's grasp, even though his attempts were limited. Dean realized that he was trying to reach for his chest. "…Dean please…"
"You're going to be alright, son. Just hold still…" Brian's attempt at a calm voice oozed over them without effect.
For a while Dean had believed that Sam didn't realize he was here, and he froze at the use of his own name. "Sam… We're trying to help you, god damnit! Just stop moving so the doc can" –
"What in the blazes!" Gruff as ever, Bobby's cry of surprise cut through the rest of Sam's plea like a fog horn. At the sight of the struggle before him, he stepped into the room tepidly. "Brian, what's" –
"Call an ambulance!" Davidson ordered over his shoulder desperately. "And get my bag from my room!" With that, Bobby disappeared.
Sam was finally subdued enough to let Davidson anywhere near his face, and the doctor held the mask over his mouth and slipped the cord behind his head gently. When it was fastened, Sam's head whipped back and forth like a dog trying to be rid of his muzzle. If Dean didn't know any better, he would have sworn that Sam's moaning under his breath were the sounds of a dog as well.
Dean's ears perked up at the sound of Bobby's voice growling over the phone line down the hall. "….near Sioux Falls… Yeah, the one just 8 miles west…. Singer Salvage…. Mhmm… Please, just get here soon! Uh huh… Yeah, there's a doctor here with him. He's…. yeah… yeah… Okay. Just hurry."
Not twenty seconds later, Bobby returned with a large bag in hand. "Where do you want it, doc?"
"Take him – here!" Brian slid over and made room for Bobby, who set the bag down at the foot of the bed and grabbed Sam's arm from the doctor's grasp.
"Shhh… Sam. Easy, kiddo." Singer shushed over the flailing hunter paternally. "You're okay. Just relax…"
Davidson knelt on the ground and undid two loud plastic buckles, pulling back a Velcro lid to reveal the contents of a medical bag. He pulled out a syringe and injected it into a tiny glass vial of clear fluid, whispering to himself as he measured the right dosage. Then he stood on shaky legs to stand over Sam warily.
"Sam, I want you to take it easy, alright?" It sounded as if Davidson's words were spoken out of routine; However, the uncertainty there was clear. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"N… No d-drugs." To the surprise of everyone, Sam spoke out after what felt like years of silence. The room winced as one.
Brian gently tilted Sam's face to the side, sticking the needle into his anterior choroid artery. "Trust me, Sam, you're going to be okay."
The three men remained where they were for almost thirty seconds, emitting a mixture of quiet shushes and pleas, until Sam's squirming eventually stopped. Davidson removed the needle and set it on the counter without a word. The lines around his lips were pursed.
Dean's eyes remained on Sam even while Bobby and the doctor pulled away. Although it disturbed him to feel his brother's arm go limp in his hands, he dared not let go. Sam had almost been taken from him once again, and that felt like a reality that was not yet expired.
"Brian?" Bobby cleared his throat softly, rubbing his beard with a nervous hand.
Davidson grabbed the hand closest to him and pressed two fingers into Sam's wrist. "Mhmm?"
"What'd you give him?"
"Just a sedative, Bobby…." Obviously distracted with checking Sam's heartbeat, Davidson's voice was distant.
It felt like Dean had taken a blow to the stomach. Sitting down beside his limp brother, still grasping him for dear life, he slid his fingers into the inside of Sam's wrist. At the rapid pulsing under his fingertips, he raised his eyes to the doctor in understanding. Davidson reached down to the floor and fiddled with the knobs of the machine that fed Sam's oxygen mask. Dean distracted himself with observing Sam's heartbeat, which slowly decreased to a level that seemed just below normal. When a hand suddenly clasped his shoulder, Dean flinched.
"He's in good hands, Dean. He'll be alright." Bobby's warm voice tickled Dean's ear, and he turned his face slightly in response. He
Davidson faced the room and rested his hands on his hips, looking tired. "What was he doing?"
"I thought he was having a nightmare." Dean let go of Sam's arm gingerly, realizing that it wasn't appropriate to hold on any longer. But he dared not move away. "He was making weird noises. I don't think he knew who I was, and he, you know…" Shrugging, Dean ran a thumb over his dry lips in thought. "He freaked out and started to hyperventilate. I think his chest hurt, because he kept… grabbing at it."
The sound of sirens pierced the painful silence, and they all rose their heads.
"Bobby, go downstairs and bring the paramedics up here." Davidson straightened sluggishly and smoothed down the wrinkles in his cotton t-shirt with a flat hand. In his thin blue sweatpants and bare-feet, he looked more like a tired patient than a commanding medical examiner. It seemed that Dean was getting a glimpse into his emotional state.
"Doc, is he" –
"Dean, I'm going to ride with Sam in the ambulance. I will make sure that Sam is taken care of. You and Bobby start up your car and follow behind us." Brian smoothed back his ruffled hair subconsciously, and then gave Dean a stern look.
"I'm not" –
All of a sudden the room was a hive of activity. Dean didn't notice Bobby leave, but the presence of the paramedics felt like an intrusion.
"Please move, sir." A bulky man with raven hair forcefully pulled Dean off the bed and swooped in, soon joined by a man with a ginger beard. "What happened?"
"He's had a panic attack and hyperventilated. I've given him moderate benzodiazepines and ten minutes of oxygen treatment." Davidson stepped forward and moved to the bed, helping the two men move Sam onto a stretcher without their permission. "I'm a doctor, a friend of Bobby's. He called me last night when Sam had a work accident. His symptoms suddenly escalated."
Work accident. Dean visually flinched at the term. This was no accident, but the effects of brutal torture. How could someone explain their situation to hospital staff? How could anyone help his brother with this without knowing? He barely noticed the two paramedics giving each other nervous looks from the corner of their eye as they lifted Sam up and pulled him from the room. Davidson flew after them, barking in medical gibberish, and Dean found himself alone.
After the momentary numbness had subsided, Dean found himself consciously aware of his presence. He couldn't drive to the hospital in his boxers... Methodically he reached for his duffel, dumping it's contents on the bed, and violently shoved his legs into a pair of jeans and his arms into a t-shirt. Soon he was fully-dressed, and without bothering to button up his flannel Dean slid his arms into his coat. He barely thought to grab his keys from the countertop before rushing downstairs. Bobby met him at the bottom, also dressed, but his hat was askew and his shirt was oddly creased. If Dean had the gift of introspection right then, he would imagine that he looked exactly the same way. Without a word, the two men slid their poorly-socked feet into their boots and hurried out to the car.
"Dean, he's gonna be" –
"I know." Shoving his key generously into the ignition, Dean felt the Impala rumble to a state of life beyond him.
"I've known Davidson for years. He's patched me up many a-time, and other hunters too. Sam's in good" –
"Good hands, I know." Mumbling through a clenched jaw, Dean barely winced as the car spun under his rapid acceleration, spitting rocks up against the side of Bobby's house. In the impenetrable silence that followed, he could almost feel the touch of Bobby's sight on the side of his face. It didn't help ease the tumult in his soul.
So thanks yet again for all of you wonderful readers who have read, reviewed, and/or send me lovely emails. I read ALL of them (usually repeatedly) and feel like a little girl with my first crush whenever they show up in my inbox. Your support is appreciated so much, thank you!
I wish I could give you chapters on a regular basis, and it frustrates me that school is taking up so much of my time. I am trying to keep my GPA as high as possible so that I can qualify to enter an Honours Program in Creative Writing, which will hopefully qualify me to write for television in a few years. I am excited to learn from the experts and continue to grow as a writer. In the meantime, feel free to give me constructive criticism whenever you wish. What did you like about each chapter, and how can I improve? I am open to constructive feedback on my writing style, characterization, plot structure, and so on. Thank you for reading, and please let me know what you thought!