Spoilers up through 5.14
A/N: Happy Anniversary to me! It's been one year since I started writing fanfics. Thanks to everyone who has supported me. You know who you are. :)
Spikes of pain sliced through Sam's head as he fumbled with the water faucet, avoiding his reflection in the mirror. He didn't need to see the blood smeared across his mouth to know he looked like a monster. The horror on his brother's face had told him all he needed to know.
He choked back a sob as the water ran hot. Pulling a handful of paper towels from the dispenser, he dipped them beneath the running water and scrubbed viciously at his face. When the towels were reduced to shreds, he scooped the water into his mouth, spitting forcefully into the sink but there was nothing he could do to rid himself of the taste; no amount of scrubbing was going to cleanse him from his sin.
He gripped the sides of the sink, forcing himself to look in the mirror. The blood was gone, but the shame was not. He'd promised Dean he wouldn't let him down; he'd promised himself he'd never use his powers again. He'd lied both times. The trust he had been working so hard to reestablish with Dean was destroyed. He had seen it shatter in the dining room of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
A hysterical laugh escaped Sam's lips, followed by a ragged cry of despair. The bile rose in his throat and he stumbled into the nearest stall, hitting the floor as he began to retch violently.
When the shudders began to subside, Sam realized a warm hand was pressed against his back. He jerked away from the touch, turning to find Dean kneeling in the cramped space next to him. He lowered his eyes, looking at a point somewhere past his brother's elbow.
He could hear it in Dean's voice, the disappointment, the hurt, the betrayal he felt because the little brother he had spent his whole life protecting had once again let him down. And in spite of it all, Sam found himself reaching for his brother, fisting a hand in Dean's shirt, because the pounding in his head had reached a level he could no longer ignore.
"Cas! I need some help here!"
Sam's vision swam out of focus as the angel appeared at their side.
"I got the ring."
Castiel handed an object to Dean, which he promptly shoved in his pocket. "Give me a hand, Cas."
Sam lifted his hands in protest, trying to rise to his feet. He was almost completely upright when he began to pitch forward. Strong arms caught him and he was vaguely aware of being transported from the diner. Words drifted around his head but he only caught a few of them.
As he was being tucked into the passenger seat of the Impala, Sam tried to focus on his brother's face and not the sorrow in Dean's eyes.
"'m sorry, D'n."
"It's okay, Sammy." Dean smoothed the hair back from Sam's face, giving him a half-hearted smile. "We're going to get you fixed up and then we'll talk, okay?"
Sam nodded, closing his eyes and slumping against the seat. He could hear Dean and Castiel murmuring to each other as Dean cranked the Impala and sped off into the night.
Sam's hands began to shake after only an hour on the road. Full body tremors followed shortly after. He yearned for the safety of the panic room, not for him, but for his brother. He didn't want Dean to see him this way. He felt a hand on his own and realized he had been whimpering.
"Hang on, Sammy." Dean squeezed his hand. "We'll be there soon."
Sam clutched his brother's hand, his lifeline to this world, as he drifted away in a river of pain.
When Sam next opened his eyes, he thought he was floating until he realized Castiel was carrying him across Bobby's front yard. Dean was gazing down at him with anxious eyes, jogging to keep up with the angel's hurried stride.
"Just like the song," whispered Sam.
"What's he saying?"
Dean's voice was coming from somewhere behind him.
"Something about a song." Castiel's voice was straight-laced as always as he deposited Sam onto the waiting cot in Bobby's panic room.
Dean was immediately at his side. Sam tried to smile but knew he failed miserably. "In the arms of the angel, Dean. Just like the song."
Dean's eyes narrowed. "Not that song, Sammy. This is nothing like that song."
Sam tried to sort through his muddled brain for the reason this song seemed to upset his brother but the tremors were coming more violently now and in mere moments he could barely remember his own name.
He was alone again, locked in a world of his choosing. Every decision he'd made following his brother's death had led him down this path. Every decision he'd made since killing Lilith had not stopped the seeming inevitable destiny of his life. What if it really was hopeless? What if the only reason he was put on this earth was to be the true vessel of Satan? Shouldn't he just say yes and be done with it? What good did it do to fight?
He moaned loudly. No, no, no….he had to keep fighting.
"Help….help! Dean? Cas? If you're out there…..please…..HELP!"
He screamed in frustration. I can't keep doing this, Dean. I just can't.
"Dean, help me!"
A torrent of pain ravaged his body and his moans turned to sobs.
He no longer knew what he was begging for.
He was aware of something cool pressed to his forehead. Forcing his eyes open, he found Castiel bathing his face with a wet washcloth.
"Where's Dean?" His voice was raspy, throat raw from screaming.
"He went out to get some air."
Panic crept into his heart. He weakly grasped Castiel's wrist. "He can't be alone."
Castiel appeared confused. "He said he needed…."
Sam tightened his grasp. "Don't care what he said. Don't leave him."
Castiel nodded and disappeared.
Sam succumbed to the pain.
He was shivering uncontrollably, body drenched in cold sweat. Something restricted his movements, arms pressed to his side, a warm presence against his forehead. A tear ran down his cheek but he knew it wasn't his own. He was too exhausted to cry. He tried to speak but his mouth was parched. He ran a dry tongue across cracked lips and managed to croak a single word.
The warmth against his forehead was gone and his brother's face hovered close to his. Dean's brilliant green eyes were filled with tears.
"Sammy, you gotta hang on, okay, kiddo?"
Once again Dean pressed his forehead against Sam's, sobbing softly, and Sam could feel his brother's breath on his cheek, the beating of his heart against his ear and he remembered the words of Famine: You're not hungry, Dean, because you're already dead.
Sam struggled to form coherent thoughts, needing to find the words to comfort his brother, to tell him that Famine was wrong but in the end he could only cry out in agony as his brother's arms held him tight.
He sputtered, coughing weakly as a trickle of water slid down his throat. Gagging as a horrible smell hit his nose, he automatically turned his head toward the side of the cot where he found a bucket waiting. A strong hand was rubbing circles against his back. When he realized the smell was coming from himself, he began to cry.
"Shhhh." Dean's voice was close to his ear. "It's almost over, Sammy. Just hang on a little longer."
I'm trying, Dean. Oh God, I'm trying
Sam opened his eyes, blinking against the sudden assault of light. He managed to lift his head enough to see Castiel standing sentinel by the door.
"Where's Dean?" His mouth felt as if it had been stuffed with cotton.
Castiel put a finger to his lips and pointed to a spot just out of his eyesight. "He's finally sleeping."
Sam pushed himself up on his elbows and saw his brother curled up on a makeshift bed in the floor, his head resting on his battered leather jacket. Even across the room, Sam could see the dark shadows beneath Dean's eyes and at least a week's worth of reddish-brown stubble covering his cheeks.
Sam motioned toward the pitcher of water sitting on the table and Castiel brought him a glass, holding it to his lips as he took small sips. He fell back against the cot, arms quivering from the exertion. His right hand plucked restlessly against his shirt and the first thing he noticed was the fact that it was clean.
Images stirred in Sam's mind of a gentle touch, washing away the filth, while the voice that accompanied those hands alternately hummed "Hey Jude" and "Ramble On."
Something inside Sam broke at the thought of his brother having to literally clean up the mess he had made and he began to sob, loud uncontrolled cries of anguish.
"Sammy?" Dean was awake and at his side in an instant.
"Dean, I'm sorry." It came out close to a wail and he couldn't stop the tears no matter how hard he tried. Familiar arms gathered him into a tight embrace and he wept against his brother's neck.
"It's okay, Sammy," Dean murmured into his ear. "Everything's okay."
Sam pushed away from his brother. "No…no, it's not. I let you down, Dean."
He lowered his gaze, staring at the floor, the cot, anywhere but into the depths of his brother's eyes. He couldn't stand to see the disappointment again.
"Look at me."
Sam shook his head, tears blazing a trail down his stubbled cheek. Calloused hands cradled his face, forcing him to look up and he stopped fighting, figuring he deserved it. Whatever pain he'd caused his brother, he had to face it instead of cowering like the coward he knew he was, the failure he'd become to everyone around him.
"You didn't let me down, Sam. It wasn't your fault. Nobody could resist what Famine was putting in their path." He gave a bitter laugh. "Hell, Cas, downed half a cow before it was over."
Castiel shifted in his position by the door but remained silent.
"You said no when it counted, Sammy. You've said no every time it's counted and that's what we'll keep on doing because….well…. because it's all we can do."
Sam heard something in Dean's voice he hadn't heard in a long time. It sounded like pride, pride at the fact he had said no. Sam reached out a trembling hand and placed it flat against Dean's chest.
"Famine was wrong, Dean."
"I heard what he said to you, about how you're…." Sam swallowed hard, forcing the words from his lips. "…dead inside."
Dean stared at Sam's hand against his chest.
"He doesn't know where to look, Dean." He shifted his hand lower, to his brother's right side. "He was looking here."
Dean licked his lips. "Where would you suggest he look?"
Sam moved his hand back to its original location. "Here."
"Why?" Dean's voice quavered.
"Because I know your heart, Dean."
Dean's chest hitched beneath Sam's hand as he searched his brother's face, seeking the truth he had needed to hear.
"I'm not empty?" he whispered.
"No, Dean." He smiled at his brother. "Far from it."
Dean wrapped his shorter fingers around Sam's long fingered grasp and managed a teary smile in return, repeating the words as a confirmation.
"I'm not empty."
The song Sam is referring to is "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan. One of the most beautiful yet depressing songs I've ever heard.
Dialogue for scene four was taken directly from MBV's final scene of Sam in the panic room.