Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Supernatural or it's characters, I merely borrow them for my own amusement.
A/N: Too many plot bunnies hopped in after the season opener and I had to write something, so I finally dusted off my computer and wrote this up. If you've been keeping up with my other stories, I promise I will get back to them soon. As always, reviews are my only bread and butter for writing, so please let me know what you think. Cheers! :D
Alone in Exile
He never saw it coming.
The little brown field mouse sat chewing away on a sunflower seed. Even though it was raining, he didn't care, his world was one of happiness now that he had his prize and had some food in his stomach. He took a moment to stop eating and sniff the air, his tiny ears always on guard for any possible signs of danger or for anything that might separate him from his meal. Hearing nothing, his instincts towards self-preservation and gluttony satisfied, he went back to his seed, stuffing the rest of it in his mouth.
Just as he had completed this action, there was a flash of light and a discharge of heat so intense that he and his sunflower seed were vaporized instantly.
As the light faded, the charred spot where the mouse had stood only seconds earlier was was filled with that of a large, unconscious man.
Motionless, he lay there for some time. The rain drops grew in intensity, pelting his closed eyes, wetting his clothes and soaking his hair.
One would think that this would have awoken him, but the thing that truly revived him the was the silence. He had become so accustomed to wails and screams, that quiet was as foreign a sound and concept as landing on an alien planet. It was that was which finally drove him to open his eyes in confusion and utter shock.
His first sight was that of the sky.
Dark, starless, filled with clouds that covered the moon and were illuminated infrequently by flashes of lightning it had to be one of the most beautiful things he had ever laid eyes on. Storms had frightened him as a child, but tonight the rumble of thunder in the distance, the patter of cool rain on his brow, the wet ground soaking into his clothes were a balm to his soul.
He had only known fear and pain before, had felt only heat and smelled only blood and sulfur that the freshness of the cool air that filled his lungs now made him feel like a drowning man that had been brought to the surface, he gulped the air, devoured it's cleanliness and reveled in it.
For a moment or two he just breathed, his mind still unable to process what happened, how he had ended up there when the eternity he had faced in Hell had been the only thing he had to look forward to for so long.
Even though it was tempting, he came to realize that he couldn't just lay there in the rain forever, so he sat up and got a good look at his surroundings. The earth underneath of him was scorched and blackened but without any of the heat one would expect from a recent burning. Glancing about the inky darkness, he could see no buildings, no houses, no signs of civilization save for a ditch near the edge of the field he lay in and what could possibly be a dirt road.
He was alone.
That in itself was a special delight. He hadn't been alone in a very long time, Lucifer had made certain of that.
You and I will have eternity together, Sam. I for one will enjoy this, you will not.
He shook his head to clear out the voice that had tormented him, a voice he never hoped to hear again. First he had been the fallen angel's meat puppet, enduring the taunts inside of his head and the things he had made him do, the people he had made him kill...But, then came the cage...
He had never imagined that the cage Lucifer had been sprung from was in fact a literal cage but it had been, complete with bars and chains. Adam and Michael had disappeared as soon as they had started falling, never to see them again and when he finally landed, Lucifer had been separated from his body and he was trapped alone with Satan's true form.
Lucifer's visage in Hell was that of a huge, horrible beast. He had no horns like was depicted in all of the books he had read, but his true form was indescribable with human words and to say he was terrifying and hideous was inadequate.
Doomed for eternity to languish in the cage with him, Satan took delight in exacting revenge on Sam for taking the plunge into Hell. Torture devices were passed through the bars by his minions and Sam was never allowed to sleep, never allowed a moment's rest, never alone...
Running a hand through his now wet hair, he forced his mind to push those images and memories away. The blissful silence surrounding him helped to bring back a small sense of peace and set the panic sitting below the surface to sink and melt away enough for him to think clearly.
He was alone now and free. He had his body to himself, he had quiet, he had rain, he had cool, fresh air and that's all that mattered he convinced himself.
However, that wasn't all that mattered. The only other thought running through his head was the image of his hand repeatedly striking his brother. He needed to know if Dean was okay, had to see for himself if he was even still alive. All the other questions, the how and why he was free would have to wait until he was certain his brother was fine.
It was that which drove him to get up off the ground and head out of the field, finding the road and beginning his trek. He had only one destination in mind: Indiana and Dean.
Walking and hitching for the better part of three days saw Sam finally standing outside Lisa's home. The curtains were open and the light from inside the house illuminated the scene that awaited him as he walked up to the house. He had the intense urge to go right up to the front door, hug Dean and let him know that he was okay, that he was free and unharmed but he was pulled back by the sight of Dean sitting at the dinner table.
Lisa was serving the food, Dean passed a plate to Ben and a small smile of contentment crept up on his face that Sam hadn't seen in a very, very long time.
Seeing all of this made Sam realize that he could never see or speak to Dean again. A wash of grief and sadness flooded over him, but he knew that if he went to that door and showed himself to his brother that Dean would leave all of this behind for him. He had always sacrificed his own happiness for him, but this time Sam was unwilling to let that happen.
It was better this way. Sam would forever be dead to him, but Dean would get over him in time and live a good life. Maybe he would get married, have kids of his own, grow old and hopefully die peacefully.
He stayed for a while in the shadows just watching, saying his good-byes to Dean in his head until the curtains closed and the lights in the house went out. He turned and began to walk down the empty street without looking back again, a lone tear slipped down his face and splashed to the ground.
Sam would be alone from here on out, but he could live with that as long as Dean wasn't.
It had been a year since Sam walked away from his brother and he had spent the better part of it all on his own. Sure he still had Bobby, his also-resurrected grandfather, Samuel and new-found cousins to hunt with on occasion when they needed him, but in all honestly he preferred to work by himself.
He understood perfectly well now why his father never worked with partners much, why he often went off on his own to hunt even after he and Dean were old enough to come along.
There was a freedom in being alone. He was in control. He could go where he wanted when he wanted, he had no one to contradict his ideas or plans and he had didn't have to watch anyone's back but his own.
On top of that, he had found a measure of satisfaction fighting on his own. There was plenty of work to keep his mind and body occupied. It seemed like there was no end to all of the wendigos, werewolves, vampires and other sonsofbitches out there, but at least he had no angels dicking with him, no demons trying to manipulate him, no demon blood cravings, no freaky psycic powers, no evil destiny and best of all, no Lucifer.
He also had silence, blessed silence.
Hell wasn't just a place filled with pain, blood and fire, it was noisy and never quiet. So now, whether it was in the car or in the motel room, Sam rarely turned on the TV or the radio and did a lot of reading either keep up with his research or to keep unwanted memories at bay.
He rarely heard Lucifer's voice ringing in his head anymore and even the nightmares were coming less frequently. He could count on at least 4 or 5 hours of sleep at a stretch a night without one now; much better than it had been during those first few months after his return.
Despite all of this new self-reliance, he still missed Dean and it felt like the hole in his heart would never close up, but he reminded himself constantly that Dean was out of this life and had a new family. He had a peace that Sam was certain he would never find for himself and that was enough for him to feel some satisfaction. Dean had to be over him by now and he had to believe that he was happy in his new, normal life.
Sam sat on the bed in a skeezy motel room that would make even cockroaches demand a refund cleaning his weapons. It was nearing 2 am and the other residents of the motel were finally quieting down and settling in for the night. The only sound in the room was that of the cleaning rod scraping the inside of the shotgun barrel he was working on. Sam worked mechanically and entered a semi-trance, his brain shutting down, his thoughts quieting, his sole focus was on removing every speck of grime from the weapon.
Perhaps that is why he nearly jumped out of his skin when there was a knock at the door. Automatically, he reached for the pistol he had just finished cleaning and re-assembling before heading to the door. He peered through the peep-hole and spied a young woman on the other side distorted by the fish-eye lens of the hole. She nervously looked about her then pounded on the door again, this time more desperately.
"Please!...Please, you gotta help me..." She frantically called out while beating on the door with the palm of her hand. "Please!"
Sam's hackles raised. Years ago he would never have hesitated to open the door to anyone in trouble. But age and experience had taught him that things were often not what they seemed and he was wary of opening the door. His gut told him that he should ignore her, that it was dangerous to help, but the woman's cries of panic hit him in the heart and his emotions took over.
He hesitated over the doorknob, but her pounding was becoming more frantic and his hand opened the door almost without his brain giving it permission. The door flew open as the girl burst into the room then slammed the door after herself, locking the deadbolt.
"Thank- you, thank-you!" She gushed, her eyes full of tears and causing the mascara around her eyes to make her look like a drowned raccoon. Without warning she rushed to embrace him, her shoulders shaking, her voice wavering in fear. "My boyfriend...he's got a gun...he's crazy...oh God..."
"It's okay...you're safe." He awkwardly patted her shoulder, uncomfortable with a total stranger holding him. He realized just then how little he touched anyone anymore.
She let him go, her hands lingering on his bare forearms for a moment as she backed away. He noticed then the strange tribal-like tattoos lacing her arms from shoulder to hand. Something switched on in his head, he recognized these tattoos- he'd seen them before, but his mind just couldn't place them.
She grinned maliciously just then. The tattoos on her arms seemed to come alive, growing and lengthening, appearing on her face. His brain suddenly snapped back to a warehouse years ago, his brother hanging and bleeding...the djin!
He blanched and backed further away from her, raising the gun, but his hand was shaking too badly for him to get any sort of aim. Suddenly his head exploded in pain, he dropped the gun and grabbed at his head, his vision wavering.
"It's too late, Sam. All it takes is a touch- one touch to avenge my father that you and Dean killed." She laughed just as Sam's legs lost all feeling and his knees crashed to the floor "I just wanted you to know that we'll be coming for him next and you won't be able to stop us, no one will."
In a flash, she was gone and just as suddenly, the room spun and began to shake, the pictures on the walls rattling in response. A bright light bathed the room and flooded over him, he could hardly breathe as the door flung open, splintering wood as it burst inward. A shadow darkened the opening and as the light began to fade, the face of the intruder was revealed.
"No!" Sam yelled out. "No! you can't be here...you're locked away...you can't be here!"
The figure kneeled down next to Sam, a deceptively gentle and friendly smile crossing the face of the man he had possessed before taking Sam's body.
"You didn't think I would leave you alone, did you?" Lucifer asked almost sweetly. "I told you we would have eternity to share together, Sam. Did you forget?" Lucifer's hand wrapped around Sam's throat and squeezed. "I wasn't finished with you yet, so I've come to take you back where you belong."
Lucifer picked Sam up off of the floor by the neck, his grip never loosening, cutting off his air. His vision began to darken. "You ruined my big plans, Sammy and boy do I just hate it when people mess with my plans."
Sam tried to pry the hands around his throat off, but they were too strong. He sputtered and tried in vain to pull air into his lungs as he fought, his fists striking Lucifer in the face, but he could feel his arms lose strength, his struggles weakening.
The sound of laughter filled the room, storming Sam's senses. That voice he had been certain he would never hear again driving home dread and indescribable fear into his heart. Just as his eyes started to roll back in their sockets and he felt his hold on consciousness slip, he was thrown clear across the room, his back hitting the far wall.
He gasped and gulped in as much air as his sore throat could take in, but it wasn't over yet. Lucifer was approaching again, taking his time and making certain that Sam could see the object he was pulling out from his pocket.
"Remember this, Sam?" Lucifer sneered, turing the object over in his hands. "We had so much fun with this." Satan had been ever so creative with his torturing, but the one thing he feared the most, more than the beatings, the slicing or the burning was what Lucifer was waving in his face: a vial of blood.
Strangely enough, demon blood had the opposite effect on him in Hell than it did on Earth. When before it had made him strong and gave him power to kill demons, in Hell it was more like drinking pure battery acid, only a thousand times worse. He lost count of the number of times Satan had pried his mouth open and poured the stuff down his throat, burning his tongue out as it made it's way to his stomach and boiled his internal organs. The pain that accompanied it all was worse than a million knives stabbing him all at once and it never ended quickly, it went on and on, sometimes for days before his body would finally give up only to be restored back to full health minutes later.
Lucifer loomed over him, his grin widening as he opened the small bottle.
"Please...please...not that." Sam begged, his eyes filling with tears. He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable, but instead of fingers prying open his mouth, he felt a stabbing pain in his arm and a burning sensation travel from his shoulders to his chest and throughout his body. He cried out involuntarily until he lost himself to the darkness.
One thing Sam hadn't expected was to awaken to his Grandfather's face above of him.
He expected to wake up in Hell, to the cage, to Lucifer in his true form torturing him for the rest of time, not a semi-soft bed and a friendly face.
"Sam?" Samuel asked. "You finally deciding to wake up, Son?"
Sam glanced about in confusion. "What happened?" He asked, sitting up, waving off Samuel's helping hand.
"It was a Djin, Sam. I'm sorry we were too late to catch her, but at least we got to you just in time. Her touch is poisonous and causes hallucinations until you finally die, but lucky for you I know an antidote."
"How'd you know I was in trouble?"
"We got worried when we hadn't heard back from you after that ghost job in Cleveland, so we decided to find you. Good thing we did."
Sam felt his arm where he recalled the shooting pain, it was still sore, but at least that explained how Lucifer had gotten out of Hell: He simply hadn't, it had all been a hallucination.
"No Lucifer?" Sam asked mostly to himself.
"Is that what you saw, Sam? You were pretty out of it by the time we found you. You want to talk about it?" Samuel asked, his gentle inquiry showing his concern.
Sam hadn't discussed his time with Hell with anyone and he didn't feel like starting now, so he simply shook his head.
"Okay...get some sleep. We'll try to track down the Djin tomorrow after we come up with a plan."
"No..." Sam suddenly recalled what the girl/Djin had told him before his hallucination had begun. He and Dean had killed her father, the Djin that had kidnapped Dean all those years ago. He knew where she would be heading next. "I gotta go..."
Sam was up and moving, grabbing car keys and guns along the way.
"Sam!" Samuel called out to him, following him out to the car. "Where are you going?"
"She's going after Dean next. I gotta stop her." He pulled the car door open and hopped inside.
"Wait just a sec...we'll come with you."
"There's no time-It'll be faster if I go alone. She might already be there."
"Okay." Samuel reluctantly agreed. "We'll be here, but you'll need these..." Samuel reached into his pocket and revealed several filled syringes. "Just in case you or Dean become infected."
Sam nodded his thanks and grabbed the antidote loaded syringes before slamming the car door and pressing the accelerator to the floor, leaving great plumes of dust in his wake.
It was all over for now or at least until the next creature decided to come after Dean. The Djin were taken care of but Dean had made up his mind; he was staying put with Lisa and Ben even when Sam had asked him to team up once again. Sam was wary of leaving Dean, his brother might still be a hunter to his core, but even Dean had admitted that he was rusty. But things had changed, they had both changed and Sam understood his decision and his need to protect his new family, but still stung a little that he had chosen them over him.
Dean dangled the car keys in front of Sam's face. "Here, take these."
Sam was more than a little stunned by the gesture. He'd put Dean through the wringer the last couple of days, hell the last year really and he wasn't expecting this sign of forgivness. First showing up out of the blue, then explaining how he had been out of Hell for the last year and hadn't told him, then dragging him back into the fight when it placed Lisa and Ben in danger. Sam knew it was a lot for him to process, yet here was Dean, offering his most beloved possession to him.
This was love and he didn't deserve it.
Even though he had spent the last year believing he was doing his big brother a favor by staying away, he had instead wounded Dean deeply. It was a gift he couldn't imagine taking.
"That's okay." He gave Dean a little grin. "I kinda got my car set up the way I like it."
Dean's face fell a tad and again Sam was hit with a wave of guilt. They said their good-byes soon after that and Sam was on the road minutes later.
He knew Dean would do anything to protect Lisa and Ben, but who would protect Dean? Sam decided as he drove that he would stay close, keep an eye on things and kill any fugly bastard that might even think of coming near. It was the least he could do.
Suddenly, the car was a little too quiet, the silence almost too much to bear. He flicked on the radio, something he hadn't done since his return and turned it up loud. He grinned a little as Metallica played Enter Sandman through the speakers, but it dropped a moment later when he realized just how much he didn't want to be alone anymore.