I've seen some fans thinking that Sam might be acting odd this season because he's being forced to, that he has a proverbial gun to his head. This is one possible scenario. I based it on some clips seen in the S6 previews. No spoilers, this is just me thinking.
Thanks to geminigrl11 for the super-fast beta. Nothing owned. Reviews craved.
"I just feel like I'm not getting the whole scoop." Dean said, watching his brother while he spoke. "I thought we were past this, Sam."
A hurt expression flickered across Sam's otherwise neutral face. At least Sam could still feel something. Dean didn't relish doing this, accusing his brother of anything, especially when it was such a miracle that Sam was even standing there. But, something was wrong, he could feel it. Sam might not be lying, per se—maybe he was just omitting some facts—but there was more going on than he was sharing.
"We are past all that, Dean," Sam said earnestly. The pragmatic, emotionless mask Sam had been wearing since he re-entered Dean's life slipped a bit and for the first time in weeks, Dean thought he saw something else.
Fear. But, that couldn't be right. Sam was a hunting machine, these days. Dean had watched him face down shapeshifters and vampires with all the concern of crossing a street. Heck, Sam had beaten a djinn to death with a golf club in Dean's living room. This new Sam wasn't afraid of anything. At least, nothing Dean had seen.
It was definitely there, though, and that was enough to make Dean step forward and reach out to him. "Sammy…I didn't come here to argue, man. Really. I just…there's something different about you. Something feels…off, and I just want to help you. Whatever it is, we can handle it together."
Dean only had a moment to get through to Sam, before that impassive mask slipped back into place. But the moment was fading. Sam's mask slipped back into place, and he favored Dean with a mildly regretful look.
"You're wrong. I'm sorry, I wish I could say something to make you understand, but…there's nothing to handle."
Stymied, Dean tried another angle. He had to get through to Sam somehow. "Look…I know Hell can…I know you must feel like the world's upside down."
Sam smiled nervously and fidgeted with the notes he was making for whatever hunt Samuel had him working on. "It does feel like that."
"And I get it, man. I'm—I'm just trying to help, Sam. You can talk to me."
Finally, Sam looked up and him, expression bent toward gratitude. "I know you are, Dean. And…I really do appreciate it, but—" His eyes flicked toward the door to the main room, where Samuel and the Campbells had been when Dean entered. He almost missed it, as Sam's eyes snapped back to him. "I just can't talk about it. I can't. Please."
Dean glanced at the closed door, then back to Sam. The feeling of wrongness that had been plaguing him since meeting his distant cousins came back with force. Slowly, he stepped up to Sam, keeping his voice low. "What is it, Sammy? What aren't you telling me?"
For a moment, he thought he got through, but another flash of fear lit Sam's face—that time unmistakable—before the mask was back.
"Nothing," Sam said quietly, but firmly. "I'm sorry I don't know how to make you believe me, Dean."
With that, Sam stepped back, head hung low, avoiding Dean's eyes. He stuffed his hands into his pockets. Dean sighed softly, and shook his head. It had felt like he was getting somewhere, but he must have pushed too hard. Sam was shut down again. Just like the days when Dean had pressed Sam about Ruby. He couldn't stomach the idea of getting stonewalled and lied to like that again, and his anger flared up.
"Fine." Dean shook his head. "Look…I gotta get back. Lisa's probably waiting up."
Sam looked up, and for the briefest of moments, Dean thought he saw an objection in his eyes, but it was gone as quickly as the other expressions. Instead Sam just nodded. "Yeah. Sure. Thanks for…stopping by."
The slight hitch in his brother's voice made him pause, and one look at Sam's eyes made Dean's anger fade as quickly as it had come. Leaving was the last thing Dean wanted to do. His unease had only gotten worse after confronting Sam, and old, long unused protective instincts were tugging at his brain. Take your brother outside as fast as you can! Dean would, in a heartbeat, but he knew that Sam probably wouldn't budge if he tried to force the issue.
Glancing at the door, he felt Sam's gaze following his, and Dean's instincts were screaming at him that something was very wrong. He needed to talk to Bobby…maybe even Cas. He turned back, at a loss. There was little else he could do at the moment. "Well…if you feel like talking—you know, about anything—you know where to find me, okay?"
Sam smiled at him, but it didn't reach his eyes.
Dean opened the door and moved toward the door. On his way out, his cousin Christian waved. "See you around, Dean."
"Yeah, see ya."
Sam sat on the bed and stared at his notes without reading them, trying to get his emotions under control. It was hard to lie to Dean, especially after all the trouble it had caused, but he didn't have a choice. Dean couldn't know.
Not having a choice didn't make it feel any better, though. Sam reined himself in, finally managing to force his rebelling emotions out of his mind. Things were easier when he couldn't feel. He'd never realized how pleasant numbness could be.
"Sam? Everything okay?" His grandfather's voice called out from the door. He'd arrived quietly; Sam hadn't heard him coming.
"Yeah, everything's fine."
He didn't look up as Samuel stepped inside and closed the door. "Dean looked a little upset."
"He's just worried about me." Sam said quietly. He didn't want to talk about it.
"Uh huh," Samuel murmured. "But, there's nothing to worry about, right? You told him?"
He saw Samuel smile out of the corner of his eyes. The smile didn't quite fit with his grandfather's tone of voice. "'Cause, we both know Dean doesn't need to be involved in our work here. You were right to keep him out in the first place. I think you made the right call, there. Just came in here to remind you of that."
Sam simply nodded. "I know."
"Good." Samuel nodded once and headed toward the door. Halfway there, he stopped and turned back. "Oh, I almost forgot the reminder."
Sam's back split open, a deep, wide laceration ripping the flesh between his right hip and left shoulder. The pain was so sudden and intense that it took his breath away. He pitched forward, grabbing the edges of the nightstand to stay upright.
The wound was followed by another a few inches above the first, then another criss-crossing them. Sam cried out, falling to his knees by the bed.
"Have I got your attention, there, Sparky?" Samuel asked mockingly, stepping back to his side.
"Pl—please…" Sam wheezed, trying to pull himself back up onto the bed. Another slash tore across his back, dropping him into a heap, sprawled face-down against the side of the mattress. "I—I didn't tell him…."
Samuel plopped down on the bed and Sam struggled to look up at him. One of the unexpected side effects of being Lucifer's former vessel was that he could see the creature inside his grandfather's meatsuit.
Sam had taken a chance several months earlier, and looked up his owner's name. He was a Fallen angel, later called an archdemon, older than Alastair, cast into Hell centuries earlier by Uriel and Raphael. Small world.
With Lucifer back in his prison, Adramelek was one of many older demons who was jockeying for position to take over downstairs. All the chaos among the world's monsters was disruptive, and he was on Earth to impose a little order.
Finding that information had been worth the punishment Sam had received, but that simple "reprimand" had been nothing compared to what he was feeling now. The agony burning through him was ten times worse.
"I've treated you well, haven't I? Like I said I would. I even let you see Dean, helped you save his life, didn't I?"
"Y-yes, yes, sir…." Sam breathed shakily. It felt like his brain was being shredded. The pain was everywhere at once, lessening only when his owner was pleased with his answers.
The demon ran a hand through Sam's hair, almost soothingly. "Are you sure you didn't say anything? You two were awfully quiet in here."
"I swear," Sam said, shivering. A fresh jolt of white hot pain clenched his insides, dragging another cry from his throat.
"I believe you." The hand patted his head, like a master and his dog. Samuel smiled benevolently at Sam, sending ripples of terror through his soul. "You know, I can still remember that day I found you, curled up and broken at the bottom of our Father's cage. I took one look and I knew you had so much potential. And I was right. You've become invaluable to me…and I would just hate to have to put you back where I found you."
Fear was replaced by panic, and Sam tried to pull himself up to face the demon. "No. Please…you promised…." Tears streamed down his face, the panic and pain overwhelming his self-control. He didn't care how pathetic he was, he couldn't go back.
"And I intend to keep my promise, Sam," Samuel replied, almost warmly. "I'm what you call a 'man of my word.' You do your part, and I'll let you stay after we're done up here. You can even go back to that blockhead brother of yours, if you like."
Sam nodded quickly. The pain was starting to recede. "I will—I am. I am doing my part."
Samuel stood. "That's good. You know, I'm not…completely unsympathetic, Sam. I know this is hard for you. I know how badly you want to go to your brother and tell him everything. But, just remember, that wouldn't end well. For either of you."
Sam nodded again. He knew all too well. The pain stopped as abruptly as it began, and he felt the gashes along his back heal and fade. It was almost as if it had never happened. Samuel stooped and helped Sam crawl onto the bed, patting his shoulder.
"You just take a minute. Get all those messy emotions stuffed back in their little box, and then we'll go take care of those werewolves you found for us. All right, son?"
Samuel stepped out into the common room, closing the door behind him. Sam was alone, again. He stayed on the bed, not daring to move, shivering with a cold sweat. The punishments always brought out the worst memories of being in the cage, and it took a while for Sam to bury them again, but as the now familiar numbness settled over him, his thoughts began to clear.
Adramelek had promised that Sam would be released from its service when their work was done—he could return to Dean. Like Lucifer, he didn't seem to resort to petty lies. The truth was often so much worse, in the long run. Sam had little choice but to believe the angel when it told him that he would eventually be free.
Not for the first time since he woke in Stull Cemetery, Sam felt just how alone he really was.
(A/N - Mitch Pileggi is just really good as a bad guy, you know? )