Tag to 6.01 Another indulgence on my part to discover What is going on with Sam. There are just too many fun scenarios to come up with.

Slightly AU as none of this really happened.

This can stand as a one-shot, but I'm toying with adding more. We'll see.

Sam in a Box

He was breaking, losing himself. He felt it in every crushed bone, each curling shaving of flesh pulled away. The pain for pain alone was one thing, but they wanted his mind as well, his humanity. His soul.

So he did the only thing he could think of. He broke himself first. He felt the snap as he splintered and took everything that made him who he was, everything Sam Winchester, and dragged that piece of himself far far far into the remote reaches of his mind. He barricaded that part behind distant shadowed memories, beyond past hurts and guilts and thoughts he could never be certain were entirely his own, a mimicry from the taint of his blood.

With that part of him hidden away, safe, Sam gave over the rest to them. It was the only way he could survive. Let them break him, take what they would, strip down his dignity, his will to hold out, so while he begged and cried, screaming for release, pleading to be offered the same deal Dean had been given to come off the rack-which they only laughed at—he let it all go. He became complacent, the perfect victim, resolute to the torture because he knew he deserved it.

He had been the least of all of them. He knew that. Too sensitive. Too caring to do the job one hundred percent without looking back. There had never been black and white for him. Evil verses good. Too many variables, striations, colors had to be sorted, sifted before he killed just for the sake of killing evil. And he had been wrong. Always wrong.

"Samuel."

Sam tensed on the rack, his rack. The place where he slept, took his meals when one was given to him, and the place where he endured his punishments in between the times when he was allowed off to scurry around Hell like a servant doing his master's bidding. Most times he simply brought refreshments to Lucifer's table, lifting a goblet to the devil's lips while keeping his gaze downcast. Other times he stood quietly in the center of the demon hosts while Satan showed him off. "See how broken, how obedient is the Defender of Humanity."

So his instructor was Lucifer this time. The great Lord had been coming less and less, turning Sam's torments over into other hands. Sam wasn't even worth the great master's attention any more. He lowered back onto the rack, docile, accepting. Restraints had long become unnecessary as Sam took everything done to him, eyes lifted to the rocky ceiling, knowing it was less than a worthless husk like him deserved.

He flinched when Lucifer stroked his cheek, then stilled, preparing for whatever would come.

"They say my greatest sin was taking away mankind's choice." Lucifer shook his head, letting dark strands of his glossy hair fall against his chin. "So to you, Samuel, I offer a choice."

Sam's eyes wrenched to his. A deal?

Lucifer smiled kindly as though he could read his mind, though with how long they'd been together until Satan finally vacated Sam's body, maybe he could. "No, Samuel. Not that. I offer you the choice of your instruction. What shall it be today?"

Sam's breath hitched. "Whatever you think is best, Master."

"No, Samuel. I want you to make the choice."

Tears obscured Sam's vision. He couldn't even make a choice, remove that burden from his master. "Flame," he choked out. He hated the fire scalding him the most, feared it more than any of the other torments so it would be fitting when he such a dismal failure.

Satan frowned down at him. "This has lost its appeal. I'm disappointed. "

"I'm sorry, Master. What can I do to gain your approval? I'll do anything."

"That's just it. You broke, Sam Winchester. And I had such high expectations." Lucifer turned his back on the rack, crossed his arms. "I hear your brother lasted far longer . . ." Satan turned back, head cocked. "Your brother. Now there's an idea. If he only knew how fast you caved, how quickly you were destroy and damaged . . . that would break him more than a century in Hell ever could." He tapped his chin. "I'm seeing the possibilities . . ."

Sam's eyes widened in horror. He'd taken everything, let himself be stripped and bared completely, but as Satan rambled on about breaking his brother, something banged inside his head, clawing at a barrier, screaming, shouting to be let out. Sam's brows furrowed, remembering something, something he had left behind, buried deep . . . as Lucifer's fingers moved toward his head.

#

He gasped, dragging in lungfuls of wet air. He was in a field—headstones, cemetery—it was raining hard. Rolling onto his back, he stared up at the gray sky, blinking at the fat raindrops sluicing over his face.

No no no no. He was out. He deserved to be in Hell, suffering, making amends for everything he had done wrong. What use did the world have for a broken hollow shell of a man? What use did Dean have for him?

You saved the freaking world. Is that not enough amending? Sam squeezed his eyes shut. Too much noise in his head, pounding. Something trying to get out, like when he was pushed back in his own body, screaming at Lucifer.

Sam bolted upright, remembering splintering himself, tucking that piece away. His chest rose and fell in huge gaping breaths. Somewhere, somewhere deep inside he'd saved himself. Sam Winchester. Unbroken. God, he had to find him.

Closing his eyes, holding his head in his hands, he sat in the rain-drenched mud and ran through all the corridors in his mind, but there were barriers—stretching before him, thick webbed strands of pain and fire and doubt. He couldn't see past them, couldn't remember which path to take. He'd buried himself so completely, he didn't know which way to go, how to bring who he was back to the surface.

But he knew where to go for help.

#

The streetlight sputtered out above him, but Sam didn't notice. His eyes were fixed on his brother inside. Sam waited, hoping for more than this washed out emotion of desolation to be overcome by that lost part of himself, slamming the floodgates open and charging to the rescue.

But it never came. Maybe it couldn't, buried too deep. Maybe it had already faded away, suffocated while the rest of him was breaking because if seeing Dean after so long didn't awaken the real Sam Winchester, he must truly be gone.

Nodding, Sam lowered his head. He'd probably screw up any second chance anyway. He didn't know what to do, where to go from here. The one thing he did know was that he wasn't going to give Lucifer what he wanted. Not this time. A smile slowly tugged at his lips, a tiny lift for hope with the first defiant thought toward the devil in ages.

The Sam Winchester he'd tried to save was lost, probably gone for good, but he could reshape himself, mend the broken pieces. Lucifer wanted Dean to see a broken Sammy and if Sam took one step on that porch, Satan would have his way.

Hardening his resolve, Sam turned away, laying down the first brick to hide the broken pieces of his soul.