Tag for Appointment in Samarra. Duh.
I needed to get this out of my system so I could get back to other things. And I suspect that Show is not going to provide us with the emotional impact of Sam's return that I'd really like to see. :) So I decided to do it myself.
Unoriginal, self-indulgent, schmoopy drivel.
The protesting, pained yelling died out eventually, leaving Sam gasping where he lay.
"It's OK, Sam, it's OK." Dean continued the patter he'd been chanting while his brother had screamed, trying to break through. He kept his hands on Sam's shoulders hoping to comfort and steady. "You're safe now, kiddo, you're out."
Sam's eyes rolled in his head, bouncing around the room, not landing on anything until he fixed on Dean.
"Dean?" he whispered. His arms tried to come up, but were caught by the cuffs around his wrists. "Dean," he said again, starting to struggle. "Dean."
"Bobby," Dean cried and the older man was there, fumbling with the key. "'s OK, Sammy, it's OK."
"I gotcha, boy," Bobby soothed. He was trying to hold Sam's wrist still so he could manipulate the catch. "You're OK, Sam, you're OK."
Sam's eyes lit on Bobby, and he faltered. "Bobby." His eyes went back to his brother. "Dean."
Dean let go of Sam's shoulder and put his palm against Sam's cheek. "You're OK, Sammy."
The first of the cuffs fell off, and Bobby dealt quickly with the second. Sam lay slack on the cot, breath coming in stuttering pants. He was watching Dean with a desperation Dean wasn't sure what to do with.
"Dean," Sam whispered. His eyes flicked briefly to Bobby. One hand drifted toward his brother, touching his chest, then grabbing hold. "Dean." He sat up abruptly, arms coming around Dean in a stranglehold.
Dean returned it with interest. "Sammy. God, Sammy."
Sam was shaking so hard it felt like he was coming apart. Dean felt the sharp tip of his brother's nose dig into his neck and wondered vaguely how Sam was getting any air, though he could also feel the humid warmth of exhaled breath dampening his t-shirt in short, panicked-seeming bursts.
"'s OK, Sam," Dean continued, eyes going to Bobby, who stood over them.
Hesitantly, Bobby's hand came up to rest on Sam's head, palm smoothing down ruffled hair in slow, easy strokes. "It's going to be OK, Sam," he agreed with Dean roughly.
Sam's fingers tightened in Dean's shirt in response to Bobby's voice, face pressing tighter into Dean.
What exactly had Death said about the wall? Dean wondered frantically. No memories at all? Was it supposed to be as if the Cage had never happened? Or was Sam going to remember, but with the emotional devastation of it tucked away from him?
Dean couldn't remember at the moment. This certainly didn't seem like Sam not remembering. Though he was also apparently functional on some level. And for the time being Dean was going to count that as a win.
Later, he couldn't say how long they'd stayed there, the three of them for awhile, the two of them for longer, after Bobby got up and left the room.
Sam finally seemed to settle, eventually going almost limp in Dean's embrace.
"You OK now?" Dean asked in his ear, hand making a swipe down the back of Sam's head, before resting at the nape of his neck.
Another shudder, but a nod to go with it.
Dean eased back, but kept contact with Sam, hands firm on his brother's biceps, pretty much the only thing holding him upright. Sam's grip transferred from Dean's back to the front of his shirt again.
"You with me?" Dean asked.
Sam nodded vaguely again. His eyes were hopscotching around the room. "Dean," he said.
Dean wondered if that was all the kid was going to be able to manage.
"I'm out?" Sam breathed, finally, finally looking directly at Dean. He seemed suddenly haggard, dark circles under his eyes, hair lank around his face, skin pasty and gray.
"You're out." Dean could barely force the words past the lump lodged in his throat. He couldn't stop himself from putting a hand against his brother's face, thumb catching a drop of sweat or a tear that was tracing its way down Sam's cheek. "Do you remember?" He also couldn't stop himself from asking.
There was a slide of something through Sam's eyes – horror, terror, grief – that was gone so quickly it was as if had never been there, dazed bewilderment taking its place. "N- no," Sam stuttered. "I- ," he frowned, like he was trying bring it forth. "There was…"
"No," Dean said harshly, giving Sam a shake without even realizing it. "Don't try to remember, Sam," he ordered.
Sam flinched, bruised eyes somehow managing to shrink away.
But Dean wasn't about to allow that. "Hey, hey. Don't. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Sammy. It's just…. You can't… pick at it, OK?" He ducked his head, trying to get Sam to look at him again. "Do you hear me, Sammy? It's important—don't scratch it."
Sam brought his gaze back to his brother, confused, not understanding.
"I promise I'll explain," Dean said gently. "Just. Later, alright? Please."
Sam was watching him – exhausted and desperate, but with a trust Dean hadn't seen in years. "Yeah," Sam said. "OK."
Dean blinked the sting out of his eyes. Cleared his throat. "Alright, then. Let's get you upstairs. You haven't slept in over a year, sasquatch. You gotta be ready for a nap."
To his surprise, Sam actually snorted. "Yeah," he laughed unsteadily. "I kinda am."
Considering how scarily capable Sam had been over the last few months, the struggle it took to get him standing and up the stairs to their room was oddly comforting.
Sam crawled immediately into bed, face planting into his pillow with a groan. Dean didn't try to suppress his smile – it was completely Sam. He sat down on the edge of the bed as Sam turned his head toward him.
"You gonna be OK?" Dean asked, laying a hand at the small of Sam's back.
Sam breathed out a sigh. "Yeah."
"OK." But Dean didn't move. Couldn't.
Sam's eyes were closing, but he freed one of his hands from under his body and reached out to put it on Dean's knee.
"D'n," he mumbled, close to slipping away.
"Yeah, Sammy," he said quietly. "I'm right here." He slid his hand up Sam's spine, starting to rub slow circles across his shoulders.
"Y' dn't leave m' there," he slurred softly. "Y' d'n' leave me."
Dean ran a hand over his face. "No, Sammy," he choked. "I didn't." I couldn't.
"Th'k you." Sam seemed to be making an extraordinary effort to pry his eyes open, turning to look up at Dean as best he could. "Th'k you." Strong fingers tightened on Dean's knee. "Th'k you," he said again.
And fell asleep.
Dean watched him for a long time.
Whatever Death had done with the "wall," it didn't seem to have completely spared Sam from fallout from the Cage. He was twitchy as hell and physically changed, too, the stamina from his time without a soul apparently lost in the deal.
But under Dean's palm, Sam's back rose and fell with each breath, his heart beating rhythmically against the pads of Dean's fingers.
And in his mind, Dean saw the steady glow of Sam's soul strengthen and settle in to its rightful place.