BEHIND A DARK WALL
By: Karen B.
Summary: Season six spoiler warning. Yet another 6-11 tag.
AN: Love reading all the tags out there. Keep them coming. Here's another to heap up onto the bandwagon.
Disclaimer: Not the owner.
Death closed his black case, raising his eyes to Dean.
A frosty, cold chill rushed down Dean's back and he shuddered hard. The little hairs, everywhere on his body, coming to attention.
How many people dared to take on Death? Face him - more than once - head on. And still were left with a beating heart and blood flowing through their veins?
Not many, Dean figured, remaining where he stood.
Sam thrashed about on the cot, mercifully his screams now turned into sobs.
"Love has won you this one chance." Death gave a nod indicating Sam.
Dean tensed, barely able to stay put in the entryway. Death was smug. A hit-man that rarely missed his mark - beyond powerful. It had taken Death two minutes to do what Dean knew…he could never. Retrieve Sam's soul from a heavily chained box being kicked back and forth between an angel and a devil, in the rock-bottom pit of hell.
Yet, Death carried a frailness about him. It was that frailness that scared the hell out of Dean.
"Don't forget about the lost souls," Death reminded sternly, pulling Dean from his reverie. One last look at Sam, and Death crumbled into himself. Diluting into a shadow and then dissipated into nothing.
Sam's eyes were closed, his body a quivering mess - still hurting.
Dean shook himself into action. "Bobby! He held his hand up in demand. "The keys." His voice gruff with the thickness of unshed tears trapped in his throat.
Without a word, Bobby dug the keys from his front pant's pocket and tossed the set to Dean.
Already on the move, Dean snatched the keys out of the air. Two steps brought him to sit on the edge of the cot.
He fumbled with the set, unable to find the right key fast enough. "Son of a bitch." Dean tried another and it slid into the lock with practiced ease. Dean turned the key. "Sam," he called frantically, watching Sam's face closely as the bracelet opened releasing a floppy wrist that thumped uselessly to the cot.
"How's he doing?" Bobby asked from the foot of the cot.
"I don't know," Dean muttered with desperation, noting the horrid red ring around his brother's wrists.
Sam's eyes slid back and forth under closed lids, trying to wake up.
"Sammy," Dean called again bending over Sam, and reaching to undo the other handcuff.
Sam sighed and took a breath, his eyes slowly opening - an unnerving faraway look in them.
"Bobby, get his legs." Dean reached back handing off the keys without taking his eyes off Sam. "You're okay." Dean bent further forward - his face in Sam's "Come on, pal," he whispered.
Sam blinked rapidly up at Dean. Flushed. Breathy. Trying to first raise his head off the pillow, then the rest of him.
"Where'd you think you're going, Tiger, huh?" Dean swiftly placed a hand to Sam's chest and left it there, pinning Sam to the cot.
"Dean." Sam's voice was hoarse, his lips barely moving.
"You bet." Dean inched slightly sideways so Sam could see. "Bobby too."
"Hey, kid." Bobby smiled, though grave.
Sam's gaze came to linger on Bobby with that same faraway look, then glanced around the room. Obviously struggling to ground himself, gain some sort of self-awareness.
The simple act of breathing and keeping his eyes open seemed to drain Sam dry, and a tremor of pain slid across his chest.
"Uh." Sam winced. Clumsily tried to move a hand. To weakened, his hand quickly dropped to dangle off the side of the bed.
"Sam, you're here with us. You understand?" Dean reached for the limp hand, took it firm in his and squeezed reassuringly.
Sam continued to stare. An air of grimness filling the panic room.
Dean didn't like the paleness of his brother's face. Or the sick, black and blue marks under his brother's eyes. "Sam, give me something here."
"He's…he's in there. Aren't you, boy," Bobby said, assuring, taking a step forward and holding his breath.
Sam shuddered harshly. Sure he was here. But where was here? He was only vaguely aware he was someplace new. But where had he been before? Someplace menacing. Someplace horribly-horrible. Someplace he needed to stay. Because-because-because the whole world depended on him doing just that. Dean depended on him doing just that.
"No," Sam gasped, eyes fluttering heavily. "Stay away." His body geared back up, straining against the cuffs that had already been removed. "Leave me alone."
"Shit," Dean cursed, his frustration running high as Sam struggled to no avail to escape him.
"Eeeerrrrrrrrrrr." Sam's face twisted in severe pain. His hands pushed at Dean, groping to get away. "Ugnnnuuu," Sam swallowed over and over, rolling onto his side. "Sick."
"Easy." Dean held Sam to the cot, but allowed him the movement the kid needed to drag himself half over the side of the bed, and hang his head.
"Y-you don't know," Sam choked, wet hair sticking in his eyes. "Don't know," he vomited.
Again and again, Sam gagged until nothing came up but yellowish spittle. He never felt so sick. Couldn't stop trembling.
"You're all right, Sammy." Dean curled in over Sam. Holding him. Hushing him, "Sh. You're okay."
"Dee…no. Not…guh," Sam moaned.
"We're going to be okay, Sam." Dean pulled Sam's hair back away from his face
Sam gagged and spit one more time. His body finally realizing he had nothing left to puke up.
"Sam," Dean called softly, fingers still running through his damp hair. "No more throwing up okay?"
"'Kay," Sam slurred listlessly, more out of the habit of answering Dean then truly understanding.
"Okay. Good." Dean carted Sam back up onto the bed, supporting Sam fully in his arms.
"Boy's in a world of hurtin'," Bobby muttered under his breath, sounding lost.
"He's going to be okay, Bobby. Tell him, Sam." Dean was nervous, but kept his tone confident.
Sam slipped in and out of consciousness. His mind shanghaied, body ailing and weak.
"Easy. I've got you now."
Sam's throat ached from screaming his head off. From puking his guts up.
"Sam, look at me."
Sam scrunched up his face. Disturbed. Snatching bits and pieces of memory. Wasn't he dead? He was breathing, so that'd be a no.
"Sam, you hearing my voice?"
The excruciating fire that had flared to life in Sam's chest was beginning to cool down.
"Dude! Let us know you're okay."
Sam's mind whirled - bewildered. What had happened? Where was he and why?
"D'n?" Sam called in a shaky, whisper-thin voice, head wobbling muscle-less when he struggled to lift up. "Dean."
"That's it. Slow it down, little brother." Dean's hand came up to support his neck - tender and gentle as if he were handling a newborn. "Just slow it down."
"Dean," Sam called again, only slightly louder this time. Damn he was drained. Struggled to wake fully. To sit up, but only succeeded in wilting further into the strong arms that held him. "Nuh." His teeth clenched tight.
"That's right. Come on, now. Let yourself rest for awhile."
Sam lay faint and quaking in Dean's arms.
"He's going to need time to bounce back." Bobby draped a wool blanket over Sam.
"He can have all the time he wants. Right, buddy?"
Voices faded to background noise. The whir of the fan lulling him into half-sleep.
What had happened? Sam knew he would regret remembering. But still he couldn't resist the temptation and the need to try.
Think. Think, Winchester.
Turning his head only slightly, Sam glanced around. He was in the bunker known as the panic room - his least favorite room - ever. On the cot. His hair sticky and damp. Glued to his forehead and to the side of Dean's neck.
He was uncomfortable.
More than a little achy.
He'd been in spear-stabbing pain.
And not the spear-stabbing pain of demon blood withdrawal either.
More like an inconsolable, long months of separation, unnaturally broken kind of pain. And a damn near uncontrollable, nagging itch in his head.
Sam tried to listen to Dean and Bobby whispering back and forth. Catch a clue. But he couldn't hear what they were saying, the words muffled. He could barely keep his eyes open. Was like floating at the bottom of an ocean, lake, some college kid's goldfish bowl. Was weird. But he could still breathe and he was warm. Safe. He hadn't known any of those things for a very long time.
"Here we go," Dean's voice filtered in through his underwater thoughts. "Lie back now."
Sam found himself laying full length on the cot, staring up at Dean. Deep green eyes staring back as if his older brother was seeing him for the first time.
Sam grimaced. His heart was on fire and there was still that something in his head. Something he needed to find. To know. He wandered the labyrinth. Back and forth. Up and down the twists and turns and creepy, dark stairwells. In and out of blind alleyways and getting turned around more than once. If there was a way into the mental playground, there had to be a way out. But every path Sam took kept switching up on him. Just when he thought he'd found his way, a dark wall would rise up in front of him. Stopping him solid. Something was behind that wall. Relentlessly calling to him, and Sam cowered before it. Clenched his fists.
Warning signs flashed. A blood-red hue. Sam moved, unwillingly. More by gravity then of his own accord. He squinted to see.
Do not enter.
No trespassing allowed.
Violators will be prosecuted.
The warning signs didn't stop the itching inside his head. Like a flea circuses main headquarters had moved right on in. Sam knew he shouldn't, but was so tempted to scratch. He raised a hand to the wall.
Sam jerked his hand back. The dark wall faded and he pushed himself to open his eyes.
"Hey, kid. You doing okay?" Bobby asked huskily, leaning in over Dean's shoulder, face full of concern as he handed Dean a water bottle.
"My head," Sam mumbled, not missing the quick grim look that passed between Dean and Bobby.
"And the rest of you?" Dean turned back, lifting Sam's head.
"Hurts," Sam garbled.
"Little sips." Dean pressed the water bottle to his lips.
Sam hardly got two small swallows, before the bottle disappeared.
The tip of his tongue swiping out over his cracked upper lip. "What happened?"
"Can you tell me, Sam?" Dean countered anxiously, lowering Sam's head back against the pillows. "What do you remember?"
Dean responding to his question with another question. So not a good thing.
"I don't know." Sam moved slow and lethargic trying to sit up. "I-"
The wall was back. It was huge and dark. Made of smoke and mirrors, and Sam could sense that there was an angry nightmare trapped behind it. The nightmare was a beast. Roaring and digging to get out. But the wall, so far, was strong. Holding the creature back. Sam didn't know much. But he knew he was afraid of the demon lurking just on the other side.
So for now, Sam stayed outside the wall. Didn't try to break it down. Wanting nothing more than to loll off to sleep.
"Sam? Tell me."
"A field. Rain." He looked to Dean, eyes going wide. "My soul gone missing. Death putting it back." He wiggled. Agitated and fearful in Dean's hold. "I-I can't remember anything else"
"Doesn't matter." Dean slipped a hand behind Sam's back and got him sitting on the edge of the cot.
"Why can't I remember?" Sam practically begged.
"Sam's tired, Dean," Bobby interrupted. "Give the kid a minute."
"Yeah. You're right, Bobby." Dean stood.
Sam stared down at the floor. Zoning. Mind spinning.
He was sorry. So sorry.
What was going on? What…who was this monster that lived behind a dark, strong wall.
Images came to him. The horseman. A collection of rings. Dean's bloodied face. A hole in the ground.
No one to catch him.
Letting him fall.
Trapped inside a box.
Trapped in a wild, cold-burning flurry of ice and flame.
One angel with wings.
All three caged in the deepest cavity of hell.
The memory was met with resistance - the wall.
"Sam? Want to tell me what's going on?" Dean had slipped off the cot, was crouched before him, hands gripping Sam's knees.
"I-I…" Sam shook his head fiercely, sweat-soaked bangs flinging back and forth.
"Maybe we should get him upstairs," Bobby suggested.
In a split second, more memories showered all around Sam. But the wall did not appear to stop these from flooding forth. Quick and fast and splintered they came. The sound in his head high-pitched. Like the whir of the panic room's giant ceiling fan's blades had detached and gone whizzing around the room looking to cut off a head or two.
"Uuuuuh." Sam cradled his head in his hands.
"Sam." Dean grabbed both his wrists and held tight, panicked.
Images exploded like bullets all around Sam. Pulverizing and painful and shaking him to his center.
He'd gone to hell. Came back wrong. Without a care. Without a soul.
And that was where one hell stopped - and something worse began.
He'd killed people. Innocent people. Used an infant as fish bait. Let a vampire turn Dean right in front of his own eyes. Didn't so much as flinch at the sight - maybe even smiled a little. He'd taken a knife to Bobby. Tipped the older man's head back. Damn near jammed the tip into his jugular. Desperate to force blood from the veins of a man he wouldn't mind calling dad.
"No!" Sam shouted and stood abruptly.
"Sam? Sammy, what is it?" Dean stood with him, grabbing Sam by the biceps, holding fast.
"Hell. I was in hell," Sam wavered off his feet.
How could hell have no flame. No smoke. No pain. Just a big black nothing. That was all kinds of wrong. Only way he knew that was all kinds of wrong was because Dean had gone before him and came home with a boat-load of memories of hell.
"My soul. You…he force-fed me my soul." Sam's lower lip quivered. "I can't remember." Heavy lidded eyes darted crazily between Bobby and Dean. "Because of the wall. He put up a wall. Death?" Sam asked utterly confused and fearful.
"Yes," Dean answered. "Easy, Sammy. Just-easy." Dean gave Sam a hard shake. "It's going to be okay."
"You don't know that. How do you know it will stay in place?"
Dean sighed, glanced at Bobby.
Bobby shrugged. You have to tell him.
Dean shook his head. No.
Facing Sam, Dean confidently lied, "It'll hold, Sam."
Sam was a bundle of nerves and panic. "How do I know I'll stay me. How can you know I-I won't try to kill Bobby again. Maybe in his sleep?" Sam sucked in huge gulps of air.
"I don't want you to think of yourself that way, Sam," Bobby stepped in. "It wasn't you. You…" he paused. "Weren't you. I trust you, boy." Bobby reached out a hand in proof, touching Sam's hand.
"No. No." Sam pulled away from Bobby. Scrambled out of Dean's firm grasp. "You can't trust me." He shuffled backward in terror, smacking up against the cot. Metal legs screeching across the hard floor a few inches. "Get away," he said, eyesight a blur. "You have to stay away from me." On weedy legs, Sam turned to leave.
Sam's heart hurt. Like someone had used it for a punching bag. What he'd done. What he still could do. It stole his breath away just to think of it. And what of the big black space. What of the wall. God only knew what he would be capable of should it tumble.
Dean was there, blocking his path, grabbing Sam by the biceps again, bracing, easily stopping Sam's flight. "You won't hurt anyone, Sam," Dean said, clear and defiant.
"I already did." Sam tried to wrench away, but Dean held him secure.
"Not you." Dean poked a stern finger into Sam's chest. "That wasn't you."
"It was me. All me. So I didn't have a soul. I still had a brain. Still did those things."
"Face it, kid," Bobby's tone full of fervor as he came to stand next to Sam. "And these ain't just words. I know what goes on in that big heart of yours." Bobby pressed a palm over Sam's heart. "And this…your heart. It is telling you right now, you didn't have any control over before. But you do now."
"No. No, I don't." Sam looked away, chin dropping, on the edge of tears.
"You're all twisted up in the head, Sam. But in here…" Bobby pressed harder against Sam's chest. "You're right again. Bit broken, but right." Bobby took Sam by the chin, tipped his head up and forced him to look at him. "You couldn't do nothing about before, so wipe that guilty look off and face it, kid," Bobby's voice was low and gravelly but full of kindness and love at the same time. "And I'll be facing it with you." Bobby glanced at Dean.
"We both will, Sammy."
Tears welling in his eyes, Bobby lay a hand to the side of Sam's cheek, a huge lump visibly forming in his neck. "And don't ask me to say this again 'cause I sound like a damn old fool." He paused. Swallowed down hard, but the huge lump in his throat didn't disappear, only bobbed up and down. "I didn't get a stab at being your real daddy. But to me, you're my real son." Bobby barely got out, ducking his head, shadowing his eyes with his ball cap. "You understand?"
"Yes, sir," Sam whispered in wonder.
"Be upstairs in the kitchen cooking up some…cooking up something. Suggest you idjtis get your asses up there in thirty minutes," Bobby grunted swiftly heading out the panic room door.
"Dean," Sam sagged.
"Hold tight." Dean took Sam in his arms and backed him up until he was sitting on the cot again.
"What if I remember. What will happen to me?"
"I won't let you, Sammy." Dean's voice gentle, tender.
"How, Dean? You can't crawl inside my head and pace the perimeter of that wall with guns in your hands."
"Watch me, Sam." Dean resolved. "If that wall so much as splinters or springs the tinest leak, I'll be there."
"Finger in the damn won't stop the flood, Dean."
"Dude." Dean gave a cheesy smile. "What do you take me for? An idiot."
Sam gave a small shrug. Maybe.
"Duct tape, man. Duct tape. That wall. Will. Not. Come. Down," Dean said, with concrete assurance. "I won't let it, Sam. I won't let you remember," Dean insisted, all do or die. "You believe me. Right Sammy?"
"I believe you'll try."
"That's a good start, little brother." Dean lead Sam from the room to the base of the staircase. "Think your long haired, gladiator ass can make it up the steps?"
Sam gripped the handrail, glancing over his shoulder tiredly at Dean. "Just stay close."
Dean nodded, the double-meaning not escaping him. "Damn straight I will."