A/N: This is a tag to the Season 6 episode Appointment in Samarra, and as such may include spoilers for anything up through Season 6 episode 11. Many thanks to my wonderful beta Cynbad3 for encouraging me to write this, and also for the quick beta job!
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural, and I make no money from this venture. I write only because it's fun!
The Memory Game
The first thing he was aware of was that his throat hurt. When he thought about it a little longer, it wasn't just his throat. While that seemed raw and sore, almost as if he had been screaming, his chest throbbed, and his whole body ached like he had the flu. And there was something wrong with his head. His thoughts seemed scrambled, and for a frightening minute, he couldn't even remember his name. Sam. It came to him suddenly. His name was Sam Winchester.
He shifted restlessly on his bed, startled into opening his eyes by the sound of metal. He lifted his head weakly off the pillow, staring down in confusion at his right arm. It appeared to be shackled to the bed. That didn't seem normal, although he seemed to remember this happening on more than one occasion before. He couldn't quite recall why it had happened on those previous occasions. He knew something bad had happened, but he couldn't quite remember.
Looking to his left, he tried shifting that arm experimentally, further perplexed when that arm wouldn't move either. Next he tried lifting his legs one at a time, no longer surprised when they didn't move. For some reason he was chained to his bed. He tried to concentrate on why that would have been, and after a few minutes of staring blankly at the ceiling, it finally came to him. Panic room. He was in the panic room again. When he had been chained in here before, it had been because he was coming down off of demon blood. Had he been drinking the vile stuff again? An image popped into his mind of him drinking it out of a gallon jug. His heart rate accelerated and the pain in his chest ramped up. What had he done?
A rustle of cloth caught his attention, and he turned bleary eyes toward the noise. There were two chairs lined up against the wall, and one of them was currently occupied by his brother, Dean. Sam frowned, struggling to remember something that seemed to hover just outside his grasp; something to do with Dean. He struggled to focus his eyes, startled by his brother's appearance. Dean looked exhausted, even though he was currently asleep.
The older Winchester was slumped in his chair, head back against the wall. Sam blinked, wondering if his eyes were still blurry or if Dean actually looked older somehow. His brother's face was pale, and even asleep there were dark circles ringing his eyes. Even his hair seemed subdued, not as spiky as it usually was. Sam wondered if Dean had been sick or something.
Suddenly an image blasted into Sam's mind. Dean, face beaten so badly it was almost unrecognizable, crumpled on the hood of the Impala. Sam pulling his fist back to hit him again with bloodstained knuckles. Dean repeating over and over that he was there and he wasn't going to leave him.
Tears sprang to his eyes. This wasn't just an image, and it wasn't even a nightmare. The rest of the memory came back, and Sam lost his battle with the tears. He had not only beaten Dean half to death, but Castiel and Bobby were both dead because of him. He had been so sure that he could handle Lucifer, so sure it had been the only way to save the world and stop the apocalypse. Instead he had merely killed two thirds of the only family he had left, and beaten his brother half to death. And apparently, he hadn't even managed to stop Lucifer.
He remembered lunging toward the hole in the ground, but Michael had stopped him. He had tried to fall back into the hole anyway, but then it all got a little bit fuzzy. Obviously he hadn't been successful, or else why would he be chained to a cot in the panic room? He must have been here for a while, because Dean's face seemed to have healed, but the trauma could definitely explain why his brother looked so tired, and even older.
Sam wondered if Lucifer was still hanging around, or if he had escaped at some point. His overwhelming failure overcame him, and Sam broke down into sobs, turning his head away from Dean. He couldn't bear to look at what he had done to his brother. "I'm sorry," he whispered. And once he started he couldn't seem to stop. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry . . . . ."
He vaguely heard the chair squeak, and then he flinched when a firm hand came down on his shoulder, but he continued with his mantra, tears streaming down his face uncontrollably.
"Sammy?" Dean's voice seemed uncertain, and this just made Sam feel worse. His brother was afraid to be around him, and Sam couldn't blame him. "Sam, look at me."
Sam shook his head, trying to turn away even further in his misery, but Dean's hand left his shoulder and grasped his chin, forcing Sam to tilt his head back toward him. Sam opened waterlogged eyes enough to see that Dean was looking concerned.
"Sam, it's okay. You're okay now. Just take it easy. Everything's going to be okay." Dean's soft voice was probably supposed to be soothing, but all Sam could think of was that he had taken away Dean's closest friends and nearly killed him, and for what? The apocalypse would still happen, and now 'Team Free Will' was down two of its four members.
He closed his eyes again, trying to turn his head away, but Dean wouldn't let go. He didn't remember ever feeling so worthless and in so much pain. It would have been hard enough to know that Cas and Bobby were dead, but to know that they had both died by his own hand made it unbearable. He opened his eyes again, meeting his brother's gaze desperately.
"Why didn't you just kill me?" He moaned, closing his eyes again.
"Sammy, hang on." Dean's voice sounded panicked now, and he ran his spare hand through Sam's hair gently. "Castiel!"
Sam was confused now. How could Dean be calling for Castiel? Sam distinctly remembered snapping his fingers and the angel exploding gruesomely all over Bobby. Just the thought made him nauseous, and he gagged. Dean fumbled with the handcuffs and got him loose and tilted over the edge of the cot just in time to lose the contents of his stomach. Even after he had expelled everything in his system, his stomach continued to rebel, forcing painful dry heaves. Dean gripped his shoulders tightly, rubbing one hand across his back soothingly.
"It's okay, Sammy. Just relax, little brother. Castiel!"
Sam heard footsteps pounding down the basement stairs and excited voices, but he was too preoccupied by his stomach trying to turn itself inside out to pay too much attention. Every time he tried to calm down, he recalled Castiel's death and started heaving all over again. Even worse, now the images of Castiel were interspersed with Bobby's neck breaking over and over again.
Suddenly a strong hand lifted his head, and Sam looked up, startled, into Castiel's fierce blue eyes just before two fingers touched to his forehead and everything went black.
TBC . . .