A/N: Couldn't pass up doing a story about how Sam managed to snap out of his dream and make it out to Bobby and Dean, so I hope you enjoy this. I don't have a beta for this, so all mistakes are completely mine. Also, let me know if this is any good or not. I love feedback whether it's good or bad. Thanks!
Heart Full of Soul
By the time Sam realized he was awake, he had screamed himself hoarse.
He could still feel the searing pain as fire licked around the edges of his vision and he could still smell the acrid stench of burning flesh, but even though he recognized the room he was in as being Bobbys 'panic room', he couldn't completely snap out of the nightmare no matter how hard he tried. Memories pounded into him over and over again, washing over him in massive tidal waves threatening to drown him and pull him back under while he fought for something to cling onto, some shred of reality to anchor him.
He found it the moment his thrashing movements caused a gun laying beside his head to fall to the floor with a reverberating clang. The sudden noise caused Sam to finally see the room for what it was and to find some release from the visions of Hell that skirted around the edges of his mind. They weren't gone completely, not by a long-shot, but it was enough to still his twitching muscles to the point where he could regain some sense of control over them.
Shakily, he turned onto his stomach and focused on the gun now laying under the cot. He wasn't sure what it was doing there or how it got to be on the bed until his head touched as piece of paper. Groaning as he experienced a pressure in his head that signaled that it might explode at any moment, he pushed up on shaky arms then rolled his legs over the side of the cot until he was sitting.
Again, the fire encroached, filling his vision.
It's not real...It's not real...he fought to convince himself even as his skin began to tingle with the heat.
Not real...not real...focus dammit! Sam pressed his knuckles into his eyes, praying that he might be able to rub some of the images playing out in his head away.
It seemed to help, although only marginally and after a moment or two he was back in panic room, not in the cage, sitting on the cot and wondering what to do now and where Dean was.
What was happening? Dean wouldn't just leave him here by himself unless it was something terrible, but what was it? He couldn't remember.
It was more than difficult to recall the real world however, memories kept trying to intrude on his thoughts. He tried to push them away to focus...
The paper...was it a note?
He admonished himself for not thinking of that right away and he turned with sluggish movements, every muscle twitching and working on their own accord as though he was being poked with tiny, little electric prods all over his body. Coordinating his body with his brain was a struggle, but he found the little slip of paper and picked it up, squinting hard with blurry vision at the words scribbled there.
221 Piermont Ave
Gone to stop Cas
Gone to stop Cas? Stop Cas from what?...He knew he should remember this...
He squeezed his eyes shut and fought against the torment that had been reaped upon his soul. He had to remember...had to help Dean and Bobby.
Pushing the memories aside of the fire burning his flesh, the knives slicing his skin, the shattering of bones and the look of glee on Lucifer's face was almost impossible, but somewhere deep inside he found it along with flashes of Cas telling them his plan to defeat Raphael. He recalled the angel's grim determination to follow through with his decision to open purgatory in order to release all of those souls to stregthen his power and he remembered also the face of his brother, despairing over the loss of their friend the moment he knew the angel had crossed over to the 'dark side'.
That was it! That's what he needed to do. Find Dean...stop Cas...stop their friend from destroying himself and the rest of the world with him.
Sam snapped open his eyes, grounded in reality now by will-power alone. He bent over and picked up the gun, it's cool metal giving him something true and tangible to hold onto as he held it tight to his chest and stood. His legs however, tried to betray him, their jello-like strength almost giving out, threatening to send him to his knees.
Forcing one foot forward, he grabbed onto the edge of a nearby desk with his free hand, nearly knocking over an open bottle of whiskey while he attempted to regain some balance. He head also objected to the change in altitude as a spike of pain lanced him between the temples, but he couldn't let that stop him; he could fall apart later after he helped his brother and Bobby.
He took a moment to breathe through the pain, ignoring the hell fire that danced at the corners of his consciousness until, his legs began to feel a little steadier. Haltingly, he tried a step forward, still holding onto the table's edge and when he found that he could walk, albiet somewhat wobbly, he let go of the desk and focused on making it to the panic room's looming metal door. At least Dean and Bobby had left it open and he wouldn't have to use what little strength he had left to pull at it's heavy girth.
The stairs that awaited him however, were another issue.
Thirteen steps. That's all you gotta do... He encouraged himself wearily, sighing as he looked up, praying his legs would hold him during the climb. Well, he figured, he wouldn't know until he tried, so placing his right boot on the first step, he shoved the gun in his hand into his waistband then used both hands to hang onto the railing and help pull himself up.
One step at a time he ascended until half-way up the staircase he was suddenly and cruelly assaulted by a nuclear explosion going off in his head. He fell to his ass, clutching at his head, nearly taking a tumble down the steps. The pain was nearly overwhelming as he heard wicked laughter echo through his skull. "You're mine for all of eternity, Sam. So, I'm going to take my time..."
Sam hung with his arms stretched behind his back while hands were manacled above his head, attached to an invisible ceiling, causing his shoulders to rotate to the point where they had completely escaped their sockets. All he heard was the voice, laughing at his torment as a fire appeared under his dangling feet.
The flames leaped up and engulfed his toes first, working their way up his feet then up his shins and calves, a little bit at a time. The smell of searing flesh filled his mind and he screamed...
Just as suddenly as the vision came, it was over. He was back on the stairs again, panting heavily, his heart pounding erratically in his chest. He could still feel the pain, the fear, the helplessness, but at the same time he felt the hard metal barrel of his gun pressing into his back, reminding him that he had a job to do- He needed to help Dean.
The remnants of the vision began to fade into the background as he once again pressed on with his climb, but they never left him completely. All he could do was cling to what was real and what was memory and keep moving.
Eventually, he was at the top of the stairs. His legs at least had grown strong enough to keep him from falling over while he crossed into the kitchen, but there was something he needed, he thought fuzzily...what was it again?
Keys... right, keys. Need to drive...need a car...
Luckily, it looked like Dean and Bobby had thought of that too and he spied Bobby's set of keys hanging on a hook beside the back door. Grabbing the keys, he opened the door then stopped dead in his tracks at the sight that greeted him. Terror gripped him seeing the dark figure emerge from the shadows and begin to climb the porch steps towards him.
Sam froze in his spot, unable to move a muscle. Lucifer stood only a few feet in front of him, wearing the same meatsuit he had the first time he and Dean encountered him and the same smug, cruelly satisfied, half-smile.
"Get outta my way." Sam responded, his heart pounding, voice wavering as he reached into his waistband and pulled out his gun.
"Sammy, Sammy, Sammy..." Lucifer shook his head, his smile growing into a sneer. "My brother Castiel may have sprung you from my cage, but you know you'll never be able to escape me, don't you?"
Sam raised the gun, his hand shaking furiously while his thumb pulled off the safety. "I said...get out of my way."
Satan grinned even wider. "Or what?...You'll shoot me?" He held out his hands in mock surrender. "Fine...do it, Sam. You know it won't do you any good, but give it your best shot...c'mon, do it!"
Sam's finger found the trigger, but his hand was so unsteady that any semblance of aim would be crappy at best and the strength to hold the weapon was slipping with every passing second until finally, he lowered his arm to his side in defeat.
Lucifer laughed at his struggle. "See...you can never defeat me...you're just not strong enough, are you?" He took another step forward just as Sam felt a sudden surge of anger flood over him, overpowering the fear in his heart. Without much thought, the pistol rose, his arm steady this time, the shaking eased by the fury burning in his gut.
"You can't hurt me anymore." Sam hissed as he seethed.
Sam's aim was true this time as he pointed the barrel between Satan's eyes and fired. The explosive concussion went off just like a slow-mo action sequence; the flash of the muzzle sent billowing plumes of flame and smoke cascading in all directions as the bullet emerged with terrible slowness, spinning towards it's target.
Sam held his breath as he watched it spiral through the air, but it never hit home as he expected. Instead the image of Lucifer, his face registering a small amount of surprise at Sam's resolve disappearing before the bullet could make contact and in a flash the devil was gone.
Realizing that he was alone on the porch and probably had been the whole time, left Sam panting and shaking. God...he was losing his mind!
It wasn't real...not real...he can't hurt you...he's in Hell...
He repeated the mantra in his head over and over again while he sought to bring the terror and panic in his chest down to a manageable level. He didn't have the time to deal with his own fracturing mind right then- he needed to get to Dean.
Car...get to the car... He instructed himself, pooling what little energy he had left after his latest vision together and forcing his feet to start forward once again.
Sweat had beaded on his brow and was dripping from his eyebrows by the time he reached the car and had climbed inside. He swept it away wishing he could wipe away the images in his head as easily before nearly dropping the keys to the floor board as his fumbling fingers refused to cooperate with the messages his mind was sending them to start the car.
He bent down to retrieve them and was rewarded with another stab of pain in his head and for a moment, he smelled sulfur before he was able to find them and finally get them jabbed into the ignition.
Bobby's Chevelle thankfully roared to life on the first turn of the key and had a full tank of gas. Sam wasted no time waiting for the car to warm up and mashed his foot into the accelerator, peeling out of the salvage yard, tires spinning on the gravel drive and sending dust and pebbles flying into the air.
Sam's hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, his knuckles whitening against the strain he put them under. It wouldn't be a quick drive out to Kansas he knew as he reached for the phone as he drove, hoping that Dean would pick up and tell him that he wasn't too far behind them. He speed-dialed his brother and waited for an answer, but all he got in response was his line going directly to voicemail.
Dean must have turned off his phone or was so far out of cell range that he couldn't be reached.
He was on his own.
Bobby's car ate up the miles noisily, it's muscular engine producing the only actual sound reverberating through the interior, but Sam's mind provided plenty else to distract him. Random images, sounds, smells, voices, screams, fire displayed themselves at unannounced intervals and all Sam could do to fight them off was grip the steering wheel tighter and drive faster.
He wished he could outrun this nightmares that continued to intrude in on his thoughts, but the realization that there was no speed he could go or quiet corner of the planet he could hide in to escape them left him with a helpless feeling. He was going to lose his mind...there was no running from that. He could only pray that he could hold it all together long enough to find Dean and Bobby.
It was starting to get dark by the time Sam reached Kansas. He still had another 50 miles to go, but it was a relief still to just be in the same state Dean was in. But still, it was becoming more and more difficult to keep his eyes on the road when the attacks of stabbing pain coursing through his head continued relentlessly. A few times already he had had to pull over in order to ride them out and he wasn't sure how much longer he could keep going before he either dropped from sheer exhaustion and ran the car off the road or into an oncoming vehicle.
At least the roads in this rural part of Kansas were empty for the most part and oncoming traffic wasn't much of a problem, but it was on one of these lonely roads that Sam felt the pressure in his head increase once again.
He fought not to squeeze his eyes shut in order to block out the pain, not wanting to stop the car when he was getting so close to the address listed on the note Dean had left for him- he couldn't stop now. One hand flew up to his temple as if that might chase the onslaught of torment away while his jaw clenched and teeth ground together noisily. Flames rose up all around him, catching his clothes and skin on fire, charring his flesh while rivulets of blood poured over his vision, dripping into his eyes.
Not real...not real...
He started up his mantra once again, begging the overpowering pain and images to recede and let him go on.
A moment later the hold his mind had over him let go and the pain lessened enough for him to focus on the road once again, but just as soon as he recovered, he had to stomp on the brakes for a man standing still in the middle of the asphalt, the headlights lighting up his pale and fear-filled face. Sam swerved to avoid the collision while the tires squealed then skidded to a halt.
Panting, Sam had felt no impact against the front end and with a sigh of relief he looked back behind him to check on the man. However, there was nothing there; no man standing in the road. He was alone on the barren highway save for the stalks of corn that swayed in the wind on the other side of the road.
His heart still pounding in his chest, Sam rubbed a hand over his face.
Get it together, Sam...get a grip...there's nothing there
"Sam..." A pain-filled voice echoed in the car, causing Sam to jump and his already thumping heart to skip a beat before restarting it's pounding once again in his throat. He turned instinctively towards the voice and then gasped.
"Why'd you leave me?" Sam could only see half of the face of the man suddenly occupying the passenger seat beside him, most of him covered in shadow, his head dipped and arms wrapped around his midsection, but he knew right away who it was.
"A-Adam?" Sam stuttered.
"You left me alone..." Adam's voice quivered. "They...they have no one else to punish...just...just me. We...I thought..we were brothers...but you left me there with them...alone ...why?"
Sam's eyes watered with unshod tears as Adam turned his head and he could see the full extent of the misery on his half-brother's face and the ravages Satan and Michael had unleashed on him. His flesh was torn to the bone in many spots while in others black, charred skin marred his features. But, worse of all was the terror in his eyes and the pain-filled expression he held as he locked onto Sam's gaze.
Adam groaned and leaned forward in his seat, his arms tightening around his waist. Looking on in horror, Sam realized that the only thing holding Adam's intestines inside his abdomen were those hands.
"I'm so sorry...Please...I didn't mean to leave you behind...I sorry...sorry..." Sam was almost sobbing at this point, his voice cracking and failing him. Adam turned to look at him again and Sam felt his heart tear in two at the abject torment on his face.
"Please...Sam...don't forget I'm still there...please...Don't forget I exist..."
"I won't...I promise." Sam agreed and suddenly he was alone in the car again, the only sound coming from him as he fought to control his panting.
Sam let the tears fall freely and bowed his head. Adam was still in that hole while here he was, free as a bird and all he could do since he woke up in the panic room was focus on his own misery.
He was suddenly ashamed and wracked with guilt for not giving Adam much thought until just then and for being the only one that escaped the cage and the fallen angels' wrath. He was on Earth, out of Satan's reach while Adam was rotting in Hell, subjected torture the likes of which no one should know and for all of eternity.
And why? What made him more worthy of salvation? Just the fact that he had an angel willing to rescue him and had been born lucky enough to have been the brother Dean loved more?
And now here he was, sitting alone in the middle of a Kansas road surrounded only by corn and pitying himself for having gone through Hell, for the memories that caused him so much terror and pain, yet Adam was still down there, still experiencing it all.
He was struck with an epiphany then. How could he not suck it up and drive on? Giving up and letting himself lose all his marbles just because of the nightmare he went through in Hell would make the additional torture Adam was enduring alone all in vain.
Sam lifted his head and felt a small fire grow in his belly. It wasn't hell-fire, but a surge of energy and new-found strength that fueled his determination. He had to keep going.
Flooring the gas pedal, Sam sent the car hurtling down the road once again, fishtailing before leaving behind twin lines of rubber embedded in the pavement.
His eyes never wavered from the road after that, even though Hell was only a thought away and niggled at his brain like an irritating itch. But, he refused to give in, to let it take over his mind, to turn him into a drooling, raving lunatic. He had things to do and no time for insanity, he concluded.
It wasn't long before he was on the street listed on the note Dean had left for him, but the moment he saw the overturned Impala laying broken and shattered, he felt his stomach drop to his knees.
"No, no, no." He whispered to himself as he pulled up alongside the wrecked vehicle and killed the engine. Fearing the worst, that Dean and Bobby had been killed, he Grabbed his gun, then pushed his way out of the door. Sam found his legs still didn't want to cooperate with him, but he shuffled as fast as he could to the car and bent down to check inside, holding his breath in fear of what he might find under there.
Seeing that no one was inside, left Sam feeling dizzy with relief. At least that meant Dean and Bobby had survived whatever had hit the car, but whether they were still alive or not was still a question burning in his mind and cause for Sam to keep going, to find his brother and save his and Bobby's asses for once.
He had just started to encourage his feet to get moving again when the pressure in his head imploded and he had to stop, to fight it off. He was burning once again, fire devouring him piece by piece. This time at least, the vision didn't last as long as some of the others had and he was able to convince himself it wasn't real after only a second or two. Now was not a good time for Hell to come barging in- he had a brother and surrogate father to save before Cas got a hold of all of those souls. He had to keep going- keep moving.
Sam talked to himself all of the way to the building and through the entrance, not allowing the pain in his head nor his body to dictate his actions.
Distractedly, he found that there wasn't much in the way of security about the place. No demons guarding the entrances, no angels waiting in the shadows to take him out; it was eerily quiet and that perhaps was more unsettling than anything else.
Each step he took was a battle as he pushed into the halls, unsure of which way to go, wishing that Cas and Crowley had had the forethought to post some signs pointing the way like 'evil demon lair, next right'. He took several wrong turns leading to dead ends until he found one last hall he hadn't been down yet and came near a half-open door, hearing voices coming from inside.
He stilled his heavy breathing and drew himself close into the shadows near the door, listening carefully then hoping beyond hope that what he was hearing wasn't real, that this was just another figment of his tortured mind. But when he heard Dean speak, he knew it was true. The heartbreak, the fear in his brother's voice was all too real as he begged the angel that had once been his close friend to let the souls he had taken into himself go.
Sam peeked around the corner and into the room. Bobby stood off to the side, his face a mix of fear and disbelief while, Dean just looked outright defeated. Sam could almost feel Dean's heart breaking into pieces when Cas flat out rejected his plea to release the souls.
Looking further inside, Sam caught sight of the silver blade laying discarded on the floor amid a pile of red, sticky and gory pieces of flesh. Another memory chose that moment to invade his mind and he remembered standing in a cold cemetery, his body no longer under his control as the devil himself used his fingers to snap and blow Cas up into a million pieces. He recognized the splatter and knew instantly that Cas now done the same thing to someone else. While he was immensely relieved it hadn't been Dean or Bobby he had poured his wrath out on, he knew also that the angel wearing the wrinkled trench-coat before him was no longer the friend that they had all come to trust with their lives. He was dangerous and moreover, given the face of fear his brother was wearing now, he knew he had to act, no matter how much it tore at him to do so.
He had to kill Cas.
Quietly, he snuck into the room then couched down to pick up the blade, the only thing on the planet strong enough to kill an angel. He fought to control the tremors spreading in his muscles, the growing pressure in his skull and the overwhelming weakness he felt straight down to his core.
'you're not strong enough to kill your friend are you, Sammy?' Lucifer's voice taunted him as he approached.
He squeezed his eyes shut for the briefest of moments, chasing the devil from his mind and focusing again on Cas and Dean. If his brother saw him approaching the angel, he never let on, but kept his eyes locked on Cas as the angel explained how he needed to punish the other angels that had gone to Raphael's side. Sam had to act soon, he could feel the shaking in his limbs increase the closer he got and he steeled himself for the killing thrust, knowing he'd be ending the life of the friend that pulled him out of Hell and whom he had considered one of the few people on Earth he could utterly depend on.
But, this wasn't Cas, he told himself. He didn't know what he had become, but he sure as hell wasn't his friend.
Using all of the strength Sam could muster, he struck. The blade went in, piercing the angel's back all the way to the hilt. Sam grunted with the effort, pushing it as far as it would go, but when nothing happened, he let go of the blade in shock.
"I was hoping you would be able to join us, Sam" Cas spoke without turning arounda dn Sam felt his heart come to a screeching halt.
His mind could barely comprehend the next few moments after that as Cas calmly pulled the blade out of his back and set it on a tray in front of him, almost with a sigh of contempt.
"the angel blade can no longer harm me because I am no longer an angel..."
Sam's mouth hung open as did Dean and Bobby's. "I am your new God, a better God...and you will worship me as your almighty Lord... or I will destroy you."
The room fell silent after that and it took Sam's mind several moments to realize that Cas had disappeared into thin air.
Only the sounds of harsh breathing echoed across the wall and they were all too stunned to move. Cas was gone...just like that... and there was nothing, no power in the world that could stop him.
The jello-legs that had supported Sam this far took that moment to fail and unable to withstand his weight any longer, he crashed, falling onto his knees painfully just as his brain flooded with overwhelming agony.
"Gah!" Sam grabbed at his head, it was too much for him to fight off this time and images of blood, fire and unrelenting terror took over, one after the other.
He was only marginally aware of Dean shouting his name and of hands grabbing him before the world turned black and he knew no more.
Sam awoke to the sounds of silence. There was no pain-filled screaming, no over-powering stench of blood, sulfur and no fire burning with white-hot intensity scorching his tender flesh. There was just him, a cot, an angel-proofed panic room and the only two men in the world that he could trust any more.
He opened his eyes and silently peered around. Bobby was sitting in a chair in the other corner of the room, his head down, chin to his chest and snoring softly while Dean, on the other hand was fully awake, but hardly seemed aware of his surroundings. His brother sat in a chair not far from Sam's head and hadn't noticed that he was awake yet.
A half-empty bottle of wild turkey sat open next to him and in his hand he had a full glass which he then lifted to his lips and downed in one long gulp before placing it back on the table with a dull thud.
Dean closed his eyes and sighed heavily, using his thumb and index finger to pinch the bridge of his nose. He looked terrible in Sam's eyes. Unshaven with dark circles under his eyes that expressed more pain and hurt than Sam have ever seen in him before. He hadn't looked this unglued since their father died and Sam felt his own heart tear some more at the memory of a super-charged Cas declaring himself the new almighty God and he knew whatever he was feeling, Dean had to be experiencing the same only more so since he had been the one closest to the former angel.
Sam himself was feeling much more clear headed than the last time he woke up in this room, but just below the surface, there was an undercurrent of uneasiness, fear, terror and pain that would only need just a little push to break through. But for now, he thought he could handle it, that he could tramp down the memories that had overwhelmed him earlier and focus on his brother's rather than his own emotions.
"Hey..." Sam croaked, his voice rough as sand-paper.
Dean's head snapped up and his eyes, though half-lidded and drooping from the alcohol, locked onto Sam's.
"Hey, Sammy...How're feeling?"
"Like I ran a marathon then got run over by a car and had to be sedated for a week."
"That good, eh?"
"How long was I out?"
"'Bout a day. You had me worried there." Dean watched him, looking for any sign that he might collapse on him again. "Wasn't sure what would happen when that wall fell...ya know?"
"I'll be okay." Sam said with out much conviction, but he refused to let Dean think that he was still reeling from the aftermath of recovering his memories. Dean had enough to deal with than whether or not Sam was going to lose his mind; that was for Sam to worry about. He deflected any further thought of that with his growing concern for his brother. "What about you? You've looked better."
Dean shook his head then reached for the bottle of whiskey, taking a swig before answering flatly. "Me? I'm just peachy."
"What about Cas? What happened?"
"He took off. To where? Who knows." Dean drank another mouthful. "But, he hasn't shown again, so I'm guessing that he's doing the whole 'crush you enemies and see them driven before you' thing right now."
Sam grunted as he sat up on his elbows then allowed Dean to help him up the rest of the way until he was sitting upright. His head certainly felt better than it had before his collapse, but the ache in his heart over Cas was almost as bad.
"So...what do we do now? You think there's any chance we can get the old Cas back?"
Dean looked down at his lap and was silent for a few moments before responding softly and sadly, his eyes never leaving his legs. "I dunno what we do now, but I do know that we gotta accept that Cas...at least, the Cas we knew...is dead. And the thing that's wearing his face now, needs to die."
Sam nodded wearily in half-hearted agreement. He didn't want to admit that Dean was right, that 'their' Cas was gone forever, but the truth was plain to see.
Dean rubbed his forehead with his hand and closed his eyes, obviously tired and in need of sleep.
"Hey-" Sam gently slapped Dean's knee. "Why don't you take the cot, you need to sleep too, ya know."
"Dean...c'mon man." Sam cajoled him
Dean must have been well past the point of exhaustion because only a minute later he and Sam had switched places and was fast asleep almost as soon as he hit the pillow. Sam sat in the chair, toying with the glass Dean had been drinking from when he heard a rustle from the door and smelled the faint, but distinct smell of sulfur. He looked up and then in shock, let the glass in his hand fall to the floor and shatter loudly.
Lucifer stood across the room from him, a wicked smile growing on his face.
"Wha w's that, Smmy?" Dean mumbled in his sleep and Sam tore his sight away from the vision to look down on his brother. He knew it wasn't real, yet his heart still fluttered noisily in his chest, his pulse thrumming wildly in his ears. Sam turned away from Dean and glanced tentatively towards the door once again, but the vision of Lucifer had vanished and it was only the three of them in the room.
"It's nothing, Dean..." Sam closed his eyes and struggled to control his rising fear and the shakiness in his voice. "Just dropped a glass. Everything's fine." He said, only he wished with all his heart that it was the truth.