Disclaimer: Despite how long it's been, one thing hasn't changed: I still don't own 'em. Even the title is from a Frank Sinatra song.
Characters: Dean and Sam Winchester, Bobby Singer, mentions of Castiel
Setting: Post-"The Man Who Knew Too Much"
Warnings: Heavy spoilers for TMWKTM, plus a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to one of my other stories, Paint Around the Empty Space.
Thanks so much to Biotomegami Lyanvis for her beta services!
Luck Be a Lady
It was dark, and it was scary, and someone bad was chasing him. He didn't know where he was, but he knew where he wanted to be: at home.
It was his birthday tomorrow, and he wanted to go home.
He wanted his mommy and daddy.
He didn't feel his feet snag anything, but suddenly he was flat on the ground. He couldn't hear anything, but he knew the bad person was right there…right behind him.
He was caught, and he began to cry.
He was still crying when he woke up, clutching his stuffed bear in his arms. His room seemed big, threatening, the orange glow of his night-light not enough to keep the shadow-monsters back. Screwing up his courage, he hurled his tiny body from the bed and ran from the room.
Mommy and Daddy were watching TV in their room, but Daddy turned the sound off when he came in.
"I had a bad dream," he said in a small voice, still gripping his bear by the ear.
Mommy smiled at him and pulled back the covers without a word, and he clambered into the bed. Daddy lifted him up over her and stuck him in the middle, under the covers. Neither of them said a word, but Mommy hugged him close and Daddy turned on cartoons, and really, they didn't have to say anything. They were here, and that was enough.
Enough to make Dean feel safe.
Dean Winchester could no longer remember what it felt like not to be scared. For years now, there had always been something to be terrified about—his father's disappearance so long ago now, Sam's visions, Sam's death, hell, Sam's hunt for Lilith, the apocalypse…he'd become so used to being afraid that he didn't really notice it anymore, and hadn't for a long time.
But he noticed now.
Now he was, once again, running for his life, and he was so frightened he could barely think.
Cas…why did it have to be Cas?
Why did it always have to be his family?
A small, unidentifiable sound came from the seat next to him—a sort of gasping whimper—and Dean looked over so fast his neck popped.
Sam stared straight ahead, his grip still tight on his gun, and didn't say a word.
He hadn't spoken once in the hour and a half that the Impala had been flying down the freeway. Ever since he'd shoved the sword into Castiel's back he'd been practically catatonic. The silence had Dean wound tighter than a drum, and that one sound was enough to push him over the edge.
Sam bounced forward a little in his seat as the Impala screeched to a halt on the side of the road. Dean threw the car in park and tore off his seatbelt so that he could face his brother fully.
"Sam? Talk to me, man."
Sam stared out the windshield as if Dean hadn't spoken at all, but the hand not holding the gun twitched, clenched, and unclenched once, twice, before going still again.
"Sam, c'mon, you're freaking me out here."
Sam didn't make a sound, and with every second crawled by without a reply, Dean's worry upped a notch. The last time Sam had gone this quiet on him he'd killed five people in cold blood and had taken months to get back to something resembling normal.
And compared to what the kid had just gone through—was still going through—the circumstances surrounding that little break from reality were a positive joy.
"Sammy, please say something. Seriously, dude, anything at all. I don't care. Hell, we can have that damn heart-to-heart about Ben and Lisa you were dying for at the hospital—yeah, I could tell. All you have to do is ask."
When Sam continued to ignore him, Dean slammed a fist against the wheel in frustration and said, "Okay, fine. Take your time with…whatever the hell this is. I'm ready to chat when you are, kiddo."
They had been back on the road for about an hour before Sam said, "Haven't we gotten to a motel yet?"
Dean jerked the wheel sharply, sending the Impala fishtailing across two (thankfully sparsely occupied) lanes of traffic. Ignoring the horn blaring behind him, he got the car to the side of the road and hit the brakes hard.
"Dude, skid much? What the hell was that?" Sam asked irritably, rubbing his elbow where he'd banged it against the dashboard. As he did he glanced down at the gun in his hand before tossing it carelessly into the backseat.
"What was…skid…you…and…you were…" Dean spluttered incoherently for a few moments while Sam looked on with raised eyebrows before he finally landed on the most important question. "Are you okay?"
"Uh…yeah, sure. Fine," Sam said with a shrug. "Why?"
"Why? Sam, you…you were…we've been on the road for like three hours, and you've been Schizo Sam the whole time! Excuse me if I'm a little confused here."
"Oh, that," Sam said, brushing his hair out of his eyes with an impatient huff. "That was just…it was nothing."
"Really, man. I'm good. Great, even."
"But….Sam, this isn't right. You were unconscious for almost a day, Cas took that damn wall down…you can't seriously tell me everything's just peachy."
"But it is. Did you want it not to be?"
Dean stared in disbelief, his fierce desire to believe that Sam really was all right warring with the sheer impossibility of the idea that memories of the cage weren't bothering his brother at all.
Before he could say anything, though, Sam rolled his eyes and said, "Look, we can talk about this later. Can we get a room somewhere? I'm beat."
And really, despite how weird he was acting, the mere fact that Sam was talking at all—let alone rationally—was enough to make Dean willing to give him whatever he wanted.
He had his brother back, apparently unscathed by recent events.
So why couldn't he just be happy?
Later, he found out why.
He got a room at the first motel they passed and tossed Sam the keys, grabbing both their bags in one hand before Sam could open his door. Sam shrugged and didn't argue, going ahead to open the door and turn the light on.
Dean tossed both their bags on the bed nearest the door, waving Sam away as he came over to grab one of them. "Sit," Dean said firmly, pointing to the other bed. "We're not staying long—no point in unpacking 'em. You just sit there and…try to avoid spacing on me again, and I'll order pizza. Pizza sound good?"
His words sounded almost manic even to his own ears, and he was a little surprised Sam didn't call him on it. But Sam just shrugged and said, "Whatever."
Dean hesitated, on the verge of asking yet again if Sam was sure he was okay, if he was sure he didn't want to have one of those talks he'd always been so into, but in the end the older Winchester decided it was best to hold off for the moment.
Sam disappeared into the bathroom while Dean dialed, and a moment later Dean heard the shower turning on. He stared at the door separating him from his brother and tried not to feel too uneasy.
But with every word Sam spoke, every move he made, it became harder to deny that something was just off about him. It was almost as if…
Dean shook his head sharply to dislodge the thought. It was absurd, impossible. Surely even their luck wasn't that bad.
"Hello? Anyone there?"
Dean jumped a little as he realized that someone had picked up the phone at the pizza place while he'd been musing, and from the sound of it, the guy had been trying to get his attention for at least a few seconds.
"Uh…sorry," he said quickly, casting around for the memory of what he'd planned to order.
The food had arrived and Dean was stretched out on the bed with a half-eaten slice in his hand by the time Sam finally emerged from the bathroom. Sam got his own plate with a grunt of acknowledgment that Dean chose to interpret as "thanks so much for this excellent repast, O Best Big Brother on Earth" and went over to his own bed, taking a bite as he sat.
"Wanna watch a movie?" Dean asked, because seriously, anything was better than this silence. "They have pay-per-view."
Sam gave one of those damn shrugs and said, "I don't care."
"Well, fantastic. Thanks for the input," Dean muttered.
He picked Clint Eastwood because it had the most chance of goading Sam into an argument—and at least then the kid would be talking—but by the time he'd chosen Sam was asleep anyway, his pizza abandoned on the bedside table, so the movie choice was moot.
Oh, well. At least he was asleep, and apparently peaceful.
Dean settled in to watch the movie, finishing most of the pizza—the rest he would give Sam for breakfast—and then moving on to some weapon cleaning. They didn't really needed it, but Dean did. He needed, more than anything, to keep his mind fully occupied—to keep from thinking, at any cost—and even Clint Eastwood could only do so much.
It was long past midnight by the time the movie finished, and with a sigh he packed up the weapons and turned off the TV, hoping against hope he'd be able to sleep tonight and that he wouldn't wake up to find that Sam had gone crazy or Cas had set them both on fire or something.
The first half of that wish, at least, turned out to be a vain dream, because in keeping with the unutterable shittiness of the day, Sam started screaming at the top of his considerably-sized lungs less than five seconds after Dean turned off the lamp.
Dean's head had barely touched the pillow before he flew back up as if the mattress was spring-loaded, propelling himself toward Sam's bed before he'd even consciously processed the situation. He turned the lamp on as he went, and its light illuminated Sam's wildly thrashing form. It was as if he was in the throes of a seizure, but Sam didn't have seizures. Hell, that was pretty much the only thing that hadn't happened to the kid—not yet, anyway.
Besides, Dean was pretty sure seizure victims didn't scream like that.
Dean was pretty sure no one screamed like that.
No one sane, anyway.
Dean shoved the morbid thought aside and let instinct take over. He grabbed hold of Sam's shoulders with the half-formed thought of restraining him before he hurt himself, but Sam was having none of it. Dean had barely touched him when a fist came flying out of nowhere to connect with his jaw, knocking him back against the bedside table with a loud thud.
"Sam!" Dean barked, fear making him sharp. "It's me, damn it!"
Sam just went on screaming wordlessly, showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Someone pounded on the wall from the next room, and Sam, as if in response to the sound, flung himself off the bed and crawled—God, crawled—across the room, wedging himself into the corner, all without ceasing his cries. Now, though, the screams were mixed with sobs, and Dean thought his heart really might just go ahead and break, like it had longed to do since the moment he'd realized that Cas, his friend, his family, was beyond saving.
But that was pain that belonged to another time, a time when his remaining family wasn't crumbling to pieces in front of him. Right now he needed to focus solely on Sam, on stopping that awful sound coming from his little brother.
Unfortunately, when Dean went to touch him again, ready to hug him if that was what it took, Sam knocked him flat again. Their kindly neighbor pounded on the wall again, causing Sam to utter another keening wail and shove himself more firmly into the corner. He didn't appear to notice Dean at all, apart from the punching, and finally Dean was forced to declare a state of emergency.
They kept sedatives in the first aid kit, but they'd never actually had to use them. Dean's hands shook as he retrieved the syringes, unable to really believe that this was what it had come to. But Sam wasn't calming down, and if their neighbor called the cops…
At best, they'd get a fine.
At worst, they'd take Sam away, lock him up somewhere.
The mere thought was enough o steel Dean, and he filled the syringe without any further trouble. He strode back to Sam, ducking a flailing fist, and jabbed his arm without hesitation, plunging the needle into his vein.
Sam reacted as if he'd been shot and Dean ended up on the floor again, but at least he'd accomplished the task.
The sedative worked fast, taking effect within a minute or two. Sam's screams quieted, though his choked sobs went unchecked for another fifteen minutes at least. Finally, though, even those abated, and the room fell quiet.
Heaving a sigh, Dean blessed the silence he'd hated so much only a couple of hours ago and let himself collapse on the floor across from his brother, his back resting against Sam's bed and his eyes locked on the quaking form in the corner.
Neither of them moved all night, and neither of them said a word.
Dean started violently—he'd been staring so hard at Sam for so long that he'd stopped really seeing him, and he hadn't noticed Sam shift, lifting his head from his knees and slowly, gingerly uncurling his long, lanky frame.
Sam stared back at him now, his eyes empty of anything but confusion—no fear, no amusement, no embarrassment…just polite puzzlement that was pure Sam.
Dean scrambled over to him and grabbed him in a fierce hug.
It had been awhile since he'd last hugged his brother, and he was a little taken aback at how awkward it felt. But he tightened his arms around him anyway, and after a moment of stiff surprise Sam hugged him back.
"Are you all right?" Dean demanded, pulling back slightly to study Sam's face.
"Uh…I think so," Sam replied hesitantly. "Dean, what happened? Where are we? Where's Cas? And why are you looking at me like that?"
Dean realized that at some point his mouth had dropped open and closed it again quickly, shaking his head. "You mean you don't remember last night?"
But that wasn't right, was it? It wasn't just the night-terrors Sam had forgotten, if his questions were any indication.
"What's the last thing you do remember?" he asked, unsure he wanted to know and yet needing to ask, to figure this thing out, whatever it was.
"Uh…well, we were with Cas and Bobby, and Crowley was there, and…Raphael? I think Raphael was with Crowley, or Crowley was with Raphael, one or the other. And then it was just Crowley or…something like that. And Cas was saying…just…crazy things, and the sword was on the ground, and…I think I grabbed it? Maybe? And then…nothing."
The recitation was confused, garbled in a way Dean didn't like at all, and he realized suddenly that just because Sam seemed to be himself again didn't mean their problems were over.
Then again, Dean had long ago come to the realization that in all likelihood their problems would never be over.
"Come on," he said, his full attention once again on his brother. "Let's get you off the floor, okay?" Without waiting for a reply, he put an arm under Sam's and started to stand, pulling Sam up with him.
Sam winced and rubbed his neck as he got his feet under him. "Jeez, that's sore. Why do I feel so freaking stiff?"
"Probably because you've been curled in a little Sammy-ball in the corner all night," Dean said, smirking a little as he recalled his old name for position Sam would take after nightmares as a kid.
Sam, however, was less than amused. "That name isn't any funnier now than it was when I was a twelve, Dean. But seriously," he added as he collapsed on his bed, "you have got to fill in some blanks for me."
"Yeah, well, right back atcha," Dean muttered, sitting down across from Sam and leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. Sam unconsciously mimicked his pose, making him smile, before fixing him with a determined look.
"Talk, Dean. Tell me what happened."
"Well, to start with, I'm pretty sure Cas is a lost cause," Dean said with a sigh, barely managing to hide how much the words hurt him. Then again, from the way Sam was looking at him, he hadn't fooled either of them. "He's power-mad, Sammy. Completely off the deep end. He thinks he's our new god, and he has the power to back up the claim. And he is not happy with us."
"Then how are we still here?" Sam asked. His other question-And how long can we expect to stay alive?—went unasked, but Dean heard it loud and clear anyway.
"Well, he let us go," Dean answered, ignoring the unspoken question. "He said he had some stuff to take care of, and hopefully next time he saw us we'd be ready to—I dunno—worship, I guess. Or whatever you do to acknowledge a god these days. Virgin sacrifices? Is that still a thing?"
"Dean," Sam hissed. "For all we know, he's listening right now."
A part of Dean—the part that was furious rather than grieving—wanted to reply with a string of smartass remarks, but after warring with himself for a moment he settled for a simple, "Kinky. Okay, okay, sorry," he added as Sam glared. "Anyway, I took you and we booked with Bobby. I dropped him off and we…came here."
He wanted more than anything to put off explaining the rest, but he knew there was no way that was going to happen, so he reluctantly filled Sam in on everything that had happened, from the catatonia to their conversation in the car to the screaming-and-crying episode.
By the time he finished, Sam looked slightly sick.
"What?" Dean asked uneasily, studying the pale face across from him. "Wait…you know what's going on here, don't you? Share with the class, Sam."
Sam drew in a deep breath and let it out in a huge gust of air, teeth worrying his bottom lip. "Okay. But you're not gonna like it."
That turned out to be the understatement of the century. By the time Sam had finished recounting everything that had happened during his little coma, half of Dean's mind was occupied with aiming violent curses at that bitch Lady Luck while the other half bleakly wondered what would happen if he just took Sam and went to a mountaintop or something somewhere to sit until Death—ironically the only one who didn't seem to be causing them trouble at the moment—came for them.
He'd been entertaining that thought more and more often lately, actually, but right now, after what Sam had told him, the idea held more allure than ever before.
Because now everything made sense—the night terrors, the coma, and why Sam seemed to have developed multiple personalities overnight.
It was because he had.
And as usual, the Winchesters were so goddamn screwed.
Author's note: I'm a little nervous about posting this, for several reasons. For one thing, it's been months and months and months since I posted anything, so I'm very rusty. For another thing, I've never written anything for season six. And for a third, I've never written anything like this at all.
Also, I'm considering doing a sequel to this, which may or may not cross over with the Cal Leandros series. But I might also try writing this one from Sam's point of view, if anyone's interested in that.
And one more thing—I haven't actually read any fanfics since the season finale aired, so if this sounds like something anyone has written before, I swear, it's a total coincidence.
So, now that all that's been said, I hope the story was enjoyable! Reviews are love!