ONE MAN ARMY
By: Karen B.
Warning: Season Six finale spoilers! Alternate Universe. Everything was spinning and turning in vicious, nauseating circles. He blinked repeatedly until his vision unclouded, focusing in on rocks and leaves and sticks. The woods. He was in the woods. But why?
Rated: Obsess much? 'Cause I loved that (Sam-on-Sam) hunting scene in the woods.
And 'cause…three is such a crappy number. I needed there to be one more piece of Sam lurking in the woods. This is also, rated for some graphic grossness, and my usual far-out kookiness.
Disclaimer: Soooooooooo… not the owner!
Without warning Sam threw his head far back, deep grunts straining his throat. Eyes closed, his body quivered and quaked. The cot rattling and creaking beneath him.
Dean dropped his whiskey, the glass shattering into diamond-like chunks all over the cold, hard floor of the panic room.
"Sam." In one rushed step, he was hovering over his brother. "Sammy," he called louder, lightly laying a hand against Sam's chest.
"Ggggg," Sam grunted, arching up into the press of Dean's hand.
"Hey," Dean barely said the word, not knowing what to do or how to help.
As quick as the seizure had started it was over. Sam flopped like a ragged doll back to the cot; head turned away, cheek compressed flat to the pillow, silent and unmoving like he had been only seconds before. Dean stared at his brother, stunned. If Sam's complexion was stark white before, it was snowy-white now.
He turned Sam's wobbly head to face him. "Come on," he softened his tone, eyes fastening steadfastly to Sam's chest, checking the kid's breathing – it was shallow.
Dean's heart sank. What world war was raging inside of his baby brother? Where was Sam's soul now? Did it still reside inside? Or had it been torn from his chest once again, or worse, swallowed whole by some hideous monster from hell. Was that monster chewing Sam up, or spiting Sam out, while Dean sat cozy and safe, drinking whiskey and listening to classic tunes.
"Damn it," Dean growled. He needed to be in there fighting alongside Sam. He couldn't fight shit where he stood now. Dean shivered hard, his grief consuming. "What's happening to you, bro? "
No answer -Sam's face, smooth and unreadable.
Gnawing on his lower lip, Dean leaned in close and whispered in Sam's ear, "You're not done for, little brother. You hear me? You're not done for. You fight. You fight your way back here." He leaned back, placing two fingers against Sam's throat; a fast heart rate pulsed under them. "Sammy," Dean shook his head miserably, "Whatever it is…whatever's set up camp inside your head-" Dean ran a hand through Sam's hair, smoothing long bangs away from his face. "I'm here. Somehow…someway… I'll pull you out of all that hell you're buried beneath, little brother. "
How was he going to do that?
Sam was dead to this world.
All Dean could do was sit.
Sit and drink.
Sit and talk.
Sit and wait.
Dean pressed his whiskey glass to his lips, but didn't drink, for a long time just staring at Sam, not saying a word and trying not to think. Out of the blue he took one quick gulp and set the glass to the floor, scooting his chair in closer.
"Where'd you go, Sam? Huh?" Dean leaned over. "Where are you? You need to come back," he said sadly, caressing Sam's forehead. "P...p... please, Sammy," Dean said, his tone was low and persuasive, and he cringed at the cold clamminess of ghostly-pale skin. "Just-" Dean gulped down the giant tennis ball that suddenly seemed to be stuck in his throat, two large tears falling from his lower lashes and dotting like raindrops to Sam's cheek. "Son of a bitch!" Dean burst out, taking the empty glass and stalking over to his makeshift bar. "I feel like a sucky character in a friggin' sucky soap opera, dude!" Dean poured another round then turned to face Sam. "Try. You have to try, man," he coaxed. "Try hard," he said, throwing whiskey down his throat.
The hint of raindrops splashing to his cheek brought Sam around.
His body was quivering, a prickling sensation running up and down his spine. Had he been struck by a bolt of lightning? Sam frowned and tried to open his eyes, but they were gummed shut.
"Ungh," he moaned softly, frustrated. An intense cold crept through his chest. "Aaah," he moaned louder, impatiently forcing his lashes upward.
At first he saw nothing but fuzzy gray. He was sick to his stomach. Bile rose into his throat, but he swallowed it back down, taking in one breath at a time and trying not to vomit. A few minutes stretched by, how many, he couldn't be sure. He realized he'd been dropped flat to his back. His head twisted oddly to the right, hair loose around his face. Everything was spinning and turning in vicious, nauseating circles. He blinked repeatedly until his vision unclouded, focusing in on rocks and leaves and sticks.
The woods. He was in the woods. Why was that again?
One quick, hammering heartbeat after another banged against his chest- a chest that now ached. He felt ice-cold, so cold it was like flames had seared his skin right off. He didn't want to move, but something, or someone was telling him he had to try, and try hard.
He swiped out his tongue and licked his lips, spitting grainy dirt from his mouth, and turned his head. He stared drowsily upward, his left hand fisting in the dirt, all sense knocked out of him. He drew in deep gasping breath, after deep gasping breath, finally becoming more aware.
Awe – crap.
Sam slowly sat up, staring at the gun still gripped tightly in his right hand, then at his dead self-sprawled at his feet, then back at the gun. His jaw muscles twitched and he cringed inwardly. He'd always heard there was a double for everyone, but this was eight-ball crazy. Still holding the gun, he released the dirtball scrunched in his left hand, reaching over toward the body in morbid fascination. Using just the tips of two fingers, Sam swiped at the gurgling bullet hole he'd put in the douche bags chest, the blood still warm. His vision swam and now he wasn't just seeing his double, but everything seemed to multiply in two. His heart slammed against his chest. Emotional stability at risk, Sam quickly pulled his hand back from the bloody mess and glanced away, feeling himself go green. A ball of sickness suddenly formed in his stomach when he realized what had just conspired. Killing a part of him had combined them, had stuffed partial truths and fractured memories back inside of him. Voices and memories flooded his head, too loud, everything too dark, too confusing-going round and round too fast.
Don't throw up.
Keep it together.
"Crap, crap." Sam hung his head and rubbed the back of his neck. He couldn't lose it now. Not when things were just starting to come back to him.
Things like how Sam Winchester had been raised from a boy to be a solider. He shook his head, no, not a solider a hunter. How he knew all about weapons, and map reading, and, first aid. How he knew monsters were not blue puppets on TV, that taught 123's and ABC's. They were flesh and teeth and bloody and real. Wendigos, poltergeists, hellhounds, shape shifters, vampires and a dozen more supernatural beings; which to his credit he knew how to hunt and to kill each and every one. Sam nearly gagged on the gory, monstrous images mish mashing through his head. He nervously searched the tree line. Saw nothing but the harmless wind flicking through the leaves. It was hard to conceive this was all in his head. That he was dreaming. It seemed so real. Sam raised his hand and stared at the blood on his fingertips, concentrating harder, searching the filing cabinet of his mind. It was a big, dusty place and he knew there was so much more that had been erased that he needed to remember. Why was he trapped inside his mind with an attitudy, douchy, evil twin trying to off him?
His memories drifted like loose sand swirling in a hurricane, littering his brain. God it hurt to think. His head was a mess, and that ball in his gut turned into something slithery and slimy. He gagged, swallowing down hard. There was no time to be sick. He had to figure this out. Where to start? Sam glanced back at his only clue - his dead self.
'You think I'm bad. Wait till you meet the other one.'
Could that be true? There was another piece of him. If so, not good, they couldn't all roam around inside his grapefruit. Douchy him was right about that. Someone needed to take charge, regain custody of his broken psychic. That much he got. There could be only one. Damn he hated that Highlander movie.
The slimy thing in his gut slowly wormed about, like maggots burrowing through the mutilated body of a dead animal. "Aw-gaw." Not fighting the sickness anymore, Sam leaned forward and vomited. Chunks splattering to the dirt, putting a new spin on the old cliché' 'being sick in the head.'
He threw up so hard and so much, he thought his heart had stopped beating, and he collapsed to his back on the ground.
For a moment he'd hoped he was as dead as his douchy evil twin, when something cool –a ghostly hand - skimmed across his forehead, jumpstarting his heart.
"Guh." Sam staggered to his feet, backing up until his spine came in contact with a tree. Gasping and trembling, eyes wildly darting this way and that. There was nothing around. Not so much as a bird or a breeze, but he was sure that he'd felt a hand.
"What the hell?" He cocked his head, and it happened again. Cool fingers brushed across his brow. "Nuuu." He jerked back, his head thwacking against the trunk of the tree. Eyes wide with fear.
First there had been the smell of whiskey and Old Spice, and now this? Ghostly touches.
Something was out there. Or more like someone. Hunting him? No. Sam didn't get that prickly, uneasy feeling. Was more like this someone cared what happened to him? Sam took a step forward, away from the tree. "Who's there?" he whispered, but got no answer.
Crap, maybe he did belong in a maximum security mental facility, strapped tight inside a white jacket.
Sweat dripped down Sam's face. "I need help, "he called louder.
He heard nothing but a barely audible and constant wump-wump sound, and it wasn't the wind. He inhaled deeply, the spice and whiskey coming to his nostrils again. The scent was stronger now, like a neighborhood liquor store resided in his head.
"Bobby?" The name said more in automatic response, than actually knowing.
As if in reply to his unspoken question, an icy wind blew through Sam and he shivered. He scanned the woods, a peculiar sensation flooding his hunter's instincts. There it was - the prickly, uneasy feeling. The friendly ghost hand was gone, replaced by something else looming in the shadows of the trees.
Sam frowned, deeply disturbed. This was all too creepy and confusing and dreamscape-like. "Wake up, Sam, wake up, "he mumbled to himself.
"You won't wake up!" A male voice barked.
Sam's head jerked toward the voice, gun pointed to the right, in the direction the voice came from. He scanned along the tree line, but didn't see anyone.
"I'm here. Come find me," the voice taunted.
"Who are you? "
"Don't you recognize my voice, Sammy? It's just me, another piece of you."
Crap. Douchy-him wasn't lying. How many pieces of him were there? Ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts. Sybil had 16 separate personalities. Ebenezer was visited by three spirits. What if his pieces-parts were scattered like a bag full of marbles? Rolling out of control. All these pieces couldn't occupy the same universe. This couldn't be happening.
"I'm crazy," Sam mumbled."
"That's right, "a disembodied voice taunted. "Not getting out of the psych ward as easy as you did the last time, Sammy." A shadow passed through the trees.
Sam heard footsteps, but couldn't see anyone. He looked left, then right. Saw nothing but trees and rocks and leaves.
"Can't catch me, Sammy." Came the voice. "I know my way around this joint better than you. Besides, do you really want to know all our little and not so little dirty secrets?"
A wave of panic built inside Sam. The Other one, it had to be.
"I've got you cornered, Sammy. I'm steak and potatoes, you're biscuits and gravy, son." Heavy footed steps moved off through the woods. "Best not to come after me. Best to just go back to the car and have casual sex with that fairly hot bartender you picked up, and don't remember."
Sam steadied his stance. Tried not to let on he was trembling, his finger twitching against the trigger of the gun, his heart pulsing hard in his chest.
What to do? What to do? Being trapped in his body sucked, and he figured knowing too much would suck too, but the not knowing was killing him.
Steeling himself, Sam turned, silently and covertly tracking The Other One.
For hours Dean's ass was glued to the chair, the whiskey glass glued to his hand, his eyes glued to Sam.
He was tired and he was sick and he still didn't know or understand the extent of what was happening to Sam. Just knew his baby brother was in bad shape. He guessed the wall falling was comparable to a severe head injury - dilated pupils, seizures. If Sam were conscious, he'd probably be dizzy and puking up vital organs by now. Dean should be waking him frequently. Asking questions such as "What's your name?" and "Where are you? What year is it?"
But Sam wouldn't wake up. He was deeply unconsciousness, and not responding to any form of stimulation whatsoever. And Dean had tried everything. From blasting the radio near Sam's ears, to ice cubes down the front of his shirt, a few slaps to the face, he even tried tickling the bottoms of Sam's feet. He got nothing. Sam didn't so much as flinch, just laid there looking like a giant, stuffed … Sam.
So Dean busied himself with other things. Like drinking and keeping tabs on Sam's overall condition. Constantly watching Sam's chest just to make sure the kid kept breathing, or laying a hand over his heart just to be sure the muscle was still pulsing hard at work. Checking Sam's pupil reaction, however, was what always unnerved Dean the most.
For the second time in that hour, he gently rolled Sam's eyelid up. Sam stared sightlessly at nothing. Leaning in, Dean shined his pen light. The blown, hazel pupils, once again, did not react. They did nothing - registered nothing. Not pain. Not pleasure. Not darkness. Not light. Not life. There was just nothing. Sam's eyes were lifeless. There was no one home. Sickened, Dean let the lid roll back down.
"You okay?" A voice coming from behind startled Dean.
"No," Dean's answer was soft and quick, sitting back in his chair.
"Still up shits creek." He pocked the pen light.
"Kid knows how to paddle, Dean."
"Yeah," Dean said blandly, running a hand over his unshaven chin.
"Want me to cover Sam for a while, so you can take a break?" Bobby asked.
Dean stared down at Sam, and then reached down for the half-empty whiskey glass he had sitting on the floor next to a chair leg. "No," he muttered sternly.
"Dean, Cas has bamboozled you into doing exactly what he wants. We have a job to do and you, just sitting on your duff, won't get it done. I know how much it hurts, seeing Sam like this. I know, because I've been there, but-"
"I'm sick of buts, Bobby. " Dean's voice was gruff. "I can't leave him here alone. He's helpless on this damn folding bed."
Bobby stepped up to the cot and crouched down. "You want to take him to the hospital?"
"So they can shove needles in his arms and tubes up his nose?" Dean's shoulders hunched as if the universe itself was strapped to his back. "You know that won't help him."
"He had anymore fits?"
"Piece of friggin' broccoli." Dean slugged down more whiskey.
"Why not drink some coffee?" Bobby suggested with a frown, noting Dean's whiskey reddened cheeks.
Dean held Bobby's eyes a minute, and then knocked back another drink.
Bobby nodded solemnly, having got his answer. His eyes shifted to Sam. Waiting was unbearable – for all of them. He reached out and checked Sam's pulse. "The boy's fighting hard, Dean," he said, letting his hand slide from Sam's neck to rest on the kid's shoulder - silent and supportive.
"A one man army." Dean roughly shoved his chair back and stood, unsteadily walking over to the table. "He needs my help fighting whatever it is he's fighting in there." He slammed the empty glass down, gripping the edge of the table and bowing his head, lower lip trembling.
"Boy, I know this whole thing has you turned upside down, inside out, and the wrong way around, but you've got to keep it together."
"Yeah. Yeah." Dean took a deep breath, then reached for the bottle and poured himself another drink.
Bobby patted Sam's shoulder and stood, eyeballing Dean a moment, then said, "Sam shook hands with the devil, Dean, he's tough" He stepped over to stand next to Dean. "He will come out of this. You know that, right?"
Dean's forehead wrinkled and his hand quivered, wrapping tighter around the glass. Did he?
"Just keep talking to him, Dean," Bobby said softly.
"That's obviously not working here!" Frustrated and beyond angry, Dean started to pace around the cot his eyes never leaving Sam, whiskey sloshing in his glass.
"Can't talk sense into 'em, join 'em, " Bobby muttered to himself, snatching the whiskey bottle and poured himself a jigger. Leaning against the table, he sighed, watching Dean stalk like a hissing, clawing cat around his comatose brother. It killed Bobby to see the boys like this -together, but right now worlds apart. He wanted to say so much more, but thought better of it. "Stay strong, kid," he swallowed the raw booze in one quick gulp, slammed the glass upside down to the table and left the panic room.
Out of his head with worry, Dean took another slug of whiskey, then went back to gluing himself next to Sam.
"Sam," Dean called out, his voice thick and vision blurry. "Come on, dude. It's me." He stroked the side of Sam's face. Sam didn't move. "Sam. "Dean squirmed in his seat. "You heard, Bobby, man. You're going to come out of this. Right?"
The room was silent, except for the insidious drone of the industrial-sized fan that whirled high above, sending shadows moving across Sam's face.
"Answer me, Sammy. Tell me you hear me!" Dean demanded loudly.
Sam didn't make a sound, his breathing abnormally slow.
"Pisses me off when you ignore me, Sammy." Dean leaned forward, putting a palm to Sam's chest and pressing down hard. "Least you can do is breathe like you mean it, bitch!" Dean kept on the pressure, staring up at the fan, fighting back tears. "C'mon," he gritted out clamped teeth.
Sam had been running over rugged terrain more on blind instinct than anything else. He scurried under thickets of thorns and quietly stepped through mud puddles - stealth and sneakily - for what felt like hours without stopping. The trees of the forest were gigantic, swaying spookily and sending moving shadows along the forest floor. Sam was wet with cold sweat and exhausted. He stopped to lean against an old Maple, bowing his head and trying to catch his breath, was like an elephant sat on his chest. He'd been be- bopping around his grapefruit for who knew how long. Down dirt paths, up grass ills, even found a cave or two, but nothing more.
His hands were shaking badly, head swirling with confusing, unimaginable images rushing like a raging creek and he nearly dropped to his knees.
"Shit, Sam, pull it together," he mumbled to himself, pressing further against the trunk for support, feeling the gun at his back.
Sam shuddered, taking in deep breaths, trying to control the roller coaster of emotions and pain. He frowned, once again smelling whiskey and Old Spice, was even pretty sure he caught the whisper of his name on the wind – well sort of his name – he despised being called Sammy. That he certainly remembered.
Damn it, he was sick of this game. He wasn't staying on the sidelines. Biscuits and gravy and wiggly Jell-O sucked. "Why don't you just face me, and get this over with," Sam yelled loudly, voice bouncing off the trees.
His demands were met immediately as a bright light exploded, blinding him. Everything spun and when his eyes uncrossed, Sam found himself standing in a silent, and eerie, moonlit swamp. The place was depressing and dismal.
The only sound was his harsh breaths as Sam exhaled sharply. The air was moist and the breeze warm, sending a chill racking over him. His lips twisted in disgust. He knew that awful stench, the gruesome smell of blood, of spoiled meat – the noxious horror of death. He cautiously moved further along the water's edge, stopping to watch the black sludge-like water slosh to-and-fro in a sick, stomach acid sort of way.
Everything around him blurred and wavered like a distorted, funhouse mirror as the forest galloped around him, an annoying hum tickling his ear.
Sam's gaze fell upon a body, stiff and decomposing badly, floating along the swampy bank. The person's face was covered in mud and weeds, while one dark wide-open eye peered up at him, seeming to still glitter with life. The ebb and flow of water beneath the body, gently rocked the bulky build back and forth, doing nothing to reassure Sam this person wasn't still alive.
What sort of sick place was this?
Sam ran a slow hand over his face, and crouched down to get a better look. As a hunter, he'd been around plenty of dead bodies, but there was something horribly disturbing here. Covering his nose with his shirt sleeve, Sam reached for a nearby stick. His stomach clenched tight as he picked the weeds away. The face was so badly decayed the flesh slipped off like a facial peel gone sideways, exposing bloody bone.
He tossed the stick aside and continued to stare at the corpse uneasily. "Oh, gaw." His shoulders started to shake. He knew this person, but the name escaped him.
Wiping his mouth, Sam steadied himself and got to his feet, keeping his eyes locked on the rotting remains. The flicker of shadows, the sloppy pudding-like thickness of the water, and the unbearable bad calm mixed with rancid cream smell, made him feel hot and sweaty, barley able to hold back his gag reflex, nearly bringing him back down to his ass.
While Sam wrestled with his stomach, and his buckling knees, the swamp started to bubble like a hot tub full of black oil. The stench intensified as dead body, after dead body bellied up like a sardine.
A few monster's even.
Fists clenched at his sides, Sam staggered backward until his spine pressed up against a tree stopping him. He couldn't take his eyes off the mass grave. The wind blew and the leaves rattled, some falling down around him and adding to the gray-gloom of this place.
The bodies - so many now – blanketed the surface of the swamp. They were all bloated and rotting, faces gummy and pocked – unrecognizable. Yet, somehow Sam knew each and every one - just couldn't remember them by name or circumstance.
Sam banged his head back against the rough bark with a solid thwack, gasping in utter horror and unable to take his eyes from the carnage. One of the bodies – a female- bumped against the male body he'd just examined. She did a slow roll to face Sam. Half her face was skinned down to white skull, the other half burnt and melted like a latex max. None of these were random bodies. None of them deserved to die. They were good people. But die they had, and somehow Sam knew, deep in his soul, he had everything to do with the how and the why.
"Seen enough?" A hunched over figure emerged slowly from behind a nearby blackberry bush, wearing a smug smile on his face, and hobbling like he was crippled.
Sam's fists clenched tighter, trying to keep a grip on reality. That wasn't the easiest thing to do. This wasn't like seeing yourself in a mirror, a carbon copy mimicking every move. This was another actual piece of his soul - a very puzzling, very disturbing, very hostile piece – that once completed him, and would again, if he had any say so. That freaked him out and scared the crap out of him.
Sam stared intently at the man before him, trying to figure him out. "So you're the other one?"
"Wish I could say the one and only, but you know," The Other One shrugged, "When walls shatter, the pieces scatter."
"Let me guess," Sam growled. "You're the sappy, poetic piece?"
"For a smart dude, Sammy, you're a real dumbass," The Other smirked. "Poets have souls," he said, balling a fist and thumping his hollow chest. "Cold-blooded, soulless bastard inside of here." He grinned with pride, and then frowned. "Really surprised you killed steroid-us so fast, Sammy."
"Huh?" Sam canted his head, everything whirling at him way too fast.
The Other One hiked a thumb over his shoulder. "You know, the carcass you left back there for the vultures," he explained. "You're impressive I must say. He was a superior specimen, analytical, unfeeling, pitiless even…and smart. He could track and hunt down anything, kill it with wooden chopsticks jabbed in the heart if he had to."
"He was an asshole," Sam deadpanned.
"That he was." The Other smiled in adoration. "But I'll miss him. We made a pair of great bookends."
"I'm not sorry for your loss," Sam said sarcastically.
The Other clicked his tongue, and started pacing in front of Sam. "Wouldn't be Misty-Eyed Sammy if you were sorry."
"Who are they?" Sam asked sternly, taking his eyes off the jerk before him to glance at the bog of bodies.
You know you have to go through me to remember." The Other kicked a stone out of his path.
"I plan to," Sam said, trying to keep the quiver from his voice.
The Other froze in front of Sam and tried to draw up straight, but couldn't, and he hunched back over. "Won't be good times, Sammy, I can tell you that much."
Sam nodded. He understood the game, was just trying to get a feel for what he was in for the next time he passed go and collected another piece of himself. Maybe it wouldn't hurt as bad the second time, The Other didn't look as strong or as tough as his counterpart. His skin was speckled in dirt and sweat and blood. His eyes were bloodshot-red and he had purple-black circles under them as if he hadn't slept in a year. He was more of a zombie, than a man, his right arm hanging oddly crooked at his side, pieces of diseased skin dripping off his body.
Curious, Sam asked, "What happened d to you?"
"You mean to us." The Other corrected. "They happened to us, Sammy." he gestured toward the bog of bodies with an uncoordinated swing of his crippled arm.
The Other tapped the side of his head. "You really are a Jell-O Wiggler," he remarked. "Yes, they, goulash for brains. Everyone we ever loved and/or cared about. That there ," he pointed at the male body, "That's John, our father. And the burnt up chick, that's Jess, our fiancée."
Sam looked at the misery spiraling around the bog. His head ached, his stomach ached, but worse his heart ached. He didn't remember the names, but somehow he knew what he was hearing was the truth.
"Go ahead, Sammy, ask me why they all died?"
Sam said nothing, his gaze still averted on the bodies in the bog.
"Because of us, Sammy. One way or another it was because of us."
Sam cringed, shooting The Other a murderous stare.
"It's true, Sammy," The Other said the name on purpose, taunting Sam.
"You don't get to call me that."
The Other picked up his pacing in front of Sam, like a wild animal in a cage – bruised and beaten down. "Sammy, Sammy, Sammy," he laughed. "They are all our victims or our righteousness. Died because we thought we were doing the right thing. Because we did not live up to our responsibility, because we couldn't save them, not a one of them, because we failed, because we were never good enough, because their end… justified our means."
Sam stood quietly, staring at the sickness of the bog. Desperate to remember the mass of swirling bodies, but unable to. Anger mixed in with his sickness, the combination explosive. "Who are you?"
The Other ignored the question. "To survive inside our grapefruit we had to learn to burry all our mistakes. Burry them deep or they'd dine on us slow and torturous, like a flesh-eating bacteria." The Other stopped his slow pacing and came to stand directly in front of Sam, a smile of anticipation on his face. "Go ahead and guess what piece of us I am."
Sam thought only a second, before his eyes snapped up to the zombie freak before him. "Guilt," he said in a choking shudder. "You're guilt."
"On a global scale." The Other smirked. "I don't think you want to remember all those poor souls we killed. Do you, young man? 'Cause, seriously now, who would want to go wallowing in that stench with our father, our mother, our girlfriend, that cute little bartender we removed from harm's way with a bullet to her gut? And what about that voluptuous she-wolf we had sex with, then put down like a sick dog? And lest we forget about our older brother, you know the one who's died in the name of love. The one who…who somehow finds ways to crawl out of the stink we keep dumping him in. You don't remember him do you, Sammy?"
"I said stop it." Sam went stiff as if ice water ran through his veins.
The Other was amused. "Stop what, Sammy?"
"I am going to kill you," Sam sneered.
The Other laughed hysterically, "Trust me, Sammy, you don't want that. The jolt you felt before, that was a joy buzzer compared to what I'll do to you. Believe me, you do not want all that pain and suffering and unforgiveness back. Floating around inside for the rest of your life," he cocked his head toward the bog. "It reeks."
"I am going to kill you," Sam repeated.
"Probably," The Other conceded sadly. "But," he cheered up, "There is still another piece of us."
Sam looked nervously about.
"Don't worry, Sammy, you won't find him here. And if you think I look like crap," The Other gave a little laugh. "Wait until you get a load of his mug. He looks like hell," he smirked, "'Course we know all about hell. After all we were in the cage with Lucifer and Michael all those years."
"Wha-what?" Sam stammered, once again sensing the truth, but still not feeling the full impact.
The Other looked over his shoulder at the bog. "I doubt you'll survive him, Sammy." He turned back to Sam, whose mouth was hanging open.
"Oh, right, you don't remember hell. Not yet anyway. Should keep it that way, or are you that stupid, son, to stay on a collision course with the devil? It's why you're here in the first palce. And better to stay here – in pieces. Together we'll just keep killing those lives we touch, even in the smallest of ways."
Sam's features contorted and he snarled, "I'm not staying here."
They leered at each other a moment
The Other tsked, shaking his head. "Sammy. Sammy. Sam-"
"Don't!" Sam lunged forward, ramming into the man before him and dropping him flat to his back on the forest floor. The Other strained to break free, kicking out with weak hands and feet, but Sam held him firm. ""I'm going to tear your head off," he growled. "With nothing but my bare hands."
Sam's strength was dangerously low, but anger spurred him on. With a vice-like grip he wrapped his hands around The Other's throat and squeezed and squeezed and squeezed. The piece of shit under him began to gasp.
"Don't go after him, Sammy," The Other wheezed, "He's bad news. Let me jus' give you…"He choked, "A few of the gory detail-"
"Shut up!" Sam never faltered, tightening his fingers, The Other turning blue.
Sam wasn't just fighting for his life, but for his very soul, and for those souls floating in the bog. Souls he needed to remember. Sam's strength faded, but he didn't let up. Not until the hazel eyes he stared into bulged out The Other's head, blood leaking from their corners, and a breathy moan escaping dead, blue lips.
"Warned you not to call me Sammy." Trembling with weakness, Sam sunk back on his heels and waited.
He didn't have to wait long. There came a sharp, cold steel-drawing across-steel sound. Then a mighty white light shot out of The Other, arching between them, and then impaling Sam in the chest like a hot, liquid sword. Sam's eyes clouded with pain, just as he was thrown ten feet through the air. He hit a tree, then slammed to his back on the ground.
"Nuuuu," Sam choked, legs kicking and thrashing. "Mmmmmm," he moaned deep in his throat as his arms flung out wildly, unrestrained, head bashing repeatedly against the ground. The pain was extreme; ten times as great this go-round. Every nerve ending jangled inside of Sam. Spasms shooting the blackness of the bog through his veins.
He remembered jumping into hell. Remembered all those who had died, by his hand, by his design, by the Supernatural things he haunted. And he remembered -
"Dean," Sam 's voice was a frayed whisper as he reached out his right hand, searching, then everything vaporized and went deathly silent.
"You're doing all you can." Bobby leaned against the table staring at Dean. "That's all you can do."
"It's not enough," Dean muttered, leaning over and staring into his brother's slack face.
"Bottom line is not to give up."
Dean glanced up at Bobby angrily.
"Okay, okay, it's a stupid thing to say," Bobby admitted. "Cut me a break."
Dean nodded, looking back at Sam, a frown on his face.
"I'm worried about the boy too, Dean. All I'm sayin' is-."
"Sammy." Dean shot up straight in his chair.
"What's going on?" Bobby took a weary step closer.
"Something's wrong." Dean bowed lower over Sam, examining.
"How do you know? He hasn't moved a muscle."
"I don't know; can just-"Dean stopped talking, noting Sam's fingers on his right hand started to tremble.
"What are you like one of those high-falutin trained dogs that senses when an earthquake is about to hit?"
Sam suddenly went rigid as if jabbed with an electrical cattle prod. His breathing became labored, and his body snapped up off the bed. His entire nervous system was rebelling against him and he started seizing hard.
"Shit." Dean grasped Sam's shoulders pinning him to the cot, but keeping his hands gentle. "It's okay. It's okay, Sammy."
"Oh, hell," Bobby fumbled to help.
Sam choked and thrashed in an almost frenzied attempt to escape himself. "Grrrrrrrr."
"Hey. Hey. Sammy. Easy. Easy. Easy," Dean panted, robbed of breath as he fought to get Sam on his side so he wouldn't choke on his own sputtering drool.
"Mmmmmm," Sam groaned deeper, his Adam's apple contracting like a thorn bush had been jammed down his throat. His arms jerked up and down, fingers crooked and clawing. Almost as if he was trying to climb a wall.
"Dean! Hold him down." Bobby reached for Sam's kicking feet.
"Sonofabtich." Dean's tone more than troubled as he nabbed Sam's paddling hands, holding them to the kid's chest in a wrist lock. "Come on. Stop it. Don't! Don't you do this," Dean screamed, over and over.
Getting no response, he put more pressure on Sam to keep him from falling to the hard as cement floor.
"Nnnnnnnnnn. Mmmmmmmmm. Uuuuuuu." The warbling noises went on, and on, deep inside, rumbling Sam's chest.
"Come on, come on, stop it, Sammy," Dean pleaded.
Sam wasn't listening – body still jerking up and down, violently.
"Balls, kid." Bobby struggled to hold onto Sam's legs. "He's like a bolt of lightning caught inside a bottle."
"Bobby. Not helping," Dean scolded his stomach knotting as Sam gurgled, chest hitching pathetically.
"Don't you do that, Sam. Just don't you do that, man," Dean cried hoarsely, palm to Sam's chest, fingers splayed, monitoring his air intake.
Bobby squeezed his eyes shut, unable to watch either of his boy's suffer.
Sam continued to convulse, twisting onto his side, hunched into a ball.
"I know. I know. Hey, buddy. I'm here. I'm here." Dean pulled Sam back, huddled over him and desperately speaking directly into an ear. "You hear me? Huh? I'm here dude, hang on, hang on."
Dean trembled along with Sam as he held him in his arms. "God," he called as his panic rose. "Please," he could hardly whisper, whatever was killing his brother - was killing him too.
After a few minutes, Sam's jerking and jolting started to lessen. "That's it, dude. Work with me here."
Dean felt Sam's hammering heart begin to slow down to a more normal speed. Five seconds later, the seizing halted and Sam dropped back to the cot, arms stiff at his sides, jaw clenched shut, face starting to turn blue.
"Sammy!" Hand still splayed over Sam's chest, Dean gave a waggling shake. "No,no,no. Breathe, man. You have to breathe."
Bobby opened his eyes. "Dean?"
Dean shook Sam harder, thinking he should pry Sam's locked jaw open to give him several breaths. Before he could put action to thought, Sam gasped and went completely lax, head flopping limp to the crook of Dean's arm.
"That's it," Dean cooed, "That's my boy."
Sam's breathing turned slow and steady, body still and relaxed as if he was only sleeping.
Bobby swallowed the burning sensation in his throat and sat back on his hunches, pulling his ball cap off "Christ on a pogo stick," he sighed.
Dean eased Sam onto his back and un-stuck sweaty bangs away from his brother's face, wiping drool -dribble off his chin with the back of his shirt sleeve, ever so tenderly. "Get up, Sam. Just get up," Dean pleaded; his heart was aching - soul dying. "You can't leave me out here alone, you hear me, Sam?"
Sam blinked up into the trees, standing superior and silent witness over him. He was flat on his back – again, only this time his head was pillowed on an exposed root. He felt worse than ever. His body tingled and his blood bubbled, boiling through his veins and threatening to burst out his ears. He wasn't making sense of things. Had he fallen out of a tree? Could happen, even monkeys did that. For a long time he was oblivious, just staring upward, memorizing the curl of every leaf.
Finally Sam took in a deep breath, and he remembered the stench, the bodies, the bog. The horrible smell was now gone, replaced by something far worse – his memories. They came together slow and dim at first, like a flickering candle inside a dark cave. Voices babbled. Laughter erupted. Tears streamed. Shadowy faces screamed in pain. Then moved faster and faster, growing bigger and bigger.
He remembered all the names of all the dead floating in the bog - family, friends, lovers, and innocent lives. He remembered the sacrifices, the randomness of their deaths, and it struck him with intense guilt, grief and anger all at the same time. He remembered Lucifer and how he'd jumped into the pit, remembered the wall that Death built to hold hell at bay. Recalled every soulless, dirty deed, sending his heart skipping beats and his breath catching in his throat. Concentrating hard, Sam managed to turn his head to the right. Not far off, a sleepy creek trickled and gurgled over smooth, mossy rocks, his jacket draped over a log along the bank. How'd he get back here? What was he supposed to do now?
Sam rolled his head, dizzily staring back upward, a loud hum whumping in his ears. An unnatural winter wind tore a dead leaf from a branch, separating it from the rest. As it floated slowly down to earth, he counted off the seconds until the leaves curled brown edges scrapped against his cheek, then settled to the ground among the rest of the dead pieces.
Sam frowned at the pile – piece – then stared up into the trees – piece.
Everything shot into focus, and Sam gasped, shutting his eyes.
He was shivering hard, snowflakes melting on his cheeks. No, not snowflakes, tears, tears for what he had done. For those he had killed. Some in the name of love, some in the name of justice, some in no name at didn't want to move, wanted to lay here forever. His stomach churned with illness from the bog that now weighted down his soul.
Let the seasons change.
Let his body be struck and burnt by lightning.
Let the heat of summer rot his corpse, let the flies pick his bones clean.
Hope the sleet and snow of another ice age would come and hide his remains forever.
But hope wasn't a thing with feathers that perched in his soul. The only thing perching in Sam's soul right now was the horror of everything he'd done this past year.
The humming was back along with a constant nagging. A peck, peck, pecking that wouldn't leave him alone, urging him onward.
It was Dean, the one person who had survived the black bog. Sam could almost hear his brother's agonizing pleas, his bossy demands, knew now what that humming sound was. His body was back at Bobby's place - in the panic room. Along with something more, the missing space inside him. He Knew facing off with another, sure wasn't going to be a piece of apple pie, but he clambered to his feet anyway.e awasn'HJ
For a brief moment his legs felt numb, tingly, like a million ants trailing up and down his skin.
The humming sound grew softer, he was dangerously running out of time. If he didn't come together soon, he may never. He staggered forward, making his way over to the creek. There was no staying in this dreamscape. He'd go mad listening to the haunting cries of his brother-alone- in the outside world.
Sam collected his jacket and headed back toward the road, straight and tall like the solider he was taught to be.
Dean needed him, and if he were being honest, he needed Dean too.