In which a conversation with Hallucination!Lucifer [as it may be] enlightens Sam. By the time I've finished this, I watched the latest ep, so this is written after Sam finds out about Dean killing Amy, and they get back together. [Which isn't AU! Because the promo tells me so. XD]
He was at it again. Dean was chugging down another bottle of alcohol Sam couldn't stomach even if he wanted to. And he drank it like it was water or something. Sam wanted to tell him to stop, but he couldn't. He could make subtle hints and snarky comments, but he couldn't deny his brother the one thing that seems to comfort him. God-or whatever was left in the crap-world they lived in-knew that Sam had taken enough from Dean already. He hated Dean's drinking, hated the haunted look in his eyes, hated that Dean wouldn't confide in him, but mostly he hated himself. Sam hadn't been lying when he'd said that he didn't feel much guilt, he'd paid his dues, but what he felt towards Dean was another matter.
Dean was his big brother, at some points in his life-a surrogate parent, he was the pain-in-the-ass who pushed Sam's every button...and yet glued him back together every time he broke. Dean had come pretty close to giving up on him, but he never had-not really. He'd gone to Hell for Sam, and Sam didn't blame Dean for allowing him to jump into the Hell-Cage. He knew it had killed Dean, just like he knew that only love of Sam had kept him with Lisa and Ben even when all he probably wanted was to throw himself into hunting, and finding a way to free Sam. He knew that if it had been an option, Dean would have thrown himself into the Hell-cage to spare Sam. Dean's life, when compared to Sam's, rated on a scale of zero. In fact, when held up to many lives, Dean didn't seem to think his held much value. Something that Sam supposed had to do with their upbringing, and their father drilling Dean's life purpose as protector and guardian to Sam [and as a hunter, to the rest of the world] into him. Dean felt like if he wasn't doing one of those things, if he didn't save everyone, if he didn't keep Sam from harm, then he was a failure. And Sam had no idea how to fix something that ran that deep. Especially when he kept adding on to Dean's pain.
"You really are kind of a burden, arent'cha, Sam?"
Sam tried not to wince and to instead focus on brushing his teeth as the all-too-familiar voice spoke thoughtfully beside him.
"And who suffers most for it? Your dear ole brother, Dean. Honestly, wouldn't you be doing him a favor if you stopped breathing? Then again, he'd probably just sell his soul again and then where would we be?"
Sam didn't realize how hard he had begun brushing his teeth until he saw tell-tale pink stains in the sink from his faintly bleeding gums.
"Tell you something though. I don't regret much, but I do regret missing out on his show-and-tell. From what I've heard, Dean's a real show-stopper. They don't make heartless bastards like that every millenia." Lucifer chuckled and Sam squeezed his free hand tightly in an effort to dispel Lucifer. But the wound had more or less healed, and the pain wasn't as forthcoming. "He would have made an impressive demon..."
At that, Sam hissed. "Shut up."
"Ooh. You kiss your mother with that mouth-oh-wait, sorry, kissed. Funny, seems like all the women you kiss end up dead, and brutally so... Mary. Jessica. Madison. Amy. Ruby, if you feel like calling her a girl." Lucifer gave an easy shrug. "You must have kissed your big brother at least once, given how many times he's died because of you-"
"-I said shut up." Sam clenched his eyes shut as he dug what nails he had deep into the flesh of his palm and tried to will Lucifer away. But when he felt the dull pain and opened his eyes to see Lucifer smiling at him past his reflection, he knew that it wasn't enough.
"Man, that had to hurt. Finding out that he went behind your back and killed your childhood sweetheart. He said he trusted you and then what did he do? Lied to your face and killed her...ya know, I wonder if he killed the kid too. I mean, he wouldn't leave a 'monster' running around, now would he? You excluded." Lucifer amended.
Sam swallowed hard at those words, bitterness and pain all mixed up inside of him, and a thin trickle of rage. He hadn't forgiven Dean for Amy's death, but at the same time, the hunter in him understood. Sam, on some begrudging level, understood. But still, Dean had claimed to trust Sam and then gone behind his back, lied about it even when Sam had been worried, and then to have found out through a Leviathan? Sam hadn't considered Amy's child though...Sam didn't consider the fact that Dean might have- "No. He wouldn't kill a kid."
"Just like he wouldn't kill a mother just trying to save her cherished son? Who are you kidding, Sam? Dean's not like you: he's a hunter. He'll kill anyone or anything, and he won't lose any sleep over it. Like I said. Heartless bastard. Not like you, Sam. Your ticker's pumpin' away, filled with all of those naive, idealistic notions and that silly hope that you aren't the time-bomb nutcase your brother thinks you are."
Sam thought back to the trial with Osiris, the stunned, anguished look on his brother's face, a rare display of emotion indeed. The whole trial was based on his brother's guilt and now that he considered it, he knew who the last witness would have been. And he knew that his brother didn't take his kills as easily as he pretended. Dean had lied, had gone behind Sam's back, but it had eaten away at Dean the whole time and that went a long way towards making him more sympathetic than angry towards his big brother. "That's not what he thinks."
"Really? Right. He thinks you're perfectly sane and stable, and he doesn't need to spend his lonely nights sucking down whiskey like water because his life sucks and his partner, his brother, is a worthless sack of psychosis."
"You're not real." Sam said through gritted teeth, as he glared at Lucifer's reflection.
"You keep saying that like it matters. Who cares if I'm real? I can still push your buttons, Sam." Lucifer moved closer as he traced his fingers against sam's neck. "Just like in the Cage...I had fun finding out what makes you tick...and piecing you back together again."
Bile rose in Sam's throat as, unbidden, memories of his time in Hell resurfaced. "Not real. Not real. Not real. Not real." Sam chanted the words like a mantra as he tried to dispel Lucifer and the memories, but he could hear Lucifer chuckling behind him.
"Sixty more years in Hell than your brother, who-by the way-is kind of an idiot...and you still don't get it? Real is relative. For some people, real is what they can see. But some people are blind-not just physically, and well, it's more like what they can hear, so to speak...others, what they can touch..or taste...and then you have those who reject 'real' in favor of the reality that suits them best...kind of like you, Sam. You can pretend I'm not real all you want, but I'm real to you, and that's all that matters. As long as you see me, and hear me, and..." Lucifer ghosted his fingers across Sam's neck. "...Feel me...then I am real, in my own, relative way. See? It's perception. I am what you perceive me to be. And I am your own personal Hell." Lucifer smiled as he clapped Sam's back then rested a hand on his shoulder with a painfully tight squeeze. "I'm the angel on your shoulder."
Sam snorted at that and smiled mirthlessly at Lucifer. "Angel? I guess real is relative."
Lucifer tsked. "Deny it all you want, but it doesn't change what I am. Any more that denying yourself changes what you are. You drank demon blood. You murdered innocents. You kicked off the Apocalypse. You let your own brother go to Hell for you. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, kiddo." Sam had jerked away from Lucifer's touch, so he stepped a bit closer and grinned up at Sam. "You look in the mirror and all you see is the Abyss. Just let it go, Sam. Give in or get dead. Hey, that's catchy." Lucifer mused.
Sam could feel his control far beyond the point of slipping. He couldn't take this, he didn't want to hear this anymore...he had to figure out something...some way...Lucifer was chattier than usual, but wasn't that because Sam had gotten so weak? After he learned about Amy, he'd snapped and now...things had gotten worse...because Sam couldn't maintain control.
"Just give in, Sam." Lucifer spoke gently from behind him. "Let it go."
Let it go.
Sam moved past Lucifer suddenly, out of the bathroom and to the motel room. Dean was no longer in the room, and from the window, he could see Dean leaned against the Impala outside, bottle in hand.
Lucifer followed. "Sam. You should know by now that I'll follow you anywhere."
"You're not real." Sam muttered as he crouched down beside the supply duffel and fished out a small knife.
"Real enough for you, kiddo."
Sam rose slowly and turned to face Lucifer as he toyed with the knife in his hands and Lucifer cocked his head. "What? Gonna cut yourself up to make me disappear for a little while? Am I really so bad? All I am is honest. One brother drowning his pain in a bottle and the other breaking skin...and for what?"
For what? Why did Dean drink? Why had John drank? Why did Bobby? And Sam, he'd drunk too-in a way. Demon's blood. He'd felt powerful, invincible, untouchable, and he'd just...felt. It was beyond pain, or pleasure, it was indescribable. And for those moments of peace, he'd been willing to throw away his 'perception' of right and wrong. Maybe they had done the same. They had all suffered and lost, they were all hurting, and trying to cope the best that they could. The pain of drinking, or binging, or throwing themselves into the fray, it paled in comparison to the ache inside of them, the gnawing emptiness. The bitter sorrow.
"Maybe real is relative." Sam murmured as he gazed down at the knife before he lifted his brow eyes to Lucifer. "But so is pain. I'd rather be bleeding than listening to you." he dug the knife into his palm suddenly, and he felt the sharp sting and dull burn of it as he dragged it an inch or so where the previous cut had been. The pain would have seemed unbearable once, but it was now almost familiar, a comfort. The pain that grounded him from his relative reality.
Lucifer's image began to fade in and out like a bad hologram, and he smiled ruefully. "Pain is relative, huh? Maybe you're not so hopeless after all, Sam. I'll see you around." he promised as Sam gave the knife one last, painful twist and Lucifer disappeared.
Blood pooled from his hand to the floor, but he was grimly satisfied. He'd banished Lucifer again and the reopened wound would be a good source of grounding for a few days at least.
"Sammy! What the Hell?"
He found the knife knocked from his hands as his brother's strong ones gripped them instead. One arm clamped around his wrist, and then other staunching the bloody wound with a hastily-grabbed napkin.
Sam waited for the reprimand, or the look that said he was a bonafide freak, or even just anger. But it never came. Instead, Dean's jaw clenched as he squeezed the now-red napkin against Sam's wound before he yanked up a discarded shirt from the ground, his own, and tied it deftly around Sam's hand. Gauze would be best, but the shirt would do for now.
And then for a moment, Dean said nothing, just kind of held Sam's hand until finally he lifted his green eyes up to Sam's brown ones. Dean's were frustrated, he could tell, but what else...? He wasn't sure. "Sammy...man, next time, just ask me to punch you or something...this...just don't do it." It had been one thing for Sam to grab a wound already made, but he didn't want his little brother cutting himself up everytime the big ugly reared his head.
"It keeps him away." Sam muttered.
Dean sighed silently as he released Sam's hand and ran his own over his head. Sam could smell the whiskey on his brother's breath, but Dean was still alert. Alcohol hadn't affected him greatly ever, but now, it was almost a mystery why he bothered at all. "I know...but...we need to figure something else out. You need your hands, dude. I mean, I know you don't get laid a lot or anything, but it kinda helps."
Sam smiled slightly at his brother's attempt to add levity to the situation, and at Dean's use of the word 'we'. It was his problem, but Dean wasn't going to let it be. He'd butt in, as usual. Even if it was a bit awkwardly. "Thanks, Dean."
Dean shuffled a bit before he inclined his head lightly and then said gruffly. "Bleeding shoulda slowed, go wash your hands and I'll wrap it."
Sam chuckled lightly. "Just like old times?"
Dean scrunched his nose faintly. "I think I ended up bleeding more than you did."
"You were kinda clumsy."
"Dream on. Some of us were actually hunting."
"I didn't know picking up girls counted as hunting." Sam said thoughtfully.
"At least I could get girls." Dean retorted, and both brothers were comforted by the banter. "Go wash your hand already. You're bleeding on my shirt. Bitch." Dean hadn't used that endearment in awhile, too much had gone on but at the moment, it seemed right. That affection between them would do them both some good.
"It's probably cleaner than whatever else was on your shirt, jerk." Sam replied with a faint smile, his heart a bit lighter as he headed back to the bathroom, this time Lucifer-free. The only reflection in the mirror was his own...and from behind him, his brother.
Things were messed up, he was still a few sticks short of a house, and Dean himself was far from alright. But he could work with that, they could work with that. Together. Reality might be relative, and pain as well, but one thing was solid: they had each other's backs.
There was no relativity to being brothers.
Originally I just wanted to do something Sam-centric for a change, and something 'profound' between Sam and Lucifer. In the end: I got this. XD Whatever -this- is. Sam's all bummed about Dean and trying to deal with his pain alone and then he realizes pain is all relative, better and worse, up and down, and his brother's got his back, that's one thing that won't change. Or something. I dunno. ENJOY IT AND LEAVE ME VERBAL HUGS! XD Either way, Happy Halloween, m'dears!~