a/n: Here it is, the final chapter. I'll warn now, major Sam trauma coming.
Sam's ritual continued, going for the long morning walk, only to spend most of it fighting Lucifer and his taunts. He felt he was getting better at it. However, he still wasn't sleeping very well, and he felt like his brain was in a total fog all of the time.
"Just hold on there," Dean told a somewhat woozy Sam, catching him heading out quickly for his walk.
"You need something?" Sam asked.
It wasn't lost on Dean how tired Sam looked. "Yeah, I need you to get a good night's sleep."
Sam dropped his head and shoulders and sighed. "Dean-"
"Don't give me that. You can't possibly think that I haven't noticed. I know all about nightmares Sam. I've been there. They will tear you apart if you let them control you. You want to have more seizures?"
"I'm fine Dean. I'm working on it."
"I've seen you walking around here like a total zombie. You're exhausted. You spend a lot of time out in that porch just staring into space. You're not okay."
"No, I'm not!" Sam shouted. He stopped, held his breath, and talked himself down from whatever anger rose inside him. "Thanks for your concern, I appreciate it, really, but I'm managing it. The walks help."
Sam went for the door and left before Dean could say anything else. He heard a "Sam, wait!" but chose to ignore it. He had to get out of there, fast. He couldn't talk to Dean right now. He needed to focus on his crumbling psyche right now. He didn't get down the road far though when it all started.
"Shouldn't ignore big bro like that." Sam's heart dropped.
"Oh yeah, you took advice from your big brother," Sam countered before cursing at himself for addressing his hallucination.
"Touche," replied Lucifer. "You do need some sleep though. You're a wreck."
Sam kept walking and went for his left hand. The stabbing pain in the cold morning air was especially uncomfortable, but he needed the strong reality check.
"Bring your weapon this time? Right, Dean won't let you have it. I can still help you out," Lucifer said. Within a minute Sam stopped in his tracks. He was standing at the edge of a beautiful river gorge.
"I know, it's not Mt. Everest, but it's steep enough," said Lucifer smiling. "Wild animals would probably find your body before anyone else did. They'd be looking for pieces of you."
Sam had trouble handling the quick and overwhelming panic that hit him. "How... how did I get here? The cabin isn't near a river." He took a step back, looking all around, wondering how he got there. Is this real? He didn't recognize any of the area surrounding him. Then he looked at his watch. He had been walking for at least a half hour, maybe more. It felt like three minutes. "No, no, this can't be."
"Someone's going bonkers," Lucifer teased with a sing-song. "Insanity can't be fixed Sam. Dean already thinks you're beyond help. What's he going to think when he finds out about your little senior moments? Wandering off, no idea where you're going or how you got there?"
"I'm not listening to you!" Sam pressed on his hand again super hard, the sharp pain causing him to tear up a little. He grunted through it. Lucifer made a whistling noise, the sound of something falling a long way down. One more hard press and Lucifer went away, but Sam realized he was still on the edge of a cliff. He gazed down at the river below, contemplating the idea that was planted in his tired mind. He got lost in the rapid flow of the scenic river for a few minutes and considered the absolute worst. Would he be better off? Would this relieve Dean from his burden?
"No, no," Sam said, taking a few steps back. There was a large fallen log nearby. He stumbled over to it, sat down and buried his head in his hands, trying to pull it together. What is happening, what is happening? He knew that he was in trouble. He was breathing very hard and couldn't rationally talk himself through the situation. Nothing made sense anymore. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed the number he had recently put in his contact list for emergencies.
"Hello?" The voice on the other end answered.
Sam paused for a second, wondering if he should be calling. He needed desperately to talk to someone. "Betsy?"
"Sam! How are you?"
"Fine," Sam answered, lying.
"That's good. I'm very surprised to hear from you. When I've given hunters my phone number, very few called. Actually, now I can count the times someone has called on one finger."
Sam let out a small laugh, but it was nervous laughter.
"Is there something wrong Sam?" Betsy asked.
"Um, no, it's just I, well, you know, I never got to say thank you before I left."
"You don't need to thank me Sam. I did my job."
"Yeah, well you have one of the strangest jobs I've ever seen. I'm grateful for what you've done."
"Thank you Sam." She sensed from his tone something wasn't right. "You know Sam, while I have you on the phone, maybe you can tell me if the nightmares have gotten better."
Sam frowned. "Um, no, they're still happening. I think I'm taking them better though."
"Write down what you remember Sam as soon as you wake up. It'll help, honest."
"I'll do that," Sam said nervously, not sure if he would or not.
"You sound tired Sam. How much sleep are you getting?"
"Um, not much."
"Oh Sam, you do know that's not good. Lack of sleep in any circumstance is bad, but in your condition, it affects you far worse. Before long, you won't know which way is up."
"Yeah well, I think I'm already there." Sam let out a sharp breath. "The hallucinations are back. It's getting hard to fight them."
"What are you seeing Sam?"
"Today, I'm near an edge of a cliff and a voice is telling me to jump off it."
Betsy gasped. "Okay, let's talk you through this. Do you want to die Sam?"
"No, or at least I don't think so." Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, wondering how he was in this mess. "Why is this happening?"
"You're exhausted, you've had a head injury which has been known to heighten anxiety, and you're suffering from severe post traumatic stress. That's a dangerous cocktail that would leave very few men standing. You probably feel very sick and confused inside. You've got to remember what we talked about."
"Yeah, I was hoping you could help me through this. My head's a little foggy right now."
"Sam, you've got to tell yourself reasons why you should live. Repeatedly. Fight any thought that tells you otherwise."
"Why do you want to live Sam?"
"Because my brother needs me."
"Good, you never stop telling yourself that. You make it your main purpose for getting out of bed in the morning. All you need is one important reason, and the rest will follow. You also have to find some way to get some sleep. It's very important. Get some tranquilizers, do something."
"Okay," Sam answered. He knew Dean always kept some around.
"What are you seeing right now Sam?"
Sam looked ahead and slightly smiled. "A spectacular river gorge. It's quite a sight."
"It sounds nice. How far away are you from Dean and Bobby?"
Sam's stomach turned sour. "I'm not sure. I don't remember walking here."
"You've got to call Bobby and have him come get you."
"No, no, Dean and Bobby can't know about this. They can't know I'm having trouble."
"You've got to go back to them now Sam."
"Yeah, yeah, I will. I'll use the map on my phone. I can make it."
"You want me to stay on the line?"
"No. I'll be okay."
"Don't hesitate to call me if you get in a bind. Call me later, or send a text, let me know you made it back okay."
"Sure. I'm gonna go now. Thanks Betsy." Sam hung up the phone and inhaled a huge gulp of the fresh mountain air. You can do this. He fumbled with the keys on his phone, pulling up the maps program. He was stunned to see how far he really walked. Why don't I remember?
Sam got up and promptly followed the map's directions, but his head was a mess. It was throbbing, and he could barely focus. In his exhaustion he felt dizzy and disoriented, not to mention terrified. He had to get back though, he couldn't let Dean or Bobby see him like this. His legs felt like lead weights with every step but he pressed on. Getting back felt like an eternity, but he focused hard and maintained his course.
As he got closer, Sam's state of mind improved. He started to calm down a bit and he thought he would be settled enough by the time he got back to not tip off Dean or Bobby that anything was wrong. Once he walked up the driveway, he was feeling better. He just had to get inside and lie down for a while. That would help him. With each step he grew calmer and more determined. He felt huge relief when he finally had his hand on the doorknob and turned.
The door cracked open and a horrified Sam gasped over the first thing he saw. He wasn't prepared for what was on the other side. No, no, this isn't real. He stepped closer in a slow shuffle, unable to comprehend what was in front of him. Dean was sprawled out on the kitchen table, face down, blood pouring out of his temple. In Dean's hand was Sam's still smoking revolver.
"No, no, Dean, this can't be." Sam broke into tears, for real or not, it was still too shocking for his fragile mind to take. He froze at the table, gazing at the dead eyed stare of his brother as thick red oozed all over the table surface.
"You see Sam, you drove him to do it," Lucifer taunted, who was now beside him. "Your reason for living is gone."
"No, this isn't real."
"It's your gun Sam. Do you see Dean anywhere else?
Sam looked all around, but no one else was there. "Dean!" he shouted, but got no answer. Dean wouldn't go anywhere on his broken leg.
"He's gone Sam."
"No," Sam said, tears streaming down his face. "No, where's Bobby? He can help. He can...oh God, Dean. Why?" Sam dropped to his knees, breaking into pronounced sobs. "I did this to him. It's all my fault."
"Of course it's your fault," Lucifer said, hunching over Sam. "Do what's right. Finish the job. This way, you can both go out together." Lucifer had Sam's gun in his hand. Sam gazed at the gun with paralyzing fear, then slowly took it out of Lucifer's hand. He looked again at Dean's corpse, then checked the magazine to see there were bullets.
"Fully loaded," Lucifer confirmed.
A distressed Sam nodded, his eyes still fixed on his brother as he slowly moved the gun to his chin. He pressed end of the barrel deep in the soft spot and...
"Sammy!" Dean limped out of the bathroom to find Sam on the kitchen floor, seizing. He moved as fast as he could to his fallen brother. "Crap, no, don't do this. I can't take you anywhere."
Dean pulled out his cell phone. "Bobby, come quick! It's Sam. He's on the floor seizing. Yeah, I'll hold him tight."
Dean grabbed onto Sam's shoulders, holding him steady. He felt nothing but total fright and helplessness for what seemed like hours, even though the seizure stopped a few minutes later. Dean's panic didn't wane when Sam didn't wake up from the seizure.
"No, this can't be happening. Wake up Sam!" Dean said, grabbing onto his brother's jacket and shaking him. He checked Sam's neck to make sure he had a pulse and then confirmed was breathing.
"It's okay Sammy. You're doing good." That's when he saw something in Sam's right hand. A stunned Dean pried the object away, shocked to see it was his pistol.
"What are you doing with that Sammy?"
Bobby arrived twenty minutes later to find one very spooked Dean sitting on the floor next to a still unconscious Sam. "Dean, what happened?"
"I...I don't know. I came out of the bathroom and there he was."
"This is what the doc warned us about. It happens when he gets too exhausted." Bobby checked Sam's pulse and it was fine. He grabbed Sam underneath the shoulders and dragged him over to the bed, making him as comfortable as he could. Once Sam was okay, he pulled out his cell phone. "Gonna call the Doc."
"Don't bother," said a very shaken Dean. "I already did. I talked to his assistant, Betsy. They'll see about getting Sam looked at somewhere. Until then," Dean pulled out his bottle of tranquilizers in his pocket and shook them, "he's on bed rest."
Bobby nodded and went to help Dean off the floor. Dean was staring at the ground, still bothered by something. "What's wrong?" Bobby asked.
Dean held up Sam's pistol. "He had this in his hand Bobby. What do you think he was doing with it?"
"I'm not sure but whatever it was, his broken noggin put a stop to it."
"Yeah, I suppose."
Dean took Bobby's hand and together they lifted him off the ground.
"How about we have a little hunter's helper ourselves?" Bobby suggested.
"That's the best idea I've heard all day," Dean replied.
When Sam's eyes opened, most of the room was dark, except for the low light of the table lamp next to him. Things were quiet too, so he knew he wasn't in any sort of peril. Once he was able to focus, he saw Dean sitting on the bed across from him, his bad leg propped up.
"Dean?" Sam tried to sit up, but his head was pounding.
"Don't talk. You need to go back to sleep."
"You had a massive seizure, that's what happened. Did I try to tell you that could happen if you didn't sleep?"
Sam rolled his head backward, trying like mad to recall the last thing that happened to him. It was all a fog. "I don't remember."
"I found you on the kitchen floor. You must have just gotten back from your nature hike. I figure you saw something, because you had your pistol in your hand."
"I did?" Everything was too fuzzy. Then the memory of the cliff hit him. He shuddered, which alarmed Dean.
"You remembered something."
"Nothing bad, just a scenic river." The memory was far more frightening than that, but he wasn't about to tell Dean. "How long have I been out?"
"Since this morning. It's 2 am now. You had us worried sick. The doc is coming into town tomorrow and you're getting another scan. We gotta be sure you're okay."
Sam stared at Dean's worried face. He felt bad that his brother spent the day fussing over him. "Okay."
Dean reached over to the table next to the bed and grabbed two pills and a glass of water. "In the meantime, you're sleeping."
"Ah, ah, no arguing. This is doctor's orders." He put the pills and the glass of water next to Sam. He didn't like his brother's frown.
"Do I have to force them down your throat?"
"No." Sam went to grab the pills, and that's when he noticed his right hand wouldn't move more than an inch. He saw one end of the handcuffs around his wrist and the other anchored to the bed. He threw Dean a look of deep disapproval, and grabbed the pills and water with his left hand. Dean kept his eyes fixed on him, making absolutely sure he swallowed the pills.
"That's better." Dean stretched out on his bed and settled in for some sleep.
"Dean, I got to..."
"There's a bucket next to you. You aren't getting out of bed."
Dean smiled, feeling assured that he would finally get some rest. Sam sighed and chose to fall asleep as well. He didn't have much other choice.
"Good job Sam. I believe we're done." The doctor moved him out of the CT chamber and then helped him sit up. Sam couldn't believe that the doctor arranged to come to Montana and do new scans of their injuries at a nearby medical center. He must have known someone.
"Well, how am I?"
"Nothing unusual. If anything, it's almost like you didn't have a brain injury at all. I said almost though. There's still traces. No more driving yourself to exhaustion. "
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"Well, a long rest fixes that in the short term. How are you feeling right now? Tired, or weak, or faint?"
"A little tired, but nothing major."
"And you having been experiencing any sudden changes with emotions or behavior?"
"No, I'm good."
The doctor scoffed. "Liar. Good thing Betsy filled me in. No worries, it's our secret. I hope you've found a way around your sleeping issues."
"For now, yes. It's called my brother watching me like a hawk."
"Keep it up then. You don't seem to be the only one bathing in some magic healing waters. Your brother's leg is good enough where the cast can come off in a week."
"Yep. I'm not sure how you boys have done it, but you're quite amazing healers. I'd joke about selling your souls, but was told that might be hitting some sore spots. It seems mentioning angels gets the same reaction too. So I'll just go with somebody somewhere likes you."
"I don't know about that," Sam said. He didn't feel like they've been getting any breaks lately. He'd just enjoy this one.
"Okay, get out of here. I hope to see you again...well never. How about next time you blow up your skull in a real hospital?"
"Not like I had a choice, but I will. Thanks for fixing me up. You saved my life."
"Don't mention it. Okay, mention it a little. You're definitely the largest patient I've ever had to haul around."
"Come on Sam, let's roll," Dean said as Bobby wheeled him into the room. "I've got a fresh batch of happy pills and my show comes on in a half hour."
"I think we need to get a DVR." Sam stood up and grabbed Dean's wheelchair. He pushed him toward the door, then stopped and turned around. "Thanks Doc, I really mean it."
The doctor nodded and waved. Bobby stayed behind to give his own thanks. "They mean the world to me. I owe you plenty more now."
"I'll be calling in favors one day and you know it. You're on the top of the list now."
"Fair enough. I'm sure you'll see me again."
"Bye Bobby." The doctor's smile turned sad as soon as Bobby left the room. For some reason, he couldn't shake this feeling that he would never see Bobby Singer again.
"So we're cured," Dean said in the van on the way back to the cabin.
"You both have at least another couple of weeks of healin' left," Bobby said. "Don't push your luck."
"Sam here's going on daily nature walks. If anyone's pushing his luck. I mean, aren't there bears, coyotes and mountain lions in Montana?"
"They're everywhere. They're called zoos," Bobby said.
Sam sat in the back and didn't catch of word of what they were saying. He was lost in thoughts looking through the back window. They weren't particularly bad thoughts, but he was definitely pensive after the visit to the doctor. He did remember how close he came to dying. That memory spooked him worse than anything else that happened to him recently.
"You with me Sam?" Dean asked. Sam shook himself from his daydreaming.
"So you think you can handle it?"
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Bobby taking a trip back to South Dakota to fetch my baby. You think you can handle nursing me for a day?"
"Sure, no problem." Sam moved his eyes back to the window, only to see Lucifer in the back of the van. He quickly squeezed his hand and he disappeared. Sam let out a silent sigh of relief. Sending Lucifer away was getting easier.
"I can't believe its been only three weeks," Dean said. "This whole adventure feels like it's taken years off my life."
"You and me both," Bobby said.
"What about you Sam?" Dean asked. "Does it feel like three weeks to you?"
"It feels like less," Sam answered. "Time has flown by."
"Spoken by the guy with the cracked skull," Bobby said. "Everything seems way off when the eggs are scrambled, right Sam?"
Sam took one more look at the window and was pleased to see Lucifer still wasn't there. That didn't stop his sense of inside panic, but he was starting to understand this new world in which he lived. He liked finding a sense of control, even if he was terrified. "Right. I'm in my own world, but they know me here."
Bobby and Dean both let out a laugh over Sam's joke. Sam smiled too, especially when Lucifer remained gone after he stopped holding his left hand. Maybe there was hope for him after all. He knew he had a long road ahead of him yet though. It was going to be a while before he could stop pretending that everything was alright.
a/n: Did you like it? I just never bought into the idea that Sam was suddenly okay after "Hello Cruel World." Hopefully this drama did that belief a little justice. Thanks again to all of you that left comments and chose this story for your favorites and alerts list. Perhaps I'll write more in the future if season seven has any more gaping holes.