a/n: This is an extended ending to episode 7.17, "The Born-Again Identity." My biggest complaint about the episode was that the ending was rushed, and there were some missed emotional opportunities. Also, I thought Sam's anger at the end could have played out more, like an intense brotherly discussion in the car. So here's my attempt at extending the ending. I'm not saying it's better, just different.
My last fic, Three Weeks, filled in the blanks between "Hello, Cruel World" and "The Girl Next Door" and this is along that same spirit. I'm mostly filling in the blanks and stretching a few things out. I'm not bucking the canon that was already there or trying to rewrite the actual events. Just the timing of them!
With the press of his two fingers, Castiel had Sam back in his room, comfortable on his bed. At least as comfortable as he could be, given his poor state. He hoped that Sam would say something to him, recognize who he was, but Sam continued to quiver, still suffering from the effects of the electroshock and whatever else the extreme sleep deprivation was doing to him.
"It's alright Sam, I'm here for you," Castiel assured. Sam was too lost in trauma, staring off into space, seeing something that Castiel knew wasn't there. The guilt continued to consume him. He did this, and now not only could he not fix Sam, but Sam had regressed to a level where the end was imminent.
"I'll be back Sam, I'm going to get Dean for you." He didn't wait for Sam's lack of response.
Dean knew it wasn't good news the instant he heard the flapping wings. "Cass, what happened?"
"I found Sam in the electroshock room, a demon had him there."
"A demon? Is he okay?"
"He was shocked for a few minutes before I got there. He's shaken but it didn't do any damage."
Dean knew he wasn't telling him everything. "Wait a second, I see a but here. What's wrong Cass?"
"I'll let you see." He touched Dean's forehead and suddenly they were in Sam's room. Dean rushed over to Sam's beside and saw Sam trembling and vacantly staring forward. "Sammy?" Sam looked at him, tensing up in fright, his bloodshot eyes wide, unable to say a word. Dean didn't know what to say, looking up at a remorseful Castiel standing in the corner.
"What's wrong with him Cass? Can't you heal him?" Dean joined Castiel in the corner, and the sight of Sam from this angle scared Dean even more. His shaking was beginning to cease, but his eyes were fixed to the empty seat beside the bed, as if someone else was talking to him.
"I can't," Cass somberly said.
"What the hell do you mean, you can't?" Dean replied
"I mean there's nothing left to rebuild," explained Cass.
"Because it crumbled. The pieces got crushed to dust by whatever is happening inside his head right now."
Dean's heart sunk, watching a vegetative version of Sam fighting what little was left of his mind. "So you're saying there's nothing? He's going to be like this until his candle blows out?"
"I'm sorry-this isn't a problem I can make disappear."
Dean nodded over Castiel's defeated words. Maybe Sam was right. Maybe this was inevitable. "Oh Sammy," he said, walking back to his brother's bed side and sitting down in the vacant seat. Sam was staring his way, but he didn't even notice he was there. His eyes were empty and lost. He was clearly in his own world now, and no doubt it involved torment from Lucifer. The fear on his face told too much of the story.
Dean couldn't believe that Sam slipped into this state before he had a chance to say goodbye, to let him know he was here for him and would never leave. "Sam, I'm here." The only response was his brother cowering in fear.
"Cass, is there anyway to let him know that I'm here? That I won't leave him?"
"No," Castiel said with defeat. "He's too far gone."
Dean swallowed hard and turned his attention back to his struggling brother. He leaned back in the chair and buried his hand in his face. "We need some alone time," Dean said.
"Of course." With a flap of his wings Castiel was gone.
Dean popped awake from his nap, hoping to see Sam sleeping as well. He wasn't, and it anything his catatonic state had worsened. Sam looked more pale, more weak, more defeated. His eyelids were droopy, but not closed.
"Yeah, I'm sorry doctor."
"No problem. I came to discuss what's next for Sam."
Dean rubbed his eyes, knowing he should be awake for this. He didn't like that he had to make the decisions, but Sam was clearly in no shape. "Okay."
"I'm afraid everything has been tried. We've given him sedatives, antipsychotics, and explored surgical options. As unfortunate as the electro shock incident was, it was a form of treatment we were considering next. As you can tell, that didn't help either. He hasn't responded to anything we've tried."
"Then what do we do?"
"Eventually his body will start shutting down. When that happens, he'll be transferred to ICU. They'll do everything they can to make his last hours comfortable."
Dean felt the tears well up in his eyes, but he had to be brave for Sam. "Um, how long do you think he has?" he asked, voice cracking slightly.
"A day, maybe two."
Dean nodded softly, biting his lip.
"I wanted to warn you, someone will be by to have you sign some paperwork. It's the usual formalities in these situations. Don't worry, you won't have to decide about organ donation. In his shape they aren't going to be viable."
Dean knew all too well about the hospital administrators. "Thanks for the heads up."
"I'm very sorry Mr. Smith," the doctor said sympathetically. Dean was too lost in Sam's troubled face to answer or realize the doctor quietly left.
It took Dean a minute, but he eventually saw the redheaded woman in regular clothes standing in the doorway, her stunned eyes fixed on Sam.
"Can I help you?"
She took a few steps forward into the room and stopped. Her nervousness struck Dean, but then he remembered where he was. "He's going to die, isn't he?" she said.
She got visibly upset by Dean's answer. "I told him he needed to stop listening to the voice and sleep. Are his kidneys shutting down yet?"
"No, not yet."
She nodded and moved closer. "I'm here Sam." Sam gave her a glassy stare, but nothing more.
"I just wanted to thank him," she told Dean. "I going home today. This wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for him."
"Sam helped you?" Dean wondered what Sam could have done to help this girl.
"He put my dead brother to rest. It was the coolest thing. He had us create this ring with salt, then we stepped inside and suddenly my brother was there. He started tossing stuff around, breaking the lights, but Sam torched a bracelet my brother made for me. Next thing I know, my brother burst into flames and was gone. Suddenly, the voice disappeared. I wasn't suicidal anymore." Her excited expression fell a little. "I heard the orderlies were rough on Sam after that. They strapped him down and then shocked him. It wasn't his fault. All he did was help me."
Dean smiled. "That's Sammy. No matter how bad it is for him, he tries to make it better for others."
She hovered over a despondent Sam, watching his vacant eyes and quivering body. "Sam, come on. Just sleep for me, okay?"
There was no response. She shot a quick glare at Dean. "There's nothing you can do? You can't burn something and make Charles Manson shut up?"
"I wish I could," Dean said. "This is a problem that's beyond what I can fix."
"It's because he's really crazy. I knew he was crazier than me." She moved over to the edge of Sam's bed and touched him. Sam stiffened up at first, but then loosened, looking directly at her. His eyes were sad, but she and Dean could tell he was aware she was there.
"He recognizes you," Dean said with a half smile.
"Don't die, okay Sam?" Sam gave her a very tiny nod, so faint it was hard to tell he did anything. She smiled at him. "Goodbye Sam. I'm going home now. I'll never forget what you did for me." Sam's eyes fell away, and his eyes gazed beyond her. She teared up and walked away quickly.
"Excuse me," Dean said. "I don't know your name."
"Marin," she replied, before leaving the room.
Dean popped abruptly awake, woken by the sound of flapping wings. His bleary eyes spotted the oddly trench coated angel in the opposite dark corner. He must have been asleep for a few hours, since it was dark outside. Only the lamp at the side of the bed gave any light. Sam's eyes were at half mast and vacant, but the rise and fall of his chest told Dean he was still alive.
"How is he?" Castiel asked.
"Dying," Dean said, too tired to give a smarter answer. Castiel stepped over and touched Sam's forehead. Sam didn't even flinch this time. He was too weak. "He's still hanging in there, but his body is going to start shutting down in a few hours."
Dean somehow found it encouraging that hadn't happened yet. "Why are you here Cass?"
"I found out that Bobby died. I'm sorry Dean. With that and Sam, you know, I thought you might need a friend."
Dean scoffed. "I don't have any of those left."
"I'm your friend Dean."
Dean didn't know how to respond to that. It was easy for him to give Cass that pep talk before, let bygones be bygones. Sam was dying. Now that Cass couldn't help, he just wasn't sure what to think. Truth be told, he was just tired. That made him feel worse, because he knew Sam was more tired.
"I just wish I knew what was going on in his head," Dean said.
"He's suffering terribly. Worst possible torment any being could possibly get." Castiel noticed that Dean didn't like that candor. "Sorry, you probably didn't want to know that."
"It's okay," Dean said, getting up to stretch.
"I don't understand," Cass said. "Why aren't you mad right now?"
"Because it didn't do me any good before. I've lost everything and everyone I've ever cared about. Sam's all I got left. It just makes sense I would lose him too. It seems to be the way the world wants to screw me." Dean stopped when Castiel's blank face wasn't registering what he was saying. "Nothing shocks me anymore Cass. We're never going to get a break. We just keep rolling in crap. I'm stunned both of us aren't dead for good right now."
"This is all my fault. I'm sorry."
Dean rubbed his chin, trying to process it all. "Honestly, if you hadn't done it, something else would have. It's just our luck. You know, when Sam first got here, I wanted him to get mad, try to fight this. You know what he told me? He's too tired. Well I'm too tired too. If I lose Sam, I'm not sure I can do this alone."
"What will you do?"
"I don't know." Dean walked back to the chair by the bed and sat down. Sam's face was so pale, so ragged, those hazel eyes so weary and lost. "I don't want to think about it right now. Losing Bobby was hard. We were so numb, Sam and me just sat around for weeks, we couldn't talk to each other. Somehow though, Sam just being there, it helped. I wasn't missing Bobby alone."
"I understand," Castiel said.
"Do you? I'm just curious, how do you feel when you've lost another angel? Have you ever had anyone this close to you die before?"
"We were always comforted with the knowledge that death made us something greater. Our spirits would move on, become one with God."
"Yeah, and how did that work out for you?"
"I don't know Dean. I have to believe they are in a better place. Because if I didn't..."
Dean backed off. He knew that Castiel was feeling enough guilt over killing all those angels. "Maybe they've been given another chance, like you have."
"I hope so. I don't deserve this. They deserve the chance for redemption, not I."
Dean dropped his head, not wanting to continue a debate about fairness. None of this was fair. All Sam did was save the world. "You know, I'd trade places with Sam in a heartbeat, but then he'd have to go on alone without me. I know that wouldn't sit right with him either. We need to be in this together. It just isn't fair if only one of us would be left to carry on."
Suddenly Castiel froze, an idea hitting him. "Cass?" Dean asked.
"Of course. I know how to fix this." Castiel sat on the bed right next to Sam, and raised his arm to Sam's forehead.
"Wait, wait, what are you doing?" Dean asked.
"Don't worry about me. I'll be okay." He gripped Sam with his hand and suddenly Sam was glowing red, grunting in agony. Sam yelled as red consumed him and ran up Castiel's arm. Dean watched, too stunned to fathom what was happening.
Sam gasped a huge breath, and Dean instantly noticed that Sam was back with him. "Sam?"
"Dean? What's going on?"
That's when they saw something wasn't right with Castiel. Suddenly he was terrified by the imaginary figure in the corner. Castiel backed into wall, pleading "no." Sam and Dean both watched in amazement.
"Cass?" Dean went over to help him. Cass was stiff as a board and wouldn't move. Dean couldn't get through to him either, waving his hand in front of his face. Then corner of his eye caught what was happening on the bed. Sam suddenly didn't look to good as he sunk into the pillows.
"Sam?" He said rushing to his brother, holding him up so their eyes were level. "What is it? Are you seeing him too?"
"No," Sam said struggling and yawning. "No, I can't see Lucifer anymore. I'm just..." Sam slumped, then smiled, "sleepy." Sam passed out. Dean laid Sam down, letting his brother rest. He smiled too, for the first time in a very long while Sam looked peaceful. Then he looked at Cass, and suddenly he wasn't smiling anymore. He was going to need Meg's help now.
"Sammy?" Sam's eyes opened, the bright light from the window glowing behind Dean's face. He sat up alarmed, looking around at his surroundings. He was still in his room at the mental hospital, wearing the same white scrubs, but feeling the best he had in a long time. He yawned and stretched. Yeah, he felt really good. Then it all hit him, "Cass!"
"He's being cared for Sam." Sam nodded, taking a small pause to calm himself down and get oriented. "Daylight, I take it I got a good night's sleep?"
"Night? Try two nights. You've been out for 30 hours. After being up for 9 days, we decided you needed it."
"I could sleep for a month actually. I'm still really tired."
"Yeah, well I have a fresh change of clothes over there. They were going to check you out as soon as you woke up. If everything looks good, we can leave. Are you, um, seeing any pitchforks?"
Sam slightly smiled. "No, nothing. Everything seems great. You think Cass..."
"He couldn't get rid of it Sam. The wall in your head, there was nothing left of it. So he switched everything going on in your head to his. He's now locked up here, and he's as out of it as you were. The difference is, not sleeping isn't going to kill an angel."
"He did that?" Sam was stunned. "So what do we do?"
"Nothing right now. Here is the best place for him."
Sam's face lit up in protest. "We can't do that. The demons know he's here. I saw one-"
"I know, Cass took care of him. We killed all the demons that were here. They don't know he's here." Dean froze there, but his face indicated there was more to the story.
"What aren't you telling me Dean?"
"Well, everyone except Meg."
"Meg? Dean why is she here?"
"She's here to help. She's going to look after Cass for us. We can't stay here Sam. It's not safe."
"Dean, we can't-"
"You're looking very well this morning Mr. Smith," the doctor said coming in with the nurse behind, interrupting the conversation. "I take it you had a good sleep?"
"Yeah," answered Sam, not appreciating the interruption right now.
The doctor turned to Dean. "If you don't mind, we need to examine him."
"Right," Dean said, getting up. "I'll just be downstairs getting some coffee. Take your time." Dean saw the discontent on Sam's face, but wasn't going to deal with that right now.
They all watched Dean leave and the nurse shut the door. "Okay," the doctor said, pulling his stethoscope out of his pocket. "Let's see if we can't get you out of here."
Sam got into the car, but he wasn't happy. None of this sat right with him at all. Then again, he had just spent almost a week in a mental institution. He wasn't exactly at his best at this point. To make things worse, he really wished he was getting into the Impala. He was tired of all these different cars and craved something familiar, but wasn't going to tell Dean that though. He already knew it was a sore subject. He decided he wouldn't say anything to Dean at all.
Dean put the car into drive, and they worked their way to the main road. After a few minutes, Dean broke the silence.
"Anyplace you want to go?"
"Just get me back to the cabin. I want to go to bed and not get up for a week." Sam rested his head back on the seat, thinking sleeping now would be a good idea.
"You sure you're okay?"
Sam straightened up and looked at Dean incredulously, wanting to say something smart about the fact that he just got out of a psych ward. He held back. "No, I'm not okay," Sam said. "I'm not dying though."
"That's true," Dean said, never taking his eyes off the road. "You can talk to me you know."
"Really? I just tried back there. You shut me down."
"Anything but that."
"It sucks Dean."
"Does it? Think about it. If Cass didn't do what he did, you'd be dead by now. He owed it to you, since he broke the wall in the first place."
"Dean," Sam said, clenching his fist in frustration. "If Cass hadn't broken that wall, something else would have. I had to deal with that wall every day. It wasn't stable. Besides, none of this is an excuse for leaving a friend behind being watched by someone we can't trust in a million years."
"She won't harm Cass. She needs him."
"She won't until Cass can be used as a bargaining chip. She'll take him right out from under us the second she gets a chance and you know it."
"Yeah, well maybe I don't care. I got you back, that's all that matters."
"He's our friend Dean."
"He was our friend. One act of redemption isn't going to change everything he did."
Sam threw his arms up in the air, aghast that Dean would say that. "You're just talking crap, you know that? What did you mean, all our friends are dead? Cass is very much alive. We don't turn our backs on someone who's helped us more times than we can count. He made a mistake, and he wants to make it right. We're going to punish him for that? Why don't for once you just swallow your damned pride and accept that people can be redeemed? You did it for me."
"You're different!" Dean shouted. He realized by Sam's unshaven scowl and he didn't like that answer.
"I'm done talking about this," Dean said. Sam sneered and tried to go to sleep, but he was too mad. Dean let a few minutes of silence pass before talking again, especially when he noticed Sam wasn't sleeping. "You'll feel better after a shower and a shave."
"Or maybe I just need a nice relaxing bubble bath to calm the nerves," Sam said sarcastically.
"That's a good idea. Perhaps I stop at the bath store for you and get some of those beads that smell like coconuts," Dean grumbled.
Sam chuckled, looking to his side to hide his big smile.
"What's so funny?" Dean said, smiling as well.
"Dude, I can't even fit into a bathtub. Haven't for years." Both brothers broke into laughter that lasted a good minute.
"I haven't had one in years either," Dean said. "Remember how I used to fall asleep in tub after a night of drinking?" Sam tried hard to hold back a huge burst of laughter. "What?"
"You never fell asleep in the tub Dean. I put you in there when you were done getting sick in the bathroom. It beat dragging your heavy ass to bed."
Both fell into another burst of laughter. "You dick," Dean said. By the time they were done laughing, both felt pain in their sides.
"Okay, we'll do it your way. We won't abandon Cass," said Dean. "We can work on a way to help him. Just not today. I still think he's in a safer place, but we'll try to help."
"Okay," Sam said, knowing he didn't have an easy answer for this either. He was too tired to ask for more than that. He dropped his head back on the top of the seat and made himself as comfortable as possible. Within a minute he was sound asleep.
Sam burst through the front door of the cabin, threw off his jacket and boots, and dropped onto the bed in the corner. He was asleep before Dean even got through the front door.
a/n: Thanks for indulging me again with these little alternate scenarios. I hope you liked.