Title: Cause and Effect

Author: Snarkymuch

Rating: T

Genre: Hurt/Comfort

Pairing(s)/Character(s): Sam, Dean, Lucifer (Hallucination)

Warnings: Self Harm

Spoilers: Season Seven

Summary: Sam's tries to cope with his hallucinations on his own. He doesn't want Dean to find out, but eventually he does. Warnings for Self Harm.

Disclaimer: I own nothing and no copyright infringement intended.

Cause and Effect

Sam wakes with a start. He's panting, gasping for breath as he tries to blinks away the remnants of the dream. Sometimes they are so real it's hard to remember where he is after he wakes; it's like they infect his reality, making it hard to focus on what's real.

Dean snuffles and rolls over in the bed across from him, and Sam blinks tiredly. The dream has faded now and he feels more in control. He watches the rise and fall of Dean's chest, something about the little movements settle his nerves.

He's just beginning to relax when he hears him. The soft footfalls that are moving closer from the edge of the room. Sam cringes. He knows who it is and he tries to remind himself that none of it is real, that this Lucifer isn't real, that he's still down in the pit with Michael.

The fallen angel takes a seat at the foot of Dean's foot. He brushes his hand over Dean's hip and smiles before turning to look at Sam. "You seem distraught," Lucifer says, folding his hands in his lap. He looks genuine in his concern.

Sam tries to ignore him, thinking about anything other than the devil sitting in the room. It's absurd and it makes Sam wonder if maybe he's already gone around the bend. Pushing the blankets aside, he sits up and gets out of the bed.

Dean's sharp senses pick up the movement and he shifts, mumbling softly. "You okay, Sammy?"

"Yeah, go back to sleep."

Dean grunts and then he's out again. Dean always had a superpower when it came to sleeping. He could sleep anywhere, no matter what had happened that day. In a way, it made Sam feel even weaker; it was just another thing he couldn't seem to do right.

He walks over to the small fridge and pulls out a bottle of water. Opening it, he takes a sip. The coolness of the water seems to settle his nerves a little. Feeling like he's got a handle on it, he turns back to see if the devil is still there watching him. Which of course, he is.

Sam turns away from him and takes another shaky drink.

Suddenly, there is a cool breath against the back of his neck and he goes rigid.

"You don't look well," a low voice whispers against his ear. "I don't know why you insist of fighting so hard, Sam. All you need to do is let go."

Sam closes his eyes and presses his thumb nail hard into palm. He digs it in to the skin, drawing blood, but he doesn't care. The pain feels good; it grounds him.

The coolness at the back of his neck disappears, and the room is silent again. Holding his breath, he opens his eyes and then looks around.

There is nothing but a sleeping Dean and the muffled hum of the neon sign outside the window.

Sighing in relief, he walks back over to the bed and falls into another fitful sleep.

Two days later, while Sam and Dean are getting breakfast at the local diner, he sees the devil again. This time he is sitting one table down from them, reading a newspaper. Sam tries not to look at him, tries to block him out of his mind, but almost as soon as he makes that decision, it's like Lucifer comes to life. He drops the newspaper and wanders over to their table, taking one of the empty seats beside him. He crushes into Sam's personal space and it makes him cringe away. Dean notices and looks up at him, raising a brow, and Sam simply shrugs, not sure what else to really say.

Dean reaches over and grabs the syrup and pours it on his pancakes, but instead of syrup, it's blood, red and thick and so real that Sam swallows hard as he watches his brother take a bite.

Dean looks at him concerned and again asks what has become so common between them. "You okay, Sammy?"

And like a practiced routine, Sam's lips form a tight line and he nods. "I'm fine."

Unable to stand another moment with Lucifer poking at his breakfast from beside him, Sam brings his hands under the table then and digs his nail into the scar again. Lucifer smiles and winks at him before disappearing again. The friendly gesture disturbs Sam more than if the devil had simply stood up and began cutting into him there. Something about his smile makes Sam's insides knot up and his stomach want to rebel.

The ride back to the motel is spent with Lucifer humming a haunting song that Sam is sure he has never heard. It scares him to think about what that means. Does it mean Lucifer is telling the truth about this all being unreal? Is Lucifer the real one and everything around him some elaborate torture? A thought ghosts through his mind that sends a shiver through him. What if he is still in the cage, what if he's listening to the fallen angel hum while he slices and peels his way through Sam's body?

The air in the car seems stale and heavy, making it hard to breath. Sam reaches for and rolls down the window a crack.

"You all right, Sam?" Dean asks, glancing over at him.

"Yeah, just need some air. It's stuffy in here."

Dean gives him a quizzical look, but eventually nods and returns his attention back to the road.

Sam leans his head against the side of the door and looks out the window. It's getting dark and the air is cool and refreshing as it hits his face. Movement catches his eyes in the mirror. He looks closer at the reflection, and then immediately regrets it. Lucifer's face is in the mirror, peeking out from behind the seat and he's smiling.

Sam presses into the now raw spot on his hand, letting the burning pain bring him back, hold him in place. He remembers Dean's words in the warehouse, and he holds onto them tightly like a life raft. He has to believe in Dean, because if he doesn't, he knows that he might very well lose himself completely.

There is a chuckle from the backseat that makes Sam want to cry. He can feel the skin peeling back under his nail, and he concentrates on the pain. The chuckling fades away and the rest of the ride is quiet.

"You sure everything's all right with you?" Dean asks as he tosses his jacket over the back of the chair. "You've been acting kinda … off."

Sam rubs his palm. "Yeah. I mean, maybe I'm a bit tired, but nothing to worry about."

"What's up with the hand thing, then?"

Sam drops his hands to his sides. "What thing?"

"The rubbing thing. I've seen you doing it a lot lately. Does it still hurt?"

Dean is already walking over to him, and Sam steps back. "No, it's fine."

He doesn't want Dean to see the damage he's caused himself. It will only lead to more questions, questions he doesn't want to answer.

Sam takes a big step back and tucks his hands in his pockets. "I'm gonna hit the head."

"Sam," Dean says after him, but he ignores him. Right now, all that matters is putting distance between him and his brother.

For the rest of the night, Dean keeps a watchful eye on him. It's enough to make Sam uncomfortable.

"Do you need to keep staring at me like that?"

Dean shrugs. "I don't know, do I?"

Sam sighs, shaking his head. "Do whatever you want. I'm going to bed."

Sam knows he isn't really going to be able to sleep, but he goes through the motions anyway, even if only to make a point. Dean sits and watches him right up until Sam clicks the light off and rolls over.

He keeps his breathing even and slow until he hears Dean settle in to bed. Soon enough, he hears the quiet sound of Dean soft snores.

Pushing himself up, he tosses off the covers and walks over to the fridge to grab a bottle of water. When he turns around to walk back to bed, he sees him. Lucifer is back, sitting on his bed, watching him with wide eyes.

"Hello, Samuel."

Immediately, Sam sets the water down and presses his nail into his palm as hard as he can, but it doesn't work. Lucifer tuts, shaking his head as he does. "When are you going to believe me, Sam?"

"You're not real," he says.

The devil shrugs nonchalantly. "Could say the same about you."

Sam licks at his lips and then presses again. The nail cuts through the skin and he grits his teeth.

The image of Lucifer flickers but remains. The pain isn't enough. He needs something more.

Crossing the room, he goes to his bag and pulls out his knife. It feels heavy in his hand knowing what he plans to do with it.

Lucifer stands and walks toward him, watching with a challenge in his eyes. "What are you going to do with that, Sam?"

Sam swallows hard. He'd cut himself before, but only to prove he was human, never for a reason like this. He brings the blade to his arm and makes a shallow cut. It stings but when Lucifer chuckles, he knows it's not enough.

Raising the knife again, he makes another pass, right below the last. He presses the blade harder against his skin, and he grits his teeth against the pain.

Lucifer walks over to him, leaning his head over his shoulder to look at the wounds. He drags a finger through the blood and smears it along Sam's arm.

"Beautiful work, Sam. I knew you had it in you," he says.

Sam shakes his head, cutting himself again, deeper this time. "You don't control me."

The devil laughs, shaking his head. "Oh, but don't I? How many more cuts do you think I can get you to make?" he whispers.

Sam's stomach suddenly feels like it's somewhere near his feet, and he falls to his knees. The knife tumbles to the floor with a thud, smearing blood on the dirty carpet. Blood drips from his fingertips.

He can hear the devil laughing and he closes his eyes. Tears prick at the corners of his eyes and he clenches his jaw, determined not to cry. He won't let Lucifer win.

"Sammy?" a voice calls, breaking through his thoughts. "Jesus Christ!"

It's Dean and his voice is shaky. He kneels in front of Sam, looking between him and the knife. He quickly grabs the knife and stands, checking the room. When he finds nothing, he returns to Sam's side.

Sam looks up at his older brother and then his heart sinks. He hasn't seen his brother look broken before.

"I'm sorry," Sam whispers.

Dean doesn't say a word; instead, he is all hands, grabbing and tugging Sam to stand.

He guides Sam to the bed and then disappears to grab a towel. He wraps it around Sam's arm and holds it tightly. It makes the cuts burn.

Not sure what to else to say than sorry, he just sits quietly and watches while Dean works frantically around him, checking him over from head to toe for other injuries.

Sam waits for him to snap, to tell him off, something, but nothing comes. Dean doesn't say a word while presses the towel to the cuts.

"Dean," Sam says finally, "I'm really am sorry."

Dean peels back the towel and makes a noncommittal noise before pressing it back again.

"I should have told you what was happening," Sam says, pleading now for a response.

Dean pauses what he's doing and looks up at Sam. It's the first time Sam has seen his eyes and now he wishes he hadn't. They're brimming with tears.

"I'm sorry, Dean," he says again. He would say it a thousand times if it meant Dean wouldn't look so utterly broken.

Dean grabs Sam's good hand and presses it to the towel. "Hold this, and don't move."

Sam nods and watches as Dean grabs the car keys and heads out of the room. When he returns, he's carrying the first aid kit and a bottle of whiskey. He walks over to the table and sets the supplies down and then walks back over to the bed.

Dean grabs Sam's wrist and lifts the towel, looking at the cuts carefully. "The bleeding's stopped."

Sam looks up at his brother. "Dean, I'm really sorry."

"I know. I heard you the first time three times," he says. "Now go sit at the table."

Sam takes a seat and Dean grabs a chair and pulls it close. Sam lays his arm out in front of him on the table.

"You want a shot first?" Dean asks him as he opens the bottle and prepares to pour it on the wounds.

Sam shakes his head. "I can handle it."

Dean looks up at him. "So, do I want to know how long this has been going on?"

"This is the first time."

Dean pauses as he reaches for the needle. "Do you want to tell me why?"

Sam looks down at his hand, the one with the scar, and he rubs his thumb over the spot.

"I've been seeing him again."

Dean stops his stitching to look Sam in the eyes. "You're shitting me, right?"

Sam shakes his head.

"Jesus, Sam. I told you to talk to me."

Sam sighs. "I thought I could handle it."

"Obviously not," Dean snaps at him.

Sam doesn't speak again. He just sits in silence while Dean finishes the stitches.

"So do you see him now?" Dean asks finally, looking like he trying his best to understand the crazy that is Sam's head.

Sam shakes his head. "Pain makes him leave."

Dean's brows pinch together. "So the hand thing, the cutting, it's all some weird way for you to keep him away?"

"Yeah, pretty much." Sam shrugs.

"This is so beyond fucked up." Dean grabs the bottle and pours some whiskey into the empty glass beside him. "Well, I hate to break it to you, but this shit gotta stop."

Sam grabs the gauze and begins to wrap his arm. "I know."

"No, I don't think you do. You carved yourself up in our motel room, while I was sleeping. This is not okay, Sammy."

"I know. I'm said I'm sorry."

Dean takes a long sip of whiskey and then sets his glass down on the table. "When I told you in that warehouse to trust in me, I meant it, Sam. From now on, you're to tell me when the devil makes an appearance. We'll deal with it together."

"What if there's no other way?"

"There's always another way," Dean says, getting up from the chair. "We just need to find it."