Title: Memories of Madness
Summary: The past comes back to haunt them when Sam gets an email from someone he met while Dean was in Purgatory. Sam and Dean are launched into a case that will force them to deal with some of their unresolved issues or risk losing each other for good. Set loosely between 9x04 and 9x08.
Warnings: Angst and some bathroom humor
Disclaimer: Don't own them, just playing.
A/N: Many thanks to my Dad for his thoughts and suggestions. For not being a Supernatural fan, he sure knows how to keep my muse going. And thanks to my Mom for providing the final beta.
"Okay, that was just dumb." Dean slammed the bar on the door, opening it to admit bright afternoon sunshine into the relatively dark theater hallway.
Squinting a bit as his eyes adjusted to the change in lighting, Sam followed his brother. "It wasn't that bad. Granted, the books were a lot better, but there were some redeeming moments in the film."
"Seriously?" Dean stopped briefly to eye his brother before continuing to walk toward the parking lot where they had left the Impala. "You expect me to believe a bunch of kids live in a castle with ghosts roaming the hallways and they're all okay with that?"
"And a poltergeist," Sam said with a smile. The smile widened when his brother stopped to give him a confused look. "There's also a poltergeist named Peeves in the books, although the movies left him out."
Dean gave a disbelieving huff and turned to continue walking. "Any of those kiddos meet a real ghost or poltergeist and they aren't going to be waving sticks and chanting mumbo jumbo at them."
"Wands, Dean. And J.K. Rowling actually based her spells off of Latin, so the premise behind it isn't all that far-fetched."
"Whatever, Geek Boy. When did you even have time to read those things anyway? Aren't there 7 books in the series?"
The humor in Sam's eyes dimmed a bit and his smile was forced as he gave a nonchalant shrug. "Amelia liked the books."
An uncomfortable silence fell as the brothers reached the car and Dean unlocked it, searching for something to ease the awkwardness. Although they had both chosen to move past the issues that had divided them the year before, many of the topics were still unofficially taboo lest the peace between them be broken.
Settling behind the wheel of his "Baby," Dean deliberately turned the topic back to the movie they had just seen. "I did like the basilisk. The special effects were impressive…almost seemed real." He gave a small shudder. "I'd hate to run across that thing in a dark sewer. And that sword…Dude, I want one." He glanced at his brother with an almost childlike grin.
Sam's couldn't help but return the smile, the dark cloud that had threatened banished once more to the past. "You have at least 3 different swords hanging on the walls in your room and more in the trunk, Dean."
"But not the Sword of Gryffindor. Sword of a hero, magically appearing whenever you need it, capable of killing whatever monster it comes up against…" Dean gave a happy sigh as he momentarily allowed wishful thinking to capture his imagination.
Sam gave a snort of laughter. "It would definitely solve the problem of having our weapons knocked out of our hands every time we get slammed up against a wall." Pulling out his phone, he turned it back on and opened his email to check for recent messages. He'd sent a bit of lore to Garth earlier to be passed on to a hunter who needed it and he wanted to see if their scrawny friend needed anything else from the Men of Letters' archive.
"There, you see?" Dean took one hand off the wheel to wag a finger at his brother. "You never can have too many weapons." He did a double take when he heard his brother's hissed intake of breath and suddenly tense features. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Sam replied, a bit too quickly, ignoring his big brother's almost palpable worry as he scanned the email he had just opened. The lines on his forehead deepened in concern as he read. Glancing at Dean, he knew he needed to tell him something. Dean looked ready to pull the car to the side of the road and demand an explanation. "Just got an email from a friend of mine I haven't heard from in a while."
"From Stanford?" Dean asked quietly. His tone was almost hopeful and Sam cringed a bit. He didn't have all that many friends that Dean didn't know about, and the periods of time in which he might have made those friends were dark enough to make the nearly four years he had spent in college a preferable explanation.
"No," Sam said simply, choosing not to explain. He would be doing more of that than he was comfortable with if he and Dean took this case as it was. He was surprised by how much he wanted to just ignore the email, delete it, and pretend that that time in his life hadn't happened. He owed Doc Johnson, though, more than he wanted to admit. He glanced at his brother who was still giving him worried looks at the silence.
Sam knew that he hadn't been the best of brothers to Dean since his return from Purgatory, but without Doc's persistence and refusal to give up on him, Dean might not have had any brother to return to.
-Flashback, Anoka State Hospital, Doctor Mike Johnson's office-
Doctor Michael Johnson sighed heavily before removing his glasses and rubbing his eyes tiredly. The current cause of his tension headache stood in rigid silence in front of the large windows looking out over the expansive, well-manicured lawn behind the mental institution. He was fingering the jacket he wore all the time now.
"Sam," he said gently, his tone betraying none of his building frustration. He had been trying to get the young man to talk to him for nearly a month now and the thick bandages on his patient's arms underneath the jacket told him that he had to get through to him and soon. "Do you really think this is what your brother would have wanted for you? Stuck in a mental hospital, on near permanent suicide watch?"
"You don't know anything about Dean or what he would want for me." Sam spoke quietly, without turning around. The deadness and lack of intonation in his voice was almost frightening. Even in all his years at the state hospital, Mike had rarely seen a young man this close to self-destructing, and he wondered fleetingly what the collateral damage would be when he did.
"Then tell me. You need to talk about this, Sam. The anger and bitterness inside you almost destroyed you last night. Let me help you." Grasping for something, anything that would get through to Sam, he said, "Tell me about your brother."
That brought a response. Sam turned slowly to face the psychiatrist responsible for his care. In contrast to the flatness of his voice, his eyes burned with so much emotion it was almost difficult to look at for long. Mike forced himself to meet that gaze without flinching, feeling as though he were being measured and evaluated and wondering if he would survive the test. He didn't have to wait long, however, before the fierceness in Sam's eyes wavered and broke, leaving behind a vast desert of loneliness and despair. Sinking into a chair opposite the doctor, he bowed his head and shoulders, the picture of hopelessness.
"Sam," the doctor prodded gently. Sam looked up and then squared his shoulders, either in determination or resignation.
"You won't believe me." The twist to his lips registered a cynicism far too ingrained for a man as young as he was. Mike simply looked at him and waited until Sam huffed a laugh and turned away. "You want to know about Dean? Fine. I guess the family secret doesn't matter much anymore…"
"Sam?" The echo of Doc Johnson's plea in his big brother's worried tone jerked Sam back to the present. Squaring his shoulders, he decided to get it over with.
"Doctor Michael Johnson. He's a psychiatrist who works at Anoka State Hospital in Minnesota. He has something that might be up our alley."
"Okay," Dean replied tentatively and Sam felt a burst of gratitude that his brother wasn't going to push the issue of how he knew Doc. He knew he'd have to come clean eventually, but he wanted time to prepare, to figure out what he was going to tell Dean so that he didn't mess everything up again.
"Apparently patients have been disappearing from the facility over the last few months. At first they thought they were escaping somehow, but there were no signs that the missing men ever left the buildings."
"Anoka State Hospital," Dean mused. "I know that name…from Dad's journal I think. He noted it was a hotspot for supernatural activity. Weren't there supposed to be all kinds of tunnels under the institution that prisoners used to escape?"
"Patients, Dean, not prisoners. Most of the people who live there are not criminals. And yes, there are extensive tunnels under the property, but they have been closed off for years and none of the patients have access to the entrances."
"That they know of," Dean snorted. "You and I know better than anyone about hidden entrances and exits." Reaching behind him, he grabbed a bottle of water from the backseat and anchored it between his legs while he twisted the cap off.
Sam pursed his lips and shrugged in acknowledgement. "Yes, well, the patients who disappeared all lived in the new facility which has no known connections to the network of tunnels under the old location. And…get this…they always turn up within a couple of hours hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. One guy showed up on stage with a bunch of dancing showgirls at the Riviera in Las Vegas…" he paused for effect. "He was buck naked."
Dean spewed water over the steering wheel and dashboard and began coughing violently. Grabbing the steering wheel, Sam helped his brother steer the car to the side of the road before they ended up wrapped around a tree. He watched in amusement as Dean pounded on his chest, his eyes watering as he struggled to breathe, cough and laugh at the same time. "Naked?" he finally gasped. "On stage with a bunch of showgirls?"
"In front of a packed audience," Sam finished with amusement. "Authorities think he somehow slipped backstage and through the curtain without anyone noticing."
"Oh, I definitely want to do this job, Sam," Dean chortled, his fertile imagination fleshing out the scenario his brother had given him.
Sam shook his head at his brother's gutter filled mind and turned back to his phone as Dean scrounged up a couple of napkins to clean up the water and got back on the road. "Not all of them got girls, Dean. One guy appeared in the middle of a group touring the Alamo. Another got dropped in front of a famous restaurant in Chinatown, and the last one appeared behind a priest during a church service." Both brothers winced. "All naked, all puking their guts out."
"It does sound like it might be our kind of thing," Dean admitted, glancing at Sam. He had an inkling that there was something here Sam wasn't telling him, and he intended to get to the bottom of it. Besides, it had been a while since they had had an interesting case, and Dean was willing to welcome anything that didn't reek of angels and demons. "So, back to the Batcave for some rest and on to Minnesota first thing in the morning?"
"Sounds like a plan," Sam said, putting the phone aside and turning to look out at the darkened countryside flashing by the windows. He wondered how much of the easy camaraderie they had experienced tonight would still be there when Dean learned the truth about him.