WORD COUNT: 2,902
CHARACTERS: Sam, Dean, Bobby, eventual mentions of Jess
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Kripke et al.
A/N: this is the
Vague season four.
SUMMARY: All of this feels way too familiar for Sam to handle.
Sam turns the object over in his hands, inspecting it, willing it to yield the answers that he has spent hours and hours and hours of greasy breakfasts and morning walks and stuffy motel nights trying to piece together; the splintered bits of a broken puzzle that he can neither comprehend nor escape.
It’s an everyday object, not something to live or die by; not like the things he and Dean have stowed in the trunk of their car-not even a weapon; just an expertly shaped piece of plastic. And yet it is the same thing that will take his brother’s life once, twice, who-the hell knows how many times.
Or maybe tomorrow (today? Last month?) it will be something else. Maybe once he destroys this, something will take Dean again- take him take him take him from Sam and there will be nothing he can do about it. Again.
Sam’s vision goes blurry; he’s been staring at this black object, all blunt edges and holes and ugliness, for so long he can hardly tell what it is anymore; and he thinks maybe its better this way. White snakes through his knuckles, his fingers curling around the spatula, like maybe the harder he squeezes, the closer he is to Dean (to grounding this thing into dust, two million tiny little pieces of nothing nothing) and he almost feels like laughing at this because it’s a spatula, and Dean would find this hilarious, and for a second he debates letting the sound fall from his lips like fractured, tumbling rocks from a cavern.
But he can’t, not even for Dean; because Dean is dead.
Dean is dead. The words don’t make sense. Even as he rolls them around in his mouth, over his tongue, chews them like jagged things, like tacks or broken glass or briars….Even then, they don’t make sense. Even as he writes them down in purple, permanent ink, even as he tries, really tries, Sam cannot comprehend these words. They don’t fit, and he’s not going to force them.
“No,” he says, and he tastes the lemony, blood-soaked, certainty it leaves on his tongue.
The word is a bullet, and in this second he knows. Knows that he cannot- will not accept this.
This single, cosmic utterance of defiance, and Sam is free, his blood pulsing and limbs moving and heart beating again.
He wonders how many times he will say the word before the universe surrenders to the truth of it, and he will look up to find green eyes and a smirk and talking too fast and Dean Dean Dean will be sitting on the bed next to his, and time can start to move.
No. He says it over and over and over until it loses meaning and turns boxy and short and bare in his throat; until it tumbles out of him like vomit and fills the room like something toxic, no no no NoNONONO. He lets it run on an infinite, endless loop, lets it pollute everything, lets it break him apart, until he is dissolved into a pile of too-long legs and shaking and grabbing at things that aren’t there. Heat burns through his eyes and red, he sees red, really sees it, the room clouded in the color, everything filtered through the
So much of it, so thick and welling in and around him (heat and anger and blood?) that he wants to scrub it clean, scrub it the way he wishes he could scrub the blood in his veins (because God it’s the whole reason behind this, of course it is-he, Sam is) so he gets in the shower. Sam lets the water run over him; imagines it running through him because he is hollow, and he waits and waits and waits for it to rinse, for it to rinse his skin off because it’s crawling and he feels foreign and false in it. He waits for the water to peel and wash away the dead layers until he is small and empty like he feels, until there is nothing left, because he is only dirt and clay and slivers of dirty bleeding broken; like a Tulpa, and someone, somewhere (Sam? Dean?) just stopped believing.
Warm hands (warm? But he’s dead) grasp at cold tiles and the feeling of solidity -what can possibly be solid when Dean is gone gone gone?- makes him angry and he feels violated and defiled and soulless and wronged; his fingers slide, reaching slippery across the cold wet surface and dragging, pushing, daring it to weaken, because solidity in the absence of Dean is betrayal.
He wants to build something just to tear it down, piece a puzzle together just to take it apart, wants to make something just so he can feel it break in his hands, break him so he can
Jumping, stumbling, dragging himself out of the water, Sam is made of shards and glass and of everything that’s breakable, and he wants to match everything to him, just pieces pieces bits of broken shattered things, and he wants to leave a trail of these things behind him as he walks nowhere because it’s Sam who is only fragments, not his body, and he thinks maybe it will be powerful and beautiful and strong; maybe people will stop and wonder what happened- and maybe, if he destroys enough things, the cosmos will recognize it’s err, and instead of Dean limp in the other room where Sam cannot feel, see, breathe, it will spit him back out and he will laugh and drag a hand over his face and be alive, in front of Sam, where he belongs.
And these errant breaths from his lips, they are controlling him, moving him and it’s wrong because he should be silent and vacant and still like Dean, because Dean is Sam and Sam is Dean is Sam, and how can something end before it even begins?
His feet are pulling, leading him toward the small room adjacent to him, across brown, knotted carpet, and it smells of heat and heaviness and loss and Sam thinks that maybe this is what it was like for Dean when Sam died, all thick air and fear and choking on fake, stifled words that will not come, will not come because the sound of his falling feet is a thief, stealing his thoughts and feelings with cruel, sharp fingers; it’s too loud and chaotic and it doesn’t fit with the puzzle, because if Dean is dead than so is Sam, so is Sam, why are his feet moving?
Sam breathes in, an involuntary action, and the air pummels, beats his lungs hot hard red with its piercing staleness and he holds his breath, shields his chest with a flailing hand, waits to prove the fact that one cannot suffocate oneself to death untrue, because if anyone can suffocate themselves through sheer willpower, it is Sam, because Sam is dying alive and Dean is dead only feet from him again, and again he can’t seem to do a single thing about it.
When his brain takes over, full control, and he is left gasping in hard sputtering rough roves, same rough rude air assaulting his lungs over and over again without the cushion of his defiance, Sam is disappointed; really truly disappointed, with a thickness that overpowers him, and he feels achingly selfish. Selfish for wanting such a thing, for being willing to leave Dean here, alone, abandon him the way his brother always feared, and suddenly Sam’s feet are too big and he’s tripping, falling over them, falling in an attempt to fix this, fix everything and he is merely at a loss; just completely empty and done and without resolve, and it is all he can do to propel himself to the nearest chair and slide it, wooden frame weak under his shaking hands, wood like pine boxes and this makes Sam’s breath crash empty in the back of his throat like throwing fragile things, and all he can think is not again, not again, not now, no no no.
All he can think is this seems too familiar, as the wood greets the ground, uncaring, and drags heavy across the same brown carpet until it faces the small bed cocked sideways, surrounded by cheap orange wall paper, and Sam’s numb hands close hard over the wood and he cringes, sitting, and he thinks of what Dean had said about that Damn wallpaper, how thoroughly and with such intensity he had despised and insulted the wallpaper and Sam’s throat goes raw and dry, words falling from him before he realizes he is speaking.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, it’s my fault I know it is, and I wish I could fix it Dean, I do.” The words carve at him, blunt razors just out of the package, and he pictures them slicing his throat and mouth on the way out, spilling his blood like water, broken pieces of bleeding nothing (like Dean. Just like Dean last summer, just like him, when it was too late and all of it for Sam, only to leave Sam hollow and fake, not even fractured dead-alive)
“I’m sorry and it’s stupid and fucked up and I can’t figure it out…” his eyes are stinging bright hot and only now does Sam realize he is crying, weighty moisture in his eyes; this is empty, boundless grief, final and thick; the flavor Sam’s always thought desperation should have. The words aren’t right, aren’t enough somehow, never will be. Maybe, he thinks, maybe if he can form them right, if he can bend these sentences to his fading will, Dean can somehow find a way back to him, and Sam feels foolish for this hope. Foolish and immature and, “Do you remember that time when we were kids, I must’ve been about nine, and we were in this motel out in Colorado, in the middle of nowhere, I was fooling around with this stupid roll of duct tape because there was nothing to do and you were hogging the TV?”
A well-placed, stiff cough clears Sam’s throat, and he continues, choking on the very words he desperately prays might save him, “I kept pulling pieces off and putting them on my shoes and my jeans, and then I realized I could peel the soles back on my sneakers, and I started taping my shoes together at the bottom? You stopped to see what I was doing, and you got so mad, but you didn’t even say anything, you just got up and walked out of the room…”
A hand over his face and Sam speaks shakily, following the syllables to match the involuntary movements of his hands, which skitter like spiders next to him.
“I thought you were mad at me. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong, and then you came bursting in the door twenty minutes later with this blue Nike shoebox…God, Dad would’ve had a cow.”
Something strangely and frighteningly akin to a chuckle makes its way past Sam’s lips, and he bites it off, closing his lips hard over his teeth, running his tongue along them as if to be sure they’re all still there, one, two, three, four, thirty-two, before he starts counting his own fingers and toes, Because Dean is dead, Dean is dead, he needs all his teeth, all his fingers, toes. It makes perfect sense in his head.
“But I get it now. I really get it, Dean. I mean, if your shoes were coming to pieces on your feet-hell, I’d go steel twenty pairs.” His fingers graze his mouth and the nightmare washes over him all over again. “God, I’m so sorry. I…I don’t know what to do, how to fix this. I can’t let you down again. How am I supposed to do that?”
Too much, everything is too too much; Dean in his ancient plaid shirt lifeless on this ugly bed, the lack of air in the room, the way the lights are so bright Sam feels like his head is coming to pieces in his hand, how his clothes are too small and he’s too hot, the way silence has a sound and its screaming screaming at him that he’s not enough, not good enough, strong enough to save his brother, and how the hell is he supposed to fix this, what is he supposed to do, this is his fault, what is he supposed to do to fix it, what?
The ground moves under him, which means his feet must be moving, he must be moving, right? Nothing makes sense anymore, nothing fits so how is he supposed to know anyway and why should he care. The wallpaper changes before him and, like a robot, like some sad, lifeless, emotionless knock off of the Terminator, stiff like a machine and prone to breaking in the same obligatory capacity, Sam finds himself digging a beer out of the fridge like this were any other day. His hand reaches out with another to toss to his brother who is not there, who is dead, gone, lost, in the other room, and he feels immediately stupid and useless and so hurls it at the wall instead, waiting for it to make contact. It shatters with a resounding boom of obliterated glass.
It sounds perfect.
The light from a passing car moves through the room and across the walls like a warning, like who knows what who cares because Dean is gone, and Sam has no clue what to do about it. He turns toward the wall and pulls the covers to his chin, swallows, hoping maybe for just a little bit of sleep tonight because if he can get some rest, possibly, just possibly, he can figure out a way to save his brother. But instead of silence drowning out his thoughts and darkness closing in, suddenly the television clicks on.
“What the f-“
“Late night TV. An ingenious invention.” Dean muses. Dean. Dean? But Dean is gone, Sam had spent the past three, four, however many days piecing together a way to solve his death, to save Dean. It can’t be him, cannot possibly be, must be a dream because his brother was dead not twenty minutes ago. Sam wipes a hand over his face and a thought bounces into his head like a slingshot. A dream. It’s a dream. It must be. Good. Dreams he can deal with. Of course he can…Can’t he?
“Are you?” Dean points the remote at the screen purposefully and gives it a few rough clicks.
“Yeah.” Sam concludes again, lying back down to stare at the ceiling. Maybe this is his way out, maybe there’s a clue or a sign or a catalyst or something imperative that he’s missing. The more he thinks of it, the more positive he is he’s finally, somehow, found the answer.
“Weirdy Mcweirderson.” Dean clicks at the remote again, settling on some juicer infomercial, the announcer screaming about the importance of one’s daily vegetable intake.
“Do you remember anything weird about last week?”
“Weird like every day of our lives?”
Sam considers this, rolls it around on his tongue, through his brain, tries to decide the best way to go about this., what he should mention and what ought to remain off-limits. “No, weird like weird for us.”
Dean picks at a forming callus on his right index finger, from shooting pool or gripping a gun or spending hours under the hood of the Impala or a million other things, and shakes his head once in dissent. “Nope.”
“Nothing…familiar?” Sam mentally slaps himself, bites his tongue, but it’s too late, the words are out before he’s managed to control them, and he’s ruined it, hasn’t he, fuck, this is ridiculous and he just can’t figure it out.
“Sam, are you okay?” He’d been expecting the question, and somehow it makes him feel a shit ton better about this whole thing just for a second, and for an even briefer moment, he wishes he could let slip and tell dream-dean everything and maybe fall apart a little more because God knows he hasn’t done so enough already.
Sam waits a second before allowing himself to answer. “Yeah. I’m good,” he says, “I’m good.”
Dean nods to himself, been here, done this in his eyes, and points to the fridge in the corner. “There’s beer.” He says, and Sam takes the hint, shuffles over to the fridge, digs out two bottles.
“Think fast” he’s about to say as he pivots back toward his brother, except Dean’s not there. Again. He’s not there and Sam knows it was too good to be true, he was dreaming or going crazy or maybe both and nothing is different, nothing at all, he’s still alone and everything’s still fucked up and wrong. He’d blinked, and Dean was gone.
“Dean.” The voice must be his, because he feels air at the back of his throat. Force of habit. “Dean?”
There’s a crashing sound in the back of his brain, and suddenly burning blue light explodes through the room and across Sam’s line of vision until it’s all he can see.