Here's my offering for this year's spn_summergen fic exchange. Written for the glorious quickreaver
Title: The Devil's Heart
Warnings: (genre: horror) blood, blood-drinking, death, disturbing imagery, graphic depictions of torture, hallucinations, violence
Author's Notes: A huge thank you to my wonderful beta Kimbott and Thank you Enochian Language Database!
Set post 6x22, this was written for Cris's prompts:
Prompt 1.One of the boys is cursed (by whom? You decide!) and they can't do something they thrive upon, such as taste or hear or read or drive the Impala or what have you. And it's up to the other to break said curse before Very Bad Things happen.Lotsa H/C probably involved. Case fic even? Doesn't need to be a happy ending.
Prompt 3: It's Winchester vs. Winchester! Pit the boys against eachother, either good-naturedly ("I can kill that ghost before YOU can..." "Nuh-uh, bitch."Yeah-huh, jerk!") or seriously (Sam's secret power-hunger for demon blood is re-discovered and Dean will have NONE of it despite Sam's desperate urge, for instance). Up to you how it happens and how it ends, but I wanna see some brother-on-brother competition/friction.
Summary: "I'm going to take you apart, molecule by molecule, and if you do put yourself back together, it'll be on my terms."
"He didn't mean it." Bobby says again.
Dean takes the ice-pack away from his face. "I know, but...look, I don't care about the broken nose. It's not like I haven't had one before. It's just..." he stares into his glass at the last two whiskey-covered ice cubes. "I shouldn't have gone down there like that."
"Can't change it now. You ain't perfect. No one is." Bobby says.
Dean closes his eyes and rests the cool glass against his forehead, "No, but I'm not usually this stupid either. "
Bobby sighs, "So, next time you're out fighting demons all day, get cleaned up first. That's all. "
"That's all?" Dean scoffs, "Bobby, he practically snapped his teeth at my jacket. He was friggin' growling."
"Yeah. You mentioned that." Bobby says. He wants to tell Dean something else-- anything that will take Dean's hopelessness down a notch.
Dean thinks he's up against two demons at first. While he's pulling Ruby's knife out of the second demon's throat, the third one grabs him in a headlock. Dean has no leverage, so he drops down to his knees and forces the demon down with him. Ruby's knife ends up embedded in its stomach.
By the time Dean gets back to Bobby's he's half asleep. He half climbs, half falls out of the Impala and staggers into Bobby's kitchen. He fills a glass with water from the tap, gulps it down and heads downstairs to see Sam.
Sam has been calm for the last few days. Yesterday he'd even slept for six straight hours with no evidence of a nightmare, though that may just have been exhaustion. Dean wonders if Sam is still sleeping. Looking through the door panel, he can't seen Sam, but that isn't too unusual. Sam moves the mattress sometimes.
Dean steps into the panic room and can't see Sam anywhere. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he sees the table shake. Somehow, Sam has folded his giant frame underneath the small table. Dean walks over, crouches down and sees Sam looking back at him. He's shaking.
"Sammy? How'd you even fit under there?"Dean reaches his hand out to Sam, "Come on big guy."
Sam is still staring straight ahead, but he won't meet Dean's eyes. He's focused on Dean's shoulder, and his expression has shifted from fear into something else entirely.
Dean swallows past the lump in his throat, "Sammy, can you hear me?" There's an odd moment where time doesn't so much seem to stop as skip ahead. Suddenly Dean is lying on top of the table, staring at the panic room ceiling.
Sam grabs Dean by the leg and pulls him forward off of the table and into his fist. Dean is spun around and falls forward, barely catching himself on the table again. As he lifts himself up, and turns around to face Sam, Dean is hit with a nauseating wave of deja vu.
Sam's expression is terrifyingly familiar, but it's not his own. He punches Dean again and again until Dean falls to the floor. Sam picks Dean up by his jacket and freezes.
Dean thinks maybe Sam has broken free of whatever trance he's been in and is about to let out a breath of relief, when Sam starts sniffing Dean's jacket. If it wasn't one of the most horrible days in his life, in a long history of horrible days, Dean might have found it funny-- until he realizes what Sam is reacting to.
Dean puts his empty glass on the kitchen table and stands up, "I'm gonna go shower. Watch him."
Bobby nods and finishes his own whiskey. A few minutes later, he hears Dean turn on the water and heads downstairs to Sam.
Sam thinks he did something wrong. He knows he did, but he can't remember what. Dean. He punched Dean, but that wasn't-- it wasn't on purpose. He was trying to do something. There was red on Dean's jacket. Sam remembers that much. There was red, there was that smell and he just-- Sam looks at his hands. The right one looks fine. The left one looks all wrong though. It's too pale, and his fingers won't listen the way they're supposed to.
There's a soft rap on the door followed by Bobby's voice, "Hey Sam? I'm coming in, okay?"
No. Sam thinks, but Bobby doesn't hear him.
Bobby walks towards Sam slowly and kneels down next to him. "How you doin'? You hungry? Thirsty?"
Sam nods. He is.
Sam watches Bobby stand back up and go over to the shelf they keep the water pitcher on. There used to be a table down here, but then it broke and Dean took it away. Sam thinks that was probably his fault too, but he can't remember why.
"Here." Bobby hands Sam a small styrofoam cup of water.
Sam looks at the cup and frowns. This smells wrong. He tries to tell Bobby, but he can't get the words to come out.
Bobby smiles weakly. "It's just water, kid. Drink up. I'll be back down with some soup or somethin'."
Sam sniffs at the water some more and tastes it. It's all wrong. It's the wrong color, it doesn't taste right and it makes his tongue itch. Sam pours the water onto the floor and goes back to studying his hands.
Dean still feels like he's dreaming. It's not a good dream, not exactly a nightmare, but it just can't be real. "I'll be back in a week tops. I just have to go take care of this thing, but--"
"Sir. Your brother will be safe here. I promise, we'll take good care of him." the nurse says and she smiles reassuringly.
Dean looks over to the nurse; her name tag reads 'May'. Dean tries to smile back.
The little television mounted to the wall is playing "Interview With the Vampire." Tom Cruise, in a wig Dean finds both hideous and an improvement, yells 'For do not doubt, you are a killer, Louis!' Dean decides the least he can do is spare Sam from Brad Pitt's wig, which is ten times worse. He snorts as he turns off the television and hears May stifle a laugh.
Dean's cast itches and he scratches under the edge.
"Your arm, what happened?" the nurse asks.
Dean has to bite his tongue to keep from yelling 'Mind your own business.' Instead he says, "An accident, no big deal. My wrist's practically healed already." He looks back over to Sam lying on his bed. There aren't any restraints, and there won't be any unless Sam exhibits signs of being a danger to himself, or to anyone else. Dean represses a shudder as the memory of last week's events overcomes him.
Bobby comes back downstairs to bring Sam lunch and nearly has a heart attack when he opens the door. Sam's mouth is covered in blood; his eyes are glazed and vacant.
Bobby is still standing there, rooted to the spot, when Dean comes in behind him. "Sammy?" Dean runs past Bobby as he goes, knocking down the soup bowl Bobby was holding. It shatters, and its fragments skitter across the floor. Dean sits next to Sam and starts cursing under his breath. "Bobby, get some gauze."
"What happened?" Bobby asks.
"Dammit Sam." Dean snaps, pressing his hand over the wound on Sam's forearm. He'd split open the radial artery on his right arm. "He bit himself. Just-- get some gauze. Hurry!"
Bobby runs up the stairs.
"I'm thirsty." Sam says.
Dean feels his eyes sting with unshed tears. Since Castiel brought Sam's wall crashing down, Sam hadn't spoken a single word, no matter what Dean and Bobby had tried. Dean had even tried speaking to Sam in different languages. In Enochian, Latin, Greek and Spanish just to see if it would trigger something, but Sam had stayed silent.
"Okay Sammy-- there's water right over there. When Bobby gets back down here, we'll bandage you up and then I'll get you some."
Sam stares at Dean and looks like he wants to say something else, but then Bobby comes back in with the gauze.
Dean's hands are shaking and he has to keep blinking to see, but he wraps Sam's wrist tightly and fastens the gauze. "Bobby, can you get Sam some water? He said he was thirsty."
"I gave him some before, he didn't--"
"He said he was thirsty."
Bobby fills up another cup and brings it over. "He spoke?"
Dean takes the cup from Bobby and holds it out to Sam, "Here you go kiddo, drink up."
Sam doesn't move, but he huffs-- a small, frustrated noise. Dean holds the cup closer. Sam pushes it away gently, shaking his head. He looks at his bandaged arm and says again, "I'm thirsty."
Dean knows-- he knows what Sam really wants, but he isn't going to say it out loud, because if he does, then he's going to start screaming and punching and he can't do that. Not now, not here. So he puts the cup down on the floor by Sam's feet and gets up. "Water's right there when you want it."
Sam frowns and sticks two of his fingers in the cup. He lifts them up again and watches the water run off his fingertips and drip back into the cup.
Dean wants to go back over to Sam, sit next to him and clean off his face, but he can't right now, he just can't. He looks over at Bobby, who nods at him.
"I'll take care of it." Bobby says gently. "Go on up."
Dean turns and slowly heads back upstairs.
Bobby grabs a washcloth from the shelf, wets it with water from the pitcher, and heads over to Sam to clean off his face. Sam doesn't seem to mind. He doesn't react at all. Bobby's nearly done when Sam grabs Bobby's wrist with his good arm and stares at the washcloth.
"Sam, let go." Bobby says, softly.
Sam doesn't move, but his grip tightens.
"Sam, please. Listen to me. Let go." Bobby says again. He looks Sam in the eyes and then feels an ugly, familiar sense of dread wash over him. He knows those eyes. They aren't Sam's. Not exactly. They're empty.
Seconds later, Sam has Bobby pinned underneath his left knee. He's holding Bobby down with his left leg and arm. His other, bandaged arm is raised and holding one of the ceramic shards.
"Sam-- NO!" Dean yells as he grabs Sam's raised arm trying to force it away from Bobby. Sam is strong, he's so damn strong, and Dean struggles just to move his arm an inch. Dean grabs Sam's hand, finds the right pressure point between thumb and forefinger and makes Sam drop the shard.
Bobby has stopped struggling and is staring back at Sam's unseeing eyes, trying to get his attention. Sam is making a deep, guttural noise, repeating something over and over that sounds like "Kee nee lah." Dean shoves Sam as hard as he can. Sam blinks a few times, lets go of Bobby's wrist and looks at Dean in confusion. Dean puts his hands up and tries to calm Sam down. "Sam, it's okay. Just take it easy."
It takes nearly an hour for Bobby and Dean to restrain Sam. Sam calms down for a few minutes, but more often than not, whenever one of them gets near, he attacks them. While they're trying to bind Sam's legs, Sam decides he doesn't like that plan and throws Dean against the wall, hard. Dean lands on his left arm and feels a snap near the wrist. When Dean lifts himself up with his good arm, Sam is staring right at him. Bobby watches from the door as Sam gets back on the cot, cuffs his ankles himself, and lays down.
Dean walks over to Sam's bed. Sam looks oddly young in the white shirt and pale blue pants the hospital dressed him in. Dean tries to catch Sam's gaze, but Sam doesn't see him. He's watching something above him on the ceiling, but whatever it is, only he can see it.
"We have your cell phone numbers, and your uncle's number. Visiting hours are until eight pm." the nurse says.
"Yeah...okay." Dean takes Sam's hand in his and tells him, "Sammy, I'm sorry but-- Bobby got himself in trouble and there just-- there's nobody else left." Dean turns to leave.
Dean hates this. He hates everything about this. He hates the sickly green walls of this hospital, he hates the smell of disinfectant that permeates the air. He can't leave Sam alone here, he can't-- but he has to. The last few years have knocked out so much of the meager support group they had left, that Dean is literally the only one who knows enough and cares enough to go help Bobby.
May walks Dean out of the room and closes Sam's door behind them.
Sam stares at the ceiling. It's night and the lights have all been turned off. His back itches, right in the middle, but he can't move, he shouldn't move, not too much anyway. Not enough to scratch the itch. He's exhausted. He's weak. It itches. It doesn't matter.
Dean was here earlier. At least-- he thinks Dean was here earlier. Dean was here earlier and he said he was leaving, but that he was coming back. Sam wonders where Dean went. Dean was here earlier.
The ceiling is filled with faces. A lot of them are screaming. Some of them are crying. The one right above Sam is bleeding. The face looks familiar. It's his own face, but it isn't. It's his other self-- though he can't tell which one. It might be all of him at once. The eyes that stare back at him are black, yellow, green and so very empty. The blood drips slowly from the eye sockets, forehead, and from the mouth as it opens to say, "Paheedeh."
Sam opens his mouth and waits for the blood to fall on his tongue. It never does, no matter how long Sam waits. Sam would cry if he could. He's so thirsty. He's so cold. The fire that used to hold him every second of every day isn't burning anymore. The fire hurt, but it kept the ice at bay. Sam shivers and stares up into his own, dark eyes. He can feel his veins freezing as the ice creeps back in.
"Paheedeh ee en..." says his other self, over and over like a lullaby. The other faces have all closed their eyes. They're all sleeping. Sam wishes he could sleep too, but he can't. He's too thirsty to sleep, and the walls are filled with whispers. 'Keeneelah' says the wall. 'Dohesseegeh. Ohlohrah keeneelah. Deh nohquoleh nee ee es..'
Sam understands the words, but not the reason behind them. He's alone here. No one is coming for him.
Being alone isn't so bad, Sam thinks. He knows he's dangerous. That's why he should be alone. That's why he shouldn't move. That's why he needs to stay still-- stay calm. People are safer if Sam can't move...aren't they?
A dozen voices answer him-- from above, from below, from inside his head.
Blood calls to blood. Keeneelah vehmehdeh keeneelah. Deh nohquoleh nee ee es. Your servants come. If you wanted, you could wipe her off the map without moving a muscle. You didn't need the feather to fly, you had it in you the whole time, Dumbo.
Oh hi, Ruby. I miss you. I hate you. I miss you.
You're not strong enough. I will be. I know you. You're not strong enough. We'll just have to see. Ohlohrah keeneelah. Man of blood. Send me back...if you can. I'm stronger than that now. Now, I can kill. Blood calls to blood.
Sam nods. He knows it's true, even if he can't remember how, or why. He licks his dry lips. He's so thirsty. The faces above are fading as the room gets lighter. The sun is rising. The son is rising. The morning is here. The Morningstar isn't. Yet. Sam doesn't want the Light to find him again. He closes his eyes against the light and wishes it would be dark again. A minute later he hears thunder and looks outside. There's a storm coming. Deh nohquoleh nee ee es. A giant black cloud covers the sky and presses right up against Sam's open window. Sam breathes a sigh of relief and watches the room get darker and darker.
His door opens with a soft click and then closes again. There are new voices.
"--because then there wouldn't be anyone left to get us out of here. He's not gonna kill you. Don't be such a pansy." says a woman's voice.
Sam knows her voice. He knows her. He tries to say her name, but then she's right there, forcing his mouth open. There's a man next to her. He looks at Sam with wide, black eyes and draws a knife across his forearm.
Sam is so thirsty.
Paheedeh ee en Forever mine
Dohesseegeh Dark one
Ohlohrah keeneelah Man of blood
Deh nohquoleh nee ee es. Your servants come
Keeneelah vehmehdeh keeneelah Blood calls to blood
Sam drinks deeply. The demon's blood fills him with warmth and a peace he hasn't known in years, in decades. Sam drinks and he forgets why he shouldn't. He drinks and he remembers why he should. His fragmented mind starts to slowly knit itself back together as memories reshuffle themselves and slot back into place.
Sam remembers falling. When he first throws himself into the Pit and drags Adam down with him he knows it will be forever. He has no illusions about that. Adam though...none of this is his fault. Sam has to at least try to protect him.
Sam remembers Hell. He is in the Cage with Lucifer and Michael and Adam. Within seconds he gives up his plan to help Adam. It isn't because he forgets all about him. It isn't because he's too busy with his own pain. It's because here, in the Cage, he and Adam are human and Lucifer and Michael are Archangels.
Lucifer is furious and he is enormous. Sam can't see anything but the Archangel. His entire field of vision is Lucifer, and he is beautiful, unholy and terrible. Sam doesn't know if he's being held by Lucifer or whether he's been swallowed up by him. The angel is everywhere. His rage tears through Sam and it's ice, metal, teeth, and fire.
Years pass, or maybe centuries, but Lucifer's attention never wavers-- not even for a moment. Sam is the core of the Morningstar and he burns.
The next morning May is surprised to see an orderly coming out of Sam's room. She knows all the orderlies, and she thinks she's seen this one before, but she can't remember his name. He looks young, twenty-five at most. "Hi. I'm May. Sorry, I forgot your name..." she looks at his name-tag, "Josh."
Josh smiles brightly, "I was just bringing Sam his breakfast."
"Oh," May smiles back, "you're an hour early. Breakfast is at seven. "
"Good. Sam's still hungry." Josh says with a smirk, and then he grabs May and kisses her.
May is stunned for a few seconds, then she struggles to pull back but can't. There's a horrible smell. May starts coughing violently as she's filled with smoke.
The blood isn't flowing anymore. Sam doesn't know why it stopped, it shouldn't stop, he's not done yet. The smell is still all around him, he just needs to get closer. Sam tries to sit up, but a small hand pushes him back down.
"Shh...easy boy. There's plenty more coming."
The voice is right.
Sometimes, when he's calmer, the Devil takes the time to torture Sam slowly, thoroughly.
"I've watched you your whole life, Sam. I've been watching you since before you were born." Lucifer says, while he claws into Sam and takes his innards out in messy chunks.
"You're lying." Sam grits out. "You were trapped down here."
Lucifer laughs, "Right, because how could I possibly see further than what's right in front of me?" Lucifer threads himself through Sam's ribs and pulls. "I'm an Archangel. I see everything, even from down here. I watched your mother sell you to me. I watched you grow in her womb. I watched you being born...and the moment you opened your eyes I could see through them."
"No." Sam says. He's not even sure why he's denying it anymore, but he has to.
"Yes. You're my true vessel, Sam. We have always been connected." Lucifer closes around Sam's spine and squeezes. "When Azazel came to your crib and gave us his offering I was there. He was pledging his fealty to us."
"Azazel..." Sam moans as Lucifer cracks his vertebrae one at a time, "destroyed my life."
"He was loyal. He served us well." Lucifer takes a hold of Sam's heart. "I'll teach you all about loyalty. It's so rare these days."
"You'll...teach me?" Sam nearly laughs, but then ice flows into Sam's heart and trickles out into every part of him. It isn't that Sam gets used to the pain, that's not it at all. It's that he just can't process any more. His mind starts to splinter. Lucifer hates nothing more than being ignored, so when Sam stops responding completely, Lucifer, because he's an angel, heals Sam.
After that, Lucifer changes tactics.
When May wakes up again, she's in agony. Her head is throbbing and her arm hurts. She looks down at her left wrist, and wonders distantly why she can't remember what happened. Her wrist is mangled and bleeding sluggishly. It looks like something just bit down and gnawed through her skin.
May isn't in the hallway anymore. She's in one of the patients' rooms, next to a bed. She reaches up with her right arm and grabs onto the bed rail, pulling herself up. She looks at the bed and knows instantly what room she's in. Sam is gone, but his sheets, his pillow and parts of the wall are all blood-spattered. She screams, or at least she thinks she does, and then she collapses, slumping back down onto the floor.
Dean runs out of the hospital and back to the Impala. His mind won't stop projecting the image of Sam's bloodied room over everything. He pulls out of the parking lot and onto the highway.
"So. You gonna tell me what happened?" Bobby asks. He grunts a bit as he shifts in the passenger seat.
"No." Dean keeps his eyes on the road, "I shouldn't have left him there, Bobby."
"We got any leads?" Bobby asks.
"No. You sound like crap, you know that? You sure you don't want a doctor?"
"To do what? Tell me I'm old and stupid?" Bobby coughs, "You patched me up plenty. I just need some rest."
They drive the rest of the way back to Sioux Falls in silence, Bobby drifting in and out of sleep.
"We can't keep doing this." says Josh. "You're crazy."
"Am I?" says Meg. "So tell me...what should we be doing?"
Josh stops glaring at Meg and looks down at the floor instead. "I don't know, but not this! How much longer do you think he'll let us keep him in there? Any day now, he's gonna snap out of it and then he'll kill us all!"
"He might. Then again," Meg glares upward, "Castiel definitely will."
"Don't say his name!" Josh hisses.
"He's not Voldemort, you ass." Meg rolls her eyes, "Just keep Sam fed, keep him happy and he'll protect us. We're safer than you think."
"Safe." Josh sneers, "You're insane. Sam kills us! That's what he does! He killed Lilith and Alistair! He threw Lucifer back in the Cage-- and Michael!"
"That's right. Sam did all of that, and he can do so much more. I've been inside of him. I've seen how much power he has, how much more he can hold. My father--" Meg laughs bitterly, "Both of my fathers were obsessed with Sam Winchester. I know everything about him. Believe me, he is our only chance."
From behind them, someone coughs.
Meg turns to face the demon-- Jeff? Jack? Bob? She can't remember, not like it matters. He's holding a fast food bag and the smell of French fries is overpowering. "Go on in. I'm sure he's starving." Meg pulls open the door to the main room and lets the demon bring Sam his dinner. She pushes the door shut again and smiles when less than thirty seconds later, the screaming starts.
That's the eighth one today. Sam's appetite is growing.
The smell of fast food makes Sam's lips twitch into the memory of a smile. "Dean." he says, but it isn't Dean. It's never Dean.
The demon walks up to Sam, stops about three feet away from him and holds out the bag of food. Its arm is shaking.
Sam watches the demon shift its weight from one foot to the other nervously. It's amusing and annoying in equal parts. Come here. Sam thinks and then watches as the demon finds itself, to its utter horror, kneeling by Sam's side. Sam tilts the demon's head just a bit, leans over, and bites down.
Lucifer tells Sam everything. He teaches Sam everything he knows-- about Heaven, about Hell, about Earth and about Sam. Sam is a good student-- he has to be. Lucifer won't let Sam's mind drift, not even for a second.
First, Sam learns everything he ever wanted to know and everything he never wanted to know about demons. Demons are human souls, twisted around and reshaped by their own sin and Lucifer's hate.
Lucifer made demons to spite God. God in return denied Lucifer a human vessel. Cain's bloodline was already in place, so Lucifer had his vessels, but if he took one it would decay and collapse under the weight of his fury. This was fact, and as immutable as God's will-- until Sam.
Sam was different. Not because of Azazel's gift, but because Sam was conceived in Lucifer's name, and born of Lucifer's grace. Lucifer gave a sliver of his grace to his most devoted. Azazel passed it on to Mary Winchester with a kiss. Her first son was promised to Michael, but her second was always Lucifer's. Sam's soul grew from Lucifer's grace and became something new, something entirely his.
Lucifer had spent eons shaping human souls into demons. He taught them how to take vessels, how to corrupt both the mind and the body they possessed. Lucifer taught them all of this with Sam in mind. Demons existed because one day Sam would exist, and Sam would need them.
Do you understand? Lucifer asks again. Sam does. He doesn't want to, but he does. Everything that happened to his family happened because of him. Everything that every demon has ever done happened because of him. Sam understands far too much, and he breaks just a little more.
It's getting more difficult for Lucifer to fix Sam. He weaves his grace through every fragment of Sam's shattered psyche, forcing it back together even as it struggles to break free. Sam has never felt more broken. Lucifer has never felt more whole.
The flow of blood slows and Sam comes back to the present. The slaughterhouse stinks of sulfur and iron, and it just makes Sam hungrier. He doesn't let go of the body. He keeps drinking, searching for something more. When Sam finally finds it, the demon lets out one last gasp and Sam remembers everything else.
After making sure Bobby is as comfortable as he can be, given the circumstances, Dean heads out to the shed and starts summoning everyone and everything he can think of that might have any information.
Balthazar doesn't answer. Dean doesn't know if that's because he doesn't feel like answering, or because he's dead. He's probably dead.
Dean tries to summon Crowley next, even though he's fairly sure that number's been disconnected too.
After that, Dean tries to summon Meg. The summoning works, but it isn't Meg that answers.
The demon's soul is far more potent than it's blood. Sam feels the demon struggle, despair and die inside of him as he takes it apart bit by bit.
Lucifer is done with his lessons. He wants more participation on Sam's part, so he demands Sam ask him questions. Sam has so many, but it's hard to keep his mind together long enough to form a sentence, let alone in Enochian.
More often than not, all he can ask is "Why?" That one's easy of course-- and the answer is always the same.
"Because I'm not done with you yet. Because you're mine. Forever. And because one day, we're going to get out of here and we're going to break this whole world apart."
Some of Sam's questions infuriate Lucifer. "Where did my body go?" makes Lucifer so angry that he forgets about trying to keep Sam coherent enough to participate, and spends a month tearing his soul into tiny, little strips.
This time around, healing Sam requires even more of Lucifer's grace. He can't stitch Sam back together because the pieces are too small. He envelops what Sam has become in his grace and breathes power into him. Sam starts to reform into a cohesive whole, but his mind is still absent. Lucifer tries to coax Sam back into consciousness, but doesn't succeed. He fails again and again until finally-- he makes himself flesh. In the end, Lucifer's blood is what calls Sam back.
Sam wakes up with a new question, "How did I beat you? You're so much stronger than me."
"You didn't." Lucifer answers.
Sam knew that was the answer, but he can't stop himself from saying, "I did, but only because you let me, right? I felt you let go of me. Tell me why."
Sam thinks he hears Lucifer sigh, "Because after everything you did, after everything we made you do...after betraying Dean and gorging yourself on the blood of filth-- after unleashing the Devil, your brother still stood by you and I needed to know why. So I looked." Lucifer glares at Sam, waiting for a response.
"Why do you care?" Sam asks, knowing that he's dooming himself even further.
Lucifer's fury flares up and around them, illuminating everything in a painfully bright light, and he screams, "Because your brother still loves you, and mine won't even look at me!"
Lucifer stares at Sam quietly for what feels like hours, maybe days. Time is impossible to measure here. Finally Lucifer smirks and says, "You're not getting out. I'm not letting you out. Not the way you are."
"What makes you think I'm getting out?" Sam asks.
"I've been watching you your entire life. I know you. I know your brother. Your brother will do something, he'll find some way--"
Lucifer's right, but Dean promised he wouldn't, he promised.
Pain cuts through Sam-- pain so deep he almost shuts off again. Lucifer forces Sam's eyes open. The Devil is wearing his face. "Sam. I mean it. You don't get to go back. If I lose, you lose." Lucifer pauses for a moment, takes a step back and starts pacing. "I'll give you two options. You can be mindless, broken, and keep your brother. You'll be a burden. He'll have nothing but you and he'll want nothing but to be rid of you. Or...you can be what you were meant to be and forget about him."
Sam laughs. He laughs for the first time in decades, "Forget-- are you crazy? He's my brother!" Lucifer grabs Sam by the throat and Sam wonders again how that can be, how he can feel so flesh and blood when he's nothing but a soul.
"Yes. He is. He's your family-- your blood, right?" Lucifer's anger shines through his false skin. "You have another family, Sam. You have me. You are made of me." Lucifer is light and sound and fury, and Sam burns. "I don't care how much you fight it, how much you refuse to accept what you are. I'm going to take you apart, molecule by molecule, and if you do put yourself back together, it'll be on my terms. Your brother will be nothing to you. You won't even be able to see him."
This time, the pain doesn't even register. Sam just ceases to exist for a while.
When Sam can think again, the first thing he notices is that he's drowning. He doesn't understand how that's possible without a body, but it is. Lucifer has trapped him in a sea of red. Sam feels everything around him pulse like a giant's heart beat. He doesn't know how long he's in there, struggling for air that doesn't exist, but finally he's torn back out into the vastness of the Cage. Sam finds himself at Lucifer's feet. The angel is sitting, and there's a huge gash right where Sam thinks his heart must be (if angels have hearts). Sam watches it close. A single drop of blood runs down Lucifer's side and lands on Sam's chest. When he looks down at himself, he can't even tell where it landed. His body-- his soul-- is soaked in red.
Lucifer looks different-- smaller somehow. Sam doesn't know if that's because Lucifer has changed, or because he has. What he does know is that he doesn't fear Lucifer's anger anymore, he welcomes it. So the next question he asks is, "Do angels have souls?" Lucifer doesn't answer right away, which is unusual. When he does answer, it's in Sam's voice and he says, "I do."
The next question is one that never even occurred to Sam before this very moment. "Do angels take power from their vessels' souls?"
Lucifer raises an eyebrow and answers, "Yes."
"Why? Because they don't have their own?" Sam nods, "You did. You used my power. I could feel you--"
"No, Sam. We're not like every other matched set. Your power and mine are the same. You just didn't know how to wield it." Lucifer tilts his head, "After everything we've been through together down here-- you still believe the same lie you told yourself over and over the whole time I was inside you? You think I was forcing your power to the surface? You think I was making you feel what you felt?"
"No, I don't." Sam says, and he's far, far calmer than he should be. "I just know that I made you stronger, which never made sense until now."
Lucifer looks at Sam with an unreadable expression.
"If my body isn't here anymore, then why am I still so hungry?" Sam expects Lucifer to lash out at him again, he expects rage. He doesn't expect laughter. Lucifer laughs so loudly that the Cage echoes with it. When he finally stops laughing, he whispers, "Like our Horseman friend Famine said-- Hunger doesn't just come from the body, it comes from the soul-- and your soul, Sam, our soul, will always be hungry. That's why we're going to win."
The rush of power is heady, and Sam feels his reach go so much further than before. He can sense every demon-- not just in the building, but in the whole state, further. He hears all of their thoughts. Most of the ones Meg has gathered here are terrified-- with good reason.
Meg is changing. She used to reek of fear. She feared for herself, she feared Crowley, she feared Castiel. Sam knows that he's a last-ditch effort on Meg's part. Her god is trapped again, her king has fled (which in Meg's case is a blessing), but she's still determined to survive. It's strange though-- Meg isn't afraid of Castiel anymore.
Sam lets the door open again. He's still so hungry. More than one this time..., he thinks.
92 miles away in Sioux Falls, Dean is trying to summon Meg. Sam shakes his head, smiling.
"Where's Sam?" Dean asks, and tosses holy water from his flask onto the demon's face.
The demon scrunches its eyes shut in anticipation of pain. Nothing happens. The demon opens its eyes again and blinks in confusion as the water runs harmlessly off its nose.
Within five minutes, Dean has determined that nearly half of his tools of the trade have stopped working.
Reciting the 'Rituale Romanum' does nothing-- much to the demon's surprise, as well as Dean's.
The devil's trap holds and Dean finds himself wondering if that has anything to do with the fact that he laid down the trap twice. He mixed salt into the paint for good measure and painted his standard trap in Enochian, but then he decided he'd better use a non-Enochian one too, just in case. He'd found one that used Etruscan, of all things, and figured it couldn't hurt.
While Dean figures out what still works, the demon is remarkably silent. Dean is used to being mocked by demons when they aren't in excruciating pain. This one seems to be waiting for something.
A few minutes later Dean has determined that salt still has an effect, and you can do a whole lot of painful things to demons with salt if you know how. Ruby's blade hasn't lost any of its charm either. That's plenty for Dean to work with.
The weird part is, he doesn't get very far. "Tell me--" Dean starts to say.
A bizarre look of relief flashes across the demon's face and it sputters,"I'll tell you! I'll tell you everything. I have to. You just had to ask!"
Dean pulls the syringe of salt water out of the demon's neck and stares at it. "What the Hell are you talking about?"
The demon takes a shuddering breath, "Your brother sent me."
"Really...and why should I believe you?" Dean snarls.
"I can't lie to you. I have to tell you the truth. He wants me to tell you the truth. He wants you to know."
"Wants me to know what?
"Everything. What he is! What he can do!"
Dean clenches his eyes shut for a second, fighting the urge to stab the demon through the throat before he gets another word out. "You think I don't know?"
The demon giggles hysterically, "No, you don't. You have no idea."
The demon tells Dean everything they did to Sam in the last week, everything Sam has done, and exactly where to find him. Then, at the very end, the demon says the single oddest thing Dean has ever heard a demon say. Right before Dean stabs it in the heart, the demon says, "Thank you."
Meg sits cross-legged on the floor just outside Sam's room. This close, she can feel the soft, steady thrum of Sam's power pulsing in time with his heartbeat. He's calm for the moment, still drinking down the last demon she sent in to him. After he's done, the calm will fade quickly.
For nearly a week now, Meg has been feeding Sam, and she's learned to read him rather well. Lately, whenever Sam finishes draining a demon, his power spikes-- just for a few seconds, but it's...impressive. Earlier today, one of those power spikes took out nearly all of the remaining lights in the building.
Meg knows a lot about Sam and what he can do, but she doesn't know everything. One thing she hasn't figured out is why he's started killing the demons after he feeds on them. At first, he left them alive. Meg would drag them back out of the room, give them some water and food, let them rest for two days and send them right back in to Sam. Demons are very efficient when they want to be. Reuse. Recycle. It was a far better plan than trying to go out and 'recruit' more volunteers.
Since last night though, Sam hasn't let anyone back out. He keeps the door locked, even when Meg knocks, and he only opens it when he's ready for more.
It's a good thing of course. Sam's expressing his wishes, and he's moved past the animalistic, blind hunger of the first few days. Meg knows he's aware of everything she does, everything in the slaughterhouse, and probably more. She knows this because Sam has locked down the entire building. Nothing can get in and nothing can get out-- including her.
For the most part, the demons she'd recruited weren't completely dedicated to the cause. They'd leave from time to time and Meg would go bring them back. She'd been around a long time-- long enough to herd a group of weaker demons. It wasn't too hard to talk most of them into coming back with her either. They didn't have many other options. So when they started coming back by themselves she thought maybe they'd just finally accepted her plan. It wasn't until Sam's door opened and a group of three all got up and entered like they were on auto-pilot that she started to wonder.
Meg tried to leave right after that, just as a test-- she fully intended to come right back. Her test failed.
Sam can control demons, he can summon them, he can bind them to their hosts and their hosts to anywhere he likes. All of this is great news as far as Meg is concerned. Sam is so much stronger than she's ever seen him, and she knows she made the right choice. He can save them. He might not. He might just devour them all, and if he does-- then Castiel won't be a problem anymore. Nothing will be.
Meg understands the risks, and she's accepted them. Hell isn't Hell anymore. That wouldn't be such a bad thing on its own, it might even be a great thing, but Crowley made them weak and then fled. If she thought she stood even the slightest chance, Meg would have made a grab for Hell's crown herself. The thing is, she knows her limits, and she isn't strong enough to take on a power-drunk angel with delusions of grandeur; she isn't-- but Sam will be. She just doesn't understand why he's started killing his food supply. It's not that she cares about any of the others, obviously. It's just that if she doesn't bring Sam someone new when the door opens again, then the only one left is her.
There's another massive power spike that hits Meg like a tidal wave. It crashes through the wall behind her and digs a fifty foot long gash through the concrete floor.
Meg's starting to panic, just a little.
The abandoned slaughterhouse, Emerson's Meat Packing, Ltd., is easy enough to find. As Dean walks around the perimeter looking for the best way in, he tries to process everything the demon told him. He wishes he could believe that it was lying to him, but he knows it wasn't. During its last minutes, the one thing it kept repeating over and over like a mantra was, "They have their mad god. We have ours."
Dean has never seen a building this large with so few doors. He feels like he's been looking for an entrance for hours, when he finally finds a small unlocked side door. He pushes the door open, steps into the building and finds himself outside again.
He blinks in confusion, and attempts to enter twice more before yelling, "Son of a bitch!" in frustration.
Something in the back of his mind is screaming at him to hurry. Time's running out. He doesn't know what countdown he's walked in on, but he knows he has to get inside-- now. He has to get to Sam.
Dean glares at the side door and is about to look for another way in when something slams into him.
Meg startles when Sam's door opens with a soft click. She stands up and enters. Sam's room is tiled and large; it stinks of death. Only one of the halogen light fixtures is still working. It flickers on and off with a buzzing noise.
Sam is standing with his back to Meg. The flimsy shirt the hospital dressed him in is in tatters-- torn to pieces days ago when one of Sam's unwilling meals fought back. His pants have been stained a dark reddish black. In the flickering light, Meg thinks she sees an enormous shadow surrounding Sam. It looks like him, but it's distorted and so huge that even crouched down it barely fits in the room. It's gone a moment later, but maybe it was never there to begin with.
Sam turns to face Meg. His face, his neck, his hands and the front of his whole torso are covered in blood. He walks towards her and Meg finally sees what he's been doing with the bodies he's drained.
The hooks that hang from the ceiling aren't empty anymore. A few of the corpses are cracked open. One near the front has had its ribcage pried apart and bent outwards. That shouldn't be possible, Meg thinks. The bones would have snapped.
Sam follows Meg's gaze, and asks, "Did you know that every human carries their soul in a slightly different place? Do you even notice that when you're possessing someone?"
Twenty-six bodies hang from the hooks over the grates in the center of the room. Meg sent Sam twenty-seven though, she's sure of it. Numbers aren't important anymore when Sam rests his right hand on her cheek and turns her head to face him. The gesture reminds her of Lucifer, and she smiles, despite herself.
"You still believe in him." Sam says.
"You're nothing to him."
Meg nods, "I know."
"You're nothing to me."
Meg swallows, "The blood--"
"--is a conduit. It brings me closer to my other half. Lucifer made sure I wouldn't be able to survive without him if I ever got out of the Cage. He broke my soul into a billion little pieces and he is the only one who can glue me back together." Sam smiles at Meg, "You're the glue."
"Sam," Meg says, looking Sam right in the eyes. They look paler than she remembers. They look yellow. "I've been around a lot longer than all the others. I'm strong. I know you're getting some kind of huge power boost from the blood. I can feel it."
Sam laughs, "It's not from the blood," he smirks and tucks Meg's hair behind her ear, "but if you're offering, I won't turn you down."
Meg feels the skin of her host's neck split open a second before Sam closes his mouth over the wound. As he drinks, she feels his power holding her-- not her host body, but her. Something about what he's doing is making it hard to think. She doesn't know how much time passes, but from one moment to the next, with a feeling of finality, her blissful fugue state cuts off completely.
The blood is gone, Meg realizes. Her host body doesn't have any more to give, but Sam hasn't let go of her. She feels the pull of his power as it draws her up and out of her body and into him. She senses fragments of other demons around her-- everyone else Sam has consumed. Sam's power is all around them, it is them, it's a maelstrom, it's endless, and she was right. She was right.
Sam lets Meg's body fall to the ground and hears a crack when the back of her head hits the hard tiles. Her host was still intact when Sam drank Meg down, and he'd taken both of their souls at once. It's a heady feeling, and he doesn't want it to end. Ever.
Meg hadn't even put up a fight. She'd given herself willingly and there was something significant about that. The pleasure Sam felt from the last few he'd taken was nothing compared to this rapture. He takes in everything Meg was-- her power, her centuries of knowledge and her devotion-- not just to Lucifer, but to him.
Sam doesn't just hold the souls he takes in, he deconstructs them. Demon, human, it doesn't matter-- they're all made of the same building blocks. Sam takes their energy and reforms it. He doesn't know how he does what he does. He doesn't need to know how. He remembers what to do, and that's all that matters in the end. Lucifer taught him what it meant to be the Devil's vessel, and he taught him how to be so much more than that.
From deep within the Cage, Sam can feel Lucifer-- he's filled with eagerness, envy and pride. Sam briefly considers freeing Lucifer and taking him back in. Lucifer wouldn't be any more pleased with the turn of events in Heaven than Sam is, and the archangel's firepower added to his own would be considerable, but not enough. The grace of two archangels together might be... Sam is going to have to be much, much stronger to follow through on his plans, and he has so many of them.
At this moment there are 378,642 demons on Earth. Sam will start with the 829 in South Dakota. By the time he's done with the Midwest he'll be able to call all the rest to him. After that, he'll crack open the kingless chaos of Hell and deal with the other 48 billion. They'll fall to their knees one way or the other. The Cage and its prisoners won't be much of a problem after that.
Then he'll pay Castiel and the tattered remains of Heaven a visit.
Sam lets out a fraction of his power, testing his limits, and feels the slaughterhouse walls start to crumble in protest. He seeks out the nearest demons. Their souls are all around him. The closer they are, the easier they are to call. Nearly all of them are in hosts. Demons don't stay out of a body up here for long when they can avoid it. Sam's mouth waters at the thought of the feast he'll be having-- so much blood, so many souls. He just wishes they weren't all so small. That's why he's always so hungry.
Sam starts to call the demons to him, but then he hears someone calling him.
"Sam!" The voice yells, and it's so small, it's so very human, and it's so very familiar.
Blood calls to blood.
"Sam!" he hears again, and then he remembers. He has plans. He has plans for everyone, for everything in existence, but they'll have to wait.
Sam leaves. The building and everything in it turns to ash.
Dean watches the slaughterhouse disintegrate from about forty feet away. The shock wave a few minutes earlier had thrown him back here, just a few steps away from the Impala.
Dean has seen plenty of explosions in his lifetime, but he's never seen one like this. The building doesn't fly apart with a deafening blast. It lights up from within. The entire structure is devoured by flame. It burns like it was made out of tissue paper instead of brick.
"Sam!" he screams, running towards where the building used to be. There's nothing left but an enormous field of ash. Some of the ash is still hanging in midair, slowly floating down. It looks like it's snowing. Dean walks through it in a stupor. "Sammy..." he says again, and falls to his knees. The ash billows up around him and he can't see.
Dean's eyes are watering from the smell, from the horror. He tried-- he tried everything he knew how to do but he was too late, and now--
He closes his right hand into a fist, squeezing a small pile of the ash together and asks quietly, "Is this fun for you? If you want me dead, then just kill me, but stop moving me around like a goddamn chess piece." Dean lets out a shaky breath and keeps going, "We solved your little mystery. We tried to stop Cas, we did, but you saw how that went. Want to tell me why you kept me alive-- why you brought back Sam's soul just so Cas could smash it to bits again? What the Hell's the point?"
"That's an excellent question." Sam says from behind him.
Dean turns and stares at his brother. Sam is blood-soaked. His clothes look like they went through a shredder, but he doesn't look wounded at all-- he looks lucid.
Sam crouches down next to Dean and says, "Want to go find out?"