word count: 1453
characters: Sam, OC
summary: Sam talks to a psychologist. Set in late season 7 (very vaguely influenced by spoilers)
"You're new." Sam said, looking at the woman sitting across from him.
She smiled and shook her head, "I've been doing this a long time."
"Oh." Sam looked back down at his fingernails, checking to see if any of them were uneven. They always looked jagged to him these days. They clipped his nails once every two weeks or so, but they never did it right. There was always a sharp edge, and they never cut them evenly, so Sam had to spend hours afterwards delicately trimming the edges of his nails with his teeth.
"My name is Doctor Stern." She held her hand out to Sam.
Sam sat up and leaned forward enough to take her hand. It was small, (most hands were, next to his), so he shook it gently and sunk back in his chair. She looked friendly enough -- surprisingly young, maybe his age or at most a year or two older than him, and her hair was the same shade of blonde as Jess...
"Sam." Doctor Stern looked down at the clipboard in her lap, "Your file was a very interesting read."
Sam laughed bitterly, "Yeah. I bet."
"You've been with us for how long now? Six months or so?"
"I think so."
The doctor nodded, "Your sense of time...does it feel a little off?"
"Yeah." Sam nodded, "You could say that."
"It could be the new medication we put you on. It's helped with the hallucinations though, hasn't it?"
Sam shrugged, "I guess."
Doctor Stern tapped her pen against her clipboard, "I need you to be honest with me. Are you still hallucinating? Doctor Rose said your hallucinations have been far less frequent in the last three weeks."
"Sure." Sam nodded, "I'm sure he's right then."
"Sam." The doctor put her clipboard down on the little side table next to her chair and folded her hands in her lap. "If you're hallucinating less, that's a good thing."
Sam looked at her and smiled sadly, "I still dream. Sometimes, the dreams are worse. At least some days, when I'm hallucinating there are other people around to help pull me out of it."
"What do you dream about?"
"You've said you were in Hell for nearly two- hundred years...and not just in Hell, but in Lucifer's cage. "
Sam shook his head and huffed, "Why are you -- aren't you supposed to not humor my delusions?"
The doctor shrugged and said, "I want to know what you believe. Whatever you think you've been through, whatever you think you're seeing when you dream, when you hallucinate...all of it shapes your perception of your reality and of yourself. It's all about perception, Sam."
"I see." Sam rolled his right hand into a fist and cracked his knuckles.
"Why were you in Hell, Sam?"
"I threw myself in while the Devil was inside me so we could trap him in his cage."
The doctor raised her eyebrows, "Did it work?"
"Yes. He's in there now."
"But you're not."
"How did you get out?"
Sam chuckled, "Our friend Cas, he's -- he was an angel. He pulled me out, but just my body...not my soul."
Doctor Stern nodded, "So your soul is still in the cage?"
"No. Death gave me my soul back."
"No. Well yes. A few times actually, but no -- I mean 'Death,' as in the Horseman."
"My brother begged him to do it, and he did."
"Your brother, Dean."
"He cares about you very much." said the doctor.
"I know." Sam nodded and bit his lower lip. Dean still came to visit in between jobs, but Sam wasn't always lucid when he was there. The last time Dean had come to visit, Sam was convinced it was Lucifer taking his shape again and he hadn't said a word to him. It wasn't until Dean called him "bitch" when he got up to leave that Sam realized it was really him.
"Tell me about your dreams."
Sam swallowed, "It's Hell. Lucifer is there and he -- "
"Lucifer personally tortured you in Hell?"
"Well, yeah. I was in his cage. Me and my brother, and Michael and Lucifer."
"Your brother, Dean?"
"No, our half-brother, Adam."
"And Michael...as in the archangel?"
"You were in a cage with Lucifer and Michael?"
"Those are some pretty impressive roommates. What did Lucifer do to you?"
"He...tortured me in every way you can think of. He took his time."
The doctor pulled her clipboard back towards her lap and started making notes.
"Time in Hell isn't like it is here. Sometimes a second would feel like a day, an hour would feel like a year. I think Lucifer could draw out every moment as long as he wanted to..."
"That sounds unpleasant."
"When you hallucinate, do you see him too?"
"But he's still in his cage?"
Sam stared at her, "Of course."
The doctor held up her hands in a mock-defensive posture and said, "I'm just wondering if you can get out, why can't the Devil?"
"Because the cage was built for him."
"Interesting." Doctor Stern made some more notes.
"Could I have some water?" Sam asked.
"Of course." The doctor reached over to her desk and filled one of the small paper cups stacked there with water from the pitcher. As she handed it to Sam, her long braid slipped from behind her back over her shoulder.
"Wow. You have long hair."
"I could say the same thing to you."
Sam laughed, "Yeah, but I can't braid mine like that."
"Sure you can. The question is, do you really want to?" She smirked, and tapped her pen against her clipboard again, "Did you deserve to go to Hell?"
"I didn't get sent there, I threw myself in..."
"I know what you said, but I'm asking you anyway -- do you think you deserved to go to Hell?"
Sam stared at the tiny paper cup in his hands for several seconds before answering, "Yes."
"Because I was the one who set Lucifer free. People...so many people died because of what I did."
Doctor Stern nodded, "Did you set him free on purpose?"
"No." Sam shook his head, "I thought I was stopping the Apocalypse, not starting it." He finished his water and crushed the little paper cup in his hand.
"You were doing the right thing."
"I thought I was."
"But you still think you deserved Hell?"
"Yes..." Sam looked up at the doctor hopefully and added, "but I feel like -- like I did my time, you know? I was there a long, long time and I just don't understand why -- "
"Why you still have to suffer?" the doctor finished for him. She leaned back in her seat and pulled the band off of the bottom of her braid. "Did you going to Hell make the world a better place?"
"Well, we locked the Devil back up, so -- yeah, it did." Sam said, confused.
The doctor started undoing her braid, long, blonde strands untwisting from each other.
Sam watched her hands, oddly fascinated.
"Did you going to Hell undo any of the damage you did? Did it bring back any of the people that died because of you?"
The pit of Sam's stomach felt cold, but he forced himself to answer, "No."
The doctor's hair hung free, and as she ran her fingers through it, the long, blonde strands caught fire. The flames spread quickly from her hair to her jacket and pants. She kept smiling serenely at Sam, unaware.
"You're -- "
"What's wrong, Sam?" the fire had burned off her hair and there were glowing, hot ashes floating around her head like a halo. "What are you seeing?"
Sam swallowed past the lump in his throat and said, "You're on fire."
Doctor Stern nodded, "Of course I am. We both are, aren't we Sam?"
Sam watched the flames run down the doctor's sides, across the floor and towards his feet. He leapt out of his chair and stepped away from the fire, backing up until he hit the wall.
The doctor's coat turned black and as she walked towards him, the ashes of it stayed behind, suspended in midair. She grew taller the closer she got. Her face, became his -- the self-satisfied smirk, the cruel, ancient eyes.
"No." Sam said.
"This isn't real. You're not real."
"Of course I am. I'm the only thing that is real."
"No. I'm in a hospital, I'm with a doctor, and I'm --"
"Sam, I told you..." Lucifer grinned, and whispered, "I've been doing this a long time."