Post S7/Pre-S8: Sam finds out he can use his powers to bust Dean and Cas out of purgatory. He falls off the demon blood wagon. He tries to break them out, but it's a huuuuuge strain and he can only manage to grab Dean, and maybe the effort scrambles Sam's eggs a little, and he wasn't doing so hot with his magic mental health cure locked in Purgatory anyway. So basically, Dean comes back from Purgatory (in whatever state of wear you see fit) to a twitchy, hallucinating, migraine-plagued, babbling mess of a reluctant demon blood junkie. What little of a lucid Sam remains is convinced that he can rescue Cas too if he just has ONE MORE TRY. Dean is torn: on one hand, he's not looking forward to another detox and he's not okay with Sam hitting the blood again and he isn't sure that Sam could even survive another Purgatory jailbreak. On the other hand, the last time he saw Cas in Purgatory, the angel wasn't doing so hot. So there's that. And part of Dean wonders if maybe, MAYBE if Sam manages to bring Castiel back, Cas can fix everything. So does he let Sam launch a second rescue attempt? If so, is it successful? And CAN Cas heal the hell-ucinations and the blood addiction? Or does Dean reject the plan and look for another solution. Either way, he has his hands full taking care of his brother.
When Dean opens his eyes again, he sees a dusty, worn, wooden floor. That's his first hint that he isn't in Purgatory anymore. The second is that there's somebody muttering to himself close by. Somebody that doesn't sound like Castiel, but sounds a whole lot like his brother.
He props himself up on his elbow, surprised that his arm doesn't hurt more -- he's still bleeding from where the rugaru got a hold of his forearm earlier. He rubs his hand against his scratchy beard and looks again towards the hunched over figure sitting in the back corner of the room, "Sam?" The word comes out more of a rough wheeze, his voice still shredded from shouting himself hoarse trying to call for Castiel's help during the last werewolf pack showdown they'd had.
The angel hadn't been able to anchor himself to any one spot in Purgatory too well. He'd disappear from time to time, sometimes at the worst possible moments, only to show up again at some point, usually with no idea of how long he'd been gone.
"Sam?" Dean says again, forcing his voice to be stronger. "Sammy, is that you?"
The person in the corner moves, flinches like he's been hit, and then lifts his shaggy head, looking at Dean with bleary, dark eyes. He rubs the back of his hand against his nose, and then moves forward, in a weird half-crawl, like he's too tired to stand up all the way. He shuffles closer and closer to Dean until he's close enough to reach out and touch him on the shoulder.
"You're here?" Sam asks, his voice soft and disbelieving. "You're really here. I did it."
It is Sam, and oh how Dean wishes it wasn't. The wan light from the poorly boarded up window hits the side of Sam's face, revealing blood smeared skin, and dark, black eyes.
"You got me out?" Dean tries to keep his voice calm, and clear. Whatever his brother did to free him, it cost him. Too much. "Sammy, what did you do?"
Sam stares at him and smiles, grins wide. His teeth are stained with blood. "He said you weren't really here, that I was just seeing things. He said I wasn't strong enough -- said I'd never be strong enough, but I knew I was -- I could feel it, I could feel it tearing open." Sam says, his words spilling out and then falling silent. He moves his hand against Dean's cheek, and his fingers are shaking. "That place...it didn't want to let you go, it was so strong." Sam blinks slowly, deliberately, and his eyes shift, from black to something sickly yellow and white. "But I was stronger." He pulls his hand back suddenly, and skitters away from Dean, back into the corner.
Dean swallows, and tries to say something else, but instead coughs, his throat suddenly remembering how desperately he needs water. He looks to Sam, hoping he'll get the hint.
Unfortunately, Sam seems to be arguing with the empty space on his right. "I know I didn't. I'll just...I'll try again. Shut up!" he snarls angrily, "I can do it. I got Dean." His nose starts to bleed, and he wipes at it absently, looking over to Dean for just a second, before his eyes flick back to his right.
Pushing himself to his feet, Dean stops coughing long enough to look around the dark room, trying to find the kitchen, or a sink, or anything that might have drinkable water. His eyes fall on a cooler just inside the next room, and he staggers towards it, holding himself up against the doorframe. He flips open the cooler, grabs a handful of ice, and pours it into his mouth, so desperate for liquid, for water -- in any form. The ice melts on his tongue, and it feels so good he nearly moans in relief.
"You're thirsty," Sam says from right next to him. "I have water." Sam walks past Dean into the room beyond, disappearing into the darkness.
Dean runs his hand through the half-molten ice, looking for a bottle. There has to be something worth drinking in the cooler. His hand touches something -- not bottle-shaped. He clasps his fingers around the object and pulls it up out of the ice. It's a Tupperware container. Upon closer inspection, Dean sees that it's filled with some kind of meat.
"Dragon heart," Sam says as he hands Dean a bottle of water and takes the Tupperware container. His eyes are hazel again. "This is the last one. I went through three trying to get you back." He sticks the plastic tub back into the cooler and closes the lid.
"Oh." Dean thinks he should probably feel queasy knowing that his mouthful of ice had been refrigerating dragon hearts, but he doesn't. He downs the bottled water, and turns his attention back to Sam. "So that's the spell? A dragon heart, and what else? Some herbs and bones, mix it all together, set it on fire and pop open a door to purgatory?"
"Yeah guess it couldn't be that easy--"
"I have to eat the dragon heart. Then my power can reach Purgatory instead of Hell."
Okay, now Dean is queasy. Granted he'd had to eat some questionable things in Purgatory just to get by, but not... "You cooked them first right? The hearts?"
Sam shakes his head. "The power's not just in the heart, it's in the heart's blood. It's always the blood." Sam laughs, sharply and turns back to the corner where he'd been sitting. "Nobody asked you!" he snaps at the emptiness.
"Is it...are you seeing Lucifer again?" Dean asks carefully.
"He says I can't get Cas out, too. Says if I try, it'll kill me," Sam smirks at Dean and his eyes shift again, from hazel to black. "But he said I'd never get you out either. Kept telling me I'd die before I got you out. But he was wrong, even that time my heart stopped -- it didn't kill me, I just had to keep drinking, just had to keep trying, and trying and then finally..." Sam stares at Dean with feverish eyes that keep shifting color, "I could hear you, and I knew just where to look, where to tear open the door," he nods to himself. "That's when I knew I could do it. I just had to be a little stronger."
Dean nods slowly, keeping the bitterness out of his voice as best he can when he asks, "You got stronger by drinking demon blood again, right?"
Sam shrugs, and gestures behind Dean.
Against his better judgement, Dean turns and squints into the darkness. The room stinks of sulfur and blood. He walks into the dark room a few steps until his vision adjusts, and stares from the stained floorboards up at the massive Devil's Trap drawn onto the ceiling.
There's a small altar set up nearby with a still slowly smoldering cauldron. "You summoned them here?" Dean asks.
"Yeah," Sam stands by the doorframe, backlit by the soft light from the other room. His silhouette looks larger than Dean remembers, like the demon blood nourished more than just Sam's powers. Either that or dragon hearts are really high in protein. "One at a time at first, then in small groups. It's easier that way. Otherwise I have to redo the Devil's Trap after every single one and that's just a pain in the ass."
"You need a Devil's Trap?" Dean asks, confused. He was sure holding demons in place had been a part of Sam's skill set.
"No, not really, but I didn't want to risk wasting power on anything other than getting you out. You have no idea how hard it was. How close I was to just --" Sam looks away then, his eyes absent again, listening to a voice only he can hear.
"Harder than killing Lilith?" Dean asks.
Sam looks back at him. "You're serious?" His face shifts from confusion to something almost manic, "I could kill Lilith a hundred times over and it wouldn't even come close to how much power I needed to bust you out." He walks closer to Dean, and Dean takes an involuntary step back. "Do you have any idea how many I had to--"
"No, no I don't. And I'm pretty sure I don't want to know."
"You don't." Sam takes a deep breath and rolls his shoulders back. "Look, if I'm gonna try to get Cas out too, I have to try again tonight. The moon's only gonna be in the right phase for another four hours. After that I have to wait six months, and I don't think I'll last that long." He looks over his shoulder for a minute, listens, and then turns back to Dean. "He's right. You should go. You don't want to see this."
"Are you insane?" Dean sputters, "I'm not leaving you alone, not when you could die from this. What makes you think I'm gonna even let you do this? You barely survived the first time!"
Sam lets out a sad huff. "If I don't get Cas out, I'll die anyway. I'll probably die even if I do get him out. You seriously think there's any way I'll make it through detox this time?" Sam holds his palm up and moves it close to Dean's face. His veins are black and pulsing. They run all the way through his hand, down his arm, and further. As Sam unbuttons the collar on his shirt, Dean sees the same black veins running down the sides of his neck. "This happens if I go more than two hours without drinking any demon blood. Two hours," he repeats again angrily, and tries to button up his collar again, but his fingers are shaking too badly.
"Then why did you...why did you do this to yourself?"
"You know why. What other choice did I have?" Sam says, softly. "I couldn't leave you there. I was going to end it -- one way or another. At least this way, I got you out first." He looks towards the cooler and adds, "I have to get started. You should go."
"No, Sam. I'm not gonna let you do this. We're gonna take care of you, get you better, okay? Then we'll figure out some other way to get Cas--"
"There is no other way," Sam says simply. Then he turns to Dean with solid-black eyes, takes a deep breath and says, "You should get some rest, you look tired."
Dean reaches for his brother, tries to fight the pull of sleep, but his legs crumple under him, and the world fades out as his vision fails. The last thing he hears is Sam saying, "Don't worry, Dean. I can do this."
on to part 2