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Misery's Child

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Sam dreams.

There's something he's supposed to do, something big, something world saving. Only, he seems to have forgotten what it is.
Dean is there in his dreams. Sam reaches out a hand to his brother but Dean just turns away from him with an icy, distant expression on his face. Sam opens his mouth to protest and vomits blood in a long, painful stream until his insides feel black and scorched and there's a cloudy red puddle swelling in front of him. He bends down to inspect his reflection in the wavering surface. His face is distorted, monstrous. A gleeful little voice in the back of his brain informs that this, this is exactly why Dean left him. He takes a step forward. Lets the puddle swallow him up until he’s choking on it.

He wakes up starving, but he doesn't think it's food he's hungry for.

Food appears to be what he's getting though. Annie is here again. She’s pulled up the rocking chair next to his bed and she’s come armed with a tray of steaming chicken soup and tea.

“I hated to wake you,” she grins down at him, “seeing as how you were sleeping so peacefully there, but I figured you need some real nourishment as much as you need your rest.”

Sam dutifully lets her prop him up a little on the bed and begin the slow, humiliating process of spoon-feeding him soup.

Once he’s managed a few mouthfuls, she ventures tentatively, “So, Sam, I was wondering.”

He nods to show that he’s listening, whole body alert to what might be coming next.

“Well, I’ve read the Supernatural books from cover to cover, like I was saying. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried: when you see your mother’s ghost in ‘Home,’ when you get stabbed in ‘All Hell Breaks Loose,’ and Dean sobs over your dead body, I swear I had to call in sick to work the next day I was so upset. And then of course ‘No Rest for the Wicked,’ when Dean gets absolutely mauled in front of you, I mean ripped to pieces and then dragged off to hell, despite you spending a year doing everything you could think of to save him, well I don’t think I’ve ever been as sad about anything in my real life as I was when I turned the last page of that book, I mean Dean was going to spend eternity, being tortured, literally flayed alive and all the brotherly love in the world couldn’t save him from the demons.”

Sam has never wanted to get away from a conversation more, but he's quite literally stuck there and Annie’s on a roll now, voice steadily rising into a shrill register and she's not exactly looking at him. “My god, those boys, what they wouldn’t do for each other, no matter what life threw at them. And Dean, he gets a lot credit in the fandom for what he’s dealt with, but in my opinion Sam really doesn’t get enough. His own father told his brother he would have to kill him! KILL HIM! How DARE He!? And then there's what he went through with Jessica, and the Yellow-Eyed Demon, all for the sin of trying to be normal! Is that really worth crucifying him? Doesn't he deserve a little bit of happiness? Some normality? Someone who loves him and who can take care of him the way he deserves?"

Sam coughs pointedly, desperate to get her to stop. “What!” she snaps, looking sharply down at him. Her fist comes down heavily on the tray and the bowl of soup upends, spilling hot liquid all over his torso and blankets. He shouts, more out of surprise then pain and her face clears, like she’s suddenly seeing him there.

“Oh Sam,” she says softly, face crumpling with sadness. “You’ll have to pardon me. I can get a little worked up. Let me go get a towel."

A bit later, after she’s changed the sheets and dried him off, and there’s a new bowl of soup from the kitchen, she starts in again.

“Anyway,” she says, a little more diffidently this time, in a tone of voice that's just this side of wheedling. “As you can see, the end of the book series really messed me up. And I was wondering. Since you lived it at all, well I was wondering if you could fill me in on what happened after Dean went to Hell.” He stares at her and she bites her lip. “I did save your life and all, I figure it entitles me to a little information...”

Sam watches her for a long moment.

He he opens his mouth and closes it again. Then he opens it, figuring it can't hurt. “I...can't remember much." He grimaces. He sounds pathetically weak.

“Oh?” She cocks her head.

“I remember...Dean coming back. But….that was awhile ago, I think.”

“Odd. How’d Dean get back? Did you find a spell or something?”

“No, no, I had nothing to do with it. I tried, I tried everything, but nothing worked.”

It’s such a strange relief to talk about this. “I even tried to make my own demon deal.”

“Sam! Tell me you didn’t!” He looks at her. Annie’s watching him with wide eyes and a mouth gone perfectly round with horror.

“I didn’t,” he says hastily. “I mean, it didn’t work. No demon would go near me. Anyway, there was this...Angel. And he was the one who raised Dean up from Hell.”

She’s still looking at him like she hasn’t heard anything past his mention of the deal. “Sam, you HAVE to take better care of yourself. A deal, after everything your brother went through?”

“It didn’t go through,” he repeats uncomfortably.

Her lips are still thinned disapprovingly, but she lets it go for now. “And then what happened?"

Sam hesitates, unsure how to say this. “ Everything else is since then is all fuzzy in my head. I keep thinking I’m just about to remember, but it keeps slipping through my fingers.” He fingers the sheets with his good hand, feeling the rough open weave of the blanket against his palm. “There’s something really important that I need to do. But I have no idea what it is. It’s like running up against a brick wall, but that wall keeps turning out to be a fog. And I just get lost in it, again and again. Am I making any kind of sense?”

Her features have softened back into sympathy. “It may be an effect of the crash. A traumatic accident can sometimes create a kind of temporary amnesia. I’m sure your memories will eventually come back. But now you should probably get some sleep.”

She pats his arm maternally and gently pushes back from his bedside, leaving the room with his half empty soup bowl in hand. Sam watches her go through half-lidded, suddenly heavy eyes. If there is another prick of a needle this time, he’s already too deeply towards sleep to notice.