"Sam, this has got to be the stupidest idea you've ever had."
Sam let out a sigh and looked up from the sweating, moaning, shaking form on the bed. "Dean, I looked him up, and all I can find is work-related stuff. There are a couple mentions of his mother but no contact information, and everything else is papers and dissertations and case reports." He pressed the back of his hand to the young agent's neck. "I don't like calling the FBI any more than you do, but what choice do we have?"
"He's an adult," was Dean's immediate reply, feet carrying him from one end of the room to the other and back again. "We help him through his withdrawals and send him on his way." He ran a hand through his hair and gestured to the topic of conversation. "He would probably agree with me if he weren't so out of it. I seriously doubt he wants his FBI buddies to find him in a seedy motel with two alleged psychopaths helping him through a withdrawal."
Sam watched Dean pace, staying silent long enough to prompt his brother to meet his eyes. "If I were having withdrawals, I wouldn't want you to know, either." Which is why I didn't tell you. "But you would want to know, and that would be best for everyone." Theoretically.
There were a few beats of silence, and then Dean started cursing under his breath, a sure sign he had already surrendered to Sam's way of thinking. If Dean displayed any resistance now, it was all for show.
Sam smirked a little—he couldn't help but revel in the control he had—but his attention was quickly grabbed by another spasming groan from the bed.
"Spencer." Sam shook the young man by the shoulders, using the name from the badge they found. "Spencer, my name is Sam. Can you hear me?"
Spencer tilted his head to the side and then let it fall back the other way, exhaling slowly. "Smmm…"
Sam looked at Dean, who stared uselessly, and then back at Spencer. "Hey, I need you to tell me what you were on. Okay?"
Spencer let out a groan and slowly sat up, though he didn't appear to have a goal in mind. "I…" It seemed he was moving toward voices and human contact, only half aware of what was going on around him. "Dilaudid…"
It was Sam's turn to curse, and he tried to stand up while still holding onto Spencer. He looked at Dean, who clearly didn't understand, and propped the agent against himself. "It's a hardcore narcotic. Coming off this stuff…" He shook his head.
Dean's brows shot up, concern flashing through his eyes. "Will it kill him?"
Sam shook his head. "Generally speaking, the only withdrawals known for being deadly are benzos and alcohol… sometimes Methadone." He looked down at Spencer, rubbing his shoulder. "But opioid withdrawals are the most painful, and there's not a lot you can do for them."
Dean gave Sam an odd look, but Sam refused to answer the unspoken question. He didn't need Dean to know how much Castiel's warning about demon blood had scared him—didn't need Dean to know he spent several days in a panic, wondering if demon blood had withdrawal symptoms at the dose he was on, what it would be like if it did, and whether he would survive or not. He didn't need Dean to know the answers were yes, excruciating, and yes.
He also didn't need Dean to know he spent three days in agony after saving Dean and Castiel from Alastair. He didn't need Dean to know things had gotten so unbearable he considered suicide for the first time since Dean got out of Hell. He didn't need Dean to know that, in a motel room just as cheap and seedy as the one they were in now, Sam had screamed into a pillow and begged for someone—anyone —to help him, all the while knowing no one would answer that call, because no one cared about Sam the Junkie. Sam the Scholar was liked, Sam the Brother was loved, Sam the Hunter was respected, but Sam the Junkie? There was no room for the likes of Sam the Junkie. Sam the Junkie was cut off, isolated, left to fight his metaphorical demons alone.
"Dean, go start the shower, would you? Make it really, really hot." In Sam's experience, it was one of the only things that reduced the pain, though he wasn't going to leave Spencer in it nearly as long as some addicts said they had been… or as long as Sam himself had been. "Um, toss me his cellphone. I'll call the FBI."
Dean grabbed the phone from the messenger bag they found, and he gave the device a long, hard look. "I can't decide what's worse. Telling them who we are and risking them showing up with a SWAT team, or not telling them who we are and getting shot when they unexpectedly find their pal with two serial killers."
Sam snorted softly, still holding Spencer upright and rubbing his back every time he shuddered. If Spencer started to fall backwards, he would jolt, and Sam would pull him close again. Sam didn't know why Spencer didn't want to lay down, but he wasn't about to force him into anything unless it was necessary.
"Castiel can get us out of jail. I don't know how he is on the resurrection front, so…"
Dean pointed a finger gun at him. "Good point." He flipped the phone open and started toward the bathroom. "I'll make the call. You worry about Poindexter there."
Sam rolled his eyes but followed the advice, carefully pulling Spencer to his feet. "Hey, Spencer. Can you hear me?"
"Kinda…" Spencer looked at him, eyes dilated and underlined by dark circles. "Don't remember… how did I…?"
"You were supposed to check out this morning," Sam explained, urging him toward the bathroom, barely able to keep him standing. "We rented the room, and you were here still, so we told the manager you're a friend." Sam chuckled softly. "We said this is an intervention and gave him a couple hundreds, so he's looking the other way."
Sam got Spencer into the bathroom, still speaking though he wasn't sure how much Spencer actually understood. "You look like you're doing pretty bad, so we got you some hot water, and we're gonna call your friends. Okay?"
Spencer didn't say anything, letting Sam steer him to the toilet and sit him on it. Sam started pulling Spencer's sweater off, glancing over his shoulder to see what Dean was doing.
As if reading his mind, Dean gave an update. "I decided to call Morgan. No idea who she is, but she texts Poindexter a lot. Sadly, there is nothing exciting, but they talk about casework, and she's in the phone under her first name only, so I think she's closest to our boy here." Dean tapped his foot impatiently. "It's ringing…"
Sam couldn't help but smile a little at the childish stance, unbuttoning Spencer's shirt with a sympathetic crease in his brow. He looks awful. Pale and skinny… he's got bruises and scrapes along with old scars… geeze, what happened to you?
"Is this Morgan? Woah, you're a dude. Is Morgan your last name?"
Sam somehow resisted the urge to facepalm.
"Me? Name's Dean Winchester."
Sam somehow resisted the urge again.
"Yup, that's the one. I am Mr. Crazy Psycho Murders. I am here with my brother, Mr. Crazy Psycho Murders II and someone I think you know." Dean was silent for a second and then started laughing. "Come on, man. You only make threats when you can't take action. Sam and I could throw Poindexter in the trunk and be gone in five minutes. Once we hit the interstate, you'll never find us."
"Dean." Sam glared over his shoulder. "We're trying to convince them not to arrest us."
"Right, right, right." Dean waved it off. "Sorry, no, that was my brother. He doesn't like me picking fights… at least, not in this case." He walked over to the shower and stuck his hand under the flow, wincing slightly. "Here's the deal, sweet cheeks. We found your home slice, Spencer, strung out in a motel, and he's in bad shape. We don't really want to get arrested, but we also don't want to leave the kid. He said it was… Dill-something."
"Dilaudid," Sam supplied.
"Dilaudid, right." Dean nodded, pacing across the bathroom and doing a wonderful job of getting in Sam's way. "Sam says that's some kind of hardcore narc, and the withdrawals are gonna be terrible. So, I want you to help me, help you, help us, help your friend."
Sam got Spencer to his feet and helped him out of his pants and boxers before pushing past Dean and helping Spencer into the shower. For a moment, Sam thought the water might have been too hot, but Spencer only moaned in relief and situated himself directly under the stream.
"Yeah, actually, that is all I want. You can even bring some other agents if it makes you feel better, just no SWAT and no arrests." Dean was silent for a few moments, and then he nodded his head. "I don't see why not. Sam?"
Sam looked up from where he sat on the edge of the tub, still trying to keep an eye on Spencer despite his shift in attention.
"Can he talk? Like, can he say something in the phone to prove he's not dead?"
"Uh…" Sam bit his lip. "Spencer?"
"Hmm…?" Spencer kept his head down, knees drawn to his chest.
"Can you talk to Morgan on the phone?" Sam asked gently, not wanting to force Spencer away from the one thing that seemed to bring him relief.
Spencer nodded his head haphazardly and leaned out over the edge of the tub, holding out a hand for the phone. Dean handed it over, and Spencer pressed it to his ear, not bothering to keep it dry. "Morgan…?"
There was a moment of silence, and then Spencer pressed his forehead to the edge of the tub, shoulders quivering. "Yes." He paused, shuddering again. "No, they haven't. I'm f…" He trailed off, most likely because he wasn't fine. "Don't—don't tell Hotch. I can't—let him down again, Morgan, not… not again, not him."
Sam looked at Dean, who looked back with a somber expression; someone who didn't know him may have mistaken it for disinterest, but Sam knew better.
"No, please, Morgan… okay… okay, yeah…" Spencer ran a hand through his hair and gripped it tightly, dropping his head.
"Spencer, do you feel sick?" Sam asked softly, working the phone from his hand and giving it to Dean. "Dizzy?"
Spencer shook his head, muttering something Sam couldn't quite hear.
"Sorry, what?" Sam leaned in, sliding to the floor to get closer to Spencer's mouth. "What did you say?"
"Tired," Spencer whispered, and Sam could hear there were still tears in his voice. "Hurts… all over…"
"I know. I'm sorry." Sam put a hand on the back of Spencer's head and started to massage lightly, right where his vertebrae met his skull. "Does that feel good? Does it help even a little bit?"
Spencer melted against the edge of the tub, nodding his head but also scooting closer to the water, trying to cover more of his body.
"If you know of anything Dean or I could do… just say so, please." Sam swallowed hard and tried not to think about who would help him when the time came.
Not Dean. Not Bobby. Definitely not Castiel. Maybe Ruby, but if Sam was having withdrawals, it would mean he had once again decided against her way of doing things.
People generally didn't stick around Sam unless he was doing what they wanted him to, so when Sam went through withdrawals again, he expected he would be alone.
Sam shook himself from his thoughts and looked at Spencer, who was blearily looking around himself. "What's wrong?"
"I just… can you knock me out?" Spencer heaved a sigh, utterly spent. "I don't care how… hit me with a crowbar… just… don't want to be awake… please?"
Sam bit his lip and continued to massage the back of Spencer's head, glancing out to where Dean was still on the phone. "I'm not gonna hit you. But… there might be something we can do. I just have to wait for Dean to get off the phone."
Spencer nodded, only half conscious, and Sam felt a twist in his gut.
"I mean, I—I can try to call him myself, but… he really only likes Dean." Sam knew the argument was valid, and Spencer didn't seem angry with him for wanting to wait, but the kid just looked so utterly miserable…
"Uh, don't mind me talking to myself, it's kinda a Bluetooth… thing."
Spencer didn't say anything, still leaning against the side of the tub, skin growing redder the longer the water beat down on him.
"Dear Castiel, um… I have no idea how this works… but it's Sam. Uh, Winchester. Dean and I have someone here who really needs help, so… if you could come to Crazy Eights Motel, Room 189 and walk right in the door, that would be very, um… appreciated. So… amen?"
Sam waited for a few seconds, but he didn't hear Castiel in the adjacent room and no one knocked on the door. Not that he really expected a response, but he thought maybe Castiel had only ignored his previous prayers because Sam had been the one needing relief.
"See?" Sam chuckled softly. "He doesn't like me at all. In fact, I think Dean's the only reason he hasn't tried to kill me yet."
Spencer laughed weakly—if only he knew Sam wasn't joking—but he couldn't offer more of a reaction than that. He was out of breath, panting with an open mouth and slack tongue, sweat forming on his body wherever he wasn't already wet from the shower.
But is that because of the withdrawals? Or is it just because the water is so hot?
"Morgan is on his way." Dean leaned against the doorframe and nodded to the kid in the bathtub. "He said Spencer took two weeks leave to visit his mom, and that was a week and a half ago. He wasn't on Dilaudid when he left."
He knew he was running out of time, so he self-detoxed. Sam was relieved nonetheless. "That's good. If he hasn't been on it long, this might be as bad as it's going to get." Unless he actually was on it before he left, and they just didn't know it.
Sam let out a defeated sigh and got to his feet. "We have to get him out of the water. It's going to scald him if we leave him in there any longer."
Dean nodded his head and stepped back into the bedroom area. "Let me get the blankets off the bed."
Sam turned off the water, ignoring Spencer's weak protesting, and leaned down to pull the agent to his feet. "Hey, come on, it's okay. It's okay, it's okay. We're gonna find a way to get you better."
Spencer staggered to his feet and swayed a bit, falling against Sam for support. "Hurts…" he mumbled, spidery fingers curling through the collar of Sam's shirt.
"I know." Sam winced and grabbed a towel from the rack on the wall, wrapping it around Spencer's waist and pulling him toward the bedroom. "Come on, let's get you laying down. We'll find a way to make you sleep, alright?"
Dean joined Sam halfway across the room and helped him ease Spencer into one of the two available beds.
"Morgan said he's about two and a half hours out. Kid clearly didn't want to get caught… looks like that backfired." Dean paused. "I don't get why he was scheduled to check out today if he had half a week left."
Sam ran a hand through his hair and then covered Spencer with the blankets. "I don't know, maybe he really did intend to visit his mom. Maybe he was giving himself a deadline, so he would be completely sober by the time he got back. I don't know."
Sam looked around the motel room, which hardly looked like someone had been there as long as Spencer supposedly had. "If he's really been here over a week, there has to be clean clothing somewhere. Look for something he can wear, and while you're at it, give Castiel a call. He ignored me."
Dean was halfway to a dresser drawer when Sam finished speaking, and he quickly adopted a bewildered expression. "Why'd you call Cas?"
"Because Spencer was begging me to knock him unconscious. Castiel can do that without hurting him." Sam decided not to reiterate the fact that Castiel ignored him, because it didn't really bother him.
Really. It didn't.
"Uh… okay, yeah, I'll call him." Dean cleared his throat. "Uh, dear Castiel…"
Sam stepped away from the bed and went toward the kitchen area, rummaging around until he found an old dishrag. He ran it under water, vaguely aware of the prayer in the background, and then wrung it out.
Sam turned around and, of course, Castiel was standing right next to Dean. Not that it bothered Sam, because it didn't, and he simply went over to the bed and placed the rag on Spencer's forehead.
"Hey," he whispered, pressing the back of his hand to Spencer's neck. "Remember that friend I told you about? He's here. He's gonna put you to sleep, okay?"
"Why do you need me for this?" Castiel's voice came from behind, his tone a blend of curious confusion and utter disinterest. "He will fall asleep on his own."
Sam didn't give Dean the chance to respond. He wasn't having a good day, a good week, a good month, and he had just about had it up to his neck with angels. Was he going to regret starting a fight over nothing? Probably. Was that going to stop him?
Not a chance.
"Gee, Castiel, maybe because he's in excruciating pain. I know you're not big on the sympathy thing, but it would take you all of two seconds to tap him on the forehead and knock him out, so maybe, just this once, you can do the decent thing without trying to figure out how it benefits you first."
Sam didn't take it back—didn't even look over his shoulder—and continued to bring Spencer's temperature down as best as he could. He thumbed Spencer's eyes open and hushed him when he whined in protest.
"Hey, hey, just checking." Dilated. "Shh, it's okay."
"S-Sam…" Spencer barely gasped out the name, eyes screwing shut. "Sam, it hurts…"
"I know, Spencer. I know. I'll find some way to fix it, okay?" Because if Castiel wasn't going to help, that was just fine with Sam. He would find some other way; he wasn't going to let Spencer suffer. "When you had withdrawals in the past, did your blood pressure drop, Spencer?"
Spencer exhaled sharply, face tight with pain. "Yeah… Morgan says… I'm too skinny for my own good…"
Sam chuckled softly. "Morgan sounds like a good friend." He stood up then, walking past Castiel and Dean without making eye contact and grabbing his jacket. "I'm running to the drugstore." He reached into Dean's pocket without asking and took out the keys, striding to the door and stopping just long enough to point an accusatory finger at Castiel and command Dean, "Do not leave Spencer alone with him; you might come back to find him smitten. You wanna do something useful, make him soup—something salty—and try to get him to keep it down."
Then Sam stepped out and pulled the door shut behind him with a hefty slam.
Sam opened the door to find Dean sitting on the bed with Spencer, soup steaming on the nearby nightstand. Castiel was still there, but Spencer was still awake and moaning, so the angel clearly hadn't offered his assistance.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Sam realized this was odd—why stick around if he wasn't going to help?—but that part of his mind was ignored in favor of helping Spencer. And, of course, hanging on to anger.
Sam piled the bags on the small table. "How is he, Dean?"
"Not so hot, Sammy. I can't get him to eat anything." Dean raked a hand through his hair and sighed, frustrated. "Morgan called. He's about two hours out and traffic is terrible."
Sam let out a sigh of his own and nodded, digging through the bags in search of painkillers. "Spencer, if you eat a little something, we can give you ibuprofen. It's not much, but it'll help." Hopefully.
Spencer looked at him blearily—Sam noticed he was wearing a flannel shirt that most definitely belonged to Dean—and offered a weak nod.
"Hey, there's a good sport." Dean smiled and started to pull Spencer into a sitting position.
Sam abandoned the bags and rushed over to help, grabbing the pillows from the unoccupied bed and stacking them up against the headboard. He helped Dean ease Spencer into the mound of cushions, and then Sam returned to the supplies.
"Dean, you know how to work a blood pressure cuff?"
"Not a clue. I'll leave that one to you, Sam." Dean grabbed the bowl of soup and held it out, waiting for Spencer to get a good hold on it and quickly realizing that was an impossibility. "I'll just hold the bowl, okay? But I'm not feeding you. Not the right gender, not the right kink."
Spencer smiled a little at that, and when he saw Dean's devilish grin and 'how you doin'' eyebrows, he managed a laugh. "I bet… if you worked for the FBI… you'd be another Derek Morgan."
"Really, now?" Dean kept holding the bowl, giving Spencer his full attention.
"Morgan taught me how to flirt." Spencer gave a weak smile.
Dean burst out laughing, and Sam couldn't help but smile along. Spencer laughed a little, too, though his face almost immediately twisted into a grimace.
"We were… working a case…" Spencer hesitantly put a spoonful of soup into his mouth. "Where, um, where the unsub was—"
"Unsub?" Sam tried to recognize the term from his time at Stanford, but he came up blank.
"Unknown subject." Spencer took another spoonful into his mouth and swallowed carefully, his other hand wandering over to cover his stomach. "Um, this unsub was… seducing women… taking them home… gutting them… and then he, uh… he'd make them clean up their own blood and organs until they died."
Sam and Dean both stared, and if Sam knew Dean as well as he believed he did, they were both feeling equally nauseous.
What kind of agent is he?
But Spencer didn't notice the abnormality of the killings and plugged right along, slightly out of breath but clearly coherent. "So, we, uh… we canvased clubs… handed out these, uh, sketches… Morgan got done right away… but I'm not good at talking to people… especially not people, uh… women my age…" He had another spoonful of soup. "I tried to get him to do it for me… but he decided he was going to teach me how to be…" He shrugged slightly. "Smooth, I guess."
Dean seemed a bit stuck on the whole 'cleaning up your own murder' thing, but he was able to clear his throat and flash a smile. "Did it work?"
Spencer laughed softly, and then he sipped a spoonful of broth. "Yeah, um… he told me to use magic. He said, 'chicks dig magic,' and told me he would be my wingman. It worked… really nice girl… the, uh, the bartender." He winced, stopping halfway to his next mouthful. "Ugh… it was… a good thing, too, 'cause…" He took a deep breath and shook his head. "I can't eat anymore."
"That's alright." Sam started unpackaging the blood pressure cuff, letting the trash lay on the table to be cleaned up later. "We can wait a little, see if it settles, and then have you eat some more with your medicine."
Spencer nodded and let his head fall sideways. "I, uh… oh, right… I said it was good… 'cause the bartender saw the unsub… called me… he got her before she could say anything, but… we did a trace and then figured out… where he went from the abduction site… and we got there just in time." He got a dopey smile on his face. "Morgan said I had that whole 'knight in shining armor' thing going."
Sam smiled, leaving the table behind and walking around to the side of the bed that was closest to its twin. "You saved her life. I bet she was pretty grateful."
Spencer smiled weakly, his eyes drifting until they were almost entirely closed. "Yeah… she was… we kept in touch for a little… nothing ever happened, but… it was nice."
To Sam's surprise, Dean pursed his lips and concurred. "I get that. Sometimes you don't want to go all the way, you just want that… butterflies-in-your-stomach, magic moment, cliché crap. You know, like they write songs about."
Spencer nodded, a smile still lingering on his lips, but he wasn't able to reply. His lips parted, but never came back together, a heavy sigh escaping him.
Sam moved a little closer and carefully wrapped the cuff around Spencer's arm, setting the small machine on the mattress next to him. "Can you look at his eyes, Dean?"
"Sammy, I told you, wrong gender, wrong—"
"Dean." Sam gave him an exasperated look.
"Fine, fine." Dean smirked to himself and thumbed Spencer's eyes open. "Hey, Poindexter, I need you to stare dreamily into my eyes for a second."
Spencer gave a weak smile and did as he was told, letting Dean tilt his head this way and that. Spencer moaned softly when Sam tightened the cuff on his arm, and Sam gave a sympathetic wince.
"I know, I know, but I need to make sure it hasn't dropped too much." It just sucked that the other symptoms included joint and muscle pain. "Do you think you can eat some more?" It hadn't been very long since Spencer stopped, but Sam was hoping he wouldn't notice that.
Sam nodded at Dean, who picked the bowl up again and tried to coax Spencer into eating. Sam looked down at the machine on the bed and sighed softly. Well, that's good at least. Spencer's pressure was a little low, but nowhere near dangerous, and given his skinny frame, it might have been on the low end of the spectrum under normal circumstances.
"Hey, Poindexter, you wanna try and get some sleep after this?" Dean asked, helping Spencer get his fingers around the spoon. "You look pretty wiped out."
Spencer shook his head, took a sip, and went for another spoonful of broth. "Can't sleep," he rasped, coughing softly before putting another spoonful of soup in his mouth. "My brain is… it's running a thousand miles an hour… more than usual…"
Sam took the cuff away and returned to the table to dig through the bags he brought from the store. "Restlessness, agitation, and anxiety are all withdrawal symptoms. I got him some tea, so… let me make this, and if he can drink some, maybe it'll help him calm down. I got sleeping pills, too, but…" But the last thing he wanted to do was give an opioid addict an addictive substance that would make his suffering go away.
Dean scooted a little closer to Spencer, trying to keep the bowl in his direct line of sight so he would keep eating. "So, it sounds like you work with some seriously crazy psychos."
Spencer nodded weakly, still picking at the soup being offered to him. "Behavioral Analysis Unit… we profile psychopaths…" He gestured with his hand, but it was vague and uncoordinated. "Get ahead of them… figure out their next move…"
Sam bustled around the kitchen as he listened, getting a mug and filling it with water before putting it in the microwave.
Spencer heaved a sigh. "My eyes can't stay open, but my brain… it's, like… vibrating…"
Dean glanced at Sam, who was opening a pill bottle, and then looked back at Spencer. "Go ahead and close your eyes. You can talk, if it helps get the jitters out."
Spencer inhaled and exhaled slowly, eyes slipping shut while his chest heaved again. "Um… serial killers are our specialty… but we do lots of crimes… abductions… serial rape… terrorism…"
Dean set the bowl aside and put a hand on Spencer's thigh, a comforting gesture Sam was not jealous of in any way, shape, or form. "Tell me about it. Do you like your job?"
Spencer smiled weakly. "I love it… my brain… they always said I would use it to get rich, but… nah… I help people."
"Ooh, your brain. You're a nerd, then? Like my Sammy?" Dean kept his voice light and conversational, a direct contrast to the concern on his face.
"I have… an IQ of 187… eidetic memory… read 20,000 words a minute… three doctorates n' stuff…" Spencer inhaled deeply while the brothers picked their jaws up from the floor. "Everyone said… go into computers or science… invent something and make millions… but that wasn't me… saving people… hunting monsters… that's me…" He laughed softly, head lolling to the side, eyes still closed. "It's kinda cliché, but… it's what I was born to do. I can't imagine doing anything else… and still being happy."
Sam and Dean exchanged a look, the former ignoring the beeping microwave; after all, there was really no reason to prepare the tea if Spencer was falling asleep without it. Pain was still a factor, though, so Sam tossed the bottle of ibuprofen to his brother and watched as Dean helped Spencer take the tablets with soup broth.
"So." Sam leaned on the divider between the kitchenette and main room, joining the conversation. "What was your favorite case?"
"Well, if… if I'm allowed to be a little selfish, there was a case where… the killer was trying to live out a book no one on the team but me had read…" He smiled a little, grimaced, and then got his smile back. "There's another one I can't tell you anything about but… in short, I got to go to Guantanamo Bay and we saved thousands of people. That was a good feeling."
Sam and Dean exchanged another impressed look, and then Dean tapped Spencer on the thigh. "C'mon, kiddo, keep talking about your job. Or anything, really. You're still way too coherent to be on the edge of sleep."
Spencer yawned and slowly nodded his head, opening his mouth only to freeze. His body turned a bit sideways and tried to curl up, his teeth clenched tightly, and he didn't move for at least ten seconds.
"Spencer? You okay?"
Spencer nodded and slowly relaxed, exhaling slowly. "M'okay…" He heaved a sigh and sank into the pillows. "Um, well… I could keep talking cases… but there are so many… I could tell you about the, uh, the hostages on the train. I got to use magic for that case. Um… I had a standoff with a master assassin… she terrorized my best friend… that one was personal… then there was another case where someone had set up this massive game… I figured out the plan, and we saved everyone… but Agent Rossi… he's the one who got the guy to fall on his own sword… Agent Rossi is awesome…"
Sam laughed softly, watching the figure on the bed. "You seem close to your team. Tell us about them. Are they kinda like family?"
Spencer nodded his head slightly, his smile weak but genuine. "Morgan is like my older brother—or at least, he always says I'm like his little brother, so I think… I think the opposite applies. He's all muscles and door-kicking and… athletic…" He made a face, but the smile never truly left. "Then, there's, uh… there's Hotch… he's our leader, but he's… kinda like… the team dad, I guess…" Spencer's face screwed up like he tasted something sour, and he shook his head. "Um… JJ is my best friend… her sons are my godsons… she's the only person in the world who calls me 'Spence'… we hit a rough patch once…" He shook his head again and sank a little further into the pillows. "But… I think we… did a good job moving on… I think that trust is back… thought about calling her yesterday… didn't wanna disappoint her…" Spencer yawned. "Um… Garcia… Garcia is like the rainbow… she's always wearing… crazy outfits… crazy hair… shoes… she works… with computers, but… she, uh… shh…"
Sam and Dean looked at each other and exchanged two thumbs up. Success.
Sam was quick to get back on task; he hadn't forgotten the reason they rented the motel room in the first place. "We still have about an hour and a half until Morgan gets here, so we might as well work the case."
Dean was already on his feet and ready to work. "Sounds like a plan." He tucked Spencer in, no doubt from brotherly habit more than anything. "Cas, any reason you're still here? You need something?"
"I am trying to determine whether or not Sam consumed demon blood while he was out." Castiel tilted his head, his voice entirely too neutral given the words he was saying. "I do not think he has, but his excessive compassion and inflated sense of empathy could be overcompensation for guilty feelings."
Sam stopped halfway through opening his laptop and turned to look at Castiel, face twisting into an expression of disbelief and indignance. "Did you seriously—?" He stopped. "Wait, is that why you wouldn't help Spencer? You wanted to gauge my empathy?"
"His life was not in danger, or I would not have taken that course of action," was the level reply, and Sam saw no regret in Castiel's eyes.
Dean, at least, had the mental clarity to see something wrong with the situation. "Woah, Cas, I know you don't get the whole 'pain' thing because you're an angel, but this kid is seriously suffering here."
"It was necessary." Castiel glanced at Spencer, but then his eyes were right back on Dean. "I smelled the blood the second I got here, but it is faint, and I can't figure out if it is simply from battle or something more devious."
It took everything Sam had in him not to scream, and if it hadn't been for Spencer finally falling sleep, he would have. He managed something much tamer, though not nearly as therapeutic, and he was proud of himself for that.
"You're welcome, by the way." Sam indicated Castiel with a sweeping gesture. "You know, for being devious a couple weeks ago. For you not being dead right now."
Castiel narrowed his eyes, voice as hard and low as ever. "Exorcised."
"Oh." Sam blinked and then shrugged, waving a hand dismissively. "Well, in that case, you're not welcome. If I had known he was just exorcising you, I would've let him finish." He turned his attention back to his laptop and clicked the button to wake it up, silently willing Castiel to fight him despite knowing he would lose.
"Sam—" Dean should have known better than to try.
Sam didn't get furious often, but when it happened, he wasn't nearly as easy to calm down as Dean was.
"You directly disobeyed the will of Heaven." Castiel pushed off the wall, getting closer, increasingly angry, and while Sam felt a bit of fear at the sight, it only gave him an adrenaline high.
"Cas, come on," Dean tried.
Castiel continued as if Dean had said nothing. "You consumed the blood of a demon and honed your repulsive skills to—"
"If you're waiting for an apology, you're wasting your time." Sam left the table and stepped closer, staring Castiel down, the rational part of his brain too quiet to be heard over the tumult of rage and pain. "I've always been a disappointment, Castiel, so you are going to have to try a lot harder than that to make me feel guilty. And you might be powerful, but don't flatter yourself by thinking for one second you can make me ashamed of doing the right thing, because it will never happen."
Dean tried again, bless his heart. "Sam—"
"I think Heaven would be very interested in hearing your perspective, and I have a feeling we can change your mind, boy." Castiel may have been shorter, but there was danger in his eyes, and his stance was confident and sure. "You should show me some respect. I got Dean out of Hell to keep you under control so drastic measures didn't have to be taken."
Sam couldn't help it. He laughed. He laughed out loud, and he had to consciously keep himself from doubling over because he would have knocked heads with Castiel in the process.
"I don't know what they told you about me, but I wasn't a threat when Dean was in Hell."
"You were out of control," Castiel shot back, forcing Sam to take a step backward. "You were angry and violent and unhinged. You—"
"I was suicidal, you moron!" Sam reclaimed the step he gave up, but unlike Sam, Castiel didn't back down when approached. "What exactly was I going to ruin while I was trying to commit suicide by monster, huh? If you didn't want me to be a threat, you should have killed Ruby, because she's the one who started putting me back together."
"Suicidal and homicidal are separated by a fine line when it comes to humanity," Castiel shot back.
"If you don't like how I'm coping, blame yourself, because from where I'm standing, everyone in this room would be a whole lot happier if you had just put me out of my misery."
"Sam!" That was Dean, of course.
"I assure you, I have reconsidered that decision many, many times since meeting you, Sam Winchester."
Sam shoved Castiel, futile though it was. "Then fix your mistake, errand boy!"
Castiel grabbed Sam by the shirtfront and opened his mouth to speak.
"Tobias, help me!"
Dean froze halfway into pushing the two apart, Castiel froze with Sam's shirt still clutched in his hands, and Sam didn't freeze. Sam shoved Castiel's hands away and went to the bed, taking Spencer by the shoulders and shaking him gently.
"Hey, Spencer. Hey, can you hear me?"
"Tobias," Spencer gasped out the word, throwing his head from side to side, struggling to get out from under the blankets. "I haven't done anything!"
"Spencer?" Sam shook him hard. "Spencer, wake up. It's a dream." He shook him again, but Spencer was well within the throes of a flashback. "Spencer!"
"I can't confess my sins be—" Spencer sucked air down, "—cause I haven't done anything." He gasped for air again, clawing at his throat. "I haven't sinned so please, please stop!"
"Spencer, it's not real, okay?" Sam gave Spencer another fruitless shake, his grip tightening protectively when he sensed movement behind him.
Castiel's arm appeared from Sam's left, two fingers coming to gently rest on Spencer's forehead. There was a moment of nothing, and then Spencer's body went slack on the bed.
Several seconds passed in silence. Sam let Spencer go and heaved a sigh, running a hand through his hair. He looked at Spencer's hands, laying on his chest from when he had been trying to grab his neck.
"Sam? I know that face. That's your thinking face. I have nightmares about that face."
If he hadn't been so angry, Sam would have smiled, and he knew that was what Dean had been hoping for. Instead, Sam grabbed Spencer and rolled him onto his side, arranging the pillows and blankets to keep him in that position.
"He was grabbing at his neck," Sam explained. "He was probably having a flashback of being strangled or choked in some way. It's probably triggering to be on his back." That also might have explained why Spencer didn't want to be lying down when they first found him.
Dean nodded thoughtfully, hovering on the other side of the bed and reaching out to brush Spencer's hair from his face. "I guess it's a good thing we didn't ask about the worst case he ever worked."
Sam nodded his head and got off the bed, giving Spencer another concerned stare before making a beeline for the door.
"Hey, hey, hey." Dean straightened up and bolted to block Sam's exit. "Hey, aren't we gonna talk about this?"
"What, like girls?" Sam gave him a bitter smile. "I'm good, thanks." He dodged to the right and tried to leave, but Dean blocked him again. "Dean—"
"Sam, are you drinking again?"
Sam smirked—because it was so much easier to be cold and dismissive than angry and afraid—and lied. "No, Dean, I'm not. But I understand if you believe Castiel over me." And he wasn't bitter about it. Especially because Sam knew he wasn't trustworthy, so it didn't hurt. Not really.
"Well, I had to hear it from Cas the first time around because you didn't tell me. You just told Cas you were freaking suicidal, and you never told me that, either." Dean spread his hands in a display of frustrated helplessness. "How am I supposed to take your word for it when you aren't honest with me about stuff like this?"
Sam only smirked some more. "It's a learned behavior, I assure you."
Dean sighed heavily, fed up, running a hand through his hair. "So, it's my fault." He scoffed and shook his head. "What you even want from me, Sam? Because I have no idea, so please, tell me. You want me to learn to read minds? You want me to lie and say I'll never overreact when you tell me crap like this? What do you want?"
"When has that ever mattered?" It came out so much colder than he intended, but it was effective; cold voices weren't thick with tears.
Dean made the exasperated-but-willing-to-listen face Sam had come to despise over the years. That face meant the argument was already over in Dean's mind; Sammy was being irrational, Dean would tolerate it out of love, the end.
It was infuriating.
"Sam, what you want has always mattered."
"Really?" Sam pursed his lips and nodded thoughtfully. "Okay, let's see. I wanted to be a normal kid. I wanted a dad who spent more time at home than he did hunting. I wanted a dog. I wanted a parent who went to open houses. I wanted Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to leave the hunting life, and I wanted a loving family who supported my decision. I wanted my input on our hunts to matter even when you didn't like what I had to say. I definitely didn't want to live without you, didn't want to know you were in Hell being tortured because of me. I didn't want you to fall back in my life and tell me how to live it when you were the one who screwed me up so bad. I didn't want Heaven to get involved, and I definitely didn't want a know-it-all in a trench coat to—"
Spencer moaned, struggling against the blankets again. There was a brief pause, but Castiel took the initiative and walked over, touching Spencer on the forehead.
Spencer calmed only slightly, and he was still wriggling beneath the sheets.
"What is it?" Sam went over to the bed, his anger dampened by the sight of Spencer suffering. "What's wrong?"
"He doesn't want to wake up." Castiel tilted his head to the side. "He does, but he doesn't."
Dean hovered by Castiel, leaning over Spencer. "Well, don't wake him up, just make him sleep like you did last time."
Castiel shook his head slowly. "No… no, that upset him. There is something about the stopping of the memory that is bothering him. He doesn't like where he is, but he wants to stay there." He put both hands on either side of Spencer's face, staring at his forehead intensely, as if he could literally see into Spencer's brain. "He senses danger. He fears what is outside his current memory more than what is in it. It's possible a change in consciousness is something that happens in the memory itself and currently stands between him and the part of the memory he is most afraid of."
Spencer wriggled, tossing his head free of Castiel's hands. "No, I won't… I won't choose."
Sam clenched his fists, feeling utterly helpless, wishing there was a magic something he could drink to make it better. "Spencer, what's happening? Tell me what's happening."
"No… no… I won't do it…" Spencer struggled, pushing Castiel's hands away when they tried to touch his head again. "No! I won't do it!" He shouted the words, and they were no longer filled with fear, but anger.
"I don't understand." Castiel shook his head. "I am only getting pieces. His memories are blurring together, and I can't untangle them. It's… as if they are meant to be that way."
Sam crawled onto the bed and grabbed Spencer by the arms, shaking him harder than he had the last time. "Spencer! Spencer, we aren't gonna make you do anything."
"I'm so sorry… I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…" Spencer's voice was suddenly soft, subdued.
Dean knelt by the head of the bed. "Poindexter, it's okay. Whatever you did—"
"I'm sorry, Mom… I'm so sorry, Mom… I thought I could do it…" Tear tracks stained his cheeks.
"Spencer, wake up!" Sam shook Spencer hard, but it didn't do anything.
"…but I'm too weak, I… I can't… I can't, I'm so sorry…"
Sam and Castiel were both pushed aside, Sam nearly toppling off the bed as Dean lined up his arm and swung. Sam heard the sharp sound of a backhand ringing out, and his hand flew to his own cheek instinctively.
Spencer jerked awake, gasping and panting, scrambling backward to lean against the headboard.
"Woah, woah! Hey, it's okay." Dean held up his hands in a display of surrender, a move which made Castiel back away from the bed and hover in the background, as he was apt to do. "It's okay, Poindexter."
"Spencer," Sam got back on the bed and sat down, speaking softly. "Do you know where you are?"
Spencer nodded rapidly, fresh tears falling from his eyes.
Sam wet his lips, soothed the pounding in his chest, and used the task of helping Spencer to shove the rest of his anger aside. "Spencer…" he cleared his throat, "…you wanna talk?"
"No." Spencer snorted out a sarcastic laugh and wiped his eyes. "But I should. Long-term exposure therapy is the most successful treatment method for PTSD, after all."
Sam smiled and put his hand on Spencer's knee, giving it a quick squeeze before drawing his hand back to his lap. "Just share as much as you feel comfortable with."
Spencer rubbed his eyes again and grabbed a pillow, hugging it tight and curling up against the head of the bed. "Tobias Hankel… he had multiple personality disorder… his father was obsessed with religion and extremely abusive… and when he died, Tobias took on his personality… and then the third personality was… some kind of happy medium… that wasn't all that happy… the archangel, Raphael."
Castiel shifted, and Sam hoped he would realize it wasn't a good idea to talk about real angelic things at that exact moment.
"I got kidnapped while working the case… long story… and he kept trying to get me to confess my sins. I kept telling him I was innocent…" Spencer shook his head. "He didn't believe me… tortured me for a while… then told me to pick someone for him to kill." Spencer bit down on his lip. "I wouldn't… for a long time… but I eventually said I would pick someone to live… and he killed one of the other three." Spencer sniffed, keeping his eyes glued to the mattress, as if he had something to be ashamed of.
Sam's heart ached.
"He… he kill—I flatlined… Tobias took over and performed CPR… Raphael said I survived for a reason… my team has seven members, like the seven trumpets in Revelation… and… he told me to pick… a member of my team… I fought that the hardest, but… eventually gave up Hotch… I used it to relay a message, and Hotch knew right away but… it made me sick…"
"How did you get a message out?" It was Castiel who asked, and Sam inwardly cursed, hoping the question wouldn't do any damage.
Somewhere in his brain where he wasn't fuming, logic told him Castiel wasn't all that adept at human interaction and probably had no idea the fine line he was walking. But most of Sam was angry and didn't care and wanted to chuck something at the angel's head.
Spencer sniffed. "I told Raphael… Hotch was a textbook narcissist… then I said… Genesis 23:4… 'Let him not deceive himself and trust in emptiness, vanity, falseness, and futility, for these shall be his recompense.'"
Castiel's face was twisted with confusion. "But that is incorrect."
Sam winced imperceptibly. Please let that be okay.
It was, and Spencer nodded with a weak but proud sort of smile. "Exactly. Hotch and I… we talked about textbook narcissism on the plane before the case… so I knew he would pay attention to what I said… and look up the verse… which is actually—"
"'I am a sojourner and a foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight,'" Castiel finished, nodding affirmatively.
Spencer smiled—a goofy, weak, half-asleep smile—and nodded. "Different translation, but yeah… I was being kept in a cemetery." He sniffed again. "I left them some other clues like that… led them to my location…"
"That was quite clever," Castiel complimented, thankfully making no comment about the accuracy of his translation over Spencer's. "Your tormentor would not have found the inclusion of Scripture strange, as he was using religion to justify his killing, yet his gross misinterpretation told you he was not truly an angel and would not know Scripture well enough to catch you."
Spencer nodded again. "Yeah, that's exactly it…"
Sam let out an inaudible sigh of relief when it became apparent Spencer was too disoriented to ask what Castiel meant by 'not truly an angel.'
Spencer sighed and looked down at his arms. Then he looked over at Sam, a guilty expression tainting his features. "I, uh… I was in a lot of pain… from the torture… but when Tobias would take over, he tried to make me feel better the only way he knew how… which was a psychedelic spliced with…"
"Dilaudid," Sam offered gently. "He gave it to you, and by the time you got rescued, you were hooked. Is that it?"
Spencer nodded a few times, chewing on his lip. "Yup. That was years ago, and now… I'm sitting in a motel with the Winchesters coming down from a week-long Dilaudid high. So…"
"Your addiction is not your fault, Spencer." Sam almost admitted out loud that Spencer had more of an excuse to be addicted than Sam. After all, Sam willingly drank demon blood the first time around… and the time after that, and the time after that, and…
Dean cleared his throat. "You wanna talk about your mom?"
Spencer shook his head adamantly, fresh tears springing up in his eyes.
Dean held his hands up in a gesture of surrender and immediately backed off. "Okay, that's cool. We don't have to talk about her."
Spencer flashed a grateful smile that faded instantly, and he looked down at his pillow, taking a deep breath. He shook his head and seemed to struggle with his words for a moment.
"Tobias… was innocent… and that was hard."
Sam and Dean exchanged a brief look, a wordless agreement of silence passing between them as they mutually decided to let Spencer reveal at his own pace.
"His brain fractured to protect him from the abuse, and the drugs… he just wanted to escape. I know what that's like… I know how it feels… for everything to hurt so much… you'd do anything to make it stop. I've… I've been suicidal… it's been a long time, but that's… that's a pain you don't forget… not on your own… not without… something…"
Sam made a conscious effort not to let his eyes wander. He did not want to catch Dean or Castiel's gazes while suicide was the topic of conversation.
"For Tobias, the only way he could escape was putting this… mind-altering substance into his body… something to forcibly disconnect him from reality. He wanted to feel better… that's all." Spencer shook his head slowly. "He just… used it too much. Nobody ever helped him, nobody got him out of the hell he was in… so he just kept going and going until there wasn't very much… him left."
Sam really wasn't looking at Dean or Castiel, and he was pretty sure his face was starting to heat up against his will. He hoped Spencer was still too out of it to notice.
"He… the last thing he said… after I shot him, he said, 'You killed him.'" Spencer inhaled deeply. "He just… looked so happy… and then he asked… 'Do you think I'll get to see my mom again?' …and then he was gone."
Sam winced at the physical pain the words caused, his brow creasing with sympathy; though he couldn't deny the swell of relief he felt when the conversation no longer resembled his personal struggles.
"But, you know, there's no known way to cure multiple personality disorder." Spencer started to talk a little faster, agitated, eyes misting up. "You can learn to get along with your different personalities and function in society, but once you've killed… but he was innocent, and it was… it was like there was this evil… thing in him, and the only way to kill the evil was to kill him, too. His only crime was having a breakable brain and a terrible life… and I shot him."
Sam and Dean exchanged yet another look, and Sam tried to give Spencer a sympathetic smile. There was nothing they could say, for obvious reasons, but they both understood the sentiment more than Spencer realized.
Demons. That was all Sam could think of. Demons possessing people, forcing them to ruin their own lives, and ultimately dragging them into a violent death. Then all Sam could think of was how demon blood enabled him to kill demons without harming the host. Then all Sam could think about was anger, so he immediately shut that train of thought down.
"It, uh…" Dean pulled his phone from his pocket and looked at the clock. "It's still gonna be about an hour or so until Morgan gets here. You want that tea now?"
Spencer curled up a little tighter and nodded his head. "Yeah… that would be nice." He sniffed and glanced up at them before dropping his gaze again. "You can finish your argument. Don't mind me."
Sam was startled, but he tried not to let it show on his face. "How did you know we were fighting?"
"Your body language is different than it was before I fell asleep. You're subconsciously leaning away from Dean… Dean is subconsciously leaning toward you… he's trying to make you smile, and when you don't, it shows on his face. You're staying calm for my sake, but your micro expressions tell me you're angry. Castiel…" Spencer tilted his head to the side in an ironically 'Castiel' sort of way. "I don't know yet. I can't get a read. I'll have to keep observing."
There was something vindictive about Castiel being the one examined like a bug under a microscope, but Sam kept any validation he may have felt off his face. Or at least, he thought he did. Maybe he had used some of those micro expressions again.
Sam cleared his throat and stood up, pointing briefly to the kitchen area. "I'll get your tea. Do you want anything in it?"
Spencer shook his head. "I can't have dairy, and sugar is an inflammatory substance, so it'll only make things worse." He shifted on the bed, curling up a little tighter. "I, uh… I don't remember… if I thanked you yet. But, um, thank you… for not calling the cops or kicking me out…"
Dean leaned back slightly, relaxing on the mattress. "Well, it's not the best idea for us to be calling the cops." He shrugged his shoulders. "But there was no way we were leaving you like that. Heck, I wasn't on board with Sam's plan to call your fed friends, but I still said from the beginning we'd help you get through this before leaving."
Sam stuck a spoon in the cup with the teabag and reheated water, and then he carried it over to Spencer and sat down on the other bed. He put the drink on the nightstand with a small smile. "You might want to let that cool."
Sam rested his elbows on his knees and gestured toward Spencer. "You, uh, you haven't said anything about us being psychopathic killers. I thought maybe you were too out of it to realize who we are, but… you referred to us as the Winchesters, so..."
Spencer smiled slightly but stopped short before he could speak. He wrapped his arms around his midsection and curled up, grunting softly.
"S'okay… just cramps…" Spencer inhaled through his nose and exhaled through his mouth, shaking his head slowly. "If they're starting up again… my joints and muscles are gonna be aching soon… more than they already are, I mean…"
An uneasy silence settled over the room, but after a few moments, Spencer started to breathe again.
"M'okay." Spencer gave a weak smile and inched a little closer to the tea on the nightstand. "You guys don't have to stay if you don't want to. I think the worst of it is over. I, uh, I'll be fine on my own until Morgan gets here."
Dean pursed his lips and shook his head. "Nah. We're emotionally involved now."
Spencer laughed softly and took the steaming beverage into his hands, sipping carefully. "Ouch, still too hot." He smacked his lips a few times and set the cup down. "Sam, you asked about me knowing who you are."
Dean gave Sam a disparaging look, but there was a hopeful playfulness to it. "Way to go, Sam." Which, according to the soft shades of green, actually meant, 'I hate fighting with you.'
Sam managed a weak smile, but he couldn't do much more, so he directed his attention at Spencer. "Yeah. You just… seem very calm."
"Well, that's probably because you're not psychopaths." Spencer smiled, too, a little brighter than Sam. "I can tell you aren't psychopaths by the simple fact that you're sitting here with me. If you were psychopaths, you would have either left or killed me, and you wouldn't have thought twice. You definitely wouldn't have called for help and stuck around." He gave his tea another experimental sip, and that one must have been good, because he kept the mug in his hands. "Even before that, though, there was no way you were psychopaths. Too many people spoke highly of you, even if they wouldn't give details, and refused to give information that might lead to your arrest. This is something we see with vigilantes a lot, so even if you were serial killers, you weren't sadists and you weren't psychopaths. Then there's the matter of the grave desecration." Spencer shook his head, confusion twisting his features. "That would play into the delusion of the supernatural, because that's how you get rid of lingering spirits, but it wouldn't have been something you, in Agent Henrikson's words, 'got off on.' You were too careful and methodical in the way you burned the bodies, and you weren't coming back weeks after the fact to burn the bodies of your so-called victims." He took another sip and shrugged. "I could go on, but I think you get the idea. You were very non-psychopathic psychopaths, even on paper."
Dean squinted, tilting his head to the side and slowly lifting a finger. "How… do you know about the lingering spirit thing?"
Spencer blushed slightly and looked down. "Um… Halloween is my favorite holiday. It has been, ever since I was a kid." He shrugged his shoulders, obviously embarrassed. "I guess… maybe because I have so much knowledge regarding science and math. I… I like things that can't be explained…" He glanced up, red-faced, and then looked back down. "Um, Morgan hates Halloween, so he's always making fun of me."
Sam frowned, but there was a playfulness to it. "Well, geeze, what's his deal?"
"I think it's our jobs." Spencer shook his head slowly, a vacant sort of look going into his eyes. "People are always wearing masks, lying to us… pretending to be someone or something they're not. I think having a day where everyone is going around with masks over their masks is just… really stressful for him." Spencer shrugged his shoulders. "I get where he's coming from. We deal with monsters that are all-too-human. We don't need to deal with monster monsters, too."
Dean pursed his lips and nodded a few times. "Yeah, I can see that." He looked at Spencer for a moment. "You're not treating us like we're delusional… but you still think we are delusional. How's that work?"
Spencer squirmed a little. "Um… I am withholding judgement." He wet his lips. "I have… seen some things I can't explain. I don't have a problem with the supernatural being real, but when working your case—or any case—I have to be objective." He offered a weak smile. "But even if I wasn't open to the idea of the supernatural, I… don't take this the wrong way, but… my mom is a paranoid schizophrenic, so if there's one thing I can do really, really well, it's talk to crazy people without making them feel crazy."
Dean and Sam looked at each other for a long moment, silent words flying back and forth between them, and then they both nodded and looked back at Spencer.
"So, if you can pretend the supernatural exists… and if you feel up to a distraction… we wouldn't mind your help on the case we're working." Sam watched Spencer, cautiously gauging his reaction.
Spencer considered the offer for a moment, and then he started to nod. "If you pull the table over here… we'll have two chairs and the bed, and we can all sit around the table." He started to move and then stopped, suddenly self-conscious. "Um… I mean, that's how we—at the FBI, we have a conference table, but, uh, we can do it however."
Dean shrugged his shoulders and got to his feet. "Sounds good to me. Let's get moving here."
Spencer set his tea down and tried to stand, but he didn't get far before he sat back down. "Ow… my knees… and my ankles… and my everything…"
Sam gave him a smile and waved it off. "Don't worry about it. Just rest and drink your tea, we can move things."
Sam moved to get the chairs at the same time Castiel left the wall and started for the door. Sam cleared his throat but kept his gaze pointed downward, focusing on the chair he was picking up. "Castiel."
Everybody froze, and there was silence in the room.
"Stay. You might be able to give good input."
There was another round of silence, and then Castiel walked away from the door to grab the other chair. Sam didn't look at him, and he didn't smile, but the olive branch he had decided on was going to have to be enough.
It took a few minutes, but soon they were crowded around the table with case files and Sam's laptop. Spencer took to hunting naturally, immediately noting the patterns and having suggestions about what kind of creature they might be dealing with. They brainstormed, both hunters bringing what they knew to the table for Castiel and Spencer to point out oddities in. Spencer was great at catching inconsistencies, and Castiel was able to get a read on how much power the monster had as well as whether or not they were working alone. Part way through their little investigation, Spencer took another hot shower—with help—and more ibuprofen, but then they were all back to the drawing board.
"It's not twine!"
Sam, Dean, and Castiel all startled at the sudden shout, but Spencer was oblivious, sifting through the papers on the table almost frantically.
"I saw something… in your father's journal…" Spencer paged through the book in question. "Riiiiiight… here." He turned the book around and placed it in front of them. "Arachne. It's not twine, it's webbing. I didn't think of it at first because it seems odd an Arachne would need to restrain a victim."
Sam frowned and grabbed the book, scanning the words before handing it over to Dean. "Yeah, that is odd. They have superhuman strength. If they were changing the victims, that would be one thing… but they're eating them."
"Unless he's storing food?" Dean cocked his head to the side, scowling before passing the book along to Castiel. "But that sounds more like a Wendigo."
Sam shook his head. "We already ruled out a Wendigo. We're way too close to civilization, and whatever is eating these people is leaving at least half the corpse behind."
Spencer nodded in agreement. "That's also why we ruled out the ruguru."
"Yeah, I know, I was here," Dean drawled.
"What if the Arachne is a psychopath?" Castiel didn't look up from the journal. "Doctor, you said sometimes psychopaths play out… fantasies, yes?"
Spencer, who had very enthusiastically accepted the name Castiel gave him from the get-go, nodded his head. "Yeah. That's why they keep killing. They keep trying to get it just right, but it never is."
"It could be possible this Arachne has a fantasy. That is why the victims are restrained. It interacts with the humans it takes, trying to find one to fit in its… fantasy… and when the human doesn't meet the standard, they are eaten and discarded."
Spencer shook his head. "But… wouldn't there be a victim type then?"
Castiel contemplated the question for a moment and then nodded. "Oh, yes. My apologies."
"No, wait." Sam started going through the papers again. "Wait, wait, wait, I think there is a victim type." He pulled out the sheet of victims he had created. "Okay, seven victims, killed in this order: Female, 43; Male, 17; Female 8; Female, 38; Male; 15; Female, 12; Female, 40."
Dean slammed his hands on the table. "He's making a family!"
Spencer covered his ears at the loud noise but quietly cheered nonetheless.
"Oh, my bad."
Spencer was opening his mouth to accept the apology when the door flew open, banging against the wall.
Spencer winced again, but the pain caused by noise wasn't nearly enough to drown out the joy on his face when he saw who was standing there. "Morgan!"
Derek Morgan, apparently the man inching closer with his weapon drawn, gave everyone in the room a long, hard stare before looking at Spencer. "Reid, can I put my gun away?"
Sam was surprised by that—by the amount of trust they clearly shared—and he was relieved to see Spencer nodding.
"It's fine, Morgan. Everything's fine." Spencer flashed a quick smile. "Um, this is Sam, Dean, and Castiel."
Morgan slowly lowered his weapon, engaged the safety, and tucked the gun into the back of his pants. He eyeballed the trio cautiously, which Sam couldn't really blame him for, and then he looked at Spencer.
"You're freakin' dead, Pretty Boy."
Spencer winced—as did Sam—and ducked his head. "I know. Michigan really messed me up, and I—"
"Oh, no, no, no. Uh-uh." Morgan wagged his finger in Spencer's face. "No, I'm not talking about you falling off the wagon. I'm talking about you not calling me the minute you decided you were going off the stuff."
Sam felt awkward, but they couldn't leave without their stuff, and trying to clean up would draw attention to himself that he didn't want. He looked at Dean, but Dean appeared to be in the same boat, standing by the table, one hand still on their father's journal.
"Sorry, Morgan… I just… I promised last time was… well, the last time."
"Yeah, I know. Trust me, Reid, I'm ticked off. But come on, man, you gotta know I would have been here." Morgan leaned forward and grabbed Reid's shoulder. "Listen. I can get over a broken promise and some anger and hurt feelings. What I can't get over is my little brother thinking I won't be there when he needs me, no matter what he's done."
Sam made the mistake of looking at Dean. He hadn't expected Dean to be looking at him already, and he hadn't expected to make eye contact, and he hadn't expected Dean to look so vulnerable. He hadn't expected to feel so guilty and alone and miserable.
"I know, Morgan. I'm sorry." Spencer rubbed his arm, eyes still downcast.
"Man, we'll deal with apologies later. We can talk about Michigan, and everything that went wrong, and how it wasn't your fault—" Morgan stopped and gave Spencer a poignant look, "—and everything else on your mind. Just tell me how you are, kid."
"Pretty good." Spencer smiled. "Sam and Dean and Castiel took good care of me."
Derek narrowed his eyes slightly, but he didn't direct any anger toward anyone, least of all the trio standing off to the side. "You're pretty good? Is that the same kind of 'pretty good' you felt when you got shot in the knee and told Hotch you were ready for flying and field work when you weren't?"
"Um…" Spencer looked up at the ceiling. "I told you, that was a second opinion."
"If I didn't know you have a headache, I'd smack you." Morgan shook his head and let out a heavy sigh. "Just lay down and get some sleep." He looked up at the other three individuals present. "I take it you guys wanna hit the road?"
Castiel frowned and shook his head. "What would striking the road do? They are quite solid, and unless—"
Dean nudged him on the arm. "Cas, stop."
Morgan looked like he wanted to smile at that, but he didn't allow himself any such reaction. Instead, he gestured to the files on the table. "Just take what's yours, and we'll clean the rest up."
Sam nodded jerkily and moved to get his bag. "Yup, sure thing."
Dean gave a thumbs up and moved in the opposite direction.
Sam got the feeling neither of them could leave fast enough.
"Wait," Spencer held his hands out when Sam began to put the files away. "Can you stop the Arachne?"
Sam slowly looked at Morgan, whose face didn't reveal much, and then back at Spencer. "Um, the only way to kill an Arachne is to behead it. It's not too hard."
Spencer chewed on his lip. "If it sticks to its pattern, a teenage boy is going to die in four days."
"Kid, don't sweat it." Dean grabbed the files that wouldn't fit in Sam's bag and put them in his own. "This is our job. We'll find the son of a spider, gank it, and nobody else has to die."
Morgan put his hands on his hips. "Woah, woah, woah. What's that you said?"
Dean put his hands on his hips, too, standing toe-to-toe with the federal agent. "I said it's our job. We'll find the Arachne and kill it before it kills anyone else."
"You mean you'll kill someone you think is a mythical creature," Morgan retorted.
"Sure, whatever helps you sleep at night, toots." Dean grinned like a devil, and Sam knew things were going to go south very quickly. "Poindexter said you're scared of Halloween. I get it if you can't deal with real monsters."
Sam was in the middle of stepping toward them, fully intending to break them apart, when someone else joined the party.
"Morgan, Winchester, stand down." It was another FBI agent—it had to be, it just had to be, based on the suit alone—and between his strong jaw, sharp eyes, and commanding tone, Sam got the idea it was an agent who wasn't used to being ignored.
Dean must have realized the same thing, because he took a step back in unison with Morgan, both of them sending dirty looks across open air.
"Morgan," Spencer whined softly. "You said you weren't gonna tell him."
"I had to, kid. You know I had to." Morgan looked apologetic nonetheless.
So… this is the infamous Hotch.
Hotch, as if sensing he had been identified, looked at Sam. "You were packing, I believe?"
"Yes, sir." Sam immediately resumed the task, and when Dean looked like he might balk, Sam was quick to punch him on the arm. "Pack, Dean."
"Okay, okay, geeze…" Dean picked up where he left off, and in seconds, the table was cleaned off.
Hotch moved his hand in a slight gesture, and Morgan stepped out of the way, grabbing the table they had cleared and getting to work. Sam readily joined him, needing a reason to get out of the living portion of the room.
Castiel, on the other hand, had found a kindred spirit and was openly staring.
Hotch either didn't notice him—unlikely—or didn't care, because he sat on the bed across from Spencer and started what Sam could only assume was a lecture.
"Reid, we've talked about this."
"I know, sir. I'm sorry, sir."
Sam totally wasn't listening in. Obviously. Because he was looking at the groceries he had picked up from the store. He couldn't even see what they were doing. Not that he needed to. Because he wasn't listening in.
"You have to call me when you're craving, Reid. You cannot keep doing this."
"I know, sir. I—"
"Do you?" Hotch's tone was sharp. "If someone else had found you tonight? If the Winchesters decided to kill you instead of help you? Did you have any kind of backup plan? When you knew you were going to be detoxing, alone, in a motel with shoddy locks, did you develop any kind of plan whatsoever?"
Spencer was silent for a second, and his voice was thick when he spoke again. "I was kinda high, Hotch."
"I don't care if you were on Pluto. That's not acceptable, Reid." Hotch sighed, and Sam could practically feel the disappointment; he knew Spencer could, too. "I know this has been a rough year for you. I understand the need to escape."
Spencer exhaled sharply, something not quite brave enough to be a scoff. "I don't think you do."
"Then you would be wrong, not for the first time." Hotch had absolutely no bite in his tone, but there was no flexibility, either. "Reid, it is my job to keep you safe, healthy, and a successfully functioning member of the team. There are a lot of ways to achieve those goals, and the path I am choosing right now is not the most effective."
Sam slowly turned, pretending to go through the bags but actually watching Castiel as discreetly as possible.
"If I wanted to choose the most effective path—the safest one, the legal one, the one my superiors would have me choose—then I would take your badge and gun and send you to rehab. I haven't done that because I do understand. I understand that this job is a source of stability for you; that even though cases are often the triggers behind your relapses, taking you away from the BAU would do more harm than good."
Castiel nodded as he listened, his expression one of complete admiration, as if he were listening to some sage advice.
"You're living your life, and it's as close to normal as I can get it for you. But that means I can't give you any leniency when you have these setbacks. Not because I don't understand, and not because I don't care, but because I am already doing everything I can, and giving you anymore leeway would lead to you losing your job or dying or both. I am not willing to risk that, even if you are."
Castiel smiled to himself—not a lot, but definitely real—and nodded in agreement. Sam looked away before Castiel had a chance to catch him staring, hands immediately picking up where they left off.
"Uh, here," Sam murmured, keeping his voice down but pushing one of the bags toward Morgan. "He seemed to like the tea, and there's a blood pressure cuff in there. I took the sleeping pills and painkillers—sorry, but we need those."
Morgan hesitated but eventually took the bag with a grateful nod.
Sam cleared his throat. "Um, just for the record, we're not serial killers."
Morgan cracked a small smile. "Yeah, I think I got that." He snorted and shook his head, letting out a soft sigh and looking past Sam to the bed where Hotch and Reid were still conversing. "I still think you're crazy as all get-out, but you took care of my boy. No matter who you are or what you've done, that makes you okay in my book."
Sam smiled, pleased to see they were building not awful relationships with FBI agents, but even with that nice feeling, he wasn't expecting it when Morgan held out a hand to shake.
"Nice to meet you," the agent said. "Derek Morgan, FBI."
Sam grinned and grabbed the hand. "Sam Winchester. The feeling is mutual."
They shook, and there was a shared respect between them by the time their hands dropped.
"Hey, Sammy, I got the Impala packed." Dean came back in the room—Sam hadn't even noticed he was gone—and snapped his fingers to get Castiel's attention. "Cas, let's hit the road."
Castiel looked at them and tilted his head sharply. "Again with the assault of pavement… I do not understand the benefit."
"It just means we're gonna leave now, Cas." Dean jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "We're gonna move our feet and walk out."
Sam was pretty sure that was a subtle reminder to not fly.
Spencer stood up from the bed but then dropped back down, grunting quietly.
"Stay down, Poindexter," Dean ordered as Hotch put a hand on Spencer's shoulder to enforce the command.
"I just wanted to thank you again." Spencer smiled at them, eyes half-lidded and red. He must have been crying to some extent. "Maybe we'll cross paths someday. Working a case?"
Sam's smile mirrored Spencer's. "If we're lucky, maybe."
Dean pointed to the messenger bag on the windowsill. "I put some business cards with names in your bag. If you ever need anything… you ever come across a case that can't be explained with a profile, you give us a call, and we'll be there."
Spencer looked over his shoulder at the bag and then smiled at them once more. "I wrote a couple numbers in the back of one of the case files for you." He grinned a little wider. "I'll see you around."
Sam and Dean both gave a thumbs up, and after a moment of staring, Castiel did something that looked similar. Then they turned and went out the door, leaving the young agent to finish out his withdrawals with his family—because there was no way they were just friends and teammates with a bond like that.
No one said a word as they walked. They arrived at the Impala, they all got in, and no one questioned why Castiel was sitting in the back.
Dean didn't start the engine.
Sam scratched at the pantleg of his jeans.
Castiel didn't even sound like he was breathing.
It was still. It was silent.
"I don't want to do this, Dean." Sam thought his voice cracked.
"I know, Sammy." Dean's might have, too.
Sam took a shaky breath. He looked out the window.
"I wish I could give you what you want," Dean whispered.
Sam pressed his lips together and continued to stare out the window. "Castiel."
There was movement in the back of the car, but no words were spoken.
"You knew the whole time." It wasn't a question. "That's why you wouldn't leave."
Castiel hummed but offered nothing more than that.
Dean let out a soft sigh but stayed in his own portion of the Impala, unmoving.
Sam pressed his forehead against the chilled glass and fought off a whimper at the thought of how excruciating the next several days would be. He inhaled. He shut his eyes.
"I'm sorry." Sam barely breathed the words.
"I know, Sammy." Dean was audible, but somehow just as soft and quiet.
Sam took another breath, phantom pain already traveling across his body. "Don't leave me?" He meant to say it as a demand, but that wasn't what came out. It wasn't even close.
"Never." Dean's hand fell on Sam's thigh.
Sam grabbed the hand and held on for dear life. "You have to promise. You can't strap me down and leave."
Even the thought of being restrained, helpless, and completely alone was enough to send Sam into a premature panic. Knowing he would be on his own if he got sick and choked on his own vomit, or if he started to seize, or if he couldn't breathe… that was the most terrifying part. Knowing he could scream for help and very easily go unheard, left to die alone in—
"Hey." Dean squeezed his hand.
Sam spared a glance, but Dean was staring dead ahead. Sam followed the example and went back to looking out the window, but he held the hand tight.
"You want me to stay?"
Sam barely managed a nod.
"You're getting what you want today, Sammy."
Sam clenched his jaw and bowed his head, wondering if he was hurting Dean's hand but too afraid to loosen his grip. I'm sorry, Dean… I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…
"I'm scared, Dean."
"I know." Squeeze. "It's gonna be okay, Sammy."
There was a moment of silence, and then Sam felt a hand on his shoulder. He stiffened, but the touch was gentle, and after a few seconds of movement from behind, another hand came to gently rest over his eyes.
"I'm going to put you to sleep now, Sam."
Sam gave Dean's hand one, final squeeze and screwed his eyes shut, bracing himself. "Th-thanks, Castiel."
If something happened after that, Sam didn't know. He felt a cool sensation rushing throughout his body, and then he was drifting down into darkness… murky blue, like the night sky above a well-lit city… quiet and calm and peaceful… and Sam realized Castiel had lied.
Castiel didn't put Sam to sleep, he put him to rest. He gave him peace, not anesthesia. And Sam knew… he knew he would be waking up to a nightmare… but if Castiel and Dean were both as invested in him as they were when he went under… then maybe, just maybe…
Maybe it was his turn to be gripped tight and raised from perdition, and maybe he was a little darker inside than Dean, so maybe it was going to take two angels instead of one, but maybe…
Maybe there was hope for Sam after all.
Maybe Sam wasn't too far gone.
Maybe it didn't matter either way.
Maybe nothing mattered, as long as Dean was by his side.
Maybe nothing really mattered at all.
"Carry on my wayward son;
There'll be peace when you are done.
Lay your weary head to rest;
Don't you cry no more."
- Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas