Over the years, Sam’s brain has dreamt up many horrendous nightmares, most of them variations of unfortunate events that have occurred on the job. But one particular nightmare has haunted Sam’s heart and mind repeatedly, the one where Lucifer has invaded his body. He can feel tendrils of a slow-burning fire spreading to the tips of every muscle and nerve in his body; he can feel his willpower fading with each pump of his heart. Then he leaps into hell, his whole body burning with Lucifer’s effort to take back control. But his face steady. If he falters, even a hair, Lucifer incinerates his control and Sam is gone.
He feels the pressure of this moment on his chest as he awakes from this nightmare for the first time in months. The weight of the world is balancing on his sternum.
He lays in bed a moment, breathing deep to release portions of the tension one shaky exhale at a time. As he does this, pieces of the dream return to him. He remembers smelling the wet dirt of Stull Cemetery and feeling a sharp wind on his cheek. And he remembers he wasn’t the one falling this time but he can’t yet picture the face. Images from the dream flash through his mind like pictures from a screen projector, one at a time, each click reminding him of a new detail. He thinks of Rowena and her demise just the day before. It’s then that he realizes who had been in his dream. It wasn’t her – it was you.
A pang of anxiety grows in his chest and his stomach, a dread he can’t shake. He turns his head over and sees that you’re fast asleep, facing him, legs curled up and hands under the pillow. He looks back up at the ceiling, closes his eyes, and lets out an audible breath. He then turns over on his side to face you, scooting close. Gently, he slips his arm underneath your head. You stir, opening your eyes. Half asleep, you follow his cues, turning over so he can pull you close and spoon you. He pulls you in tight, arm over your chest, his head tucked into your neck, folding his entire body around you.
Sam hopes he hasn’t woken you up completely, but the slight quickening of your breath alerts him to the change in your consciousness.
“Everything ok?” you say sleepily.
Sam sighs. What can he tell you? That he dreamt of you dying in a recurring nightmare? He doesn’t want you to worry, he just wants you close.
You shift under his arm, turning yourself around to face him. Foreheads almost touching, you look directly at his face, figuring out the inner workings of his brain. He can feel his vulnerability growing, his facade crumbling underneath your acute knowledge of his defenses.
You place a hand on his cheek, softly rubbing your thumb across his stubble. “What’s wrong?” you ask.
“Bad dream,” he admits.
You frown. Your hand slides from his face to his chest, resting on the mattress. You gently hook your fingers on his shirt collar.
“It’s ok,” he continues, “Nothing different from before.”
“But Sam…” you begin, more awake now. “Yesterday was not the usual.”
Sam appreciates that you don’t say Rowena’s name out loud, yet he can’t stop himself from thinking about it. “I know,” he says with a sigh.
“Tell me what’s going on,” you say, “I know you’re feeling a hundred emotions about this, but what’s bothering you right now.”
“I–” Sam tries to place a mental finger on which aspect of the dream bothers him the most. “I feel completely powerless.” As he lets that feeling out, most of the tension leaves his body. Pieces of his emotions begin falling into place like a puzzle. “I know I didn’t have a choice,” he continues, repeating what Dean said, what you were most likely to say. “But I’m tired of feeling that way. And even when I do have a choice, it was predetermined anyway.”
When he finishes, Sam can see you struggling to grapple with the weight of what he’s laid on you, understanding that you must be feeling some piece of that, too. The feeling of complete powerlessness – knowing that the very real and very alive creator of the universe had set your entire life up – is too much for anyone to grapple with.
“We’re doing the best with what we’ve been given, which is all anyone can do,” you finally say. “I’ve been struggling to believe that myself but… I think we’re going to run ourselves into the ground crazy if we keep trying to figure out what came first, the chicken or the egg, god’s plan or free will, or whatever. We kind of have to fool ourselves to keep from going crazy.”
Sam frowns. He has always believed that choices make a person who they are, but if the choices are orchestrated by an outside force… the core of his beliefs have been shattered. Does it matter when he gives another option to the creatures he hunts? Will it matter when he tries to save you from death?
“Sam,” you say, noticing his mind wandering again. “Look, I’m not asking you to stop wrestling with this idea, it’s going to take ages for us to work it out, maybe the rest of our lives, but can you do one thing for me right now?”
“What is it?”
“Kiss me, then hold me tightly again while we fall asleep, and for the next few minutes, think only about how it feels to be here together. You think you can do that?”
Sam smiles, unable to continue maintaining his defenses. He closes his eyes and rests his forehead against yours. He then does exactly what you asked, kissing you deeply until you are all he focuses on. Then, turning you over, he tucks you against him, paying attention to each part of your body that is against his – feet on his calves, arms underneath his own, your hair tickling his neck – and you fall asleep together, peaceful and dreamless.