Some part of Sam’s brain did find part of this funny.
He had always been so terrified of damaging his brain. When he was younger, he used to spend hours every night researching long term side effects of concussions. He used to sleep with a bottle of an energy drink under his pillow because he couldn’t get it out of his mind if, while sleeping, he wasn’t in contact with something with ginseng, he’d lose his mental acuity. Dean had eventually found him some ginseng green tea one day, and he put it in a flat vial and told him he had to get over using six times the amount of salt they needed, but this was easy. Sam’s neck hurt way less like that, and though it comes in disjointed, Sam remembers how safe he felt. Like he never will again.
It was funny. Of course, the thoughts came in flashes, and they were somewhat bland in flavour, like the world was still in colour but the synapses in his brain were all turning through a disconnected filter. He remembers wanting to ask Cas about if his brain was alright. He remembers the first time Cas healed him, and how he felt like he could think clearer than he had in years. He remembers looking at Cas and making sense of everything including him through new comprehension. He remembers seeing nothing but love.
It’s all so funny. Because with one touch, Cas also destroyed him.
The pain is intense, the electricity is frazzling, frying, and all he sees is Lucifer. He’s going to die, and for some reason, he’s certain he’s going back to the pit with him. Oh, right, it’s because Lucifer keeps telling him that.
Keeps telling him all the things he’s going to do to Sam, all the things he’s been creatively thinking of, simmering in his brain since Sam escaped. Lucifer as a hallucination never physically touches him, just taunts him from afar and sets him on fire, and revels in how his words make Sam crumble whether they are sadistic or simply some joke that grabs Sam’s attention.
Right now, Lucifer is asking if Sam misses him. Sam forgets anything but Lucifer, and he has some sort of awareness it’s been like that for a while. Like everything in his memory is through the lens of what Lucifer taunted him with. In a sick way, Sam does miss him. Because he’s lost and confused and terrified (mostly of Lucifer, which is also so funny ), but sometimes when Lucifer explained things just right , Sam could make sense of things again. And his brain is frazzled. He just forgot Dean’s name.
Lucifer was happy to remind him, then shocked him again to make him forget everything all over again.
Things get more and more confusing and disjointed. Sam keeps going through cycles of awareness of where he is and what is happening, but even then it only lasts a few seconds before other thoughts rework themselves. The only thing consistent is Lucifer, and Sam remembers this, that’s how it always was. Dizzy from torture or dissociated out of his mind, but there Lucifer would be, the grinning snake.
He is shocked though, when Lucifer does touch him. Because he remembers Lucifer did touch him, back there. Wait, back where? Are they in the impala? Sam remembers the sound of static when the radio was on the fritz when he was twelve. Is that where he is now? No. He was in Hell. He couldn’t keep forgetting that. This was penance. He needed to serve it. Lucifer says something about how funny it was to rape him. Sam flinches without making the connections of what he means. Decades of seconds later, flashes hit him, and he feels his body convulsing again. Then he laughs. Something was supposed to be funny, but he can’t remember what it was.
He remembers the colours of this one motel bed mattress back in... some state that began with an “I’. Summertime, he thinks, because he slept under the covers, and he ended up delirious. One time he swears Dean threw snowballs at him in the violet rain. He remembers once that Jess slapped him violently across the face when she caught him crying when Dean didn’t pick up on his birthday. It was her birthday too; it was only fair. Wait, no, that had been Lucifer? Or had Lucifer been Jess all along?
“I can tell you, you know,” Lucifer singsongs. He doesn’t look like Jessica now, just Nick, except through Sam’s eye he can see the amalgamation of angelic light and sentience roiling beneath the facade. It’s disturbing to look at. Sam can’t talk to him, but he thinks he sees Dean. Didn’t Dean once try to kill him with a machete when he was seven? Sam desperately looks to Lucifer with that thought though, because Lucifer didn’t lie about that sort of thing. Sam feels this inherently, even if he can’t remember anything to disprove or prove it. But he also does remember Lucifer envisioning and rewiring fake scenarios to help Sam remember what had happened. Said he only had so much material to play with, and what was Sam’s life if not Lucifer’s amusement park now? Now, Sam is having trouble with the difference.
Did Dean kill Amy ?
When Lucifer touches him, it’s gentle. Sam hasn’t felt that touch in, well Sam can’t remember, but he’s suffocating from it. Lucifer seems concerned, and Sam realises that Dean is there. Does he have that gun he tried to kill Sam with when he was seven?
Sam has a flash of Dean dying in a hospital bed, and he has no clue where in his memory that came from, except that it was somehow connected to all this electricity and fried mess inside his brain.
Why is Lucifer concerned? The look on his face doesn’t make sense. Nothing makes sense, though, so why is Sam still desperately trying to figure it out? Lucifer said that once, if Sam didn’t always try to make sense of everything it’d be easier. Why can’t Sam just accept it? Let go? Give into his brain’s coping mechanisms better. But even when he lost himself in a haze of pain or violation, Sam couldn’t let himself let go of trying to test what was happening in his brain. Lucifer says something about trying to heal Sam now.
But it doesn’t work. Everything is calm for a moment. Sam drifts off into flashes of the colour of dark green trees at dusk against a cyan skyline before they switch their dance to gunshots and targets. He was a good shot? He loved his dad so much. He doesn’t feel safe.
“Sam,” Dean says. Sam remembers Dean. He loves Dean. “You gotta say yes to him, okay you gotta,” he says. Sam’s eyes widen. Lucifer smirks at him.
“Your brother agrees it’s time for me to wear you to prom. Think you’re strong enough to beat me this time? Do you ever remember your own name?”
Sam is terrified. He starts shaking his head adamantly. Lucifer looks genuinely sad about it.
“I understand,” Lucifer says. “And obviously I would never entertain this if it weren’t the last hope. I just want to fix some of the damage I brought upon you.” Sam would laugh if he had any energy left. He wants to ask Dean if when he dies if he’s headed to the pit. He’s pretty certain he will be, and he’s pretty certain there is no escape from this neverending distress.
“Sam, please!” Dean says. Doesn’t Dean get it? Sam isn’t strong enough to defeat Lucifer again. If he says yes, the world will be destroyed. At least, morally Sam can see that clear as day. But he also never wants to say yes to Lucifer again because giving Lucifer permission to use his body never ends. It never ends, and he can’t let the words come out of his mouth.
“I’m not strong enough to defeat him again, Dean, I’m not,” Sam tries to explain.
“Of course you aren’t,” Lucifer says, and he seems very different than he was a few seconds ago. “Did you ever really defeat me? Or did I just make you my little bitch in the end? Consumed by his madness? Does it really matter if you saved the world from me? Are you really noble enough to think it’s worth it?”
It’s worth it .
It has to be worth it.
“He’s not going to fight you,” Dean says, a little confused. “You’re not going to fight him, are you, Cas?”
“Of course not,” Lucifer says hurriedly. “I never should have done this to you in the first place, Sam.”
“You’re just saying that because you can’t do anything unless I say yes,” Sam says, and for the first time in a very long time, with his mind turned into white television buzz and flinching every time Lucifer moves, he feels something like power. “You need me to say yes. I won’t make the same mistake twice.”
“So it was a mistake to save the world? Tsk, tsk, Sammy,” Lucifer taunts.
“I didn’t mean that,” Sam replies quickly. He’s terrified. He looks between Lucifer and Dean, both looking at him very very concerned. “I didn’t mean that, Dean. Do you? Do you want me to say yes to him?” Sam said, and for some reason it came out small and vulnerable. He thinks of what happened, and can’t remember anything but overwhelming terror. The thought that Dean would want him to go through it again is eviscerating.
“Yes, please, Sammy for me,” Dean pleads, and it’s that broken wine bottle that would shine red in the sunlight, but instead shown red from the sharp shards on his foot. Now he knows that blood is tainted. This, he can remember. He can remember.
“Dean, he should only say yes if he wants to,” Lucifer says, which is confusing. Is Lucifer still that convinced that Sam will say yes to him? Oh , Sam remembers, Oh I am in the cage. Lucifer is taunting me in the cage right now. I’ve already said yes.
And he promised himself he would never say yes again.
That ! Was part of what Lucifer taunted him with! He remembers now! This was clear, and bright, distinctive. It became what he was for decades. He would say anything but yes. No matter what Lucifer bargained with him for. He couldn’t say yes.
“You should just give up,” Sam says. “Millions of years this, or that, or,” Sam says. He forgets what he meant to say. He forgets the whole conversation. He looks at Dean who is looking at him with fear, but Sam’s response is betrayal. He feels it deep in his chest. He can’t remember why, but Dean was okay with. Dean wanted. Dean wanted him to.
He couldn’t think that, maybe it’s for the best, it’s for the best.
He remembers something about a ginseng teabag. Whatever it represents is the farthest from the truth.
“I think I may be able to heal some of the damage,” Lucifer says. “I can’t fix what’s happening to him. The wall is broken. But there was some physical damage done to him recently. I might be able to clear that up.”
“Why didn’t you?” Dean asks, and he sounds very pissed. Sam flinches.
“Because I think it’s protecting him too. His brain is having trouble processing what’s going on, and it can be a blessing, to not know what’s going on,” Lucifer explains. It seems very contrary, Sam realises. Doesn’t Lucifer always want to help Sam realise what is going on? Wait, no, Lucifer also did taunt him about how much easier it would be if Sam lost himself completely. Maybe that was Lucifer’s way of showing how he loved him?
Sam thinks of water droplets on cobwebs and deeming them worth celebrating in Halloween until a case where a giant spider bit Dean before John could shoot it, and when Dean came back to the motel, he’d been delirious for several days.
“Do it!” Dean says. Lucifer leans in, touches Sam again, gently, and when his grace pours into Sam, it reminds him a lot of Cas. Despite the fact Sam’s sure this is another one of Lucifer’s games where he taunts Sam for his feelings for Cas, it makes him smile. Cas is dead, at least that’s the only impression Sam can get about the concept of Castiel in his mind, and it feels so good to feel him, to feel his essence, like the spring breeze on a cooler day in California. He’s been to California? Where hasn’t he been, he supposes.
Something in his brain clears a bit. Like that first time Cas healed him, except more acute. His vision clears. He feels feverish, but aware of being feverish. He looks to Lucifer in terror. He might cling to it, but he actually hates being aware for this.
“What are you going to do to me?” he dares to ask. For some reason, he has to. It’s been a while since Lucifer tortured him with anything besides taunting and burning and sleep deprivation.
“Nothing you don’t want me to,” Lucifer says.
“You can tell me I want it all you want, I never will,” Sam says. It’s a defense, and a feeble one at that, but he clings to it because he’s pretty sure Lucifer wants to destroy him by convincing him otherwise.
And he always feels like he has to fight Lucifer or the world will end. He doesn’t physically, most of the time--he can’t. But there are certain ways he can never give in. He started this fighting, and fight he will for decades. Otherwise, the world will end.
(Except no it won’t, not really, because Michael and Lucifer were trapped here with him and. Him and. Adam . Who has seen it all. Who has.)
But he can’t risk it. What if he lets the world end?
“I refuse to do this. He can’t consent like this, anyways,” Lucifer says. Sam rolls his eyes. When did Lucifer ever worry about consent? Sam does hold onto that, that technically Sam letting him possess him once doesn’t actually give Lucifer the right to do anything with or to his body for eternity. Even if to Lucifer, it did.
You let me in. You wanted me, partner.... I do believe I got you bunk buddy.
“Cas, please. You did this. You can’t let him die,” Dean says. Sam is a bit confused.
“Oh yeah,” Lucifer said. “This little scenario your good pal, or should I say, your humiliating object of desire, Cas, is alive. I did it special just for you.”
Dean grabs Sam’s hand, and Sam full-body recoils away from him. He’s honestly shocked he had that much energy. Oh, he finally remembers. I’m in a hospital. Dean digs his finger into the flesh of Sam’s hand, and it hurts .
Oh , Sam remembers. I’ve lost my mind. I’m dying because of hallucinations from Lucifer .
He sees Lucifer grinning at him.
“This isn’t real,” Sam finally says. “I’m not in the cage.”
“Maybe,” Lucifer says. “But you’re going to be really soon.”
Dean’s entire body sags in relief.
“I found a way to save you,” Dean says. “Cas, he’s going to possess you to hea--”
“Dean,” Sam says very urgently, because he knows this now, now that he knows this isn’t an elaborate illusion. “Cas is dead.” Leviathans. Black goo.
Dean did kill Amy.
“No, no he’s not. He’s right here,” Dean says, and he points to Lucifer.
“Oh? Am I Castiel? I think Dean’s got the wrong angel being brought back from the dead. Oops. I forgot to tell you, Sam. I escaped.” Sam’s hands shake. He doesn’t dare look at the state of them. He’s surprised he has enough energy to expend so much on fear.
“I’m pretty sure that’s Lucifer,” Sam says, dread consuming him. “Do you have the horseman rings? I’ll,” Sam gulps. “I don’t think... I’m so tired.”
“It’s not Lucifer,” Dean says. “It’s Cas. You’re still seeing things, Sam. He needs to heal you.”
“Cas wouldn’t try to possess me,” Sam says. He needs this to be true.
“Cas did this to you,” Dean says, and he’s livid. Sam does think Lucifer looks a little affected by that. Sam tries to dig his finger into his palm again, but it does nothing to clear Lucifer away.
“Cas isn’t Lucifer,” Sam says. He knows. He knows he remembers because of Cas. He knows Cas brought this upon him and crumbled every protection he has. But Cas isn’t Lucifer. Cas wouldn’t do what Lucifer did to him. He’s certain.
“So say yes to him,” Dean says, urges.
“That’s Lucifer,” Sam points out.
“Sam, please! Just say yes to him!”
“Dean, stop!” Lucifer exclaims. Sam flinches at it. “Sam, I want to possess you. I promise I won’t hurt you. You can say no. I will not bother you again. But I don’t know how else to help you.”
Sam glances desperately at Dean.
“ Please , Sammy.”
Sam still can’t tell if this is real.
He’s pretty sure this is how Lucifer is finally going to break him this time. He sees Lucifer chuckle. Maybe this truly is the last piece of him to let go of.
He can’t. He can’t he can’t the world will end the world will end he has to fight.......
“You can say no, Sam,” Lucifer reminds him.
“I can?” Sam says, somewhat bewildered.
“You can’t, ” Dean says. Maybe he’s the voice of Lucifer actually , and Lucifer’s playing some sort of good cop bad cop on him where he’s the good cop.
But if this actually is Lucifer, and he’s out, then he needs to let Lucifer possess him.
“Do you have the horseman rings?” Sam asks Dean.
“Yes,” Dean answers.
“Okay,” Sam says. And he’s so tired. He notices his hands are healed, and wonders if that’s a hallucination. He turns to Lucifer. “I’m ready.”
“Do I have permission to possess you?” Lucifer asks.
Sam doesn’t think he can do this.
But he does.