charlieblue: (nothing so black and white as an antich)
Something like a crossroads song ([personal profile] charlieblue) wrote on April 1st, 2009 at 10:50 pm
Fic: Formal Learning Theory
Formal Learning Theory
Sam POV. Episode tag to Supernatural 4.17




When Sam wakes up to himself he is halfway through demolishing the rat hole that he’s been living in for the past three weeks. A frustration he nearly forgot how to feel thrums under his chest, crackles through his veins with giddy glee and the frame of an old photograph of him and Madison shatters in the palm of his hand.

Apt, that the memories should slam back into his head like a tombstone just as the blood wells up from broken skin, shining in the dirty yellow lighting.

The apartment looks like someone detonated an atomic bomb under the bed.

The door is swinging crookedly, and through the blur of brutal images marching through his head, he wonders if there was someone, something in the room with him for just a single moment, clean forgotten in the sudden and slip-sliding stream of returning memories.

He goes rigid, tendons scraping skin beneath his hands, and he would scream at the pain lancing through his brain, but his body is frozen in time, a Colt explosion shedding sparkling vengeance as the bullet flies through the heart of his mind, straight into the eye of Dean, Dean, Dean, who reorganizes himself into a jigsaw puzzle of burnt hypertrophic handprints and childlike brutality. Somewhere, a lisping demon laughs, trailing echoes through the empty corners of his mind as they flood with colour once more.

In an instant, everything has come back, but not as it was, and everything is the same but not, changed by infinitesimal degrees, as if it had been poured back into an empty vessel willy-nilly without a care for logical expansion and inimitable subroutines that should never have been shaken, leaving memories resettling into new and strange compositions.

Sam falls to his knees, hears them crack sharply like a rock-salt bullet, and remembers sliding a shot into a cold metal barrel with child’s fingers, leaving clumsy smudges on Dean’s perfect shine-job. Dad screaming in the face of a black eyed girl he'd brought home for dinner. Golden eyes flashing to crimson and crossroads dust twisting into the face of a pretty girl who could control demons.

Things flow faster now, running down to the wick, sharp red copper pain and black snake pleasure smoke and burnished gold legs forever rue and unending, unyielding, a storm front folding out to a curved horizon, rage rage rage.

Bile swells below his ribcage, clawing pressure tearing its way up, sliding around a spinal column arched in feverish contortions, then nothing but black, and when he wakes up, the world is sideways.

He pulls his face out of the cold muck of vomit and sweat, presses his fingers to his neck, hears a drip drip and thinks of broken down Salvation cabins.

He gets up, feels the ground under his feet, sees four walls and a roof, a fraying carpet and rotting wooden furniture, and wonders why these geometric shapes seem different to what they were before. The square window is still a square, but devious about the edges, playing tricks on his eyes, pretending to depth it does not possess.

He falls against the wall, waits out a wave of nausea, and slides his way around to the tiny bathroom. Twists the tap, washes his face, and finally dares to look into the mirror.

With the strange rage that took an iron rod to a telephone still lurking under his skin, he doesn’t know what he expected, but his eyes are still green, and the only gold present is the shimmer of an engagement ring with no recipient left alive lurking around the corner, in between a soccer trophy and an old warthog skull.

No. He thinks. Wrong.

That ring belongs in acrid smoke and screams of bloody murder, stained with a growling Impala engine and Dean torn to hell by wild dogs.

He turns, water dripping like blood from his face, and slips in shock, cracking his head against the basin on his way down. Shock should be forward, not unbalance, but he still seems to be relearning motor skills around emotions.

He looks up - blood on his skin now, mixing in with the water - at the cause of his fall.

“Cas- Castiel.” He slurs.

The angel kneels before him like a child examining a cicada and says nothing.

"What ... the hell... did you do?" Sam finally forces out, sick to death of an opaque angel with no more use for him than a fisherman has for a shark.

Castiel raises hand slowly, as if unsure of his actions, and Sam tracks it warily, blinking away the slow creep of blood from his eyes. Castiel hesitates, then lays his hand across Sam’s forehead, and leans closer, so close that Sam can feel that weird mingling of cold not-breath emerge as the angel spoke.

"You love your brother." Castiel’s eyes flicker up to meet his, wide with determined curiousity, and Sam remembers, the notion coming back to him like lazy honey, that this is the first time Castiel has ever purposefully met his eyes.

Sam leans back, defiant, resisting the sudden urge to push forward into the cool, comforting hand like a cat, like the tame animal Uriel would have humanity be.

"Yes."

Castiel bows his head, and with more surety this time, places his other hand, his left, over Sam’s heart.
“I cannot put it back as it was. He - There was not enough care taken with you.” And here he seems almost irate, his voice grating heavily over words that are directed not at Sam but to something else, something beyond the ken of this dirty bathroom with its cracked porcelain basin, “but you must remember this, Sam, remember he is your brother, whether you have forgotten it or you cannot escape it. Remember Dean.”

Cheeseburgers, hellhounds, engine grease, hot, summer, guilt, tears, shotgun shells, booze, sex, thief, pool tables, blood, sharp edges and sharper smiles, laugh, god, the laugh, hold him tight or he’ll fall apart into a million ghostly fragments, protect, respond, fight, enrage, brother.

These are the necessary and sufficient conditions.

Sam spits, the foul remnants of bile pooling on the tile. He has neither the will nor the patience to feed an angel’s remorse. He needs to find Dean.

After a long moment, Castiel’s eyes flicker down, flashing with something might have been shame, and he is gone.

Thirty seconds later, stinking of vomit and blood, glass splinters in his hands, muddled memories in his head, and something clear coiling in his heart, just below the surface where Castiel's palm had rested, so is Sam.

The apartment looks like an empty bomb shelter.

 
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