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Title: Surcease From Pain
Disclaimer: If anyone owns anything in this relationship, Supernatural owns my heart. And won't give it back. And won't pay me for it.
Sam, Dean, Lucifer, Death
torture and sensory deprivation
Word count:
AU starting from S6.11: there is no Wall and this is not your canon Cage.
Sam is, in the end, just a little soul, and for him it's just blackness.
Beta Thanks: Yay [info]lavinialavender ! (and [info]whereupon for reading). But I refuse to give them credit for remaining grammar mistakes. Those are MINE.
Author notes:
I wrote this for no greater reason than, when browsing the tags at [ profile] ohsam , I got really sad that "touch starvation" had never been used (i wanted to read that fic!) so I wrote it  myself. If I keep not wanting to edit Freak Camp I may tackle "strangulation/hanging" next...
Random note: every time I think, say or write "this is not your canon Cage" I want there to be a canon cage match, SPN meets professional wrestling or something. And in THIS corner, your champion! Sammy-boy Winchester...

Sam felt it when his body went. At first he was just grateful. The nature of the Cage divides, weakens, but something about the flesh—a shred of reality—kept him and Lucifer bound together, kept them wrapped in each other’s minds. Michael and Adam were probably out there somewhere, bound by their meat suit, but Lucifer and Sam could no more find their brothers than a man could find a single photon of light in the vastness of space. They had literally nothing but each other.

If the mockery and torment the fallen angel had inflicted on Sam earth-side had enraged and broken him, sent Sam whimpering into the safest corners of his head until Dean was threatened, what Lucifer did in the Cage ripped him apart, shredded him on a level that normal, mortal minds cannot conceive.

It’s not that Sam wasn’t strong, and not that he couldn’t control his own body, force Lucifer to go with him wherever he went. It is that the flesh is immaterial, or rather, too material to make an impact in this subreality, this half-existing place. They had nothing but each other’s minds, and there was no line that Lucifer couldn’t cross, and there was nothing he knew that Sam could not also see into.

If they had been just two human beings it would have been intolerable, a level of torture and intimacy that would have been hard to survive.

But Lucifer is an angel. Lucifer is rage, vindictiveness, love, passion, guile, and those things seep into Sam where they are the same and eat him, burn him from the inside while Lucifer laughs and fashions imaginary knives that cut like silver.

The literal torture was all in his head, but Sam sometimes welcomed those little playtimes because they were so much less destructive than when he and the Fallen One stared down into each other and saw those things about each other that were exactly, horribly, the same.

When the body was ripped away, and Lucifer, all the little clinging bits of him, was torn out of Sam, it was good. It was a relief when Sam had almost forgotten what relief was.

Very few people go bodily to Heaven. Depending on the mythology it may not make much of a difference whether a body goes, or it’s just the soul. Either way, heaven is memory and past, and you don’t need flesh to remember.

Probably more people get dragged bodily to Hell, but Sam knows that doesn’t make much of a difference. Dean’s body stayed right where it was, and he could still be ripped into, could still suffer pain like the body’s pain even when it was just—ha, just—his soul.

The Cage is different. The Cage is about absence, about loss. Distant, outcast, locked out, abandoned, destroyed. Maybe Lucifer and Michael—pure spirit, pure strength, angelic if fallen—can see something in that darkness, maybe for them it’s like standing at shuttered windows while the storm howls about them, glimpsing light through the cracks, knowing that they can’t break through, aren’t wanted, won’t be helped.

But Sam is, in the end, just a little soul, and for him it’s just blackness. And he can’t break through that, isn’t wanted, won’t be helped, can’t feel, touch, taste, cry or even fucking scream.

It’s good for about a year—a subjective, Hell/Cage year—not to be in pain, not to stare down into his own soul and loathe what he sees.

And then it’s not good. After about a hundred years, a thousand years—what is time when there is no sound, no heartbeat, no screaming, no anything?—Sam would crawl to Lucifer over broken glass, would beg, would offer anything he still has—except Dean, no demon-angel-supernatural bastard can ever have Dean—if Lucifer would hurt him again, would wrap him in his black, soft wings, and give Sam a place where he can scream and hear himself, can feel, can see, can smell, if only for a minute.

If Lucifer is even there, Sam cannot see him. Maybe the angel is screaming too, and Michael is the only sane one left, with Adam for company.

And then, in the middle of the darkness, in the middle of the nothing, Sam sees something that is almost light and almost pain and he can feel a motion that twists a stomach he doesn’t have any more and he is falling so hard into his body that he expects there to be broken bones at the end, and his only thought is Thank you, Lucifer. Thank God you found me. Because only Lucifer would care enough, in the Cage, to bring Sam out of that dark.

But when he comes to in his body, screaming—oh God, screaming, thank God, thank you so much—it’s not one of Lucifer’s faces standing over him but it’s Death with his hand embedded in Sam’s chest and Dean is there.

Dean is there.

And then Dean has his arms wrapped around Sam’s shoulders—fuck, shoulders and a butt and back wedged into an uncomfortable chair and sound and light and Sam can’t process it all, it’s so desperately good, is so desperately real and a big part of him knows, is sure, that it will all be gone in a second, it will all be blackness again, so he has to hold on now, he has to savor and absorb and take what he can with him now because the Cage will call him back.

He shivers in Dean’s arms, and holds on, tight, trying not to make it too fucking tight—Lucifer likes to hurt people, and Sam knows that there is a flicker of that inside him too—because Sam doesn’t deserve this, to have his brother, right here, to feel him right here, but it feels so fucking good.

“Sam,” Dean says. “Sammy.”

Sam buries his face into Dean’s shoulder, breathing as deep as he can, and slides a hand under his brother’s shirt and jacket. Leather and cotton are fine, but Sam doesn’t know how long he might have and he wants to feel skin, he wants as many memories that aren’t pain as he can get, right now before it all gets torn away.

And even if this is real, if Dean did it, if somehow he managed to do it—Sam couldn’t bring Dean back from Hell, but Dean came back to him anyway—he’ll push Sam away any second because this is, after all, a chick-flick moment bordering on creepy stalker and even resurrection-hugs can’t last forever. Sam should let go of his brother. His brother should push him away. Sam doesn’t deserve to be here—maybe darkness is all he does deserve—and any second now he will lose this one most important thing, and probably everything.

But Dean doesn’t push him away. Dean moves closer, pulls him into a more comfortable position for both of them—Sam doesn’t mind Dean resting most of his weight on Sam’s right knee, because, fuck, he can feel it, but admits it’s better when Dean rests mostly on the arm of the chair—and stays there, like it’s the most natural thing in the world for two grown brothers to be piled on a chair, wrapped around each other, breathing into each other, resting with each other.

It’s the best thing in the world. For Sam, any sensation would be fine right now: pain, noise, light, hunger, filth, anything that is not the never-ending darkness and emptiness of the Cage. But this is the best thing.

They’ve been to Heaven and this is not that. This is better. It’s home.

* * *

Date: 2011-04-05 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aw. The last line is lovely. This was heartbreaking for the most part, but in the end it turned into something hearwarming and I love it!

Date: 2011-04-05 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much!

Yeah, "touch starvation" is no fun if there's isn't sweetness and cuddling at the end. I kind of wanted to have MORE but all I could think of for the boys to do (at the moment) was continue to cuddle for several more hours and that's not exactly riveting story. But cute!

Date: 2011-04-05 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I just.


You made me use my choking noise again. There are literally not words to describes the feelings this fic gave me. WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME, YOU EVIL WOMAN-GOD??

Date: 2011-04-06 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's fun? *grin* Then again, I think that's the evil coming out. :)

YAY, THE CHOKING NOISE. Peers at it. Was it spelled differently at one point? Hard to tell with choking noises.

Both your comments and your icons make me SO HAPPY all the time, and this one has been no exception. ::hugs::

Date: 2011-04-05 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Was so happy that this morphed from despair to happiness!

Date: 2011-04-06 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! It would have been too depressing to keep Sam in the Cage. And besides, what's touch starvation without a little cuddling?

Date: 2011-04-05 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is amazing!

Date: 2011-04-06 04:52 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-04-06 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, that last line. Perfect. And I love the idea of the cage as absence, and that losing his body made that absence complete for Sam. And that Dean was the one thing he wouldn't give up to Lucifer, and the one thing he wanted when he got out. And the way you played with the mirror aspect of Sam and Lucifer.

I don't think this was ever posted at ohsam, but if you haven't read it, you should. It's sort of pre-slash Sam/Dean, but very PG-13, and it is chicken soup for the touch starvation lover's soul:

Date: 2011-04-06 05:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay! Thank you for the rec. The summary sounds intriguing *leers at it cheerfully*

THANK YOU. I wanted them to be happy as I could get them, and (on another topic entirely) I've always been confused about the whole body issue, maybe because it keeps being different. Dean's crawled up out of the ground, but Adam's got BURNED and still came back and then Sam's came back soulless...maybe confused us the wrong word, because I can explain it with separation of mind and soul and things like that, but it still sounds very questionable, and brings up the question of why and whether bodies MATTER.

Which is maybe existential for a comment reply, but apparently they do. So now Sam's body gets to matter MORE. *grin* And I get to write torment AND shmoop. Happy times all the way.

Date: 2011-04-06 08:35 am (UTC)
fufaraw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fufaraw
Stupid lj, I've been trying to get this to load for more than an hour. Worth the wait. This is so good. Seriously.

Date: 2011-04-06 10:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I´m kind of hating LJ right now myself. But I´m SO HAPPY that you put up with the hassles to read my fic. Yay thank you!

Date: 2011-04-24 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

That's pretty much all I'm thinking right now. Just wow. That was excellent.

Date: 2011-04-24 11:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sweet! "Wow" is about as short and sweet as you can come and it makes me happy. Thank you for sharing the thought. :)

Date: 2011-04-29 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is the near best thing in the world right now. I decided to browse through your stuff after the Ever After fic and I know this is just the second I've read from you but yeah. You balance everything so perfectly here too. And your idea of redemption made me kind of happy.


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