Category: H/C, angst
Word Count: ~1800
Summary:All he can do is stand watch.
A/N: Sorry, this is unbeta'd and most likely a little confusing with my pronoun use.
This was written for the ohsam 7x17 comment fic meme and here is the prompt by brokenangel6662 :
[Spoiler (click to open)]
Sam is wasting away, losing his mind, himself, to madness. Dean is barely holding together, spiraling faster with every dead end he finds to helping Sam. Bobby is helpless, only able to watch them deteriorate. Every name crossed off of Dean's list, every hallucination and freak out Sam has only breaks the hunter's heart more. Bonus if Bobby is utterly desperate to help Sam, frustrated at not being able to even touch him or offer comfort. Sam freaks again, yelling at Lucifer. Doctors swarm him and Bobby watches with tears in his eyes. As they pin Sam down, drug him, trap him, Bobby yells at the clearly empty space that had horrified Sam for Lucifer to leave him alone.
All Along the Watchtower
He’s keeping watch -- it’s all he can do.
His eyes stay on the young man dressed in white hospital garb seated on the white sheeted bed within the plain confines of a room painted in the same monotonous color as his clothing – as if allowing any other kind of color into this place might make the patients there any crazier.
His heart weeps at the sight and it’s hard for him to believe this is Sam – that this shadow is the same kid that was always so clean-cut and intimidatingly strong – who always fought with everything that he had, was the same boy sitting hunched over on a bed with a week’s worth of stubble on his haggard face, his hair unwashed while drawn-out, dark circles under droopy eyes clearly mark the exhaustion that’s plaguing him.
The kid doesn’t even know he’s there, but that’s not gonna stop him from keeping an eye on him anyway. Sure, there ain’t jack squat that he can do to help, what with him being a friggin’ ghost and all, but hell … Sam shouldn’t be alone – not in this place and not when he’s got Lucifer banging on the bongos in his head all night long and keeping him from getting any kind of rest.
Sam paces a lot, sometimes he lies alone on the bed, curled up in a fetal position, sometimes he glares at a spot in the corner of the room and sometimes he squeezes his eyes tight, hands clamped over his ears and mutters, “Shut up, shut up, shut up” over and over again like a mantra.
But one thing Sam does not do is sleep and he’s coming to realize that the kid is swirling the drain, going downhill fast without any hope of ever getting well again.
And he aches even further knowing that the only thing he can do is watch it all happen.
Hours pass … maybe days … he doesn’t know and he doesn’t even try to keep track of time any longer.
He’s been back and forth between the hospital and Dean’s motel room more times than he can count and sometimes he thinks it’s kinda convenient being a spirit when all he has to do is think about Sam or Dean and POOF!, he’s standing right next to them.
But it’s also damn heart-breaking going from one painful scene to another.
He sees them as they are – unfiltered -- and he has a front-row seat to the emotions they won’t show to anyone else or much less each other.
He watches Dean’s desperation to find a cure for Sam and his monumental struggle to save what little family he has left. He sees his endless drinking as well and he can’t help but feel a little guilty for dying and leaving him behind in such a broken state. He’s also been playing witness to Sam’s downward spiral – from his first sleepless night to the ever quickening erosion of his sanity and now to his current hospitalization.
All these things he has to watch in glorious Technicolor without being able to do anything other than talk to himself and he feels about as useful as the dull knife that got brought to the nuclear war.
Worst of all is seeing his boys hurting and not being able to do a damn thing about it.
He thinks about how ironic it is that for all of time he spent on earth researching different kinds of spirits and ghosts that he really knows very little about actually being one and he just wishes he could figure out the magic words or spell that will let him communicate with Dean and Sam or let them know that he’s still around.
It’s not that he hasn’t tried; God knows he tried just about everything, but he’s just never been able to completely get through to those knuckleheads. He’s had some minor successes; moved a few bottles of beer out of Dean’s reach, left out his recipe for the best damn chili in the world for Sam, found an ancient Greek manuscript when the boys needed it, but all of that took tremendous amounts of energy and concentration that’s hard to come by.
Even though he’s finding it easier to move objects, the most important thing that still escapes him is the full manifestation. He knows that it’s possible – hell, he’s seen plenty of ghosts when he was alive, but making himself visible enough for the boys to believe he’s still sticking around is something that he hasn’t figured out how to do yet and if he was still alive, he’d be pulling his hair out in frustration.
He sees now how spirits can be driven mad over years and years of being in the world, yet never being able to participate in it. It’s wearing on him slowly, bit by bit -- he can feel his own sanity being pushed to the limit and it’s only been a few months since he kicked the can -- he can’t imagine how years as a disembodied ghost is going to change him and he doesn’t want to think about it – he’s got more pressing matters, like helping Dean cure his brother.
He watches Dean finish off another beer and nearly throw his phone across the room when yet another contact in his address book doesn’t pan out.
He knows that the kid’s been through just about every name in the book trying to find someone that might know of any legitimate healers in the country that might be able to help his brother, but he doesn’t hold out much hope that Dean will find one since most healers he’s ever come across were either crack-pots or snake-oil salesmen.
Somewhere in the back of his mind however, he recalls a conversation he had with a hunter not to long before Dick Roman put a bullet in his brain. Turns out this guy was looking for a healer himself since he had a problem with his eyes, or something like that, and he was asking around for information. He really didn’t really have anything that could help the other man at the time, but maybe there was a chance that that man had come across someone during his own search that could help -- it was worth a shot, anyway.
Unfortunately, that’s the one name in his book that Dean hasn’t seen.
The little business card that he wrote the guy’s name and number on is wedged in the fucking back of the book and for the last two hours he’s been focusing as hard as he can on getting it out. But the going is hard, especially when Dean has his hands on it all of the time and it’s only when the younger man finally gets up from the table to grab a new beer that he’s finally able to draw up enough energy to pull the card out and toss it in Dean’s general direction.
Even then, the card mostly just falls to the floor like a piece of confetti.
Thankfully, Dean turns around just in time to see the card fall and after a pause to look around the room suspiciously, he picks it up and starts to dial his phone.
He’s damn happy with himself for managing to get Dean that number – at least he was able to do something for once.
Suddenly, he’s thinking about Sam again and as soon as he’s formed a whole thought about how he’s doing, he’s instantly back in the hospital room, trying to get his bearing back as the abrupt change in scenery makes him a little dizzy.
Once he’s oriented again, he sees that Sam is seated on the bed with his shoulders slumped in defeat as he stares forlornly at a sandwich that sits on a tray across the room. He doesn’t know what’s with the sandwich or why it’s making the young man look so dejected, but it seems to be a trigger that sets the exhausted boy off and from one moment to the next, his eyes fill with tears that slip freely down his face and fall unheeded onto his lap.
His heart might not be able to take much more of watching Sam deteriorate like this and he’s in tears himself when he tries several times to reach out and touch the kid and to lay a protective, soothing hand on his shoulder that might let him know that he’s there for him.
But touching inanimate objects is far easier than touching living people and most of his attempts just result in his hands passing right through Sam, no matter how hard he concentrates. And isn’t it just his luck that the one time he finally manages to make contact, Sam shivers violently and flinches away like he’s been burned by fire.
Whipping his head around the room, Sam’s eyes land on that same damned empty space in the corner that he’s been prone to addressing.
“Don’t touch me.” Sam spits out, his eyes tracking someone that only he can see.
Sam looks up like he’s watching someone approach him and suddenly, he’s grabbing his throat, making desperate choking noises, his face reddening and back arching off the bed as he tries to breathe.
“Dammit!” He jumps up, but he can’t do anything to pry the hands that aren’t really there off of Sam’s throat and he’s not sure if a hallucination can actually strangle the kid to death, but he really doesn’t want to find out.
Desperate to do something – anything – he does the only thing he can do and yells as loud as he can at Sam and the hallucinations that are torturing him.
“GODDAMMIT! THAT’S ENOUGH! “
But Sam can’t hear him and neither can he breathe – his lips are turning blue and he’s quickly losing consciousness.
He’s afraid that this is it – this is the part where he’s going to watch Sam die right in front of him and he’s powerless to stop it.
It’s at that moment that he feels an anger explode inside that rocks him from head to toe and a shout reverberates out from deep within his soul, releasing all of the frustration, anger and helplessness that’s been brewing within him since the day he died.
He’s surprised to hear his own voice echo off the walls.
Sam gasps at the same time and his back falls against the bed and bounces once on the springs. He heaves in great deep breaths while rubbing his throat and darting his eyes around the room. But this time the younger man isn’t flicking his sight back and forth in fear – for a moment, he looks confused, perhaps even hopeful.
Is it possible that Sam heard him?
He can only hope, but the young man is seeing and hearing a whole bunch of crap right now and he doesn’t think the kid, even if he did hear him, would ever think that he was real.
As if to prove that thought true, Sam’s face loses that flash of hope as he rolls onto his side, breathing heavily and completely spent. He wearily scans the room with tears continuing to spill from his eyes and whispers hoarsely, “Wish you were really here, Bobby.”
Taking a seat on the bed, he sighs with a heavy, despairing heart that wants nothing more than for the hand he’s passing through his boy’s hair to actually be felt, “I am here, ya idjit … and I ain’t goin’ nowhere.”