God is in the Bunker. God likes to wear bathrobes and goes through Dean’s porn stash at an alarming rate and he always burns the toast during breakfast. Apparently he likes the smoky flavor. None of that is something Sam has been able to fully comprehend yet, but now it’s part of his reality.
And as absurd as it sounds, he thinks he’s slowly starting to get to know the Unknowable. At least the few parts that Chuck lets him see. Sam wonders how much of that is because of his weakened state and sometimes he wants to sit down with him and ask him all the questions he has.
Not just about how the universe was constructed of course. That is interesting, but there’s more important questions. How can we save the world? Why do we have to save the world? What will we have to sacrifice this time? But the really important questions, the ones that are burning on his tongue anytime he so much as looks at Chuck are not something he can ask. Not without freaking out and becoming hysterical and angry. And getting angry at Capital G-God just seems ill-advised. But there’s still the questions that plague him. Questions like: Did you see what happened in the Cage? If yes, then why do you let him into the Bunker? Why do you let him stay in my room? Dean didn’t turn out that way, even with the Mark (unless… Did he? What happened while Dean was a demon? What are the things he doesn’t want to talk about? Is there more to his skittishness around me than Amara?) You say you can protect me, but can you? Will you? If it comes down to it, me or your son, who will you choose? What is he doing in my room? Why do you let him get away with this again?
Is it because I deserve it?
The last question, even if only thought, leaves a bitter taste in his mouth and it’s the one he always falters on, unable to continue. Logically he knows what happened to him was… Rape. Abuse. Torture. Stockholm Syndrome and Gaslighting and Trauma Bonding. When Dean was gone, while he was with Amelia, for a while his nightmares got worse. She didn’t pressure him, knew he had lost someone, and she didn’t ask why he woke up breathing heavy and coated in sweat sometimes or why he rushed to the bathroom barely holding back puke. She probably assumed it was because of who he had lost. She couldn’t have known that it was also because he had lost himself. When she was gone, working at her vet office (saving lives like he had, but with a much lower body count that his) and he was done with his job fixing up various things in the motel rooms, he sat down to research what had happened to him.
There were people urging people like him (well, not like him, not exactly. He thought his case was unique if only due to time) to go see a therapist, to get help, that talking was good. That it didn’t make sense to blame themselves. He knew about involuntary physiological reactions, knew that fear and terror and dread could heighten arousal, knew that an orgasm that was pressed out of him didn’t replace consent. Knew that at least that was not something he had to blame himself for.
But he didn’t think any of them could understand how it had felt when Lucifer had touched him after he had been alone for… he didn’t know how long, but it had felt like forever, wandering through the endless emptiness of the Cage. How he had stumbled around before, screaming out to be tortured, flayed alive and torn apart because the absolute lack of contact and touch made his skin itch and burn constantly and he couldn’t even sleep to get reprieve from the feeling. How Lucifer had only placed his hand on his cheek gently - too much, but also sending shock waves of relief through his body and Sam never wanted to give it up - and Sam had fallen to his knees and begged for it.
Even now he sometimes has dreams that left him panting and hard when he woke up. More now that Lucifer was back. Less before Toni.
And he doesn’t know how God felt about that. (Because he had to know. Even while he masqueraded as a prophet, he knew everything. Sam’s mind now wouldn’t be a stranger to him). Was Sam the great hero he had envisioned him as? Was he disappointed? Or was he only with them now because he had no other option, now that he was dying and fading?
But he didn’t know God. Didn’t know his motivations, couldn’t understand his plan. He didn’t see the bigger picture, if there even was one.
Lucifer on the other hand… Him Sam knew well. Far too well.
And he knew it didn’t matter that Chuck had tied Lucifer’s powers, had made it so the angel couldn’t use his grace. His mind was primed for it, the rabbit in front of the snake, frozen, even before it struck or showed its fangs. He knew it was normal to be scared when he saw him walk down the hallway. He knew it was normal to lay awake at night in the room next to Dean’s that he had moved to and wonder- Well, about pretty much everything there was to wonder about when he was unable to sleep, because he would just have another nightmare where a Cas with glowing red eyes crawled into his bed and pinned him down. He was pretty sure that Lucifer would jerk off in his bed at least once, just because. And worse somehow, he was sure it wouldn’t even be sexual for him at all. It would be because he could, because he knew it bothered Sam, because it was just another way of proving to him that despite everything, even if Chuck didn’t allow him to touch Sam (not yet, they weren’t desperate enough for that) he still held all the cards.
Sometimes Sam dreamed that they found Amara and before the big show down Lucifer tied his help to the condition that Chuck would give him Sam for a night. And in the dream, Chuck did. He used whatever God powers remained at his disposal to hold Sam down and he watched, his face impassive as always, observing. Like Sam’s life, Sam’s pain was nothing but another story, just another shitty chapter in the book of garbage that recorded all of Sam’s worst moments. And Chuck was there, writing down what happened in ink of blood on pieces of leather dried from Sam’s flayed skin.
Of course none of that was true. None of that would happen. Sam at least had to try to believe that or he wouldn’t be able to leave his room, wouldn’t be able to move, wouldn’t even be able to lift his head until Lucifer was gone. And that just didn’t seem like something that would happen on its own. At least this time he could somehow create the illusion that the things he did mattered and could change something.
So instead he threw himself into research, threw thousands of suggestions at Chuck only to be met with a patronizing chuckle and a reminder that that wouldn’t work. Chuck knew everything there was to that lore, he had written most of it after all, and that wasn’t it.
He had been reading in the library when a door was slammed shut and moments later Chuck storms down the hallway, fury on his face and his gray robe billowing behind him dramatically. Sam quickly lowers his gaze when he sees Chuck turn towards him, eyes blazing like a thunderstorm.
“Do you know where your brother hid the good booze?”
In his room, Sam doesn’t say, because he doesn’t want Chuck to root around there. Shouldn’t you know? You’re the frigging Almighty!, he doesn’t say either. Instead he shrugs. “Last I know he had a secret stash under the kitchen counter, but I don’t know if that’s still there.”
Chuck smiles and once again Sam wonders if he can read his thoughts. “Alright, see ya!” And then Chuck is off and Sam’s hands are shaking as he pushes himself away from the table and into the chair behind him.
Probably only another one of Chuck and Lucifer’s talks gone sour. Lucifer would have gone off to his room - well, Sam’s but it didn’t feel like that anymore, probably wouldn’t ever again and Sam hated that Lucifer had stolen another thing from him - and would be there sulking. And Chuck… Well, Chuck would be sulking too and draining all of Dean’s liquor and when Dean finally confronted him about it - because Dean could do that, could talk back to actual God and get ready to fight him - he would just refill them with water and turn them into… whatever was in the bottles before, which meant not wine actually.
It didn’t take long for Dean to storm into the library after. He either noticed that Chuck was emptying his good stash of alcohol again and realized that now was not the time to fight about it or he had noticed the fight or he had been involved. Sam didn’t know, but he knew there was a reason Dean had come to him. They actually didn’t hang out that much right now. Not with Lucifer lashing out at everyone around him because of his Daddy Issues (only verbally so far, but the fear of more physical retaliation was always there) and Chuck, grumpy and glowering, radiating righteous fury. If they kept apart it was easier to make a quick escape and they were less likely to be dragged into one of the fights.
But now Dean’s here and as soon as his eyes meet Sam’s he deflates, the anger draining out of him. And somehow that’s scarier than if his anger continued. Because it means that Sam must look worse than he thought he did, weaker and if this wasn’t Dean walking in on him-
Sam can’t fight down a smirk at that thought. If this wasn’t Dean walking in on him it wouldn’t matter how well he’d mask his terror. Chuck is God and knows all and Lucifer just knows him too well.
Somehow his grin, the twitch of his lips or maybe something in his eyes, seem to set Dean off again, who immediately straightens and looks as if he bit into a lemon. Sam frowns at him and waits for Dean to work out what he wants to say. Giving him time sometimes helps.
“How do you do it?” he finally spits.
Sam is tempted to just smile and say “Research? It’s actually real easy and a lot of fun. You just grab a book and-” but it wouldn’t help. It wouldn’t avoid whatever is coming now, it would only make it so Dean stops thinking carefully about what he wants to say and vomit it all up in the most hurtful way possible. So he just frowns and hopes it will prompt Dean to elaborate. Dean seems to get it, because he sinks down on the chair on the other side of the table. Sam can hear the rattle of the chair from where Dean’s bouncing his leg. He doesn’t ask him to stop. It probably helps him somehow.
“How… how do you handle it? I mean Chuck I get, we need him, but… Lucifer?” There’s something like desperation in his voice at the last word and Sam wants nothing more than to get away. But he’s already leaning as far back as he can without toppling his chair and so he stays in place, completely frozen.
He licks his lips, feeling his mouth go dry. “What… uh, what do you mean?”
Dean’s no longer looking at him, but at his folded hands on the table. His little fingers are drumming an unsteady beat against the wooden surface and Sam can feel the urge to run away rising. But he stays in place, because it’s rare that Dean wants to talk and something is clearly bothering his brother and its not like he could run somewhere where Dean wouldn’t follow or drag him back from. Better to suck it up now and get it over with.
“You’re just… sure, you’re quiet and obviously scared when he’s around but… he tortured you.” The way Dean says it, tortured, it’s clear he knows that this word is too small to encompass what happened in Hell and much too small to account for the Cage. It’s not like they talk about it, but somehow knowing that Dean gets it (at least some of it) helps. “For centuries. Why aren’t you freaking out?”
But I am, Sam wants to say. I can barely think coherently ever since he’s back, less now ever since he’s here and took my room away from me. I have nightmares every night and intrusive thoughts when I’m awake and I think he might be waiting behind every corner, smiling, waiting for me. I think they might need extra juice to really make a dent in Amara and so once we find her, Lucifer will just use my soul again, and that is one of the better outcomes for me. Or maybe you don’t see it, because freaking out and being uncomfortable has never helped me (only made it worse and worse and worse), so I just learned to hide it better. And sometimes, when I just wake up from another nightmare, sometimes I think that now’s the moment where Lucifer will be there, laying beside me and he’ll smile and laugh and ask me if I enjoyed his writing, because this isn’t real and I’m still in the cage. But he thinks if he says it out loud, he’ll melt into hysterics and Dean… Dean doesn’t need that right now. And Sam doesn’t know where Lucifer is, doesn’t know where Chuck is, doesn’t want to show weakness in front of them.
“I… Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I just… I gotta get through it somehow, you know? One day at a time.”
And suddenly Dean’s face softens. “So… it’s not cause you have faith in… You-Know-Who? Big G out there?”
Oh. So that’s what’s been eating Dean. And to that at least Sam knows an answer. “No. I mean, not entirely. But so far Lucifer keeps his distance like promised”, (Besides occupying his room, besides occupying his dreams and his every thought, but physically… he hadn’t tried anything, hadn’t even really looked at him. Hell, even while Sam hadn’t know Cas wasn’t Cas, he hadn’t really cared for him, instead getting mixed up with heaven and hell. There had to be a term for the weird kind of relief and the stinging, harsh pain Sam felt at that realization, something to measure just how fucked up he was that this hurt him). “So I think there might be something behind Chuck’s words, something that doesn’t need faith to back it up. I mean, even powered-down like he is, he’s still the creator of Everything. He’s… his dad.” He doesn’t mention that sons didn’t always do as their Dad asked them to either, they both knew that all too well. “Plus, he needs us. They need us.”
Sam doesn’t say that someone needing them necessarily means they have to be unscathed. Dean knows that just as well as he does. But it still feels good to say it. Reassuring. As long as they were of use in this cosmic war, they wouldn’t end up as canon fodder.
Suddenly Dean grins, stupid and carefree for the first time in… forever. “So what you’re saying is… God believes in us?”
Dean looks so hopeful, wiggling his eyebrows to underline his terrible joke and somehow it works. For a moment all thought of the other occupants of the Bunker (Lucifer in his room, in his bed, in his friend) falls away and Sam starts chuckling. Dean joins and soon the hallways echo laughter as they haven’t done in a while.