[A few days later]
The sounds in his head quieted down. The fires died away. There was silence. Just soothing silence. If only he could enjoy it. But after years... decades of lulls that preceded never-ending storms, Sam knew better. Much better. His only pleasure was in not allowing Lucifer to win the emotional games.
He slowly opened his eyes, having no idea where he’d be this time.
For years, he’d start to find comfort in Jessica’s arms, and then she’d turn into that sadistic bastard, Lucifer. Then he’d fall into Ruby’s arms, and the same shit happened. And he knew… he knew when a sequence started, but he couldn’t break free of it, fight it, not for decades on end. When he’d started to be able to, Luci just started playing new tricks.
The last time Sam had found peace, it was in a harem. Soft candlelight, warm pools, women he’d never met before offering him kindness, and warmth. And then he was in the jaws of yet another one of Lucifer’s tricks, that turned into a nightmare, and months long battles with Sam’s flesh getting repeatedly burned off down to his charred bones.
As he sat up on the bed, Sam decided this was one of the worst tricks. He wasn’t in some mansion, or on some beautiful beach. He was in a normal place, a house or apartment. Nothing special about it. Just real.
He paced the room for a few minutes. Did he want to pretend for a while, or was it better to pierce the fantasy and get back to the reality of his hell? He didn’t even know.
A few more minutes passed, before Sam slowly opened the door and walked out, his eyes sweeping across the hallway as he headed toward the light source coming from another room.
Steam rolled out from behind Sydney as she stepped out of the bathroom rubbing her wet hair with a towel on her way to finish dressing in the bedroom she shared with Dean . She stopped short when she heard the sound of someone else in the apartment. Assuming Dean had gotten back early, she broke out in a toothy smile as the figure emerged from the hallway.
"Sam!" her eyes went bright with surprise and she was so taken aback by the sight of Dean's brother that she forgot she was dressed only in bra and panties. "You're awake!" she started forward, her expression open as she greeted the man she’d never met, but felt she already knew so well. Not bad Luci. Not bad at all,
Sam thought as his gaze narrowed on the next temptation Lucifer threw his way. This time, he was going to land a few good punches before Lucifer had his way.
“Bring it,” Sam snarled and ran for her, refusing to be disarmed by her soft smile. She was the devil, and she’d pay for as long as Sam could give some payback.
Shock gave way to reflex as the agent's ingrained training kicked in. Sydney wedged her elbow under his arm and feinted to the side, kicking her legs up to jerk herself free of Sam's chokehold before he could get a proper grip. Instinctively, she spun and used his much larger frame to her advantage, ducking low and striking hard against the back of his knee to force him to buckle, whipping the towel around his neck to gain some much needed leverage.
"Sam," she gasped, struggling to counter his moves. She'd tangled enough with Dean to recognize his fighting style and it came as no surprise that he was quick on his feet -- even after laying in a coma for weeks. "Please, stop. I don't want to hurt you."
He curled his arm around the towel and yanked it, bringing her close enough to tackle her. He gripped her jaw and forced her to look at him, trying to see straight through those eyes into the fires of Lucifer’s soul. “The hell you don’t.” He backhanded her and was about to push his forearm against her larynx when she swept her leg around him. He was a little surprised that she didn’t toss him right off. “Staying in character?” he asked, forcing his way back to a sitting position despite the pressure of her leg trying to push him back.
"Staying in character?" Sydney said, her eyes wide with confusion and shock. Dean had been afraid that Sa, might come back... wrong. Cas had warned them. But no. It couldn't be. For Dean's sake... he had to be okay. Sydney wasn't prepared to see Dean let down after all they'd been through to get to this moment. To see Sam safe.
"Sam. Please, listen to me. I'm Sydney. Sydney Bristow." Her eyes softened and she stopped struggling beneath him, hoping to somehow reach him. "I know Dean. He'll be back... he can explain everything. Please..."
“Oh... sure... you’re Dean’s flavor of the day. Or what? Are we supposed to share you? That’s a new one.”"Share me?"
The daggers that shot from her eyes punctuated the indignation in her voice.
“That would be definite a ‘no,’” Dean’s gruff voice filled the room. He cocked the gun in his hand, even though he wanted nothing to do with it. Walking closer, he asked, “You alright, Syd?”
Sam heard Dean’s voice. He refused to turn, but Dean came around, and they were staring at each other.
“Sam?” Seeing a certain look in his brother’s eyes, Dean put the safety on and dropped the gun down. Then he opened his arms wide and started to walk toward Sam.
“Dean?” Sam’s gaze flicked down to the half-naked girl under him who suddenly felt very real. He was off her like a shot, and closing his arms around Dean. “Is this real?” he asked.
“It’s real,” Dean answered, closing his eyes for a split second. “Okay. Alright. Alright,” he said more gruffly, so Sam would let him go.
He looked at Syd, who was standing up now, and it was clear she was fine. “Introductions would be anti-climactic,” he said, apologizing to her with his eyes.
Sydney cocked a half smile as she wrapped the towel around herself looking from Dean to Sam. "Yeah, we've met," she flashed a dimpled grin, as she pushed her wet hair off her face, her chest still heaving from the struggle. "I can definitely see the family resemblance."
She stepped forward and held out her hand, quickly deciding that wasn't enough and instead pushed herself up on her toes and threw her arms around Sam's shoulders to hug him tight. "You put up a hell of a fight, Sam..." she murmured against him, so filled with relief to see Dean's heartache finally come to an end.
At first, Sam stood a little stiffly. But then, he closed his arms around her and hugged her back, giving a small laugh. “I ah... have a feeling you were holding back.”
“She was,” Dean chimed in. “And... don’t you two think the ‘hello’ moment is over? Like a good thirty seconds ago. Forty seconds. Forty five..”
Sam released her. “Sorry. I thought you were...” He couldn’t say it, so he looked at Dean. “Some ice. For her jaw.”
"I'm fine," Sydney assured as her fingers touched her jaw and she winced slightly. The kid did have a mean right hook, she'd give him that. "I'll grab a bag of frozen peas and get dressed..." she stepped back, still grinning ear to ear as she turned to Dean and gave him a quick kiss and pulled him into a hug. "It's over," she whispered against him, her eyes moistening with emotion. Not wanting to take away from their reunion, she pulled back and headed to the kitchen and then the bedroom to dress.
Catching Sam staring at her, Dean smacked him across the chest.
Sam had the grace to flush and give a sheepish grin. Then he had questions. “How... what happened?”
“Things happened. Came together and... here you are, that’s the important thing. Sam, it’s a long story. Later,” Dean insisted. “How’re you feeling.”
“Good. Fine. Dean? How long’s it been?” he asked.
“A year. Just about. What... what do you remember?” Dean asked.
Sam’s eyes snapped to Dean’s. “Nuthin.”
Dean had been here, and he didn’t believe Sam, but he didn’t push. “Alright. But if you wanna talk.”
“You gotta be hungry. And thirsty.”
“Yeah. I could eat a horse,” Sam agreed. “Burger with cheese and even onions and...”
“You’re finally getting some good taste in eats.” Dean slapped him on the back. “We’ll go grab some food soon as soon as Syd’s dressed.”
“So... Syd. What happened with Lisa?” Sam asked. “You promised...”
“I did, and I tried. But...” Dean shook his head. “I wasn’t good for them, Sam. It just... It wasn’t fair to them, alright. I drank, a lot. And I kill things and... Not the kind of life, for them.”
“And …” Sam nodded toward Sydney’s bedroom.
“Yeah well, she can kick my ass when I drink too much, or drink me under the table, though she hasn’t proven it. You think our lives are scary... wait till you hear about hers.” Dean looked down for a moment, then back up. “She makes me happy, the way I wanted to be happy with Lisa. Happy and, not afraid for her every second, and...”
“You’re in love. Dude, you’re in love... and I get it, totally get it,” Sam said when Sydney walked into the room, just as sexy in clothes as out of them.
“Will you stop,” Dean smacked him again.
“Stop what? Dude I wasn’t!” Sam hadn’t been staring at her, that was all Dean being Dean.
Sydney grinned at their brotherly banter. Dean had talked so much about Sam, it was like she'd known them both all along. She slipped her arm around Dean's waist and was about to ask where they wanted to go eat when her cell phone rang. She pulled it from her pocket and saw it was Vaughn, giving Dean a look she knew he'd recognize as she answered it.
"Hey, what's up?" she asked. Her expression turned serious and she stepped away from the brothers a few paces to listen to what her handler had to say about her next assignment. Michael gave her a quick rundown, explaining that the Orchid and the Mueller Device had both mysteriously disappeared from CIA custody. Her first thought was SD-6, but intel suggested SD-6 didn't take it, but their supernatural division was trying to track it down. Separately the two Rambaldi artifacts had their purposes, but together they had the potential to damage the very fabric of humanity.
Her jaw set in a hard line, the agent turned to see Castiel had dropped in and was talking to Dean and Sam about some guy named Crowley who had just come into possession of something he shouldn't have. When she heard him describe the red sphere, Sydney knew they were talking about the same thing. "You too?" she was already grabbing her weapons. "I've got intel coming in. Looks like we need to get to some tiny town in Mississippi... Beulah?"
Castiel gave a nod, “he is indeed in Beulah. “We should go quickly. Sam. I’m glad you’re not insane. It would be... troubling.”
Sam had a strange look on his face, and it wasn’t only because of Castiel’s comment.
“Come on bro, we’ll catch you up on everything on the way to Mississippi,” Dean said, slapping Sam on the back, then catching the duffel bag Syd tossed at him. “And just a warning, keep away from anything Syd wears in her hair. Usually means it’s deadly,” he said, giving the clip holding her ponytail a wary look, as she walked past.
Following her out, Dean smacked her ass and grinned. Well he was grinning, until he heard Castiel’s question.
“Why did Dean administer corporal punishment on her? Has she been bad?”