I'm Not Okay
"I'm not okay."
Chelsea fights the urge to clear her throat at the way Sam closes his eyes at presses his cheek harder into her hand as he admits this.
"Alright." She moves her thumb as though she's going to stroke his cheek, but stops herself. She can't treat Sam like she treats Cas. That ship had sailed when she slept with Sam. They could be friends, and everything could be fine in the group, but there was going to be this little line between "okay" and "too far" with them that she wasn't going to have with Cas and Dean. "Who were you screaming at?"
He closes his eyes a little bit tighter. "Lucifer."
"How bad is it?"
"It's... it's been… it's been happening since I got back. And it was getting a little better, but it's been… bad this last month. It's been really awful all week."
Sam's eyes open and turn just a little toward the empty space that he'd just been screaming at.
"Don't listen to him, listen to me," Chelsea says. She wonders if that just makes it worse, but she's doing what she can. There isn't exactly an agreed upon method for dealing with a friend (with whom you at one point had benefits) having satanic hallucinations. "Can I get you anything?"
"I don't… I don't know."
"Okay. That's okay. Tell you what. You put on your pajamas, I'll go make you some tea."
"I should go home. I scared your sister. I have earplugs and just because it's the day printed on Cas's fake driver's license doesn't mean they can fuck in the kitchen."
"I'll deal with Tanya. Don't worry about that. That isn't your problem. I'll be right back with your tea."
Chelsea realizes what she's doing. She's going into "make it better" mode and she's learned damn well in that last two years that it doesn't work on the boys. But it works on her and Sam is scaring her. She's not sure if she's more spooked by the fact that Sam freaked out, or by the fact that he's had the Devil talking to him for months and seemed pretty normal for a Winchester anyway.
Tanya is pacing the living room with her arms wrapped around herself. They drop down to her hips when Chelsea comes down the stairs.
"What the Hell is going on, Chelsea? Is this why you've been so secretive about these "friends" of yours?"
"Not now, Tanya," Chelsea huffs, going to the kitchen.
Tanya follows her. "Yes. Now. He had all this creepy satanic stuff and a knife in his bag and now he's-"
"You went through his stuff?" Chelsea demands.
"You left me here alone to jet off with your weirdo pals. I snooped. You'd do the same thing and you know it."
"Ugh! You know, this is Billy Herzendorf all over again. I can't believe you went through Sam's things."
"Billy Herzendorf was creepy and he had a gun in his backpack."
"He had ADHD, we were twelve years old and it was a cap gun. Don't exaggerate."
"Okay- it didn't look like a cap gun- it looked real- and you went through Jeffrey Loggen's suitcase when he came home with me from college."
"And he had condoms and weed in his bag."
"And you showed Mom!"
"She walked in on me snooping. You're exaggerating again."
"I'm not exaggerating Sam screaming at someone that no one can see."
Chelsea grabs a mug from the cupboard, fills it with water and sticks it in the microwave.
Tanya glowers at her. "What the hell is Sam's deal?"
The lie suddenly arrives, fully formed in her mind as she digs out tea bags. "Fine. Sam's only been back from Afghanistan for about nine months and sometimes he sees things. He's not dangerous and he probably would have been alright if he hadn't started out by thinking that he was having an episode because you moved all of his shit."
"He has a knife!"
"This is South Dakota! They all have knives. One of my janitors uses his hunting knife to eat apples in the break room. No one cares," Chelsea counters.
"You always do this. You're always the one bringing home the birds with broken wings and the starving kittens. You can't do that with enormous, crazy, ex-soldiers, Chelsea, seriously."
"Sam is not crazy and he is harmless."
"Chelsea, psychosis induced by PTSD is still psychosis. I'm not saying that you should shun him and throw dirt on him, but maybe don't let him and his knives and his creepy demon crap stay with you in your house alone."
"Sam. Is. Harmless," Chelsea insists. "The demon stuff is just academic curiosity. He graduated from Stanford." She knows that'll get him points with Tanya, who mentioned that her now-ex-boyfriend went to Yale to anyone who would listen. "I'm not sending him home to deal with Dean at one in the morning, and I'm not leaving him alone when he's like this. If you're that freaked out I'll give you my keys and you can stay at the hotel. We'll go get breakfast in the morning and I'll tell you everything about Sam and about the boys. But I need you to grow the fuck up about this right now."
She pulls the mug out of the microwave and drops the tea bag in it.
Chelsea spins around at the sound of Sam's voice. He looks like someone let the air out of him. He's holding his arm out. A smallish butterfly knife is lying in his palm. Chelsea glares at Tanya, who at least seems to understand that Sam is not wielding the knife, he's offering it.
Chelsea plucks the knife out of his hand carefully. She's learned enough about knives to know that butterfly knives can be dangerous if you fuck around with them and she's careful to tuck it into her pocket with out bumping the latches.
"I'm sorry that I scared you," Sam starts. "You guys… Chelsea, I know you don't get to see your sisters as much as you want. I shouldn't be here. I can stay at the hotel if that's okay, or you can bring me home. I can sleep in the Impala. I've slept in the Impala while Dean's getting lucky a million times, it'll practically be a nice welcome home for me."
"I… you'd sleep in your car?" Tanya asks.
Sam shrugs, but Chelsea can see that Tanya is crumbling in the face of Sam's puppy eyes.
"They didn't have… a home growing up. Really," Chelsea says. Sam shoots her a questioning look. Chelsea just shakes her head. Sam goes with it. "Spent a lot of time on the road, in the car."
Tanya caves, just like Chelsea knew she would. She apologizes and goes up to the guest room. Chelsea drags Sam over to the couch and he drinks his tea while she finishes her wine.
Sam tells her about having Lucifer in his body after he'd said yes. About drinking demon blood. Having powers. About the things that Lucifer says to him.
Chelsea's pretty horrified by the whole ordeal by the time Sam finally talks himself out. Chelsea walks up the stairs with him. She grabs his hand at the top of the stairs and suddenly just can't face sending him off to an air mattress with only Satan to keep him company.
"Come on." She tugs him toward her room.
"Chelsea, I can't-"
"Shh… we're only going to sleep. Just… I'll worry about you all night if you're alone. Come on."
This is definitely over the "not okay" line, but it only takes another tug at his hand to convince him to come along. He's mostly asleep by the time Chelsea's changed, and she can feel his breathing settling and slowing underneath her head.
She doesn't fall asleep quite as easily. She's worried about Sam. She's going to have to deal with Tanya in the morning. It would be easiest just to tell her the truth but she's got no proof and Tanya's… more concrete than her other sisters. Libby could be convinced that Chelsea really does help a bunch of paramilitary vigilantes fight monsters. She would probably even take it on faith, if there was a promise of forthcoming proof, but Tanya's got a minor in psychology and she's going to throw out words like "psychosis" and "PTSD" a few more times.
Chelsea drifts off with her head on Sam's chest and wakes up with an idea. She brings Sam home, dropping him off when he insists that he'd rather deal with Dean on his own and that Chelsea needs to deal with Tanya.
She goes home, takes Tanya out to breakfast and decides to stick with the Afghanistan veteran story. When Tanya goes upstairs for a nap, Chelsea calls Bobby and asks him for help.
Dean doesn't freak out when Sam tells him that he's been lying, but the fact that Castiel is gripping Dean's shoulder so tight his knuckles go white is obviously a contributing factor to the lack of Dean freaking out.
Dean does insist that from there on out Sam always tell them if Lucifer is sitting in on conversations. Sam agrees. He's actually okay for most of the day. Finally telling people and talking about it has lightened the load a little bit. But it hasn't fixed anything. Lucifer shows up after dinner to berate him about looking like a freak in front of Chelsea's sister and Dean looks like his heart is broken when Sam tells him.
It just kills Sam that Dean takes this so hard. The look Bobby gives him at dinner that Friday kills him. The way Chelsea hugs him now, careful and close with her hand on the back of his neck kills him. Lucifer popping up at random intervals is really killing him.
But it's three weeks before there's a fight about it.
Sam gets home from the grocery store to find Dean asleep on the couch with something glossy on his chest. Sam assumes it's a look book for a school and slowly steals it out from under his brother's arms.
Dean wakes up just in time for Sam to see that it's a Cosmo and mock him appropriately.
"25 Ways to Blow His Mind With Your Mouth," Sam reads with a quirked eyebrow. "Isn't the major benefit of being gay that you already know all of this?"
Dean snatches the magazine back, blushing till he's purple before spitting out, "I'm not gay… exactly. And can't a man read in peace? And why are you even… grabbing a magazine that Chelsea left here on accident?"
Sam decides to let the unfair accusation that Chelsea reads Cosmo go. "I thought you were looking at schools. Remember? You're gonna be a nurse. Cas picked you up all those look books for South Dakota State."
Dean nods and tucks the magazine down next to him in the couch cushions. "Right. Yeah. I know."
Sam hears the tone. "Please tell me you're not talking yourself out of this. Cas told me how much you guys have talked about you wanting a meaningful job."
"I'm not talking myself out of anything." Dean gets up and heads toward the kitchen. He starts putting away groceries. Sam follows him. "I just…right now isn't a very good time."
"Why not?" Sam asks, then realizes why not. "Dean- this isn't because of me is it?"
"Look, I just… right now, we need you to be okay. I'm not like you, I can't do school on top of something else. We're working on you right now. Cas is trying to track down some magic flower thing that can help people who used to be vessels. We've dropped a couple lines with Gabriel. The dickwad isn't answering, but we've dropped lines. Bobby's got something in the works. I can go to school later, this is mor-"
"Dean, you can't put your life on hold for me!" Sam yells. "It can't always be like this!"
"You're my brother. Your marbles are scrambled, that's what's important right now!"
That explodes outward back into basically every fight the two of them have ever had. Dean yells at Sam for acting like nothing's wrong. Sam yells at Dean for refusing to take responsibility for his own life. Lucifer shows up to point out, yet again, just how much Sam holds Dean back.
The yelling inside and outside of his head turns out to be way too much. Sam gets in his car and just drives. He winds up at Chelsea's. They open a bottle of wine and order a pizza and she lets him bitch about Dean until he runs out of bitch.
"I kind of get it," She says, when he's finally quiet. "I'm the baby in my family too. I didn't get raised by my sisters, but there are three of them, and I'm always the one who has to be checked in on or watched out for. Look at what happened with Tanya."
"I had a psychotic episode in your house in the middle of the night because I was missing a grimoire," Sam says. "I think she was justified to worry about you."
"And Dean's not justified to worry about you?"
"It's just a hallucination." Sam shrugs. "It's not a wendigo. It's not a ghost. It's not a demon. It's just something wrong in my brain. We used to go up against things that could kill us every day. I don't need to be babysat over this. And Dean… Dean gives up way too much shit for me. And he always has. I'm not four years old anymore. He doesn't have to make me the last can of spaghetti-os, pour salt across all the windows, and sit up in the living room with a shotgun. I'm a grown ass man and I can take care of my self while Dean sorts his shit out and gets on with his life. And… He just… he can't use this as an excuse. Cas can go ahead and track down magic flowers, and we can wait and see if Gabriel ever bothers to come around with a suggestion, but this whole Coo-Coo for Cocapuffs thing?" Sam clears his throat. He hasn't admitted to anyone that he thinks this is true. "It might not be from being a vessel. It might not be from being in Hell or some hangover effect from being put in some holding pattern of nonexistence for however long it was. I've been at war against monsters since I was six months old, I had a disaster of a childhood, and I've taken loss after loss for years. Maybe I just snapped. I wouldn't be the first Hunter who has."
Chelsea wraps his hand in hers. "Sam, I think you might be right, but I don't think you have to be so resigned about that."
"Chelsea, there's nothing that I could do about it. If a shrink asks you to tell them about your father and you talk about the werewolf hunt he once took you on, they lock you up and throw away the key. Dean and I once pulled a scam to get into an institution. We just showed up and described our last two months. We were in carpet slippers in half an hour. When what's happening to me happened to Marvin, they pumped him full of drugs and put him in a blue paper night gown and he called it a vacation. I can't do that to Dean."
"I don't think you'd have to. Bobby and I have been working on something. We don't think you're crazy… but you've been through a lot and… there's no shame in admitting that you may need some professional help."
"Which I can't exactly-"
"You're not the only Hunter's kid that went to college, sweetheart. And you and Dean have saved a thousand people from a thousand things. And so have a lot of other hunters. Those people had day jobs. Bobby and I found someone. Her name's Joanne Claybourne. She's a psychiatrist in California and a couple years ago she moved into an office with a Tulpa in it."
"A tulpa in a shrink's office?"
"Right? Unholy disaster. Anyway- she'll believe you. She said she'll do skype sessions for you at no charge, she just needs you to pick someone to vouch for you that what you're telling her about the supernatural stuff is true, which Bobby says he'll do to keep Dean out of your hair. If you're uncomfortable with Bobby doing it, you know Cas'll do it."
Sam's flabbergasted at this. It's a normal person's solution, tailored so that it can be his solution too.
Chelsea's looking askance at him. "I'm sure you're not into talking about your feelings, but please at least try this."
"A shrink…" Sam says, thinking back to his year in a faculty ordered counseling in college. He'd never even admitted to Dean that he'd been in counseling, let alone that it had actually helped.
"She did say that she won't do anything illegal to get you medication, but-"
"I don't want to get doped up," Sam says immediately.
"I know!" Chelsea says immediately, holding her hands out placatingly. "And I'm sure she won't push because she can't prescribe it and she'll know that we have to go black market to get it. It's one plan," Chelsea says. "Worst case scenario, maybe she can help you deal with the hallucinations while we go mystical to heal them."
She's trying so hard to help that Sam can't even stop himself. He leans forward and folds her into a hug. His hands wind up around her waist. Her arms creep up around his shoulders. Her cheek tucks against his.
She smells like talc and coconut and roses. She's soft around the edges. The way she yields under his hands makes him think about the way she spills out of her swimsuit, just a little bit. Just enough to make her seem… welcoming.
They hit the point where the hug has obviously gone on too long and it doesn't end. Chelsea's hands stroke down his back.
"Umm… thank you."
"Bobby did all the leg work. I just… I just had the idea."
The hug just keeps going. Chelsea's hands are still moving across his back. His hands start moving at her waist.
"We should…" Sam starts.
"Did we really… last time… did we really stop… things just because we didn't want to tell Dean?" Chelsea asks. Sam looks at her empty wineglass. It's her second. He had three.
"No," he replies. "We had reasons. You're… one of the gang. And we agreed it was just a… it was a friend in need sort of thing." He's starting to cross the line between stroking and groping. Chelsea's not stopping him.
"Yeah. Right. I remember… and I thought you… I thought you didn't want to."
"Why did you think that?"
"You didn't ask me again," Chelsea says.
"Oh," Sam says. "Right."
"And now… you're having a rough time," Chelsea says. She moves her head so that she's laying it on his shoulder.
"What about you?"
"Yeah. No one ever asks you if you're having a rough time. You just run around… helping us."
Chelsea laughs. Her breath is warm against Sam's throat.
"Umm… I don't have hallucinations. I'm not still slowly wading through my deeply repressed same-sex attraction and daddy issues. I've been human this whole time. I guess I'm mostly good."
Something he hasn't thought about at all recently occurs to Sam as he feels the way his hands fit into Chelsea's waist.
"You stopped looking for a boyfriend."
Chelsea stiffens in his grip. "It's just been a little crazy lately."
"You stopped looking after we slept together."
Chelsea doesn't answer, but she also doesn't let go.
Sam pulls back. Chelsea's dark eyes follow him as he moves away, and drop down to his lips. He leans forward and kisses her.