I swear I can see how a man can go crazy when he's told he's free. (Train; Will and the People)

The fan turns lazily, vanes stirring the heavy air with each casual movement. The bunker is all but silent, each Winchester sits in their own silent solitude, remembering, thinking… fearing. Lying on the bed, arms behind his head, the silence seems suddenly stifling. It reminds him too much of the quiet of the basement he was kept in, alone with his thoughts until Toni came to interrupt him.

The silence, the fan… It's a little too reminiscent of another quiet room. One where Sam had bounced off the walls, high on demon blood and righteousness. Where he had hallucinated terrible things. Where he had seen mom. None of it was real then, and right now Sam can't help but see the parallels.

After all, somewhere deep down, Sam knows this can't be real. None of this can. Because really? Getting out of that basement he can imagine, Dean being miraculously still alive (even with the sun proud and happy in the sky), that he can deal with. It wouldn't exactly be the first time.

But Mom? That's a wild card. It's simply too good to be true.

People don't just come back from the dead, not without a price. Sam learned that the hard way. Good things don't come to those who wait, they don't come to those who have faith and they certainly don't come to the Winchesters. Ever.

And that is the crux of the problem. It's all too good, too perfect, too flippin' dandy. Good plus good does not equal Sam's life. Even Lucifer knew that. What was it he said? It had to be a mess Sam, or you wouldn't believe it was your life.

Lucifer was right then and he's still right, now. This happiness, this familial perfection, can in no conceivable way be Sam's real life. Toni must have drugged him again, gotten him to another place he felt safe, another place where he would let his defences down and spill everything.

The fan never falters in its circle, never skips an airy beat. Light feet walk past the door, slippered, trying to be quiet. It's Mom. Or the mom in this hallucination anyway. Slowly, Sam takes his arms from behind his head and raises his hands to his face. He can't see the fan now, only his own scarred skin. A scabbing wound sits over an old scar, stone number two over stone number one. Lightly, Sam runs his thumb over the wound. Nothing changes, so he pushes. Delves, digs and shoves until blood drops onto his own face.

There. That's blood. That's pain. That's real.

Maybe it's not a dream after all. Maybe the world has finally decided to give Sam a break. He won't count on it though and he won't fight it. Not this time. No, this time the world can screw itself. Things are good. And if Sam still feels phantom fingers ghosting over his back, still feels a cattle-prod tearing at him and a flamethrower dancing at his feet, then that's fine. It doesn't matter if all of this is fake and he has to spend the rest of his (this) life avoiding Toni's favourite subjects, not if this is the life he gets.

Though he isn't sure God's still there to listen, though he isn't certain there's any point in wishing this is real, Sam finds he has to. Whatever this is, it's put hope back into his raggedy soul. Hope: and that's kind of the whole point.

So, it's all fine.

Because, real or no, Sam's got something to live for again. And, real or no, that has to be enough.