Characters: Sam and Dean (Gen), Castiel this chapter, ha! (does that count as a spoiler?)
Summary: Takes place after 4.22 Lucifer Rising. Sam wants to feel clean for once in his life.
Warnings: Spoilers for 4. 22 Lucifer Rising and to be safe everything that has aired up to now.
A/N: Here's the next chapter. Not late like usual, I know! The link's to my journal because I can keep an eye for comments more easily that way. By now, you people know that I love feedback so I'd really appreciate it if you comment after reading and I'm always open for con-crit so don't hesitate =)
Disclaimer: Me? Own Sam and Dean? I wish...
1. Who'll Have Mercy On Your Soul?
2. O’ Death, Won’t You Spare Me Over Another Year?
3. With Ice Cold Hands Taking Hold Of Me...
4. But What Is This That I Can't See?
5. I'll Open The Door To Heaven Or Hell
6. No Wealth, No Ruin, No Silver, No Gold…
It had been a week since Dean started talking. He hadn’t been able to stop ever since.
“Sam, dude, you gotta wake up. What am I gonna do without you, huh? How could I… How could I go on without you? Didn’t I tell you I can’t do this alone? Years ago. Man, we’ve already talked about this. You know why I drag you everywhere. Just… come back.”
Talking to Sam felt strangely liberating. Dean felt lighter than ever as he spilled every little secret he buried deep inside of him, one by one. His brother was lying there patiently, listening to him talk about his feelings without a mocking word or a hint of a one-sided grin. If Sam had been awake, Dean would have never been able to say what he said in that white, sanitary room accompanied by the whooshing sounds of the ventilator.
“You can’t do this to me. Not again. It almost destroyed me the first time, Sam. I won’t survive a second. There’s only so much a man can take… Hell, if I was okay, would I be here, talking to you with tears in my eyes? This isn’t me, man. I’m not right. I’m serious. This time, I swear I’ll follow you.”
His voice broke with a bitter hiccup.
“If only to kick your ass on the other side…”
His shoulders were shaking uncontrollably with the force of his silenced sobs.
When he wasn’t talking, Dean sat by Sam’s bed silently. Sometimes he held his brother’s hand; chick-flick moments be damned. Sometimes he touched trembling fingers to Sam’s face: Brushing over girly eye brows he’d given Sam shit about countless times, sliding over sunken cheeks which used to be chubby and full of baby fat once – it seemed like ages ago.
“When am I gonna grow up?” Sam had asked once, in front of the mirror. He was dissatisfied with that cutie-face of his that instantly won over every single person inhabiting double X-chromosomes.
He couldn’t have been more than eight. And he had looked at Dean with such longing and admiration, as if Dean was a grown-up already. True; he had started to lose the baby fat thanks to Dad’s demanding physical training. But Dean had been a child, himself, even though he had shouldered many responsibilities most adults wouldn’t.
Of course twelve year-olds thought they were big boys. So Dean had ruffled his brother’s hair affectionately and stood behind Sam to emphasize the major height difference as they stared at their reflections in the mirror.
“I don’t know, man,” he had said. “Think something’s wrong with you. You might stay this way forever.” His face looked dead serious.
Sam’s eyes had widened in terror but then he had come to his senses and given Dean one of his countless bitch faces as he had elbowed him in the stomach.
“Liar,” he had hissed, pouting.
Dean had laughed so hard tears had come out of his eyes. He had been clutching his stomach all the while because maybe the tears had something to do with Sammy’s boney elbow, too – the kid could be mean when he wanted.
“You’re all grown-up, now. Bet even you didn’t think you’d become a freaking Sasquatch, you overgrown freak… You know, I felt kinda betrayed when you added those first coupla inches over me. I mean, I am the older one – how can my baby brother be taller than me?” He scoffed in good humor. “Yeah, I know it sounds childish. But I still resent you a bit for being taller.”
He shook his head.
“Man, I’m not short. I stand proud at 6.1’. But you’re just a freaking giant…”
Bobby came to see them frequently. He tried to get Dean to go home but he wouldn’t listen.
“I won’t leave him, Bobby,” he said. “Not again.”
“I’ll stay with Sam, you idjit,” Bobby tried. “Just go get horizontal for a couple hours. You ain’t no good to your brother like this.”
Dean shook his head. “No. I can’t leave him.”
“Just for a couple hours.”
“You don’t understand.”
Bobby yelled in frustration, then, and immediately regretted it. “Then explain it to me!”
“I can’t leave Sam,” Dean said, his eyes roaming over his brother’s still figure. “He might think I-I don’t want him back. He might…” He raised his eyes to meet Bobby’s. “Sam’s gonna wake up because he’ll finally understand that I’m not giving up on him… I almost did. You know that. But you showed me that I was wrong, Bobby.” He blinked, frowning and trying to hide the emotion in his eyes that he couldn’t control. “You of all people should understand,” he murmured quietly.
Bobby looked at him silently for a beat, then he took the few steps separating them and pulled Dean into a hug. Dean didn’t resist; he trembled like a soaked animal for a fraction of a second then he brought his arms around the old man’s body to grip him tight.
“Family don’t end with blood, boy. I showed you that, too,” he whisper-croaked into Dean’s ear.
Dean gave something between a nod and a shrug in response.
“Just let me take care of Sam for a little while as you rest. Huh?” Bobby broke the hug and gave Dean an encouraging slap on the back as he searched his face for a response.
Dean nodded fervently. Then he blinked exhausted eyes at the man who had been more or less like a father to him for decades and spoke in a quiet yet deep tone:
“Not now, Bobby. I-I gotta stay. I don’t… Don’t worry about me. I’m okay.” He nodded insistently. “I’ll come with you – just. Not now. I need to be here, right now.”
“You remember what that damned Jinn did to me?” Dean said. “You remember how it was supposed to be a perfect fantasy but it wasn't? I never really told you why. Because it was just a wish… It was just a stupid wish.” He paused, trying to gather enough of himself to tell the tale.
“I’d wished that Mom had never died. And Mom was fine; Dad had died a natural death. You were with Jessica and I had a hot girlfriend who knew me so well and still loved me… We were civilians.” He scoffed as he remembered lawyer-to-be Sam in that pompous rental and he himself driving the Impala without an arsenal in the trunk. Then he shook his head, remembering the rest.
“But you and me, we didn't get along. It was so weird, man. It was like we weren’t brothers at all. Felt so wrong looking at you and not being able to… to connect. Not being able to know what you were thinking. Not being able to... I don’t know, Sammy. Not being able to touch you like I always do. I, uhh, I somehow had – driven you away. You didn’t really like me – I’m not even sure you like me right now but… Would I be that much of a jerk if Mom never died? If we never knew about monsters and how to hunt them? Would I suck so much at being a big brother? – not that I’ve done a good job lately but… Hell, would you be so primp and proper like in that dream if we never hunted?” He shook his head again as he let his fingers tangle in Sam’s hair.
It was still softer than Dean’s own tousled, short-cropped hair. But it was nowhere near as soft as Sam liked to keep it. His little brother was such a girl, especially when it came to hair-care. Dean smiled fondly.
“Man, I’d never guess I’d miss that girly softness of your friggin’ hair, but I do.” He let out a sharp breath. “I miss everything. Like I missed everything in that dream. The only thing not perfect was you and me… I could have let the murdered people go. I could have; I’d have lied to myself. I would have made myself believe that I never saved those people. That you and me and Dad never saved no one. But I couldn’t live with not being a part of your life. Call it dangerously dependent, psychotically desperate or any other smart adjectives you can possibly come up with but I need you… And then I the end, knowing that while I wasted away into nothing in there, you’d be all alone in the real world. Without anyone – me – to have your back… I couldn’t possibly leave you alone in this world, Sammy. How could I when I promised you that nothing bad was gonna happen to you while I was around?” He stopped talking abruptly and tried to keep his mood light.
“Well, except a little Nair in your shampoo or some itching powder in your underwear,” he said, grinning fondly. “But none of that counts as bad, does it? Nothing bad about annoying your little brother…” His hand trembled as he brought it to his mouth to stop any embarrassing sounds from coming out involuntarily. “Sammy, you hear me? Hell, I won’t even try any of that shit, man. Not if you don’t start it first, that is. Just, just wake up already…”
Sam had been irresponsive for little over a week when Castiel showed up in the hospital room. He looked like his usual dull, trenchcoat-ed self but he also had an odd expression on his face that Dean couldn’t possibly begin to analyze.
“Hello Dean,” the angel greeted him quietly, glancing at him for a moment and then dropping his gaze to the floor – almost embarrassed.
Dean raised his head from Sam’s bed to acknowledge Castiel’s presence with a nod. The angel took a few steps towards them, encouraged by Dean’s apparent lack of bad mood.
“I’m sorry, D –”
“Where’ve you been?” Dean growled, eyes bleeding venom.
Castiel raised his eyes for a split moment. “Fighting,” he said, then added in shame after a moment. “And hiding… I barely got away from the archangel Raphael. And now, with… With Lucifer walking the Earth, we have to be more careful than ever. So I have been listening to whispers from both heaven and hell, trying to decide what to do next.”
Dean twisted his lips in an unpleasant sneer. “It’s been over ten days since I last saw you, Cas. And you’re telling me now that all this time, you’ve been hiding like a coward?”
Then angel looked stricken for a second. “I told you that we would be hunted. And we are being hunted. They are coming for me b – ”
“Oh, my heart breaks for you, Cas,” Dean interrupted, bitter sarcasm dripping from his mouth, finally spilling months worth of frustration. “Your angel buddies are out for your blood, that’s too bad. I can’t imagine what you’re going through…”
“But I’ve been looking out for you, too,” Castiel continued as if he hadn’t heard a thing Dean had said. “You’re already hidden from demons but I had to cloak you and your brother from Lucifer and other angels. Have you not wondered how come Zachariah has not found you yet?”
Dean blinked, digesting the news slowly. Then he frowned, feeling incredulous and betrayed all of a sudden. “You’ve been here all this time?” he asked, curious.
“Mostly, yes,” the angel answered truthfully. “But I was not visible to the eye.”
“I didn’t know you could do that,” Dean muttered thoughtfully. “Why would you do that?”
Castiel blinked enormous blue eyes at him as if wondering how come he didn’t know the answer. “Because you needed to be protected.”
“No. I mean, why invisible?”
The angel frowned, looking like he was searching for the right words. “When I found you, Sam was… he was already in this condition and you refused to give your attention to anyone or anything other than him. I thought it wise to let you talk to your brother. Because he was the only one you wanted to talk to.”
Something flared to life deep inside Dean. “You’ve been listening to me? This whole time I’ve been talking to Sam, you’ve been listening?” he growled, deep and dark. He suddenly felt like his insides had been on display for the angel, every little dear secret he kept deep in him spilt on the floor for Castiel to see.
Castiel looked taken aback at the accusation. “No,” he objected forcefully, “Of course not. I respect your privacy, Dean. You have every right to talk to your brother and be heard by him alone. What you say to him is none of my business.”
Dean was caught on one particular part of the angel’s words. He ducked his head as he contemplated whether to say what he was thinking or not. In the end, he sighed and gave up, asking the desperate question he was too scared to hear the answer of.
“Think he can hear me? I mean, Sam?” His eyes were locked on his brother’s closed lids as he talked.
“Most probably?” Castiel started in a monotone voice, “No. I can’t hear any strong thoughts coming off of Sam which means he probably isn’t thinking strongly of anything, right now.” He seemed to hesitate for a moment, a flash of sympathy cracking his stoic mask and running across his face. “But of course this doesn't mean that he isn’t hearing you,” he said. “It only means that he isn’t yet assessing what he’s been hearing. But hopefully, there will come a time when he will do that and more.”
Dean raised his head in sudden fury. “Hopefully? There will come a time? You bastard, you asking me to have hope? To have faith? Heal him. Now!” His whole body was trembling with emotion, now; his face was locked in an unpleasant snarl.
Castiel dropped his eyes to the floor in shame once again. “I can’t,” he said in a low voice.
“What do you mean you can’t?” Dean hissed from between clenched teeth.
The angel sighed, raising an eyebrow and breaking his normal blank expression. “I mean, I can’t. I don’t have the power, Dean. I rebelled and now I am cast out. I am cut out of heaven and much of its power.” He opened his eyes wide and stared deep into Dean’s in a heartfelt manner. “I’m sorry.”
Dean gave a humorless scoff. “Yeah, sure… You lose your mojo just when we need it the most.” He bit his lip, nodding to himself continuously. “That’s fantastic…”
“Why do you keep saying that?” Dean burst out, shouting. “Saying it more than once doesn’t make it any more real!”
“I feel the need to apologize,” Castiel said slowly. “I should have never –” He stopped talking abruptly and walked away from Dean, staring out the window. “I should have never listened to them.”
“What?” Dean was baffled.
“I rebelled,” the angel stated distantly. “But not soon enough… I could have stopped all this from happening but I chose not to. And for that I am sorry.”
“Damn it Cas, what are you talking about?” Dean demanded.
“I was the one who let Sam out,” Castiel started almost inaudibly, “From where he was locked in Bobby’s panic room. I opened the cuffs and I opened the door. Then I busted the Devil’s Traps so you’d think that a demon had done it.”
“You did what?” Dean snarled dangerously, standing up and taking a couple steps towards the angel by the window.
Castiel didn’t turn around to face Dean; instead he kept staring out the window, to a place far far away. “Those were my orders,” he said, “By the time you made me realize that my loyalties lay with the wrong side, it was already too late… I should have taken you out of there to stop Sam sooner.” He paused, frowning to himself as Dean took another step closer. “But I didn’t. I would give everything to be able to blame someone else for my mistakes; to be able to blame you because you couldn’t stop your brother. But I can’t.” He turned around then, only to find Dean’s face mere inches away from his own.
“You son of a bitch,” Dean rumbled; voice a deep, low baritone and screaming bloody murder. He grabbed the lapels of the angel’s trench coat and slammed him against the window at his back, lifting his feet off the floor a couple of inches. “How dare you show your face, huh? After what you did, how can you come here and tell me all about it?” He shook Castiel violently when the angel refused to respond in any way. He could have wiped the floor with Dean any time he wanted but he thought he deserved the treatment he was getting and thus submissively succumbed to it.
“Dammit! I trusted you, you dick. How could you…?” Dean muttered under his breath as he let the other man go. He gestured to his motionless brother on the bed as he spoke. “It’s the apocalypse; I mean the world is in the toilet. My brother’s lying there, a brink away from death because he couldn’t handle having started the apocalypse and you’re telling me you did everything you possibly could to make sure Sam freed Lucifer from that cage.” He scoffed bitterly. “If only Sammy knew how much help he got on the way…”
“I – ”
“You know what, screw you!” he bellowed, “I am fucking done with you and your angel pals. So get the hell outta here.” He waited for a beat to let Castiel see the truth in his eyes. “I don’t wanna see your freakin’ face ever again.”
Castiel looked defeated. “I’ll go,” he said as he made his way towards Dean who was once again standing by Sam’s bed. “But first, let me keep you safe.”
Dean took a defensive stance as the angel neared him. “I don’t want anything from you, you two-faced douche.”
But Castiel didn’t listen to him as he raised his hands and put one on each Winchester’s chest. Dean felt such an excruciating pain inside his chest he couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. From the corner of his eye, he saw his brother’s unresponsive body jolt on the bed as if struck by lightning.
“The hell was that?” he gasped once he regained his breath.
“The Enochian Sigil,” the angel replied. “It will hide you from every angel in creation. Including Lucifer.” After finishing his words, he looked at Dean one more time in a haunting, tormenting manner before vanishing into thin air with the sound of wings flapping.
And Castiel was gone.
Dean was alone once again, with a physical pain inside his chest this time as he sat by his brother’s bedside and hoped that the intense pain had been able to do some good to wake Sam up.