'When Angels Fall
Well, we have finally come to the end of my Secret Santa fic for Kaly from SFTCOL(AR)S – Merry Christmas! Yes, I am very, very slow! It was a bit surreal writing something happening on Christmas Day given that it is August.
Apologies for the delay to everyone, especially Kaly, I hope this meets your request and is to your liking. Hoping I have not let you down and that you can forgive me. Huge thanks to Gem as always for the generous sharing of her time and talent!
One brother makes a bargain that may ultimately cost the Winchesters more than they are willing to pay. This will be slightly AU as will eventually include John, Caleb and Pastor Jim.
Unfortunately all my best efforts have been in vain and nothing Supernatural belongs to me. It remains the property of the one seriously evil and talented Erik Kripke and the CW – now lets start pestering them for a season 4!
A few bad words, a wee bit pain and gore, um and angst. Possibly even schmoop.
'When Angels Fall.
Dean looked down at his brother with relief so intense he almost toppled.
"Hey, Sammy…" He whispered.
"Dean?" Sam wrinkled his brow in confusion, but before the elder brother could answer, Sam stiffened and a moan escaped his lips.
"Sam? What's wrong?"
But Dean could clearly see what was wrong - sutures meticulously stitched were quickly unravelling and his careful ministrations rendered useless as the wounds slowly pulled apart.
Dean almost gagged as could literally see the skin pulling apart.
Blood began to seep into Sam's shirt as it oozed and trickled down his chest and side, an accusing stain of crimson rapidly spreading.
Sam groaned again.
"Laurel! Nick! Get over here now! He's bleeding." Dean began to apply pressure and although Sam flinched at what had to be agonising pain, he did not pull back. In fact, he pulled closer.
"Dean, I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do." He gasped out through cracked lips. Lips that now too were starting to stain red Sam's internal injuries also made themselves known.
"Shhh, Sam, we'll take about this later." No way, not after all of this was Dean going to even give a moment's thought to Sam not having a later.
"Dean…" A bubble of blood and air formed around Sam's lips and he coughed weakly, closing his eyes as a fresh wave of torment hit. He coughed again, trying desperately to catch his breath, but it wasn't working.
The elder hunter's hands were now drenched in his brother's blood as he quite literally kept his brother from tearing himself apart with each wrenching cough, his fingers slipping and sliding on the slick red film now soaking Sam's chest and abdomen.
Christ, I can't see what to hold together. Dean blinked back tears. He couldn't afford to let his vision blur, and so he turned the tears inward, burning an acid trail down his throat and to his heart.
"It's ok, its gonna be ok…"He murmured repeated, reduced to babbling, not having the power to form any other words.
Sam turned wide, terrified eyes on his brother as he tied to suck air into torn and ruptured lungs. He grasped Dean's arm with a surprisingly tight grip. "De."
He whimpered out and he pulled his brother close so that he could press his head against him, burrowing his brow against the warm material of Dean's shirt, needing to feel the comfort of having his brother near.
"Nick!" Dean called out in fury. This was not the way this was going down. They were meant to be saving Sam, not tearing him slowly to shreds. "Do something!"
"I'm here." A soft, gentle voice whispered in Dean's ear.
She placed her hands on top of Dean's. A warmth spread from above his hands, then somehow through.
It reminded him of when he was a kid, and he had held up his hands towards the sun, watching the light shining through them. It was the same sensation.
Laurel's hands now glowed with a pulsating brightness that made Dean's hands itch.
"Stay still." Laurel instructed in a voice uncharacteristically firm.
Sam cried out again, a harsh, agonised sob that broke the last of Dean's defences.
"Laurel, please, help him." Dean whispered.
"Just a moment longer." Laurel's hands trembled slightly at the world of hurt beneath her hands, both Sam and Dean's.
"He's in agony, dammit!"
"And he will continue to be for a little while longer. There had to be some payment, Dean, some balance. I'm sorry." The Reaper looked compassionately at the torn elder brother, tears filling her eyes at the physical torment of one boy mirrored in the emotional anguish of the other.
"No, I returned his life to him as promised, his soul as much his as it ever was. But equilibrium must be maintained. Pain as payment for your life."
Dean wanted to hit her, but Sam, writhing and twisting beneath his hands, brought him back to his senses.
"Sam?" he brushed damp strands of hair from his brother's eyes with blood-smeared fingers, leaving a scarlet trail across his brother's brow. Quickly he wiped the offending stain away with his sleeve.
"Sam, you have to look at me." Dean spoke with an intensity that was compelling and his brother opened pain-dulled eyes, frighteningly unfocussed and soul-weary. Dean knew he had to keep Sam in the here and now, to give Laurel time to heal him.
"Laurel's gonna heal you, Sam, but it's going to hurt. I'm sorry, bro. Just breathe through it and stay here with me, deal?"
Sam nodded weakly, his eyes fixed firmly on his brother and Dean was shocked momentarily speechless to see such unquestioning trust there.
"Ready, Sam?" Laurel whispered.
"Haven't we been here before?" Sam gasped out tiredly, before nodding for her to continue.
It felt as though a white-hot poker had been thrust deep into his chest, his abdomen, and his shoulder, as Laurel seemed to cauterise the wounds from the inside out. He could feel bones resetting and knitting, feel skin, muscle and tendon pull together and mesh.
He could feel every molecule in his body slowly repairing itself and he was lost in a maelstrom of searing sensation.
Dean watched in horror as beneath his hands, Sam's flesh began to pull together, and grimaced at the sound of setting bones, the popping of joints moving back into place, the strange sucking noise of bloods being forced back into their proper channels.
The experienced hunter, veteran of many a gruesome sight, found this more than he could tolerate. Keeping his hands firmly in place, he turned and vomited, wiping his chin against his shoulder when the heaves subsided.
Sam moaned and burrowed more deeply against him in a bid to escape, to hide from the pain, as Laurel moved him so that she could tend to the wounds on his back. He leaned heavily against Dean, who took the chance to savour the contact. To feel his brother, warm once again, to inhale the scent that was uniquely Sam¸ to breathe in his brother's life as if it were oxygen.
It was more powerful than that.
He tightened his grip as Sam's arms reached around him, fingers wrapping themselves tightly in Dean's shirt.
Sam felt himself raised and the painful healing process now moved to the back of his shoulder. His brother was supporting him and Sam didn't fight the urge to hold on and keep him close.
He buried his face in the crook between Dean's neck and shoulder, wrapping his arms tightly around his brother.
He was never letting go again.
As the pain increased once more, Sam felt his world tilt and shift, his vision greying out.
No…I have to stay here…
He forced his battered body to breathe in and the smell of Dean, of leather, gun oil and aftershave, the all-permeating smell that was as familiar to Sam as his own, filled his senses.
It helped him breathe.
Greedily, he breathed in again and with each breath found the pain receding, until gradually, achingly slowly, it began to fade.
"It's done, Sam. You can rest now." Laurel murmured, placing a hand on Sam's cheek, then Dean's.
He didn't want to close his eyes just yet, though, didn't want to give in to the weariness that was dragging him to sleep. He wanted just a moment longer to savour the life that now coursed through his veins, to cherish the second chance that had been given to him. A moment longer to hold on to that which he held most dear.
And knowing this was possibly the last opportunity he had to steal a hug from his completely non-touchy-feely, macho and so-not-crying-into-his-shoulder-brother, he seized the opportunity to hold on.
John stood silently watching his two sons, several tears daring to escape and for once running unchecked down his unshaven face. "Thank God." He whispered, roughly rubbing a hand across his face as he turned to walk away.
"You are not seriously leaving now?" Caleb grabbed his arm and looked at him with undisguised disgust.
"It nearly got my boys, Caleb. Don't you realise how close that bastard came? We need to keep him as far from my sons as possible." It didn't matter how much John wanted to stay, to keep his sons close and bask safe in the knowledge that his family was near. But John knew he had to think rationally, tactically. That yellow eyed son of a bitch knew that Nick had Sam's soul in his keeping; it wasn't going to wait forever. And his terror was now tenfold, realising that it was not only Sam the demon was hunting, but both Sam and Dean that were in its sights.
It was time to return to the hunt.
He softly called Nick across and pulled him to one side. The two men's low murmuring ended when Nick nodded and walked back to where Laurel still stood, almost standing guard over the two brothers.
Sam had finally succumbed to exhaustion and was now asleep, his cheek still resting against his brother's chest. Dean sat; one hand fisted in the back of Sam's shirt, cradling him close, the other absently brushing through Sam's hair. Dean's chin rested on top of his brother's head, his eyes also beginning to close as his brother's soft breathing lulled him, each puff of breath a balm on his soul.
"Laurel, we have to go. John has an idea to draw my father from here. His soul has enough of the same flavour to fool my father from a distance. We need your help."
Laurel reluctantly left her post to follow the half-demon to where the elder Winchester stood.
"What you wish will cause you great pain."
"It will give my boys time, time to heal, to get some distance between them and the demon."
The Reaper tilted her head to one side, appraising. "You surprise me, John. For a man so calculating, so focussed, you have a strange depth of soul."
"I will do whatever it takes to protect my sons. They have paid enough."
The Reaper nodded, "They have. They have paid more than their due."
"They have paid mine. I have made many decisions that have hurt them—not least of all, this." He gestured to the Colt.
The Reaper smiled, a brief light flickering in her eyes. She cupped one hand to John's face. "We each have decisions we regret, John Winchester. We each have penitence owed. Let this be your atonement for you actions."
She closed her eyes and John felt an ice-cold pain deep in his chest and an eerie, wrenching sensation.
As he reopened his eyes, he could see a faint glow in Laurel's hands.
"A sample of essence. A shard of your soul." She held her hand out to Nick who handed her the amulet. She brought her hands together and the light vanished within it.
"Don't worry, John. We can be far from here by sunrise. And maybe if we're lucky, my dear demonic father will fall for the bait and walk into the trap."
John turned to Caleb, who shook his head, a mixture of respect and fear filling him for his friend. John nodded in the direction of his sons, "Watch over them for me." He commanded.
"Jim can. I think you'll need more backup than they do." Caleb started to follow the elder hunter to the door. "Besides, Sam is a bitchy patient and Dean is a grumpy bastard when Sam is hurt. I'll get more peace and quiet with you. Not to mention a chance to even a few scores of my own."
John nodded his acceptance, dark eyes once more searching out his family. "Merry Christmas, boys. Stay safe until I can come back and explain." He turned abruptly and walked back out into the still falling snow. Nick and Caleb following, a shimmer at Nick's left for an instant taking form, three men briefly becoming four.
Dean's eyes cracked open as he watched his father and Caleb leave, a small smile of understanding gracing his handsome features, He wasn't stupid, nor was he deaf. He knew what John had done. Maybe his father wasn't infallible like he used to believe, but maybe he was something better. Their Dad may have given a splinter of his soul to the Reaper, but he had regained the rest of it for himself. "Well, whaddya know Sammy, maybe Dad isn't such a lost cause after all."
The brothers were finally alone; Sam tucked into Pastor Jim's bed, his few remaining wounds now under control, cleaned and firmly bound. A reminder. Laurel had cautioned.
Like either of us need one of those. Dean had thought.
"Promise me, Sam, that you'll never do something as stupid as that again? You never surrender yourself for me, for anyone, got it?"
"No" Sam shook his head sadly.
"You heard me, Dean, I said no. I won't make a promise I can't keep."
"You selfish bastard!" Dean couldn't believe Sam would even dream of putting him through this again.
"I need you, Dean. I wouldn't survive losing you again." Sam turned earnest eyes on his brother.
"Yes, you would." Hypocrite.
"I wouldn't want to." A heartbreaking confession.
Dean opened his mouth to reply but stopped. How could he argue the point when he wouldn't want to, either?
"Dammit, Sammy." He leaned his shoulder against his brother. "What are we going to do?"
"Live forever?" The solemn gaze now sparked with a mischievous light, a childhood promise remembered.
"Sounds a plan. And Sam?"
"Don't you ever die on me again."
"Will try my best." A crooked smile brightened Sam's tired face.
"If you do, you had better make sure there's room for us both where we're heading, and it had better be the end of the world, you hear me?"
"Love you too, Dean"
"You are such a girl…" And for the first time in many years, he bent down and lightly kissed his brother on the top of his head. "Merry Christmas, Sam."
"Merry Christmas, Dean."
As Dean rose he asked his brother, "So did you ask Santa for anything this year? Your stupid stunt may have gotten you crossed off his list."
"No need, Dean…have everything I want right here." Sam slurred softly, the painkillers Pastor Jim had administered finally kicking in. His eyes were shining softly in the firelight, his warm smile lighting his face as he looked at his brother with obvious affection.
Me too, Sammy, me too…"You have no imagination, bro…"
"With your taste, Dean, I'm not surprised you need a good imagination…"
"Not cool Sam, not to mention complete and utter bullshit…"
"Need I mention that waitress in Tampa?"
"Below the belt bro…"
"Yeah I remember…" Sam sniggered sleepily…
"Go to sleep, Sam"
"Stay till I fall asleep, De?" Sam asked suddenly, turning vulnerable eyes on his brother and looking a lot younger than his 23 years.
"Sure, kiddo." Dean stretched out on top of the covers next to Sam. Beside him, he could feel Sam finally relax and his breathing even out. The steady rise and fall of Sam's chest soothed his overly frayed nerves and for the first time in twenty-four hours, Dean felt he could breathe. Despite all the odds, his brother was no longer falling.
A presence watched, unseen from the darkness, striking blue eyes watching the scene contemplatively. She knew the importance of those under her watchful gaze.
The Dark cannot abide the Light. It seeks it, wishes to diminish and devour it. To consume it utterly until the light flickers and dies…For light is the one thing the darkness truly fears; a tiny spark can weaken it, a faint ember can hold it at bay, and a bright flame can banish it completely. And Sam and Dean fairly glowed with a luminosity of spirit. And the Dark was terrified.
As the two brothers slept, Laurel hovered over them. None knew her true form or her fate at the hands of the demons would have been that much more cruel. She had disguised herself as a Reaper, for their powers were similar in nature- an angel charged with the protection of souls, she had failed once and this had been her penance. To be bound to the man whose soul had nearly slipped through her fingers into the awaiting night.
And then, along came the Winchester men – all three souls so bright and intense, dangerous, courageous and terrifyingly close to falling. And against her better judgement, she let herself be drawn in, became invested in their survival.
She spread her wings silently, sheltering the brothers below, shielding them from evil eyes – if only for one night, she could at least offer them her meagre protection, keep them hidden from searching eyes. Give them this one safe harbour from the storm.
A massive thanks to everyone that has read this story, a virtual hug and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you that reviewed. You have brightened the life of this little fic writer!
Please let me know what you think of the ending, I must confess to finding it very hard to write endings, I guess I just don't want to leave our boys! Its nerve-wracking, especially when you have all been so kind.
Thanks for your patience and your understanding.