Time is a sea, lapping against the rolling surge of their bodies, forever twisting and turning. Physical strength has its limits. Limits that Sam is sure he passed some miles back. Every tendon feels pulled, every bone bruised. His skin feels rubbed raw, leaking blood into the thirsty earth.
He keeps on past the point of rational thought. Sidley doesn't give an inch, matches him cry for cry and push for pull. At some point, Sam doesn't think he can give up even if he wanted to. His limbs and mind are locked on one, all-consuming purpose. He feels a fierce, grim pride in the knowledge that even if it kills him he will not relent.
"You'll wish you had," Sidley whispers, and touches Sam's hip.
Just touches it. Some unstoppable invisible force yanks his right leg. With a sickening tearing sound, it dislocates from the hip bone.
Sam arches against the blinding, nauseating agony, screaming.
His vision whites out, consuming the world for an instant or an hour. Time means nothing here.
When he comes back to himself he's laying half on and half off Sidley, the both of them panting and sweat-soaked. Sidley's face looks stark and pale, his eyes wide, inky pools. "Morning is breaking." His voice is wrecked. "Let me go."
Surprise jolts through Sam. He can hardly grasp the idea that they have wrestled all night long. His body is telling him a different story. He closes his eyes, swallows to gather enough saliva to speak. "No," he rasps. "Your name. Give it to me."
Sidley's eyes communicate a near-mindless rage; he looks at Sam as if he's reading a story in blood and bone. Sam feels him trembling, feels an unnatural heat pouring off Sidley's skin; he prepares himself for another assault. Defeat flashes across Sidley's face. He speaks in a sound like broken glass grinding underfoot. "Medatron."
Exhilaration rockets up Sam's spine. This is it, the moment he has strived for.
"Give me yours," Medatron says.
Medatron gives a faint smile. "The voice crying in the night. You have heard it." He breathes, a low wheeze. "The blessing is yours."
"No, please," Sam says, voice cracking with emotion, hot tears coursing down his cheeks. "My brother. Free him from his contract." He gives a thin, half-hysterical chuckle. "If there's any left over you can keep me from dying in the process."
There's a brief pause before Medatron says, "It is so."
A sob escapes Sam's throat. The great hot lump of emotion in his chest melts away, leaving him weak and quivering.
Medatron's eyes are transforming. Light kindles within them, a brilliant light that streams outward in ever-growing, terrible rays. Sam suddenly knows that the light will burn him to nothing unless he shields his eyes. As he brings his hands to his face, he glimpses them. They imprint an afterimage into his retinas.
Wings. Outstretched; pure white and intricately patterned. Beautiful and soft and heartbreakingly perfect. More so than anything he has ever seen.
The light flares hot and intense and disappears. So does Medatron. The places where their bodies were touching sting as though splashed with acid.
The suddenness of the loss of light and physical contact bludgeons Sam's senses. He lays there in the dirt, pain shredding a slow awful path from his hip to his head. The silence surrounding has a sound all of its own; it throbs through him. He breathes, struggling to hold on as reality comes rushes back in to fill the vacuum left by Medatron.
He plants his elbows in the dirt and starts to drag himself the immeasurable distance to the stairs. He makes it a foot before pain and exhaustion draw a black curtain over him, and he knows no more.
A janitor wakes him with the sound of rapid praying in Spanish and the feel of warm hands grasping his. He blinks, trying to focus on the man, but every time he opens and shuts his eyes he sees a different sight: first the basement, then an ambulance, then the hospital, bright white and cold.
The janitor stays with him, holding his hand through his screaming as two ER doctors curse, pull, and wrestle his leg back in place.
Fifteen hours later, powered by painkillers, four cups of hot black coffee, and the desperate need to see his brother, Sam limps into the hospice ward. He knows he looks like hell, blood dotted, filthy and exhausted. He sees this reflected in the shocked expressions of the staff. Dimly, he hears voices, people greeting him and asking him questions. He has no words for them.
Heart slamming into sore ribs, he makes an unerring path to Dean's room. He pauses against the closed door, leaning his head on the painted surface, just breathing in an effort to collect himself. To steel himself for what he might find. Then he's pushing open the door.
Dean is sitting on the bed on top of the covers, no longer propped up against a pile of pillows due to weakness. Just sitting there in the same kind of position Sam has seen him in a thousand times. He's wearing jeans and a t-shirt and his boots are crossed over his ankles. He's flicking cards on the bedspread one by one in an expert, half-impatient manner. As though he's been waiting for Sam to get his ass over here to pick him up.
"Sam," he says, eyes widening at the sight of him. He smiles, relief and happiness in his eyes, and rises to greet Sam.
Then Sam's touching him, hands running up and down strong arms and over straight shoulders, across the stiff gelled hair and over the warm smooth skin of his face. Sam's throat is making ragged little noises and his eyes are swallowing Dean's healthy color, his strength and vitality. Dean's alive and well and hell, he's glowing, he looks so good.
He's free. Sam doesn't have to ask to know that the deal has been broken. The freedom exudes from his pores, radiates from him. And Sam can't breathe because it's over, God, it's really over. A year's worth of anxiety, a year's worth of tension and desperation stripped away in one fell swoop, leaving him dizzy and grateful and overcome. He realizes in that moment that the holy light from Medatron is no longer the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.
It's his brother's face.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched. Then the man said, "Let me go, for the day is breaking."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."
Jacob said, "Please tell me your name."
But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
Author's Notes – It may be obvious to some, but I have no knowledge whatsoever of the symptoms of lung cancer. But, you know, artistic license and all that.
The lore says that the angel's name was Metatron. Which sounds like some sort of vitamin you'd buy off the Internet. Or maybe a robot. Anyhow, I changed its spelling to something I thought sounded a little more angelic. The title is from the Bible verses at the beginning of the fic. The 'lore' also says that Metatron is also the name of the watchman referenced there.
Thanks for reading this little fic. I'd love to hear what you thought of it.