Set in a possible season 4, Sam failed to save Dean.

This isn't necessarily a "deathfic," but if the mere thought of one of the boys dying or already dead makes you unhappy…read anyway, just be kind! LOL

Thanks to geminigrl11 for beta-ing.

I own nothing

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Prayers for Intercession

John Kelley sat, watching the recently washed wine chalice dry. He was entering his thirty-first year as a Catholic priest. He'd come to the church after finding God in Alcoholics Anonymous. He'd nearly drank himself to death before he was thirty, but was saved by a friend who'd turned him onto the right path.

Some had questioned him over the years about the wisdom of a recovering alcoholic performing rituals involving wine, saying that it was tempting fate. But, Kelley saw it as a test of his faith and his will. Not to mention His Will. Kelley had been dry for three decades.

Still, he could still see the signs in others. In his travels, he'd encountered many people, some who'd never touched alcohol outside of a church, some who were nearing the bottom. He knew the look. The way people carried themselves. The eyes; it was always in the eyes. He knew because he'd seen it in himself at a young age.

He shook himself from his reverie. "Getting maudlin, Jack."

If he wanted to be honest, he'd admit that his recent tendency to reconsider his foolish youth had more to do with his upcoming 62nd birthday than any deep philosophical introspection. But, he didn't want to be honest.

Vanity was a sin, but it was a common enough human vice. He'd pray and meditate on it later. He gathered his appointment book---the official reason he'd come over to the Church on a quiet Wednesday afternoon---and left the small kitchen. Stepping into the gathering space at the front of the building, he paused to don his heavy winter coat and began walking towards the Sanctuary and the side exit.

Nearing the large double doors, he noticed a man up near the altar, dipping two small flasks into the Baptismal Font, screwing the lids on and then moving silently to the first row of pews. People taking home holy water wasn't anything new. It had once been a tradition to spray it along the baseboards of a house to keep out evil, though few believed in such things nowadays, and rarely anyone as young as this man appeared. Nor was it unusual for someone to be in a church alone in the middle of the week.

What was unusual was the aura of darkness and misery which seemed to hang like a pall over this man. Jack felt it even from this distance. It was remarkable, and a little chilling. He watched from his place by the door as the man knelt and bowed his head. It was rather rude to spy on a private communion with the Lord, but Jack couldn't help it. His curiosity was piqued.

Waiting until the tall young man sat back in the pew, Jack quietly made his way down the aisle, keeping his eyes on the mysterious visitor. Something about the way the shoulders bunched, tension visible even below the thick black duster, told the priest that this man was in need. The unruly shock of dark brown hair sticking out from under the toboggan cap told him that appearances were of little concern to this stranger.

Jack knew a good one-half of the nearly two thousand parishioners that attended this mid-sized North Carolina church. Could recognize about two-thirds of the remaining half on sight.

This man wasn't a regular. Jack would have noticed him before.

He was about ten feet from the first pew when the man's deep voice stopped him in his tracks.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people, Padre. Never know who you're gonna find."

Jack blinked. The words were fairly ominous, but the tone was anything but. He caught a glimpse of hooded eyes glancing back at him, glinting with a humor that was more macabre than gleeful, but not dangerous.

He moved forward again, pausing at the edge of the wooden pew. "Sorry, son. You…just looked like someone who needed something. Mind if I join you?"

A tilt of the head was the only reply, as the man's eyes were fixed on the large wooden crucifix that overlooked the altar. Jack slid into the seat, keeping a respectful distance from his visitor.

The man was even taller than he looked from a distance. His broad shoulders would be good for football, or hockey, Jack's old sport. I'd have paid this guy to be on my team back then….

There was a faint but noticeable scent of whiskey surrounding the stranger. Jack could smell it distinctly even from five feet away. He saw that in the posture, too. This man had been drinking---heavily---within the past few hours.

It was the eyes, though, that he kept returning to. They were hooded, and spoke of too many recent sleepless nights. But, even dull with fatigue, they took in everything. Jack felt himself being scrutinized, even though the man was still staring upward at the sculpture of Christ on the Cross.

"Nice place."

Jack glanced around on reflex. "Yes. Our parish is very proud of it."

A moment went by before the man spoke again. "Could use some more stained glass in the windows, though."

Jack looked back, curious. The glint was back. He got the distinct impression that he was being teased. "My name's Jack. Jack Kelley."

The man's eyes cut over to him for a moment, then returned to the front of the church. "Sam."

"Sam," Kelley repeated. "Short for Samuel. It's Hebrew for 'the name of God.'"

Another noncommittal tilt of the head. "I know. And it's Sam."

Jack pressed on, feeling the need to make this man open up. He couldn't be more than 25-years old, and yet with the dark bags beneath his eyes looked years older. Tired. Hopeless. He hadn't shaved in a few days, at least, and his clothes, while clean, looked rumpled and long-worn.

Jack saw a lot of himself there, too, when he as that age. It was more than the scent of alcohol.

"Did you know it can also mean 'asked of God'?"

Sam's mouth twisted into a smirk, another macabre glint lighting the eyes. "Nobody asked for me, Padre."

"Maybe your parents did," Kelley replied easily.

The smirk became a humorless snort. "They got a lot more than they asked for, then."

Jack detected an odd note in that comment, one that simultaneously invited and dissuaded further questioning on the subject. He decided to let it drop, and changed direction. "New around town?"

"Just passing through."

"Are you Catholic?"

"No. Knew a priest once. Learned all about the Mass. A few other things."

Jack was momentarily stumped by the forthright answer. It was the longest and most direct one he'd received so far. He still couldn't quite pin down why he was pushing. Usually, he would let people pray in peace, but something about this kid was making him stay. He decided to put his cards on the table.

"Why are you here, Sam? Do you need help?"

"If there were any, I'd ask."

He was coming dangerously close to being rude with his questions, but Jack pushed forward anyway. "Who were you praying for?"

Even he was surprised by the bluntness of the question, and was about to apologize when he noted that Sam's expression had changed. The neutral, exhausted gaze had softened, and where he'd seen glints of sarcasm earlier, he saw deep grief.

"M'brother," Sam muttered, so quietly Jack had to strain to hear.

"Is he sick, Sam?"

Sam shook his head, and another glimpse of the eyes told Jack everything. No, not sick…gone.

"I'm sorry, son. Did it happen recently?"

A deep inhale preceded the answer. "Few months. I guess. Not really sure anymore."

"Well," Jack said, hoping to sound comforting. "I'm certain he's in a better place now."

Sam turned and looked at him directly for the first time since the conversation began. Jack had to suppress a flinch at the cold gaze. Sam didn't seem to agree with his assertion. But, whatever retort was on the tip of the young man's tongue never came. Instead, Sam turned forward again, and slipped down onto the kneeler again.

Jack decided he'd taken enough of Sam's privacy, and rose to leave. He still wasn't sure what had caused him to be so intrusive. He had taken one step when Sam spoke again.

"Pray with me Father? For my brother?"

He paused, then slowly went back. "Of course."

Jack kneeled beside Sam and asked for the brother's name. He again strained to hear a whispered "Dean," spoken with such reverence that it seemed a prayer unto itself. He recited a prayer he knew for the recently deceased, then recited the Our Father. Sam joined him, muttering quietly in time with his prayer.

It took Jack a moment to realize that Sam was saying it in Latin.

When they finished, Jack stayed where he was, silently watching his young visitor. The grief was palpable this close. Like a fog that hung around him, far thicker than the lingering scent of liquor. They'd sat so long that Jack wondered if Sam wasn't asleep with his eyes open, and had to repress another flinch when Sam spoke abruptly.

"What do you know about Hell, Padre?" The somewhat more standoffish tone had returned, and Sam's eyes were hooded and guarded again. The kid was good at masking his emotions.

The question was a little odd, though.

"Sorry?"

Sam didn't reply, just sat there, and Jack wasn't sure if he had even heard. He cleared his throat.

"Well, um…many within the church have rejected the old fire and brimstone version of Hell. They define it as an existence---or an afterlife---simply without God. That's torture enough without a literal version of Paradise Lost."

Sam just blinked. "Okay. That's the official version. What do you believe?"

Jack bit his lip. He couldn't remember anyone asking him about things like this since he was a school teacher. "I think--- I guess…that reality might be somewhere in between."

"Or," Sam nodded slowly. "It might be worse than anyone imagines."

"Maybe," Jack agreed reluctantly. He didn't like the look he was seeing on the younger man's face. It was too…involved. "Why are you thinking about damnation?"

Sam didn't answer. Instead, he rose off the kneeler and closed his coat. "Thanks for praying with me, Father."

The young man moved off without another word. Jack called after him. "Sam? How did Dean die?"

Sam froze, and his shoulders tensed as Jack stared at his back. The tension in the room rose a notch. "Saving my life."

Jack pursed his lips. Survivor's guilt, then? That would explain the young man's odd behavior. He stood himself, wanting to help. "God works in mysterious ways, son. I know that sounds clichéd, but you have to believe there is a reason for the way things happen. That you'll see your brother again someday."

Sam didn't turn, but he nodded slowly and held up his hand. "Yeah. That's why I needed this."

One of the silver flasks Jack had seen being filled in the Baptismal Font rested in Sam's palm. Before he could ask for an explanation of that remark, Sam had started walking again.

"See you around, Padre. This really is a beautiful church."

He rounded the corner and was out of sight before Jack could respond. A few moments later, he heard the faint rumble of a car engine outside.

Jack stared at the spot he'd last seen the mysterious young man for a few more moments before turning to look at the Crucifix again. If he believed his own advice, and God really did work in ways beyond human understanding, then he had to wonder why he'd been drawn to the clearly troubled man in his church today.

His Will was mysterious indeed.

END