Crisis of Faith
Disclaimer: The boys belong to Kripke, the love belongs to us.
Beta'd: By Muffy Morrigan and Carocali, two extremely awesome ladies who lend me their writing expertise to smooth out the rough edges. Thank you!
Special thanks to Phx for wonderful feedback and for helping me out with a last minute save on a section that just wasn't working. You're a lifesaver!
Timeline: Immediately following 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester.'
"I thought they'd be different."
"Who, the angels?"
"Uh, well, I tried to tell ya."
"I just," Sam shrugged his shoulders. "I mean, I thought they'd be righteous."
Dean pursed his lips and nodded. "Well, they are righteous. That's kind of the problem. Of course there's nothing more dangerous than some a-hole who thinks he's on a holy mission."
Sam quirked his eyebrows, tilting his head marginally to follow. "But, I mean this is God, and heaven, and this is what I've been praying to?"
Of course, he'd known it. He'd told Dean as much over a year ago. Angels were warriors of God, beings created to uphold His will. Apparently, that included him being utterly dispensable.
"The only reason you're still alive, Sam Winchester, is because you've been useful, but the moment that ceases to be true, the second you become more trouble than you're worth, one word - one - and I will turn you to dust."
Sam ran a shaking hand through his hair. He'd been wounded by Uriel's words. How could he possibly succeed when everyone expected him to fail? He'd always believed his faith, his choices, and his actions were what were important to God, not the circumstances of his birth or a decision made unwittingly by his mother before he was born; that his soul was redeemable even if his blood was tainted. How could he have been so wrong?
Sammy quietly opened the door to Pastor Jim's office. He knew the minister was busy, but he had a question that just couldn't wait. He would have asked Dean, but his brother was busy talking to Tamara, the girl from church. Jim looked up from his desk. "Good afternoon, Samuel. Where's your brother?"
"He's taking a walk with Tamara," Sammy replied. He liked playing with Jill when he visited Pastor Jim, she was a lot of fun, but her older sister seemed to hold special interest for his eleven-year-old brother. He walked closer to the minister, taking a seat in one of the folding chairs in front of his desk. "Can I just sit here?"
Jim gave him a questioning look, but nodded his head. "I'm working on my sermon for Sunday. Maybe you can help me?"
"Me?" Sammy asked. All thoughts about his important question faded at the prospect of helping an adult with something important, a chance to be like his big brother. "What can I do?"
"Well," Jim said, folding his hands and leaning across the desk. "I'm a little stuck."
Sammy frowned. He listened when Jim talked, he paid attention, but there was no way he understood as much as the wise minister. "On what?"
"That's kind of the thing," Jim replied. "I'm not sure. You see, when I was your age, I knew what I believed. I was certain of what was good and what wasn't. Sometimes when you get older, you let events in your life, fears, loss affect the way you see the world. Some call it grower wiser. Some…"
"Are sad?" Sammy asked, toying with the edge of the cardboard desk planner.
Jim scrunched his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"
"Like Daddy." Sammy said. "We lost Mom and now Daddy is sad."
Jim nodded. "A little like that I suppose." Sammy examined the contents of Pastor Jim's pen cup. "What makes you think your Dad is sad?"
Sammy met Pastor Jim's thoughtful gaze, frowning again. "I just do."
Pastor Jim seemed to think about it for a moment. "A lot of adults can be that way, Sammy, and when we are it is harder for us to see the truth," Jim said.
"What truth?" Sammy asked, suddenly very interested.
"That all we need is faith," Pastor Jim replied. "Nothing we do, no matter how good we are, is as important as our faith." Sammy nodded, not entirely sure he understood. "Is there anything you believe in, Samuel? Anything you know is true beyond a shadow of a doubt?"
Sammy nodded enthusiastically. He didn't even have to think about it. He knew without a doubt if he needed his big brother, Dean would be there, no matter what. "Yes."
Jim smiled. "Would you share it with me?"
"I believe in Dean," Sammy replied, simply.
The minister's smile deepened, warmed. "I believe you're right, Sammy. But there's no doubt in your mind at all?" Jim asked. "That maybe if you were naughty or said something mean that Dean would be mad?"
"Oh, he'd be mad," Sammy said, solemnly. "Sometimes he's even mad first."
Jim chuckled. "And yet, you believe in him, that he'll be there for you?"
"Uh-huh," Sammy replied, suddenly confused as to why the pastor would doubt it.
"That's what I want to remind people, that God is like that too," Jim replied. "So, why do you believe in Dean?"
"Because I'm his," Sammy said. He looked out the window, eyes searching for his brother. Maybe Dean was done talking to Tamara.
Jim stood, patting him on the head. "Well, that is very true. Why don't you go out and play?"
"Did I help?" Sammy asked, the hope of approval evident in his tone.
"You did," Jim said, opening the door. "More than you know. Now, go find that brother of yours."
Sammy leapt to his feet. "Bye!" he called back as he ran out the door.
"Look man, I know you're into the whole God thing...and Jesus on a tortilla and stuff like that. Just because there's a couple of bad apples, doesn't mean the whole barrel is rotten. I mean for all we know, God hates these jerks." Dean paused. "Don't give up on this stuff is all I'm saying."
Sam sat down heavily on the bed. It was hard to keep his brother's words in mind after Uriel's not-so thinly veiled threat. The many conversations he'd had with Pastor Jim over the years faded to a whisper from the back of a crowded room. He was dispensable, something to be cast aside when he was no longer useful.
The door opened. Sam held his breath. Why he wasn't sure; it wasn't as if angels needed to use the door. Dean filled the doorway, his presence entering the room before he did. Sam let out the breath he'd been holding. Dean looked at him, frowning. He crossed the room sitting on the bed next to Sam. He bumped Sam's shoulder with his own and Sam tensed. The familiar gesture had been missing since Dean had been back.
"Tired?" Dean asked, his voice soft.
Sam tried to relax. He didn't know how Dean would react to what Uriel said. He wasn't even certain he would share it, but secrets had already hurt his brother. He'd been scared of Dean's reactions, but nothing he'd imagined had been quite as bad as the reality. "Not really."
"How's the headache?" Dean twisted slightly to look at him.
"Better." Okay, that was the truth. His head pounded like a freight train was rumbling through it, but it was better.
"Sam," Dean said, his tone and eyes begged Sam to tell the truth.
Sam sighed. "Uriel paid me a visit."
Dean's brow furrowed, his green eyes reflected concern. Whether it was for him or because of him, Sam couldn't tell. "What happened?"
"Nothing really," Sam said. He glanced away unable to hold eye contact with his brother. "Did you find Castiel?"
"Yeah, he told me his real orders," Dean snapped. "The whole smiting the town thing was some kind of damn test."
"Test?" Sam asked, tilting his head marginally.
"To see what I'd do," Dean answered, his tone changing to incredulousness. He shook his finger at Sam. "I have no idea why, but apparently it was to see if we'd leave or stay to defend the town."
If he was part of that equation, Sam was pretty sure they'd failed. Uriel had made it very clear on that point. "How'd we do?" Sam asked, casually. His heart skipped erratically.
"That's just it," Dean replied, standing to pace the room. "I don't know. I'm not even sure what the point was."
Sam hesitated, drawing in a deep breath. "But we did okay? Castiel didn't seem – disapproving or anything?"
"No." Dean whirled around, his brow pinching again. His eyes narrowed. "Sam, what did Uriel say?"
Sam swallowed hard. He wanted so badly to believe what Dean had said to him at the chapel, that they were okay, that they were brothers, that Dean wasn't angry. His heart thumped harder. "He said I wasn't supposed to use my abilities."
"We knew that," Dean replied. He came back, sitting on the bed across from Sam. "And I don't want you doing it again. It looked like it was killing you, Sam."
"If I didn't know you, I'd want to hunt you."
God, that still hurt. It had shaken the fragile belief he had in himself to its very foundation. That was why he couldn't respond to Dean's gesture of apology, his statement that Sam wasn't alone, because for the first time he felt Dean wasn't only afraid for him, he was afraid of him.
"Knocked the knife out of your hands," Dean interjected. "I saw it on the floor, I believe you."
Sam looked down at his hands. "I'm sorry."
"Stop apologizing, Sam," Dean demanded. "You did enough of that back in the chapel." Sam flinched at the hard tone. "For the record, I'm glad you did it." Sam looked up, eyebrows raised. "You would have been killed if you hadn't. Samhain might have gotten away; the town might not have survived."
The blood rushed from Sam's head in relief. "Dean..."
"Sam, I'm not saying I want you doing it ever again," Dean said. "But screw those jerks, you're alive, I'm alive, this town's alive. We did the right thing."
Sam choked back his response, managing only a head nod. He needed this – a lot. He needed Dean's approval or at least understanding. Ever since Sam could remember he'd sought to make his big brother proud of him and from age four to twenty-five, not much had changed.
He looked up, expecting to see concern, reproach, or possibly even a guarded look designed to keep Sam from ascertaining Dean's true feelings. Dean's face held none of those things, only a smile and an openness Sam hadn't seen in a long time. Sam smiled back and Dean's smile grew wider in response. "You ready to get out of here, Sam?"
"Yes," Sam replied, a little too quickly. He stood abruptly, the smile dropping from his face. It was simply too much effort to maintain. His hands shook as he reached into the bag for the Tylenol, the headache from before threatened full-force retaliation. He ducked his head, turning further from Dean when tears of pain, both emotional and physical threatened to form.
Sam didn't hear Dean until a hand dropped on his arm. "Let me do it," Dean said, softly. Sam nodded, surrendering the bottle, but he turned his back to Dean. It gave him a few extra seconds to gain control. He turned around to face his brother. The expression of understanding on Dean's face nearly undid his efforts. "Here," Dean said, holding out his hand, two white pills rested in the palm of his hand.
"Thanks," Sam said, his voice hoarse with swallowed emotion. He tossed back the pills, then slung his duffel over his shoulder. He made a move to walk forward, but Dean didn't get out of his way.
"Sam, forget the angels. They aren't God, they're just his hammers, well most of them anyway, and besides, Uriel is a dick."
Sam snorted in a sucking wet sound. "He made that pretty clear."
Dean's lips and eyebrows creased into a frown. He maintained eye contact until Sam squirmed under the scrutiny. "You were right, you know," Dean admitted, thumping Sam on the back to guide him towards the door. "It's your choice and I know you'll make the right one. Whatever it is, I'm right here with you, Sam."
"Thanks," Sam said, his voice barely over a whisper. He allowed Dean to steer him out the door, towards the Impala. He threw his bag in the back, sliding into the passenger seat. Sam glanced over at his brother when he sat down. Dean tossed him a smile.
Maybe there was something out there Sam could still believe in after all. He met his brother's gaze, returning the smile. If Dean believed in him, maybe he could start to believe in himself again, too.
AN: I wasn't going to write a tag for this episode. I whined until Muffy Morrigan agreed to write the story I wanted. LOL
But, apparently, payback really is a…well…you know, and something Carocali said made me think. I couldn't let it go and so, I finally committed it to paper. :D