Summary:Lucifer was telling him the truth when he said "I will never lie to you, I will never trick you, but you will say yes to me." In the end, with Dean's life on the line, it's Zachariah's actions that pushes Sam to saying 'Yes.'
First off, Season Five Spoilers abound, so read at your own risk if you haven't seen the series this season. Second, Thanks to all who read, reviewed, alert-ed and favorite-d my last fic, With Blood. Third, I absolutely could not get rid of this plot bunny the moment I thought about it so it was written in one sitting in about an hour and a half. I hope the quality did not suffer. I am glad to be rid of this little demon, haha, and am expecting that it will be Kripke'd and rendered irrelevant or profoundly AU very soon as the show progresses, but the again what's fanfic for? :) Fourth, mature religious themes so please be prudent about what you take away from the story. Anyway, without further ado, a thesis on what finally gets Sam to say 'Yes:'
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They got to him one more time, one last time.
Zachariah was no longer in the mood for games, and the Winchester learning curve was making the two hunters and their self-appointed guardian angel better and better at both playing hide-and-seek, and escaping in the rare occasion that they are found.
But Zachariah knew how to play for keeps too and one night, he appeared in one more random motel in one more random town, told Dean that "You will be the one to look for me this time Dean, and I will hear you scream 'Yes.'" He vanished into thin air before the Winchesters themselves and Castiel could make their escape.
"What the hell was that?" Dean had asked and there was no answer, not 'til days later when his stomach started to feel clenched and tight and he could not straighten up to save his life, when every measly thing he ate ended up in the toilet mixed with blood from his mouth, when he found himself sitting in a clinic between the annoyingly cloying Sam and Castiel and being told by the most disarmingly sympathetic doctor in the goddamn universe that he had stage four stomach cancer.
Sam had taken down notes, and Dean's eyes were amused and infinitely lonely as he watched him. Sam had grabbed pamphlets, shoved them at Castiel when his hands were full and he had to take down numbers and seminar dates. The three of them left silently, and walked toward the car.
"This is Zachariah's doing," Castiel had said grimly. His expression had a strong, well-founded veneer of unearthly calm, but there was something simmering in his eyes that Dean never thought to look for before he was sent years into the future and had seen Castiel's more 'human' incarnation. It was dissent, rage, revolution in his eyes, like his soul was screaming that this was not right.
"I should have known the feeling was familiar," Dean attempted to joke. It was a miserable failure, but he almost always had an indefatigable spirit... or bad comic timing, however one chose to look at it.
"I will look into this matter further," Castiel announced, before vanishing with the quiet murmur of feathers gently displacing air and time and space. He had left for the purpose stated, most certainly, but there was something in his eyes too that led both Sam and Dean to believe that the angel was giving them the time to speak about the situation privately.
"Dump the info sheets, Sam," Dean said, already walking for the passenger side of the car wearily, "It's just clutter. Nothing can help me if this is all happening 'cos of angel-mojo."
"I know," Sam had said quietly, but he didn't get rid of a single sheet of paper. He kept gathering more in the days and weeks. He kept them in a neat, carefully categorized pile.
This was how he knew who to call and where to go when the pain got so bad that Dean writhed and shook and screamed out of his mind. This was how he knew to expect the all-at-once listless and quietly suffering gaze of his brother as he stared, stared both emptily and richly at nothing and everything, lying in his hospital bed like a wasted old thing doped on morphine.
He wasted away before Sam's eyes... the multitude of expressions were gone as surely as color and life were going, his shrinking-vanishing body a pathetic, caricature of his old strength and stance. There was no more pretension, no more control, no more bold assurances or bad jokes... no more Dean as Sam knew him. And yet his suffering remained, and he suffered incessantly and so completely.
The machines that kept him alive (more or less) whirred on, and his body chugged along with it. The doctors said it was a miracle he was still alive, but Sam knew differently. This was no miracle; this was coercion and in the absence of the desired outcome, it was unquestionably punishment.
"You will be the one to look for me this time, Dean..."
Sam has heard it said that stomach cancer was the worst kind of pain imaginable, and he knew it now. The morphine stopped working or maybe it was, but the pain was so comprehensive that Dean was screaming again, and writhing, and somehow he was both unquestionably dying, but also immune to it, immortal, cursed to live to suffer. Sam had never, ever wished for his brother's death, but their life was strange and maybe there was a first time for everything.
The doctors had yielded to Dean's legally-backed wishes to get rid of all the machines. Sam sat by his brother's arm on his hospital bed, stroked his hand, squeezed it. "I love you, Dean," he said, tears streaming down his face as the doctors unplugged the machines. Dean stared at him with grateful eyes, and they said he would die in a few hours. They hoped he would die in a few hours...
He was doomed to live, doomed to live until he gave Zachariah that longed-for 'Yes.' But it was the meager pain relievers that vanished with the hours, and he started screaming again, and they put him back on drugs up to his eyeballs. He fell asleep, and the moment their gazes broke from each other, Sam ran.
But where does a homeless orphan go?
He ran to the car, sat in Dean's seat, ran his fingers through the steering wheel marked by his brother's hands. He cried, cried as Dean cried, suffered as Dean suffered. He'd been willing his brother to die, had been pushed to that edge where there was no going back from. And it all came to nothing.
"He won't say yes despite all of this, will he?" Sam asked in the quiet, but he knew he wasn't alone. He hasn't been, not in awhile.
"Do you want him to?" Castiel asked.
"I don't know," Sam admitted, "But does it matter? He won't. It's not him. Me, though... I think it might be in me to--"
"Whatever you are thinking of--" Castiel began.
Sam scoffed, "Let's call a spade a spade, Cas. We've turned everything upside down looking for a way to help Dean but nothing short of a damn 'Yes' to somebody is gonna spare him from all this crap. Either he says 'yes' to Michael or I say 'yes' to Lucifer and ask for a favor."
"This is not the right way to do this Sam," Castiel argued, "Dean would not want it. Dean would rather die, or more strongly, he would rather suffer -like this- forever."
"Dean's lost his vote," Sam snapped, "Why isn't this the right way, Castiel, huh? Lucifer's as much of an angel as Zachariah, and Zachariah is looking like more of a goddamn dick." He rubbed his eyes wearily, "Am I defending the damn devil? I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about..."
"Sam..." Castiel said, "God Himself cast Lucifer away. You cannot ally yourself with him, Sam. He will turn this place to ashes. He is evil."
"Evil," Sam murmured, "What's that nowadays...? Zachariah torturing my brother is supposed to convince me he is on the side of righteousness and goodness, right? This is a war that has nothing to do with us humans. This is between you pompous asses and from what I can see? Both sides are looking more and more alike. What does it matter which jerk I choose? Humanity is doomed, humanity is going to shit. All I can do is look out for those who matter to me, as much as I can for as long as I can. And this is it."
"Sam," Castiel begged, searching for words, searching for reason, searching for anything that would keep Sam from doing what was quickly emerging as a lethal plan, "There is no going back from this. You will destroy yourself, I can guarantee you that and assuredly, you will destroy this world. Now you might care little for these things but this I know is of paramount importance to you: You will destroy your brother by this. You know it, as well as I."
Sam looked away from Castiel, gazed thoughtfully in the direction of the hospital, "He's already a wreck. So am I. Everything is. All I can do is look out for those who matter to me, as much as I can for as long as I can--"
Abruptly, the scenery changed. Castiel was going to make an appeal to a higher power, and so he had transported them to Dean's room. The angel shook Dean awake, but the pain and the drugs and the weakness had rendered him deeply and profoundly absent, and Castiel was now powerless to draw him back.
"You will ruin him, I promise you," Castiel told Sam vehemently, his body shaking, "If you say yes to Lucifer you will end yourself, you will end this world-"
"Then let it end!" Sam growled.
Castiel closed his eyes, "You must think on this further, Sam," he implored, "Take counsel with your brother. And you must pray, ask to be guided and relieved or in its absence, strength to weather--"
"Pray?" Sam echoed, and the mockery dripped from his words like candlewax, diminishing him as he said them, "To whom? God's gone, Cas. Or if he's not, he's pretty damn bad at this being-god-thing. It's too late for that. It's too late. You're beginning to sound like Dean when dad was alive, you know? Trust in dad, dad will know what to do, wait for dad... we both know how all that turned out."
"That's why you must have faith, Sam," Castiel argued, "It's faith, not fact. You have to have it, when the good things happen and when they don't. He is not a God of convenience, it's about belief. His best apostles, soldiers, followers, children are all the more beautiful and strong when tested by fire-"
"That's an old excuse," Sam said vehemently, "And you know what? He needs to start meeting people halfway. Theoretically, he's supposed to know what we're capable of; why the hell would he expect me to believe and trust when I've seen nothing of why I should? I got no problem with faith, man, but I'm not the only one who has to prove anything here. How can you trust and love in someone you've never felt or seen or understood, Castiel? Can you tell me that? As far as I'm concerned, god is starting to sound like he's nothing more than a really, really good rumor."
"You cannot be more wrong, Sam," Castiel said quietly, "He is the source of all things beautiful and right, all the things you love about this world--"
"And all things I hate."
"Your brother," Castiel added emphatically, "He is who gave you Dean. If you cannot know God, then know Him by his gifts. As surely as you love Dean, then you must know that you have been blessed with him. To turn that love into defiance as you plan on doing by saying yes to Lucifer is to taint that love, to twist it into something perverted and destructive."
"If I can know your god just by what he shows me," Sam said quietly, "Then I can know his gifts only as much as I can know all the shit in my life... and Cas... I am up to my ears in crap."
"I cannot diffuse the hurt in your heart," Castiel told him, "Only one person in the world and beyond it could ever do that. I am a soldier, not a messenger. I have never more fervently prayed for the right words. There are choices you must make, burdens you must bear that I cannot take from you. But I implore you – wait for Dean to wake. Please, Sam. Just wait for him to wake, and speak with him."
"I can't burden him with this," Sam said, "He can barely carry what's on his plate, Cas. I can't. I've made up my mind. I'm done waiting for god. If he's coming around he'd better come around now. If there's a god out there, he'd better come around now."
The ultimatum hung in the air, and it was the hardest Castiel had ever prayed. He couldn't pray any harder; he imagined that there was no desire greater, not in the entire history of the universe. Oddly enough, the angel knew that Sam was praying too. This was not an act that the youngest Winchester wished to make, most certainly. In that all at once eternal and short silence, angel and would-be-devil prayed 'til their hearts emptied and it thickened the air in the room. Stifled it with thick, desperate desire. All to mocking silence.
It was crushing, how that silence made Castiel ask his own questions.
Why is all this happening?
Why are You so quiet?
Have You forsaken us?
"It's done," Sam murmured and he closed his eyes, called to whoever was perpetually listening and waiting to come take him, 'I'm right here and hell Yes, damn it.'
"Sam, no-!" Castiel exclaimed.
The youngest Winchester vanished.
Dean stirred awake, and his eyes opened clear and pain-free.
God, why? Casiel found himself asking, found himself on the brink of tears. The sensation was unfamiliar, and it was deflating.
"Sam?" Dean called out.
It's faith, not fact, he'd said to Sam just minutes ago, You have to have it, when the good things happen and when they don't. He is not a God of convenience, it's about belief. His best apostles, soldiers, followers, children are all the more beautiful and strong when tested by fire...
He clung to it like a drowning man.
October 5, 2009
Oh not a lot to say about this story... I'm feeling a bit down after writing it, haha... Please consider this fic a sister fic to Tightrope, which is my other theological debate-driven piece. In Tightrope, the God-conversation is between Dean and Castiel. Here, it is about Castiel and Sam. You might have also noticed a few allusions to my favorite episode in the series, Faith which I think is a good representation of what the show says about, well, faith and God. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this speculative take on Sam's 'Yes,' and C&C's welcome as always! Still working on a few fics, so 'til the next post!