Final chapter time. Thank you to everyone who came on this journey with me. Even I wasn't sure where we were going to end up! I still own nothing.
The next time Dean woke up, Sam was in the other bed. His hands and chest were strapped down and his pale face was covered in livid bruises, but his breathing was deep and even. It broke Dean's heart to see his brother restrained, but it wasn't hurting him and it was better for the time being if the hospital wasn't asking too many questions about the reason for his condition. Ordinarily, Dean couldn't wait to rock the boat, but not when Sam was on the line.
Castiel was sprawled in the chair by Dean's bed, eyes closed and mouth wide open. Dean had never seen him look so human. His trench coat was lying crumpled on the floor beside him and his tie had completely disappeared. A light snoring came from his mouth.
Dean glanced around until he spied a small glass of half-melted ice chips on the bedside table. He had to stretch a little to reach it, wincing when some of his bruises made themselves known. Finally, he held the cup in his hand and, taking careful aim, he sloshed the water toward Castiel. Bulls-eye!
Castiel sat up quickly as the ice cold liquid hit him square in the crotch. He glanced around, disoriented for a while before he saw Dean, trying hard to keep in his laughter. "I was resting, Dean, was that really necessary?" Cas gave a huff of annoyance so similar to Sam's that Dean's mirth overflowed and he burst into wild howls of laughter.
"I thought angels didn't sleep," he gasped, clutching his ribs. They were on fire from the pain of movement, but it felt so good to just laugh. In the back of his mind, a practical voice was telling him that it really wasn't that funny, but he couldn't stop laughing anyway.
"They don't. My angel powers are still decreasing. I barely managed to get you two here. It's not funny, Dean." Castiel practically whined.
Dean halted his laughter for a second, then lost it again. He knew Castiel was saying something serious, that they were probably screwed without his help, but he could feel the stress and worry literally rolling off him with every moment. "You should have seen your face," he giggled.
Suddenly, a wad of paper flew from the other side of the room and bounced off the end of his nose.
"Shut it, m sleepin'," a gravelly voice came from the other bed, barely louder than a whisper.
Dean looked over, laughter forgotten in favour of relief. "Sammy, you're awake! You sound like Tom Waits with a cold."
"Not funny, Dean," Sam rasped. Dean winced at the sound.
"Dude, I think you shredded your vocal chords. Try not to talk."
Sam gathered up the energy for one scowl at Dean before his eyes closed on their own and he was asleep again. He hadn't even noticed the thick leather bands that held him immobile in the bed.
Sam's nose itched. The irritating tickle was enough to bring him up through multiple layers of consciousness into full awareness. He wanted to reach up and scratch it, but his hands weren't moving. It took him a few moments to realize that it wasn't weakness that kept him from moving, but thick leather bands across his wrists and chest.
He closed his eyes in despair when he realized it had all been a dream. Tahariel was cold, to fake a rescue, to give him hope, only to ruthlessly snatch it away.
A moan started deep in his chest, growing and building to a full out sob. It was too much. Dean wasn't here. Dean wasn't coming. He would be stuck here in this awful place until he was allowed to die.
Sam began to struggle, pulling hard against the bands that held him down. He heard voices calling his name and hands trying to hold him still, but he was beyond being consoled by false hope. He would fight until his enemy gave him what he wanted. A vicious pain tore into his side and a warm wetness began to trickle down.
"Damn it, Sam, stop it. It's me!"
"No!" Sam gasped. "Nother. . .trick." He continued to pull hard at his bonds despite his growing weakness.
"Idiot doctors," a familiar voice yelled from above him. "Cas, get his other arm." Soon his arms and chest were free and he was hoisted up to a warm chest and held by strong arms.
"Dean?" He finally gathered the strength to open his eyes. "Really. . .you?"
"In the devastatingly handsome flesh," Dean smiled down at his little brother.
"K," Sam closed his eyes and was instantly asleep again.
Dean continued to hold Sam until he noticed the red stain slowly growing on his side. "Oh crap." He pushed the call button a time or six before bunching up the hem of Sam's hospital gown and putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding.
A nurse rushed in. "Why isn't he restrained? The doctor said he would hurt himself if. . ."
"Shut up," Dean growled dangerously. "He popped his stitches because he woke up and thought he was still being held captive by the sadistic son of a bitch that did this to him. He fought because my brother does not give up. . .ever! He is not a suicide risk. He has been through hell. Do not think you know him or what he has gone through. By tying him up you are not saving him from himself, you are putting him back in the nightmare I rescued him from. Now you better get someone in here to look at his stitches before I do it myself."
"Yes sir," the girl's face went pale and dean half expected her to curtsy before she efficiently checked Sam's side, seeing that the bleeding had almost stopped and she only needed to redo one stitch. She placed a sterile pad of gauze over the wound and taped it down after stitching it, then nearly ran from the room.
"I don't think that was a very pleasant experience for her, Dean. I think you frightened her." Cas spoke matter-of-factly.
"That was the idea. Honestly, keeping Sam tied up after he had been taken and tortured. I let it slide while he was unaware but. . .did you see the look on his face? He thought he was back there." Dean raged.
"Your brother is strong. This will not break him," Cas almost managed a look of sympathy.
"How can you be sure? It would break me," Dean admitted quietly.
"Your brother has been fighting against his darkness all his life. Azazel put that evil in him when he was merely a baby. Did you think that wouldn't affect him? Just because the visions didn't begin til he was 22 doesn't mean the demon blood wasn't in him before then. Your mother was different, all her life, she had a light to her, strong and pure, and there was an angel that was always watching over her, protecting that light."
"Well, he did a great job of it," Dean muttered darkly.
Castiel ignored Dean and continued on. "The angel was not allowed by heaven to interfere on the night your mother died, but he could not bear the thought of that great light being lost, so he placed his hand on your brother's head and gave him a gift, his mother's light to combat the darkness that tainted him. Without that light, you would have been forced to kill your brother before his twenty-third birthday."
Dean swallowed and looked down at Sam, suddenly feeling weak. He went and sat back on his bed before allowing Castiel to continue.
"That angel was Tahariel." Dean looked up in surprise, but couldn't find the words to interrupt. "He was reprimanded greatly by Michael and the other archangels for his actions that night. He became obsessed with protecting the light and he couldn't bear to see it tainted. He slowly grew insane and this is what happened. He became obsessed with cleansing Sam and went farther than any other angel ever would to see it happen."
"The light in Sam now though has absolutely nothing to do with your mother. That light gave him a boost, but at some point, most likely early in his childhood, Sam decided which path he was going to follow. Tahariel underestimated him. Sam has been fighting this battle all his life. It only takes a candle to push back the darkness and Sam has put so much of himself into the light that it is far more than a candle now."
"But. . .his anger issues. . .the demon blood addiction. . .everything that happened with Ruby," Dean asked.
"I said Sam was still fighting the battle. The darkness is still there, but it is being beaten back daily. Lucifer isn't the only one who chose Sam. I spoke to Joshua. God chose Samuel to bear this burden. He has been training nearly since birth to fight this battle, but he is not allowed to know that just yet. Even his name, Samuel, it means God has heard. God sees what is going. He hears the cries of those in despair and he has answered, by allowing Sam to suffer. And when the final battle comes, Sam will fulfill the plan."
"Why him? Why us? Why not any other person in this whole fricking world?" Dean whispered brokenly.
"It always had to be you. This plan stretches far back beyond your mother's death, beyond what made her family hunters in the first place, back beyond even Samuel Colt, the man who made a special gun. Lucifer thinks he has won, but he doesn't know the score."
Dean felt like his head was exploding. There was too much to take in. He didn't know how to respond, so he just let his mouth take over. 'So. . .Sammy was touched by an angel?" He smirked and then dissolved into hysterical laughter, leaving Castiel shrugging and sighing in confusion.
"You can't tell Sam, not yet," Castiel cautioned.
Dean nodded before he felt a wave of exhaustion flood over him. He crawled back under the covers of his own bed and promptly fell asleep again.
Dean was released a day and a half later. Sam would wake up for a minute or two, long enough to smile at Dean in relief, before his eyes would close again and he would be fast asleep once more. Finally, three days after Dean had gotten out, Sam could speak without wincing and keep his eyes open for at least an hour or two.
"I'm sorry, Dean," were the first words out of his mouth when he was aware enough for conversation.
"Sorry for what?" Dean asked.
"For being so stupid as to get myself caught. For not getting out of it myself. For not being strong enough. Take your pick," Sam spoke bitterly.
"Hey, absolutely none of that is your fault. If anything, its my fault for not waking up soon enough, for letting you die in the first place, for not realizing you were missing."
"You don't have to lie to make me feel better. I know I screwed up. I'll leave if you want me to."
For Dean, the line between relief and anger is very thin. "What the hell, Sam?" he yelled at the top of his lungs. Sam could only stare at him and blink. "Is that all you can think about?. . .getting away from me?"
"What? . . .I. . ."
"Don't try to hide it. I saw what you wanted, what heaven was for you. You can't wait to get rid of me. You want to be happy and normal and forget you ever had a screwed up brother and an obsessed father. Well I am sick of it, Sam. You can't just throw me out with the trash. You're my brother, even if you can't see it."
"Dean! No. . ." Sam tried to speak. "What are you talking about? Heaven? What do you know about my heaven?"
"I was there, Sam. I saw your greatest hits. . .your favourite memories. The thanksgiving dinner with that girl, the dog, Bones, and the night you left for Stanford, the one I fondly remember as the night I saw Hell for the first time. I hoped you had changed, but I was wrong," Dean could hardly breathe, he was so furious.
"Dean, I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. When were we in heaven?" Sam had shrunk back as far into his pillows as he could.
"When we died. . . Just before you were taken. . .The hunters with guns coming to kill you for starting the Apocalypse. Any of this ringing a bell?"
Sam slowly shook his head. Dean felt his anger fade.
"We died, we were in Heaven and it was just a montage of our favourite memories, when we were happiest in life. In every single one of yours, you had run away and left me behind," Dean said softly. "Why would heaven be those memories for you if you didn't want me out of your life?"
"I don't know why those are the memories Heaven chose. Each one of those memories is happy, sure, but they were also tainted. The only thing that would make them complete would be to have you there."
Dean coughed sharply, trying to cover up emotion. "What should they have been? What memories would you have chosen?"
Sam was silent for a while. "Any one of the days spent travelling in the Impala with both of us in the backseat, you making up silly travel games as we went along, trying to keep me from getting bored, Dad singing off key from the front seat. The day we carved out initials under the floormats. And how about the weekend we were camping in the middle of nowhere and it rained the entire time. There was a hill right next to the tent and we wrapped ourselves in garbage bags and slid down it in the mud for hours. Of how about senior year, when you worked your butt off finding hunts in the same general area so I could do an entire year in the same school, standing up to Dad when he wanted us to move a week before graduation, then coming to my graduation and cheering so loud at the front that I turned bright red and nearly tripped and ran off the stage. Dean, all my best memories are of you. In every single one, I am proud to have you as my brother.
"And that is why I want to leave," Sam continued so quietly Dean had to strain to hear him. "I don't deserve it. All I ever do is hurt you and disappoint you. It would be easier for you if you could just let me walk out of your life. . .if you could forget me."
"Don't say that, Sam. If there is anything I have ever wanted in this world, it is to be your big brother. You are God's gift to me."
"I thought you didn't believe in God."
"I changed my mind."
Dean looked Sam square in the eye. "When I found out He heard me, and that he answered."
Sam was released a week later. He was battered and he still saw the face of his tormentor when he closed his eyes, but he was not broken. If anything, it made him more determined to see this through, to make his pain worthwhile.
They had no plans, no directions, but they were sure the battle would find them. It was only a matter of time.
They sat in the Impala, the open road stretching out ahead of them. They had been silent for hours. Dean had fulfilled his chick-flick moment quota for the next ten years and Sam had way too much to think about.
"Dean," Sam's voice finally broke the silence. "Do you think we can win?"
"Look at this face. It screams awesome. How can this much awesome be defeated," Dean smirked.
"I'm serious, Dean," Sam huffed.
"So am I, Sammy-boy. So am I."
Silence reigned again for a while. Dean broke it this time. "I'll tell you one thing, by this time next week, I plan to kick some serious fallen angel ass."
Ok, tell me what you think Also, I will be considering requests. I am looking for new inspiration so if you have an idea and don't want to write it yourself, send it my way and we will see what happens.