Title: Out of Ashes, Chapter 3: The Fire Inside [3/?]
Warnings: Sam, Adam, OMC, Castiel, Dean
Word Count: 5732
Chapter Summary: And people used to call Sam a ticking time bomb…
Disclaimer: I make no money from this, nor should I—it is simply a tribute to the fine actors and writers who portray these characters that have captured my imagination and rather kinkily tied it to a chair. ;)
Author's Notes: Lots of stuff going on in this chapter. First, the debut of my first Major OC in a fanfiction. Original Characters always make me nervous, whether reading or writing them. Simply by existing, they take up space that would normally be filled by characters we already know and love. It is a struggle to write a good OC and to keep them in their proper place in the story, to use words on a page to try and make them as compelling as fully fleshed-out characters we've known and watched for years, so this chapter was quite the challenge to write to my satisfaction. I'm eager to see what you think of him, so please, hold nothing back. ;)
This chapter also marks the appearance of the main plot the story will follow. In other words… it's exposition time, ladies and gents! Our lovely Angel of Exposition, Castiel, appears to do the honors here. Truthfully, I feel that Castiel is forced into this role all too often, so I try to make it so that he doesn't know everything… just enough to help. It's another fine line to walk, and I hope I do it to your satisfaction.
Just an FYI—on a recommendation from a friend, I have 'cast' this character in my head to be played by Anthony Stewart Head, known for playing the part of Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don't want to spoil who it is; you'll know him when you see him. :P Once again, enjoy!
"Sammy, no. Please."
Sam marches forward, staring only at his cell phone, impervious to the puppy-eyes and puppy whines of his younger sibling. They are like bullets to Sam's Superman, bouncing off of his invincible hide with less impact than airsoft pellets. "Adam, I'm sorry, but this is getting serious. We need someone with actual knowledge on the subject, and Cas is pretty much our best bet." He finally gets enough of a signal to connect to the internet, and gets their coordinates from his GPS.
"But you don't understand!" Adam says, invoking the stock phrase of teenaged angst without even so much as a hint of irony. Maybe Dean was right—maybe this is like angel puberty. Maybe Adam's skin condition is the equivalent of angel acne. And maybe not; the only way Sam will know anything for sure is if he asks, and he damn well intends to.
"You're right, Adam. I don't. That's why I'm calling someone who might." With that, Sam gets down on his knees, bows his head, and shuts his eyes in silent prayer.
Castiel, though considered a very close friend of the family, has his own responsibilities and tasks to attend to. The angel and the Winchesters both agreed that while it would be a good idea to leave a line of quick communication open between them, it would not be good for either party to be at the other's beck and call 24/7. They owed the angel a lot, but the angel also owed them, so in the end, they decided that the best relationship would be one of equals—the Winchesters might be contacted to assist Castiel in something, and Castiel might, in turn, be invoked by the Winchesters in dire situations to intervene, but either party would be able to refuse with no repercussions. Prayer is the Winchester's hotline to Heaven, and Sam sincerely hopes Castiel is not busy. Sam's prayer is brief and to-the-point. He includes their latitude and longitude so Castiel will be able to find them—the Enochian sigils on their ribs are a lot harder to get off than they were to get on, and besides… being hidden from angelic eyes has its perks.
Although, for some odd reason, the sigils have never been able to hide him from Adam…
Speaking of which, when Sam opens his eyes again, he sees that Adam, too, has his head bowed and eyes closed… but the pinched look on his face is hardly one of prayer. "Adam? Are you okay?"
Adam's face twitches slightly as his eyes shut tighter. His jaw seems to be clenched, and his neck is strained. There is a painfully long second where he doesn't respond, but eventually, he seems to come back to himself, slightly out of breath. "…yeah. I'm alright. Just… felt a little weird there for a second."
"See?" Sam says, standing up and gesturing to… well, Adam in general. "That! That is what I'm talking about. You were acting like you were dizzy. Angels don't get dizzy! They don't get sick, or tired, or… flakey!"
Adam glares at him. "Well, by your logic, why talk to Castiel at all? He's an angel, he's not gonna know about this stuff."
Sam glares right back and reminds himself that Adam is only being a brat because he doesn't understand why Sam is doing this. He doesn't understand that Sam is afraid that Adam is going to flare up like a cigarette and turn to ash right in front of him. "Adam…" Sam starts, but Adam interrupts him with a sigh.
"And here they come," is all he says.
A second later, there are about thirty people swarming them from all sides.
"Michael! Where have you…"
"…been missing for days, we…"
"…had been attacked again. You did not…"
"…answer me! The Host has been combing the…"
"…countryside with your brother? You are…"
"…so much brighter! My lord, have you been working out…
"…of our minds! What if Raphael had found you? This…"
"…not behavior befitting of someone of your station…"
The voices continue to speak up, over, and around each other until they combine to form an utterly incomprehensible stream of absolute gibberish. Sam is a bit overwhelmed, and no one is even paying attention to him: he can't imagine how Adam feels at the epicenter of this chaotic mess. He seems to be trying to calm down his angelic brethren with gentle reassurances at first. When that proves to be about as effective a blowing to cool off a volcano, he tires a more direct method.
"QUIET," Sam thinks Adam shouts, but it's hard to tell, given that his human voice is almost completely overwhelmed by the earsplitting whine that is comes tearing out of his mouth on top of it.
Immediately, the angels are cowed into obedient silence.
"I'm fine," Adam says. "Okay? I'm sorry I had you all worried, but I'm fine now, really. I just had to talk to Sam about… something."
There is a slight murmur of acceptance from the angels, followed by small segment of silence, followed by…
"Is this about that guy who exploded all over you?" a female voice chimes in.
Adam grimaces. "Well, kind of…"
"Does it have anything to do with the time you crashed through that poor woman's window?"
Adam can see the furor starting to rise again, but suddenly seems powerless to stop it. "Guys, I really don't…"
"Oh! Oh! And is it related to that skylight you broke by means of your face?"
"Okay! Fine! Yes, it's about those things." Adam grunts, and Sam can practically feel his blood pressure spiking. "Guys, seriously, I… you… this isn't twenty questions!"
"I have just one more," a gentler, much more composed tone chimes in. "Would you like me to shoo away these gossipy hens for you, sir?" There is an unmistakably British lilt to the voice, making it seem lively without being obnoxiously bouncy.
"Please," Adam replies readily.
"Alright, all of you!" the voice says, assuming a surprisingly authoritative tone that seems at odds with the gentleness Sam heard before. "You have seen with your own eyes that our dear boy is fighting fit and ready for action. Now, if you would, please finish gawking sometime within the next few seconds, kindly return to your assigned posts and resume doing your jobs."
There is a bit of grumbling, but the angels are no more likely to rebel against authority now than they ever were, and soon enough, fluttering wingbeats fill the air as the flock vanishes back to wherever it came from. Soon, there is only one new figure remaining on the grassy field: a composed-looking, slightly older man with dark grey hair, wearing a vintage suit and vest with a blue and white polka-dotted bowtie that Sam is almost completely sure can only be legally worn by college professors. Tenured college professors.
"Better?" the Professor asks, smiling at Adam.
"Much," Adam says, giving that special kind of goofy, unguarded grin that Sam had previously thought was reserved for Dean and himself. "Thanks. I still wish you wouldn't give me special treatment like that, but… thanks."
"I am happy to serve," the gentleman replies simply.
"Yeah, except right now, you're technically my superior, so you're not supposed to be serving me. So, you know, stop it," Adam says.
"Yes, sir," the angel nods.
Adam looks at him plainly. "…you do realize you just took an order from me?"
The elder angel looks pensive for a second. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. Old habits, and all that."
Adam just shakes his head fondly. Apparently, he catches sight of Sam in the process, and suddenly remembers that his brother still exists. Sam doesn't blame him for forgetting—he was starting to forget himself, to be honest. "Sam," he says, calling his brother over. "This is Zadkiel, Angel of Mercy, Benevolence, and Forgiveness," he says with a smile. "Nice guy. Zadkiel, this is my brother, Sam Winchester."
"It is a pleasure to meet you in person, Sam," Zadkiel intones, scanning him with scrutinizing eyes and a fantastically fake smile pasted on his face. "I have heard a great deal about you from a… variety of sources."
TRANSLATION: Hello, Satan! You're looking devilish today. What do you polish your horns with?
Sam puts his best face forward, teeth bared in what Dean used to call his Fuck Off and Die smile. "Any friend of Adam's is a friend of mine," he says, putting emphasis on his brother's human name just to see how the angel reacts. To Sam's disappointment, he doesn't.
The subtext of the exchange flies right by Adam without even so much as disturbing his hair. "Zadkiel's my commanding officer, and one of my old friends," he tells Sam with no small amount of excitement. "He's been great to me ever since I got my wings. I feel kind of bad for not remembering him, but I guess that goes for pretty much everyone I used to know."
"Think nothing of it, sir," Zadkiel nods, giving what at least seems to be a genuine benevolent smile towards his little brother. "We are delighted that you have returned to us at all."
"Zadkiel and I used to be combat buddies," Adam says.
"Yes," Professor Angel nods, "Michael was magnificent on the field of battle. It was a privilege to be chosen to serve at his side."
"Battle?" Sam asks. "I thought you were the Angel of Mercy?"
Zadkiel is unfazed. "War is an excellent opportunity for the expression of benevolence towards one's enemies. You were on the receiving end of such mercies several times, were you not?" A carefully quirked eyebrow seems to suggest that someone's mercies are being tested even as they speak.
Well, they didn't kill me… much. I guess that counts? That's really the only example Sam can think of at the moment, and somehow, he doesn't think saying as much will go over well with present company, so he nimbly dodges with a quick subject change. "Where's Castiel?"
"He is having some difficulty securing his vessel, at the moment. It seems that Mr. Novak was in the midst of having carnal relations with his wife, and did not wish to be disturbed until he finished attending to her," Zadkiel says without even the slightest hint of awkwardness.
With perfect timing, as always, Castiel appears in the rumpled form of Jimmy Novak, looking slightly more rumpled than usual, if you catch the drift. His hair is everywhere, his shirt is at least two buttons off, and his pants seem to be on backwards. Despite all of this, the angel himself looks as stoic and unflappable as ever. "I apologize for the delay in my arrival. Jimmy was…"
"We know," Sam assures him. "It's fine, really."
"Hey, Cas," Adam says somewhat dejectedly, the happiness from introducing two of his friends to one another vanishing faster than an exorcised demon.
Castiel graces him with a gentle smile. "Hello, Adam. You wished to speak with me about something?"
Adam crosses his arms, looking not a little sulky. "No," he grumbles. "But Sam did."
Castiel turns to Sam. "Ah. What did you wish to discuss with me, Sam?"
Sam opens his mouth to speak when he notices that Zadkiel is still standing with them. He isn't sure how to politely tell the angel to fuck off and not butt into family matters. Oddly enough, Zadkiel seems to pick up on Sam's discomfort all on his own. "Ah," the angel says simply. "A private matter, is it?" he asks, turning to Adam.
Adam scratches the back of his neck. "Sorry, Zad. I just… you know how it is."
The elder angel smiles the warm, encouraging smile of a patient teacher (there's another mark in the college professor column) and nods. "Of course, sir. I'll be off, then."
"Thanks," Sam's little brother chuckles. "And stop calling me 'sir.'"
Zadkiel nods. "Yes, sir. Sorry, si—errr, Michael." The elder angel places a gentle hand on Adam's shoulder. "Be well, my lord." Adam nods. Zadkiel gives a subtle tilt of the head to Sam, seeming slightly less disdainful (if only slightly) before whooshing off the parts unknown.
Well, that was interesting. For a moment, it felt like he had been plunged into a terrible Romantic Comedy in which he and the hated in-laws were forced to meet and hide their disgust from everyone except each other. Sam is well-aware of the angels' feelings towards him, and he is sure that Zadkiel has a clear picture of Sam's distrust of his kind as well, but Adam seemed blissfully oblivious to all of it, so mission accomplished on that front, at least.
"Well, Sam?" Castiel nods towards him. "Not that it isn't good to see you again, but you said this was an urgent matter."
Sam looks over to Adam, who is rerouting all power into making his Pleading Eyes as pathetic and downtrodden as possible. Sorry, buddy, he thinks, but if it comes down to a choice between keeping you happy, or keeping you safe, I'm keeping you safe. That he just mentally echoed their father is a fact not lost on him. "Let's go inside," he says, taking a deep breath, before starting to tell the story as they walk. "Something's wrong with Adam…"
Castiel examines the winged wonderboy from every angle. Color his trench coat white and give him a stethoscope, and he could easily pass for Cas MD. "Your power is growing at an alarming rate. Of that, there is no doubt."
"Why?" Sam asks.
Castiel shakes his head. "I cannot say for sure. It could be that something dormant in your brother has been awakened."
"Like what happened in Virginia?" Sam asks.
Castiel nods. "Something similar, but again, I cannot say for sure. I hate that I am such little help, but I must repeat that there has never been a case quite like yours, Adam."
"Well, can we stop it?" Adam asks.
Castiel shakes his head. "I do not believe so. Even if we were to remove your grace from you, it would likely just return at this point. Your supply seems to be bottomless, and growing by the minute. The cause is unknown," he says, pausing for a second before continuing, "but as far as I can tell, it seems you are regaining the power you held as an Archangel."
Adam gulps. "…uhh, wow."
Sam shares that sentiment. "You just got kicked upstairs, buddy."
Adam grunts at the hated pet-name. Cas gives him the Head Tilt of What-Are-You-Talking-About.
"Forcibly promoted," Sam clarifies. "It's do-or-die time."
That seems to strike a chord with the angel, who nods. "It may well be."
The newly-christened Archangel-to-be gives an impressive eye bulge. "Wait, what?"
Castiel simply takes hold of Adam's hand and brings it up to the light, peering at the damaged skin as though he is examining the inner workings of each individual cell. The Winchesters' Guardian Angel continues to study for several seconds, before giving the closest thing to a sigh he is probably capable of. "This is… difficult."
Sam eyes him carefully. "How so?"
"Difficult to explain… to predict… to fix," the angel clarifies. Adam continues to watch him with wide eyes as he speaks. "What you see here is definitely related to his increase in strength. It is, for all intents and purposes, identical to Vessel damage, with one exception." Castiel seems to have difficulty continuing here. The angel is rarely one to spare anyone's feelings, so this can't be anything good.
"Which is?" Sam prods.
The crystal-blue eyes of Jimmy Novak can barely contain Castiel's trepidation as he speaks. "This is no Vessel," he says, gently releasing Adam's hand. "This is your brother. It is his body. In the pit, angel and vessel became one; Adam cannot simply extricate himself from his own flesh."
Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, Castiel cannot be saying what Sam thinks he is saying. No way.
Sam's mouth is suddenly drier than a Southern town on a Sunday, so Adam steps in and takes charge of the conversation. "What does this mean?" he says, sounding far calmer than he looks.
Castiel turns his mournful gaze over to Adam, and Sam wishes he would stuff away the weepy-eyes because it's starting to annoy him. Cas is acting like Adam is already… already… "It means," the angel says, "that as your power continues to grow, your body will continue to deteriorate." He pauses for a moment, before dropping the proverbial bomb. "It means you are destroying yourself."
Cas has the courtesy to allow a few seconds of silence here so that all involved can soak up the massive bucket of angst that he just dumped on their heads.
Sam's nausea is quickly shuffled offstage in favor of a cold fury. The whole thing just seems mean-spirited, which is something Sam has quickly come to expect from his own life, but Adam before, and Adam now, are essentially innocents in this enormous cosmic clusterfuck. The fact that he still seems to be getting dragged through the ringer over and over is just stupidly cruel. Pointlessly cruel. Kid-v-ant-hill-with-a-magnifying-glass cruel. And Sam knows that there isn't a goddamn thing he can do to change it—any of it—but that doesn't mean he has to like it, doesn't mean he can't get fucking furious at how needlessly vindictive and vile life can be.
He looks over at Adam, who seems to be suffering from momentary shell-shock, staring unblinking into the pitch-black darkness at the end of the tunnel, and Sam is this close to saying something to comfort him when he witnesses something extraordinary: right before his eyes, Adam pulls a Dean, and Sam can literally see him take all of his negative emotions, fold them up military-style and lay them neatly into a suitcase, to be closed, locked, and carried with him for the rest of his life. Adam's eyes return to the present and his face sheds all emotion, as though he were sloughing out of a layer of skin. "So," he says towards Cas. "What you're basically saying is… I have angel cancer?"
Castiel seems to consider this for a second. "…the similarities are remarkable. It is essentially one part of you undergoing a spontaneous mutation and uncontrolled growth in such a way that the function of the whole is significantly threatened."
"Huh," Adam says, taking a moment to think about it himself. He'd probably just meant it as a joke, but now that Sam is giving it some consideration, it's a shockingly good metaphor. The little would-be doctor just unconsciously diagnosed himself.
"With the exception that in this case," Castiel elaborates, "instead of getting weaker as the disease progresses, you will become stronger, on a near-cosmic scale, with little-to-no control over the overwhelming power within you."
"Yeah," Adam says, his voice rough and raw. "That's… different." He clears his throat. "How bad do you think that will get, exactly?"
"It is hard to say," Castiel replies, studying him at a distance, seeming like less of a clinical examination and more of a meditation on the concept of Adam. "The specifics are difficult to predict, but I will say that there is a not-insignificant chance of you detonating into an enormous, uncontrolled firestorm of raw angelic energy upon your death."
While it is somewhat refreshing to see that Castiel has apparently abandoned his strategy of beating around the bush, Sam realizes now that some things kind of need a build-up beforehand to keep them from literally blowing your mind.
Adam looks like he's choking on a particularly sharp piece of air. "So, I don't just have angel cancer, I have thermonuclear angel cancer. That's… really something."
Castiel winces slightly, as if suddenly being reminded of the effect all of this must be having on the young angel. "If it is any comfort," he says, "I do not believe such an event would be enough to exterminate all life on earth." 'Only most of it' is implied, of course, because if it's a Winchester, it must be carrying a spare Apocalypse in its back pocket. Apparently, someone has made this a rule.
It takes him a little longer this time, but Adam manages to cram these new revelations into the suitcase alongside the old ones. He is all business when he speaks again. "So, what do we do about this?"
"I do not know," Castiel says, eyes narrowed in deep thought. "I must reiterate, again, that your situation is extremely unique. A human becoming an angel is something that has not happened…" The middle Winchester sees the proverbial lightbulb go off in Cas's head. "…except for one other time."
"One other time?" Sam repeats, interest piqued. Adam has snapped to full attention as well.
Castiel nods, the light returning to his eyes as he speaks. This, at least, assures Sam that there is some hope for them. "Long ago, just before the Flood, there was a righteous, wise man known as Enoch. I was not witness to it personally, but the story is that he had such favor in the eyes of the Lord that two angels who were about to be cast down for their sins sought him out to testify on their behalf. He was brought, bodily, into Heaven, and to the very throne room to testify, where he saw the Face of God. In this doing so, his eyes bore witness to the inner workings of reality in ways that not even most angels were aware of, and he returned to Earth with what he learned. With the knowledge he gleaned from that single moment, he created the language and system of magic that is now known as Enochian."
"Wow," Adam says.
"Wait," Sam interrupts. "I thought Enochian was just the language angels speak?"
Castiel looks at the older Winchester with frank, blunt eyes. "Sam, we have no language, nor do we speak in any way that is analogous to humans unless we are communicating with them. Enochian is nothing less than a translation of angelic thought into words and syllables that can be uttered and invoked by human mouths."
"Wow," Sam echoes Adam. "That's… insane."
"And impressive," Adam adds. "You'd have to have some kind of freakish mutant brain to pull off something like that."
Castiel nods. "Enoch was highly intelligent, or so I am told. God was so impressed with his work, and in some telling of the story, so disappointed in his angels that he allowed Enoch to remain on Earth for a few more years before bringing him again into Heaven and transfiguring him into the most powerful of all the Angels, a being second only to God… the High Seraph, Metatron."
Castiel gives him a head tilt.
Adam returns the gesture. "Oh, you're serious? That's his name?"
"Yes," Castiel replies. "Is there something wrong with it?"
Adam looks ready to elaborate, but as much as Sam would love to see a discussion between his brother and Castiel on theology, Transformers, and Kevin Smith films, they need to stay on task. "Cas, why haven't we heard of this guy before? It seems like he would've been a pretty big help during that little 'Apocalypse' thing we had going on a while back." After all, if any angel would understand humanity's standpoint in all this, it should be the formerly human one, right?
"Metatron was at God's side, constantly. I thought that if we found God, surely we would find Metatron along with him. Now, however, I am less sure… Metatron did leave Heaven after God."
"Why?" Adam asks.
Castiel turns to him and shrugs. "The flock did not take to him very well. He was above us in the hierarchy, closer to God than even the Archangels, and to top it all off, he was better than we were with our own language. Imagine a dog writing a novel superior to the collective works of Shakespeare, and being more beloved and trusted by your own father than your or any of your brothers. The Angels saw him as a tremendous insult, and treated him as such. None would dare to go against him while God was still on his throne, but when He left Heaven, I am told that Metatron followed shortly thereafter in no small part due to several plans to depose and destroy him."
Adam's face is a curious mixture of confusion and disappointment. "But… I'm the same thing, minus the 'close to God' part."
"You are not exactly the same. The Host still sees you as an angel… just one that has undergone a terrible injury. And memory loss."
"In other words," Adam sighs. "They don't see who I am—"
"Just who they think you're supposed to be," Sam finishes. Ah, little brother, how can I relate to thee? Let me count the ways…
Adam half-heartedly grins at Sam. "So, how do we find this guy?" he asks, turning back to Castiel.
Castiel looks pensive. "It will not be easy."
"Is it ever?" Sam huffs.
Castiel concedes the point. "The Angels were happy to see Metatron go. Very few had ever even spoken to him, and fewer did so regularly. It is doubtful that anyone cared to keep track of him after he left."
"Maybe we could talk to the angels who knew him?" Adam suggests. "I mean… surely someone liked the guy."
"Therein lies the problem," Castiel replies. "Of the Angels that knew Metatron, two are dead, one has gone into hiding, and one is present in this room."
All eyes turn to Adam, who is uncharacteristically bashful about it, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Hey, don't look at me. If I knew how to find the leader of the Decepticons, I'd have probably iced him by now."
"…I have no idea what you just said. What is a 'Decepticon' and why would you want to freeze it?" Oh, Castiel. How Sam missed him…
"Pay no attention to the giant dork," Sam says, giving Cas a friendly shoulder pat.
Adam looks offended. "Hey. I'm not a giant dork. Just a regular dork. You're the giant, you giant dork."
Sherriff Cas attempts to rally his deputies. "We need to act quickly. There is no way of knowing…" He trails off here, and suddenly, everyone comes crashing back into the reality of the situation.
"No way of knowing how long I'll hold together," Adam offers. He is rubbing his hand where the skin is starting to peel.
"Don't pick at it," Sam says before he can stop himself.
"Yes, mom," Adam rolls his eyes.
"I will inform the Host of our situation, and see what help they can offer," Cas says, and Adam's remaining good humor vanishes in a puff of panic.
"Cas, no!" he shouts.
"Adam, if the angels are going to help you, they need to know what is at stake," Cas reasons, but Adam is having none of that rationality nonsense.
"Don't. Please, Cas, I'm begging you…"
"Dude, what's the problem?" Sam asks.
Adam crosses his arms. "I just don't want them to know."
Castiel gives a more comprehensive answer. "The Flock has great expectations for your brother. They possess a great deal of faith in him, and he cannot stand to disappoint them."
"Cas!" Adam whines. "Jeez, spill all my secrets, why don't ya. Maybe you should tell him what kind of underwear I like while you're at it?"
"Boxer shorts," Cas says to Sam without missing a beat.
"Cas!" Adam cries.
"Oh," the angel responds. "You were being facetious." His voice sounds sincere, but his face tells Sam that Cas knows exactly what he is doing, and Sam is secretly impressed with him.
"Adam, I know you hate it," Sam tells his little bro, "but we're gonna need all the help we can get on this one. This is, like, the first time in memory that I need more than my fingers to count the people who are actually willing to help us out; we'd be stupid not to use that. This is your life, Adam."
Adam continues to pout, looking annoyed for several seconds before finally conceding. "…okay." His eyes find the window, and he stares out into the overcast sky. "What about Raphael?"
"I will attempt to find him myself. It is much to hope for, but I am praying that he can still be reasoned with," Castiel nods.
"And what about us?" Sam asks. "What should we do?"
"Gather as much information as you can. There is no way to tell what we might find useful."
Sam nods. "Got it."
"I will contact you if I learn anything else," Castiel says, vanishing before anyone has a chance to reply. Dean was right. That guy sucks at goodbyes.
Adam just stands at the window, still staring at the miserable monochrome sky. Sam joins him shortly, putting an arm around him. "You okay?" he asks.
The youngest Winchester nods grimly. He is stoic and silent.
Sam just stands with him, staring at the clouds. They seem darker than yesterday.
"I'm gonna blow up," Adam says suddenly.
Sam shakes his head. "No, you aren't. We'll find a way to save you."
"Okay," the angel swallows. "'Cause I don't wanna blow up."
A gentle smile frames Sam's response. "And I don't want you to blow up. So we'll stop it."
The two of them stand together in the silence of the darkening day, taking as much strength from each other as they can. The road ahead looks long, with many a winding turn. It's a good thing they ain't heavy.
"This fucking sucks," Adam says with finality.
Sam can only squeeze his shoulder and pull him closer in response. He feels that sums things up nicely.
The cell phone stares up at him accusingly. Sam's fingers hover above the keys, but he can't seem to close the gap. Once a day, Dean had told him. That was the deal. I don't care if you do it with a call, text, email, snail mail, carrier pigeon, astral projection, sky writing—I don't care. If you're doing this, and you're not gonna let me come with you, then you get in touch with me, somehow, at least once a day. I need to go to bed knowing you're alive, Sammy. And how could Sam say 'no' to that?
It wasn't easy, convincing Dean that he could stay with the family that he had adopted (or that had adopted him, perhaps) while Sam went off to continue saving people, hunting things. But after a long, long negotiation, Dean agreed that Sam was a big boy who could take care of himself, and that he really, truly wanted to settle down and enjoy some fucking peace for once in his life. Sam couldn't agree more—if anyone deserved it, it was Dean.
So Dean agreed to let him go. The only condition attached to him hunting alone was, of course, Dean's 'once a day' corollary. Which he is dangerously close to violating. The madness of the day's events have brought midnight to his doorstep and while he knows he could, probably even should call his brother, he also knows that when Dean hears about this latest development, he is going to come running, leaving his hard-won slice of American Pie in the proverbial dust, to be eaten by ants.
Still, if he has learned anything from his life so far, it should be that secrets and lies lead only to disasters, such as becoming Satan's spandex superhero outfit. He looks over towards the house, where Adam is packing away the last of the supplies in the trunk of Sam's car, and with a heavy sigh, presses the 'Call' button and waits for the inevitable.
"What the fuck, Sam!" is how the conversation begins.
"Are you trying to piss me off? You are, aren't you? You're just sitting there staring at the clock, watching it countdown 'til midnight, waiting for just the right moment so you can say 'oh, Dean, I totally didn't break the rules, you said once a day, you didn't say when!' Little jackass."
"Dean, calm down. Please. I'm sorry I waited so long to call you, I really am, but today has been kind of… hectic."
"Hectic how? Hectic like blood-squirting-out-of-your-eyeballs-'cause-you-popped-a-vein-in-your-head-from-worrying-about-your-moron-brother hectic?" Dean's not letting up on the righteous indignation, and Sam's patience is already worn razor-thin. What happens next is kind of inevitable.
"No, hectic like finding-out-my-little-brother-is-a-walking-talking-nuclear-warhead-complete-with-detonator-and-ticking-countdown-clock hectic," he deadpans, and resists the urge to forcibly embed the phone in his skull for being such an idiot. Didn't he just mentally berate Castiel for skipping the build-up?
Dean is completely silent on the other end. "...what did you just say?" he asks, his voice positioned firmly in the calm before the hurricane.
Sam sighs and tries to recover. "This morning when we went out to practice, I saw something on Adam's hand. It was some kind of blister, or abrasion; the skin was dry and peeling off all around it. It looked pretty much like the guy Lucifer was possessing before he crawled into me. We talked to Cas about it, and according to him, Adam is going Archangel, and his body can't handle it."
More silence. Dean is making an effort to keep himself calm; Sam can tell by the way he is breathing on the other end. "So can't he find another one?"
"Dean, in case you've forgotten, Adam isn't exactly one hundred percent pure angel. He can't just pop out of his own meat to go shopping for a better model. He's stuck in there."
"So what the Hell is he supposed to do then?"
"We don't know," Sam shrugs, even though Dean isn't around to see it. "We're working on tracking down another human-turned-angel to see if he has any helpful hints."
"And what happens if you can't find him?"
"We try something else."
"No, Sam. What happens to Adam?"
Sam sighs. The shit is approaching the fan at terminal velocity. Impact is imminent. Please ensure all protective headgear is secured firmly in-place. "If he's lucky, he dies and that's it."
He can hear Dean's teeth grinding. "And if he's not?"
"…he goes Critical, and takes a whole lot of people with him."
Call Ended. Shit.
To Be Continued…
A/N: Metatron seemed like an interesting way to expand and elaborate upon the show's mythology. That the language of angels is called 'Enochian' seems to allude to Enoch's existence and invoke that story, but they never actually mention either one, so I had to come up with a decent excuse as to why the High Seraph wasn't brought up until now. Did I do a decent job of setting things up? All reviews are appreciated, as always. More is on the way!