Brothers and Angels
Summary:Sam knows Castiel's betrayal will hit Dean hard and he's determined to be there for his brother; but as usual, the current crisis brings up conflicts from the brothers' past. Tag to 6:20 "The Man Who Would Be King".
A/N: "The Man Who Would Be King" just begs for a tag. Here's the scene I wish they had included.
A/N:Special thanks to my beta Ericka Jane; truly a priceless aid to a writer.
Sam was awoken from an already restless sleep by angry voices. One voice, he would have recognised even if he was still asleep and the other he had come to know and trust. To hear the second voice admitting the unthinkable had been particularly painful. But as hard as it had been for Sam to actually listen to Cas say he was working with Crowley, he knew the revelation had been devastating for Dean.
There was a bitter exchange when he, Dean, and Bobby had confronted Cas earlier that night but then the three of them had been forced to run, leaving the dialogue unfinished. Now, from the raging argument that Sam was overhearing, it seemed that Cas had come back to Bobby's house in the dead of the night to try to convince Dean of the wisdom of his astounding decision.
Dean wasn't buying it.
As the quarrel got more heated Sam had to restrain himself from going downstairs to Bobby's living room, where Dean and Cas were facing off, and jumping head first into the squabble to tackle the angel for daring to hurt his big brother.
Sam had never said it to anyone, but since being reunited, firstly with his soul and then with his brother, he had grown fiercely protective of Dean. He knew Dean had suffered unspeakable anguish having to deal with their separation when Sam went into the cage, and then having to live with the version of Sam that had returned. To make matters worse, the memories of the last few years prior to that were wrought with mistrust, grief, and betrayal that had severely tested the unbreakable bond that had connected them from the day Sam was born.
In spite of all that when Sam's soul had been returned to him, his first clear realisation had been that his brother's love for him had not only withstood the crushing disappointments of that past, it had been more powerful than the fury of hell. It was the one thing that Michael and Lucifer had not been able to take away from him. And Sam had come back with a singular determination to protect his brother at all cost; even if it meant guarding him from his guardian angel.
As it turned out Dean dispensed with Cas pretty swiftly on his own and the shouting match was over before Sam could intervene. Sam knew his brother would be reeling in the wake of the angel's departure, and Sam's job would be to fix whatever part of Dean's psyche Cas had left broken.
Sam found Dean out in Bobby's yard with the only thing that had never betrayed him, the Impala. In the cruel race of life Dean had been double-crossed, abandoned and betrayed by practically everything and everyone except his car. It was little wonder that in the face of the latest treachery he had come to his baby.
Sam quelled the mounting feeling of disappointment that his brother had turned to the Impala instead of him after fighting with Castiel. Yes, it was the dead of the night but Sam wouldn't have complained if Dean had woke him up. He wanted to be there for Dean as much as his brother had always been there for him. Of course Sam knew if he asked why Dean would simply say that Sam needed his sleep. But while his brother had always zealously endorsed Sam's need for rest, in this instance it would also have been a convenient way for Dean to avoid one of their "talks." Well, Sam thought as he closed in on the Impala, there was no escape for Dean now.
All his life Sam had watched his brother put on a brave face but now, as he approached quietly from behind, Sam could see evidence of the disappointment. Dean sat on the Impala's hood with his knees pulled up to his chest, taking Sam back a good two decades to the years just before Dean became a teenager and he would sit like that on the bed of some nameless motel, anxiously waiting for their father to come home.
When he sensed his brother's presence, Dean immediately shrugged off the defeated body language and switched on a low grade version of his poker face. This wasn't the classic Dean Winchester mask that said "this doesn't hurt," but the stoic look that said "Yes it hurts but I'll be damned if I tell you how much."
"You O.K?" Sam asked sliding onto the car beside Dean.
"I take it Cas was here."
"Live and in the flesh."
"What did he want?"
"And, he's hell-bent – pun intended – on his unholy alliance with Crowley."
"You couldn't change his mind?"
"No matter what I said," Dead admitted gravely. "You know, I thought nothing would ever shock me again. I really thought I had lost the capacity to be surprised by people's decisions but this one's knocked me way out of the ballpark."
"I mean ... to be betrayed by your guardian angel, how messed up is that?"
"I'd say that's pretty messed up."
"And here I was thinking nothing could shake me after you..."
Dean caught himself and looked away from his brother.
"You can say it, Dean," Sam coaxed calmly. "After I betrayed you."
Sam still felt a piercing fusion of shame and self-loathing when he thought about his crippling addiction to demon blood, demonic power, and the satanic siren that had kept him in her grip by supplying both. In the end, it not only came close to costing him his life but also the one thing he had come to value more than that, his brother.
"I'm not going there," Dean insisted. "I never should have brought it up."
"But it's what's on your mind and that's perfectly understandable. And I'm not making excuses for myself or for Cas for that matter, but people can make some pretty misguided decisions even when they supposedly know better. Sometimes you think what you're doing is for the best, although everyone around you is saying something different."
"And you say you're not making excuses for Cas?"
"I'm not, but ..."
"No matter what he does, I always come back to one thing."
"He brought you back, Dean. He gave me back my brother and I feel like that should buy him the benefit of the doubt."
"I don't know," Dean shook his head. "In this case there's a pretty high price tag on that benefit."
"Well he earned it when he gave me back the most valuable thing I have."
Dean paused and considered, but then shook his head again. "You know, with what he told us tonight about him being the one who pulled you out of the cage, I could say the same thing. But that still doesn't change the fact that I'd like to beat some sense into him; or just beat him period. I don't understand how he could make a deal with a demon after everything we've been through. How could he do it knowing it's going to put us on opposite sides of the biggest fight since the apocalypse?"
"Knowing him, if that's a chance he's willing to take, he must be pretty damn convinced that he's chosen the best course of action."
"Well I'm pretty damn convinced he hasn't."
"So what are you gonna do?"
"I honestly don't know."
"Well you don't have to decide tonight."
"But I do have to decide."
A silence lapsed as Sam contemplated the implications of his brother's words. Then, he waded into murky waters. "Can I ask you something?"
Dean shrugged. "As if I can stop you."
"Does it bring back memories?"
"Memories of what?"
"Of me choosing Ruby?"
Dean was going to cut Sam off but then figured his brother must have a good reason for digging up such unsavoury pieces of recent history. "Yeah," Dean admitted. "Bad memories."
"Will it help if I said I'm sorry?"
"How many times are you going to apologize?"
"Until when? I've said it a hundred times, the slate's wiped clean."
"But admit it, when something like this happens, it brings it all back, doesn't it."
"And I can imagine it's not much fun."
"Hurts like hell. And you know I'm well placed to make that comparison. They're not a lot of people I trust. And every time I have to cross one more person off the list it's ... it's hard."
For Dean to admit that without any coaxing, Sam knew he must have been hurting pretty bad. Hearing the admission, Sam was seized by an irrepressible urge to pull his brother close.
Instead, he tried to comfort Dean with words.
"Dean, I know this whole thing sucks to hell and back but if it makes you feel any better, I'm here for you. I may have messed up really bad in the past but I want you to know that family means everything to me. I finally understand what I have and I'll never take it for granted again."
"I know, Sammy," Dean was finding the outpouring a little overwhelming but figured he'd let Sam get it off his chest. Besides, he needed to know that he mattered to someone having been seemingly abandoned by his celestial bodyguard.
And it wasn't fair that in the wake of Castiel's disloyalty it was Sam, entirely innocent in this matter, who felt he had something to apologise for.
"Look I believe you," Dean assured his brother. "Maybe Cas has lost it, but it's not like I'm sitting here expecting you to turn into hell spawn and stab me in the back." Then, because Sam deserved it and probably needed it, Dean added, "And I know you'll always look out for me."
"Then next time if something's bothering you wake me up," Sam caught Dean from behind and shook him by the shoulders. "Come to me instead of running to your car."
"Point taken," Dean conceded, and when his brother's hands lingered on his shoulders he didn't pull away.
"If I am facing the biggest war since the apocalypse and I have to be standing on the opposite side from someone, I'm glad it's not you."
Sam squeezed his brother's shoulders, trying to give the kind of reassurance that Dean had given him for his entire life.
"And it won't ever be me again. If we're all we have then it's enough. And it always will be."
"I'm not asking you for that."
"Well that's what I'm giving, so shut up and take it."
Dean snickered. "Getting bossy, little brother?"
"Yeah and next I'm ordering you to go to bed."
"You go on in," Dean advised. "I don't think I can sleep. I'll just stay out here."
"Fine," Sam shrugged and rubbed Dean's shoulders companionably. "Then I'll stay with you."
"Thanks," Dean muttered quickly knowing if he said any more his voice would waver. He glanced briefly at Sam and then swallowed hard as his throat constricted. The little boy whose hurts Dean used to sooth and whose fears he used to calm had grown up and become a comforter to him. Neither heaven nor hell had been able to shake Sam's love and loyalty.
Let Cas take his chances with Crowley; Sam was Dean's real guardian angel.
TO BE CONTINUED