Disclaimer: I clearly don't own the boys or the show, or we'd have had hospital Sammy by now, right?
Author's Note: So… another of the longer fics to get us through a summer of wondering what exactly 'the other one' remembered from the Cage.
This one's set sometime between The Man Who Would Be King and Let It Bleed. The idea came from Cheryl – many thanks, and I hope this is kind-of-sort-of-maybe what you had in mind for this story.
Also, this is my first serious stab at writing a story entirely from Sam's point of view. I think on the whole it's worked out OK. Let me know!
Warnings Etc: Spoilers up to S6, obviously, and minor language, although nothing more than you'd see on the show. And (since this is me, and I can never resist) some shameless schmoop and chick-flicking later on.
Summary: Gabriel brings Sam a proposition: on November 2, 1983, Sam will die instead of Mary. Sam will go straight up to Heaven, bypassing a miserable life and the horror of the Cage. His family will have relative peace. Sam says no, because when was listening to Angels ever a good idea? If only it were that simple.
Prologue: A Time to Every Purpose under Heaven
They say the human soul is unbreakable.
That's a stupid way to start a story, isn't it? Attributing a random statement to some nebulous expert who apparently knows all about the human soul.
Let me start over. I'm Sam Winchester.
Yup. That Sam Winchester. And I don't know what they say about the human soul, but I do know that Death (yes, the Death, Thanatos, Mors, the Horseman, the Grim Reaper, whatever you want to call him) told Dean that the soul can't be broken. And he ought to know, right? I mean, if Death can't break the soul…
If Death can't break the soul, it doesn't mean that nothing can.
Death doesn't really get it. He's old – more ancient than God, probably. He's powerful. He's got a weird kind of co-dependency with mortals. (We need him because of the whole Circle of Life thing, and he needs us because without us he would be kind of pointless, wouldn't he?) He knows everything about everything and then some. There's no place he can't go, no barrier to keep him out, no hiding from him and no escaping him.
All the same, there's also a lot he doesn't understand.
Like brothers. Death hasn't got brothers or for that matter even friends. What he has is a ring and a scythe and near-absolute authority. That makes him (according to Dean) annoyingly overbearing, but that's about it.
Lucifer and Michael, on the other hand – they do know about brothers. They know all about them. All the stupid things you say that you don't mean, all the times you lash out and hurt the one person you would happily sell your own soul to keep safe, all the times you're terrified that your place has been taken or your purpose served and you're not needed anymore.
But what Lucifer and Michael know is a story for another day – and I promised Dean I wouldn't think about it. They only come into this story because of Gabriel.
Gabriel is one smooth talker. He's had practice, of course – and not just as the Trickster. He's been the eternal messenger, fulfilling the original purpose of the angels, sent to human beings when crazy crap is happening to them to assure them that it's the will of God and they don't have to worry, all they have to do is accept it and submit to it and not get freaked out by the fact that all the faucets in the house are gushing wine (or worse).
I'd assumed that Gabriel was dead. I know, stupid of me, right? When does anything ever stay dead around here?
But I figured – angel-killing sword, giant wings burnt into the ground, the dude was gone. (Lucifer thought so, too, which was what really decided me. I could feel his regret when he was in my head. He was actually sorry about it, although he was the one who did it.)
That, really, is where this begins. With me sitting on a park bench trying to hack into the FBI database (don't ask), and the thought never crossing my mind that the guy sitting opposite me stuffing an obscene number of jellybeans into his mouth (seriously, even Dean hasnever tried to chew five hundred jellybeans at the same time) was anything other than a random guy with a sugar fetish.
I'd been sitting there about fifteen minutes when he offered me the bag. "Jellybean?"
"No, thanks," I said. I don't really like jellybeans, and anyway – even at twenty-eight – Dean would go ballistic on my ass if I took candy from a stranger. Considering the kinds of strangers we tend to meet, I don't really blame him.
Dean and I had just had a fight, which explains why I was doing my research on a park bench.
What did we fight about? Damned if I remember. We're brothers. We're always finding stuff to fight about. It was probably who got first shower or who got to pick the music or something equally pointless. It started, it escalated, and it ended with me telling Dean that I wasn't a damn baby and he could stop treating me like one and Dean saying he wouldn't mind a little appreciation for his having left Lisa and Ben to keep an eye on my ungrateful ass.
Then Dean looked at me like he wished he could take it back. But instead of saying anything, he went into the bathroom and shut the door.
I figured we both needed to cool off. Dean's perpetual over-protectiveness can be infuriating, but I sure as hell wouldn't want him to stop caring. And I know Dean doesn't regret being on the road with me instead of having a normal life. But when you spend days on end within ten feet of each other every freaking minute of every freaking day, tempers tend to rise.
So I snagged my laptop and went out.
I'd already walked a mile or so when I realized my cell phone was still in my duffel in the motel room. Dean was going to be pissed. But I really wasn't in the mood to go all the way back for it, so I found a park where I could get Wi-Fi and got to work.
And that brings us to where we started: me trying to hack into the FBI database and the random guy offering me jellybeans.
"Go on," the guy said, shaking the bag under my nose. "I haven't put any GHB in them. You're not my type, anyway."
"No, thanks," I said again.
The guy leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, and said, "So what're you doing?"
"Need any help?"
The guy was really starting to bug me now. I don't usually like being rude to people, even obnoxious jerks who are high on sugar, but sometimes you can make an exception.
Before I could say anything, though, he leaned in even closer and whispered, "I can help… Sammy."
I was fumbling for my Taurus, wishing I had the Colt, wondering whether this was a demon or a shifter or something even nastier, when he put a hand on my arm.
"Sammy. Calm down. If I wanted to hurt you, you'd already be dead."
I ignored him. Letting supernatural things distract you is a surefire way to let them get the jump on you, and I've been almost-strangled by them often enough to know that the experience sucks.
I started to pull it out, but he stopped me with a hand to my arm and a nod in the direction of a couple of uniformed policemen standing by the park entrance drinking coffee.
"Do you really want to cause a panic, Sammy? I told you, I don't want to hurt you. I just want to talk."
"For one thing, don't you want to know who I am?"
"I don't need to –"
"They call me Gabriel."
I stared. "Gabriel? Like Gabriel Gabriel?"
"No," he said, rolling his eyes. "Like Justin Bieber Gabriel. How many Gabriels do you know?"
"But – you're –"
"Dead?" He smiled conspiratorially. "What, you think only you and Big Brother get brought back? God's my daddy, kid. He doesn't have to make deals with demons if he wants me alive."
"Where have you been?"
"Doing things too profound for your puny mortal mind to comprehend. Close your mouth, Sammy. You look like a fish."
"Don't call me Sammy."
"I'm sorry, Sammy. I forgot only Big Brother gets to call you that, Sammy. Now listen to me. I have a proposition, and it's going to take long enough for me to put it in terms that will be intelligible to your primitive brain. I don't want to waste time arguing."
"You want something from me?"
"Yes. To begin with, I want your silence and complete attention to what I'm about to say. You love Dean, don't you? Hero-worship him? You'd do anything for him?"
"If you touch him –"
"Relax, Sammy. I'm not going to lay a finger on Dean. I have an offer for you."
"I can get you out of all the trouble you got into – no demon blood, no visions, no telekinetic powers. And I can give Dean that happy suburban life he seems to think he wants."
The offer only made me frown suspiciously. "What's the catch?"
"Remember the night Azazel came for you and your mother died over your crib? Of course you don't. You were only six months old. But you know all about that night. And I can change what happened."
"I can't undo it completely, you understand. Atropos would never let me hear the end of it. She nags me enough about telling you monkeys how to trap Lucifer and thereby averting the Apocalypse. Someone needs to die that night."
It clicked. "You're saying… Me in exchange for Mom."
"I knew they call you the smart Winchester for a reason. So… What do you say?"
"Don't be ridiculous," was what I said, although I had to admit to myself that I was tempted. "I'm sure you're not doing this out of the goodness of your heart, and whatever your price is, I'm sure I'm not going to like it. Besides – I couldn't do that to Mom. I know what it's like."
"She would never know."
"Ah, yes. Dean. How is Dean going to survive without a little brother to look after? Well… How do you know he won't have one? A different one, who listens to him and doesn't talk back all the time."
"Dean wouldn't –"
"Dean wouldn't trade you for anyone or anything. I know. But, Sammy… Dean won't miss you if he's never had you, now, will he?"
"No," I said firmly, shutting my laptop and getting to my feet. "I'm not interested."
"Yes, you are," Gabriel said, standing as well.
"No, I'm not." I snapped, shoving down the tiny voice in my head that was whispering that maybe, maybe, this wasn't as bad an idea as it seemed. "And I want to know why you want it so badly."
"If I tell you, you'll do it?"
"I couldn't do that to Dean."
"Forget Dean for a second and think about yourself, Sam. Children go straight to Heaven if they die, you know. No Hell. No Purgatory. No Cage and no being tortured by Lucifer and Michael in the Cage."
"Sammy, I'm offering to let you exchange a miserable life for Heaven. Just think about it. You would never even meet Ruby or Lilith, you would never have broken the last seal, my beloved brother would never have wanted you for a vessel – what more could you ask for?"
"Fine," Gabriel said. "Think about it. I'll be back tonight. And remember it isn't just a question of you here, Sammy. It's your mother and your father and Dean's perfect little life."
I made my way back to the motel as quickly as I could. I was trying to put it out of my mind – angels lie; demons lie; I was sure Gabriel had an ulterior motive and if he wasn't telling me about it, then it was something I wouldn't like. And anyway, I couldn't do that to Dean.
If I could only be sure it wouldn't be what Dean wanted.
A blast of noise hit me when I opened the motel room door, interrupting my thoughts. Dean was on the phone, yelling at the top of his voice.
"What the hell do you mean, don't worry? Of course I'm going to worry! The freaking idiot left his freaking cell phone freaking here! And he didn't leave a message! I can't get in touch with –" Dean stopped short when he saw me. His eyes narrowed dangerously, and I knew I was in trouble. "Oh. Sam's just back, Bobby. I'm sure he's got an excellent explanation for disappearing on me. Let me call you back."
He tossed his cell phone onto the bed, pulled me roughly into the room, and started patting me down.
"I'm not hurt," I offered.
Dean shoved me into a chair and started lecturing me about wandering off on my own without telling anybody. He sounded mad as hell, and maybe he would've fooled someone else, but I knew him well enough to see past the 'bloody stupid moron' and the 'next time you do that I'm going to kick your ass to Canada and then I'm going to bring you back here to do it again'.
I'd been an idiot even to think Dean might want me to take Gabriel up on his offer.
Dean appeared to think I was still upset about our fight – I wasn't, and I hadn't tried to run away, but it was useless explaining that to him. He spent the evening making it up to me. (And he calls me clingy, but he's the one who keeps rubbing my head and my back when he thinks I'm upset. I really should call him on that, but – well, it does feel kind of comforting.)
After we shared a pizza and snickered over some awful horror movie on TV, Dean sat on the edge of my bed until I fell asleep. He didn't say a thing, just borrowed my laptop (I wasn't sure I wanted to know what he was doing with it), but he was there, and I didn't have nightmares.
I woke up a couple of hours later. The room was dark, and Dean was sleeping in his own bed. It was empty other than the two of us – so what had woken me?
There was a sharp rapping sound. Someone knocking on the door?
Oh. Of course. Gabriel. He'd promised to be back, hadn't he?
I glanced at Dean. He was fast asleep, wrapped in a cocoon of blankets with only the top of his head visible. There was no need to wake him up. I'd just tell Gabriel I wasn't interested and –
Well, I was sure it wouldn't be that easy. Still, no need to bother Dean until I knew exactly what kind of trouble we were in.
I opened the door.
Gabriel stepped in.
"About time," he said, slamming the door shut behind him. "I do you the courtesy of not materializing into your room and – What do you call it? Violating your personal space? – and you leave me standing outside in the cold."
"I thought you can't feel the cold."
"No, but the man I'm possessing can. And he whines if he catches a cold. Have you thought about my generous offer, Sam?"
"The answer's no."
"You haven't thought about it."
"I have thought about it. I can't do that to my mother!"
"She will never know."
"And I can't do it to Dean."
"He will never know, either. You're being selfish, Sam. Do you honestly think Dean would miss a little brother he knew for just six months? He'd be perfectly happy and he wouldn't know a thing."
"Why do you want this?" I asked. "What's in it for you?"
"What do you care? I'm offering you a release for yourself, your parents' lives and your brother's happiness. What more do you want?"
"I want to know what you're after."
Gabriel watched me for a moment. "Fine. Clearly this isn't working. I expect your mind is too miniscule to comprehend the magnitude of what I'm offering you. Let's try this a different way."
He waved his hand, and the motel room dissolved.
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