Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural, any of the characters used or the song lyrics at the start of each chapter. Wish I did but hey, that's every fangirl's dream xP
Another shot of whiskey
Can't stop looking at the door
Wishing you'd come sweeping in the way you did before
And I wonder if I ever cross your mind?
For me it happens all the time
It's a quarter after one
I'm a little drunk and I need you now
Sam drummed his fingers against the steering wheel, playing out a familiar tune that had been stuck in his head for at least a week. The window of the Impala was open, letting in a comforting cool breeze that wafted into the car's warm interior and played with the strands of his hair. Sam sighed gently. He and Dean had been working non-stop for almost a week on their latest hunt with a particularly nasty ghost. After a late night of battling the damn thing and doing through the necessary salt-and-burn, they were both exhausted.
He allowed his eyes to stray from the frozen car in front to the passenger seat beside him. It held a flimsy plastic cup-holder, which contained two hot cups of coffee from the local diner. He smirked as he imagined the look of pure venom Dean would be shooting his way if he could see Sam's blasé treatment of the special car. He knew he was signing his own death warrant if Dean ever found out, but what with the heat of the sun, Sam wasn't prepared to sit through the traffic jams with blazing cups in his lap. His body had gone through enough this week without having burns to add to the list, thank you very much.
As the lights changed to green, the line of cars began to crawl forwards. Sam immediately halted his tapping and turned his full attention to driving the car. Dean had woken up that morning with a pounding headache; the normal after-effects of spending hours knocking back whiskey at one of the local bars. The hangover had put him in a less than pleasant mood, and any damage to his car no matter how slight would only add fuel to that fire.
Eventually Sam cleared the creeping traffic with relief and pushed down on the accelerator, relishing in the stronger breeze that now flowed through the window. After spending a week cooped up in the stuffy motel room with nobody but an increasingly disgruntled older brother for company, or the town's tiny library hitting endless dead ends, the freedom of driving without the case weighing him down was a welcome change. He knew that his short-term feelings of independence would last only as long as it took to get back to the motel, though. After their coffee was finished, they'd be packing up and leaving off to the next place, searching for another case, another mayhem-causing monster to bring down.
Sam turned the Impala around a corner, and promptly slammed his foot on the brakes as a pair of joggers ran out in front of him. Yelling a swear word at the top of his voice, he dived sideways and managed to catch the cup-holder before it slid off the seat, or overturned. As he lay there, outstretched across the front seats, waiting for his heartbeat to return to its normal rhythm, he heard a rather peculiar noise. Something was skittering along the floor behind his seat, dislodged from wherever it had been by the sudden stop, coming to a halt right underneath his chair.
Regaining his usual breathing pattern and ensuring the cups were secured again, he sat up properly. The joggers were stood on the other side of the road, staring at him with concerned looks on their faces. He flashed them the most encouraging smile he could manage, which in itself was a feat, seeing as he'd just almost knocked them both down. It seemed to be convincing, though, because they both beamed and continued up the street without a word or backwards glance. Sam sat there frozen for a moment, shook his head, and then continued on his way.
A few minutes later saw him pulling up into the car park. He made sure to stop the Impala at a much slower pace so as not to upset the cup-holder again, and was just reaching to extract it from the car when he remembered the mysterious object. Naturally, he assumed, it was a weapon that they'd forgotten to replace in the hidden trunk. Not wanting anybody to see it and risk causing a panic, he decided to put it back in its rightful place before returning to Dean.
This turned out to be a very costly mistake.
Not bothering to leave the car, he bent his arm around the back of the chair and groped around on the floor. He expected to feel the long cold metal of a gun, or the tough rubber of a knife handle. Instead, what he felt was smooth and cool, and completely flat. Frowning, Sam scooped it up in his hand and lifted it around so that he could get a better look.
He felt all the air leaving his body in one fell swoop and his insides turned to ice. Nestled in the palm of his hand was the case Gabriel had thrust into Dean's hands at the hotel, hissing a warning to guard it with his life. Inside, clearly visible, was the DVD that Sam knew contained the archangel's instructions on how to avert the Apocalypse, which coupled as both a porn video and his suicide note.
And then suddenly, he was back at the Elysian Fields Hotel, his back pressed against an overturned table beside Dean with the devil a mere few feet away. There was absolutely no chance whatsoever of escape. They were screwed. And then Gabriel had appeared. Gabriel, who broke ranks with the angels who knew how many years ago because he couldn't stand to see his brothers fight anymore. Gabriel, who had been afraid of facing them now that they were beginning the Apocalypse. Gabriel, who had stepped out alone to give them and Kali a chance to get away.
And he'd paid for it with his life.
Mind and body feeling numb, Sam leant back into the front again, picking up the cup-holder and stepping out of the car. He could no longer feel the blinding heat of the sun above; the press of the DVD against his skin was more than enough of a reminder to keep his insides an icy mush. He strode across the car park and let himself into their room, his expression glazed as he remained lost in thought.
Dean glanced up when he heard the key scraping in the lock, and managed a small grin when he saw Sam enter. "About time, bitch." He said. "How long does it take for –"
But he trailed off as soon as he caught sight of the look on Sam's face. His younger brother hadn't even glanced his way; he was staring straight ahead, a distant look in his eyes and his mouth curled into a frown. As he watched, Sam slid the coffee cups onto the small table a short distance from the door, before he crossed the room to collapse on his bed.
"Sammy? Everything okay?" He asked, concern flooding him, sitting up a little straighter in his own bed.
When Sam still made no efforts to respond, Dean really started to worry. He even began to sweep his brother with his eyes, checking for any signs of attack, and that was when he spotted the DVD case. It lay sheathed in Sam's tight grip on top of the bed sheets as he continued to stare at whatever happened to be directly in front of him; in this case, the dirty motel ceiling. There was only one DVD Dean could bring to mind that could reduce Sam to such a state almost instantaneously. Dean winced, and dropped his gaze from Sam, now understanding perfectly.
After their first encounter with Gabriel at the university, both he and Sam shared the same opinion about the supposed Trickster. He had a sick, twisted sense of humour, he was tricky and clever, and he seemed to enjoy killing people who he deemed to have 'deserved' it. But after that, while Dean remained resolute and stubborn in his opinion of the archangel, Sam started to stray down a different path entirely.
He first noticed it after the events of their brief stint in TV Land, when Gabriel had made it his own personal mission to drop in on them whenever he could, purely to annoy them. At first, Sam seemed to get just as irritated with this behaviour as Dean. But then Dean would catch Sam stealing glances at Gabriel when the archangel wasn't looking, or wearing the bitchface he reserved only for when he was embarrassed whenever Gabriel mock-flirted with him. It had taken a lot of prodding and poking on Dean's part over a long period of time, but eventually he managed to wheedle a confession out of his younger brother.
Dean's first reaction was utter disbelief. As he was quick to remind Sam, Gabriel was the one who was responsible for his hundred-and-something deaths, the Herpexia advert and the Nutcracker game. And that was without pointing out that Gabriel was an archangel. At that, Dean remembered, Sam had muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'Castiel' under his breath, but had become mysteriously forgetful when Dean called him up on it. Sam assured him it was just a crush which it would pass in time, and Dean let the matter drop.
But then the Elysian happened.
As they were speeding away from the hotel and the fighting archangels as fast as possible, all Sam could talk about was whether Gabriel was alright. Dean grimaced as he remembered his response. He'd urged Sam, especially with the looming Apocalypse, that if he wanted to take a shot with Gabriel, he should go ahead and take it, consequences be damned. After all, he'd pointed out, the worst the archangel could do was smite him, and if they were all royally screwed anyway, what difference did it make? So Sam agreed to tell Gabriel the way he felt once the archangel met up with them later.
But Gabriel never left the hotel.
He and Sam had waited for as long as they dared before digging out the DVD and watching it. After Sam had slammed the laptop shut, cutting off what could only have been an explicit porn video, he'd turned and walked off without a word. Dean had let him go, knowing that the archangel's death must have been a horrible blow. Sam didn't return for hours, and when he did, he made it perfectly clear they weren't going to talk about the events of the last few days.
Again, Dean let it slide without fuss or complaint. He knew that, if their positions had been reversed and it had been Castiel stepping out to face Lucifer instead of Gabriel, he'd have felt dead inside. To have the knowledge that the angel would have done it purely to grant he and Sam time to get away would have been worse, and watching him soon after recording his final words even more so.
In hindsight, the elder Winchester should have destroyed the DVD once they'd seen it. In the very least, he should have put it somewhere nobody would find it. But he hadn't; the thought had completely slipped his mind. He'd ejected the disc from Sam's laptop whilst he was still on his walk, and dropped it in the Impala, where it had been forgotten about. It had taken Sam a long time to get over Gabriel's death, or to at least create a convincing enough façade to fool Dean into thinking he'd moved on. But the unearthing of the DVD must have brought all of the horrible memories cascading back, along with the emotional turmoil that went hand-in-hand with them, returning to fester in what was obviously still a tender wound.
"Sammy, throw that thing away." Dean said quietly. "I know it feels like shit now, but it's happened. We can't do a damn thing about it. Keeping that DVD will only make you feel like crap. Get rid of it once and for all. Trust me dude, it's for the best."
For the first time, Sam reacted. He nodded and sat up properly, finally releasing his grip on the case. "Yeah, I know."
Dean shot him a sympathetic look, and then busied himself packing their things away into the duffel bag. Their whole time in this town had been nothing but one headache after another, and quite frankly he wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. He was so preoccupied, he didn't notice Sam slipping the DVD from its plastic casing and sliding it into his jacket pocket. Dean only glanced up when he saw Sam moving towards the bin, the case in hand. With a heavy sigh, Sam let it go and the dull thud of it hitting the bin's bottom rang out around the small room.
Sam turned to Dean then, and managed a weak grin. "Like you said, it's for the best."
By midnight that evening, they were holed up in a new motel in a completely new town. Outside a fierce storm was raging. Rain lashed against the windows in a constant drum, while gale-force winds buffeted the building. Every so often, the sky outside would become illuminated by a jagged fork of lightning zigzagging its way through the inky clouds, followed shortly by a deafening boom of thunder.
Dean, tired from the long week and a whole day's driving, was unconscious on his bed, completely oblivious to the chaos taking place outside. Sam was in bed too, but he was far from asleep. He was sat in an uncomfortable slouching position, his laptop balanced on his kneecaps. A beer was clutched in his hand which lay on the mattress next to another three empty bottles. His eyes were glued unblinkingly to the screen, on which showed Gabriel midway through pulling off a false moustache in silence. Sam had kept the noise muted for fear of rousing Dean, because he honestly didn't feel like explaining why he'd kept the DVD. More than anything else, he didn't know why himself. He supposed it was because that disc was the last thing of Gabriel's he possessed. Get rid of that and all he had remaining were memories and a ton of pain.
As Gabriel's lips mouthed the words, 'And this is me lying down', Sam hit pause with the touch pad, and shifted the cursor back to the beginning of the video. He'd only been able to venture five seconds past that point, because watching Gabriel do borderline obscene things with some woman – Who probably wasn't even real – made Sam's insides burn with jealousy and remorse.
He sat there for the whole course of the evening, re-watching the same footage over and over and taking great gulps of beer. Just seeing the archangel's smirking face was enough to rekindle the spark Sam had thought was long extinguished inside him back into a roaring fire. He felt bitter anger rising in him too as the storm began to die down and the night subside. Anger at himself for not going back, at Lucifer for issuing the fatal attack, at Gabriel for doing something so monumentally stupid, and at Dean for being the one to push Gabriel into facing his brothers rather than continue running.
As the first signs of dawn approaching broke through the hazy clouds, Sam forced himself to close the video. He focused his attentions instead on searching for a new case to take his mind off the DVD and Gabriel. Researching and fighting another supernatural creature would give him the distraction he needed, and if he kept his mind busy with different cases for a while, eventually he'd manage to squash down these resurfaced feelings. It wasn't an ideal solution, hell it wasn't a solution at all, but it was just the way Winchesters did things, and he'd learned from the best.