Author's Note: I love writing these Sam/Cas bonding stories. I feel like we only get little glimpses of their relationship on the show and it's nice to be able to expand upon their relationship here. Anyways, this is set season 5, post "Dark Side of the Moon" and while there is no slash in here, there is shameless friendship fluff. Also, let's pretend that this is set two weeks before Thanksgiving. Please enjoy!
"There's a fear in me and it's not showing,
This could be the end of me
And everything I know."
—3 Doors Down, "It's Not My Time"
It all happened so quickly.
One minute, Sam was explaining why the angel had to come to Bobby's for Thanksgiving despite the fact that he wasn't related to them by blood—Blood doesn't matter. You are family, Cas. We all want you to be there—and in the next, there was a loud bang that broke the silence of the evening. It startled the Messenger of God who jumped back and noticed the shattered glass that covered the dingy motel room carpet. The window was completely shattered, as if someone had tossed a rock into it, yet there was nothing on the floor to suggest any signs of such a thing. Confused, Castiel glanced around to see if he could find the source of the broken window.
"Castiel." Sam's voice sounded off and instantly he meet the younger Winchester's gaze. He seemed shocked almost as he pulled at his over shirt to reveal a white t-shirt. A crimson stain blossomed and suddenly the implication of the noise and the broken window finally hit. The two odd men that Sam had seen in the parking lot for a few days—men that Sam told Dean that he was sure were other hunters—the way Castiel had seen these men look at Sam with pure hatred whenever the youngest Winchester went outside to retrieve ice, and how Sam had been the one standing in front of the window when the noise occurred.
Someone had shot Sam.
"You've been hit." He knew it was stupid to state the obvious, but for some reason his mind was having a hard time processing this new reality. Dean wouldn't be able to help as he wasn't here—he had taken off angrily to Bobby's yesterday after his and Sam's disastrous trip to Heaven—which meant that it fell to Castiel to take care of this. Racking his brain, the angel tried to figure out what to do, how to save Sam's life. His powers were waning and he wasn't sure if he had the strength to fully heal the youngest Winchester.
"S'okay," Sam told him, a weak smile on his lips and pain clouding his eyes as he pressed down on the wound in an effort to stop the blood flow. "Gonna be fine, Cas."
It was a lie—it didn't take much effort on the angel's part to figure that out, but he found it touching that this man was trying to comfort him when he was the one who was bleeding out. Sam's face grew pale and he toppled onto the bed. His breaths grew more ragged as seconds ticked by and urgency coursed through his vessel's veins. It would be unacceptable for Sam to die—not only would Dean never forgive him, but Castiel had grown to care for this supposed "damned" man. Sam was more than the "abomination" that Heaven had believed he was. Over the course of the time that the Messenger of God had spent with the Winchester boys, he had witnessed how selfless Sam was, how he would sacrifice his own life to save a stranger, how he regretted what he had done to both Dean and the world and how he pushed himself everyday to find a way to circumvent the Apocalypse.
No, Sam Winchester wasn't dying today—not on Castiel's watch. Resolved, the angel crossed the gap to the bed and placed his hand on Sam's wound, willing this to work, praying silently to his Father to grant him the strength he needed to save Sam. Wide-eyed, the injured Winchester waited to see and Castiel held his breath.
Please, Father. Please help me save him.
His prayer; however, went unheard for his powers refused to manifest. Frowning, the angel watched as more blood poured out of the wound. Pressing his fingers to Sam's neck, he grimaced as he felt the erratic pulse. He was going into shock; something that Dean had explained to him meant that Sam needed immediate help or he would bleed out within minutes.
"I cannot heal you and for that I apologize," Castiel said ruefully, speaking slowly and meeting Sam's gaze. "Rest assured that I will get you the professional medical help you require." Sam opened his mouth to speak, but instead coughed, blood dribbling down his lips. Another bad sign, the angel noted darkly. Quickly, he gently tugged the youngest Winchester towards him and awkwardly pulled his to his feet. Sam groaned in pain and Castiel muttered an apology. Summoning all his strength, the Messenger of God shut his eyes and pictured the emergency room of the local hospital.
Please, Father. He doesn't deserve this. Please help me.
When Castiel re-opened his eyes, they were in the lobby of the E.R.
"This is Dean. Leave a message."
"Dean," Castiel began with weary sigh. How was he supposed to tell Dean this? Was he supposed to be direct or was he to soften the blow? If Sam were here—frowning, the angel re-focused on the task at hand. "Sam was shot. I have taken him to the hospital." Nodding at his message, he wondered if there was anymore he should add, when it came to him. "Sam is alive, but in critical condition." With that, he hung up. He ran a hand through his hair and took a sip of the juice that the nurse had brought him.
"You look like you're about to topple over," She had stated with a sympathetic smile. It had been a true statement as the trip to the hospital had taken a lot out of the angel. "Just sit down and try to relax. We'll take good care of your friend." Relax? How could he relax when all the doctor had told him—albeit reluctantly, since apparently it mattered to the hospital administration whether you were related by blood or not—was that the bullet had narrowly missed Sam's heart, but he was bleeding internally and they were going to take him to surgery to remove the bullet.
"I won't lie to you," The doctor had stated with a grim expression. "The injuries are quite severe and the next 48 hours are the most critical." Being around Dean had taught him many things about looking beneath the words that people spoke and Castiel had easily deduced his true meaning—Sam might not make it.
"Family of Sam Winchester?" Castiel's head went up and he rose from the chair and swiftly crossed the room to the new doctor.
"How is he?" The Messenger of God inquired quickly, his words tumbling into a jumbled mess.
"He's still in surgery," The man explained. "We're doing all we can, but he's bleeding heavily internally. We're trying to get him stabilized enough to remove the bullet." Castiel nodded, processing the information. "Sir, if there's anyone you need to call, I'd suggest you do so." The doctor patted his shoulder and pity swam in his eyes before he walked away.
The implication stung. The doctors were sure that Sam wouldn't make it. They were positive that he would bleed out and die on the operating table. Stumbling from shock, Castiel collapsed into the plastic waiting room chair and let his head fall into his hands as worry overtook him. Sam was dying in the other room and he was powerless to do anything to help. Was this how humans felt? If so, it was an awful experience, one that he wished to never relive again. Digging out his cellphone, Castiel dialed Dean's number again.
"This is Dean. Leave a message."
The angel hung up and felt sheer grief wash over him. How had this happened? How had he let Sam get hurt like this? If only he had been standing in front of that window, if only he had tried to stop Dean from leaving, if only he—
What was the point? What had happened, happened. There was no changing it now and no amount of wishing would fix the past. He had learned that much from the time had spent with Sam and Dean. Things happened and you had to live in the present.
And right now, there was nothing to do but wait.
Bowing his head, Castiel prayed and willed his absentee Father to hear them.
Occasionally, someone would come out and explain what was happening to Sam, though the subtext was always the same—Sam probably wouldn't make it. Each time he heard it, Castiel fell more and more into a feeling of hopelessness. He was cut off from Heaven and he couldn't ensure the safety of his friend. He couldn't even get Dean on the phone in order to let him know what had happened to his younger brother. For the first time in his life, Castiel felt completely helpless.
And he hated every second of it.
"Family of Sam Winchester?" The doctor came to him this time—the same man that had been giving him status updates for the past six hours.
"Is he alive?" That was always the first question Castiel asked now for it was the only one that mattered.
"Yes," The doctor answered. "The surgery was successful. We managed to stop the bleeding and remove the bullet; however, the next 48 hours are critical. If he can make it past then, I'm confident he'll make a full recovery." The angel nodded, slightly relieved at the news that Sam was no longer going to die on the operating table.
"May I see him?" Because maybe if he could see Sam, he could somehow make him better—could somehow save him.
"Right this way." The man led him down a number of twisting corridors, before finally stopping in a small, dimly lit room. Castiel stood in the doorway, surveying the area. Sam laid on the bed, countless monitors hooked up to him, each beeping softly. An oxygen mask fogged every time the young man exhaled and that somehow comforted the angel more than the monitors. Sitting down in the slightly cushioned chair—one clearly designed for long vigils—Castiel frowned as he saw how pale Sam was.
Sure, he had survived the surgery, but who knew how long he would last now? The doctors certainly didn't seem too optimistic and Castiel's own faith in his prayers being answered was starting to diminish. Maybe Dean had been right . . . maybe there really was no one out there listening to him. Maybe his Father had abandoned His post, never to return.
Still, all Castiel could do was sit and wait and hope that someone was listening to his prayers. Sam didn't deserve this. It was true, he had made mistakes, but hadn't everyone? Wasn't that the beauty of humanity? Humans could afford to make mistakes and then learn to grow from them—Sam most certainly had. He was no longer the enemy that the angel had once considered him to be.
Sam Winchester was his friend now.
And Castiel had learned that friends never gave up on each other, no matter what.
So, he stayed in the chair and prayed for Sam's recovery for what else could he do?
Dean stood in the doorway, eyes locked on his brother's limp form, grief coloring his voice. He staggered into the room and gripped the bedside railing. With a gentleness that few ever got to see, he brushed some of Sam's hair out of his face.
"The internal bleeding has stopped," Castiel reported, unsure of what else to say. He had never seen the eldest Winchester like this before—so devastated, so broken—and frankly, it worried the angel. "And the bullet has been removed." Dean nodded—the only indication that he had heard the angel—before whispering something to his brother. Sensing this was a private moment, he rose from the chair and headed to the doorway. Glancing back, he swore he saw a lone tear snake down Dean's face as the eldest Winchester said something about forgiveness and their trip to Heaven to his little brother.
Without another word, Castiel left the room.
He wandered around before finally stumbling into the small chapel that was on the second floor of the hospital. Pushing the mahogany doors open, he headed inside, relieved to see no one else was present. A few rows of chairs faced an ornate stained glass window. Light shone through it, illuminating the carpet with hues of reds, blues, and yellows. Facing the window, the Messenger of Heaven felt nothing but rage.
"Why?" He hissed. "Father, why would You do this to him? Sam Winchester is a good person! He deserves to be saved!" The stained glass window remained silent. God didn't suddenly appear; didn't send confirmation that he had even heard Castiel. Pacing the tiny area in front of the window, a wave of grief washed over the angel. "Please, Father, I know that he's made mistakes, I beg of You, save him." Bowing his head, he prayed fervently, needing to believe that someone was listening.
Glancing back up, he felt disheartened, as there was still no response—no sign of forgiveness from his Father, no reason to keep believing that his prayers were having any effect.
What was the point in believing in someone that only let you down?
"And you were five, and man, Sammy, I thought Dad was going to kill us," Dean whispered, voice even, his hand holding Sam's as if the physical link to his brother would somehow guide Sam back to them. "But you just smiled and dude, Dad caved. The only time I ever saw him give in like that." The eldest Winchester paused, as if he expected a response from his unconscious brother.
"Any change?" Castiel questioned, standing in the doorway.
"No." Dean didn't even bother to turn around before asking, "What happened?"
"He was shot." That statement made Dean meet his gaze as he twisted around in his chair.
"Who shot him?"
"Other hunters, I believe." The angel stated and Dean cursed. "Why would they hurt him—?"
"Why? Oh, I don't know, Cas," Dean began, voice dripping in sarcasm. "Maybe because they blame Sam for the impending Apocalypse?" A pause passed as Dean let out a shaky breath and ran a hand through his hair. Seeing the angel's hurt expression, he quickly added, "I'm sorry."
"It's understandable," The Messenger of God replied. "You are concerned over Sam's condition."
"If he dies . . . " The normally stoic hunter's voice broke as tears misted in his eyes.
"He won't." Castiel insisted, though it was clearly a lie. He honestly didn't know whether the youngest Winchester would survive the night or not.
"How do you know?" Dean challenged, shouting now.
"I have prayed—"
"Yeah?" The eldest Winchester brother interrupted. "And how's that working out for you? Did God finally decide to show up and fix this mess? Did He tell you that He owes Sam for screwing him over?"
"No." The Messenger of God answered quietly. "I am not sure if He even heard me." A pause. "Still, it was all I could think to do." Then, he added softly, "I am sorry for not being able to heal him."
"It's okay," Dean breathed, seemingly gaining control over his emotions. "You got him here. You called me. That's all that matters." With his piece seemingly said, the older brother faced Sam once more, alternately telling stories about crazy stunts they had pulled when they had been younger, as well as various methods on how to fix a classic car.
It was better than the grim silence that had filled the room before.
It was 16 hours after they were admitted, that Sam stirred.
It was nothing major, but it caused the alarms on the monitors to blare and for the medical staff to rush in. They pushed Dean and Castiel out of the room, muttering something about needing to stabilize him. The angel watched as Dean's horror-struck face never turned away from the sight of his brother. The older man's fists clenched at his side and Castiel could tell that it was taking all of his strength to not rush to Sam's side; to not be there to ease his brother's suffering.
They watched and waited, each holding their breath.
Minutes passed and eventually one of the nurses took them to the side and told them about how Sam had seemingly beaten the odds, about how he had somehow pulled through and no longer needed the oxygen to breathe and how he was going to be okay.
"It's really a miracle." The nurse said with a grin, a rare sight in the ICU. With that, she left to tend to other patients.
"A miracle." Castiel echoed.
"No," Dean said quietly, a weary smile spreading on his lips. "That's just Sam being stubborn."
Castiel couldn't help but agree.
A few more hours passed before Sam finally opened his eyes.
"D'n?" He slurred, the medicine clearly having an effect on him. Still, judging from Dean's reaction, it was clear that the eldest Winchester didn't care how Sam sounded—him talking was good enough and frankly, Castiel was inclined to agree.
"It's okay," Dean soothed, his thumb rubbing Sam's hand reassuringly. "You're in the hospital." He beamed. "Damn, Sammy, it's good to see you." He grinned at his confused little brother and Castiel smiled as well.
"Cas?" Sam's eyes met the angel's and he shot him a small grin that took Castiel off-guard. "Told you. S'okay now." That earned laughter from Dean and a small chuckle from the angel.
"You were right." Castiel agreed. "I'm relieved you're well." Sam nodded, but his eyes began to droop. Still, the stubborn younger sibling tried to fight it in vain.
"Go to sleep, dude," Dean chided softly. "We'll still be here when you wake up." For once, Sam did as he was told, immediately falling back into a restful slumber. A few moments went by in a comfortable silence before Dean said, "Those hunters will pay."
"I agree." Castiel replied, feeling nothing but rage at those that had dared to hurt his friend.
"You do?" Dean asked, shock evident in his expression.
"They will get what they deserve," The angel stated. "After Sam is released."
"Yeah," Dean mumbled, smiling fondly as he looked over Sam. "When Sammy is out of here and better, then I'll have Bobby track them down."
While Castiel didn't necessarily believe in retribution, he did believe in punishing those that hurt innocent people and as far as he was concerned—Lucifer's vessel or not—Sam was an innocent person. He had done those men no wrongs and he hadn't deserved being shot by them.
"Good." The angel whispered.
Five days later, Sam was released from the hospital.
The doctors and nurses kept calling him "the miracle patient" and nearly everyone had heard the story of his remarkable recovery by the time he had checked out.
"You truly are lucky," The older woman at the Nurse's station commented as they prepared to leave. "To recover from a gunshot wound so quickly! You must have an angel looking out for you." That earned a chuckle from Dean and smile from Sam as Dean wheeled him towards the car. Castiel escorted them to the Impala and Dean told Sam to wait while he got the car ready for him.
"Yes?" He faced the youngest Winchester.
"Thanks for helping me." He said sincerely.
"I couldn't heal you." Castiel stated, unsure why Sam was thanking him.
"But you brought me to the hospital and stayed with me, right?" The angel nodded. "That's what matters."
With that, Dean returned and made a great show of how much effort it took him to get Sam into the car, making his brother laugh which Castiel knew was the point.
"See you next week, Cas." Dean called from the driver's seat. At the angel's confused expression, he sighed and added, "For Thanksgiving."
"Yes." Castiel nodded. "I'll be there."
"Good." Sam replied. He waved as the car pulled out and the angel waited until the car had long faded from view before walking down the street, destination unknown.
Sam's recovery had been a miracle and maybe it was proof that his Father was still out there, was still listening to his prayers. Or, perhaps Dean was right, maybe it was just Sam's stubborn Winchester nature. Either way, Sam was alive and that was what mattered. The search for God would continue and though his faith had been shaken, though he was no longer sure if his Father was out there waiting to be found, he did have something to believe in—
At the end of the day, Castiel didn't know if God existed; however, he knew that Dean would always make references that the angel would never understand, leaving Sam to explain them calmly. He knew that Sam would never give up on trying to atone for the mess he believed he created, even if that meant he worked himself to the bone. He knew that if anyone could save the world from Lucifer and Michael's rage, it would be Sam and Dean.
Told you. S'okay now.
Sam had been right in more ways than one.
With his eyes to the sky, Castiel vanished from the street, confident in the fact that his faith in Sam and Dean would never be shaken.
They gave him something to believe in.
Author's Note: Oh my goodness, this totally spiraled into a huge piece and that turned out to be more Cas-centric than I intended. Still, I love the way it turned out and I hope you did too. I may write a few spin-offs of this story, such as a story where Dean and Cas go after the hunters that shot Sam. We'll see though. I can promise; however, that there will be more Sam/Cas bonding stories soon. If you have a second, please review! I'd love to hear what you thought!