Title: Wasted Vessel – Part Two
Word Count: 4,791
Characters/Pairing: Sam, Dean, Bobby, Lucifer, Castiel.
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Angst
Summary: 'It turns out that you and me, we're the, uh, the fire and the oil of the Armageddon. You know, on that basis alone, we should just pick a hemisphere. Stay away from each other for good. After the phone call with Dean, Sam takes drastic action to avoid his destiny as Lucifer's vessel.
This story is set in Season Five: Episode Four — The End. It opens with the phone call between Sam and Dean and will become AU from there on.
Warnings: Suicide Attempt
Disclaimer: I own nothing. No copyright infringement intended.
Thanks go to SnarkyMuch2 for beta'ing this fic.
Wasted Vessel ~ Part Two
One moment, Dean was talking to Zachariah, the next he was standing at the side of the road. He spun on his heel and saw Castiel watching him with his usual slightly bewildered expression.
Dean exhaled in a gust. "That's pretty nice timing, Cas."
"We had an appointment," Castiel said simply.
Dean took in the ragged trench coat and slight smile and breathed a sigh of relief. This Castiel may have a stick up his ass, but at least he was helpful. All stoner Cas seemed able to do was arrange orgies.
Dean rested a hand on Castiel's shoulder. "Don't ever change."
Castiel smiled in bemusement, and then his face became pensive. "How did Zachariah find you?"
"Long story. Let's just stay away from Jehovah's Witnesses from now on, okay?" Dean said, rooting through his pockets. He pulled out his phone.
"What are you doing?" Castiel asked.
"Something I should have done in the first place." Dean pressed speed-dial one and held the phone to his ear. He tapped his foot as he waited for Sam to answer, but the phone rang out until the voicemail kicked in.
"Is something wrong?" Castiel asked.
Dean held a finger to his mouth as he redialed and waited for Sam to answer. When he was connected to voicemail again, he thrust the phone back into his pocket.
"Sam's not answering."
Castiel frowned. "That's unusual."
Dean sighed and rubbed his chin. "He's probably pissed at me. I said… Well, suffice to say, I'd be pissed, too."
"What did you say to him?" Castiel asked curiously.
Dean shook his head and didn't answer. He didn't want to tell Castiel the things he had said to his brother. He had been unnecessarily harsh. He didn't want to see Castiel's disapproval.
He looked up and down the empty street. "I don't suppose you thought to zap the Impala here too, did you?"
Castiel frowned and Dean sighed.
"You left my baby in Kansas City! That's just great."
Castiel looked apologetic. "I could take you back there now," he ventured.
"No, let's leave it awhile before we go back. Zachariah could still be hanging around, and I have had enough of that particular douche-wad to last me a lifetime. How's about we head up to Bobby's?"
"I thought you preferred not to travel with me. You said it disagreed with your digestion."
"Yeah, well, we're low on options, and I want to know if Bobby has heard from Sammy."
"You're concerned about your brother," Castiel stated.
"Let's call it responsibly aware," Dean said. "He's all alone out there."
"That didn't worry you a few days ago," Castiel said with a frown. "Why is it that you are worried now?"
"Sam said…" Dean scrubbed a hand over his face. "Sam's Lucifer's vessel."
"That's all you've got to say? Oh!" Dean imitated Castiel's deep tones poorly. "No shock?"
"It makes sense in a serendipitous way. Two brothers, one for the power of good, the other for the—"
"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Dean said. "Sammy's got his problems. Lord knows I know that. But that doesn't make him bad."
Castiel raised his hands. "That was not my implication at all. I merely meant that of two brothers one must represent the light, and another, the dark." He nodded thoughtfully. "This is a heavy burden for Sam to carry."
Dean sighed. "Tell me about it." Seeing that Castiel was indeed about to expound on his theories, he cut him off. "How's about we hop to Bobby's on the angel express. Like you said, Sam's got a burden, and I'd like to touch base with him and make sure he's okay."
One moment Dean was standing under a street lamp, the next he was in the hall of Bobby's house, and the aforementioned man was aiming a shotgun at his head.
"Ummm… hey," Dean said.
"Dammit, Cas," Bobby said. "How many times do I have to tell you? No zapping people into my house without warning. Zap them to the porch so they can knock."
"I apologize," Castiel said sincerely. "We were in a hurry, though. Dean is concerned for his brother."
"Sam?" Bobby sighed. "What's he done now?"
"He's Lucifer's vessel," Castiel interjected before Dean could speak.
Bobby exhaled in a rush. "I'll be damned. Is he okay?"
"We don't know. He is refusing to answer Dean's calls."
"Dammit, Cas!" Dean cursed. "Will you let me speak?"
Castiel looked repentant. "I apologize."
"So, is he okay?" Bobby asked, looking at Dean.
Dean shrugged. "When I spoke to him, he sounded pretty freaked out. I tried calling him again, but he's not answering."
Bobby wheeled himself into the kitchen and picked up a glass of whisky from the table. He knocked it back in one swallow and then poured another.
"Um, Bobby, it's like 6am," Dean said awkwardly.
Bobby scowled at him. "What are you, my mother? In case you missed it, Cas here just shared a mind-altering revelation. Drinking is the sensible response."
"You're right." Dean poured himself a measure of whisky and knocked it back. After the night—or was that days? He lost track of time in the future world—he'd had, he felt he deserved a drink.
"Have you heard from Sam?" Dean asked.
"No, not for a couple of days. He called up to tell me about some demon signs in Pennsylvania. I sent Tim and his crew up there after it."
Dean pulled his phone out and dialed Sam's number. It rang through to voicemail again. He dropped his phone onto the table and cursed under his breath.
"Maybe he just needs some time to wrap his mind around it all," Bobby said. "It's a lot to take in, being Lucifer's meat suit and all."
Dean sighed. "Maybe." He didn't share what he was secretly fearing, that he had driven Sam away with what he had said. He didn't want to see the accusation in their eyes. "I'm beat. I've been zapped across the country and to the future and all of it on less than an hour sleep."
"Go get some shuteye," Bobby said. "Your room's where you left it."
Dean clapped him on the shoulder as he passed. "Thanks, Bobby. If you hear anything from Sam…"
"I'll holler," Bobby said.
"I must go," Castiel said. "There are things to do. If you need me, pray." That said, he disappeared with a soft rustling sound.
Dean trudged up the stairs into the bedroom he used when at Bobby's place. He dropped down onto the bed and was asleep within minutes.
He was even more tired than he had thought, and it was the early hours of the next morning when he woke. Used to operating on short sleep rations, Dean felt sluggish and stupid as he threw back the covers and made his way down the stairs.
Bobby was at his desk in the library, a heavy tome open in front of him.
"About time you showed yourself," he said. "I was wondering if you were going to Rip Van Winkle your way though the apocalypse."
"No such luck," Dean said through a yawn. "What are you doing up?"
"Got a call in from Rufus. He's going after a lamia, and he needs the skinny on what will kill it."
"Anything I can do?"
"No, I've just found what I need." Bobby picked up the phone and dialed.
Dean went into the kitchen and filled the coffee maker. As he waited for it to brew, he leaned up against the counter and looked out of the window into the scrap-yard. As a child, this place had seemed magical. He and Sam had spent hours playing out between the cars while their father talked with Bobby. Now it had lost some of it magic, but the place was still special. Bobby's house represented home, and all the things they had missed out on in life, especially Sam. Thoughts of Sam made Dean frown. He reached into his pocket for his phone, and remembered he had left it on the table the morning before. He walked out into the hall but the table was empty.
"You looking for this?" Bobby asked, waving Dean's phone in the air. "I tried calling Sam a few times in the night. There was no answer though.
Dean took the phone. "Thanks for trying."
"You think he's okay?" Bobby asked.
Dean sank down into the chair opposite the desk. "Honestly, I don't know. I said some stuff that's probably got him pissed at me. I'm hoping he's on his way here now. He would have wanted someone to talk to."
"You want to tell me what you said?" Bobby asked.
"Not really. Let's just say, I'm hoping he'll answer his phone soon so I can say sorry."
Bobby raised an eyebrow. "It must have been bad if you're wanting to apologize."
Dean nodded. "It wasn't one of my proudest moments."
"Never mind. When Sam gets here, you can talk it out. In the meantime, is that coffee I smell?"
"You're not going to try and sleep some more?"
"Nah. If you're going to be awake and worried, I may as well join you."
Dean smiled his gratitude and then went to the kitchen to fetch them both some coffee.
When morning came, Dean got out of the chair he had been inhabiting for hours and stretched. His joints popped and he winced at the sound. Deciding a shower would clear the last of the sleep from his mind, he went back to his room and grabbed a towel.
The water was hot, and it pounded over him, releasing the tension in his taut muscles. He allowed it to run over him long after he was clean. It wasn't until he heard Bobby calling his name that he stepped out of the cubicle and wrapped a towel around his waist.
When he was dressed again, he jogged down the stairs and into the library. "What's up?" he asked.
"You got a letter," Bobby said holding out an envelope to him.
Taking it from him, Dean frowned. "Who'd be writing to me here?" He turned the envelope over and his heart contracted as he recognized the handwriting. "It's from Sam."
Bobby's brow furrowed. "Why would Sam be writing to you?"
Dean had a sick sinking sensation in his gut. For whatever reason Sam had decided to write to him, it couldn't be for anything good.
I don't know how to start this letter. I don't know how to say all that needs to be said.
Let me begin by saying I'm sorry.
Sorry doesn't seem a strong enough word for all that I have done, but it's the only word I have. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all you. My intentions were only ever good.
I also want to thank you. You have spent your whole life protecting me, and for that I will forever be grateful. You did without so I could have, and there are no words to say how much I appreciate it.
After all your sacrifices I know what I am planning will feel like a betrayal to you, but know this, I am doing this for you and Bobby and the rest of the world. This is the one great selfless act of my life.
If I live, sooner or later I will say yes to Lucifer. It's inevitable. I'm not strong like you. This is the only thing I can do to stop that. By taking my own life, I am saving millions. Please try to understand that and don't judge me too harshly.
Whatever is next for me, heaven or hell, I know I am going there having done the very best I can.
If I can, I would like a hunter's funeral. I know I wasn't much of a hunter, but I did my best.
I love you, Dean
The letter slipped from Dean's nerveless fingers and landed on the desk. Bobby snatched it up and read it quickly. All color drained from his face as he looked across the desk at Dean.
"No!" he moaned.
Dean shook his head mutely. He had no words to convey the horror of his thoughts.
"Cas!" Bobby bellowed. "We need you!"
With a soft rustling sound, Castiel appeared at Dean's elbow. "What is it?" he asked looking at Dean's horrorstruck expression.
Castiel's arrival snapped Dean back to the present. "Cas! You have to find Sam."
"I cannot sense him now," Castiel said. "You know that."
"Then search on the ground." Bobby said, wheeling himself around the desk and picking up the envelope from the desk. He checked the postmark on the back. "Try Dillsburg, Pennsylvania."
"What has happened?" Castiel asked.
"No time!" Bobby snapped. "Just find him!"
Castiel disappeared, and Bobby and Dean were left alone together.
Bobby gripped Dean's elbow. "He's going to be fine, Dean."
Dean turned haunted eyes on Bobby. "Fine? Did you read the same letter I did? That was sent out yesterday. He's already…" He trailed off as tears filled his eyes. He could bring himself to say the word, but Bobby heard it anyway.
"No!" he said harshly. "I don't believe that. I won't believe it."
Dean clung to Bobby's refusal like a drowning man to a raft. He felt disconnected from his body, as if he too was dead. He was poised on the edge of a gaping pit of despair. One wrong move and he would be flung into it, never to return. The only thing holding him back was that trace of doubt, the possibility that Sam was still alive.
Sam was sitting cross-legged on the bed, with his gun in his lap. It was morning again; the sun outside the window was bright. It seeped through the curtains, making light in the room where Sam only wanted darkness. He thought that the room should reflect the darkness inside of him. This was a day for walking in the park, and being with friends, not for death. It would have to suffice though, as Sam could afford no more delays.
He lifted the heavy gun, and pressed the cold barrel to the hollow under his chin. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. His finger began to depress the trigger, when he heard a soft rustling sound and felt the presence of someone else in the room.
For a moment he was scared it was Lucifer there already, that he had found Sam, but when he lowered the gun and looked across the room it was Castiel that stared back at him.
"What are you doing?" For the first time since Sam had met him, Castiel sounded angry. "What are you thinking?"
Castiel stalked across the room and reached for the gun. Sam scrambled back on the bed until he hit the headboard, gripping the gun tight in his hand.
"I have to, Cas. I've got no choice. I'm…"
"Lucifer's vessel," Castiel finished for him. "But, Sam, there are other ways. There are things we can do to protect you."
"You can protect me from Lucifer?" Sam asked skeptically.
More than anything, Castiel wanted to say that he could, but it would be a lie. He was a lowly angel. Lucifer was an archangel, the archangel, second only to Michael. There was nothing Castiel could do to save Sam from that. Though he would try with his dying breath.
Sam saw the truth in Castiel's eyes, and he sighed. "Thanks anyway."
He raised the gun once more and directed it to his throat.
"Sam, no!" Castiel raised his hands in a placatory gesture. "Don't do this to your brother."
"I'm doing this for my brother," Sam said plaintively, lowering the gun again. "Don't you see that? If I'm not here, Lucifer will never have his true vessel. He will never be strong enough to fight Michael."
Castiel shook his head sadly. The words made a sick kind of sense to him. Lucifer was weakened now, still immensely powerful, but weaker than he would be were he to inhabit Sam.
He felt for the first time he truly understood the young hunter. He was not an abomination; he was one of humans his father had so loved. Prepared to give it all up to protect the people he loved. It was noble.
"I understand," Castiel said heavily. It cost him something to say, as he knew the loss of Sam Winchester would bring great grief to people he cared for. And to him. He didn't want to lose Sam's company. Despite all he had done, the angel cared for him, too.
Sam looked at Castiel with tear-filled eyes. "Thanks, Cas." He didn't think he would have someone agree with him. It gave him further peace in his decision. Castiel believed it was the right thing to do too. He was also glad that he was able to see one of the people he was sacrificing himself for before the end. It made him unexpectedly happy.
"Your brother should be here," Castiel said. "It would bring him peace to speak with you first, to understand why you are doing what you are doing."
Sam shook his head. "He can't be here, Cas. He wouldn't understand. I wrote him a letter; it will explain everything."
"They have received your letter. I don't think it brought them any peace. He and Bobby seemed most distressed as I left them."
Sam sighed. He had hoped that it would all be over by the time Dean and Bobby learned what had happened to him. His pointless foray into poisoning had stolen time from him.
"You'll have to explain it to them," he said. "Make them understand."
"I will do my best."
And he would do his best by Dean. He knew allowing Sam to do this would put something between him and Dean, something that may never be overcome. Dean may never forgive him for this treachery and that was how Dean would see it, but Castiel was working for the greater good. Sam's sacrifice would save lives across the globe.
Sam smiled sadly. "I guess that's all you can do." For the third and final time, he raised the gun to his throat. "Bye, Cas."
"Goodbye, Sam. And thank you."
Sam squeezed the trigger and a harsh crack filled the room.
Dean was standing with his arms crossed across his chest, holding himself together, when the sound of Castiel's return reached him. His gaze snapped to the angel, and he knew in that moment that it was all over. Sam was dead. Nothing else could have transformed Castiel's face into lines of sadness.
"No!" He gasped. "No! Don't say it!"
Castiel looked at him sadly. "I'm so—"
"No!" Dean snarled. He lurched forward and grabbed Castiel by the lapels. He shoved him against the wall, knocking a book from the shelf on the adjoining wall. "Don't say it! Don't you dare!"
Castiel made no attempt to shake off Dean, though he could have broken his grip easily. "I'm sorry, Dean."
Dean released Castiel and stumbled backwards. He tripped and landed awkwardly in a chair. His arms found their way around his middle and he bowed over under the weight of his grief. He heard a strange keening noise, and it took him a moment to realize the sound was coming from him. It cut off abruptly to be replaced by choking sobs.
His world seemed to be crumbling around him. Sam was dead. Gone beyond recall. There was nothing he could do this time. No demon would deal with him, and Castiel was cut off from heaven. Sam was gone forever.
He wished he was dead, too. This pain was too much for him to live with. He had failed again. The one member of his family left, and he had failed him. This was his fault. He should never have said the things he said. The minute Sam called, saying he wanted back in, he should have gone straight to his brother. It shouldn't have taken him a trip into some demented future to show him the right path; he should have known already. Sam belonged at his side, not alone in the world.
Castiel watched Dean give voice to his pain with a sympathetic eye. He didn't know what to do to help either of the men left to his care. Bobby was bent over the desk with his head in his hands. His shoulders shook, and Castiel knew he was weeping. He felt that he should comfort them, but he didn't know how. Human emotions were a mystery to him, though he felt his own burden of grief at the ending of Sam Winchester. It was the first time he'd experienced grief in his life, and the sensation was unpleasant. It was as if there was a heavy weight on his chest, making it hard for him to breathe.
Dean cried until he was hoarse and still the tears crept down his face. No one came near him, for which he was grateful. If someone had attempted to reach him, he would have lashed out at them. He would have pounded fist to flesh until they felt some fraction of the pain he was feeling.
Lines from Sam's letter came to him, and it made the pain so much worse.
This is the one great selfless act of my life. Dean disagreed. It was selfish of Sam to deny Dean his brother.
By taking my own life, I am saving millions. What did Dean care about millions of faceless people when Sam was gone?
Whatever is next for me, heaven or hell, I know I am going there having done the very best I can. That was the part that scared Dean the most, more than how he was to live in a world without Sam. Where was Sam now? Had he been forgiven his sins, or was he even now on the racks Dean had presided over for so long? The thought made bile rise in Dean's throat.
If I can, I would like a hunter's funeral. It was that thought that brought him out of his overwhelming grief for a split second. Sam needed him. Left where he was, he could be found at any moment. People could even now be touching him. Putting him into a body bag and carrying him away from Dean.
"I need to go to him!" he said, lurching to his feet. "Cas, take me to him."
"I'm not sure that's wise," Castiel said.
"I didn't ask for an opinion," Dean said angrily. "This is my brother. This is Sam. Take me to him."
Castiel frowned. He couldn't see what it would achieve for Dean to see his brother's broken body. Sam was gone now; all that was left was a shell.
"Do it, Cas," Bobby said hoarsely. "Take him to his brother."
Dean looked like he might attack Castiel if he refused, but it was not threat of injury that made Castiel act. It was that he thought he understood what Bobby was saying. Dean wouldn't believe it had truly happened until he saw Sam's body for himself.
Dean turned grateful eyes on Bobby, and Bobby forced a smile.
"You go take care of our boy."
And he was their boy. John Winchester may have begot him, and Mary delivered him, but it was Dean and Bobby that Sam belonged to. They were his family.
Dean closed his eyes and felt the strange disconnection as he was moved through space by will of Castiel. When he opened his eyes again he was staring at bland wallpaper favored by motels and hospitals. He was inches away from the wall, and he knew that Castiel had positioned him thus on purpose. He wanted Dean to have control of when he turned and saw the devastation.
Feeling sick, he turned slowly and faced the scene of Sam's destruction.
Sam was lying sideways on the bed, as if he had been resting against the headboard at the time of his death. His hand was flung out and the gun was still pressed against his palm. There was a lot of blood, but if not for that, Sam would have looked like he had merely fallen asleep while sitting up.
"No!" Dean moaned. "No, no, no, no, no, no!"
He crossed the room in three strides and dropped to his knees beside the bed at Sam's head. "Oh, Sammy. Why?"
"He was acting for the best," Castiel said behind him.
Dean turned and anger blazed in his eyes as he looked at him. "The best? He's dead! My little brother is dead, and you're talking about what's for the best. Screw that! Screw you! What good are you anyway?"
"Can you help him?" Dean demanded. "Can you bring him back?"
Castiel shook his head. "You know I can't."
"Then leave us. I want to be alone with my brother."
Castiel bowed his head and then disappeared.
Dean turned his attention back to his brother. He thought that Sam looked uncomfortable, twisted up as he was, so he got to his feet and eased him down the bed so his head was resting against the pillow.
That looked more comfortable, he thought. If not for the grey pallor of Sam's skin, and the wounds, he could be sleeping. The wound under Sam's chin was small; it was the exit wound that had done the damage.
Dean smoothed back Sam's hair so the wound was hidden.
"There, that's better," he muttered. Sam really looked like he was sleeping now. It was easy to believe that he was going to wake up at any minute and start razzing on his brother again.
Dean knelt on the floor and picked up Sam's cooling hand in his own. "What were you thinking, Sammy?" he asked, though he already knew the answer. "Why didn't you just answer your phone?"
If Sam had just picked up the damn phone when he called, all this could have been averted.
Tears pooled at the corner of Dean's eyes and dripped down onto their entwined hands. He felt the wetness and stared at it as it dripped over Sam's knuckles and onto the bedspread.
Dean bowed his head and rested it against Sam's still chest. He knew he wouldn't be able to stay there long, people would come eventually, but for the moment he was content to just be with his brother.
Suddenly, the chest against which he was resting, heaved. Dean lurched back and his butt collided painfully with the floor. He stared in shock as Sam jerked upright and drew in a gasping breath.
Dean couldn't believe his eyes. He was sure he was hallucinating. His closed his eyes and rubbed at them then opened them again. Sam was still moving. He rubbed a hand over his chest, as if it pained him, and then brought a hand to the back of his head. Dean stared at his brother as he examined the blood on the palm of his hand.
"Sammy?" he whispered.
Sam turned to look at him, and his eyes swam with tears. "Dean." It came out as a moan. He scrambled back across the bed and got to his feet. "You aren't supposed to be here."
Dean didn't take in the meaning of the words. He only heard his brother's voice after believing he would never hear it again. He lurched to his feet and rounded the bed, pulling his brother into his arms.
He buried his face in Sam's shoulder and allowed the sobs to overtake him. He felt Sam's hand on his back and heard his whispered words, but the meaning didn't sink in. All that mattered was that it was Sam talking.
Sam held his brother close to him and tried to work his mind around what had happened. He had failed again. It made his own eyes tear, and a sob build in his throat. He didn't want to fail. He had thought a bullet to the brain would be beyond Lucifer's ability to heal. He was wrong. A sob broke from him without his consent, and then it was Dean cradling him as he cried.
"It's okay, Sammy. You're okay," Dean soothed. "I'm here. I'm going to take care of you. No one's gonna hurt you now."
There would be a time for explanations and accusations and reprisals, but it was not then. In that moment, neither of them wanted to do anything but cling to the other and relish the fact they were together.